Vidalia’s Loyalties

Before my parents divorced, my dad, whom I loved for his weakness and vulnerability, held a gun to my mother’s head. This followed the beating during which he’d choked her so hard she’d had to wear a turtleneck in July.

The divorce didn’t trouble the younger kids much, but we three big kids talked about it quite a lot. We couldn’t make sense of it. The beatings were, to us, a normal part of life. I took it for granted that all families had beatings. I thought all daddies threw the Thanksgiving groceries 50 feet up in the air when mommies took too long to return with the car.

My mother packed all of us kids up, in our jammies. She drove all through the night to my grandparents’ house, far away from the life that was familiar to us. We found our own house in a  genetically deprived, little town. Our mother went directly to work supporting us.

One morning I got up extra early to see her before the other kids were awake. When I shuffled into the kitchen, my pretty mommy was crying at the table. “Why are you crying, Mommy?” She told me not to worry, she was just a little bit lonely because she missed all our old friends and she didn’t have any new ones. I hugged her. “Don’t worry, I’ll be your friend.”

In time, she became parched by an unquenchable thirst. Inevitably, Gram found out and she initiated an investigation. The investigation concentrated mainly on Rachel and me. She conducted cookie fueled interrogations. Rachel was especially ethical. She had high expectations of parental behavior. She sang like a canary.

I worked as a double agent. In an effort to gain my mother’s confidence and maintain most favored status, I repeated all Gram’s questions to us.  My mother became increasingly agitated, chain smoking Tareytons, until she finally erupted and called my grandmother to yell about “pumping little kids for information.”

My father was completely absent during this time. It was during the 70s. He was into EST, along with any other collective movement, where he could be surrounded by people with personality disorders and deficiencies similar to his. Eventually, he remarried and had two new children thereby eliminating his need to think of, or support, us.

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About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
This entry was posted in Autonomy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Vidalia’s Loyalties

  1. Joe Pineda says:

    A tough piece, but beautifully worded regardless.

  2. judithatwood says:

    I so appreciate your willingness to dig deep! Actually, this is a beautiful post. Thanks. 😎

  3. Another beautiful piece. What a track record you’re building.

  4. gkinnard says:

    Damn . . . this kind of thing is not what childhood is supposed to be about. I’m sorry you had to deal with this. I’m glad that—despite having every reason for it not to be—your head is screwed on straight.

    • elroyjones says:

      This is from of a short story I wrote. Some events did take place while others happened to a close friend so I incorporated the impressions I had of those situations at the time into the story.

      My parents divorced. My grandparents provided shelter to us when we left. We moved to a town of 2,000 souls, many of them unkind. My mother was a teacher. She gave up all of who she wanted to be for her perceived obligation to her parents.

      I agree that childhood should be less about worry and responsibility than mine was. Those years were a time of social upheaval. I was lucky to have my mother rather than some of my friends’ mothers who were swapping spouses at key parties. There was a tangible undercurrent of sexuality and embarrassing flirtations between grown-up married people. The adults were so engrossed in their own lives that the children raised themselves. The school system was full of teenage alcoholics and nobody found it irregular, let alone alarming.

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