Note: I'm keeping this real, so this segment will include some mild profanity. If this is offensive to you, you might want to skip this segment.
As I mentioned, I had listened to the phone call my Dad made to my Mom, and he was more then decent, I heard with my own ears! I knew and still know what was said that night.
I got in the back seat of the car and felt like a trapped rat. It was a 2 door so once they were both in, I was stuck. I really don't know why they showed up like they did. As soon as the doors were shut my Mom spun around in her seat, pointed her finger in my face and said, "I want to know what you told your Dad because he made me out to be a Bitch on the phone last night"? My immediate response was "I told him what's been going on"... but what I wanted to say and didn't feel I could was, "I was listening to the phone call and that's a lie". I didn't feel I could say that though because I was still a kid and I wasn't supposed to be easedropping on the call, it was all so twisted. I wanted to speak my mind, I was in a difficult situation, but had been taught to respect your parents. Yet I was dealing with a juvinille parent that did not deserve any respect... but at my age how to you explain all that to your parent? How do you say, "you need to grow up and act like a parent"? So, there I sat, trying to figure out the right things to say to avoid getting my face slapped off, literally! I didn't succeed, I took one good blow to the face by my Mom. There just was no right words, at least none that were coming to me. Finally after I don't know how long she said to Butch, "Coming here was a waste of my time, get her out of this car so we can get the hell out of here". So, released I was to go back inside.
I was nervous and shaken by this to no end. Betty knew nothing good could come of what was going on outside and had already called my Dad. I guess ot avoid an even worse scene he had kept himself at bay, which was probably a good decision. I ended up taking a walk to the Station and just hanging out there for a while to relax and be in a safe place. Heck just standing there filling the soda machine felt good and gave me a chance to unwind. My Dad was pretty good about not asking too much. I had always been "drilled" by my Mom, which was horrible, so he just kind of made himself available.
I'm going to digress a bit and share just one example of how many of the things that happened changed people forever. At one point the daught my Dad and Betty had together got married and had a baby. Betty babysat this new baby often, while their daughter worked. I noticed if the baby cried my Dad would jump up and go right to her. I observed this one day and when he came back to sit down he said, "I just can't stand hearing a baby cry". I said, "really, why is that". He said, "when you were a baby, and you cried, if I went to get up to see what you needed your Mom would yell - don't you dare go in there, let her cry, she'll eventually stop if no one comes in and she'll cry herself to sleep, he continued - it used to just kill me to hear you crying and not be able to do anything about it". The obvious question here is "why didn't he just do what he wanted and tell her to take a hike basically"... To understand the answer to that question you would have had to walk in the shoes my Dad and I walked in. It just wasn't that easy and the price was very high. And, of course their marriage ended not long after this, so he eventually decided to take necessary steps.
There were many things that happened in the past that changed the behavior of my Dad and myself for the future. This is just one example.
Getting back to that day in the driveway - well it was the first day of a very long war. You see, it was not very cut and dry or very simple to just switch homes. My Dad had no custody of me whatsoever. Back in the 60's as many of you know, it was most common for the Mom to just be granted custody, and the fathers just accepted it as normal, it wasn't challenged so much back then. My Dad also was still obligated to pay child support per the Divorce decree. It got more complicated too, because if you recall, I was still not in school and the new season had begun a few days prior. And then there were things to deal with such as - all my belongings, I barely had more then the clothes on my back. Everything I owned was at my Mom's condo. Despite all of this and more, as you can image, it was more then clear I was staying with my Dad.
The first step was getting me in schoool. I now lived 30-40 minutes from my old school, so figuring out a way to keep me in that school wasn't an option. My Dad went to the school district we lived in to enroll me and found out - wasn't happening! He just saw himself as my legal father, it didn't dawn on him since he had no custody he couldn't enroll me. So he came home that night to share that news and my stress level went off the chart... as a kid you can't see any possible solution. What would happen here... the only option was to get my Mom to grant my Dad temporary custody and the school would allow me to be enrolled. I feared she would never agree. My Dad did manage to get her to agree to it, and I'm guessing she only did because she was really fed up with me and knew in the end I had to be in school. So, by the end of the week I was in school. One thing accomplished.
But there was so much more. My poor Dad was paying her each week still! Because she was the legal parent, despite whether I lived there or not, he was obligated to pay child support. It didn't take him long to secure an attorney to help sort things out and get legal documents changed and updated.
In the mean time I needed my clothes. That's a night I'll never forget... we scheduled a time to go out there, when we arrived I was really happy to find my Mom and Michelle gone. Thank goodness they were smart enough to get her out of there. But oh boy was it uncomfortable.. we took big trash bags and as fast as we could fill them we were just grabbing drawers full of clothes and throwing them in bags. I remember my Dad looking at me and saying, "don't worry, we'll straighten them all out when we get back home". I could tell he felt really bad for me. He knew no kid should ever have to do something like this, but it had to be done. We were in and out of there in about 15 minutes flat. When we got home my Dad did stand there at a table with me and together we folded my clothes nicely again. I had no furniture quite yet so I used a table. My Dad was trying to get my life back to some kind of normal as fast as he could, but it obviously was going to take more then a week to do.
Things were crazy for a while. I started getting mail from my Mom. Not mail like you would think... she started sending "to me", unpaid medical bills, she closed my little passbook savings account and I guess kept the month. I just got the little passbook we had as kids where we entered our birthday and christmas money in to learn how to be good savers... we'll I got the passbook with the word "Closed" written inside and underlined about 3 times. I was upset over getting this stuff and my Dad was furious. The one thing he did I appreciate now was - rather then just handle this himself, he encouraged me to have my own voice. To explain I need to digress again for a moment...
About a year before this all happened my Dad called one day all excited he had found a car for me. With owning the Station he ran across all kinds of cars and deals. Anyway, I had just turned 14 and to him that was almost 16 so he wanted to be ready with a car for me... he was like that. He had come across a 1970 Challenger. It was the old "Slime Lime" bright green color and it was a cool old hot rod. He was telling me all about it on the phone and of course I was excited...."rule #1, never get excited or be happy". I was busted. My Mom saw I was happy.. she grabbed that phone so fast and chewed his ass from here to next week. She told him "how dare he suggest a car like that, that's not a car for a new driver, etc, etc. and how dare he not run it by her first!!! End of story, I wasn't getting THAT car". Down the road she got a new car and decided her old car was suitable for me and gave it to me. It was not necessarily a cool car back then, but a desireable car these days. It was a '67 Impala. We had parked the car in my Grandmother's garage. This was the Grandmother on my Dad's side. Something worth noting..the car was in a garage with no garage door. So there the car sat waiting for me to turn 16.
Back again to the mail I was receiving.... I said to my Dad, "I just want to mail her the keys to that car and tell her what I think, I'm really sick of being treated this way and I don't want anything she gave me". He said, "then that's what you should do. I'll make sure you have a car, you don't have to keep that one, and it's okay for you to tell her how you feel in a respectful way". That was the best thing he could have ever done. I sat down with a piece of paper and the keys to that car and I wrote her a note telling her how I didn't want anything she had ever given me and she should stop what she was doing, that it was not right. My letter wasn't that great, but it taught me I had a voice, was entitled to speak it if done properly, and I didn't have to rely on someone to speak for me. I never looked back from that lesson. From that point on in life when something wasn't right, I never looked for someone to take care of me, I knew I had my own voice and could take care of myself.
About a week later my Dad drove me by my Grandma's house and the car was gone.
Life started shaping up. My Dad had a room built for me in the finished basement they had already. He had a closet made and there was already a full bath down there, so it became my safe haven. I loved it. I got furniture, school was going ok, and my Dad had found me a 67 Charger, which proudly sat in the driveway waiting for me to turn 16 which was just over a year away at this point. The wheels of the legal system turn slowly so we were still riding on the temporary custody letter and waiting for things to happen to finally make the custody change legal. In the mean time Michelle was not doing real well and my Mom decided I should come visit them - she decided she should have visitation! So she presents this idea to my Dad, who in turn talked to me about it. Once again, I had a voice, as he left the decision up to me. He is the eternal optimist, as so am I, which I clearly get from him. He always held out hope my Mom would change and be the Mom he hoped she would be. I decided to go visit, but as you all know it was not for her or Butch, it was only for Michelle. I missed her an unimaginable amount, so a chance to see her, despite my Mom sounded really good.
We planned which weekend would be the first that I would go visit. My Dad drove me out there and dropped me off. I was nervous and excited all at once. I was so happy to see Michelle. We were just inseprable. We hung out Friday night, then Saturday morning my Mom and Butch went somewhere and I was there with Michelle, having a great time doing nothing, when there was a knock at the door. I answered it and a man said, "does Patricia xxxx live here"? I said, "yes, she does". He handed me some papers and said, "give these to her and tell her she's been served". And before I knew it I was holding papers telling her she had to go to court. My heart was racing a million miles and hour. I had to get out of there and I had to do it fast, but my Dad was 30-40 minutes away. I called him in a panic, "Dad, Mom was just served with the legal papers and she's not here, and they'll be back soon, and I need out of here". He knew I needed out of there too and said, "I'm on my way". There I sat with Michelle, who was only 7, so I couldnt' leave her, my Dad was on the way, and I didn't know when my Mom and Butch would get back......
Ok, more next week!