Friday, November 20, 2009

"We gave up everything for you kids..."

"Grandpa and I gave up everything for *you kids*."…my grandmother repeated this phrase to me from childhood to well into my adult life. Yes, we were instilled... well, I shouldn't speak for my brothers, so I should say "I" came pre-programmed with feelings of culpability and inadequacy. Not only was I born to a  mother who had nothing but regret for my very existence, my grandparents gave up everything so my brothers and I could *live*…and I suppose I can never repay them for that.

My grandmother was not able to have children. She had 5 miscarriages before she and my grandfather adopted my mother. My mother was 8 years old when they adopted her. My grandma told me that due to their ‘advanced’ age (she was in her early 30s!), they were not able to adopt a baby and they were on a waiting list to adopt a child around age 3, but then they met my mother.

My mother’s biological father left her and her 6 siblings with her alcoholic mother, and she was unable to provide for them, so they were all taken to the orphanage (not foster care, it was actually called, “The Francis Comfort Home for Orphans and Destitute Children”.)  My mother was in the orphanage for nearly a year before being adopted by my middle-class, hard-working, Christian grandparents.

My grandpa was an electrician and he worked nights at the University in town where we grew up, my grandmother was an elementary school teacher. They worked hard to provide for my mother, who now had to adjust from being in an alcoholic, abusive home to an orphanage and now to live the rest of her childhood in a middle-class, religious home where not a drop of alcohol passed the lips of her new parents. My mother has never talked about her childhood, the 8 years before she was adopted, not to me, but then again, my mother and I have actually never had a real ‘conversation’….ever.

Grandma claims that my mother was 15 years old when she started dragging her out of the local taverns. And after my younger brother was born, grandma got a court order to have my mother sterilized so she could no longer procreate. The way grandma tells the story is the judge said, “Do you know what you’re doing to your daughter.” And grandma replied, “Yes, I am paying for the 3 children she has now.”

My mother met my step-father when my younger brother was 6 weeks old. My grandma told me that my brother was in the hospital with pneumonia and grandma would drop her off at the hospital every morning on her way to school to stay with my brother. Grandma said she gave my mother money for lunch, and instead of staying with her infant son, mother would leave every day with my step-father and drink until my grandma picked her up again.

My grandparents never liked the man whore...they knew he beat my mother, and us...they knew he was a worthless bum.  My mother only had one job that I can remember, and the man whore had a few, but nothing permanent.  I remember he was a janitor at a local Catholic church and was fired for drinking the communion wine.  He was a bum...a worthless, disgusting, child-fucking bum! 

My grandparents supported us. They were not 'wealthy' but they paid for a roof over our heads...and the neccessary things to keep us alive.  They supported us; my mother, her 3 children, and the man whore.  They paid for the dingy white trailor with green trim...the trailor where my step-father made me his whore.  They paid for the apartment in the trashy area of town that came after the trailor, the apartment on Pigeon Hill where he beat my mother, and my brothers...where he beat, raped and sodomized me.  They paid for my mother's multitude of rehab treatments. They paid for all of it. 

One Christmas, when I was about 10, my older brother got into a physical fight with the step-father.  My mother was passed out drunk and my 11 year old brother decided we were leaving and going to grandma's house.  So we left the trailor and walked 2 miles in the snow to a 7-11, where he called a cab to drive us to grandma's house.  I remember the look of surprise on her face when we pulled up into the driveway.  And I remember she had to dig into her tea-kettle to find the cash to pay for the taxi.  Yes, she paid for that too.

Yes...grandma gave up everything so we we could live...and I gave up everything to just survive the hell we lived in, the one she paid for...a fact she reminded me of whenever she could.

I paid too.  I gave up everything too.  I still do. 


  1. Sounds like your working through a lot right now, we're sorry for all the bad things that have gentle with one another.

  2. Thanks Lynn

    Exhale, yeah....we try, always.