For a very long time, the day was coming and someone was going to lose, in a big way. But then again, we had heard that so many times and for many years, so why would this day be any different?
Our little town called ‘the river’ was nicknamed after the narrow river running through it. The freshwater river flowed into the ocean, fed from larger pools of water further upstream. This is where we got our drinking water from, through an intake pipe running under-ground out into the river. The water was always really cold. I remember playing there all day, moving the rocks and letting the fish have a place to swim. The trout were big from being able to swim upstream and back down or that’s what I always thought.
I never knew there could be so many people living in this little place until that fateful day. How did they hear the news so fast? It’s not like we had social media or cell phones. We only had two TV channels and they were the news and John Wayne, at least that’s all I saw. It was 1969 and that was a long time ago. ‘Where did these people come from?’ I thought. ‘Is this a scene in a movie?’ I always watched the old movies with Mother. She would tell me who all the actors were. Wow, they were really something in those days.
I remember the police car trying to push through the crowd as it arrived with the ambulance in front of our house. It took a long time to get through the people. It was in slow-motion as everyone tried to look into the black and white police car. They were cool cars, not like the ones they have now. The black and white was the real cop car.
Father was in a drunken fury as the two police officers assisted the ambulance attendants in lifting him onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. Minutes later, he was dead.
Amazing to see, and I always remember feeling so important. Not because of something good, but from the attention it was creating. Why was it so important? I was only a small child. Thinking, what was really going on, and how as a family are we going to go on from here?
Mother and Father had fought the morning of that fateful day, and again, as always, she lost. Mother says it never had to be booze that made him mad, everything made him that way. I know Father had an explosive, irrational temper. Like the time he cut up her good coat, put it in a garbage bag, and threw it in the ocean. Afterwards, when he was sober and realized what he had done, he went and bought her a new coat. He would be regretful, and Mother, thinking she understood because Father was in combat in the Second World War, would feel sorry for him and cover things up.