Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.
Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare. I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters. A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help. None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.
With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing. I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age.
At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity. I can’t recall. My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there. My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living.
A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs. Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation. Maybe they’d never been otherwise.
Such a woman! I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath. I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it. I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.
I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this. He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk. As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot. An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.
As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of. One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered. Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar. Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died. I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.
The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work. Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump. That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere. The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.
The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.
When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.
I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed. I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.
But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement. I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own. When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted. Still ain’t.