I watched the movie and just wept. I so related to her. Not that I was traipsing around the country fleeing from debt collectors and social services, but in that I came from a flawed and dysfunctional family. My father was my hero, my father was an alcoholic. My mother and I were not close when I was a child; I admired her and I feared her. Which to anyone who knew her later in life would think that was crazy. But she was the one who would iron my dress on a cold morning so I would be warm and then get drunk and hit me across the chest with a belt. This is not a woe is me story. It is just a fact. I grew up in a home where I never knew what awaited me when I would get home from school. Would my father be happy and teach me to swim or would he be drunk again? Would my mom read me a story or would she be so drunk she would be passed out? There were the years after my dad retired from the LAPD that he woke up still drunk and went to bed even drunker. There were times that I would walk over two miles to get home from junior high school when I realized no one was there to pick me up because they were both too drunk. My best friend when I was a kid was my dog Holly. That and my record player. I used to spend hours listening to music, just trying to escape. Because of that loneliness and isolation I was pregnant and had an abortion by the time I was 13.
My mother took me to get the abortion when I was 4 months pregnant; it took her that long to realize that I was pregnant. When we left to get it done, she put a note in my dad's shower to tell him we would be gone a few days for a shopping trip; he never even saw the note, 3 days and he never even realized we were not there.
Uncertainty was the norm. I wasn't popular, but I was a good student. By the time I graduated I was married and then 6 months later the marriage was pretty much over. I could blame my parents, I could say that they ruined my life, but I came to realize that who I am now was shaped by all of that. I could be bitter and say oh if only...but that was not my path. My whole life led me to where I am now. And where I am now is all because of the Lord and His grace and mercy. He led me to a line cook at Hobo Joe's, who made the best french toast ever. What started as another throw away, shallow relationship in my mind, became the gateway to the greatest two relationships I will ever have. First with my husband Jim and then through him, my Lord and Saviour Jesus. I could have stayed a broken resentful woman, but I gave all those shattered pieces to the Lord and He gave me in return a life that has been beautiful. Without my brokenness, I could never appreciate the beauty of all that the Lord has done for me. Without my pain, I could never experience the joys of having a husband who loved me more than anything. Children who are a gift from God, especially now that Jim is not here. And grandchildren who bring a smile to my face and their laughter that brings me such joy.
At the end of the movie, when her father is dying, Jeannette feels that she owes her father nothing. And in most people's eyes, she would probably be right. But then she remembers the times that even as he was fighting his demons he loved her as best as he could in his brokenness. She remembers times of laughter and times of delight. She remembers her father...and that is enough. I had to come to the realization as well that my parents were just people. My mom was raised by an alcoholic mother who partied and left them behind more often than not. In fact, just like in the movie, my mother had horrible third degree burns from trying to cook a meal on a hot stove. And then because her mother was away, she ran down three flights of stairs to the beach and rolled in the sand to put the flames out. My father saw horrible things in the war and as a policeman and detective. He saw the awful things that people do to each other. They each had their own demons and they each tried on their own to cope as well as they could.
I look back at my childhood, and yes I do remember the sad times. The scary times. But I also remember in the midst of the drunkenness, the laughter. My dad, trying so hard to get an avocado plant to grow from the seed. He finally got it to grow about 4 inches and planted it in a huge pot. It was right next to the dining room table. And one night he got so drunk he fell over right on top of that poor little plant and crushed it. As he was so angry, my mom and I laughed so hard. What a silly memory, but there is always going to be laughter in the midst of the sadness. There will always be joy in the midst of the pain. There will always be light in the midst of the darkness. We just have to look for it.
That is my goal now. Now that Jim is gone and I am alone and trying to reconcile the sorrow with the memories. I will remember that there will still be laughter, there will still be joy, there will still be light. I just have to look for it.
The movie is called The Glass Castle because Jeannette's father always told her he was going to build her a glass house with glass walls and a glass spiral staircase. When they moved to Virginia they began to dig a foundation that he said would be the base for their magnificent home. A few scenes later what was dug out became a hole that was filled with all the trash and detritus of their life. Treasure or trash? A life.