Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

How to be a Man

In Stories, secrets & dreams, The worst of times on June 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

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That day he left, we spoke and he reassured me upon his arrival back home in a series of months. Explaining how things will all be made up to me, starting with a visit to the local church that I took a new liking to.  With that promise along I was extremely excited.  Thomas also promised to bring home flowers for mama and he stressed how important it was this time for me not to spoil it.  I don’t know if it’s just me, I find it’s so difficult to keep secrets but for Thomas I’d do anything.

I remember mama would walk in our room and snap pictures of us in an attempt to catch us off guard. It kind of bothered me a little but Thomas being the oldest, enjoyed every moment of it so I had to roll with the punches.  I can still hear mama’s voice going on and on at family outings about how proud she was of the big step Thomas was taking.  He remained calm with that glare in his eyes that he’s had ever since I can remember.  Still remaining quiet while uncle Pete made a huge deal about it to everyone else.

All the kids in class had a favorite celebrity, but not me, my celebrity was Thomas.  Even the way he ironed those creases in his uniform to perfection, took tons of talent. I’ve even tried doing it to my school clothes but he’d noticed me struggling and step in to give me a hand. After he had began his journey I would try to get into the things that he used to do in the room like all those pushups. But again for some reason after five or six of them my tiny body would shut down.

I still have nightmares about that cold morning mama received a call that was shortly followed by the arrival of the American flag. The sunrise that morning was so cold mama set out two sweaters for me to wear beneath my coat and two pairs of socks to wear inside my boots. I didn’t really understand at the time because I was only six. When mama told me that the only God that created every beautiful thing had taken my big brother to Heaven, I felt happy. I thought that meant he got a promotion at work or something.

It was only later I began to realize the emptiness that held the house hostage. Mama took all his things out of the room except for the photos. I’d always imagined him knocking and shouting through the door while holding flowers in his hand for mama.

“Are you ready, Clyde? Let’s take a walk to the church.”

But as the years went by, that day never came to pass. I knew he was there, but I couldn’t see him. I felt him watching but if I would speak to him about things I felt the world would’ve pronounced me as crazy. Therefore I remained silent.

It was only six years after his flag was received in our home and mama was a new person – stronger than ever. The tears had faded away with the course of time. But my heart was pierced, the wound was infected as felt as if it didn’t wanna heal.  What can I do but continue to move forward to the horizon that was promised in the morning and meet up with my new best friend Richie in the school yard.  Anxiously waiting for another four years to pass so I can work during the summer at Richie’s dad’s barber shop maybe sweeping or something.  Just to give mama the same hand Thomas gave in the house.

By Matthew Feliciano

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