The Epiphany

I called my sister from work today. We casually discussed the weekend. At the end of the call a told her about an epiphany I had last night.

My mother has a history of both fighting with me and favoring me. She tries to buy me things frequently and is concerned about my every move. It is occasionally at an obsessive level.

My sister lives on the family farm. She has never left home. Studied what my mother told her to study. Does exactly what my mother tells her to. She is 45 years old.

When my sister and I previously discussed our mothers obsession with my safety we both found it odd. She noted that I have lived on my own for years and she has never left. If anything our mother should worry about how my sister copes in the world. My sister commented, “That shows how I rank with her”, meaning our mom. I assured her this was not by my choice.

Two weeks ago my mother told the glorious story of the day she escaped my father. It was an abusive situation. She explained the extensive planning involved. My grandparents waited in an RV campground for an entire month. My mother took my sister to the store with her that day because my father never let her take both kids away from home at once. She took my sister to the campground and told my grandparents to flee for Canada.

My mother returned home to sneak out with her luggage and myself. I was about one year old and unable to sneak out on my own. That skill was developed years later as a teenager. The neighbor told my father that he had seen luggage being thrown out of the window. She had been caught.

She decided to act normal and take a bath. This seems like an odd choice in a moment of fear. She heard the cupboard open containing his shotgun, threw on a bathrobe without buttons, and fled barefoot down the road. I was left behind.

My father shot at her as she ran to the woods. He missed my mother but managed to shoot several houses. At this point the neighbors called the police. They were not concerned so much with domestic violence in 1976, but property damage was not acceptable.

The police found my mother and returned home. The door was locked and they refused to enter without a warrant. In true superhero hindsight my mother claims to have kicked the door open with her bare feet and declared “Welcome to my home!” My father pretended to be confused about the police presence.

After gaining assurance that the police would keep an eye on my father my mother managed to get dressed and collect a few belongings and myself. She then claims the have asked him for permission to leave. He replied, “Get the f@$% out!” Her response to this was “I love you too honey!”

This is the point where my epiphany kicks in. My sister was 8 years old and able to run. My father had been known to threaten the death of us all. In the escape planning process the 8 year old who had been forced to run a mile daily before school was evacuated. When a shotgun was put into play my mother ran for her life and left me in the house. I was one year old. Clearly I did not have the leg muscles, or common sense to run from a shotgun.

Now we come full circle. My sister asked me where she ranks with my mother. She ranks above both my mothers self preservation and a baby left behind with her drunken homicidal father.

I told my sister about this epiphany today. She thought it was hilarious. This evening my mother called to say she had made several unsolicited purchases for me at Costco again. As usual my sister was silently in the background. All phone calls from that house are made by forced communal speakerphone. Anyone present is required to gather around the speaker and listen to my mother shout at an uncomfortable level. My mom and I say goodbye, thank you and I love you. My sister says nothing until its time to hang up. She said “Hey did you tell mom about your epiphany?” This conversation was intended for my sister and I. Clearly my mother will not find my reflection as an abandoned infant in peril hilarious. I say no and that I need to go. My sister says that is ok she will tell my mom herself.

I got off the phone thinking my sister was being clueless by bringing this up. After considering this I have decided she got in her own shot at my mother.

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Patricia Thackham Roberts

Patricia Roberts

Trish grew up in Finley and now lives in Spokane. She works in corporate America but teaches painting classes on the side. In her free time she writes quirky stories about her life, bikes great distances and takes road trips to odd little towns. She is fascinated with post-apocalyptic fiction and attributes this to growing up in the Tri-Cities.

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  • Sara Quinn

    Wow, that’s intense! I’m just glad that you all got away.

  • Jergrif73

    I don’t know where to begin. My ears are flush with blood from reading this it is so real. I find myself reflecting back on when my own mom escaped my dad… No guns. We were too poor to own any. Or was it because weed took priority? In any event, this resonates with me on so many levels. Thanks for sharing!