This is an absolutely true story Index(click on video to turn off music)
It is the faith that we have in new beginnings that give us hope.
Joshua’s suicide, as I write this, even a thesaurus cannot give me the words…17 years old. Why would a young man have done such a thing? The questions only grew and the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach only churned every time I was alone and had no one to distract my mourning.
Not being told of the funeral was close to unbelievable. It was not like my family. Had my father been alive, he would never have allowed such a thing. I come from a family of humorous, sarcastic, artistic people (excluding my mother and sister who had more of business acumen than the rest of us). In spite of all of our arguing and warring, we always came together for the worst.
But after my brother’s death and just prior to my father’s when he really did not have the energy to try to abate the problems, things have been on a steady manipulative decline with my sister, Mary, running the whole show. Had she applied that talent to perhaps a career, her success would have eclipsed us all!
She worked her way through my life. I have no idea what I did to her. I know what I did FOR her.
When Mary was born, my parent’s marriage was in turmoil. My mother was in such a state. My father had left her for her best friend. The day I found out, the night rather, I was 11 years old. I was woken from a deep sleep to my brother screaming. I have no idea what woke him, but when I left my bedroom, he took an immediate protective stance, which as bad as our rivalry was, I knew it must be something terrible, for him to be so protective.
“Go in your room, don’t let Mary wake.”
You have no idea what it is like to have what appears to be stable family. Mom at home, three brothers, catholic school, children’s activities…all turned over in one day. I do not know the specifics, only that my brother had seen my mother with a knife and Joan (my father’s paramour) and her husband, along with my father in a sort of altercation in the basement family room. How Butch (my oldest brother) discovered this, three stories up on the top floor of our home, is beyond me. But he was very upset, more than I have ever seen. He never got over this incident and suffers today I am sure.
Joan and Wayne lived across the street from us when I was three. They had a son exactly one year younger than me. His name was Mark. His birthday was June 20th, mine June 21st. We had our birthdays together, he was my best friend.
We used to play in Teribassi Field, though we were told constantly not to go there. My mother and Joan would tell us stories of snakes and monsters being in there. But we were not deterred and this field became our playground with the overgrown grass and wildflowers. We would collect caterpillars that would turn to beautiful little powdery pastel colored butterflies. Mark and I were the very worst on our block. If we didn’t like another child, we would do horrible things. Once we threw rocks on a little boy’s lawn. We got in such trouble because the father went to mow it and rocks spit out from the lawnmower clipping him in the eye.
His mother, Joan was an amazing seamstress. My mother was just 23 at the time, and she was from the Deep South. Once she moved to the north, she was determined to put her southern heritage in a sealed box and never let anyone know by her demeanor that she was from Biloxi Mississippi. She lusted for knowledge. Reading, learning, changing, becoming a woman. One of things she learned was to sew from Joan. My mother made the most beautiful dresses for me. They were much prettier than anything you could find in a store.
One year for Halloween, she and Joan decided Mark and I were going to be Geishas. How cruel is that for a little boy? Thank goodness he didn’t have any sexual identity issues because this could change a little boy’s life. We were 5 and 6 years old. Mine was orange and his was green. We had the wigs with the chopsticks and even the clunky shoes. We marched in the Kenosha Halloween parade and…won…FIRST PLACE! !!! With hundreds of costumes. It was a perfect geisha outfit with the obi and everything. Poor Mark was miserable!!! But we won – needless to say, he said I could keep the trophy.
Mark and I were inseparable. When I was five, my mother gave birth to a boy, and named him Mark. I don’t know if it was because her best friend and neighbor had a child of the same name, or if my father wanted it, but it was the perfect name because both Marks were wonderful colorful handsome men, who died at a young age – in their 20’s.
When I was ten, my mother insisted we move. My father had built the house we were in. But my mother insisted – she is a very intuitive person, she probably already knew in her heart something was terrible wrong, and we purchased the house on French Drive. A very beautiful antique style home, not quite but almost like the Amityville home. The basement, where the family room was, was every bit as spooky as the Amityville. So this occurrence only added the dimension to the feeling of fear as I woke from a sleep where I had closed my eyes to a family together only to be awakened to a life torn apart.
My sister, Mary, was born within months of this occurrence, and for me it was a huge blessing, a wonderful gift. It was a wonderful distraction from the reality of what was now my divided home. And my mother allowed me to take care of her. I brought her to bed with me. My mother and father (who were trying to bring their marriage back together) would come into my room and take her off my chest and put her back in her crib. Which they placed in my room within days of her birth. After a few weeks they gave up and purchased a double bed for us. I adored this child. I woke in the night to prepare bottles, I fed her dinner when I finished my homework and missed her so much during the day. I worried my mother, being a bit despondent, may not be holding and cuddling her. I can assure you my mother did, but I was 12.
But as a 12 year old, it got old. When she started to walk, I had to take her every place with me. My little friends resented having her sometimes, so I would be excluded. I was afraid to discuss it with my mom, so I talked to my dad about it. That went over so well…my mother beat the crap out of me. Well, it seemed like that. During those days, strapping a child was common and even encouraged.
When I was 16 and left home, because of circumstances explained in earlier posts, my mother sat her in a chair in the living room crying: “See what you are doing to your sister?”
No matter what I did in my life, I put her first. She was always so excited as she grew up, to have me come home. I would walk in the door and she would throw herself in my arms, grabbing me to her room for assurances about her clothing and music tastes. And telling me all her secrets. Secrets that to this day, I still keep.
My father and mother divorced after a tumultuous 5 years where my father ended up marrying Joan. Her husband Wayne committed suicide, he was found by his son, Mark . Mark and I were not allowed to see each other after the basement situation, but we still did on occasion. He told me of finding his father:
“Dianne, I love you, I always will, but I hate your father, I wish he were dead.”
When I was 20, married and had my own little boy, my father and mother reunited as if nothing happened. He just got up one morning, left a note for Joan and walked in my mother’s door.
That same day my husband and I had gone to Kenosha to visit my mom. When my husband came up the stairs and saw my dad, he immediately turned around and told me to leave, my dad was there and that was going to be nothing but trouble. My dad ran after him and explained.
I never knew how Mary felt about this; she was never an introspective child. All she replies; I don't remember anything. My mother always felt bad about that, so Mary pumped every bit of life out of that admission/accusation.
When she was 16, my father went ballistic over her dating a black boy and almost killed her. My mother called me in the middle of the night.
“Dianne, please, you need to come and get your sister now.”
She said she would call me in the morning with the logistics of school etc. but this was necessary. I had a brother living with his wife in Kenosha, another in California, and Mark was also on his way to the west. But I was “The Chosen” . My husband, Jackie, went to get her in the middle of the night. In the morning we made arrangements for her to attend school.
While living in our tight (600sf) 2 bedroom apartment where she shared a room with my son, she worked at the new Marriott’s Great America on the highway between Kenosha and our home, a 30 minute drive, and had to be picked up at 3am. My husband would make that trek, since I didn’t drive and it was then that I think they had an interlude. I have no idea when, my husband before his death only confessed the very bare basics and I didn’t want to hear any more. Not because of him, but because of her. I always made excuses for her as I still do.
After she finished school she moved back home to Kenosha, Bill and I moved to Texas. When she was 20 or so, she called and asked if she could come and live with us for a while. She had an opportunity to open and manage the kitchen at a restaurant at the Marriot in Katy Texas, and of course, absolutely!!!
She moved in with us just as we closed on our new home in Memorial Chase in Spring Texas. My very first home.
We had our tiffs. She got a dog and it chewed up my new furniture, I crashed her car when learning to drive. Her friends visited for their vacations having free food and lodging. It was her home – she could do as she wished. She invited a boy down from Kenosha. She liked him ok, not that lustful love; I don’t think she ever had that unfortunately. She became pregnant and was very upset by this and begged me to intercede with my mom.
When Hank found out he said to Jackie and I, “Yes, Mary and I are getting married! Gifts and Prizes all around”.
Jackie and I were shocked. It is one thing to think that, but to admit he was marrying her because he felt he could live off the fat of my family was despicable! I called my father and discussed it with him, explaining not only that Mary didn’t want this, but what Hank had said. I have no idea what Mary said, I received a phone call from my mother soon after I spoke with my father. She made it clear, I was not to interfere. No one in the family talked to me for 3 years. Mary returned to Kenosha, married Hank. Of course the marriage was doomed from the start.
She had a beautiful boy, Joshua, and two years later another Justin.
We didn’t know it at the time but Justin had a problem with his spine and had shooting back pain. He would be sitting there playing and suddenly just scream. I would witness this and I knew something was terribly wrong. My brother Gill was extremely impatient and would say he wanted to slap the crap out of him. That upset me even worse.
Justin grew into a gorgeous little boy and young man. But his father was an ass and treated him unfavorably. He would want to take Joshua, but leave Justin alluding to the fact Justin wasn’t his! Can you imagine the pain that young man felt every single day of his life? When I talked to Gill, he was so apathetic. Even having kids of his own, he didn't care that one of his own was treated as a pariah. Gill was the only other constant male in his life. Gill could have made a difference.
After many years of Hank living off my parents, my father calling me because I was the only person he could talk to, would tell me acrimonious stories of Hank coming into their house and going thru their cabinets. My father for the first time, advocated divorce. And he was one of those guy sat the Catholic church that read the gospel for the entire parish.
Mary and I never got along after the pre-marriage incident. I spent a lot of time quieting endless conflicts. Every time she called me I came. No matter what, I dropped everything and came to her. And each time I did, it ended with her being upset with me. Hatefully upset, angry. Nothing I could do. I felt like fine crystal one moment and an old penny the next. Everything I say to her is an insult. But I refused to abandon my principles to sate her. A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. After she had experienced so many horrific problems I suggested she come and stay with me for a while.
“You know I can’t, How dared you even suggest?!"
Yes, that was how it went. Never, "thanks Di", but "I can't leave". No, she has to bark everything as if she were being put through a lot of trouble. You can't even do anything nice for her, unless she asks. Once I straightened out her jewelry case. I had been staying with her when she broke her arm. Took off a week of work and flew to Kenosha to take care of my sister who fell down the stairs after taking an overdose of Soma.
Her earrings were mismatched, tangled in necklaces, so I just got frustrated and sat down for over an hour putting everything in its place. When she arrived home, from where ever she was (not supposed to be going out), I showed her the nice tidy jewelry box and earing tree. She chased me down the street threatening my life for invading her privacy.
Mary and Hank eventually divorced and she moved into her own home paid for by my parents, with the boys, but she had never really left the folds of the family and my father was constantly afraid she would never be autonomous. He was right to feel this way, because, today she is living with my mom. Yes my mother has heart issues, but my mother is a strong woman who, if truth be told, I believe would be much happier alone. Mary moved in with mom right after Joshua killed himself. She and Justin. Now Joshua was dead and there was a huge emptiness within all of us.
As it happens after a death, people stopped coming around., Of course Justin had his friends, but Justin was in a bad way having discovered his brother's body hanging from the basement pipes, and being only 15 himself. .
A girl Joshua had been dating, a girl who truly stole his heart had been suspiciously absent in the dark days that followed his funeral, finally making a visit. In June 2004. Joshua died January 13, 2004. Things had started to settle into normalcy, if it could after such an incident…and this young girl who Joshua put above all others had finally come to visit bringing her new baby daughter in tow.
She placed the child in my mother’s arms as she took Mary by the hand and asked to have a private conference. My mother held the child with her head cupped in her hands, which were lying on her knees. Playing with the cooing child she noticed the little bend on the ear of this beautiful infant and knew immediately why the girl was there. As my mother rose to go to Mary, she turned and Mary reached and took the baby into the crook of her neck and held her for what seemed like an eternity. Joshua had returned in the spirit of this new life.
Still we didn’t know why Joshua did what he did. He loved this girl.
Certainly she told him of the pregnancy. Did he feel he was going to disappoint everyone yet again?
He always seemed to be on a loose track with some folks in the family. But certainly, he would not have made such drastic measures to eliminate the problem. This child would have been a welcome gift to all of us without Josh leaving us. But now she was a new beginning. She became something to each one of us. To me, she was a mirror image. None of my children looked like me, but this child did. The minute I finally met her, she was like a piece of magic. I didn’t want to put her down. And her Uncle Justin was her favorite. When he walked in the door she ran to him. When she was sleeping, he would drag her from her slumber and carry her around. And all seemed perfect with the world.
Willie and I were due at an anesthesia conference in San Francisco in October of 2007. But the entire month before, I was anxious, building to a bundle of nervous energy and finally panic. I didn’t want to go to San Francisco, or anywhere. I was certain something was going to happen. I was hysterical about it. Willie said that if I didn’t settle down, she was going to pack me in a suitcase and drag me there.
The flight was awful and Willie became very disgusted with my actions. I wouldn’t talk I wouldn’t tell her anything of what I felt because she just got angrier. And praying…well... If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans
We got to San Francisco in one piece, thankfully. I finally felt things were probably blown out of proportion in my head and once we got in the room, I actually wanted to go and see the town. I hadn’t been there in almost 30 years. So we went downstairs and out the door and we were immediately in the square with all the festive souvenir shops all around us. I was in a Chinese perfume shop while Willie, who could never be off the phone for more than 5 minutes, was leaning against a pole talking to someone.
I glanced outside and saw her drop her cigarette, put it out, and then she looked directly at me. Her look said it all. I took the smallest steps I could toward her.
“Dianne, come on, we need to go back to our room.” to be continued
By the way IISTG means If It Seems Too Good to be True