Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chapter 2 - My Life: The Early Years

I really don't remember moving in with my Aunt and Uncle (my legal guardians) as I was supposedly around 4yrs of age.  My sister, who was 8, remembers us going to live with them.  You see,  my real mother and father divorced (the reason was never told to me) after which my mother had a "nervous breakdown".  That's what they called it back then.  She had to be institutionalized and was only allowed to "come home"...well, usually twice a year...once at Easter and again at Christmas.  I remember going to visit her in the asylum and being taken to the "ward" wear she slept.  It was a large room filled with beds, each bed had a patient.  Next to each bed was a small nightstand where they kept their "personal things".  I remember seeing other patients doing the crazy things...things like I'm sure you've seen on TV.  One man pacing back and forth across the room and each time he got to the wall, he would hit it with his hand.  I wonder what the wall represented to him?  Confinement?  Anger?  I remember people screaming, others sitting in the corner crying.  I remember others just staring into space.  I remember being scared.  I remember my mother always kept

her "things"neat and in order...always folded impeccably.  I remember the smile of her face and how her eyes would light up when we brought her a bag of hard candy or a box of tissues.  Sometimes she knew who I was, other times not.  I remember, pretending to fall asleep in the car until my Aunt came out from saying good-bye so I wouldn't have to wave good-bye to my mom as she stood in the window in her "room".  I remember fighting back the tears so no one would know I was really not asleep.

I remember hearing about the shock treatments that she used to get.  I remember hearing my Aunt tell my sister and I that no one wanted us and that's why we went to live with them.  I remember being told that we would have ended up in an orphanage if it wasn't for them.  I remember wanting to call my Aunt "mommy" but her telling me I couldn't.  I remember asking if I could tell her how I much I loved her and her telling me no and that I could never say that.  That was the beginning and although it is hard to write about, things could have been a lot worse, I guess.  I look back at pictures of my sister, my cousins and I and I am always smiling.  I was happy that I belonged.  I felt loved.  It was the only kind of live I knew, so why wouldn't I? That's what mattered most to me. 

My Aunt and Uncle lived in a small town, had three daughters of their own and my Uncle owned his own business.  He was a Construction Engineer by trade and had all the commercial equipment for his business.  I don't mean these small John Deere things...I mean commercial dump truck, bulldozer, backhoe, steam shovel, tractor trailer for hauling his equipment.  He even had his own gasoline pump right outside the barn.  The barn was on a small hill above the house and the driveway was shaped like a big horseshoe.  We lived in that house until I turned 17.  Most of the time, LIFE WAS GOOD!  As long as I wasn't alone with him.

Read more about me.  Follow the "My Life" Series.


varunner said...

So sorry to hear about your mom. Unfortunately, they just didn't have good mental health treatments back then. I have some films about it that I use in my classes and it was so tragic. But look how you persevered! :-)

Tiggeriffic said...

I bet that was really hard to see your mom that way...just wondering where was your dad all this time...I remember when I was young and was in Girl Scouts. We sang carols at a Nursing Home at Christmas. There were lots of men and women crying, clinging to our hands wanting us to take them home. It was so sad. To this day I go and visit people at a Nursing home near where I live.. There are so many people there that can talk and visit and I just love to hear their stories.. A lot of times their families don't visit anymore and I think that would be awful. So I try and comfort them and spread my cheer..:)


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