It was a summer day. The only way I remember this, is because I was wearing a romper. It was my favorite.. red and white checks with little lady bugs on a big pocket across the front.
I am the eldest of three children. My brother, three years younger than me and my sister, three years younger than him. My sister was born in 1974 and was just a baby when this took place.
My mother never worked outside the home except on the rare occasion that she felt the need to have some pocket money or needed a break from us kids. I don't know if there were other reasons or not, I'm only making assumptions.
My parents struggled quite a bit when we were all little.. much as any other family with young children, I suppose. We never went to bed hungry, we were always clothed and we were never without a home. All the material things that a kid could want, we had.
The one thing we didn't have... was peace of mind. Affection either, for that matter.
On this particular summer day, the window AC was running really loudly in the dining room and my mother was frantically digging through the china hutch. It was directly on the other side of the dining room across from the AC unit.
I remember standing there watching her and staring at her long brown wisps of hair that had fallen out of her bun, floating around as if someone with invisible fingers were playing with them.
She slammed the top drawer shut, and then dumped her purse on the dining room table.. cursing. She started crying, flinging papers all over the table top, and some were falling to the floor. At that point, I wandered into the living room to play with this doll I had. It was a pretty cool doll... it stood as tall as me. When I took it's hands into mine and walked backwards, the doll 'walked' with me. I don't think I had named it, but I loved it just the same.
Next thing I know, my father comes in from working outside and I hear mumbled voices at first. Fighting. Soon, he was yelling at her and said something about some doctor bill. From what I could gather, he was very angry because they were looking for some canceled check or receipt or something along those lines.
My brother wandered in from his bedroom and my dad yelled at him to, "Get the hell out of here!" and he came running into me carrying some rubber toy......
Then, it happened.
My father rushed into the living room and asked my brother and I if we had seen a small box that had checks like this (he held up my mom's checkbook). I said no and my brother just shook his head.
Apparently, this isn't what my father wanted to hear. He charged at us, smacked my brother upside the head, knocking him to the floor, and then lifted me up by one arm and whaled into me like there was no tomorrow. There was my brother, laying on the floor, screaming bloody murder, my mother was screaming at my dad to 'leave them alone' and me, dangling by my wrist being hit repeatedly until he finally dropped me to the floor.
He asked again.
"Have you seen or did you take, a small box with checks in it like this!"
I whisper/cried, "No..." Instead of yanking me up this time he grabbed my doll.. the one I loved SO much, and he swung it around and broke it over my back. Broke it so badly, that the torso split in two, the head popped off and one leg went flying.
I felt like that damn doll looked. I often wondered what he'd done if MY head had popped off instead of that dolls head. I was so scared. I remember sobbing so hard that I couldn't breathe. I wanted to run away and I was laying there.. my back, head, legs, wrist and arms.. burning and stinging like mad. I couldn't figure out why he was so angry... and why my mom didn't DO anything.
Time went by and things are a bit fuzzy for me memory wise, but next thing I knew, my mom walks in and says she found it. My dad proceeds to bend down and give my brother a hug and tell him that he was sorry.
I sat there staring at him. Why was he sorry for hitting my brother, but he wasn't sorry for beating the shit out of me? Do you know what I was told by my mother later when I asked her, "Why did dad say sorry to **** and didn't say sorry to me?"
"You're the oldest. You have to be the example for your brother and sister."
That's the day I realized looking back, that at that moment, I knew I was different than my siblings.. and things for me while living under their roof, would never be peaceful for me.
The year was 1975 and I was six years old.