Trigger Warning: This post contains a (politically incorrect) discussion regarding suicide and suicidal ideation. Please read responsibly.
Someone asked me if these blog posts are the world’s longest suicide note. It made me laugh. I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t think so? I’m not suicidal; I’m just thinking about the whole “life” thing as mentioned earlier. If things go south (souther?), I just don’t think I have it in me to get back up again.
My father was brilliant. I’d wager he was a genius. A creative, mechanically gifted man. He had a story that we never heard. There were whispers. Clipped phrases. Don’t ask. His father was the notorious town drunk, in some tiny burg. I don’t even know if it was Ohio or Indiana. His dad was driving drunk. His mom was in the passenger seat. I think they hit a tree. His dad lived, of course; his mom didn’t. I don’t know if the kids were in the car or not. My dad was the oldest of three? four? boys. I guess he was the “special one” and somehow he ended up living with his grandparents. The other boys resented him for it. Other than some bits and pieces, like he was too young to be in battle during WWII, but he still got shipped overseas to Switzerland after the war where he did some work with something to do with weather. He also road his bike into Lake Lucerne. He went to Purdue and became a mechanical engineer.
I vaguely remember meeting dad’s younger brother, who stayed with us for a while when I was small. I remember liking him, rough-housing with him, getting my shoulder pulled out of joint, freaking everyone out, going to the doctor, having it popped back in and none the worse for wear. My uncle left soon after that. Coincidence? I have no idea. We never spoke of dad’s family. I don’t even recall his brothers’ names. Gene? Dunno. I take it they didn’t have too good of an experience staying back with their drunkard dad. I don’t know what my father landed into with the grandparents; it wasn’t necessarily a better deal. You now know about what I know about my father.
I don’t know how my parents met. I don’t know where they met. I think it was in high school in Indiana. I think my dad was valedictorian and my mom salutatorian. I think it raised contention between them. The school’s graduating class was probably ten in number. My mom’s mom was around when I grew up. Not close by, thank god. She was a nasty woman. I’d see these images of these kindly, bespeckled, gray-haired grannies and wonder where mine went. She was a crabby chain-smoker, who played solitaire for hours, in front of a tv that never changed a channel.
I remember a few things about my grandmother. We had some school project where we were supposed to ask an elder about life growing up. I guess everyone assumed functional families. My grandmother was born in 1900. I thought that was cool. I told her about the project and asked if I could ask questions. I was probably ten or twelve. “Did you bake your own bread?” For some reason I thought that would be interesting. “That’s a stupid question. We weren’t poor. We got our bread from a bakery.” Yup, that shut me up. I seem to recall asking one or two other basic questions, getting equally loving answers. I have no idea how I finished the writing project.
We lived in Michigan; our grandmother lived in Indiana. We’d go there for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It always involved a fight between my parents. The best part was the car ride down. It was too long, but there were roads near the state border that went up and down sharply on small hills. Dad knew how to drive the car, when to speed up, so that we’d crest the hills just so, sending the kids in the back flying up into the air, crashing into the car ceiling. We’d laugh. We called it the “wheeeee!” road. Mother would cuss.
One time my grandmother came to visit. She didn’t like me and made it clear. I was supposedly “mouthy.” Basically I called BS on BS, and that wasn’t done. I thought people should be fair. I still do. It gets me the same results. One day my wonderful grandmother said something about me, to me, in front of my mother. We were in the kitchen. I don’t remember what she said but it was clear it was intended to get a rise out of my mother. I said as much — which got a rise out of my mother, who picked me up and threw me as far and as hard as she could. Perhaps the hole is still in the door leading to the basement where I crashed against it? I was probably thirteen. No doubt I had it coming. [sarcasm font] I remember seeing my grandmother’s face gloat. Ah. Good times.
The one adult I remember liking was my great-grandmother. She lived in the same little town as my grandmother. I don’t recall the two ever being in the same house together! Not even to visit. Interesting. I just now realized that. * Anyway, as soon and as often as I could, I would ask to go to my great-grandmother’s; I’d also hope she wasn’t making her favorite cooked liver or even worse, cooked cabbage. Yikes her house stank of that food. But she was nice. I remember being little and she teaching me how to cook something in her kitchen. She had a collection of beautiful tea cups kept precisely lined up on a dark sideboard, and she had buttons in this cool, old, lidded basket. She died when I was very young.
Mom was probably a narcissist. My father drank. It was in his genes. I also think that if I had been married to my mother that I would have been a drunk, too. I don’t have any good memories of my mother. Not one. I have plenty of stories like how she’d hit me because my straight hair wouldn’t curl for Easter. Or how she’d hit me because of my wide feet I could never easily find shoes for school. Or how she’d take me shopping, have me try on beautiful clothes, tell me they looked pretty and then after I would pick out my favorite she’d tell me there’s no way in hell she was going to buy any of that stuff. There were hand-me-downs. Or the time she came at me with a chef’s knife. Or…
She was probably a malignant narcissist. She certainly enabled my father. She would also, just like her mother did, set me up to have dad get mad at me. That way it would deflect the anger my dad might have against her.
I had two sisters. One five years older and one five years younger. I was the dreaded middle child. My older sister was the precious first grandchild. She also had polio, not severely, but just enough to be coddled. My younger sister was a mistake and the baby. I was most like my father, and I think everyone recognized that. All of that combined to make me more of a target for the insanity. Everyone got some. Later, when the kids were out of the house, they targeted the dog.
I was thinking about all of this as I was trying to piece together the road to my first suicide attempt when I was in ninth grade.
This was another stream of consciousness ramble that will no doubt continue later. Now I have to take the maple glazed bacon out of the oven. My apartment will never smell of liver and cabbage.
The featured image was taken about five years ago in Second Life at a Lovecraftian-themed sim. It seemed appropriate for a memory about my family.
* After posting this, I realized that my great-grandmother did move in with my grandmother towards the very end of her life, when she was dying and bedridden. Other than that, I don’t remember them being together.