I was born in 1959 in a little town in Northern California. While that is probably not very significant, the fact that I was my mother’s ninth child, my father’s tenth child and my parents’ fifth child together is significant. I know, confusing right?
From the moment I can remember anything about my life, I was surrounded by lots of people. Not only did I have a bunch of siblings but I also had many cousins. There was always someone to play with.
My parents were hardworking people who made their living off the land.
As a matter of fact, my father’s occupation is on my birth certificate. Ranch hand. I find it interesting that my dad’s profession was necessary on my birth certificate. In a way, I have been “classed” from the beginning.
I don’t recall much about my years in Paicines, because we moved to Michigan when I was two. One of my first memories in Hart was when my father was going to see the house he and Mother had just purchased.
I snuck in the back seat of our big DeSoto and hid there, and after about a minute on the road my father said, “You might as well come out now, sis, and sit in the front seat.” I guess I hadn’t been as stealth as I thought. I happily jumped into the big front seat and bounced around without a seatbelt.
My dad told me to open the glove box and when I did I saw a big Hersey’s chocolate bar that was all for me. We arrived at the new house, and with chocolate on my face and hands, we walked in to take a look around.
I have a picture in my head of the house bare, and I am looking out the pretty French doors that would never be used. It seemed so big at that moment. We filled that house with furniture and belongings and ran in and out the backdoor many times.
We grew up playing and working outside, but every single day we sat around the dining room table together while Mom dished up our plates and we chatted away. I loved playing outside with my brothers and sister and have many good memories of that home.
I also have memories that are hard to understand.
One time I saw my father pick up one of my brothers and throw him on the ground. The same man who called me sis and gave me that chocolate bar was also the one who could be mean and abusive. Those things can be hard to reconcile.
When I was seven or eight I ran away with my sister, Janet. She told me she was being abused and wanted out. So we packed a few things and slinked out the back door early one summer morning.
I had no idea where we were going and neither did my sister. We wandered around for a bit and then found a road to follow. By mid day a police officer drove by and stopped to ask our names.
That was my first and only ride in a police car.
We had good times and bad growing up in that house but everything was about to change for us all. We would find out the hard way what, or rather who was the glue that held us all together.
What I learned: Things are not always black and white.