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Chapter One

My Heritage

Everyone has a story to tell. Some are exciting, most not so much.  Some are interesting, others would bore you.  Some teach us, some you don’t even understand.  Well my name is Jonathan Christian Grant, and this is my story.  How unique or interesting, you will get to be the judge.  I’m not sure if there is any thing you will learn from this tale, certainly that too will be up to you to decide.

Everyday I asked; “why me?”  Why was it that a little boy like me had to have a life that brought me so many challenges and so much uncertainty?  My real parents were good people, at least so much as I remember.  Not very many memories are left, or maybe I have blocked them out because of the pain.  It was a terrible accident that took their lives. I can’t remember anything about that day but somehow I survived. There were many times I felt that it would have been better if I had joined them. I was barely six years old.  What was I to understand about life? I was all alone, no place to turn, no one to love me.  If that wasn’t bad enough, my father was an only child and his parents too had passed on. 

My mother had immigrated to the US when she was about 20 years old, from some war torn country in Europe. Not sure of many of the details.  I’m not even sure which and it probably doesn’t matter.   However, she married my dad a few years later even any pictures.  I’m not even sure how my parents even met.  No one can tell me one paltry detail about my heritage.  I just know people said my mom spoke with an accent.  They said that she was very pretty, but I have long lost the only picture that I once had of my parents.  It just seems that my life was going to be some kind of nothing.

Heritage, oh sure!  What is this thing they call heritage? I’ll tell you about heritage!  I had no heritage!  I had nothing!  I didn’t even have a trail of tears that lead from my sorrows!  Who was ever around to wipe them if they were to fall on my cheeks?  Who was there to even see if my eyes might well up from the pain?  Nobody, nobody I tell you!  I don’t ever remember crying, no not once.  Huh, if you really want to know about my heritage, I’ll tell you about my heritage.  Here it is! its real simple--- I was born.  I was left alone. I lived. Someday I will die.  There, you have it, that’s my heritage!  Just like my parents, one day I’ll leave this world too; abandon everyone and everything that ever was a part of me and nothing will be left, no, not anything of value or consequence!  This is how I felt growing up, and probably would have lived an angry, less than fulfilling life had I not experienced my great awakening.  I never could have imagined the twists and turns my life would soon take, the people I would meet and the impact that they would have on me.  Let me continue with my story.

After my parents died I was sent to an orphanage. That was supposed to be a real good thing!  Now to become just one of the many kids left to survive however possible.  Sneaking food into your room.  Hiding it not only from the warden, but also mostly from the other kids who would steal it in a minute.  Someone else simply out of jealousy often would destroy any nice item that one might obtain.  It was survival of the fittest, in the most cunning of ways and at times the cruelest.  I learned to always watch my back.  I trusted no one!

I spent many nights unable to sleep and while lying awake in bed I would fantasize what it would be like to grow up in a real family.  I would imagine myself playing ball with my dad, helping him fix the car, laughing and staying up late on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  Oh, and always a hug and a kiss goodbye as I left for school.  Maybe a short story at night then getting tucked into bed.  I would imagine my mother baking fresh pies in the kitchen on a warm Sunday afternoon in the summer.  I could see her calling my dad and me in from the yard were I was having the kind of fun sons have with fathers; playing catch, kicking a ball or playing tag.  Together the three of us just sitting there and eating homemade ice-cream and fresh baked pie.  I loved pie and ice cream. What a treat!  We never got much of that in the orphanage. At best we might get a cookie as an after dinner treat, but that was rare.  You wouldn’t dare save it or one of the bigger kids would make you give it to him.  Fantasy was my  salvation.  My dreams were what helped me to survive the painful life of what seemed like an eternity in the orphanage.

There was very little privacy in the big building I was forced to call home.   The building was quite old with very tall ceilings.  I was told that it was built about fifty years ago specifically as an orphanage.  There were lots of rooms on the second and third floors; this is where the children slept.  The third floor was just boys and the second floor was just girls.  An interesting thing about this building was that there was a stairway on one side of the building that went from the third floor to the main level and on the other side a stairway that went from the second floor to the main level.  There was no passage from the second floor to the third floor; you had to go to the main level cross all the way over to go to and access the other floor.  This was something I never did, there was nobody that I wanted to visit on the second floor, I mean they were all girls over there!  In addition, there was always a guard to keep people from going the wrong way, a 24-hour guard. 

At night when all was quiet the water pipes would make weird noises this was very scary especially when the older boys would act creepy.  They would say; “did you hear that Jonathan?”  “They’re coming to get you. Watch out!”  I would burry my head under my pillow and cover my ears until I would fall asleep.  The windows to me were very tall and mostly the blinds stayed shut.  The hardwood floors were noisy and cold.  I think they made them that way so you wouldn’t sneak around.  Our rooms were small and most of the time you had a roommate.

I found that it was easier to keep to myself.  I learned that a friend would soon be taken from you never to be seen or heard from again.  The loss of someone close was something that I had experienced early in life and felt safe in keeping my distance.  I guess you could say that I had built a barrier for protection.  Plus friends seemed to always get you into trouble.
I can’t tell you what the girl’s rooms were like, but the boys had one large bathroom with several showers.  Where was my privacy?  I had none!  I would often wait until the bathroom was empty to take my turn; this was quite a challenge when the orphanage was full.

My room was small with a bunk bed and two desks.  We each had a footlocker.  I always took or got the bottom bunk.  I liked it.  I felt like it gave me an element of control.  I told myself that it was the best place to be if I ever needed to escape, or should I say if the opportunity ever came up.  Actually that was something that I would never consider, those who ran away were severely punished and the worst kids would be sent to a detention center and never seen again.  I wasn’t sure what a detention center was and had no desire to find out.  There was a large window with not much of a view, mostly other buildings. We had to ask permission to open the window and even then it only opened enough to get your hand through it.  The rules were so strict and you were always so afraid of being punished so you kept them out of fear.  One good thing about my room was the afternoon sun.  Oh yes, felt warm and calmed my day’s frustrations.   I often would sit at my desk doing my homework and watch the sun set in the evening, this was my get-away, I could imagine almost anything.  This was my main source of sanity.

From my perspective of today, having arrived to a very different place than I have ever anticipated I ask an interesting question; “If you knew what tomorrow would bring, would you act differently today?”  This again you will have to decide. Think about it!  Another thing I have learned from now that I see my past with hindsight is that with each decision you make today you can predict to some extent what your future will bring.  Not always in real things but in attitude, outlook and happiness.  I think it is perspective.

Let me go back to my story.

The Awakening
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