Monday, July 16, 2012

The Anatomy Of A Trauma-Versary Part II


I love my mother-in-law.

“I have left Jimmy in more places, more times than I can count or remember.

…But I always went back for him.” She shrugs and laughs.

And she always did. Family lore has Mr. Sunday being left behind at home, at church, in stores, in the Upper Peninsula, in Wisconsin and so on. Being the youngest of seven kids, quiet and always having his nose in a book, somebody seemed to think somebody else had gotten him, they would eventually figure out nobody did and return to find him usually in some corner reading a book before he even discovered he had been lost. He seems no worse for wear.

My sister is 5 ½ years older than I am. She has always relished her role as a mother to me and our brother. When she was in Jr. High she made he and I matching outfits for her schools talent show. (I may have mentioned that before, but that is just not the kind of thing normal 13 year-olds do…stuff for other people, I mean.) Going into her 9th grade year, with the nod and support of my grandparents who were always very adamant that with my mother gone, it was not my sister’s job to raise us for our parents, the decision was made to send my sister to a prestigious boarding school in northern Michigan. (Interlochen Arts Academy)

She returned that summer having failed Algebra and boy was my dad PISSED! The decision was made that she would not be returning to boarding school for 10th grade and my parents began their epic, now classic game of I-don’t- want-her-you-can-have-her that lasted for the rest of our childhoods. Somewhere during that winter, my sister had had enough. She went out, flagged an 18 wheeler down and hitch-hiked her 15 year old self to California, where she stayed.

We, my brother and i had landed, with our nannie (at first) back with our mother. By the time that summer rolled around, our nannie was headed back home to go back to school and my mom was making plans to hook up with some guy she met during his family vacation in Miami, Oklahoma that is. When my sister called from California my mom let her know where we’d be and invited her to join us, if she could find her way. Obviously, if a 15 year old can find her way from Michigan to California on her own that same 16 year old could find their way from California to Oklahoma.

I remember my mom getting a call and leaving us while she drove off t to pick up my sister from the local truck stop. The trucker bought them both dinner and listened to their story trying to make sense of it somehow. I remember my mother returning to the home of the family we were staying with my sister Amy. I remember my mother being incensed as she recounted their dinner with t said trucker and how that Trucker who had picked up her child on the side of the road and brought her on the last leg of her trip from California to Oklahoma to meet her family from Michigan for a family vacation had the audacity to question my Mother’s (of all people’s) parenting skills! The nerve of Him, really!

The guy my mom went to see had a daughter named Shelly (Delozier or Deloiser) who was my or my brother’s age. (I wonder what she’s doing now.) We went to the lake. We went to the Quapaw Indian powwow. We swung into the river while the brothers of my mom’s beau looked out for water moccasins (or that was what they tell the northerners to scare them), we parked along a dirt road hoping to see the “spooklights.” Someone feed me a raw potato and I puked my guts out. I got horribly sunburned; Oklahoma is not the best place for redheads.

We kids were left alone in a tent at a campground over night to fend for ourselves while fierce storms passed over, flooding the valley we were in and 5 separate tornados touched down around us. Per usually my mother was furious when she showed up the next day to find us upset, how could on earth could we hold her responsible for the weather?

And so went our family vacation/ my mother’s week long date, one big happy family…right up to the point that my mother drove my 16 year old sister back to the truck stop, so she could hitchhike herself back into the sunset and out of our lives.

and for the first time that trip, I realized that we hadn’t gone to Oklahoma to pick Amy up and bring her home-- that bringing her home was never part off the plan. She had been invited to baby-sit, she accepted to see her little brother and sister.

But she was not welcome

Nor did she have the desire to be-

Pulled apart.


At home.

We had left my sister in Oklahoma.

Oh. My. God.

We had left MY 16 year old sister alone in Oklahoma.

On purpose!

And somehow, in that moment, I knew I would be next

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