The Letters

It’s amazing how much one accumulates when they not only have all of the detritus of their own lives but the artifacts from their deceased parents, grandparents (both sides) and brother.  What’s even more amazing is the vast amount that I have is just a tiny fragment of all that I once had that was lost in the many moves, due to lack of care and so forth.  It’s insane all the crap I have of everyones lives.  We’ve moved the boxes of stuff a few different times and it’s always been a sore spot between me and Chris.  He wants me to go through it, I do and throw away some and then find a shiny object and move onto another thing and never quite make it through things.  I also have never sat and sorted.  I’ve opened boxes and gone “oh it’s ____” and move it to the keep side and keep on trucking.   In April, I finally took on the task of sitting down with the things and going through it, organizing it and deciding what to do with it all.

It’s always a bit of an emotional roller coaster going through this kind of stuff.  Pictures of people that are all dead.  Memories that come flying back that are bitter and sweet.  Times you wished you remembered and times you wish you could forget.  I think that’s a lot of why I became a photographer was because all I have left of my family is pictures.  The letters are a different matter.  It’s funny to look back and see so many letters one saved.  All of my love letters from high school boyfriends (I pitched those finally).  Notes from friends secretly passed between classes.  Cards for my birthday.  Our kids won’t likely see these things from our generation forward as all of our correspondence now is digital and hidden behind passwords.  These are some of my favorite treasures to find from my family as they give a peek into what life was really like in that small snippet of time.

I found a box within one of the big boxes full of cards and letters my Mom’s parents saved.  Cards from various events from 1979 – 1985, they saved them all.  I ended up making the decision to not hold onto these any longer as I don’t know most of the people in the cards and letters and sent them on to my Aunt whom will appreciate them more than I or my kin (if I have any) ever could.  Then I came to letters from my Mom to my brother while he was in Basic Training and then on duty with the Navy.  I’ve read many of these letters before when they were sent to us along with other things from his room after his death.  I haven’t re-read them in years and just took the envelope with them and moved them to the keep pile and kept on sorting.  Then I came across three letters that were apart from the main letters that were kept.

I should have just sorted them along with the others.

I read the first of the three letters and while it’s harsh and biting towards my father and calls me lazy, it’s not so bad.  I’m not one that looks back upon someone that died with starry eyes.  I know my Mom had a lot of faults and one was that she wasn’t nice.  She was very sick with COPD and that exacerbated her grumpiness.  The letters to my brother always had a theme: I’m sick, I hate your Dad, send me money, you hurt my feelings and your sister doesn’t help enough around the house.  Keep in mind that my age through the span of these letters was around 10-13.  While I was “older” I was still a kid.  The second letter was more mean than her normal self and mentions how my Dad didn’t want to kill a bees nest because he hated to kill them.  She then tells my brother how she doesn’t get how he could be upset about killing a bees nest when he killed the dog without any qualms.  I about fell over.  KILLED MY DOG?!  See, I’d been told that Mandy went to a farm because she was too old to be inside anymore.  She was peeing everywhere and going blind.  FOR YEARS my Dad kept this ruse up and eventually a few years later he told me she died.  I get it now why he did what he did, he did it to protect me.  Mandy was old and in pain, it was time for her to go on but he knew I’d be upset so created the farm story.  I now wonder if the cats really made it to a REAL farm or if it was the same farm Mandy went to.  Poor Mandy.

The final letter.

Why didn’t I stop?

The final letter was more of the same and lots of guilt trips about my brother not sending money or spending time with her when he was home.  NOW I totally get it.  Back then though, I didn’t know about the letters and never understood why Mike didn’t stay with us or see us much when he was home on leave.  After reading these letters, I can’t blame him at all.  Anyway, she was complaining about not having time to write like she usually does because I stayed up late every night keeping her company, playing cards etc. and how finally that night I was in bed “early” at 12:30AM.  That made me laugh because I’ve always been a night owl.  Then there was more bashing of my Dad and the usual and she comes to me again.  This time I get bashed too.  She tells my brother how I’m such a strange child and how she just doesn’t know where I came from because she can’t relate to me.  She says I’m unfeeling and how she doesn’t understand why I don’t cry at movies or books.  She just doesn’t like me and probably never will.

WTF?  OUCH?!

What kind of mother says that kind of shit?  Beyond that what kind of mother says that to her SON about his SISTER?

I cried when I read it so guess what Mom?  Apparently I do have feelings.  I was freaking 10, of course I didn’t cry at movies or books.  I mean it’s not like Superfudge is all that sad?   I don’t know why it bothers me so much, I KNOW my Mom didn’t like me, hell I listened to her try to plot how to kill me, but it doesn’t mean that it hurt any less.  Just another chapter I guess in my screwed up childhood.  Mothers Day was a couple weeks after I read these letters and I have to be honest, I didn’t miss her much that day.  I feel so darn guilty about harboring some ill will towards her but that letter, in particular that line, really sliced to the core.

Maybe this is why I am not a mother.  I really worry that I won’t be any better.

Thank god for Dad.  He may have not been nice to Mom but he was amazing to me.  The letters made me miss him so much.  I think he must have kept them separate from the others so I didn’t read them.  Because that’s the kind of parent he was, he told me my dog went to a farm to protect me from the pain of seeing a beloved pet die.  He hid the letters to protect me from the pain of knowing my Mom didn’t like me.  He gives me hope that someday I will be the kind of parent that would protect their children from pain instead of cause it.

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On Bullying

Wow.  It has been an intense past couple days.  My mind is still spinning a bit over it and probably will for some time.

I have to say a hearty thank you to all of those that have commented, messaged, emailed etc. giving me your support, e-hugs and advice.  At first I was a bit terrified of what the hell was going on but you all made it bearable.  If I end up with a few new friends out of this it may have *almost* have been worth it.  If nothing else, it’s the definite silver lining in all of this.  So again, thank you.

However, the negatives… oh what is positive without a negative to balance life out.  The biggest detractors, Emily included, have said (multiple times) that if I didn’t enjoy this drama, I would have just deleted my review and moved on.  I would have never made a blog post and I certainly wouldn’t still be talking about it.  The horse doth hath been beatenth.  Or something like that 😉  I know that I will not turn a single one of you onto my side so to speak but this is my blog and I can write what I want and if I want to defend myself to these claims, so be it.

As a child, I was sexually molested by my older brother.  Yeah yeah, that’s beyond bullying I know but hear me out.  I was 5 years old and in Kindergarten and my brothers friends watched.  They went home and told their parents and the entire small town I was from knew about it.  At that age the smallest thing is embarrassing such as forgetting your socks on “Sock Day” at school (yep, I still cringe when I remember this) so imagine this kind of a story getting out and it being all over town.  I was humiliated but furthermore, I was teased.  I was teased so bad I went home crying almost every day from school.  Kids can be so damn cruel sometimes.  The bullies had found a ripe story and ran with it and I was blamed for what happened to me and even told I deserved it.  Sound familiar?  We ended up moving across the town, I changed schools and thankfully the furor died down.

Fast forward a few years to 7th grade.  Our schools merged and the kids that I had left behind remembered me – and my past.  It all came back with a vengence at a time that I was pretty fragile.  My Mom was dying from emphysema and I spent most of my spare time taking care of her.  My brother was in the Navy and was still a bone of contention between our parents.  My Mom sided with my brother in the “incident” as we called it, my Dad with me.  It was to the point my parents were about to divorce but my Mom’s illness was too bad for my Dad to just leaver her, especially without insurance.  So, life sucked at the time.  Then all of that shit came back up and the bullies, now more experienced and cruel at 13, were beyond awful.  I never stood up to them, instead I used all the strength I had just to get through the day to get home and take care of Mom.  I can’t begin to tell you though how hard those years were and how much anxiety I still feel looking back at 7th grade.

Over the summer of my 7th grade year, my brother, who if you recall was in the Navy – AND gay, died.  The official story we got was that he committed suicide after being outed as gay by his fellow military “brothers” and he was bullied so badly he killed himself.  There is a lot of grey area however and to this day I still can’t say for certain if he was murdered by a bunch of assholes or if he really did kill himself because of the assholes but the cause of either scenario is that he died as an end result of being bullied.  No matter what he did to me in the past (and trust me, we didn’t get along remotely after the incident) he was still my brother and what happened to him was shameful.  You may read that and think “wow” or hell, I’ve even had people ask how I’m still sane after all of that.  Instead, the kids I went to school with thought this was a great thing to leap on and again, I endured more bullying teasing me that my brother committed suicide and asked if I made him do it.  Again, kids are cruel.  Again, I just endured it, not having the strength to battle back.  They did finally stop though when my Mom died that Christmas Day.  Thank GOD.  I guess my life had reached such a sad point that even the bullies didn’t quite know how to turn that one around.

This brings me to now… can you understand why now that I’m “grown up” I don’t tolerate bullies and refuse to let them make me cower?  See why I would stand up for someone that is being bullied?  I sure as hell didn’t want this drama on my doorstep but I also wasn’t going to stand by and not let my voice be heard regarding what happened.

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Valentine’s Day

Do you have your gift for your loved one(s) in your life all set to go?  If so I am jealous as I’ve yet to even think of what to get my husband.  Yes, I realize I have less than 2 hours before it is officially V-Day but he is quite frankly one of the hardest people to shop for.  I think I’m still burned out from expending all of my energy on Christmas for him (Keurig machine FTW at the last moment!) so I am out of ideas.  This is how it generally happens so I’m sure he’s not surprised.  At least I have another month before his birthday (and I’ve got an idea cooking for that!) so I may phone it in with his favorite gift: Amazon gift card.   My gift is the gift of him going to see Titanic in 3D with me!!  I’m SO excited!

This blog isn’t about THIS Valentine’s Day though, this is about my absolute worst one ever in history of Valentine’s.  To be ended with a story of best one ever that I remember to keep it all sweet and stuff.

9 years ago (holy moly it’s been that long… wow) I had just fallen on a patch of ice going in to see my friend’s fiance’s band play.  Wait.  I need to back this up further.  At the end of 2002 one thing was glaringly obvious, I needed a divorce.  The marriage was not working for me, for him, or for anyone.  I summoned a great deal of courage and met up with my Dad after work at a bar and finally told him what I was considering doing.  He bought me a drink and congratulated me.  No joke. Then again, I should not have been too surprised given that this is the man that told me JUST before he walked me down the aisle that, “you don’t have to do this you know.  You can call it off and we can still have one hell of a party.”  Needless to say, he wasn’t a fan of my ex-husband.  It took a bit of time (and I’ll blog that whole story someday) to finally ask for one and at the end of January I moved back home with my Dad.  Boxes were EVERYWHERE in the house and paths went from here to there due to literally just throwing things down and adding more to the pile.

After a week of moving and boxes I wanted a night out.  I went and saw some Collin Farrell movie with a friend who was OBSESSED with him and another friend called when I was on my way home begging me to come keep her company while her fiance’s band played at a local bar.  I agreed even though all I really wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed.  So as my luck would have it as soon as I stepped out of my SUV, I stepped on a patch of ice and down I went, ruining my new shoes that I ADORED.  I still miss those shoes but they had a wood sole and were destroyed.  Sniff.  I felt my ankle snap after the fall and while there was no immediate pain, I knew that it was bad.  My cell phone was in my SUV – which while it was close it was also UP.  I was totally stuck and unsure what to do.  So I did what any other self respecting woman would do, I whipped up some tears as soon as I saw a couple cute guys coming near me and asked for help.  They helped me hop into the bar, my friend was retrieved and off to the ER we went.  Long story shorter – I had a broken ankle and not just an ordinary one!  I had an S shaped break through the joint which required surgery.  YAY!  I saw an orthopedist and surgery was scheduled for that Friday.  Valentine’s Day.

Up until this point in my life the ONLY surgery I’d had was when I had my wisdom teeth out.  I’d narrowly avoided one as a child for a clogged tear duct (I was just being put under when they discovered it’d finally broke loose) but other than that I’d been lucky.  I was scared shitless.  I was a total absolute wreck.  On top of that, my Dad’s first question about my surgery was where the closest bar was.  I loved him to bits but staying sober was never one of his strong suits.  This meant I had to call in reinforces – which was my ex as much as I hated to do it.  He wasn’t very kind about it either but agreed to come.  I had also needed him to get prescriptions and the like for me while I was out and since we were still married he could do that for me.  My surgery went well, so well that the nurses were SHOCKED with how fast I came out of it in post-op and how quickly I was “normal” and ready to leave.  My ex left while I was in surgery when my Dad decided not to go to the bar so I had the added bonus of not dealing with him post-op, BONUS.  In the end, it all went swimmingly and the day was okay.  However I’ll NEVER forget that absolute craptacular Valentine’s Day.

As for the BEST Valentine’s Day ever… it’s quite silly but still warms my heart.  I can’t recall the year but I’m thinking it was my Senior Year (definitely know it was when I was in high school).  My Dad usually always left for work long before I would wake up for school so I never saw him in the morning (and if he was up when I got up I generally avoided him as he was NOT a morning person).  When I opened my eyes as they were adjusting I was so confused.  My room was always a mess and I knew there was something odd but while my eyes adjusted I couldn’t figure it out.  Eventually things became clear and I was able to make out a box with an item perched on top.  I got up to inspect it and my Dad had left a box with a stuffed dog (puff a lump style if those recall them!) with a rose in his hand.  You could tell the hand was designed to hold something as it had a clip like mechanism in it.  I’m guessing it was from Hallmark or something similar – at that time I think he was working at a mall (he was a local union electrician so worked all over).   Regardless, I was so touched that my Dad went out of his way for me like that and surprised me.  It’s rare that I am surprised by gifts and this one shocked me!!!  I wish I’d thought to preserve that rose.  To this day it amuses me that it’s not a gift/event from a romantic partner that I remember but a gift from my Dad!

What was your best and worst Valentine’s Day?  Do you celebrate it or not?

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