Monday, March 24, 2008

Oh, Yes, I am a Quick Witted One

Note: Mom, I know you read here. Usually repeatedly on days after we've been home - thus my disclaimer. If you are feeling easily offended, click that red x at the top right before moving further. This is heavy. It's not about you. It's about me and how I've let an event rob my joy - how I need to let go of it. And I feel that the most appropriate way to do that is to write about it. Let go of it finally, and move on.

I had a Eureka moment in the truck (payment for said NEW truck eats up newly freed up cash from our house re-fi, and well, I'm still processing that too) on the way back to the Fort last night...

I was pissed off at myself for yet another holiday weekend spent with quiet ambivalence.

Easter is supposed to be a happy holiday, Heather.

It is supposed to be about the event on which your entire faith is based, and even when you lose sight of that, it's still food, family and fun, so what the hell is your problem?

Why is Easter so damned melancholy for you each year? Why...

It was about here when a memory cued. Not one of those recovered memories that would be debated for years to come, but a surging remembrance of something I have often wished I could forget.

It was me walking, up a hill. Crying, feeling like a daughter scorned.

I can't believe she let him talk to me like that.

I'm out of here.

Then, my inner voice had a field day taunting me.

Holy shit, Heather, if this isn't a "Duh, freaking duh," moment. It's taken you this long to put together. And I thought you were an insightful person. Had you pegged wrong.

It had been our first Easter with OJ, the first one since Mom and the kids' dad had split.

He'd pulled a big giant baby routine and refused to go to my family's annual shindig, hosted by my uncle and his family this year, just blocks away from the house Mom and OJ had rented that fall. His reasoning: It's not my family.

Mom said suit yourself and we went and had a great time. My aunt had moved away that year, and we were all glad to see her and my little cousin, who'd lived with us the first few years of her life. When we decided to mosey on back to the house, we took the cousins, my uncle's oldest boy and my aunt's girl, back for a family play date. My aunt had said she'd swing by later and pick them up.

So the kids were all playing outside in the yard when I was told by a whiskeyed up OJ that I needed to get the damned laundry done. He'd been using his time wisely while we'd been gone, I saw.

I got to it and proceeded to fold laundry on the living room table. Just as I was finishing up, my aunt pulled in. I went out to bid them goodbye with everyone else, and when I came back inside, all of the neat piles of laundry had been knocked over and now lay in a ramshackled mess on the floor.

In all of my infiinite wisdom (I was just shy of my 14th birthday, full of resentment over our still relatively new living arrangement, and not afraid to mince my words), I hollered at OJ, "What the hell is your problem?"

He came out, eyes blazing - almost with gratitude, as now he had a perfect excuse to fly off his handle. "This room was a fucking mess. There was laundry shit everywhere."

I shook my head, "It is now - thanks to you! That laundry was FOLDED, in PILES, and READY TO BE PUT AWAY! And because I'm not an anti-social bastard like you, I thought I could step away for a second to say goodbye to my family, that is not yours, before putting it up."

With tears, I started to pick up the articles of clothing and start the madness over when my mom walked in.

She was taken aback and questioned what had happened. You'd have thought she was questioning two siblings, not a 28 year old man and his 14 y/o pseudo-step-daughter, with the he-said, she-said response that she was given from us.

"She's a fucking little lazy bitch," he slurred.

"Oh FUCK YOU!" I screamed back at him. Then, at my mom, "I don't know what you see in him, anyway."

Mom mouthed, "OUT" at me and I gladly obliged. She was at least upset with OJ over this and was giving him what for.

I went out alright. By now the kids had heard the fighting and had moved on to playing in the church parking lot across the street. Their eyes were big and questioning, but I kept walking.

Up the hill, I walked. I had every intention of going to the home of my newly acquired "bad-girl" friend. My face burned with the salty discharge pouring out of my eyes. I became absorbed by my thoughts, and wasn't even paying attention to where my feet were taking me.

And then I was there.

At my uncle's house.

Fuck! I felt betrayed by my body - I hadn't wanted to "do the right thing." I'd wanted to go somewhere where I could piss away my anger via some illicit activity, with minimal parental supervision - a haven with which my friend's house would have afforded plenty of opportunity to do just that.

My aunt (my uncle's long-term, common law wife) answered the door and immediately took me in. Relations between OJ and my uncle were already strained, at best. As I recounted what had happened, my uncle was interjecting with all sorts of cruderies, "I'm gonna rip his limp dick off and beat him with it," and the like. Yeah, I
come from a classy clan.

They called over at the house to let mom know I was alright.

No answer.

Dial again....

No answer.

Enter my own guilt.

If I hadn't been so mouthy.

If I'd just refolded the laundry.

If I'd stayed I could be helping her.

Then outside the corner of my eye, there was mom, driving up the street in the old Nova, with all the kids piled in.

There had been a struggle for her keys, when it became clear the fight was going nowhere.

And he'd chased her around the house with his gun.

Somehow, she'd made it. Safely.

The rest is a blur...tears, yelling, adrenaline...

Seems like the police were called. Seems like they locked the gun cabinet, keeping the key, while Mom grabbed some of our clothes to take back to my uncle's.

Seems like the very next day we stayed home from school, in crisis mode. And mom was missing when I woke up. I asked my aunt where she was and she said, "She went back to the house to talk with OJ."

Admittedly, I cannot say with 100% certainty if the remainder of the memory is accurate or is something my mind made up. In other words, I don't remember if I really experienced the following, or if I just filled the gaps in my memory with assumptions.

But what sticks in my mind is that I actually went back to the house, walked in and heard them having sex.

Whether that part happened on that exact day, it did eventually. Six months later, we were moving 1,200 miles away from family with him.

Mom and OJ stayed together for another 10 years. And given his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness, many more holidays were ruined.

But Easter of 1993 was the first one. And while I know that he was the adult and I was the child, thus fault lies with him, I played a role in it. Justifiably or not, I've claimed some of the guilt for that one.

Amazingly, this was the first Easter in the 14 since that day that I made the connection between my shitty mood and the events so long ago.

I'm quick like that.

© 2008 Ramblings of a Red-Headed Step-Child. All Rights Reserved


  1. Aye, Heather, that's heavy. And it's o.k. that you didn't make the connection until know. Sometimes, I think our brains can be very clever at hiding from us what we're not ready to think about, yet.

    That's a scary memory. And makes me all the more proud (as a total outside observer) of the incredibly successful woman you've become.

  2. You've overcome a lot Heather, I'm sorry this memory came back on such a special holiday. *hugs* Love Ya!

  3. Oh, I am sorry. I wish your uncle had done the ol' limp-dick-ripping-off-beating trick on him. That might have helped!