Friday, June 9, 2017

She Had Had Enough.

I don't remember how old I was. I know we lived on the lake, and I know my brother was walking, maybe not talking, I don't recall. My dad had just got home from work. My mom had been drinking that day, didn't really effect my brother and I, she was always kind to us. She loved us. I never felt unloved. It would be decades before I truly understood her pain. I just knew my dad was always the same. Never different. Always the same.

He went to the bathroom and was going to take a shower. The same ritual he did daily. I remember that I was sitting in the living room looking out the back door. We lived on the lake so our back yard was always ever changing. As a child this was a dream life. Room to play for my brother and I. She could hardly stand straight up without swaying. She had his wallet and she was taking money. I must have been 5-6 years old. I knew she was not supposed to be in my dad's wallet. I loved that man. He was my dad. She was flawed. He was perfect to me. I wanted to bolt down the hallway but she put her finger to her mouth, telling me to be quiet. She then put my brother and I in the car, bags packed and we were gone. I didn't know what was happening. I don't remember being afraid. I was confused, but not afraid.

We were headed down HWY 59 and I knew this route well. We were headed to Louisiana. My mom had been drinking all day but I could't tell much difference. Our station wagon seemed like a wonderland really. My brother and I had our belongings, we had our toys. We were fine. We were with our mom. Then it became dark and she picked up the first man. Someone on the side of the road that needed a ride. Someone for her to talk to I'm sure. When you feel alone you turn to things to fill that void. My mom had the habit of choosing dangerous things.

I can honestly say that I was so young that that night is patchy. I vividly remember some parts, and other parts I don't. I know that somewhere along the way she picked up a second hitchhiker. My brother and I were in the hatch by this time with blankets, pillows, and toys. I remember that I was keeping him busy. From a young age I was always taking care of my brother. I always kept him shielded from things that I was unsure of. I have just always been a mother to him. He never understood that, and to this day he still doesn't understand that. I have seen so many things that he has no clue ever occurred. I was good at being a big sister.

It was extremely dark and late. I woke up because the car stopped. I knew this house. It was my grandma's house. I saw my mom standing at the door talking to her. I looked up to the front of the car and saw those two men going through my mom's purse. She then staggered back to the car and we left. I would find out later that my grandmother was trying to convince my mom to let us stay with her. My grandmother also immediately called my father.

It could not have been more than an hour as we crossed into the next parish. As soon as we crossed the line a swarm of cop car lights surrounded us. To me, it was 10 cars. In reality, it may have only been 2, but I remember we were surrounded and flashing lights. The hitchhikers were told to walk on. My mom was handcuffed and put in one car, and my brother and I were put into another.

We slept at the police station with an officer watching over us. I remember early that morning my dad walked in. We were safe. We were going home. He later told me that when he arrived that the officer asked if he brought any proof that we were his kids. He told the officer to open the door, you will get your proof. We ran straight to him. I loved my dad. He was my hero. Always saving me.

My Opa had come with him and he drove my mom's car back to Texas. My mom was left in jail there. I don't know the details. I don't know how or why she came home. I just know that within a week our family was back together. Like nothing had ever happened. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Taking Something That I Thought Defined Me and Making it Truly Define Me.

I am not a writer, so as I dive back into blogging you are going to see TONS of mistakes, lots of repetition, and more. So here we go. My first blog in FOREVER!

I was 18 years old, it was the last day of High School, it was May, 1994. I walked into the principals office and I knew there was no turning back. I had missed too many days of school that year. I hadn't made them up, I hadn't done enough community service. I just wanted to walk. Don't even give me the diploma, just let me walk with my friends, for my family, for my new boyfriend and his family. Please.

Let's back up. My parents divorced when I was 16. My brother and I stayed with my Dad. He worked all day, every day, and fished, went to car races, or watched TV on weekends. He was a provider, never missed work, loved us, gave me things when I needed them, but we didn't have much money. We were not hurting though. We were a typical, check to check, family of three. The extra parenting concern might be what was missing. The path laid out for what's next, or how to succeed , was something that I didn't know about.

As I sat in her office, I will never forget this principal because I dated her son in middle school and he was graduating too, I just knew it was bad. I had held this secret, this knowledge of skipping class, going to school late, and just sleeping. I didn't do anything wrong, I just slept. Looking back, I think I was depressed. She let me know that I was not only not graduating, I was not walking. I was .5 credits off of being able to walk with my class and be a summer graduate. She would not bend the rules, and I was not walking that night. I fell apart. My mom lived in another town and though we had a relationship, it wasn't the best. I hated her new boyfriend. He represented the tear in our family. If she would have been home I would have never slept so much, I would have got up, I would have cared.  I had been an all A Honor Roll Student my entire life. As high school went on, I began to slip, and no one was watching. I had a boyfriend all through school, and he gave me a reason to care, but after he graduated and broke up with me the fall of my Senior year I truly stopped giving a crap. No one even noticed. If they did, they didn't say anything to me.

My favorite teacher was asked to come out of class and be with me in the principals office. She held me as I cried. It was over. My life, in my eyes, was truly over. I would have to go to summer school and get my diploma in August. I was leaving for a Senior Trip to Cancun the Sunday after graduation. My dad had been paying on it all year and looking back, was a way to show off. He liked to spend his money when he looked good. I do believe he loved me, but he didn't know how to love a daughter. He was always taught to buy affection. I would later understand that even more.  My teacher comforted me, I gathered myself up and went home. I am sure I called my boyfriend at the time first. He was very compassionate and said he wanted to get me out of the town for the night. He knew I needed my mind on something else, and fast. We went to his old high school's graduation, where he had graduated the year before, and watched his friends. We made up some story about me graduating the night before, no internet back then, how could you check my story! Ha! I got my mind off of it all. I don't remember the exact details of how I told everyone. My Dad was so upset, mad, dissapointed, and more. He refused to give me spending money for the Cancun trip, I had to go, he had already paid. My Mom was understanding, I am sure she was upset, but what could she say. We were all mad at her for leaving my Dad, so she didn't get much say in anything.

That Sunday I got on a plane with about $250 in cash that my boyfriend gave me and I made it work. If I recall correctly, a friend had to pay my fees to come back home, I was broke! But I got my mind off it and never looked back. I got my GED that summer. My boyfriend bought the book to study, his Dad and Stepmom paid the $50 to take the test, and I enrolled in junior college that fall. My Dad was only paying for A's. Who knew my journey to a Bachelors Degree would not end until I was 39 years old. And that "boyfriend" is my husband of over 20 years now, and the reason I am alive. We saved each other.

Last Friday night my own daughter, graduated from the EXACT high school that defined me, in my mind, so many years ago. She is beyond amazing, and everything I wanted to be and more. She does not give a flip about what others think of her. She is kind, she is humble, she is spoiled rotten, and she is loved. I just knew I was going to be devastated, sad, hurt, anxious, depressed, and more, as I sat in those stands watching her walk across the field I never got to. I did not shed one tear. I was beyond happy. I was jovial! Lol! I did it. I graduated from Crosby High School, through my child. Her walking across that stage was like a slap in the face to the depression, the hurt, the pain, and more that I experienced as a teenager. I could not be more proud, and more excited about the journey my daughter is about to embark on. Me not graduating that night, so many years ago, did define me. It made me stronger. It made me who I am today. One little difference, and I may not be who I am now.

I used to feel so ashamed about having a GED. I used to cry when I even talked about it. Now, I am thinking, if a High School Diploma defines you, you better set your sites higher! Go get that degree, go get that certification, go get that job history, go get that knowledge in whatever it is that YOU want to be. These past bumps in the road do not define you. What defines you is what you do when you hit that bump, or get that flat tire. Do you just wait around or do you change it yourself and keep driving?

I wrote this today to share my complete and utter happiness about my daughter and what she means to me. She has and always will be, the reason I get up every day. Not her brother, not her dad, it's always been her. My hero.