I distinctly remember ALWAYS getting choked up and crying when leaving their house. I would ALWAYS try to hide the fact that I was crying (I was 9 years or younger), but at times, my boo-hooing wasn't able to be hidden (see subsequent blog entry about this: Feeling Like I Don't Belong to a Family). I questioned my Dad years later as to why I had such a difficult time saying goodbye, and his response was that I was so happy with them that I didn't want to go back to the other life-- the life with my mother, where she was emotionally void, controlling, and unhappy.
My grandfather thought I hung the moon. He never wanted to tell me 'no' and spoiled me with attention. I loved him just the same. My grandmother sewed me clothes, danced in the living room with me, and baked us yummy cookies. She was part of my heart. I absolutely adored my grandparents.
I received a letter from my grandmother at the beginning of 1977 which told me about the bad weather they were having, how she fell, and how she had been battling some bad headaches. I didn't know the extent of these headaches, but apparently, the headaches were debilitating, and she sought relief. Unfortunately she sought help in the wrong place, as the chiropractor she went to didn't refer her to a neurologist, and instead, kept telling her she needed to be 'adjusted'. As a result, she blew a huge aneurysm and had a stroke. She was in the hospital for weeks. She kept asking to see me but I was too young to go up on the floor where she was. By the time the staff agreed to sneak me up to see her, my grandmother passed away from a cardiac arrest at the young age of 59.
My grandfather was distraught. He was a man who lived by his woman, who needed his woman's support, and loved her to the deepest part of his soul. They had an intense love affair, and the thought of living life without her tore him up. You could see the air had been completely let out of him, and a deflated shell was left.
My mother was hysterical over the death of her mother. She resorted to staying in her dark room at the back of the house and took Valium that was given to her by a doctor friend of the family (more about him later). My mother was not compassionate, empathic, sympathetic, or loving to her father / my grandfather. In fact, she was very hard on him and pushed him further into depression. I realize people deal with death and loss differently, and each has his or her own way of expression; however, this to me, is the first indication of something not being "right" about my mother. My grandmother's death also marks awareness of something not being "right" about my Dad too, but not to the same extent.
My grandfather was so distraught over the loss of his wife that he couldn't bear to deal with the house or its possessions. So he took what he needed and a few things he couldn't live without, and moved across the country. My mother was then able to go and take what she wanted from the house before it was put up for auction. This time period was very surreal and dark for me. I couldn't fathom my grandmother being gone, I was crushed to see my grandfather so upset (this is a big, strong man who is now a shell of who he was), and I was confused to my mother's reaction and distance she created between herself & me (and my brother too).
When we went out to my grandparents' house with a U-Haul, my brother and I were allowed to select a few things to take with us. Additionally, my Dad put a limit on to how many trips and how much stuff my mother could take. My mother apparently (I don't recall this; she told me) was very upset about my Dad controlling how much she could take. We took several trips up to the house and said 'goodbye' to my grandmother.
That summer, my grandfather came for a long visit. During this time, my mother became increasingly hostile to him. She picked on everything he did. She belittled the grieving man. She was very cold to him. I didn't understand where this was coming from (nor do I now other than what I have discovered about her personality disorder), and the situation broke my little 10 year old heart.
Eventually the situation escalated to my mother kicking my grandfather out of the house for peeing on the toilet seat and leaving crumbs on the counter. She also wrote him a scathing letter, telling him horrible things (he's s filthy pig for example) and that he can't see his grandchildren anymore (ever). My grandfather spiraled further into depression and entered therapy.
I was not allowed to answer his letters. My mother held onto the letters and wouldn't mail them. I felt so terrible that I couldn't let my grandfather know how much I loved him and cared for him. And even more terrible, he died that early fall, (1 year and 7 months after my grandmother's death), leaving me with deep seated guilt that he left this world without me answering his letters. I prayed that he knew what my mother was doing. As a side note here, I have a guardian angel, and he has looked over me my entire life. My guardian angel knows the truth. My guardian angel is my grandfather.
I will mention again, that during this time, my mother was obtaining Valium from a family friend. This family friend coached sports with my Dad. They were very close friends; in fact, our families were close. So close that we took vacations together, went to the lake together, and did a great deal together several times a week. I never saw anything abnormal about any of the relationships but this will soon change.
During this time, I developed insomnia. I remember the exact day that I stopped sleeping normally. I was acutely aware that I wasn't falling asleep. I tried but I couldn't. Having a controlling mother, I wasn't allowed out of my bed once put there at bed time, so I stared at the dark walls, counted how many times the air conditioner came on & turned off, counted sheep... and cried. My Dad was always the one to come in to comfort me. And eventually I was allowed to turn on the light and read a book. My days were consumed with the thought of having to go back to bed and experiencing another endless night trying to go to sleep. This bout with insomnia left a lasting impression on me that I carry to this day. The nights were frightening, the feeling of being completely alone and lonesome was overwhelming, and the lack of true parental compassion, safety, and love were disturbing.
I had no idea at the time why I was having trouble sleeping, but it's clearly obvious now. My life had been through some very stressful changes all at one time, and more changes were to come (which you could feel it at the time). Not only was I staying up late not being able to sleep, but my mother would stay up until all hours reading medical books. HUGE medical books. Yes, huge medical books with giant, detailed diagrams. At the time, I didn't make the connection, but our family friend is a medical person. He worked at a local hospital, and at times, my mother would take my brother and me to the local hospital's teaching college to walk around-- she would express how she really wanted to go back to school, and she wanted to go there. My mother also was going on errands and going out when, in the past, she didn't do this.
Well, the day came, less than a year after my grandfather passed, that my mother pulled my brother and me into the kitchen. My Dad was out mowing the yard. At this time, the bomb was dropped. The eternally destructive, the bomb of all bombs to mess with a young child's mind, the bomb that would gain momentum and never stop...