Tuesday, June 27, 2006

OB Where Thou Art

If you were to ask me about my childhood, I would have been reluctant to tell. It's old and tired and I try to excise it from my mind; but it keeps coming back, at the oddest times, invading my space. The travail I endured certainly served a purpose, as it strengthened me for what lie ahead with my own children and beyond. Never-the-less, had I been in charge of the script, it most assuredly would have had a different plot line.

Tar-Baby, Sambo, Buckwheat, for a time I heard these taunts on a regular basis. My OB's litany of derogatory comments color my image perception even today, for his opinions were shared and voiced by many. Moreover, I expected my OB to 'stick up' for me, it was not to be. I might have been able to chalk his abuses up to big brother bs had it not been for the intensely vitriolic delivery of not just words but pushes, shoves and punches.

I don't know why he was so angry, at me, at the world. It came in waves and flooded our family with venom.

Ultimately, OB's anger spiraled from bad attitude to bad acts. He spent most of his teens and early adulthood stealing, gambling, lying, drinking, drugging, fussing and fighting. He was in and out of jail, in and out of his mother's house, in and out of his mind.

It was the late 80's when he was in his late 20's that he decided to leave. He took a 2nd, 3rd or more hand bicycle and headed towards Louisiana; toward his dad and away from those who tried to help. His parting grace, kiss his ass.

My mother cried, drank and sedated. All the while, YB sought and found different ways to destroy.

OB stayed away for over 15 years. Most of those 15 we didn't know where he was. We found out that he made it to Louisiana, not on the bike, found his way to Texas, then California, then back to Texas. It was during the second stint in Texas when Mom got a letter from prison authorities wanting, among other things, to confirm the existence of his next of kin.

He came back to Illinois six or seven years ago. The reunion was short and not at all sweet.

OB went back to Texas and eventually back to jail. Mom writes, he calls with the calling card she sent him, probably with the money I gave her. She passes on his greetings to me. I pass them back.

He's due to be released, again, soon. He needs clothes. He asked for jeans and shirts, please. "Uhm, but could you send Levi's; I only wear Levi's."

In between a multitude of medical appointments, managing pain from a variety of syndromes, anxiety attacks, medication stupor, church, dealing with YB (and his family), making sure that I'm ok, she scours the resale shops looking for Levi's in his size.

And she cries, as do I.


  1. People make some odd choices in life, leaving their families behind wishing they'd made different ones.

  2. Very emotionally charged writing there, TOD.

    Like Suzanne said, it IS difficult when family members choose a path so different from our own. The regret for lost potential, the pain of the loss, and the continuing efforts to maintain as much of a relationship as possible are very real. As is the reality that you, and your mother, will never stop trying - or loving.

    Be well.

  3. Yes, they do. I'd spent years pondering why-then just accepting the is. Truth be told, I did, for a time, stop...trying. It became unbearable. However, seeing my mother suffer was even worse. So, I found / am finding a way.
    Thanks for the well wish.

  4. And there but for the grace of God, go I. So far.

  5. Sad.
    His Choices were not your fault.


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