My Sister - part 3

By the time I was 15, my sister was serving time in prison. No one took me to see her. I was probably too young and not allowed anyway. No one gave me an address and told me I could write to her. I learned years later that she was in a prison cell that held 20-30 women. They were all in the same room together – and the room was filled with cots. (She drew a picture of it and had sent it to Mom. They were in close contact with each other through letters. I’m sure my mom had visited her as well.) A lot of the women were on Huber Law – if they had a job, they could go to work during the day, and had to come back to the prison at night. My sister had helped several of the women get jobs by sewin

My Sister - part 2

At the age of 9 my family went from 6 members to 3. My Dad, brother, and sister, moved out all within a year. My mom’s mother died of suicide in that same year and she lost her best friend as well as her community of friends – her best friend and my dad moved in together, and their other friends stayed with my dad’s circle. Mom was going through a great amount of grief. I waited for Dad to show he cared about me and communicate with me, but it just wasn’t happening. That was a bit expected. He had proven himself unreliable, inconsistent and even as a child, I knew there was nothing I could do about it. For me, I gained a more loving, stable home. Not only was it more peaceful, but I felt saf

Christmas Time - part 2

Our first Christmas Eve without my Dad, older brother, and sister, was peaceful and magical. I loved the closeness and kindness between Mom, John and me. There was no yelling, no complaining, no fights and no tension. It was the best Christmas so far. The next morning John and I were up early playing with our new toys. When Mom woke up she told us we had to get dressed and ready to go. “Go where?” I asked. “To your Dad’s house. You’re going to go there today to celebrate Christmas with him.” “Do we have to?” I whined. “Why can’t we just stay here?” “Because that’s what we’ve worked out – you need to spend some time with your dad.” My heart sank. Christmas was over. I don’t remember much abou

Christmas time - Just the 3 of us...

Christmas was only a week after my birthday. And this year was the first time we were going to have Christmas with just the three of us. Mom did her best to make it feel like Christmas for us. The first thing we did was go to our favorite tree farm. This was more fun for me this time because I felt like there was more space for me in this family dynamic. It was cold, as was typical in Wisconsin, but we had fun finding the perfect tree. The man at the farm was kind, and cut the tree down for us, and lifted it on top of our blue Volkswagon, that looked a little bit like a mini station wagon. Mom remembered to bring the rope to tie the tree to the car. She cleverly opened the windows and wrappe

A New Addition, and My 9th Birthday

I was sound asleep on a Saturday morning when my brother John came into my room. “Julie!” he said in a loud whisper. “Wake up!!” “What? What’s going on?” I said unable to open my eyes very well. “Wake up!! There’s something in the garage!” “What do you mean?” I was a bit irritated. It sounded like a ploy to get me up so he would have someone to play with. He had been giving me a lot more attention since our two older siblings had moved out. “Just get up, I’ll show you!” “There’s nothing in the garage,” I said rolling over. “Yes there is. I swear! I think it’s a kitten!” My eyes popped open. “A kitten?! Did it get trapped in our garage somehow?” “I don’t know. Come and see!” I jumped out of b

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