I need to regress in order to continue. My memories of my Father are very few, but vivid. Most were pleasant enough, but one in particular, in my fourth year of life, was very disturbing. It was during a cold time of the year when the pot-bellied, wood-burning stove, located in our very tiny living room, was burning full flame to keep us warm. Those who were in the room that night (it was dark outside) are vague to me, except for my Mother and Dad. Dad was yelling at Mom very angrily; I somehow knew she was frightened, which was scaring me, for her. The anger and verbal abuse to her had escalated when he reached for the iron poker, which was used to stoke the fire in the stove.
He hit her with that poker, over and over and over again. I have blanked out what happened next, only remembering today, his loud screaming and her cries of pain.
I know now, from being told by my older siblngs, later in life, that this kind of abuse to my Mom and older brothers had been a common occurance for years. I do not remember seeing it again (after that awful night) before Dad's death, although it did continue. My Mom took her last beating from him in May of 1951.
During my growing-up years, he was rarely mentioned, for any reason, but I just "knew" that my mother did not remember him with fondness. She chose not to say anything, rather than fill the heads of her children, at least the four youngest of us, with bitter, hateful, memories of him. I can't speak for my siblings, but I chose to keep the good memories of him in my mind.
Mom was a wonderful mother. She chose, instead of being a "Poor Me", to give her children the very best life a poor, widowed mother of eight could possibly give. Material "things" were lean, but there was never any doubt of her love and caring. She taught us, by her example, to work for what we wanted, share the little we had with those who had less, and accept the hard knocks in life with grace. We always knew we would have a home to shelter us, food to fill our bellies, clothes to cover our bodies and a mother who loved us unconditionally. And, although she was good at giving us a piece of her mind, when we deserved it, she never, ever raised a hand to us. We were family, together in everything, which was her greatest desire in life.
In my adult years, I admit a longing to know more about her life with my Dad, but out of respect for her, I didn't broach the subject. That longing was fulfilled, unexpectedly, by my mother, a few weeks before her death in 1994. She was living with my baby sister, MaryHell in Pocatello at that time. I knew that her life was nearing it's end and had traveled from Boise to spend some time with her for a few days. We had been having a wonderful visit, filled with laughter and fun as we talked of family, friends and good times, long past.
On my last day there, Mom asked me to come into her room so that we could have a private chat. It was during that chat that I learned of a day in her life that lead to the letter I found among the "stuff" in my basement a few days ago. She did not tell me about that letter during that chat, but what she did say was difficult to hear, but a loving act on her part because she knew, as mother's do, that I needed to hear those words.
To be continued.................