Instead of telling the story of my “Mother” first, I think I’d rather put the man I believe she sent to his demise FIRST. That would be nice for him, for a change. To be loved. That’s all he wanted.
I’m going to tell the tale of Robert Lee Shockley here for you, through your tele-screen.
Lee (as he liked to be called), LOVED music. He loved LOUD music. He loved ROCK AND ROLL. He wore Harley Davidson T-shirts. He would roll down the window of our vehicle whenever a motorcycle or an old, classic and restored car was about to pass, and hold out a big “thumbs up”. He let his hair grow long. It blew in the wind around his grinning face every time he told someone they had a nice ride. He was a free spirit. Almost.
The death of my Father is TRAGIC. There’s no denying it. There’s no sugar to be put on top next to a cherry. It FUCKING SUCKS that he is not here.
I do, however, remember thinking the most awful thought when he died.
It felt as if a burden had been lifted off of our family.
That’s horrible, isn’t it?
But I thought it. And for awhile I believed it.
Do you know what that thought was? I understand where it came from. It was not my thought. It was programming. It was what I felt my Mother must be thinking, because that’s how she treated him…like he was a piece of shit on her shoe that she had to wipe off multiple times, every day and every night. She treated him like a child. She treated him like me and my sister, but worse. She made him feel like he wasn’t a man. She seemed to enjoy belittling him. After multiple discussions, mostly Q&A sessions with my Aunt, I discovered that “Mother” was ultimately treating her husband (My Father) the way that she was taught to treat people, by her parents. She never claimed her life as her own. She became who they wanted her to become. She was terrorizing our household because of programming that she was unaware of. She had become a horrible mixture of both of her parents. “Mother’s” Father, Thomas, beat his children (and perhaps his wife) with a cat of 19 tails (that may be the wrong number of tails, but who cares….TAILS people).
And we’re not talking about that little fuzzy guy here… we’re talking about something like THIS:
Beulah would tell Thomas everything that the FOUR children had done WRONG as soon as he walked in the door from working all day. He would unleash his fury onto them with a whip, of sorts. He beat them. What was Beulah doing while this was going on? She was letting it happen. Keeping those children in line.
There was a moment, before I pushed “Mother” out of my life, in which Aaron saw a part of this disastrous childhood come out in her while she was “caring” for our eldest son. He wasn’t listening to her, I’m not sure what about, but after a few attempts at trying to get him to listen, she grabbed his arm and pulled him to her and said, “Don’t make me get mean.”
And that was the end of THAT. She NEVER watched our children again. She NEVER saw them again, actually…until most recently. Until I went to the hospital to see my sister and her new baby.
When my Aunt Brenda left her childhood home, she took the cat of “many” tails with her. She took it without permission. Thomas and Beulah (“Mother’s” Mother) hated Brenda. They terrorized her. They didn’t love her. They showed up at her home and made her life miserable. They emotionally and physically abused her. But she still fought back. She took the torture device, I took the urn. She was also the black sheep. She still is. Everyone in my immediate family told me that she was crazy. They all pitied and hated her. Imagine that…three siblings and two parents who hated you. Just awful.
They were good at pretending they cared, though…when they wanted her money.
Watch out Mothers, or your daughters may grow up to be eccentric writers who’ll tell your story and write what they remember and have learned on their own as an adult.
I’ve got a secret that she doesn’t want you to know: The Urn is her trophy.
My husband has told me numerous times that he was shocked that I have turned out as well as I did, having come from “that house.” I suppose I’m doing okay. I’m here writing about it, talking about it, aren’t I? I just have to be very careful to focus on the POSITIVE and to not get consumed by the NEGATIVE things in life. To let go. To let it go. Let it GOOOoooo! (yeah, that happens sometimes). More often than naught, you should let things go. Don’t worry. Don’t focus on the bad. Focus on the good.
Robert Lee Shockley loved motorcycles and motors. He loved engines. He worked as a mechanic at the Milliken Plant in Inman, SC. They fired him, because he spoke his mind about how his new boss, fresh out of college (as I recall), was treating him and his co-workers. I believe that the termination terms for dismissal that Milliken gave him was that he was “Fired due to insubordination.” “Mother” gave him HELL about this. She did not love and support him, as loving wife would. NOoooOoooo… she made him feel MISERABLE, because that’s how she liked for him to be. She didn’t know how to deal with Happy, so she thrived in misery.
I remember the day he lost his job. I came home from school and my Mother yelled, “Why don’t you tell your DAUGHTER what you did.” He was standing there beside her, practically weeping (but not)…and he did. He told me that he had been fired. My Mother continued to yell at him, mostly from what I can recall, about money. I just went to my room and shut the door, per usual.
My Father had his own issues. His Mother didn’t want anything to do with him. He was the scapegoat. I assume she was a Narcissist. My Father, Lee, pretty much lived in his older brother, the pilot’s, shadow. His brother was the golden child.
I can remember times when my Grandfather would come to our house to visit. My Father would not open the door for him, and we’d have to pretend like we weren’t home. His Father would stand on the porch knocking, trying to talk to Lee through the door. I don’t remember him ever yelling through the door. I remember it as he just wanted to talk to us. To see us. I don’t know what that grudge was all about.
I can also remember a time when Lee and his brother got into a fight at our house. I believe that they never spoke again after that. I don’t remember what the fight was about. Neither one of them liked each other, I assume.
Robert Lee Shockley would turn up the music in our house so loud that the walls would vibrate. “Mother” hated it. He would sit in his chair and listen to the acoustics. He also had headphones, but sometimes he chose not to use them. I wish that I had those headphones. They covered his entire ear. The ear cover was black leather lined with silver metal. I can’t remember the brand. The headphones had a long, black spiraling cord with a male end. Lee would plug the headphones in to his stereo system and sit and listen to music for hours. Sometimes he would sing.
He could really sing, too. When he met my Mother, he was in a band. He was the lead singer. I can’t remember the name of the band. The band had one female and three males. I don’t know the names of anyone else in the band. I remember a photo of the band together. They were wearing white suits. The jacket had a black collar. Under the jacket, the males wore a ruffle front shirt.
My Mother was jealous of the female singer. I have a memory of her sneering at the band member while looking at the photo I’m describing. I’m sure that this jealousy was based on her own insecurities, because the girl (she was in her 20’s) was beautiful. She had long, blonde hair and was slender and bustuous. She wore tight pants in the photo that showed off her long legs.
My Father married my Mother in his band suit.
My Father once won a singing contest at a bar, and used the money he’d won from the contest to buy the bar patrons drinks. He didn’t bring home a dime.
I have mourned not having this man in my adult life so many times. He would have LOVED Aaron, my husband. I have cried envisioning them together. Suicide is such a sad, sad thing. It affects so many people. It is the worst for those who are left behind. It makes me mad, sometimes. I find it selfish…but then I remember that one has to be mentally ill to do such a thing. But…aren’t we all a bit mentally ill sometimes? We just have to keep on going. Keep moving. Hang in there. Insert cliche’ term to promote the idea that you should NEVER give up. NEVER.
Don’t do it.
There’s more to come.