The day her parents departed, Mollie, eight years old, became
mother to her baby brother Joey. Daddy had left a bourbon trail
of tears, and mommy never did give a forwarding address to her
lover's out west. Soon, Mollie lost track of the clock, divided
not in minutes, but in meals she had fixed and baby's changes
of diapers. When Granny discovered them, only her tear stained
silhouette in the faded light and the two shuddering bodies clutching
her shattered the spell. Then, like beacons, Granny's eyes beckoned,
and silently gathered them to her home.
Mollie, a child of an alcoholic, had no memory before responsibility.
Now, for the first time, Granny could provide her with parenting
and the chance to be a child.
But over time, Granny's worsening arthritis made it harder
for her to get around and care for them. So without missing a
beat, Mollie filled the gap and became Granny's special helper.
Mollie knew just what to do; few children had ever had more practice
in keeping a household together.
And when Mollie began to babysit, the neighbors were amazed.
In just a few hours Mollie would, on her own, wash all the dishes,
do the laundry, and sometimes scrub the floors. She would refuse
extra money; when pressed, she would just say, "I hate dirt,"
and smile. Mollie relished hard work. The harder she drove herself,
the less time she had to miss the childhood she never knew she
Mollie's suffering extended to her relationships. As she grew
older, she'd fall in love again and again, but always remain
on the losing end. Her men read more like a casualty list: alcoholics;
drug addicts; the chronically unemployed - she loved them all.
She couldn't understand how she continually drew men who invariably
drained her dry.
Mollie had become a martyr without a cause. She could easily
spot the proverbial "diamond in the rough" who only
needed the spark that a caring, sensitive woman could provide.
Yet, her alcoholics returned to drinking, her addicts advanced
to harder substances, and her chronically unemployed outlasted
the welfare rolls. Then, Mollie would sink into an ever deepening
despair, only to be buoyed again by her next "project."
But Mollie was nearly consumed by her biggest rescue operation:
her baby brother Joey, now 32 and nearly grown. Before Granny
died, Mollie had solemnly promised her she would always look
out for her brother, who resembled their father in his fondness
for trouble and drink.
When his prospects would collapse, Mollie would take him home,
feed and clothe him, give him whatever money she had and send
him on his way. Then, worrying herself into sleeplessness, she
would sit helplessly while his life crumbled. She felt like a
doctor, watching her patient die because she didn't know how
to stop the bleeding.
And when the drink finally caught up with him; when his body
was shipped home from that distant town, Mollie was enveloped
with loneliness. Grief stricken, she mourned for the brother
who had never lived, and felt shame in believing she had failed
Granny. With Joey dead, she saw her life in ashes.
Alone after the funeral, she drove to Granny's grave and wept.
And then, in the stillness she heard a voice, not in words but
as a beacon that was finding a path to her heart.
Granny's love was reaching out for her, as it had so many
years before, imploring her to take back her life. For the first
time, Mollie was experiencing an unearthly peace, transfigured
in silence. She raised her head slowly towards the overcast sky,
and swore she saw a half moon breaking through the veil of her