Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Conflicted, to say the least.

My mother called me two days ago with some news. And since it's just been released to the public, I feel I can now talk about it here.... The body of my brother's father was found last week. He was murdered.

I'm still trying to process this... really. It's difficult. I have such mixed feelings... and although - of course... it goes without saying.... no one ever deserves to be brutally murdered.... I can't say, besides that, I'm at all sad to see him gone.

I am probably going to hell. Those of you who believe in that sort of thing.... please commence praying for my eternal soul.

The fact that I still harbor acrimony... some 20 years later... that should say something. My childhood was tumultuous, and scary, and violent... unsafe. This man had almost everything to do with it. But, he was also a father. To my brother Matthew. For a few years, at least. He treated him like the Golden Child. Me on the other hand? He used every excuse to beat me. My brother whimpered, and WHACK! He would charge into the room and smack me upside the head. At... oh 5 years old. And younger.

I recall quite vividly him slamming my head into a sliding closet door, causing me to bleed. My mother, in rare form, came to my rescue and threatened his life if he ever did such a thing to me again.

Then, when my mother couldn't take the almost daily physical, verbal, and emotional assaults on her, on me.... we left. We went away to a battered woman's shelter... into hiding. I came home one day after school.... (October 17, 1986) and my mother said we could take one suitcase, and that was it. We were leaving. Going away. Where he couldn't hurt us. Or, so we thought.... I was 9. My brother was 5.

When we returned to the tiny house, months later, with a police escort - he was gone. But every single item my mother owned was either smashed, broken, splintered or mutilated. Every picture of her was crossed out, and it was a mess. I watched my mother collapse in a defeated heap. Her spirit was broken that day.... and she has never been the same.

In the years that followed... we were court-ordered to see him, including me. Even though I wasn't his bio-child. I suspect this was due to the fact that I was older, and would look after my brother during these visits. Yeah.... that's what I did. For three years.... every other Friday evening we met in the parking lot of the Police Department to do the drop-off. We were picked up by my mother in the same location Sunday evening.

The weekends he wasn't working (and he either brought us to work, to wander around without escort... or he left us with random people) he was locked in his room. He barely came out, even to eat. He started acting stranger and stranger. Moving constantly. Never having any money, regardless of the fact that he was making $20.00 an hour. And, in the late 80s that was GOOD money. My mom chose to overlook this.... sending us with food and blankets. We stayed up 'til all hours... we watched horror films, we ate junk food, we wandered all over town... hours and hours, unsupervised. I cooked every meal, and bathed my brother... it was like, we went there, to be ignored. There was an endless parade of wacky people in and out of his apartment.... and then it happened. The police raided his house one weekend. (Thank GOD we weren't there!) He was selling and using crack. Then, they threw him in prison for many years. He sent letters. I read them, but never once responded to them.

About 5 or so years ago... I saw him. He was begging with a sign off of the freeway a few miles from where we live. He was haggled, and much older. The years had not been kind to him. But, he was still recognizable. I got this crazy balled-up feeling in my stomach... and as I drove past him, I yelled out of my open window "Your son hates you!" His eyes widened in disbelief. He did a double take, and I'm sure he quickly was able to do the math. He knew who I was. And, I wasn't a scared 12-year-old any longer.

Anyway.... I know for a fact, that if anything, my brother pitied his father.... I doubt he hates anyone. That was just the quickest, and most hateful thing I could think of to get a reaction out of him.

But, whoever saw it fit to take his life... most likely they didn't even know of his past. I do hope they find the person responsible... if only so they can't hurt anyone else.

My mother was told by the homicide detective that her divorce was never finalized. So, she has to make the arrangements for him. She's the next of kin. I mean. Wow. And, he used to be in the military, so he'll most likely get some type of dignified last resting place. My brother's Grandfather is a retired 2 Star Major General in the Army. So, my mom, who was always at odds with her father-in-law for her nearly 10-year-marriage... she has to tell him that his only son is dead. I doubt the news will affect him much, either... The General disowned Matthew's dad many, many years ago.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Ironic? Yeah. I took her out to lunch, and bought her a giant bouquet of flowers at the florist. I wanted to take her mind of of the impending arrangements she will have to make. She is a fragile woman, my mother. Bob made her that way. She hoards things like a packrat now. I looked around her apartment yesterday, astounded at how she can live that way. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a new chapter for her.... and she can begin to heal.

I saw my brother yesterday... he just turned 26. I didn't know what to say to him. "Sorry for your loss?" Um, no... that happened years ago. So, instead I said nothing. And neither did he.
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Jamie said...

I don't know whether to say sorry for your loss or to congratulate you. Just remember that hating violence is never wrong. Give your mom a hug for me please.

T.J.'s Mommy said...

Thank you Jay.... I know when your grandfather died back when we were in Junior High you went through this... conflicted, disbelief.... relief that he couldn't hurt you again. Love to you.


Karen said...

I know you don't know me I just found your site. I read this and see your childhood as one I kinda lived through too. I feel just like you do about the man who destroyed my childhood. I am sorry for what he did to you your brother and your Mom. My mom is also effected by the man who abused her for 16 years (we got away from him one day when I was 18). I hope you Mom begins to heal. I know it sounds weird but I bet it is almost a relief. Take care.

Anne said...

oh C...I shouldn't be surprised that part of the reason you are so strong a person is in part due to your childhood. It is so sad to me that you were put into those awful positions in the first place but they helped make you who you are as a person...and more importantly, you are making the world a better place by being in it. Thank God you and your Mom and your brother found peace away from that man. hugs. you are in my thoughts.