Driving into the metroplex, I found myself leery of my decision. Having spent summers in the big city of Dallas with my mother was different than choosing to live here as an eighteen-year-old boy. Yes, still a boy by most standards. The constant movement of people, cars, and noises was a change. Life was going to be different from the slow-paced country culture. A life of dirt roads, friendly neighbors, and the vast expanse of outdoor activities. The issue was not of my surroundings, but to actually live with my mother.
My mother, to put it plain and simple, was a very different personality.
When I was three months old, my mother left me with my brother, who was only three years old. We were left in an apartment while our father was away on business. From three different individual’s accounts, we were there for nearly a week. When my father’s mother, Granny, finally gave up hope as she could not reach our mother, Granny took it upon herself to get answers. Granny got ahold of the landlord of the apartments and met him the same day to open up the door. When she arrived, she was met by a neighbor who had a child my brother’s age, and was curious as well, as they usually played together. It was strange as our mother had not been over to the neighbor’s apartment in days.
What they found, she said haunted her for years. There was the pungent stench of dirty diapers and urine. My brother was on the floor playing with his toys, and I was asleep in a make-shift crib of Coors Original boxes. My brother could not reach to get me in my crib, so he had made a crib in the living room of old beer case bottoms. They found that he and I lived off the formula stored in the bottom cabinets in the kitchen. It was powdered, and my brother had figured out how to climb on the counter for water from the sink. Both of us covered in filth, Granny took us with her to her house in the next town.
As for the whereabouts of my mother, it was assumed she was drunk roaming around couch surfing. This was her typical behavior. She was not even married to my father. Well, my brother’s father. They were divorced shortly after my brother turned one. She left him with Granny and came back eighteen months later pregnant with me. Not knowing this until I was twenty-one. Either way, he signed my birth certificate knowing I was not his.
My first memories of my mother were when I was about three or four. I remember my father and stepmother telling me I had to go with this woman. This was after she had settled down and wanted to play mother again. I somehow knew she was “mom” but did not know her. I can honestly say, I never wanted to go. Even in my teens. It was different for my brother. He remembered her and missed her. Being raised until I was almost five by my Granny and Grandad, occasionally my father as well.
From the ages of six to my early teens, visits to my mother were every other weekend during the school year. Summer visits extended several weeks, sometimes almost the entire break. Again, all this time, I never wanted to be around her. Something in me felt distant, like a feeling of “what is going to happen next”. Transferring from a small rural suburban neighborhood with my father, to either a backwoods trailer park or urban lower income ghetto with my mother. I always made friends, as it was necessary to get away from her. The diversity I encountered at such a young age played a role in molding me into who I am.
One thing I also learned from a very young age was about sex, drugs, violence, and alcohol. Not to say a few of those were not around with my father, but I got the whole array when with my mother. One of her favorite pastimes was barhopping, partying, and house parties. My brother and I got to drag our unconscious mother out of bars, clubs, and strangers’ houses on several occasions. Sometimes she was clothed, other times, not so much. Got to see my mother get beat up by guys she met at bars or clubs. I also got to see her blind drunk and firing guns at the men that upset her. There was never any shortage of alcohol or drugs with her.
During the week I was playing with my G.I. Joes, riding bikes, and attending elementary school. On the weekends, playing babysitter to my mother, learning to drive a stick shift by necessity at 2am in the morning, and picking up cans for cash so my brother and I could feed ourselves.
I know she tried hard at times to be a good mother. Mental illness and a hard life took a toll on her. All of it took away her mental stability at a young age. Some would ask, ” How could your father let you and your brother have visitation with her?”. This is humorous as I will explain him at a later date. He knew. He did not care.
Would not say that all sums up my mother, but it is close…
My stomach turned as I got near the run-down trailer park she lived in. I knew I needed to find work as soon as possible. She had told me I would need to help her with rent and be able to feed myself. So much was going through my head. Still needing to enroll in summer school to graduate so I could I go to basic training. My recruiter was hounding me weekly on my progress. Pulling into the dirt entrance to the trailer park, I made my way down to her lot. There sat a small, very dilapidated 1960’s era trailer. One bedroom and one bathroom. Probably 400 square foot of living space. I pulled up and I stared out my windshield. What am I going to do?
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