Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Running away with the circus

Daddy had a dreadful childhood. He was a sickly child. When he was 9 years old his mother ran away from the husband and two children. She ran away with the circus. Actually, she was swept off her feet by a carnival barker and lived that life for many years. Grandpa struggled to keep his little 5-year-old Ila and Daddy together. He was a proud man, a stern man. Daddy remembered when his mother finally returned there was a big fight so he hid under the kitchen sink. He remembered to the day he died his mother's words, "I'm taking Ila, you can have Jerry. I don't want him." Life in Idaho wasn't easy in those days and soon Grandpa packed he and Daddy into the old car and started out for California. Daddy's only love was his books. He always read a lot. He thought he could read all the way to California, but Grandpa got mad at him for having to stop too many times to go to the bathroom and he grabbed all of Daddy's books and threw them out beside the road.

I can kind of see why mom's grandmother would run off with the circus after being married to an abusive husband, but how could she leave her children behind? No wonder my grandpa became an alcoholic. He was probably trying to medicate his pain. Mom stayed close to her Aunt Ila, pictured above, until Aunt Ila died in the 1980s. She was an alcoholic too, as was her daughter who was killed by the disease. Aunt Ila died of Lou Gehrig's disease. I remember she was dying in the hospital in the Sacramento area and mom drove all the way up from Southern California to be with her and to try to give her the courage to have the life support disconnected. Her lungs had quit working and she was so afraid of suffocating to death. Whatever mom said to her, a few days later she had the machines disconnected and passed away. I was so proud of my mother.

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