Becoming An Adult in Three Weeks My Senior Year of High School

22 Apr

When I was a senior in high school, and my sister a freshman, we were on our own for three weeks when my parents went to India. It was the trip of a lifetime for them, as my Dad was asked by the Indian government to help with the fledgling textile industry. Years later he would sometimes bemoan this trip as a foreshadowing of the death of the US textile industry, which lead to the demise of my Dad’s business.
But in 1973 it was an exotic trip. My Mom took a leave from her job teaching in West New York. She cooked and froze meals for weeks preparing for my sister and me. She worried that we would not eat.
My brother was on winter break from college but was already obligated to drive my maternal grandparents to Florida and spend several weeks with them. (They never went again. )
I had many emergency numbers to call. We had lots of family and friends to worry about us in my parents absence. My Mom had even made arrangements for a teacher friend, Lola, to call us each morning to be sure we would not be late for school.
The first night we were home we had 18 phone calls from people checking on us. 18 times we had to jump up and get the phone. There were no remote or cell phones then. Only the phones in the kitchen and my parent’s bedroom. My sister and I started fighting over who would answer the phone. We knew if we did not answer people would worry.
Each morning my Mom’s friend called. So did several others. It was almost impossible to get ready for school we spent do much time answering the phone. We finally asked them to STOP!
I was in charge of driving us to school each morning and be on time. We did fine!
And those prepared meals… We never touched them. We were invited out to dinner every night. By the end we did not want to go, but people were trying to be helpful so we went. We had lots of interesting conversations and meals, but we had lots of homework to do. When my parents came home jetlagged, my Mom did not have to cook for weeks. We just ate those meals.
Even the teachers at North Bergen High School were aware of our situation. My sister and I were good students, but Mrs Whitehouse spoke to me each day to be sure we were fine. And we were.
We did it. My sister and I kept up our school work, were always on Time, kept the house clean and the car running. Well one time I left the car lights on and a friend of my Dad’s helped us out.
My sister and I would laugh at a the backup emergency measures my Mom had put in place to keep us safe and fed. ( Much like the measures I would do for my children. We do become our mothers. )
When they came back from India they had many stories to tell. But so did we. Those three weeks turned me Into an adult. I knew from that point on that I could succeed in anything.

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