I am going to give some background to Jack A. that I’m not sure that I have ever given before.
~Here is my introduction to a man I will be referring to as ‘E’!
E was Jack A.’s father. From what I understand, E was a very sick and twisted individual. From the stories that I have heard of him raising his own children, E would make the things that Jack A. has done to me, pale into a simple slap on the wrist. I only remember going over to where he lived a few times. The first visit, I was maybe three or four years old and then the second, I believe I was ten. It was before Suzie was born. I actually believe that Kim was pregnant with my sister at the time.
Aside from E, Jack A. had four siblings. Heather was first, then his only brother David, Wilma, then Jack A., and finally the youngest sibling Liza. I will probably broach those stories another day.
It was an older home that was built sometime during the 1940s. It was small and looked like a box. The roof was slightly slopped inward. You could tell that it needed a new roof and many more repairs. When the house was new, I can image that it was white but when I saw it as we pulled into the driveway, most of the paint had flaked off and it was a spotted and cracked primer gray. It had a small, raised, concrete porch with only enough room for a single chair. It had a very short slopping ramp leading up to the porch instead of stairs. Even that was in disrepair from so many uses. It leaned to one side and boards were either loose or missing. I felt weird when we walked in. It almost immediately made me want to turn tail and run away like so many of the things in my life have. I asked to go wait in the car but was immediately told no of course. The inside of the house was small and the walls were the same primer gray that the outside had faded to. It also had old, original, wood flooring (that people pay thousands of dollars for in current society). It badly needed to be shined and restored. In my memory, it also had the same gray color that the rest of the house had but I know that is probably just a child’s memory and not necessarily how it really was.
E had a lot of medical problems and they had caused several complications throughout his life. He had two separate blood clots that caused two surgeries where they had to amputate both legs. He had lung cancer due to smoking for most of his life. So, he was always connected to an oxygen tank. He also lived with his mother because he needed so much help and constant care.
Of his mother, I remember a short and haunched woman with gray and black hair. She wore skirts and old knit sweaters. She smelled of a mix of dust, mold, and moth balls. Her skin was the same color as the house. Thin and faded like the years had literally worn her down much like sand will on stone in a river. She was also very old fashioned in that she believed that you wait on your men and a woman’s place was in the kitchen. She had an old paddle that hung on the wall, and on it there was an engraved quote that read,
Children are to be seen and not heard.
I don’t doubt that she used that paddle on her children however, I remember her being very kind and tolerant of me. She made me a plate of chocolate chip cookies and let me help her with a jigsaw puzzle. She didn’t have a television and when I asked why, she said:
‘Cause it’s all a bunch a nonsense and it’s useless information. If I need to know somethin’, I get me my paper every mornin’!
I think, had I have been born into a well adjusted family with regular get-togethers and holiday traditions, I would have loved to sit and talk with her about how it used to be. I remember a very sweet lady.
At some point in the visit, Jack A. took me back to the room where E stayed. He couldn’t get out of bed and lived out his days in a rented hospital bed. He had this thing that looked like a swing with a harness that allowed him to be lifted and moved from his bed to his wheel chair without having to have someone physically lift him.
E was a large, round man with pasty, translucent skin and a military style hair cut. I think at one point, his hair was a pale blonde but by that time, it had also washed out to gray. I wonder if all things turn to gray over time… if that’s the natural color that all things end their existence in.
If I remember correctly, he was almost blind too but I’m not certain about that. When I walked into his room, I was immediately hit with the smell of something similar to a hospital and at the same time it had a dirty smell. Like someone who hasn’t ever taken a bath in their life. Upon entering that room, I was compelled to shrink to Jack A’s side in hopes of being protected from the fear I felt.
I would like to state before I move forward that I had no idea what E was capable of. I was never made aware of the bad things he’d done in his life until I was grown and he had been buried for more than fifteen years.
I don’t remember the conversation during the visit or even the reason for the visit. I do, however, remember being asked to sit at the end of the bed to tell my ‘Papa’ what it was I was learning in school. Being told to make sure I was a ‘good girl’. The connotations of what he said and how he said it made my skin crawl. To this day, I can still remember it. It’s that creepy feeling you get when you walk into an old abandoned house with lots of cobwebs and spiders as big as rats.
This is my memory of E and the brief encounter with him. A few years later, he died. In my quest to find relatives from my past, I had the chance happening of coming across Jack A.’s older sister, Wilma, on Facebook. In speaking with her and discussing things, I found out the things that E had done to his children. I don’t have specific stories but more so glimpses into the types of things that he did to his children.
Wilma spoke of being sexually abused by her father and as her brothers got older, E would force them to watch what he did to them. She said that E had told her brothers that it was in order to teach them about sex. Wilma said that as her brothers matured and if E saw that they were getting aroused by the activities, then he started making them participate.
Jack A. didn’t have to continue his father’s … what’s the proper phrase? I’m not sure there are words to encompass what E did and then Jack A. perpetuated. But, I think this is how, or one of the ways, that people like them are created. This puts a whole new meaning on learning from example.
I think all of this came up today because I went to visit with a ‘cousin’ of mine. She’s David’s (Jack A.’s brother) daughter. I haven’t seen her since I was seven or eight years old. In discussing some of the things that we both experienced, she did tell me that fear does die. Hers died when her father died of a heart attack a year ago as kids. She was actually the one that paid for his funeral.
I honestly can’t see why she would want to. She said it was for closure for herself. I guess I’m just not the type of person that can forgive the things that were done to me.