Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Slice of life: My complicated family situation

I have always envied some of my friends, who had mom and dad and siblings. I didn't grow up like that and I was even bullied for it. By classmates and teachers alike.

When my parents were getting married, mom was apparently already pregnant with me. They got married in my grandparents' home, my "mother", whom I only refer to as The Bitch for several reasons, wore my granny's old wedding dress, since she had been pregnant with my dad when they got married. Ironic, much. Anyway, that much I know from the pictures. If I remember correctly, the only family present were my grandparents, my now late uncle and her youngest brother and maybe the youngest sister, I don't remember exactly, it's been a long while since I've seen the photos. Not a single smile. Granny said my uncle had asked why are they getting married, anyone with a half a mind can see it's not gonna last. Granny simply responded, "I know, it won't last, keep quiet."
Even the pregnancy photos in the album, in which The Bitch had written, sounded negative and just... uninterested. I was pointed that out by a third party who has never even seen her.

They lived in Kauhava after marrying, I even recognized the items and furniture we have in my grandparents' place that were my dad's originally. The Bitch had dogs, still does I've heard. Granny was worried that the dogs would jump in my crib, she said they wouldn't. As soon as granny turned away, one of them jumped in and started licking my face, nearly drowning me in slobber while I cried my lungs out. Yeah... And she would sometimes leave me in the house while going out with the dogs. Yup. For hours. I'd be screaming there and she was elsewhere. No wonder, I'm not overly fond of dogs. Friends and relatives have had dogs I got along with (Aku, Jeppe, Hanski, Tessu & Remu), but mostly, noooooooope.

That was something that caught the attention of the neighbors, a family/clan of Romanis. They are notably affectionate of their children since they are the future. The matron, Fanni, asked her once, why she's never out with me and only with the dogs. She never replied to her. They also noted a strange car appearing usually when dad had left for work. Fanni told my granny when they were finally divorcing. Granny was grateful and said it solved a lot of things. Fanni was baffled, said no authority would believe them since they are Romani. Granny said it didn't matter, she herself believed.

Sadly, The Bitch got my custody, as usual for mothers to do. She was never much of a mother. Far cry from one. She called for my dad to pick up his brat, she was tired of lugging me around. I was 7½ months old. Later I heard she had left me in the stroller outside a store in Rantsila, her hometown for a loooong while taking her time to shop with her sister. She then had another daughter with another guy in less than two years. I wouldn't learn of her existence until I was... I don't remember, either side of 10 and learned her name at 16. I'll get back to that later.

Granny and dad got me to Tiistenjoki. Granny said I didn't smile for weeks, wouldn't play, just sat there, surrounded by toys and not touching them. I didn't know that until maybe last year or something. The Bitch had a spectacular level of child neglect abilities. Sheesh. I ended up never calling my dad "dad" because I wasn't really ever corrected. Granny was "mom" to me. Gramps, dad, and uncle I called by their names. The village was baffled but liked to see my granny around with me, since I guess they all knew she loves children, she would have loved to be a nanny, but a doctor once rebutted her saying nobody would hire a diabetic. She would have been perfectly fine to work, but... things in 50-60 was shit. Between this time, The Bitch had visited with a friend, who had interacted with me, but she never did. Granny asked of her family name and such, but she only gave the name of the rural part, so they knew nothing, they had nothing.

I was ridiculed a lot for calling my granny mother. I had nobody else as a mother figure. I was publicly humiliated, that I had to say my parents' names in the microphone as a prep school show. And I had no idea what to say plus all the people were staring at me. At that point, I knew something was off and granny had said my dad was my dad and Raimo was my uncle. It's a lot to take in for a 7yo, but it took me a while and that was the point I realized I had stage fright. That was the first time and probably what traumatized me so much, I can't talk in front of an audience.

I truly began to call her granny, much to her delight, when dad found a fiancée, who let me call her my mom. I liked her, she's a completely different character, since she's from Central Finland and I was raised to be a typical Southern Ostrobothnian girl: Spitfire. I was delighted to have a little sister when I was 9. I was supposed to move in with them at some point when I'd finish elementary. I had no friends when I was 7-11 whom I cared really. They weren't overly pleasant kids to be around.
Backing up a bit, I got my first friend when they took me to our neighbors. Juha was a year younger, but Henna two years younger. They put me to play with Henna, but it took ages before we really got along. I had friends. Juha, Henna and her cousins Janne and Miika. We had a blast, adding in Teppo and Tommi, Henna's little brothers. They didn't care of my family, their families had known us for years. I miss the time spent outside, jumping off trees, riding pedal tractors, making sand cakes... Probably the happiest time for me was playing and messing around in the yard when I wasn't at schools being bullied.

Most of the time I played alone though. I had dolls, horses, cars, nothing fancy. All the doll accessories tended to vanish or break anyway. I had an imaginary world. The school was like a prison. Teachers ridiculed me for calling my granny my mom, but she was the only mom I knew. She was the one when had time, I could curl up with. We had a dairy farm though, so when I wasn't old enough to help out in things like taking the cattle to graze or bring along hay, I was playing under the busy yet watchful eye of my uncle. Dad was at work most of the time I remember. I know I was a bit of a menace and would like to apologize to everybody for it. I never realized my uncle's importance until years after he had died. I don't think I've thanked my grandparents enough. They keep helping me financially when I've struggled to keep up with real life, They've done more parenting than my dad has ever done.

But I miss dad. I remember crying at night when he moved out. I had had fun when he had played badminton with me in the summer. That was the only thing I remember him teaching me. Gramps taught me how to ski, granny taught me how to read before preschool from Aapinen older than my dad. The written words transformed into worlds and those worlds were another sanctuary other than outdoors for me. My imaginary friends came and went since I was probably only befriended out of pity. Wouldn't really be surprised.

Anyway. I was suddenly contacted by my maternal uncle when I was 16. I met his family, half of my 10 cousins, and most importantly, my younger sister, Marika. After I was found, she too contacted me. She had stressed what to write for me, but we did end up texting and calling a lot. They had known of me all along and uncle had found my picture in the village school's page. They had recognized me by my looks too. I always get recognized, those who knew my dad recognize me, if not by my face, then my name. I guess he told everybody he had a daughter. Anyway, I was in the local store, apparently, the same one my sister's granny told she had left me outside of when their family friend talking to my cousin suddenly asked if I was Marika's sister. I was completely caught off guard and didn't know what to say really. When I saw my sister for the first time, well... It was a weird moment. We look alike. A lot. She's the blond one though and I'm a brunette, but I thought I look like my dad a lot and I do, but that was the moment when I realized how much I look like The Bitch too.

We haven't met often afterward, but we message occasionally, heckle each other, I've taken that role as a big sis. Also, nobody messes with my sisters, or they get me in their face. I'm also sort of a little sister. My stepbrother would often like to hang around, but I'm always elsewhere. He's nice and I don't know, maybe we get along because while he was born 83 (I think) and is older than me, I'm a tomboy, have always been, I love hockey (and I've been bullied because of that too, maybe I'll touch that in another blog post) and games.

So yeah, I was raised by my grandparents, later I met another girl who was raised by her granny, been friends for years, I have a dad, stepmom, stepbrother, and two half-sisters. I'm not quite chewing and swallowing that my stepmom has taken in my cousins as my youngest halfsister's cousins, but hey, I don't get along with them anymore, so I don't care. Marika doesn't give a shit and doesn't hang around, so she's just as people-selective as I am. While The Bitch hates children. She had written to -our dads- that she was so sad that she miscarried twin boys so bad she lost the other ovary. They both, individually, had deadpanned, "Not even sorry. She should have had them and learn how to take care of kids". Yeah, she didn't do much of a job with Marika either I heard. Sure, she's seen her around more, but she lives around the same area. When her dad suggested should we call her there, when I was there for the first time, three things happened: A) I knew he hadn't gotten my message to my uncle, she must stay a shotgun range away from me or I do a serious, aggravated assault and maybe premeditated murder, B) Granny told him: "That is a really baaaaaad idea, she hates her guts" and C) I told him flat out I want The Bitch dead and if I see her, I would gladly do it myself.

In Paukun Paja, I got sent to a psychologist for "unfathomable mother hate". Well, I wouldn't have given the woman in charge of the place a good score either, she was just irritating me all the time. The first few were inane yammering of my childhood, no help, the doc was mostly silent and then canceled and I didn't call up for more appointments, it was useless. I had been writing for years and I tend to be brutal towards characters, so... I kinda... use that as a therapy.

Slice of life: My life with the paranormal

My family has some traits that we can sense the supernatural. Most notably me and my granny, but maybe to some extent, my late great-grandmother and perhaps a grand-aunt, not sure of my halfsister. 
My granny has had it for years. Sure, some things, like supposed footsteps from the floor above, can be explained, but our home is an old log building, boards groan and shift with age. Still, some part of me wants to think it's an old relative, coming to check their old home.
My grandmother has lived almost her whole life in the house, from her childhood, until they moved back from southern parts. Her parents have lived there and if I remember correctly, her father built it. He was a war veteran. 
He died in the living room, of either a heart attack or a simple cardiac arrest, I don't remember which. Granny said she died surrounded by her and her mother at least, I don't remember were others of the large brood of children there. They were all adults by that time anyway. 
Elias tended to overwork, he would go chopping wood in the middle of winter and come back with barely any clothing and a wet boot from stepping into "Jordan", a little puddle or a stream or a ditch. That might have contributed to his death. 
Anyway, granny told me, that after he had passed, maybe a day or two later, she and her mother were sitting in the living room, she was probably drinking coffee and her mother, Anna, doing knitting or something. The doors were open outside to let fresh air in. Suddenly, she heard her father's voice telling "I'll be going now. Bye." from outside. She looked at her mom and said "Did that sound like my dad to you? That he only now just left?" She said her mom was pale and just told her to keep her mouth shut. She was visibly shaken.
Next, she told me, was one that I was already around with. It was after her youngest brother died suddenly. She said she heard steps from upstairs bedrooms, my uncle wasn't at home (we 4 slept upstairs, dad downstairs) and I was probably outside, as always as a kid. She said the footsteps sounded exactly like how Martti, her brother walked. Of course, you recognize members of your family by how they walk, I do.
Sometime after he had died, her own mother was ailing and my father was in a moose accident. I never forget that year. 
My dad had a good friend, who always stopped by and played with me a bit (all their friends spent time with me, he was the first of them with offspring, one of them later asked me to let him visit my uncle's old room, which was then mine). Anyway, we were going to leave for Sweden to visit relatives and stayed up late. He called, as usual, I picked up, as usual, and was greeted by his trademark nickname for me. "Whassup, lass? Is your dad there?" I suddenly got this unspeakable feeling of dread. I didn't know why. Dad agreed to be their driver for a bar hop night, as usual. I didn't want him to go. I don't remember, did I tell him to not to go, but it felt like a terrible idea. 
It was a terrible idea. We started to drive towards Turku to leave on a ferry to Stockholm with granny's sister and her husband when we saw ambulances and firetrucks and police driving in the opposite direction at 3am. We were at the harbor, ready to board the ferry, when my uncle called, luckily, the husband of my grand-aunt had the first cell phone of the family, from work (Post office) and told us. The guy who called had died in a moose accident and my dad was unconscious in ICU, the couple in the backseat got merely scratches. That was the only week of my life when I prayed. Never really prayed before, nor after. 
Nothing would have probably changed if I had kept insisting that he shouldn't go. It still haunts me. This month, marked 20 years of the accident and I've felt for years, that even that my dad recovered, he wasn't the same, but severe head trauma changes people. My uncle was partial to the finding of the black Volvo 440 in the dark woods, the radio had turned off at every single bump on the road and he had fixed it, the radio was still blaring in there. They had hit the moose, the car had flipped between a huge boulder and a birch and ended up on its wheel in the forest... the owner had been suffocated under his own car, he had psoriasis and never wore the seatbelt, so he flew through the crushed windshield. His grandfather terrorized us for years, calling us "Son killers." His passing was a relief to half a village though...
It was a shock and I never forget his great-grandfather, a war veteran, excellent singer (in the same care department as my great-granny, the only two elderly still rather sane in there and from the same village), to sing by his casket, nearly choking in his tears. What really drove it home, was when the dad's other friend, who had been in the accident and visited and called still (only one of their friends who kept in touch), called once and I picked up and he used his exact words to greet me. "Whassup, lass?" I realized I'd never hear it again. Not by him. They both always treated our place like second home and they were always welcome.
My great-grandmother, Anna, died soon after. My granny and her youngest sister (whom we had visited in Sweden) were there, taking care of her and keeping vigil. After she had passed, they had called my gramps to pick them up and while they stood outside and waited, they saw doves land on the windowsill of her room. Her sister had said, "Dad and brother came to get her." The doves had stayed by the window for a while, until leaving, flying off.
That has left another lasting impression on me and I've used it as a story element, but I'm sure it is not the only such an even around the world. Maybe spirits of the deceased can possess animals and come to see their loved ones one last time, or come to collect their spirits, going then wherever the spirits go.
A few years later, my uncle died, a few weeks after my half-sister was born. It was sudden, but he himself had said he won't see 30. He was about two weeks short of turning 30.
We were taking care of my sister one time afterwards, granny was giving her a bath, I don't remember where I was, maybe playing with her toys or reading, but she said she suddenly felt a cold breeze sweep into the bathroom (mind you, far away from home, where he died, in Viitasaari) and even my sister let out a shaky sound, she felt the breeze too. Granny just calmly kept washing her on the bathroom floor, in the little tub and said: "Raimo, please go, Noora is afraid of you." She said that afterward, the air got warmer and everything felt fine again. There hasn't been such a draft in that room ever when I've spent time there. 
My uncle never saw her. Only a photo of her. He probably followed us and wanted to see his second niece himself.
I'd love to know, do they still linger in our home? Is that why I'm uneasy because I get that feeling of being watched? I know part of it is my paranoia, caused by a mentally unstable bully, who even stalked me once, before the teacher told him off, or is it just because... I can sense things. I can read Tarot cards nowadays, something I first took as a very weird thing and didn't believe it, but I've heard very accurate predictions with them, but also not so accurate kind. Then I found the deck that feels my own, that changed everything. 
The cards won't give me answers on are they still there, well, I should do a reading in there first, but... I'd love to be in touch with a paranormal group, to see if... if they are still there...

Slice of Life: Adulting sucks

One thing I've noticed ever since growing up. As a kid, you're all 'I'm gonna have so much fun when I'm adult'. Nah,...