Wednesday, January 17, 2007

times past

I have always felt different. Many times I feel like I am on the outside looking in. Watching, observing, waiting to see what happens next. Most times I feel like someone is watching me. Actually I always feel like someone is watching me. This seems like a bigger entity/spirit and myself all at the same time. It is weird. Well I am weird. That is what I am told anyway. I have been accused of being paranoid too. But I really don't think I am. I am cautious. Sometimes I know what is going to happen before it does. Sometimes my "inner voice" tells me to be wary of someone or a specific situation. I am fine as long as I listen to that inner voice. However, there are times in my life when I have not listened, and it has cost me some heartache. I guess that is a great way to learn.

I try to think back as far as I can in my childhood. How far back can I remember anyway? It does not seem as if I can recall much. My oldest sister told me once I have blocked things from my mind to protect me. So I could cope. So I could function. So I could exist. Maybe in part this is true. But I often wonder then what am I 'not' remembering?

I think back and can remember as far back as age 3 or 4. And even then I don't remember much. Perhaps it is after all selective memory. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism? Perhaps I just have a crappy memory. We lived in a small town at the time. My parents and us 3 kids at the time lived in a tiny house beside railroad tracks. We had no inside plumbing. This meant going outside to use a bathroom in an outhouse and taking a bath in a metal tub. Sometimes we shared the water. Sometimes not. Some summers the heat would be so intense. It is odd however as I do not remember it ever feeling actually that hot. I do recall the actual number on the thermometer a couple of times. It would reach 108 and 110 sometimes. Those were lazy days of summer. My brother and sister and I would spend all day playing house and spies or anything outdoors, riding our bikes, playing on the swingset, horsehoes, anything. I remember going shopping sometimes in the car to a store. Or driving through to get hamburgers from a restaurant or local A&W Rootbeer stand. Those were rare times. I honestly do not really remember all that much during that time. My parents did not seem to argue much during that time though that would all change later. I remember happy Christmases and making out Dear Santa lists with mom. I remember my new baby sister being brought home from the hospital.

Perhaps I do not recall much as I seemed to spend a lot of time at my grandmother's house after I was born. My mother was sick a lot so I was left in the care of my grandmother many times. Sometimes these extended visits would last for months. My grandma is like a second mom to me. But a lot more easy going and accepting. Back then I remember my dad seeming to be proud of me...of all us kids. He seemed to dote on us a bit. I remember going fishing with him and my sibs a few times and taking tiny boxes of Tidbit cheese crackers to snack on. I did everything I could to make my dad love me more......be proud of me more. I even baited my own hook! I guess that is pretty natural with most kids. Don't we all do that? When does it stop? Does it ever stop? When do we really start living our own lives for us and quit seekig their approval or love? Why is it so important to us anyway.

I remember huge spiders in our tiny house so big and black you could see their fuzzy bodies and legs! Huge beds and bedrooms with gorgeous antique dressers with oval mirrors and large drawers that smelled like pine or oak when you opened them. I remember how the sun made our laundry smell so clean and fresh when mom hung the clothes and sheets out on the line to dry....though they would also be extremely stiff, rough, and hard like sandpaper against our skin. I remember getting sick a lot when I was little and waking up in the middle of the night with my eyes matted shut. Mom having to take a wet washcloth and lay over my eyes just to get them to open so I could see. Seems I had all sorts of illnesses when I was little. I wonder why? I remember me and my brother and sister all going to the hospital to have our tonsils removed. I remember eating ice cream and popsicles afterwards but our throats were so sore who could really enjoy anything? I remember riding in the car with no seatbelts and flying down the road about 70 miles per hour. When we hit a bump in the road us kids would go flying. Windows down....the hot breeze in our faces. Trips to the five and dime, the pet stores to see all the fish.

I don't remember mom and dad arguing all that much when we were really little. This was a blessing that would not last long. Once we outgrew our tiny house, what with my parents and 4 kids we moved to a new, larger ranch home in another town. I remember moving in and having no furniture at first...but we were there. We had indoor plumbing too....in fact we had 2 bathrooms! Life was simple but sweet and I noticed I started to remember more. Perhaps this was because I was growing up and actually had more memories?

And so our new life began in a new town. Soon other people moved in around us and became....our neighbors. Some of those people still live around my parents today. We moved into this house back in 1962 and my parents still live there today. Many of those same neighbors also still live in their homes. Life seemed good. I remember being outside a lot to play in our fenced in backyard, during summer and winter. I remember huge snowfalls and the snow always packed so we could cut blocks of snow out with our mittened hands and build forts. Igloos. Getting snow down inside our boots and our legs turning red and chapped. Getting so wet we would have to go inside for a bit to warm up....but then going back outside again later to play all over again. In the summer we would lie back and look up at the clouds......seeing images. We played dress up, on a swing set, in a sandbox, just in the grass. We got bicycles and got to ride around the block. I remember waking up and being allowed to ride our bikes around the block. We never locked our doors....we sat inside the front room at night and watched tv. I recall watching shows like the Wonderful World of Walt Disney or The Ed Sullivan Show. Or Jackie Gleason show. Green Acres, Lost in Space, My Favorite Martian. SO many shows. And movies. Mom likes the Shirley Temple movies and Ma and Pa Kettle. And sometimes we saw Elvis movies. I remember seeing the Wizard of Oz every year it was on. Same for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And the Tarzan movies. All sorts of things. I remember the B-rated science fiction movies and old-fashioned monster movies. Outer Limits. On and on. We started out with 1 tv so watching tv was a family affair. Oh that is another show we watched and I loved....Family Affair. But that came much later.

Anyway.....life seemed good. But dad started to change. He worked outside of the home at the time but never seemed to be too happy. He was always under a lot of stress I guess. I am not sure. Dad started to have temper tantrums. Really bad ones. If you got in his way he would just knock you around with whatever else he was tossing around at the moment. Then there are those times when he actually came FOR you. Those times can make me feel sick to my stomach even now thinking back on them. We walked on eggshells around my dad. None of my friends wanted to come to my house to play as they heard about my dad's reputation and how he could be. I remember my mom participating in my science fairs and school concerts and such but never my dad. The only game I can remember dad ever really playing with us kids was Scrabble and that did not happen till we got much older.

No dad was dad and still is dad but definitely odd. He can be an ass. A real ass. Where do I begin? My earliest memory of my dad smacking someone around would be when he came after my mom. He had been outside working on the roof and would whistle for my mom whenever he wanted something. My mom unfortunately did not hear him this time as she was busy putting up a crib in the bedroom. I was standing outside the room and here came dad. I was maybe like 4 years old at the time. Here he came and he grabbed my mother by the back of her hair and literally dragged her out of the bedroom by her hair! He drug her to the kitchen with me screaming behind them and he slammed her up against the kitchen wall. Yeah......then he smacked her across the face so hard......it broke a tooth out of her jaw. When she glared at him and spit it out he started to laugh. Yeah that's right. He started to laugh. All I remember is bawling and crying and thinking he was going to kill my mom. Funny I don't remember mom doing anything but I think I remember her saying "don't you ever hit me again" or "you will never hit me again" to dad. That is about the ONLY time I ever recall hearing her say anything back to my dad or standing up for herself let alone us kids. That is when I first discovered what it felt like to "hate" someone and be "afraid" of someone. This was the first of many similar episodes with my dad.

3 comments:

Joey said...

Melinda, you are a very different person and that is what makes you so special. You're unique, and one of a kind and I wouldnt have that any other way. Man, we're all a little weird. Everyone is somebody else's weirdo. Thats one thing I learned in this existence, you can't go by what's normal, as circumstances make 'Normal" different for everyone.

Inner voice telling you whats gonna happen- you just have a keen sense of intuition. It's a good thing to have at times but frightening at others.

Sometimes, things we can't remember are better left forgotten. It's not the same in every instance but I tend to believe that at times we block out things for a reason, to hold off on them until we can cope better, and if that memory can't be recovered, maybe its just not worth recovering and dealing with as we've moved on by that point.

I grew up mainly in my grandmothers care. I know what that can be like, basically having what feels like a second mom. It can be weird at times but its good knowing two people care in the guardian-like way. Later on in life I had a few fights with my mom.. something I hate doing. she ended up telling me that no matter where I wanted to be, what i wanted to do she loves me and supports me. It was at that point i think I stopped trying to impress her or earn her love and realize I had it all along. I had it since the moment I was born, I just, at times, was too blind to realize it. When younger, we think mainly of our wants while failing to see that our parents care enough to give us our needs.. and if they can they start fulfilling our want list. They do what they can, for the most part. I look back and appreciate all I have been given, It was honestly more than I should have.. Mom tried so hard.

Moving into the new house you were older and I suppose many memories were retained better. :)

Man, I shouldnt even remember these shows but I do.. The shirley temple movies, elvis flicks; Rudolph, monster movies, outer limits, oh family affair! Buffy and JOdi were so adorable! This was before me.. but i remember it somehow.

About the last 2 paragraphs.. I don't have much to say. Some people are just hardened and mean from what they've been through, others are just bitter about not getting out of life all they'd dreamed. Your dad reminds me of my birth grandpa.. mean mean man.. His joking would usually involved some kind of physical abust, hitting, smacking.. HE'd tear you down with just a look. Hitting my aunt in the face with a hammer, breaking my grandma's nose with a beer can.. womanizing, spreading std's to my grandma.. wasn't a good fella.

man, the more i think of it the more i realize your dad is just like my grandpa was.. He passed in the late 90's. His widow was sleeping with another man the next week.. yeh, talk about odd loves.

Melinda, mom of Noah said...

well Joey my dad was not JUST like your grandpa. He (as far as I know) did not pass on STDs to my mom or anyone else...he was at the very least faithful (I believe)....and never ran around on mom. He was always a provider.....and was always home. I do and have always given him that. BUT then again....if you are married and have given vows to do those things...that is what you are already supposed to be doing. BUT he DID NOT drink or fight with others physically on purpose. I think he just would lose his temper and would get so filled with rage and not be able to control himself. That is scary.......and now us kids all will have to fight to not allow that to also consume us....and trust me......we have all had our issues over the years. NO one is perfect and I know this. I know mom in her way loves dad and vice versa. I cannot say much about allowing a man to hit you because during my first marriage when he was drunk one night he threw something into my face and nearly broke my cheekbone. My face looked horrible for a long time after that. Most could not understand why I stayed after that......and to be honest looking back I suppose I have to wonder too. Could have been back in my STUPID years thinking I could change somebody when they had no desire to actually change themselves...an impossible feat.

So.....anyway.....dad was not exactly like your grandpa. He is not PURPOSEFULLY mean. He has a lot of anger I think inside him and when he would lose his temper well...it was another story. I think that usually stems from someone having a lot of unfufilled desires and they are generally just unhappy about their life......and they seem to thrive on making others around them suffer alongside them in their misery.

I do know dad likes attention. BUT I guess deep down inside we are all like that too.

and here I am.....once again.....still sounding like I am trying to semi-stick up for him......

Joey said...

Most of what i know of my birth grandpa is secondhand stories.. he moved up to new hampshire before I was born so luckily i didn't have to learn about it firsthand.

Things happen in peoples life, dreams not coming true, life not going their way, etc.. that make people bitter.. I think thats what happened to him.. maybe what happened to your dad. I don't know.

and you aint sticking up for him; yuou just know beneath any crap he put forth there lies a human being. He might not always be the nicest of people, but he's your dad. I respect that.