Thursday, June 23, 2011

Background - Just over 2000 words...settle in.

I’m going to try and be as specific as I can without completely confusing everyone when I begin to tell the story of my mom’s side of the family. There’s so much to tell and I feel like the background is very important before I get into the wedding details. I’ll try to be brief but once I get going you know how I can ramble. I’m going to change most of the names but since I’m pretty certain that no one knows this blog exists other names will remain intact. Basically so I don’t get confused. Here goes...


My mom got married at the age of 16 to a man that was quite a bit older than her. She had dropped out of school in the 9th grade. She said that it was because she wanted out of the house and saw this as her only option. The man she married was Gary. My maternal grandmother was on her second marriage and my mom was basically raised by her grandparents. My mother’s father was in prison because he raped her when she was 7 years old. I believe this to be the catalyst for about 90% of the messed up-ness of my mother’s life.

According to my mother (the more I write the more you will understand why I don’t take her word at face value) when she went to the doctor to get put on birth control (within several weeks of the wedding) she was already pregnant. At some point late in her pregnancy, her mother got pregnant. So now you have mother and daughter pregnant at the same time. Sounds like a winning combination, doesn’t it? My mother also has a younger brother (I’m not sure by how much) and his name is Joe. My mother claims to have been pregnant with twins. I say “claims” because several years ago I found Tony’s birth certificate and it states that he was a single birth. She says that the twin died right after or just before delivery. The delivery was an emergency c-section...I don’t know why or what happened to cause this but my brother was about 2 months early. I guess it’s possible the hospital did not list him as a twin because the other baby did not make it. I also don’t know why my mother would lie but it would not surprise me in the least. My grandmother had a baby girl and her name was Vicky.

My mom soon left Gary...claims she never loved him but just saw him as her “out”. I’m not sure how long it took but she ended up with some guy named Andy and then not long after that she met my dad. I don’t know how long they were together before she was knocked up with me but I don’t think it was very long. My dad was in the military and had to leave to go serve his solo overseas station for a year. I was 6 months old when they got married. He went to Turkey and left my mom, me and Tony behind. Wouldn’t you know that the guy that lived above us in our apartment killed his wife (so my mom says) and set the place on fire? Enter Tom, the guy my mom cheated on my dad with. He was one of the cops that responded to the call. Apparently he spent a lot of time at our place and with us because my mom says I called him “daddy” before I called my own father that. To top everything off, Tom was married with 3 boys. It just keeps getting better, right? Enter the chants of Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!

My dad comes home from Turkey and finds out that my mom has been cheating on him. I never knew how he found out until I stumbled upon the divorce papers when I was about 11. Tom had his clothes or underwear or something hanging up in OUR bathroom!!! Commence the divorce and fight for custody. While I was growing up my mom gave me the same song and dance....she wanted to keep me but her terrible brother got up on the stand and told all sorts of lies about how she was an unfit mother. She proceeded to tell me that my dad then went to our daycare center and took me without permission and she had no idea where I was or how to find me. As I grew up I slowly learned the truth. I’m not sure about my dad kidnapping me but there was a hearing and I think her brother might have testified against her but that is neither here nor there. When I was a teenager my dad told me that he fought to get my brother from her, too. He lost because he was not the boy’s biological father. And back in 1978-79 when all of this was taking place, the judge must have had some pretty good evidence that I’d be better off with my single father than with my mother and her new man to give him full custody while my mother only got visitation. Since my dad was military and expected to move quite a bit my parents came to a conclusion that I would spend a month in the summer with her rather than going by the schedule the judge set up. I could write a small novel regarding the back and forth years of my life but that will be saved for another time.

Tom divorced his wife to be with my mother....or his wife found out he was cheating so she divorced him, not sure which. My mother and he eventually got married (when my sister was 2 months old) and began their lives together. My sister was born on Elvis’s birthday. My maternal grandmother swears that my mother did this on purpose because my mother’s grandmother was an Elvis fanatic. Whatever the reason, this was the beginning of me feeling like she was “better” and more loved than me. My mother had my younger brother, Bob, when my sister was almost 2. So now all 3 of my siblings (born of my mother) are living with her full time and I’m thousands of miles away...feeling left out. Mind you, I had a great family that I was with but as a kid you perceive things differently.

I began to resent the fact that my siblings got to live with my mother and receive her love and attention. However, when I came to visit in the summers I was given somewhat of a celebrity status. I was the kid that she toted around to “show off” to everyone. When I was little I didn’t understand this but as I got older I hated it. I always felt like the outsider. I spent 11 months out of the year away from these people so I had to reform relationships with them. It wasn’t as hard with my older brother because he remembered me a lot more than my younger siblings. The younger two were much harder to connect with as they barely remembered me from visit to visit. We had such fun in the summers that I didn’t want to leave. I got to eat pretty much whatever I wanted, we swam, we played kickball, we stayed up late, we got ice cream every night, we had a ball. My mom was the coolest person EVER. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

As I and my sister aged I began to really feel inferior to her. She had long pretty hair, she was so smart for her age, she spoke so clearly for her age, she was so pretty...even her name means beautiful. There is one instance burned in my brain that really solidified things for me. We were at my step-father’s company picnic and my mother had taken me and my sister to change from our bathing suits to our regular clothes as we were getting ready to leave. Two teenage girls came in the bathroom and were talking to my mom. They said, “Oh, she’s so pretty!” and then turned directly at me and said, “But not that one.” Ouch. I was probably only 8 or 9 but I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s not like I was never told that I was cute or pretty as a kid, but it’s the times that I was compared to (and felt inferior to) my sister that have stayed with me.

The summer that I was 10 or 11 my mom was preparing for her hysterectomy surgery. She was bleeding a lot and it was decided that her uterus had to go. I was given the task of caring for my younger siblings and making the coffee in the morning and packing my step-father’s lunch. I remember being told how to give my sister a bath and how to wash her beautiful hair and make sure I brushed it just right. Not long before her surgery she was in one of her moods and all us kids were playing in the living room. She came out of her room and took Bob by the hand (he was 3?) and said, “c’mon Bob, let’s go play with this loaded gun I found.” She walked into her room and shut the door. We didn’t take her seriously of course, but it was still not something we needed to hear or be exposed to.

When I was 12 and came to visit my mom I found out that she had “adopted” a 17-year-old girl named Jolie. They met in my mom’s GED class. This girl was a mess but it was not known for a few years just how much of a mess but that’s not something I want to get into. This girl was like my mom’s best friend. They did everything together...including trying to find someone for my mom to have an affair with. They picked someone that was married and had a 1-year-old little girl. My mom was friends with his wife. My mom actually arranged for us to be out of the house for when he came over during the day. He wasn’t there long and I overheard my mom and Jolie talking about it later. Apparently he couldn’t go through with it and my mom was pissed. I was beginning to understand my mother a little and since I didn’t like what I was learning, I chose to just ignore the bad and focus on the good. I found out years later that Jolie was the girl my older brother lost his virginity to (at 14 or 15). She also tried to hook up with the teenage boy down the street but he couldn’t go through with it because she put too much pressure on him and his performance. AND I heard a rumor that she slept with my oldest step-brother (Tom’s oldest son) and got pregnant but didn’t tell him he’s the father. Again, I hear the chants...Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!

Since the hook up with that guy didn’t work, my mom moved onto someone else. She denies it, but my eyes did not deceive me. I was walking down the street and I saw her in the foyer at one of my friend’s house. She was leaning very flirtily against the wall...and then leaning into a kiss with the man standing there with her...my friend’s dad. I couldn’t believe it. Especially when she denied it right to my face. I was 12, who was I to argue with her? I didn’t know what to do so I kept it to myself. Not the smartest but I didn’t want to be the one breaking up the family.

That was the summer she met Billy. Remember that name. He’s very important to the entire history (dysfunction) of this side of the family. He lived next door with his father, step-mother, half-brother and half-sister. He was in his early to mid-20’s. Tony asked if he could go to the store with him and my mother agreed, even though she had just met him. I remember them driving away in a black car. After that summer nothing else would ever be the same.

9 comments:

A said...

wow, you have been through so much- i was going to say "i cant wait for the next part", but that seems awfully backwards given the heartbreaking nature of the story.... (hug)

Pie said...

Geez Louise! I'm so sorry you've had to live through this craziness, but it explains a lot of what you've eluded to with your family and your mom before. (((((hugs)))))

Alex said...

1st, this is so much to go through as a child. I can only imagine what else you have to say. Also, given what I know now about you, I'm very impressed that you came from this background and have turned into the woman you are today.

But 2nd, this is fascinating stuff (if only it didn't relate to your life!). It might make a good book...

mommyodyssey said...

Holy crap! I second A. But you know what? i'm really happy for you that at least as a kid you only had to deal with that dysfunction one month out of the year. (and will you please stop being so critical about the length of your posts? so what if they're 2000 words. they're interesting. Ok? Ok.)

Rebecca said...

Wow. That's all I can say.

Jem said...

That's a lot of chaos for a kid to experience. You are one resilient person.

C said...

Wow! I completely agree with Jem. You are resilient!

I wish I could give you a big hug. That is way too much for a child to deal with.

Amanda said...

That's quite the family history, and it sounds like you're only getting started. I can't believe how much you had to go through at such a young age. This is why you are such a strong person today, I'm sure. Curious to hear more...you're a great writer.

Esperanza said...

I can't believe I forgot to comment on this post. I was thinking about it ALL DAY when I read it, molding my response. And then I must have let it get away from me. I'm so sorry. That story is insane. Truly. When I read the beginning I was like 2,000 words? Does she really think we're going to be interested enough to read a 2,000 word diatribe on her family? And then it was over and I was like, MORE! I WANT MORE! It was riveting. I can't believe that is your life. My mom has a similarly insane story. Her mom died when she was 7 and she and her 6 brothers and 5 sisters basically raised themselves, trying to avoid their alcoholic, abusive, bi-polar father who tried to kill himself twice and was institutionalized multiple times (and given shock therapy). So yeah, she has some crazy stories about growing up. Anyway, I'm so sorry I failed to comment on this. I am very interested to read your next installment, which just popped up in my reader. I promise I won't forget to comment this time.