There was light, yes I really mean light than a CRACK to my ass. Well, OK, maybe I don’t actually remember being born. But I do have memories prior to my third birthday. Which I am told is unusual. However, I won’t discuss those memories just yet. They will be discussed in the ominous sounding Chapter Death and Near Death Experiences. Spoiler alert, I survived them all. I figure if Michael Lindell can discuss them in his biography, I can do the same in mine. Only fare, wouldn’t you say? Alert! I put fluff sentences in my book to get the word count up like I am doing now. So, please cut me some slack, it is my first book after all. Ok I will cut it out, honest.
Where was I? Oh yeah, my early life. Well, let’s get facts the out first. I was born in 1963 in the state of New York. Yep, that is all you get. I don’t want to make it too easy for my enemies out there to find out my true identity. Those lefties are crazy. Haha!
I was the youngest of four children by 11 years. A brother, sister, brother and myself. My siblings say I was a mistake. I say I was an insurance policy against the empty nester syndrome. My parents say I was their love child which, of course, drove my siblings crazy. It is good to be king. Of course, I was the apple of my father’s eye. Even though there were 13 years separating my sister and I, we were inseparable. She took me everywhere she went. When she got out after work from her job she would go out and buy clothes for me. My sister and her friends used to love pinching my cheeks. I had big fat chubby cheeks. I was a big well-formed baby weighing in at 9.4 lbs. I was a product of natural childbirth too, no C-section back then. It was at least not that common. The trend of C-Sections started a few years later. As a result my mother went through hell, so I guess I can’t blame her for distancing herself a little from me. It was nothing neglectful or malicious, it was just the way things were. PDA or public displays of affection were just not that common. But I will discuss that a little later.
Back to my too cool sister who will be forever more known as “Tina”. She is a very private person and so I promised her anonymity, so she gets a false name. My brothers are both deceased now and so are my parents, so I will use their real names Ronnie and Robert. My father was named Roger and my mother was named Rita.
You may ask me how I know about these things, I was after well less than three years old? My sister, it turns out had a friend that loved to take photos. She’ll be called Judy. I am not sure of her fate, so I will protect her privacy anyway. So when I was a little older and more cognizant of my surroundings I was shown my baby albums. Damn, I was good looking. I don’t know what happened later on.
We were a pretty close family. As was the trend back then, however, the children moved out pretty quickly after finishing high school. So Ronnie, being the oldest moved out first. I will discuss later more about my grandfather, but suffice it to say he lived in our separate apartment. His youngest child my Uncle Junior also lived with us for a short while. My father always the planner had built an apartment on top our garage, so their was plenty of room for our extended family. Uncle Herman was 4 years older than Ronnie, so he only lived with us briefly. He went to school for electronics. Ronnie always trying to be like his young Uncle also followed the same path. He also went to a junior college and got married soon after completion of his degree in electronics. Ronnie ended up having two sons and six grandchildren. The oldest son was just four years my junior. But I was a spoiled brat back then and I made him call me “uncle” as soon as he could talk clearly. As you can imagine, many of my nieces and nephews were also close to my age and they all still call me uncle. I think it is pretty cool. It is also a testament to my stubbornness.
I will call Ronnie’s two sons “Tim” and “Tom”. Tim had the four boys and Tom had the two daughters. All I might add were beautiful children. Our family was known for large healthy babies. A little hard on the mothers, though. I was close to Tim, and I used to have sleepovers all the time when he was old enough to be fun. We used to raise hell and I, of course, was the instigator. But it was honest innocent fun and no one got hurt. It mainly meant just playing with our G.I. Joes. They were 12- inch tall action figures quite popular in the late 60s and 70s. They changed the figures to a smaller size in the late 70s which ruined them for me. They always made cool pieces of equipment for them. So they were fun to play with. And who didn’t want be an “G.I. Joe A Real American Hero”.
After Ronnie got married and started a family of his own, it was my sisters turn to run away from home. She married a tall slender young military man. They eventually moved into the deep south where he was stationed. They had a girl and a boy. As you can imagine I was quite broke up when my sister got married and moved away. It was during this time that I suffered another significant loss, that of my father. My father had been sickly for quite some time with a bad heart. He was one of the first recipients of a pacemaker. They were bulky affairs with external wires running into the chest and heart. My father only had his placed to give his heart a rest. The battery back was external. They only kept it on him while he was in the hospital.
After his last major heart attack (the one before his fatal attack),he was a whole month in the cardiac unit. This all occurred in 1968 and 1969. During the last 13 years of my father’s life, he had suffered 7 cardiac events. The last which took his life. So, by the time they placed a pacemaker in him there was little hope. His heart muscle had just suffered too much damage to really be effective. I was only 4 to 5 years old but I remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t know how I understood what was going on but I absorbed it like a sponge. One thing that did come from my father’s heart condition was that both he and my brother Robert took a CPR class. I think the only reason that my father took it was because he had to go so Robert could take the class. He was still under age at the time. I think they were one of the few individuals that took the class in our town. It was not as common as it is now. Remember this fact because it will play a major turning point in my life and will be discussed in a later chapter.
As I previously stated, my early years were carefree and I had the love of my parents and my big sister. Even though my father was sickly we were close. Summers were wonderful in Upper State New York. Even though my father was sickly all of my life, he still had times when he felt good. He had a workshop in our finished cellar. I have to tell you that cellar was awesome. It was all finished off. It, of course, had his workshop, a pool room, a second living room for my older siblings to have their friends over for get-togethers. It also had a bedroom for family members, a full bathroom, laundry room and a second kitchen for canning the fruits of my mother’s back yard garden. The only thing I ever knew my father to fail at was his building that damn fireplace. The flue was simply too long and narrow, so we could never use it. The smoke would not travel up the chimney fully, so most of the smoke stayed in the basement, not too good. But he used to laugh at himself for it. At least, he knew when he made a mistake and was man enough to own up to it. The people that bought our house had to replace the whole chimney to make it work.
When my father worked in his workshop, I would accompany him. I had a homemade work bench made just to my size to do my puttering on as well. He always gave me scrap lumber to pound on, cut up and drill holes in with my hand tools. Unfortunately, I never got to really learn from him. His life ended too soon. He had three other brothers who all worked together to form a small construction company. The oldest brother, Uncle Oliver was the foreman and the other three brothers including my father did all the menial work. They built all sorts of wooden structures throughout Upper State New York from wooden truss bridges, to barns and homes. But once they started raising their families it fell apart. I could go on forever discussing my family. There were so many interesting members in it. Everybody had large families. During the summers , it seems like there was always some family event or picnic to go to. One thing that my father always wanted to do was to travel. He was able to do some but I think that he felt bad that he never got to leave North America. I am sure he would have liked to visit France, our country of origin.
During our summer breaks from school, our families used to get together and go camping at Fish Creek Campsite. We all had our tents, camping trailers and so on. We would roast marshmallows in the fire. And every night, we would get this little cup of ice cream with either chocolate or strawberry and this cool little wooden spoon to eat it with. The chocolate one was warmed up a little so that it melted in the ice cream. Talk about heaven. I also found out that I liked girls during this time. I was always trying to impress them. Especially this little girl that had a crooked arm. I really liked her. I don’t remember her name but I do know that I crashed my bike trying to impress her one summer. I will call her “Amy” to make the storytelling a little easier. My mother never liked Amy. I think that she thought she was not good enough for me. This is the first and only time that bigotry reared its ugly head with her. I think she became a little more mellow when my father died. Maybe she felt that we were knocked down a peg or two. I will never know now, she passed away in 2020. I also remember Amy’s father getting engulfed in flames by a camping fire accident. My father had to put him out. He was running around like a maniac until my father got him to lay him down and had him roll around in the dirt. Lucky, no real damage was done. Because Amy got to stay at the campsite a little longer. I still managed to sneak a little time with her. We just rode our bikes around the campsite, banged up though from my accident. I wonder what happened to Amy. I wonder if they ever rebroke her arm and set it right when she got older? Ah, to be young and smitten with “puppy” love, LOL.
I loved the fall just not the raking of the leaves. Though, I really don’t know how much help I truly was in raking them up. Though my parents always made out like I was really helping. It was mainly up to my brother Robert to do that kind of work.
Winter months always seemed to bring ill health to me, and I always remember ending up laying under a Vicks Tent, all wrapped up like I was camping out in a sleeping bag. Though I was actually in reality, only camping in the living room under a blanket propped up by the back of a straight-backed chair. If I had not been so sick it would have been pretty cool. I remember the last year I got sick, it was also the last year my father was alive. This was my worst year for being sick, My poor little body just could not break this, I guess, Flu bug. I never remember Dr. J. Haber saying what the cause was. He was our family doctor and also Village Health Officer for our town in New York. I remember him being involved with all of our school vaccinations. My father and Dr. Haber were pretty close. My father was a disabled finished carpenter from the American Can Company. In his free time he built all of the cabinets for his doctor’s office. I think that he took care of our family gratis from then on.
So back to my “yearly ailment”. I don’t know how he did it but I must have been at Dr. Haber’s office when he bought it for me. Because when I came home, the biggest Winnie The Pooh I had ever laid my eyes on was waiting for. I think he was bigger than I was at the time. We were inseparable until he simply vanished from my life. This is another story that I will tell you about a little later. I remember laying under that Vicks Tent with “Pooh Bear”, that is what I called him. His belly was so big that he took up half the width of the couch. I had to sleep on my side so we would both have room. Pooh needed to get his Vicks Treatment too. Knowing what I know now about medicine, that action was probably very fortuitous because it most likely helped me with postural drainage and helped clean my lungs out. So my father ended up being my guardian angel even before he died.
Every child seems to have a scary old lady as a neighbor. This lady was a widow and seemed to be at least 150 years old. She was the meanest old lady in the world. She made the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard Of Oz look like a nun. The mere sight of her sent shivers up my spine. Her voice immediately made one stop what they were doing and run for cover. I think she could actually turn children into stone. Her name was Mrs. Adayzack. I am sure that if you were to inspect her house, you would find the skeletons of long lost children. To walk on her property was an immediate death sentence. Any ball kicked or hit in her yard was simply left there. She did not need a fence like in the movie Sandlot. Her powers were too great to need such a mundane barrier. She kept us off her property by shear will and reputation, alone. So, as a result nobody dared go on the “cursed” property. Since she lived forever, she also terrorized my three elder siblings as well. They all had similar stories to tell. However, future events would change my views of this evil old woman in a surprising way.
There are two major events that altered my young life. One was our family road trip to Mexico. The other was the death of my father. While I could regale you with additional stories covering countless more pages of my childhood during this period of my life, I won’t. I will cover my childhood and how it changed after my father’s death in a later chapter. You will definitely see a change. I will now go on to the somber task at hand and discuss the death of my father and his resulting funeral.
The night of April the 15th, 1970 was like any other night, I went to bed at 8 PM. I know what an early bedtime. But apparently, growing children need a lot of sleep, who knew? This night changed my life forever. When I woke up in the morning, one of my aunts was sitting next to me at the edge of my bed, in tears and apparently very upset. My mother was so distraught that she was unable to tell me herself that my father had passed away the night before. He was playing cards with some of our local families and was laughing when he clutched his chest and stopped breathing. Apparently my brother Robert was in the basement at the time, and hearing the commotion upstairs raced up and tried doing CPR on our father. But by that time my father was already dead. He had suffered a massive MI that totally destroyed what little healthy heart tissue he had left. My life changed in the following ways that night. First, I never got to say goodbye to my father while he was alive. He simply vanished from my life. I was also able to sleep through anything prior to that night. Ever since then, my sleep has not been as sound and I now hate playing cards. My mother tried to have me play cards for quite some afterwards with different family members but eventually she gave up. I haven’t played cards since I was in Jr. High School.
There is one more matter that I want to discuss in this chapter, and that is the matter of the funeral of my father. I was simply too terrified to go up to the casket of my father. I just sat as far as possible from him as I could. Both my mother and my oldest brother Ronnie noticed this. This is probably the only time that my eldest brother was actually sensitive to my needs. He showed a great deal of empathy and helped me through a difficult time. With his help, I was finally able to go up to the casket and pay my respects and say goodbye to our father. For this, I will always be grateful.