That weekend was spent in Theodosia, Missouri. A small town near Table Rock Lake in the Southwest Missouri Ozark area. It's peaceful there and Betty had extended family in that area. We went there a few times a year to visit a couple relatives she was very fond of. I don't really remember some of these people, but I do remember the warmth they extended to me. I remember the house I was in that weekend, it was owned by older relatives of Betty's, so to me it felt like a "grandma" house. I was all of 14 so, who knows how old they really were. I do know I was up all night, every night pacing around, sitting in different rooms, thinking, crying, thinking..... I did not know what to do most of that weekend.
No one spoke of the sitution on the 4 hour drive back to St. Louis (Webster Groves to be exact), the car was quiet for the most part, except Beth, my Dad and Betty's daughter who was now 4 and very annoying. We came home that Monday and overall, except for the turmoil in my head, everything was uneventful.
Tuesday I was supposed to be in school...somewhere, but I wasn't yet. No one knew exactly what was happening yet. My Dad had no heard from my Mom, he had not called her, so nothing was figured out. It had been made very clear by Betty and my Dad that I was welcome to stay, and I'll never forget what else was said, to this day I'm sure this was Betty's idea to throw in the conversation, but as they told me I was welcome, they also said, "but you can't play us back and forth, in other words, you can't decide you don't like the rules here so you want to go back to your Mom's, then when you don't like it there, you want to come back". I remember thinking...are either of you nuts, do you know what I'm coming from... I looked at my Dad like "really"... I never really responded to that and my Dad said no more.
Later that day I had decided my decision was going to be... to go back to watch out for Michelle. My heart could not find peace with any other decision. I knew it would be Hell, but I also knew it would be Hell for her because she would get the brunt of everything, there would be no diversion. Plus how would she ever understand at her young ag why I didn't come back. So, I went upstairs (I had been staying in the finished basement), and told Betty I had decided to go back because of Michelle. I remember how she looked shen I told her. She actually looked surprised and very concerned. It was almost as if it had finally sunk in on her how bad my life had been, and now I was coming to her with this decision. My Dad was at the "Station" as we called it. He owned a Shell Service Station 1.5 blocks away. Betty said, "don't call your Mom yet, let me tell your Dad what your decision is, and let him call out there to talk to her for you before you do anything". I agreed and went back downstairs. For the first time in many days I felt relieved. I knew this was the right thing to do even though I knew it would be bad. I actually started feeling a bit happy because I really missed Michelle and I had worried about her to no end. I couldn't wait to see her. She was like my own child.
I guess Betty called my Dad when I was downstairs. Later I came up and she told me she had talked to him and he was going to call my Mom. I didn't give it a lot of thought. I figured this was just sort of a formality and I would be getting a ride from someone to go back at some point, besides I also needed to get into school. I had missed the first day already.
That evening my Dad came home around 6:00pm as always, he sat down on the back stairs and started to take off his workboots. I went outside to see him as I typically did. He looked pained in his face. He would always say "hi kiddo, how are you doing?" in a cheerful "happy to see you voice", but this time even though he said the same words, they were not in the same tone. I didn't really answer, I just said, "did you call Mom". He said, "Yes, I did". And then he was a bit quiet, as if searching for his next words. I look back on this time and although he was my Dad, and I didn't realize it at the time, because he was older, he was only 33 handling this mess as well. He was running his own business, owned two homes, had two children, he had a lot going on. I anxiously said, "what did she say"... I remembered he looked down at the stairs for a very long minute, and then he looked up and said, "you won't be going back". I remember that feeling like it was just a few seconds ago. My heart sank, I couldn't believe it, what would happen to Michelle, who would take care of her. So many thoughts were racing through my mind and my heart. I asked "why, what did she say". I wanted to know what she said. He looked at me as if he wanted to hug me, but he wasn't the huggy type, but there was so much saddness in his eyes, and said, "she told me if you thought you had it bad before, just wait until you come back, you don't know what bad is". He apparently had had enough, he had watched me go through the weekend, he knew how bad she could be so he apparently had finally spoke his mind. He continued, "I told her I wouldn't send my damn dog out there with you". And that was it. My decision was over and Michelle's fate was sealed. The wind had left my sails and I just sat on the edge of the stairs and stared at the brick on the house.... now what.
Now what turned out to be an understatement.... that night my Dad called my Mom to finalize the fact I was staying. I tip toed down the hallway and was listening to the phone call and I'll never forget how nice my Dad was when he really didn't have to be. He said things like "maybe she just wants to see how her Dad lives", and "let's face it Pat, in 3 or 4 years she probably won't be living with either of us, and this is a chance for her to live here for a bit before that time comes"... He never yelled, he never said anything disrespectful. In fact he never said anything bad about her to me, he only showed understanding when I spoke to him about her behavior.
The end...hardly.. the next day Butch was at the door unannounced and she was sitting in the car in the driveway. Of course looking back, they strategically showed up during the day when my Dad was at the Station. Betty answered the door and he apparently told her my Mom wanted to talk to me. She called me upstairs and I could tell she didn't know how to handle the situation. She didn't know what to do, so she just asked me if I wanted to go out there. I thought I had to. I thought since it was a parent wanted to speak to me, I couldn't say "No". So, outside I went and I got in the car... what a mistake this was...
Ok guys.. more next week... thanks for reading!