Sunday, June 28, 2015

Returning Home

At 2:00am in the pitch black of night, my little sister and I were loaded in the car for the long trip back to St. Louis.  My little sister was like my own child, which I'll get into more later.  I was 7 years older then her.  She had celebrated her birthday while we were "getting rich selling 8 track tapes and fake jewelry" at the cheezy motel.

I was a little upset when we left because I had found a little diamond ring I wanted when I was there, it had a tiny stone in it and I was told it was actually real and that had made it very special to me.  I had stared it every day at that dirty flea market for 3 weeks and had been promissed it would be mine, but as we drove away I figured I had stared at it for the last time.

We were a mess driving back.  Our car was falling apart.  You see my Mom had this thing about looking like she was something special.  Before my Dad finalized the divorce he had made sure my Mom was set up, because of me, so he had bought her a new car to drive.  Butch was basically a child so when he moved in he brought with him a Corvair his Dad had given him, and since they knew nothing about cars and hadn't taken care of it, it was falling apart right and left.  My Mom didn't feel the new car she had screamed "I'm loaded", so she traded the brand new Chevy in for a 10 year old Cadillac.  Back then a 10 year old car was tired and worn out, engines were pretty much shot at 100K miles unlike today's cars, so our black Caddy was tired. While we were in Floriday with it the head gaskets had gone bad and it was smoking out the back like a bug sprayer.  There was no money to fix it, so we just had to keep using it as it was.  So, there we were, two young children in the back, a guy just our of high school driving, and a Mom who was so self centered, the words self centered are not strong enough, riding.  No one had a plan, although I could tell some were being tossed around in the front seat, I just couldn't hear them well enough.  Obviously something was wrong, I just didn't know what it was.

The next morning we were in Tennessee and we stopped at a convience store.  Butch went in, then came out after a while.  I heard my Mom say, "did you talk to him?".  Butch said, "yes, he answered, and I told him".  I never heard more then that.  I later learned Grandpa Eddie never paid up like he was supposed to the three weeks we were all working at the flea market.  He kept pushing Butch off and saying he would pay by this day or that day, but never did.  Apparently Butch had taken the days receipts and all the cash he could get his hands on, taken it, and we had left town with it.  I don't know how much that amounted to, but it certainly didn't leave us with much money to live on.  I think it just got us back to St. Louis.

We made it back, smoking car and all, it was icey and cold, and three weeks before Christmas.  We had a house, to live in, my Dad's child support to live on, a broke down car, and no one had a job.  My Mom blamed the world because she did no wrong, ever.  It was my Dad's fault for not paying enough child support, my fault for breathing, and Butches fault for some reason.   I remember my Grandpa on my Mom's side coming over and loaning us money to get through the Holidays.

My Dad was happy we were back and resumed the weekend visits.  It was such a relief to have those peaceful weekends back again.

Life went on, Butch found a job as a Sales Rep for Keebler Cookie Co.  I don't know what it paid, but it was very clear to me we had financial problems.   Butch used to get a lot of free cookies from Keebler and we used them for barter whenever possible.  We got hair cuts and paid in cookies.  I probably sounds a little funny, but those cookies helped us get what we needed for a long time.

I continued to hear about how my Dad didn't pay enough child support and how he needed to be taken back to court, because it didn't cover my 1/4 of everything...  it was a broken record.   Through it all there always seemed to be enough money for frivilous things.  I was the "free" babysitter in the house and had been since Michelle, my sister had been born.  I did a lot of babysitting.  As broke as we supposedly were, my Mom and Butch were on a weekly bowling league and had season tickets to the Hockey games, so I did a lot of watching Michelle.

I apologize that some of this is going to skip around.  My timeline of memory is not perfect as to how life was, I just have a lot of random memories.

As I had mentioned previously I was 7 years older then my sister Michelle.  I guess it was felt I was old enough to babysit her right away, so this made us pretty close and we also shared a bedroom.  My Mom did not like to have her sleep disturbed, so when Michelle needed something in the middle of the night, such as a bottle, or diaper change, I handled it, while the adults got their sleep. I didn't mind, I loved my little sister and I wanted her to be happy.

About a year after she was born I came home from school one day to find my Mom sitting on the couch with her head in her hands crying.  Butch was home with her and she told me she thought she had a brain tumor and was dying.  This was my beginning memories of many things to come that my Mom was going to die from.  It did scare me back then though.  Of course I think she just had some bad headaches or something...

It was not a happy home, my Monday-Friday home.  Nothing was ever right, good enough, done fast enough, was big enough, fancy enough - you get it.  In fact at one point my Mom had to get a job.  She was a very beautiful woman, with platinum blonde hair, always done in an updo which was very stylish in the 60's.  She caught the eye of the owner of Culligan Water Softening, and became his personal secretary.  He was a married man, and from what I gathered, he respected she as too, but he wanted eye candy.  I remember he told her she must wear skirts or dresses to work, in which she told him she couldn't afford to dress the way he wanted, so he gave her the money for a new wardrobe that suited his liking.  Over many years, my Mom worked off and on for this man.  He had a terrible alcoholism problem, of which she covered for him many times.  She only worked for him when we were having financial problems, which he knew, so he paid for a lot of extras for our family, including vacations.  He was such a big drinker he would be at a restaurant, eat pats of butter to coat is asophagas (sp) because he had burned it up, then he would drink straight vodka.  Once my Mom got a call because he was driving 7 mph on the highway drunk.  We were all certain drinking would kill him, but it didn't, smoking did.  He died in a fire that was started by him falling asleep while smoking.  He left his money to his wife, but had a car he left to my sister.

I share all that because when my Mom worked for him, she was a tyrant to live with.  She didn't feel she should ever have to work and working for this man crossed so many professional lines it was crazy.  But Butch refused to become a mobster like his Dad, he was living the straight life no matter what.

Meanwhile my Dad's life moved on and he met someone he cared about, her name was Betty.  My Dad had saved his money and purchased his first home since getting divorced 2 years prior and Betty lived down the street with her Mom and Dad.  Betty was just out of High School herself... and I can't say I was happy to meet her or have her around.  My weekends had been sacred and she was invading something so special and so meaningful to me, I can't even describe it.

Ok guys... no cliffhanger this week, but I must go and get about my day.  More to come next week.  I'm sure it will bounce around a bit again, there's just too many random memories to put them in proper order. I hope you enjoyed this segment...


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Grandpa Eddie

I don't have a lot of memories of Rosie.  I do know she was Grandpa Eddie's 10th wife.  Butch's real Mom had passed when he was just 2 years old, so he had no memory of her and to this day I can not tell you why she passed at such a young age.  The guess in the family is she possibly had complications from an auto immune disease.  Various Auto Immune diseases are common in my family, particularly on the "step" side.
Because of all the Mom's in his life Butch was very commited to my Mom.  He never wanted to get divorced.
Rosie had someting to do with a Nursery School.  I'm not sure exactly what her role was, but my Mom jumped on the idea of having me go there.  This took place when my Mom and real Dad were still married.  I was quite young when I went there.  I remember it because it was traumatic to me, I didn't want to go and I remember crying and pleading not to go.  I think most kids do this, because I'm sure I had fun while I was there.  I still wonder what her role was though because she didn't need to work.
My guess is it might have been some deal Grandpa Eddie had going, hard to say.  Many of you mentioned in your comments you wondered about Grandpa Eddie.  Well he is your' concerns come true.  Grandpa Eddie was part of the mob back when it was more prevelant in St. Louis. He always had some "deal" going, and as I said, he never worked at a job.  He would get hooked up with different thing that fell off a truck and sell whatever it was.  The one thing he never did was pay his taxes.  He owned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS so anything he wanted to be involved in, he needed Rosie to put it in her name.  He couldn't own a thing.
The Federal Government kept close track of Grandpa Eddie, they frequently watched his home and they always were on top of his every move.  At one point he had found a business he wanted.  He purchased it in his name with the intention of moving it over to Rosie in just a matter of days, but the IRS was quicker and had it chained up and took it from him before he could do a thing with it.
He always had something going on in Miami.  I remember at one point he had a miniature gold place.  We went down to Miami for vacation and I remember getting to play endless miniature golf, it was like heaven to a child.
In a very short period of time after meeting and getitng to know Grandpa Eddie he was gone and the house across the street left abandoned.  I don't know what happened to Rosie, but I never heard from her, or anything about her until almost two decades later.
I was told Grandpa Eddie went to an old folks home.  My Mom and Butch made trips to go see him.  I of course believed it, but learned later in life the IRS finally got the info they needed on him.  They had questioned him all the time, but Grandpa Eddie was a tough guy and never cracked.  Of course the Mob oath was to never rat.  Well someone else was not so strong and made a deal for themselves by ratting on Granpa Eddie.  Grandpa Eddie was sentenced to 3 years in a white collar type prison and was told he could get out sooner for good behavior.  Not much for what now was a bill of over a million dollars in taxes and penalties to the IRS.
He was told one thing from the Judge as he was read his sentence - and that was "if anything happens to this man (the rat) then you will do your entire three years in a maximum security prison".  Well, as I said, Grandpa Eddie didn't scare easily and he had a score to settle.  Within a week of Grandpa Eddie going to jail the man who ratted on him was shot in an elevator.   Grandpa Eddie ended up doing his full three year in the Maion IL prison (one of the roughest around).
He got out and was back to his same life, the only life he knew.  This time he Rose wasn't around though and he needed us to fill in. From what I understand a lot of promisses were made and not much turned out as it was portrayed.
One promise was a big one.  He had some sort of business going at an indoor flea market selling 8 track tapes and fake jewlery.  Apparently we were going ot get rich by going down to Miami and working with him at this Flea Market.  We were going to live in a house with a sparkling in ground pool, along a causway and have a boat, and on and on.  I remember telling my real Dad we were moving down there and going to live this new fancy lifestyle.  I had visions of it in my mind.  My Dad owned boats, so I was very familiar with them, heck I stayed on one each weekend, so I could only image this beautiful home we would live in with a pool ... it sounded so perfect.
We took off for Florida in an old Cadillac my Mom had to have, I was about 10 and now I had a baby half sister who was 2, almost 3.  I could't wait.
We arrived, we went to the flea market, and even at the age of 10, I knew there was no way that business was going to pay for the lifestyle I had been sold on......  This adventure lasted for 3 weeks, and then one night I was woke up at 2:00am and told, "come on get in the car, we need to leave....".....

Ok, back to crafting, more next week....


Sunday, June 14, 2015

My New Normal

So, as I said, life went on, but in a whole different way.  My Dad kept his word and I saw him on weekends.  He worked a lot, he had two jobs, so he only had Saturday night and Sunday off.  I looked so forward to that time together.  It was just me and him, hanging out.  Since he didn't have much time off he always had to clean his apartment on the weekend too.  He was a very clean and organized man, so when I came over on Saturday night the first thing we did was clean together.  Now you would think....uggghhh cleaning, but I loved it just because it was time spent with my Dad.  I dusted and did whatever I could to help.  We always had some dinner he got somewhere, and then we called it a night.  Sunday was always the day I looked so forward to because he always had something planned.  He did a good job when it came to making sure we had fun together.  We went to the Arch, Clarksville to ride the skylift, and all kinds of places that were fun.  I remember really enjoying myself.  I always came home on Sunday night happy as could be.  Being with my Dad was also an escape from the stressful atmosphere in my weekday home with my Mom.  At the time I didn't realize how much stress there really was, but looking back - it was a lot.

The weekends were so short, it seemed I was just starting to relax and it was time to go back home.  My new "replacement Dad, Butch" was doing his best, but my Mom was a mess.  It seemed she was stressed about everything, but mostly she was stressed about money. At the time I didn't understand the issues, all I knew was she didn't think my Dad paid enough child support, and I felt like she was angry at me about it.  She would tell me in quite the tone that "your Dad doesn't pay near what he should, it doesn't come close to covering your third of the house payment, and water bill, etc (she would rattle off every bill related to the house), he got off easy, I should take him back to court".   Now I was five years old, and when I heard that it used to scare me because I didn't understand what court was, but I thought it might mean court could put hin in jail, so I worried a lot about this issue.

She never liked it that I came home happy either.  That made her mad.  She told me my time with him wasn't reality.  I didn't know what that meant either, but I did know I really looked forward to those weekends to relax.

Life was so different for me now.  My Dad was a morning person and so was I, but my Mom was not.  So when my Dad left and Butch moved in they slept in whenever they could, which was often.  I was forbid to make any noise to wake them.  This was so challenging for me.  I would wake up early and want to do something, or maybe even just use the bathroom, but I was scared to death to make a noise.  The upstairs had two bedrooms, one for them, and one for me, and it had a bathroom at the end of the hallway, so it was close quarters, any noise at all would disturb her and that really ticked her off.  I hated the mornings, and loved when I was at my Dad's and we both go up early.

Money continued to be the talk of the house.  I knew Butch worked, he sold cars and I knew he hated it.  I remember one day they were talking about it and she said, "how's it feel that this is your last day".  He was apparently quitting.  He was really happy about it.  I didn't really get why he was quitting if we were supposedly so broke.

I knew Butch's Dad and Stepmom (Rosie) well since they lived across the street still.  His Dad was called "Eddie", or now "Grandpa Eddie".  One thing I knew about Grandpa Eddie was, he always had a lot of money, rolls of it, $100 bills would be rolled up in his pocket and he pealed them off like dollar bills.  I knew he spent a lot of time in Miami too an he never worked for anyone, it seemed he always had some deal going with a business.  I didn't understand it all back then, but I grew up to get it.  We spent many years intertwined with his business ventures, and, well, that's a story for another day...

I have to get up and get going so I'll pick up next week!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Living a Life Without Fear!

Wow!, It's been months since I've written on my blog, I looked and the last time was in December 2014!  That's way too long.  It's not only fun sharing on here with you all, but writing in a journal style format is very therapuetic.

I'm known for saying "Craft Without Fear", but who I am goes deeper then that.  I live a life without fear as well.  Some of you will most likely understand that immediately and some of you may not.  I've decided to share a good majority of my life story here in hope of benefiting at least one person to move past a place they may be stuck in.

Most of you know me as someone who lives this really nice life.  I have not been shy about sharing that we are living our dream in our new home with plenty of land around it.  Mike is running his business rather then setting tile and hanging marble every day, and we have a dog that is loved by more people then I'll ever know.  It's all perfect right?  Or is it?  Well, I'm going to uncover it all for you and share how I really got here, going back to my childhood.  I've lived far from a perfect life.  There was no silver spoon.  I got where I am today by making choices, and most importantly not letting what anyone else (including family) has to say define who I am, or who I have chosen to become.

I often think I'm viewed quite different from what is my reality.  After you read what I plan to share, I promise you'll look at me entirely different, and I hope it gives you more hope and strength then you ever had before, if you need it.   One very important thing I want to say - please don't read this and feel sorry for me.  I don't feel sorry for me, in fact I feel the things that happened in my life taught me I had choices.

I am the daughter of a couple who were high school sweethearts.  My father was one year older then my mother and waited for her to graduate high school so they could get married.  They were married right after her graduation.  The year was 1959.  College was just not considered important.  My mother really had no intention of working and my father felt he just needed to work hard and he would succeed.  Before I can remember they rented an apartment, then a home, then in 1961 I arrived in this world.  Shortly thereafter they bought their first home.  For a young couple it was in a very nice neighborhood and was a charming 2 bedroom brick bungalow style home in the suburbs of St. Louis.  Grandparents lived within blocks away, so it was perfect....kind of.  My first memories start when I was about 4.  It was at that point the marriage had fallen apart and my Dad was moving out.  I have a few memories of him living with us, but they are very few.  I mostly remember my sadness of him moving away and telling me he would see me every weekend.  I have a very clear memory of the guy across the street moving in with us within days of my Dad moving out.  I remember thinking, well, I guess this is how it works, one Dad moves out and a replacement Dad moves in.  I think we lived alone for about 3 days.  His name was Butch.

Of course you've all figured out my Mom was having an affair with him, which is what broke the marriage to my Dad.  I've been told the background on it all, but it's nothing you all haven't heard before.  I think the only interesting details are that he was still in high school and graduated just before their marriage ended, and the other detail is - he is to the best of my kowledge still married to my Mom.   He was nice enough, so I didn't really feel bothered by him.  Then one day they picked me up from Kindergarten, I was 5 at the time, and in the car on the way home they told me they had gone over to IL and gotten married.  I didn't believe them, but it was true.

Over the years I learned more and more about the years I was too young to remember.  But this is where it starts for me.  My first memories were heart breaking.  I remember my Dad coming over to show me a new car he had purchased.  I was so young I just didn't understand why he couldn't stay any more.  It made me so sad that he was only there to show me his car, I wanted him to stay so badly.  My Mom was a cold person and very self centered, so I was lonely.  To this day I can remember watching his car pull out of the driveway and leave.

Live went on and I visited my Dad every weekent just like he promised.  Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy though.  My Mom made it almost impossible.  She did some things that give wrong a whole new meaning....

I need to go to bed, it's very late, so I will pick up very soon and continue on....