Life lessons from a little boy

As a teenager it was an unwritten rule that I act as bad ass and emotionless around my family as much as possible.  Looking back on it now I have no idea why I was like that but at that time  I had legitimate reasons for everything that I did.  I was in a constant battle with my mother over the boy that I swore was my soulmate and would stop at nothing to prove to everyone that we belonged together.  That resulted in almost nightly arguments with my mother who hated him with every breath in her body.  My sister and her two little boys had moved in with my mom and I so they were unfortunately subjected to my stubborn teenage attitude and my regular screaming matches with mom.  Usually after mom and I were done yelling I would retreat to my room, slam the door and turn up my music real loud (yep, I’m sure that showed her, huh?)  one day after a particular loud argument I went into my room, slammed my door and plopped down on my bed. Then, I heard a few taps on my door.

then a few more……..

 

“Aunt Stacey? Can I come in?”

 

my little five year old nephew Brian was standing at my door with his lips pressed between the crack of the door and the frame. Tapping his fingers rhythm style while he asked again

 

“Can I please come in?”

 

I opened the door and he looked up at me with a smile.   I had laid down the law early on when my sister moved in with the boys that they were to ask before coming in my room.   As if my room held the legendary chamber of secrets,  it was still my safe haven and whatever privacy I had at home I intended on keeping in tact.

 

“Yeah,  come in”

As he walked in I closed the door (loudly) behind him, making my point to whoever else was in the house that I was still upset.   He  sat down on the edge of my bed and looked around.   I know he didn’t have any clue what I was upset about or what was going on, he just knew that tensions were  high in our homestead and he wanted to lighten the mood.   That day  I know I must have vented to him at least a dozen teenage angst’y issues and I know he didn’t really understand a word of what I was talking about.   Still,  he sat there patiently and listened as if he did.   Even if he didn’t say a word during my entire rant it didn’t  matter,  it still helped because he was there, and he cared enough to listen.   After that we would ‘hang out’ pretty regularly when I was home,  even if it was to hide in my room and listen to music.   It made it easier to be home when my sister and the kids were home,  especially as the tension between my mother and I worsened the older (and more emotionally dependent) I became to my ex boyfriend.

One particularly awful weekend I had been sick off and on for the past few days and started worrying that I may be pregnant.  The last thing I wanted to do was tell my mom so I kept it to myself for the time being until I was sure.  That Monday I skipped school and went to the health department down the street and took a pregnancy test.  It came back positive.  When I told my ex that I was pregnant he said he was elated but warned me that if anything ever happened to him that his family would make sure that the baby was raised by THEM and not me.  (** more on this subject will be explained in another entry..  it’s just too much to go into right now!**)  I kept the ‘big news’ from my mother for a few days until one night when I didn’t come home from school and instead had gone out with the boyfriend and went to one of his father’s employees’  homes.   His dad was one of the ‘top bosses’  (or so he kept telling me,  who knows if it was even true)  and I noticed that a  small group of people that worked for his dad enjoyed ‘sucking up’ to the boss’s son.  Chris would bring me along to their house (which only was a few blocks from mine) on nights they played board and roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons.   Despite the fact that they were all at least twice our age,  they were all really nice people and I enjoyed visiting with them.    My mother, on the other hand was furious. In her mind they must have been mentally unstable sickos to allow two teenagers to go to their house.   One night we were at their house and my mother comes knocking on their front door.   I have no idea how she found out where we were but just seeing her standing on that porch with that enraged look on her face made me want to crawl into a little hole and die….   That night when I came home it was on between my mom and I!   Not only had she embarrassed me but she made an ass out of herself acting the way she did to people she didn’t even know!     As we argued my nephew came out of his room and stood quietly in the hallway.   I know he hated to hear us fight and deep down I hated for him to witness anything like this, ever.

“Stacey! I’ve had it with your SHIT!”

 

“You are going to be a LOSER just like he is! You are throwing your life away!”

 

“He is never allowed in this house,  ever again!”

 

That last thing she said sent me over the edge!    I remember my eyes welling up with tears and sucking in a huge breath of air as I blurted out

 

“Well then you’ll never see your grandchildren!!!!”

 

The silence was deafening after that.   My mom sat there and looked at me,  speechless with her mouth open.    I had no idea what she was going to yell next… but she didn’t yell,   she spoke softly.

 

“So, that’s how it’s going to be… you’re pregnant now…”

 

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Brian had vanished from the shadows of the hallway where he had been standing and listening to us this whole time.  I imagined him running into his room, jumping into his bed and hiding underneath the covers to prepare himself for what could only be described as “Mom-ageddon”

 

“YES!  I’m pregnant!   and I feel sick,  and I don’t need this stress!   and I hate YOU! and I hate that you hate Chris because I love him and I am going to marry him!”    I was so mad I could feel my cheeks flush,  and my stomach wanted to throw up.   I knew the neighbors could probably hear me yelling and at that moment I didn’t care.  In my eyes my whole life was crumbling down because nobody understood me.   My mom just sat there and shook her head slowly, burying her face into her hands.  I can only imagine now what she was thinking…   her stupid daughter, and that jerk boyfriend of hers just got themselves into one of the biggest messes of all.    She started ranting on about how I would never go to college now and never have a career.  All of these things that in her eyes had been within grasping distance of me had all been yanked away forever because now I was going to be a teen mom.   She couldn’t even factor consider any of Chris’s family into this situation as being any form of help either.. my mom didn’t like Chris’s father and she thought his mother was a delusional wackjob.   I could tell the gears in my mother’s head were spinning trying to figure out how to even start to comprehend what was going to happen next.   I know she had toyed with the idea of tossing me out of the house more than a few times.   A couple years before all of this  I had abruptly left the house to go live with my father and his new wife for a short time,  but that hadn’t worked out very well.   Back when my step mom and I didn’t get along at ALL.  I was still in the mindset that my mom and dad belonged together and the best thing for both of them was to get back together.   In my mind Donna was just a homewrecker and us living under the same roof was, in her words “a living hell”.   Anyways,  after that short time I had moved out I think my mom had an easier time accepting me getting out to learn life on my own.  Lord knows I wasn’t listening to her!

Just then I felt a gentle tap on my arm.    Little Brian was standing next to me with one of his backpacks over his shoulder  that he used for school.  He had some items stuffed into it,  books, etc.   Tucked underneath his arm was a stuffed toy rabbit that I knew was one of his favorite.   It was a white rabbit with longish springy ears.   Brian used to tell me that this toy was especially special because it had ‘caught his very first tears”.

 

“Grandma?   Aunt Stacey?”

 

I was in no mood for anything else,  and that bitchy, nasty, stone faced teenager once again surfaced in me.  I had never lashed out at my little nephew before .. until now.    He reached up to tap my arm again and I jerked away from him,  even startling myself that I had done it.  I looked down at him and  heaved in a huge annoyed sigh.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT??”   He jumped a bit when I snapped at him but still held tightly onto his backpack and that bunny.  He then turned to my mom,  his grandma
He then said what has to be one of the sweetest things I had ever heard…

 

“We need to start selling some things so we can have some money for Aunt Stacey’s baby”

 

Setting his backpack that contained some of his prized belongings  down at my feet he looked up at me and smiled,  then starting to talk about when we should plan a garage sale as soon as possible.

“I have more things I’ll bring out.   A whole bunch!   We can make a lot of money!”

 

I honestly didn’t know what to say… a lump had formed in my throat that really made me want to throw up.   After all the fighting between my mom and I and all the bullshit we were yelling at one another, the only thing this little boy cared about at that moment was the baby.  As young as he was,  he was so concerned about making everyone around him happy.  His main focus was to try his best to make everything better by trying to help the problem the only way he knew how.     That kid had a heart of pure gold.   Right that moment I  wanted to scoop that little boy up and hug him tightly and tell him how much I loved him,  but then I looked over at my mom who was still staring at me.   I couldn’t let her see me breaking down,  not now..   So instead I did something awful and heartless…

I looked down at my nephew standing next to me and coldly rolled my eyes.   “Oh WHATEVER! That’s so stupid!” I hissed down at him.  I remember he just looked up at me with a big confused look on his face and then quietly watched as I  turned around and stomped back into my room,  slammed my door loudly and turned up my music loud.   Not more than a few minutes later there was a knock my door.  It was Brian…

 

“Can I please come in Aunt Stacey?”

 

“NO!  GO AWAY!”

*deafening silence on the other end of my door*    Then….

“Please?”

“Damnit!   Leave me alone!  Go away!  GO AWAY”

 

I think he stood out there for a few more minutes until he finally walked away.   I had my ear pressed to the door listening to see if he was still there and eventually I heard nothing.    Faintly I could hear my mom telling Brian that he didn’t do anything wrong.     That I was having a temper tantrum and it was nobody’s fault but my own.    She was absolutely right…

That night I laid in my bed buried in my covers and cried my eyes out.  To have treated my littlest ally that way was totally and utterly wrong.  All I could think about was what he had said about offering to sell his things to make our lives easier for a new baby.   He cared so much about me,  and about my well being.     Of everyone under my roof,  this little guy always had my back.. and I had treated him horribly.   I cried all night and woke up the next morning nervous to face him for breakfast.   What would I say?   How would I apologize for being a heartless bitch to this little boy who just wanted to help.   But when I got up to go get some cereal,  he was sitting at the kitchen table watching his cartoons.    He looked up at me with a smile and just said  “Oh!  Good morning Aunt Stacey!”  as if nothing had happened.   The backpack full of things, including his beloved stuffed rabbit still sat in a pile on the floor where he had left it the night before.

 

Brian and I never talked about that day,  at least I purposely never mentioned it again.  Just the thought that I had treated him that way still hurts me to this day.  After that day though,  I saw him in a different light.   He was smarter than the average kid.  His mom had raised him to have a big heart and to put others first.   He was always excited to come home after kindergarten to tell us all about what he learned that day.   Good manners,  always saying please, thank you and excuse me and always helping around the house with chores.    He reveled in doing the right thing and made sure that we were all doing the same.   It was also his influence that helped lessen the tension between me and my mom,   we both realized that if a little 5 year old boy can act more mature than us,  then we had a lot to learn about our relationship.   It didn’t make the quarrels that we had over my boyfriend… but we never fought that way ever ever again.   We worked on a better way to communicate,

 

I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Brian and thank my sister for bringing him into the world.   I love that kid to the moon and back…  Thank you, Brian..

 

 

that bit of time where you are left in the dark….alone

Received a message yesterday on my voice mail from the doctor’s to return their call regarding my routine mammogram I had last week.   They had told me when I was leaving that day that if they were concerned about anything I would get a phone call back almost immediately.    Otherwise I would get a letter in the mail,  so basically ‘no news would be good news’.   So they have news.   NEWS.   The first word that came to mind was “FUCK”   Any normal person would react the same way I have… fear of what they are going to say   The unknown.   ugh.   WHY did they have to be closed when I tried to call them back?  Oh yeah,  because even breast center employees even have to go home to their families every now and then.    Instantly my stomach started doing backflips and I wanted to throw up.      It brought back memories of when my mom called me at my apartment in Auburn and told me she was FINALLY going to the doctor after years and years of not having insurance coverage.  “I’m finally going to go have a total lookover!”  she told me excitedly.     Years after her divorce from my dad she had finally gotten her life together to move on.   Then a month or so later came her cancer diagnosis.   Once I heard her tell me that all I wanted to do was fly to her side and hug her until all the strength had left my body.

I’m not saying I’m jumping straight to the assumption that what they are going to tell me is a bad thing.     Maybe it’s all the memories of my experience with her paired with the unknown that has absolutely rendered me emotionally crippled.   How can someone NOT feel alone and scared when you get a message like that?     I spent all last night cuddled up with my dachshunds crying myself to sleep over and over again.   Daisy, my little girl found a comfortable little spot under my cheek and would lift her head to give me supportive kisses on my face.   Gads I love that little dog!

So now I get to go off to work and try to get into an automatic pilot mode in order to get through the day.  I think I can do it,  as long as I focus hard enough.    I guess I wanted to jot down these thoughts live from the abyss of the unknown so tonight when I look back on this after I get the ‘you’re just fine!” message from my doctor I can look back on it with a chuckle.    Because it will be funny…

right?

Vintage Record Collection- earning points with cigarettes!

My parents were avid smokers growing up.    In fact,  that’s what ultimately did my mother in.    She had lung cancer which had progressed into her brain before she was able to get to the doctor and have herself checked.  Back when my mom was growing up smoking was considered glamorous and socially acceptable.   Even on TV programs like one of my favorites “I Love Lucy”   they showed smoking nonchalantly.

lucy1   lucy%203

so to have my parents grow up the way they did was totally ‘normal’,  I guess.    Smoking was never my thing though, I mean I tried it of course  (what kid doesn’t?) back when I was in middle school,  but it made me vomit and I never did it again.

One Mother’s day I remember calling my mom to wish her a happy day and she said something I’ll obviously never forget.   She said   “You know,  I was just sitting here thinking about something that’s so interesting.  When I was pregnant with your brother and sister I didn’t smoke one time…and they smoke.   Then when I was pregnant with you I smoked the entire pregnancy and you don’t smoke.  Isn’t that funny?”

Uh… define the word ‘funny’ mom..  although maybe that is the reason why I never had the desire to take up the habit.    It also could be the reason why I fell behind so much in school,  had an awful stutter and lisp as a child and still have a hard time focusing.    But anyways,  as usual I’ve gotten way way WAY off track.

Back in the day when smoking was more socially acceptable you could collect ‘points’ on every carton of cigarette to earn prizes.   My mom could have probably purchased a car with all the points she collected (sarcasm of course but not too far off from the truth)    She would give me some of the gifts occasionally such as calendars, address books, wearing apparel.   Nicely made items but still little commercials for their products.  Mom meant well giving me these so I would never slight her for it.    She would also accumulate points for breakfast cereals and drink mixes to also get prizes in the mail so cigarettes weren’t the only thing she collected points for.     Well in the records I was going through it looks like “Lucky Strike” also had something to offer for purchasing a certain amount of their product.   Imagine,  lighting up a cigarette, kicking back and listening to these tunes on a midsummer’s night.
Cigarette album 1 IMG_2117 IMG_2118 IMG_2119 IMG_2120 IMG_2121

I don’t think you can get these types of things anymore since the tobacco companies are under constant scrutiny.  Not that that’s a bad thing at all….

Vintage Record Collection- Sesame Street Live!

Oh man.. I listened to this record so much I’m surprised the needle on my record player didn’t slice deep grooves into it.    I. LOVED. SESAME. STREET growing up!    My mom used to tell me that it was because of Sesame Street that I learned to read and write.    Old school SS was wonderful.   Mr Hooper,  Luis,  Maria, Bob, etc     I know as times change then they have had to change up their show in order to keep up with what’s interesting to kids today,  but in my opinion the original cast will always be the best!

I took several different pictures of this multi fold album to share.   Sadly with me being a dumb kid I colored on the pictures with crayons so it’s not in as good condition as I wish it would be.  It’s still not bad overall for being as old as it is.

If while you’re reading over the list of songs and one or two pops into your head that you recognize.. congratulations!   You either grew up in my era or you appreciate the old classic Sesame Street like I do 🙂   Enjoy!

ss1 ss2 ss3 ss4 ss6 ss7 ss8  ss9 ss10 ss11 ss12 ss13 ss14 ss15

Vintage family snail mail

My grandmother kept this congratulatory letter from her brother after the birth of my mom.   It’s surreal to know that this is how people once communicated because this is all they knew.   My uncle got word of my mother’s birth through a written letter.  Not an electronic message,  television, radio or even a newspaper.    After getting the news my uncle sat down, put quill to paper and wrote his sister a letter of congratulations.

letter page 1letter page 2

It reads:

“Dear Lillian and all,   December 16, 1931

Congratulations, your card was forwarded to me by Emma (?)
So it is a girl, and you gave her a name i always liked
How I would like to meet her and i would like to send her a present worth while but will have to wait until I am doing something. but she will have something coming so you can tell her that for now.
I am glad you are all right for i must admit I was worried.
The cards you sent out are the best I ever saw (can’t read the following 4 words)
I wrote Bill yesterday suppose he has my letter by now.
Sorry I can’t send you some money to help you out but may be able to send some later.
Write when you are able and tell me all the news.
Wm Loftus”

Sweet memories 🙂

Spinning yarns vs just plain bullshit

This has been good therapy writing about things from my past that have taken residence in my memories all these years.  Just about every little thing you go through as a kid can be considered a life lesson,  and sometimes you learn things by watching other peoples’ mistakes.    In this case, it was my ex.

He was all about status and how he looked to others. It was that mentality that rocketed me to an eating disorder and made me think for many years that I wasn’t good enough for anybody except for him.   When you’re in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship the days all blur together and it’s very easy to get into the mindset that the way you are living at that very moment IS going to be the rest of your life.    I know I could have left at any time and I should have left, but I didn’t.   Thus the life lessons that I learned while I was with him.

He was very insecure.   Like, VERY insecure.   Every human being has some form of insecurity inside them.  It’s normal. Everyone, whether they choose to admit it or not really does care what others think about them.    Some of us just hide it better than others.    X tried to impress others by stories.    Stories I heard a million times whether or not I was actually there at the time or not.  He had a twist though,  he would twist the truth and add details every time he told it in order to get more of a reaction from his audience.   At first I thought it was a unique creativity he had in telling stories… but later on I saw it for what it was.  A really sad attempt at making people think he was more interesting and mysterious than he really was.     After a while, out of morbid curiosity  I would purposely bring up a particular story for him to recant to those we were with just to see just how much more he would twist a story that was originally very normal. At the time I didn’t see it as mockery, but that’s exactly what it was.   He was so serious when he would tell about these ‘experiences’,  and I found it entertaining to see just how far he would stretch it.      This is an example of what I mean.

Original story:   (What I actually witnessed)

One day at Disneyland we were standing outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.    A girl who was smoking a cigarette and dressed in denim walked past us into line leading up to the ride.  As she passed underneath the arch that read “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN”  she took her cigarette out of her mouth and flicked it at the wall near where the trash can was.   It bounced off the wall and landed nowhere near the trash can as she continued into the ride.

End of story

The story that it ended up to be:

We were at Disneyland standing outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  Suddenly we heard behind us a ‘TIK TIK TIK’ sound.  We turn around and see this tall thin REALLY ANGRY chick walking past us.  Her hair was spiked up in several jelled spikes,  she had on a denim jacket with spikes and the “TIK TIK” sound we heard were the metal spikes on the bottom of her what HAD to be 8 inch, if not longer heels.   She was dragging long heaves on her cigarette and looked like she was ready to fight anyone that looked at her wrong.    So, there was a sign right next to the entrance of the ride that says “No smoking past this point”.    Without breaking a step she takes one last heave on her cigarette and flicks it (imitates a peeetoyyeeeee sound to enhance the fact she flicked it so violently from her hand )   It bounces right off of the part of the sign where it says ‘no smoking’ and sparks fly everywhere.   There were a group of tourists standing nearby that had to step back otherwise the cigarette sparks would have hit them.  Oh my god!  It was so crazy!

annnnnd  scene!

The second story captivated his audience and got more of a reaction so therefore while he told it he was the center of attention.   He did that all the time even with the smallest of topics.   Another example,  his cousin Rusty.. who I was terrified of meeting by the way he was described to me.   The day I met him I thought I would be meeting a guy that closely resembled Charles Manson.   Scars all over his body from the numerous fights he was in throughout his life.   He only had tunnel vision in one eye due to being hit by a rock by a group of kids while he was younger.  He barely spoke and had a wolf as a pet, oh.. and a squirrel as a pet too.

Rusty turned out to be the sweetest person I had ever met.   (Years later after I had long left the X,   he considered me a part of his family.   His mom had taken me under her wing and helped me get back on my feet since I had invested everything I had in my relationship.  I had zero money, no place to live and decided that being desolate was a better option than continue my life with X which was clearly going nowhere.  My mother had recently passed away and I had nowhere to go,  Rusty and his family were my saving grace… seriously, I can’t even begin to say how much I love and appreciate them. ) Rusty had a rough life and did have run ins with the law, served jail time and battled drug problems.  He loved his motorcycle..   Unfortunately he was in an accident several years ago that resulted in the loss of one of his legs.  Through the rough exterior and everything he had been through in his life the man had a heart of gold and fought his demons to the very end.   Shortly after getting out of prison he moved back in with his mother and committed his time to fixing up his motorcycle and reconnecting with old friends.   One day he told his mother he wasn’t feeling well and was going to go take a nap.   He never woke up.   I never wanted to know details,  but from what I heard from others that he had some preexisting  health issues that caused his heart to stop.  Living hard finally had caught up with him.    His death hit those that loved him the hardest…  I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to know him and that he considered me family.    If I had listened to X and his ridiculous stories I may never have.

X is no doubt still telling outrageous stories to this day to anybody who will listen  in desperate attempts for attention.   Stories about how he’s a direct descendant from King Charlemagne and how his father’s job at TRW involved alien communication (I’m not making this up)    Being around him all those years ago taught me to be real with people.   If they don’t like you for who you are,  then making up a story isn’t going to make any difference at all.   In fact,  chances are if you do that then people will most likely laugh behind your back instead.   Which is worse?

rusty
RIP Rusty…  ❤

I inherited some land!

All throughout my life I never really knew anything about my family history. I guess I never bothered to ask because I figured it wasn’t important. I’ll never forget though,  about my ex’s grandmother.   Everyone fondly called her “Nana” and she was the true matriarch of the family.  I loved that woman.   From the first day I went to one of their family functions she was so welcoming and friendly.       She was also really heavily into researching her genealogy and she had huge white binders all alphabetized and filed by date in her sun room.   She worked on it for years,  and this was before the internet.  I always respected her for all her hard work.   It would be amazing to see if she had access to the internet and what progress she would have made then.

All I knew about my family was that I am distantly related to Chuck Norris on my dad’s side,  and that on my mom’s side our family were prominent members of society in the early development stages of the City of Torrance.   That’s pretty much about it.    It wasn’t until after my mom passed away that I inherited boxes and boxes of old family photos and items which inspired me to try to piece together whatever I could about my mom’s side.   My father’s side though, I thought would remain a mystery indefinitely.   Mainly because he has long since passed on,  my two half brothers never speak to me and I wasn’t sure about the whereabouts of my step mother.    Well, since she recently came back into my life I have had the rare opportunity to get these unanswered questions finally put to rest and all I can say is wow..!     You know that question that is asked “If you could go back in time and confront your younger self what one thing would you tell him/her?”    Mine would be  “ASK MORE QUESTIONS”  I never realized how important knowing all of this was to me.   It’s strange enough picturing your parents as kids, let alone having the same rebellious nature that every other kid goes through while growing up.   Dad was the high school ‘babe’.   He has signatures in his yearbook from multiple girls that say  “To a swell guy!”   and “Have a great summer Casa Nova!”   before he was a heartthrob though,  he was born in Bakersfield, California to his parents Stelma and Frank Sr Norris.    The name on his birth certificate is actually “Frankie” Norris..  hehe!

dad's birth certificate

Grandpa Frank was a carpenter by trade,  and my grandmother a housewife.  They settled in Bakersfield in 1923 and bought several hundred acres of land for mining purposes.   I’m not quite clear how long they lived there,  but what I’ve found out so far is before they moved to Torrance they sold all of their land except for ONE (1) acre.    This land sat in our family untouched (but taxes kept current)  for maybe upwards of  70 years.   When my grandparents passed away, the land was supposed to have been split between my dad and his brother Jack (I think I only met my uncle once or twice and from what I recall he was really nice)    Since being in contact with my step mother she told me about the family land  (news to me).    She’s had the original deed all along and has been the one paying the yearly taxes on it.    She wanted to transfer it to me if I wanted it and said she’d get the quit claim deed drawn up and notarized ASAP.   Of course I said I would love it.   After all,  it’s been in this family for this many years and the fact my grandparents SETTLED there in the 20’s makes it all that more priceless and sentimental.   I’d like to ultimately pass the land to my nephew so he can keep it and pass it on to his kids.

Also,  how cool is it to have a deed that’s signed by President Calvin Coolidge?   For a piece of paper that’s so old,  it’s in damn fine condition.

deed2

Pretty cool,  huh?

Stealing from a little girl

Sunflower

I’ve still been suffering from ‘writers block’ as of late.   I think a lot of it stems from depression which I have unfortunately struggled with for years.    That and I think getting older I’ve lost a lot of my ambition,  which sucks because I used to write a lot back in the day.   There IS so much I want/need to get out in writing but my mind and my focus just can’t come to an agreement on when to cooperate together.   I still keep hoping I’ll snap out of it,  I mean I have several partially started posts in my drafts section,  but the more I have this issue… the more hope I lose every day..      But tonight is a rare spurt of inspiration so here I go..

Childhood memories,  what triggers them?   Things that don’t really mean a whole lot of impact on your life but you still store it away in your memories for some odd reason.   Something that happened to me when I was really young came to mind the other day and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.    I once had a sunflower stolen out of my backyard.   A giant sunflower,  and one I had cared for with my daddy until it had grown taller than I was and could be seen by people driving by as it peered over our fence.   (Ok, maybe it wasn’t that giant, but to a little kid I could have climbed it up as high as Jack did on his beanstalk)    It was in our garden in the backyard of the house I lived in with my parents until I turned 16.   Every year my dad would till our garden and grow things like carrots, beans, and I think once even watermelons.  I have very limited memory of him planting the seeds but I remember the rows of our little crops in the back yard that he made.   I also remember my mom ranting about ‘those damn neighborhood cats’ who would occasionally use our garden as a litter box so my dad cared for our garden meticulously and everything we grew looked absolutely gorgeous.     One year he planted a sunflower,  or two I think… if memory serves we well there were two right next to each other on the edge of our vegetable garden.    Dad put up a post to help it grow tall and strong and over time it bloomed into this giant flower filled with seeds.  It was the prettiest thing I had ever seen.     I remember being in awe of it watching it grow and then eagerly looking forward to the day we were going to harvest those seeds, roast them and eat them.

I remember going to church one Sunday morning and thinking about my sunflowers all through the service.  Every day I would contemplate if this was the day my dad and I would remove the seeds from our flowers.   We did a lot of little projects together like this, and it was those things that I have cherished and will continue to cherish for a lifetime.    When church let out we headed home,  but on the way we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a treat.  There was this cool viewing window where people could watch the donuts being freshly made.    Also the baker was always happy and waving at us as he glazed or frosted or sprinkled or whatever his current batch of donuts.     It was an iconic Torrance donut shop that years later would serve as a filming spot for the movie “The Wildlife” aka Fast Times at Ridgemont High 2.   Nowadays it’s a car wash and some other business.    Boo…

So we get home and as we pull down the street towards our house I was used to seeing my bright yellow sunflower poking out from over our fence.   It wasn’t there.    My dad pulled the car into the garage and assured me that the post probably fell down so the flower had toppled over under the weight of the large bloom full of seeds.   I remember getting out of the car and running still in my Sunday dress to the backyard where our garden was.    I know I instantly started to cry at what I saw…  SOMEONE had jumped our fence and  flowers had been cut right at the bloom and the big pretty blooms were gone.   Cut with something jagged like a knife.   Cut with no care.   Flower murder.   I was heartbroken!     Whoever had done it knew we weren’t home so perhaps had seen us leave that morning.    At least I like to think that,  otherwise what if someone had climbed over our fence while I was in the backyard playing with my dog?    The whole thing was so callous and cruel.    I still wonder who would do such a thing,  see a sunflower from the street and decide to go steal it.     I hope they felt even just a little bit of guilt over stealing that flower from a little girl and her father.    At that time it meant the world to me and having it stolen was an awful feeling.    After all the care that my dad and I had put into helping it grow so tall and healthy to have someone just show up and slice it off and take it away just broke my little heart.

Maybe someday I’ll try to grow another sunflower in my daddy’s honor.   Do all the things he did to help it get as big and healthy as possible.   God help me though, if someone dares steal this one they’ll have to deal with my wrath!  Not only from 44 year old Stacey but also from that little girl whose heart was broken all those years ago when her first flower was taken by a selfish person,  on a SUNDAY of all days..  !

Closure….. reopened (sort of)

Like I said before,  my stepmother and I have recently reconnected and a lot of old emotions have been resurfacing.  My dad passed away back in 2000 and even before then we had no contact for about 4 years before that.   Even before that our relationship was pretty strained… mostly because of what happened between him and my mother.  I blamed my dad and his new wife for everything and went out of my way when I was a kid to make their lives (well, mostly her life)  as miserable as possible when I was around.   My mom and dad had a very long and ugly divorce and so because of that my whole world was turned upside down.   Therefore I did what any normal teenager would have done.  I lashed out at everyone around me.

So, needless to say when my dad passed I knew he was in advanced Alzheimer’s  but really nothing more.  I was told in the form of a phone call from one of my half brothers.   All he said was “He’s dead”.   Both my half brothers which were dad’s sons from his first marriage had written dad off years ago.   They are off in their own worlds to this day and I never speak to them.  So as far as my father,   I had no contacts that could tell me anything more so instead of living a life of so many questions I started drawing up my own conclusions in order to feel some sort of closure.  One conclusion being that he went to his grave hating me.   My stepmother Donna’s reaching out to me online a few weeks ago was a total unexpected surprise.    At first I was really cautious with my wording with her because her and I had such issues in the past,  but now after talking to her several times I’m coming to terms with a lot of things.   The main one being is she loved my dad with all her heart,  and that they were in love back in their high school days.   Even when they both separated for a time and went onto other relationships Donna always held a torch for my dad.   Then when he started getting sick and showing signs of dementia she took care of him up until his final breath.    The fact my dad was happy is all that matters.  This is still an extremely hard thing to wrap my mind around and I’m taking it one day at a time (it’s hard not having my sister around to talk to…) .    I never thought this day would come… ever.

She recently sent me  a small package with the following letter.. I was home alone when I opened it so thankfully nobody was around when I sat and held the letter for an hour sobbing uncontrollably.  I hadn’t even peeked in the package yet.

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I always thought my dad didn’t even give me a second thought after I lost contact with them.  What I had figured was my father was happy with his new wife and disowned me and my two half brothers.   When I was younger I felt abandoned by him and left it at that.  I mean, if I attempted to contact him then I would have also have to talk to ‘her’ and to me she was the enemy.   So I considered my father gone from my life.   In fact, I considered the whole “Norris” family gone from my life.   I didn’t want any part of being a Norris any longer.    It broke my heart but I never told anyone that.   Well,  I told one person, my sister.

Inside the little package was the following:

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The picture with him and the older gentleman is my grandpa Norris.   He died when I was very young.   I barely remember him,  in fact all I do remember is going to visit him shortly before he died.     We went to my grandparents’ house and he was laying in bed with an oxygen tank next to him.   I remember climbing up on the bed and saying “I hope you feel better grandpa”  and seeing his eyes well up with tears.  Later on in the car on the way home my father told me that what I said to him was very nice and it made him happy.   I wish I knew more about him… I’m hoping my stepmom can help me out a little bit as long as she’s still willing and able to answer questions.  From what she has told me so far though,  dad’s father was his hero and he grew up to be more like him, rather than his mother who was……  well, let’s just say people in the neighborhood used to call her ‘that mean old woman’.

The picture of the girl with the giant hair is me..  yeah…   1988.   They had those studios in the mall called “Headshots” and my sister took me there for a birthday present.  They tease, tease and spray your hair up as high as it could possibly go,  then they stick it to a board.    When you leave there you look like a peacock since the back of your head is flattened from the board.    I don’t even remember giving my dad this picture and I’m so surprised he kept it in his wallet all of those years.    It means a lot to know this..

As I’m getting to know my dad all over again I’ve been going through a lot of emotions.  It’s been hard to concentrate when my mind gets churning about all of this.   It’s like I’m trying to make sense of all of this information at once which is literally impossible!    Hopefully I can sort this out so it’s manageable soon before I go crazy but until then it’s one day at a time.     I’m grateful I have Donna to talk to though,  if you would have told me a year ago that I’d be in touch with her again I would have never believed it.     Maybe dad made this possible somehow from wherever he is so I’d have some real closure…maybe?