Life Growing up on Chapel Street

Wow! Looking back on my life now, it doesn't even seem real. I was young and didn't know any different but it doesn't even seem real.

My brother Paul wasn't around much. He got in trouble with the law and so he was in and out of group homes and jail. But when he was around there was never a dull moment.

The apartment we lived in was infested with cockroaches. It was absolutely disgusting. You would walk into the kitchen, turn the light on and the kitchen would move there were so many cockroaches. The apartment was sprayed numerous times to get rid of the cockroaches which seemed to lessen the number.

Our laundry room in the basement had rats and they were trying to get rid of them. The rats had made a tunnel to the front step which they filled in with cement. The rats still managed to get out. I heard rumours that the rats were as large as cats but I thankfully never saw one. I really dreaded going down to the laundry room.

When Paul was around, he would walk around in his gitch. If I happened to bring a friend home, I would have to peak my head in the door and ask him to put his clothes on. My friends would often just get a good laugh from his behaviour. I was really embarrassed.

My mom was pretty depressed. She slept a lot. She had a severe stutter and a lot of fears about speaking to people. My mom did the best she could with what she had. Raising three children on her own without any financial support from my dad would be pretty tough. Living on social assistance as a single parent with a son in and out of jail must have been very trying.

We didn't have a lot of food but thankfully when my mom was too unwell to get out of bed, I ate a lot of toast with peanut butter. (Thankfully I am not allergic to peanuts because that was what sustained me.) I love toast and peanut butter. Thankfully things didn't get that bad very often and thankfully we had bread in the house. When the peanut butter ran out I would eat jam.

In grade ten I had day surgery. My brother came to pick me up because at this time my mom was working at a restaurant part time. I never saw him but I could hear him laughing in the hallway and muttering to himself. I can only imagine what the nurses were thinking about this guy. Of course they didn't release me because of his bizarre behaviour. I was so mad that I had to stay in the hospital. That was my brother's typical behaviour. I had to stay in the hospital until 9:30 or 10pm. So much for day surgery eh?

My brother's behaviour just went from bad to worse. Bizarre guy! But the story will continue next time. I promise you the good stuff is coming. I'm just kinda giving you some background to give you an idea of where I came from.