Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are these Jugs Real? The Legacy of the Step Child Part IV

I am not sure if I will ever really know if I have the real Crazy Jugs or not.

There are a couple of pieces, trinkets that I recognize from the three bottles, but I think the three jugs that I have in my possession are not the original Crazy Jugs that my mom and her mother created. Ironic.

I do remember specifically asking for the Crazy Jugs during one of our phone calls. It was the time when my step dad asked me if I was interested in my mother's clothes. I said that I was not, but felt guilty about it. Like I was supposed to want my mom's size 3X older lady clothes that she probably bought on the clearance rack at KMart! Does that make me a bad, selfish daughter? She was always trying to get me to share her clothes with me. She would even buy two of the same outfits so she could keep an outfit for herself and give me the same outfit for my birthday. "No, I don't think I want any of her clothes, Tom," I answered. "I would like to have my Miami diploma and her Crazy Jugs though. They are probably in some of the boxes from the garage. I am going to try to come for a visit some time this summer for a few days and help you go through those boxes. I have to find someone to watch the girls though."

Not only did I have to find someone to watch my two children, ages one and four. But I also had recently learned during this time that my four year old daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Integration, ADHD and Autism. Finding someone to care for them would be challenging. I also had my own failed business I was trying to dissolve and we were in the midst of a move, buying and selling our house! Tom never seemed too concerned for all of my issues though. He did however keep some pseudo jugs for me. I found them in special boxes in the garage later that year that he so carefully set aside for me.

It was in one of those boxes I found the three Crazy Jugs that I have now. However, just as my step father hid my mother's real gold and diamond jewelry from me and tried to trick me with all of her costume jewelry, he didn't want me to have the original Crazy Jugs. My step father probably kept them or sold them for a quarter at his garage sale.

I am still so angry towards him. I know that he is elderly and that he loved my mom very much for 15 years. He was very special to my mother. He swept my mother's heels off the floor of single-hood and was a world traveling partner to my mother. I also recognize that he added value to my life in other ways along my journey. He made the opportunity for me to travel to Europe one summer in college. I made memories that summer that will last my entire life!

He was a good guy. He once was very accomplished engineer for the city of Cincinnati. But, with the stress of losing my mom and his years of life pushing upward to 80, the dementia has started to shrivel his character and his heart I once adored. I once admired him for his advice and would seek his guidance in the areas of my career and matters of the heart. He was the warm fatherly figure that my own dad could not be for me. He was supportive and stable for both my mom and me. He's pictured in my photos with me from my first college dorm room, graduation from Miami University, my first job overlooking Michigan Avenue in Chicago, my broken hearts from all the chaps before I met Fred, my courtship and wedding with Fred and the births of my two children. He has shared an important role in some of the most significant chapters of my life.

Yet, the role that he has played since my mom passed away has been far from fatherly towards me. More like a villain and a shrewd thief.

I haven't talked to my step father since we left last Christmas time. That was the time when I first learned about my mother's will. The will only allowed me to have her jewelry and day to day belongings. The day to day belongings that he had boxed up for a garage sale to sell shortly after she passed away.

There were a few boxes that were set aside in the garage and were labeled "For Andrea." When I saw the tattered boxes, I was hopeful and dare I say, even excited. Alone in the cold smelly garage, I smiled like a child who just caught her mommy's attention after months of absence and neglect. I had hoped that my mom had branded certain items that she wanted me to have someday. I was hoping to find special items from my childhood. And when I started to unravel the items in the boxes, I admit that there were a few items that indeed took me down memory lane.

The large green Mother Goose book that my mom and I read every night before bed was in one of the boxes. That was the same book that I had resting on my knee one wintery night as I hopped into the bed and the top corner of the spine poked my upper lip. I still have the small scar underneath my nose. I can still recall my mom holding me like a rag doll as she ran frantically up and down the hallway not knowing if she should take me to the hospital.

Setting in the same box, I recognized some old oafy stuffed monkeys from my grandmother. She would bring me big stuffed monkeys she'd buy from the corner drug store just before arriving for her visits with me while my mother took weekend trips with her boy friends.

There also were photo albums. I was looking forward to spending time on those only to find out of the 20 albums, several of them were full of photos of my mother with male friends whom I didn't even know. The other albums are priceless to me - at least I think that is the way I am supposed to feel about photo albums from my childhood, right?

And, then there were a lot of other things in the boxes that I couldn't decipher. What were they? Were they garbage? And, why were these items marked just for me? Broken picture frames, papers from my mother's college days, reams of paper and notebooks from my step father's surveying business. And, at the bottom of each of these shredded, mildew-infested boxes, were droppings, maybe from rats, most likely from the demons who lurked around me while I tried to grieve and cry out to God to heal my broken tattered and wounded heart.


Tammy Warren said...

Hey...sounds like you have a old box like mine. Even though you only have a handful of things you at least have something. I am going to turn into a preacher of sorts...I never knew my real father that much. The only father I knew was my stepfather. Well, I knew my father but he was not a part of my life. Then, my mom left my stepfather when I was 20. She never knew this but it tore me apart. I loved him so much. Then, he remarried and left me. I no longer had a stepfather. The only father I knew. I am so saddened by this. My heart at times feels so alone. I went from having a "father figure" in my life to having nothing overnight. That was tough. Two fathers in one life.

Ok...I got off track with what I was saying. Try to be thankful for what your stepfather did provide to your mom. Try to see the pain that he feels too. He lost a wife and friend. You lost your mom. They are each due pain.

I have slowly come to terms that we cannot keep digging up our past. I look in my "old grandma box"(I know you know about it because it is in my blog all of the time) and sometimes I actually stare at the bottom and wonder why there is not more. Why is this all I have? Why did I get dealt the cards I have been dealt. Well, the why doesn't matter. I only have what I have. Don't get me wrong, you know, I cry. I have much more going on in my life that what I could ever wish for.

I cannot walk in your shoes. I cannot imagine having children with disabilities. I was about to go crazy raising toddlers. Please look outside, go outside, walk outside...find some peace somewhere. I know you are writing from your heart. I love reading what you are feeling because it some small brings comfort to know that life is not perfect.

I would go on and on here but I have to get myself pulled together and get on with the day.

I still love seeing my tree below. I plan on getting the other up and posted after my RSS feed gets sent out.

Lilly's Life said...

I read or heard somewhere this expression ' only pain causes pain'. Somehow saying that in time swhen things look grim makes me feel better.

I am unsure why your stepfather did what he did - he was in great pain perhaps and didnt want to let go of the things he felt were of value. Strange how lots of families break down with the death of someone and disagreements over wills/possessions etc.

Sure your mother's jewellery would have been nice to pass on to your daughters too.

I would not concern yourself with possessions - seriously. What does it really mean after all? Your book may have been the best thing to get.

And no contact may be the best thing for you with your stepfather. Just stay away and keep your perspective which is so very important for you.

Besides, you got better than any gold. You got the important lessons given to you. The tough lessons. None of us is spared of pain and I wish it could be different I really do. However, I dont read your posts and feel you are having trouble dealing with all this - I think you are just processing it in the way you need to and journalling is a great way to do this.

You have more clarity than you know. Have a great weekend with YOUR beautiful family. You have given to yourself what no-one else could give you. How special is that?

Elizabeth Channel said...

Oh the boxes...

I don't have words of wisdom. I have my own unopened boxes and I'm not ready to open them.

There is only one Healer, however, and you are on the right path...just keep moving forward...