Well, I'm back with part 2 of "That's My Life."
If you remember from my earlier post, I was living with my brother in Evergreen Colorado. I enjoyed that very much....it was so good to get to know him and my sister-in-law and play with my 2 nephews. However, I missed my "old" life and adjusting to all the changes was overwhelming at times.
I'd started 4th grade before mom was able to sell our house and come west. We continued to stay with my brother for awhile while mom tried to find a place for us to live.
One afternoon, in November, my teacher handed me a note from the school office. My mom had called and wanted me to take a different bus home that day. I was to get off the bus at Sunnybrook Lodge and go to Unit 9. I had no idea what that was all about but I followed the note's instructions. When I arrived at Unit 9 I timidly knocked on the door. My mom opened the door and I was home! It was a tiny place-just big enough for a double bed, a table and 2 chairs, and a teeny tiny kitchen. Mom had baked a pumpkin pie and had a chicken roasting in the oven. It smelled just like the holidays we'd had in Illinois. The room was warm, cozy, and small. This is one of my most treasured memories because for the first time in a terribly long time I felt safe, loved, and like we were a family again.
Sunnybrook Lodge was actually a small vacation spot in Evergreen. There was a large main building where the owners lived, and then 9 units designed to be rented out by the day, week or month. Each unit was a different size, but they all came with kitchens, a small livingroom, and at least 1 bedroom. I'm telling you all this because mom and I didn't stay there for a day, a week, or a month. We ended up living at Sunnybrook Lodge for years. We bounced around from unit to unit depending on the needs and special requests of actual vacationers, so after a time I began to look at the whole place as "home".
Mom found a job working evenings a pharmacy so I became a "latch-key" kid before the word was invented. She wouldn't get home from work until 9:30pm-my imagination was vivid and once it got dark I was terrified until I heard her key in the lock.
I was given strange looks at school because of my life. Mom and I had turned to food, especially chocolate, :-) for comfort. Since we needed a lot of comforting, I was quite plump. I was the only kid I knew who's parents were divorced, who's mom worked evenings, who had 3 "whole" brothers, a step-mother, 3 "half" brothers, and 2 step-siblings. Not to mention the fact that I didn't have an actual home.
At this point I should tell you what my dad and 3 brothers were up to:
Dad-remarried with 3 new sons. Living in a beautiful, large home on a small lake in a small town in Michigan.
Frank-a wildlife conservation officer with a wife and 2 sweet boys.
Tony-Hitchhiking back and forth across the west, marching down the hippy trail, experimenting with world religions and drugs.
Jimmy-joined the navy. When he got out he too traveled the country and played with drugs and "hippyness."
Both Tony and Jimmy would pop in and out for visits now and then but after a week or so they'd be off into the wilds again. At this point Jimmy was the brother I felt closest to. He was nearer my age than my other brothers, and was the only person in my life who seemed to understand what I was thinking and feeling. Jimmy would sit and make eye contact with me. He'd listen to me and put up with my little sister pestiness with great patience. Every time he came for a visit he'd bring me a present. A jewelry box. A chess set. Plastic jewely he'd picked up from a Mardi Gras parade.... I knew he was thinking about me and loving me even though he wasn't with us. Jimmy is also the one who opened the world of books for me. He brought me a book one day called The Phantom Toll Booth. I read it and from that moment on I've loved reading.
When I was in 6th grade we moved into an apartment for one year. I think it was too expensive because after that year it was back to Sunnybrook. However, that year turned out to be one of the most painfilled years of my life.
One evening my mom and a friend were visiting in our little diningroom and I was getting ready for bed when the phone rang. I heard my mom answer it then I noticed her voice change. Suddenly she yelled, "NO! No!" She dropped the phone, fell to floor sobbing and finally choked out, "Jimmy's dead." We both sat on the floor and cried for a long time......Jimmy had been riding his Harley down a street somewhere in Florida when a drunk driver ran a red light and hit him. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for mom.
For the next year she wasn't around much at all. I'd get home from school and start dinner or work on homework, expecting mom to walk in the door around 6pm. More often than I care to remember the phone would ring around dinner time and mom would say she was going out to dinner with friends and to expect her when I see her. There were many nights when she wouldn't come home until 2 or 3 in the morning and she wouldn't be sober when she got there. I was only 12 and still had that vivid imagination. I was very lonely, terrified, and the pain of losing first my dad, then Jimmy, then seemingly my mom was more than I could stand. I'd frequently wander around the apartment, pacing, and crying until mom got home. I'd help her get undressed and into bed then I'd finally get to go to bed myself. I wouldn't sleep though. I'd lay there crying and thinking. I wanted 3 things in life. I wanted my parents back together. I wanted to be skinny, and I wanted friends. I was positive that if I were dead my parents would get back together. Mix that thought with just the pain of being alive and it's only natural that my thoughts turned to suicide. Many times on those nights mom came home tipsy I'd lay in bed and try to think of the least painful way to kill myself. A gun? No clue how to get my hands on one. Jump off a building? O. D. on pills? That seemed the way to go. On and on it went for months. It was just horrible.
I think this is getting way too long. I'm going to stop for now so you can go do some laundry or something....