"Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." - Orison Swett Marden

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Hope Of A Family

She was the youngest of five children. The oldest brother and sister shared a different father than the three younger. Her next oldest sister and brother and she were within a few years age of one another. Billy was a casualty of the war, and idolized by my mother. Sylvia married a man who came out of the war to be a drunken abuser. How badly he abused my aunt I'm not sure of. They owned a store, a little store in a little Pennsylvania town that we would visit from our home in Ohio. My cousin Kelly (Sylvia's granddaughter from her oldest of two sons) and I knew that a stop at the store meant our pick from the shelves of candy! Aunt Sylvia would sneak it to us if Uncle Paul was around, we wouldn't want for him to yell at her. She babied those she loved, some might say she was a push-over. I remember she was diabetic and didn't keep it well controlled. From what I recall my mother and she were close. We loved Aunt Sylvia, she was very endearing. I was a young woman, in my teens when she passed, I do believe from complications of the diabetes.

As for her full siblings there was a lot of tension between her and them. She had quite possibly as a child been annoying as the baby of the family I suppose, and from what I could gather from my mother she disdained their need for appearances. That being so you could understand why they weren't favorable to the reflection she might cast on them. I was too young in those days to be aware of when and how my mother's mental illness affected their relationship with her, but no doubt it did.

Her father was physically abusive to their mother. While she shared that with me as a young child, she was not real descriptive. I do vaguely remember trying to get details of it out of her. She was great for pauses in conversation that accompanied distant stares. I never met my grandmother, she died a few years before my birth. I knew she was Hungarian and spoke broken or scarce English. My grandfather was a child of immigrant parents from Italy, he was an electrician and a ditch digger. His children had at one time or another worked with him on jobs....back when we didn't protect children right out of the responsibilities that moved them into adulthood. They learned a good work ethic. But he was a stoic man, he did not show affection.

My mother had more than one miscarriage before giving birth to me. I knew from her that she had wanted a child so badly that my father behaved jealously over her importance for a baby. I do believe, that like myself, a child/children represented the hope of a family for her. Where was the love and closeness for her within those that were her family? Billy died when she was but a child. She rarely saw her older sister Sylvia, who left home to marry, and then at the age of 16 herself she left to marry and join my father as he was stationed first in Florida in the Air Force, next in California. Her mother passed when she was only about 25. The remaining of her 'family', not close or loving relationships. And then 2 months after I was born she and my father divorced. There she was, a single mom with a 2 month old infant, some serious mental health issues, and the only people she could call family a couple thousand miles away. People that thought of her more as a burden than a family member compromised by distance whose life they wished to enhance with their support - Ha!