POST 1: History Lesson


I was born in 1982 in a small town in coastal North Carolina made up of southerners too poor to be the gentile southerners of stories from bygone days and too backward to know the difference. Horrible schools. No industry. Poverty. Racism. And churches. At least, that was the town I grew up in. Maybe it's different now? Blink. Blink.

We lived about twenty minutes outside of town in a community we'll call the Armpit - a hairy, smelly, haven't-been-shaved-in-six-weeks-with-little-bits-of-yellowed-deodorant-stuck-in-my-little-armpit-baby-hairs kind of armpit.

My mother Frances was the product of an alcoholic mother and father. She had four older brothers and a sister who died when she was only three days old. I am sure her brain development was affected by the alcohol, whether in utero or after I don't know, and she suffered terribly from mental delays, anxiety, and an array of health problems. She was sexually abused as a child by her step-father. She never learned to read or write (even to write my name) although she could write her own name with help. When she did anything with her hands she had to have the one hand hold the other steady because they constantly shook. Someone in my family once told me that when I was born they thought I had a sixth sense that Frances needed me to be very still just so she could get my clothes on me because even as a newborn I would lay as still as possible while she dressed me. Frances was tallish and very skinny and pale. She had brown, sad eyes and black hair that was prematurely gray. She never held a job once in her life. She never learned to drive a car. She never knew how to put my hair in pig tails or cute french braids. She died alone in hospice care from liver and brain cancer the week I turned twenty one.

My father Bud was born to my grandparents (who we lived next door to), the sixth of seven children, and was eleven years older than my mother. He, too, suffered from mental delays although he could read well and write. He worked on and off and held jobs here and there and could drive a car. Our family has often speculated that since he was a twin perhaps there was a time during the birthing process where he was deprived of oxygen therefore affecting his brain, but we don't know.

As fate would have it Bud got a job at a lumber yard alongside one of Frances' brothers. Bud was by this time in his mid to late 30s and with his mental condition had thought he would never have a family of his own (an upsetting thought for him) and he contemplated suicide a number of times. So when someone at the lumber yard said he had a sister he might like to go on a date with, it seemed like a great idea.

So much sadness and hurt came from this motley union that I have wondered many times in my life if maybe the world would have been better sans a Frances and Bud union...

My parents didn't need long to date. Bud needed a wife. Frances needed an escape from her hellish childhood home. A quick trip to the Justice of the Peace and Ta Da! Two more inept people have never been paired together.

Two months shy of their one year wedding anniversary, I was born. My parents were poor, poor and absolutely clueless on how to take care of a baby, which is why after two years or so of floundering on their own they bought a cozy single-wide trailer to park forever next door to the home of my paternal grandparents. I will have you know that I am to thank (or blame) for our family's acquiring of that trailer. I can remember them both proudly telling me that if it wasn't for me being two-years-old and seeing Santa Claus at the trailer park, they would have never been homeowners. Sigh.

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