As I flipped channels on Halloween Eve I caught a bit of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. Of all the Charlie Brown stories the Great Pumpkin has always ranked among my favorites, maybe because I feel akin to Charlie Brown. That is not to say that anyone has ever tossed a rock into my trick or treat bag but I do remember my own Charlie Brown Halloween moment.
Halloween was the day my grandfather suffered a major heart attack and died when I was in the 3rd grade. It happened over the lunch hour and I learned of the event when I arrived home from school. I wasn’t close to my grandfather, I only knew that he wasn’t a good father to any of his children and that my mother despised him because he was very bad husband to my grandmother. All the same, it was the first and only day that I heard my father cry.
My mother stayed home from the funeral with me and my sisters and she arranged for us to Trick or Treat with the Raina, Rhonda and their father, Dick who lived across the street. The weather was cold and it drizzled throughout the day and evening hours.
The sack my mother gave me was made of paper and the moisture coupled with the weight of my candy caused the bottom of the bag to rip open. I made the discovery in Pam Murney’s front yard, the scariest old house in the entire Madison Elementary school area. I remember standing near a bush in the cold and wet, peering into my empty bag, afraid to cry in front of strangers.
When we arrived home Dick gave me a new bag and he asked all the kids in our Halloween group to share their candy with me and they did. I was happy with the way the night ended, happy to participate in the after trick or treating ritual of sorting candy into groups then bartering trades with my sisters.
Still, to this day when I see Charlie Brown peer into his bag only to find rocks, I vividly remember the Halloween night when I peered into my own bag and found it empty.