Thursday, May 24, 2012


2011 October 15

[written while on vacation in NC with my DH, SIL, nephew and two brothers, before getting on the road, in our motorhome]
Over the last few nights I sensed more than remembered working out some lingering "stuff" in my dreams. Perhaps because I am away from the day to day preparation for getting on the road, my mind is finding it easier to sort through some of the complex relationships that have been neglected in the chaos. I found myself dreaming about people from New Hope Church. I haven't retained many details, but the overall sense is that I have disappointed some whom I call my friends. Is that truth, or just a reflection of my perpetual guilt? I suppose one way to get to the root would be to talk to the people I can remember dreaming about. I am not sure either they or I can really do that, though.

There is a veil of sadness that seems to envelope my relationships with many at New Hope Church. Whether that comes from me, from them or from a combination of us, I don't really know. Perhaps both they and I felt abandoned. After all, I simply disappeared from the community and the very few folks who did reach out to me, I avoided because I couldn't find an honest way to tell the story without edging it in anger toward Rodger Woodworth. Even now, it's hard to say that the reason I left New Hope Church was because my then Pastor suggested that "perhaps it's time for you to find another church". Granted, I could've mentioned that if we were truly a church based on reconciliation, telling me to find another church because of personality differences between myself and the lead pastor was hypocritical. But, at that point I could no longer sit under a man for whom I had so little respect, so I welcomed the escape. It didn't occur to me that to simply leave the fellowship without explanation would hurt me so much. Neither did it occur to me that many in the body would simply continue on without any thought as to my departure.

There were some folks who knew the whole story. They were ones whom I thought were close enough to me to be confided in without worry about gossip. Perhaps I was wrong. It seems that there may have been some sharing, but how much I don't know for sure.

All of this is moot at this point in time, I guess. I have since returned to New Hope after encouragement from one of the Elders. Rodger is no longer lead Pastor. Yet there still seems to be some unfinished business. Yet I have no clue how to address what I feel is unfinished.

So while I am away from my daily routine, my sleeping self is addressing some of this unfinished business. Each night I dream about different people and different relationships. Sometimes I remember only the people in the dreams. Other times I awake with only a general sense of what I dreamed about and an even more general feeling that my sleeping self is working out whatever needs to be addressed.

I am slowly coming to grips with the idea that life in all its aspects is fluid. Perhaps nothing lasts forever. When I initially came to New Hope, I was certain that I had come "home". And, indeed, for a while I had. Yet, the dynamic of the church changed and the change had a negative affect on me. And that's OK.

What hasn't changed is the fact that Jesus is Lord. That is the most important lesson to have taken away from this whole episode. And there are lesser examples of insights and morals uncovered as well. And as my brain works through the layers of my subconscious, I am learning to trust that all will be fine, eventually.

Happy Birthday, Bobby

2012 May 24

Happy Birthday, Bob

No, not Bob Dylan. 

My brother, Bob, or Bobby, as we more often call him. He is baby brother number 2, born when I was five years old. He was named after our cousin, Bobby Rase, for whom our Mom had real affection. Bobby Rase may have also been my brother's Godfather, but those details have long since slipped from my memory.

I also have no memory of when Bobby was born, except that when our Mom was in the hospital, in those times, for about 5-7 days, she sent notes home for me and Billy regarding our new addition, as well as those little jellies that come with hospital toast. Other than that, I can't remember anything about that time, which would've been spring of 1955. No memory of the homecoming, nor of who cared for me and Billy while Daddy worked and Mom was away. Strange isn't it, what the mind hangs onto and what it allows to disappear?

I remember Bobby as a toddler and a pre-schooler, although we didn't use those terms in the 1950s. I remember him as a surly child with most people, although I also remember that he lit up around our Mom. I don't recall much interaction with Bobby, and the few vivid memories I have are of unpleasant situations. Sorry, Bobby. Perhaps that is as much my brain's fault, as it is your surliness as a kid.

One of the incidents that stands out in my memory was from a summer holiday, maybe Memorial Day, or July 4th, when Bobby was about 4 or 5. My Dad took us kids, who probably numbered five at the time, (although we may have only had four of us at home, if Billy had been relocated at that point. Another memory gap), to his sister's house about a half mile away. I am sure we walked there, because we didn't have a car. It was uphill over a cobblestone road, not heavily traveled at that time. At Aunt Barb's there was a huge (to us) grassy backyard and a very large covered porch. I remember Uncle Joe squirting us with a hose. It was nice to be with my Dad's family, aunts, uncles, cousins, but it didn't happen very often. 

At some point in the course of the day, Bobby took it upon himself to leave. Again, the memory doesn't exist as to why. But, he left, and walked the half mile home alone. Not sure what he told Mom. What I most remember is the huge fight between our parents when Daddy brought the rest of us home later in the day. Mom was livid that such a small child was "allowed" to walk home alone. Daddy was just as livid that Bobby would take it upon himself to leave without saying a word to anyone. That argument is the thing I most remember about that day.

My other vivid memory of Bobby happened during the late spring of my senior year in high school, so it was 1968. Our Mom was in the hospital having her gallbladder removed. In 1968, that was major surgery, involving incisions and drainage tubes, so I'm guessing that Mummu was in the hospital for at least a week. One evening, Daddy had gone to the hospital to visit Mummy and we kids were home on our own. I was eighteen, Bobby, thirteen, and the other player in this memory, our brother Dave, was ten.

For some reason, Bobby and Davey had gotten into a yelling match, in the kitchen, that was becoming a fist fight. Since Bobby was older, bigger and heavier than Dave, I felt like it was my responsibility, as the oldest kid, to step in and put a stop to it before anybody got hurt or bloodied. I stepped between them, and got Bobby away from David. In his rage, Bobby proceeded to knock me to the floor, on my stomach, sit on my bottom and pummel my back with his fists, until Vinny, (our 11 year old brother) pulled him off me. After that experience, I was always a bit afraid of Bobby and kept some distance between us. In fact, I left the house that night and sat on the porch until Daddy got home from visiting Mom. I was too afraid to go back into the house with Bobby in there.

Years have gone by. Bobby has had plenty of ups and downs, and I have tried to be there for him, but there has never been the connection that I feel for most of my siblings.

Bobby was the first person in our family to become a Christian. Then, he met and married a woman who shared his values.  

Then I came to faith in Christ, as my savior. I thought that finally Bobby and I had some common ground. Well, we do, but it isn't enough on which to build a friendship. We have too many personality differences and too much history. Not to say that I don't love him, because I do, but not in a way that makes me look forward to spending time together. I am sure the feeling is mutual. Bobby loves me, but not in a way that makes him want to spend time developing a relationship. 

Bobby, I know you'll never read this, because of your seizure disorder and your inability to use a computer, but I had to write it anyway. I don't want you or me to feel guilt because we are not close as siblings. We both are who we are. I appreciate the poems and scripture you've shared at times when my life was a rocky path. I like remembering the times I came to hear you sing at your church, and the times you came for poetry and worship ant mine. I hope that in time, those memories will help to displace the older, less pleasant ones. 

Perhaps one of the reasons we are not close is that we are too similar, carry too many of the same burdens. We each, in our own way, carry the burden of Mummy's mental illness and her tendency to play favorites among her kids. But know this: I do love you, as my brother in Christ and I do wish you a Happy Birthday. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

2012 May 13

It's Mother's Day. Not one of my favorite pretend holidays. My own Mom died in 1976, of lung cancer. I was 26 years old, and the oldest of eight kids. The youngest, Jimmy, was only 5 when Mummy died. 

When R and I married, we assumed we would have children. But that was not to be.

R's Mom was very much alive for many years, so I suppose I had a surrogate Mom in Adelaide. Unfortunately, because I still bore so much anger toward my own Mom, it wasn't until much later in our relationship, that Adelaide and I became close. 

I've had other surrogate mom people in my life over the years: Pauline, who was my neighbor for 20+ years; Marlene, who is probably my age, or younger, but has such a warm, maternal spirit, that when I met her she just seemed like "Mom".

But Mother's Day, in general, makes me sad. Sad for what could've been, both with my own Mom, and in my life. 

My Mom was adopted in 1927, when she was 6 months old. Her name at adoption was Virginia ___________. All I know of her birth name is that it began with a "B" and that according to my paternal grandmother, it sounded Lithuanian. My mom was dark haired, dark eyed and had a slightly olive complexion. And although she spoke of being adopted sometimes, I don't think she ever really shared how deeply she longed to belong and to have something that was hers, except with her close friend, AnnaMae, and with my Dad.

Whatever her origins, she was born at Rosalia Foundling Home, that much she shared. She supposed that her own birth mother was a young, unwed woman. Beyond that, she shared nothing. 

Whether her insecurities or her genetics, or some combination of the two were the cause, my Mum was a sad, depressed woman, coming into her own in a time of repression. The 40s & 50s were not the time when one analyzed ones feelings, and sought treatment for such ailments. 

She and my Dad managed to produce eight kids. Not very long ago, a family friend told me that my Mom once shared with her that the happiest times in her life were when she was pregnant. No wonder she got pregnant so often. I often wish that she had lived longer. Mostly for selfish reasons, but also because, the times are different now and maybe she could've been treated and actually had some degree of peace and happiness with medication to balance whatever imbalances were part of her makeup.

And, I wonder how she would've counseled me when I faced my own crisis of depression and infertility. 

Years of therapy helped me to dispose of my anger toward my Mom for what I viewed as her shortcomings. Now, I am simply sorry that none of the good Christians who were among her in-laws and in her own adoptive family, reached out to help her. Instead, too often, they criticized her and behind her back and in front of her children, made her out to be the bad guy.

I am sorry for the scars inflicted upon her by the community and times in which she lived, and by her on some of her own kids. Families are complex organisms and even more complicated when some form of mental illness is present. 

Mom, Happy Mother's Day.