Al started spending more and more time at Grandmas. She lived on the same property as Mom and Dad did. In fact, the property was large enough that it held three houses and each house had a family member in it.
When Granddad passed away, Al was asked to go down and spend the nights with Grandma for a while to help ease her pain. He had no trouble with this request. He loved Grandma very much.
It didn’t take long before a routine developed. He would go to work each work day and then he would go home and shower and then head to her house and the two would eat supper together.
Suppers at our own house were never pleasant that I can remember. I can understand why Al went the other direction. At our house I could never put my finger on the problem. I know it really wasn’t us kids directly, but maybe it was and we didn’t realize it.
There was always tension, so thick you could cut it with a knife. If I wasn’t being forked in the elbow for bad manners, Dad was picking on Al for anything that came to his mind. I never remember Dad ever saying, good job Al, I know you did your best.
What I remember is, why can’t you ever do anything right? I tell you and tell you over and over. Do you have something wrong with your brain? Are you just plain stupid? I may as well have done it myself.
Through the years that I lived there when I was still growing up or even when I would drop over for a visit and end up eating a meal with them, this never changed. I used to say to myself, Well why don’t you just do it yourself then and leave him alone.
Mom would get all tense and nervous through these meals. Mom had a great outlook on life but Dad always ended up tearing it down. I don’t know if Dad meant to or even knew the stress he was causing.
I knew they had arguments behind bedroom doors. I hate to think that Dad was intentionally being mean. I think he felt so insecure about his own self he couldn’t stop it. Back then you didn’t run to the therapist for every problem. You fixed it or lived with it.
Mom worked the 8-5 job and although I cooked a lot of meals and tried my hardest to keep the house cleaned, it was never enough once we all sat down at the dining table. Our half-sister was the adorable one. She talked about school and what activities she was in. Conversations quickly turned to her to escape even more fog.
When I graduated from high school Mom and I weren’t the closest. I always knew that she and I had never bonded like moms and daughters should. I loved her the best I knew how, but she hurt me.
I pondered on what it would be like to have a Mom who really loved me and wanted me. I am not ever going to say that I didn’t cause grief for her. I think most kids cause grief for their parents.
I moved out of the house and got to be one of those bratty kids according to my Mom because I didn’t remain at home. My Mom worked up town and I would sit across from her office on the courthouse lawn and watch her through the window.
Why did I do that, I don’t know for sure. I think now when I look back I wanted her to notice me. I wanted to make her feel as uncomfortable as she had made me feel. One summer day I was sitting on my favorite bench and I walked over to say hello to her when she got off of work.
I walked with her to the back alley where her car was parked. I don’t remember what transpired between her and I but I do remember those cutting words even today. I don’t know why you can’t be like your half-sister. She never gives me trouble like you do. But of course I could never love you as much as I do her. She is my only child.
Wow, what a blow to me that was. I think deep inside my gut I knew that was the way she felt about me but to hear the words. I wanted to run and hide under a big rock, I wanted to die right there on the spot.
I tried for years to forgive myself for ruining her life. It never worked. Then I blamed her thinking, Well no one forced you to marry into a ready-made family. Don’t blame me for this.
I wonder now as I write this if Al understood enough and felt the way I did. We were the extras. We were the baggage that came along. If she wanted to marry our Dad she had to take us in to.
Mom told me one time a few years before she died, You understand Terry, why I could never adopt you and Al and legally be your Mom. I was always afraid of your real Mother coming back for you if she read or heard about it.
I can remember looking at my brother Al, and in my heart telling him, It’s not our fault bud. We didn’t ask for this. You and me, we belong together, we are real brother and sister. I love you bud.
Life for me became more dismal after she said that remark. It sliced so hard and deep that I still haven’t gotten over it today. While I am writing this, the pain instantly re-surfaces and I feel the deep ache of wanting to belong.
I have to believe that inside Al’s head today is masses of memories too difficult to deal with. They remain hidden and buried so deep that even with all of the professional counselors I have had him to, nothing works.
Counselors do alright until they touch the subject of parents and Al flips out. I don’t mean slightly, I refer to him as a tornado. Dark and huge coming at you with daggers so sharp they would kill you.
The topic was always dropped when the professionals saw this. They usually dismissed him as a client also. We went through five therapists. The last one specialized in Adult Disabilities and she just knew she could help Al. But once again, when she approached the parent topic after having seen Al for one month, he exploded.
I never tried again after he was so outraged that the police were called and they had to calm him down by force. When I hear the word therapist today, I use every block I have within me to keep Al safe.
I know that he should get it out of his head, but I refuse to put him through hell ever again. God will deal with Al. God will protect him in the perfect way. I do not have what it takes to approach this subject matter. When the nursing home came to me with the idea of someone speaking to Al, I stood tall like a fence and said