In my last blog I ended by saying that my dad left the Military and went into insurance as a salesman. He was not there long when he and a co-worker, I believe, decided to go into business for themselves. Of course, this takes capital and not long after the venture was started my dad sold our house and we moved into a duplex apartment. It was a difficult adjustment, very small, no yard of your own. During this time my dad starting spending less and less time at home; apparently always out wining and dining potential investors and clients and this infuriated my mom. According to my dad he invited my mom to go out with him on several of these occasions, but she refused. He did talk about this in front her, when I was an adult, and she did not deny it. But my mom is very uncomfortable in social situations with people she does not know, as a lot of us are, so this is an understandable situation for her, but, again, this did cause tremendous stress on their relationship.
It was also at this time that I am sure I became aware of physical abuse against my mom. In the duplex there were four apartment homes in a quad with grass in between all the apartments; so basically we all shared a common front yard. I remember a girl I will call Debra, a few years younger than me, who lived there and we would play together in our shared front yard. Her parents often left their front door wide open for some reason. One day her parents started fighting and the next thing I knew her mom was on the couch and her dad was straddling her, punching her in the face like a punching bag and I just remember thinking, “Oh, I guess this is normal.” So I know at this point I was aware of physical abuse, though I have blocked out specific instances, at least during this time period in my life.
During this time I also remember us going out for a drive on a Sunday afternoon to get some ice cream. My parents started arguing and the next thing I know, as he is sitting in the driver’s seat and she in the passenger, he started slapping her and ice cream got all over the ceiling of the car; I honestly can’t remember exactly how I felt, but I knew I didn’t feel good. That is the last I can remember of that day. I do not know how it ended, I just can’t remember.
At some point during our time living at the duplex a really nice man with a blind daughter moved in next door to us; From what I can remember he was a single dad, I believe his wife left him and their daughter. The daughter was maybe one or two years old and she had a large lump on her temple and didn’t have long to live. I don’t remember with certainty, but I think she did have cancer.
I believe it was on Friday and/or Saturday nights we would go next door to this man’s apartment; me, my mom and my sister, and they would talk about their problems while us kids played, but I would listen a lot also. They shared each others grief over their problems and marriages. I believe my sister and I were always present during these get-togethers and I do not believe there was anything romantic or sexual in nature going on. I also asked my mom about this as an adult and she advised me they were just two people in similar situations talking and that there was nothing tawdry about their friendship. I remember my mother always making sure that we would be home before my dad.