Sunday, January 27, 2013


Undone... II.
A late Sunday breakfast calls, but I've posted some family pictures below. Blogging is one way to capture your family history. I hope my sharing helps others to understand how damage from childhood affects us as adults, and can be expressed in families. It is also my hope that there can be healing in my family. 

I will resume my story from my last posting soon. I am known for my honesty, and for some of my family, that is threatening. I believe that the truth will make you free. My family has been in a horrible prison for years... one that is unnecessary. Perhaps to my nieces and nephews who do not know all of the history, my efforts will be a 'skeleton' key in their lives, to unlock their full potential. Some may not want to hear it, and many have been told much that is false, with the convenient desire to cover up the shameful, shift the focus, and move on, letting innocent people pay for their actions and choices. A giant umbrella of protection has been the group think behavior of religion. In this case, Mormonism.

When my Father lived with me, I videotaped his chronology, so my 9 siblings could better understand what had shaped him, and that despite his erratic violence, they might see and know him as a human being, and appreciate this. Despite his behavior, I believe in not forgiving, we cannot forgive ourselves, and allow humanity.

I knew that discussion of my father's awful names for his children and his behavior would be very difficult for my elderly dad, but might be critical for healing with my brothers and sisters. During the taping, he protested that in his opinion, "Life was not to be a series of expiation". I then asked him when he had ever admitted what he had done, or how he had treated our mother and us as children? What amends have you made?" My point was taken.

Perhaps the hardest part of this interview was keeping the video camera still, as my Father kept getting up from the trestle table bench, going to the window, looking through the lace curtain, and going down memory lane. I had to keep asking him to sit back down, and to please try not to get up. Caregiving someone with dementia of any kind takes a huge well of patience. One thing was certain. My Father still had fond feelings for my mother, but tended to share a little too much.

One interjection: I made sure my father drank a large glass of filtered water each morning, but at times I suspected he wasn't drinking it. Sure enough, I crept into the dining room of my Scappoose home, trying to keep the 1920 wooden floors from creaking, to find him slowly pouring out his water in the plants. No wonder they were getting yellow leafed and water logged. If the bananas were laying out in the kitchen, he could eat 2-3 of them, and forgetting what he'd just done, eat more.

One time when my friend Dell came for a short visit, I was making breakfast, and the homemade strawberry freezer jam and powdered sugar was out on the kitchen counter, waiting for the french toast, waffles or pancakes while I stepped outside to say goodbye to my friend. When I came back in, to my dismay, there was a spoon in the jam, and half of the pint was gone, and there were little poofs of powdered sugar on the counter. Dad! Your blood sugar could spike your blood pressure or something.

 As my Father slipped into the simple things of life, I could see the innocence of him, childlike, and knew that I was in a position to show him the security of being able to trust someone. Sometimes the gift to our parents of our love and dedication, comes back to us many times. I knew instinctively that he had provided for my food and diapers and warm home when I needed it, and now was the time I could give back. Had I harbored a black wall of resentment and bitterness, my father would have died alone, I wouldn't have understood my life much better and learned many things, had the time to get to know my dad as a person, or realized the fierce love my Father had for me made him the best Advocate a daughter had ever had.

 No wonder despite his out-of-control violent behavior as a child, I always felt a warm blanket of protection in the world. My Father seemed huge, like a grizzly bear, fierce, strong and mentally astute. His observations and creativity and independence were forces to be reckoned with. Just his vocabulary was intimidating for most. His black hair and barrel chest and resonating commanding voice could terrify or offer a shelter.

The love of my father, and the unconditional love of a little girl welcoming her 'daddy' when he came home, was a mutual blessing. Who knows that it didn't keep him checked so he didn't totally unhinge at home? Though the triangulation of his favoritism with the jealousy of my mother who just wanted to be loved and her stonewalled rejection of me caused irreparable damage, revisiting it all in his elder years gave me a kind of peace, like the dove of confirmation had finally come home and quieted the confusion. The responsibility I felt though, when he was violent, like I was the reason he didn't just kill everyone, was quite a burden. It was the reason I didn't feel I could leave home, during a Bradshaw Workshop exercise of revisiting a childhood setting. I had to protect everyone else by just being there. No wonder taking care of others has always seemed my place.

I only wish I were older and more mature and less affected by going down the old home road, when I made the video. I would have talked less, but my dad's short-term memory made it necessary to herd him back on the road many times. He also wanted to avoid many things, but I was so PROUD of his honesty, and admissions. We laughed, and I silently cried, as we went down his long-term 'memory lane'. How many people get a Life Review on the planet, and someone to care, and listen to them?

I took the time to tape my father, asked him questions, brought up many subjects, because of my love and dedication to the puppy pile I grew up with. This videotaped history was to be sent to my siblings after the death of my father.Most of them lived in Utah. When he died 3+ years ago, I paid to copy the two video tapes, and sent it to my sister Alison. I don't believe she ever finished watching and listening to it, and she indicated nobody else was interested to. In making that decision, many secrets of their lives, things that shaped their childhood years and characters and futures, will be forever buried and lost.

I think the many nieces and nephews should ask to see this video or get it from me. When I was a child, we were not allowed to know anything, like we had no rights. This kept us in the dark, inhibited our maturity and ability to learn and create boundaries. The old adage that children are to 'be seen and not heard', (or herded around as dispossessed obedient sheep) was my experience. It does NOT prepare children for the world. Of course there are age appropriate revelations, but the confusion and torn threads of reality as if a child's feelings and formation of reality didn't matter, was inexcusable.

(I suspect one of my sibs or nephews absorbed a lot of gossip about my life, as if it were true, because I received several long comments full of bizarre accusations on this blog. I hope that person can contact me and learn the truth, instead of being fooled into believing a lot of nonsense. Usually we each have the most accurate account of our lives...) Sometimes I wonder if I will ever rub shoulders with my tribe again, on this earth.

My mother was always the person that 'didn't want to know'. (To see to what degree, put Crazymaking in the SEARCH box on this blog and read the poem I wrote about my experience with her.) She would bury her head in the sand, and compartmentalize reality. She did this when it was disclosed that my youngest brother and sister and her husband had sexually abused some of my children. She had her own share of childhood grief, and after a tough life with my father, poverty, abuse and finally a divorce after 22 years and 10 children, she wanted a better life. My brother Evan once said, in her Highland, Utah home, that she has a 'wallet', (as in a husband with a wallet), and so I guess that security was what sufficed, as she sacrificed her own daughters and grandchildren on the alter of ignorance and looking the other way, hoping 'things' had stopped with her youngest son, and that any stories of her husband who had been a Mormon Bishop while single in California, could not be admitted as evidence on her watch. How many of her children and grandchildren did he have access to, and betray their trust and damage?

Though my Mother's way to try and save the family was to scramble and cover up, invite me to an Anne of Green Gables themed party while my oldest daughter was in Foster Care, as if nothing had happened, I can understand her grief and shock, and the options she felt she had, to protect the whole. I cannot black and white her as good or evil, for she was one of the hardest working mothers I knew, raising ten children, often in abject poverty, in a lonely and abusive relationship. We all make serious errors, or will, in our lives. Just the act of judgment or lack of compassion as if we know what we'd do in similar circumstances, is rancid.

Though I admired my mother in many ways, her type of dishonesty and enabling led to the destruction of her family. Some have not yet taken account of that. Frosted cupcakes at family dinners and pictures of temples and 'prophets' will not ever ameliorate or erase the additional 'footprints' of violated innocence, left in the sand.

 Which of the rest of the nieces and nephews would ever dare speak up, to tell their own truth, after the shunning of me and my family? When you can't trust your own blood, and your experiences aren't allowed, what do you trust in this world? This is one reason that I don't think many religions are necessarily healthy. Brainwashing with repeated materials and music, propaganda, choosing and prohibiting full disclosure of educational materials to learn about the world-- creates Stepford Wives. Living as dispossessed, limited humans is a waste of life and time, in my humble opinion.

Despite the embellishment of my Father's reality, to admit some of his errors was admirable. In no way do I think he admitted all. My mother once said there was not anything she had done as a Mother that she regretted. As a mother of seven myself, I found that troubling. Truly, life seems to be a circus of errors and a path laden with forays into forgiveness.

To be continued....

A Proud Dad and his little Sausage Baby Nico.
The kind of gentle father you want your daughter
to marry. My second daughter's husband, Alfonso.
"The best thing you can do for your children,
is to love their mother."
My Father and little Grandson Joseph
Six of my siblings and a nephew I've never met:
Evan, Melinda, Lisbeth, Nephew Chris, Alison,
Wendy and Christopher.
Missing in picture: Jessie, Pamela (me), Lisa -Chris's mom,
and brother Aaron.
My mother is still living, also. See picture below.

My Father in his eighties.
Dad had vascular dementia, or basically,
short-term memory problems. 
My Mother w/ Sister Alison
Mom has Alzheimer's now.

Questions? Contact me at

Domestic violence, family history, parents, conflict resolution, forgiveness, sexual abuse, dementia, Alzheimer's, fatherhood, fathers, mothers, motherhood, 

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