I was born in the 70’s in the mid-west. I am the third child of my parents; I have an older brother and sister and a younger brother.
We lived on a farm until I was seven years old in a town about 25 minutes from where I live today. Our farmhouse sat on a rural road that cut between two major highways in our state with small rickety bridges and sharp turns that meandered through the trees and hills. It was because of this location that semi trucks would try to take the short route and cut through from one highway to another and inevitably get stuck in the small bridge that sat right before a hairpin turn just before our house. There were a handful of days in which we sat outside of our house and stared at the school bus as it sat behind a semi truck hopefully hung up on that bridge. Those times meant long days of running through the woods and creek instead of sitting in school for us.
But, one day, my parents received notice that the state was buying up our home and property to put a new bridge and road in that would cut right through our front porch. They scooped up our home and buried it in a large hole out in the pasture and we moved to the town that I call home, today.
I am told that we were poor when we lived on the farm. I don’t remember much except playing in the creek. I remember sending my Barbie dolls down the creek on a toy houseboat with my older siblings; I remember swimming in the creek with a bunch of floating dead fish because the hog farmer upstream was polluting the waterway (we didn’t realize it at the time, of course); I remember getting stuck on a tree that had fallen across the creek because my older sibing’s assured me that there were snakes underneath it just waiting for me to slide down the other side.
Those were the days when we would get one pair of gym shoes for the entire year and have to play outside barefoot so that they stayed nice for church and school. So, maybe we were poor. But, we had a lot of fun on that farm, turning the chicken coop into a clubhouse, turning the cows stalls into our offices or the hay loft into our “house”.
Our farmhouse was blue with a wrap around porch that I loved riding my big wheel on. And, I had a swing set out back that I would swing on until it nearly tipped over.
I saw the movie JAWS for the first time while living at that house and was afraid to let my foot fall over the side of the bed that entire year for fear that a shark would bite my foot off.
My sister and I shared a room in the farmhouse. We shared a bed actually. The room was probably a small room, but I remember it as being so large in the upstairs of the farmhouse at the end of the long hall. The security light attached at the peak of the barn shined through our window and made it difficult to sleep. So, we would try to put one another asleep by “driving” all over one another’s faces with the tip of our finger creating roads and stores and houses for the people that we had made up in our heads.
It was the light of that security light that shined down on my dad and brother on a night I have never forgotten; It is one of my memories of the farm. My sister and I peered out the window as we heard the cries of my brother coming from down below. They were in front of the barn in the spill of the light. The way that I remember it was that my dad was beating my brother with a stick. In my memories, it wasn’t much longer until my mom came upstairs and asked me and my sister, no older than four or five and nine and ten, if it was okay with us if she divorced our dad. I didn’t understand what divorce meant, but I knew that the sound of it didn’t make me feel good.
I don’t remember how I responded, but I know what the events of that evening seared into my little psyche. And, it wasn’t the end; they never did separate; The cycle went on most of my fathers life.
With the move, my father left a business that he was in with his brothers and started a business for himself. Life really changed for us. Our father was always on the road, traveling for work, and our quality of life—financially—improved one hundred fold. With the new business, our mother become preoccupied and our dad absent. So, me and my little brother got the table scraps as far as parenting goes. However, my older siblings would probably argue that we had a better life because we grew up with all of the money and toys; I am not sure that I would agree.
My fathers temper and my mothers own issues (which she always argued were simply my dad) plagued my entire childhood and that of my siblings.