Thursday, October 27, 2011
WAITING TO FORGET (SHEILA KELLY WELCH)
T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window. But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents--Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son. Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.
T.J. is sitting in the hospital emergency room waiting. His little sister Angela had already been brought in by ambulance ahead of them. Marlene and Dan were in with her now, but he was told to wait and that’s just what he’s doing.
Angela had fallen twelve feet. Marlene and Dan Westel had become T.J. and Angela’s ‘adoptive parents’ a year ago. T.J. was 12 and Angela was 8.
When T.J. was quite young, his mother Celia left him and Angela with her friend Tanya, he had just begun kindergarten and little Angela was still stumbling around in smelly diapers. Celia told Tanya that she was just going to get her hair done but T.J. knew that was a lie. He’d heard his Mom on the phone talking to a man making arrangements to meet at a bar. However, Celia did not return to pick up T.J. and Angela that night or the next morning. Tanya was angry as she had a job interview that morning and didn’t know what she was going to do with Celia’s kids.
Tanya decides to leave 5-year-old T.J. alone to look after baby Angela and leaves the apartment. He tried to get Angela cereal but she spilled it and began to cry. She pooped in her diaper so T.J. took if off to try and clean it in the bathroom as there were no more clean ones left. While he was doing that, Angela sat down with her bare bottom on the scratchy living room carpet and began crying louder because it hurt her diaper rash so badly. Then she began banging her feet and fists on the floor which was interrupted by a banging on the apartment door. T.J. was sure it would be his Mom so he opened the door to find a neighbour standing there: “Are you kids all alone here?” The older woman came in, used the phone, then collected up Angela and gave her a bath. Next thing T.J. knows is that two police officers are in the apartment just as Tanya returns home. Tanya tells police that Celia often left the kids alone. T.J. and Angela are put into the police car and driven to a “blue house” where they lived about a year. Thus begins their life of foster home jumping.
As T.J. sits and waits in the waiting room of the emergency department he looks through his “life book” and reminisces about his and Angela’s lives so far. T.J. had a lot of responsibility for a little boy while living with his mother, always feeling responsible for his sister and worrying about his mother. The constant worry ate him alive.
I was so enamoured with little T.J. He was yet a little boy in many ways yet a strong, independent young man at other times. I loved this book for its endearing qualities, good writing and good characterizations. I would highly recommend it to anyone!