Hindsight 20/20, there's no one to point a finger at or blame anymore and the entire incident was childish. Truth is though, there were many immature scenarios that that happened over the years and I can't count them all. Sometimes life throws a bunch of lemons around and no one can do a juggling act.

If anything, the lemons are in bad taste when there are allergies involved and, let's face it, not everyone in this world likes lemon aid. I can't name a single person in my family that will drink the stuff. I, for one, don't even like lemon pie and I'm telling the truth.

If I could take a picture of the yesteryear's with a workable camera, I'm likely to have prettier snapshots to pass around. Those of us in the Clementine family couldn't afford anything much in the 50's anyway. The other very real fact is that we weren't smiling a lot. We didn't own a camera and we all hated each other.

Therefore, I rely on the photographic memory I was graced with at birth and remember everything. This photographic memory can't be traced to one memorable event bringing it to surface. For one reason or the other, I've always remembered things in vivid detail and it's helped me.

I remember when I was a 7-year old, living in the heart of Houston, with a struggling family of a dozen people. I was the little baby of the tribe, with two parents, six brothers, 4 sisters, and an attitude. There was absolutely no privacy in my life and I wanted to run away. Of course, I couldn't run away when I didn't have any place to go.

At the time, it was not yet 1960 and my mind was taking a lot of mental pictures. Most of the photography involved in the photo shoots were full of twisted imagery. Life was all black-and-white to me then and I was missing out on the colors I wanted to see. No one else in the family was as restless as I was and no one understood me.

Mother, otherwise known as Wanda D. Clementine, married Francis in the late 40's, when the lemons started building up and two love birds lost their wings. If they were ever meant to fly, they didn't ascend any higher than the trees. Sometimes Mama would act dare devilish and be a tomboy with her kids, helping us to build forts in the summer. My father's extent of acceleration involved the steps he climbed at work.

It wasn't by choice that my Dad was a workaholic all of those years. He had a lot of mouths to feed and he put in a lot of hours as an engineer. In the summers, he even worked as a lifeguard in our neighborhood swimming pool. My mother was a workaholic too. She worked overtime being a mom and seeing us through the good times and bad.

Even though the pink cloud of their marriage had turned dark right away, babies were being born right and left, and I wasn't excluded from the plan they made. The idea was to have a large, close knit family and to grow old together. Sure enough, the family did age over the years and no one died. The close knit prayer was never answered though.

"Beverly is going to grow up beautifully and shine like a diamond." My folks said. These words were spoken out of pure love for me at the time. I was born around Christmas time, 1952, and l lived in Texas for the rest of my life. I, like my siblings, eventually married and had a tribe to call my own. My kids always called me "Mama Beverly."

My parents spoke fondly of Laura, Kim, Darla, Denise, Bob, Timothy, Eric, Sammy, Joe, and Danny as well. We were the Clementine family. Wonderful dreams were spoken of on the day that each of us were born. Our parents had high hopes for all of us in the family.

Yet, those old lemons piled up mile high and time took our Houston tribe far away from each other. It was bound to happen, I suppose. Life throws a curve ball and those yellow lemons start rolling your way. What's left of it all is twelve grown adults who no longer love each other.

Like I said, Hindsight 20/20, there's no one to blame though. Life is what it is and we sink or swim. It being my father was an actual life saver in his life offered hope for some of us. I, for one, was pulled out of the high and mighty waters in the nick of time. Dad saved me at the age of seventy-two, not that it was actual water I was drowning in, and I was rescued from self.

Let's just say that good old Dad brought his entire family to the reconciliation of loving one another at the exact right time. He was age-87, mother was age-85, and we Clementine "kids" were senior citizens. Father does know best and he proved it in the right way. He simply up and said he'd had it up to his ears with a half century old argument that had to be settled.

My mother, Laura, Kim, Darla, Denise, Bob, Timothy, Eric, Sammy, Joe, and Danny were seated around the Thanksgiving table. I was soon to be 70-years young with gray hair, dentures, and cataracts. Half my sisters and brothers were wearing dentures also and more than a third of us were losing our memories. Thank God for Father Clementine to come and set the record straight.

He reminded us that we weren't children and he expected us to be civil with one another. "Since Denise, Sammy, and Joe are church going folks, we'll look to them for an example. The rest of you numbskulls can either pretend to be grown adults or leave my house immediately."

Laura was mad at Eric. I had a corn to pick over Timothy, Kim and Joe. Each adult hated the other. Laura, Denise, and Darla hadn't spoken to one another in a decade, Danny and Darla wrote each other off as losers, and I wanted to leave my father's house immediately. It seemed that only our parents had found peace with each other.

"Listen up, people." My father said, "Your old man is dying of cancer and the Lord Himself called us all together. It's time to let bygones be bygones, folks. Just because your mother never used any birth control and we had all of you, doesn't mean that you're supposed to hate each other. I'm not going to say anything more now. I'm going to eat this overly cooked turkey your mother made and listen.

I guess I don't have to tell you, Thanksgiving dinner lasted for hours and the Clementine family found peace again. We wobbled and we fell, picking up each others hickory canes, and life went on. All of our walkers, wheelchairs, and canes rested as we sat in my father's living room and talked the night away.

Denise, Sammy, and Joe converted a few of us into their religion, Timmy, Kim, and Laura peacefully decided to take a nap in the extra bedrooms, Eric and Bob decided to buy a house together, and Darla and I would spend the following Saturday getting our hair done. Needless to say, Francis and Wanda D. lived out the last few years of their lives as happy parents.

Hindsight 20/20, the years of family separation weren't necessary and my father changed it. It's sad to say, it took an old man dying of cancer to put the heart back in the tribe. Today, we Clementine "kids" spend a lot of time together, comforting our father and telling him he's loved dearly. Mother is also loved by her children and, in turn, she loves her family.

My father says, "We're the Clementine family and we finally made use of the lemons."

November 27, 2019 12:42

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.