Saturday, August 22, 2015

You Can't Take Back Your Words - Ever

I had a lot of you wondering what could have changed to make thingg better this week.. well that missed bus was life changing.  
I was really excited to be going to the mall, even by myself, I just wanted to feel comfortable for a while, even for just a short time, it was better then all the tension I was living under at home. I knew I could just walk around in the mall and get lost in looking at all the stores.
I waited on the main road for a while, but no bus.  Oh my gosh I can't tell you how sad and disappointed I was.  I NEEDED that bus to pick me up more then anyone looking at me could ever imagine.  I didn't WANT and thing.  Most kids my age would be excited for a chance to go to the mall to get a cool pair of jeans, or some popular shoe style.  Things like that never crossed my mind.  Jeans, shoes, clothes, makeup, none of those things ever crossed my mind.  I just needed some time.

Beside, and I apologize for digressing, but I never liked shopping for clothes.  I was a heavy-set child and difficult to get clothes for.  Back then Sears had their "Chubby" department.  The name alone was degrading, and of course that's where my clothes had to come from. They were never stylish, and they were more expensive, so I had already spent every "back to school season" hearing about how I needed clothes from the Chubby Department and how fat I was.  Then my little sister came along and she too was heavy, so then we both heard "how did I get so lucky to have too fat kids that need the Chubby Department."  So, now you might guess and assume I did a lot of protecting my listtle sister.
Before I continue with my life changing day, you need to know how involved I was in my sister, Michelle's life.  She had a different father, and we looked nothing alike, but we were very close.  I was raising her because our Mom could not be bothered.  Besides I was getting $20 a week for raising a child, keeping a house and so forth.  I taught Michelle how to count, basic reading, how to tell time, tie her shoes, and so forth.  I was also where she went when she was scared during the night, didn't feel good, or just needed something she couldn't handle herself.  I took good care of her and was there for her as much as I could be.  I even convinced my Dad on a few occasions to bring her along on my weekends with him so she could get away and have a little fun.  She wasn't my sister, she was my child, I looked out for her when we swam at the pool where we lived,  I made sure she got her bath and brushed her teeth.  Meanwhile, besides Butch and my Mom being gone during the day for work, they found the money to get season Hockey tickets, join a bowling league, and eat out regularly.  So, they weren't home on any of those nights either.  So, I was busy, with a lot of responsibilities.  Back to why I wasn't thinking about that "cool pair of jeans" like a normal teen might have.

When the bus didn't show I started the long walk back home.  It was in reality only 1-2 blocks, but each step felt like a mile.  My Mom had been glad I was leaving for the afternoon "so she could enjoy her day" as I had been told.  Now I had to go back, I knew she would be mad.  My heart was full of fear and for good reason.  As I walked along the road, to my surprise, I looked up to see her driving up the road. She stopped and picked me up.  Of course she wanted to know what I was doing.  I told her I had missed the bus.  She was hot, she was planning to enjoy her day and now I had ruined everything, just like I always did.  And then she said something I didn't expect.  It was late August, school would be starting in about a week or two.  She said, "that's it I'm calling your Dad, you're not living with us until school starts.  I've had it with you, you've ruined everything, you can go live with him and find out it's not all boats, cars, and a fun time like it is on the weekend".  I couldn't have heard better words, but I couldn't let her know I was happy, in fact she had to think I thought this was really bad, so I just stayed quiet, but on the inside I was really excited.  I didn't care what went on at my Dad's during the week, I knew it had to be better then how I was living.

We got back to the condo and I was told to go pack some clothes she was calling my Dad and I would be out of there before the sun set.  Oh you bet upstairs I went and started packing.  I heard her on the phone "You need to come get her and come right now, I've had it and she's not welcome here another minute, so I don't care what you have to do, get your ass out her to pick her up.  You can deal with her because she's ruined everything around here.  You can bring her back when school starts".

My Dad had been married to her so he knew what she was really like in a way that only those who had been, or are really close to her would understand.  He knew he needed to get me out of there.  I was living 30 minutes from him at this point.  He also knew if he showed up she would never stop, and it wouldn't be good, so he decided to send Betty.  He didn't tell her, he just said he would pick me up just as quick as he could.   She got off the phone and yelled upstairs, "I just got off the phone with your Dad and he's coming to get you. You're staying there until school starts, that's it for you around here, you've ruined enough.  You can see what it's really like to live with him, it's not all fun. He can't get here soon enough".  I just said, "ok".  I couldn't wait to leave... but there was one problem and it was a big one.  She was a 6 year old child looking up at me with confusion in her eyes as I packed up, all the yelling was going on, she figured out I was leaving and said, "when are you coming back?"  She was breaking my heart, but I could do nothing and I knew I would be back when school started, which wasn't that far away, so I showed her on a calendar the day I would return.  She was ok with that and so was I.

Betty picked me up a little while later.  It was uneventful.  We talked a bit on the way home, not much, but a little.  I was really glad to see my Dad that night when he came home from work.  I walked outside as he was taking his work boots off and he looked up and said, "so she kicked you out too huh kiddo".... and he smiled.  He truly was the only person on this earth who understood in a way only someone in our shoes could understand.  I said, "yep, I guess so".

Happy ending...not even close, I had a long road ahead of me still, but I now had some relief.  A new kind of hell started that weekend, labor day, I'll never forget what I went through those three long days, it was a mental anquish not even an adult should have to deal with.  You see by then my Dad had told me I could stay and never go back....never go back....never go back,.... oh my gosh that sounded like Heaven, but what would I do about Michelle.  Who would take care of her.  She would not understand why I didn't come back on the day I told her.  Do I go back to Hell, and take care of her, or do I save myself and stay for good?  I didn't sleep for that whole weekend.  No one could make this decision for me.

Finally I decided what I had to do......

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Life in Carmel Woods

My Mom was busy working for the alcoholic again, she of course was enjoying the new wardrobe, but there was nothing worse then her working.  She reminded everyone of the huge favor and sacrifice she was making for the family on a daily basis.  Yet she ran the show and did very little where she worked.  She had the owner eating out of her hands.  He paid for everything for her all the way down to gas for her car because she would complain she didn't haven enough to get to work and back.  She was a master manipulator when it came to this man.  He liked her, there was no doubt about it and he played right into her hands.  She even had him paying for our family vacations.  He was so drunk most of the time I don't think he knew what he was agreeing to anyway.  I met him a few times, yet I doubt he ever remembered me.  So, she had it easy as you can image, but you would have thought she toiled away all day in a building with no heat or airconditioning for minimum wage by the way she carried on.  I learned one thing for sure, you better be gratefuly and appreciative for all she was doing for the well being of the family...we owed her big time and she didn't let you forget it.  Forget the fact I took care of everything that didn't require a car all week long.  She didn't have to clean one thing.  She didn't do a shred of laundry.  She didn't touch a dirtly dish.  And, she sure didn't bother raising her second child.  I did it all for $20 a week.
And, they wondered why I was so happy to leave on Friday night!  I used to count my days and nights privately all week waiting to leave again, but the fact I was happy on Friday to leave was impossible for me to completely hide.  I wasn't even supposed to look "neutral" about it, I was supposed to be bummed out I had to go.
My weekends were amazing and something most kids never get to experience.  There was definitely an underlying tension that never went away.  It hung around like a dark cloud.  Meanwhile my Dad has really become successful.  His house at the Lake of the Ozarks where we went every weekend, had been added on to and finished beautifully.  It was a house straight out of a magazine, all 3,000 sq ft of it.  Betty had always had an interest in interior decorating so she took a class on it (of course my Mom said it was some stupid thing that meant nothing).  The house sat tucked away in it's own cove on three lots, so there was plenty of privacy.  My Dad continued to own big boats, so he had a big dock, it had a swim deck, slide, and a place for a ski boat as well.  We were living large.  We stayed at the house some weekends and just went for rides on the boats and some weekends we met up with friends with big cruisers like ours and we all "coved out" for the weekend and would swim, have bbq's together and take our smaller ski boats we had pulled with us to go out and ski.  It was amazing fun.  My Dad was living fast during those years.  He worked really hard, and he played equally as hard.  Around that same time he also became a private pilot.  We would rent planes and he would fly us around on a sunny day.  He had motorcycles, Corvettes, jet ski's - money was flowing freely.   This was now my "other" life.  I had to come back on Sunday night and pretend I didn't have a good time and go through "20 questions".  It was horrible.
It was true Betty and I were not close and she was all about her daughter she had with my Dad, and she didn't like that my Dad and I had a lot in common, but even with all that, the weekend was soooo much better then the weekdays!
My Mom was figuring it all out.  It was good she couldn't see the weekend life, but she was figuring out there was a lot more money flowing then she wanted to believe could be true.  She had told him he would never amount to anything, he would always be a greasy mechanic, so this was really making her crazy.
Then one weekend my Dad needed to bring the ski boat home for a repair.  He towed it back and it was with us when he dropped me off on Sunday night.  When I got dropped off she and Butch were waxing the car, a 76 Monte Carlo, red with a white vinyl top (I can remember these events like they happened earlier today), she got one look at that boat and you could see the change in her eyes.  She was pleasant.  In fact too pleasant.  All four of them chatted outside for quite some time.  My Dad was saying more then he should I'm sure, and she was gathering her info like she always did for later use.  By the time they left dusk had fallen upon the evening and she could not finish waxing her car.   All of a sudden it became my fault she couldn't finish it up.  She was all over me.  Her jealousy was so bottled up she didnt' know what to do with it, and I was the obvious place to let loose.  I couldn't do anything about it.  She couldn't go after Butch, nor could she go after his child, but I had no protection.  I got in trouble for coming home when I did and for being so "damn" happy.  I took the verbal abuse for as long as I could and I finally decided I had nothing to lose and I struck back.  I told her I would "call next time to see if it was ok to come home", and "of course I would be happy on the weekend, look at the difference in how I was treated".  She went nuts, how dare I talk back, I was supposed to be grateful, look at the sacrifices she was making... this was the beginning of big changes.  She started yelling at Butch that night because he "wasn't doing anything" and I was standing up for myself.  Butch fell into her trap and he had me backed in a corner with his fist in my face tell me if I spoke another word I would feel what that fist felt like.  It was a mess and I never wanted to come back there again, but I was still young, couldn't drive, I was stuck.
The stress of each day after that was unbearable.  She told me almost every day "You've ruined our summer, my life, my marriage, and our entire family".  So one day I asked if I could take a bus and go to the mall.  The mall was about 20 minutes away. She agreed to let me because "she wanted me out of her face anyway".    I went to the bus stop, but I must have been late because the bus never came......  I will forever thank God that bus never came, because what happened after that changed my life in a huge way for the better.... unfortunately things had to get a lot worse before they got better, but they got better, and it's all because that bus never came.....

Talk to you more next week!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Life Between Two Families

Betty was pretty young when she met my Dad, she was 18.  They dated for a year or so, then married and she moved in.  My Dad was 8 years old then her, so he was 27, and I was 7.  I remember the wedding and all the plans very well.  We were not a church going family in the past.  I didn't know it at the time, but Betty had been brought up Baptist.  I do recall them trying to find a church to marry them and having difficulty since my Dad had bee married previously.  They found a Luthern church about a mile from the house I lived in when I was with my Mom.  I remember they had to agree to go to church there for a while before getting married.  So, every Sunday we were at church.  My Dad didn't like it one bit because he wanted to be doing other things. Meanwhile Betty was making plans for the wedding and her Mother was making all the dresses for everyone.  Her Mother was an amazing seamstress.  She could make clothes, curtains, anything.  I was going to be something in the wedding, I just don't recall anymore what I was, but I was in it.  My Dad seemed happy, aside from going to church and having to make donations.  And so our weekends went for a while, pretty uneventful.
Life was changing with my other family.  It was at the time I was 7 my Mom and Butch had a daughter together.  My Mom was stressed out, there was no money, she was constantly griping. Nothing was good enough, it was endless. My Mom hated seeing my Dad finding his way and finding happiness.  Betty was young, skinny, and cute, so I all I heard was she "was too skinny"...blah, blah, blah...  I remembering wondering even back then at such a young age, why she cared how skinny Betty was, what difference did it make?
I did know I was always happy to leave for the weekend and I had a hard time hiding it.  If I spoke of something we were going to do (because I would talk to my Dad on the phone during the week and he would tell me the plans he had for the weekend), and I was the least bit excited about it she would say, "there's no reason to be so happy, wipe that smile off your face before I smack it off".  It was difficult for me because I am a naturally happy, optimistic person.  Even though Betty had become permanent, I was still very happy to leave for the weekend and get a break from my weekday house. At this point I was now going to my Dad's on Friday night instead of Saturday, which was great.  I would get picked up Friday after he was done working and brought back Sunday evening.
There was always a price to pay for everything though and my weekend happiness had a high price tag on it.  Life was hell when I came home on Sunday, between all the questions I was asked and all the twisting she did of the activities, she even picked apart how my little blue suitcase was packed.  She believe my clothes and shoes should be packed a certain way and if they didn't come home packed correctly she blamed Betty.  Of course it was never right, my shoes would be touching something they shouldn't, something was always wrong, so every Monday morning around 10:30 my Mom would call my Dad to give it to him.  Of course I heard it all and felt terrible.  To this day I have issues with how I pack my suitcase. Everything has to be packed a certain way...
As the years started going by my Dad was quickly reaching goals he had.  Betty's Dad owned a Shell Service Station.  He was aging and wanting to eventually get out.  My Dad had a goal of owning his own Service Station himself.  He had always been a great mechanic and had quite the following.  So Betty's Dad had my Dad join him as half owner of his Shell Station.  The agreement was they would do this until the right Unit became available, at which time my Dad would leave to have his own Shell station.  Also with all this going on my Dad found a boat he really liked and bought it.  He also found a '63 Split Window Corvette and bought it..  My Dad played as hard as he worked and he was living life to the fullest.  He had Betty's support and the sky was the limit.  Our weekends now consisted of boating on the river, outings n the Corvette, time with friends and family, they were more fun then ever.
Meanwhile the green eyed monster of jealousy had taken over my Mom with a iron grip.  She couldn't stand to see my Dad so happy and living his life. I head it all from "he's going to fail, you just watch" to "Betty doesn't really want you around", etc. She hated it.  So was also resentful at Butch because he wasn't living the fast track, he had gotten a better job and they were doing better, but Butch wasn't the type to have big goals, want big toys, he just wanted to live a nice quiet life.  So my Mom decided we needed to move, and she found a huge house, it was definitely a plan to impress.  This house was huge and sat on a very large piece of land for being in a very developed area of St. Louis.  The house had been built many years prior to the home around it.  It sat at the end of a narrow street and was sat sideways.  All the other home on the street faced the street, but this one did not.  It didn't because when it was originally built, all the land around there belonged with the house and the street had been it's driveway.  At some point the land around it had been sold and the driveway became the street.  Whoever had sold off the land saved quite a bit so the house still had a lot of privacy.  The house had amazing charm and architecture.  When you entered the house it had beautiful dark wood everywhere and the entry area had a gorgeous chandelier to light the area.  As you looked forward you could either go up a massive stair way, or you could hang your coat in a closet with a full length beveled mirror.  It was all stunning and quite breathtaking when you walked in.  It had huge bedrooms, sun porches, sun rooms, a large den, and even living quarters over the garage.  There was only one problem.... it needed a ton of work and they couldn't really afford the house to start with.  It didn't take long for the fighting to begin.  My Mom had been so used to my Dad being able to fix anything and Butch just didn't have that background, knowledge, or even desire to do stuff like that. So my Mom began telling him how worthless he was.  Meanwhile the house was falling apart.  It needed a roof so bad we had buckets in the attic all over the place.  There was a small bathroom on the lower level that had so much rotten wood around the toilet it was about to fall through to the basement.... but hey the house looked impressive from the outside and that's what mattered to her.  We were the Kings of the street, and when my Dad dropped me off he got to see it.  I think life was harder there then the previous home because of the additional financial  pressure.  It didn't keep my Mom awake   My Mom never once saw me off to school in the morning.  It was my job to get myself off and as my sister got older to make sure she was good to go too.  My Mom would make any necessary lunch items the night before and put them in the refrigerator.  If there was anything we were to remember, she would leave a note for me.  I was to get everything together and get to the bus stop on time, which I always did.  She did not work when we lived there, yet she constantly griped about the house cleaning and how she needed  help, so when we were home we were always helping her clean.  I found myself making a little private get away in those living quarters above the garage.  It was peaceful and Butch gave me to some paint so I could spruce it up a bit.  It wasn't great, but it was private.
We lasted two years there and then it needed to be sold.  They were broke again.   This time we were going to move out of the area I had known all my life to the outskirts of St. Louis where new developments were going up.  We rented a town house in a community with a pool and condos you could purchase.  So there were renters and owners in the same area.  The pool was nice and so was the clubhouse that went with, but life got really ugly there.  My Mom went back to work, like I said, they were really broke, and I became the full time caretaker of my little sister and I was responsible for all the cleaning in the town house.   I was to clean all the bathrooms, the kitchen, do laundry, change sheets on the beds, and watch a 6 year old 5 days a week.  I was 13 by now.
Life was about to take a very big change.....

Ok, I'll chat with you more just as soon as I can....