Thursday, October 1, 2015

War Babies


(Bill makes a special guest appearance with some serious stuff, beautifully conveyed...)

Looking at this picture, I can't help but think what war babies we were.  To anyone else this may not be so easy to see.  We were born into a war our dad waged against our mom.  By the time this picture was taken the war was nearing it's 25 year.  With no real understanding as to why, we of course did our share of internalizing what we saw happening as being our fault some how.  At least I know I did.

I have beautiful memories of our mom of course.  She was a kind woman.  She loved to laugh.  There was peace in her silence.  She was smart and beautiful, especially in her younger days before we were born.  These memories, the sweet ones, come in fragments and to retrieve them, I must reach through the times when I would see her blackeyed, bruised, teeth knocked out, scabs on her scalp from hair being pulled out, pushing a cart in a store with no money or washing clothes in the kitchen sink by hand for us.

No amount of effort could pull her away from her life with him.  The reasoning probably too simple to consider a real reason.  She was forced to quit her job, not allowed to drive.  As isolated as we were, where would she go? Our older brothers and sister would try to get her to listen to reason, offering refuge in their tiny newly wed apartments, only managing to give $5.00 or $10.00 to buy some food...cereal suppers.

Dad only worked when he took a notion.  So living without electricity or phone or food was just the way it was.  He wasn't a drinker.  He didn't take drugs. I only saw him drunk once after a party with a company he worked for from time to time as a welder. He was sickenly sweet. My fear of him just turned to disgust.  But when he was in a rage they could last for days and sometimes weeks.  When beating on mom was not enough we got our share too.  There are of course the shooting rampages he went on from time to time, taking out our pets, our cats and dogs.  This happened more than once.  This happened more than twice. It happened...gunshots echo through the hills, broken glass, broken plates, coffee on the walls, bury the dead.

Again our older brothers and sister would take us in like war babies for a weekend or a week till things died down.  No one could really help.
One night late around 11:00, I remember grabbing up Kathy and running out the front door, barefoot down the gravel road in complete darkness.  He had started in on mom.  I heard him kicking the the kitchen door towards the back of the house.  Glass breaking...that scary yell full of pure stupid fury...I heard him say in a matter of fact voice, "I am going to kill our kids!" We ran and ran down the road across the bridge to a neighbor's house.  The police were called.  They showed up, but dad had left.  Nothing was said.  No one talked about it...forget...everything gets buried.

This summer we had a family reunion.  It was great to see the family.  Mom and dad are both long gone now.  We all have our scars, our lonely burdens.  We joke, we drink, we laugh and use whatever fragments, like this picture to realize we survived!  We have moved on.   We use our time together basicaly asking what the hell was that all about?

The world is full of war babies.  So, I'm sharing this to recognize a history that still makes me feel weird at times.  Plus I just need to say it.  And I want to forgive.  It's taken a long time, but I am now at a point in my life where I can look at this picture and be OK.