Mary always told us that since she was the parent (according to her definition, but certainly not Webster’s!) it was her way or the highway. She was in charge and she would tell us that daily. It meant that there was no negotiation about anything.
Abby and I would tiptoe around her sleeping body in the recliner, and try to hurry out the door to get on with our day. It didn’t matter to us if we had breakfast because the food was memorable only in its odd consistency and color. Mary called it oatmeal but Abby and I thought of it as wallpaper paste.
We would pay for leaving without telling her but it was worth it. Our new-found freedom from the hibernating bear was a welcome reprieve.
We hoped that one of the neighbors would take pity on us and offer to fix us lunch. This meant we could have something normal and not have to return home.
When we saw our dad return from his office, we would run into his arms and feel safe. Once in the house, Mary would greet us with nasty comments about just showing up for meals. Truthfully, that was the last reason we had returned. Our dad was the draw and the reason for our happy faces.