The stress of living a dream public persona and a nightmare private reality threatens to destroy a family unit, taking each member in its wake. Through a variety of physical and emotional weapons, one by one they will crumble.
Cynthia is beautiful, educated, secretary of the church, and happily married with wonderful children. She is an accomplished hostess and the picture of Christian love. She has the perfect marriage and life—well, not exactly perfect. Her husband, children, church members, and life in general seem to get in the way of her perfect life. Feeling robbed of the life she so richly deserves, Cynthia lashes out and her family pays the price.
Michael is successful, educated, and deacon of the church with wonderful children. Michael and his children have a close relationship. They count on him for advice, guidance, and unconditional love. Serving God is one of Michael’s greatest joys. He and his children delight in helping others. Michael loves every part of his life except for his marriage, which is stressful and unfulfilling to say the least.
Karen is the eldest child and bears the brunt of emotional destruction welded by her mother. Kevin is the only male offspring and uses humor and sarcasm as shields to protect himself. Kathy, the youngest, is sweet and seldom is a victim in the war, but lately watching the slow erosion of her family is taking a physical toll on her.
Michael longs for the marriage that Cynthia believes they have and dreams of providing a safe haven for their children. After twenty-five years of marriage, Michael is losing hope of his dream becoming reality. Can he match the public persona and the private reality? What will it cost to get that kind of marriage and home-life? Is it worth the cost? Who will pay the cost?
Cynthia wasn’t ready to go to bed, but she didn’t want to face Kevin again, so she stayed in her room. She was absolutely incensed that her family didn’t appreciate her more. How dare Kevin say that she was the cause of the discord in the family? How did she get such a disagreeable and unappreciative family? They were all just like Michael. He had never appreciated her. He had taken her for granted from the time they were married. This family would fall apart without her and they didn’t even realize it. At least that’s the way Cynthia saw the whole situation.
Kevin was just as glad to not see his mother. How could the entire world be wrong and his mother be right? How could anyone be so arrogant as to believe that he or she should control the lives of others? He sat in the den fuming about the state of affairs and wondering what to do about it. Part of him wanted to do exactly what Karen was doing—just leave it all behind. But there was another part of him that worried about Kathy. He also was sure he would miss his dad tremendously. The sound of the doorbell jolted him out of his state of confusion.
Kevin opened the door to see a police sergeant on the other side. Immediately, he knew something was wrong. “May I help you?” His voice trembled.
“I’m Sergeant Lloyd. Is this the home of Michael Owens?”
“Yes, it is.”
“May I ask who you are?”
“I’m his son, Kevin.”
“Is your mother at home?”
“Yes, she is.”
“May I speak with her?”
Kevin turned to walk down the hallway, but Cynthia was on her way to the door. “Who is at the door?”
“It’s a police officer.”
“A police officer? What has Karen done?” Cynthia huffed as she walked quickly and determinedly to the door. “What is it, Officer? Whatever my daughter has done, she will have to take care of herself. She is an adult.”
“This has nothing to do with your daughter, Mrs. Owens. Your husband was attacked in the park. He has been taken to the hospital. Would you like for me to drive…..”
Cynthia felt the room begin to spin. The room was suddenly stifling and she couldn’t breathe. The officer standing at her door became blurry and seemed to be swaying from side to side. Then she knew that she was going to faint. Kevin and Officer Lloyd caught her before she hit the floor and laid her down gently. Cynthia woke to see Kevin, Kathy, and Officer Lloyd standing over her. Kathy was wiping her face with a wet wash cloth.
After Cynthia was coherent, Officer Lloyd offered again to drive her to the hospital.
“I can drive us, thank you officer.” Kevin told him.
“Then I will leave you now. Please know that we will do everything that we can to find the people who did this and prosecute them to the fullest.”
“People? You mean there was more than one?” Cynthia asked in a voice that came close to reach hysteria.
“Yes ma’am. We think it was a gang. Your husband is in pretty bad shape. I urge you to get to the hospital quickly.”
“We’ll leave now. Thank you for coming, Officer.” Kevin said much more calmly than he felt.
Kathy gathered her mother’s purse and coat while Kevin called Karen. When they were all ready to go, Kevin picked up the keys to his truck.
“Can we please take my car? Your truck is not very comfortable.” Cynthia asked close to tears.
Kevin had driven about two blocks when Cynthia began yelling at him. “Can’t you go any faster? You should have asked for a police escort. We will never get there at this rate.”
“Mom…” Kevin began in an angry tone.
“He’s doing the best he can, Mom. We’ll get there. Try to calm down.” Kathy interrupted in a reassuring voice which seemed to help everyone relax.
After what seemed an eternity, they arrived at the emergency room entrance. Cynthia almost flew out of the car and nearly attacked the first nurse she saw. “Where is my husband? Where is my husband?”
“Calm down. Tell me your husband’s name.”
“Michael. His name is Michael. Now where is he?”
“Does Michael have a last name?”
“Well of course he does. Don’t be stupid.”
“His name is Michael Owens.” Kevin interjected.
“Oh yes. You are the Owens family.”
Before she could tell them where Michael was, Karen stormed into the emergency room lobby. “If my father dies, I will never forgive you.” She shouted, pointing her finger in her mother’s face.
“Don’t you speak to me like that, young lady. I am still your mother.”
“Not if my dad dies. You will never see me again. This is all your fault.”
The supervising nurse heard the commotion and came to the aid of the poor little nurse caught in the middle of Hurricane Karen and Volcano Cynthia. “Excuse me. This is a hospital and I will have to ask you hold your voices down. Who are you?”
“This is the Owens family.” The accosted nurse told her.
“Oh, the Owens family. Please follow me.” The supervisor escorted them to a private family room which was comfortably furnished with soft sofas. “Please wait here. The doctor will be in to see you as soon as he can.”
As the supervisor walked out of the door, leaving the family alone, they looked at each other. The fear in their eyes expressed more than any words could have. This wasn’t a good sign. While the nurses had been polite, they had not really answered any questions. They were still trying to digest the meaning of their predicament when the door opened and a man dressed in a suit walked in.
“Hello, I’m Reverend Hodges. I am a chaplain here at the hospital. Can I get anything for you?”
“Some answers would be nice.” Cynthia said.
“Well, I don’t have many, but I will tell you what I know. Your husband was attacked in the park by a gang and beaten severely. He is in surgery now. The hospital called in Dr. Silva a top neurosurgeon to operate. They are doing the best that they can.”
“Is he going to be alright?” Karen asked.
“Like I said, they are doing the best that they can do. May I ask if you are a family of faith?”
“Yes. We are. My husband is a deacon and I am the church secretary.”
“May I call your pastor for you?”
“At the moment we don’t have a pastor. Our pastor left to begin his ministry at the new long-term hospice facility.”
“Oh, yes. I have met him. I’m sure he would still be willing to come. Would you like for me to call him for you?”
“That might be nice. Thank you.”
Pastor Baird came into the family room about 11:30 that night. The family had been there for over an hour with no news. Cynthia burst into tears as soon as she saw her friend and former boss. He sat down beside her. “Would you like for me to pray with you?”
“Yes, please.” Cynthia said when she could control her voice again.
The family and Pastor Baird joined hands. “Our loving Father, we come to you tonight with a special request. We know that you already know that Your child, Michael is in critical condition. Lord, he has been Your faithful servant for years. We asked that You place Your healing hand upon him. We are asking for complete recovery, God, but never the less, not our will, but Yours be done. Strength this family to accept whatever you have in store for them. Amen.”
“Thank you, Pastor.” Kevin said.
“Why haven’t we heard anything?” Cynthia asked.
“Let me see if I can get some information.” Pastor Baird headed out the door.
“Let’s go get everyone something to drink.” Kevin told Kathy.
After they left the room, the silence was louder than any scream Cynthia had ever heard. “Are you going to speak to me?” She asked Karen.
“I have said all I have to say to you.”
Theresa Franklin grew up in Houston, Texas. After graduation she attended East Texas Baptist College. There she met her husband on a blind date. They married a short time later and moved outside of Beaumont, Texas where they raised their three children.
Theresa taught school for 12 years. Students with disabilities won her heart and she became Director of Special Education in an effort to better serve them. She retired in 2010 and began writing children’s books. She has now broadened her skills and written for adults.
Theresa is the author of children’s books, Don’t Forget Daddy and A Sunny Tomorrow. Her adult books include non-fiction Journey to Fulfillment and fiction Triumph Through Trial. She has written one curriculum guide for the novel Night of the Cossack, a historical fiction for young adults by Tom Blubaugh, titled Night of the Cossack, Lesson Plan. Soon to be released is another adult fiction titled Reflections of Rosalyn.
Theresa is now making plans to build a new house that will serve her and her husband for many years to come. She is looking forward to moving to her chosen community and becoming active in the local church. That won’t be possible until after her daughter’s wedding in June.
Thanks Kimberly. Great post.