Thanks to Dad, I know when every centimeter of gum released its toothy bounty. I know the exact dates I was hospitalized, every music performance and who in the family attended, every road trip taken until I was 19. He logged his activities and those of whom he was around for every day of his life from January 3, 1974 until February 21, 2012. One page a day, one pad a month, every month. Filed away in chronological order, more than 450 notepads. The aggregation of an old man’s life and of those he touched. Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: trauma
Lynette, Linda, and our brother Wayne were all less than 36 months apart and shared friends. When they’d sneak into bars using fake IDs, Wayne would be in the middle wearing his cowboy hat, Wranglers, boots, and too tight t-shirt. Mother called them, simply, “the Threesome.” Lynette and Linda would be on either side, one wearing black and red, the other wearing white and blue. Sometimes the girls would alternate. The three of them were the life of the party wherever they went.
Had they been in high school a few years later, Lynette and Linda might’ve been called ‘the Wakefields’ after the twins in the Sweet Valley High series. Same height, same size, same hairstyle, same eyes, similar personalities; Lynette a little more bookish, Linda a little more fun-loving. They would rock out in Linda’s bedroom, the last one down the long hallway, listening to Michael Jackson, coloring black velvet posters, and etching the backside of mirrors in the shape of unicorns and KISS logos. Their voices were so similar that when boys would call our home, one girl would take the other’s calls just for fun and flirt dangerously. Read the rest of this entry »
After being released from Sing-Sing for embezzlement, my grandfather’s first order of business was to remarry. His second was to retrieve his children from an orphanage where they’d been abandoned by their mother. It was tough work: The children had been deprived of their identity having been left without papers, like mutts. My mother had been renamed ‘Patricia’ and her brother ‘Butch,’ names that are as foul to them still, more than 60 years later, as the most filthy of swear words.
It’s impossible for me to tell my mother’s story, much as I would like to. This isn’t even the post I intended to write this week but I’m at my parents’ home for the weekend and it’s a timely topic. All told I’ve lived with my mother for nineteen complicated years and I barely know her. There are some raw facts: She married at 16 to avoid going to the orphanage a second time but her husband philandered their marriage away leaving her with three children. She was in love with Elvis and Johnny Cash. Her favorite color is blue. She may be the undiscovered record-holder for the most phobias held by a single person. She never finished high school but got her GED in her early 30s. With five children, one grandchild, and a senile mother-in-law living with her, and the insistence of my father, Mother earned her associate’s degree. Then her bachelor’s. Then her master’s. Then her doctorate, each with a different scientific emphasis: pre-pharmacy, chemistry, physics, forestry all by the time she was 46. She is remarkable. Read the rest of this entry »