Tuesday, May 9, 2006

California Dreamin' - Pt. 4 - Glucose Intolerant, Anyone?

Forty-five long years later, I still can remember not having any remorse for leaving the Virginia, the place in which I was born and spent the first part of my childhood and then my teens and beyond. I know why there was no remorse. Even though I was technically a local, theoretically I wasn’t. I was far removed. My home was in California. This I knew the moment I stepped foot in the soil.

Was it the fact that my mother’s enthusiasm and happiness were contagious? Was it because I finally had a real family again complete with mother and father? Was it…was it…the fact that California was talking to my spirit, just like soul mates do, trying to relay the message that there is a connection?

Although this was my first trip to California and I was only seven, it was as if I belonged. It felt right.

The last entry in my California Dreamin’ blog series had my family and I traveling across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel and about to embark on a seven-day arduous trip across country to Fort Ord, California, where my new step-father was employed. We were to live on base for awhile, until we moved on to Burbank, but I’m getting ahead of my story.

I still haven’t figured out which route we took as I haven’t gotten up with my aunt who might know, but for the story’s sake, we’ll just carry on from here…

My new father, who insisted on my sister and I calling him “Daddy,” was full of surprises. I really owe him a lot for taking me to my new homeland and showing me a piece of myself that I would find out more about many years later. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know what the craving to visit California was all about. Now I know and for that, I thank him.

He was from Rhode Island. I have no idea how my mother and he met, only they did so in Norfolk, Virginia. I guess that’s a love/hate story I’ll never find out about. As my mother has left this earthly plane, I can only rely on the sparse memories that jump in my head as they please.

The only known person on his side of the family that I ever had contact with was his mother, who still resided in Rhode Island. She sent me birthday presents every year, although I hardly knew the woman. She was rotund, but sweet as they came. Anyone to accept someone else’s family and even give presents to them was okay in my book.
Other than that, I don’t recollect any of his family.

We had been on the road only a day or two when we pulled into a restaurant by the side of the road to get some breakfast. Maybe we had been traveling all night and that attributed to my step-father’s sour mood. Or, maybe the reality of a family package deal was already starting getting to him, who knows, but I saw another side of him that I wished not to remember.

I remember ordering sunny side up eggs and bacon. But, Bob – er Daddy – ordered me milk to go along with it. I told him I didn’t like milk. I learned years and years later that I was glucose intolerant. I’m not even sure they heard of the word back in the early sixties; or at least, I hadn’t, and it was obvious my step-father hadn’t either.

The milk sat on the table untouched. I couldn’t even bare to look at it.

“Drink your milk,” Bob said.

I stared at the cup, then to my mother and aunt, praying they would help me out of this.

“Drink your milk!” he demanded.

“Bob,” my aunt said, “she doesn’t like milk. Besides, we’re traveling. Don’t you think it would upset her stomach?”

He wasn’t listening. “She’s skinnier than a rail, Caroline. She needs her milk. Now, Dotti, drink it.”

Tears welled in my eyes. I was super sensitive anyway. Mother was sitting there with her head down, avoiding my glaring, teary eyes. Guess it had to do with something about honoring thy husband or something, but she was of no help. I could tell my aunt wanted to pulverize him for making such a big deal out of this, but she felt it wasn’t in her place to tell him what to do, I guess.

I caught my step-father’s glaring stare out of the corner of my eye and I figured I really needed to at least try to drink the milk. My stomach already started heaving when I picked the glass up and took a wee sip.

And I puked all over the table.

My aunt laughed about it later, saying she was damn glad I did it so that he would realize he was wrong all along.

Of course, he was enraged. I don’t remember too much after that except for crying and belching and having to listen to one of many arguments between my mother and him.

I will say this, though. He never told me to drink another glass of milk again.


  1. I do hope you are writing these down or somehow keeping them in addition to putting them in your blog. They are fascinating even to a non-family member and I am sure your kids will want them in the future.

    I read through your series titled, "Taking A Step On The Other Side." Did you remove one of them? Your Aunt Carmen sounds like a wonderful lady. I hope your Father is just reacting to the surprise of learning about you and, perhaps with advice from Aunt Carmen, will see how important re-connecting with you can be to both you and him. In the meantime meet and enjoy all your new relatives.

  2. I love it whenever you write, "Bob, uh, er, Daddy ..."

    And I, too, know that I must be grateful to my stepdad for having taken us to my beloved Orange County; otherwise, I would have grown up in LA County and not had my precious OC memories. But, then, I'd have other memories and maybe they'd be precious, too. Oh well, there's a wonderful lesson to be learned in "It's a Wonderful Life."

  3. Oh, Kathy, I have that movie and every time I pop it in the VCR at work, the young kids groan so I have yet to watch the whole thing. I'm sure I watched it years ago, but I've forgotten it. You know, it sounds like you're doing a lot of soul searching yourself. How is your daddy book coming along?

  4. Dick, I haven't put them in a file yet. I'm thinking about gathering up all this information, elaborating, getting my facts straight, and maybe putting it in a book. You are so right...this would be an excellent legacy to hand down to my children and hopefully they will get royalties off of it when I'm dead and gone. Maybe it will push my children to do their own soul searching and find out what it means when something calls out to you so strongly that nothing can get in your path of finding out what it's all about. Your past is your history and you need to write down every single important thing that happens so that future generations will have something from you, of you, that they can hold deep in their heart and perhaps there will be something in the book that will trigger something in my kids' minds that will show them how their mother ticks and maybe that's how they tick, too, only they would never have realized if if they hadn't read this book. Yeah, I really think a book is going to come out of this. I need to do this for my children. ;o)

  5. Hi Dorothy! I didn't know which blog to click on in your profile. You're a blogging expert. =D

    You have a great place here and thanks for stopping by!


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