Mom


My father’s anger issues are something that I’ve mentioned a few times over the years. Whatever is causing the dementia/memory issues seems to have made those issues even more prevalent. Any time that my mom opens her mouth, he yells at her. She could be talking to me and he will snipe at her. He’s thrown things. He is mad over everything and convinced that the world is out to get him. I can’t talk him down. I used to be able to be the voice of reason between the two of them, but his rage gets worse when I try. That rage has had ongoing consequences for me. He grabbed my right wrist months ago and I had some pretty bad bruising; it’s still weak and painful, and it pops when I move it. I told my therapist, but I refuse to get it checked out by a doctor because I know that they might have to report it to cops.1  My mom told me that it would be better if, when he’s acting out, I didn’t say anything to him about it. If he does something, we don’t confront him because the blame falls on us–even if it doesn’t involve us in any way. I thought he was scary before all of this, but I never knew just how bad he could get. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I keep making excuses for him because I know that even though he’s always had anger issues that something else is making him like this. This isn’t my dad. This is like my grandfather and I don’t want my dad to be like that man. I want my dad to be himself again. I want him to talk to his doctors about what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling; and I want him to be honest about his symptoms. He has lied to them and that’s impeding his treatment. I want him to let one or both of us talk to his doctors. How are they going to know about the rage? How will they know about the anxiety attacks he has every week when he goes to the grocery store with my mom?2 How will they figure out what’s going on in his head if he won’t tell them? Mom tried to ask him what she could do because she’s trying to figure out how they can get along. He doesn’t want her to try because he doesn’t think that anything will make their relationship better. In other words, he wants to be angry with her and take out all of his anxiety & aggression on her. This isn’t healthy and it isn’t right. I just want things to be better. The code of ethics for a social worker prevents her from sharing the information. ↩He won’t let her go with me instead of him. ↩

Tales from the Angry Side


For people who have known me since childhood, this isn’t an unsurprising revelation. It was when I first told them. My friends would always ask me why and it was difficult to explain. It wasn’t a religious thing. It wasn’t that I hated Halloween — I will always love Halloween. It was more a habit born out of a lack of safety in the neighborhood I had once lived in. Before I was 8 years old, I lived in a rather unsafe neighborhood. Gang fights on my corner were not unusual. If I was out after dark in our neighborhood, both of my parents were with me. My dad wasn’t typically home early enough to go trick-or-treating, and my mom did not feel comfortable taking me out without him. So we gave out candy to the few kids who decided to brave it. Usually, we were done by about 7 because it just wasn’t a big deal in that neighborhood. Right after my 8th birthday, my parents and I moved into the house with my grandfather. He lived in a safer neighborhood, so it would have been fine for me to go — I could have even gone without my mom. But I didn’t. I handed out candy. All of my friends who lived in my neighborhood seemed to come by my house, and I got to see all of their costumes. It was pretty awesome. I never felt like I was missing out on the fun. If we had candy left over at the end of the night, I could pilfer it. (We typically didn’t.) The only time I really went out trick-or-treating, I went as a chaperone for my foster sister. I was fifteen and she was twelve. We only walked down our street, but it was fun. I still didn’t get candy — since I wasn’t really going out for that. I did get some money from one of the neighbors. Instead of candy, he was giving out coins for people who could correctly answer math problems. I had always been in advanced math classes and was in Algebra II that fall, so racking up money was pretty easy. Regardless of where we lived, I dressed up every year until middle school and once as an adult at a church dance. One year I was a purple bunny. Another I was a ballerina. I dressed up in an antebellum-style dress the year that I discovered the movie Gone with the Wind. I even dressed up as a clown one year. My favorite costume was when I dressed up as Maleficent, my favorite character from Sleeping Beauty — actually, she’s my favorite from any Disney movie. My mom made my costumes and didn’t seem to mind that I always wanted to dress up in fun styles, even if I didn’t go out asking for candy. I’ve attended events that were Halloween-themed, as a child and as an adult. I’ve been to haunted houses and mazes, which weren’t all that thrilling. (I don’t get scared when watching thrillers and horror films, so that makes sense.) I’ve gone to autumn festivals at school. When I was 8, I had a Halloween party and three or four friends came over. It was actually the day after Halloween, which made getting food and stuff a lot easier. (Yay, post-holiday candy sales!) We had a cookie cake and used toilet paper to turn each other into mummies — you know, without the wire hanger up the nose and the organ preservation. (Yeah, I went there.) Being the day after also meant that we didn’t dress up for the party, which was probably a good thing since it was a rainy day and everyone had walked over. When I was 24, I went to a Halloween Young Single Adults (YSA) dance with other 18–30 year-old members of the LDS church in my region. I dressed up as a hippie that night and won the costume contest. I also lost one of my favorite earrings in the world on the side of I-65 that night, so there were good times and bad ones. I didn’t enjoy the good as much as I should have because I had already had a bad month — one week earlier, my friend’s car caught fire when I was in it, then I sprained my ankle later that night — so losing my earrings just added, for lack of a better phrase, fuel to that fire. RIP beloved earrings. Anyway, I digress. I know that for people who aren’t from the United States that missing out on something like trick-or-treating might seem like it isn’t that big of a deal, but it sort of is. It’s a part of our culture, especially if you’ve been privileged enough to grow up in a place where it is safe to go out. So not having that experience did sometimes make me feel like an outsider, but I didn’t really feel safe enough to have that experience — even when it actually was safe. It’s weird that I do sort of regret not having the experience. But I’m also okay with not having it. I guess that’s one of those complicated things about being an adult — coming to terms with the stuff that you experienced or didn’t experience when you were younger. But I hope that if I have kids some day that I get to take them out trick-or-treating or, at least, let them dress up like their favorite characters because I think that getting that night of fun and make-believe is really important. Happy Halloween.

I Never Went Trick-Or-Treating As a Kid




As we were working at Nana’s today, I came across a couple of shoe boxes that were full of old pictures. I don’t know who all of the people are or how long it will take for me to add all of the pictures. Most of Granddaddy’s pictures that he took in Hawaii when he served in World War II are in this album. There are also pictures from my childhood, my mom’s childhood, and Nana’s childhood. This album is very image heavy.

Loose Pictures from a Shoebox at Nana’s



These pictures start in the late part of 1984 and go into 1985. They will include my first trip to see my dad’s first cousin Teresa, one of the few gingers in the family and one of the first gingers I ever met, in Atlanta, my first Christmas, and my first birthday.

Our Brown and Gold Album (Baby Pictures)


Today, or, technically, yesterday, I went with my parents to Nana’s house. We had to pack up her angel collection so that the real estate agent will draw up a contract to sell the house. The contract has to be in place within the next week for Nana to qualify for Medicaid. Confused yet? Nana collects angel figurines, vases, and other trinkets. The real estate agent said the angels would make the house creepy and prevent a sale. Apparently, it made the house look like it belonged to a little old lady, which it did, but the prospective buyers would be turned off. So we had to get them out of sight to appease him & any buyers that might start expecting to hear the theme of the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Aunt Barbara or my mom one is going to check in with him now that they’re being packed up. Hopefully, he will give the thumbs up and get the show on the road.  I was worried about how I would feel about going in today, but Aunt Barbara & Uncle Danny had taken down all of the pictures and stuff,1 so it didn’t feel like Nana’s house.2 I know that’s part of why they were supposed to take them down. But it just felt like some place I didn’t belong. And I know I’ll need to grieve over that loss later. But I don’t really have time for that at this point. Life has gone all mad hatter.  We’ll get everything to work out. We have to.  Also per the real estate agent’s request. ↩Even though Granddaddy and she built the house. ↩

A House Is Not A Home