When I was 5 my parents divorced. I remember my mom crying. I remember the bed that was once my mom and dad’s becoming just “mama’s bed” we slept with her in that bed with her for a long time after my dad left.
My mom and Dad were married for a long time. Not forever like they’d promised each other but they were married for more than a decade and knowing what I know now, that couldn’t have been easy for either one of them.
Because of my mom’s childhood and lack of a father I can only imagine that she was desperate for a man’s love. No matter the cost. She wanted nothing more than for us to have a father. She wanted a husband to love her and us.
It didn’t take long for my Mom to find “the one” after my Dad was gone. He was an army man. He was handsome in his uniform. I remember meeting him for the first time. He played with us. We laughed. He told jokes. I was happy for my mom. She deserved to be happy.
In the back of my mind there was guilt. A lot of guilt. I felt like a trader. I felt like I couldn’t like this man and love my Dad. My dad would come and pick us up and take us to get ice cream or to the movies. Sometimes we’d stay at his new house.
One day we met his not so new girl friend. She was beautiful. She was tiny and sweet. Her name was Gloria. Now I know that she was the woman at my Dad’s office. The one who he cheated on my Mom with.
We weren’t as close with her as we’d like to have been. We saw her often, she lived with my Dad but she was always kind of stand offish. She didn’t seem to enjoy having us over. I don’t remember much about her now that I think about it.
We’d spend the majority of our time with our Mom. Her boyfriend moved in and we were a whole new family. They started fighting soon after that. They fought like I’d never seen before.
Once, we were all in the car and we just stopped for gas. My Mom was driving her blue mini van. She looked over at him and said something and all of a sudden there was chaos. He started hitting her and we were all screaming. The van was swerving all over the road. I thought we were all going to die in a car crash.
Just as fast as those fights would start, they would end and we’d be right back to pretending nothing ever happened. They happened often though. Way too often. My Mom just wanted love and she was willing to pay that price. She shielded us as much as she could but there were still times it was impossible.
I guess one day they both had enough. I was sitting in the living room the day he packed his things. I never saw or heard from him ever again. He’d spent two years living in my house, I remember thinking it was odd that he could just walk away. It hit me like a ton of bricks, “He never cared about us. He just left and never came back?” That’s the first time but not the last time a man hurt me.
Looking back he was so insignificant in my life. When I look at the big picture that man is just a tiny speck.
I do get angry when I think of all he put us through, my mother’s physical abuse, my emotional abuse. He doesn’t deserve for me to spend another second thinking of him.
So, there the four of us were again. My two sisters, my mom and me. We all piled right back on that water bed. We loved our mom. We were the center of her world. She had a good job, making good money and we were rotten.
she would go all out for every holiday. Even the small ones were big for us. We would get gifts and treats all the time. She enjoyed spending money and we enjoyed it just as much. We had anything we wanted, we certainly had anything we needed.
we would spend weekends with friends if we weren’t with our Dad. Mama would get a baby sitter and go out sometimes. It was a peaceful happy time until she met a man who swept her off her feet.
We had a plumber come and do some work at our house one night. That man happened to have a single son, one my Mom might be interested in. He had a four year old daughter, owned his own home and car and he worked as a plumber with his Dad.
It all looked good on paper so she went out on a date with him. It was love. Fast. After a few months they were serious enough to get engaged and we moved into his home.
his home ended up being a small single wide trailer. I was 9 and I’d never been inside of a trailer before so I thought it was cool. There was a swing set in the yard so we played outside a lot. There wasn’t much room for us inside.
after a couple of months living with this man I realized he was nothing like my Mom thought, nothing like she’d hoped. It was too late though. They were married by then and to my mother divorce wasn’t an option. I heard her say that a lot.
He hated us. He really hated us. He would make little digs every chance he got. He would get us in trouble. He was selfish and grumpy. His heart was the size of a cockroach’s, There were plenty of those there too…
My Dad and Gloria were still together. I’d never seen them fight or argue. I listened as my mom spoke in code to other adults. They did have fights and problems, I heard she ran him over with a car once. I don’t know how true that is. I know he had broken ribs when we went to visit one weekend.
I was never expecting what happened when I went to spend the night with them one night. He killed her. Shot her once in the head as I watched through the crack in my bedroom door.
She screamed for me to call 911, she said “Randi, he’s killing me!” She yelled for me to run next door. I didn’t . I was frozen. I was terrified. I jumped back in bed and hid under my blanket when I heard my Dad’s footsteps get louder and louder. He flung the door open and I pretended to be asleep. He kneeled beside my bed while I clinched my eyes closed so tight he knew I wasn’t asleep.
I think of that night often. I hate myself for not doing anything. If I would’ve called 911 she would still be alive and my Dad wouldn’t have had to spend years of his life in prison.
I’m going to talk more about that in my next blog. I think it’s important to tell that story. I think it’ll be good for me to let it all go. I’ve never told a single person most things I remember from that nightmare. I live it everyday. Every. Single. Day.