When I wanted to escape, I cradled myself by blocking out the unpleasantness. Sometimes I would make hand puppets against a wall; sometimes I imagined I could dance on a raindrop. These were the times I did not feel guilty about having an older, ugly sister whom I stuck up for against the mean taunts from other kids. She was my sister, after all, and her hurt clothed me.
Not only was she isolated from friends, but from our mother, who always pampered me and ignored her. Me! My sister started to cut herself by using an old-fashioned, straight blade razor—across the front of her hands. The cuts were not deep. Small red ink lines formed like doodles. I could not escape the guilt I carried with me because I, too, was embarrassed. I don’t know how she endured such a loveless childhood.
I escaped from the sheriff coming to our home and taking my dad away. He was sick and had palsy. My mother had filed divorce papers on him, but he didn’t want to leave. They took him away carrying a small cardboard box with his few clothes. He cried and my wall shadows and dancing provided me relief.
I escaped when no one came to my graduation; mother ran off to Seattle with my brother’s accordion teacher. I never knew if she had thought about me graduating. By this time, my night shadows and dreams were apart of me and no longer had me questioning if they were normal.
I grieved and found it very hard to bring back my “friends” when I became pregnant and gave up the little girl. I did not want her growing up traveling with the family circus that I had for twenty-one years. My mother was the boss woman and yes, my sister was a clown whose smiling mask with bright orange fuzz over each ear hid her again.
I gave up my “friends” after college. I married and had a beautiful daughter, only for them to appear again when my daughter was never to receive a birthday card from her grandmother.
Later after thirty-five years of marriage, after my baby graduated from college, I left my husband. I planned this from the day I walked down the aisle in 1971. My puppets and dancing were shelved when I believed in my own strength.
This story is not meant to be sad, but a triumph for my grandson, whom I adore, and my daughter and her happy life.