Mom and Dad rarely fought in front of us. There were a few times us girls had to sit on the porch while Mom and Dad talked. But I didn’t think it was because they were fighting. I didn’t find out until years later the reasons for the divorce. Mom just said Dad liked to bowl too much. Mom was very protective of us and she wanted us to love our Dad, which we did.
Mom often struggled to get Dad to pay child support. One winter day, my mom piled all of us girls in the car and we drove down to my Grandmother’s house (Dad’s mom) because Dad was there. I was sitting in the back seat as I watched the whole thing unfold. Mom got out of the car and Grandmother and Dad came out of the house. They got into an argument and Mom was telling Dad she didn’t have enough money to even buy milk. Dad and his mom were yelling at Mom and telling her to get in the car and leave. They had their hands on her, pushing her towards the car, and mom was bending over crying. She had no choice but to get in the car because Dad and Grandmother kept yelling and pushing her away. She got in the car and cried all the way home. It was so sad, and I am brought to tears every time I recall this memory. I am crying so hard now. My sisters don’t remember this, but it is a memory I will never forget.
Mom eventually found work, and after a couple of years of working in various low paying jobs she finally landed a job at the hospital, doing respiratory therapy. I was so proud of her. She seemed to really like her job and most of the people she worked with. The problem is, she had to work double shifts many times and even a few triple shifts, just to make enough money to support our big family. She sometimes worked the night shift and she would come home and tell us to keep our voices down so she can sleep, and then she would go to her room and shut the door. It was hard for five girls to stay quiet for as long as we needed to for mom to get enough sleep. She occasionally had to call out to us to be quiet! I loved those days when mom worked a single shift during the day. She was less tired and we got to spend more time with her.
We lived in a modest two story home, about 1,300 square feet. This is the home our parents bought together, only three years prior to their divorce. Mom got to keep the house, but she had to pay the mortgage. It seemed like such a huge house when I was little. Our home had three bedrooms and only one bathroom. One bathroom was no big deal because as far as I knew, everybody’s home had only one bathroom. A few years later, as the older ones entered our teenage years, Mom put a bedroom and a half bathroom in the basement. Even though it was nice for emergencies, nobody wanted to use that bathroom downstairs unless it was absolutely necessary. Getting ready for school in the morning required using the bathroom upstairs because it had a bathtub and a big mirror.
Mom was our rock. She was the glue that kept our family together. I can’t believe where our family is now. The story continues…