Sometimes families and relationships are a matter of smoke and mirrors, illusions that are created by us and by others. I can’t say whether they are deliberate or accidental. But until the illusion is shattered by events, it is possible to go your whole life without realizing what is really there.

The glue holding an extended family together in relative harmony is often a single individual. For mine, it was Mama (my grandmother). She raised me, and until I was in first grade, I did not know that she was not my mother. She was strong, tough as nails, and to some, intimidating. My mother was her daughter, Mickey, whose custody I had been removed from because of abuse when I was two years old. That story was told here

I always thought I was loved. I thought I meant something to my various aunts, uncles, and to a degree my mother.

When Mama died in January 1984, I learned that all my relationships with my family had been illusions. I was the black sheep of the family and I had to face that when she died.

I had left H, and through a series of misadventures landed back in Texas with Mama in November of 1983.

While I was there Mickey kept telling me i owed her a child and made several attempts to snatch Sovay with male relatives to back her up.

Mama had left me everything in her will, even naming me her executrix. While Mama was in the hospital with a massive stroke and not expected to survive (she died a week later) I started getting threats from uncles who I had once believed cared about me and the attorney, with whom Mama had filed her will with, phoned and said he could not represent me because I was a lesbian.

Frightened and with no one to turn to, as my family turned completely against me, I phoned H and he flew out to Fort Worth.

Two days after H arrived, Mike and Mickey arrived on my doorstep. I had locked the door, but Mike broke the knob off and walked on in. They had come for Sovay and a bunch of Mama’s papers. Mickey slammed my bad leg into a table so hard that it crumpled. H was a slender wuss and could not fight to save his life, but he grabbed Sovay and fled out the back while i was attempting to hold them off. A baptist minister hid them for a day and then helped H book a flight to California. Before he could get back to Texas after getting Sovay to safety, they had locked me up in the loony bin.

Bjo Trimble watched over Sovay while H contacted Robert Adams for advice. Adams suggested getting in touch with John Steakley while he made a bunch of phone calls to rally the troops. Then H flew back to Texas.

I was not allowed phone calls while i was locked up in the loony bin. My first clue to what was going on came when the shrink my mother had persuaded to lock me up got nervous, smelling a possible lawsuit, because editors and authors were phoning and faxing and jumping on him. I should have sued. But I was in bad shape from everything that had happened to me and just grateful to go into hiding in California.

I suppose the highlight of the entire thing was when I showed up at the probate hearing on the will with John and his very large friends acting as bodyguards. Mickey was hysterical and kept trying to get close to me, but John refused to let her get anywhere near me. John was my Knight in Shining Armor that day.

Advertisements