This morning after I let the chickens out and gave them scratch and filled up all the waterers, I went into the hen house to see if anyone had laid me an early morning egg, only to see what you see in that picture. And what the HELL WAS I SEEING?
I turned on my phone flashlight to realize that it was Trixie, arisen and returned from wherever she has been, straddling Camellia's head. Just an awkward position they got in or was Trixie pleading with Camellia not to leave her side today?
Oh, who knows, and who knows where that hen has been but she is a wily old thing to have lived so long and I should have known she'd appear again in her own good time.
She is looking rough, though.
But she is alive and I gave her some cat food, which chickens adore, and I am so glad to see her.
The baby chicks are growing beautifully but are as hard to get a decent picture of as George Clooney's twins.
Dottie fusses them away quickly as soon as I point my phone at them and forget me trying to get down on their level to get a better shot. By the time I'm down there, they've disappeared under the coop box per Mama's instructions. Don't tell me that chickens can't talk.
Anyway, like Trixie's sudden reappearance, C. was back in our lives. As I said yesterday, I could not, however, trust him as I did before, as thrilled as I was to see my mother so happy.
Somehow, cracks were appearing in his seeming perfection. Especially for me. Little things. And again- the timeframe for all of this is hazy. A different side of C. started to show up. He became more involved in how my brother and I were disciplined. He had been raised in dire poverty and food was a huge issue for him. I never met his father who had died before he met my mother but I did meet his mother who lived on the grove they owned near Orlando in what was then an extremely rural area. This, of course, was pre-Disney. That woman, his mother, was obviously not right. To begin with, she was a true hoarder. Her little wood frame house stunk and was packed to the ceiling with old newspapers and rotting fruit and, well, everything she'd ever been able to put her hands on. There were skinny paths through the detritus one could barely walk through and a small place on a daybed which remained clear enough for her to lay down and sleep on. I doubt she ever washed. She wore her hair up on her head and always, even on the hottest Central Florida days, kept it covered with a knitted hat. She was kind enough to me and my brother but even at the age of eight or nine, I knew that there was something very wrong with her. Her smiles seemed false. She smelled as bad as her house. And I could tell that C., although he faithfully made sure she was all right and visited her and the grove (which he worked on and tended) frequently, was distant to her, a bit cold. The story was that she had kept him dressed as a girl until he was way older than would be normal, and refused to cut his beautiful ringlets. There was a picture of him in a dress with those ringlets which was shown with pride.
C. did not hoard food, but he would do anything to avoid wasting it. As a child, they had been able to buy stale bread for cheap and that was the filler they used to dull their hunger. Everything they ate had been eaten on white bread and even as an adult he continued the habit. He encouraged us to do the same. It didn't matter what my mother cooked, he would insist on piling it onto slices of white bread and eating it like that. Chili, potato salad, casseroles. Didn't matter. It all went on white bread.
Chewing an entire piece of gum at once was a sin. A half piece, a quarter piece even- that was the way to do it. And he loved to grocery shop and when they introduced those generic cans of whatever in their black and white labels, he was in heaven. He bargain hunted, he brought home food like pig brains. Which he ate on white bread.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The point is- he began to criticize the way my mother fed us, said we were wasteful. If we left anything on our plates, he forced us to go back and eat it. I remember vomiting once when he made me finish some cooked cabbage which I loathed. I remember the wicked satisfaction I felt in that vomiting. He could force me to eat something but he couldn't make me keep it down.
And he just became more critical in general. He had taken a psychology course and thought he knew the secrets in how to control people's actions. He was big on "reverse psychology" and whatever you called it, it was cruel.
I think my brother and I began to resent him before he and my mother were married. I remember once we all went fishing down at the dock on the Sebastian River- something we'd been doing since we'd moved to Roseland- and when C. caught a catfish and went to take it off the hook, he warned us about the fin which we already were quite aware of as a poisonous thing to avoid, and when he himself was finned by it, we were secretly delighted.
And yet, the courtship went on. Mother would get frustrated with him but would suck it up and their physical relationship seemed to be very strong. They kissed and held each other and caressed in front of us all the time which made me feel a mixture of arousal and disgust. Children are sexual beings in a rather loosely defined way long before we think of them as such. I'm not sure why we aren't more aware of this. Is it a shameful thing?
One of the things in C.'s life which was very positive, was a woman we called Granny Matthews. I have spoken of her before. She was the sweetest lady and lived in a pretty little house in Lakeland, Florida, where C. had attended college for awhile on the GI bill. He had rented a room from her and adored her and she adored him. The joke was that she loved him more than she loved her own two sons and it wasn't really a funny joke- it truly appeared to be so. And I remember the entire family, her sons and her daughter-in-laws, talking about how much one of Granny M's granddaughters (who was a little older than me) loved C. How she would sit on his lap and run to him every time she saw him.
I was jealous when I heard this. I was his special girl.
Looking back, I feel certain he molested her as well.
But I loved Granny M. She was a pure born nurturer. She fed people her delicious foods, she grew gorgeous flowers and fruit trees, she was generous in heart and soul and body. She wore silky and completely inappropriate nightgowns as daywear in her house but somehow, it wasn't creepy. I mean, she had a mustache! She wore giant rhinestone clip-on earrings which pulled her Buddha earlobes down. She hated C.'s mother and called her "that mean old woman." And nothing, NOTHING about her set any alarms off in me. The only thing I ever thought about her which was negative was that she loved C.
Later on, she became a defender of me, in fact, and I think she had an inkling of what was going on.
All right. That's enough of that for now.
It is raining and I'm glad I got a walk in before it started because it's supposed to rain all day long. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, just a regularly scheduled check-up with my adorable GP and I am sure we will be discussing my blood work. I have been dreading this appointment for months and months and knowing that it will all be over by this time tomorrow almost brings me relief as much as I am anxious about going. I swear- I think my stomach issue on my birthday may have been not a bug or something I ate but simply a reaction to the anxiety about the appointment coming up.
Yes. I'm crazy. I know it.
Let me add one thing. It is so lovely to hear all of your words about my "bravery" and "honesty" and so forth but I am none of those things. There are vast and untold numbers of women and men (and C. was probably one of those too) who were abused as children who have grown up and made amazing lives and raised beautiful, sane families. This is just one woman's story. My story.
And I am not ashamed. But I am not remarkable in any way and indeed, have been as lucky as could be in so many aspects.
And I know it.
Love you truly...Ms. Moon