To really understand this post, one needs to go back and read the one in the link below
This page is a continuation of Throwaway, and was posted initially in another blog back in very early 2007.
It has been said, that we are all given our crosses to bear in our lives. Certainly, lymphedema with all the complications including lymphoma was one of mine. My second one was the abuse and rejection I experienced as a small child.
It is true, that we have no choice in the cross that we were born with. But we do have a choice in how we respond to and carry that cross, especially as an adult.
It also amazes me how many generations and descendants of a person’s family are affected by the actions of the parents. Mom and dad, whatever you do to your child, your are also doing to your grandchildren, great grand children and perhaps even beyond.
But, I digress, so back to our story.
When my mother and John were married, we lived in Jacksonville, Florida. We stayed there long enough for mother to give him two daughters of his own. Susan, the oldest was born in 1954 and Diana in 1956. After that he was transferred to Tennessee and then subsequently to southern California. I am assuming it was Camp Pendleton as that was the largest Marine Corps facility in the state.
Immediately after my mother and dad’s divorce, our dad disappeared forever from our lives. The story that I am told is that mom had caused him to be fired from every position he had and that the final straw was the last time he came to see us. He had brought Marion (my older sister) a dress. Mother ripped it up and John threatened to have his marine “buddies” take care of him if he ever showed up again. How true it is, perhaps we will never know, but the story comes from several sources.
Alcohol was also a central problem with both mother and John. They are the type of people whose entire personality changes with drinking. When you add alcohol to unstable mean spirited people, they become even more cruel and violent.
My earliest memories of childhood are filled with recollections of this violence and brutality. One of John’s disciplinary tactics was to pull you around by the hair and throw you down on the floor.
When I was about four years old, our dog peed on the floor. John of course accused me of doing it so he put the leather belt all over me and rubbed my face in the dog pee.
There was also a park nearby that Steve (my older brother), Marion and I would go to. I remember how upset Steve and Marion would get because I would refuse to join them in begging people at the park for food.
While living in that same house, my sister Marion ate poison as a result of digging food from a neighbor’s garbage can.
From Jacksonville, John was briefly transferred to a base in Tennessee. With one glaring exception, I don’t have too many memories from there.
While mother and John were out at the bar, a severe storm passed through our area and a tornado took of the top of our two story house. It was incredibly frightening for five children, ages 8 through 3 and home alone.
Shortly after that, John was transferred to southern California as I mentioned above. We were not there long as events unfolding in Oregon were soon to have a profound effect on us.
In the late forties, mother's oldest sister, Paula had sold all her beauty colleges, schools and shops throughout Southern California and decided to be a rancher in Oregon.
She bought an 1800 spread, called Fall Creek, just outside a tiny town named Glide, Oregon. Her financial stature increased even more when she married a very well to do rancher Lossie. Together, they had properties all over the state of Oregon and beyond.
Mother decided she wanted to stake a claim on this wealth and get as much as she could from Paula. So, leaving John behind in Camp Pendelton, she packed we five children up and moved to Oregon.
We settled into a 1600 acres ranch, owned of course, by Uncle Lossie outside another small town named Yoncalla.
John only came up for visits and even those rare events were
full of the usual violence and abuse. I remember the first time it snowed. I had never played in snow before, so I thought it would be a grand idea to go out and build a snowman.
Apparently, it was a very wrong decision, and John kept beating me hard enough and long enough that the leather belt he used actually broke.
In the meantime, something had changed in me and I fought back against the abuse. This is not such a good idea when you are a five year old against a grown woman and a marine sargeant.
When I fought back, mother would hold my head under the water faucet until I could no longer breathe and lapsed into compliance.
Another favorite punishment would be to have me stand in the corner until I came close to passing out.
We were not in Yoncalla very long before John had one of those "forced" honorable resignations from the Marine Corps (thanks naturally to mother's actions). At that point they made a decision that it was time to be rid of the O'Connor children and we were to be carted back off to Florida and dumped on relatives.
Ironically, their decision based in evil was the best possible course of action for me. It provided me with years of somewhat of a normal childhood, gave me a person who became (and still is) my mother in my heart and enabled me to get medical care for the worsening lymphedema.
By the time we left Yoncalla, I was such a wreck from the abuse that I would wake up in the middle of the night after having vomited all over my bed....and yes, there was punishment for that as well.
Labels: Aunt Paula, Fall Creek, Uncle Lossie, Yoncalla