Thursday, October 14, 2010

And When They Were Older, They Would Not Depart From It

In February 1986, because Misty was angry with her mother and didn't want to live there, and because Cheri wouldn't let Misty live at her place anymore, Misty moved in with us. We made it clear this was only on condition she straighten up and go to school. We did our best to help her. We first tried enrolling her in the Catholic high school her best friend was attending. We took her for an entrance exam, but she didn't pass.

"I'm sorry," the administrator told us, "we'd like to take her but her comprehension scores are way below our requirements. We simply don't have the necessary facilities to help her. I'd advise you to take her for testing."

At the Community College, Misty tested at the third grade reading level.

"Take her home and encourage her to read as much as possible. There are also some reading programs that you could enroll her in. They do cost a little, but if you can afford it..."

Running out of options, we enrolled her in an alternative school down on Lincoln Avenue. I encouraged her, told her she was beautiful and surprised her with a rose on her dresser for her 16th birthday. I took her portrait to a modeling agency. Louise Nelson saw the portrait and told me she thought Misty was very photogenic.

But living with Misty wasn't easy. She wouldn't do anything she didn't feel like doing. The only time she would do the dishes without a fight was on my payday.


On Halloween I took Joy and Andrew with me to a party at the Crisis Nursery. I'd sewed Joy a "Strawberry Shortcake" costume. Andrew I made into Mickey Mouse. I found a ruffled slip for Joy and black tights for Andrew at the nursery. I was able to get all kinds of accessories for children at the Crisis Nursery, from clothing to diapers to baby bottle nipples. Some of it was given to me, some of it I stole. Funny how upset I was with Misty's thieving but thought nothing of my own.

Stealing from the Crisis Nursery at night wasn't hard. I worked with only one other person and all I had to do was wait for that person to fall asleep. Then during my normal duty of restocking from the basement, I would take extras out the side door to my car. Some of it I stored for my own use, other stuff I took up north and gave it to Dale and Tammy for their three kids.

The small one bedroom tract house they now lived in was part of a quadroplex originally built to house an elderly person. Not being high on the list of tribal government cronies, this apartment had been given to Dale's family until another home opened up.

The house was usually littered with clothing and thick with cigarette smoke. They never had much food, and the kids slept on the floor wrapped in dirty blankets. I brought them toothpaste and toothbrushes from the nursery every time I came, and then usually went out and bought other little things they needed such as toilet paper. Sometimes I'd help Tammy take the blankets and stuffed toys down to the launder-mat. At night, I curled up with the kids on the floor and slept.

While sitting on the hood of the car outside Dale's house one afternoon, Lila told me she would die soon and had already chosen her casket.
"There is no reason to live," she said while looking at the ground.
"What about your two kids?" I asked.
"No one needs me."


Back home, Roland called the alternative school. Misty had been going a month or so now and we wanted to see how she was doing.
"She hasn't been here."
"What do you mean? We drop her off every day!"
"She hides behind the door until you leave and then takes off."

After a particularly bad day with Misty, I urged Roland to go on a drive with me. As we went around a lake, I told him I could not marry him if I could not start saying no to his family. He wanted to get married, I guess, because he told me then that I could start standing up for myself.


Cattle and Cupcakes said...

Was Roland staying clean at this point?

Lisa said...

Yes. I should have somehow explained that. He was usually sober and clean if he was home.

When he drank, it was on a binge and he would leave for a period of time - weeks at a time. The only period when he didn't leave for weeks (but still wasn't drinking in our home while we lived together) was when I was pregnant with our first child and for the first 10 months after he was born. During that time, he would leave for days while he drank.

There was never alcohol stored in my home. At least none that I ever knew about.

Cattle and Cupcakes said...

Wow. So, how did you deal with him when he'd come home from a binge? Did he just act like nothing was wrong? Or, did he say "I'll never do that again"?

Lisa said...

These are good questions, because it helps me see points I missed. I really should explain better why I kept taking him back.

Well, first, I really did love him. I know it's at times hard to see why, and most assuredly, when I read this stuff, I can't really understand why, either.

If I had it to do over again - with the knowledge of myself and others that I now have - I probably wouldn't.

But at the time, for some reason, even though I was extremely disgusted with him, I couldn't bring myself to leave.

Yes, he did say he would never do it again. And no, I didn't entiredly believe it. I still don't know quite what the problem was within me that kept me there. Maybe others can help me figure that part out.

But...I don't want to tell the end of the story, but there is a point where we both begin to grow.

...It's taken me three attempts to finish this note - between the interruptions of grandchildren...