Thursday, June 17, 2010

It’s A Long Ride Home

Looking back at life some things look a whole lot different now than what it looked like at the time it was going on. Some things in my life were not as bad as they seemed and others were worse, after posting the Wordless Wednesday picture of myself I started looking back at a situation that I have questions on but know there is no point in asking today.

I remember starting school in Easley, SC, my Mom and Dad were already divorced and he came to visit my Brother, Baby Sister and I on the weekends and sometimes took us with him, then all of a sudden he wasn’t coming around anymore, I wasn’t sure why but came to find he had actually moved out of state. I began my first year of school at West End Elementary School it was within walking distance and that worked well as Mom had no car, she walked with me to show me the way to school and get me registered after that it was up to me to get there on my own, we practiced the ABC’s and my writing so I would have a head start in class and she packed an egg sandwich in a paper bag every morning for me to take for lunch, armed with my school box and a big chief tablet I was off to learn what this school had in store for me, most of the other kids got to eat the lunches prepared at school and there were a few of us paper bag kids, I remember them pointing and laughing at my egg sandwich but to this day I do love an egg sandwich and that first year of school turned out pretty good I learned that everything in life is not fair and when you are poor an egg sandwich is pretty danged good for lunch.

At the end of the school year Mom told us that Dad was going to come and take us with him for the summer, just for the summer she promised, he was living in New Mexico and we were going to go with him and come back home in time to enroll my Brother in school and for me to begin grade two at West End, my Dad had remarried and his new wife was not really receptive of now having three step children, our summer was miserable and I remember looking forward to getting through it so we could go back home. Summer ended and instead of going home Dad took my Brother and I down to Eugene Field Elementary School and registered us for classes, this was not how it was supposed to be I wasn’t supposed to go to school here but yet I was and now they were calling me down to my brothers class to translate what he was saying as they could not understand him and when I tried to translate they would laugh at how funny I sounded, the school stuck him in a speech class to straighten out his way of talking and I had to repeat what I was saying over and over for their amusement, I know now that it wasn’t because they didn’t understand me it was because they got a kick out of hearing my accent, I still hate to hear things like “Say that again it sounds so funny”, I guess you never lose or want to lose that Southern accent completely no matter how hard folks think you should.

I saw my first tornado in New Mexico and the first hail storm scared me to death because I had never seen balls of ice falling out of the sky, this too made my teacher laugh and she took me down to the office so I could tell my story to the principal, this too brought the laughter that I grew to hate, a little girl in my class became a good friend she didn’t laugh at my brother and I her name was Connie and she lived across the alley from us, we walked to and from school together and played in each others yards heck we even sat and watched the police drive up and down the street searching the neighborhood from her front porch one afternoon while we were avoiding the step mom only to find out that we were the ones being searched for since the step mom reported us missing, this did not go over well needless to say.

We did have some good times such as going over to Grand Dads house and going fishing at the lake, one trip ended with me playing with the stringer of fish only to lose them when I fell into the water, this I think was the first time my Dad spanked me but I do believe I actually scared him to death and now there was a whole stringer of fish that he didn’t have to clean so it was ok, especially since I had caught a bigger one than he did and now the proof was gone, my Dads Brother also lived in the same town and we got to play with a group of cousins we didn’t know we had so there was some family here and we did have fun with them.

Our time in New Mexico ended when Dad got a letter stating we had to go back to South Carolina, I am not sure if he actually got a letter or not but I know we had been called home and had to get there pretty quick, we were so excited to be going home and the three day two night drive back to Easley, SC was a mini vacation filled with gas station novelties, frosted flakes with chocolate milk, and glares from the step mom with a fake smile because we were not stopping anywhere for long, it was to be another year before we made it back to living with Mom, we were supposed to tell a judge that we wanted to live with Dad but when we refused to do so we finally got to go home.

Mom never had a lot of money and she always worked hard to make sure we had what we needed, Dad always tried too hard to make up for not being there, I look back now and realize that Mom and Dad both were in their early and mid twenties respectively at this time and I know how stupid I was at this age, Mom was always a good Mother and Dad wasn’t really a kidnapper but now I see that due to him not thinking things through or just being too stubborn to accept the fact that you are wrong, we were missing in action for a couple years. A father trying to get his kids back from the Mother who does everything in her power to make sure us kids were properly taken care of was not a fight that should have involved us kids in my opinion, but that was the way it happened.

Divorce is a hard thing and in my opinion the kids are the ones who lose out if the parents can’t make it work, I have been on both sides as a kid of divorced parents and a Father who has lost contact with his children neither side is easy to deal with, I had a lawyer actually say one of the smartest things on this subject about parents fighting over little things in court, “The marriage didn’t work are you trying to make it to where the divorce doesn’t work either”

I never thought I’d go back to New Mexico but as you all know I did, I left a lot of good friends behind in South Carolina right after graduation for what was supposed to be a short visit out of town, that little road trip is now over thirty years old, there has been a lot of heartache and joy in New Mexico and I grew to hate that place but I suppose that can happen where ever you live, my friend Connie was hit by a car and died the summer we left New Mexico and going back as an adult I formed a bond with my Grand Dad, saw the birth of my sons, and met Cindy who fills my life with enough joy to make the heartaches a distant memory.

Things happen as we grow up and we don’t always have control over the circumstances, holding a grudge and placing blame may help in the short term but letting go of the things you can’t change or the things that bring you down and concentrating on the things that make you happy keeps you sane and makes getting up in the morning well worth it.


  1. Loved this post, Jimmy. It's always tough to go back in our memories and go through the painful times of childhood. In the end though, the best thing we can do is to make peace with our pasts and forgive those who may have not as prepared as we would have liked for them to have been. Your realization that your parents were young and were both trying to do the best they knew how is worth so much.

  2. It must have been pretty rough being bounced around like that, I am sorry you had to go through it. Are you on good terms with them today? is so sad and terrible about Connie!
    Why does this always happen to our friends?
    You know you will see her again in heaven someday, and you can thank her for being your friend.

  3. Good Morning Betty,

    Thank You so much, I am like you it is awful hard and not my place to judge family or anyone for that matter for actions they have taken in the past, we learn as we get older and I know I wasn't that smart when I was younger either :)

  4. Morning Joe,

    I guess as a kid you learn to go with the flow so to say even though you may not fully understand it all the time.

    Yes Sir I am on good terms with both my parents it's funny when we go back home they both get together with us for BBQ's and such, I think that shows a lot about them there.

    I actually went and found Connies grave a few years back, we had a lot of fun as kids.

  5. Jimmy, this is a wonderful post! I love the way you shared it from your concept as a child, as well as your perspective as an adult. Divorce is never easy, even when it's amicable and the children are the ones who suffer most. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Hi Jimmy...I think what you have described is an interesting look back at your childhood. at the time we have no idea as children what is happening to us...we just go with what the adults in our lives direct us to do. But what I find most interesting in all this is that you ultimately experienced the same thing as your parents...divorce...difficulties getting along with ex-spouses...and problem with children. I think it has made you more forgiving of whatever went on with your parents and allowed an appreciation for both of their perspectives. This is all we can hope for as we get understand why certain people did certain things and to understand in turn why we may have done similar things too. In the end the whole thing is a big lesson and the only thing we can hope for is that we learn something of value along the way.

  7. Thank You Ms A,

    I try my best to look at every situation from all angles and to do that sometimes takes us a lifetime.

    "Divorce is never easy, even when it's amicable and the children are the ones who suffer most"

    This is where most people fail when going through divorce, they don't realize that the children are affected more than they actually know.

  8. Hey Susie,

    You are so right as children we do follow the adult family members without question and never realize what they felt until we are faced with the same thing.

    I don't wish divorce on anyone but if it happens I just pray they will look at everything before making a harsh decision because these decisions are what you have to live with and negativity toward your ex spouse hits the children really hard.

    It pays to bite your tongue at times especially in front of the kids.

  9. I enjoyed this post, Jimmy. Thanks for sharing your life with us. I know it couldn't have been easy at times. I do like that you've come to peace with the past and don't harbor grudges. I've come to peace with mine as well. I always say that I'm sure they did the best they could under the circumstances. You have a wonderful perspective of life.

  10. Thank You Suzicate,

    I'm happy you enjoyed reading this one, it's not easy looking back sometimes but it's a whole lot better than not.

    Holding grudges does us more harm than good so I am with you we just have to let it go and come to peace with what we have.

  11. Jimmy I am so sorry you went through all that and I am so happy that you have such a good take on your life. You're right in not placing blame. I'm the first to say that myself. My parents may not have been the best parents in the world but I think they were the best parent that they knew how to be since the didn't always have the proper training themselves. I admire that they handled things as well as they did.

  12. Hey Peg,

    That's it in a nutshell, kids don't come with instructions and when your kids are born most times you are just a kid yourself, I joked with my Mom last week that she and I grew up together since she was so young when I was born.

    Cindy and I have come to the conclusion that by the time you get most of it figured out you are a Grandparent and your kids still think you know nothing Ha Ha

  13. Another great and moving story Jimmy. Childhood is a very mixed bag it seems. good memories and some that cause pain. It sucks you had to go through all that. I felt it as I read...

  14. Thank You Pat,

    We do learn a lot from what we go through growing up, childhood sucks at times but going through this stuff makes us stronger and looking back it can help to stop memories like this from being created for others.


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