Lucky I did not kill my mother.
A few months after my eighth birthday, my mother stole the money from my piggy bank which had my savings from doing odd jobs for other people. She used the money to buy a meal for herself at a fast food outlet while there was no food in the house. When I confronted her, she asked me if I would rather live with her or go to a boys reform school. I had the wrong answer.
She grabbed me and placed me in a calf lock with my neck squeezed between her legs so I could neither move forward nor backward. She then beat me with a broom until the broom broke. I immediately imagined the splintered handle plunging into my back.
My siblings had congregated in the kitchen of that yellow house on East Prairie Street, begging her to stop. Dropping the broom handle, she grabbed an older brother, Duff, (about 10 years old) and removed his belt, strapping him across the face before continuing my education. (If I have a high raw intellect, Duff has been only one of three people that I ever have met who I recognized as having greater raw brain power than myself--B. Hays and D. Anderson being the other two.)
I do not remember what happened after the belt beating. I know tlooking up 'www.timism.com'...
Fearing, if not knowing, that she would kill me in a similiar future situation, I decided to kill her first. The manner of her deserved death was to haunt me for almost half a century as a mental monster. It was only a few years ago, about 2005, that I realized the bedrock of the most mentally troubling thought that had plagued me since that day. When I left the Navy, I saw a college counselor who told me not to worry about odd thoughts, just laugh at them. Otherwise, they could become catalysts to a cognitive cancer. I never told him about the mental monster. It always arose in a certain situation.
One of my resume entries is that I left home at the age of eight and became self-supporting by shining shoes 40-50 hours a week. Some people think I was not self-supporting because I moved in with my great-grandmother. However, I had to earn my own spending money as well as perform certain tasks to cover or barter my room and board--a healthy, beneficial introduction to the work ethic.
Among the things she required me to do, besides the laundry, coal-stoking, lawn mowing and snow removal, was planting a garden from which we would not only eat fresh food but preserve and can items for the cold days of winter. As she explained it to me, she would have to buy milk and cereal for me that she could not afford from her monthly $75 SS check and $30 war death benefit from her youngest son, Dink. In exchange for room and board, my chores cost me ten to thirty hours a week. I could have returned to my mom where there were no chores as well as very little hope and happiness.
This mental monster impacted my high school social life, for I limited myself in visiting my classmates when a rare invitation was offered. As was, it was hard to socialize if you fry hamburgers 40-50 hours per week (at Krekels). Only a few years ago, before the epiphany, I remember the discomfort of being in the kitchen with my wife who has been my best friend for over 30 years with the mental monster jumping into my stream of thought.
The mental monster? The fear of grabbing a knife and stabbing others. Always, the angst of for why and from where does this mental monster come. Always, the dread that I might just do it. Then the epiphany: I was going to stab my mother in that kitchen where she beat me to near death.
With the epiphany came the end of the mental monster always jumping out when I was in a kitchen. I remember the last time in high school when I said, I'm not going to other's homes anymore because of this fear. Some of my classmates may remember that perky little girl with an unforgettable name who was one or two classes behind us, Darcel Funderburk. It was her home. Now, occassionally I will recall--not be invaded by--the monster. I chuckle.
In general, I don't believe in most of the claims of repressed memories marauding among mental domains. Yet, I can see how I repressed the thought each time it started to surface, never giving it full revelation to rationally realize the origin in the kitchen of that yellow house. The how and why of the epiphany is not remembered. I guess I was stunned with a functional shock akin to insulin or electro shock therapy. It was like wandering near-blindly in a long tortuous tunnel with the growing brighter light at the end of the tunnel nullifying the perception of the final passage.
Luckily for me in Spring, 1958, I realized after two weeks that killing my mother was not a good way to start a young life. Or, I was afraid I might not succeed with my mother grabbing the knife and killing me. Regardless of the motive, I knew I had to get out. I knew my great-grandmother had "fostered" a number of relatives including my mother. Beginning before school was out, I started the seduction of the 75-year widow living at 1584 North Broadway three houses from Division Street.
While I, to put it mildly, don't like my mother, I understand the etiology of her out-of-control life which affects my attitude toward assisting others when they stumble or fall in life's journey. My mother was a spoiled, intelligent and beautiful girl from a broken home. My father was a parallel pathetic penis pain. (I never saw him till the final semester of collge at So. Illinois University (Edwardsville) when someone called on September 20, 1972, and said if I wanted to see him, I needed to get to Oregon by 10am Tuesday for the funeral.)
A quick leg-spreader , my mom dropped eight kids in nine years beginning at age 16. None of them were planned. Ever larger welfare checks are like water on the weeds in the garden of humanity. If I am to believe my grandmothers, aunt and cousin, the first two got a court order in 1955 sterilizing my mother. If she had had to work in the community for her first welfare check, she would not have caused eight miserable lives which some have not escaped. At the minimum as a form of birth control, working one's legs to earn a welfare check keeps one from lying down and spreading one's legs. Help that does not help the helpless to help themselves is not help. Bitter? Yes.
Lucky for me, I did not kill my mother. Unlucky for me was the anger and hate that grew in my bothers and sister as they watched me have daily 3-square meals and a nightly clean bed in the same place for over six years. In my thirties, I learned that I was envied and hated. The other two who left home cited my actions as the impetus for their leaving. Of eight, only three graduated from high school--the three that left my mom's home. Great mom!
(In the initial SHDS bio, I referenced how my mom moved a lot--68 times in 18 years. We lived in a former church and a former brothel. In both cases we were too late to avail ourselves of the services! LOL The worse part of the moving was changing schools several times in one year. I probably hold a record for minimal time spent at a school. In 1962, I went to Johns Hill Jr. High for the two-hour orientation. On the way back to my grandmother's house, I stopped by my mom's place where I found boxes on the porch. I think the only way I could have established a shorter school attendance record would have been to die in the seat as I sat down. The moving was acknowledged by others early on: The principal of my second grade school--Excelsior South--verbally and loudy said when we came into the school--"So we now have the Bouncy Ball Barnetts." This was as pleasant as the sixth grade teacher at a parochial school where we were the token poverty kids who did not pay tuition, to wit, "You have to go to th back of the lunch line, for if there is not enough food then you should go hungry since you don't pay for your food.")
Lucky for me, from an early start I acquired the work ethic as the need to solve immediate, real problems. I am not a person who spends more time trying how not to do the job than it would take to do the job. If it's a problem and I can respond to it, I will be responsible : I will repond to my ability. The ultimate reward is not funny numbers on funny paper. With funny paper, economists have divorced worth from wealth despite a common semantic ancestry. As a result, people pursue wealth that is worthless, that is, worth less in solving problems to create a world with more free time and happiness. Ultimately as individuals and nations, our wealth and worth is nothing more than what we do with our time. More funny numbered funny paper and the play pathos is not worth one minute of the work ethic.
My ultimate reward is the satisfaction of knowing I created or saved time by solving the time-wasting problems. The ultimate reward is the ultimate happy Being who is also the ultimate problem-solver is a logical being who proportionally shares his happiness in proportion to one's being a problem-solver. The Being? The Creator of time, heaven and earth.
Life is a lot easier when you just solve the problem. Parents who shelter their children from the college of hard knocks are closing the window of opportunity for learning the work ethic. You can't teach the work ethic any more than you can teach leadership. You can create a pathway with bumps, holes and impediments by which one learns or fails. Tough love does not remove the obstacles on the road of life. Of course, one does not beat a child to death and claim tough love.
An irony for this timist is how the God who rules existence rewards those who are most like him. Can you imagine an entity with a greater work ethic than the Creator of creation? Is anyone happier than the One? Are you not happiest when you solve a problem whether others recognize it or not? (
One is happiest when one lives a life in which the means are the end rather than means are to an end. The greater the gap between one's means and ends, the greater the lie that one is living. Living or telling lies requires one to stumble over disjointed memories and values. The ends and means are divorced when one's wealth and worth are divorced. Those who live for wealth leave wealth after worthless lives. How many pathetic absentee dads have there been who justified their lives with "I'm going to leave them my money!" Money is like breathing, beyond a certain point you are hyperventilating and wasting your breath. (Those who can live where means and ends are one and the same are the meaningful people who live within their means rather than the mean people who live beyond their means that makes them mean and meaningless.)
Parents who seek to shelter their children from the hardships of life are like the parents who claim the best path to Olympic records is for their children to conserve their energy by not engaging in the sport competition. It is like a parent who says a child will be a better swimmer if he never takes lessons or gets into water until necessary. It's like the Pope claiming to be an authority on sexual intercourse (which was probably true at the time of the Reformation when popes not only engaged in orgies but incestously had children by their daughters!) Imagine Casanova saying that he would be the greatest lover if he remained celibrate until his final days when he would patronize a bordello. Really firetrucking weird thinking.
Based on my experience as an employer and my work ethic summer program , the best and logical window of learning is when one goes through puberty. At that point, one starts asking the questions, "Who am I." If a parent answers the question by defining the child as a player (soccer moms or Nascar daddys, unfulfilled quitters trying to re-live their lost youths through their kids who are emotional pedophiles) then they should not be surprised when the child does not want to work after high school or college. For me, my brutal, unmurdered mother denied me from ever developing a play pathos instead of the work ethic. I had to work or go back to hell.
While I value the lessons of my youth, I would commit suicide rather than go through it again. And, with the world undergoing an accelerating existential meltdown of our problem-solving structures including global warming/dying, I will check out rather than suffer in the chaotic collapse of civilization. As a child, one can have hope of out-learning and out-working deprivations. As graying adults, we cannot escape a collapsing world of global dying.
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