Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Roller Coaster

The roller coaster: a ride found in amusement parks designed to thrill and scare you all at the same time by going slowly up the hill and then speeding at uncontrollable speeds down and around the curves.

Sounds awesome and frightening all at the same time, unless it is your life. The trick is to survive the ride. The constant mantra in my childhood home was, "what will the neighbors think?" To which I would reply, "what neighbors? we live in no mans land". It never ended well after that. The house had to be clean, and I mean clean, at all times. Before school all beds were to be made, dirty clothes downstairs, dishes done and something out of the freezer for dinner. 

My mother would take hours to clean our house. Don't get me wrong it was a big house with 15 rooms, but 3 were in the basement. For mom, cleaning the house meant starting early, around 8 am. From there she would start to dust the living room, stop and have a cup of coffee. Then the vacuum would come out, stop and have a cup of coffee. Then she would move to the hall and downstairs bedroom, oh wait, stop and have a cup of coffee. Then the bathroom toilet, no need to clean the shower, we were not allowed to use it. If we used the shower water could get on the floor and this would cause the floor to cave in, right, isn't that what happens? Oh yeah, time for coffee again.

When little sis and I clean the house, it took about one hour. We obviously do not know how to clean the house. But wait, we didn't drink coffee. 

Today she will tell you we never lifted a finger and she had to scrub the house every day. That even when she worked split shift she would clean between shifts. Now keep in mind we lived 30 minutes from town and she didn't drive. It is what I call revisionist history.

One day when my parents came home, little sis and I went to the lake with dad to swim. While there we could here a women screaming. After looking around we realized it was my mother up in the parking lot yelling at my dad. I wanted to swim under the dock and hide. When we got up to the parking lot she was furious. Little sis and I had forgotten to sweep under my grandmothers bed. 

It got to a point that my father would call us before he went to pick mom up from work and say, "get the house clean before she gets home," so he would not have to listen to her.  

All families have dirty clothes. Washing those clothes may vary from family to family. Mom washes in some houses, each person washes their own in others or a designated family washes everyone's. 

In our house, I was the one responsible to wash the clothes once I turned 13. The laundry was in our basement. (You need to know it was an old house that was leaky. Mice were normal, even snakes at times. If the rain was bad, water would start to pour in.) 

Laundry had to be taken to the basement daily. Once in the basement it needed to be sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away. Yes I said put away. I had to put everyone's laundry away for them.

One day, while in high school, my father made a point to tell me that he needed his undershirts washed. So when I got home from school, I washed and dried his shirts. Unfortunately for me I failed to put them in his armor. Instead, I put his folded clothes in the chair in his room. The next morning I was awakened by my bedroom door being kicked in. There stood my dad, yelling about not having his shirts. 

The roller coaster in motion.

We kept two deep freezers full of food and a rather large pantry in the basement of our home. Each day, little sis and I would take something out of the freezer and place it on the counter to thaw for dinner. This day I forgot. Not little sis but me. It was my responsibility to have the meat out so little sis could cook before mom got home. When I did get home, my dad opened the door to let me in. I had a glass dish in my hands that he offered to carry for me. I started to walk past him only to find myself planted in the stairs. He had had to go to the store and buy something for dinner and listen to mom complain. I was sent to my room for the rest of the night, no dinner, and told I would be paying for his dinner. 

Abuse comes in all forms and I was experiencing them. L/J did not try to help even though they had moved on and little sis was fighting her own way, with defiance. She would fight to the breaking point.

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