Today vs. 5th grade

I forgot my password tonight. I haven’t been on here in a while and I was so frustrated just trying to recall what it was and jumping through the hoops of waiting for a code and creating a new one. BOY my life is so hard! I can assure you it is not. My life is pretty amazing, although my aches and pains keep me down I am blessed beyond measure on where my life has taken me. Not only is my life incredible but so is my wonderful life long friend Auburn’s.

When I was in 5th grade many things happened. One was I now was a part of the big kids classroom. Our school consisted of three buildings. One was Kindergarten through fourth, the second building was fifth through eighth and the last building was the lunch room. Fifth grade brought on many things. For one we had a brand new teacher, him and his wife now ran the school and had came to us from California. I’m pretty certain to say you could call them hippies. They wore burkenstocks all year long and the wife didn’t shave her arm pits. We also had several new families that had shown up for the new year. This was not unusual as we attracted people that were passing through quickly while looking over their shoulders.

Auburn came from a large family. I can’t recall how many kids there were but there were several. Her father had passed away and her mom and her boyfriend moved the kids around quite a bit. I cannot recall where or of the boyfriend worked but Auburns mother did.

One morning at school while Auburn and I were in the restroom Auburn started crying as clots were falling out of her. This is where life really sucks where you need to discuss something that changed you forever but there is no kind way to explain it. Auburn was being raped by her mothers boyfriend. As I am writing this I am crying remembering how horrific all of this was. Our teachers aid contacted the County and CPS arrived and removed Auburn from school. Later we had heard that when they discussed the circumstances with her mother her own mother chose to take her boyfriends side and said Auburn had fabricated the whole story. I remember my father saying to my mom that they should really go and get Auburn as no one would want a child that had a history like hers. The following year Auburn was allowed to come back for a school visit one day. It was the only day I wasn’t in school that year.

Over the years she was always in my thoughts. I had heard that she was in a nice foster home when she stopped to visit us at school but I never really knew if she was adopted or not. I of course had friends that come and went but I would always wonder what it would be like to have her in my life.

When I moved back to the Southwest I found a similar name on a social networking site and at the age of 32 I found Auburn. We were actually living in the same city, I couldn’t believe it. We arranged a time to meet and I could hardly wait to see her. We met at a coffee shop and she told me about the rest of her childhood and the countless foster homes that did more harm then good. She married young and had already had three children by the time I had met her. Our lives were in very different places. I was climbing the corporate ladder and she was raising three children.

When she left I watched her get into her new car and drive away as gorgeous as ever. It was very different then the day she was ripped out of all of our little lives with her stringy hair and old clothes. Looking back it must have been so hard for her to even meet with me knowing the memories that may resurface but I’m incredibly glad she did.

Auburns children are grown now and she is a grandmother as well. She lives in the midwest and we keep in contact. You see you and I both forgot about that darn password that was ruining my life tonight.

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Summer had arrived once again. This year I had also got a cat, I named her Friskie and come summer I had to leave her behind so we could chase God. Dad said she would be fine and that cats know how to care for themselves. It was heart wrenching to drive out of the yard not knowing if she would be there when we returned.
We stopped in Northern Arizona where the John and his new wife lived. I of course was happy to see my summer cult children; just not the adults. Everyone was terribly excited. You see several of the children had decided it was time to be baptized. Looking back I really don’t recall any of the children telling me that God had spoken to them but there were several that knew it was going to happen. My parents said it would make them very proud if I too joined in becoming a child of God.
The following day we were all taken to the top of mountain where there was a small lake. There were several of us being baptized that day. When I went up I was baptized side by side with John’s son John. Everyone clapped and celebrated like we were in a parade. From that moment on whenever one of us was mentioned it would always follow with when Johnny and Rachel get married. Somehow the elders had felt our union was arranged and blessed by God. Years later after I had been married for several years my mom had spoke to Johnny’s mom during one of her visits to our home in Oregon. She kept begging me to bring mom and come over to their home. I simply couldn’t do it, yes even as a married adult I lived in fear that they would somehow try to destroy my life.
When we returned back home from chasing revival tents Friskie was alive. She had become wild and also had two kittens which had never been around humans. They eventually were eaten one by one by coyotes. I never asked for a cat after that knowing that they would not be a priority and would just end up food for the local coyotes.

9 is a great age to get engaged

Coyotes, boys and wanderlust

In the fall of my second grade year not much changed.  I did spend more and more time with Chelsea.  We would spend afternoons and weekends roaming the desert.  We would fill mason jars with grasshoppers, pick wild flowers, and ride our bikes.

One afternoon we road our bikes to an abandon house about a mile behind my home in the desert.  When we came out of the front door and started to get on our bikes we were surrounded by a pack of coyotes.  There must have been eight to ten of them.  I don’t even recall where they came from just that all of a sudden they were circling us with their heads lowered and tails dropped.  They did this for about two minutes and then one by one simply ran away.  To this day I don’t understand why they didn’t attack or bite us but they didn’t.

When spring arrived all of the Ocotillo’s were in bloom.  Chelsea and I found a couple of five gallon empty buckets behind the horse stables and picked every bloom we could get our little hands on. This is how we spent our days.

We also of course had become boy crazy. Our love interest was Chad Monroe.  He had the palest skin, his hair was nearly white and his eyes were the softest blue.  He of course spent his days trying to avoid us and we spent our days following him anywhere he roamed.  One of the areas he liked to explore was this old railroad motel that had been abandon years perhaps even decades prior to our arrival.  There were about ten rooms that had box springs in them and scattered papers and books everywhere.  I’m sure the motel was crawling in snakes as well but we would have risked everything to be near Chad.

Summer came quickly and even though our little house was built it was once again time to leave school early and chase revival tents.  It pained me to think of how lonely and long the next three months would be.  Days of roaming the desert with my friends and going to school would be filled with long prayers meetings, even longer roads and that much illusive miracle that I had yet to witness.

My mother and her flying sandwiches

It’s such a sad and sore subject with me.  I called her this morning, she has spent the last two years in a nursing home.  Her dementia is pretty bad this morning she thought I was my sister, kept asking about my large dogs and how she couldn’t understand how I could have such large dogs.  I of course have very small lap dogs.  I asked her if she had received the stuffed monkey I sent and her response was “oh I didn’t know who it was from”  She has always loved monkeys and has her dementia has progressed it seems the one thing you can send her that will make her happy.

I haven’t physically seen her in almost two years.  She broke her hip for the 2nd time about 2 and half years back and during the same time my Sister-in-law Grace was caring for her two bedridden parents.  Grace’s parents died within forty hours of one another when mom fell and broke her hip for the 2nd time.  When this opportunity presented itself  and I do mean opportunity the medical staff at Barrow said mom was in no condition to ever live on her own again. Mom had given up on bathing and her hair was half way down her back. I think they thought my sister and I would be sad when this was mentioned but honestly when a person gives up on hygiene it is time for others to care for them.

After moms surgery I brought her to a rehab facility near my home.  I mainly did this knowing that if she was to return to the city she was living in it would only further exhaust Grace.  I visited her every two days over the next six months.

My visits went something like this.  I would stop and pick up an egg salad sandwich on my forty-five minute one way drive.  Once I arrived I would help get her dressed and wash her hair.  Once I was finished washing her hair I would push her in her wheelchair out to the courtyard area.  We would manage to get around six feet and she would say ” where are we going?” I would say “outside mom to have lunch” we would go another six feet and she would say ” why is my hair wet?” and I would say “because I washed it mom” this would continue for the next several hundred feet until we reached the courtyard.  I would open her sack lunch to her saying ” what is this?” I would say “mom this is your sandwich” she would take two bites and then throw it past my head.  This went on for six months until she returned back the area she has lived for the last twenty years.

During our visits there wasn’t much more discussed.  Medical staff felt she could walk but she truly had given up on any attempts of this happening.  I was able to get here eyes screened which hadn’t happen for the last decade.  Unfortunately her dementia was to far along for her to desire or comprehend reading any longer.  I also made sure her hair and nails were brought up to speed and it did seem she enjoyed this part of her routine.

My brother sent some items that he thought mom would appreciate having.  One of the items was this Ornate locket that I  had forgotten about.   Inside contained two photos of me as a baby.  He thought that I may like to have it.  I took it to a Jeweler and had it cleaned and on the day she was leaving to return back to where the remainder of our family lives I had it around my neck.  My mom saw it and said “Thats mine and I want it back” I said “ok mom do you want to wear it?” She said “NO just throw it in my box” and this I would have to say summed up my life with my mom.

The worst thing about dementia is that you become  acutely aware that you will never have the relationship that you had hoped you would with this individual.

 

Unexpected Visit

This week brought an unexpected visit followed by being in bed for 3 days with a headache.  I find it impossible to believe that my memories don’t make me ill.

I received a call out of the blue that my father’s half-sister would be driving by and would like to stop and meet me in person. Yes this may seem strange that I am telling you that I’m forty-three and have never met my Aunt in person.  My father was raised on a dairy farm in Northern Minnesota.  He had five brothers and was just nine years old when his mother died during childbirth of his baby sister which would have made number six.  It was devistating not only to be that young and lose your mother but it was Valentines Day in Northern Minnesota.  There was so much snow on the ground that they were enable to have a funeral until May for her and his baby sister.  I wasn’t aware of the details of this story until I was nearly thirty years old.  You see Valentines Day in our house usually brought roses and chocolates for mom and me.  Mom always received red and I received pink.  My father made it a point to always make the most of this horrific memory.  I will be forever grateful for these memories and how he managed to overcome such a tragedy.

My grandfather remarried shortly after my grandmother passed.  I didn’t know much about my first grandmother however my second grandmother I heard many stories of how kind she was.  My grandfather went on to have another seven children with grandma Francine.

When Aunt Jennie called this week I was both giddy and terrified all at once.  Grandpa Edward had kicked my father out at a very young age.  The story goes that dad was leaving for school one morning and went to kiss grandma Francine on the cheek he wasn’t but eleven years old and grandpa Edward went into a jealous rage and threw my father out.  Dad went and lived in a German lady’s barn and helped her with her farm while finishing out school.

Thankfully Aunt Jennie was considerably younger and if she had any horrific stories she didn’t share them with me in great detail.  However I do believe her visit compelled me to reflect on far too many family stories which resulted in a fierce headache and exhaustion for days on end.  The flip side of her being so much younger is she also wasn’t aware of dad’s first marraige which he never divorced from.  I don’t even have a name to do research on but hope some day to know more.

 

New found friends and building the house

We returned back to our property in the fall, I was one week late to starting school.

To my delight they had opened a cotton gin about five miles down the road and this meant new friends.  Our school had swelled from around fifteen children to twenty and four of them were in my classroom which was K-4th grade.

Our new classmates were cute and very shy.  They were undocumented and couldn’t speak any english.  In rural farming communities there were always undocumented workers doing the majority of work on the farms.  There would always be one caucasian man that kept every one in line and would process their checks under his social security number.  Yes, this would happen and probably still does today.

Children are resilient and by the end of the year all four of my new friends spoke real good broken english and were catching up to the rest of the class.

These were the kindest, well mannered kids you could every have the privilege to be around.  There parents only wanted them to have the American dream and I can only pray that their lives are as blessed as mine has become.

This was also the year that I realized just how different my little family was.  My mom would walk me to school each morning and the children would always tease me asking if she was my grandmother.  There would be follow up comments about my mother and my long dresses to the floor.  Kid’s can be so incredibly cruel without even realizing what lasting scars they can leave.

When I would return home I would help with building the house.  The house was a 1953 single wide trailer that dad started adding on to.  First he poured a twenty by twenty foundation with a mixer that he made out of parts.  Dad was very smart at mechanical stuff and believe much of who I am today is due to him saying “you can do it” at nearly anything I attempted.  We would collect rocks out of the desert which we built walls to the living room, master bedroom and master bath.  He also built a fireplace out of rocks which helped keep us warm.

We still of course had a wood stove in the living room and a wood stove and oven in the kitchen.  Even with living in a desert climate with two stoves and a fireplace we were always cold during the winter months.

Dad also built a hen house and we had eight baby chicks that would soon be providing us with eggs.  We also had a dog named Snoopy; my father named all our dogs snoopy until the very last dog he had which he called Rocky Dog.  They all were rescued mutts.  Later in the year Tom Famish, Chelsea’s father ran over Snoopy by accident.  I will never forget him walking up to the house with tears in his eyes.

The summer of fear

Yes, it was that time again.  Approximately one week prior to school ending we were on the road again chasing tents.

The first week of summer came with unbearable news.  One of the daughters Naomi of the man who brought dad to GOD had ran away three weeks prior; she was fourteen.  The police had located her raped and mutilated body in the desert just twenty minutes from where they  were living.  I was named after her younger sister Rachel and had been giving Naomi as a middle name.  There was suspicion that Ezekiel her nineteen year old half-brother had raped and killed her.  He passed the lie detector test with flying colors.

Naomi had supposedly started to doubt her upbringing and was acting rebellious.  After her death no one in her family mentioned her name again.  To tell you the truth I have looked and cannot find any documents that she every existed and there was no case in the county where she supposedly was murdered.

Everything about that summer was about fear.

There was a motorcycle gang a few spaces down at our campground.  My mother told me that they would kidnap and kill me and to never go near them.

She also told me to not go the outhouse along or sit on the seat.  That I must always look in the outhouse hole first because there was a lady that didn’t look and a man had kid inside the hole and stabbed her when she sat down.

I would imagine you were chasing your family dog, or the ice cream truck that summer. My life just wasn’t anywhere near a white picket fence.

 

 

Seven must be my lucky number

They year I turned seven the Lord granted me  a miracle of sorts.

My mother had a third cousin whom she had never met pass away.  Due to not having a will the estate was divided and Mom inherited ten-thousand dollars. We drove all the way to Ohio in pulling our box car to be there for the will reading.  My mother had never knew her cousin, she had a huge farm I recall the fields going on for days it seemed.

My mom told my father that we needed a home and that the money would be used to buy some land and build a house.  My father was over bearing and controlling but he didn’t fight mom on her decision.  She purchase a small vw car it was light blue and it was the first semi new anything I had ever been inside.  Then she found some land and purchased a little over an acre in a tiny town that was along a small highway.

The elementary school was within walking distance and there was two classrooms.  One was K through 4th, and the other was 5th through 8th with a total of around 20 children.  I was in in heaven!  There was even a family that lived in the small town that had a girl my age.  What kind of luck was that!

There was a dirt airstrip between my house and Chelsey’s and we quickly became friends.  She had two older sisters and always felt left out so having someone her age was good for her as well.  I can’t say that we were meant to be the best of friends but you make the most of who you have around you.  I think looking back we both fell short of each others expectations but her family was a blessing to me.

I was at their house more than my own and spent the night on most weekends.  The rule was if I stayed for dinner or spent the night Chelsey and I had to do dishes.  We did a lot of dishes and I’m certain I was a burden on many occasions.  When ever I think back on Chelsea’s mom it brings tears to my eyes.  They considered me an extension of their family and I will always be grateful.

 

 

First Grade and Another Move

To say we were nomads was an understatement.  Even in very small towns we would move every couple of months, I was to young to fully understand what was taking place. I was ok with the new move as we had moved to a little town about thirty miles from the last one and to my delight my closest friend had also moved her.  Her father had found Gold or at the very least was well on his way to becoming quite wealthy.

The first day of school I was so excited.  Remember my first day was truly not the first day of school but a couple of weeks into school.  When I arrived on the playground I was so excited to see Marie.  I ran as fast as my feet could take me scanning the merry-go-round, monkey bars, and then I saw her she was on the swings.  I ran up to her screaming her name the whole time.  I begged for her to come down from the swing but her friend just kept pushing her higher and ignoring me.  I was so crushed, I’m not sure where my rage came from but I pushed the girl to the ground and yes on my first day at the new school I went to the principles office for a spanking.

Marie and I continued to be friends but there was a shift, a shift I wasn’t expecting.  You see the boys loved the new Princess in the long dresses that wasn’t afraid to play like a boy.  Looking back I guess I was pretty cute with my long blond curls and blue-green eyes.  Most of the children in my area were hispanic or native american at the time so I stood out on many levels.  If a boy missed school due to being sick it wasn’t unusual to see any older sister show up in my class to inform me that he was sick or bring me a gift.  For years I had this ceramic skunk that a boy named Timmy had given me at that school.

We were living on BLM land or should I saw squatting.  There was no electricity, or running water and plenty of snakes.  I’m assuming dad was doing refrigeration work hear and there, I really can’t recall him every having a normal job or being employed by anyone while I was growing up.

One of my first memories of my parents youngest son who was fifteen when I was born was while living here.  He brought a dirt bike and would race up and down the dusty road.  One evening he hit a cholla cactus or should I say bank of them and was covered in Cholla’s.  We picked needles out of him for days on end.  It was a horrific ordeal and as quickly as he arrived he soon was gone again. There was always tension between him and my mother.  He had no respect for mom and I didn’t know if it was out of feeling deserted or not wanted; honestly probably a combination of the two.  He mainly lived with my sister in Northern California since shortly after I came into the world until he was in his early 20’s.  Shortly after Susan and James were married James was sent to Vietnam and my youngest brother lived with Susan.

My days in the desert were spent mainly chasing lizards and sitting on the back of the box car eating Purina Dog food out of a tall bag.  We must have had a dog I don’t recall one but I do remember  eating the dog food by the hand full on many occasions.

During the school year the town judge died I think from old age.  Some how we ended up moving to his property and cleaning out his residents.  Dad bragged for years about taking judge Crinshaws gold out of his false teeth.   Dump trips were party of our weekly routine, we were always finding some treasure that someone else had simply thrown away.

 

While living in town I made some new friends right across the street.  It was exciting to have neighbors other than lizards.  Gracey and Thomas Silverhand’s father ran the restaurant across the street and they lived in a mobile home behind the restaurant.  We had been planning to have a sleep over and Mr. Silverhand had told us we could sleep in the restaurant early in the week.  We were very excited for Friday to come along.  Friday after school Gracey said I couldn’t spend the night and that her father wouldn’t give her a reason why.  That night the restaurant was burnt to the ground and shortly after they moved away.

Looking back most everyone in these small towns were running or hiding from something.  They were crawling with criminals of various backgrounds and a platitude of pedophiles it was a living nightmare.

The Snake River and the scar it left

Two weeks before returning to Arizona my parents had stopped along the snake river.  They once again found a family to worship with in the park.  I would imagine the “Jesus Saves” sign brought up a lot of conversations because it was seldom just the three of us.  I didn’t mind so much as this family was a large one with 9 kids which was a rare treat for me.  They also had a beautiful St. Bernard dog.  All day long we ran along the river and under tall swaying trees.  It was a perfect day.

When it was time to leave I said goodbye to my new found friends and went to give the dog a proper goodbye as well.  We don’t know what happened he must not have heard me when I snuck up behind him.  When I went to place a kiss on his head he attacked me. Moments later I was laying in a pool of blood with everyone attempting to pull the dog off of me.  He was simply far to large for a forty pound girl to fight off.  He had layer my mouth and jaw wide open and everyone was screaming.  The body is an amazing thing, I almost immediately went into a state of shock and cannot recall any pain.

My father scooped me up and asked the owner of the dog to drive us to the closest hospital.  During the drive my father kept praying to God to keep me safe and watch over me.  I kept saying “dad is my mouth ok” my father would say “honey please don’t talk.  I really can’t recall where my mother was, I don’t remember if she was in the car or at the hospital.

Once we arrived at the hospital they immediately took me into the surgical room and stitched my inside lower jaw and outside lower jaw up.  My parents didn’t ask for the dog to be put down after all the owner had offered to pay my medical bill.  They stayed in contact with this family and it was later confirmed that the dog had attacked another child prior to me.

Although I was sporting a make shift cast on my face which couldn’t get wet we continued our annual trek of the hot springs.  We spent the next several days with me sitting on the first step of each inviting spring wanting so desperately to just get in the water.  About ten days went by and my stitches were ready to come out. They found a woman that had been a nurse and she removed the stitches for me on the side of a road.