Joanne and I had been childhood friends, went through school together and hung out with each other when ever possible. My family was full of drama and chaos. My dad was a alcoholic and there were many fights in our home when he came home drunk and broke. So I stayed away for as long as I could and as often as I could.

I was always at Joanne’s house, her mom and dad took me in like one of their own. So much laughter and sharing and just a fun loving, caring environment.

Her mom got sick when we were in high school and died before she could see Joanne graduate. After the funeral her warmhearted, caring dad seemed to change. He didn’t want anyone around and never went out.

I always thought he really wanted everyone there, but his hurt, anger and loneliness was changing him. Eventually everyone did drift away. The kids never visited or phoned.

I still went almost daily. He would always yell though the door to go away, but I stood firm and kept ringing the door bell. After a few minutes I am sure he got tired of hearing it and would come to the door. He was always so rude and insulting but I always, said; “I just stopped in to say hi, and wish you a great day”. He would grumble and slam the door. I knew it was all a front to cover up how hurt he really was, you could see it in his eyes. But he was too proud to say it or ask for anything. He always felt asking was a sign of weakness and he was determined no one would ever see him as a weak man.

One day when I was going up the stairs to ring the door bell, the side window was open. I heard something, wasn’t sure what it was so I stood there for a few moments, listening. It was him crying, I just knew how hard that was to show anyone. I prepared myself for the regular grumbling from him as I was about to ring the door bell. Without fail after a few minutes he did open the door, the usual cussing and then he slammed the door. When I saw his face this time, it was obvious he had been crying but didn’t want anyone else to see.

It got to be routine, almost like a game where I always rang the door bell and he would open the door then slam it. I talked to Joanne daily. I would tell her I went to the house daily but it was the same old thing. I asked if they were coming home for Christmas, she said no. The last time they had, he had thrown them and the grand kids out. He was going to be all alone for Christmas.

I went to the local department store and bought the biggest Christmas stocking they had. I bought all sorts of candies, peanuts, cookies, cakes and some socks, a tie and some handkerchiefs. This was the only money I had and I was suppose to get my hair cut but I used it anyway.

The next day was Xmas Eve, I went and rang the door bell as usual and he didn’t disappoint me. Grumbled and slammed the door. After dinner that night, I went out the back door and down the street. I had filled the stocking so full things were falling out. I snuck up the stairs and placed the stocking against the door. The next day being Christmas I went out in that afternoon earlier then usual. But this time I didn’t go ring the door bell. I sat at the bus stop away from the house. If I leaned forward I could see the house but he couldn’t see me. I am certain he thought something was wrong, as this had been the first day that I have ever missed. It was over an hour and I was starting to get really cold. The stocking was still leaning up against the door, so I knew he had not come out and no one came to visit. Finally, I saw the door open and stood far enough away where he could not see me. He looked around like he was looking for me to yell at. Then he looked down and saw the Christmas stocking.

This still makes me cry when I think of the look on his face and the smile that went from ear to ear. He didn’t even go inside, he knelt down and emptied the sock right there. He kept looking up but couldn’t see me, tears were streaming down his face. I could hear him crying. He was crying and laughing and looking to see if anyone was coming. He finally picked everything up and went inside.

It warms my heart to know just for a moment I heard him laugh and he knew someone cared. The routine was the same for years to come. I would ring the door bell and he would slam the door in my face. Every year he got a Christmas stocking at his front door. Actually one year I thought for sure I could see him behind the drapes. Like he was watching to see who it was. I am certain he always knew it was me. I never spoke of it and neither did he and he still lives alone in the house. I don’t go over as often, but still put the Christmas stocking at his door every year.

As Christmas will so be here I can’t help but to think of him… how he lost the love of his life and how that changed him forever. I see and feel the hurt and loneliness. I don’t take the door slamming personally or the cussing. Actually I am grateful to have someone like him in my life that gives me purpose to be a little kinder everyday no matter what kind of a day I am having.

This is the very first time I have ever spoke of this. Prior to this, just me and god knew about it. –  Anon


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