A Basket ball bouncing and bouncing and bouncing~~~
Oh you sweet luscious yummy thing, think this song:
“Ride, Ride, Ride the wild Surf!
Ride, Ride, Ride the wild Surf!
Gotta take that one last Ride!”
Sometimes life is like that, tumbling in a wild surf that has you gasping and choking for air and yet there is none to breathe, what is down is up and up is down, the salt of the sea stings the eyes rendering it impossible to see, where do you break free??!
The rain has been pouring down here, making the streets and side walks slick, puddles deep with water and oil floating on top, people rushing, hunching their shoulders, but here we need the rain, it can mean life, but too much can mean death.
Now it is night and the rain is now coming down in soft sprinkles, causing an extra bite to the chill in the air and I, sweet things, I have had a lot to ponder on.
I’ve taken my evenings at home to curl up on my couch with pen and note pad and decided to write down things as they cross my mind….what is it that has created me the way I am…why do I write about my family members the way I do…why am I so disdainful of some things…why I express such negative passion about certain family members?
All good questions.
When I think of my Father---
The words dysfunctional, cold, abusive, miserly, controlling, misogynistic suddenly flash to mind, not a spark of kindness, things had to be exactly so, more than just an “oberfurer”, a jailer who has contempt for women, a person to get away from. I discovered years later that he was a supervisory martinet in the office and staff was very glad when he retired.
When I think of my Mother---
Before being in the hospital—brilliant, funny, curious, loving, voicing her own opinions in a gentle way---until she began to get “sick” a few months after baby sis was born---after--- a functional robot slowly losing any will of her own, quiet, meek, over eager to please, a whipped person hoping for a few crumbs of kindness, grateful for any, pitiful and sad, a person you want to set free, but who now at her elderly age will never be free in her mind.
For a brief time I believe she was an alcoholic, at least Father got her into some sort of care before she did any harm to herself, but I think where she was...well it may have cured her but it killed her spirit or a combination of that place and Father.
What cause things to happen I don’t know, I’d have to think on it a bit to see what was the “event” that turned things so bad for her that she had to resort to drink.
With Father I never remembered him as being different from the way he was when I was growing up or even after I left. But after I left a number of things came to light, Father didn’t have to be miserly, he was very well paid but it became sort of a mania with him, and him controlling us through fear and intimidation.
I believe that Father was shaped the way he was by his Father, and the extreme fundamentalist church they were members of and the “hellfire and damnation” preaching that they taught.
I remember his parents---Grandfather never had a smile on his face and thought women were whores, and Grandmother was always reserved saying hardly anything. One time when I was sick both Father and Grandfather said I was pretending but Grandmother said I wasn’t, and tended to me while Mother took care of the house hold chores, I remember her hands being gentle and her voice being soft and soothing, and her holding me when I was feeling so miserable, I wasn’t held often and I remember it as being something safe and warm.
When she died she left a surprise that made Father and Grandfather very angry and there was nothing they could do legally. Ooooh sweet things I still smile when I think on it, even now. Grandmother’s revenge Mmmmm purrrr
My Father must have had some core values that attracted Mother when she was young, but I think after marriage and after my birth she discovered that he was not the ‘prince’ she had hoped for and revealed his true inner self.
Mother was a Catholic but to preserve peace in the family went to Father’s church, only once did she take me to the Catholic Church, her little act of rebellion and for me a magical transformation that began my questioning Father’s religious values. I think he sensed the internal shift within me, and for that he became more restrictive.
Can you sweet things imagine a house without television, music, games, fashion magazines, even the Triple A’s Via magazine, no comic books, no laughter or even anything that resembled bright colors, I had no dolls to play imagination games with, no Barbie’s, I had one just one little stuff animal doll, it was a black kitten doll that was soft to touch, and it was designed to just lay on the bed, I had it as a baby and clutched it as I grew up.
I’m looking at that same doll now, all worn and mended; it sits my dresser where I can see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I think my Mother might have given me that doll. It was the only thing I took from that house.
Baby sis had a few more stuff animals than me, but not many, the last time I went home I saw that she had them on a shelf and also worn and mended.
Father’s church never believed in Christmas or Easter, we never went trick or treating nor offered candy to those who came to the door. Can you imagine a house without Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, not even 4th of July? Father considered Holidays as a frivolous waste of the tax payers money and I hungered for the bright warm lights and tinseled trees that I saw in other homes, and the smell of bar-b-qued hot dogs on warm summer days.
I never met Mother’s family until after I left to go to college, such a difference, like day and night, what a revelation for me.
Why do I write about my family? Why do I reveal so much about them?
I think it’s in the hope that anyone who is in an abusive, controlling, dysfunctional situation might gain the courage to break free, not everyone can have someone be at the right place at the right time; I was lucky, twice. The first person was my teacher Mrs. Smith, I know sweet things, what a mundane name, but greatness can come from something that appears mundane.
The second person was Ms. Lambe (the e is silent) a reference and children’s librarian at the public library that I frequented, stylish, firm but kind. Both of them saviors and mentors and between the two of them I discovered the power of learning and knowing.
Mother in her own quiet way was also my savior. She worked hard to teach me how to read at an early age and to do basic math, in school it did give me an advantage, so that other processes were not so difficult to understand. And with that I had the basic tools or weapons if you will and fortunately a tremendous thirst for knowledge.
The public library after school and on Saturday afternoons was my salvation and refuge, and I was always disappointed when I couldn’t go because of rainy weather, fortunately Father always received one newspaper at the house but I couldn’t read it until he set it aside to go into the garbage.
Without him knowing I would remove the old issues to read on rainy days when he was at the office, the numbers and diagrams on the business pages fascinated me, so when I had a chance to go to the Library I asked Ms. Lambe what they meant and she explained them to me----what a revelation! A whole new door opened for me.
As far as Father and Grandfather were concerned I only needed an education to be a good wife, shopper and mother, all finances were to be handled by the Men in the family. But I wanted more.
I mentioned this to Ms. Lambe and she made a remark “I guess your Father never heard of women’s liberation” and then asked me to not to say anything to him about it, so there wouldn’t be any trouble. Thanks to the encyclopedia I learned what it was about, and the seeds for my contempt for my Father were planted.
As I got older with Mother’s quiet permission and without Father knowing, at my behest Ms. Lambe found scholarships that I could qualify for to pay my way through college, I would also have to work part time but work never frightened me. We used Ms. Lambe’s address to receive the mail from the different colleges.
Then I was accepted, I was over 18 and legally Father couldn’t hold me back, Mother, baby sis and Ms. Lambed saw me off at the bus station, Father never left the house nor said goodbye, he only mumbled something about me becoming a over glorified file clerk or working in a supermarket. His last little dig at me. Now these years later he cannot stand that I earn more than him, I don’t seek his approval, I have no need of it nor want it.
Baby sis pleaded with me to write as often as possible, I did but sent them to Ms. Lambe’s address, how Mother handled it at home I’ll never know, I did get letters from her once a month, she’d write them in fits and starts, on different pieces of paper, with pen or pencil all coming in the same envelope, but in her letters I could see that she was beginning to give up resisting.
Baby sis would manage to send me a letter when she could with Ms. Lambe’s help.
I came home after college, I already had a job and a place to stay lined up thanks to some friends from college, I wanted to see Mother, baby sis and Ms. Lambe before I went up north to my job. Such changes, baby sis growing up and as eager as I was to be free, Mother quieter, grayer, Ms. Lambe older but still with that presence and Father still the same.
I went north, to the City by the Bay, I’m home here, but still with ties there in that house that was never a home. Do I hate my Father? Not really, the words despise and contempt is more accurate and pity as well, he could have been a wonderful man but for circumstances.
Do I hate my Mother? No. Do I feel sorry for her—yes. Do I feel love for her--in a way, wishing that she knew the freedom that I know, and fearing the emptiness that she will have to face when baby sis leaves and hoping somehow I can give her a taste of freedom.
The late Mrs. Smith and Ms. Lambe--life savers, whenever I had questions I’d write to her, now I e-mail her. Baby sis---now a co-conspirator and I know that I’m her life line as well, and I ask her to not feel contempt for Mother’s weakness but support her.
In thinking all of this I realize that Ms. Lambe is my “compass point of stability” she has saved me from a life time of the psychiatric couch, by helping my creativity come alive, by helping me see things beyond what they are and to look deep within myself to confront my demons; take them out of the closet and expose them to the light so that they will not have any hold on me.
I could have become hard and brittle, miserly, all the negatives that my Father is, but I have taught myself to try and see things from both sides, and acknowledge that, yes, I do have prejudices, and to be honest about it.
I also find that I am greedy, greedy for the natural sights, sounds and even smells of the world around me. The cold wet chill of rain feels different to me now than when I was a child, I can appreciate it crystalliness and the soothing sounds it makes, the soft, almost velvety breeze that begins to herald spring I enjoy even in its fleetingness. The spicy sent of roses, the song of a bird, the thrilling sound of thunder, the softness of a puppy’s fur, that is a wealth of freedom to be able experience all of that and not feel that it is sinful.
In regards to children? There are times when they are the most interesting creatures, their discovery and wonderment of the world around them. And then when I encounter those that are blasé about things with a “so what, whatever” attitude that is when I wish I could just shake them and say “WAKE UP!” There is a wonderful world around you and you are just letting it pass by.
Teenagers? I’ve come across too many with material thoughts and then there are those who seek to make positive changes in the world, I find that all children and teens and their values are shaped by their parents and the world around them. But I fear that in this world there are beginning to be too many without a sense of right or wrong. Born without a conscious? Bad Seeds? Living in an environment where only the strong survive? Shaped by the Myths of television? I have no answers, only more questions.
The rain is coming down harder now, Ooooh sweet things how we need it here, the air tomorrow will smell wonderfully fresh and clean. But for now, I’m going to snuggle up with my little kitten doll and wrap my warm soft blanket around me as I curl up in my couch and drink in the passionate music of Ravel’s “Bolero” and “La Valse” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”. Mmmmmmm
To whatever God there is out there I pray that more children find their life savers as I have, they are out there, I know they are…..
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