Only a couple of months into the Forestry position a handful of professors came to me and asked if I might want more hours’ work –– which was awesome! Their department was, in a year and a half’s time hence, to play host to 400 of the World’s finest agroforesters. An international conference was coming into town; and for its preparation then, the faculty needed an individual contact person and coordinator inside the department proper to start to work now, ahead of time, alongside the University’s overall, general conferencing service which performed the more universal coordinating endeavors. Again I was thrilled –– and took to it immediately –– including evenings and some several, late Saturday afternoons, after first finishing my delicatessen shift. A nicer, more spiritually elevated group of persons to ever walk the natural World over … I have yet to meet and know.
I truly, truly missed my Boys, which of course I believed was to Deviant Herry’s delight. All of one’s ordinary human emotions and any of those of DEhumans for damned sure, so ‘outlandishly irrelevant’ and purposefully alien to this man, I know that my yearning for my Children … hourly … utterly pleased the socially pathologic pathologist.
But I threw myself into this job and into these people and learned again to smile once in a great, long while. While blue jeans and the loveliest of simple, gray heather departmental sweatshirts was more than acceptable apparel, from time to time I actually languished in hosiery and high heels –– just for a vintage, retro genre of secretarial attiring adventure! I also enjoyed the other persons of the position –– the college students themselves, that is, the forestry majors emphasizing in their four – year degree programs either sustainable agricultural practices or all of the knowledge surrounding human beings’ use of products made from or involving anything … wooden! I was the “undergraduate advising secretary,” my official title, so those folks are whom I was privileged to mostly serve! The undergrads and their forestry professors. Once in awhile some graduate students as well –– although another superb individual handled their secretarial matters.
As much as an episode of yearning cut so deeply, a couple of first –, second – or third – year students would come by my workstation and need help with the planning of their annually flung Wild Game and Honors Banquet or with how to fund each one of their summer requirements consisting of eight weeks’ Forestry Camp up north or out west to administering the department’s fine arts contest which I continuously oversaw so that students could win tickets on an event – to – event basis and actually attend then, free of charge to the student, local performances and concerts! (with grateful thanks to a very, very generous retired program benefactor and donating sponsor!) to worrying with them all about their upcoming midterm examinations. To –– as well –– the spring semesters’ midterm breaks when two of the undergraduates in particular spent those entire weeks annually all of the years of their educations not vacationing anywhere at all but, instead, hard at work in Ames filling out scholarship and grant applications with my help so as to secure for themselves their own funding sources for the next upcoming fall terms since these two women’s parents just didn’t have it for either one of them!
And … as far as my own education –– as far as about that which Forestry Department Head Joplin had, at the very first, asked me? –––– Well, with regard to life’s lessons, the ones a willing person learns when teachable … when she or he isn’t all of the time talking, talking, “teaching” – talking but is, instead, actually listening to others! … as well as with regard to my knowledge taken in from all of my formal, higher degrees –– the ones behind diplomas which I actually earned and never make up lies about or fuckingly fake on any résumés’ biographical sketches … as does, still, the Wonderfully – Good – at – Lying Dr. Edinsmaier? I was, indeed, using … my own education… every day.
I used it every single day all right … that is, up until one Monday morning –– the most common day of any week for middle – aged to elderly males to suffer heart attacks and die –– when my telephone rang around 6:40 am on Havencourt just as I shuffled out of the shower still not terrifically refreshed for my upcoming work week. It had been a particularly trying weekend actually, and I was not quite recovered from it –– yet had a hefty schedule facing me but, really, nothing more than the usual. In order to live and to keep current on all of the in – full, on – time child support payments, that usual then meant weekday daytimes at the Forestry Department, two evenings per week and both Saturdays and Sundays every single weekend at the 6 am – to – 2 pm delicatessen grill of the Save – U – More grocery store –– except … for this very past weekend.
I had finally asked for the 28th and the 29th of March entirely off from the weekend deli work because of a special errand I wanted to run … one down in Des Moines, which AmTaham had requested of me actually. The Mercy Hospital’s continuing education complex there staged a two – day regional conference and workshop on post – polio syndrome, that which had plagued my father also since his days of poliomyelitis paralysis and those of when Great – Grandma Tessa Lorraine had managed, struggling nearly alone with – then – no way to know if what she was doing would actually work to heal him, to salvage his entire life. She administered the two years’ worth of function – saving physical therapy to her stricken 19 – year – old child and, thusly, the then – forced college dropout, AmTaham. AmTaham himself could not attend the medical center’s event and wondered if I could go –– in order to learn on his behalf and, then, to report back to him.
I did both. I went and I reported back. Late that Sunday afternoon of 29 March –– along around 5:00 p.m. or so. We exchanged a lovely discussion on the telephone, he and I, since the conference, while exhausting, was quite amazing and soooo, so eye – opening; and I had had a profusive glut of information to tell him. AmTaham began the conversation, our last, by thanking me for doing this for him and then shocking the beYesus out of me with the fact that while I was driving to Des Moines he’d been insuring his latest Caddy, another Blue not even a couple of years old yet, a Sedan DeVille, and that if I wanted it when he was done with it, his having only just purchased and brought it home to Williamsburg from Iowa City “the day before yesterday,” why, simply to let him know that!
That said then! well, the conference and what I now knew from my having participated in it took up the remaining bulk of our chat. I remember telling him that I had never seen so much metallic evidence inside one room before –– of human beings permanently brought low and almost entirely all the way down by a microbe … as I had seen that specific 1992 Saturday afternoon in Des Moines . Braces and wheelchairs and crutches and wilted and withered, literally fucked forms all over that place. AmTaham and a mama named Tessa Lorraine had simply done wonders back in 1939, back when there were no chemicals to prevent, let alone, to cure! My daddy, while afflicted somewhat had certainly not been cursed, life – long, as had so many, many of these other Iowans.
Life – long? How little I knew.
The person on the telephone early on the very next morning –– this particular Monday then –– was my older sister, Ardys, calling me from her home in east central Michigan to say that she herself had just hung up the phone receiver with our mother, Mehitable. At 6:15 to 6:20 a.m., approximately 25 minutes’ time earlier and apparently … a lifetime’s length of measurement, it seems Mehitable had dialed 911 because she, alone and reading the day’s Gazette in their Williamsburg living room at the time, had heard a massive crashing noise coming to her ears from the main – level bathroom. Ardys said that Mehitable had told her that our father, AmTaham, appeared to Mehitable to be dead.
“Wha’? What?! So you’re saying what exactly here, Ardys?!”
“Well now, I don’t quite know, I guess,” my eldest sibling, at the time then herself 47, had never been one to get from others facts and details coming at her pinned down … fast. She would have made, I am thinking now, just a horrid secretary.
“Is Daddy dead, Ardys?! ! ! Ardys, what do you know?! ! !”
“Well now, that’s what it sounds like Mother was trying to tell me, doesn’t it?!”
“How the !^*#&$@^$#&*&#! should I know! I’m hanging up and calling Wyman!” Shit! I loathed her dithering, same as I hated Mehitable’s!
And I did exactly that, “Wyman. It’s Legion. Say, Wyman, I, ah, um, I just received the strangest call from Ardys. From Michigan . She said Mehitable just called her, but between the two of them, they apparently don’t know if AmTaham’s suffered a heart attack and is or is not dead from it! It’s 6:45 right now. Can you please rush over there and check on things, Wyman? Dad and Mom’s line keeps coming back busy!”
Interminable it seemed but truly was only 15 minutes or less before Cousin Wyman telephoned me back. He must’ve flown over to the very west edge of town which, for him at the time, only meant about a mile by car but through several stop signs and block intersections in the Burg. His uncle, he told me, was, indeed, dead. “It’s true, Legion. He’s gone. AmTaham is dead.”
“O, m’god! ! ! O, m’god, O, m’god, O, m’god! ! !” I slumped over and dropped the receiver to my one hearing ear on the brown table in the Havencourt condominium’s kitchen in the darkness of the early morning and without its lamps on yet. This news came to me … 44¼ years old. Same birthday as AmTaham’s –– but the two of us now separated. Separated forever. And I was … all alone. All alone. All alone.
It could’ve been a couple of minutes, a hundred seconds or so. Then I spoke again, still not weeping, “Aaah, ah, Wyman?”
“I, um, I have to call some people. And, ah, um, … ah, get on the road then. Actually, no. No. Come to think on it some, Wyman, I bet … I bet I have to go over to the courthouse in Nevada first and, ah, … ah, talk to a judge about the Boys. About permission, ya’ know. About the judge’s letting the Boys come back here from West Virginia. Or … or not. Ah. Where can I call you back later?” We all didn’t have cell phones then yet so arrangements were made for me to catch Wyman in a couple of hours’ time at his home.
Life – long? How long is that? … Just how long is life – long? From my last hearing AmTaham, life – long meant less than a full day. Barely more than a half day actually, not even 14 hours. From Sunday afternoon a bit after 5 p.m. until 6:45 – 7:00 a.m. the very next morning. And post – polio? It had killed him, I am thinking. The heart, the cardiac muscle … shot, the result of polio’s viral destruction.
Now I cried. Forty – four and, there alone in the darkened kitchen, I sank, “O Daddy, O Daddy, O Daddy, Om’Daddy. O O O O … O Daddy.”
The 30th day of March 1992, it struck me near to the very bottom of my soul was the day when I was finally … all grown up. No part of me, nowhere within me, was little anymore. I was no one’s little girl anymore. Not in any wee, small way would I, could I ever, ever be … little again. O, I have to say: not since my bizarro eyeballs’ and mind’s mêlée with my actually trying to read clear through for myself, also all alone, daJudge’s decree after Act Two Part Two … forcibly loaded up –– as soooo against my will the Bitch was commanded to be controlled –– there at the SpaChezResort’s Sixth Floor Hotel on all of Drugging Daddee – Herry’s manipulating dope had I been brought straight on down to my knees.
In less than just five years’ total time, I had suffered Loss with a capital L –– there had become, now, established for me! ! !my very own Bureau of Loss –– the likes of which most folks, even if it all is spread out over their entire lifetimes of seven, eight, nine decades in length, will never, never experience. About Loss? They all –– comparatively –– know bupkus . The belovéd clinical and teaching professorship in Kansas, the marriage and spouse, my three precious children which loss ALONE changed them and me forever, the career as a veterinary anything, any accumulation or semblance of home permanency or estate stability and, now, my very own father to death. From June 1987 to March 1992. The man with a mind and a manner that I have never known in another –– gone. How unfair. How so unfair that, now, this Loss, too, and that I would have to grow all the way the fuck up. Instantly. Like right, right now. This morning. This very Monday morning. Here on Havencourt. And changed me yet again … forever. All alone.
I moved. To the rocker again. Two pillows, the cushioned seat on the bottom of the chair and warm, cotton fleece blanketing me everywhere I could swathe and bandage myself. Wrapped, rocking, weeping
–– and wracked. Alone.
An hour and a half elapsed. I realized I wasn’t at my desk at the Forestry Department, so I made the first telephone call of many more to it there first. “Sure, no problem. Well, we’re so, so sorry, Legion. All right with you to let everyone know? Need anything from us? Yeah, well, okay then. Well, we’ll just see ya’ when you get back. Drive careful now. We’re just so sorry for you. Okay. Sure, Legion.” Rosalind Franklin, Chair Joplin and the rest of its Posse wired the Department’s yellow, potted chrysanthemums directly to the mortuary.
When Wyman and I next talked, he had details. Daddy had dropped. Dead, it sounded to my cousin from his having spoken with the ambulance driver, “… ‘fore he hit the floor.” Shaving. Headed to work at the agency: that would have meant full – time at 72 years of age, without his enjoying any sort of retirement whatsoever, the very same age for dying and, thus, departing into Righteous Ancestor status as my Other Mother … Margaret Sagely, at the realty firm where AmTaham worked for someone else assessing, listing and helping then to sell for folks both farmland acres and residential homes in town.
What Mehitable had heard was AmTaham’s smashing, on his final journey all the way down, into the bathroom shelving and the commode itself with all of their contents collapsing. He’d arisen at the usual 5:30 and gone over to the black leather La – Z – Boy with which I had gifted him the earliest Winter Solstice birthday he’d marked after my drawing a paycheck as a first – time labor and delivery room nurse practitioner. Into it to read, of course. The Cedar Rapids Gazette. As per their usual daily routine, AmTaham left both the chair and the newspaper to Mehitable nearly right at 6 a.m. to go into the lavatory and shave. Time of death called at somewhere between 6:10 and 6:15 a.m., Monday, 30 March 1992, then.
My only brother, Sterling , had already departed the Omaha area for the Burg; his spouse would follow with her two sons when they finished the school day. That would give Miriam the time to collect things and to do the family’s packing in order to bring along the stuff of a week’s stay or longer; this, of course, was not at all, or ever, the task of Mehitable’s Bereaved Son Sterling’s to do. Ardys and spouse were leaving from east central Michigan and not expected in to Williamsburg until late that night. No one knew exactly how to contact Littlest Sibling Endys, estranged by her own choice from nearly the entire family except not from AmTaham and –– as everyone knew, as well –– probably because of Mehitable. Wyman thought he knew of someone who might be able to get in touch with Endys and, “ … what’ll you do, Legion? Talk is that, yeah, Mehitable does want all of the grandchildren, all the seven boys, to be AmTaham’s pallbearers then. So far, that’s what she’s saying anyhow. She’s kinda shocky though, too. What do you think you’ll do?”
Of the only man from whom I never needed words repeated because words were so valuable, like time, to AmTaham, that he, with their very first transmission out of his larynx, always, always spoke with such elocution, such sufficient volume and such projection toward anyone and most especially to me, addressing and articulating in a slow, measured fashion, always attentively, that I never needed any of his spoken sentences repeated, –––on AmTaham’s final behalf, now, I so did not know what to tell Cousin Wyman. Indeed, the Columbus Day weekend 1991, would have been the last AmTaham set eyes upon his Truemaier grandchildren –– only that weekend Zane, Jesse, Mirzah and AmTaham never realized. The Boys were not permitted to come to him nor to Williamsburg then at all! I couldn’t even recall the last time AmTaham actually had been with any one, two or all three of them then –– and I still cannot today. Flummoxed, I told Wyman that I would have to call him yet a third time –– and from the Storm County Courthouse, that I just did not know what a pillared man, daJudge, would do to me on this request.
By 10:30 a.m. I –– all alone, of course –– had Ol’ Black packed up and inside the ugly surrealism that was this entire exercise behind my exclusive upcoming roadtrip, I pointed the barely horse – powered vehicle easterly. And went to see a man about a question. Again, all alone. If there is any one thing that I have learned in the last ten – plus years, it is to not place myself into events and situations at all –– without first procuring the safety that there is at said event or situation in numbers, even in having just one other person alongside me holding me in the invisibility of her or his magnetic friendship field. Today I have the wisdom to absolutely refuse attendance at family functions, in particular, if I surmise ahead of its time
that I will have at all –– to be –– in the interior of the physicality of the event’s or situation’s scenario ––
by myself alone. No way do I do that now. I had always had ‘enough’ friends; but friends in my sphere? My friends are far too poor … fiscally, that is … to be able, economically, ‘to just take off’ whenever ––
at the drop of a hat or … at the drop of a friend’s daddy … –– and to go with me out of town for an unknown or undisclosed length of time. I am not, after all and thank gawddess, of the English countryside’s aristocracy nor of any other elitist or intellectual groups. For my friends to leave their families and homes, their jobs and their lives is a very big deal and, for them to wisely and safely accomplish, takes weeks and sometimes months of planning ahead –––– under none of which qualities does the sudden situation of the unexpected death of a friend’s father qualify.
Herry Edinsmaier, like very many other fathers whom I have since encountered, was selfishly horrid about spontaneity: he thought it just the greatest in the way of maneuverability for … himself. Well, one can think that when one is only looking out for one’s own self! Of all of the times when Herry got ants in his pants to up and suddenly go somewhere and to do something –– which was almost all of the times when he wanted to go do something afar … that would then involve an extended stay of more than a day –– why, he was indeed only thinking of himself.
Only problem was: there were four others of us and three of them were not adults. Nor was Herry acting anything at all like one either! No. … On trips with the Boys and with me to out – of – town locales for any reason or event whatsoever, why Herry Edinsmaier utterly acted the 17 – year – old, older Joy Toy Boy brother role … almost solely. Taking three little, little, little Boys on a roadtrip anywhere was just mahvewous for the four of them –– and sheer, pure friggin’ hell on me. Always.
But expected I was to not only bound for the open highway with all of the absolute bliss I could possibly scuttle but to also enjoy the Huck Finn – fuck out of myself throughout all of the labors, chores and tasks of it. The work of it all which Herry – Daddee, androcentrically entitled as he soooo was to his freedom, to his rest and to his relaxation after all, since he was such the hard, hard un…slacking – exalted doctor dude over there at such pillars’ medical center, never willed himself to take on as his own duties –––– let alone, as ‘expectations’ for himself! Elitist Edinsmaier’s only labors, chores, tasks or, gaaawd – forbid (my calling it) … work –– in order to sustain or uphold a traveling family of five –– consisted of i) his driving … some of the times and, for certain with every passed pasture full up of either beef or dairy cattle, ii) his mockingly modeling for three young humans, captured by not only their seatbelts but also by the alleged father – sons’ ‘bonding’ thingy, with his bushy brownish mustachioed mimickings of the bulky bulls’ snouts sniffing and snorting after the several Holstein heifers’ vulvae. With, … subsequently, … sniggers and sneers all around.
In my own stupid – ass – heifer and silly mind’s eye with the custodial roles in The Opera reversed and flipped, I could just imagine Herry – Daddee in front of daJudge a – jawin’ ‘bout how ‘twas that, with the relatives rapidly collecting for the upcoming ‘fun’ of a family ‘fun’eral a – gathering, why, Dr. Edinsmaier just needed “to be skedaddling and a – hittin’ the open road with those best buds of mine, my three boys, and can we just a – hurry up that there paperwork or whatever it takes to get us all on our way, Your Honor?” JYeah, that is, if he had been Mirzah’s, Zane’s and Jesse’s noncustodial parent who was ‘court’ – ordered and, thus, required to obtain daMan’s ‘permission’ to take the mama’s kiddos … anywhere!
But Herry was not. Dr. Legion True was. I be that parent. Fuck, Dr. Herod Edinsmaier would not have even needed to, let alone, taken the trouble to do the work of appearing in daMan’s ‘Court’ –– as the scofflaw which he had, already in Acts One and Two, quite and so well proved himself to be by his blatantly outright contemptuous and disdainful refusal in these first two trials’ Production of Documents’ processes to turn over any or all of the actually existing answers about himself splattered all over within those sooo – tangible
hard – copy, handwritten journals, diaries and scrawls of his! Herry just would not have had to even come before any judge, man or woman! Dr. Edinsmaier merely would have called over to whoever was one of the judge’s underlings and given that specific DEhuman this message of his: the Good and Wonderful Doctor has a sudden, unplanned and quite urgent need to get the hell outta Dodge … and, of course, Herry – Daddee’d’ve been off and gone –– with All My Children –– adding nothing more than something like, “Say, I’ll stop in later and take care of signing off on the paperwork –– or just send it to me. You can do that, can’tcha’? Yeah, just send it to me.”
But I? Do that, too? Noooo. Nowhere even close could Dr. Legion True get away with trying that –– before my getting onto the road to go home to be able to even start to grieve the death of my adored father.
First things first here! We have to DEhumanize the ex – Cunt yet once again. And even more so around the deal of this specific dead man … than we already have before this, her daddy’s dying day. Had I not stopped to literally beg before daJudge assigned to me at the courthouse first, 11:15 to 11:45 am, Monday, 30 March 1992, still the very same first morning that I was trying to process the incredulity which was befalling upon me and mine that day, my three Truemaier Boys would not have arrived back in the Burg for their belovéd Grandpa AmTaham’s funeral at all. And ‘that development’ in The Opera would have been just mighty fine with Herry –– if Zane, Mirzah and Jesse all had missed it –– considering how Herry himself had always felt about his ex – father – in – law. “You promise to not drive them anywhere?” “You promise to see them only at the residence of your mother’s and at the places of the service proper and nowhere else; that includes only to the cemetery, graveside, is that correct?” “They are not to be in your direct care, is that understood?” Never out of this judge, who of course was the High Aggrandizier himself, Sol Wacotler Seizor, never, not one word of this mere man’s lexis on this miserable matter included any sentiment sounding whatsoever at all like, “ … Aaah, gee, Ma’am, we’re all here so sorry for the Loss of your father today.” No. Uh – uh. O No!
And I? I did not shed one mother – fucking tear in front of this dastardly heartless DEhuman – fucker either. Not one! I saved them all for who really mattered, walked out of that world’s wicked aura, aimed Ol’ Black east yet one more time again, out onto the federal Lincoln Highway … US #30 … and left behind me and suspended for the time being Herod Edinsmaier’s holocaustic hatred of things Legion – like. Again alone.
Not until 2:30 p.m. did I arrive. On, now, the saddest day of my whole life –– for a trek by automobile that ordinarily should have been completed to Williamsburg by any ‘normal’ father (such as, for example, … Mehitable’s only – born human, Sterling) by, O say from initial packing on Havencourt in The Teacup to pulling in to the driveway there at her and AmTaham’s house in the Burg, 10 a.m. –– Straightaway in line with controlling androcentrism and the epitomic essence of patriarchy’s power, I owed half of my most grief – stricken day to Herry and to his folie follies with judges and the Next Stupid – Ass Heifer in his Stash. At this specific day’s start, I had to suffer and to receive unto myself the execution of Horrid King Herod’s aprovechar practice in ‘the Court’ again of its first royally screwing me, the mother of three of AmTaham’s most favored folks on the entire Planet. And it was Herry’s final assault on AmTaham, too, to besmirch his memory with this exploit against another of AmTaham’s favorites, the one with whom the, now, Righteous Ancestor annually shared his Winter Solstice renewal and all the rest of his Truth, wisdom and nature: me.
After this recurring belittling courtroom beating and mother – mugging, little did I know that I apparently owed someone else besides Herry his opportunity, too, to wreck violence, to rain, as well as, to reign down upon me, the DEhuman, the masses’ hellfire and to mouth – whip me bloody with his verbal vengeance and terrorism. Only – Brother Sterling’s additional bombastic tyranny is, indeed, why my ‘safety in numbers’ deal, a protection never taught to her three daughters by Mother Mehitable and for which Dr. Legion True always, always, always calculates and accords my precious self before leaving my home –– now! I parked Ol’ Black in the driveway, walked up the outer concrete steps, about ten of them on the rocky northern edge of the bi – level, caramel brick ranch with chocolate brown trim, to the doorway of my parents’ home and, after repeatedly knocking without any response whatsoever, escorted myself into its tiny foyer which nearly immediately opens off to its right side into the very bathroom that had been AmTaham’s death chamber. As time would prove true, I accomplished this fairly simple physical exercise into AmTaham’s and Mehitable’s west – edge home over the course of that day and the next six –– for the very last times.
To its left or the easterly direction of this short entry space, a visitor turned directly into the True kitchen,
a well – lit, modest one designed like a boxcar with blackish linoleum splashed by light speckles of white and pink within it –– over which my firstborn Truemaier, as an infant, used to crawl to a water bowl that Gran Mehitable placed down upon it for Zane to actually lap there from it like a little kitty cat drinks. Things on one side and about an equal number of things on the other side, lots of cupboards both up and down and all of them crammed chockfull of pans and pots and other stuffs and lots and lots of countertop workspace, a kitchen with all of the necessary, and quite a few unnecessary, appliances. Round, clothed table, very small with really only enough room at it for two people, place settings and food items at the very far east end that, itself, either bifurcated into AmTaham’s home realty office or, at right angles to his office, a permanently opened archway that led into a spacious and very comfortable living room. A kitchen and living room, both, in which breakable bric – a – brac, all manner of knickknacks and other cheap, cheap gimcracks spewed and splat themselves all over in between the things, and low – down on curio corners and shelves too, crappy ornaments which were never removed when my Truemaier Babies came to visit.
“He has to learn what I mean when I say ‘NO!’,” her boomed “homeland law” spat back at me –– as Mehitable would simultaneously slap the dorsal aspects of any of my Boys’ tiny hands since she claimed to know such ‘truths’ from ancient, (and, obviously, far less than … righteous – ) ancestral … “parenting” … times. Verisimilar in violent style Mehitable’s was to that of Fatlantic’s Grand Lay Priest’s, the Great Juggern Aut Misein Edinsmaier’s, filthy, lewd and loutish baling wire – whippings about the very same aspects of the bilateral calves of older children’s lower limbs –– those kiddos seemingly not quickly enough coming into compliance with that specific man’s “parenting and homeland laws.”
Unwanted intruder who I always believed myself to be before this date … when, upon my arrival, it’d been only my mother at her house there … I swiveled around from the bathroom doorway and its early – morning figment of my falling father imaged on my brain to join the voices I already heard coming from deep within that kitchen. Except that, myself entirely wordless as of yet and from the carpeted foyer inwardly, I took only two wee steps forward on that blackish flooring before –– as had been Legion True’s very same patriarchal dealing with Professor and hardly quakerly or eldering P.M. Flunk’s fist – on – the – DEhuman’s – maternal – breastbone mother – fuck, I was summarily halted.
An instantaneous screaming at the top of his lungs occurred not more than an inch and a half from my hearing ear, perhaps two to three inches altogether –– but no further –– from that working right eardrum of mine. As Dear, Dear Daddy just, indeed, had done! I myself –– truly and literally –– nearly fell down to the floor from the force behind daMan’s hardly (as well) brothering blast, “YOU KILLED MY FATHER!!! YOU KILLED MY FATHER!!! YOU KILLED MY FATHER!!! YOU. KILLED. MY. FATHER! ! !”
This –– from out an orifice situated on Sterling’s lower face which was ajar a distance that I, long – time a medical worker, had never known possible for the temporomandibular joint of a human being. A python ingesting its constricted, crushed and asphyxiated antelope or gazelle whole, yes, but not a width which a human’s jaws could uncover, no.
Immediately flanked in this feat at Brother’s right shoulder and, remarkably, at the very same swiftness that it required for Sterling to reach me splayed The Widow Mehitable in all of her cyanotic cyclonic wrath as well. Both of these two robots raging in symphonic – conducting stance together, he with his right and she with her right also, took to jabbing their respective index fingers into the air, repeatedly stabbing them downward into and mere millimeters away from connecting with my sternum and breasts. While the spread mouth on Sterling underwent no break from its massacring work, no sounds emitted from Mehitable’s; but the entire bulwark that was her cranium, face, neck and chest, that is her whole head and upper trunk, gyrated up and down like a black Angus bull’s massive front side does inside a Spanish fighting arena and bore on its facial anterior the same expression as one can imagine embellishes said bull’s. Her mouth was indeed silent next to Most – Favored Son Sterling’s which was obviously moving for hers also, Mehitable’s own lips rigid and pursed, the cartilaginous cords strained and popping out from her neck. The only elaboration missing were the two streams of hottest steam cartooning and jettisoning from out of both of The Widow’s nostrils, but each naris snorted again and again in rhythmic synchrony with the two flying right fists and index fingers, and itty bitty flecks and strings of mucousy snot flit out onto the flesh above her upper lip.
I saw plenty of spit and mucus and phlegm, but the body fluid that is tears’ secretions –– that I saw none of emitting from these madness machines’ four total bulbar cavities. I, on the other hand, was utterly reduced to nothing but. Weeping from out my own sockets like, like … aaaah, like … I’d just lost my dad or something.
No one else. Not one other person was in this house yet. Just the three of us there along around 2:45 or so –– while Sterling continued the dastardly duet that was my brother’s and my mother’s. Straight out –– classic … this scenario –– of the data findings and results’ pages of Mothers on Trial researcher and author, Dr. Phyllis Chesler, regarding noncustodial mamas facing down –– in my case, all alone –– the violent and violating vitriol exactingly flung at them from their very own families, “It’s cuz of you that he’s dead! You killed him! You and all your goddamn problems! You killed him sure’s if you’d shot him dead yourself! It’s cuz of all the goddamn, friggin’ problems you brought to him! You did this. You killed my father.”
“He was my father, too.”
“Yeah? Yeah?!!! Well, fuck you! You killed him! It’s all cuz of you. It’s all your fault!” And Sterling repeated for both himself and Mehitable their mantra as if I had had no daddy ever, “You killed my father!”
It was of no wonder at all to me that with her only family friend and ally dead, Sister Endys appeared at AmTaham’s funeral and graveside only and –– never –– over at The Widow’s house. I tore away from the blustering clutches of these two automaton contraptions and started to wince my way with the couple of travel bags down a carpeted hall intending to route myself into the furthest, southwest one of the main level’s three bedrooms when Mehitable whose house alone the entire structure now was, of course, shouted, “Where do you think you’re going?!”
“Uh. Um. Well, ah, I thought …,” stammering as usual in her presence I was, “I thought that, um, …”
“You thought what, Young Lady? Just what did you think?” still not crying –– no tears from this person.
And the designation with which Mehitable had referred to me as, well, all of us “young ladies” know exactly what that means at any time someone uses it as an address, let alone, … when one’s own mother does. “Sterling’s right. Your brother’s absolutely right, ya’ know! AmTaham’s dead because of you and Endys. Because of all of the problems you two caused all of us; that’s what’s killed him! I don’t know how you can live with yourself now, Young Lady! Go on! Go on! Get outta my sight!” Just shouting and screaming. And … from AmTaham’s Widow Herself … still … no tears.
With the brushing and the battering of both of her upper extremities at the windless air in the dark hallway of her ‘home’, a building I had never known the inside of until I was 24 or 25 years old, Herry’s Other Shrew dissed, pooh – poohed and shooed away no one other than her second daughter – child whose first name –– Legion –– literally as in the same shaming shunning manner of The Soooo Good and Wonderful, (albeit) Her ex – Son – in – Law Dr. Herod Edinsmaier’s, had yet to be spoken by my own mama. Escaping to that precise bedroom, I closed the door quietly, locked it, submersed myself into the mattress on the far side of its double bed there and faced the juncture of the west and south walls where both walls’ windows were big slits stationed up near the ceiling, my only view then the room’s ivory paint –– and not the Burg’s town park to the west. The one with the little kiddos’ play equipment including a jungle gym with three, attached and graduated monkey bars, three rocking horses, an orange – handled water hydrant next to the bright whitely painted picnic shelter –– and The Pond barely but just large enough for practicing canoeing skills and in which Zane Truemaier had once plied his fishing hobby, the one on which Rosemarie’s belovéd Bill had begun him at my firstborn’s wee and tender age of four years back at Hershey P A’s BullFrog Valley Pond. The playthings in threes which all of them, Mirzah, Jesse and Zane, had at one time or another simultaneously occupied. To their (Now – Newly Made) Ancestor AmTaham’s absolute delight.
After the Truemaier Boys had … each one … learned to walk, it was that body of water … in particular … which was the principal reason, however, behind why I never –– ever –– allowed my three Sons to spend time at the Grandparent Trues –– without me there as well. AmTaham was so deaf and Mehitable quite blind and so blindly unrealistic and old, old school in her expectations out of little children that I never trusted her with the Boys –– and That Pond. Ever. AmTaham wasn’t home, what with his business and all; and even if he had been, my father couldn’t have heard screams for help, not to mention, small chatter coming from little ones who had wandered farther away from the home – based premises than was … safe.
And Mehitable? I could just never trust that she would actually see them, let alone, see that two – , three – and four – year – olds, that … truly … children all the way up through 12 and older require direct and visual supervision … around water. We had all been farmers in our younger years, the sort of lifestyle in Iowa that, without the incredibly rare built – in swimming pool or even an above – ground one in rural folks’ own backyards, just does not lend itself –– for those regular, twice – weekly sessions –– to transporting the country kids 15 to 20 miles one way into a neighboring town with the nearest public pool. With farming and all of its chores, swimming lessons would have meant AmTaham doing all of the chauffeuring of us four Trues or his hiring someone else to take and mind us all there … since Mehitable was with her eyes of course, unable to drive anybody anywhere at any time! Neither AmTaham nor Mehitable swam themselves about which I ever knew; and since my siblings and I had never been sent for lessons either, I for one knew, having myself while recreationally swimming as a preteen with my friends been rescued by lifeguards out of pools three times in my former life, I knew that I could not swim to save myself! let alone, a child of mine!
And Daddee – Herry? The father who wouldn’t, upon any nightfalls, even lock up one door anywhere, not to mention the actual various homelands’ entrances, … to try to protect my sleeping children? The father who cannot even spell Zane’s name correctly one time in his own Section D, the ‘SAFETY AND WELLBEING,’ that ‘safeguarding’ section in Dr. Herod Edinsmaier’s very first affidavit to ‘the Court’, to daJudge (Chapter 26, Jury!) … that father? daMan who wouldn’t even accompany me to the True residence to visit AmTaham or Mehitable – ever? That father? Fuck, Daddee – Herry was in no way – ever – going to be accountable for Zane Truemaier, Jesse Truemaier or Mirzah Truemaier … around The Pond. This little I so, too, did know!
I pulled both of the unfluffably foam – filled bed pillows out from under whatever quilt of the (literal) scores this woman owned and had squirreled away in this and all other of the different bedrooms’ blonde built – in cabinets and closets and chests –– and began to cry into them. I cried and cried and cried and cried.
My father’s only brother, Wilbert, a couple of years younger in age than Daddy who had himself been the eldest of six children, and Marguerite, that man’s latest live – in since Wilbert’s divorce of long – standing and longer marriage which had itself produced now – adult children and three of my first cousins, arrived from Cedar Rapids, the first persons finally around –– to be able to deflect away from me the despicably violent and violating attentions of Mehitable and Sterling. Others of my father’s siblings, all women, began arriving then, too, eventually all three of the breathing ones, there having originally been four of them. All four of these DEhumans Mehitable detested –– quite in line with my mother’s obvious jealousy of anything female within her sphere … other than herself. Mehitable True, it seemed to me as a wee child and now a person approaching adulthood’s middle age, had always been adamant and right out loud in her dissing on each one of her husband’s sisters, my paternal aunts. With only one of the three living ones, the fourth – born of Ava Saffron’s string of a half a dozen kiddos, had Mehitable any interaction at her True house then during Daddy’s days – o’ – death event –– or, come to think on it … since, for that matter. That aunt with her spouse still resided only 15 miles from Mehitable and AmTaham, actually right on Daddy’s homestead place, the 80 acres which the Truemaier Boys’ Great – Grandpa Zebulon and Great – Grandma Ava Saffron had farmed and from where Ancestor Daddy had first courted Mehitable who, at the time, lived with her corn – growing parents in another rural township approximately 10 miles to the same county’s southeast –––– all of this activity … before AmTaham’s deployment to the Himalayas and Wilbert’s to France in the two prime killing scenarios which were World War II’s “theaters” for brothers.
Great – Grandpa Zebulon, a pipe tobacco – smoker, a Prince Albert – in – a – Can kind of guy after trying unsuccessfully to entirely quit with the Lucky Strikes and the Camels and who drank only a very small amount of medicinal whiskey and no beer although most German and never that I, someone whom he affectionately called Li’l which sounded like Lil but is a diminutive of Little, saw, had died there at the age of only 67. And while tiny – boned and snow – white Great – Grandma Ava Saffron had herself lived in town for nearly a quarter century inside first a mint green and then a freshly blue – painted wooden cottage on Williamsburg’s south side since Zebulon’s lumberyard accident had eventually made her a very, very comely widow under her wildly wide black brims, she was also now deceased, too –– gone some seven years at her age then of 88 … from a fast – growing lymphatic cancer. AmTaham’s other two sisters lived separate lives, each singly, both in a small Cedar Rapids suburb less than another 20 or so miles from their middle sister. One of those two was also a long – , long – time widow and pensioner whose only child in his mid 20s had been killed one night during an illegal drag race on a country gravel road. The youngest True sister spent her lifetime as a secretary, quite a pianist and singer and as several elder folks’ caregiver. To these two paternal aunts I still send birthday cards. I keep in touch one or two other times a year as well and actually rendezvous at their haunts over in eastern Iowa for a face – to – face chat every now and then.
When I eventually emerged from that back refuge about an hour and a half later, quite a number of the relatives and others were all congregating inside the gracious and spacious living room, one both for sitting as well as for dining at a lovely blonde ensemble located off at the far east end of it. Mehitable was at her prime … working that room. Working … working, working it. And … all of the would – be mourners now present. This is a woman who not only has made “Poor Me, Poor Me, O Ya’ Need to Pity Poor, Poor Me” an arts performance but also … her life’s work. And has, in addition, tried in every which tired, old way she knows of to make it and my two sisters’ … ours, too. Hence, the ‘be soft, be servile, be deferent’ invectives to only us females and her “You lost a marriage to a doctor? A doctor?! Why, you stupid idiot!” sorts of taunting teachings and scorning – screed censures. It was, now, around 4 in the p.m. when I was first witnessing the tears flowing from her lacrimal canals and were they ever. Boxes containing Kleenex two of the women kept shoving into Mehitable’s reach and all DEhumans present could be collectively heard from time to time with their ubiquitous, “There, there. There, there now” or the ever popular and truly selfish question too, too many females implore from each other that is actually a strategized, maneuvered and the desired response to Mehitable’s poor, poor me – posturing … “O Mehitable, whatever will you do now?”
Selfish? Yes, selfish, in that … what about AmTaham and what about those of us others who truly had relied and depended upon him, his wisdom and his Truths daily. ‘Cause, hell, Mehitable’d be just fine. Mighty fine, in fact. She would just keep on doing now exactly what she’d always been doing, AmTaham alive or dead! Nothing about this day would introduce change into Mehitable’s functioning in the least. Only mine would AmTaham now LOST to me … change. This person Mehitable would continue to control everything –– either out in front with AmTaham’s physical form gone missing now or still hooded and concealed just as she had always done or tried to get done before. From out behind the dashboard lights!
The driving engine that was Mehitable’s force was to be envied by the staunchest of radical feminists –– except for one thing: Mehitable was precisely and of relentless, purposeful deliberation … noooo feminist, of course. Hers was a dark force, one of the genre of Mother Theresa and her ilk and never at all one of, “Fuck, you can go this alone. You don’t need a man. And, what’s more, you never did.”
AmTaham’s wisdom and his Truths, the stuff of which was now most literally Ancestral … instead, still, of the natures existing “… – in – Training,” were hair – trigger, that is instantaneously available and at all times now … accessible to me. I mean I didn’t have to wait any longer, wait to find AmTaham at home or for him to arrive at my house or to come to the telephone or to the end of some other lifeline. I could just call upon him, rely upon him, depend upon his Truths and his wisdom just any ol’ time I bloody well needed him and them. That is, this –– His Dying, was the very essence of His Things Ancestral. For me. Of this amazement, of course, I did not yet fully comprehend on that Monday of 30 March 1992; but even now and even so, I would soooo give up in the blink of the span of time that was that last heartbeat of his … I would give up anything over which I have control just to have him back breathing again. Instead of, now, “ … always, always accessible” to me and to the Boys.
On my person I possessed a piece of pocketed paper signed by Storm County’s High Aggrandizier himself allowing that the three Truemaiers, if the Boys themselves wanted to, could attend their grandfather’s funeral and, likewise, attend to the duties of it assigned therein to any one of them. Or, some such wording.
… That is, daJudge’d just written me a note.
Out of this morbid Monday morning’s swiftly – scribbling hand of Sol Wacotler Seizor. … daMan. A note.
Me, the 44 – year – old, now – suddenly – and – finally – all – grown – up – daughter … of a man just dead.
And, in the United States of America in the year of 1992, the biological –– and loving –– mother of three, minor children.
A note that “excused” me!
And, a few hours earlier, stated that Mirzah, Jesse and Zane could become three of AmTaham’s pallbearers if Mehitable or Sterling or whoever, certainly not moi, had wanted this to be the case in their, and just as certainly not my, planning of the memorializing ceremonies. I am thinking on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Our Androcentric Culture published in 1911, almost a decade before the birth even of Mehitable Natures, and transposing to the legal system and the American way of supposed “freedoms” and “justice,” Authoress Gilman’s quotation there on … religions. “All the religions are made by men and forced on women whether they like it or not, women –– denied souls –– given a much lower place in religion going from the service of their fathers’ gods to the service of their husbands’, having none of their own. We see religions make no place for women, rigidly bigoted, unchanging as any other. That women are the bulwark of our religions is due to the acts of two classes of men: the men of the world who keep women in their restricted position and the men of the church who take every advantage of the limits of women.”
Gone from the dead man’s over to the service of her husband’s Legion True is … even though … technically ... he be the ex – husband. And gone there only by way of daJudges, also almost all exclusively the humans … first. She, of course the DEhuman, requires, has need of and should desire for herself no justice and no freedoms of her own.
She does need to take a note of excusal with her, however.
When she goes over to do the legal servicing and the bidding of him who can have her, her services and her labors –– as well as, of course, have utterly away from her –– because of sperm exaltation –– her very own babies which mission she alone chose for herself the deadly risk (that pregnancy and birthing is) to grow into the human beings who they themselves actually have become … she needs to take a note. Sordid. Macabre.
FLIP / REVERSE: A permitting piece of judicial fuck the likes of which paper I know of no adult man willing … to first procure and then to carry upon his person. And, finally, to produce to his approving and consenting mama or, say, … show his sanctioning sister! Not to mention via a third party, for example, to demonstrate as documentation to the ex – wife! when she, from a long and far distance, demands to verifiably know of the daddee’s ‘legal’ proof of his ‘temporary’ authorization?! You, Jury?! You know of such a human, do any of You?!
I had to ask all of my Sons, long into their adulthoods, just how it was that they’d initially received the clobbering finality of AmTaham’s dying because Herry and Ms. Fannie Issicran McLive, of course, never told me. And Sterling and Mehitable haven’t –– if they ever did know.
It’s a given that I was so not allowed to speak to Zane, Mirzah or Jesse if I had called out to Grubtrop; and although I do not remember if I did or if I did not, I can only imagine that I no doubt tried to do this telephoning. Any mother would have is what I am thinking. Any of us Mothers on Trial would have attempted to get this saddest of news to her children so I am fairly sure that I, too, … tried to tell them.
Only from Zane do I know about the immediacy of the Boys’ receipt of the sobering knowledge that their Grandpa AmTaham had in the pentametre of the man’s Favorite Poet Tennyson “crossed the bar” over into Ancestor status. And Zane only knew about his own case alone and nothing regarding what had transpired as far as his brothers’ first acquisition of the sorrowful information. Same Edinsmaier – shunning deal as when Zane had, in Kate Mitchell Elementary’s fifth grade of Mr. Green’s, filmed his Grandpa AmTaham True for that specific History Day project four years earlier: Protecting and Guarding and Mentoring and Role – Modeling Herry – Daddee was nowhere around on the scene when Zane stepped off the Grubtrop, West Virginia community’s schoolbus that Monday afternoon, 30 March 1992, in front of Herry’s two – story, white wood – frame rental. The Good and Wonderful Doctor was probably at work … doctoring … ya’ know, Jury, … aaah, “healing.” If so and nevertheless … Dr. Herod Edinsmaier was physically at a place, was at a workplace, from where he could have quite easily then left! Literally! Child – protecting and – guarding and – “loving” Daddee – Herry could have … should have … … if loving ... gotten himself immediately, right there at the laboratory’s lot, into any one of the great number of his gazillion vehicles and purposefully driven off bound for the Truemaier Boys’ vicinity –– just in order to come to the sides of all of these children at the very moments they each were to receive into their brains this devastating news.
Which Healer Edinsmaier did not do for Zane. And likely not as well for Jesse and Mirzah. Fuck, not only that … Dr. Herod Edinsmaier didn’t even (care to) know –– in the vernacular of his Next Cuntly Spouse, in the blistering argot of blithering Ms. Fannie Issicran McLive, Dr. Edinsmaier “had no idea” … then or, likely … ever on any given day and time! … the virtual, the possible, let alone, the actual! vicinities of any of my Truemaier Boys!
Ms. Fannie McLive told Zane right there on the front yard.
Zane, alone, without even one of his two brothers present, a freshman in high school, just 15 years old and a boy who had just lost one of the closest and truest friends he would ever know and have as devoted and loyal ally throughout his entire lifetime.
The incomprehensibility of some people’s actions does not boggle me anymore. It used to. It doesn’t do that anymore. At all. I can see Soooo Not – Gonna! – Step – Back – “Step”“Mother” McLive’s doing this deathly deed all by herself. Right there on the grass and sidewalk. Without any True on the telephone wire, at the least. Or one Truemaier brother present for each other’s steadying and silencing calm … as well. Or even just “First – Father” Edinsmaier at all ‘around’ for (possibly!) earliest comforting. I can visualize this actual scenario occurring. It –– as it was, of course, so determinedly and utterly meant to –– disgusts. Still.
Same shaming shun, as well, as to how the three Truemaier Boys, Mirzah, Jesse and Zane, had each one received the cheerless and injurious news of their parents’ pending divorce: captured, confined and shut up as prisoners inside their seatbelts at interstate speeds and without benefit of the presence of their mother or any grandparent. Just detained hostages of Herry’s –– alone. Very, very alone. A life lesson Herry – The – Walt Disney continued to teach, teach, all the time teach to each of my Boys on the day of the death of his ex – father – in – law, AmTaham True, “Receive and take all of this on and inside yourselves, –– alone. Certainly don’t let a woman who might’ve been important to you at one time know or see you cry. She’s only a female; and, if you grieve, you’re nothin’ but a weakling! After all, she’s invisible to you kids anyhow.” Yes, by both the Good and Wonderful Healer Herry and his Next Cunt my Boys’ mother, too, was resolutely … was vengefully … made to be nowhere around when any one of the three Truemaier Children first heard of their Grandpa AmTaham’s dying that day! My Sons that day –– as on all others –– had no mother. And I, suddenly made fatherless, too had no Sons … to give me comfort … either! The very same shaming Edinsmaier – shun. “Years ago, still small, I lost my mother.” “ … a flood of tears must fall.”
Tuesday three – fourths of the immediate siblings which, by then, included Ardys with her spouse from Bay City, Michigan, Sterling with his who’d joined The Only and Most Excellent Son – Brother from their Omaha – area home, and Dr. Legion True, alone and with No Other to comfort her, all motored, some of us inside AmTaham’s brand – newest, two – day – old, promised – to – be – gifted – to – Legion – when – Grandpa – was – “done with it” – Caddy Blue The Widow Mehitable over to a town just a bit more than an hour away from the Burg. A nice little village by where, I’d long ago been told in my youth, farmed “a lot of Amish” although, I wondered now, what is a lot of them? Does any one, two, three or so of humans and “their” DEhumans, particularly those quirkily different from ourselves, constitute “a lot of Amish” then? The “them – and – not – us” mentality outright, and out straight as well from Mehitable, from her thinkings and sayings. As I knew she would most certainly do, Endys for whom Cousin Wyman had found contacts chose to forego all encounters with those of us others in The Family prior to the very ritual in AmTaham’s church of his childhood –– the building that at one time had housed within its interior AmTaham True’s one – room school. That elementary institution wherein which one specific herr reverend – schoolmaster of the early 1930s had not been so reverent at all to, in particular, a learning, learning, always – loved – to – learn – more – than – he – already – knew, 12 – year – old AmTaham True – kiddo nor to that adolescent’s true and correct knowledge of The Dead’s Bones in Africa. No actual ancestoring knowledge himself had that herr – teaching genre of ancestor – in – training! Obviously, this unholy, tutoring dude possessed, as well, Herry Edinsmaier’s magical mantra of “Deny, Deny, Deny!” Just deny The Truth. That of The Dead’s Bones!
The event that was unfolding as The Funeral of My Father began taking, at this other town, a decidedly Mehitable – turn which, in some way, was to have been expected. And in other, crucial and honoring, ways … not! One of the many nieces of Mehitable Natures True on her blood side of the Natures family, actually the eldest of all of her nieces and nephews from both ancestries, a person then also first cousin to me and to my sibs, owns and operates by now for a very long, long time along with her spouse a mortuary in this locality. All-we-all had traveled there, of course, to select the accoutrements which these two people would then manage in the next four to five upcoming days through the physicality that was another funeral home building, and because of its distance, … not theirs. Another one back in Williamsburg –– made by way of a business arrangement apparently often done between two such establishments, especially when the specific dead’s bones involved is –– or was –– a relative of some or one of the funeral parlors’ proprietors.
However, nearly everything else about the ceremony from this visit on out took on the characteristics of an affair which I did not recognize at all as a True one. Only a year and a half earlier this man, AmTaham True, had called a family meeting comprised of only us four adult children of his –– and of no one else –– to exactly explain things inside The Will of the True Estate and to elaborate clearly to us direct descendents of his about the terms AmTaham True had specifically set forth –– in witnessed writing –– regarding his dying and death –––– one biiiig, big one of which understood terms was to be … cremation! All four of us were present at Said Meeting! Well, any of that family meeting’s directives? I mean any of AmTaham’s particularly detailed wants? So certainly were not now happening! And did not. No, Mehitable turned the entire deal all upside down and around Her Way –– that is, “in The Right Way” … as I, when a little kiddo, used to continuously hear pitched at me if I fucked up stuff, according to her, which I’d been assigned to do.
The first of a couple of horrid liturgically dirge – worthy details which Mehitable orchestrated was the casket selection. This lamentation deal commenced with an actual parade led by the Natures niece as majorette – mortician, sans her metallic baton of course but poised pen in hand instead, out of her parlor’s backdoor to an outbuilding wherein were contained temperature and moisture controls and about a dozen different full – sized and wee kiddo – measured models in which one, now dead, could sail away off to Never – Never – Evermore land. I saw in this structure not one urn nor jar appropriate to the holding of the ashes of anything carbonaceous after its first being burnt beyond crisped or crypt or cryptic belief. Not even a box which was a construct slapped together out of cheap pine board slabs such as had been the environs of my dear friend Frieda Chicken Guthrie’s catacomb. Silver or pewter – like, several different brown ones, black but gilded with that tacky gold paint trim, white and child – sized. Mehitable’s, er, ah, um, rather AmTaham’s, choice came in brown and ‘naturally’ was quite appropriately padded with that pillowy, velvety smocked stuffing of satin or some such other fabric. In off – white. Oyster shell, likely.
Once in it, Daddy did look lovely, of course –– but for the expression on his lips and in those “peaceful” eyelids of his that otherwise pronounced in solitude to no one there willing to or capable of Truely hearing him –– except me! “This is so not what I’d wanted nor stated. But, fudge, what do I bloody care now? I’m free –– free at last! She’s always had Her Way about anything and everything anyhow!” Shit, the casket wasn’t even pine, at the least, and was entirely of a metal composition including appropriate railing handles for gripping use by pallbearers –– about whom … “I have no idea.” Dark, dark blue – black suit coat, pure white shirt, and some necktie about which I –– still –– also remember nothing –– except that he had been the man to teach me how to tie and to knot one once, my standing behind him and reaching around from the rear his shoulders still massive although weakened by that polio thingy … to secure it. “Because you have sons now, Kitty, and will need sometime to know how to teach them to do this,” Daddy’d coached me, the Truemaier Boys’ ma, on the Four – in – Hand first, then the Half Windsor; and finally I graduated with the Double. This little life lesson, too, for a mother of sons AmTaham had guided me in learning –– and I was long then into my 30s, his obviously full – well knowing even at that point about Herry – Daddee’s type of role – modeling … teachings.
O and the second detail, the actual structuring of Daddy’s memorial service itself: from the music pieces right on down to which program cover to choose! Ardys the Eldest, probably the most male – identified female adult I have ever met and fully proud of it, a woman who took straight to heart and learned very, very well Mehitable’s lessons on servility and deference to all men and so self – defined even more than Herry’s Next – Cunt McLive or Childless – ‘Evaluator’ Canard or indeed Mehitable herself, settled on one along with our mother too, I am guessing, that outdid even their own usual dependencies. Plain white, the front cover had on it a wooden cross with its bottom pole’s post piercing through a king’s three – pronged crown in black ink, the holy trinity symbol I am supposing, through which also lay on top of the cross a palm branch also in black. Not so appropriate for moral atheist AmTaham True my thought was; but, hey, ‘twas only my thought and I now bothered not at all to verbalize it, the cover itself being one – fourth of the entire, 8½” x 11”, folded deal to begin with and printed on mighty thin paper! About that part AmTaham would’ve been pleased –– that is, about his kiddos’ not having spent for expensive cardstock or something fancier. Everything about this man his entire lifetime like so many, many of the Midwest’s farmers before him
oozed frugality, minimalism, simplicity –––– and that had been the utter substance of AmTaham True’s continuing message for us four at that family meeting, the distinct elements of said meeting Ardys, Sterling and The Widow Mehitable were almost as utterly ignoring –––– full – tilt funeral boogie –––– right now!
It got worse … way worse in point of fact.
In the lower right of this program cover were the following words –– still from these three’s most magically made and such ‘godly’ writings, most certainly not of AmTaham’s! “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” had been lifted out of a place called revelations in some male – construct’s worth of papers which martin luther alongside centuries of other only – authoring men dominatingly termed ‘holy’ and which words, therefore because these several dudes “had said so,” are to be believed and heeded! Opening the program to page four and past a stinging passage on its page two about “Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you” said to have been taken from an entity entitled psalms 90, to a back – and – forth group – recitation between the preacherman and us, the mourning masses and the allegedly ‘AmTaham True – honoring’ assembled, there appeared this untruth, a wholly hypocritical and speciously incorrect falsity that started off this “responsive reading” … beginning, of course, with the ministerman’s first getting to speak, “As it was confessed by AmTaham at his confirmation and at other times throughout his christian life as a public testimony of his christian faith, we join in making our faith known …” … and then the rest of us, along with this cleric in his costly long white dress, were to launch into babbling away at another deal full – up of more only – men’s words called the apostles’ credo … or some such thingy.
“Confessed? Public? Throughout? Faith? christian faith?”
I should have … looooong and loudly … screamed back as my entitled! “responsive reading,” “We all here so assembled today … know … that AmTaham True had been forcibly coerced as a 12 – year – old, very publicly bludgeoned even! And that this man, when he lived and breathed and upon this World walked, entirely loathed any semblance of this whole, particularly mother – fucking, public confessional – type shit that, since the time from when he was just a budding teenager, he bloody well bloomin’ didn’t at all believe in! Religious education is child abuse, is child abuse, is child abuse. Child abuse is religious education. Very!”
As if this gobbledygook and the claptrap that was the exhibit of AmTaham True inside his corpse and still not put to us per his wishes as the heap of carbonaceous ashes which Daddy had really wanted to become weren’t enough, Ardys, Mehitable and Sterling then topped the whole of it all off with a couple of tunes which they called hymns: “rock of ages” and “jesus, savior, pilot me.” These two, androcentric ditties were to be sung by all of us before and after this guy in his floor – length, cloud – robe throttled by such the fancy, multi – colored and likewise – expensive chokehold of a braided stole allowed ( … of course!) himself to sermonize on and on using some stock – and – canned, surreally metaphoric funereal message said ministerman termed, “following the shepherd’s voice” taken from yet another man’s myths, one by the ubiquitous name of john written within yet another male – identified construct claiming itself to be the be – all, end – all, tallest tale
of all traditions: the christian gospel.
The whole deal of this funeral deed then was to be done with by a concluding number … just before the recessional … rather levelly headed up as “abide with me, fast falls the eventide.” Then all of us assembled crawled off in carbon – spewing cavalcade (… instead of with carbonaceous Mr. True) to the side of his gravesite, the lone bugler’s Taps, more words of such untruths about Daddy blathered all around out there, then my father’s actual lowering –– and my actual being brought down soooo, so low too I thought –– then, as well, the dirt of course symbolizing Daddy’s ‘true’ True ashes, the cut, quite carbonaceous flowers, more symbolism strewn down on top of that soil’s first, the church – ladies’ swell – tasting food and, well, … back to all the rest of us then living all of our separate lives … lovingly, … I guessed! NOT!
Wednesday the Truemaier Boys, just the three of them unaccompanied by anybody else whom they knew and about which I was so glad, flew themselves in to the Eastern Iowa Airport outside of Cedar Rapids to its south, and that for us four was no April Fool’s joke! I had not seen two of my sons, Mirzah and Zane, since Monday night, 28 October 1991 … of the Elitist and Erudite Edinsmaier’s and Flunks’ mother – and kiddos’ – fucking fiasco! And, of course, Jesse and I had not seen each other since the Friday night before that one, the threateningly portentous blackness within our Ol’ Black of “If I’m taken away to live in another state,
I know I won’t ever be a kid again in Iowa, Mom. I won’t ever again come back to Iowa as a child; I just know it” sorrow! Subsequently, I, Invisible Ma, “had not been allowed” to even talk to any one of my three Boys since then … either. “MOTHER, YOU HAVE NO SONS! SONS, YOU HAVE NO MOTHER!”
Shit, we had a helluva lot of catching up to do –– and with such the gargantuan Grandpa AmTaham loss and no privacy at all, it was, well, … not to be, of course! What did I and our needs matter after all?
This funeral ‘fun’? This was entirely The Widow Mehitable’s ShowTime and not for us to desire anything whatsoever to suit ourselves: I couldn’t even go along to the airport to pick them up! That task was relegated and delegated not to the Truemaier Boys’ own mother at all but to their Uncle Sterling, a patriarchal duty from which the brother absolutely delighted in deposing me –– wearing with its directive … such the very same snide – like sneer as Herry’s! And aaaall about which Charlotte Perkins Gilman would have so, so easily recognized, too: The mother’s chattel – children, as of course is her own person, her actual self, are only to be … manhandled! Thusly, so ‘handled’ then from one man only … over to becoming the property, voila! of only another man’s –– and most assuredly for certain! never, never are the kiddos to be delivered into the overall care of … only their very own mama! “How androcentrically managed and ‘balanced’, Ms. Gilman, not?” I was left thinking. She can do the chores of and for the children as well as for him –– whoever the him is at the time who happens to have the exalted spermatozoal DNA – possession rights to her children, that is, she can do the cooking, the serving, the cleaning up after, the worrying about. She, the slave however, just cannot have any rights at all to her own children. All of the perfectly papal personae and that renegade one, marty luther? Why, any of these so godly men’d have been so through – and – through … so thoroughly … pleased with their two descendent pupils, the quite Male – Identified Mehitable and Her Most Excellent Only Male – Offspring Sterling!
It was spectacular, of course, just to see them all –– even if for such the so awfully sorrowful deal as was this specific week’s. Yes, they appeared to me so much taller and older! Hell, it’d been over five months’ time! Girls and boys their ages have spurts! Zane was particularly quiet and subdued, not at all his usually exuberant self. I mean, sure, one of his, and mine, too, most favored people in the whole world died; but Zane had always … before … possessed a special resiliency about bad stuff in life not witnessed in most folks of all ages –– as had been the case with so many rescued animals particularly … including his Sylvan laprine inside the Brookside Forest, a blesséd buoyancy after being booted life’s hardballs –– of which Zane did not display any during this entire visit. Things surrounding either AmTaham’s dying or everything back in West Virginia or generally overall were entirely far, far too weighty –– even for Zane, still only 15 years old and in the very midst of his teenage years. Earlier, there had been talk of Zane’s tooting for AmTaham the Taps on his trumpet which I had brought with me from Ames exactly because of that possible plan. One lovely lone oak tree, already with this year’s Vernal Equinox and late, late March nearly leafed out and so tall, had been singled out down a hillock a short piece from Daddy’s soon – to – be grave where out from under it the solo bugler was to sound that final farewell. That tooter did not turn out to be Zane … after all.
For me the next three days passed by as pleasantly and as warmly as the sudden, wholly unexpected death of one’s belovéd father possibly could. From the comforting of the presence and embracing arms of my equally belovéd Boys to the words and gazes from my own four nephews and extraordinary first cousins of whom I am so luckily blessed with several superb and stupendous individuals on both the Natures and True sides of the family to the amazing miracles whom I have for friends.
This man had a host of admirers and inspired friends himself. The viewing and reception at the Burg funeral home I found to be the hardest for me coming as it did on the very evening of the afternoon when the Boys had flown in … Wednesday. After the first day, the hardhearted and meanspirited death – filled day of Monday not only of AmTaham’s attack and dying but also their day of making Legion True out to be “the evil, murdering monster that we, Sterling and Mehitable, know her so to be –– just like Herry also says she is!” and the next day of preparations and planning were over, I exhaled and let my hair hang down and then, because of it, felt as did the Boys as well, fairly shocky –– something a normal DEhuman should expect to.
The humble church of AmTaham’s youth was packed, the women of the kitchen, and the folks in there were only females of course, the food and their serving of it up all proved delicious and sensational and the graveside ceremonies … so sadly breathtaking. Returning to Mehitable’s house, the Boys and I determined to stay in its far recesses –– as the same deal as when The Widow had bluntly ordered me to its very remote bedrooms as a 23 – year – old divorcée back from New York City to hide out isolated there and to mask my adult self away from local visitors and guests at her and AmTaham’s front door. Mehitable True had done this very same concealing of an entirely adult but psychotropic drug – taking Endys, too, always couching her all – consuming embarrassment of my bipolar – labeled sister and me and our apparent humiliation of her in her hometown community as … “for our protection.” With a full bathroom in the back as well, we four talked, we read, we talked some more coming out from our retreat to the well – lit living room with its picture window spance to the south only once in awhile … to specifically visit there with relatives and friends. The Boys enjoyed especially the company of their True cousins, my four nephews, these seven male humans total then who equaled the entire extent of all of AmTaham’s and Mehitable’s grandchildren. About the fact of their only – maleness, Mehitable, herself merely birthing but a lone one male out of four total kiddos altogether, continues to this day to repeat her colossal pride.
Time, as it does not always do for me at all, passed by us four … entirely too swiftly: it was Sunday morning of the 05th day of April, and my daddy AmTaham had been in the ground and cold now … since Thursday afternoon. Mirzah’s, Zane’s and Jesse’s flight was set to leave at approximately 1:30 p.m. that afternoon –– first for Kansas City, transferring them there then to Pittsburgh and at last by way of yet another transfer on through to the small, regional Montclank – Grubtrop airport inside central West Virginia … and once there, thus, back into Herry – Daddee’s (alleged) handling before it grew too, too dark … I was thinking. The Natures’ 70 – something stunning and marvelous matriarch, Pearl, of my First Cousins Amanda, Carolina and Wyman and for all of her time an aunt to awe any niece, asked to drive the Truemaier Boys … with me finally included … and, of course, along with The Widow Mehitable herself to their plane’s departure. She would, she said if Mehitable wanted it that way, chauffeur us all there in AmTaham’s newest and wowing Caddy Blue, now only about nine total days out from its purchase and into the Trues’ actual ownership and unmistakably only (legally blind) Mehitable’s … henceforth. This offer of my Aunt Pearl’s Mehitable speedily agreed to. And since according to family law judges and to the Truemaier Boys’ other owning – men like Herry and Sterling, it simply had to be, then so gladly did … I too agree.
What it soooo did not simply have to be, however –– was that exact day!
Around about 10:30 in that a.m., Zane, never really this entire time so far the effervescent and ebullient Zane whom I could recognize, fell very nauseous and dizzy, diaphoretic, vertiginously woozy and took to becoming nearly immediately prostrate on his belly in the bedroom closest to the living room and kitchen.
I summoned pots to puke forth in, cooled water in which to wet washcloths for forehead mopping and daubing –– and his Grandmother Mehitable, “Call Herry, either you or Sterling. Get him on the phone and tell him to reschedule the flight. Zane cannot go anywhere today. Here’re the telephone numbers, both for the residence and for Herry’s lab at the med center. Go! Call him, please! Now!”
“I’ll do no such thing!!!” was my immediately screamed, I mean stat! answer back. Now that, indeed! was something I did recognize! Right up there alongside her “in The Right Way!,” “I shall do no such thing!” is Mehitable’s standard response directly to me to just about anything and everything I have ever asked of her … throughout my entire lifetime and so it was certainly seeming to continue to be that right about then, too!
The Widow’s manner was dictatorial and tyrannical as if she, her very self, had been the parental rights’ – terminating praetor on that earlier Storm County judicial bench. As a matter of fact, it was pretty obvious that she was very well calculating right on that spot there of Zane’s sickbed, at his and his brothers’ expense of their physical health, psyches and well – being, the possible weight and cost specifically to her … of my venture at flights’ rescheduling. What would be Herry’s take on her, Mehitable, the maternal grandmother’s siding back here in Iowa with the Truemaier Boys’ mama (who also just happened to be her very own child) … versus … placing them all on the previously arranged airplane right then and there –– with a traveling Truemaier child so ill! and all –– back to their daddee’s? So very, very soon into the Loss of their Grandpa AmTaham not only from her but from the rest of us as well, she was, in mighty fine – tuned and operating aprovechar style, already in to figuring out what the likelihood would be of The (Ex – ) Son – in – Law Herry Edinsmaier’s interpreting her actions at attending to the true “best interests of the Truemaier Boys” if she gave up, for even just this one day, her intentions and efforts at remaining Herry – Daddee’s most staunchest of allying, male – identified henchwomen. If in her immediate future alongside, of course, STEP – Right – In – “Mom” – McLive, ... if Mehitable did not abrogate the wishes of the Boys’ actual mother and, now, diagnostician, nurse, doctor and healer as well, and if she did not collude –– and right now! –– with The Good and Wonderful Doctor – Daddee Herry and go up against the involvement in their futures by the Truemaier Boys’ actual mama and instantly and directly work to make her as invisible to Mirzah, Jesse and Zane … as Daddee and stepMommy do, why then what ‘privileges’ as The Takeover Mother – Surrogate inside these brothers’ lives would Dr. Herod Edinsmaier rescind from her, Mehitable?! “I. Will. Do. No. Such. Thing!”
“Please, Mom. Look at him. He can’t go anywhere today. Not like this. Please, please call Herry. Even Herry won’t want him to come back in this condition, I’m sure of it,” although I was nowhere at all sure of my statement. In fact, I felt it a lie –––– but I had to try. Zane was sooo, so sick.
“Yes, he can. And he will. For all you know, he’s faking it!” she honestly said that. Mehitable, Zane’s grandma … allegedly in the agony and throes of gravest grief over the dying of her own great husband … she actually said that. She did.
And he did. Zane did fly, too. That very day.
No schedule of Herry – Daddee’s or Mehitable’s making was about to be by me upset or disrupted. Uh – uh.
Up Mehitable got him; and since Zane really hadn’t thrown up yet but could barely navigate against the spinning sensation, it mattered not at all how he or I felt and only that she not be perceived in Herry’s eyes as anyone weakened or possibly influenced by the moaning cries and pleadings of the child’s mother. With Pearl indeed driving and as vociferous to Mehitable as a disapproving, incredulous and outright angry sister – in – law could have been, the car ride to the Eastern Iowa Airport did nothing to assuage Mehitable’s immoral resolve nor, of course, calm Zane’s stomach, heartbeats and heartbreak either; and after the most horrendous and wrenching of goodbyes again that likes of which we all had only just experienced the previous October, why … Patriarchal Pappy’s will and Mehitable’s fears of that will of Herry’s prevailed. And essentially, that afternoon, tossed Zane and his two younger brothers onto the first of three airplanes!
They, the airplanes, all three of them, pitched and heaved –– as did Zane … “all the way home, Ma” through three flights and two transfers and … two very frightened, littler brothers and one very, very sick, weakened, scared, scarred and selfishly bartered son of mine. Abused, violently violated and royally fucked Zane was a thing traded between a father and a grandmother … and about which inane act perped by this child’s supposed loved ones, done by these two ‘adults,’ his own mama as powerless as ever before … could do absolutely nothing. Again.
With that grandmother beginning to secure for herself more and more her most wanted role of The Hostile – Takeover Mother in The Opera, my Aunt Pearl motored her and me, completely mute and burning for keeps into my memory this specific Sunday, 05 April 1992 airport scenario just played out, back to the Burg where after thanking Ms. Pearl Natures for all of her kindnesses shown to us four, I immediately packed up everything I most wanted forever and ever to save –– which I knew right then would be all, would be the entire extent of anything that I from my daddy via this particular male – identified woman could ever possibly inherit –– and myself departed, for the very last time, this house that was no home. It had been no home ever, even with AmTaham alive and within it –– because of Mehitable; and I determined on the roadtrip back to the refuge that was my workstation the next morning at the Forestry Department that I would never darken its doorstep again. Which I have not.
In addition to Daddy’s dying and to Mehitable’s dwelling now that had never been for me any true haven at all, I began to finally be able to willfully and to wholly let go of two others in my life because of the pain which they brought to me instead of the pleasure from them there in it that I should have been experiencing. At earlier times in my dealings with her as my sibling, I felt that perhaps my eldest sister was, with others in her life east of me and awash in her fanatic, frenetic religiosity, … rather harmless. I thought that if I could just ignore it, … it –– what crazy – making Ardys’s involvement in all matters magical and superstitious and mythological and blinding truly meant and what she really was, an extremist, to the extent that it ruled her every word and act –– was of no real damage to me or destruction to anyone else.
Now, however? Now … I believed entirely differently.
Sister Ardys’s was the pernicious goading from just beneath skin surfaces where her needling spur chiseled around and prodded and incited inflammation with subsequent fulminating infection and infestation all around under there. And all of this destruction, of course, under the hypocritical pretense of her actions being those of goodness and light and mercy and grace and a host of other of those spiritually divine, I’m – such – a – big – person nouns which, in Truth and in Nature, actually promote generalized dissension and internal dehiscence and thus, which is of course her niggling intent and desired outcome in the first place! … thus most especially, … inside a family!
While Ardys prized her servility ability, another attribute of some secretariats which this woman most surely did not possess nor had at all the aspiration to own either, a very good one actually, is the art of keeping secrets when they soooo need keeping. Which, in my book, is all of them –– that, indeed, being the essential ingredient in whether or not some piece of information is defined as a ‘secret’! Inside our family? Noooo, no secretary she –– if that meant, in any capacity, being a true confidant and secret – arying. As a matter of fact, all Mehitable or Sterling needed to do in order to know something was to sic soooo male – identified Ardys on its trail. And if it were information that she could obtain, why then it was information which they too, in short order, would also possess.
I couldn’t have any of that. Not in my life now and, most certainly, not any longer. Not with The Opera and The ‘Courts’ and The Exalted Herry – Daddee already ruling me with his various filliping, follying folies as he did. With AmTaham’s apologizing in the Havencourt condominium basement over our soaking those couple of paintbrushes and his and my long –, long – due conversation there utterly releasing me from anything lutheran or christian and his granting his kiddo … me … entire freedom from religion in general altogether, I had been suddenly made not only more enlightened in a roundabout sort of way on the immense and daily dangers of Ardys, of people like her, but also completely liberated from ever, ever having to react any longer to her as if her extremism was okay and good and a thing that I myself should strive to embrace when it definitely so was –– not! Even though Ardys, all of the times I was ever in her presence, either ostensibly or subtly from behind the scenes’ curtains, forced or foisted her religiosity onto me … that aggravating jabbing with its egging – on, under – the – skin kind of invading plague.
My brother’s arrogant demeanor, Sterling’s deportment of entitlement in and total control over every aspect of his hauntings so similar to the upscale haughtiness of Herry’s and Mehitable’s, that is, wherever Sterling roamed, I wanted no more of that either. He and I had been so, so tight as little eight – and ten – year – olds but that? That we were not … now.
Now, I believed I had no sister – brother relationship; and while ours had begun to deteriorate my freshman year in college when I in 1966 and 1967, took to pacific bra – burning and he took to including all – out militarism into his daily comings and goings that eventually led him to drop bombs, napalm and agent orange on nameless, faceless people because of “just following orders,” Sterling hadn’t started out to be that which he now came before me as. Nor had AmTaham at all endorsed the type of individual man Sterling presented himself as –– altogether too recognizable to me as just another aggressive narcissist, just another Herod Edinsmaier. Just another “because he can” kind of guy. And as well, in absolutely no way at all … brotherly.
A true friend to me Mehitable was never going to become; and in these two others of her gene pool, Ardys and Sterling, I obviously also could not realize supporters either. Sterling because of his resemblance to all things Herry and Mehitable, and the treatment which Ardys dished out under her never – so – holy and quite – galling guise of invoking divinity and love often reminds me of an experience I’d once had as a newly beginning veterinary student. The three months’ worth of summertime before I commenced the very first academic year of veterinary class work and with my possessing humans’ medical and nursing knowledge, skill and its actual registration thereof, why, I had been taken onto the payroll of the College’s Small Animal Clinic as its only combination central sterile supply employee and operating – theater nurse. In the midst of a most humid August afternoon, Emergency Receiving took in on a stretcher an entirely prostrate and moribund Old English sheepdog … barely breathing, about 80 pounds’ worth.
This dog was not unconscious but so critically dehydrated and in extreme pain that it just no longer could stand, let alone, walk itself into our care. The pooch ultimately became the property of the Small Animal Clinic and a successful ‘experiment’ of that year’s collection of rotating senior clinical veterinary students since the canine was not discharged until the following March! Cured. Its owners had not been able to withstand the medical bills which nearly immediately piled up, not to mention, those that were sustained chronically … although the Clinic eventually did release the animal back to them anyhow.
On scorching, sticky Iowa days after a cat’s or dog’s scratch wound merely the size of a pinprick, it takes no time at all for barnfly eggs laid by those insects attracted to itty – bitty serum droplets wetting the fur strands by only a miniscule amount … to hatch. And the subsequent maggots therefrom … to begin their infesting burrowing and tunneling demolition –––– obliterating under the dermis, epidermis and all of this hound’s foot – long hair the entire fascial and fibrinous infrastructure of a nearly five – foot – long animal’s chest, thoracic and abdominal walls … bilaterally.
Once its fur was completely shaved off, anyone would have had a very difficult time gazing upon this heap were it to have been a corpse or even a mutilated, rotting, stinking carcass out in an August’s pasture or field somewhere, but it was made all the more grievous to look upon this critter knowing that it was –– alive. Hours and hours and hours and hours the seniors and I labored over this individual dog for at least the first month that it was with us, and the ensuing ones that it took for the entire sides of this animal to literally … regrow. The canine had to regenerate a new, complete covering of skin in from its most outer edges and from its shoulders to its haunches in toto … bilaterally. And as critically at the very same time along this long, long way … try to keep from its becoming infected, Pseudomonas aeruginosa the most egregious and damning of microbes. The condition visited one summer in Iowa’s farm country upon this downed creature paralleled the fifth – degree burns into muscle and bone of persons –– anywhere for any reason –– splashed with … napalm.
I believed then, and do so today, that the workings and the behaviors of my sister, Ardys, in her interactions
with virtually all others of my acquaintance and most especially with me and my woundings whether minute or wide, to be not so different at all from those of jet fighter pilots in Viet Nam who similarly visited such fuckful conditions upon living things and to mirror the machinations of those maggots with, intentionally if not also effectively in at least some of us other recipients of Ardys’s plotting attentions, … matching consequences.
One classic example of such an undermining – and – sabotage working of Sister Ardys involved a neatly typewritten letter which I received from her, single – spaced, one 8 x 11½ piece of white paper on both sides and dated the Fourth of July 1992, a weekend that year, a freeing Saturday no less! Not only some folks’ idea of marking a day of “independence” –– even in three women their whole lives so very well – trained by their male – identified mother, Mehitable, to simply be soft, deferent and subservient, that is servile to men –– but also this holiday was only a smidgen over Daddy’s lying in the ground for a mere three months’ time by then.
The full front side of this sheet was sisterly letter chitter – chatter: gardens, visits, her volunteer activities, some on her adult sons off on summer – job jaunts and away from their respective undergraduate programs, the Michigan weather, even up to something about how Ardys is “glad Sterling has been able to spend a few weekends with her. Many other townpeople [her word] and friends have seen to it that she has transportation and companionship. I feel rather helpless at times, but try to call and checkup [Ardys’s word] on her every few days. I think it makes us both feel better and we get to share things, ideas and newsy stuff Mother enjoys.”
Then, over on this missive’s backside Elder – Sister Ardys launches the napalm – containing missiles above the bow and her similarly outfitted torpedoes under it!
“Now that I have caught you up on such things that have occurred in the past month, Mother tells me you have not called, written, visited…….NOTHING SINCE DAD DIED. How unthoughtful, selfish, self-centered, cold, uncaring, unChristian, [her capitalization], uncivil can YOU BE???????????????????”
[I had to stop here and count them all by hand to be accurate –– that is, the 19 of Ardys’s questioning marks.]
“Shame on you for being so small and so selfish. Mother really wants you to be her daughter, her friend. You have called her a ‘witch’ to me. I almost responded that night that I thought the broomstick belonged in your hand. But, Sterling intervened, and I didn’t get to say it. Consider it said. Only it isn’t a witch you are like, it is something much worse. You are causing unhappiness and distress to Mother. She does NOT DESERVE SUCH BEHAVIOR FROM YOU! There is a God-given law which reads, (incase [Ardys’s word] you have forgotten it) “Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time…” [Notice how Ardys takes care to type the man, even though this particular one is dead, before the living woman about whom she is writing to me –– just as is smack in line with the patriarchal androcentrism of the biblical encyclic with which marty luther has so well inculcated her.] Be very careful, Legion. That is the ONLY commandment that carries both a promise and a veiled threat from a holy, just, mighty, care-full God. You have some choices and considerations to make about your behavior toward Mother. I hope you will make the right ones that will be of benefit to both Mother and to yourself. I will be asking Mother how things are going from time to time. If I know you are not changing and trying to become all that you could be with regard to being a daughter and friend, you will be hearing from me again. (Perhaps you would like to know, God’s commandments are recorded in Exodus 20:1-17.)
When you send that next repayment check … ”
[Here Ardys refers to that which is absolutely none of her mother – fucking business. Soooo, apparently, Mehitable must have told her, and likely Brother Sterling as well, of my financial dealings with her and Daddy because I certainly had not –––– and about which these two parents had never one time said to me a thing regarding Ardys’s or Sterling’s borrowing from them biiiig, big loans from time to time! Mehitable obviously blabbed to Ardys that I, indeed, had in April 1991, borrowed $2,323.00 at 8 percent interest and complete with notarized promissory note all quite proper and legal – like from her and Daddy to pay off, then, my subsequent income taxation penalties which I’d incurred against me for my cashing in too early all of my IRAs the year before –– in order to live! And I was in its repayment stages –– always, these, in full and current –– when Daddy dropped, all installment monies “of not less than $72.79 per month due on or before the 15th” now … routinely and regularly … being mailed by me to The Widow Mehitable … alone! Obviously then? Mehitable hadn’t been so truthful to my sister in regard to that part in Ardys’s letter which recounts that, “Mother tells me you have not called, written, visited…….NOTHING SINCE DAD DIED.”]
“Not one hour and not one dollar,” once I asked the Righteous Ancestor AmTaham when he was still One – In – The – Making what, for a death, he would consider okay. At least just an okay one, if not a mighty fine death. It was not until a couple of years out from his burial or even longer –– after a degree of time had passed me by so that the suddenness and the shock of it all had somewhat lessened in its intensity that I was able to look back at the chronology of this entire affair, of AmTaham True’s falling down stone – cold dead on an early Monday morning after enjoying his usual self – entertainment of some reading and while preparing to go to full – time work at a task he didn’t too much mind doing while, at the very same time, undergoing no effects from slowly deteriorating ill health, no severe or chronic physical pain nor enduring any diagnoses of bodily conditions to later worsen or prove catastrophic, all in the accompaniment and proximity of someone also fairly healthy whom he loved –– although not with him the presence of his adored Truemaier grandsons, as … exactly the way I would like to someday die. Just not as young as Daddy was when last he breathed. And not without my children, all quite living and healthy themselves of course, beside me, too.
AmTaham True had only one fear about which I as his kiddo knew. That is to say, he surely had more than one. Hell, he was a soldier in World War II for chris’sake, his own spouse nearly died on him a number of times, Child Sterling was pitched unconscious off of a pony once and not found for more than an hour’s time and his own daddy, the Truemaier Boys’ Great – Grandpa Zebulon, did die a lingering death from a thrown embolic thrombus to the heart after a colossal beam in a lumberyard fell upon him pinning his legs which so compromised the man’s lower – extremity vascularity that it and he never truly recovered from the accident. So AmTaham, like all of us, had plenty of reasons to fear some things.
It’s just that I only ever knew of this one: AmTaham did not want to spend any time at all, not even one hour, as a resident of a nursing home or old folks’ facility. And he did not. He got his wish on that one.
O, how he absolutely loathed the thought of –– and truly outright feared –– having to spend any time as a “patient” or resident in such an establishment … anywhere. I’m sure that there are such places which are good ones; Daddy wasn’t so sure. Ever. And AmTaham True never wanted to set foot in one as a person having to actually stay and live there. Well, … he didn’t. “Not one hour.”
Except for the one aspirin and the one tablet of cardiac medicine which AmTaham True took daily that, of the latter pill itself alone, actually was probably as costly as a dollar or more … given the outrageous expense of prescription medications even then … Daddy, ever the economist and frugal to his core, abhorred the cost of health care and especially that which could be classified as catastrophic and lavishly spent on elderly people. From his research and reading AmTaham told me on more than one occasion that, in the United States, the most money spent to provide a person medical attention is, indeed, lain out in the average adult American’s last five days of life. Not including children then, the common woman or man in need of medical care is never more in need of it apparently, according to demographics and economics studies, than that which is administered to the person during the five, consecutive days just prior to her or his death. On average. As in workers trying to dramatically bring the person back. After stroke or heart attack or cancerous metastases or end – stage kidney failure or massive visceral organ shutdown or disseminated intravascular coagulation or brain function cessation due to whatever cause. Trying to bring the patient back … from the precipice of purgatorial entry!
And except for the cost of those two pills taken once a day for the five days leading up to Monday, 30 March 1992 then, “not one dollar” of billing for physicians’ services nor hospitalization nor any other manner of fanatic – extremist medical care was put out for nor onto AmTaham True’s family and estate … towards trying to save this particular mahatma from said cataclysmic illness. It was that which AmTaham loathed –– what he believed was the squandering of resources out of that which should go to the rest of the family members and out of that which should be his legacy and their estate which he so did not wish frittered away upon himself. And that, too, did not happen to AmTaham. For which, if Daddy had known, I believe he would have been so thankful.
* * * *
Only exactly one month after Daddy’s dying, the date of 30 April 1992, rings out as the next remarkable one. At ten minutes before 4 in the p.m., I found myself bounding through the Brookside Forest to its entry lot wherein I could park Ol’ Black all day for free and walk the 20 minutes up one of its asphalt and cinder paths into my campus building. Except that on this trip back to the car I was sprinting at the highest speed that my skirt and flats would allow me. If the trek had taken me the usual 1/3 of an hour to get back to my vehicle, well, indeed, I would have been too late. And it would have all been over. ‘My case’ entirely and utterly closed. No going forward whatsoever. No further legal action allowed me. ‘The Court’s’ “rules” …
At 3:50 p.m. the incoming telephone call to my Forestry workstation had been for me a personal message and not one departmentally related, “Dr. True, this is Mrs. Ray. I’m responding to a question you put in to the clerk’s office yesterday. You’re aware, aren’t you, that you need to have file – stamped over here at the courthouse in the clerk’s office by 4:30 this afternoon the initial petition document? I can’t really advise you on anything more than that since none of us here are attorneys. We’re not really permitted to do that anyhow, ya’ know.”
I did know that last part –– hers about the not counseling me in the fashion of a lawyer regarding legal matters since she and other workers in their county governmental office were actually barred by law from stating to me outright just about anything more than Ms. Ray had just done. I had not known, however, about the first part –– about the 4:30 p.m. file – stamping deadline in order to keep hope, that most awful of addictions, alive. Hence, the very reason I was running. I had had the document prepared and appropriately notarized; I just hadn’t known for certain the timeframe on filing the petition which was why my inquiry into the clerk’s office of the day before. Nor the answer to its cut – off date with which Ms. Ray had just now supplied to me.
Exiting said Forest I turned Ol’ Black toward 13th –– and through the intersection connecting to the disgusting Othello Drive at the very limits of, or more than, in – town speeds and out onto the interstate a short piece till at its juncture I joined up with #30, a thoroughfare known as the Lincoln Highway which, labeled as Federal Highway #30 throughout all lengths of it, eventually traverses … the entire United States of America. On this particular nine – mile stretch of its two lanes into the courthouse town, however, it is well – posted as 55 mph through farming countryside and crossed by all manner of such slow – moving machinery, road – working equipment and truck types. Not to mention motorcycles and even bicycles.
Not to mention that this portion of Highway #30 is quite a favorite and routine passageway into the furthest reaches of the rural region by every single one of the Storm County sheriff’s deputies.
Timely this Thursday then that for me Ol’ Black had always been such a barnburner of an automobile.
More than one time in this brief nine miles that Chevy wagon and I were propelling easterly, pell – mell,
at upwards of 90 miles per hour passed several wee cars and two 18 – wheeler semis. And, most fortuitously for me, zero deputy dogs. Hope, indeed, is an affliction that could have killed me –– and others –– that day.
At three minutes before 4:30, at 4:27 p.m., Thursday, 30 April 1992, and with grateful appreciation to the kindest of Storm County folks present within its University’s Forestry Department, particularly Ms. Rosalind Franklin and Dr. Joplin, and those special others in law enforcement not present at that precise half an hour upon its portion of the Lincoln Highway, I owned in my right fist an officially file – stamped document. The petition stated that Dr. Herod Edinsmaier, by way of his own willful and seditious choices, had caused to occur such circumstances in my and the Truemaier Boys’ relationships with each other as for those conditions to be material, destabilizing changes. Daddee’s choosing to subvert the Boys’ and my ties and bonds were, indeed, changes away from what his promises had been to Judge Sol Wacotler Seizor. Which promises too then of course, upon my appealing the September 1990 trial court decision to the three, all – male panel of Iowa Court of Appeals judges, Perjuring Herry had –– for his easy convincement of all of these men –– merely manufactured.
While the Boys and I had not known of Daddee – Herry’s written statement, of his sworn affidavit, submitted to daJudge in January 1989, about the Good and Wonderful Doctor’s word back then that Zane, Jesse and Mirzah would … all three … graduate from Ames High School! and obviously of his assurance, even his guarantee, that they would stay in Ames, let alone in Iowa, some 3¼ years previously, none of that had really mattered at all to ‘the Court’ –– which did know. By this time Herod Edinsmaier’s ‘promise’ just about that one thing, not to mention about sooo many others concerning the maintenance, promotion and enhancement of relationships between my Boys and me to at least four different judges through two separate trials and one appeal had in no way at all obstructed nor impeded Dr. Edinsmaier from removing all of the Truemaier Boys not only from Ames but also from Iowa. “Nor stopped Herry in any way from extracting all three of them entirely, Mehitable, that exact evil from which you should’ve soooo taught me to protect myself, from out of my life and away from me, completely away from and out of my life! Me, their mother! You should’ve coached me on how to protect myself and my children from this incredible wickedness, Mother Mehitable!”
I need to note here, in essence, that because the three appellate judges represented the interpretation of the laws of the land of Iowa and thus its public, that is, its people, both the humans and the DEhumans of the State, then what the appellate judges, all of them men of course, were saying too is that if they did not give a good goddamn about the Good Doctor’s word, then why the hell shouldn’t all of those Iowans who are the very people of these laws also fuck a mother, too?
These four men –– as all Iowans’ judicial representatives –– merely stated to us, the public, that it was quite okay for us too to collude with the pillared doc in whatever it was that Herry wanted to get away with doing and … fuckingly gut the bitch. Besides, these five men –– the four plus Daddee –– argued, rationalized and justified to themselves that the good people of Iowa would never even know of Edinsmaier’s “word” –– in the wholly unlikely event that any one of them would have bothered to rise up and say something about his actually keeping his many promises! Smack in line the reasoning of these four patriarchs is with, as well, their musingly and correctly figuring that … this pissant woman Legion’s “passions and struggles are nowhere near as stupendously important to anyone else as they, O – so head – bangingly, are … to her!”
And these four guys didn’t even care, because they didn’t want to and they didn’t have to, about all of the other subversions of Herry’s –– his exhibitionism and voyeurism and frotteuristic incest and bestiality … “cows, dogs, pigs and chickens” the Rolodex card states in that order! which is scripted in Herry’s own hand, the woman – loathing jokes, his crimes of providing and encouraging the sex toys of gem – studded condoms and hormone – raging greeting cards and other pornographic magazines and materials in front of, with and to the Boys, not to mention the King and his Nottingham Sheriff’s folie à deux at preventing the Boys and me from having the least little bit of contact with each other or permitting them to have even $1’s worth of the $5,000.00 that were the gifts, the letters, the cards, postage stamps, medicine, the books, the favored foods, toys, sports equipment, movie tickets, the post office box use, the telephone calling cards, etc, etc, et cetera that, with Jesse, Mirzah and Zane now five whole states away, I had sent to them all! As Rachel had declared last Winter Solstice, “And there’s no judge, Legion, who himself doesn’t surf porn.”
What is truly classic and thoroughly choice, though, is its mother – fucking, sexist flipping reversal:
No woman, no mother could have moved out of state in the same wink of an overnight, heartbreaking beat that Thieving Edinsmaier had done with my Truemaier Boys Tuesday, 29 October 1991. No woman, no mother I have ever, ever come across in all of my literal trials’ and similar tribulations’ travels since … can take the products of one’s exalted sperm –– even across the fuckin’ county’s line like, say, because she took up another union or had secured for herself the coolest job ever –– the way that this man banished my children not only from out of my sight and away from my arms but also all of me, their very own mother, from completely out of their brains and spirits as well. Invisible. Deadened. = Daddee’s defining purpose.