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...



  1. It sounds like you were describing my mother Jane. I think our lives have similar things in it, only I didn't have a dad to care for me. My mother and father were both like your mother and I was just the pawn in their life to fight over. I am anxious for more of the story to come. I'm sure it was really hard for you to share your dad with Betty. I totally get that, but I am hoping that she won you over and that you came to love her as much as your dad maybe did. Hugs, Brenda

  2. My heart aches for you Jane, children should not have to go through things like that. I'm so glad you had the love of your father and now you feel like that might be threatend. I hope you learn to love Betty in the future. I'm looking forward to your next writing...Thanks for sharing such personal things in your life.