Lipstick in Shades of Sad

I often wonder why I remember some of the stuff I do. Things that don’t really matter, aren’t all that life changing. Random events. But events I remember so very well.

Way back when I was little, we lived in Ohio. My mom worked, and while she worked my dads mom babysat for me. Lucille was married to Eddie.  Eddie was not my dads father, but he was my grampa. Funny how that works isn’t it?  I learned many years later that Denny, my dad, never liked him. I can’t imagine not loving him.

These are things I remember.

Gramma had a percolating coffee pot and when I smell coffee today it takes me back to her kitchen.  The kitchen is where we gathered. People usually sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking. Yes with me right in the room! Can you imagine? I had my own cupboard and it was filled with empty food boxes, old pie tins and glass jars. There to keep me entertained. And it did, there were no toys at Gramma’s house but I was always playing.

Behind her house was this water holder thing. I do not know what this was or what the water was used for but it was a large round metal tin tub, with a lid and there was water in it. I could take a jar and scoop out some water. If I held the jar up I could see little things swimming in it. Sea monkeys? Bug larva probably. I don’t know what they were. I didn’t care, they were fun to look at. I also used that water to make mud pies in the pie tins from the cupboard in the kitchen. Mine were usually decorated with dandelions.

I hope mud pies were the only thing that water was used for-you don’t think that was drinking water do you? Do you?!?

Mitzi was there. She was my dads dog, but after my mom and dad got divorced my dad gave her to Gramma. I think the dog favored Eddie. I wonder if Denny knew that?

My Aunt Nancy lived close enough that we could walk to her house. I went there to play with my four cousins. Sometimes my mom would come too. Some nights the adults would be drinking and as the night got late they’d put all of us kids to bed. We would all go but then we would quietly sneak out of our beds and hover over the heating grate upstairs. They were the grates that you could look through, down to the bottom floor. About 8×12 and black. We were hoping for a glimpse into the glamorous life of being an adult.

My Aunt Nancy made open faced peanut butter sandwiches with sugar on top.

Lucille and Eddie lived on a four lane high way, we would sit on the front porch to watch the army convoys go by. A long line of olive vehicles with their lights on.

Gramma’s sister lived across the street. I think the house was reddish. That’s what I remember, but it’s fuzzy.

Eddie worked at a gas station down the street. The kind with the bell that dings when the cars drive over the rubber tube. Full service. Inside, where you had to go to pay for your gas, was a glass counter filled with candy. That’s what I remember, but it’s fuzzy too. If I was lucky enough to visit grampa at work I would get a piece of candy. One little tiny piece of candy and it was as if I had died and gone to heaven!

I almost always chose Black Jacks. Pink, black and white paper  wrapped around a taffy chunk that was pink, white and gray. I’m pretty sure they were licorice flavored. Sometimes I got Black Jack gum or Clove gum. I wonder if you can still buy black jacks. And would they be the same?

Someone affiliated with the gas station/garage raised quail in the back. I thought they were pets. I think if I had known that they were raised for eating I might be more scarred by this memory.

There are many more things I fondly remember. There were pet geese at one time, we caught catfish that we carried home in a white bowl, catching fireflies, the sound of traffic going by as I went to sleep in the upstairs bedroom with the window open, Days of Our Lives on the TV, baths that left a dirty ring, laughter, a  piano, morning glories that grew on a vine as high as the house.

The last time I visited.

Eddie had me on the front porch, we sat out there often. The metal chairs were painted green, I think at one time there were red ones too. They were very bright colors. As I sat in the chair next to him we talked about all kinds of things which was what we did. Despite the fact that this was many years ago, and despite the fact that I was somewhere around seven, I remember this vividly.

He said “The next time I see you, you will be a young lady. I bet you’ll be wearing lipstick and everything.” I was sad to  leave  him that day. Being old enough to wear lipstick seemed much too far in the future for seven year old me….eons.

Stuff happens in a divorce. My mom remarried. My dad remarried. My stepfather wanted to adopt me. With the adoption came the agreement that child support would not be necessary anymore. Somehow Denny concluded that since the child support tie was cut there was really no reason for me to continue to spend a week or two of my summer with him. Mom had a new husband, he had a new wife and son, new lives, out with the old, in with the new….I know, I don’t get the logic either.

A year or two after my last visit with Eddie, a year or so after the adoption was final, my mom came into my room as I was getting ready for bed. She tucked me in and said she had sad news. Lucille died. I think I cried. But I don’t remember.

As I grew up, I thought of Eddie so many times, wondered if he was still in the same house sitting out on the porch, smoking, watching the army convoys drive by.  I tried finding him  many , many times but had no luck. I looked under his name, my father’s name and my brothers name.When google came around, those were the names I looked for first. Immediately actually.

There is so much more to the story of looking for my long lost family but I am going to make a long story shorter. Just as I was searching for them, they were looking for me too. Forty years of wondering why NO ONE from that family came for me?

Do you think I have issues? Don’t answer that.

I have learned that Aunt Nancy asked my dad if he knew where I was. My brother asked him if he knew where I was. Even Todd’s mother (who was now an ex wife) asked him if he had any idea of where to try and find me. My dad said no, no and no.


But he never told any of them, he lied to all of them. He cheated us all.

I found my brother about two years ago. (Thank you Facebook) And with my brother came the family from that side (the dad came too, that’s a blog for another day). I don’t think I will ever be able to express what it felt like to learn that all these years they they had been thinking of me, just as I was always thinking of them. A joyful, tearful discovery.

When I asked about Eddie I was told that he had died only a year or two before…I was so close.

Oh how I wish he could have seen me in lipstick.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Janie Read
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 15:25:13

    You are an amazing lady. Your past brought back many memories of my own. Why people do what they do we cannot judge only what we do can be judged by us.


  2. Judy Nelson
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 09:46:56

    This brought back many memories to me as well. The metal tub with water is called a cistern and was used tocollect rainwater to be used to water plants. I didn’t realize how badly you wanted to reconnect with these people. I would have helped in any way I could.


    • itsmeterilyn
      Jul 22, 2012 @ 12:17:29

      Phew, so glad we weren’t drinking that! And I know you would have helped Mom, I think hearing them say that they were looking for me has opened my eyes to their side. I thought I was the only one missing them. I never asked for help. You didn’t know.


  3. dianescholten
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 02:23:33

    Poignant post, Teri. Sometimes life is just like that, ya? A bit sad. A bit unresolved. Peace be with you, friend.


  4. Trackback: Throwback Thursday | itsme.
  5. Patty Prowant
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 09:28:10

    The rain water from the cistern was also used to wash dishes. The dishes were washed in one pan & rinsed with water from a teakettle in another pan. I have the pan that they were rinsed in. Lucille always washed her hair with water from the cistern. There was no running water for a long time. I’m not sure when but they “remodeled” and added a bathroom & a “modern kitchen. She continued to use the water from the cistern until they finally closed it or maybe it dried up. Where do cisterns go?
    I wish I had all of the unopened returned letters Elnora wrote to you addressed to the last known address we had. I believe it was your other grandmother’s address in Chicago. If I remember the name was Pilot? (sp)
    With tears in my eyes I think about all of the years we missed with you. I truly believe Denny was young, stupid & very selfish to make the choice he did. At that time he was definitely only thinking of Denny.
    I just hope I will see you again sometime. Until then thank God for Facebook. I enjoy every post you write. I don’t know how I missed this one.


    • itsmeterilyn
      Nov 15, 2013 @ 14:55:02

      I would have loved that. It was such a treat to see all the pictures you posted on Facebook. And yes, Pilot was the right name. We will get together soon, I promise.


  6. Kristen
    Nov 16, 2013 @ 07:11:50

    I have tears streaming down my face. You are such a treasure. An amazing, intelligent, funny, gifted woman. I am incredibly blessed you are my sister and my best friend. Being twelve years apart, who would have thought that could happen as beautifully as it has? To hear your memories, to know what was taken from your heart and know what joy and blessings you could have given those people…it makes me so sad. No one deserves what you have been through. Even more incredible is that you are a functional, level headed, open hearted person despite it all…well…maybe a little dysfunctional (but that is all Mom’s fault…a blog for another day?).



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