It all started on a cool summer evening when a beautiful 20-year-old woman named Ella* brought me into this world. My mother had married a man by the name of Jack* about two years prior to my birth and my father was a much older man. That age and the freedom that come with it held much attraction for my mother who was looking to escape her own parents.
My mothers' parents were kind souls, both with very old school values. My grandfather was stern and solid. A distant yet hard working man common of his generation. He held family in high regard and always provided well for my mother and her younger brother, Greg*. My grandmother was also a kind soul, always loved being with her children. She worked hard to make ends meat when money was tight and help put food on the table. My mother and her brother wanted for not yet something was always missing, affection.
As children age, add growing up in the 70s, they were rebellious. At the tender age of sixteen, my mother found herself pregnant. My grandmother, being of that generation where an unwed teenage pregnancy was quite frowned upon, even shamed, she immediately sent my mother to the capital to live with the nuns and give birth who arranged an adoption for the child. Ella did come home for Christmas while she was with child and has told me stories of Grandmother drawing the curtains while home. How she would be told she was not allowed outside or by the windows. She was to arrive after dark and leave likewise. Her growing belly was a growing shame to the family.
My mother gave birth to a baby boy soon after who was adopted by a loving family and was raised well, we have been told in later years. He was given information to contact her however he has never felt the need and she has accepted that. Ella does regret giving him away she has confided in me in the passing of these years, that she holds a love for that first child still to this very day.
This entire event and the regret instilled a grudge in Ella. She felt the need to flee her mothers' control and judgments. Meeting my father who was many years her senior allowed her that ability. He had a car, a job, money, drugs, and booze, giving Ella more than one way to escape. Even more so he seemed to not judge her. Though he had introduced her to drugs and gambling, the pull of freedom was too strong and one day she picked up and left the small town she had known all her life. Ella married my father Jack in a quick justice of the peace style wedding at the courthouse and soon fell pregnant with my brother, Sam*. Sam was born late September in 1982. They swooned over having their first child and seemed to live a decently happy few years, my uncle Greg even becoming good friends with Jack. A year and a bit passed and once again mom found herself with child.
Just short of two years after my brother was born, I came into this world on a cool summer night in 1984. My mother named me Lydia*, the name she had chosen for her baby dolls as a child. She has told me I was the most beautiful baby in the entire world, however, I firmly believe all mothers are biased when it comes to their children and see them through rose-colored glasses.
The first year of my life is not very well documented. My parents tried co-existing, however the fights grew more and more often. The stories they will tell differ to whoever is telling it. Ella has never told me why she left Jack or if it was Jack that left her. She will dance around the topic if asked and seeing it a sore spot I tend not to pick at old wounds. My father, who I will talk about more in the future, will insist my mother did not want us children and she gave us to him willingly. All I truly know is that by the age of two my parents had not only split but could not even able to speak to each other. Sam and I were passed back and forth without any legal custody arrangement for the first few months.
One night, according to my mother, my father decided to pack up Sam and I up and move back to his native province of Alberta without her knowledge. This action caused my mother to file a report with the police which triggered the first custody battle of my life. I've attempted to pull up facts in regards to this case, however, I have been unable to unearth anything. Again Ella, my mother, is vague and my father, Jack, insists we were given up to him willingly and unwanted.
Never less in 1986 my father, Jack, was granted full custody of Sam and myself with visitations with my mother, Ella, in Ontario during the summer months. Being so young my memories are seriously impacted and my parents are very vague in these years. I do however know that in 1987 my father met a woman named Terry* who will come to have a huge impact on much of my childhood.
Terry was a severe schizophrenic woman who had been adopted as a child to a wonderfully loving dutch family. Jack, for some reason, fell madly in love with this woman. Maybe chaos really does attract chaos in ways. Needless to say, before long we had moved into a home with this woman and began to play house as best as my father knew how. Jack was still a hopeless drug addict and a gambler and add a time bomb that was Terry no good could come of it.
I started school that year. I have brief memories of the classroom and playing with the sand outside in the yard. I remember the caring teacher with the dark brown hair and glasses that always had an extra snack for me when my lunch was a little short that day. What I remember most about that school year was learning to tie my shoes. We had been given these little laced cardboard shoes to practice with. I practiced very hard to get the knots just right til finally I got them just perfect. To celebrate we were allowed to display our little cardboard shoes on the shoe rack in the hall where everyone could see them. That day I ran out to the car to get my dad to see what I had finally accomplished. That day when he refused to get out for those five minutes was when I first felt true disappointment but like any little girl I still loved my daddy and just wanted to make him proud.
My father, like I had mentioned previously, had a gambling problem among his many other issues. He tended to lie and cheat and steal his way through life. Due to this, we tended to move around a lot. It was around the age of four when I realized that. Now, as an adult, I look back and realize that my father would pay his first and last rent then squat without paying another dime until we were forced to move by the proper authorities. Sam and I felt that process many times throughout our childhood yet never really understood why it was happening. We spent a lot of time by ourselves even at this age, quickly learned how to take care of each other. He was my protector and I was his caregiver. We were inseparable.
The most exciting event we had that year was that Sam and I were going to be able to fly on a plane that year all by ourselves to visit mom in Ontario. I walked into the airport holding my brother's hand very scared to be going into that giant machine that somehow soared through the sky, my little mind not being able to comprehend how that could even be possible. Sam just looked down at me and whispered "It's okay, Lyd, I won't leave you alone," and I knew all would be okay cause once again my protector was with me and I trusted he wouldn't leave my side.
We waved goodbye to my father and Terry and cautiously boarded the plane. The flight attendants were very kind to us letting us meet the Captain and see the flight cabin. My first airplane ride was quite exciting and fun. Turns out planes are not as dangerous and scary as my little mind thought they were and of course, Sam was by my side the entire time.
My mother Ella was always ecstatic to see us when we got to her. She would light up, kiss, and hug us until we couldn't breathe any longer. I was just as happy to finally get to see my mother, I would miss her every day we were apart. This year my mother had a new friend to introduce us to. His name was John* and he was the brother of my mom's best friend's husband. Ella had fallen madly in love.
John seemed like a nice enough man, he was a native man and came from a very large family. My mother seemed to enjoy his company and as a child that was all that I had really noticed. They were loving towards each other and us. It felt different and comfortable that summer. Mom and John had decided to throw a birthday party for both my brother and I since she did not get to see him during his. It never bothered me to share "my day" with Sam, after all, he was already a hero already in my little eyes.
Summer passed too fast and next thing you knew we were heading back to the airport to fly back to Jack and Terry. In the airport I hugged my mother tight, not wanting to let go. I knew my brother felt the same as he was gripping his little stuffed rabbit just a little tighter than normal. He put on a brave face for me and took my hand. Sam told me it was going to be okay and walked with me onto the plane.
To be continued...
*Names have been changed to protect identity .