Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Each morning at work I am asked how I am doing by one of the office personal. He makes his way around greeting everyone first thing in the morning when he arrives. It's one of those things that makes you, me at least, feel as if I'm a person and not just a warm body at work. This sort of thing is rare today in the work place. Most often I reply back " I'm doing pretty good so far. At least when I woke up I found I was still alive- that's always a plus sign."
One morning I was not feeling all that great in mind, body or soul and I threw him a curve. "How are you doing this morning? He asked.
"When I woke up this morning I found I was dead. But, I'm feeling much better now." I replied.
His look was one of those what do I say to that looks. After a quick moment he shot back " That's always a good sign."

Somehow along the way from yesterday to today I've lost a part of me that used to look forward to each new day. My maternal mother had a nervous breakdown when I was around nine or ten when away on a trip with her mother. She had found a postcard with two German Shepherd puppies on it that reminded her of our two dogs. She had sent it to me just a day before she had her nervous breakdown. So strange it was to me that I should receive it after learning what happened to her. It was almost as if she knew something was going on but perhaps not. The wording was the mother I knew all my life. That mother and life was gone forever. Just as if a wrecking ball had come and knocked the foundation out from under our home causing it to crash to the ground. My mother was there but she wasn't.
Before, she had always been a loving person who would often sing for no reason and laugh. Now she was an angry person who was full of hatred and suspicious of everyone. I still remember the few trips to the hospital to see her. I had wanted to see her and did not fully understand what was wrong. We would arrive, and after the big locks on the mental ward were opened to let us in, I'd see her sitting in a chair just looking out the window or staring off into space. A nurse would go over and tell her we were there and she'd turn and see me and just smile and talk to me like she always had. Going over to her and giving her one of the pictures I'd drawn and receive a huge hug in response :I'd tell her I loved her.
It was only a fleeting glimpse of who she once was. Only a few minutes into the visit she would become agitated and we would have to leave. Some time later she was allowed to come home even though she still needed treatment. Pop never had much time to do things with me when I was growing up. It was just like the words to a song from Cat Stephens go: "The Cat's in the Cradle with a silver spoon, little boy blue and the man on the moon. When you coming home dad? I don't know when? But we're going to have a good time then son. We're going to have a good time then."
He had a lot to deal with and had kept it all inside most those years leading up to the breakdown. Things had become worse but being a young kid I didn't see any of it coming. Not until it did and I still did not fully understand it. I mean, nobody even talked about it with me except to say my mother was sick. Before the breakdown my mother and I were very close but afterwards I did not even know her. She was not the same person. She looked like my mother and sounded like my mother but it was no longer her.

After my Pop fought long and hard to get her the help she needed she called for a divorce. I was in the fifth grade. During my sixth grade year kids at school picked on me and finally I just quit going to school after a short time. Nothing ever happened and nobody came to make me go so I didn't.
At the divorce, the court ruled that I was to stay with her. My Pop had never had her committed persay so they deemed her well enough to keep me. We stayed in the huge colonial style home, just she and I and the pets, Pop had worked his ass off for because she wanted it. Pop slept on the floor of his office in a sleeping bag until he could get an apartment. All he was allowed to take with him when he left were two suit cases full of clothes, his shaving kit and that sleeping bag. He still had to pay all the monthly bills of the house, alimony and child support as well as mothers car. Mother bought me a go-kart and a stereo out of the blue. That go-kart was ridden day and night. Sometimes I'd be out riding it after midnight up and down the road while other kids were in bed because they had to go to school.

I lived in this house that was now empty of anything I'd known. She slept all day but for an hour or so and only came out late at night also for an hour or so. She'd sit in the dark thinking mean and hateful things and laughing out loud to herself now and again. It was scary when at one point she began telling me about the devil and how to practice sorcery.
She hated my father and all she did was speak ill of him to me all the time. I began to fear her and tried to keep out of her way. I didn't want her to knock the crap out of me again. The fear was so much that when I did go to bed I'd lock my door with my dog inside with me for protection I hoped.
She gave away our pets and all that was left for me was the television set. One day while watching the set in the den a man drove up and my mother met him at the door. She walked right past the den as she had done many times not even acknowledging me. She came into the den with the man and without looking at me pointed to the set while I was watching it. The man nodded at me then proceeded to turn it off and unplug it from the wall. He walked out with the set and my mother turned without a word and went back upstairs to her room.
There I was sitting in the dark staring at the empty space wondering what had just happened.
I couldn't believe it. A couple of days later I remembered we had a small black and white set somewhere. I found it and hid it in my room to watch late at night.
Mother mostly bought junk garbage when she would go to the store and very few staple foods. I had to teach myself how to cook. I'd do egg sandwiches until they ran out and then rice or plain noodles with butter or oatmeal. When the bread would run out I'd eat peanut butter out of the jar. I got good and mixing bits of different things to have something to eat. Sometimes she would go to the store and buy t.v dinners and I'd heat those up but that was a rarity. Aside from having some good dinners at my friends house I'd cut lawns and do yard work to earn money for food. I'd ride my bicycle several miles to the mall and eat at Morrisons Cafeteria. I'd really pig out on the great food there.
I was all alone and did what some kids only dreamt about. Aunts and Uncles never came by or called to check up on me and my Pop wasn't allowed to by the court system. He wasn't to have contact with me without her permission and he didn't even get any visitation. He had not done anything wrong but I didn't know why he didn't come by. No telling what lies my mother had told the courts about him. Again, nobody had told me anything and all I felt was alone, scared and abandoned. Then I began to get mad and then wild. But I wanted to see my Pop so I 'd stay up all night so I could hop on my brothers old bicycle he'd left behind and ride to the next town to see Pop. The world would be just waking up as I made my way in the dark to his apartment. But I'd be so tired when I got there and Pop would be getting ready for work. He was surprised each time I arrived but was happy to see me. While he finished getting ready for work I'd pass out on his couch and he would be gone when I awoke most times. So I'd hop on the bike and make my way to his office to visit with him.

Life sucked but I kept hoping for the better and each day I woke up...well, that was a good start.
So, yesterday I woke up again and today I did the same. Let's hope that it is a repeat performance tomorrow.

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