An Unimpressive Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


When I tell anyone my story, they always tell me to write a book.  Write a book.  Write a book.  Now, if you are one of the people that know me, you know my thoughts are like this…in a 5 word sentence there are about 4 different thoughts.  I don’t have much in the way of organizing thoughts.  They jump around and its so natural to me that its not even noticed.

I was born in the 60’s - 1960 to be exact.  A time of happily ever after and marriages lasted even if they weren’t happy marriages.  Kids were raised by both parents unless death took one of them.  

Not me.  My mom left when I was 3 years old and my sister was 2.  Now, being that young, I don’t remember any of it but sometimes in my mind I see really vague images of the house we lived in and people talking.  I lived in the same house growing up.  Growing up the way I did, things are all jumbled and you don’t necessarily remember things in order and some things you don’t remember at all.  Weird how the mind works.  

Fast forward a few years to step-mom number one.  I’m not sure when she and my dad got married but, one day she wasn’t there and the next day she was.  Some things I remember clearly like what I wore on the first day of school…first grade.  We didn’t go to Kindergarten.  I guess back then it wasn’t a necessity.  I was so proud of my outfit.  I had on a green paid dress with a white collar and a black patent leather belt and black patent leather shoes.  Also, I was styling in my white dressy girl socks like what everyone wore then.  

I had a brown birth mark the color of chocolate on the right side of my face (left if looking at me) and it was right above my lip.  I got made fun of on a regular basis as you can imagine.  Confidence and self-esteem weren’t regular words in my vocabulary.  This birthmark didn’t show itself until I was about 2 from what I was told.  

Anyway, I don’t remember a lot from the time she was there and what I can remember is somewhat spotty.  They had 2 kids together and she had 2 kids from a previous marriage and my dad had myself and my sister from a previous marriage.  

One day they were gone.  My step-mom who I thought was my real mom, and my brother and sister and her 2 kids.  It was like they vanished into thin air.  Now, my dad kept everything under covers and us kids didn’t know anything.  Just went through the changes.

One night, my dad took my sister and me and dropped us off at our aunts house and left.  We were only staying the night but we didn’t have any idea what was going on because he never took us anywhere, let alone to stay the night somewhere.  My aunt was tasked with telling us that Virginia, who we thought was our mom was, in fact, not our mom.  I remember crying and crying broken hearted.  I had to have been about 8 years old at the time.  My dad had to go to Ohio (we lived in Indiana) because my brother and sister had been left alone and my brother almost electrocuted himself and was in the hospital.  He picked them up and brought them back to live with us.  

Years later I would find out that the reason they split up was because she wanted him to send my sister and me to live with out mom and he would not do it.  She told him if he didn’t then she would leave and take the kids with her and he would never see them again.  He still wouldn’t do it so she left.  As it turns out, he had all 4 of us together anyway.  

In between wives, my dad would hire live in housekeepers.  They were to care for us and make sure we went to school and were fed.  My dad worked a lot for the telephone company.  

Step mom number 2 was named Diana and she had a son.  I, for the life of me, can’t remember his name but I think he was okay.  She though was not.  I’m pretty sure she was addicted to something and I know at some point she tried to kill herself.  One Christmas she asked us if we wanted to know what we were getting for Christmas.  We were kids so of course we wanted to know.  She handed us the keys to her car and told us to go open the trunk.  Talk about being in heaven.   She didn’t last at our house very long.

Step number 3 was Caroline.  She had a set of twin daughters and a daughter who was deaf.  The deaf girl would sit in the middle of the living room and scream at the top of her lungs for HOURS.  I do remember thinking I was going insane.  They were there for a little while and then they left.  

Step number 4 was Carol.  I don’t remember a thing about her at all.  Not sure why

Step number 5 was Caroline again.  For some reason, she and my dad got re-married and, of course it didn’t work out.  They were gone again.  

Step number 6 was Imogene.  She was as southern as they come.  All her children except one were grown and he was my brothers age.  She was friendly and she could cook like no other.  We all loved her.  My youngest sister at the time was in a rebellious stage and she did not like authority.  There were a couple of times that she smacked the crap out of Imogene and one time put her in the hospital.  That ended that marriage but she was such a great lady.

Step number 7 was Betty.  She was also southern and not very nice.  Luckily we were all grown then and didn’t have to like her.  None of us did.  She was not very nice to my dad either but I think at that point he just didn’t care anymore.  He was getting older.  I think she had a litter of kids as well and I believe my dad ended up adopting one of them even though she was grown.  I never did get clear answers on that.  

She ended up passing away in my dads bedroom.  After that, he never got married again.  

 

My dad was very, very hard on us, almost to the abusive point.  We used to get whipped with the belt until we had welts on our bottoms and legs.  We would get whipped in front of our friends or anywhere that he saw fit.  We would get grounded for a 9 week grading period if our grades were poor.  We would get whipped at the kitchen table if we didn’t get our homework done correctly.

TV dinners became a staple in between housekeepers and wives.  My sister, Nancy, who was 11months younger than me, used to take one bite and throw up at the table.  We never did figure out what that was about.

At 14 years old, my sister ended up pregnant.  She had the baby and our dad made her give him up for adoption.  Back then, I believe parents had more say-so than they do today.  When she was 15, she ran away from home because she wanted to date a guy in his early 20’s and our dad wouldn’t allow it.  She went to Texas and I believe lived on the street for awhile.  She was found a couple of months later and the police flew her home.  

My sister and I  used to go to our grandparents house in Illinois during the summers for a couple of weeks in between wives and housekeepers.  We absolutely loved it and my grandmother was the kindest, gentlest woman of all time.  We used to get new clothes and hair cuts.  At this time, we were kids, so new clothes wasn’t the biggest deal of all time for us.  We used to stand in the back of their house on a woodpile and pretend to be rock stars playing in a band.  We sang at the top of our lungs which was too bad for the neighbors because we couldn’t carry a tune even it it had been handed to us in a bucket.  We also got half of a doctor pepper and half a frozen chocolate bar for a bed time snack.  

One night our grandfather came home drunk and was yelling at our grandmother and tripping over chairs.  We hadn’t seen this kind of behavior from him before so were shocked at the very least.  

They also used to come to our house to visit and stay for a little while.  At some point, my grandfather starting touching us inappropriately.  I always managed to get away but my sister wasn’t so lucky.  I walked in on them one time when he was having sex with her.  I don’t know how long it had been going on, but we told our dad.  He didn’t believe us.  It was awful.  We got whipped for lying.  

He ended up passing away 4 days before my 16th birthday.  My sister and I breathed a sigh of relief.  We didn’t cry, we didn’t feel anything but hatred for this man.  As an adult, I learned to forgive him, but it took my sister a long, long time to forgive him, if she ever did.

My childhood was filled with heartache and yet, it wasn’t even close to preparing me for what was to come.

I left home at 20 years old.  I married a man I met at the place I worked and fell in love.  I didn’t know at the time that he too had a fondness for drinking and pills.  He worked every day but there were parties about every weekend.  

We would have a houseful of people.  It seems like they were always at our house.  I would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of him urinating into a fan.  After 4 years, I left.  I just thank God there were no children.  I decided to go and see my biological mother.  

She lived in Tennessee at the time and it was nice to get away.  We talked about why she left us behind.  She said that she knew if she left us, we would always have a roof over our head, food to eat and go to school.  She ran off with another guy so she had no idea where she would be living.  I got a little job at Burger King and bought a car.  I decided to head back to Indy for a visit, but I also knew I wouldn’t be back.  I met up with my sister and she had been dating someone who was on the Indianapolis reserve police department and also worked for the school police.  She was staying with a lady in downtown Indy and I stayed there for a little while as well.  I was introduced to a friend of theirs and we started dating.  I ended up pregnant with my oldest son, David.  This is also when I was introduced too true, unconditional love.  He was the very first love of my life.  He was born in 1985.

The relationship didn’t work out with his father so we separated.  I got a small apartment for David and me.  His dad saw him on a regular basis and helped out a lot with the things David needed.  He always did that.  

When David was 4, I met the man who would become my second husband.  We got married and I got pregnant with my second son, Tyler and 3 years later with my third son, Ryan.  

We were married for 18 years, the last 2 we were separated because I moved to Ohio for my job and he was in jail.  He had a penchant for stealing.  He stole everything..money, items from stores, from friends…you name it.  

He treated my son David, the first true love of my life, terribly.  But it was mixed bag of sorts because every payday, David got a new toy.  I never did figure out what that was about.

I should have left but I didn’t.  I honestly believe that our pasts become thoughts of our presents and our futures.  You see, he was my second husband and my 3rd major relationship.  What I didn’t want was to be my dad.  So I stuck it out.  We can’t go back and change our pasts, but if I could, I would leave after I had my 3rd son.  

He was never able to hold down a job and I always worked but we still didn’t have much money.  We moved a lot.  I felt at times I had to choose between paying my rent or feeding and clothing my kids.  So we would move.  Years ago, you didn’t have to have the first months rent along with the last and a security deposit.  You could always move in with just a couple of weeks rent and a promise to pay the rest.  I thought with a mothers heart and a mothers love.  But looking back now, I know I should have paid the rent.  We would have figured out the food.  This is what I tell my kids now.  Always pay your rent..someone will feed you.

I moved to Ohio in 2006 when the company I worked for was bought out by another company and they needed good workers.  My family and I went to Ohio for a visit and to check out the area.  Not a single one of the family was excited about moving out here so it was a quiet trip.  I fell in love with the area but there was more to it than that that I fell in love with.  More on that in a bit.

Tyler, my middle son, started getting in trouble when he was about 13 years old.  He and his dad never got along.  I’m not sure if that’s what started it but it quickly spiraled out of control.  He ended up in a juvenile detention center in Indiana when I moved to Ohio.  

When moving day came - not a single person had any desire to move with me nor did they have any intention of moving with me.  My husband was facing jail time about time to move and my middle son was in juvenile detention.  My oldest son had joined the army and he was in Hawaii at his duty station.  The company I was going to work for paid all of my moving expenses so I figured I was heading to my new home all by myself. 

The night before it was time to go, my youngest son came up to me and said “mom, I’ll go with you”.  I was so thrilled!  He was 13 at the time and one thing that I promised myself was that no matter what, no matter if we moved or stayed in the same place, he would not change schools.  He would graduate from the school system he started with.  I kept that promise. 

When I got settled at my new place, I wrote a letter to the courts in Indiana asking that my son be released to me when it was time for him to get out.  They granted that request and when he got out, I went and picked him up,  He was 16 years old and this was going to be a long, long road only I didn’t know it.

All my kids make friends very quickly.  They both had new friends in no time.  Tyler had friends that weren’t the “good” friends but I didn’t know it at the time.  Ryan joined the football team his freshman year in high school and then he wrestled the second 2 years.  His junior year, he decided to go to the army so he could get his GI bill to pay for college.  He spent his senior year conentrating on that and hanging out with his friends.

Tyler, in the meantime, was taking my van without asking, he was stealing us blind but I didn’t know it was him..I thought it was his friends.  My oldest son sent me a bracelet that he got from Afghanistan and I treasured it.  I had it in my bedroom in a case but I lots of those beaded bracelets - the elastic ones and I wore those a lot.  Years later, I would find out that the bracelet had been stolen.  

There were parties that I didn’t know about, things exchanged for drugs.  My son and I were going through hell and it just never seemed to stop.  It was constant.  It was chaos.

My sister and I were super close..we are only 11 months apart.  We went through a phase where we didn’t talk for a little while because how she was doing her husband and the things she did were something I no longer wanted to be a part of.  For example…if she wanted a new purse (she loved Chanel) and her husband wouldn’t give her the money, she would write a check and bounce their checking account.  He would have to get a payday loan to cover it until he got paid.  He would give her “house” money..that was to buy food, cleaning supplies and anything needed for the house.  She never thought he gave her enough, so she would do the same thing and just write a check.  She didn’t work, she was a stay at home mom with her son and kept her house immaculate.  If her husband, Paul, came home from work and did something like put an empty candy wrapper in his desk drawer, she went off the deep end.  She would say that she does’t go to his work and mess up what he does, so why would he do that to her?  She would get angry enough that she would go out and destroy the shed outside that had his stuff in it..tools, lawn equipment, a radio, etc, etc.  Shed stuff.  I told her one time that that wasn’t cool - at all.  Not even a little bit.  A candy wrapper in a drawer doesn’t even compare to destroying his stuff in the shed.  I’m not sure she ever got that. 

He passed away in 2018 I believe.  Honestly, I don’t even know the date.  But I had so much going on with Tyler that I couldn’t do anything.  She was living in a mobile home and I called my brother and asked if she could stay with him.  He said she could and they lived in a house for a couple of years.  He helped her figure out how to live on her own.  He said if I hadn’t made that phone call, she wouldn’t be around.  If he hadn’t gone over there, I feel she wouldn’t be around.  

One day I called her and we started talking.  I knew she was different.  She didn’t have any money so I sent her a couple hundred dollars without even giving it a second thought.  

We started talking just like old times and my husband I were going on vacation to a local camping area and we made arrangements to stay with her for a few days.  We had a camper so we camped in the driver of the mobile home park that she lived in.  We had the best time ever.  She was a completely different person and somehow, she found peace.  She was calm and had a light about her.  The people of the mobile home park loved her and she loved them.  She was kinda like the mom of the park - even the queen of the park.  We had so much fun.  This was the end of August and I asked her what she does for Thanksgiving.  She said nothing - she spends it alone.  That broke my heart so I told her we would be out to see her for Thanksgiving.  We were also going to do Christmas at the same time and take her out to a restaurant that she loved.  What I didn’t know what that I was never going to see her again.  She passed away October 11, 2019.  I was completely devastated.  I found out when I was at work.  My sister Jackie sent me a text.  This still did not prepare me for what was to come.

My sons by this time are all grown up.  My oldest son, David, the first love of my life, went to army for 10 years and he got out.  He is married now and is a school police officer.  He is one of the best people I know.  

My youngest son Ryan, went into the army for 4 years, got out and enrolled in Akron University for his bachelors degree in Exercise Science.  He then went to Tampa and got his masters degree from he university of Tampa in Exercise Science and Nutrition.  He moved back to Ohio with his girlfriend and is currently attending Kent University for PHD and teaching at Akron University.

My son Tyler became a full blown addict and was in and out of jail, in and out of trouble.  He went to rehab a few times and came out better but would relapse.  He lived on the streets and in crappy houses.  He broke into my house one time and stole some jewelry and some electronic things and even used the spare key to take my car.  He would then have the nerve to call and ask me for money.

He went to rehab in Warren, Ohio and was there for a few months.  This was in January or February of 2020.  We went there to visit him a few times and the change in him was amazing.  And they adored him there.  After his time was over, they invited him to stay at one of the elite sober houses, one of the ones that you have to work your way into.  But the only problem was that he needed the first months rent until he could get a job and fend for himself.  He talked to my husband and me about it and he saw a change in Tyler.  Needless to say, we paid that for him.  He told his brother and me that he wanted to be a counselor there and to give back.  

One day, he was out with one of his friends going job hunting and they got pulled over for expired plates.  Tyler had a warrant out for an old charge so he got arrested and sent back to Canton, Ohio and put it jail.  This was in April.  He got sentenced to 6 months in jail but got out in 4 months because he was an exemplary role model and he was even a tutor.

On July 31st, he got out and I went and picked him up. He gave me a big bear hug and  we had the best day ever.  The first stop was to see his parole officer and do some shopping and then to take him back out to the sober house.  They had saved his bed for him.  They loved him.  We went to see the parole officer and he color coded him.  What that means is that he had to call into their office every night and if his color was called, he had to be there by 8am to have a drug test.

This blew his plans to go to Warren.  He didn’t have a car or a license so getting there if his color was called would be a problem.  I remember telling him that we would figure it out.  A friend of his set him up with an appointment to go to a sober house around here.  I asked him about it and he said he was going to check it out.  We also talked about him getting his own place.  We went to the mall and then went shopping.  My husband was supposed to meet up with us but he got stuck at meetings at work.  We had the best time.  It was so great hanging out with the old Tyler, one I hadn’t seen in awhile.  

He decided he wanted to go and stay at a hotel in Canton and I asked him if he wanted to just stay with us.  He said he didn’t, that he had been surrounded with non stop activity and he just wanted some down time.  So I took him to the hotel, he checked in and I helped him carry his stuff in.  I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him.  The next day, Saturday, we were painting our living room and I was supposed to pick Tyler up to come over and help us and just hang out.  When I texted him, he said he wasn’t feeling well and was going to hang out there.  I said okay and told him I love him.  

On Sunday, August 2nd, 2020 at 12:26pm, we got the call that Tyler had passed away.  Fentanyl.  My husband was standing in the dining room and had his back to me.  When I asked him what was going on, he said Tyler’s dead.  When you are given soul crushing news like that, the world goes black.  My knees went weak.  I remember my husband grabbing me and holding me.  He had to call the rest of the family and let them know and deal with work.  We both work at the same place so he basically only had to make 1 phone call and that took care of it.

Its been 18 months since I lost Tyler.  And there are a few things I have learned along this grief journey and some things I just wonder about.

Losing my sister was devastating, but losing Tyler was soul crushing.  I know, I already said that.  Losing one of your children changes you.  You can no longer be the person that you were because you have to survive it.  That kind of loss is present every single day of the rest of your life so you have to figure out how to do it.  There is nothing that anyone can say, not when it happens, not after everything is done, that can make you feel better.  

Over time, I have realized a few things.  First of all, I thank God for the gifts of my husband and my children.  Its a man I met here in Ohio at my job and we got married in 2015 but have been together since 2006.  Without my husband, I would not have made it through this like I have.  My youngest son, who was living in Tampa at the time, was back home at 10:30am the next morning.  My oldest son came out closer to time for the services but his wife has a 5 year old son so they had to take him into consideration.  My husband, who loved Tyler very much, was my rock.  But there was no one here for him other than my youngest son.  Not one single member of his family showed up at any time.  Not while we were waiting for the morgue to release his body to plan the funeral or at the funeral or anytime after that.

I always hear that people who lost children to addiction are looked down upon.  I see it all the time on some groups that I belong too.  I have never experienced that.  Losing a child is devastating and it doesn’t matter how you lost them.  I’m lucky, because I have felt nothing but love from the people who know.

Tyler put us through hell in his battle with addiction.  I can’t imagine the hell he was going through.  But one thing I know in my heart of hearts is that I never gave up on him..not ever.  I never lost hope and I was ALWAYS there for him.  Tyler told me one time a few years ago that he probably wouldn’t live much past 30.  Did he know?  I don’t know why he told me that but maybe he a sixth sense. 

Tyler was the smartest and funniest person I think I have ever met in my life.  After he stopped going to high school, about his freshman year, he decided to get his GED.  He got a GED with honors and scored in the top 95 percent in math.  But Tyler always viewed his intelligence as a burden.  It made him different.  He was also diagnosed as Bipolar and his dad was too.  We may all be a little bipolar..who knows.

My son died 8 months after my sister.  My husband says I was just starting to get over Nancy’s death when I lost Tyler.  I know now that you don’t get over it.  What you do is you learn to carry it with you.  I carry the grief and the love that I have for my son and my sister with me everyday.  I have more good days than bad but its a journey, its a process.  And its a journey that you know will not have end until my time on earth is done.  My first thought everyday is of my son and my last prayer every night is for my son.  That’s not the only thing I pray about, but its every night.  The pain and sadness are there everyday, but everyday, I put my feet on floor and face the day.  I am learning to carry it with me.  I do so because I want to have a life and I have a wonderful husband that I want to have a life with.  I do so because my son would want that for me and my other children also want that for me. 

Some days are hard.  That’s just how its going to be and there are days when the grief and the realization that they are gone hits you like a freight train.  It can bring you to your knees.  You have to let it.  I can’t push it aside because its going to come out and it may come out at the wrong time and at the wrong person.  I don’t want that either.

The hardest times are the holidays and his birthday.  Even harder is the anniversary of the day we spent together, the last time I would ever see him, and the anniversary of his death.

On the first anniversary, my husband asked Ryan and his girlfriend if they would come and spend the night with me.  He knew it would be rough.  They did and I cried and talked to them.  I told Ryan that I didn’t have enough pictures.  I wish I had taken more pictures.  He reminded me that I have all the pictures I need, even if I only had 1 to look at.  I have all the memories and those are as good, if not better, than pictures.  I have 2 voicemails that he left me, but I would never forget the sound of his voice.  No matter how much time goes by.  

Not all of the memories are pleasant.  There were times when he was living on the street with his “girlfriend” and it was cold outside.  The bad times, the bad memories are there, but they make the good memories even better.  


Submitted: February 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Linda G. All rights reserved.

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