I believe that some people can be helped by drugs and others just want to take a pill and be better. They’re not proactive about their health. Others yet, make a career out of being crazy.
That was my mother.
I was 13 the first time she attempted suicide.
She came home from the hospital with two messages:
She told me it was my fault as I was a difficult child and that her mental illness was genetic. That it would happen to me.
This was my legacy.
So began many years of diagnosis and manipulation. This is why I distrust the mental health industry. My mother was a genius at blaming others and not taking responsibility for herself. That’s why the idea of guilt has become to have little meaning to me.
My mother was incapable of auditing her behavior to what was appropriate to share with her children and what was not. This is difficult for a child to understand, particularly a girl navigating pubescence without a mother.
Later on I would come to understand that my grandmother (my mom’s mom) had just simply done everything for her children and not necessarily taught them chores or responsibilities.
My mother married my father at 19, he was 21, against the wishes of both families, I believe. They grew up in the same small town and then my mother followed my father to Vancouver and the University of British Columbia. He studied electrical engineering and she studied home making.
I’m not sure what kind of job a woman is supposed to get with a homemaking degree. I suppose it makes one qualified for running a home. ( It didn’t in my mom’s case, and that’s not just my opinion). I should point out that this homemaker’s degree was a pretty common thing back in the sixties when my Mom was at UBC. I guess a whole generation of women were meant to be trained to be good Stepford wifes and everything would work out just fine.
A bit delusional and also insulting to women if you think about it.
The legend is my father asked my mother to marry him in the rose garden at UBC and he apparently got down on one knee.
I have my own theory about this. I think, confronted by his determined high school sweetheart, he was forced to make an honest woman (hahahaha) of her and this was the 60’s after all and I’m not talking about the summer of love 60’s. No, that wasn’t my parents, as my dad would be the first to admit. He would say, ‘ We weren’t cool.’
Anyhow, the timing of things went like this.
1. Move from small town Kamloops to biggish smoke Vancouver to attend university.
2. Get married and move to the West End of Vancouver (they might have been living together already, but this is the officialish story).
3. Get pregnant with me.
As far as I can gather, this ended their schooling, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps they thought that was just how things were done or they didn’t have the imagination for other options or most likely, as is my opinion, my mom had intended that all along.
I know people were not as converse in birth control as the are now and there mostly wasn’t any available and after all there’s not much point in me unthinking my birth as I wouldn’t be here talking to you, would I?
As it turns out, by the time I was born my parents had quit school and were safely installed in the Burkville suburb of Vancouver, complete with bungalow, white picket fence and a border Collie named Hamish, all by the time they were 25.
That’s what everyone was supposed to want, right?
I should mention that this was all courtesy of my dad’s parents, who had given my mom and dad a substantial cash gift when they got married and it basically paid for the house.
This was fortunate as it was even more impossible to get a mortgage at that time than it is now and student loans were basically nonexistent.
So here they were all set up and ready to go.
My father was working at the time for an engineering company and later set up his own business and my mother stayed at home and looked after me and my brother, who was born 18 months after me and all of this before either one of my parents was even a quarter of a century old.
I am one of those people who have early childhood memories and my first memory took place at my fraternal grandparents place on Paul Lake just outside of Kamloops in my first summer in 1967.
As I was born in June, I couldn’t have been much more than 3 months old. I remember lying in one of those old fashioned baby carriers that would surely be illegal now, and I could see the white plastic edge of the seat and my arms as I was sat at the side of the lake.
My dad was swimming and dived down as he had spotted something at the bottom of the lake. He came up swinging a blonde wig above his head and him and my mother were laughing.
The next thing I remember after that was Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in our little black and white TV we had in our ‘front room’ of our house in Burkville. My dad was very excited about this, so it must have made a big impact and created an indelible mark on my early memory.
The eagle has landed!
‘That’s one small step for man and on giant leap for mankind!’ – Neil Armstrong
That was the summer of 1969. I was two years old.