It had to be within 2 or 3 weeks of my graduation from high school . I was working at St Mary’s hospital from 3 to 11:00 p.m. 5 days a week. I normally wasn’t allowed to take the car to work so I would walk to 7th Street from 18th Street – not all that bad and in the summer, I loved the feel of the sunshine on my face and arms. Mom came by to pick me up about 11:30 that night, as was her usual routine. I saw the familiar blue station wagon near the door after clocking out and casually made my way to the car. I was tired and happy to be getting off of my feet for a bit.
I started to get in the front passenger seat and realized the door was locked so I was unable to open the door. I didn’t really think much of it because we always had old cars and something always seemed to be malfunctioning on them. Six kids can have that affect sometimes. As I glanced at mom, she motioned for me to get in to the back seat which I did. I began jabbering to her about this patient and that patient and and the goings on during my shift at the hospital like I normally did on the drive home. After pausing the conversation, I realized that something was different.
Mom was really quiet and normally she was butting in and adding to the conversation even though she wasn’t in the situation at the time; she always had a couple things to add. That was just mom. I noticed when I would pause in the conversation that she didn’t respond in any way so I thought maybe something was wrong at home. I start asking Hey are you OK. No response. Mom, is everything all right? Again no response. Well my mom was never one to have quiet time in the car when there’s other conversation to be involved, so I pressed her. Mom, what’s going on? Everything okay? Are the kids okay? Did something happen to Dad or Grandma? Now I was worried and everything and anything was running through my mind.
Her response was “you know very well what’s wrong!” Well, I did not know what was wrong. The day seemed like any other. That morning I had gotten up early and laid out in the sun for a while. That’s what we did in the early seventies. We laid in the sun. We got tan. Then I showered and washed my hair and got ready in my uniform for work Had a little lunch. Mom had asked me to run to the store to grab something – what it was, I cannot even recall. I came home and left the house about 2:15 to walk to work. Really, just my typical workday.
So again I asked – what is it that has made you so angry ? After asking 3 or possibly 33 times – here it comes. Now, let me say this about my parents. They did not ask questions. If we were ever in “trouble” for something, the response was always in the form of a declaration. No questions asked. And if I was told that I did something, Mom always responded with a flat statement and a lot of yelling and an explanation point at the end, whereas Dad would respond with silence after his statement of fact, and totally ignore you for days. He had a knack for seeming to look right through you to acknowledge one of the kids in more favor at the time. This round it was just Mom and me and I heard the fight bell for round two go off in my head. One of my younger brother’s friends had seen me driving. I was three blocks from the house when Bob flagged me down. We both got out of our rides and leaned on his car and talked for not more than 6 or 7 minutes. Nothing big. I went on my way to the store and Bob went on his way towards his house.
That was the factual account. However, the “friend” that my Mother relied on for the story had his own version. Instead of me getting in our car and leaving and Bob getting in his car and leaving, Bob (according to the wanna be reporter for the National Enquirer), hopped in our car and sped off! No mention of what I was doing the entire 20 minutes or so that I was gone from the house. So, that’s it? That is what this kid told you and this is why you are screaming at me near midnight and waking the other kids? Never happened. Not that it made any difference to Mom, but I began to giggle and explained to her that Bob drove the Plymouth version (light green) of our Dodge station wagon (light blue) and the kid was probably just confused. And anyway, why would Bob want to speed off in our station wagon? Not exactly a popular muscle car – it’s a 10 year old station wagon! Mom did not think my “version” was the least bit amusing. After calling me a liar, she told me that I could sleep in my room that night – but tomorrow (it actually was already tomorrow), I was to get out. The room was no longer mine and she was giving it to one of my younger brothers.
I told her that I thought it sad she would put more trust in a kid my brother went to school with and totally dismiss what I was telling her. I told her to believe whatever she wanted but I didn’t lie to her and she had no reason to think I would lie to her. I responded with kind of a light hearted you’re kidding right? Where is it exactly that you would like me to go? I didn’t have any money in savings. Any extra money I ever had I spent on the twins and buying my own clothes and shoes. She said she didn’t care where I went as long as I was gone in the morning .
I remember crying myself to sleep just completely confused and hoping that in the morning light, calmer heads would prevail and life would go back to what it was before. I awoke about 9 a.m. with one of those crying all night headaches where your head pounds all over and your nose is stuffy from crying. I was certain that things would be better between Mom and me . Instead, I awoke to part of my room in disarray. I could hear the twins playing and I followed their voices to the front porch to find my cedar chest that I had gotten for graduation outdoors with my clothes off hangers and piled on the cedar chest, along with my radio and my little coffee maker that I bought for my room.
So, that was it. I was barely eighteen and leaving my home that we moved into when I was 2 years old. Just Mom and Dad and Jay and me then. I showered and dressed. Put my makeup in a bag and sat down on the front porch and cried until I could cry no more. I re-entered the house to call Kathy. I told her my situation and she was at the house in a matter of minutes. We loaded her little car with my stuff and my cedar chest in her husband’s truck. I went back in the house to tell Mom I was leaving. She said nothing – did not even ask where I was going. I interrupted her silent treatment to ask where the twins and my younger brothers were so I could say good bye to them and her last word to me was just NO. Those 4 kids were my pride and joy. I played with them when they were little and shopped for them and taught them things. But I wasn’t even allowed to tell them good-bye, I have no idea what they were ever told about me leaving home. Not sure they even remember. That, along with the fact that Dad left for work that morning without a word to me, is still gut wrenching. The pain of that 10 hours still brings me to tears.