I don't have much tonight. I figured I would throw a couple more pages of "Johnnies Got Knuckles" at you.
Enjoy! or don't. The first two parts are back in July's blog so look 'em up if your new.
Johnnies Got Knuckles
I was only 12 years old the year I learned that Johnnie had knuckles.
I was being raised in a middle class family with an older stepsister, an older brother and a younger half brother. My father had been divorced from my birth mother for a few years and had gotten remarried to my current stepmother.
My brother and I had been through some troublesome times, to say the least, while my father worked on getting custody of us. It was a battle he fought for about 4 long years before he won. Or should I say before she gave up. Looking back I’m not really sure if that was a good thing or not.
My brother and I lived with our mother until I was old enough to be in the second grade. I was placed in second grade based solely on my age. I never went to kindergarten or first grade for that matter. The people at school said " I was out of adjustment” but I should catch up, is what they told my father.
Living with my Mother we spent the years bouncing from one house to another. My brother had been in and out of numerous schools. Never able to settle in and really learn anything.
Boyfriend to boyfriend my mother would roam. Constantly seeking the place in her mind where alcohol and drugs would numb everything enough so that she could deal with life.
When one boyfriend would beat her she would simply pack our few boxes(my dresser was a u-haul box in those days) and move to the next place. She worked here and there, waitress, dry cleaners, secretary, bartender, medical office, but never could hold a steady job. She would mystify people and fill them with so much bull, and she was so good at it, they would believe her and hire her. But in the end she couldn't hold a job no more than I could turn stones into twinkies.She relied on boyfriends and friends for housing and eventually food and clothing.
We were left to take care of ourselves. I can remember when I was actually attending school (albeit for only a few weeks) my brother was the one to make sure we got to school everyday.
We lived outside of the school bus zone so we had to catch the local transit bus (short bus is what we were teased about). The ride was fifty cents a day for the two of us. My Mother did not give freely of her purse contents and my brother was always searching the apartment high and low for hidden change to pay the bus fare. More often then not he begged us free rides.
Money was scarce in those days. What we did have was mostly spent on drugs and alcohol. The fridge in our tiny one bedroom apartment usually contained only things that were consumed in an adult beverage. There was celery, olives, lemons and occasionally a jar of cherries. As you can imagine the cherries never lasted long with two young and hungry boys prowling around. The celery and the olives we would take for lunch. There was never enough money for school lunch so we did the best we could.
After school sometimes she would be home, most times not. There were even times that we would have a big dinner waiting when we got home. A heaping mound of spaghetti and a loaf of bread with butter. It didn’t happen a lot and we knew she would disappear for a few days. When your hungry none of that matters and we would love her for that meal and a chance to be normal if just for an hour.
I loved my brother most in those days. He was my parent he taught me what little he knew. Most of it wasn’t too good but he didn’t know any better either. I had candy occasionally. Not because someone bought it for me but because my brother stold it for me. I had mittens once. We were walking to school at that time and we stopped at a little store on our way and he told me to stay outside and wait. He came back with a handful of tootsie rolls and a pair of green mittens. The tootsie rolls he shoved in my pocket and the mittens he put on my hands. I ate the tootsie rolls for lunch and I will always remember how red my brothers hands were that day walking through the snow on the way home from school.
This is how we lived our life back then. We made the best of it. We had no idea that it would set us up for such catastrophe later in life. What could we have done to prevent it anyways? We were just kids.
My father would get visitation occasionally. I loved to see my father. That was the problem though. I only wanted to see him. His wife and our step mom did not want us in the picture. We were trouble on her sea of tranquility. Those visits were wretched. I found myself wanting to leave almost as soon as I arrived. No child should ever have to have an adult look at them with malice in their eyes. She scared me.
As bad as it was living with my mother in flea infested half way houses where we had to put water on our government issued cereal instead of milk, when we would wear the same clothes all week and ate martini olives and tootsie rolls for lunch. I felt myself wanting to return.
That was circumstance. This was pure hatred. I felt it. My brother felt it. As bad as it was it was still better. We were naturally misbehaved kids. Kids that raise themselves do not act normal. My stepmother could not see this. She loathed the fact that we were there in her house. Interrupting her world with her daughter and new born son, my half brother. She hated us for having head lice. She hated us because we had bad table manners. Everything about us she hated.
My mother put us in a foster home for awhile. She had finally chosen drugs and alcohol permanently over her children. Our wonderful court system allowed her to place us in a foster home after she lied and created some allegations against my father.
We didn’t care. We had finally found peace. There was horses and chickens and a barn. There was school and food. My brother and I could finally be kids and not be hated for it. We spent Easter with this family. They hid eggs for us and we had candy. They tucked us in at night and made us hot cocoa in the morning.
It was a wonderful time although much too short. Within a few short weeks my father gained custody of us and we soon moved in with him and her.
They say that the events in our life shape the way we are in our adult years. Perhaps if I could have one wish it would be to go back to the foster home with the horses and the barns with chickens. Spend some more time with my brother searching for Easter eggs. Lay in the meadow grass staring up at the clouds. Then perhaps I could grow up all over again and see what I would be like.
Maybe I would understand why love comes so hard and is so easily corrupted.
I could justify the tears and the all the heartaches because I would know where it was I went wrong.
But alas it will not happen and I will meet "Johnnie" face to face no matter whose chickens or horses I pet or whose food I eat. Some things are just meant to be.