The ultimatum, part 2

I think things got worse after his mother died from cancer.

Or maybe that’s when I noticed it more.

He was a happy drunk before. Or should I say it enhanced his good moods and his bad. It’s hard to be upset with someone who is spilling forth good things about you. You are so wonderful. You are so beautiful. I’m so happy I married you. Yeah, tell me that when you are sober I’d laugh.

After his mom died it wasn’t fun anymore.

He didn’t have any family left. That’s a hard pill to swallow. No one. He never had a dad or siblings. His step-dad Darryl started dating online a month after his mother died. Paul felt like he helped Darryl out more than Darryl helped him through the grieving process. The rest of the extended family were the wedding funeral types. Our teenage kids met most of them the first time at their grandma’s funeral.

He started drinking more than his usual routine. A typical summer Tuesday he went out with friends and had maybe half a dozen drinks. Wednesday and Thursday a bottle of wine. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he drank two bottles of wine. Monday he took the night off to prove he didn’t need to drink every night.

He was drinking somewhere around 40 drinks a week. Special occasions, hanging out with friends, or really bad days warranted a couple more drinks. So he had anywhere between 30 to 50+ drinks a week.

The year his mother died was a really rough year. I don’t think he cared anymore. His only parent was gone. He slowly watched her die. He coped with the loss by drinking more.

He said he wasn’t going to stop drinking until the doctor told him to. That year his liver numbers were a little high. It was just a fluke thing he said because he was out drinking with his friends the night before.

He wasn’t worried but I was.

The first fire

I never heard my mom cry like that before. It was the deep howling sorrow that was saved for behind closed doors. I could almost peak out the window she was staring out of if I stood on my tiptoes. The night sky a glowing orange haze in a hue I never saw outside before. Together we watched her childhood home burn down.

I went with my mom once to see her old house the year before when I was 3. I’m not sure how I remember it. Strong emotions of my mother typically elicited sparks of memories in me. There was a long dark inside staircase that went upstairs to the main floor of the house. There was a bright average sized kitchen with a window above the sink that I could imagine her mother standing at with her back to me. I never saw my grandmother’s face before but I was told my mother looked just like her.

We had to walk up one step to go into the living room from the kitchen. I found that rather strange. I saw the bedroom my mom shared with her sister Jan. It looked as small as a closet. I imagined my mother playing in that room with her one doll. Mom always said that Aunt Jan was messy and my mom was the clean one. They seemed to have switched roles. Aunt Jan never entertains because people get her house dirty. My mom never has people over because she is embarrassed by her clutter and hoarding.

I wonder now if she imagined her mother was still alive inside of that house cooking supper, washing dishes, or just living a normal life every time she used to walk by. That was the only house she remembered her mother living in. Her mother died and her family moved far away, but she remained in that small town.

My mom more often than not on nice days took us for walks by her old childhood home. Every day the memory of her mother was still alive inside of that house. I’m sure she thought of that when she took us on walks to visit her husband’s mother.

Until one day the house burned down and even those memories faded away. She couldn’t imagine her mother happy inside the house when the house was no longer there. It was almost like she lost her mother again.

Paul’s journey, part 7

It bothers me now that I didn’t keep a journal over the early years of our life together. The entries from page to page are a couple of years apart. There are so many things that happened in the gap, so many things that I wanted to say…to remember.

I’m glad I am doing it now.

It has been almost a year since Paul’s mother died from cancer. I want to say that our time with her on earth was always good, but it was at times rather rocky.

It was a long grieving process. Paul lost his only parent, a parent whose mutual path with him was oftentimes a twisted road mixed with conflict, happiness, disappointment, and love.

Martha was a difficult person to get along with. It was all or nothing with her. We were either an angel or a devil to her, nothing in between.

I was the best daughter-in-law the world has ever seen. I could do nothing wrong. The next minute I was the devil and would come careening off my pedestal. It seemed as though she had relationships like that with everyone that was close to her.

Happy elated hellos turned into screaming hollering good-byes.

Martha was an unrealistically extreme optimist. She told the kids she would buy them a pool when she retired. She would get everyone’s expectations up only to dash them into the ground. Over time I learned to translate the meaning behind her words. When she said she was going to do something, it didn’t mean that she was actually going to do it. It meant that she wanted to do it.

Martha was a bit of a free spirit. She oftentimes said she would be somewhere only to show up hours late, not show up at all, or cancel out last minute.

She always had an excuse for everything. It was always the fault of someone else, not her own. She didn’t graduate from high school because the school burned down. She didn’t have enough money for gas. It might rain for an outdoor party. It might snow for her granddaughter’s high school choir solo debut. It was too hot for the kids outdoor birthday party. She ran out of hot water. The car broke down. She had to work. She was sick.

She often made up stories that couldn’t possibly be true, but she believed them. She argued with people who tried to convince her otherwise. She, at times, thought that other people were out to get her.

Martha just wasn’t like me……she didn’t suffer from feelings of depression or anxiety. She didn’t worry about anything. She was outgoing, carefree, and spontaneous. She saw the world through rose colored glasses. She didn’t care if she was late. The clock’s ticking did not grind at her. She was happy with what she had. There wasn’t a harsh taskmaster in her head striving for more. She was easily excited by ordinary things. She was an interesting person, simple yet complex. You never knew what you were going to get.

It was hard sometimes not to feel irritated. Then there were feeling of guilt because we knew that Martha meant well. She just wasn’t playing cards with a full deck.

Life, sometimes it is a battle of heart versus mind. The logical part tells you that you shouldn’t feel a certain way, but you can’t stop from feeling the way that you do.

Regardless, we made our peace with Martha. We thanked her for her sacrifice of raising a child that she wasn’t ready to raise on her own. In the end, we knew she loved us and did the best she could. She knew that we loved her too.

Paul’s journey, part 1

He was born on LSD.

Not really in the way you might think for the late 1960’s

He was actually born at the Cook County Hospital on Lake Shore Drive (LSD) in Chicago.

From what I remember hearing, his mother Martha faced childbirth alone. There might have been a stranger, a nun, at the momentous event. But all of this I could only surmise from snippets I’ve heard. I wasn’t even born yet. I didn’t meet him until he was 27. So forgive me if the memories of what I’ve heard are a little hazy.

All of the questions about that evening will remain unanswered forever. His mother is no longer with us.

I do remember her saying that she saw her daddy that evening. At the time, he was no longer with her.

Martha’s father passed away when she was 12. Her mother was always working to support the 6 children she was responsible to care for alone after her husband passed away. Martha was one of the youngest children and the only living daughter.

Martha lived in the inner city of Chicago. She already dropped out of high school before she got pregnant as a teenager. She wasn’t what anyone would call bright by any stretch of the term. But she was beautiful, very beautiful. I saw the grainy blurred photos.

Her child was born without a father. His name was legally omitted on the birth certificate although it did list that he was 21.

There were rumors about the father. He was said to have red hair and green eyes. He was part of a motorcycle gang. He had a very common name and wasn’t from Chicago. He wanted to steal the baby. He wanted nothing to do with the baby. He called on the phone but never said a word. He went off to Vietnam and never came back. He might have been Native American. He was a hillbilly.

Are any of those rumors even true? There is no one to ask anymore..

All he knew was that he didn’t have a dad.

After all, he was a 60’s love child born on LSD.

Confirmed complications

In a few weeks, my youngest daughter will be confirmed. So far there are so few people attending that I might not have to clean my house.

My oldest daughter has to work late the night before confirmation. There is no way that she can switch with someone. She felt bad because she had the dates wrong on her calendar and told her sister she was coming home. Angel said that she was willing to get up at 4 AM and drive the 8 hour round trip just to attend the ceremony. I told her not to.

I called my brother Luke last night and his family is not coming either.

This past summer my brother Luke got a big promotion. He was thrown a huge party, but I didn’t attend. He mentioned bitterly after my apologies for not attending that he was upset his wife’s siblings attended, but his own siblings did not. I told him again that I was sorry. Paul and I had our 20th anniversary trip planned out before I even heard of his party.

Growing up, we were never encouraged to support our siblings endeavors. Luke didn’t attend my college graduation or party because he was too hungover. Granted, he was a teenager then and I am in my 40’s now. I am happy that he has a successful career. I felt bad that I couldn’t be there, but I wasn’t going to cancel our vow renewal anniversary trip. I guess he is mad at me now..

My dad and my brother Mark only attend social events that they are required to. You will never hear my brother Mark’s childhood story. It is locked away in some deep dark place to be buried with him.

Mark gave up drinking. He said that it made him feel better not to. He has stomach issues like me and half of the family. He was the one that started drinking the previous summer while we were up north at 6 in the morning. He said he gave up drinking on January 1st for health reasons, but it sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me. I am happy that he is feeling better.

I rarely saw my brothers at all this summer.

My brother Matt tore up the whole family this year. After he was taken off of his anti-psychotic meds because of liver strain, he started hallucinating again. He became fixated on Luke’s young daughters and expressed a desire to kill them. He was put back on the medicine, but it might take months for it to be fully effective again.

Before he was originally put on the medicine, he was fixated on hurting my daughter Angel. We had to limit their contact with each other, but he did hurt Angel on her 4th birthday. This was before he was placed in a group home. This started a time of deep isolation from my family. They spent weekends up north together, but I wasn’t included.

Matt has always fixated on hurting little girls. I should know, I was the first little girl. That was before we heard about the voices. This summer my mom had fear again. She was afraid to take Matt to his appointments because there might be little girls there. Little girls that he could hurt and she wouldn’t be able to stop him.

My brothers and I helped my mom take Matt to appointments when we were younger. We had to be hyper vigilant to signs that Matt might be getting agitated. My mom would try to make appointments when there weren’t little girls coming in to the doctor. But that didn’t always work. At times adults would bring little girls with them to appointments. Sometimes we had to sneak in through the back door. My brothers became quite effective in restraining Matt. It usually took a couple of people to pry him off.

This summer Matt was on lock down. He couldn’t go on trips to the library or to the bowling alley with his group. My mom became fearful of doctor appointments again. It was stressful up north with young kids playing next door. Matt talked to the voices this summer. He laughed like a mad man to whatever the voices said. He is starting to get better…but will he be able to be around the children for the holidays??

So, at this time, only my mom is attending Arabella’s confirmation besides our immediate family.

Paul’s mom and step-dad are Arabella’s sponsors. Paul’s mother passed away this year from cancer. Her husband Darryl moved on with life. Darryl recently told Paul all about his love life with his new girlfriend. It makes us very uncomfortable. We are not ready for someone new to take his mother’s place. We don’t want to meet a new lady at the confirmation. I’m not sure if Darryl will be there.

Whoever would’ve thought a confirmation could be so complicated??