Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 4: Mother talks about her abortion which caused her to think she would not go to heaven

Mother was pregnant with the first child she would be having in four and a half years. I had become aware that she had aborted her third child, conceived not too long after Margie was born because she just could not bear to have another child so close. She asked an aunt to send her a catheter to start labor. Since her dad was living close by now she thought he would be able to stop the bleeding if she got into trouble.
I became alarmed about her state of mind when she said one day that she would not be able to go to heaven like the rest of us because she had sinned. I asked her why and she more or less told me what she had done to our little brother or sister. She did not go into many details then as to why she had done it, but I knew quite well she was constantly upset over my dad's drinking and thought her family had no idea what it was to live with such a terrible alcoholic. 
Everybody was always trying to figure out why my dad carried his drinking to such extremes. I didn't see how any wife could be expected to put up with how he drank, as fond as I was of him. He had even gone out and gotten drunk when she was giving birth to me in Salt Lake. It seemed that nothing was important enough to slow him down. 
She said that her sin had even caused her to lose twin boys in a miscarriage following the abortion because her uterus was unstable. I knew the towns' people who learned about her abortion looked down on her for causing it, but I figured they did not know how extremely tried she had been. If they had not been there to comfort her and get involved in helping her with her troubles I did not think they should judge her too severely. 
Mother was still having a tough time in her unhappy marriage as well as believing she was damned to hell forever. I thought she was plenty sorry and to prove it she was having her third child without doing a thing to herself.

But she had not even had LaRae yet when another tragedy hit the King family again due to the alcoholism that plagued the King sons and some of the older grandsons. Glen, Daddy's oldest brother, who was running the Salt Gulch ranch had become a bad drinker. His wife Hazel lived in Escalante just as my Grandmother King did so her seven children could attend Escalante schools. They had already lost a little red headed son who died of  pneumonia when I was four. I only remember seeing Ward twice before he died.
I used to see Uncle Glen quite often when he would come to see his folks, staying for the noon meal at the main ranch house and arguing politics like all the King men did at the dinner table. 
Well, I knew he had a drinking problem, and I thought that his youngest son Ray was getting quite a sexual education in Escalante outside of church and school, which he would try to teach Margie and me as fast as he could when he visited. He taught me to masturbate on the fence when I just turned five and he was just showing us how mothers and dads did it on the floor of the granary when his mother came and grabbed him by the ear and told us that she would tell our mother and dad on us, too.
I was very relieved when neither my mother or dad said anything, even though Ray got an awful ear pulling from his mother and he might have gotten a beating when his dad came home. He was two years older than I was, so I was not able to resist his teaching very well. I thought he needed disciplining all right, but I was not sure that an ear pulling and terrible scolding from his mother and a beating from his dad could slow him down, Ray was so wild. 
Now it seemed that his dad was in even worse trouble than Ray had been. A local girl from Salt Gulch who also went to high school in Escalante since there was no high school provided for the children of Boulder caught rides home to see her folks however she could. Uncle Glen drove the mail from Escalante to Boulder the day she asked him for a ride to Salt Gulch from Escalante which is what led to the terrible trouble that followed. He and the girl were seen under a tree off the road by a local rancher who called the girl's mother. 
The girl confessed that Glen had made sexual advances to her and since he was a married man in his forties and she a fifteen year old, it was obvious a bad crime had been committed. The parents were very upset but agreed that if Glen would leave the country they would not go for imprisonment since he had a family to support. I think my Grandfather King also agreed to pay them something like $2,000 damages.

I woke up at the cheese factory house one morning to hear that Uncle Glen and Aunt Hazel had spent the night at our house and had gotten into a bad fight. He had been drinking heavily and the upshot of that was that he chased her down the lane trying to choke her to death.
His life as a family man was in great jeopardy, it was plain to see. The family packed up and left the country with the four younger children, including Ray. Roma was dropped off to my Aunt Neta's where she lived the next four years. 
Aunt Neta, being my dad's older sister, was a lot better behaved than he was, since she was religious and did not drink. Park and Stuart, the two oldest sons, were left behind to Grandpa's. It would be decided later on if they would join the family after they had gotten settled and Glen had found work. I believe Uncle Glen did find a job for a while, but the drinking and the quarreling continued. Eventually Uncle Glen and Aunt Hazel separated for good.
I wondered if such a fate was in store for our family as the quarreling over Daddy's drinking continued the same, not quite so violent, since Daddy was a little less hot tempered I think than his brother Glen, but Daddy was still mean when Mother came at him in a rage. He wasn't going to be bested by a woman no matter how tough she thought she was.
But guess who was going to buy the Salt Gulch ranch, not just lease it as Uncle Glen had done? My father! He was once again being prodded by my determined mother who recognized opportunity when she saw it. He talked to his dad and struck a bargain to buy the ranch for $4,000! His dad probably had little faith in another hard drinking son but I am sure he had more confidence in his determined daughter-in-law, Irene.
She had soon perceived that Daddy thought cheese making was beneath a cowboy like him, and it was very hard for her to climb up the ladder to let the steam out of the boiler when she was pregnant with LaRae, let alone with a baby crying for her after she was born, so she looked around for a way that Daddy could make a better living for us, and she could be a stay-at-home hardworking country wife and mother again.
The one thing my dad could do while still drinking was punch cows and farm. He had been doing that ever since his dad despaired of him ever finishing his university course to become a lawyer. I could not see my dad ever becoming a lawyer either. He was just too country. He could not even drive into the city without getting picked up for running red lights. Rules were made to be broken was my wild cowboy dad's very philosophy of life.
Grandpa was probably rebellious, too, even if he had taken an incredible vow not to drink and smoke, which was why he had probably gone off in the wilds to homestead Salt Gulch ranch. And later he took the chance to add to his holdings by buying his Boulder ranch, which was a jewel anyway you looked at it with its beautiful emerald green pastures. Off in such isolated ranching country he could do as he pleased with no questions asked.
He probably thought since he had taken a solemn vow never to drink and smoke, naturally his sons wouldn't either. But that is where he miscalculated. His sons smoked bull durm when still children and drank everything around the place with alcohol in it. Grandma had to hide her bottles of pure Schillings vanilla because her boys would drink it all for its alcoholic contents and there would be none for her sugar cookies.

I don't know what I would have done with boys like hers. Grandma preached to them day and night and that did no good. I do not think the world has yet discovered what to do to keep rebellious boys from giving their parents fits, while running off to drink and smoke and experiment with whatever drug is the going thing at the time. 
Grandpa King still felt he had to whip his grown son Clyde with a bull whip. He had even attempted to give his mentally ill son Reed a lashing with the bull whip when they were punching cattle once. Grandpa had a very bad temper even though admittedly he was sorely tried by his sons! My dad, convinced that the whipping would cause Reed to go crazy again, rode between them and took the lashing from his dad, who really hit him hard I imagine for interfering and implying he was a cruel dad.
Grandpa had once even hit my Dad's pet bull dog with a shovel and killed him because the dog would not let go of a calf he sicced him on.  Daddy told mother his dad knew a bulldog would not let go, so he never should have taken him to help drive the cattle. Daddy was a long time forgiving his dad for killing his beloved bulldog, and I don't blame him.

Anyway, Mother was very relieved when she was able to turn the cheese factory over to Uncle Reed and Aunt Thirza to see if they could run it. Uncle Reed needed to make a living somehow for his growing family. He could not work for his dad. His dad finally lost all patience with him and just let him wander out in the trees where he preached to the spirits half the day. He let his wife, Aunt Thirza, be the one to try to get some work out of him, since she had married him when even his parents thought he was a bad risk for marriage and fatherhood. 

And once again before you could wink an eye our family was living in the Salt Gulch house with an agreement with Grandpa King to buy the ranch. Otherwise Mother said she would not have any part of running it. She also told Grandpa, she said proudly, for the second time that he was not to go after Daddy with that bullwhip anymore. I was surprised. I thought as mad as she got at Daddy, she would have loved for Grandpa to beat him. But I guess not. Women are funny. So Daddy got his last whippings from his dad after he was over thirty. I think that is probably still a record for how old a son was before his father finally quit beating him. 

Did Daddy drink because he got savagely whipped or did he drink because he wouldn't mind Grandma in Escalante when his dad was off tending to his ranches? In Salt Gulch I was doomed to start thinking about what made Daddy tick day and night. 
I came to think that if he drank himself to death we would all go down. Or at least, we would have a far worse time than we were having already. Mother was not a reliable parent. She did not like kids all that well. Daddy was a kinder parent, upsetting as he could be at times. She needed him to keep her from whipping us too hard, and he needed her and us little girls to inspire him to stay alive. 
He was as suicidal as a man could be. I always suspected him of trying to commit suicide when he drank some poisonous mixture with alcohol in it that could actually kill a man, like wood alcohol.  He needed a drink but he also needed to commit suicide.  I did have a hard time understanding why a man that could do everything as well as he could wanted to die. 

In Salt Gulch I found out what I thought was the reason he was so suicidal, but I could never tell anyone.  It was too bad to tell, so I kept it a secret. Above all I could not tell Mother.  
I was soon keeping so many secrets I could hardly keep track of them.  I was always afraid one of them would slip out of my mouth and land in the ears of the wrong person, but I knew that to tell one person would be to tell all.  So I trained myself to be silent which did not come easy to a little chatterbox like me, but you can keep a secret if it is a matter of life or death. 

Now I am so used to keeping secrets the hardest thing I find is to tell them even when it might be safe. That is enough about secrets.      

I expected Daddy to go on trying to kill himself in Salt Gulch. He and his brothers were that way. I was thinking day and night how to stop him, but I was not sure I was strong enough to reach him. Even though I thought of myself as a little angel sent by God to bring her dad out of alcoholics' hell. Only hell where I had to go get him turned out to be a very scary place peopled by demons with long horse teeth and sly leering eyes. Devils with searching fingers who would take a little girl into the corn and feel her pee pee. Who thought about killing Daddy's little angel, I am sure, but that devil let me live, three times, but I knew he would not let me live the fourth time.
Oh God, what am I saying? I may be half mad. I can see the black bog now. I will try to recall what happened there. Sometimes I just can't talk about it. But sometimes I can. I will see how I do telling the story of what happened to me in Salt Gulch down in the corn with Daddy's worst hired man.

1 comment:

  1. The chapters on a new blog page work well. Everything is coming together well and I do like how the pictures are part of the text.
    I like how this works and I think the story
    is compelling.