After the court case with mom and and my dad, Robert it was decided that we would move with Tanya’s biological dad Happy. We knew he was a alcoholic but he promised that he had quit drinking. I told him that we would not go live with him if he did not quit drinking and he assured me that he did. This was not the case.
At the beginning the new environment was ok. We had a big old house that did not have running water in it, no plumbing, it was just a shell of a house. It was a good reminder that we were starting over, and it was from scratch. I had my own room and so did the other kids. We would play outside, make our meals, and clean the house while Happy was gone to work.
I did not picture myself going back into the mothering role but here I was, looking after the younger siblings. Happy was always gone to work so all the chores around the house were left for me to do. Had to haul water to the house from the well, do the laundry, cook and clean. I could not believe that I had put myself back in this situation. (Tammy: reading this one sentence, were my sister says “I had put my self in this situation”. This tells me she was still internalizing, and accepting blame, for events she had no control over.)
On this one day I hear Trevor come running in the house screaming “there is a bear outside, there is a bear outside, I ran into its butt”. I did not believe him and that just made him mad. He said “come outside and see” so I proceeded to go outside and did not see anything. We then decided to go upstairs and check out the window that was facing the bush, and sure enough there were 2 cubs up in the tree and the mama wasn’t to far away. Trevor was screaming “see I told you, I ran into its butt”. I just could not stop laughing at him, the stressful situation just got to me, and I did not know what to do about this bear. So I called Happy at work and asked what to do, he said to call conservation officers to get them off the property. While waiting for the conservation officers I locked all the doors and waited for help to arrive. By the time that the officers showed up the bears had ran away through the field.
A storm was brewing outside and told the kids to stay inside. The wind was howling, and just blowing like crazy. This was the same day that the tornado touched down in Edmonton, I will not forget that day or the storm we had out in the country. We were 2 hours away from Edmonton when the storm hit there. The remnants of the storm after the tornado traveled to where we were living. I never saw a storm like this before so I called Happy back and asked what we should do, he called a friend and they came and picked us up and took us to there house. Relief swept over me, I had an adult to look after the younger kids and nothing bad would happen. I remember watching TV at this friends place then the wind picked up even more than it was blowing already, and the power went out. I looked outside and the trees were bent over so much I thought that they would break. After watching the wind blow them trees like that I stayed away from the windows and just sat on the couch waiting for the storm to blow over. Little did I know that this was just part of the storm I would have to go through during my time with Happy.
The green pinto car is what Happy had for a vehicle, and Tanya thought that she could drive it. Well that did not turn out good. There was a cement pad where it was parked, and a slope on the front of the pad. Tanya put it in gear and it rolled forward and got high centered on the cement pad. She was so scared, and of course I did not know what to do. I tried to back it up but there was no way it was moving, it was definitely high centered. Tried to call for help and no one was around to help, so we called his brother Dick. Dick and his wife came out to help us and pulled it with the truck that he was driving, and put it back on the cement pad. I was so thankful, I did not have to be scared that Happy would find out.
I did not notice the drinking at first cause I trusted what was told to me when we were in court that day. Then the lie came out when I saw him drinking vodka like it was water, he did not see me. I knew that this situation was not going to get any better either. I gave it several months to feel out the situation, but it went from bad to worse.
Starting school was the changing point for me trying to look after the kids and trying to do well in school just was not a good mix. School was my sanctuary where I could just be myself and learn what I needed to learn. The problem was the stress of being a mother and a teen. The situation was difficult on the other kids also. This one night I get woken up by Tanya pounding on my chest, she was having a nightmare, she thought that I was dead. I woke up and woke her up and said that I was ok and to quit pounding on my chest. Tanya was crying and I was laughing at the situation and told her to go back to bed, she would not go to her room so she climbed into bed with me. She just did not feel safe unless she slept with me, just proves that I was the mother hen.
I did not want to be a mom anymore I wanted to be a teenager and enjoy my time as a teenager. Then came the time when something happened, I do not remember, and I just could not do it anymore and phoned my social worker, and said that I need to get out. She asked what was going on and told her either she takes us from there or I am going to run away. I was desperate to change the situation. It was about a week later that we were taken from the home and put into Happy’s brothers place to live, the one that helped us get the car from being high centered. His wife was a mother hen and I knew it would be a good place for us, and I could be a teenager.
Being at Dick and Vals was a wonderful time of my life. They actually let me be a teenager. It was refreshing having a surrogate female that was able to be the mother I never had. Val would help me with my hair in the morning as it did take a lot of work. I would spike my hair up and use a lot of hair spray. Sometimes I would just let it be but usually have it done. She would encourage me to be a teen and not worry so much. School was fun again I only had to worry about getting there and doing the work. As any teenager you would slack off and not want to try all the time, and that was me for the first time ever.
Summer came and I decided to go visit my grandpa up in Manning. I just had a feeling that it would be a good idea to spend some time with him. I went on my own to his place, I took the bus to Manning and he was there waiting for me. I think he was surprised to see me, I was excited to see him, was 3 years since I saw him. He took me home to the farm where my uncles from my dad’s side were and I felt so welcome. Hugs were everywhere.
During my stay at my grandpa’s I was smoking a lot of pot with my uncles and aunt that were around the same age as me. This lead me down some roads I should not have taken. If my grandpa knew he would be so mad. We got the crazy idea of going to the reserve that was 3 hours away in a back of a truck. We were stoned out of our minds and did not think of the danger laying in the back of the truck. I survived and we partied some more when we got there, it seemed the party just did not quit. Then it was time to get back to grandpa’s because he was not happy with me being so far away for so long. We did not know how we were going to get back, so this became my first and last time that I hitch hiked. Walking was not bad but sticking out my thumb just seemed wrong, thank goodness I was not by myself. After walking a long time a truck driver had stopped to pick us up. I enjoyed the ride in the big truck so much that I wanted to become a truck driver, that did not happen. We finally made it back to grandpa’s place, spent a few more days with him and was on my way to Peace River to visit my Aunt Irene and Uncle Eugene.
Rodeo was my enjoyment, and the dances that came with it. I went to the fair grounds and was walking around and got asked if I wanted a job. My sister and I were both offered jobs, of course I took it and so did Tanya. I worked like crazy for the weekend and made the money back that I had spent when I was at my grandpas place. During the working hours I would be busy all day then the guys in the evening would be asking if we were going to the dance after work. I was so tired I said that I just needed some rest. I was begged to go to the dance, Tanya really wanted me to go with her, so I did. I was asked to dance a lot during the evening and I was so tired I just wanted to go back to camp and sleep, that was not in the cards for me.
Tanya had taken off with some guy during the dance and I had to find her or my aunt and uncle would be mad at me. The evening turned out to be a disaster, cause I spent more than a hour looking for Tanya. When I did find her she did not want to come with me back to camp, but I made her come back. In the morning I had to be up early to get to my job, for the final day of events. Tanya could not get out of bed to go to work, but I did. By the time that I was finished my shift I was delirious, and in desperate need of sleep. I stayed up as long as it took to get back to the farm then I was out cold for hours. I was so happy that I went to work, I proved to myself that under any conditions I could work and be responsible.
A couple days later I got a phone call from my aunt telling me that my grandpa had died. I broke down saying “he was fine I was just there” it was really difficult for me to accept. I did go to his funeral and saw my dad and his new wife for the first time since I had left and my dad tried to get me to call his wife mom. I just said “she is not my mom, and I will not be calling her such”. My dad was not happy with me, I just could not believe that he had forgotten everything that had happened when I lived with them. Then I saw some other relatives and they were talking about our mom and out of no where I said that she would probably be dead within the next 6 months. They said really, and I just said yes. Who would believe that it was 6 months and 2 weeks when she over dosed on prescription pills. I will discuss her death in a later segment.
Going back to Dick and Val’s with the kids after not having to worry about them for most of the summer was bitter sweet. I had decided that I wanted to move to Edmonton to have more choice over the courses that I took in high school. On the day that I was leaving, the kids just stayed in bed. I gave Trevor my favorite teddy bear, and don’t remember what I gave Tanya. I did cry when I left as I knew they were upset about me leaving. Down deep I knew this was the right thing to do, for them, and myself. I needed to find my way in the world and I knew I couldn’t do it parenting my siblings. Feeling guilty is normal, and did I feel guilty. (Actually, Tyra, feeling guilty about doing the right thing for yourself is not normal, grieving, sadness, that is normal. Tammy)