Part 1 - My Parents
It's a funny thing, time. Notwithstanding Einstein's relativity, time means vastly different things throughout life. When I was born, Harry Truman was President. World War II had only been over for three years. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had only been dead for four years. It seems like forever ago. Yet when I was a lad just entering my teens, World War II seemed like a million years go to me. Yet it wasn't.
The year 1789 was the year the United States of America became the United States of America. Mozart was still alive writing music and Beethoven was a young man writing music. That seems like an immeasurably long time ago. Yet from 1789 to 2011 is only the span of three human lifetimes.
When I think back of my earliest memories, many of them seem vividly recent, and as I've just shown, relatively speaking, they are recent. I was blessed with an excellent memory, and still amaze my favorite uncle with stories about things we did together as children. He is only 7 years older than me, and told me he had forgotten all those events, yet in all other ways his mind is still sharp as a whip.
Some of the earliest things that happened to me, things that by themselves seem trivial or insignificant have profoundly affected my life. My parents have also profoundly affected my life, so it is best to start with them.
My dad was raised as a farmer. He dropped out of High School in 10th grade and went to San Francisco to work in the shipbuilding yards as a welder. He was drafted in 1942 and served in the Navy until the end of the war in 1945. He saw a lot of action, including watching his best friend get killed by the Japanese. Yet, I could never get him to talk about the War. Like all men of the Greatest Generation, he never complained and said he was just doing his job. It wasn't until the day after I buried him in 2001, that my mother showed me the two purple hearts he earned in that war. I always wondered why my dad walked with a slight limp. Now I know. My dad was hardworking, honest and simple. He also was an alcoholic and sometimes had a mean streak when he was drinking. He did not get baptized as a Jehovah's Witness until two years after I did at age 12 in 1960.
Dad drank and smoked and tried to hide it from everyone. My sister tells me that he got drunk and belligerant at her wedding receiption and ruined it for her. When dad was in his mid 50's he got into an automobile accident (he hit a deer) while drinking and went to jail. The elders approached him and gave him an ultimatum: stop his vices or face disfellowshiping. Dad quit drinking and smoking at that same time and stayed that way until he died at age 78.
Dad was regularly beaten as a kid by his father, but he wasn't a bad kid. That's just the way it was back then. He wanted a horse while in his young teens, but his family was too poor to get him one. He found a farmer who said if he worked three summers in a row on the farmer's farm, he could have the horse. So dad worked those entire summers for three years from sunrise to sunset for no pay. He was in his mid-teens when all most teens wanted to do was hang out and have fun. But he worked. As he did his entire adult life. He got the horse, and my dad told me that was one of the happiest times in his life.
Dad only physically hurt me once. He took a belt to my back when I was 13 for reasons I forget, but most likely it was my mother who goaded him into it. It drew welts and I was too embarrassed to dress for gym for three days.
Now, I've said all the bad things about my dad, but I consider my dad a great man. I loved him, respected him and I still miss him. He taught me honor, honesty, hard work and gave me pride and character. Of course, he wasn't at all perfect but what father is?
With regards to my mother, I could say she was the mother-from-hell of all mothers-from-hell, but that would almost be flattering. I can say this, though. The fact that I emerged from her clutches with any sanity or normalcy whatsoever should be in the record books. She was and is the most evil, destructive, n arcissistic , manipulative, cold, uncaring, unnurturing mother and wife that on his best day, Aesop couldn't even make up a fable about a person like her.
If I mentioned more than tiniest fraction of the evil things my mother did to me, my sister and my father, it would fill an entire book. I will start out by flatly stating my mother set out to destroy me and anything I could become through psychological torture for as long as I can remember. Her children were property to her just as children were in the days of the ancients. We were not little humans with feelings and ideas and opinions. We were a huge burden to her and responsible for her misery and she never let us forget it. She felt this way even though I was a straight 'A' honor student and never got into any kind of trouble with the law or at school. I was a "perfect" JW kid. My sister never got into any kind of trouble either. Even so, she never hugged me, comforted me, rescued me, encouraged me or kissed me as a child, let alone as an adult. Even as an adult, she considered it her duty to try to run my life and did everything she could to continue running my life. I don't just mean in religion, either. I mean in everything I did. She rarely drank alcohol and when my dad was drinking all she could do was complain about what a mistake she made in her marriage and that he had ruined her life. After my dad quit drinking, all she could do was complain about what a mistake she made in her marriage and how much better it would be if he would just start drinking again. My mother could worry about the possibility of a major snowstorm coming to Death Valley in the middle of the hottest summer on record. Her glass wasn't half empty, nor half full. She couldn't even see the glass. Let alone the water in the glass.
She's a hypochondriac and has or had every illness known to man, including a few who haven't even been dreamed up yet. She insisted she suffered from "p.m.s." TWENTY-FIVE years after her radical hysterectomy where they removed EVERYTHING! She had seven major surgeries and as a boy I remember her coming home from seeing a Doctor who couldn't find anything wrong, so she went to seeing more Doctors until she could find one to cut her up and remove something from her body. She forced on my sister, dad and I every quack fad that came along. The sheer weight of the "vitamin" pills at our dinner table exceeded the weight of all the food on our plates. I was forced to drink straight carrot juice, seaweed water, brewers yeast and she even tried to force an enema on me when I was twelve years old. That didn't happen. She would have had to kill me first. She had one of those old quack devices where she attached electrodes to various parts of her body and it gave her jolts of electricity. I used to sit and watch her face and arms twitch each time the machine gave her a shot of electricity. It was pathetic.
She rifled through my clothes in my closet and drawers, looking for something, ANYTHING to punish me for. She smashed all the plates and other dishes from the dinner table on the floor because my sister and I tried to stall washing the dishes for 5 minutes so we could watch the end of our favorite TV show. Then she made US clean up the mess. Many years later I was visiting her with my sister and I brought this up. She denied doing it, but my sister confirmed everything about the story. Mom was clueless.
One of my prized possessions when I was 16 years old was a stack of Playboy magazines I had hidden. I wasn't old enough to buy them, so they were not easy to get. Playboy magazines in the early 1960's were tasteful, even naive compared with even what is on standard television today. She never said a word about it to me back then. She just stacked them in a neat pile on my desk. She DID bring the subject up after I Biblically demolished a Watchtower doctrine she cherished but couldn't defend. Her reply? "You shouldn't be pointing any fingers. YOU are hooked on pornography!" I was over 50 years old and she was referring to those magazines she found nearly 4 decades earlier.
My mother is "one of the anointed."
I finally disfellowshipped her from my life forever ten years ago and it was the day after we buried my father. I will explain why in another installment.
To know me requires knowing influences on me by my parents and what it has taken to rise above them and move on. It has not been easy.
With that in mind, I will relate my earliest memories as a JW in the next installment. I will relate how my dad, with all his faults, was my biggest cheerleader and fan and inspired me despite my mother's every effort to crush the spark and life out of me. The mother-from-the-hell-of-hells is a recurring character.