This I Believe

s - bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Entered on January 18, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that people can change. Yes, even adults.

My mother once screamed for me to run to the apartment upstairs and call down our neighbor, a policeman. I made it to the landing before my dad came to the door with a sweet whisper, beckoning me back inside. I was four.

My father had returned drunk again, with his obscenities and heavy hand. Over the years of bruises, my mother had threatened to leave, grabbed kitchen knives, and received a thousand apologies. Why did she stay with him? I never understood.

As a four year old, I remember pushing our couch to block the living room door to prevent my mother from leaving, panicked that she wouldn’t bring me along. When her friends called she would concoct excuses, giving the marks time to fade. Why did she stay with him? I never understood.

But when I was eight, it was suddenly over. The drinking died down. The hitting and yelling stopped. There was still tension, sure, but a truce had been called. Faced with an ultimatum, my father stopped the violence that wrecked our home, and my fears calmed.

There were no twelve steps. No counselor. No self-help books. He just decided to be better than he was. And it worked.

Forget the “can’t teach a dog new tricks” or “she’s too set in her ways.” I believe, because I have seen it in my father, that people can change.