I am mad as hell. I have the most common inherited neuropathic disease there is and no one has ever heard of it and it is called Charcot Marie Tooth. Isn’t there something wrong with that? One in 2,500 american s have this disease and I bet you have never heard of it have you? Apparently no one famous has this disease or if they do they haven’t told anyone that they have it. Which is actually very common with people who have this disease, we can almost pass for normal (if you don’t go hiking or do something that requires physical dexterity) if someone isn’t real observant or doesn’t ask personal questions. The reason we don’t talk about our disease a lot goes to the horrible problem that we all have to deal with, that problem is that being different is not a good thing! We are taught this from the time we are children in grade school and we got made fun of because of our physical weakness. I was always the slowest person around the track, I couldn’t pull my weight up with my hands on the monkey bars but because when you looked at me I didn’t look that different no one understood what was going on and trust me, neither did I. The problem with this disease is that you are not just different, life if you are gay you are different but you are not disabled. The cruel truth of Charcot Marie Tooth is that you can look the same as everyone else but you are crippled physically and kids will make fun of you no matter what the reason is that you are “different”. I spent my whole childhood trying to do as many things as the rest of the kids could do physically. The only salvation I had was that I was smart so at least I could excel in that area and I became book worm because it was my world to escape to. I do believe that growing up different is bad for everyone who feels they are different, no matter how big or how small the difference is, it is apparent to me that if you feel different you are different but there is a reality that having a physical handicap by all rights should be a worse problem to deal with that thinking you look weird or different than someone else. I do believe from watching what happens with screwed up people that they seem to have as many problems as people who can barely walk but I have a lot of trouble understanding it. I would give anything to be able to walk up stairs without pulling myself up one stair at a time and then I read about someone who can’t deal with not being beautiful. I would give all of my looks for the ability to physically function. Maybe all disabilities are the same in that they are disabling but I would give every thing I have to be ugly and be able to walk. I have a lot of trouble understanding how someone can be so screwed up over some of things they are when the rest of us are just struggling to put one foot in front of the other one, literally! If I am missing something please enlighten me as I spend my whole day trying to physically get to the store and buy my own groceries so I can live. Since I have been disabled from the age of 3 to 56 I am getting tired of the struggle, but getting tired does not mean I will give up. But those of you who have a choice please appreciate what you have that so many of us would give anything to experience. Growing different is very painful no matter what the reason but if you are not disabled I think you should learn to appreciated the beauty of having a body that works and get over the things that made you different while you were growing up if you grow up to have an able body. I would give anything to have your able body and I don’t think you would give anything to have my crippled one! People need to learn to get over the small things that kids tease you about, because once you grow up you should be able to leave those kids behind, and parents should spend a lot more time teaching kids not to be cruel. A lot of children’s problems could be helped immensely if parents really addressed the issue of their children making fun of other children. Being different as a child should not be a life sentence!
My parents drank alcohol for all of my life, I even remember them allowing my sister and I to drink small amounts when we were kids which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as we were given a tiny amount and to me it seemed like by their allowing me to try small amounts it took the mystique away from my drinking a lot once I was not around them. We were never allowed to get drunk just to have a tiny little aperitif glass with dinner and a lot of the alcohol I didn’t like. I remember the first time I really got drunk as a teenager at a party I didn’t like the feeling of not being shy because I was drunk and never ended up having a drinking problem. But my sister did and she is now an alcoholic and I suppose there is no way to say whether or not my parents allowing us to drink a little had anything to do with it since I did not become an alcoholic even though she did, but we both had plenty of bad things happen to us to need to forget about them but I guess I chose to deal with them as opposed to trying to drink them away. I also know as the older sister I saw a lot of things my parents did under the influence of alcohol that turned me off that I don’t think my sister noticed or cared about as much as I did since I took on the role of the family peacemaker at a very young age. The reasons my parents drank were because they were messed up people trying to escape their being messed up and the messed up part had nothing to do with alcohol, they didn’t have to be drunk to do screwed up things, they only had to be drunk to live with themselves for having done them. So I guess I have mixed feelings on blaming the alcohol entirely but it does seem like really screwed up people do seem to use it to escape dealing with their problems. It is sad for them but most of all it is sad for the children they bring into the world to screw up when maybe if they had been sober and forced to look at how screwed up they were they wouldn’t have children. Obviously I will never have an answer to this but it does make me wonder what could have been. Sometimes causes and effects can be very hard to separate. It is kind of like the question which came first, the chicken or the egg?
So back to why I know my stepfather is dysfunctional. Besides his father being a selfish, loveless bastard my stepfather told my mother and I that he had a pet dog while they were living in the boxcar alongside the rail road tracks in West Fork and his father took his pet dog out and shot and killed it telling his son they couldn’t afford to feed it, they weren’t paying for food anyway, they were living on venison his father poached or that the train would hit and he would bring the dead deer home for the family to eat. My stepfather believed that his father only got rid of the dog to show him that he had the power to do so and to be cruel and I am inclined to believe this as all his father really needed to do since they lived in the woods in the middle of nowhere is not feed the dog instead of killing it and seeing if it could make its own way by killing rodents or whatever it could. Not only were they very poor but they didn’t practice birth control and there were five sons born to the asshole and his mentally deficient wife, not to mention a couple of children that didn’t make it according to my stepfather and I know it was the truth as this account was backed up by his oldest younger brother. My stepfather told me his mother used to spank his brothers and him until one day he realized that he was bigger and stronger than she was and he said he took the belt from her she was attempting to spank him with as a teenager and told her if she ever tried to spank him again he would use the belt on her. I don’t blame him and I have also wondered if there was any sexual abuse involved, though I never asked him since he had already sexually abused me and my sister by that time. It may explain his sexual issues and it may not and since I don’t ever plan on asking I don’t care if I know the reasons he did what he did to my sister and I, it was wrong and all I have to cling to for my sanity is to believe that he was so screwed p it was the only way he knew how to seek the attention he needed since apparently my emotionally frigid mother was also sexually frigid as well. I am not giving my stepfather any “get out of jail free” card for his actions but after having spent my childhood with a woman who didn’t know how to love anyone she was not a good mate for a man who was also emotionally stunted. I do not release either of them from the parts they played in creating the emotionally dysfunctional family they created but I am sure that that it played a part. But unlike my stepfather my mother was not raised in an abusive household which makes her dysfunction much more of a mystery to me than his. Her mother died of TB when she was six and her father went to live with his mother and work to support them so that she had a female influence in her life. According to my mother she felt very gipped by not having a mother to raise her and told my sister and I that her grandmother didn’t love her. I have no evidence to back this up either way as her grandmother was dead before I was born. I do know that my grandfather, her father, was the kindest and gentlest man you could ever meet. One of the few times my mother discussed sexual molestation by a parent, after I made her confront the fact that my stepfather was sexually molesting my sister and I, she told me that she used to want to sleep with her father and when she was a young teenager he told her that she couldn’t sleep in his bed with him anymore. Either she lied to me that he told her not to sleep with him anymore so that he wasn’t tempted to do something wrong or she was disappointed that he didn’t want her. I don’t know if it matters what the truth is but from the 30 years he was a part of my life he never did anything untoward to me, my sister or my mother and spent all of his money trying to make sure our family had everything they needed. Either I was really stupid, or blind, and I don’t think so because my stepfather molested us for all the years he did before my grandfather died and I never had my grandfather show me anything but kindness and support, just like he had always shown his daughter and my stepfather by helping them monetarily and physically by mowing the lawn and doing the gardening for his whole life. So I absolutely know that my stepfather had an incredibly screwed up life but my mother was well loved as far as I know and it leads me to wonder “what the hell happened to her to let her allow her children to be abused?”
When I started writing stories about my childhood and incidents that continue on in my family to this day due to the terrible things that were inflicted on my sister and I by our parents I was just trying to understand why it seemed like there were so many of these incidents and also wondered how normal or abnormal what happened to my family was from what other families have gone through. It has been my experience in life, when sharing these amazingly strange and messed up events I have been through with my family that a lot of my friends and acquaintances have gone through many similar things but it doesn’t seem like they had such an ongoing and never ending string of them like I have experienced. It may just be that people haven’t admitted that their family was as screwed up and never quit being screwed up or maybe I just haven’t talked to the right people whose lives have been a non-ever ending string of incredibly bizarre events.
They only started with my stepfather molesting my sister and I as young teens and they never stopped, a lot of these incidents were alcohol fueled but I will not blame alcohol for the failings of my parents, it was their excuse to use it and not the reason the sinister things happened to us young girls.
I do know that it goes back to the childhood experiences of my parents as their dysfunction was what caused them to behave in the dysfunctional ways they did in raising their children. I can only blame my mother and my stepfather as my real father died in a plane crash before I was three and while my mother was six months pregnant with my sister and since it would have been impossible for my real father to have had an influence on my sister her issues and mine cannot be blamed on him since he never really raised us. My mother remarried when I was five and my sister was two so for all intents and purposes our stepfather was our father. I am not as mystified about what caused my stepfather to be such a horrendous parent as I am my mother because my stepfather had a cruel and unloving father and his mother was brain damaged at birth and had the mental capacity of a child and in no way should she ever have been a mother, but no one but someone with diminished brain capacity would have married the evil bastard that was my stepfather’s father. They were dirt poor when he was growing up, and I do literally mean dirt poor.
When I was about 28 years old I took my mother and stepfather on three hour trip to see a play in a small southern Oregon town that I had pleasant memories of having attended plays at their internationally renowned outdoor Shakespearian Theatre when I was a child when we would caravan down there with several of our neighbors whose kids were friends of mine and whose parents had neighborhood barbeques. The 1960’s were a far more innocent era for neighborhood activities than goes on these days, as It seems to me for the most part people try to avoid being friendly to their neighbors these days instead of having the “block” parties we would have at each of the neighbor’s houses for occasions like the fourth of July or just get together and have potluck barbeques. During the summers in the mid to late 1960’s several of the neighbors would get together and make reservations at a hotel in the small town and coordinate getting tickets to the same play on the same night and sometimes we drove down together in a small caravan of four or five families and sometimes everyone left on their own schedule but they all met up at the same hotel and went to the play together. For us kids it was a fun time of swimming in the pool and getting to go see the “grown-up” play together and then the next day we would usually have a neighborhood picnic at beautiful park that surrounded the outdoor theatre that had two ponds with swans and ducks that would beg for food and we had a really great time.
Back to what this has to do with my stepfather’s childhood. He grew up down near the area we went to see those plays with our neighbors and on the trip I took them on about 13 years after we had moved away from the neighborhood I grew up in, and have recently come to believe that some of my stepfather’s nefarious activities may have been a part of the reason we moved from the town I grew up in to a much more isolated location 20 miles away on 63 acres so we no longer were “friends” with the people I grew up with, but that is not the point of this narrative.
I had a pretty good job in 1986 when I decided I wanted to go and see a play in the town I had such fond memories of visiting with my best girlfriend, her parents and family and several other of our neighbors, and I had just bought a brand new car in 1985 so I wanted to treat my parents to my trip down nostalgia lane, though the extreme dysfunction in my family of my stepfather molesting sister and I as young teenagers had already occurred I played a large role as the family “peacemaker” in having our family start functioning as a somewhat normal (and I do mean somewhat only) family and doing things together as a family. It seemed to me that this was the only way to get past the evil that had been done and to help us heal, it turns out I may have been wrong but my intentions were good even if the evil that had been done now seems to be undoable!
My parents drove to my house which was near the town I grew up in and that they “high tailed” it out of when I was 15 years old, my sister speculates that it may have been because she found many years after we moved that my stepfather had also molested at least one of our girlfriends before we moved and that maybe we moved to avoid a “firestorm”, we don’t know that it was the reason they moved to the country but it certainly would make sense if any sense can ever be made of what happened when we were children. We had a pleasant non eventful drive to our destination and the first incident that occurred which made my mother and I decide to never bring my stepfather on a trip again was that this town has a wonderful eclectic selection of restaurants to eat at and my stepfather wanted a steak and potatoes place of which they had none so the only other kind of food he was willing to eat was Mexican and he probably picked the only bad restaurant in the whole town but we ate there so we didn’t have to hear him complain. The play was good and the next morning we had no problem finding a good restaurant he could eat breakfast at, lucky us! He asked me if we could take a couple of side roads on the way back so he could visit the town he went to school in as well as the place he lived in until he was six years old. He said he wanted to visit Gold Hill where he went to school at and West Fork where he lived until he went to school. It seemed like a reasonable request since I didn’t have any particular agenda for the day so first we took the one mile trip off of the highway to visit the town he attended school in. It was a pretty small community located fairly close to the town that was our destination. We drove around it for a little while as he reminisced about seeing the schools he attended and then we stopped at a small bar and restaurant and had lunch.
Our next turn off was a twenty mile side road that would take us about 30 minutes longer than without taking it, without any stops, which didn’t seem like a big deal. Of course silly me, there would be stops. The first one was about five minutes into the detour where my stepfather wanted to visit the cemetery that several of his relatives were buried at in the small town we entered into. We spent about 15 or 20 minutes while my stepfather searched for the graves of grandparent’s and cousins of his that had died, most of them before he married my mother. After that boring stop for me, but apparently sentimental and necessary for him, we continued on down the road. After about 10 or 15 minutes he said “this kind of looks like the place” and I am looking at the side of the road next to railroad tracks and getting a little confused. We continued on and he said “this is it, right here.” I pulled my car off the main –non main- road and said “what do you mean this is it, there is nothing here?” At this point my mother started laughing and said “did you think we were going to an actual place?” I said “of course I did. What do you mean?” In the meantime my stepfather had gotten out of the car and was walking around looking at the ground on the other side of the railroad tracks. My mother said “Dave grew up in a boxcar along the side of the railroad tracks, it isn’t here anymore.” I said “Well then what is he looking for?” She said “he is looking for the spot the boxcar was located at off of the side of the railroad tracks.” I was sort of dumbfounded, he was looking for something that was only there in his imagination, wonderful! So I got out and mom and I walked over to where my stepfather was walking around. He pointed at a wide spot next to the tracks and said “this is where the boxcar was and over here was our garden.” Well you would definitely have to know this as all there was were a few possibly strategically placed rocks and some old pieces of wood. He then said “yes, this is it.” He seemed pleased and I was amazed that we had come in search of a wide spot on the road that only he could possibly have any desire to see and not only that he could he could barely even find it. I looked at my mother and said “why didn’t you tell me we were looking for nothing?” She said “I thought you knew he grew up in a boxcar next to the railroad tracks. I said “Yeah but I assumed we were at least looking for the boxcar, you didn’t tell me that there was nothing here anymore!” You could probably make a comedy about this trip called “Looking For West Fork” as that is the title I gave this dramedy! He seemed very pleased to have found the wide spot in the road that he called “West Fork” and this trip lived in infamy in my memories for many years and he was never allowed to come with us again, though it was more for the fact that he was such an uncultured traveler and didn’t want to partake of the wonderful food in a town known for its wonderful food as well as he wanted everything to center around what he wanted and was only willing for everyone else to sacrifice their happiness for his, and that has never changed for the whole rest of my life so far.
This is only one story in the many I have to tell of my dysfunctional family!
This is the description of West Fork, OREGON
Near milepost 19 lies the old town site of West Fork. The town was established in 1882 as a service and supply site to serve the residents of the nearby Rogue River Canyon. Interpretive panels depict life in West Fork and along Cow Creek during the latter part of the 19th century.