Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Upon hearing my cousin Howard died
The blog I wrote yesterday was probably in preparation for calling and finding out that my cousin Howard died. He would be 92 this morning and he had worked to the age of 90! Sounds like our Grandfather King who at 87 was working in the fields clearing brush and got burned by a fire he set. Howard also met with an accident while at work that ended his life 9 months later. His wife Ada said that he tried to lift a lounge, fell, and broke his back. Up to then his health had been fantastic so I was shocked to call him and find him sounding so ill and almost out of it. I called when his brother Homer died to find out how he was. He said he was not good. Not long after his kids came home to see him, he was hospitalized as his kidneys failed, and still in pain, he died.
When I was 13 I went to live in his mother's home for two years, so I heard a great deal about Howard and Homer while I was there who were both in the service still fighting in World War II Howard was a major in Europe and Homer was a dentist in the navy. Homer's wife came to visit a month while I was there and Aunt Neta and I had so much fun with her baby boy, my Aunt Neta's first grandchild! Howard's wife, Ada, who was a beautiful girl and at the time a stewardess on an airline service, used to come home from Salt Lake periodically. Ada was the one who told me Howard had died and she was still living in their home at the age of 90! So she was a very hardy soul, too. She sounded just as gracious and charming as she always did, and said that after 9 hectic months nursing Howard until his death, she was enjoying relaxing in their home, and there she was going to stay! She told me their oldest son, David, a lawyer, came and stayed with her the whole time toward the end and helped her take care of business. Another son, Pauli, came from Virginia I think it is with his wife and some of his children, for the funeral. He played the organ for the services. Their third and last child, Julie, an architect, came from France where she lives, but had gone back because she was designing their new home, about to be finished. She also said that she was the president of the relief society in the Mormon community in Paris I think it is where they live.
The photo of the dancers is David, the oldest son also a lawyer, when they were touring the world. This fairy tale romance ended in divorce, breaking David's heart and his bank account according to his mother. She fell in love with another man, but what a dramatic couple they were here!
I was thinking for hours yesterday about this family as I ran into quite a lot of upset there and decided to leave after two years and go down to Salt Lake. Aunt Neta was a home economics teacher, teaching sewing and cooking. She told me I had to make a suit and I balked at that, knowing that would probably be the worst looking suit ever sewed by a rank amateur. I knew she and my sister Margie would be more congenial as Margie didn't turn a hair when told she had to make a suit in Aunt Neta's sewing class if she were to stay there. Two years of sewing were required by my aunt to live in her home, as well as Mormon seminary, church every Sunday and mutual on Tuesday for young people. I was not used to being required to go to church and had always avoided sewing for fear it would somehow interfere with my writing. I figured I did enough work to make up for not sewing, for heaven's sakes, which would hurt me more than it would anyone, because my dad, also a champion of women sewing, said he would buy any material there was if his daughters would just sew their own clothes. So they bought velvet, satin, whatever their hearts desired while I was clad in hand me downs, because he did not want to buy any 'store bought' clothes! I just thought Aunt Neta was too bossy in these particulars and that the students in that high school were not book readers enough to offer me the challenges I needed while planning to attend the University of Utah.
Aunt Neta hardly spoke to me again my whole life when I said I was leaving, even though Margie came and they got along famously. She was just that way. So I was rather upset by how mad she got at my electing to go down to Salt Lake and live with my Wilson relatives. This move however proved to be the right one for me so I was prepared to do without my Aunt's blessing if she was going to withhold it from me.
I did in fact think that my aunt was not far from being mentally ill in some of her attitudes which got worse when she reached old age. I decided to stay with her one night when she was up in her late seventies regardless of the fact we had hardly talked for years. I had to take my youngest son Dan to Salt Lake to see a specialist when he was just a baby and asked her if I could spend the night at her apartment. The next morning she came out and accused me of making a mark on her leather coffee table that had obviously been there for years. I protested I had not even sat there with a drink in hand, but she kept on scolding me for ruining her coffee table! I thought to myself I am never speaking to her again and never did, even though it was obvious she was somewhat demented. Still she had not seemed to have forgotten she held a grudge against me.
As a result we were never close to her boys either as she did not seem to want them to associate with southern Utah relatives as there had been a bitter divorce from her husband, the boys' father. And she did not want them to associate with his relatives either.
My hope is that these sons will recognize the importance of getting back in touch with relatives. This often happens in Mormon families where some of the members of the family leave the church or are not as active as others. Church members then become their families. Since I was the daughter of one of the sons who rebelled against the church, good Mormon relatives stopped associating with our family. He was a drinker, too, which made good Mormons naturally want their sons to avoid such relatives.
I had gone to my aunt's home because of my dad's heavy drinking and the stress it had caused his family, so my aunt was definitely not happy with my dad. But I have never felt that complete abandonment of an alcoholic family member is always the best thing. One of my dad's other brothers who was also an alcoholic committed suicide and this was definitely not what I wanted my dad to do. So my sisters and I tried everything possible to reach him and did not give up, in fact, until he did start to shut his drinking down a great deal. I believe he would also have died had we not made such an effort, so I thought my aunts who would have nothing to do with their drinking brothers took the easy way out.
Even in later years if I ever called my cousin Howard he would immediately preach to me about becoming active in the Mormon church as he had become a Mormon bishop, and I would tell him that I did not think the church handled men like my dad, his uncle, well, and his problems which was alcoholism compounded by a homosexual problem. I told Howard right out that this was the problem I thought was driving my father to sure suicide if he did not get some understanding. I always tried to convey to my dad that homosexuality did not make him evil and he should not commit suicide because of it. Since I wasn't allowed to mention the subject to him, it was hard to get my message across but I believe I succeeded, as I tried to explain to Howard.
My dad did not take my leaving home a year early too badly since I was going to have to go away to school anyway since there was no high school in Boulder, nor did the bus go to Escalante as it did later where my three youngest sisters attended high school.
I was always happy that I could get this subject talked about to Howard since I did not succeed in getting it talked about to hardly anyone else, including my aunts. This is not a subject most Mormons can handle. However since Howard was so aggressive with me I felt I could come back at him. So I was always sorry that I did not get to talk to him more than I did. His wife Ada was very conventional and I thought she would be horrified at such talk.
But you know what, this is why I look forward to heaven, just because there was so much of a difficult nature that was not talked about. I know if my dad's soul is to progress he must have some kind of therapy, something that will convince him that he can talk about what was going on back then, even with the man who molested me. It was a terrible thing not to be able to talk about this because of what my dad had been doing with the molester that I absolutely could not bring up, since he would have gone clear crazy at the very mention of it. He would have acted like some mad dog, snarling and out of his mind. He did act that way if I even got close to the subject, so I had to let it go, but it was always in my craw.
I got so mad at him when after the divorce from my mother he would go around saying she had committed adultery. I thought to myself what in the world were you committing all those years partying with men? So I said to him, "Daddy, you have to be tempted by women to be virtuous for refraining from having affairs with them, you were not even attracted to women, you were one of the coldest men toward women I have ever known!" Well, that was enough to cause him to shut up about my mother committing adultery, because he knew I was about to lay some more observations on him, possibly about him and Bill Isabel the molester.
But this was about as far as I could go. I do believe that my dad had one of the worst hangups I have ever seen about just admitting the truth about what he was doing. So I am naturally hoping that he has gone to a place where he will get some therapy and be able to talk about his life and behavior here. As it was he tried to make like Houdini and try to convince you it never happened. It helped to have Sol in the family for a while who admitted quite freely he was a bisexual and how he came to marry. He did have trouble admitting he was a child molester though! I hope he gets some much needed therapy, too! I am sure he would not get it in this life, people were so prone to let a beautiful singer get away with anything!
I think Howard had a strong mind and needed big issues to challenge him. I am sure he will recover fast and will jump up and be ready to debate the issues. My male King relatives all had very analytical minds. It was the alcohol they drank that impeded their good thinking and their tempers. They were known for debating all the big issues of the day around the dinner table, shouting and disagreeing for all they were worth.
I picture them doing that on the other side and Howard among them, finding his place there after having to avoid them because of their drinking, so he would not fall into their alcoholic ways.
Howard was the first King grandson so was greatly loved by both his Grandmother and Grandfather King who took care of him while his mother went back to college and got a degree to teach school. They must have missed him a lot when his mother decided she would no longer bring him to visit his King relatives so as to keep him away from their bad influence. Her boys did grow up to be good Mormons, bishops both of them, but they completely missed associating with or getting to know any of their cousins, like me and my sisters. She virtually made herself their only relative they could associate with on either side, hers or their dad's due to their bitter divorce.
I had all these relatives I associated with on both my mother's and dad side as much as they would associate, and I thought I was the richer for it. Associating with my King cousins did not cause me to want to drink. I vowed I would never drink. I can talk to alcoholics without wanting to drink.
My aunt wanted boys to get a new family, good Mormons! So they did. I am sure she was convinced this was the only way to save them. But my dad being homosexual stopped me from doing that. And you know what before I left I became suspicious that my aunt was hiding a lesbian relationship with another school teacher. It just blew my mind, because she acted exactly like my dad did when it came to talking about it. She acted like if she never talked about it, nobody would ever suspect. She was a man hater. Her companion lived with us. I even wondered if my aunt had not completely severed her knowledge of her own personality from her mind, so that she had two personalities, the religious upright school teacher and the other. She would go down to Ogden and spend time in her apartment. This woman was not a Mormon, and in fact hated religion. She also smoked cigarettes in a long holder, wore pants suits, and cut her hair like a man's. She also had a deep voice.
And I thought oh, our society forces people to lie about what they do. To be such hypocrites because of their judgment that homosexuality is evil and they don't want their kids taught by lesbians. My aunt could have lost her job had anyone suspected this, even after she had it for years.
So this was another reason I felt I had a special bond to Howard and Homer, that perhaps our parents, a sister and a brother, both had developed a homosexual personality. I thought my Grandfather also hid his homosexuality quite successfully as a rancher who lived most of the year on the ranch with his men while my grandmother maintained another establishment 30 miles away so the kids could go to school in the winter. I also think this predisposed my dad to homosexuality and probably his sister, too, simply because they grew up around it, even though it was denied and hidden by the one parent. My Grandfather and my aunt never became addicted to alcohol but my dad did, compounding his problems.
I, of course, never breathed a word of any of these thoughts and suspicions to Howard or anyone else as this would have been way too much for him, but I figure he will have to face this in the hereafter if his mother is to receive help for what I thought was a deepening mental illness. If he wants his mother to get well he is going to have to get strong enough to face the truth whatever it is, and I think I might have helped him toward that just by insisting on talking to him about my dad.
My poor aunt actually I think just kind of withdrew into herself and both boys moved far away so she rarely saw them again. She would go and stay with each of them a few days, but of course they did not see her often, since they both lived so far away. Her sons were the joys of her life but I am sure she would have willingly removed herself from their lives if she decided she was 'evil' or not good enough for them to associate with either. She never came down to see us either, so she lived a very isolated life, and that is when I thought she started to grow increasingly mentally ill. My dad never got that bad. As we never left him alone for long. I always thought he would grow increasingly more crazy if we did not talk to him often.
I am eager to receive messages from the other world to see if some of this is going to get talked about. For quite a long time I would get the message that my aunt was still very mental dreading when her boys would die and might find out more about her. That she was not going to be able to get better until she met up with them and some of this got talked about. Her other son Homer died not too long before Howard did, so they are both there. I have asked my sister LaRae to keep bringing me messages as to how they are progressing with her as well as my dad's progress.
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