uncle chuck

Witches And Rope Swings

I was so excited when my husband moved back into our home.  We had been separated for two years.  He moved in with his parents, and the kids and I stayed at our house.

When he moved out in 2009, our youngest child was only five months old.  We also had a one and half year old and a three-year old.  We also had my four-year old from a previous relationship and after my husband moved out, my oldest child, from my first marriage moved in with me.

Even though we were separated, I loved my husband very much and I was very faithful.  In fact, right before we separated I was “saved” and began attending church.  Since my husbands family consists, mostly, of STRICT SOUTHERN BAPTISTS, I thought that surely, that in Jesus saving me, his family would begin to like me.

I really did yearn for the love and approval of my in-laws but since I was a “wrong side of the tracks” girl, they never approved of me.

I never was really too sure of why they didn’t approve of me.  After all, my dad and my stepmother, who raised me are “upstanding citizens” of their community.  At that time, my step-mom was finishing her twenty-plus year career teaching at the biggest high school in the parish school district.  She even won the “teacher of the year” award, FOR THE ENTIRE PARISH, one time.

That was pretty impressive.

Nevertheless, my in-laws hated me from the second they met me and back then I was so green and naive about the ways of traditional small-town southern baptist wives, that it took me at least three years to catch on to the way my mother-in-law spoke to me.  I finally realized that every sweet, sweet thing she said to me was dripping with so much passive-aggression, that I believe if she didn’t live 25 miles away, the acid from her words would be able to traverse the distance, through the phone line, and melt my ears into a puddle.

For instance, absolutely every time she called me, she would open with, “Well, hey (my name), I didn’t wake you, did I?”

I laugh at how dumb I was then, because she usually only called me mid-afternoon.

When you have four small children…you don’t fucking sleep til mid-afternoon, unless you’re on heroin, and I wasn’t.

In retrospect, I am glad I gave her the benefit of the doubt..er….didn’t know she was totally insulting me, because my reaction was always as sweet as a fresh peach cobbler.

“Awwww, no ma’am!  Me and ******** and ***********  outside playing while ******** inside taking a nap?  How are you, today?  I’m so glad you called, I have been meanin to call you but it’s hard to get a moment to come up for air with all these children underfoot….I’m so sorry, Ms. poo”.

I don’t think I ever realized the degree of hatred my husband’s family had for me until                 July 4, 2011, right after my husband moved back into our family home.

I was invited for the very first year to my husband’s family reunion.  It was held at a really cool camp ground on the Tickfaw river.  All of the family was there and I was as sweet and polite as anyone could be.

And, I was genuinely sweet and polite.

There were several children there, including our three youngest children, and everyone was having a really good time.  The water felt good, the day was nice, and there was much shade and covered picnic tables.  There was also great food there.

There were also two rope swings.

One of the rope swings was obviously for children only, but the other was way up high.  To get to the high rope swing, you literally had to scale a wooded hill about 20 to 30 feet high.  My five-year old son and my four-year old daughter started scaling the cliff to get to that rope swing.

My “mommy” kicked in and I was thinking, “oh hell no…my baby ain’t jumping in there first!”

By the time I had made the trek up the mountain to stop him, he had already mounted the rope swing and was plunging into the water.  There were a couple of other boys who followed behind him.

I made it to the swing right as my four-year old was contemplating swinging off into the water. She was a bit scared, and we were so far up above the water, that I was scared, too.  My daughter’s fear wasn’t swaying her decision to jump.

I suggested that we swing together, but my husband, at the time, who was waiting below, in the river, emphatically told me, “NO!”, that would not end well.  I thought about it and considered it, and agreed with him.  We were so high that I was not sure if she would be able to hang on to my neck, or that I would be able to hold the rope with my slippery hands, while she was clinging like a spider monkey to my neck.

There was also the consideration that she would lose her grip and drop as soon as we made the jump.  The thought of me, basically dropping my daughter into the very shallow embankment below scared the holy hell out of me.

My daughter was adamant jumping from this rope swing and I eventually conceded to allow her to jump, but I was going to do it first, so I would know first-hand, into what she would be jumping.

The countdown from ten started in my head.  I was scared.  This damn swing was REALLY HIGH. I am usually never afraid to do things of this nature, but I had a bad feeling in my stomach at that moment.

I think I just pushed myself off before I even got to “3”.

I swung through the air, my hands gripping that rope like if I let go, I was plunging into Niagra Falls. When I reached the apex of the swing, I looked down and I wanted to let go, but…OH MY GOD, THE WATER WAS SO FAR DOWN….I balked.

The rope started coming back down to make it’s return and I knew I would look like an idiot if I didn’t let go, so I let go.

I remember looking down at the water while also seeing, in my peripheral vision, my hands coming apart, releasing the tight grip I had on the rope swing.

I could be crazy, and many say that I am, but I know when I looked down I saw those waters part like I was running from Pharaoh’s army, leading the Nation of Israel behind me, wondering how we was gonna get through the Red Sea before Pharaoh’s army caught us and slaughtered us.

“SPLASH”

I my feet entered the water with my body following.

We didn’t make it far.

I felt the slimy mud shoot between my toes at the same time the realization that my ankle just collapsed and then the white-noise pain…..

I literally landed in about 4 feet of water.

I crushed my ankle.

I remember being under the water and feeling like all I wanted was to inhale two lungs-full of nothing but water so that I would not have to return to the surface.

I used my right ankle to pull myself up and straighten my crumpled body.

When I came out of the water, everyone was looking at me.

That is it….just looking at me.

I had no mirror there, and I am not sure what expression my face was making, but I know it was one which conveyed some sort of near-death excruciating pain.  My kids saw it…so did my former husband.

It took him a second but he came and got me out of the water.  I felt like I was going to pass the fuck out, it hurt so bad.

When he carried me like a baby out of the water, my feelings of shame and weirdness at being in such a vulnerable position with him, almost topped the pain that was radiating from my entire leg.

By the time my former husband laid me on the river bank my ankle was swollen.  I was not crying, but I know I was whining like a bitch.  I hated doing it, but seriously, this was, to date, my worst injury ever, hands-down.

He asked me if I was going to be ‘ok’, and I said, “yes…of course”.

Some of the family members came to me to inquire how they could help me. Being the sweet, southern wife that I was, I politely declined….why?  I surely didn’t want to mess up everyone’s good time!  That’s not polite, at all!

In about ten minutes time, my ankle and foot were equal in size to my calf muscle, and I have pretty large calf-muscles.  At that point, I asked my former husband to place me in a more comfortable spot than the side of the river bank.

He had to carry me, because now, my leg was completely unusable. Since he has pretty severe back injuries, himself, and it was difficult for him to carry me from the front, I hopped around and let him piggy back me to our truck which was parked about 50 yards from the picnic area.

Since it was apparent that none of the family were going to insist I go to the emergency room, I let my former husband place me into the passenger seat of his truck and I watched as he returned to the family reunion, as if I had not just broken my leg.

I plugged my phone into the aux plug of my former husband’s truck and tried to listen to some music and take my mind off of my throbbing leg. This was a pretty hard task because I had to sit at a weird angle to keep my foot elevated, which was become more and more swollen with each passing minute.

Right about the time my skin started turning a very dark purple, my ankle not even in the “cankle” category anymore, now just resembling something from the leg of a mutant, my former husband’s cousin, Dusty walked over and asked me how I was feeling.

I wish I would have been able to come up with something less polite and sincerely sweet than what I said, which went something like, “Well…it’s hurting pretty bad, but Ima be ok!”.

Dusty and I spoke for a couple of minutes before I asked him if he would mind helping me get the truck bed.  I thought that if I could sit somewhere which afforded me the ability to stretchm leg out, comfortably, that it would lessen the pain.

Dusty agreed and I felt so bad as he used every ounce of man-strength he had to escort me to my desired destination.  I could no longer to bear any weight, whatsoever, on my left leg, and my right leg and ankle were beginning to throb now.  My right leg and ankle were probably damaged, as well.  I know this because three years later, I feel it.  But at the time,  my left leg injury usurped any and every pain I may have been feeling on any other part of my body.

The truck bed did not help me feel any better.  It really didn’t matter how I situated my leg, it was horrible.  I looked at my left ankle, in absolute amazement.  It looked like an ostrich had somehow climbed into my body an laid an egg right in my ankle.

It really was amazing.

Even though I had given birth to 5 healthy, full-term babies,  I never imagined something so small and dainty as a woman’s ankle, especially mine, could be so huge and abnormal.  The egg in my ankle was bigger than any of my children before 32 weeks, in utero.

My ankle was knocked up.

Dusty stayed and talked to me for thirty minutes to an hour.

Bless his heart, I knew his family rarely had anything nice to say about him, but I didn’t realize what a black sheep he was until he stood there that fourth f July day, talking to me, being sweet, keeping me company while my leg increasingly became a personified prop from a cheesy 80’s horry flick.

The party wrapped up and the women-folk started cleaning up the plastic dishes and utensils about two and half hours after they cast their spell to make the waters part.

I was not taken to see a doctor until two days later.

The attending physician, who appeared to be in his early 60’s, stated, “This is the worst sprain I have ever seen in all of my years practicing”.

Although, NOT A BONE WAS BROKEN, every tendon and ligament from my knee down stretched then snapped, like rubber bands.

I was in a wheelchair for almost six weeks.

The tendons are still in a pile at my ankle.

Most days my ankle hurts and I just ignore it.

On the days right before a rain, it REALLY HURTS…and it makes me feel old, all predicting the weather and shit.

But…

I CAN STILL MOONWALK, BIOTCHES!!!

Daddy

2012-08-22I used to love my dad.

There was a time, not that long ago, when I loved my daddy more than words could say. I absolutely idolized my father when I was a child. To me, he hung the moon and the stars. I truly believed he was the smartest man on the planet. He was god to me.

All I ever wanted from daddy was his love, affection and approval. I never received any of those things from him, yet I kept on loving him.

Daddy would always belittle me and tell me how ugly I was, he told me, repeatedly, that  I should use my head for something besides a hat rack. Daddy always made fun of my nose and called me “ski snoot”, whatever that means, and would tell me that I got my nose from my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, even though clearly, and unfortunately, I have my father’s nose.  It’s undeniable.  The thing he used to say to me the most was , “Son, if you had a brain, you’d be dangerous”.

Yes, my father called me “son’.  He also referred to me as ,”boy”, all the time, and I do mean ALL THE TIME.

As I look back, I remember how I never really got angry or upset about the things he would say to me.  When I got older, and I’d mention to my friends about how he always called me ‘son’, and they always laughed and thought it was so weird, and I suppose it was.  I never thought it was that weird,  back then, though.   I loved him no matter what ugly thing he said to me, and when people would question it, I would always take up for daddy saying, “that’s just my daddy’s way of saying he loves me”….and I believed it.

In school, I was always a good student.  I may not have applied myself like I should have, but I still always received good grades.  I was always in the upper level english and reading classes.  In high school, I was allowed into the ‘Honors English’ program and remained all four years.  I was an honor graduate with a pretty high GPA.

However, no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did, nothing I did was ever good enough for my dad.  Nothing.

I remember writing papers for my english class and feeling so excited about what I produced and running into the living room, where daddy was always sitting on the couch, watching t.v., and asking him to read whatever it was that I had written.  Most of the time, he would tell me to show it to him later or I would have to sit and wait for a commercial before he even noticed I was standing there.

“Daddy, I wrote this essay, will you look over it for me?”, I would ask, my eyes twinkling with certain knowledge that THIS TIME I wrote something that would make him proud of me.

When he would finally take time to look at my work, his criticism would start with the first sentence.  He always ended up telling me what I wrote was fucking garbage and he would get his pencil and cross words out and write in new ones.  He would take out whole sentences or paragraphs, and that was on a good day. But mostly he would just tell me it was shit and to start over and re-write everything.

I would go back to my room, with my heart now located somewhere in my lower intestine.  I never re-wrote anything, I would just turn it in the way I wrote it before I showed it to my daddy and I usually received an “A”.

Yet I always still loved my daddy…..