After my grandmother died,the not normal, but familiar world I have known for so long was gone. No longer able to pick up the phone and call her,I felt like I had died too. I knew she was special, but I didn’t know just how much of an impact she would have on my life, until now.
At 12 going on 13, a young girl’s mind should be on things other than being the caretaker and defender of her family. With the death of my grandmother came a depression in my mother, that was deep and strong. I know now what she must have been feeling.
At the time, all I saw in her was a drunk. She was drunk from daylight to daylight most of the time. I had become the person who cooked and kept our clothes clean. My mother was either gone to work or in bed drunk everyday. Still living in the leaning house, I tried to get to school on time and to take care of my little brother. My older brother’s way of dealing with everything was to spend every waking moment at school or with his friends. He was old enough to drive and he stayed as far away as he could. I recommend reading Addiction Rehab Blog’s 5 Things You Can Do to Help a Drug Addict Who Doesn’t Want Help.
Not only did the drinking get worse, the beatings got much worse. One occasion, in particular seemed to stay planted in my mind for all of these years. It was a Saturday morning. My brother had brought his buddy home, who also had an alcoholic situation at home, we all went swimming down at the creek. When we got back around 2;30, my dad and mom were toasted to the max by then. As was a normal effort to keep everything peaceful, we attempted to eat watermelon under the trees in the backyard. My mom in all of her drunk glory, decided to come out to put her daily dose of venom into the events.
My brother’s friend recognized it was the perfect time to leave. My brother(17)knew it was going to come down to a knock-down, drag-out fight with my mom and dad. He stuck around to make sure she didn’t get hurt bad, or we didn’t. As was par for their fights, my mom went straight for the car after talking trash to everybody. She didn’t have the keys, but she was going to sit in the car and whatever.
For some reason, this just really pissed off my dad. In about 15 minutes, he came raging out of the back door and cussing at my mom. Her in all of her passed out state, jumped up and continued the rant she started earlier. The mood was right for an title bout. As soon as she stood up straight and called my dad a no-good cheating son-of-a-bitch, you could hear the bell ring.
My dad must have seen dark, dark red. He grabbed her and drug her around the car, towards the house, by her hair. This was the beginning of the battle. My brother ran and grabbed him, yelling let her go. As my dad let go, my mom managed to get to her feet and slap the living hell out of my dad. Wrong move. Before my brother could grab his hand,he knocked her off of her feet. He lunged at her to hit her again and my brother tackled him. In one swing he busted her mouth and nose. At this point blood was pouring. My brother and him wrestled on the ground for a few minutes and my brother let him up.
My little brother and I were hiding behind the house, shaking with fear and crying our eyes out. We kept peeking around to see what was going on. When the blood shot from my mother’s face, my heart felt as though it was going to bust from my chest. I was so scared and just knew she was dying. When my dad got up, he headed straight for the house. My brother must have known what he was going after. He tried to get my mom off of the ground and in the car. She was so messed up, she was fighting him too. Within what seemed like hours, my dad came back out of the house with his rifle.
My brother ran to get us and took us out into the bamboo field behind our house. I remember him saying, Be still and quiet no matter what you hear. It still makes me shake to think of it. My dad saw us go in the field and started shooting in our direction. My brother ran screaming so he would shoot towards the sound of his voice. When he came back a few minutes later, he sent my little brother around the back of the house down the road to the neighbors to call the police. When my dad came around and saw him running, he fired at him 3 times. My little brother ducked down and kept running.
When the police came, no one was arrested. My dad did leave though. He went to Virginia the next week for work. It didn’t seem that bad when my dad left. My mom continued to be drunk and talk bad to us. She continued to try and be as crazy as possible with the alcoholic tirades daily. Life went on and we made do as best we could. I guess my dad must have sent money, because we paid the rent.
In the weeks and months that came, our lives made another drastic turn. My dad and mom were working out there differences and my mom seemed to realize she needed to slow down, if not stop the drinking. My dad came home one weekend and told us we were moving to Virginia. My older brother was in his Senior year and didn’t want to move. He was allowed to go and live with my mom’s brother until graduation.
As we arrived in Virginia to the “new” home, I started to cry when we pulled in. An old Airstream trailer in a dumpy trailer park. No real bedrooms, just a hall with beds to the side. I just had a bad feeling from the start. We were enrolled in school and my mom was attempting to stay sober. It wasn’t working. Within weeks of moving to Virginia, she was back to the usual passing out and talking trash.
As I tried to cope with the daily routine of caring for my 8 year old brother, going to school and avoiding being hit, my dad threw yet another curve in my direction. While watching tv one night, my mom passed out and my brother asleep, I leaned over the couch and looked out the poor excuse for a window in the Airstream. My dad parked our car out there. I thought I heard a noise and while investigating the source, I got more of an education than I had intended. My dad was in the back seat with the landlord’s wife, buck naked. No need to explain their obvious activities. That picture has stayed in my mind for over 35 years.
Needless to say, nothing had changed. Our world continued to deteriorate and my responsibility continued to grow. About 3 months before my mom made up her mind to wake up, I came down with pneumonia. I remember getting my brother off to school and going back to bed. I knew I couldn’t breathe, but I thought if I laid down, I would be alright. About 3 hours later, I went to a neighbor and called my mom and dad’s work. When they got me to the hospital, I had a 106 fever. I was put into critical care for almost 2 weeks.
When they finally put me in a regular room, my mom and dad showed up to visit. First time since I went in. My mom was falling down drunk and my dad was close. I was so embarrassed, I asked them to leave. When I got out, my dad left to go back home. My mom started making plans to do the same.
When we got home,once again, my mom and dad tried to make peace. It didn’t work. We moved to my grandmother’s old house and my dad stayed in his dad’s house. Just being back at her house and imagining her being there, gave me comfort. My mom was sober again and I thought we would be alright, finally. I was so glad to be back and to be on familiar ground. As the weeks and months came and went, my mom, my brothers and I were happy. My brother got a scholarship to college for football and we were doing great, without my dad.
I don’t know what makes a woman want to continue to hope her man will change, if only she can love him enough. This was the dilema my mother was in. She wanted to believe she could change him. So she let him come back. At first just to date, I guess. Then it was more frequent.
By then, she was starting to drink some again. This was like getting shot to me. I hated my dad and what he had done to us. Seeing him in that car, was the final straw. I told my mom not to let him come back. That was a wasted effort.
The fall was in sight. I knew we were not going to make it this time either. On Sunday morning in June, I came downstairs to start my day. My older brother was on the couch and my mom was just coming in. She came through the living room and started cussing my brother. As I walked past them, trying to avoid conflict, she reached by him and slapped me across the face, calling me a slut and a whore.
I guess I had taken all of the abuse I could. I immediately grabbed her and threw her on the floor. You have to understand. My mom was 5’7″ and never weighed over 95 lbs ever. I have always been tall. I sat on top of her and put my hands around her throat. I told her I hated her and if she ever put her hands on me again, I would kill her.
My head couldn’t stop spinning. I ran upstairs, grabbed my clothes and took off down the driveway. My Aunt Nora and Uncle Grover were across the golf course. Yea we lived on the golf course. Before it was cool to live there. I never looked back at that house. I told my Aunt I did not want to go back, even if it meant going to an orphanage.
My mom called me and tried to come see me. I wouldn’t talk to her. I was determined no matter what the cost, I wouldn’t go back. Bravery at 13 is also stubbornness. It proved to be my saving grace. It gave me a new place to start trying to figure out what the heck was my purpose here and why was I destined to go through everything the hard way?.