Family


Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be

Jim Horning

My brother Michael who lives in Austrailia (he REALLY ran away from home! LOL) was in Clay Center for the weeked last weekend and my nephew who lives up here with my son made a flying trip out to spend some time with the fam. I went to Edgerton to spend time with the kids and grandkids Friday night and as usual Greg was my ride there and back so I got to hear all the gory details.

We agreed that the Gavins put the FUN in dysfunctional. Apparently Mike has mellowed over the years. He’s filthy rich so he can afford to be mellow but according to Greg he’s the fun member of the family while Chuck who used to be the laid back hippie with the long hair and easy going attitude and lifestyle has become a fundamentalist Christian who won’t say shit–at least not in front of his wife.

He hides the fact that he smokes weed from her and will not let her hear any of the stories about his wild child days. He’s become a totally competitive nutjob who has tied up his whole self-worth in his job and how much effing money he makes. That seemed to happen over night too. But he doesn’t try to hide his gambling and his need to make everything a competition. Has christianity become a contest for material possesions? Oh right, the properity doctrine!

He majored in journalism in college with a minor in sociology which was really cool. He’s a good writer. But when he graduated he got a job selling semi trucks and found out that like most Gavins he could sell air and make a profit. So then he went into selling insurance and then it was advertising and now he’s selling mortgages. When he started selling insurance he cut his hair, bought a three piece suit and a split level house on a cul-de-sac.

The next time I saw him, barely a year later, he had become A THREE PIECE SUIT and his hippie wife was totally miserable. Patty Jo told me once she absolutely hated living on a dead end street. She said it pretty much summed up their marriage. She stuck with him for a few years for the sake of their son but eventually she left. I definitely didn’t blame her. She and I were close and I knew her side of the story. It wasn’t pretty.

Michael went to a Tech School and took up computers back in the really early days. Early 70s. He’s a smart cookie and he began writing programs that could organize inventories. He went into the mining industry and he made a big splash. He rose fast and furious. He’s 52 I guess and I don’t really know what he does because I haven’t spoken to him in almost 15 years or seen him in 20.

I guess he got pissed when I told him I thought he should stop and think about it when he called me to tell me he was getting married the third time so soon after his second divorce. He may have been pissed because my mother didn’t come to the second wedding and I was supposed to bring her. I always wondered what that bitch told him about that incident. I will write about that sometime. What a cluster fuck. That was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my mother.

He’s been married 15 years to this wife. I think that’s a record amongst the siblings. According to the nephew this wife is really ballsy and doesn’t take any shit from him. That’s good because he’s got a personality just like Dad. And me. Intense. Volistic. Manic. And the Gavin men were raised to be chauvinists of the first order. I often wondered if Mike was physically abusive to his wives. He doesn’t have children.

I guess Greg and he had a conversation about me and Michael said it was just easier not to try to reconnect after 20 years. I think maybe from what Greg said I could be the one to make the first move and Michael would be OK with it. don’t know if I want to. Part of me fears rejection. Part of me worries I’ll open up the door and really dislike him. I can’t stand Chuck and basically tol him to bugger off 10 years ago because he was an ass. I have no respect for Jimmy because he’s a chauvinistic pig who is using the hell out of the woman who is living with him. He doesn’t give a shit about her and would kick her out in a heart beat if somebody better came along but she begs to be used so he does. He used to call me up and brag about it until I told him to knock it off. He doesn’t call me anymore. Greg told him the same thing so maybe he thinks I influenced Greg but to be frank, Greg influenced me.

I think I owe Michael an apology about some things that happened when we were children. It has been bothering me a long time. I might send him an email about that. I’ll have to talk it over with Harry first.

B

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href=”“>Bless the beasts and the children
The Carpenters

There are so many ways we can abuse so much in this world. We can even abuse the planet itself as Al Gore has pointed out in his Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I am not a Christian, I have made that very clear on several occasions in my Blogs but I believe the myths human beings tell to explain their occupation of this planet are powerful. The Christian creation story has a compelling message that I think that Christians and non-Christians alike can take a valuable lesson from regarding our role as stewards of this planet and its inhabitants.

I am going to use the King James 1611 Bible because I love the majesty of the Elizabethan Language. I don’t think it makes much difference which translation you use. This part of the story of “In the beginning…” is pretty clear.

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

This story is centuries old. It was almost certainly passed along as an oral tradition long before it was ever written down and there were many versions before it was recorded in this beautiful 16th century iambic pentameter. The main point that I want to dwell on here is that HUMANS have DOMINION over everything else in the world.

Dominion. That’s a strong word to use. We were to dominate or rule over all the animals and all of the fishes in the sea and the fowl that flies and all the creepy crawly things too.. We have complete charge of everything else in the world. The creator god gave it all to us. If you believe in this creator God I don’t see how you can fail to believe that you have been commanded by God to take care of his creation.

If you are a disbeliever perhaps you could take a moment to reflect that these supposedly primitive people back in the dark recesses of time recognized that it was OUR duty to take care of this planet. They believed that an almighty force, a supernatural being they believed to be the creator of everything around them, gave THEM the power to rule over everything. They recognized their status as the beasts highest on the food chain and understood the moral responsibility that that implied. Can we do any less?

Taking care of this planet and ALL OF ITS INHABITANTS, right down to the most seemingly insignificant species of fly in the muckiest marsh in the backwoods of nowhereville is essential to our own well being. This is it, folks, this is all we’ve got. This planet and its inhabitants depend on us to be good stewards. WE MUST STOP THE ABUSE!

Each of us can stop the abuse by choosing our own particular interest and taking a proactive part in being good stewards. Humananity has been thoughtless and cruel for far too long. There are many, many causes that need to be taken up and battles that need to be fought. You might find the destruction of our rain forests to be particularly reprehensible or you might have issues with substance abuse in your life or you might want to take up the cause of making sure that everyone spays and neuters their pets. There is something for everyone to do.

I have a particular interest in preventing child abuse. How do you prevent child abuse? You can make a determined heroic promise that you will never ever abuse a child and I will truly believe that you would never WANT to do that. But if you were abused as a child I would bet that the odds are better that 50/50 that you will abuse your own child in some way, shape, or form if you do not seek professional help.

Don’t believe me? Check the statistics on the ‘net.

I did. I hate the fact that I did. But I did.

I hit my children when I was angry. I said terrible things to them. Things that no mother should ever say to her babies. Eventually it got so bad I HAD to seek professional help because I was horrified by my behavior. I was horrified but I couldn’t stop. I was out of control.

I had to admit that I needed help if I was going to to end the cycle of abuse. If you are a parent who is in the position I was in, please, seek help. You can get help through your local Child Welfare Services, Domestic Abuse Crisis Lines or family doctor. The professionals you turn to will understand. You will not be punished and your children will not be taken away from you if you come forward. YOU are NOT a bad person but your behavior can and must change.

If you were abused as a child but don’t have children yet, PLEASE, seek professional help. Not only for your own sake, for the sake of your future children.

If you see a child being abused or know of a family where children are being abused DO SOMETHING. The child abuse hotline is 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4253) You can also help by getting involved in Child Abuse Prevention organizations

Make a decision to stop the abuse. Choose Hope.

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

The children
The children

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Tomorrow is the big day. BlogCatalog intends to make history with bloggers around the world Blogging for Hope and against abuse. The Guiness book of Recoods is at stake here. And you can win a prize!

To be a part of this just grab a logo, link to blogcatalog and write about stopping abuse. Substance abuse, animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse. Republican abuse ;^>. Whatever stikes your fancy. I’ve got my entry written and ready to roll. you can read it here tomorrow. Write on everyone.

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A reminder to myself and others that this Blogging event is happening soon.

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the night and the empty skies my love
To the night and the empty skies

Roberta Flack

The pain of my parents’ betrayal lies deep in my Psyche. It’s hard to talk about how deep the wounds my mother and father inflicted go but especially my mother because she was the supposed sane one. My father was certifiable, in and out of psychiatric wards from the age of 17 until his death at age 47.

My Mother didn’t “go crazy” until I started talking to her about how hurt and angry I felt about some o the things she did. Then she had a “nervous break down,” effectively shutting me down and protecting her status as the victim. It’s hard to write about it. It’s hard to think about it because I get so angry at her for manipulating me for so many years and for continuing to try to manipulate me now.

The closest I’ve come to actually talking about the ways my Mother abused and betrayed me is some abstract poetry that really doesn’t tell it all. It just hints at what happened and how I felt at that moment. None of my therapists have really wanted to hear about what my mother was up while Daddy was putting his filthy hands all over me.

That was secondary and she was not at fault. My father was the offending parent. Like Harry they aren’t listening to what the hell happened in that situation. They aren’t hearing what I am saying. This woman told me she wished I had died instead of her first born son. She told me this repeatedly for 17 years.

God damn-it, I’d rather had my father’s beatings and his hands in my panties than that refrain echoing in my head for 55 years. Why can’t these crazy therapists understand that?

Truth be told, I feared my mother more than I feared my father because there was no end to the torture she inflicted upon me and my brothers. Daddy was violent at times and he was crazy heavy-handed. Mother had good reason to say “Stop, you’ll kill her!” He could become that enraged and he drew blood on more occasions than I care to count but once he stopped hitting you he was done.

Mother’s psychological warfare never let up though. The guilt at not having been the child she wanted when I was born still haunts me even though intellectually I know that this was one of the most patently ridiculous guilt trips of all. There was nothing I could have done to alter being who and what I was at birth. Had she said this to me once or twice, I might have remembered it and felt grieved but this was a litany that I heard at least once a month for 17 years.

And then there is the complicity and her actual participation in the sexual abuse. Perhaps this poem expresses it best. I don’t think I can write about it without becoming overly emotional and giving our perverted lurkers too much gratuitous information. This is my first memory of the incest.

Complicit

Three…I am three years old and it is dusk
the last few moments of daylight cast feeble shadows
across the white counterpane of my bed;
the sky is glowing pink fading to gray and
I can smell newly mowed grass and the bitter green
of dandelions gone to seed, the sweet yellow roses
blooming on the porch trellis beneath my window
and the faint whiff of Daddy’s Pall Malls.
And I, fresh from a bath, wearing only cotton panties
smell like ivory soap and baking soda
dabbed on mosquito and chigger bites that still itch.
My hair is damp and your hands are harsh
brushing out the tangles, warning me
“Sit still! Don’t wiggle! Be quiet, you’ll wake up the baby!”

I have this memory now, I’ve brought it up
from the cellar where bad dreams and the sad tears
of little girls are kept when it’s too hard to remember.
I’ve claimed it now even though I’d rather push
it back to that time and place when I was only three
and freeze myself in that chair getting my hair brushed free
of snarls and your hands are impatient and tired.

It came to me in bits and pieces at inconvenient times
in inconvenient places as if it had a life of its own,
refusing to be denied, ignored. It came and insisted
that I recall every single moment, every single
assault on my senses, every single thought and emotion
that ran through my three year old mind that night.
It comes again and again insisting that I recall this information
And when it comes I am, for the duration, three again…

Listening to you walk wearily down the stairs,
the soft murmur of your voice and Daddy’s
deeper and louder, the thump of the screen door
and the heavy tread of his weight on the stairs.
The smell of oil and grease on his blue jeans,
stale cigarette smoke lingering in the fabric of his shirt.
The heat and humidity, sweat on his hands
when he rubs my back and whispers, “Turn over, Baby.
Give your Daddy a kiss goodnight.” The thumping of my heart
as I turn and give myself to his hands and meet
the vacant stare in your eyes as you stand,
watching from the doorway before you turn and walk away

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

B

Well they say the skys the limit
And to me thats really true
But my friend you have seen nothing
Just wait til I get through . . .

Because Im bad, Im bad-come on
(bad bad-really, really bad)
You know Im bad, Im bad-you know it
(bad bad-really, really bad)
You know Im bad, Im bad-come on, you know
(bad bad-really, really bad)
And the whole world has to answer right now
Just to tell you once again,
Whos bad . . .

Michael Jackson

I see someone has been googling Dr Israelstam again. What’s with that? It’s kind of creeping me out to get six hits on my pdoc. I think I know who it is and I don’t mind so much that he reads here. In fact, he’s more than welcome to read here. But geeze just book mark the Blog already.

Having all of this so/so information about who is reading your blog is kind of strange. Cool in a way but if you are the least bit paranoid it can get your antenna really quivering. I am more than the least bit paranoid On a scale of 1 ot 10 with 10 being so paranoid I would be dangerous if I had a gun and you were to walk up behind me and say boo, I am at least a 4 and maybe a 5. I don’t need any help in getting further up the scale, thank you very much.

Lots of good things going on in my life and lots of mixed blessings. #1 good thing. I am going to be a new Grammy. In fact, I sort of already am! My daughter who does foster care and has been waiting for 4 years to adopt a baby girl through the state has had a baby girl placed with her last weekend. She is 8 months old and her name is Trinity Rose. She came complete with a brother and a sister who may or may not be up for adoption as well. They have a different father than Trinity. In the meanwhile they are going to be in foster care with my daughter and son-in-law.

I am writing like a fiend and I am becoming something of a local “celebrity” or at least a known quantity. The Isthmus Daily Page must have me on a special alert thingie so that when I make a post on my Madison Blog they get notified and if it is Madisony enough and interesting enough they link to me. Dane 101 occasionally links to me as well. I am also writing at a site called Helium which is sort of like a contest thing. The short story I wrote for Gabe is #1 of 79. Wow!

This is a mixed blessing. I am having a hard time dealing with these successes. I feel like a fraud. I am sure someone is going to accuse me of plagiarism because I named the puppy in my story Yeller. I am scared to death that I will not be able to keep this up and my ability to write is really a fluke. It may disappear over night. I may not be able to write tomorrow. Gawd in heaven who ain’t help me.

I feel liked something bad is going to happen in my life. Some kind of doom is hanging over my head. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the sword to fall and cut off this happiness. I’m actually frightened by how well things are going in my life right now. Being this happy scares me. Something bad always happens to destroy it.

I remember journaling about that when I was dating Larry and damned if immediately after I started writing about those feelings the bad shit didn’t start happening. I now know that the vast majority of the shit was the Gremlins playing on my fears because they got at my journal and read about my insecurities but still… That bad fall I took at the Union wasn’t the Gremlins. Or was it? Was I pushed? I’m not certain. There were a lot of people there and they were crowding around us. I could have been…

I am juggling four Blogs and I may start another simply to put Gabe’s stories on. Good lord. Why have I taken on so much? Because I have so much to say I guess. I am going to try to get hold of the woman whose illustration on a card inspired the original story and see if she is interested in illustrating a book. I am going to write a children’s book. I’m scared to death but I believe I can do this.

My goal for my next session with Harry is to talk about why I feel like such a fraud when I am having this much success. Why am I so scared to be so happy and successful/productive?

B

Eyes seeking the response of eyes
Bring out the stars, bring out the flowers,
Thus concentrating earth and skies
So none need be afraid of size.
All revelation has been ours.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), U.S. poet. “All Revelation.”

My little brother was nine years old when he lost his eye. He lost it because of sheer neglect and the outright refusal of my parents to follow medical advice. He lost it because my father was in a paranoid deluded state of mind, quite likely manic as hell and my mother refused to stand up to him and put her children’s welfare first come hell or high water.

It began when my brothers were repairing boxcar pallets for my father at the Verona Grain Elevator. A nail-head Chuck was pounding on (or maybe trying to pull the nail out of the wood, I don’t remember) sheared off and struck Jimmy Dale in the eye. A simple accident that was no-body’s fault. It could have happened to anyone.

I don’t even have a recollection of hearing about him getting hurt. Did he run to Mother crying? I don’t know. Was he bleeding? I have no idea. But I can guess what might have happened if he did.

My parents did not take their children to doctors. I broke my arm near the elbow when I was roller skating once and my mother bound it up in a dishtowel until it healed. How do I know it was broken? A Doctor mentioned it when I had Xrays as an adult.

I walked to the Doctor on a broken leg without permission from my parents because it hurt so bad I knew something was seriously wrong. My Grandfather loaned me a cane. My mother was furious.

But this story is about Jimmy Dale and how he lost his eye. They didn’t take him to a Doctor right away. Grain Elevators are dirty environments. There is dust and chaff from the grain everywhere no matter how hard you try to keep it clean. The farmers bring it in with them on their clothes along with manure from the barn and animal hair from the cows they’ve been tending.

Jimmy got an infection in his injured eye. Still they didn’t take him to the doctor right away. Not until he could barely close his eye because it was so swollen and he was in so much pain. Then it was nearly too late.

They had to rush Jimmy to Hastings for emergency surgery on his eye and the prognosis was about 50/50 that he’d be able to see again. I remember waiting for him to come out of the operating room outside on the hospital lawn, sitting with my other brothers, trying to read a book and not being able to concentrate. I remember the three of us crying because we all tried to protect Jimmy Dale from everything and this time we failed. I remember Chuck cried hardest of all.

Then there were the long days of waiting until the bandages came off. Every day we would make the drive to see him. We kids couldn’t go up to see Jimmy Dale but we could stand on the lawn and yell hello up at his second story window. A few times they let him come down to the lobby to see us from a safe sterile distance.

We missed him very much. According to him, he liked being in the hospital and getting all that good attention. It was safe. I bet it was. The food was better. It probably was; my mother was a lousy cook and besides they gave him all the ice cream he wanted. He didn’t want to go home. I understand why.

But time marched on and eventually they declared him well enough to go home with instructions to change his dressings several times a day and keep the wound clean. He had some vision back and it was improving daily. Within less than a week my father wanted all of us out at the Grain Elevator, including Jimmy and Mother.

They fought about it. I remember the fight. The gist of Dad’s arguemnt was that Mother did the books and she was very far behind. She had to come back and get caught up and stay current or there would be hell to pay and they would lose the Elevator Gig–the family livelihood.

I remember getting involved in the fight and offering to stay home with Jimmy and tend to him. I could change his dressings and put the salve in his eye. I was, after all, almost 14 and had been minding the boys while my parents worked since I was 9.

No effing way that was going to happen my father roared. The only reason I wanted to stay in town was so I could run all over the place chasing boys. That was part of his paranoia. Part of the reason we all had to go to work with him everyday. So I wouldn’t be left to my own devices to chase boys.

Mother caved in! She took that child back into that ungodly filth place and the inevitable happened, he got another infection. Once again those monsters did not rush him to the doctors right away. They kept treating him with the salve that they were given when he left the hospital thinking that would cure it if they doubled up on it.

By the time they decided that they had to take him in the prognosis was so dismal that my parents were flat out told before he went into the operating room that he would not see out of the eye again and it was doubtful they could save it. But they tried.

Within two weeks the eye was essentially dying and had to be removed. All told, my Jimmy spent more than 6 weeks in the hospital that summer.  He got very attached to one of the nurses there.

My little brother was going to be blind in one eye for the rest of his life. All because my pathethetic excuse for a father was too paranoid to let his family be out of his sight and a big enough of a bully to get his way. All because my crazy Mother could not or would not stand up to my selfish father and tell him her children came first no matter what the consequences might have been.

But you know what, I don’t think the children ever came first with her. SHE came first. She would do whatever was expedient to avoid any serious conflict with my father that would cause HER problems and we children were always sacrificed for the cause. Over and over and over again.

Jimmy Dale may have paid the highest price of all of us.

B

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