CARRYING HATRED WOULD ONLY IMPRISON MYSELF
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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