After school, Mom might still be in bed; sometimes, she sat in the front room, looking out the big window. Looking, but not seeing. Eyes squinted; she’d ask me for a hug and then go back to her staring. Sometimes in the afternoon, a variety show played on the TV, but no one watched it.
After school, I was back out the door and off to find friends, hopefully without my brother tagging along, as soon as I could. When I came in for dinner, she was still in the living room, or maybe already in bed.
Dinner would be a mix of whatever we wanted, as long as we could find it and fix it ourselves. We thought the cooking was fun. Didn’t pay much attention to the cleaning up.
We’d watch TV until the late news came on. Most days, Jack fell asleep next to me. I’d half wake him and guide him to our room. I’d roll him into his bed and climb up to the top bunk. He kept sleeping, but it took a long time for me to fall asleep. I’d wait, listening to hear if Dad came home.
He often did, but really late. And most mornings, he was gone by the time I woke up. Mom said he had two jobs because he loved us so much. A day job, like other kids’ dads, and a night job to help for extra things. He had to work Saturdays, too.
Sunday was the day, if any, that I’d see him. We could watch cartoons all morning, if we didn’t fight over which ones. When he finally got up, he’d read the paper while taking a hot bath. I knew when he’d gotten to the funnies when the laughing started. If he was in a good mood, he’d play with us for a while in the afternoon and make something fancy for dinner. He’d put records on the stereo and turn up the volume while he drank beer and cooked. Mom was all smiles at having her family together. She was still in her bathrobe on the couch.