4 Where There is Pain There is Humor
In Turbulent Water
The Ship Swayed Right To Left
Violently, I Spewed Out My Lunch
The Captain asked “Are You Alright Missy?”
I Nodded Unconvincingly
The Alchemy Of The Universe
The most valuable
Is Time Given To Us
Know, No One
Can Define U
Least Of All Destroy You
Proceed With Purpose
And The Need To Touch Others
Lighting Their Hearts
With The Opposition
With A Lovely Mind
And Dreams Of Evergreen
She Walked Into The Study Room
Paper Planes Were Everywhere
“Who Did This?” Asked Ms. Bathmoore
A Smile From Nat
“We All Did Ms. Bathmoore
Their Messages Of Poetry”
Well, Then What Are We Waiting For?
Let’s Read Them.
Were My Trade Mark
You Could Say
I Wondered Off
With The Sun On My Face
& A Bounce In My Step
Swirling A Jaw Breaker
In My Mouth
Janis and Lorie never established a healthy bond as mother and daughter. Janis’s main concern was that Nick was not abusing her physically therefore Janis felt safe. But Nick continued to abuse Lorie emotionally, verbally, and physically and she was not safe. The indifference and insensitivity Janis showed towards Lorie caused Lorie to feel that her responsibility was to make Janis happy. This was the only way Lorie could receive any hint of love from this mother.
As a child and into her young adult life, she was always trying to make Janis happy in any way she could. She felt it was her responsibility, but of course, it wasn’t. Lorie put her on a pedestal for a very long time and bought her many gifts. She took her out for meals, to the movies and they shared many moments of shopping together and so on and so forth. They went on numerous vacations together. But no matter what Lorie did, Janis always put her down. She always had to degrade Lorie. That had become her worst vice of many. As an example, Lorie was singing to a Whitney Houston song and Janis reacted aggressively and said, “No one will ever sing like Whitney Houston.”
“The first time I sang a solo was in fourth grade, in front of the school gymnasium filled with students and teachers. I was probably nine years old. I sung the song “Close to you” by Karen Carpenter. Then there were more opportunities to sing solo and I enjoyed that part of my life. I doubt that Janis even remembers any of this.”
Only when Lorie was estranged from her was she able to feel more comfortable and breathe easier. Not having to face Janis’s constant bitterness and attacks helped Lorie build her confidence and to understand that continuing with this extremely dysfunctional relationship would only damage her more. The stress, guilt, and responsibility became too much for her to endure.
“So once again I am estranged from Janis. On Mother’s day I was excited to show Janis and my niece natswritings.com and it’s potential. Janis said, “I don’t want to hear anymore.” My niece froze and didn’t say anything, but kept looking at Janis for some reason. I realized that Janis has continued to talk about me to my niece. My brother was proud and he genuinely seemed interested. I never held any animosity towards my brother who was Nick’s real son. I knew that it was Janis and Nick who were wrong.”
When there is abuse and disrespect between a parent and child, there are no boundaries established and this creates blatant disrespect by the parent towards the child. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Meg Ryan have all been estranged from their mothers. It gets to a point where the child doesn’t trust the parent because the mothers have done so many deliberate hurtful things.
“I remember the story of Jennifer Aniston. Just recently her mother died of a sroke. But Jennifer Aniston kept her distance from her. It was reported that Jennifer’s mother made a remark about beautiful Jennifer’s face, putting her down. Janis had made the same hurtful remarks towards me. She said “You’re never going to be an Anglo.” “Your real father’s nose was perfect”, meaning mine wasn’t. When I was growing up I was skinny “Flaca”. Janis would complain to me about finding me clothes that fit.”
There are abused adults who never change this cycle of abuse and disrespect. They muddle along in the parents’ minimal affection just to get by. The parent is never confronted even after the child grows up. Everyone plays along with the game as if nothing happened. Given this experience as adults, when one marries these dysfunctional issues get triggered and that’s when one begins to see one’s partner’s past emotional wounds. This subject is important to discuss because what is brought to a relationship or marriage represents one’s limitations, strengths and complications.
Janis’s disrespect extended to Lorie’s brother, her granddaughter, and numerous other people she wanted to blatantly attack. Janis became the biggest villain with all her narcissistic spite. She would turn on Lorie in the worst way; Janis’s narcissistic scurrilous backstabbing poisoning the minds of people important to Lorie. She never got over the fact that Lorie was Arthur’s child. She blamed Lorie and when Lorie discovered the truth, Janis constantly attacked Arthur and his family’s reputation, in turn degrading Lorie. She never stopped, her jealousy and envy towards Lorie and this constituted the last straw. Janis became very bitter because of her choices and wanted to blame everyone else for her poor judgment and inability to find her true purpose in life. She failed herself and ultimately that was eating her alive…and still is.
Lorie became very ill and lost a lot of weight. When Janis finally came around to visit her, Lorie could barely walk and eat. Janis said in Spanish,
“Pus No Te Miras Tan Enferma A Sina.”
“Well, you don’t look that sick to me.”
Family and friends would visit and were in complete shock because of Lorie’s appearance and illness.
The Santa Fe “Fiestas” is celebrated once a year. This includes the infamous ritual of burning Zozobra, the old man of gloom; a 50 foot scary, pathetic, and funny looking figure called Zozobra. The idea is to rid oneself of gloom and doom from the past by sending it up in flames; renewing the hope and optimism of the gathered celebrants and participants. Letting go of the past. A renewal of life. A red spirit performs the ritual dance before Zozobra is set alight. Once he is set on fire, Zozobra starts moving his arms and head and crying in agonizing pain until he is burnt to a crisp. His pleading and boisterous agony is played on loud speakers to stir the crowds’ participation in witnessing his demise. At least Zozobra wasn’t an alcoholic, at least Lorie didn’t think so.
There were five of them walking, talking, and laughing. They were having a discussion about marriage. They knew, as they pretended to know, so much about marriage at the tender age of eleven years. They were marching along the second busiest street in Santa Fe. Lucille’s older sister had just gotten married. Lucille proceeded to tell the group that she was hiding under the bed when she heard her sisters talking about the honeymoon. She talked about what a husband and wife do on their wedding night – consummate. Lucille said that her new brother-in-law put his penis into her sister. Or as the young group of girls would have said it so eloquently, “He put his pee-pee inside her.” Lorie’s questioned immediately, “Inside her? But where?” Oh! Yuck!” She at that point Lorie claimed her position on such a disgusting fact and act by saying,
“I’m going to get married but I won’t let my husband ever do that.”
Everyone agreed that this would not be part of their marriages either, and would be included in the prenuptial agreement. After all, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had only to sleep once a month with Aristotle Onassis. A smart woman who knew her limitations, expectations and his demands.
Shortly after that discussion the most clueless and coincidental thing happened. A man in a blue Chevy Malibu stopped his car near the group. It being Fiesta weekend, they assumed he was asking for directions. The window on the passenger’s side was rolled all the way down. A few of the girls got closer to the window as he pretended to ask for directions. Some of the girls were in shock and started screaming, so Lorie took a look. The pervert was exposing himself to them. Cathy had already picked up a good sized rock to throw at him. She hit the car as he sped away. Now they were totally, unequivocally convinced that thing would have no part in their marriages.
In their unsettled state of mind, they never made it to the Fiestas. After that, who was going to celebrate? Lorie went home to tell her mother and grandmother what had happened. Janis’s reply was priceless,
“Pus Quen Te Tri’ En Las Calles?”
“Who has you out in the streets?”
Lorie expected a loving mother to have said, “Describe the car to me and did you get his license plates number? We need to call the police and report this.”
Lorie looked at her grandmother and she confirmed, by rolling her eyes, that Janis’s reply was stupid and insensitive. Because Lorie was walking the streets of Santa Fe, she was somehow responsible for this horrible event? Even now my temper rises and I have to count to ten. “Who had you having two children, you couldn’t begin to know, protect, or much less love.”
Janis, being her inconsiderate self, stupidly bragged how Nick had never physically hurt her.
“Hasta el día, El Nike nunca me puesto un dedo en mí.”
“To this day, Nick has never laid a finger on me.”
“Well, good for you mother.”
But what about Lorie, Janis? ‘You offered her to him’; as Dr. Baca so eloquently put it to Lorie, “You were the sacrificial lamb.” Those words haunted Lorie for the rest of her life, making her feel ignominious and humiliated; an underlying subliminal soundtrack in her mind. It was harsh and regrettably painful that she was paying someone to make her feel worse than she already did. Dr. Baca didn’t mince his words; he was a straight shooter kind of man.
Janis was always lashing out in disparaging, demeaning, and dejecting ways. All of this occurred because of Nick’s nefarious egregious behavior. On one occasion she was physically abusive to Lorie. There was no reason to warrant her picking up a twelve by sixteen inch, four-inch thick bible and hurling it at Lorie, with the words, “I should have left you with that family”. The book hit her leg so hard there was a great big bruise that seemed to last forever. After the secret was no longer a secret but an unfortunate fact, Janis couldn’t wait to remind Lorie of how bad Arthur and his family were. She painted them as bums, drinkers, fighters, killers, murderers, thieves, fools, etc.
“I guessed she was trying to make a case in point that Nick was a saint compared to them.”
One day she mentioned Lorie’s aunt Olivia’s mother-in-law, who only had boys and who wanted to adopt Lorie. They were well off. But why would anyone tell his/her child that someone else wanted to adopt her? Was she seriously considering this possibility? Or was she trying to convince Lorie that she was a compassionate mother who really went out of her way to decide to keep Lorie? It appeared that Janis secretly dreamed of giving up Lorie for adoption to the family that wanted her.
Lorie began interrogating Janis every chance she had to find out specific information about her biological father. Of course, Janis hated these conversations and Lorie started to feel like an adoptive child to her. To put it bluntly, to Lorie Janis didn’t feel or behave like her mother.
It is well known how coincidental and strange life can be. They were shopping in Albuquerque for Christmas when Lorie was fifteen. As she and Janis went through the stores to buy Christmas gifts, a woman approached Janis and asked, “Janis, is that you?”
When Lorie heard those words she immediately knew that the lady was connected to her biological family. To her surprise, Janis was happy to see the lady and was quite friendly. Lorie immediately made herself present and the lady asked, “Is this Lorie?”
Lorie said, “Yes!”
“Oh Janis, she looks just like you and so pretty.”
Lorie asked her about Arthur immediately, her biological father. The lady replied, “Oh Honey, he died a couple of years ago.”
Died? But how? These questions ran through Lorie’s mind. That lady said he died by accident; another ambiguous secret that would later come out. That put an end to all of Lorie’s fantasies about when she met her biological father and his love would make up for all the neglect and abuse she had suffered. The disappointment on her face was obvious. For Lorie it was like falling off a cliff and never landing.
Years later, Lorie found out that he had come to see her, not once but twice; once in Barranco and then in El Rito, looking and asking for her. The time he visited Barranco Lorie was there; she was two years old and her grandparents allowed him access to her. He took Lorie for a walk outside, holding her tiny hand as she wobbled like a cute little penguin to keep up with him. But that would be the last time he looked at her and she looked at him, not knowing who he was. It’s sad, isn’t it? Excuse me, I did get emotional about this tiny insignificant detail. But I see this visit so visibly, so sad, so finite.
The second time, Arthur and his brother, Jerry, came to El Rito and knocked on the front door. Nick’s mother, Lorie’s grandmother, answered the knock. She explained that the family didn’t live in El Rito and that was all she shared with him. If the family had been there, this could have turned into a deadly confrontation because Arthur and Jerry had brought guns when they came knocking at the door. A battle could have ensued between Nick and his father with their guns, against armed Arthur and Jerry. If both Nick and Arthur were drinking it would be difficult to imagine which one would have lost his life. The nearest hospital was fifty minutes away. Arthur’s visit was not only to see Lorie, he also wanted Josie back. Maybe thinking he would get a second chance; promising he could change. This was not likely to happen and Nick and Arthur never stopped drinking. In the end, they still were alcoholics regardless of their fates.
Janis was pregnant with a boy when she was still married to Arthur; that would have been double the trouble for Nick. But if Lorie’s brother had lived that would have changed everyone’s fate entirely. The succession of real events in people’s lives is what ultimately leads to their fate. But they always have the choice to improve their lives and find their definitive purpose. As one matures, one learns that peace is where happiness lives and satisfaction is eventually the slice of heaven.
Nick was a hard worker and provided well for the family which was enough for Janis. Eventually, he did build her a new home and every inch of that property was green, green, and green. Just like England, Ireland, Finland, Amsterdam, and all the green beautiful places in the world. Lorie’s love for nature and the outdoors was shaped by her experiences in Barranco and Nick taking her to the beautiful landscapes of New Mexico’s forest. They went to the mountains, rivers, lakes, and fishing. For the experience of nature, and probably more, Lorie was grateful to Nick for this.
Janis and all her sisters married alcoholics except for the Dominican nun who was married to God. In that respect, all the cousins were going through their challenges with alcoholic fathers. There were deeper secrets within the family which was their business and choice to share. Lorie asked herself why? Why did they all land up marrying alcoholics? Their father, Lorie’s grandfather, Josie, didn’t drink.
Lorie presumed that the sisters had lived sheltered lives. Her grandmother and grandfather were very strict. Education, which would lead to other opportunities, wasn’t part of their mindset. Was there a lack of ambition? Did not having money to pay for an education prevent them from going to college? Perhaps marrying for the sake of not having other options robbed them of a greater purpose and happier lives. Marriage is challenging enough without the insidious problem of alcoholism.
Lorie’s grandmother warned them indirectly with her favorite dichos “sayings”,
“No se van a excitar no mas por que les encinian los dentes.”
“Don’t get over excited just because they (men) smile and show you their teeth.”
“Todos los hombres stan cortados con la misma Tijeras.”
“All men are cut with the same scissors.”
This was Lorie’s dicho.
“Si el hombre bebén como una trucha tirarlo patras en el mar.”
“If the man drinks like a fish, throw him back into the sea.”
When all the sisters and their husbands and children were young, they got together for family gatherings and the drinking at that time wasn’t so bad. The laughter and teasing outweighed the reality that substance abuse could never make one, but rather break one. As the years came and went, the family gatherings changed their tone and there were bitter looks and remarks from the sisters directed at their husbands. The husbands drank more and laughed less. The sisters grew apart and the love and respect for each other was declining. There were sarcastic and hurtful remarks between the sisters; they were unaware that the bitterness and jealousy would be passed on to their children.
Lorie’s grandmother smiled less and less with each of her son’s-in-law. She became more critical and hopeless. It was one thing to have one alcoholic family member, but all of her five daughters were married to alcoholics except for the one who was married to God. Every time her aunt, the Dominican nun, came for a visit everyone behaved as if she was the pope who was descending upon them and giving them her blessing. Lorie’s aunt, Sister Bernadette, witnessed the drunken behavior of all her brothers-in-law. This must have made her extremely grateful she was married to God, but even that came with a price. It seemed that bitterness was also rampant in the convent of many brides. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church promote women to become priests, bishops, or even the pope? It seemed the church put a value on women’s limitations and blatantly practiced discrimination. After the massive cover up where priests molested and raped children and were protected by the church, it shamed every priest who was affiliated with the Catholic religion. Suddenly everyone was questioning all the priests. Certainly Lorie was.
Lorie’s grandmother was devoted to her faith and the church. In one of the casitas, the spacious room closest to the kitchen, pictures hung on the walls which depicted sinners burning in hell; there were also pictures of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and encased crosses created with dry flowers. At the time, it seemed more like Voodoo to Lorie than anything else. And of course, large dark beaded rosaries to pray with and ward off evil spirits. There was even a local tale where someone in Barranco had been to the river and saw balls of fire dancing above the water. They were evil spirits. Lorie was sold on the validity and verification of that tale because her grandmother had told it to her.
On one particular evening, her grandmother, mother, aunt Sister Bernadette, and Lorie were in the kitchen in Barranco. They could hear the thunder roaring in the background from the north facing window in the kitchen. There was a palpable breeze coming through the window across Lorie’s tiny body. Dark ominous clouds were descending and disseminating throughout Barranco. When it finally arrived, it would prove to be a bad storm. They had already eaten dinner and decided to take coffee, bread, butter and homemade jam to the separate building containing the living room. It was already raining and they all ran to avoid getting wetter. It wasn’t long before the storm was right on top of them. The lightening would strike and only seconds passed before the thunder would rumble. It was very heavy rain and it soon turned to hail. There were golf ball sized hailstones pounding against the large window facing the south. Her mother and aunt were concerned that the hail might break through the glass. Lorie looked around the room and the picture of hell with burning sinners reaching out for help made this storm even more sinister. Fear caused horripilation on her skin and the adrenaline made her heart beat faster. Her grandmother started praying the rosary. Lorie finally got under the covers on one of the full sized beds in the room. When it stopped they went outside and looked at the sky. All of Barranco was lit up with a rose-mauve colored light. It looked quite magical. To Lorie it was “The Storm” that remained in her memory and she never again experienced anything quite like it.
Continue the story with A blessing in disguise
Memories of “A Past” from NatsWritingsMind
©Natalie Keshing, Editor-in-Chief, natswritings.com or nataliekeshing,com