Less than a year later, my brother, Jason was born. Being Irish twins, six days less than a year apart, we were the best of friends. He followed me around, calling me sissy. I loved bossing him around, but also taking care of him. Because we were so close in age, my mom was weaning me from the bottle while he was still on it. When she wasn’t looking, I would take it from him and start drinking. When she’d catch me, I’d quickly shove the bottle up his nose as if I wasn’t doing anything wrong. By this time we had moved into an apartment inland across the street from a high school football field. Once, there was a fair on the field and we were able to go on an elephant ride! I was surprised at the bristly hair sticking up all over the elephant. I recall it prickling my legs and I wasn’t too happy about that. I thought, “Elephant’s aren’t fun to ride.”
My dad had not stayed in jail very long. It was around this time that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and was told he would not live past age thirty, especially if he didn’t quit drinking. This diagnosis caused my dad to drink harder instead of getting his act together. Being a brand new father and husband, he was devastated, and plummeted into self destruction. He figured he wasn’t going to live long, so he might as well party it away. In the meantime, my mom had given her heart to the Lord and started attending a Baptist Church with my brother and me. She prayed and believed my dad would also surrender, but his partying continued. The drugs were taking a toll on his mind. My mom took Jason and me to her hometown in Pennsylvania to be with her family. When we returned to Oceanside, my dad had sold everything we owned. All of our clothes, furniture, high chairs, everything. I was so sad wondering where my Strawberry Shortcake tin lunchbox was. My mom was outraged and said dad sold it for drugs and alcohol. Dad recently told me that he sold it for revenge because he thought mom was visiting an ex-boyfriend in Pittsburgh. It’s sad that he really didn’t know her character at all. She had become a dedicated Christian and wanted their marriage to work. We visited my family in Pittsburgh and came back to California to an empty house because of delusional, drug-induced thinking.
Mom started leading a Neighborhood Bible School for kids called The Good News Club. I was three years old when I first learned that Jesus wanted to forgive me of my sins so I could go to heaven. I remember sitting in our home hearing this message and thinking in my little heart that I needed Him. When I raised my hand, standing to give my heart to Jesus, I thought, “My mom is going to be happy.” I genuinely had a conversion experience at that moment. The Holy Spirit came to live inside of me and He never left.