Hunger on the Inside

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series Issue X: Summer 2012

By Lynne Stolper

His closet was filled to overflowing. It held his pants, suits, ties, shirts and shoes. There was more inside his chest. It was loaded down with sweaters, shirts, shorts, pajamas, socks and underwear. The top of the chest had a special compartment for jewelry. So many watches, rings, cufflinks, tie tacks and gold bracelets gathered to form a collection with so many pieces it was difficult to count them.

He wasn’t a rich man but did well. He came from a family where his parents divorced when he was a young child. His mother wanted his father to sleep in the kitchen since she didn’t want more children, two was enough she said. Since birth control was barely developed or available at this time, it made sense to the mother to remove her husband from their bed.

The father and husband did not take kindly to this arrangement. He moved out shortly and a divorce followed quickly.

In order for the mother to support her two small sons, there were times when she had to put them into state care. She couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them and pay the rent. When she gathered enough money from state aid, odd jobs and slip and fall cases that she created out of her own resourcefulness, the boys would come back home to be with her.

Sometimes the mother had to leave the boys alone in the house to make a living. She always did what was necessary. Since the boys were only two years apart and were extremely mischievous this led to a serious situation one day. The boys had set their mattress on fire and when the fire department arrived, the boys were jumping in the burning bed. Their mother was beside herself.

When the boys grew up they were physically undamaged, but emotionally it was a different story. They had no father growing up and a mother who did the best she could with the little she had and they never received the love and attention they desperately craved.

My father-in-law grew up to be a very enterprising man, but one with a seriously flawed ego. He needed to build himself up by knocking others down. He made himself the center of attention using crude and tasteless jokes sometimes at the expense of others.

My father-in-law and his brother did not speak for many years when they grew up because his brother sided with their father and he with his mother.

His need to fill the empty space inside himself was only quenched by owning more clothes than any three people could wear and buying so much food especially if it was on sale that he could pat himself on the back and say “Look what I did,” “I am a great provider,” “Look who I am,” “I am important.”

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