Interestingly, I've found that I get more done this way, but some things do fall by the wayside.
Before I get started, I'll give you one more quick peek of some Scrapbook Circle layouts that will be on the blog coming up.
I've been praying since the last installment that God would show me how to proceed. After all, it's as much His story as it is mine. He's been there with me through it all, even when I didn't know how to see Him, he was undoubtedly there.
Now, to the next installment.....
As my freshman year wound to a close, things in my relationships at home were heating up. Like a typical teenager, I hadn't put a whole lot of thought into how I'd pass those long, hot summer days at home. As I shared before, we lived a LONG way from town so I'd be spending all day, every day at home in our un-air conditioned mobile home.
Well, let me correct myself, I'd be in the home except for the times when I was toting 5 gallon buckets of water, two at a time all over our several acre plot watering my father's thirsty plants and animals. Or when I was feeding hungry animals, or doing laundry at the laundromat in town, or cooking dinner, or cleaning the house.
My step-mother was on disability since she'd had a work related back injury several years before. While she seemed very capable indeed of walking anywhere she pleased, she was entirely incapable of doing any type of actual work on our considerable homestead. She was, however, very much able to carry 12 packs of beer home from the market and heft said cans to her mouth from 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night.
At the same time, her daughter was also somehow not skilled enough to do much of the work. Instead, I was expected to do it. Laura was 1 year older than me and while she was in the lower range of educational classes, she was still a high school student and from my point of view, quite capable indeed.
Once we began spending all day, every day, in one another's company, the temperature started to rise. Step-mother, who wouldn't lift her gnarled fingers to do a lick of work, very much enjoyed following me out to the chicken-pen to see whether I'd adequately fed and watered the squawkers.
She began making a habit of inspecting every job I did and promptly grading me, usually poorly, on my completed efforts.
As you might imagine, this didn't go over well. The 110° days grew exponentially more uncomfortable and I began to feel I'd jumped out of the pot and into the frying pan. Why had I left Florida again???
I've always been a perfectionist, so the fact that Step-mom was accusing me of doing halfhearted work really went against the pride in work that I felt. I'd do the job and invariably she'd tell me to do it over until I did it 'right'. (can you say 'Cinderella'?? I was identifying!)
One day, I'd come in from doing chores and had settled myself in the living room to read. Step-mom came in and ordered me 'Get up and go out there and water those pigeon's again! Their water bowl is FILTHY!'
You have to know a bit about pigeons to know that they literally poop everywhere. No kidding, it was EVERYWHERE. They even build their nests in the stuff. (look it up!) I had emptied and scrubbed their water dish only thirty minutes before this demand was made of me and I wasn't about to do it again.
'No.' I said. 'I just did it and if you want it done again, do it yourself.'. I actually spoke calmly at this point.
'YOU LIAR!' Step-mom snarled.
Step-mom had a habit of walking about in the nude. It was, after all, over 100° in our stagnant home. As per usual, she was nude today. Step-mom, in her nudity, fairly ran over to me and pulled me by the hair on my head up out of the chair. (mind you I weigh a good 40 lbs more than she does, but her disabled body somehow was having a miraculous moment). (and yes, it was utterly humiliating to be in the presence of a full grown nude woman getting bawled out.)
She began trying to physically push me toward the back door, but by that time, I'd had enough. 'NO!' I screamed. I am not redoing the work again just because you say so! You are drunk and that is why you are being so mean!'
This seemed to really set her off and, SMACK, right across my flushed face. She started swinging at me again but I tried to stop her. The next thing I knew, the two of us were down on the floor, wrestling it out. She was sitting on her backside pulling at my hair. It was excruciating. I didn't know what else to do so I grabbed her inner thighs which were on either side of my head and ripped my fingernails through her bared flesh with all the force I could muster.
(this is a photo of my father in our mobile home living room, in the forground, you can just see the globe of one of our kerosene lanterns. We had electric lights too, but rarely used them as we had to run the generator to do so and that was too expensive.)
To that point, I hadn't wanted to hurt her, having been taught just how fragile she was and how I needed to be careful of her. However, in that moment, I dispensed with any pity I may have felt for her and my animal survival came roaring out with a vengeance.
My assault on her tender thighs did the trick and she released me to tend to the stinging pain.
I quickly jumped up headed into my room, grabbed a bag and raced out the door to run away. I didn't know where I was going but I was certainly not staying for any more of that treatment.
I walked about a half mile when Laura showed up beside me, out of breath but bringing water and some food. She had decided she would join me. The two of us walked for 9 miles to the home of the person we know who lived nearest us. That was Bob. Bob and his wife Sandy were friends of the family.
We told them our story and that we were NOT returning home. Bob was actually good friends with step-mom but he was kind enough to give us some time. Laura and I were dusty from our trek and tired, so they offered us a shower.
As I washed, handfuls of my hair fell out. I wept as the strands washed into the drain. How could this have happened? I thought I'd escaped insanity but instead, I'd just traded it in for a different brand.
Later that evening, Bob insisted we at least call my father to let him know that we were safe.
I dialed his number and he answered, somewhat frantically. I told him the story of what had happened. At first, he blamed me, having heard only Step-mom's side of things. However, after hearing from Bob as well, he began to see that I was telling the truth.
Somehow, Dad had not realized that Step-mom was an alcoholic or that she was drinking from the time he left in the morning until she went to bed at night.
It was only about a week before he and I moved into an apartment in town. It may have been the only time my father ever stood up for me, but it was very important for me to know that he finally would.
In retrospect, I wonder if that is really what happened. Was it for me, or was it because he didn't want to support a lazy drunk. I may never know, but I can tell you I was glad to be rid of that situation and never in my life have I appreciated the comforts of modern electricity and gadgets as I did once we moved to town.
If you're joining my story for the first time, you can find the rest of it at this location. I have been adding to it as time allows on this link and in sporadic posts. You can also find the link in the tab at the top of my blog titled 'My Story'.
Thanks for taking the time to read.