Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Random Tidbits

Posted: July 8, 2015 in journal
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“If you could not accept the past and its burden there was no future, for without one there cannot be the other.” Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

Morning Sun,oil on canvas (2015), 76x60 cm (24x30)

Morning Sun,oil on canvas (2015), 76×60 cm (24×30)….

An aside to the story.

Today with now over 3 inches of unprecedented rain here in the high desert in just 2 days, my mind drifts to my mother and I found myself remembering her in a loving way in spite of all her faults.

Memories are quite tricky. There are the real memories and there are the perceptions of memories tainted by stories of other people’s memories. One would think that being a highly visual, empathic and intuitive person, my memories would shine but they don’t. Blocked out by so many unfortunate incidences, the ones I do possess are spotty tatters at best. Sometimes they are like old silent films, scratchy with a jerky camera. Other times they are vignettes of a Cecil B. D’Mille production in Technicolor.

Three, real or not, still stand today.

My mother once told me a story of when I was 2 or 3 years old. She had left me for a second to answer the telephone when suddenly she heard me screaming. It seems I had gotten into a fire ant pile and was covered in ants. Whether or not the story is true makes no real difference, what is fascinating is that to this day if there is an ant, any kind of ant, within a couple of miles of me, it will find me and bite me. It is as if my DNA merged with the ant so long ago and they have never forgotten.

There was another she told in a semi-dis-believing voice. She told me I came home from kindergarten one day, dirty and tattered as usual from being beaten up by the other kids, much to her continuing dismay. Upon her questioning as to what happened this time, it seems I looked at her and said, “ I am so very sorry, a mistake was made, this is the wrong time and I cannot fix it!” She said I frightened her and had no idea about what I could be talking. I was in my 30’s when she told me these two stories, they both made sense to me, the second just reinforced that continued feeling of perhaps I fell though a crack in time was just misplaced in the grand scheme of the universe.

Then there was the story of my invisible friend with whom I spoke when I thought I was alone, until I was 8 or 9. I guess being as there was never any other children I was allowed to play with, and my siblings would not have anything to do with me, I created my own friends. My mother said she purchased a turtle for me and that small creature solved the problem of me having someone with whom to talk.

Finally there was the time we were living together in Houston. I actually remember this! It was a Saturday and she put the dirty clothes in the basket to take to the laundry room. As usual, I carried the fabric softener, bleach and soap power.   That day for some reason I decided carrying two objects instead of three would be easier, so I mixed the soap power and bleach together in an empty coffee can. Halfway to the laundry room the can began to heat up getting hotter, so I set it down on the ground, and as I did it exploded covering me and a large area with bleach soap bubbles. My mother was several steps ahead of me and we both laughed until we cried.

Those were the only stories of me my mother had to tell where she actually smiled and laughed. There were no other good stories, just those minute fragments of joy and light.The rest were just alcohol induced, perceived illusions of me, which allowed her to escape reality of who I really was, allowing her to swim in the dark sea of her mind. It was her way of justifying the years.

Those stories were not funny at all and still make me cry. Tears and laughter seem to weigh the same and I do not feel the burden of their presence.

Red Sky, oil on canvas, 91x152 cm (36x60

Red Sky, oil on canvas, 91×152 cm (36×60)

“Again I see you, but me I don’t see! The magical mirror in which I saw myself has been broken, And only a piece of me I see in each fatal fragment – …”

Fernando Pessoa, Poems of Fernando Pessoa

..The Story continues…..

It is nearly impossible to write about that 3-year period; even after 20 years the pain and agony of the betrayal of everything I knew to be true still brings tears to my eyes, my heart rips open and my breath quickens.

Pieces. I will give you the pieces and the main facts. I will try to be the observer and be brief.

The holidays were almost always spent in New Orleans. We would go there or my aunt and uncle would come to us. Thanksgiving or Christmas, we switched around. Then one day my uncle while watching the news grabbed his chest and died.

The pain of his passing was no less or greater than the death of any one individual on earth, but my aunt really never recovered.

Traveling to New Orleans, we buried him and I settled what little was left of his estate. My aunt had never written a check in her life, she had no concept of a budget or even where money came from. My uncle had given her everything she wanted, shielded her from everything else, and in doing so died penniless and in great debt. Through a great attorney, the IRS would not act on the 200,000 tax lien against house and property.  The arrangement was that at the death of my aunt the property would be sold and the IRS would take its due. Because of this lien, I was able to notify the debtors they would have to stand behind the IRS, and all consequently wrote off the 80,000 in additional debts. My aunt’s only income would be my uncle’s meager social security. However, his sister Nan was quite frugal and wise in her ways and came to the rescue, willing to share what she had and my aunt took whatever she could.

Two years later, Nan’s boyfriend of 26 years, clutched his chest and died leaving her his entire estate along with the unfinished estates of his 3 sibling and nearly one half a million in cash. Not only did my aunt’s eyes gleam, but also so did Capitan’s halfway around the world.

So it was a fateful Thanksgiving that my aunt came to visit us, and laid out a desperate situation and begged me to come to New Orleans and help. She feared that the “family” now stealthily control by Capitan though my first cousin, was trying to rob poor Nan blind.

Both of these women were in their 80’s, and I felt the obligation to aide where I could. January of 1994, I flew back to New Orleans to have a look for myself at the situation. What I saw was an unacceptable situation that needed to be righted.

I went back home, telling my husband I would only be gone for a month or two to try to put things in order. Within the first few days of my arrival the family went into hysteria. Driven by the unknown quantity of me, and the fact I was not under their control, they declared war. The lawyers of the family issued verbal threats on my continued health, written threats were received anonymously in the mail.

The situation was plain to see: here were two old ladies, one already going a bit dotty and the other, my aunt, filled with a bit of greed and jealously over Nan’s inheritance; and there were a bunch of vultures on the side calling themselves family, willing to help them both into an early grave so they could get their hands on all the property and the money.

The first thing I did was to go directly to a old friend of Capitan’s, a prominent attorney, whose name I remembered hearing when I was a child, and I retained one of their best estate lawyers. Both aunts then gave me absolute power of attorney and the family took one step back. Licked their wounds and planned the next attack.

Though the attorney and a good accountant we were able to settle all of the open estates and have a proper succession of Nan’s boyfriends family so everything was in Nan’s name with my aunt as the primary beneficiary upon her death. In the meantime they would both enjoy a comfortable living on the invested proceeds of the estate.

Everything seemed to be running smoothly. Nan was living in her boyfriends duplex, visiting her own house once in a while with a handyman/gardener to manage the grounds and repairs as needed. The property and house in Lacombe, La would just sit until the aunt’s were ready to sell. Bank accounts had been established and each aunt would receive a stipend of nearly $5,000 a month; I thought I could now leave, letting Nan and Patty get on with their lives and just visit occasionally.

Little did I know that while all this was going on, my beloved aunt was telling the family she had no idea what I was doing or why I had come down and just taken over.

Unaware of her conversations with the family, I filled her in on all the details and she told me everything would be fine and she would call if needed. Then I went to speak to Nan. We had coffee at one of her favorite spots and I explained to her how since everything was in order and running smoothly I would head back home and if she needed me I was only a plane ride away.

She broke into tears. She began to tell me things Patty had said to the family in her presence, thinking she did not hear or understand. “Since Clarence (her boyfriend) died”, she said, “I have been praying and praying for someone to come and help me. And when you came I knew God had sent an angel. I do not know if I can manage without you but if you must, go I will understand.”

We spoke for a long time, my empathetic heart breaking with each spoken word, knowing that staying was something I now had to do because deep in my heart, I knew what would happen without my physical presence to stand as guardian.

I looked into my souls mirror and saw the first cracks, but I looked away, my altruism taking hold, my “polyananess” ignoring the small red flags, I just knew this was something I had to do, had to fix, had to help, had to protect.

I did not even consider that there would be no one to protect me.