A Christmas Present Not Under the Tree
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by Michael Riles
Description: What do you want for Christmas? No one asks for tragedy, especially a child. Read about one young boy's insecurities over losing his mother who had to undergo surgery for stomach cancer. It was Christmas, 1958.
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [13 KB]
Reading time: 5-7 min.
The chilling winds of fall greeted us early that 4th day of October, 1957.
The entire population of my block on Winthrop Avenue had gathered outside the courtyards of the stately three story apartments. A new Halloween goblin arrived early, holding no trick or treat bag and donning no mask. It was high in the sky--a satellite called Sputnik.
Halloween was the first of the big three---holidays that is. Then came Thanksgiving and the "big one", but only for those of us who went to a certain building on Sunday morning as opposed to the one my friends entered on Friday nights. I was six years old and remember having more fear than the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff including a president everybody "liked" named Ike. But it wasn't Sputnik that scared me. Something else did. It would soon invade my tiny space as I saw my mother throwing up a lot in our bathroom. Fear would breed uncertainty, something that tore at your soul when you're only six. My mother wasn't herself lately. My father was worried. The prognosis wasn't good. All I remember hearing after cracking the door to my room to eavesdrop on their conversation was that she had had to have a portion of her stomach removed and that something called cancer was "thankfully" caught early. My father, a quiet, unassuming man who ran a stock room at a factory in Melrose Park, Illinois, was upstairs talking to a lady, a slightly rotund woman named Hazel who lived with a secret, one I would soon learn and later read about and subsequently study. For now, I was told she might be watching me as my mother took me aside.