They say tragedy hits when least expected. For Abraham Teka, two tragedies turned his world upside-down in the summer of 2000; his college girlfriend confessed she was in love with another man, and his parents were killed in a freak accident. The news of a failed relationship was a mild offense compared to the loss of the only parents he’d ever known. Once he’d wished his ex-girlfriend the best that life had to offer her, Abe took the next red-eye flight with his long legs folded between a reclining passenger in front and the immovable wall of the restroom behind, to his hometown in Houston Texas.
Abe hadn’t hesitated stepping onto the plane or going down to the morgue to take care of his parents’ corpses for the funeral, but climbing those familiar rickety steps to the front door of his childhood home proved to be more challenging. Fear snaked up his spine and a weight clamped down onto his ankles, paralyzing him in front of the house. Knowing his parents wouldn’t be there to greet him made the place feel like just a shelter and not the home he often longed for.
He swallowed the lump in his throat, his eyes moving over the lawn, the grass overgrown past what his mother liked. He could almost hear her berating her husband to fix the lawnmower or get one of the neighborhood kids to do it, to which his father would gruffly say he’d cut it when he was good and ready only to cut it promptly after being dealt the silent treatment from his wife.
Abe shook his head. Their voices would be no more, snuffed out by the unfairness of sudden death. His eyes stung with unshed tears; he had yet to cry even after making the funeral arrangements. He couldn’t afford to cry when he had four siblings to consider.
Staring down at the youngest two, Darah and Eleazar who stared back at him in silence, he felt the weight of dread drop onto his shoulders. They were orphans twice over because the sovereign God had planned it that way. Twenty years had passed already, yet the emptiness of his parents’ home made him that nine-year-old kid sitting in a musty attic room, wishing someone would adopt him. That same sovereign God had brought him Yonas and Ester Teka on his tenth birthday, and he finally had a home. His story wasn’t unlike that of his four siblings, meaning they undoubtedly felt the same hollow pain now more than ever before.
He turned to Darah, the sullen pre-teen sitting on the edge of the floral couch with her head bent. As if it was just yesterday, he recalled the day she’d become family at the age of six. He’d driven miles from college to meet his new sister–his only sister. Eyes dim of joy, Darah was skeptical of her new family. However, under the doting love of their parents, her eyes shone with laughter and contentment the following year. Now witnessing that same lifeless stare on her face, broke his heart all over again.
He shifted his attention to Eleazar, the little boy curled against Darah, with big black eyes shimmering with tears just shed. Abe wasn’t sure if the little one remembered him but he recalled the day he’d arrived. A newly-orphaned infant diagnosed with fetal alcoholism, Eleazar suffered through his third birthday. During those trying years, twenty-four-year-old Abe constantly made the journey to and from grad school to help his aging parents, assuming responsibility for the older children while their parents focused their attention on Eleazar. The little one would undoubtedly feel their loss more acutely–they were all he knew.
Overcome with emotion, Abe reminisced the moments each of his four siblings came home and wished he could bring back the joy of adding a new member to the Teka clan. But alas, two had departed permanently and nothing he could do would bring them back.
When his youngest siblings looked up, he managed a smile that only wavered when they didn’t smile back. His shoulders drooped in defeat.
The other two, the brothers between him and Darah, were set to arrive within the day’s end; Clement was still in high school while Bart planned to take the last flight out from his home in California. Until they arrived, he would have to figure out how to make Eleazar and Darah comfortable on his own. First order of business; feeding them. Instantly, he wished for Ester’s delicious and ever-present meals but the fridge was empty–just like his heart.
Trying again with a wobbly smile, Abe addressed his youngest siblings. “Anyone want pizza?”
This is the beginning of a series featuring the Teka siblings that find healing and love.
Yonas and Ester Teka have died in a tragic car accident and their eldest son, Abraham, comes home to take care of his younger siblings who risk getting reassigned into the foster system.
FIRST STORY: “Guiding Light” (Year 2000)
1. Abraham “Abe” Teka: age 29. Responsible, self-sacrificing oldest brother of the Teka siblings.
2. Bartimeus “Bart” Teka: age 27. Sarcastic and career-driven, but a big softy like Abe.
3. Clement “Junior” Teka: age 17. Quick-tempered, broody, artistic and flighty.
4. Darah Teka: only daughter, age 12. Smart-mouthed and spunky
5. Eleazar “Eli” Teka: age 6. Youngest child. Intelligent and quiet, wary of noise and anger.
6. Phoebe Randall: age 28. Clement’s guidance counselor, self-proclaimed busybody.
7. Geraldine Pena: age 27. Handy-woman /plumber /fixer-upper extraordinaire.
SECOND STORY: “Homecoming” (Year 2003)
1. Abraham “Abe” Teka: age 32, ever responsible and self-sacrificing eldest brother of the Teka siblings, still getting used to his roles as guardian-brother and now husband
2. Bartimeus “Bart” Teka: age 30, currently attempting to balance work and family. Hates drama.
3. Clement “Junior” Teka: age 20, away in the Northwest for college but secretly hates it
4. Darah Teka: age 15, still smart-mouthed, battling with raging teenage hormones
5. Eleazar “Eli” Teka: age 9, intelligent but not-so-quiet anymore, observant and keen
6. Phoebe Randall-Teka: age 31, Abe’s wife of 2.5 years, still a busybody now occupied with efforts to expand the Teka family tree.
7. Geraldine Pena: age 30, independent woman, daughter and mother
8. Joselyn Romano: age 2, Geraldine’s daughter
THIRD STORY: “Lighthouse” (Year 2013)
1. Abraham “Abe” Teka: age 42. Doting father, uncle, brother and husband. He and wife Phoebe, have 3 kids.
2. Bartimeus “Bart” Teka: age 40. He and wife Geraldine, have 4 kids.
3. Clement “Junior” Teka: age 30. Missionary currently serving in Ethiopia.
4. Darah Teka: age 25. Doting aunt to her nephews and nieces, struggles to find her purpose.
5. Eleazar “Eli” Teka: age 19. Reserved and increasingly elusive.
6. Phoebe Teka: age 41, wife to Abe. Doting, overly-caring matriarch to her growing family. Still a proclaimed busybody.
7. Geraldine Teka: age 40, wife to Bart. Fiercely-protective mother and sister-in-law.
8. Raju-Joel “J.R.” Obed: age 35. Calm, contemplative, patient. His aspirations often take backseat to his father’s plans, he struggles to find his own voice.
FOURTH STORY: “Sanctuary” (Year 2013/2014)
1. Abraham Teka: age 42. He & wife Phoebe, have 3 kids.
2. Bartimeus Teka: age 40. He & wife Geraldine, have 4 kids.
3. Clement Teka: age 30. Protective, opinionated and brave in the face of danger. Missionary/Advocate serving in East Africa.
4. Darah Teka-Obed: age 25. Sassy sister. Doting aunt and wife to J.R.
5. Eleazar Teka: age 19. Reserved & elusive.
6. Phoebe Teka: age 41, wife to Abe. Doting, overly-caring (busybody) matriarch.
7. Geraldine Teka: age 40, wife to Bart. Fiercely-protective mother and sister.
8. Raju-Joel “J.R.” Obed: age 35. Calm, level-headed, patient lawyer/refugee center director and doting husband to Darah.
9. Karen Wells: age 33. Former nurse practitioner. Vivacious, caring, audacious. Taking a sabbatical to visit and serve in East Africa.
***Disclaimer: The “Heart of a Home” Series are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.***