I remember very little of my childhood. As a matter of fact I would be hard pressed to recall many memories from growing up. I remember riding the neighbors great dane like a horse. I remember getting kicked by my mom’s horse Crystal. Those are the only two memories I remember that do not involve my brother.
I remember me and him being locked in our rooms and having to use the restroom in the bedroom. We were given spatulas and told to clean up our poop, because we were locked up in there and had no choice but to use the bathroom in between the mattresses, so we had to clean it up.
The stories of me and my brother being tied to our beds at nite seemed to be almost funny to my grandma and excused by everyone because I would get out and hunt for food for me and my brother and make a HUGE mess. Going hungry like I do now, I can understand the desperation to preserve the food at all costs against little ninja toddlers spreading flour all over the kitchen and dropping eggs just outside the fridge and looking around to the only money you had to spend on groceries ( scattered all over the kitchen) then wondering how you would feed these children now that they have destroyed everything . But, I still do not excuse the tying to the bed, scissors hung on the wall in case anything happened and a quick getaway was needed.
My next memory, running around the outside of the house in Little Rock and getting a deep gash in my foot and having salt poured in the wound cause going to the ER would cost money. My next memory after that, throwing a yard dart and hitting my brother dead between the eyes. Miracles of all miracles, I did not hit his eye! Was he taken to the ER? No, they just pulled the dart out, took them away from us kids and that was it. Me personally, had I seen that happen to my child, I would freak out, rush to the ER, cost be damned- and demand some sort of internal investigation be done to determine no internal damage had been done! Mmmm a screwdriver to his head would be in here somewhere as well. Dude! I have no clue what the hell that was all about so don’t ask! Maybe he remembers? And yes, I did it…
I’m sitting here trying to think of the next memories I have???? Grandma Name’s and the (to my lil self) big house, wonderful quilts and normal spreads at meal time. The stove, the strongest memory, is the stove when she cooked. Cast iron stove. Old timey. Not sure what it was but there was a side to it that actually took wood if I remember correctly. God I loved that place. Running around outside and playing on the propane tank and picking plums from the tree! The only true happy memories I have, come from there. The next memory, I will not talk about because I know I told my mom what happened, I have no idea what happened amongst the adults after I said anything.
My next memories are with me, dad and my brother. OMG lol, we jumped off a roof cause an old mattress (dumped by who knows who) was at the bottom, but Hey, that mattress was dumped for us man! Jump Away! Me and my brother jumping from the chest of drawers to the bed, cause-why not? LOL, of course he gashed open the top of his eye hitting the headboard and I, well I walk away unscathed as always in the adventures he blindly followed me into. Poor guy (like the yard dart incident). Christmas time is my next memory?, being told that all the toys Dad and Step-mom brought in were for name and name I think? All I remember is remembering that it was true because me and my brother had never seen such toys for kids before. (They were for us ) My brother setting fire to the field across the street. Annd, I do mean field lol… And I do mean setting fire to that bitch lol….. Ablaze!!! The babysitter forcing us to eat liver when I told her we do not like it and me throwing up on her head. BEES overtaking the house and us grabbing fly swatters to try and combat the hundreds of em swarming us, yelling out of the stove vent for help, us climbing out of the vent when dad finally showed up and saving us.
At some point during the time of being with my dad; my biological father and step-mother had come to visit and brought me a dress. I wore that dress to DEATH!!! I did not know who these people were, but the dress they brought me was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life! I refused to take it off. I went skating in that dress and rashed and bruised my ass up from falling in that dress. Somewhere during this time I remember getting ready for school, waiting for dad to leave and taking off my outer clothes to wear my “bloomers” to school. To be fair, lol, we were poor, before going to dads, and anything with lace related to girls was not a part of my wardrobe. I loved them, only thought of them as the most pretty things I had ever seen and paraded around school in my bloomers and tank top!
I remember the ribbons on the wall from the sports I was in during the time we were there. Track, pole vaulting and something else I cannot remember. I remember seeing those ribbons on the wall, my accomplishments for everyone to see. I was so proud. And so proud that dad had put them up. That had never been done for me before or after. Then my next memories are of me and my brother in the tub asking our step mom if we could call her mom, me getting my long hair cut that my mom refused to cut (that I hated) and showing her (my mom) the bag of hair. Dear God she was mad. And dad coming out of the closet and scaring me and my brother. We had connecting closets between our bedrooms, we slept in pitch black and he came thru the closet and shook our beds and hissed. Scared the piss out of me and my brother! I am still afraid of the dark cause of that! And then the switching. I personally have no clue as to what led to the switching me and him got. Whatever happened that day, I was told to go pick a switch from the bush outside the house. The switches that we had, all had thorns. We were switched from head to foot. I called mom, INSISTED that she come get us. Me and my brother waited on the front porch till she came and got us. Dad was at work. When she picked us up and we were in the car and on our way back to where she lived, she asked me what happened. I looked at my brother, looked at her and said, we fell off the porch.
I remember colouring a picture after that and everyone talking about how they would never use those colours together (how wonderful it was), spinning in a chair, getting a 110 camera and OMG the that was the best! Grandma getting set on fire in bed (It was an accident).
I have no idea where this memory goes, so RANDOM IT IS, me and my brother on the highway in moms roadrunner, sitting in her lap driving.
Next memories are of us, me, my brother, mom and Grandma Jones. Vimy Ridge maybe??? I believe that is what it was called. I had a Parakeet and the one time I remember my mom doing something for me is when Peaty got out of his cage, my fault, and she climbed this huge ass tree, (really was huge) to try and get him, and he got away. Man she was a trooper for going up there… Grandma took a sauce pan to mom while she was asleep and cracked the fuck out of her head. Mom throwing a shit ton of pennies at the dog and the dog trying to beat hell to get traction to nails on the linoleum to get away, a woodpecker that WOULD NOT stop invading the side of the house and mom coming into our (me and my brothers) room and telling us that we had to pack our shit and leave. (Besides dad shaking our bed, that was the most scared I had ever been) I remember looking at my brother wondering how I would take care of him, looking at mom thinking, she is serious!!! Those are the first memories, in that house, I have of grandma making dinner LITERALLY out of nothing for me and my brother. Was not for that, I would imagine I would have starved by now. Making something out of nothing was her gift! And watching her do it taught me well!!
Sometime after that we had moved alone, to a flea infested house, ended up with an Alaskan Malamute, grandma coming over and asking us if we needed food and me making tater soup for me and my brother out of taters, a tad bit of butter and a shit load of sugar. Let me tell you, it was a long ass time after that before I had tater soup again! I actually packed a paper bag and started walking out of that house. My brother trailing beside me, begging me not leave (so I didn’t). When mom figured out she would not be able to get rid of the fleas, we moved in with Grandma Jones. (In this house I remember me and my brother playing with sticks and moss down at the creek to occupy our time.)
Some of the memories after this are scattered, my uncle twisting my moms ankle till he split the skin and cracked her ankle, I think this was here in Oklahoma but have no clue. My mom sending my brother to live with our Aunt and Uncle. Our Uncle Dennis dying. My brother being sent to live with dad. Me and mom living with several men, in the car, in shelters, going hungry.
At one point me and mom moved in with my Aunt, married to my Uncle Dennis ( he had already passed), and during this time I was about 12 or 13, is when I was told that my dad was not my bio dad. I met Carl not long after that once. And then when I was about 15 or 16 I saw him once more. When I was in my early 20’s is when we saw each other more often.
My mom, grandma, brother and I moved to Edmond sometime during this period. I remember a barn at the park (for the trailer park we lived in) full of Nazi crap, helmets, pictures of dead people etc… our dog getting ran over, me blocking bee bee shots so my cousin would not get hit, my brother telling our mom that God put the change in his pocket, from an errand she sent us on, so we could buy ice cream and us stealing candy from the store and me being the one that had to pay for it.
After me and mom left my Aunt’s house is when my memories become more faithful but this it really and the following memories are not any better. Hardships are a part of this family. Almost like a family crest passed down thru each generation. My mom had it hard and I know this because she only ever hugged me once in my life. I am not even sure if she has ever hugged my brother.
My bio-dad (Carl) and my brother are the ones that taught me to say I Love You to people. They are the only memories of family I have that constantly said I love you and hugged. So I know my mom had it hard. She once told me she was proud of the different way I raised my kids. When she said that to me I knew then that all the hell, beatings and everything endured growing up were not a single generation hardship. I have no idea what Grandma Jones went thru growing up. I have no idea what all went on when she raised her kids. I know there was a lot of anger, fights, drugs and alcohol involved in her years of marriage, raising kids and the kids growing up.
When I was in the 5th grade they bumped me to the 7th cause I was too far ahead of the other kids. Socially though, being in my family, they fucked up and I plummeted after that. I was passed with all F’s after that. Got beat up I do not even know how many times cause of how poor I was and how I was dressed. At some point during the 9th grade I left school and never went back.
Growing up I knew no different. I had no clue what so ever that someone like me could go to college, have a great paying job and a normal life. All I knew was that people like me had to get up at 2 am to cook for the drunks, get beat on with anything on hand, got yelled at and basically went nowhere in life. No one went to the doctors, you only went to the dentist once, and every family was crazy and went hungry and homeless. They all fought, struggled and did shady shit to get by. They were all drunks and smoked and got high.
It was too late when I realized that life was not actually like this. And you know what; I am not the only one out there that grew up like this. I am not the only one out there that grew up with hardships that should never be placed on a child. My brother had a hard ass life too. Sending him off saved him from nothing. Too many of us grew up knowing what real life was like way ahead of our time. Too many people passed this generational lifestyle on to the next.
How many of us have lived this life, passed it down, because we know no other way? Too Many! How many will be able to stop it? When me and my son went to Arkansas and spent Christmas with Name and Name and my brother and dad- that was the most peaceful-happy time in my life. I will carry that memory always. It was just us, a small group of family spending time together. How many families in the same situation could say the same? Could have that? And how sad is it that someone could only experience that once in their life?
Poverty dictates a lot of what goes on in families. As an adult I can see how the fucked up situations in my childhood were driven by the lack of EVERYTHING that helps a person make it from one day to the next and fueled the anger, alcohol and drugs that consumed my family. When my uncle twisted my mom’s ankle, she went the ER, had surgery, got a cast and walked to work the very next day. She walked to work and worked till she bled thru her cast and kept working. When I had my wreck in 92 my family came to me and told me I had to go to work so I cut off my casts 6 months earlier than I was supposed to and went to work.
This is life; this is life for many people out there. This is what America is. This is the oppression we grow up with. My struggles with life could never be compared with someone else’s. But they are real and are mine to bear. Our past is our past. They are not there to pass on to our children. Such an easy phrase to say but such a hard life to live when you want the best for your children and want them to know that a better life is out there for them but all the obstacles that kept your family “in their place” are still out there. They are still there making your every move an unattainable step to the next. This is not a fantasy that poor people make up.
This is not me airing my dirty laundry of my family just for the hell of it. This is me hiding behind the utter embarrassment of it all and showing you that:
There are too many people out there like me and my family that still struggle to make it out of poverty. Most of us will never make it. But we still try. When a snap decision is made about an individual person or a group of people; you make it easier for those in power to keep us in this state.
No one deserves a straight hand out. But they deserve the opportunity to Live; to have medical, to have food and a place to live. They also deserve the benefit of the doubt. We are too harsh on our neighbors. We snap to conclusions before we know what the story is. We assume the worst in everyone now and because we see a few people take advantage of a system that is in place to help, we want to make it even harder for our neighbors to get the help they need.
When people fight back and demand a change for their family, don’t be so quick to judge their motives. What drives them is not a way to take from you and yours. It is a desire to have even the most basics in life that keep us alive.
Most people in need that are forced to ask for help, don’t do so lightly. It is hard as hell for most of us to admit that we need help. So when they do, I hope you stop and think of my story and remember that we all got to that place for a reason.