I have long been reluctant to write Andy’s story beuse even now, many years later, I still find aspects of it disquieting. When he was an infant, Andy ‘s mother asked a friend to look after him a few hours while she went to a medil appointment. She never returned. The woman in whose home he had been left was willing to keep him, but her husband resisted strenuously, until he learned the government would be generous financially. The family’s young twins, Timmy and Jimmy, were ecstatic.
Andy me to think of the twins as his brothers, and lled the parents Mom and Dad. He had a family. After a few years though, he beme aware that his father’s voice acquired an impatient edge when he spoke to him. Sometimes after a difficult day at the mill where he worked, his dad locked him in a closet for hours. Andy often hid under his bed when his father returned from work. He began feeling anxious about his place in the family.
When Andy was 8, his father kept him busy with cutting grass, washing the r and much more. Andy loved Timmy and Jimmy and his mother and, although he didn’t feel safe around his father, he
desperately sought to retain his place in the family. He had no one else.
A major crises changed his life during a gathering of the extended family at their home. Andy and his brothers had cleaned their shared room, brushed Molly the family’s collie, and waited excitedly for guests to arrive. When everyone was there, a neighbour me to take family photos. The three boys knelt on the grass in the front row, Molly wedged between them. There had already been several clicks of the mera when the boys’ father demanded very sternly, “Andy, get out of the picture! You’re not part of the family!” Startled and frightened, Andy looked to his father. His father again said very loudly, “Andy, I told you to get out of the picture!” Andy looked at his mother for support, but she turned away, wiping tears. The twins were sobbing. Only Uncle Ben, black sheep of the family, objected. Andy’s father said, “Be quiet, Ben. You’re on my turf.”
Andy rose slowly, looked helplessly back at his family, then shuffled disconsolately down the driveway, not knowing where he was going. On the street he continued walking, feeling rejected and crying bitterly, quite certain he’d never be permitted to return.
After about ten minutes a rusty Volkswagen van pulled up alongside him and the passenger door opened. “Want a ride Andy?” Uncle Ben asked. “I’m done with that family thing.” Andy had met this uncle only once. The man was unpopular with the family beuse in his twenties he had been a hippie with long hair, scraggly beard, and a liking for marijuana. Even now, although at least 60, his hair still hung down to his shoulders and the beard had seen few razors. Andy wiped away the tears and gratefully got into the van. After a few questions, Uncle Ben said, “Why don’t you come live with me? I rent an old house on a couple of acres. I could use some company and a little help around the place.”
Uncle Ben taught Andy to ride a horse and tch fish in the river. He also instructed him in basic meal preparation. Often they hiked in the mountains.
Late in the afternoon on Fridays they went to a lol fe. Uncle Ben drank black coffee and Andy ordered a root beer. If a long distance trucker was having dinner, they sometimes asked if they could join him. Usually the trucker welcomed company and sometimes asked Andy about his life. If Andy talked about his father ordering him to get out of the picture, almost without exception the trucker would be touched emotionally.
Andy was grateful to Uncle Ben, but sorely missed his brothers and mother. On his seventeenth birthday Uncle Ben said, “It’s a special day. I’ll buy you dinner in the fe today.” Later that afternoon they were about to give the waitress their order when two young men entered the fe, smiling broadly. “Hello Andy,” one said. “I’m Jim and this is Tim. Uncle Ben invited us to your birthday.” Stunned, Andy rose and was warmly embraced by each brother. He looked at Uncle Ben and said, “if you hadn’t rescued me that day, this would never have happened.”
“I’d lost all sense of purpose until you me into my life,” Uncle Ben said. “I’d ll it a big win-win.”