e-mails to never send

Thanks to the Internet, we now have the ability to harass people from our distant past. I searched for the Old Bitch’s daughter on Google, and in about 2 minutes I had her full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and e-mail, plus husband and kids’ names to confirm it was her. Turns out she is in her 70s, and she hasn’t moved from the house where I visited her many years ago.

Anyway, I’m in a dark sentimental mood today, and I wondered what it would be like to write her a little note asking a few questions. It might go something like this:

Hey Wanda,

I’ll bet you remember me, I was the little kid that A-mom adopted way back then when she lived with your mother. Boy, your mother sure fucked up my mother and I. Why did you let her live with us in Treetown while you escaped to the Bay Area? Did you think it was okay to let someone else deal with your aging, mentally ill mother while allowing us to visit for a few days once in a while? You and your sisters wanted nothing to do with her, while A-mom served her and endured her abuse and bullying day and night for 20 years. Your mother needed a care home, and instead she got two people who were not equipped to deal with her illness. When you finally allowed your mother to come live with you, she left behind two people who were barely able to function for themselves and who were emotionally damaged to the breaking point.

I don’t blame you for what your mother did to A-mom and I, but I would like some answers why you thought it was okay to allow us to care for her instead of you and your sisters taking care of her. I would like you to acknowledge that you knew the situation we lived in was messed up, you did nothing to help, and you took advantage of us.

Sincerely,
Fishrobber

Funny thing is, back in 1994 maybe, my wife and I were going to a football game in San Francisco, and on a whim I decided to drive past Wanda’s house. I had not been to the house in 14 years by this time, and of course I had never driven there, but I knew the streets and the landmarks well enough from memorizing maps as a kid. To my wife’s surprise, without backtracking or u-turns, I drove directly to their house. Wanda wasn’t home, but her husband was in front of the house, washing their old pickup truck, so I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. As an outside observer, he agreed with me that “the situation there was pretty messed up” (his words exactly), and he wished Wanda were home so we could talk. I had to get going though, so I thanked him and we drove off. I guess what I got from her husband will have to be good enough.

cheerleader

All parents are cheerleaders for their kids to a certain extent, but my A-mom was the whole squad. As I got older it became somewhat embarrassing when she would tell people how smart I was, or how good a singer or musician I was, or how skilled at baseball I was. Even if I was proven to not be the best in some of those categories, she would stubbornly hold on to the belief that I was better than anyone else. She would complain to the coach when I didn’t get enough playing time, and she would tell the choir director that I deserved a solo when I really didn’t. I was her precious genius with superpowers, and she mollycoddled me to the point of smothering.

Despite her being a cheerleader for me to the rest of the world, she never seemed to encourage me very much at home. She never sat down and said “you can make it through college, you’re smart enough.” I felt like my motivation to succeed at my education came from myself, partly to escape poverty and avoid being white trash, and partly to prove wrong the people who told me I wouldn’t amount to anything.

I wonder if she didn’t feel like she could help me anymore once we escaped the abuse in Treetown. Maybe she felt like I was grown up at that point, which was far from the truth. I wish I had had someone to help me through the transition from high school to college, but the reality is I did it all by myself. I don’t think she wanted me to leave home, and she was secretly happy when my first attempt at freedom failed and I moved back home.

I don’t want to be unfair to her. We were poor, and we didn’t the financial opportunity to take advantage of special tutoring or coaching or music lessons. In addition, we were recovering from years of abuse at the hands of the Old Bitch, and we were both still in a raw emotional state, trying to figure out how to live a normal life. We needed therapy more than we needed music lessons, but we had the mistaken belief that Jesus would help us more than psychiatrists.