She was a mother of her times, and was resourceful in the many ways she made the dollar stretch. She made her own soaps, and sewed our clothes.
The craftworks she created from seashells, she sold around the neighborhood. During the year of Gandhi was assassinated, the states of Israel and West Germany were founded, apartheid was established in South Africa, the Scrabble game was offered publicly, and the first Polaroid camera was sold.
President Truman was reelected toward the end of the year. Nineteen months after my birth, Tommy was born. As he grew older, we became inseparable, and, with Eugene, we formed a threesome. I grew up a tomboy and did what they did. The taller the cottonwood tree, the higher I climbed. Playing Cowboys and Indians was how I spent most of my days.
I was often a showoff. I swung upside-down from the branches of mesquite trees, and dared my brothers to do the same. Look at me, I shouted to Tommy and Eugene, who were throwing rocks at tin cans. I can do that with one leg, Tommy said, taking the dare.
In no time at all, he was up the tree with Eugene behind him. Tommy climbed a limb higher and was swinging from one leg when Eugene asked, Are you afraid to do that? Can you swing with one leg? Naw, it looks boring, I said as I sat up and jumped off the tree—right into an upright mesquite thorn. The thorn went straight through my skin between the two large toes of my right foot.
The boys had seen what had happened and started laughing at me. With tears in my eyes, I said, It was a trick. I ran crying inside the house to Albert, who pulled out the thorn. Albert was my protector. If I got scraped, I went to him for medication. But, he had another side to him that sent chills up my spine. He enjoyed telling me ghost stories. The stories terrified me to no end. It was a catch Instead of playing marbles on my hands and knees with the boys, I should have been in the kitchen learning to cook.
Mary, I need you to boil a few eggs for a potato salad, my mother said. That sounds easy, I thought as I crackled several eggs and poured them into the water in the saucepan. The eggs spread out rather quickly over the surface of the water and boiled that way. When I thought they had boiled enough, outside I went, again.
My parents condoned spare the rod and spoil the child theory, but were not necessarily unified in their discipline. I received many spankings from my mother; Dad never touched me. Many of the spankings were due to my own mischievous behavior, and some were adopted on behalf of Eugene. In recompense, he gave me his desserts. I definitely got the shorter end of the stick. Both of my parents were hard-working people focused on the upbringing of their family. Neither one had a high school education, but that did not prevent them from relying on their God-given talents to make a living.
Daddy built a larger house on two acres, and together they planted a vegetable garden and raised chickens. Mysteries of my father and mother existed. Secrets were abundant in our household. There was a clear distinction between adults and children. If the grown-ups gathered for coffee around the kitchen table and their conversations took a different tone of voice, I was asked to go outside and play. Dad had a drinking problem, which he refused to admit, and it seemed to me that my brothers were taking mental notes.
I witnessed many episodes of abuse and irritability with my father when he was under the influence of alcohol. Mom was an enabler who endured his abuse. Comprehension of their dilemmas was beyond my reach. How can you love someone who says one thing and means another?
Their actions were also confusing; they would say one thing while doing the opposite. Some people inherit money, jewels, and maybe cars. Dad inherited the love of cockfights from his father. He built a conditioning house in his extended backyard and spent many evenings there. I watched how he put little boxing gloves, designed specially for roosters, on their claws. It was interesting how he lifted the roosters one by one above his head and then gradually brought them down as they spread their wings out.
I witnessed how he sparred them one against the other while wearing their little boxing gloves in preparation of the real thing. Rooster fights were generally within a mile radius from Austin. Popular Derbies were held in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Because the sport was illegal, I was not allowed to talk about the rooster fights.
At an early age, I sensed I was different—not only because I was a girl among five brothers—but because of the things that happened to me, and not to the others.
- Poems about Life Struggles!
- The Vorkosigan Companion (The Vorkosigan Universe Book 1).
- The Cross.
- The Thief?
When the three-day measles invaded our household, I came down with German measles. When Eugene and Tommy were ill with the mumps, Mom had me lie between them and drink from the same glass they used so that I would catch it. The mumps escaped me. Daddy enjoyed tickling me. He often threw me in the air to catch me, and then swung me around, which made me dizzy. Eventually, that came to a stop on account of my fainting spells. After one incident, I did not quickly recover and was rushed to Breckenridge Hospital, where I was diagnosed as anemic, and given iron vitamins.
Poetry: life unscripted reality
As a young girl, I picked little pieces of black rock from the pebbles in the driveway and ate them. My mother was referred to a doctor who told her that the little pieces of rocks I was eating had iron, of which my body needed more. The iron dosage was subsequently increased. Cleaning the corner altar, one do a good deed afternoon, I tried to move the lit votive candle out of the way.
The wax poured into my eyes, nostrils and mouth—my entire face. I prepared a scream, but the wax covered my mouth and muffled my sounds.
What am I screaming about?