For Tony

Today is Memorial Day.  It’s a day to celebrate the veterans who gave their lives in the service of our country.

I have a POW/MIA bracelet from the Vietnam War.  I used to wear it all the time but my wrists are so slim now that it tends to slip off my arm.  My young man (as I call him) never made it back home.  Even though I can’t wear it now, I pick it up every single day and run my fingers over his name.  When I do that….he is remembered.

In the late sixties, I was working and trying to save money to go to college.  A friend I had gone to high school with was dating a young man named Bob.  He was in the army and was on leave.

My friend, Liz, wanted to set me up with her boyfriends’ buddy, Tony.  I wasn’t interested but I agreed with the usual caveats….I’m not doing anything with him….I’m not drinking….and I have to be at home by nine o’clock.

I don’t believe I have ever spoken to anybody about Tony.  He was a  happenstance…an all too brief encounter who left a mark on me.

I met him and he was a striking young man.  He was Italian and was from The Bronx.  He wasn’t very tall but had that olive skin, that jet black hair and those rich, dark, chocolate eyes (like samlobos.)  He had scars on his lip and one on the side of his face.  I could tell that his front teeth were false but those things didn’t detract from his absolute, almost breathtaking beauty.

He was quiet and reserved at first and we found it difficult to carry on a conversation.  He knew that I didn’t want to be there and I sensed that he didn’t really want to be there either.  After a while, I think that understanding ultimately put both of us as at ease.

He once had a girlfriend in New York.  They met in an art class.  Her daddy didn’t approve of him because she was a rich girl and he was from the “poor side of town.”
When he told me about her daddy, he almost defiantly said “I’m going to be famous someday.”

During the next few days, we started “hanging out” together and really enjoyed each other.  There was no intimacy between us and I felt comfortable with him.

It took a while for him to start opening up to me.  He had a sister and they were raised in an orphanage until he was old enough to run away.  His parents had dropped them off when they were young and never came back to get them.  Tony said he remembered getting dressed up every Sunday and sitting in a room, waiting for his parents to come get him….but they never did.

He and Bob were on leave from Vietnam but had not completed their “tours.”  I asked Tony to wear his uniform when we went out and he hesitated.  I thought he looked so handsome but when we were out, I understood why he didn’t want to wear it.  Bob refused to wear his and even bought a wig to wear so people wouldn’t know he was a soldier.  People were cruel and hateful.

Tony didn’t talk about his experiences unless he had been drinking.  One night, he said “I once saw a guy being walked almost the length of a football field.”  I didn’t understand what he meant.  I thought they had captured a soldier and were “walking” him back to their camp.
What he meant was that they were shooting him so many times, he didn’t fall….he was “walking.”

Later, he revealed why he had the scars on his lip and face and why his teeth were false.  He was on patrol and was riding on top of a tank with one of his closest friends.  A child wearing only a diaper came up to the tank.  His friend got down and picked the child up.  When he did, there was an explosion.  Tonys’ friend blew up and his and the childs’ body parts struck Tony in the face.  His front teeth were knocked out and a bone punctured his cheek.

While he was telling me, it was in a soft, almost robotic manner but the underlying pain clearly showed in his face.

He was supposed to go back to “the Nam” as he called it and he didn’t want to go.  He asked me if I would go to Canada with him but I said no.  I told him I would visit New York with him but he said “you’re too naive and you would get killed.”

He knew he had to go back to Vietnam.  He knew he had to finish his tour.  I think he was afraid he would never make it back.

I will never forget the day I went with him to the bus station.  There were no tears.  There was no resistance on his part…just a detectable numbness and a hollow look in his eyes.  I knew that I was going to miss him and part of me wanted to say “let’s go to Canada together.”
I made him promise that he would write to me and I promised that I would write to him.
After our promises, he stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, almost like he was trying to memorize my face.  Then he kissed me.
I was surprised at the butterflies that were trapped in my stomach.  I was surprised that I kissed him back.  It was a soft, tender kiss and for a moment, I was lost in a world of feelings I had never felt before.  He said “I have wanted to do that since the first time I saw you but then, I wanted to do it for the wrong reasons.”

I said “will you be careful?”  He looked at me and said “yes, I will.”  He got on the bus and just before the door closed, like a scene in a movie, he came running off and hugged me.  It felt like goodbye.

I stood and watched the bus until it was out of sight, waving the whole time…wanting him to stay…wanting him to not have to go back to that horrible, senseless war….hoping he would return.

It wasn’t meant to be.  I never saw Tony again.

I have tried to find him but I have never been successful.  I think had he made it back home, there would be some indication.

I hope he’s not over there in some rice paddy…forgotten to the government…forgotten to the parents who never came back for him…forgotten to the girl he was never going to be good enough for.

He may be forgotten to them but he will never be forgotten to me.  I will remember him as long as I live.

 

 

 

 

 

The House

When I sold my mama and daddys’ house and was headed for Florida, I wanted to take one last look at the house I had “grown up in” (when I wasn’t at my grandma and grandpas’ house.)  I had never lived in the house I bought.  My daddy bought it in the seventies after I was long gone.

A man bought the original house and was running a massage parlor out of it.  I think it was a real massage parlor (as least it looked real.)  It had been for sale before I bought my mama and daddys’ house.  I called the real estate broker and was ready to buy it, but the broker never showed up and I had to get back to Florida.  Now that I think back, it was probably for the best.

The owner was very gracious about letting me come in and look around.  The first thing I saw was the staircase I hid under when mama gave me my first black eye.  I could feel every emotion that I had felt fifty-five years earlier….the pain, the terror…the sense of being worthless.

I looked around the living room and told him where the piano once stood.  Somebody had removed the floor to ceiling bookshelves that were behind glass doors.  The room looked so small for some reason.  The closet was still there and so was the fireplace but the turret had been replaced with a flat wall.

The room that used to be the kitchen was now a bedroom.  The clawfoot bathtub we actually used had been painted a bright turquoise and was sitting in that room.

We went up to the attic and I remembered how I used to climb out a tiny window and hoist myself up on the roof.  I would sit up there for hours…pretending that the peak of the roof was a horse.  I remembered where the door to the attic had been.  The attic caught on fire once and my daddy changed the entrance after that.

We went back downstairs and I told him what each room used to be.  I could still picture the armoires and the lions’ paw dining room table.  I remember the huge windows that rattled when the wind blew.  I could still smell the dank flower pots that were brought inside when winter was setting in.

I remembered where the stove had been…the only source of heat, except for the fireplaces in every room.

I asked him what happened to the garage.  He didn’t know there had been one.  I told him I used to crawl up into the rafters and play and wait and pray and dream and hope.  It was long gone.

We went outside and I showed him where it used to be.  I showed him where a huge oak tree used to stand.  There was a Mimosa tree in the lower yard but both of those trees were gone.

He said a psychic had come by for a massage and she told him that a diamond had been lost in the yard.  That was true.  Mama lost her wedding ring in the yard and never found it.  He said the psychic also said she “saw great sorrow attached to this house.”  I guess so.  It was the house where I killed my little brother and where my mama almost beat me to death.

We went back to the kitchen and he brought out a shoebox.  He took things out one at a time.  The first was a letter that I had written.  The second was a “Workbasket” crochet book that belonged to mama.  The third was a phone bill for $4.95.  The last thing he took out was a picture of a horse.  I had drawn it and there was a line coming from its hind leg, much like it would look if somebody had suddenly hit my arm.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table, drawing that horse and mama came up behind me and slapped me.  My arm jerked, hence the line.

I must have looked at those things a little too long and held them a little too close, because as he was gathering them up to return them to their box, he hesitated.  He looked at me and said “you need to have these things.”

I have looked at that picture of a horse many times.  I can distinctly remember drawing it.  I loved horses then.  I wanted to either be one or wanted a knight in shining armor to ride up on one and take me away.

me in front of house

This is a picture that was taken in front of that house.  It was a happier time.  That’s me on the right and that’s my little brother in the center.  Since he was still alive and it obviously wasn’t winter, I would say I was three and he was two.  (He died in January at two and a half.)  That’s my oldest sister on the left and those are my daddys’ arms.

I wonder if I felt safe with his arm around me.  Look at how my hand is ever so gently resting on his arm.  I wonder if, when that picture was taken, my daddy thought he was going to have a wonderful life.  I imagine he did.  He had two daughters and what they say every man wants…a son…a son to carry on his name…a son to carry on his bloodline…a son who would inherit his legacy, be it a paltry sum of money or nothing more than his knowledge and memories.
In that instant…frozen in time…it was still possible.

In one tragic moment, I took that away from him and it changed both of our lives forever.

Had I only known what lay ahead.

 

Correction And Update

When I was tallying up the number of accidents within our family, I forgot the two times N was hit while riding her bicycle.

One was when she was older and was hit by a patrol car.  N and her bicycle ended up under the car.  N wasn’t cited…and of course, the officer didn’t cite herself, either.

The second time was when N was still in elementary school.  She was riding her bicycle home from school and a man ran over the sidewalk and hit her.  It demolished her bicycle but she was relatively unharmed, aside from being shaken up.

Coincidentally, the man who hit her was insured by the same company who insured our cars.  I didn’t file a claim for the destruction of the bicycle as I felt sure he was going to be charged and that would be enough.
About a week later, my insurance company called and the CSR (customer service representative) and I had the following conversation.

CSR:  We received the information about the incident with your daughter and this man feels terrible.

Me:  I hope so.

CSR:  This mans’ son was hit and killed while he was riding his bicycle.

Me:  I’m sorry.

CSR:  We were thinking that it might be a nice gesture if we paid for the damage to his car.

Me:  Are you serious?

CSR:  Yes ma’am.  He suffered the loss of his son and now his car is damaged…we just thought it would be a nice thing to do.

Me:  You pay one penny to that man and my daughter is going to require psychological as well as physical therapy until she is an adult.  She will require a brand new bicycle and I will require expenses for my time, my gas and my trouble for now having to drive her to school every morning and pick her up every afternoon.  I will also require some sort of counseling to be able to deal with the changes in my life, due to the rearrangement of my schedule to accommodate my daughter.  We will also require punitive damages for emotional distress.  Do we understand each other?

CSR:  Silence

Me:  Hello?

CSR:  Yes ma’am.  We just thought it would be a nice thing to do.  We won’t pursue it.

A few years later, I called the company, asked them to get out the file for that date and read any information attached.  The CSR said “it says, don’t pay any claim…ever.”   ‘Nuff said.

 

The latest on the woman who hit them is…she’s not in jail.  She had to pay a paltry $165.00 and was charged with “careless driving.”  Had the police arrived in a timely manner, they might have seen her condition, witnessed her burying “something” and also been able to converse with the firefighters on scene who clearly believed she was under the influence of something.  She is probably out on the road even as I type this.  A suspended drivers’ license doesn’t seem to be a deterrent.

The accident has been posted on YouTube.  It’s scary.  In the video, there is a black car that just seconds before they were hit, went zooming by and had she hit them just a few seconds earlier, they would have been broadsided.  You can see them hit the Honda and then they both spin around.

Go to Youtube.com and in the search bar, type luckytobealive/malakaiblade

 

 

Real Neat Blog Award!

woman real neat blog awatrd

A huge thank you to Robert Goldstein for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award!  He is a wonderful blogger who walks us through his life with DID.  If you don’t already follow his blog, take a look.  It will enlighten, move and inspire you.  Also, take a look at the breathtaking artwork he displays.

RULES:

  1.   Put the award logo on your blog.
  2.   Thank the person who nominated you.
  3.   Nominate any number of bloggers you like.
  4.   Let them know you nominated them.
  5.   Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.

QUESTIONS FOR ME:

Where do most visits from your blog come from?
The United States.

What is your favorite sport?
Soccer.

What has been a special moment for you so far in 2016?
There have been several.  Every time I am nominated for an award and/or receive an
encouraging comment.

What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote USED to be “God plants no sorrow on limbs too weak to bear.”  NOW my
favorite quote
is “those who don’t know the value of loyalty can never appreciate the cost of betrayal.”

What was your favorite class when still in school?
It would be a toss-up between Science/Biology and English.

Anything you wished to have learned earlier?
How to read people and not trust so completely.

What musical instrument have you tried to play?
I used to play the piano, but only by ear.

QUESTIONS FOR MY NOMINEES:

  1.  What is the strangest, most unexplainable thing that has ever happened to you?
  2.  A candy bar or a doughnut?
  3.  Would you give mouth to mouth resuscitation to a homeless person?
  4.  What movie could you watch over and over?
  5.  What is something that would be almost impossible for you to give up?
  6.  What is the worst punishment you suffered as a child?
  7.  When was the last time you lied and to whom?  (I hope it wasn’t me.)

MY NOMINEES:

Elizabeth Helmich
Etta D.
myworldshattered
Whiskey Cat
thefeatheredsleep
Tosha Michelle
Isolated girl
spearfruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update

Apparently the woman who hit my daughter, her boyfriend and their son, has multiple arrests.  The latest was last year for felony drug possession with intent to sell.  She was driving on a suspended license.  I think they said that was the second time her license had been suspended.
From what I understand, she was charged while she was in the ER but I don’t know what the charges were.

It really doesn’t matter because she was so under-insured.  D is having to collect on his own insurance.  Even if they sued her, you know the old saying…”you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

I tried to keep their spirits up and make them laugh.  I told them about my conversation with my RBS and then told them that my friend had asked if she and her husband could use me as a personal reference.  (I’ll call them Hope and Chuck.)
I told her sure but I really didn’t think anybody would call.  I’ll be doggone!  They called.  Hope asked me what I told them.
I said “I told them I had known you for thirty years.”  I told them you “weren’t hooking as much as you used to because you’re getting some age on you and although Chuck is in prison, he’s up for parole just any day now.”

I think they enjoyed moms’ sense of humor.

They are slowly recovering.  They still have bruises and scrapes.  N’s legs are bruised and scratched.  They still have trouble sleeping and moving their necks.  They’re still pissed off.  But they’re young and healthy so I think they’ll be alright.

Statistics say that one in every six people will be involved in an automobile accident in their lifetime.  Hmmm.  There were six of us in our “family.”

Here are our statistics:

Loser:  3 times.

Me:  4 times.

My oldest:  1 time.

My middle:  2 times.

My youngest daughter:  4 times.

My son:  1 time.

Total:  15 times.

Can somebody say “dark cloud?”  Do we all have a sign on our back that says “hit me….please?”

All of these were a result of drunk drivers, “high” drivers, sleepy drivers and distracted drivers.  We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One good note….maybe we have taken the hits for others.

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award!

blinking sunshine award

The Sunshine Blogger Award!

A big thank you to Angelica Kidd for this nomination!  Angelica is a lovely girl who has suffered tremendous abuse and torment.  She writes with such deep emotion and strength and will leave you in awe, wondering how she survived.  If you don’t already follow her, give her blog a visit.  (I believe it’s called “Write On.”)


The rules:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you.

2.  Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.

3.  Nominate other bloggers for this award.

4.  Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.

5.  Notify the bloggers you have nominated.


Questions for me:

1.  What is your favorite thing about blogging?
     My favorite thing is the overwhelming support and encouragement from my fellow bloggies.
I had received
so very little of that in my life and sometimes still, it’s hard for me to wrap my
arms around it but I sure am trying to get used to it!

2.  What is your all time favorite book?
      I’m not a reader.  I have only read one book and that was under pressure from Loser, so I guess
that would be my
favorite.  It was Ambulance Girl.

3.  Do you sleep with your socks on?
Never. 

4.  In the movie of your life, who would play you?
     Jennifer Lawrence.

5.  What is a favorite pastime that you like to indulge in frequently?
Probably blogging.  All the favorite pastimes I used to indulge in have long since gone away.

6.  What made you laugh this week?
My RBS told me about a conversation between her, her boss and an American Express
representative.  I won’t
divulge the particulars but it was hilarious!

7.  What inspires you to write?
My memories…..my feelings…..my sorrow……my determination to not be a waste.

8.  How did you get started writing?
I don’t remember what prompted me to start writing (although I don’t consider myself a
writer.)  Maybe it
was to keep from dying on my sofa.

9.   How do you stay motivated to write, even when you are feeling uninspired?
      I guess I still need to “bleed” (ala Ernest Hemingway.)

10.  What is your most prized possession and why?
        If it’s a “thing,”  I’d have to say I don’t have one.  Things don’t mean much to me anymore.
Friendships matter.  My bloggies matter.  I guess my friends and my bloggies are my most
prized possessions now.

11.  What is the best advice you’ve ever received in regard to your blogging?
“Keep it up.”

Questions for my nominees:

1.   Have you ever stolen anything?

2.   If you could only eat one vegetable for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

3.   What did you want to be when you grew up?

4.   Do you “picture” what I look like?  If so, describe me.

5.   Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?

6.   If you couldn’t blog, what would you do?

7.   What do you consider to be an unpardonable sin?

8.   If you could torment anybody, who would you choose and how would you torment them?

9.   What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

10.  What is your middle name?

11.  Who would you take to a deserted island and would you leave them there if you were rescued?

My Nominees:

1.  RobertGoldstein

2.  Savingshards

3.  Creativerational

4.  Survivednarc

5.  Learningtolivelikewater

6.  makingtimeforme

7.  samlobos

8.  donutsplace

9.  Tikeetha T.

10. myworldshattered

 

The Aftermath

I made it to Florida and saw the condition N, D and Shoe were in.  Mostly soft tissue damage but they had visible scratches and bruises.  Shoe still looks like he has a dirty mouth because his lip is bruised.

I’ve been doing what I can for them.  I’m taking N to work and picked Shoe up from school.  I watch Shoe while D rests.  They wanted my expertise about insurance but unfortunately, it did them no good.

The woman who hit them and drove them into another car, only has a total of ten thousand dollars worth of coverage….for both vehicles.  While Ds’ car was being pushed across four lanes of traffic, he clipped the back bumper of a Honda and it spun around.  Ds’ car ended up facing the opposite direction and so did the Honda.

D was trying to get started with a claim.  He needed a car to drive, obviously, since his was a total loss.  Florida is a no-fault state and through the next few days, we discovered that since they work on “percentages”, the Honda would most likely get the bulk of the money.  It was newer and although the damage it sustained was minimal, the airbags deployed, which made it a total loss as well.
D will have to collect on his own insurance.  His car had a lien-holder so his insurance company will have to pay off the loan.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aunt Martha has slipped and fallen into a ditch.  (that’s Southern humor injected which means the story is going to get even worse.)

The woman who hit them immediately got an attorney and is now claiming “a medical episode.”  If it can be proven, she will not face charges nor will she be liable for any damages.  In other words, she will walk away Scott free.

When D files with his insurance, he will face deductibles and only percentages of coverage.  Who knows how much it’s going to cost him, just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My daughter said “mom, I can’t help but think that this was somehow my fault.  I wonder what I could have done to deserve this?  I must have done something really bad.”  I told her that according to the Bible, “the sins of the father are visited upon the children.”  I told her that she was in no way responsible for the accident.

She didn’t tell me this…D did.  He said while they were at the hospital, she said “you know, every single member of your family has called, offered help, asked us if we need anything, and asked us if we needed a ride home.  I have two sisters who live here and neither one of them offered to come get us.”  N is notorious for saying “I don’t give a shit” when it comes to the family dynamics but obviously, she does.

Neither one of her sisters has come to see them.  They have supposedly texted to ask if they’re alright.  Loser is continuing the pretentious “good daddy” persona to impress that WTC, by texting “how’re you doing?”  Of course, he and that WTC would have never hopped in the car and driven all the way down here to check on them or try to help.

Hell, when I was almost killed in a similar wreck, Loser went to work and on to the bar afterward….just like always.  I was strapped to a chair in a neck brace and he could have cared less.  None of his family members nor mine ever called, came to see me or offered to help.

When I got to Ns’ house, the first thing I saw was a nice “happy Mothers’ Day” card from Loser.  I was outraged.  This from the man who had never in their lives sent them a card.  This man who used me as a secretary when he would ask if “anything was going on with the children.”  This man who used me as his communication device when he would say “tell the kids I said hello.”  This man who wouldn’t take five minutes to talk to his grandson because that WTC was spending the night.

I have to return to Florida one more time to get the crown for that stupid implant.  I don’t think I’ll come back….at least not to the same town where there are so many triggers.  The town where we lived for 15 years.  The town where I lived for 3 years and Loser continued to visit “playing husband.”  The town where my two other daughters live.  The town where my son lives.  The town where, even when I lived here, everybody was a thousand miles away.

I dreamed about Loser and that WTC last night.  We were in the last house we lived in together.  Loser came down the stairs and asked me to iron him 15 shirts, drive him to the airport and of course, come pick him up when he got back.  I asked him where he was going and he said “China.”  I asked him if “she” was going with him.  He smiled and nodded “yes.”
I told him to pack his bags and get out of my house.  He smiled and walked back up the stairs.  I went into my living room and there were all these folding chairs lined up in rows.  People were sitting in them.  That WTC was in an antique childs’ chair and she was sitting sideways in front of everybody.  I asked her if she enjoyed her trip with Loser to Denmark and Norway and she said “oh, yes.  Very much.”  She spoke with an accent.
She was wearing a gold necklace that was wrapped around her neck probably fifteen times.  It had little gold stars every two inches.  I went over and grabbed that necklace and broke it in two places.  I noticed she was wearing a long chain with a filigree cross.  I asked Loser if he bought it for her and he shrugged as he said “yeah, probably.”  I unleashed on her like a rabid banshee and I did it in front of everybody.

Too many triggers……I’m going to do what I can and then go back home…..where there are no triggers.  They will be alright.  They are young and healthy and as D said about N….”she’s a tough cookie…..just like her mom.”