Thursday, April 11, 2013


Today, forty-three years ago I was planning to get my driver license. It was Tuesday night and I couldn't wait until Thursday. It's an excitement that most of us experience. The privilege to drive makes us feel grown-up.

On Wednesday those plans were put on hold indefinitely and to this day, I have absolutely no memory of my drivers test or getting my license.

We always caught one school bus to go to school and another to return because we went to work at my parents grocery store after school.

April 9, 1970. We got off the bus and walked a block to the store. We typically walked but on this day it was far from usual. Vehicles lined both sides of the busy highway that my parents store was on. We could see that the parking lot was full of vehicles as well. As we approached, people that I don't know began to shield my twin brother and me from the horror that existed there.

I'm not even sure who told me nor how I was told that both of my parents had been shot and that my father was definitely dead and that my mother may be dead also. I do remember weeping and pounding a metal Wonder Bread sign with my fists.

A man whose name I don't remember (if I ever knew it) came to me and my brother and asked if he could take us home. On the way up Wilkes Rd we stopped a school bus which our younger brother and sister were on. They were frightened and confused. No matter how grown up our coming birthday made us feel, we were kids so I'm sure that the way we told our younger siblings (Cathy and Ricky) wasn't delivered appropriately.

The man who took us home wore glasses. As he drove to the front of our house he removed them as he took a handkerchief from his pocket. He cried as he told us that he was my father's friend and that he loved him and my mother. In my grief and confusion, I don't know if I ever saw that man again and certainly never thanked him for his sincere kindness.

This was an incredibly horrifying day for us. To add to the horror, we learned that it was our grandfather who had shot my father in the back and killed him. Then attempted to kill my mother by shooting her. He shot at my cousin, Betty Brewington as she appealed to him to stop. He then walked home, leaving his car in front of my parents store. He was arrested a short while later.

The following hours are a bit of a blur with some memories of my brother and I going to Jodi and Lisa Hiltner's house then talking to my mother as she asked us to be strong. I remember sitting in my parents big Buick listening to Loretta Lynn singing "Why Did God Take My Daddy". Mostly, I remember being confused. Really, really confused.

I think that I saw my grandfather only twice after that. Once from a distance in court and once prior to that at Dorthia Dix Hospital where he was placed for mental evaluation prior to his trial. My siblings and I went there to visit him although I am not sure why we did. I remember very well him peering through the security glass in the door before he entered the room. He was clearly troubled. He quickly learned that the visit wasn't an expression of love when my sisters rattled him with the question "Why?" He kept repeating to himself "Oh me. Oh my." He then turned to me in perhaps a solicitation of friendship or understanding. "Boy, do you want to shake your grand-daddy's hand?" I remained silent as I looked away, refusing to shake his hand.

As years went by I remember trying to hate my grandfather, Paul Brewington. Hate should have came easy since he murdered my father and attempted to murder my mother and since we were really never close to begin with.

As I've matured I've realized that while I didn't love Paul Brewington, I didn't hate him either. I just kind of divorced myself from him. I've never actually forgiven him for what he did but my ability to not harbor hatred gave me a freedom that has probably served me well over time.

I was at work when I learned that Paul Brewington had died in prison. I didn't feel any sorrow. I am pleased that I didn't feel any glee. It was sort of like reading the obituary of someone I didn't know. These probably weren't the emotions that would please God but it's the best that I could offer.

Why would a man murder his own son? How could a man murder his own son? One day, he seemed like anyone else. He owned property. He was a landlord to a lot of the people living in the community. Sometimes a bit onery but certainly not one we'd typically expect to go on a shooting spree.

I hope that sometime before I stand before God that I will be able to forgive Paul Brewington, not just for what he did to my parents but for what he did to my siblings and me, for what he did to my Grandmother, my aunts, uncles, cousins and to the man who gave my brother and me a ride home that April 9th. I hope to be able to forgive him for what he did to himself as well. I'm certain that his soul yearns for my forgiveness as he paces in pergatory chanting "Oh me. Oh my." I pray that I will be strong enough to set it free.

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