Age 9 and the death of my grandfather.

What a year. I spent thirdrd grade in Berks Christian Academy for the second year. I remember my little brother Josef in his high chair eating like a slob. He always had the biggest most beautiful smile. It would really make you happy just looking at him. I was still very fond of him, a lot of my day was entertaining him to get him to laugh. I even learned how to change his diapers and fed him from time to time. I wish I knew I was being trained as a free au pair. I might have not been so eager.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was an amazing man. The story as I heard and pieced together over the years goes when my my Mom and Biological Dad were married and with child, he let them stay in their place which was an old chicken coop converted into a house (a very tiny house). Eventually they bought and moved into the house on 3rd street, God I loved that house. But back on topic. My grandfather was sort of an artistic mad scientist savant. He could fix or create anything from anything.. I saw some electrical he ran in my uncles house, he made a knockout seal from an apple juice lid and it worked great, I mean who the fuck does that? He would fix a table with pieces of wood from the stair rail. He was also an inventor. He invented a guitar method where you could actually learn to play by ear, meaning you could listen to someone play and follow it and play it yourself. He also invented the first synthesizer, he embedded all the controls in his guitar, and 2 old metal upside down ice cube trays. Buttons just everywhere, he made 3 of them with vacuum tubes, wires huge speakers and no diagrams. So when he died, we couldn’t fix them either. He was a lounge singer, very popular locally. Back then most people still didn’t do the stay at home and watch tv thing they went out for entertainment. So he had a lot of work, a lot of fans, and of course the groupies.

Many an affair he had, and his wife my grandmother was well aware of it. Eventually it caused the divorce. He remarried a woman I was told was named grandma pudge (my mother,and uncles hated her they called her “face”.) She had a daughter Lori . I think they were ok with Lori but I am not sure. Either way my mother and my aunt Lori are still friends to this day. A couple of years I think maybe as long as I could remember my mother and I were always over My grandfather’s house. I was babysat a few times by them here and there. He used to give me guitar lessons. I remember really being fond of him. He was kind to me. He got me curious on so many things which I found later in my life sent me on the grand exploration of all things I think. I still have all his music now converted to mp3,I listen to it from time to time,more seldom as the years pass, and remember what a beautiful voice he had. I think I may have gotten mine to some degree from him.

We used to have a family get together at our house and everyone would show up with food, laughter, unity, family and love. All the cousins would be there around my age and everyone always surrounded him. He was a likable man, certainly at the time the patriarch of our family.

Then the cancer came. Bone cancer. I knew he had it but I don’t think I understood he was dying just sick. There seemed to be a silent vibe of him pulling through. The house parties stopped. They became visits to his house where I couldn’t even fit in the room to speak to him. I could only poke my head in the living room and catch an occasional glimpse of him. The lessons stopped, the babysitting stopped, the talks alone stopped. All he said, I thought we had a bond. He was like my best friend,I was happy with him.I thought he’d want to speak to me. It just stopped. Rejection again, but this one was special. I had a feeling along with the joy that I had never felt with anybody before. I felt accepted. I felt like an invaluable part of his life that enriched it, and our relationship would never end. This would be my first lesson in life that I was different. Most people lack or do not embrace their relationships in the same way I could. Maybe because it hurt the worst if it failed. But from here I think it meant more to the me then the chance i would suffer the pain of it failing, If I could prove I would not fail, they would also realize and see, the incredible bond we shared, and the value and security of it. But the visits stopped. He was sick and went to the hospital. I was never taken to visit him.

But on this day, this very day. He died. He was laid to rest and buried. I would be informed at the dinner table while eating a bacon,lettuce, and tomato sandwich (I never ate a raw tomato again.). He was dead, he was gone, he was buried. No goodbye from me or to me. No funeral to attend for I was not taken. My parents decided for me that it was too much for my age. Nice decision. Denying a child closure, the right to say goodbye, to see him gone and know he didn’t leave you, he left everybody. It’s not your fault. Weeks after all of this was over and done with,I am told by my mother. Not even a hug, She left me on the other side of table to cry and run upstairs like a piece of trash. No one ever came. I never knew in my life until many years down the road, you should never grieve alone.

Two years would pass. I don’t think to this point I ever mentioned how Gunnar was an unbelievable cheapskate. He worked a scam among his many other small time hustles where he took advantage of an add an RV park would put in the newspaper for a free gas grill to anybody who came up and listened through their sales pitch. It was a 2 hour drive, and a grueling 5+ hour pitch that made you want to go impale yourself with the nearest object. They’d always finally give up and send him home with a grill worth about 20 bucks.

During the first attempt of this trip, amidst the trees and stars I found a bench.I was able to look up at the stars, and tell him goodbye. After that day I would think of him once in a great while, and remember the best of him.

This was the first major disagreement I had inside with my new parents, and something was happening. There was a kind of evil in the air. The house on Jefferson didn’t feel like a home anymore. The whippings were increasing, was I becoming a more terrible child? I don’t think so. We stopped going places and doing things because of my newborn brother, and there was a feeling of financial stress. Mom would come home and complain about her job at the hospital, mostly about a lady named Alice. Dinner was never a pleasant conversation anymore. I was to stay silent. “Children should be seen and not heard”. All while my brother was crying and goo-goo ga-gaing every 2 seconds.

Low and behold though, One day I walk out on the front porch and what do I see? My first bmx bicycle. Wasn’t like a diamond back or gt or anything, just a huffy dirt bike. Black with blue foam accents. My first reaction was Oh My God my parents love me. The bike however, was not from my parents. It was one of the last wishes of my grandfather’s will. Had I been a wiser child, I should have then realized this was his goodbye, and all of his love for me. But because of the distance of time between his death and this bike, I never put it together. Gunnar at some point decided to pocket the money and since I had no birthday present coming I am betting my mother got on his shit for it.

I Rode that fucking bike for years until all the bearings in the crank were worn the fuck out. It was my first freedom. My escape, my work horse, my transportation. My exploration. Just everything. God I love that man still.

My scholastic grades at this time began a sharp drop, I was an A student poetically dropping to being a C student. I was losing interest in learning irrelevant things that had nothing to do with the stress of my real life. My first bout of depression was sinking in. Things at home were just such a drastic shift. Nothing positive was anywhere anymore, Nothing fun or happy or upbeat. Just moans and groans everywhere. Everyone was a burden and never good enough. Meals became absolutely disgusting, dry burnt you name it. I got so sick of that fucking chicken on Sundays. They’d get rotisserie at the local store rosenberry’s and it was the most vile tasting pieces of rubber of shit I ever ate. You ever get me to eat bone in chicken, give yourself a pat on the back I usually don’t touch the fucking shit for that very reason. I think from age 37 on I finally started to reacquire the taste for bone in dark meat thanks to buffalo wings.

The punishment’s, the whippings lacked the I love you’s and the talks of what I did wrong and why it was beforehand. There wasn’t balance in it anymore it turned into rage. It was the first time I saw the a demon in that man I think. His face blood red, the vein in his forehead popping out, the hatred. He hated me. That what I knew all along that I could not put my finger on. that’s what was wrong. He hated me. But why? What did I do? Rejection again. The man hated me for being born. So I hated the fact I was born too. My mother’s words went from love you bunky to your just like your rotten old man, or why don’t you go live with your rotten old man, or my personal favorite, go play in traffic. I believe in my heart it was around this time he began his use of cocaine and steroids. A habit he swore his Christianity removed from him.

My first affirmation what I believed in was a lie. Your habit, your inner demons from the war,your lies all caused me to believe what a rotten piece of shit I was. A lie i would spend almost the rest of my life recreating in almost every loving relationship I would ever have. I would fight just as hard in years to come to be embraced and accepted by someone abusive, I had to be accepted and loved, everyone else was. Weren’t they? You rotten mother fucker.

What changed? God almighty I prayed. My brother. It was the birth of my brother. My stepfathers grandparents moved away this year as well. A place I used to go to too now and then. They had a dog they named blacky. I really liked that dog. They were Polish and German traditional immigrants. I kind of liked them but could not really connect with them. I do remember the giant stash of Genesee cream ale out in the garage. I also remember the grandfather rolling around his false upper teeth in his mouth as a joke and I wondered why the fuck cant I do that? Childhood ignorance. He would even do the separate your thumb from your hand trick. They were incredibly different than anybody I ever met before, If I had one word to use for them it would have been stern.

A s far as my brother goes I never hated my brother personally for anything that resulted in something negative happening to me at this time, but I did believe then they would have been a happy family without me. I was the cause or so I thought of all the discord from the bills to mom’s lousy job to the roaches under our feet in that shit hole. I always made them both mad. It was the ritual of habit of Gunnar coming home with a Hey baby kiss to my mother followed by what the fuck are you doing, or what did you do? from not washing dishes right to leaving too much water on my toothbrush. You name it, I was whipped by belt for it.

Whippings weren’t like a few slaps with a belt on the ass and your done. Well, at first they were. They just got longer, more intense and more painful. Sometimes they’d get so long I’d collapse. I was whipped with his leather belt across my ass and back till i got back up. Then it would continue until… you know I never really knew when that man hit his limit. I think it was when he couldn’t swing another one. I would drift off into what I now know is called subspace. Little did I know it was this point in my life where I was being trained for dominance. Anything that would even remotely put life in a state of someone else’s control I destroyed.

Time would pass as it does and the whippings would evolve into just hearing the muffled sounds of the belt and no pain, just off somewhere else, some blank room. My first experiences of the submissive side of the bondage and discipline. I was enslaved. No choice, broken will, forced submission, My mind became plagued with thoughts of fear, murder and an instinct to survive. I began to study and counter all the reasons he had to whip me, but he’d just come up with different reason. The petty reason were bad whippings, the valid ones with christian based legitimate reasons were much worse. I began to cry out loud to my God with anger, why was I forsaken? What did I do? I would have remedied begged borrowed,sold lied to or stole anything to make it stop. I didn’t like what I was becoming. The survivalist, the leader, the manipulator or my mother’s description of my father’s side of me, was rearing its head. (My mother’s side according to her warped perspective instilled in me.) Religion and God’s love in me was starting to fail. I had to survive.

Heather had a heavy influence on that too though she never knew it. I used to imagine places in my head when I was a child in bed. I used to picture myself on a ship, like a destroyer. I started to develop stories and imagine scenarios in my head to escape from the hell and isolation. I think I will speak of them later, for I fear I am getting to far ahead. This was the start. My fall from grace.I also remember my Uncle Jerry coming into the picture this year, he was my stepfather’s brother, all I knew about him was I saw him once or twice and he left some stuff in the attic when he went off to Egypt, I believe some kind of evangelical crusade. Maybe he was a practicing Muslim or Jew but I remember him looking up to the air and muttering Arabic or Yiddish which I thought was odd. Most bowed in reverence that I ever knew. But he had a smile, he was funny and likable.

At this time he came to mortar up the basement which poured in water like a fire hydrant. It was so bad the cockroaches would float on the shoe shine box as a life raft. The sump pump couldn’t keep up. His whatever he did didn’t do much of shit, the place still leaked and i still went down and still cleaned it all up while everyone sat upstairs watching TV.. The point of this story was while he was mortaring the basement when he got up to the cellar door and behind the drain pipe I made a time capsule out of those plastic bubble gum machine things. Put a picture of Mom My stepfather me and my brother I think. So if you ever get down to 365 Jefferson avenue in Pottstown, PA you might get lucky and find it. I was far from perfect, and so began my tapestry of scars.