I know this will come as ONE BIG SHOCK, but my mother really never could get herself 100% behind my father’s new career in the Marines. I know. Shocking, huh? Imagine that you’ve got a five year old and you’re pregnant with your second child. You think your husband is out applying to medical schools and he comes home out of the blue, without warning or prior discussion, and announces he’s up and joined the Marines in 1967? Who couldn’t get behind that?
I wish that they’d divorced then. Oh my gosh, how I wish they had divorced then. Later, my mother would rue the day she hadn’t just packed up and left. But she always said my brothers were worth it, and she wouldn’t have had them if she’d done that.
Since I don’t have any Ativan, I’m not going to write about my dad today. I thought I’d post a couple more family pictures, and talk about how great Mormonism is.
This is my grandmother with my mom and two of her three brothers. I think it was taken a couple of years before my mother’s father left one day for a loaf of bread and never came back.
Yeah, I guess that used to really happen. Before the Internet.
Nobody could get away with that sort of thing today. They’d break down and post some status update on Facebook or Twitter about it and that would be the end of that.
But in the 40s, you could go off for a loaf of bread and never come back. And that’s what my mother’s father did to her when she was ten years old.
When I look at this picture I can’t help but think, “What an asshole my grandfather was!” Look at how cute my mom was. How could anybody just walk off and leave four children that way? Without a dime.
But never doesn’t mean forever. Like a bad penny, good old grandpa Harold did make it back one day. He came back in his 60s full-up with cancer, and my grandmother took him back and nursed him until he died.
Here is a picture of me with my grandmother, my mother, and Harold’s mother just after I was born. The story is that Harold’s mother knew where her son was but never told anyone. My mother never forgave her for that. I have very vague memories of having to go see her when I was very little and kiss her on the cheek. She had one of those ear horn things and she scared the shit out of me.
My son knows better than to think that I’d hide his sorry self if he up and deserted his family that way.
Apparently Harold did have a terrible gambling problem. The story goes that, one fine sunny day, before he’d taken off for good, he’d stolen the motor from my grandmother’s new washing machine and sold it to play the ponies.
My grandmother was the oldest of 13 children. Her own mother, my great-grandmother, was hospitalized one day and she never was well again. (Shhhhh. “Insanity,” they whispered, when I was a little girl, “it runs in the family.” Later, my mom attended some family reunion and it was whispered even louder that maybe she’d caught syphilis after being raped by her brother. My mother told me this as though it would be some relief to me. Who knows? 13 starving children in 15 years seems cause enough to lose your marbles without needing to add in the gossip about rape and incest, don’t you think? But in some twisted way, that I don’t wholly understand, the thought that her grandmother had syphilis was better for my mom than thinking that her grandmother was insane. I guess I do get it.)
Anyway, after her mother’s commitment to an asylum, my grandmother’s family was split up. Some of the kids were placed in foster care, some were adopted out, and the rest were left for my grandmother to raise. There was once a Reader’s Digest article about how one of my grandmother’s younger sisters searched and searched until she was able to bring all the children back together again. As far as I know, all those 13 children turned out good. None ever were diagnosed clinically insane. Maybe it was syphilis.
In closing, let me just say that Mormonism is really pretty great. I mean, except for the part about it that I’m going to tell that wasn’t so great, it was great. I owe whatever stability there was in my childhood to Mormonism, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
I think you can know a lot about a religion from their songs. Mormons have their own hymnal, and Mormon children have their own songs. I found a couple on youtube.com. If you’ve always wanted a 3.5 minute summary of the Book of Mormon but didn’t know where to turn, here it is, with a catchy, kitschy Native American-esque beat. I loved this song. It was one of the few NOT played on the organ like a dirge. First up for your listening pleasure is, Book of Mormon Stories:
Next up is the ever popular, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam. It was a hard choice between posting Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam and Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree. I picked Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.
And finally, in case you don’t understand just how important it is for Mormons having the comfort of a modern day Prophet (or how very early little Mormon boys are required to wear white shirts with ties), here we have We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet.
Okay, enough for today. I’ve got to get up and exercise. For the record, blogging does nothing good for your butt.