The other day I wrote a posting about my mother (Inge’s Folly) which I did it to honor my mother (and father) and to talk about some of their struggles. I meant the posting to be respectful and I did not intend to demean my parents. For crying out loud, they are dead now anyway, nothing physical exists…what is left of them is only our memories (and I don’t believe in God or heaven or any kind of afterlife so when I say gone I mean GONE). Not everyone was happy about the memories I shared. A cousin from Germany who only knows my parents through very infrequent visits decided my story was an insult to them and their memories; that I was speaking ill of the dead.
The subtitle of my blog and the title of this posting is “Life through the Eyes of Regret” because my plan was to write about things I have done or things that have happened that could have and should have gone differently, or things I simply think should be different. So my cousin helped awaken all sorts of regret with her comments about my posting not because I wrote anything that was untrue or mean or hurtful, not because I meant to insult the dead… If I wanted to make my parent looks bad there were far worse things I could have brought up in regards their actions and my childhood, things that would have made them really look bad but again my intent was to write about how (and I indicated it at the end of the posting) I wish things could have been different. My parents were good parents. They did somethings wrong and somethings right. They were human living in a poor economy and struggling to make ends meet while raising for boys. I don’t blame them for anything, what I wrote were simply facts and when I am dead maybe my nieces or nephews or great nieces or great nephews or even beyond that will appreciate knowing and hearing about their family. I’m sorry if the truth hurts my German family but they are just going to have to get over it.
The regret my cousin’s words helped to refresh in my memory were caused by the treatment and perception of my family by the German side or her side of my family. I wish that I could go back and change things but that can’t happen, my parents were what they were and I am what I am. If writing about my family is reason for persecution by family members who would rather my parents fade into non-existence than I guess I will have to face the punishment. My cousin thinks I’m lowest kind of scum now for saying what I did about my mother and father and I thought, well maybe I was too hard but when I went back and reread the posting I don’t see anywhere in the entire posting where I dogged my parents… I spoke about things that happened to them or things they did… but again my whole point was to portray their difficult lives not to insult their memory. Truth be told how many people are really going to read that posting or really even care. My family is making a much bigger deal of this than need be.
So the regret I am recalling thanks to the berating I received via a posted response is in my family and its internal structure. There were the Germans and then the Americans. I loved the Germans and always wish that I could have been more German than I am however that didn’t happen because I was taken from that country when I was so young but growing up the perception was the Germans were always better than we Americans (myself, my father, and my younger brother) we were mere mortals (The Amis) . The next level was my mother and her two older sons (diese sind semi-Amerikaner) or the “Demi-Gods”… and then at the top of the pinnacle, the gods on Mount Olympus, those who were and are perfect and can do no wrong… the Germans. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but this is the way my mother always made things seem and was always the ranking in my family. Even lower than we Amis were my father’s American family, those he left behind in Ohio. According to my mother they were rich snobs and weren’t worth our ever getting to know. Then there were other Demi-Gods… my cousins that were equally American/German as I but had lived a large part of their childhood in Germany… spoke the language, knew the culture and had once resided with the Gods. The demi-Gods were those that we mortals (we Amis) aspired to be.
Growing up a common phrase in my house was “Home in Germany” or “Home to Germany”… America was never truly home, it was just the place we lived. Germany was the real home and it always felt like someday we would be going back. (I guess now when I think of it “Home in Germany” was the equivalent to my Sister-In-Law when she would refer to Vietnam as “My Country” (See “It Dog“)) I don’t remember much about Germany but I remember everything was “PERFECT” there. When we would visit from the slums of Italy (the military base my father was stationed) we went from drab military housing to the brightly floral decorated home of my aunt and uncle (my memory may not be 100% but this is the way I still picture it to this day). A sparkling clean kitchen that always contained freshly baked homemade cakes. Cheesecake, Apfelkuchen, and Brötchen. It was the ideal home and a way of living that was foreign to my family’s way of life.
I remember going home after one of these visits and we drove over a mountain (the Alps I would assume? I just remember being terrified as I looked over the edge of the road, there was no barrier and only enough room for one vehicle). Back to that dirty place in Italy, the military housing where I recall Italian children would jump into our dumpsters to find what goodies we Americans might have thrown out. I don’t know how accurate my memory of Italy is but I just remember drabness of our area, there was little to grass and vendor horse poop all over the streets. There was a swimming pool at the end of the road and I remember once we children found a dead dog behind the pool building. Italy was the place I lived when I cherished my black baby doll (Am I Gay) that was abducted and murdered. (I found her head in a gutter). It just seems that I want to remember Italy as being dirty…or at least this portion of Italy. Contrast this to when my father was stationed in Stuttgart Germany. The housing sitting on plush green lawns with well manicured bushes. I remember it being very clean and peaceful. Again Germany was perfect.
When my family moved to America the first place we moved to was a community house we shared with another family who were waiting to be given permanent housing. Although everything was green here too (I still live in the same area), I remember hating that community house. There was one TV and we had to share it with the other family and since they were there first they took control of it, we had to watch what they wanted to watch. There was no real kitchen (that I remember) and we would go to the PX cafeteria for our family meals, but I believe the military footed that bill as part of our moving expenses. Finally we were given housing… Hawthorne Drive… 6533 Apartment A to be exact. We had our own phone and I still remember the number some 40 years later. America was “okay” but it was no Germany. My mother would speak fondly of Germany for many years (never as bad as my sister-in-law was when she would reference Vietnam but pretty close) so my recollection of Germany was that it was a wonderful place to live (again I might be somewhat skewed in my thinking by the propaganda my mother would espouse).
My older brothers were more German than my father’s sons (me and my younger brother), they spoke the language fluently and in fact were still German citizens. My oldest brother was an adult and pretty much started working (maybe went to college… I just don’t know anymore) as soon as we arrived in America but the next oldest was still in High School. He was handsome and physically well built with had long blonde hair… The epitome of the Aryan race. In school he achieved athletic greatness and in fact when I was in the same high school some 10 years later one of his trophies was still in the display cabinet. His schoolmates referred to him as THOR, the Norse God (See: Did Thor kill Jord?) he was the ultimate in male beauty and therefore he was far superior to me and my younger brother that with my parents mix while not ugly are not super attractive either. Thor was idolized by not only my mother but all my German relatives, he was Hercules! More God then mortal and he could do no wrong. I idolized him too, I loved him so much and was so proud that he was my brother.
Every so often the Gods would visit from Germany and our house went on full alert. The home was always filthy. Dirty laundry and dishes all over the place, food droppings on the kitchen counter. 10 year old magazines piled up, broken furniture, and toys stored in the spare rooms (because one day they would be useful again) even our laundry room was will filled with rusty old paint cans, planters and spray cans among other things… interspersed among piles of dirty stinky laundry that our dogs usually found as an ideal place to sleep. So when someone from Germany would be coming the entire household would begin cleaning, scrubbing and making the house worthy of this royal visit. I loved the Germans, my cousins, my aunts, etc. I even loved the pseudo-Germans (the Demi-Gods) that would later become citizens of the state of Georgia where they would live their father in the military as well the were stationed in Fort Gordon near Augusta. They were held in greater adoration by the real German’s that knew them so much better than us because they had been privileged enough to live in Germany for a large part of their youth where as I came to America when I was 7ish they came to this country in their teens.
Now the hierarchy in my family’s house was my mother as the Alpha, she was in charge, followed by my father. Next came Thor followed by my eldest brother and next would be my younger brother who was adored as the baby in the family and then there was Jan Brady, me. I never really realized that I was at the bottom of the rung, not the way Jan Brady realized when she became jealous of “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”, I just knew that my younger brother got preferred treatment. My older brothers would take him places (I remember a bull roast in particular I wasn’t even asked to attend but afterwards my younger brother came home with his tales of bonding with the elders). They would take him fishing, or skinny-dipping, shopping, sporting events, they took him everywhere. I envied my younger brother’s relationship with my older brothers but again never really realized that I was the lowest in order of ranking… not until I reflected back on it as an adult, I just knew this to be the way things were, this was the natural order.
Looking back now I wouldn’t have it any other way in regards to my relationship with the elders. I no longer speak to Thor, a long story involving my mother’s death which I will address at some point in a later posting, however the German Gods and the Demi-Gods still worship him, in their eyes he can do no wrong despite having done (what I believe) are some things that were very wrong and even harmful; his German blood coursing through his veins exempts him from any evil-doings. My younger brother and I have always been on the outside looking in when it came to my family’s dynamic and myself more so because I carried the additional stigma of being the “black sheep” of the brood. Recently I found out that Thor was relaying a different portrayal when recollecting my mother’s death and her estate bemoaning the fact (despite having gotten more money from the estate than any of we other siblings) he felt he was cheated out of his “fair share”. I believe in his mind his fair share was “all of it” but that’s his perception based on this overly inflated ego and dementia brought on from years of drinking and drugging. Unfortunately the Germans and the Demi-Gods continue to fuel his ego at the expense of the Americans (myself and my brother). Prior to my mother dying she gave me a clock (despite what the German Gods and Demi-Gods think my mother loved me and I loved her) and she confided in me that Thor was extremely angry that she had given me the clock. His exact words (as she relayed them to me) were that the clock should have “remained in the family”. WHAT! Suddenly I’m not even family, the man that enjoyed an inheritance that was created on the back of my father, my father who had raised him, fed him, house him, but was no blood relation, and he is excluding me as family…the Aryan that was pure German blood despite having been a bastard gifted by a man that mother barely remembered is suddenly more family than I because I have less German blood than he…
My regrets here??? I regret having idolized Thor for such a large part of my life. I regret the times I shared with him and I regret ever calling him my brother. He is my mother’s son that was lucky enough to be raised by my father and now he is nothing since both these people are dead. Inge’s Folly and my cousins response did so much more than allow me to share the rough parts of my mother’s life, it helped reawaken my disdain for Thor, it also helped bring to light my brothers continued greed and arrogance as my family from afar tells me he continues after all these years to belittle we Americans as he cries that he deserved a larger inheritance and it also allowed me to know that I will never be truly equal to the Germans as they have their opinions of me and my younger brother and those opinions can never be changed. But its okay… I know the truth about all that my brother’s lies, twists, and tangles. He knows the truth as well… and while I don’t have to worry about a God since I have no proof one exists, he will have to die knowing what he and I both know he did and hopefully live every day with the fear and anxiety of how his God will punish him.
- Inge’s Folly (reasonableregret.wordpress.com)
- I regret. (itsr7.wordpress.com)
- My Regrets (jciwinfante.wordpress.com)