July 10, 2016: The Day I Learned My Father Is a Stubborn Fool

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Dear Diary,

How was your brief stay in the drawer? I know I said you'd be in there a lot longer than a single night, but something happened this morning that killed all hopes of writing those 2,000 words.

The short version: it's highly probable that within the next few weeks, we will lose this house, my parents will divorce, and my sisters and I will have nowhere to live.

Now for the long version.

I've known for many years that Dad is not the best husband in the world. He belittles Mom all the time, even in front of the neighbors. On Mom's birthday Dad hands her a hundred dollar bill, and on their wedding anniversary he does nothing. I've never once seen him wash his own clothes or dust his own study.

But I didn't realize how dysfunctional their marriage really is until today.

I was sitting down to write after breakfast when Mom started screeching up a storm. This is not an unusual occurrence, so at first I merely got up to shut my door. Then I heard her wailing about the fate of the house.

"It's my house too! Why didn't you tell me?! What's going to happen to us?"

Dad said, "Nothing's going to happen. I'll take care of it. Don't worry about it."

"Don't worry about it? They're going to throw us all out in the streets and you say, 'Don't worry about it!' You don't care at all that your wife and daughters are going to be living in a cardboard box under a bridge!"

I went downstairs. My parents were in Dad's study. Mom was clutching a Swiffer duster in one hand and a fistful of papers in the other. Dad was standing with his arms crossed and his jaw set, looking out the window.

I asked, "What's going on, Mom?"

Mom waved the papers at me. "Pack your things, Lizzie! Your father has lost the house, and we're all going to be homeless!"

I extracted the papers from her clenched fist. They were threatening notices from a mortgage lender. Many threatening notices from a mortgage lender, going back to May. I scanned through them quickly.

Past due...default...delinquent...thirty days...foreclosure.

I couldn't believe it. The letters couldn't be real. The lender must have made a mistake.

Dad wasn't the kind of person who would miss three months of mortgage payments. He wasn't the kind of person who would ignore notices like this and go to the golf course every morning as if everything was peachy.

He wasn't the kind of person who would hide such a huge problem from Mom...from us...from me.

"Calm down, Mom. It's probably a clerical error. They meant to send these to someone else, not to us. Right, Dad?"

I smiled at him, hoping Dad would say it was all a silly misunderstanding. But he didn't. He just stood there with his arms crossed, not looking at either of us.

My smile faded. My God, he really was that kind of person.

The front door opened and closed. Jane's voice floated out from the kitchen. "Mom, where are those blueberries from the farmer's market?"

Jane appeared in the doorway of the study in her jogging clothes, her bangs damp with sweat. "Mom?"

"Janie!" Mom threw herself at Jane. She sobbed incoherently about cardboard boxes and bridges.

I motioned to Jane to take Mom out of the study. Quick on the uptake, Jane patted Mom's head. She led her out, assuring her in a soothing voice that everything would be okay.

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