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The Fire and the Move

My mother met my father in New Mexico shortly after he was released from prison is the story that I was told. My mother had six children when they met - one she had given to a cousin, and the other five lived with her, my uncle, and grandfather.

I was born in New Mexico and lived there until I was a year old. We relocated to Tucson after three of my half siblings died in a fire at my grandfathers home while my mother was out for the evening. I was with my father when the fire took place. My Uncle and several firefighters fought hard to save everyone that night. My mother made the front page of the paper as the mother that showed no emotion when hearing the news of the death of her children. I still have that tattered yellow paper today.

My father, mother, myself, and my two half sisters started our new life in a barrio in Tucson. Our family stood out because we were the only inter-racial family, and my father was very flamboyant. He always drove a new Cadillac and adorned himself with diamonds and gold. He wore crisp white dress shirts and carefully tailored suits. He liked being noticed and flashing his success was part of it, but he always made sure to give back. I loved how he would bring in men off the railroad tracks behind us to feed and clothe them. I also loved going shopping with him for clothes, toys, and shoes for the neighborhood children. We would pull into our driveway and he would pop the trunk open and wave the neighborhood kids over so he could hand out his purchases. He also made sure that Mrs.Whitehead ( the neighborhood widow) had hot meals. He was my hero at that point in my life. He introduced me to philanthropy, music, danced me around the living room floor, and took me to work with him everyday before I was school age. I loved him back then, but I turned six and my life changed.
Home Not So Sweet Home

I woke up one morning jumped on his lap to be pushed off and told that I was too old. I was a young child that couldn't process why he didn't love me anymore. I didn't understand what had happened - no more hugs, no kiss on the cheek, or an I love you happened after that day. I now know that in a sick way he was protecting me from himself. He had begun molesting my half sisters at age 7 and 9, and I was getting close to that age.  

Life became lonely for me. I had a baby brother too young to enjoy, a mother that slept most of her day away, and my half sisters that didn't really like me back then, so I wasn't on their priority list when they got home from school. Today I get how my sisters felt - while my father showered me with material items, they were living a nightmare. I wouldn't of liked me either.

I spent most days with my dog sitting on the curb looking up at the sky praying child like prayers to a God I knew nothing about. I asked over and over again for my father to disappear and for a new family.

I had this crazy thought that I didn't even belong to them. In fact, I was sure that I had been stolen and that's why we fled from New Mexico. I'd ask my mother and father for baby pictures and all they could produce were two crinkled pictures taken at a bus station with me in the arms of another woman. I asked on a lot of different days and different ages who that woman was, and the answer was always the same - just some woman that wanted to hold you. That answer never settled well with me. It didn't make sense to me as a child and still doesn't today, but my upbringing was based on secrets and lies, so I learned when I couldn't uncover the truth, I just had to let it go.

Peace, love & hugs!


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