Saturday, May 10, 2008

Death Turns Us All To Trash

The last funeral I went to was my teenaged cousin, Andy's. He was maybe the only member of my family I really believed loved me. He and his teenaged girlfriend asphyxiated themselves in his parents car in their garage after their senior prom. They had permission to go to several parties and weren't expected home until the wee hours, so nobody was shocked that they weren't home at seven A.M. when Andy's dad got up. By nine or ten, Uncle Bart, my cousins father was getting nervous, and went to the garage to see if the car was back. That's when he found them. They were naked and embracing and had that odd shade of color that carbon monoxide poisoning imparts to the corpse. Since it was an unusual death for two kids, autopsies were performed. She was several months pregnant. I think there were two reasons for these suicides: her parents were Catholic, his father was Jewish, and the kids had come to his parents (the more progressive parents) to ask for help acquiring birth control. These were the good old days when birth control was illegal. The irony was that Andy's father owned one of the chemical/pharmaceutical companies to make the first new contraceptive since the the condom. Andy asked for help and his progressive parents. They declined this help-- since the girls family would not approve, they couldn't help. And so it goes.

I had just returned from my year in Italy. And within a few short weeks of coming back this death happened. My parents had divorced while I was gone, so when I came home it was at my mother's request. My dad was living in Kansas City where his sister and her family lived. My mother had moved back to Salt Lake. I was asked to come to Kansas City to the funeral, but my mother refused.

I was horrified at the stupidity of the adults all the way around. My Aunt and Uncle were rich enough to keep the reason for the deaths out of the paper. So there was a lot of hypocrisy going on. Much pretending. I had wanted to stay in Italy, but due to my mother's request I came back. One of the many major mistakes in my life.

It was a nice funeral, but after the service as others where leaving the grave side, I ran back and threw myself on my cousins freshly filled in grave site. I started crying and couldn't stop for a couple of days. It was in that time of grief I decided to confront my father for his sexual abuse of me when I was a little girl.

We met at a down town bar. He was already there with a pitcher and his glass half empty. He was jovial, and weary at the same time. We were polite, until I make the statement he'd probably been dreading a long time: "Why did you have sex with me when I was a little girl?" He opened his mouth to say something, and I said, "I need help. I'm not doing so well. I want you to pay my psychiatric bills and help me with tuition."

"I didn't do anything to you, you didn't want. I never hurt you. You were a very seductive child."

"But I was barely seven."

"Did your mother set you up to this?"

"I've never told anyone. I kept your secret."

"You know what you are? You're a little gold digger. You just want money. This is blackmail. I'll never give you a penny." He starts backing his chair away from the table, but before he stands up, he leans forward and hisses in my face, "If you ever tell anyone about this, I'll have you locked up forever. And if you think mental hospitals are a romantic place to spend the rest of your life, think again. I can do it, too. Who do you think they'll believe? You, a young woman with a very checkered past, or me, a highly a respected psychologist., and your grandfather, a respected physician. If I were you, kiddo, I'd keep my mouth shut.

That was the last time I ever saw my dad.

I do not remember how I got back to my Aunt and Uncles house, but I was crying and soaking wet when I walked in the door. My Aunt who thought food would fix anything, started whipping up a meal out of the funeral leftovers. My Uncle called the remaining kids into action and they took me upstairs to get dry and changed. And finally, with all this accomplished, we sat around the kitchen table, and I told them the story of my life with Brian, her brother.

No one doubted me for a second. My Aunt said I needed the kind of therapy that rebirths you, re-parents you. If I would stay with them, as their child, she would pay for it all. The only condition was that I had to stay with them. I was through with conditions.

I went home to my mother's place. I told her my story and asked her why she didn't do anything to stop him. She arranged her face in what must have seemed to her like shock and horror, and said, "If I'd ever know what happened to you, I'd have killed the bastard." Then she ran from the room, up the stairs and slammed the door. It all sounded like bullshit to me.

I have never been to another funeral. Yes, I've had friends and family die, but it all happens without me. Not much of a slight to the dead, I imagine.

When asked, in my younger days, what I would want for a funeral, I'd say, "I want to be bagged in a hefty sack like the leaves and out in the garbage can for Tuesdays pick-up."

That was pretty much my stance on death, until I discovered my mother's plans while going through her papers, after I found out most of her brain had died from little strokes. There in her papers, I found her will with her signed contract with the University of Utah--she had donated her body to them for whatever they wanted. Jesus! What a wonderful thing to do with a corpse. Not only that, they write out the death certificate, and do pickup and delivery.

So now, I too, am a body donor. And nobody has to worry about how to fit me into a hefty bag.

23 comments:

Vigilante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freida Bee said...

I didn't have time to read that, but I started and I got sucked in and read every last word. Compelling. It's a very good idea. (No, not the hefty bag.)

The Blogger Formerly Known as DCup said...

Utah - What happened to you as a child is heartbreaking. You write beautifully about your experiences, even thought the revelations can be gut-wrenching to read.

I hope you're doing better.

MadMike said...

Two kids, at the beginning of life's road, kill themselves over the parental pressure brought about by that religious bullshit. Catholics and Jews; Jews and Catholics. Once again the insanity of Jesus and Abraham is responsible for the death of two innocents. Fuck God.

Utah Savage said...

Amen to that brother Mike!

enigma4ever said...

hey there, I have seen you over at Redheaded Wisdom- and I would love to add you to my blogroll- if that is okay with you....

( I love your blog)

goodnevilguy said...

My mom and dad would have had an absolute fucking fit if they knew the stories that I have written about the insane world that they created and forcefully made me endure for so many years. I told my wife that I wanted to write about as much of it as possible so at least I know that I did my part to jerk their damn skeletons out of their little insane closet for anyone to see that wanted to and refused to admit existed ... even when they were lying on their deathbeds.

And just like your dad, they acted like they had done nothing wrong and mine would even go so far as to tell my friends how mean I was treating them by not coming to see them or for not bringing my son over to see them. So then I would end up looking like the bad son. Eventually, I had to break contact with them just for my own mental health. Later, after they had died, I began writing about those events. Some I published, some not yet. But I will because I want to get the last laugh this time.

Utah Savage said...

Care to share, goodnevilguy before you publish? And as the that publishing thingy, care to share the knowhow on that one? I've got a 600+ page book all finished and ready to go. I'm doling it out chapter by chapter in the full profile part of my blog. it's called "Maggy."

Utah Savage said...

I must say, you are a brave bunch. Even though I know Vigilante was only here to pimp his own site, still I do love to see he starts the day the right way.

Freida, I hope that wasn't a to hard a use of your sandwiched time. I have really thought out this whole death thing and plan to keep writing about it. I was shocked to find out that in order to have the lovely obituary I wrote about her (solely to please her political and feminist friends) printed in the only Salt Lake Paper she'd have ever read, cost over $300. I gagged on every word, but did manage to write a medium sized obit. she would have been proud of. And there was no use of the word, "beloved", "departed" No no. She died, finally. "Ding dong the witch is dead!" I did mention that she was survive by her only child. But other than that I was all about her and her many degrees, honors, prizes, mentoring, political ties and connections. "Ding Dong, the Witch is dead!"

Utah Savage said...

Enigma, you seem too sweet to like the table I set, but your comments make me look ever so lovely. Same with Scarlet. Where is she?

Utah Savage said...

Dear Ms Formerly, I have started refering to you as the blogger who had a breast reduction, since i still think of you as Dcup. You know how it goes, sometimes it is your friends beauty who first attracts you to them--well, I saw your comments and Dcup and then I followed you home to politits and I was instantly hooked on Ms. Tits. There is nothing wrong with being called dcup. We all love big breasted women. Especially those of us who are big breasted women. Did you outgrow it? Maybe DDcup? Just don't go away!

Ghost Dansing said...

I took a walk around the world
To ease my troubled mind
I left my body laying somewhere
In the sands of time........

link

now where did i leave that body?

Anita said...

I hate my father for so many things. But one thing I can say is that he was never abusive (in that way) to me or my sisters or my brother. I can't imagine what kind of shape I'd be in right now if that were the case. What a horrible memory that must be.

I think you are very brave in being so open about it. I imagine you have held it in for a long, long time.

Beach Bum said...

I had a few "minor" issues with my sister when my mom died. I didn't react deeply enough to her passing for my sister and she confronted me on it. She is the youngest and missed most of my mom's antics just because she was too young to realize what was going on. My mom also had a habit of smacking me around every now and then when her demons were dancing in her head. I miss her but as I wrote several times I made my peace with her actions and choices long ago.
Her actions in no way compares to what you went through. I just can't imagine the fear you went through.
As for my body after I hit the celestial trail, I will be cremated and have my ashes spread in the marsh around Pawleys Island. But I intend to hang around at least until I can go on a lunar vacation.

Utah Savage said...

Anita, it is what all my "fiction" is about. Not just the events that went on daily for all of five years, but the aftermath that just got worse with time. It is called PTSD. I know we only think of that with shell shocked soldiers, but there are plenty of shell shocked kids with PTSD. Then the bipolar disorder which started in my late teens. And that I looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn, and modeled actually added to the problems. And I was smart and pissed- off and couldn't talk about it to anyone.

enigma4ever said...

I re-read this ....I did not know what to say the first time- I wanted to think about it....We all have "Pasts"....it is so amazing that you can write about it with humor, insight and some perspective...I am so sorry about all that you have been through...it is always amazing how dysfunction in a family has a domino quality....

I may seem sweet...but I am also a believer that we all write and share and blog to keep pieces of our Humanity intact...so I appreciate all writing...

keep writing...

cathouse teri said...

"Whipping up a meal out of the funeral leftovers."

That is some telling statement.

I'm sorry about your story, as well as your cousin's. It broke my heart. Mostly because all I can do is sit here and read the words. And also because these stories are far too common.

Sometimes I just hate it that I'm a human.

D.K. Raed said...

I wasn't always, but am now a big believer in telling family "secrets", or at least asking questions, especially if it helps you or some other family member come to grips with something, or might prevent some future abuse. I see your father really played the powertrip game on you when you finally confronted him. Acting like a 7-yr old could've ever really, what, given consent? I'm not sure exactly what he was implying, but he was dead wrong. Well, you eventually figured that out, I'm sure.

As far as death, I've never considered body donation. I chose cremation, and my will states if a monument should be desired by anyone in the family, it should read "DEAD AND THAT's THAT!". I am an Ashes to Ashes kind of person.

Randal Graves said...

How anyone who has had to put up with that shit while young and live to tell the tale has some sack, and I mean that in the best possibly way.

When I croak, they can chop me up. I'm dead, I won't care. Science, baby.

goodnevilguy said...

When I refer to publishing I was speaking of posting them on my blog. I have several in my archives that were specifically about my parents but there are some that I have chosen to keep personal until a later date because I don't want to hurt anyone else that doesn't have it coming. However, there is no mercy for the ones that chose to take my parent's side in this royal cluster fuck of dysfunction.

Speaking of getting your writings published, I am not the person that you need to talk to. It remains a mystery to me about what the hell those publishers really are looking for so I just write whatever I feel like.

MadMike said...

Utah to learn about how to prepare your manuscripts, start with The American Psychological Association (APA) 5th edition Publication Manual. You can buy them all day used on Amazon.com. Just make sure you get the 5th edtion.

Bubs said...

Tragic and horrible, what happened to you as a young girl. It's a testament to your strength that you're here now and can write about this. This is only my second visit here, and I am near-overwhelmed. I wish I had read this post before the one following, about you and guns. I feel compelled to comment, but when confronted with someone bluntly and honestly talking about some personal pain, anything I could say in response seems inadequate.

Scarlet W. Blue said...

You write about such ugliness so beautifully, UT. What a horrifying story about your cousin, too. God, humans piss me off.