I have always wanted to tell my story. Yet, I've never wanted to revisit the past. I have grown old, trying to live in the moment because the past was too painful. I told myself that everyone had a sad story to tell and that mine was no different. Look at the talk shows, Maury, Oprah and the rest. People will get on television and air not only their dirty laundry but tell things they hadn't even told the Lord. People put it on t.v., they sing about it on the radio, even write books about it. Everyone wants to play the victim. Look at what my momma did or my daddy never loved me enough, so this explains why I fuck everything that has a pulse or this is why I killed my neighbor or tortured the dog. Not me. I have always believed that life is a about choices. You choose to be a victim of your circumstances or a survivor. All of my life I have considered myself a survivor. But now.....I wonder. Have I survived or just existed?
I am Catherine's daughter. Catherine with a C ...not a K. My mother never went to school, she was from the rural south....a little hiccup of a town called Sandersville. She couldn't read or write, but she could spell her name and print it. It made her different from the other people around her. They signed an X for their signature. She always spelled her name for people and made sure that they knew it started with a C. Her mother died in childbirth trying to bring a third child into the world. My grandmother left two little girls in the world to be raised by her older sister . My mother and her younger sister...Snook. But if you're looking for a Waltons story. You won't find it here. You will find only bitterness, jealousy and what it means to never forgive.
See, one day, my mother caught her younger sister in bed with her husband. And they weren't reading the bible. At the time she and her sister were both teenagers. I never knew what exact age they were when this happened. All I do know, is that my momma told me this story from the time I was old enough to understand what she was talking about. She told me that story so that I could understand what hate was. And she truly hated her younger sister Snook for this betrayal. Never forgave her, never spoke to her again.
I guess, when you live across the railroad tracks and down the road from a saw mill in community called Frogtown, marrying young and screwing younger, was just a fact of life. I remember visiting Sandersville when I was about four years old, they didn't have indoor plumbing, we used an outhouse. That's the second thing I remember about my childhood.
Well, anyway, my mom told me, she "tried to kill that bitch " . I never knew her husbands name or what she did to him. She was so busy trying to beat the shit out of her sister that he got lost in the story. The story would always end with her telling me she left Sandersville and how she hated her sister and that she would never, I mean EVER, speak to her again in life. My mother died in her early 50's and she never spoke to her sister again. My mother went to her grave hating the only sister she ever had. She would tell me: "never trust a woman", be friends with men, never let a bitch get close to you.
For a long time....I never did
And when I did, it was only one at a time. For a long long time, I never knew what it was like to enjoy the friendship of another woman. The laughter, the shared pleasure of just being female... of being women. Of trusting someone with your secrets and sharing theirs. I surrounded myself with males. Not as equals or sexual partners. I sought them out, learned their stories and when they finally realized that they would never become my lovers, I learned their secrets. You would think that this would have given me some sort of advantage. That I would be smart and use this new found knowledge.
But no, I was Catherine's daughter. My choices, though few, were bad. They were painful. They devastated. I always thought: this is the one...he will love me....he will protect me. I am a grandmother now and I have only loved two men in my entire lifetime. Only two. With both, I stayed too long at the table. I should have gotten up when I realized that love was not being served. I know what it's like to fall in love at first sight. Yes folks, it is possible. It did happen. And I know what it's like to trust someone so much that when you find out that they have betrayed you, it actually stops your heart. To feel your heart stutter in your chest and to pray: GOD, please, take me now. Please GOD, I can never survive this. To feel like your heart will always feel that pain. That even if love comes again...you'll never let yourself revel in the ecstasy of "your man". That Thank- You GOD feeling, that Jesus this is my soul-mate feeling. When I was little I remember men beating the holy hell out of my momma, of her screams, the sound of fists striking flesh. I remember my screams being as loud as hers. Of my wanting to be big so I could make them stop hurting her. I vowed I would never let a man beat me. I swore to Jesus that I would put a man in his grave if he even "looked " like he wanted to hit me. No one ever did. Not physically. But let me tell you. I got my ass tore up emotionally. I took so much mental abuse, an ass whooping would have been a blessing. I didn't realize it then.
My mother. Catherine with a C. She was, in my eyes a remarkable person. A hard drinker, a harder worker, tragic, violent. I remember her hour glass figure in a skirt and blouse, smelling so clean ....Monday through Friday...drunk by Friday night and feared throughout the weekend . Don't get me wrong, by today's standards my mom was a saint. She was not intentionally abusive..she just drank until she was falling down drunk and she took out her rage on the nearest person. Usually that person was me. But come Sunday...she sobered up and I was safe ...secure. I'm listening to Atlantic Star...Send For Me...
tonight , with the feel of Fall in the air. If I am going to write this...I can't bullshit me. I've never felt safe, I've never felt secure. I am 55 years old and until I had a nervous breakdown ...6 years ago....I couldn't remember anything about my childhood. From infancy to age 10 was in the Twilight Zone. The only thing I could really remember was...2 women ...black women....hanging laundry on the line and it was sunny and they were laughing . I see myself playing in their shadow. I'm small and they are hanging sheets but they are looking around to make sure I'm there.. that I'm safe. One of the women is Catherine...and I'm her daughter.