Peace at the Scene of the Crime

by Bill Brenner on March 29, 2010

About the time I visited my old hiding spot behind a boat yard in the old neighborhood and found something I had lost.

Mood music:

During my sometimes-turbulent youth growing up in the Point of Pines, Revere, there was a place I used to go where I could be alone, smoke, drink and escape the world.

It was behind the Fowler Marine boat yard, just past a field of 10-foot-high weeds. From the walkway of Gibson Park, passers-by couldn’t see a thing. It was perfect, especially since I pretty much hated everyone at the time.

I had a lot to run from, at least in my 15-year-old mind. My home on the Lynnway, across from Carey Circle, was a turbulent place. Nothing was quite right there after my older brother died. And, a few years after my parents divorced, I had a new stepmom living there. I fought with her all the time. I guess I hated her, because she was a new authority figure in a time when I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do.

In hindsight, she was at a real disadvantage. My brother died only a few months after she appeared on the scene, and she was home the night he had that final asthma attack. She plunged the adrenaline needle in him while waiting for the ambulance because that’s what you were supposed to do in the event of these attacks. But his number was up, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

She was also there a couple months before, in October 1983, when Michael had a similar attack that almost killed him that night. The doctors didn’t think he was going to make it that night, but he bounced back from the brink just in time, just like I bounced back from the brink more than once when the Croh’s Disease was attacking me so bad that the doctors were ready to tear out my colon and throw it in the trash.

I thought she married my Dad for his business success. I fought constantly with the step-sister she gave me. I was jealous of the step-brother she gave me because he was suddenly the cute youngest kid. Before my parents divorced it was Michael, Wendi and me, the youngest. Being sick, I was also spoiled rotten. Then the step-siblings came along and Michael died, making me the oldest son, a title that carried a lot of pressure.

She also gave me a beautiful half sister in late 1985 who came along at just the right time, bringing joy to the family I never thought we’d see again.

Looking back, I was just an angry little fuck and she’s the one I took it out on. I was fat, unpopular and had watched a brother die and parents divorce with all the rancor you could expect.

I’ve learned a lot over the years.

My stepmom is a good person who has stuck by my father through all kinds of ugliness, including a series of strokes three years ago. She’s an excellent grandmother to Sean, Duncan and my nieces and nephews. We have a good relationship today.

I recently revisited my old neighborhood, including the hiding spot.

This time, it was different, because I was standing there in a state of peace rather than trouble.

On the way back to Haverhill we passed the new Paul Revere School that was built on the site of the old Paul Revere School. I went to junior high there. Those were among the unhappiest times of my life, so there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing a new building rise from the rubble of the old.

Yet another symbol of how time heals all wounds if you’re willing to take the steps to make it happen.


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