From the time I first began drawing pictures, one of my favorite topics was houses. Big fancy houses, charming cottages, duplexes or cabins; each home was a happy, welcoming place. I always colored at least one window yellow, to show a light shining there, and of course there always pets, especially dogs, but it was assumed they were inside or in the back yard. I wasn’t good at drawing animals, but I was pretty good at drawing dog houses.
I remember one of our rides in the country. We passed a lovely big stone house with green shutters, and I said what a happy home it was. You said it needed more flowers, and it needed to have the front door open, and the windows, too. You said that inside some houses it wasn’t always what it looked like from the outside.
When I was young, I wouldn’t have understood that comment. To me, home was a haven, rambunctious and busy, but also warm, welcoming and safe. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that during a sleepover at a friend’s house, I saw a different kind of home. Her younger brother crept into her bedroom during the night and whispered, “He’s back.” She jumped up, and in the dark we pushed furniture against the closed door. Then we hid in the closet, held our breaths and listened. Until that moment I didn’t realize that some parents got drunk, and when they did, the children trembled in fear, dreading what might happen next.
Later, when you volunteered with CASA as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, I understood. You became the listener and the voice for children who couldn’t or wouldn’t speak for themselves. I was proud to have a mother who advocated on behalf of children.
Thank you, Mom, for making a home that was always loving and safe, and for doing your best to protect children from homes that weren’t.