y k ~ part four

Don’t get me wrong. There were lots of fun things that happened when I was a kid. We traveled alot during the summers. We went back to Minnesota to visit my dad’s parents and stayed for a month at a time. We went to Disneyland two summers in a row and saw lots of cool stuff through-out California. Granted, I don’t remember much of it but we do have pictures and I’m in them so I know it happened.

My dad asked me one time if I remembered going somewhere in South Dakota and I looked at him with what must have been a blank stare because he said “Are you serious? You don’t remember that?” All I could do was shake my head no. I do have one memory. All us kids (there were 4) rode in the back of the pickup with the canopy on it. We got along a little I’m sure. Mostly though, I guess we didn’t. We stopped along the side of the rode one day…from the picture, I’d guess it was in Montana someplace. Anyway, we all got dragged out of the back because we’d apparently been fighting. We all got whipped. At least I think we all got whipped. I can only really remember me but the other kids were there so I’m pretty sure it was them too.

I know we went to JW meetings whenever we were in Minnesota because my grandmother was a Witness. I remember not wanting to go…or maybe I did. But the truth is, meeting lots of people who asked lots of questions about where we came from etc etc, was not a fun time for me. I was mostly scared of people. I didn’t want anyone paying attention to me. Of course, my feelings about that were never taken into consideration though. It was “Stand up straight and be polite!” My grandmother was a scary woman! We tended to listen to her. I did get in more trouble than the other kids though because I wasn’t really her grandchild. It was always very clear that adoption didn’t count to her. That was some unconditional love right there…(insert eye roll here)

When I was 13, my dad learned that the company he worked for was shutting down their operations on a large scale and since he’d only been there for 18 years (to everyone else’s 20+), he was the one getting laid off. I don’t think he’d ever not had a job before. Right before then my parents had made plans to move from the town I’d practically grown up in, away from the school I’d gone to since kindergarten. We were moving 30 miles south back to the town my mom and her siblings had grown up in. To start high school at a completely new school, where we knew no one. Oy. To say I was scared is an understatement. I didn’t have the best attitude about it either. That was nipped in the bud pretty quickly though.

That summer we attended the convention held by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Corvallis, Oregon. It helped considerably because we met alot of people from our soon to be new hometown. By the time we got there, we knew lots of kids and adults too. There was one ‘sister’ who I felt particularly drawn to. Her name was Pat Hart and she was a special soul. She more or less took me under her wing and was a mother figure to me. I loved her dearly. My mother hated her and wouldn’t let me spend time with her outside the Kingdom Hall. (that’s what a JW meeting place is called. see? even now I simply canNOT call it a church) I wasn’t allowed to speak with her on the phone or anything. She had two sons my age and they were part of my friend group. I had the worst crush on the oldest one! That was not allowed either because by this time I was only 14.

I remember one time a boy called me while I was at my aunt’s house. (she was a Witness too) He wanted to talk and my dad had a conniption fit and made me hang up. Then I got a long-assed lecture on the purpose of dating and was told all about my dad and his dating experience and how he didn’t go on one until he was 28 or something like that. He didn’t have much to worry about because this boy had called me after my cousin told him to. Once this young man got a good look at me when we moved to town, he sent me this absolutely appalling note telling me I was too ugly for him and he wouldn’t be talking to me anymore. It didn’t stop the strap across my backside for talking to him though. My mother did that one. All the while telling me it’d be a real shame if she had to call the ‘elders’ to deal with me if I didn’t listen to her and my dad. Witnesses believe the purpose of dating is to find a marriage mate. Since I was only 14 and obviously didn’t need a marriage mate yet, I had alot of nerve getting a boy to call me. He was 16 so what was he thinking?! Never mind that I didn’t ‘get’ anyone to call me or the fact that it was a phone call and nothing more…I was on the road to misconduct and my always correct parents knew all about misconduct didn’t they?

During this time my brother and I were being taken under the wing of several different families in our new congregation. We knew everyone and everyone knew us. It was hard for me because I am such an introvert but it was amazing too because I’d never felt so liked in my life. I thought that no matter what happened, I’d always have friends who loved me as long as I served Jehovah. I spent alot of time out in service. During the summer months I auxilary pioneered (this is where a congregation member signs a paper agreeing to devote a minimum of 60 hours a month to Jehovah’s service), had parts on the convention program and generally spent as much time as I could get away with somewhere other than my house. This did create issues with my parents. 

In May of 1980, Mt. Saint Helens erupted. The town we lived in was located directly below the dam that was affected by our mountain’s explosions. During the months preceding her eruption, we’d had warnings and drills and all kinds of information about what to do and where to go should the mountain decide to stop burping and really explode. Not only were the news folks preoccupied with our mountain, during the weekly meetings at our Kingdom Hall, we were cautioned to be wise and have a plan of escape etc.

While I was preparing to go a meeting one evening, my mother came upstairs to my room and told me she wanted me to stay home that night. Just in case the mountain erupted. She wanted to know where I was. (now that I’m a mom, I totally get it but at the time…) I continued getting dressed and when I went downstairs to brush my teeth my mom asked me where I thought I was going. I told her I wanted to go to the meeting. She said “No.” I said “Geez, if something’s going to happen to me Mom, I’d really rather I was with my friends when it did! Jehovah will protect me!” I stormed up the stairs and slammed my door. I should have known my outburst would not go unpunished.

to be continued


2 responses to this post.

  1. I think your parents overreactid a little bit. There is nothing wrong with talking on the phone with a boy. I have a feeling your dad was a first generation JW. (They seem to be more black and white on things.) So I’m sorry that it happend that way. But you sound like you had a good child hood anyways. Thats all anyone could really ask for. I check back on this blog later.
    see ya


  2. First, it does not sound to me like a good childhood. Second, everyone is awkward at 14. Third, you are the farthest thing from ugly I can imagine. Fourth, I love reading these snapshots and I hope there is something therapeutic for you about writing them. Hugs!


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