My mother around age 5 going into age 6 had just vanished. I was a latchkey kid when I came home and took care of myself. Weekends she would have a babysitter look after me, Renee Swain was her name. She never told me where she was, why she left, why we never had those cries on my shoulder anymore or talks about my father. She’d take me to her church on Sunday. There I found no acceptance,my mothers family said I was born in sin and evil but I began to develop a love for God. He was a father, he loved kids, he saved you from all your troubles. Why wouldn’t I be drawn to this? My uncle lived next door and his family were deep into it, and I was expected to catch up I guess. So I read, I recited verses, I played the part. I believed I had a quest to complete. With every step I took to conform the more i was patted on the head like a dog, the more my tail wagged.
My mothers’ mother was also heavy into this sect of Christianity I now know as the Plymouth brethren. We all would take trips to Iowa for conferences and tent revivals etc.. This was the dawn of the evangelist on TV and the hell fire and brimstone apocalypse of revelation was the guiding weapon to drive what they thought was morality back into the people so full of sorrow for all the decadence of the 70’s. I was along with many other children of this era to pay the bill for their own guilt.
Kindergarten was new, I excelled in reading and reading comprehension. Probably due to all the King James Bible reading I did every day.I remember having some kind of graduation thing involving a school play and me reading some poetry. I have a tape cassette of it around somewhere, god knows if anyone has a player anymore those fucking things are as ancient as 8 track tapes. A friend of my mothers Jill had a daughter that also went to that school and we were in the same grade. Her name was Tara. We played together a few times as kids do but never really talked.
My school days were religious sermons, My evening and weekends were bible studies from my grandmother consisting mostly in the doctrine of the apocalypse, revelation and sin. I lost all contact with my father’s family I was not permitted to contact them in any way. Even though the sorrow was unbearable I swallowed it all. The words force fed to me became who I was. In retrospect I realize now whatever was said I had to be, that is who I became. All through life every partner I ever had who in anger blurted out an exaggeration or fucking lie to attempt to hurt me, out of reaction that is what I would become. A true product of my surroundings.I was told at this time I was covered in the armor of the lord. Loved and protected. Not by my mother’s family of course, they had no fucking idea how to love. So they just passed the buck to God and God will love you. It worked for them, I guess they thought it would work for me too.However for a time I was whole again. In retrospect it really is amazing what I endured at that age, but a child usually is fairly resilient, they mold things in the view of innocence and no malice. I had none in my heart at that time. Honestly I think that’s the trick for all children. Right and wrong became good and evil, blessing and sin. I was happy to be adored, or what I thought was adoration at that time. I did however miss my mother and my Dad.
I remember spending a fair amount of time at UTZ’s corner store. He sold candy and had few arcade games and some pinball machines. I wasted every dime I ever had there playing Pac man, donkey kong and the like. Swedish fish and root beer barrels were a staple in my diet.
I remember one time I forgot my damn key. I never made it to the bathroom in time and well, I shit myself. Went next door to my aunt Jane’s and uncle Gary’s and asked to use their bathroom where I emphatically tried to clean myself up for 2 hours. After the 3rd knock on the door I opened it and gave up. My poor aunt had to clean up the mess. Soaking wet clothes everywhere I tried to wash with bars of soap water all over the floor. Nice job genius.
One night I slept walk to the bathroom and peed in the trash can, I woke up doing it. I dreamt it was the toilet, I don’t know what was happening exactly. The best I can figure it was the abandonment of my mother, but what for? What did I do to lose her?
It turns out it was what I did not do. Really what I could not do. I could not be a husband.
What I really remember of this year was first laying eyes on my future stepfather. He came out hobbling on crutches because apparently he met my mother in the admissions office where she worked while going in for knee surgery. He climbed into my mother’s mustang and looked at me in the back seat. I’ll never forget his words. “Hi buddy” . I just looked back in shock.. Who the fuck is this guy and why does he want to be my buddy? He’d spend night s over the apartment we lived in. He never interacted with me I was placed in bed before he’d come over. Along came the day my mother just came out and said, “this man George is going to be your new father, because we are getting married. Isn’t that great? God gave you a new dad. ” I said I didn’t want a new dad and I asked her not to marry him,in fact I begged her. You would think it was because of my love and approval for my father, I would too. But there just wasn’t something right him. This did not feel right. It didn’t feel right because I had no say. I feel in retrospect if he really loved my mother he should have courted the both of us.
George was a fucking giant. he stood 6 foot 2 inches and had a physique that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger do a double take. My Dad didn’t fuck around with him, and I am sure my Mom enjoyed the security. I wish for the life of me I could remember this part, but I do not. My Nanny (fathers mother) told me when my dad was in the hospital for the first time, maybe an overdose of alcohol or drugs, George took me to see him, and asked him to let him and mom have the 3rd street house I grew up in. I don’t know if George convinced me to ask him or he just took me up there to prevent a fight or use me as some kind of leverage, but I think at this point my Dad knew all of this was over. He probably felt like he almost lost his life, he totally lost his wife, and now his son. I know what that feels like now, so I know why he never came around. Funny what the mind forgets.
So just like that came the wedding. I was the ring bearer, they were married in the same church my father tried so hard to win my mother back in, I even sat in his chair. However, my mother was happy and her smile made me smile. The adjustment time was kind of blurry. But I don’t remember any more fighting like Dad and Mom used to do,and we did things. All of us together. It felt nice. Church functions, parks, I remember having a lot of fun. Again, a child’s hope. In a short time they bought a house. A big house with too many bedrooms. But I guess we all saw what was coming next.