My brother Micky died in February. He had been sick for a long time with complications from diabetes and lung disease brought on by his time on a ship during the Vietnam War. Years and Years.
His death has caused me to be bombarded with flashes from the past.
He was my protector when we were small children. We were separated when I was three years old and he was five. I live in California where I grew up and he lives … lived in Florida. A relative who lives near Micky in the South called my mother and said, “If you want to see your son alive you had better come to Florida.” These were strange eerie words, as they were the same words used by another relative a kaleidoscope-in-time ago, when those words of fright were said by another relative to Joe, Micky’s father.

More recently our mother flew to Florida and stayed with Micky’s wife. Together they went to the little hospital in Chipley, Florida everyday for three days. Then one day they arrived and the nurse said they couldn’t see him because he had to rest. The Veteran’s hospital was moving him to Mobile, Alabama the next morning. It is a five hour drive from where he was. There was no explanation because the women at Micky’s bedside assumed the doctors know best. They made no demands. They passively excepted fate. I think maybe I should do the same, but I can’t help but envision my brother, my protector, dying an agonizing death while riding to a far away hospital.

I felt desperate to talk to him but when our mother returned she couldn’t remember where he was moved to. She has always had difficulty pronouncing words and remembering words, especially when upset. To get her mouth around Mobile, Alabama was too much. She told me he was pale as a ghost. His heart and lungs were unstable and his kidneys were shutting down. The next morning I woke very early.  I wanted to know where he was – to talk to him. I imagined myself at his bedside. I held his hand and I said, “Oh Micky you were such a brave little boy.”

The last time I saw him as a child he was being led into a room. Someone put him on a table and tied his shoes. Then I was told to say good-bye. Giants pulled him through a door. When the door closed he disappeared for 17 years.

He died an old man at 54 on a Saturday morning, all alone, in a far off hospital. I’m finding it difficult relating this to my other siblings, the ones who were suppose to replace him. I am far away in the 1940’s when we were left alone in a room in an apartment in the public housing projects. We were without food or water.  He pee’d in my bottle and fed me so I wouldn’t cry. Today, days after his death, I don’t want to venture from my apartment because I am afraid of bursting into tears.

I wish I could brush him off – call him a macho pig – a brute who abused his children and go on with my life. But I can’t. Even though he was all of that and maybe worse. He had a strong personality, and when he was younger attracted a lot of friends. Or I should say, when he was healthier. People have a way of disappearing when we become ill and needy. I am left with many conflicting feelings. He was the big brother I longed for- who disappeared through a door one day.

I remember. I do. Giants were insisting that other little creature was my brother. Some impossible being that couldn’t talk, had no teeth and got me into trouble when we got older. I use to tell him to try and beat me up but I would beat him up instead. I was trying to train him to be my protector but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get my new little brother to replace Micky.

We called him Micky when he was a little boy. My mother cried and cried after he was whisked away by his father and step mother. A long time passed and finally there was a letter with picture on it that was about 2″ by 2″. My mother had it enlarged and we could see his pained little face. I still have the picture. He is dirty and he is wearing a frayed sweater. His gums look swollen. It had been a long since I’d seen him. It was along time for me as a three and four year old, but when I look more closely at the photo, I realize he has his baby teeth. So maybe a year passed. This is the only picture we had until my mother located him in 1962. He was in the Navy. Then he came back into our lives. Then I found out how rough his life had been.

His father and stepmother were alcoholics. They’d drink themselves silly. They lived on his step-mothers land, which at one time was extensive. She was related to us from way back and was part Native American and part Scottish. There were few paved roads in Washington County Florida. They travelled with horse and buggy, as late as the 1950’s. Once when the horse was too tired to go -was moving too slowly for the pretend mother, she “stuck a lit cigarette to it’s asshole” and then it got to galloping. We finally got home that day!” Joe and Barbara were suppose to be better than Helen, my mother and my wicked stepfather. However, they abused and psychologically tortured Micky. They lived in a north Florida thicket, far away from civilization and were known to leave him for long periods while they kicked up their heels elsewhere. They sometimes left him with relatives. When I was down there years ago I met one of Barbara’s sisters who told me she use to take care of Micky. She had a fireplace and he would sit, unmoving, looking at the fire. When she asked him what he was thinking he’d say, “My little sister’s hair is the color of that fire.” Poor little guy missed me as much as I missed him.

In 1962 I was living at Saint Francis Residents on Buena Vista Street in SanFrancisco. It was a residence for young women. We didn’t have phones in our rooms. So when someone knocked on mydoor and said, “There’s phone call for you”, I walked down two long hall ways to answer. My mother called to say she located Micky- He was in the Navy and not in the Air Force as previously reported. She was flying down to San Diego to meet him and bring him back to Oakland. He wanted to see me. I was breathless at the prospect of seeing the little boy I once knew. The boy that could have been dead. The only image I remember from that time was of his little wool coat. I think that is why I loved my husband when I first met him – he wore a wool coat like Micky’s.”

Hi Micky,” I said looking into the eyes of my long lost brother as I shook his hand.” He doesn’t like being called that anymore,” my mother said – our mother said. He was short and sounded southern and ignorant. I don’t know what I expected, but he was not the brother I had longed for. He said crass things like, “Woah, didja see that broad – A’ll tell you what, she made my tongue hard.” Then he would show us his tongue. He flirted with me and would grab at me then say he wouldn’t do any thing because I was his sister, but I was afraid of him as well as all the other assorted feelings I had.

Then he was stationed in Alameda on the Ticonderoga. We saw him a lot then. When he met my East Indian boyfriend and found out I was going to marry him, he kept trying to fix me up with a white boy – one of his many friends from the ship. After we married, he was accepting of him. My husband seemed to enjoy Micky as well. I thought they may have been sexual with one another, but I know that neither would admit it. I remember going to bed. Our bed room was next to the living room. This was while we were living in North Beach at Kearney and Vallejo. I would hear them talking softly over the T.V. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but then I could hear a rythmatic knocking against the wall. I never went to check. I really can’t remember what my actual feelings about it were.

Micky brought friends over who called me “sis” and we would cook enormous meals and talk into the night. I had done the reverse with him in regards to my younger brother. Now younger brother was more worthy, more cultured, intelligent, better equipped to being a brother of mine than this poor ignorant boy who kept being thrown in the brig and losing his stripes. On one tour of duty he married a Japanese girl. He bragged about how she was beautiful and tall and she choose him over the other guys because he was “hung good” and knew how to make her happy. He married her in a Shinto ceremony. When he told his other family – the ones who controlled his mind and took his body -when he told them he was going to bring her home they protested. He had my permission- after all I married an Indian. But pretend mother told him he better never bring ‘that chinky yellow thing’ to Florida. Then he went home. To his real home. He met a white migrant worker. I don’t remember where but in Florida. He kissed her in his car and the car rolled into a pond. She was a sweet girl who came from a family of share croppers.

One Easter, after I was first married, Micky came by to fix us Thanksgiving dinner. At that time he was a cook on the USS Ticonderoga, an aircraft carrier. We had a room mate who was Jewish from Turkey. He was very orthodox. Mike burst through the door pleased as pie with a great big ham! We didn’t know quite what to do. There was the poor orthodox guy closed in his room and us in the kitchen celebrating Easter with ham.

We spent a lot of time running around with Micky in his Navy uniform. We often went to see our mother. We did a lot of catching up. At times I found him so uncouth, so foulmouthed, yet he had a soft caring side. Our youngest brother, was only two when he reappeared. He was kept in a play pen most of the time. I hate play pens. Micky showed him how to climb out. Mother never quite forgave him for that.

Our grandmother was living at 621 Boulevard Way then and was being maid and nanny to youngest brother. She left a couple of years after I was married to live in a house made especially for her in Pioneer, California. Micky liked his youngest brother and took him to get ice-cream and to the park. I have a picture somewhere with both of them in sailor-suits.

He talked constantly about his “mom” and dad in Florida. The “mom” wrote to me when I was living in a foster home. She wrote flowing letters about how much she cared about me and how I could live with them any time. I liked her letters but I didn’t understand why Micky didn’t write to me and why I always had to get information about him in the third person.

It had been about this time that he ran away with another boy. They stole a car and were trying to get out to see me. He went to Ohio to a boy’s detention center. It upset him when he talked about it. Not for any other reason than “they” thought he was a homo. He could not read or write very well, although I have a couple of letters from him. They were extremely difficult for him to write. He did it to please me because he knew I loved letters. They are on USS Ticonderoga stationary. Now, — Now they mean a great deal to me.

His ship was hit. They were just off the coast of Vietnam. The sea-men were all herded into the various bellies of the ship. He was lead into a section that was overcome with chemical fumes. It did permanent damage to his lungs and he was sent home. His last job in the Navy was as a recreation director for the base in Macon, Georgia – far away from the sea.

My mother and I shared a common pain, the loss of Micky. She did not put the picture of him in his frayed sweater on the wall with the other pictures of siblings. I wonder now if she thought her grief was private. I wonder if she discounted my feelings.

My mother got money to send Micky a Christmas present every year. We found out later that Joe and pretend-mom would rip off Helen’s name and put theirs on the packages. And that would be all Micky got for Christmas.

Pretend-mom was the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. She was scrutinized and villainized by my mother and her family. I had a rebellious love for her at first sight when I first saw her in 1968. Micky was married and living in Georgia. They had one little girl. If there had not been a war Micky would never have been accepted by the Military.

While I was there with my two little children he was attempting to get a release from being a career Navy man. They wanted to release him with a small sum of money. He went with friends to the base library and memorized the code sections that would allow him the maximum amount of money. A year later he was released and moved to Chipley, Florida with the maximum of $2500 a month plus G.I. perks for him and his wife. Pretty good, even for today’s standards. Pretty good. Considering he lived in a county that was primarily dirt roads. [The other mother, twenty-three years later–most of that time in formative growing up years – and the rest, she sat like a fine southern lady filled with secrets.]

Barbara was taller than I’d imagined. She was about 5’8″. Her face was beaten leather and the deep lines defined her life. She was thin as a feather. She had away of turning slowly towards you then staring at you with a focused and studying gaze. She spoke to me in the warm, polite way southerners have.

She said in a low, slow drawl, “So this is the baby. Oh my, but IT HAS been a long, long time.”

Mick’s father, Joe, stood smiling his Santa smile. He was a little awkward with me at first. After this week long meeting, Joe sent audio tapes to me. He told me about Mike and Nancy and thought Nancy spent all of her time mad. Mike moved back to the land and he would walk over to Mike’s house from his to record a letter. He sounded a bit more hillbilly than Barbara. I listen to his tapes now with out the heavy judgment I once harbored. No matter what, I can’t hate him.

I understood why Helen fell head overheels for him. I understand why she mourned him all those years. Yes, it was her own self esteem he left with, as well as their little boy. She wanted to believe he was weak – he had no backbone or why would he have been influenced by this woman who was 18 years his senior? Well, god knows, the man had his share of character flaws. But one thing I can say for him that was lacking in Claude, my step-father, was that he expressed deep feelings and he was very kind and generous.

Mike married a sweet girl who was still emotionally immature. Nancy Ann did not feel powerful like Barbara did. She was more like Helen, the first mother. Barbara was tough and acrimonious. She was vicious and wild, like a panther. She possessed an independent, unpredictable spirit. She was wild and Joe was weak willed and easily manipulated. Mick wanted things the way they were suppose to be. Man in charge, woman helpmate. I can see where Barbara and Joe ripped Mick off. They took his money and abused his wife and children. But, I guess Mike never believed he could get away from them. He put all his love for life in the Navy and that let him down, so he had no place to go but a home he knew.

For twenty five years he would talk about his military experiences as the best times in his life. He tried to help men who were medically discharged from the Navy during Vietnam War. I got to be a member of the veterans of Foreign Wars -the VFW because he was my brother. I went to one meeting with Nancy Anne while I was in Florida. There were about 8 women (wives,etc of Vets). They closely followed Roberts Rules of Order…just kept referring to the book – even for the simple decision of whether to serve cookies or cupcakes.

At the time I was an avid feminist, lesbian, anti-war activist. I was a war baby running with the Boomers – leading the way with a lit torch headed for a better future. I wrote a book about child abuse. I told about Claude Maurer. How he molested me and beat Helen’s children. Mike remembered his abuse but refused to blame Joe and Barbara for their’s. They were suave, likeable. Not like Claude and Helen who were difficult for anyone to be around. They were eccentric – off putting.

In 1977 I went on an extended visit with my two children to my brother’s land just a mile from Millers Bridge and twenty miles to the nearest town, Chipley, Florida. No one I spoke with knew who Miller was but there was a bridge over a swampy creek. Uncle Andy’s boys and Aunt Nell’s son use to jump from the bridge to swim in the creek. They weren’t my Uncle and Aunt but my cousins. I called them aunt and uncle like I called Joe, Papa and Barbara, Mama. My daughter, Kamie, refers to her times with Grampa and Grandma and Uncle Mike as the best time of her childhood. And I am not quite sure how I should view that. It was just like paradise, she once told me. I’d like to believe that as I look at her and Reggie riding the pony around the property in a snapshot. The other day I found the certificate she earned from the New Hope Baptist church. She and her brother, Kumar, attended. Aunt Rose, Uncle Andy’s wife, was the Sunday school teacher.

Joe and Barbara married and lived in Washington County, Florida. A relative tracked Joe down and said, “If you want to see your son alive, you’d better go on out to California.” Then there was a custody battle, for the kids, that went on for a long time. Barbara told me that they didn’t fight as hard for me because I was healthy. But really it was because Helen told the court that I came from some other man’s seed, a man who disappeared from Helen’s life shortly after I was born. For an indigent land dweller, Barbara was worldly wise. She wanted Joe and Joe wanted Mick. She wanted them back with her. She hired thugs to play witnesses in the custody trial. One was a “film maker”… that is, he made kiddy porn. Helen was dragged through the mud. She left her children to be with a lover who lived in the projects. Claude spent a good deal of his inheritance defending his character and helping Helen get her kids back. during all the trial stuff Helen got pregnant with Claude the third.

The war ended and her father died. Her Uncle Frank was Micky’s grandfather. In court he denied that Joe Turner was his son and he said Mick had ears like his uncle Joe and that was his grand-kid and not Frank’s. I don’t know why this particular scene took place in court. It is just one of many that was told to me. Mrs.Thompson, Frank’s sister and Helen’s mother, said the marriage should never have happened because they were first cousins. So I belonged ONLY to Helen because there was no man to claim me. No one stepped up and said, “Hey wait a minute – that little round red one is mine.” Well, Claude did say he wanted to adopt me – but – that is probably the payback from all the money he lost on the trial.

The staff at the detention center didn’t know what to do with Micky and me. We cried for each other and they would occasionally let us stay together. But usually we were separated – so that we could get use to it. It was pretty certain how things would turn out. Then one morning Joe got temporary custody of Micky. He took him from the detention center, put him in his car and drove straight to Florida.

In the 1940’s after Mikey disappeared with his father, I promised my mother over and over again that I would never call anyone else mother or mama. The first time I promised her, well, I must have been about three. I remember standing on a chair to unlock a door. It must have been very early morning with everyone asleep. But I was filled with conviction, with a promise of a better world. So off I went toward the sun. I knew I was suppose to follow the sun in order to find my way back. Only by that point I couldn’t quite remember where I was going back to. It must have been another mother, a foster mother, or Barbara, or Grandma, or a neighbor, aunt. I wish I could remember – just to settle it once and for all. I do remember the street with a few cars parked here and there. There were some young colored ladies standing together in the Negro section near the street. And then with out warning my mother was upon me with a furor. She screamed and beat and pulled my hair. She got a stick from near the incinerator and while hitting me told me, “I’m your mother.” I have always been very clear about that – that is until I met the enemy.

I fell in love with a decrepit old woman who had no teeth, chewed snuff and spit in a coffee can. I understand how warring countries can be bitter enemies while they’re young yet find and fall in love with each other. We sat on the bed together. I was overwhelmed with her power. I gave her snuff can and she chewed tobacco and spit. I lit a cigarette and adjusted the fan. I told her I wanted to record what ever she wanted to tell me about her life. One thing that kept coming back as she talked was her fear of panthers.

“Gawd almighty, I weren’t more an four years old when we left the homestead and I can still hear them damn cats. Them panthers a- screaming, just as if it was last night. They go, AAAAAaaaa- Ooooooo.” We had to put clay on the pine timber that made the chimney. You could hear them up there on the top of that house a’squalling – ‘specially in the breeding season which was early spring.”

I lived her life with her. I walked through the timber and took rafts over the swamps. My memory was her memory. I remembered the wild cattle that the Spanish left centuries before. “You know, there was these wild cattle and when ever I’d be out in the woods I’d get treed by these wild cattle. I’d have to walk two or three miles through the woods to get to my aunt’s house. When them cattle dropped calves was when they were ornery. They’d see I was a different species and they’d get so damn protective of their babies. I was treed many a time for fear of being stomped to death or hoofed to death. Lots of people was hurt by them. Lots of people was killed by them. The cattle would be running wild. Most of the time they would move through the woods and not hurt anyone. Sometimes a bull would come in from another herd and the other bulls would gore him to death – tear the guts out -hoof‘em to death. Then for months after, the dead bull’s herd would come back and beller and fight. I watched them many a time from up a tree – sometimes four or five bulls under a tree. The cows from the other herd would smell the blood and come to the dead bull and mourn ‘till every bit of the scent was off, which was a year or more.”

Joseph Edward Turner was Gertrude Helen Maurer’s first cousin. Molly Thompson’s brother Frank was his father. Once when he visited San Francisco we went to Frank’s grave site in Oakland. Joe fell to his knees and wept loudly. My mother berated him -said he had no backbone, he probably didn’t.

When we all went to Brother Logie’s church – to support my mother and listen to her play the tuba, Joe wanted to pray for me, his daughter. Helen sat up with the band and mouthed the words angrily, “She’s not your daughter!” When I ask him if he was really my father, since we resembled one another, he said, “I was there when you were conceived.” A cautionary statement, since Helen threatened him with damnation if he lied. He was in Alameda at the time of my conception. Joe married Helen in December of 1940 and Mick was born June 20, 1941. They packed up Mick and moved to Columbus Ohio, Joe’s birthplace.

I don’t know why he didn’t serve in the military in WWII but that must have added to his being considered weak. He was twenty years old and was responsible for a wife and son. While driving from California to Ohio in an old Ford, they put Mikie on the back dashboard. It was very cold and no heat in the car. He got sick. He never really recovered.

They lived with Nellie, Joe’s mother and his siblings. There was Ducky and Nellie, his sisters and his brother Andy. They were mean to Helen. Mickie got so sick he had to be hospitalized. It was there that Barbara appeared on the scene. She was a nurse at the hospital. She was related to Nellie, Joe’s mother. She and Joe fell in love over little Micky’s I.V. She was able to take Joe on like a panther and her mate. Helen was too needy. She was away from her family for the first time. She was homesick. She had no friends or resources to venture out. Although, she had a brief fling with a Hawaiian. When she found out Joe wanted to leave her, Dorothy, her sister in Alameda, sent her money and she packed up her sick son and left Ohio. She checked Mickie out of the hospital and fled in what must have felt like a biblical exodus.

About a week before Micky – Mick died, I had a rush of memory about a window that has haunted me for years. The window had a black ear (lock). Some people were outside trying to encourage Micky to pull the ear back so the window would open. “His fingers are too little to pull back the lock” Someone said. I remember the anxiety and disappointment when the people left.

Mick use to beat his oldest daughter until she was black and blue. His second daughter drowned in the pond Joe built. He refused to build a fence around it. The third daughter contracted Tuberculous from one of Mike’s veteran friends. Mike allowed the man to hold and kiss his little daughter even though he knew the guy was sick. She had part of a lung removed. Joe, who lived in another house on the land, took over the care of his oldest daughter, Reggie. He use to drug Barbara up and molest his grand-daughter. (?)

When Mick’s son Danny was born he was missing a valve to his heart. He was 12 lbs at birth and 15 lbs at a year old. He is 20 years old and every day through out his childhood he was suppose to die. He was in and out of hospitals hooked up to gory looking machines. He was too weak to attend school. He is unable to read or write. The other day I listened to a tape Mike sent to me in the 1970’s. It was while Kamie was in Florida. Kumar and I had already returned to San Francisco. I was waiting for “I Must Not Rock” to appear in the bookstores. It was the first novel written about child abuse by someone who had experienced it. So should I have known better? I was a feminist, socialist, anarchist. I was living next door to my husband. Our children went back and forth between our apartments lost in my vague understanding of life.

I felt like I was notorious – like Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde. I put my passion for lesbian living before my duty to my children. I was an aberrant. I slept with Barbara. We were sexual while Joe molested my children.

I stayed in Florida most of the summer of 1977. Thanu stayed home. Mike wanted him to come with us but I had heard about black skinned people and how they were treated. One day a group of relatives came over to access Kamie and Kumar. Their comment was, “They’re not so dark, for colored kids”.
Kamie and Reggie had few friends. They were very close to each other and they shared a deep secret. Kumar was not happy with the sex games Joe played with the kids. Kumar wanted to sleep with me, where he was safe, but I sent him back to the big bad wolf – to the room where Joe slept with the kids. While Mike swore up and down that he was not a homo and hated queers, Joe told every one he was impotent and had no interest in sex. I don’t want to minimize my part in Kamie and Kumar’s sexual abuse, but I had been to India where children and adults slept in one room. I didn’t want to believe a nice man like Joe would do harm to a child.

One morning I woke early and gave Barbara her vitamins. She had a little dog that licked our “pussy’s”. Then she put the little dog on her arm and the dog would hump and groan until exhausted. “She needs it just like we do,” she told me. Kumar was at the door crying, “Mommy, I want to call Daddy!” So I brought him inside and we called. He cried and cried, “Daddy I want to come home – please Daddy, please.” I took the phone away and accused him of behaving like a big baby. He was just a little boy who was being molested and I was an awful mother. I was weak, like Joe. I avoided the draft. I drifted with airborne diseases. I didn’t deserve the beautiful children I brought into the world.

We went home together. Kumar was happy to see his father. I left Kamie with the panther and the wolf. So I listened to the tape from Mick. On the tape I hear Mike, Reggie, Kimmy, Danny and Nancy – No Kamie and no Joe. Mike said on the tape that it was night. I called. Joe answered. He said Kamie started her period and he helped put in a tampax. I became awake. I stood up and faced the enemy. “Papa I want you to send Kamie home today. I’ll call you back in a few minutes with the arrangements.” I called Mick. I was firm – firmly awake. Kamie arrived the next day with tags, like a small piece of luggage that had been lost.

I last saw Mick, my big brother was in 1993. I remember feeling judgmental about his not getting exercise. He couldn’t feel his feet. He had difficulty holding anything in his hands. He complained that he couldn’t get “it” up any more. He was outraged by Lorena Bobbitt. She had cut off her husband’s penis. It was the first time I ever openly disagreed with him. I told him I thought the guy deserved it. “And what about all the women who have been mutilated by men – no outrage for them!” Then I felt bad. After all I’m the strong one- the undeserving healthy one. Why couldn’t I just shut up and let him have his opinions? Why didn’t I just agree with him? He called me – a lot. Sometimes nightly. He was very lonely. After awhile I refused to answer the phone. He talked to my answering machine.

When we did talk we talked for hours – or I should say he talked and talked. He rarely talked about how the world around him was crumbling. His son was chronically ill – his daughter Kimmy, beat him, kicked him in the balls. He was not allowed to be alone with children under five after that. I don’t know all the details but that would have changed if Kimmy rescinded her statement – she never did.

I learned most of what I know about Mike from visiting his wife and from what my mother told me. I must have represented an escape to him. The small ear from the past. There is a photograph of my third birthday. I am sitting on a little stove. I look upset. I remember the picture. Micky is trying to touch my toy. He persisted. He told me he was just trying to show me how to open the little doors. This must have been shortly before Joe kidnapped him.

Before Joe died, Mike brought Reggie back home with him and Nancy. She had been living with Joe and Barbara since the night Nancy called them, “You better come get this baby before I kill her,” Nancy had said. A year after Reggie was back living with Mike, Joe came to visit. He felt a heart attack coming on. He looked up at Reggie and said, “Don’t you forget Regina that I love you very much!” Then he died. I guess he wanted her to keep the secret that all of Washington County knew by then, that he was a child molester. By the time Danny was 12 or 13, Mick was pretty much an invalid with a weak heart, lungs, nerve damage, and diabetes. His mother is also diabetic with arthritis and has spent long months in mental institutions. She told me many times over the years that she wanted to leave the land, move into town. One time she ran away and moved in with her sister but Mike found her and brought her back. After Joe died in 1982, Barbara was alone in the house they lived in together. She depended on Joe to give her medicine -mostly narcotics. She became very strange and was finally tied to a wheel chair in a convalescent home after she took a baseball bat to Nancy. She thought Nancy was one of her sisters who wronged her 30 years before. She died a year after Joe. The two girls, Kimmie and Reggie moved away. One married the other didn’t. Both have sons.

Mick approached everything he did with passion and narrow minded purpose. He sold vitamins, he tried to convert all to what ever his religion was. He died a Mormon. His last passion, however was Rush Limbaugh. He taped every program – read his books over and over.
Fortunately for me my protector had an excellent memory. I needed to know what happened when we were taken away from Helen. “Mick, what happened that night? Do you remember?” I asked this as I sat tucked under the covers of my bed and looked out the sky light. I could hear the crickets in the background and his heavy difficult breathing. One night the police came. I only know what my brother told me. However, I had nightmares for years where a man in a trench coat was climbing through the window or bursting through a door. I would wake in terror. I no longer have those dreams. Mick told me, “We were asleep. The door burst open and two men and a woman turned the light on. They were cops. We had harnesses on us and were tied to dirty mattresses. You had a bottle with pee in it. There was urine and feces and bugs all over the room. The men cut the harnesses off of us and took us to a police car. It was night. You wanted the siren so they put it on.

When we got to the other side of the Alameda tube (tunnel) I asked when we were going to go home. The man who was not in uniform said we would never have to go back there. But we wanted to go back to our mommy! We were gone for only an short time and yet we both intensely missed our mommy.

I was ‘the well one’. He was ‘the sick one’. I was strong. I would survive. I would be denied because I was strong. The brother who replaced Mickie was also sick. I faked illness so I could be given special attention. I was beaten for it. I just wanted attention. It is alright to just want attention. Children should be given attention when they want it. I mean it doesn’t cost anything, does it?” Mick continued: “When we got to the station a woman stood us up on the table and cut off our clothes. We were so dirty and full of sores, she cried. Then they took you to another section. I use to stand in the play ground and see you up in the window. Sometimes we could play together. Then you would cry and cry when I left. I remember what happened in that apartment in the projects. Claude used-to beat the hell out of me. Another thing was that Helen used-to put a diaper over your wet diaper.”

I talked with Nancy the other day and she said she was selling the land and couldn’t wait to move into town. Kimmy lives there with her little boy, Jamie. She said Mick had a full military burial with a gun salute and she got the folded flag. She will be getting a widows pension from the Navy.