Monday, October 12, 2009
The story really picks up from mothers view, when asked why she married my father. They were from the opposite side of the tracks, my mothers family well educated, shop owners and professors. My father has lot his father at a very young age, he was twelve years old when his father died from health reasons that were never really clear. Released from the military he gave to my mother a diamond ring, she gave it back to him, telling him she was not ready for a relationship with him or anyone else. He didn't take no for a answer, he said the rings is yours do what you want with it, I don't want it back. Telling everyone in the neighbor they were engaged, it kind of spun out of control. My mothers family was not to happy and the thought of a marriage disappointed all of them. Aware of their nonacceptance of him, just led more to his insecurities. My mother said she was aware that something wasn't right but not sure what it was. His behavior erratic, on their first date he left her in the middle of the movie.
She still had not recovered from the death of her father and again she was asked to wed. After several refusals it was almost as if she gave in. She cared about him but she did not have a passion of love for him. He was stalking, there when she was out of work, in the morning when she went.
Soon there would be a wedding, despite her closeness to her family she went through with the marriage. There were fights at the wedding and he made her return gifts because he felt they were to expensive and were given to shame him. Throughout the marriage it would be the first of many battles his insecurities and love for her mother and family. She used her inheritance and bought them a new house, car and everything they needed.She was use to living in a life style she had become accustomed to. Her now husband, unemployed and not seeking employment placed a burden once the inheritance began running out.
Within a few short years, she lost her father and her first child, the baby brought to term died and though it was laid out at the wake and had a headstone but I never knew why it died. There really was the usual pattern of dysfunction setting in. My father began to isolate my mother, keep her from family. She had recovered from the loss of the first born son and she was again pregnant. As I listen to her tell of unhappiness and disappointment in the marriage, I saw a parallel to my own. It was as if I was going back and forth time, comparing the different stories of our life.
I do believe she suffered from a severe case of postpartum depression as well as dealing with my fathers own mental health issues. Some were relatively minor forms of anxiety and various problems with coping from the war. Uncle Stan he managed to get my father a job with the teamsters and it seemed that it would life the heaviness that comes with the financial woes. She had four children relatively close in age before I was born. It seemed to the outside world as if this was a fairytale marriage.
It was the early 60's when my father became ill, he had a blood infection that hadn't gotten out of control. A false sense of pride and ignorance surfaced and he refused to even apply for aid from the teamsters. First they couldn't pay the fuel bills, no heat, no electric and the children would get dressed by candle light for school. Everything started to slowly crumble. It wasn't as if my father was all so sweet before this happen. What he called discipline was extreme beatings. I think he got off on creating different tools to whip with. There was the razor strap, which was leather straps all nailed to a paddle and the wooden paddle which had holes drilled through them. He named them, hung them in plain sight and never failed to use them. My brother was a calm spirit he never seem to have a violent bone in his body and yet that angered my father even more. Dressing him in little girls dresses his punishments were rather bizarre, sometimes they were to kneel on rock salt in a dress for ours, he seem to like to place us in corners. We would stand so long at times until we would almost fall asleep, if you didn't stand up he would just beat with the razor strap. Bruises, nah it was more than bruises, bleeding, outline of the buckle has it split open the legs. The girls all use to put on dark tights even in the summer tight and were instructed to wear them through gym class. My mother never took to his outburst on the children and the pet dog duke. From near choking him to beating him, crushing his head in the doorway. He was obnoxiously violent on children and animals alike.
Day or night it never seem to matter my parents were fighting and fighting, loud arguments until my mother would start breaking everything in sight. Than early in the am he would call us all out of bed,stand us in a row and say look what you have done to your mother, you have made her upset. My eldest sister she did get a lot of the responsibility but we are made to clean up the broken glass. Sometimes it was windows, the china closet, dishes, pictures. Violence was on the rise my mother rebelled, she was under doctor prescribed meds, but I am not sure what stroke her spirit to become so violent. She use to scream I rather go to jail than live like this. Restraining orders made very little difference, he would leave and come back in the middle night. I can't tell you how many ways she tried to kill him, she nearly succeeded several times, each time he ended up in the hospital he refused to admit that it was my mother who struck out at him in such a violent way.
The episodes became closer and closer together and always a little more bizarre. From her own bouts with depression and her extremes inability to deal with stress caused her to not handle life well at all. She tried various ways to take her own life and my father blamed that for the reason he didn't return to work. He said she shamed him so that he couldn't face the men at work.
It was her last attempt when she jumped off the bridge, that she became the only woman to have jumped and survived. Her injuries severe landed her in a mental hospital.