Fifteen Years of Lorraine

Lisa Juliet Ramsey

When Daddy was living in an apartment he'd pick my brother, Jack, and me up on Saturdays. We'd have fun, the three of us. We'd go to McDonald's for cheeseburger Happy Meals, over to the corner shop for penny candy, and to the Bowl-A-Rama. Whenever it was my turn to bowl, they'd both say something funny and I'd just giggle uncontrollably and drop the ball with a thump. We'd have Cokes and red and blue jellyfish candy and throw tons of gutter balls.

I can remember thinking that it wasn't so bad that Daddy didn't live with us anymore. Since he'd been gone, he started taking us places all the time. I thought that maybe it wasn't my fault that he left us. The time in the car when Jack asked him if he was moving back home for Christmas and I said not a word, maybe that wasn't the reason he didn't come home. Unfortunately, the following weekend I was introduced to Ms. Reason herself. I can remember the exact day that I started to hate her.

Daddy picked us up that Saturday morning and told us we'd be meeting his friend, Lorraine, and that she would be coming with us to the train show in Latrobe. First of all, I wasn't thrilled about the whole "train show" idea, and I was a little hesitant about meeting this so called "friend." Since when did Daddy have a friend that was a girl?

When we stopped off at her house to pick her up, Daddy thought it would be a good idea for us to come in and see her dog. It was pretty cool how the little Yorkshire terrier would run and fetch his squeaky hamburger. It was funny when he would drop it in front of you, his lopped off stub of a tail wagging back and forth like a teacher scolding a child. This won me over until we got out of the car and started walking into the stupid train exhibit.

I wasn't sure if I was seeing things clearly or if my eyes were playing mean tricks on me, so I began to slink behind them, where I scanned the scene, watching tiny trains roll on their black steel tracks over papier mache mountaintops past happy plastic people jumping rope and ice-skating on sky blue ponds. But when I saw her slender white fingers with the cranberry tips slide in between Daddy's, I felt as though someone had swung a baseball bat square into my throat. I could barely catch my breath and a tear sneaked out of the corner of my eye. And I was pissed. Pissed that I'd let her make me cry, pissed that I was at the damn train show, pissed that Jack didn't seem to notice anything wrong, and pissed cause at that moment, I felt my four-piece family getting viciously struck by a semi-truck. Being only eight years old didn't stop hatred from piling up high in my little gut.

Weeks and months went by and it didn't get any better. In fact, it got worse. Mom filed for divorce and Lorraine and Daddy bought a house together a half an hour away. She tried and tried to be my friend, but her fake sweet voice dripping with sour honey made it a lost cause. I had already made up my mind to hate her. To despise her. In fact, I despised her from the first minute that I laid eyes on her burgundy leather jacket and poop-brown Firebird.

Saturday visits continued at their new house and I forced my girlfriends, Caroline and Jess, to come with me so I wouldn't go nuts. Caroline and I played house with our Cabbage Patch Kids and planned what kind of pets and what kind of lamps and kitchen tables we would have when we grew up. We had fun, but she had one fault: she was nice to Lorraine. I tried to explain to her that she was falling into Lorraine's web of lies and obvious attempts to get her on her side. I wasn't about to so much as force a smile upon my lips for this conniving witch. She was a wretched home-wrecker and besides, her cooking sucked.

Speaking of cooking, Jessica was just the opposite of Caroline when she came for Daddy-visits with me. Jess was completely on my side. We'd sign to each other from across the dinner table, barely touching spaghetti and meatballs covered in thick red sauce. The best part about it was that Lorraine knew we were "talking" about her. She caught on fast, and she knew she hadn't a chance against Jess and me.

We'd go through her make-up filled drawers in the bathroom and emerge with electric-blue lined eyes and hot pink mouths. She hated that. She hated it so much that one day she accused us of stealing one of her gold necklaces. Just for that I began wiping sticky green boogers down the front of the snow-white rabbit fur coat that she kept in my closet.

One day she tricked me into making sugar cookies with her. I almost liked her that day. I was so mad at myself. So later that same afternoon, I hid her precious dog in my room and told her he ran away. Yes, I was cruel. I was an awful, hateful child. Jack was the opposite. He got along fine with her. Everyone wished I could to the same. Yet I was determined to keep up my blatant dislike to teach her a lesson about being a home-wrecker.

I can remember yelling at Jack one night when we were camping out in our tent in the backyard. I was crying hysterically and screaming at him. He was betraying mom and me by liking her, or so I thought at the time. I couldn't understand. One night Lorraine sat me down and tried to talk to me about the whole situation. I could tell that she really was trying, but I wasn't ready to give in. That wouldn't happen for a few more years.

I guess our big breakthrough happened when I was in high school. I was growing up and began to look at things differently. I realized that feelings develop between people and sometimes those feelings are everything. I began seeing Lorraine as a person, a friend even. She stuck up for me when I argued with my dad sometimes. By the time I got to college, I began to like the meals she cooked. The lasagna and rigatoni that I hated as a child somehow tasted sweet and authentic now. I began buying her Christmas gifts and birthday gifts, and felt awful when her mother passed away. I began to treat her like a member of my family.

The silent forgiveness we both understood wasn't something that came overnight. It took years for me to forget the horrible person that I used to see in burgundy leather, the one that drove me to Keystone Lake in her cheesy brown Firebird with the huge golden eagle painted on the hood, the lady that would drop me off at the roller rink in middle school, when she knew I was going there to meet boys. I finally saw that she was just trying to slink her way into my heart. After fifteen long years of struggle, I finally let her in. And I was proud to call myself maid-of-honor in Lorraine and Daddy's wedding.

© Lisa Juliet Ramsey

Originally from North Hungtingdon, PA, Lisa Ramsey now lives in Wilmington, NC with her husband of one year and their two labrador retrievers. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from West Virginia University and is currently the marketing coordinator at a local country club.

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