There are a million stories of Glen and his family and their days overseas like seeing the Mona Lisa, which is now covered most of the time, and climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which no one is allowed to do anymore, but those stories can wait. They visited battlefields, like Bastogne, Verdun and Normandy, and palaces like the Alhambra and the fountain of lions which was pretty good for a people who had no graven images. There were castles and a whole walled city of Carcassonne, and the beaches at Cannes where the children were not allowed to go.
Sister Carol fell off a canon in Lisbon and left her stuffed animals in Rome. They got mailed to a future stop, the animals I mean. It would have cost too much to mail the canon.
Brother Tom made a baseball bat and found an acceptable ball during a week’s rest stop in Austria. Several German boys joined the game, but it was hard to play ball in a field where the grass came up to the knees.
There was a Ferris wheel in Vienna so big it had train cars for coaches, and the Lipizzaner Stallions that danced as good as Trigger. There were so many things and so many stories, but eventually the family found a big boat in Rotterdam and headed for home.
School was just school after that, though it was hard to get into the routine again. Glen missed his one room school, Don Antonio at the chalk board, and that early morning bell that rang merrily from the church steeple and called the children to come and learn. By contrast, the bell in his school sounded like a prison bell, and the school felt a bit that way as well.
Still, life in general went back to the way it had been before the trip overseas. It was almost as if that trip never happened. Glen supposed it was to be filed away for later remembrance. So Brother Tom got all the attention and managed the parents to his liking. Sister Carol, being the baby as well as the only girl certainly got her share, and Glen went back to being the disappointment and afterthought if he was thought of at all. In a way that was fine, because Glen understood that when he was thought of it was in the most negative and critical way possible. Even when he did something right, it was never right, and when he did something well it was still no good. Life was empty and hard for Glen, but at least Glen imagined it could not get any worse.
It got worse. Yes it did.
Glen was taken to the school psychologist who supposedly knew all about children. After only a single one hour examination, the man, an amateur, rightly surmised that Glen was not working up to his potential because he found certain things boring. Glen wished he knew enough back then to suggest that what he needed was some positive reinforcement, but he did not. The solution the man came up with could not have been worse if it had been conceived by the devil himself. He said, don’t make it easy for him. If there are obstacles in Glen’s way, he will rise up and overcome them.
From that day on, Glen’s life became a living Hell. His parents were already inclined to be negative and critical toward him. Now they had official sanction to ruin whatever he was involved in, interested in or went after. The man said don’t make it easy, but Glen’s parents interpreted that as meaning make it as hard as possible if not impossible. What Glen needed was guidance, to find something he was good at that he could pursue, something that his parents could support, where they could be proud of him. What he got was their every effort to make everything as difficult as possible, and in every sense, for a child, impossible. Under no circumstances were they going to say a positive word, and Glen floundered, directionless for the next twenty years, which just reinforced in their minds that Glen was hopeless and useless.
I cannot tell you how many things in Glen’s life his parents, and in particular his Mother with her prime networking skills destroyed. They got him fired from two jobs and in a third they moved him from the fast track to the never to be promoted in a million years track. Back when Glen was trying to invest in church ministry, he struggled in three churches. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence that they interfered, but it is very strong circumstantial evidence, and Glen has often wondered exactly who his mother called and exactly what she said.
“Thank you for hiring my son. You will need to keep on his back to get good work out of him. I wish you the best.” That would be enough. Any employer or church member would hear: “Thank you for hiring my no-good, retarded son who needs his mother to call on his behalf. He is lazy and useless so I sarcastically say, good luck.”