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September 4, 2007

Summer of '79 (redux)

I originally posted this about 2 1/2 years ago.
It's hard to believe i've been at this for that long, but I have.
Obviously, I don't post everyday.
Some days it's just too hard, and some days i just don't have anything to say.

I'm re-posting this today because I have made some new friends that haven't had a chance to sift through the ghosts in my archives, and some stories just need to be re-told as they explain an awful lot of me, and of who I am.


There are moments in our lives that are etched into our being so deep that they forever change the person who we are, and the person we then become.

For me, the summer of 1979 was one of a few life altering 'moments'.

June 1979. It was early in the morning. I was in my room getting ready for school when I heard a car pull into the drive. I looked out the window and saw my Father and my Grandmother get out of the car and walk towards the house. I knew something was wrong; I could tell by the way they walked.
My brothers were already downstairs, so they were the first to be told. I could hear them crying and sobbing as I sat on my bed. I was already numb. My Grandmother came in and told me.
My Mother was dead.
She was 36.


She passed away quietly sometime in the wee early hours on the very first day of June, 1979. I don't recall what happened the rest of the day, and for that matter, I have very little recollection of what transpired over the next few days. However, I do have one very clear and distinct memory of my Mother's wake and subsequent funeral.
It was the first 'viewing' at the funeral home. I was dressed in a rust colored dress with the initial "K" embroidered onto the collar. I can't remember if my Mom or my Aunt made the dress. They're both talented seamstresses, so it could have been either one. It doesn't really matter. I remember that I was crying silently in the back seat of the car as we turned onto the street where the funeral parlor was. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, I was crying harder. I managed to walk up to the front door, but the minute I stepped through the door, I was sobbing pretty hard. I walked a few steps, turned my head to the left and then I saw her. I completely lost any and all control. I fell to the ground kicking and screaming. I was inconsolable. I was taken away immediately to the office to try and calm down and compose myself. I don't know how I got there, and I have no idea how long I was in there. I was beyond numb. I couldn't hear anything or see anything. My brain shut down. At some point, I came out of the office and walked back into the room where my Mother was laid out. She looked so beautiful. She wasn't hurting any more. She had a slight, peaceful smile on her face. I wanted her to reach up, take me into her arms and tell me she was alright, and that everything was going to be okay. But she didn't. She couldn't. So I did the next best thing. I tried to climb into the casket with her.

For the rest of that summer, I was shuffled off to various places. Sometimes to my Grandparents, other times to assorted Aunts & Uncles. Well, for one week, I was staying with my Aunt & Uncle who happen to live near the river. At the time, their daughter and her daughter were living there as well. One day, my cousin, who is about 5 years older than me, was heading down to the river with a few of her friends. I was tagging along. I'm sure she was just thrilled to have her 10 year old cousin along while she was meeting up with boys and doing things that a teenager does. Not too long after we walked down there, some guys joined us and we all walked out to a more secluded spot away from traffic, houses, and prying eyes. After we got there, someone pulled out a pipe, filled it, lit it and started passing it around. I watched as the pipe and lighter were passed from one person to the next. When the pipe came my way, I brought it up to my lips and lit the 'tobacco' that was in the bowl. I took in a full deep breaths worth of smoke, and immediately after, hacked up a lung! Holy Hell! It hurt like a son-of-a-bitch! What the fuck were we smoking? It certainly wasn't any tobacco that I had tasted before! They laughed for a minute, told me it was pot in the pipe and not to take in so much as I was new to it. We sat there for awhile, and the pipe got passed to me a few more times. Each time, I got better at not choking. I also learned to keep the smoke inside me as long as possible.
For the first time in weeks, I was relaxed. I felt no pain. I just sat there and let life wash over me.
It was incredible!
I was hooked.
I wanted, no, I needed to get more pot and a pipe of my own. It didn't take me long to get my own 'stuff'. I didn't smoke all the time, not at first. But by the time I was 13, I was smoking pot almost daily, drinking, and popping whatever amphetamines I could get my hands on!!!!

Oh yes, the summer of '79 ...... my first time getting high, and the beginning of my 'other' life. A life of drugs, alcohol and some dangerous living. A life I kept hidden from my family.

The summer of '79, I was 10 years old.

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