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Monday, June 27, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 5/5/79, Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter yesterday and had been watching for it. Today is Saturday and Phil had to work but I have a lot to do around here. Need to wash my hair (I'm letting it grow out again. Phil wants me to. He just doesn't like my hair short!) and mop and wax the kitchen, etc. If it'll ever stop raining, and the sun comes out, I'm going to get out on the back porch and get me a suntan. I bought me some halters yesterday and I can wear my short shorts. My bathing suit is in Weatherford (as is everything, except my clothes) so I'm going to get another one. I'll get my stuff, but I'm not going to worry about it right now. It'll still be a while before we can make a trip up there.

I'm glad you all get to go see Nanny. I know how she and Windy enjoy it and you kids haven't gotten to be around her like you should. She's nearly sixty, you know (don't tell her I said that!) and her blood pressure is so high I worry about her, even though she and I are having a little trouble now. I wrote her and told her I was sorry for everything that's happened so maybe it'll be alright in time. I hope so.

Yes, I hope Charlene understands and lets you come. I have the legal right, but I don't want to go into that again, unless I have to. I think Charlene is smart enough to be sensible about it though. And I'm pretty sure your daddy is. By the way, how is he doing anyway? Is he with Granny or what? By the way, we have a radio that has an 8 track tape player in it, so since you're so rich (ha) get one you like and you can play it when you come down. Who all do you babysit with?

Since you don't have a pet, you'll really enjoy Charlie. He loves attention. And he's so sweet natured. Of course I'm spoiling him rotten! So you can help me, when you come. And any kind of store you want is near here, so we can go shopping while Phil's working. I'm going to get me a car one day, but there's no rush. I've got some other things to pay off first.

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. Be sweet, and always remember I love you. Tell Charlene and Pat Hi for me. Phil says Hi.

Love, Mother

P.S. Would you believe this (mauve) is the exact color of our bathtub, etc.? Wild, huh?

Yes, Nanny is disappointed in you and tired of trusting only to be disappointed again and again. You break her heart, only she doesn't express it that way. You can read it in her face, behind her gruff exterior, in the way she looks out the front door of the trailer when she grows uncomfortable talking about you. There are only three years left, three years to make your peace with her. When the time comes, almost too late, she will call for you. You will stand over her bed in a hospital room and her eyes will open for just a moment and you'll hope it isn't just delirium when she smiles.

There are documents in the black doctor's bag I still have of yours where you kept what you considered important - pictures I drew, letters, photos, receipts, several letters from attorneys and custody orders. One order in particular caught my eye, "In The Interest of Teresa Lynn Williams, A Child", and these two sentences, one that said Dad "waived issuance and service of citation by waiver duly filed and did not otherwise appear", and the one that followed saying you "appeared in person and by attorney and announced ready for trial." This document decreed that Pat and Charlene "are hereby appointed Managing Conservators of the child, Teresa Lynn Williams. An earlier order stated: "...the retention of the present custodian would be injurious to the welfare of the child..." They were referring to Dad as "present custodian".

When I first read these documents I was hurt because you gave me away to an aunt and uncle I hardly knew. Now I realize this was a wise choice as Dad's confused state and shock created an unstable environment. Charlene and Pat were well educated, stable, successful. I learned from them, as foreign and lonely as their world felt sometimes, and that knowledge has made all the difference.

At the time of this letter, Dad is drifting between Granny's house, which is our old Crenshaw address, and someone he refers to as "Hog Woman". Her name is Vivian and she lives on a hog farm. Her second and third toes are fused together. She is simple, something you weren't. They will date for about a year and then she will become my stepmother, a marriage that will last eighteen years until one day she up and runs away with a Dominos Pizza delivery boy.

Wild, huh?

1 comment:

  1. There's a part of my mind which is going "but T seems so normal Seems a shallow reaction to all this but really is expression of the light years this is from my experience.
    You've done so well ...