What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

When all four of us kids lived at my dads mother and sisters house, I remember him having a plethora of jobs just to support us kids. He was a school bus driver, truck driver, private investigator, security guard and police officer. He owned a plumbing business for 30 years before he passed away.

One of my favorite memories was when he would bring the bus and police car home. I always thought the police car rides were fun and I would imagine me being a police officer one day too with my own squad car. One of the times he had the school bus at the house, us kids tried to spend the night on that bus. However, that didn’t last long because we got scared and went back inside the house. Another memory growing up in the suburbs of Chicago was when the neighborhood kids would call my dad ‘Elvis’ (because he kinda looked like him). I felt like I was one of the cool kids on the block.

Now one day my Dad was patrolling this park in the SW suburbs of Chicago when he met my soon to be stepmother. She was 17 years old (my Dad being 30 something) and already had a toddler of her own. I’m not sure of that timeline, but I know her and her son lived with us at my grandmother and Aunt’s house for a little bit. The one thing that stands out when my step-mother lived there was a time when she got in a argument with my aunt. My aunt is really reserved and keeps to herself. My aunt might kill me for saying this but I remember her calling my stepmother a bitch. I’m not sure what the argument was about, but for that to come out of my aunts mouth, I’m sure my step-mother deserved it.

I believe I was nine years old when my dad got married to my step-mother. Once they got married we moved out of my gram and aunts house. My younger sister stayed behind to live with my grandma and aunt. She was the lucky one…. Also around this time, us kids would go back-and-forth to mom and dads house. My mother had married her second husband, who I liked, and he had three kids of his own. A quick few stories/memories about being at my mom and stepfather’s house:

One day us three kids and my stepfather got in the car and was heading out of the subdivision. When we got to the stop sign at the front of the subdivision, we were trying to figure out why it was so quiet in the car. We all then realized we left my little sister at the house. I remember when we went back to go get her she was sitting outside on the steps crying.

Me and my older sister shared a room. We had a bed on one side of the room and bunk-beds on the other with a long dresser next to it. My older sister and I would stand our albums of Shawn Cassidy, Rick Springfield and Donnie & Marie Osmond on her bed and pretend they were our audience as we jammed to music and danced around the room. We’d would dance on the bed and then jump onto the dresser and dance on that. Yes, it was our version of girls just wanna have fun!

Another funny memory was when us kids were left at home. My older sister and brother would open up the dryer door and because I was so tiny, I would get inside with my legs hanging out. They would then turn on the dryer and all you could see was my legs spinning around and around. Boy were we silly! Thinking back at that time, I’m surprised I never got injured.

Now this memory is not a great one but it is a part of my life. We lived in a really nice house with my mom. We had a basement, which was our Family room, our living room/kitchen was on the second floor and the bedrooms were on the third floor. About six steps directly up from the living room was me and my older sisters room and right next to that was my brothers. I’m not sure if it was before my stepfather or after, but my mother had this boyfriend that was a jerk. One cold winter evening they both got into an argument. Us kids were standing on top of the stairs looking down into the living room watching this guy sitting on our mother with a butcher knife to her throat. Of course we were little and scared but the one person who said something, stunned all of us. You have to imagine, you see a guy on top of your mother with a butcher knife to her throat, what do you do? Well appearently my sister didn’t get the memo on “go hide”. Next thing you know, my older sister blatantly blurts out, “Up your jeans with a can of beans!” Next thing you know, he jumps off my mother, heads towards us and we all disburse, everyone for themselves! All I remember is me and my brother running into his room, slamming the door and hiding underneath his bed. My mom’s boyfriend came up and punched a hole in his door. A lot of the details are blurred but I do remember my mother gathering us kids in our room closet. It was a snow-cold winter evening but she eventually got my brother to sneak out of the house to the next-door neighbors and call the cops. They came and arrested the boyfriend, I have no clue what happened after that and really don’t remember. To this day, I look back at that time and as scary as it may have been, it makes me laugh at what my sister said. Sometimes the innocence of children can make them say the darnedest things.

“Your gorgeous chaos was a danger to my beautiful ordinary life, and I knew that. Then suddenly, we became beautifully extraordinary together.” – R.M. Drake

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