Only months later, I watched in confusion and with tears dripping down my cheeks as two men dressed in white coats strapped my mom’s hands together. Echoes bolted through my little body with every scream that screeched from Mom’s mouth in protest as she was involuntarily being dragged down the hall. Mom was committed to the psychiatric ward of Jacobi Hospital because of her drinking problem. Dad became an on-and-off again single parent with eight children because Mom would now spend weeks and frequently months in the psychiatricward.
One day, I was sitting in the last bedroom at the end of the long hallway in our five-bedroom apartment, which was the largest apartment in the building. Besides being the largest apartment, we also had two bathrooms; the other apartments had only one. In years to come, my friends envied our two bathroom luxury. Straining my eardrums from my bedroom down the hall, I could hear Dad’s words as he greeted a stranger at the front door. The stranger was a woman who Dad immediately invited into our apartment, and they continued to chat as they both headed in the direction of my room. Instinctively, I knew that Dad was scheming something.
I started to tremble in fear of the unknown and the inevitable that I knew was coming. As Dad came into my bedroom, I was in full-blown, out-of-control rage as I jumped up and down on the bed, screaming and hollering. After a few strong whacks to my behind, my tantrum immediately stopped. Dad introduced me to the lady with him. “Johnny, this is Anna.” Anna was a social worker from the city who would help care for us while Dad was at work. I began where I left off with my tantrum, screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs. But it was vital for Dad to get to his job being the sole provider for eight children, so he walked right out the door. I just crouched up on my bed sobbing in tears.