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Monday, July 16, 2012

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 30 Back in Albany New York


My Mother would tell stories of how her Mother was rich for awhile as a little girl. Mom would drag out pictures of her Mother standing next to her, my Great Grandmother. 


In every photo she would look beautiful, her hair done up and a fur coat was draped over her shoulders. I never saw a picture of her Father. When I asked my Mom about this, she would roll her eyes and say, “Who do you think is taking the picture?”

My Grandmother would see these pictures of her childhood and mist up. We all knew that her Father died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918, leaving her and her Mother penniless. If her Father was mentioned, my Grandmother would drift off into her own world, cover her mouth with the back of her hand and a girlish giggle would leave her mouth. She was always seven years old in her mind.

My Mothers Father was my Grandmothers second wife. The first wife was never mentioned. It was a scandal to be the second wife of a divorced man in those days. We were told to never ask my Grandparents about that story, ever, period. Even if it looked as if you were approaching a similar story in the presence of my Grandparents, my Mother would shoot you down with a look.

My Grandfather was a very handsome and strong man. He had raised his family in Syracuse New York. They had survived the depression, so everything in their house was reused. Use a paper towel, hang it out to dry. Want a chip? Then unwrap the rubber bands from the bag! Found mold in the cheese? Cut it out!

It was a fascinating house of rules and secrets. If you travelled too far with your questions though, you might get a pinch that twists skin and leaves a bruise from Mom or Grandma.

My Mother was very close and saw her parents a lot. Christmas wasn’t Christmas if we didn’t wait at the top of the stairs for Grandpa to come out of the bathroom. Hours would pass after he went in. We would try to push each other in there after he would emerge.

Mom was always being put down by my Grandmother, either over the phone or in person. Nothing she did could ever rise to her level if it was done by my Mother. When my Grandparents would return home from visiting us, my Mother would slide into a funk. She would take daily naps for hours opening her door to scream at us. She would have her pre-cocktail in the middle of the afternoon and more at 5pm.

The biggest threat to me was always “Wait until your Father Gets home.” If she was really mad at me, she would call him at work. Mom tended to embellish stories, so when Dad would arrive home he was furious as hell and ready to kill. I remember beatings so bad with a belt that I would black out.

I also learned at a very early age to feel nothing. I would shut down and not feel pain, not feel emotions, just not feel anything. This would make them crazy and my Mom would stand at the door and egg my Father on to beat me again.

Sometimes I would enter a black hole where I would come out of it and not remember much of anything that had just happened. My Mom’s rules were just that, her rules. She was a completely different person when my Father wasn’t home and when he would arrive she would play the victim in the house.

Once, my Mother had so embellished a story to my Grandfather, that he grabbed me around the throat and began to strangle me. He was so angry he didn’t realize that I couldn’t breathe as he repeatedly banged my head on the wall.

When he let me slide to the floor, I could see my Mom standing in the hall with a smirk on her face. Then she reached over and shut my bedroom door.

To be continued…..

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.  

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