Let me fill in the gaps of my family’s time line. My Great grandparents on my mother’s side immigrated from Germany and Austria in the late 1800’s. My grandmother was the youngest of eight. My grandmother was a teacher. She was engaged to a young man who died. in the 1920’s she met the physical education teacher who saved her from being accosted by a student. After they married it took a couple years before they finally had my mother. On my Father’s side, his family had been in America since the 1600’s from Wales. My Nana was a teacher and Papa a banker. My father followed in the accounting footsteps. He had a gift of adding columns of numbers in his head.
My mom was engaged to some Navy Admiral and then one weekend she went to the beach and saw my dad and got reacquainted with him. They grew up in the same church and their mothers were friends. So, naturally Mom dumped the Admiral and married my dad in 1958.
My brother was born in 1960, and in 1961 it was discovered at a family gathering that he was deaf. In 1962 my other brother was born, a little wrinkled, but otherwise as normal as he could be.
They found some good programs at the time for profoundly deaf children. Then as my brother got older they sent him to the deaf school in Trenton, NJ. It was a boarding school. He would come home every Friday afternoon and go back on Sunday. To a little boy it must have felt like being thrown out of the family. The only one who bothered to learn sign language was my other brother. Then in 1969, I came along. Everything was normal until I was 3. That’s when my Dad had a stroke. It flooded half his brain. He would spend many hours in surgeries, for months. Back then they really didn’t have the same knowledge they have now about how to deal with strokes. So, Dad ended up spending his life in a hospital. Every day was new to him, he remembered his wife and children but that was about it. He could remember his high school german. He also could add columns of numbers up in his head. He just could never come home like Mom needed him to. She was so lonely.
Mom drank her way through it all and soon her body became dependent on the buzz to numb her sadness and loneliness. So, by the time I was five, she had done so much damage to her liver it was too late. I came home one afternoon from school to find the ambulance at my house and my grandparents and they brought her out on the stretcher and she still was being Mom. She told me to mind my grandparents and my brother, John, to mind me and his brother, until she got better. We said a tearful goodbye….that was the last time I saw her.
So, from 1975 to 1980 I lived with my mother’s parents. Keep in mind they were about 80 years old, I was 5. They had just lost the only child they had. I was a replica of her in their eyes. They strayed a little from sanity. Do you remember Bugs Bunny and the big bunny or dog that would “hug him, and love him and call him mine”? It was like that. I was to sit in a high chair, I was the baby of the family after all. I was never to leave the house or the yard without permission, even though I only knew the lady next door. My grandparents, in their grief, would fight a lot. I was usually in-between the two families because my grandmothers dissolved their friendship since they blamed each others’ child for their problems. In other words, it was my Dad’s fault Mom drank and it was Mom’s fault Dad drank. Yet my older brother, John, decided to go live with my Nana and so did my eldest brother. I would spend a couple holidays with them. They would visit since they were only 8 miles from me. John, took me to youth group down the street.
I was about 6 when I realized Mom was never coming back. I remember crying and asking God to help me. I’ve been doing that ever since.
So, this was my life, my family, and my faith up until I was 10 or so.
Join me next time when I reveal the next part of my life.