"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself " Maya Angelou
We arrived in Kenosha with Mel and me in the middle of a disagreement.
We never actually fought, but I could fray her nerves. I know I said I wouldn’t lie, we made that agreement, the obvious, much earlier on in our relationship. But at the same time I would always admit wrong, even if I wasn’t. It’s amazing, but if your friend, spouse, boss accuses you of something and you just admit it right up front it pretty much stymies an argument, whether you did it or not. And the person has no reason to take it further.
So while on the train, Mel had given me my meds for the day. She put them in a tiny manila envelope (have no idea where she got those little 1 x 1.5” ditties). These were to last me the entire day and she was given to asking me if she could see them from time to time to make certain I didn’t take them all at once. This time, when she asked me, I couldn’t find them. This was a game I learned to play well. I said I took them all. Easier that way. Less argument. It wouldn’t have done me any good to say anything else. She was disgusted, I was concerned. I had no idea what I did with them. She was very cool to me as we rounded the tracks into the train station where my sister and mother were waiting.
Mel put it all on a back burner until later, in order to make my homecoming less stressful. Mom and Mary were excited to see us. Actually, this was the second time Mel would come to my family home.
The first time Mel had gone there with me, was welcoming from them but not like this time. I really think this was the first time my mother accepted me as a lesbian.
This was an earth shattering revelation to Kenosha. Ida Schuch’s daughter is a queer and Ida is hosting a Pride vacation for them in her own home actually encouraging this perversion by letting them sleep together in her home. Ahhhh…the sweetness… Nothing makes one so vain as being told he is a sinner
When my mother and Mary first met Mel, they were shocked. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen a lesbian before. I know they never saw one up close and personal, except for a close personal friend, whom we never spoke of before. They wouldn’t have recognized one anyway. When my mother found out I was gay, by my sister-in-law calling her and outing me, my mother said it was impossible because she dressed me up as a child. I did not make that up, that is what she said. So I guess she pretty much gathered that maybe anyone could be a lesbian and all that “butch” stuff was Hollywood myth. And then they met Mel when they made that suspicious trip to Texas two years earlier. After the shock, my mom took me into another room and asked WHY.
“If you absolutely NEED to live this life, why did you choose someone as socially repugnant as her?”
But she would soon learn that she wasn’t the only one that could charm someone past the initial observation. My mother was GREAT at this and Mel was as well. Truly, they were birds of a feather.
Mel looked like Norman, aka Chubsy-ubsy on the Our Gang episodes of the 40's.
Norman aka Chubsy Ubsy from Our Gang. Mel’s Doppelganger
I am not exaggerating in the least. The first time I saw him on an old Our Gang episode, my heart leapt. It was Mel. Absolutely and positively. I kid you not.
It seems as the years went by, Mel and Ida had become quite close by phone. Mel loves the phone and if I had her number, I would post it because she would love to hear from you. She would talk to telemarketers. I had no idea how close Ida and Mel had become and when we arrived in Kenosha, I was taken aback. Actually, uncomfortable. I have no idea what kind of interchange they had, but as everyone knows, my mother despises me and has created some wild stories about me. One was I was a witch. Not a bratty person, but an actual Witch. She said I was a Satanic devil worshipper, she would even make up such trivial ridiculous things like I came to my brother’s funeral in a tutu. Where does one even get an adult tutu?. I am certain if a serial killer was on the loose in K-Town, my mother would call the district attorney and give me up. Mom is constantly correcting my memories; what she is doing is recreating them because, let’s face it, the actual events are quite difficult to admit. So you can imagine how uncomfortable I was with this.
It was a picturesque sunny fall day in Wisconsin. It was cold, the air biting, with the sun beating brightly on the multicolored landscape, the perfect time of year to see the north. The atmosphere and seeing my sister and mother who I love almost irrationally, having them accept me and my lover made my heart full and the altercation regarding my missing meds was all but forgotten until we got in the car.
“Mel, are you OK?” my sister asked as we got into the car. Mel was still in a cast with a broken leg, so Mel just attributed it to pain and Mary seemed to believe this. But Mary kept shooting glances back to us in the rearview mirror.
My mother carried on about anything and everything as her hands dipped and flew across mythical breezes so everyone could see her lavish collection of jewelry. She could’ve cared less what the circumstances were with us.
I sat in the backseat and as I reached into the pocket of the jacket Mel had bought for me for the trip, the envelope of morphine was there. I took the envelope and squeezed it into Mel’s hand. She looked at me, smiled that broad relieved smile as she shook her head and then she kissed me on the cheek. And of course everything stopped in the car.
“Now ladies…and you are both ladies…we aren’t going to have any of that are we?”
“Mom, I kiss you on the cheek, I kiss Mary on the cheek, is that a perversion?”
And we were off…until Mel, who cannot take loud voices put her hands over her ears and said “Ida, I promise, we will respect your wishes.” And that was it. In one sentence she shut everyone up.
During our first excursion to Kenosha, as we drove into the circular driveway with gates at both entrance and exit, pillars with cement statues of lions with the name Schuch carved underneath. Mel gasped; she felt I came from a family that was rich and troubles were few. This of course pleased my mother. The back yard looked like a beautifully manicured public park. Lush green lawn that took both the half of the backyard not covered by the pool and two city lots to the adjacent street. One would not need to walk around the block to get to the front door, just walk through the back yard. It had a charming gazebo my father had built for my mom for her birthday one year.
The house was 3000 square feet, and one story. It was long, narrow with bedrooms on each side of a 3’ corridor. And the inner bedrooms had patios that went out to the pool deck. My favorite area was the “Florida” room much like a New England front porch, but you could sit in it through all season. It had a fireplace and a huge brick barbeque pit where my sister would prepare her “Houston’s Restaurant’s” baked beans, prime ribs and anything you could throw sauce on. It was especially exquisite after a snowfall because the walls were all windows.
The basement had been redone and it had a kitchen, full bathroom, dining room, family room with a full bar where one could live without ever seeing the family. That was where my brother Bob would spend his time when in town. He had the right idea.
Ida had grown up in poverty in Biloxi Mississippi. When she married my dad she was 15 years old and my father had bought her first pair of shoes. It was important to her that she never again be perceived as poor. And this was not lost on Mel, who also grew up not quite but almost as destitute. Mel and Ida got on well and the closer they got, the more gifts Mel received. And as well all know by now, Mel loves GIFTS. And EBay.
This was now our second visit. My mother and sister had sold the huge home and bought a much smaller, but no less luxurious two story home. Mel pined the loss of the other home.
After settling in mom decided we would visit Gurney Mall.
“Dianne, Mel is favoring the wrong foot.” Mom said as my sister and Mel were walking ahead of my mother and I.
What was she alluding to? Was Mel faking it? For God’s sakes she was in a cast?
“What do you mean mom?”
“If she walked differently maybe she would heal better. But then again, maybe if she stopped smoking cigarettes…Dianne why are you with this woman? I know gay woman and they don’t look like that. Have you seen Ellen’s daughter?”
Again… alluding to her best friend’s daughter who was the first and only case my mother knew of. Something no one spoke about. I wondered at that point if my mom had talked to Ellen about me. Now this was always something amazing to me how she could be so wonderful and actually loving to Mel's face and then turn around and tell me how offensive she was.
“Dianne, do you ever talk to her?” She was referring to Ellen’s daughter. I made a mental note to do so. But not in the framework my mother was hopeful for.
But this little discussion parlays to the hypocrisy that is my mom.
After doing a lot of shopping over a couple of days, we had a night at home. Mary who is known for her decadent deserts in Kenosha made a New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey sauce. This was the desert for a lavish meal of chicken, prime rib and ham. My mother and Mary were catering to Mel and I was on the periphery. I didn’t mind. Actually I was elated. I could never have imagined this in a million years.
While Mary was preparing dinner my mother and Mel were having one of their many “little talks”. I decided to sit in on it and there my mother sat telling Mel things I had never known. Stories about her courtship with my dad and the circus surrounding their marriage. And in all of this, the irony was, the place my mother and father first stayed when they were a teenaged married couple in Biloxi, was the owned by an uncles of Mel’s. How improbable weird is that?
Then my mother took out a gold cigarette case with diamonds in it and a matching gold lighter. She said she had this set since my father bought it for her after she gave birth to me. What a brilliant gift is that to a new mother? Of course my mother smoked during her pregnancy with me. She wasn’t a seasoned smoker. Most of her cigarettes burned out before she smoked them. I think she did it for the allure. She smoked Parliaments. Parliament ... like in England where people argue about anything and everything. How apropos is that? But still, who admits they smoked when they are pregnant?
“I have had these for 45 years and I never plan to give them away.” She then slid them across the table under Mel’s hand. “…until now?”
“Well, mom, that should encourage her” I said after a shocked pregnant pause.
What the hell….I am certain the set cost in excess of a thousand dollars. It was gold, I do not know the carat, but the diamonds were a recognizable size. This was not lost on Mary either.
Mary was stirring the whiskey sauce, "OUCH” she had splattered a bit on her, which was worse than boiling oil. She stood there distracted by this scene, with her hand still, no longer doing the pre-requisite stirring; she shook her head and laughed out of the corner of her mouth. Justin, her son who was just 17 at the time (and still alive) had his hands clasped up to his mouth, suddenly turned and ran up the stairs he was laughing so hard. I guess my mom had been having heated talks with Mary and Justin about Mel not working, not recovering from her fractured leg and her disgusting habit of smoking. I went upstairs pretty bewildered. But was beckoned back down.
“Dianna Lynn” (of course, we have middle names for just this reason)”Get back down here, your sister has been cooking all day. Get your rear end back down here.”
So I did, and Justin was in his room pointing at me like a bratty brother “Thank god you’re here, at least I can get a break.”
I huffed past him and went into the kitchen. My sister slid an already cut piece of the bread pudding in front of me and before I could stop her, she poured whiskey sauce on it from a small shot glass. Why in the shot glass rather than the gravy Tourette is beyond me. I didn’t want it, but all three of them, Mary, my mother and Mel insisted.
“You haven’t eaten and you cannot take your medicine on an empty stomach.”
Mary gave me an aside look as she was on the same medicine as I and knew that was the best way to take it. I took one bite and then engaged in conversation, while Mel and my mother insisted I continue eating. Everyone did this with Mary’s deserts. My mother was proud of her for these feats and Mel just loved bread pudding with whiskey sauce. I on the other hand, did not particularly like it. But they insisted and I did not want to offend. Or hear them gripe any more After a little while, maybe ten minutes, I didn’t feel well. I had been having fits of vomiting a lot lately. I turned and made my way up the stairs to our bedroom. I got only half way up, that is all I can remember. From that moment my life had moved incredibly slow.
And suddenly I woke up in St. Catherine’s hospital.
Eight Hours Later….More...
Beginning of Book
Yes, this is absolutely positively true. If you lived this wouldn't you write about it? Some of the names of characters in this blog are fictitious. This is an account of actual events. Some of the events have been compiled together for the flow of the story. Even when I read my own work, I wonder how it could be so. But if you study your own life and compartmentalize it into less than 200 pages, you would be surprised how interesting it really is!
TRUTH HAS WITNESSES (Dianne Lindsey) This material is the copyright Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author. All rights reserved ©