This is the true story of how my father became the Attorney General of Michigan which led to his ultimate goal of becoming a Michigan Supreme Justice,
He became Attorney General because his daughter Susan was a slut. It was the late fifties in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Susan was cutting school and going out with colored "boys" Army people posted locally. I think there was on family of color in our small town but I never saw or met them.
So there was Susan, the only girl in town wiling to go out with these "boys." My father did what he could to discourage this; I happened to overhear him when one of the "boys" called for Susan, "Listen, I don't mind you boys coming over to the house to visit but I don't want you dating my daughter," I heard that much accidently and fled the area immediately. There were things that happened later that led me to suspect that my parents were really concerned that Susan might be having sex with one or more of these "boys." At that time Mennen Williams was Govenor of Michigan. He and my father had gone to law school together, became friends, and left their Republican heritage to become FDR Democrats.
What happened was that my father called Mennen and begged him to find him a job in Lansing to get Susan away from the situation as Susan was not much of a respecter of rules. (To put it mildly and understandable mostly to people familiar Upper Michigan in the mid-50's. One example: a teacher was fired because they found out he was gay.) Whoever had been Attorney General moved on to something else and good old boy Mennen appointed my father to fill out his term and we all moved to Lansing.
Too bad, too late. Susan was pregnant!! Among others she had been dating a young (white) Air Force person and before you could say anything the shotgun was brought out and Larry and Susan got married. All through her pregnancy I suspect they were concerned about the possible paternity of the baby. That is probably why when my father attempted to control their live and Larry told him to butt out, my father - a control freak who never listened to anybody and whose word was worthless if he "felt" like breaking it - actually butted out. By the time the baby was born his lack of control over Susan and Larry had been established. And, praise God, the baby was white. Larry might even have really been the father. Of course, everything was hushed up (which would have been difficult if Susan had given birth to a child of mixed race).
And that's the story of how my bigotted, close-minded father became the Attorney General of Michigan.
My sister Mary - the oldest of us four girls and mother of my niece Elizabeth - had a t-shirt that read: "The way some people find fault you'd think there was a reward." I think of that often and my own corellary (fuck spelling): the way some people withhold anything positive (compliments, love, etc) you'd think there was a punishment. Mary would pretend to care for me but, always, behind my back she would tell Mom and Dad how selfish I was. I guess Susie did this, too. I knew Barbara did and the only mistake I made with her was telling her I was done with her forever about thirty years to late. Her suicide - a gift to the world - could have happened much sooner. When Red Cross borrowed me to do casework after a hurricane in Corpus Christi, Texas, Mary bugged me and bugged me to visit her when I came to the San Francisco area to visit a boyfriend when I was done with Red Cross. I did. Spent several not very pleasant days with her at the end of which she told in her matter-of-fact abusive manner: "I only invited you to visit because Dad kept bugging me to." What else could I have expected from a person who told me how lucky I was that my daughter died the day after she was born. "I can't help but think how much better Joe (husband) and I might be if Michael had died?' Michael, her son, was about 18 months old at the time. Mary raised him with regular reminders of how "lucky" I was because my baby had died while he had lived. Michael hates me. A typical reaction of someone who is abused - get mad at the wrong person. By the way our parents paid for the phone call to avoid dealing with me directly and because they knew how close Mary and I were (as if I'd never know about her backstabbing ways)
and they knew how she would "console" me. Yeah, Lucky Kathy.
Reminds me of Barbara getting drunk and maudalin on the Mothers' Day after she had abandoned her husband and son for the third or fourth time until he finally fled to Europe with Benjamin. So the family was gathered at Susan's house and Barbara, center stage, pissed and moaned about how she "was a mother, too." I thought of reminding her that I could make the same claim (Susan said to me later, privately, that she'd had the same thought, but of course she didn't say anything). It was take care of Barbara while everyone had a rotten time everyone just had a rotten time.
One of my clinical trainers once commented that he had the feeling that the people in my family got mad a lot. Looking back I can see what an understatement that was. Angry and critical and nasty, pretending to be "honest" and adult.
And the Hairballs keep coming.
The college that my parents determined that I should attend did not have a swimming pool. "Not important" they decided for me. I loved to swim and was good at it. One semester I took a life saving class which was given at the town pool, a mile or so from campus. I was clearly the best swimmer in the class and the instructor realized it and used me for purpose of demonstration. No big deal. Not even for me. One of the most highly rated colleges in the country, my first year, I was on the verge of flunking out and I went home for Christmas vacation. Fights between my mother and my younger sister, Barbara had esscellated - one a daily basis Barbara would come home from school and throw her winter coat on the couch in the living room. Our mother would tell her to hang it up and the fight went on from there. No resolution: how could anyone solve such a horrible problem. Not them, for sure. I surrendered and would hang up Barbara's coat before my mother could start screaming at her. The second floor, where our bedrooms were, had a staircase which switch directions in the middle and had a small landing there. Now that I am older the rememberance of some incidents - and my parents' handling of them - infuriates me. One day while on the second floor Mom and Barbara got into a screaming fight, one of them threw a sewing machine at the other and they proceeded to tumble down the stairs while trying their best to strangle each other. When my father came home from work and for some unknown reason was unable to ignore what had happened he sat me down and gave me that old favorite - the parental lecture. It was my responsability to keep peace in the family. To keep family members from literally trying to kill each other. He was the Attorney General of Michigan!! I wen back to college and my best friend asked me how my vacation had been. I started to say, "Oh, it was fine.." when the dam broke. I put my head on the table we were sitting, sobbing, "It was awful."
Why go back and write about this stuff. My first reason is for myself to articulate the craziness of the abuse that I endured and accepted as - acceptable!! To clear them out of my head so when the come up again - like hairballs - I can remind myself that I have already written about that and there is no need to go over it again. The second reason is to reach out to other who have been in similar situation, to help them to know they were not alone and they can let go of the fear attached to the memories. Even more, it is so any person - adult or child - who is in a similar situation can read this, recognize the sickness of the situation and get some help.
One curse of this behavior is that the victim comes to believe the persecutors that she is responsible for stopping this kind of behavior and, maybe worse, that the person who criticizes for her failure to do show is showing how much he loves her. As she goes through life, being criticized becomes seen as an expression of affection, even love.
I think I'm going to throw up.
P.S. I am not going to do any editing, correcting at this time; I'm too sick.
Dealing with a lot of pain in my back. Makes it hard to even be mobile, let alone get any work done, and I'm having memories about my Great-grandmother Maloney. "Granny Lony" as she was known was the mother of my father's mother, Angela Adams. I was probably about ten when she died after a long period of being bedridden and cared for by Granny Adams. I remember her from before that as she used to have dinner at our house, She sat to my right and spoke to me only to complain that I wasn't eating her cooking the way I did Granny Adams's. Being a child I could not tell her that I like Granny Adams' cooking but her slimey chicken and dumplings were, to me, yucky. Many years later my mother told me that Granny Lony's dumplings were light and delicious but, as a child, I could never get past the slimey texture. So I sat quietly, eating little. When she became bedridden the only thing that really changed for me in the nature of our relationship was what she complained about
We had a classic vicious circle: I would go to Granny Adams' house for lunch and sat in the living room dreading the inevitable question "Did you greet your Great-grandmother?" I would shake my head "non" and be politely told to go into her bedroom to say "hello." When I did this, reluctantly, she would lecture me about why I had not come rushing in to greet her when I got there. The answer seemed obvious to me but of course I couldn't say it was because I dreaded her angry lecture, My sister Susan, almost two years older than I was, was always a little brown-noser and she would obediently march into the bedroom and, presumably, avoided the angry lecture. But, as I said, Granny Lony and I were locked in a vicious circle. It seems obvious now that if she had greeted me with a hug and said something nice I would not have tried t o avoid going in to see her. But I don't remember her ever saying anything nice to me. Her complaints varied but were consistent in their nature. Looking back it just seems sad. It should have been so easy for an adult to figure out.
There was another traumatic scene the day she died. Maybe I'll write about it another time. Not today.
Maybe I should begin by explaining that my primary purpose in posting here is to get a lot of little stories out of my head. I'm hoping that if I write them down the bad ones will stop haunting me.
This is a neutral/maybe funny story about Amma, my teacher from India. It took place during a very crowded and hectic ceremony. I was one of the helpers in the women's line and I had my hands - and everything else - full, two people in front of me standing, two in front kneeling, one at each side and assorted others. My left shoulder was the only space open and someone tapped me there. I turned and a man named Shri Dar, full of his own importance, offered to tell me how to handle things. Here is where it becomes either or funny or both: I have absolutely no recollection of what I said to him. I remember a lot of other details about this incident but my mind is a complete blank when it comes to how I responded to him. A few minutes later things quieted down and I, realizing that there are politics involved with Amma and Shri Dar considered himself to be quite important, I walked over to where he was standing and said that I was free now if he had some suggestions. He kind of waved his hands and said, "No. I don't have anything to tell you." Not angry just detached. It has puzzled me a lot for several years and this is what I think: I think Amma was paying attention, as she does to everything, and she decided to handle the situation. She turned my mind off and spoke to him directly, using my voice probably. I sure wish I knew what it was but it has provided me with a lot of amusement and speculation What would make a person so full of himself to go from "Let me tell you how to handle this" to "I don't have anything to tell you." Of all the hours I've spent in Amma's presence this is the only instance in which I think she just took over my mind to handle something. One ego deflated, another mystified.