A Personal History With Dignityby Author / Trevor Hopeworth
By Trevor Hopeworth
Copyright © 2017 by Trevor Hopeworth
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The image on the cover is courtesy of Pixabay.
Table of Contents
Beginning of the story
Midpoint of the story
More by Trevor Hopeworth
A Personal History
The Diary of Miranda Elizabeth April Faith Saunders
“Keep your chin up, and you'll always see the rainbows.” - Dear old Mom
“When they say you can't, that's throwing down the gauntlet – you always say “Oh yeah?” and show 'em they're wrong about you.” - Dear old Dad
July 17th, 2016 (First entry)
It seems odd to start keeping a diary at the age of fifty-one, but with all this time on my hands now, and with posterity looking over its shoulder at me, it's better late than never. I want my daughters and grandchildren, and someday, my great-grandchildren to read this most venerable document (lol!)
My Life to this Point
My first memories are of playing with my mother in our two-bedroom apartment, located in a six-plex across from the ball field. I was an only child, and had Mom to myself until she had to return to work when I entered full-day kindergarten. She told me she had to work, so the family could buy a home and so I wouldn't be growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. Dad was a sanitation worker for the city in those days, before he got a job in construction, and Mom went to work as a cashier at the supermarket.
My parents started early with me in developing my talents, so hopefully I would earn a good living and not have to scrape by all the time like them, creditors in tow, every penny spent with regret. Mom bought a microphone and speaker for me for my seventh birthday, and coached me on how to sing properly. I don't think she had any training, but she could sing alright, and played the records for me so I could emulate the way the songs were sung. I was a pretty child, but too stocky for the beauty pageants, so singing was the way for me. My favourite song to sing was “I am Woman” in Helen Reddy's style – Mom and Dad looked so proud whenever I sang, “I am strong / I am invincible / I am woman!”
I had lots of friends from school in those days, but I didn't spend much time playing with them. For me it was chores, homework, and singing. My parents were certain that hard work and good planning would propel me to a better life in this land of opportunity, and they were right to believe that. I entered singing contests and talent pageants until I was in high school, winning a couple of them, but then my math teacher told my Mom during a parent-teacher interview that I was gifted and should be in an accelerated program.
Mom and Dad were thrilled, and had my I.Q. tested – it was 140 – a genius I.Q.! Immediately I stopped the singing and the contests, and cracked the books twice as hard as I had before. Mom decided I should focus on the sciences, and persuaded me to plan to go to university for biology; it would then be up to me to become a scientist or a doctor.
I didn't always feel well in high school, and I'll admit that I was only average in popularity, and I was lunchtime friends with just a few kids. It wasn't a time for socializing in my life (that could come later,) but I remembered to keep my chin up and wait for the rainbows to appear – and soon enough in my life, unexpected blessings came along. I think one of my middle names is Faith to remind me of that trait's value (I'm not actually sure where Mom and Dad got all my names from – I never thought to ask when they were alive.)
I met Derrick in university, and he became my husband a few years later. Oh, we had fun in first year (too much fun – my grades were so-so,) and became engaged. I dropped out of biology and he continued on in biochemical engineering, but dropped out after second year. We were both drugstore clerks for competing chains (can you imagine – I was so naive that I kept it a secret at work that I was living with an employee of my company's main competitor – I thought I might get fired!) We always planned to return to university with more seriousness later, but that didn't happen. First, we wanted to buy a home, but we ended up looking at trailer parks on the outskirts of town (wrong side of the tracks!) We ended up finding jobs in Smitherton, population 1,240, Derrick as a roofer, me as a cashier at the hardware store.
Derrick and I got married in 1990, and soon we had two fraternal twin daughters, Sammi and Kirsty. A little untold family history now, from my perspective: Of course, as is known, Derrick and I were divorced in 1997, ostensibly after he caught me cheating with the clerk from the hardware store (his name, for the record was John Fresh, believe it or not.) Now, I was seduced by a tall, extremely handsome (well-built) lady-killer, after Derrick had established himself as a ne'er-do-well pothead and alcoholic and gambler. I was saving money to take my daughters and leave Derrick and return to my hometown when I fell in lust with John and had the affair. The truth is, Derrick killed my love for him, killed the marriage, and had the balls to act enraged and surprised when he found out about John and I hooking up at his place Saturdays when Derrick was up on the roofs. I admit it, and always have – I cheated, but it was already a dead marriage, soon to be ended by me, not Derrick.
So, anyway, on account of Derrick's widely known weed and booze habits, I got custody of Sammi and Kirsty no problem, and Derrick went on to evolve into what he now is: A Derr-el-ick-t. I'm afraid my affair went to his heart, and he never got over it. For that, I am always and forever truly sorry. Anyways, on to husband number two: Ronnie. What can I say? He was charming, fun, tough-as-nails, and had an excellent job. I lured him with my fit-and-fab voluptuous figure, and he fell head-over-heels. He didn't even mind that I had two middle-school daughters. He seemed good at first, as I recall, being generous with Sammi and Kirstie: He bought them a karaoke machine, paid for dance lessons for them, kept their wardrobe top-of -the-line, and got them a brand new desktop hooked up to the internet. It's like he waved a wand, and transformed our lives overnight.
Ronnie made money hand-over-fist, and told me he was headed for very early retirement. I had doubts about him retiring at forty, as I had to pull him away from second and third lines of coke almost every night after the girls went to bed, and just when I was thinking of leaving him and getting a fair divorce settlement – bang! He got a call from the cops, and, as it turned out, had been embezzling big-time from the firm. I should have known (naive again) that an accountant isn't going to make that kind of money, but we were still married when he was charged, and the kids and I left with the shirts on our backs in 2004.
Rainbows. I spent the next three years unemployed, sitting in the apartment, rocking and waiting for rainbows to appear in my life. I was on the verge of giving up and following my doctor's advice, checking into a group home and giving up my precious girls, when it occurred to me: If you believe you have a disability, you'll be disabled. It's like a seed of self-doubt in your mind that grows and grows, eating you from the inside-out. I realized that what I have is a potential vulnerability, not a disability, and that my mind would work quite well if I exercised, ate and slept well. Depression is only a disability if you believe it is. I ditched the endless twelve-step programs, lived as healthy as I could except for the smoking, avoided alcohol, and went back to the store and got my old job back. I willed the rainbow to appear this time, and sometimes you have to do that: Make hope when there's none to be found outside yourself. All I needed from the doctor was a prescription for my depression medications, and that's it. I think I finally grew up and became my own person when I beat depression.
I worked a full shift until a year ago. One of my daughters, Kirsty, has a son and a daughter; they live about a hundred miles away up in Quebec. I never see them, have yet to meet my grand kids in person - just on the computer – it's too far away, and besides, they both work two jobs and don't have time. I can't wait to meet my grandson and granddaughter someday! My other daughter, Sammi, lives with her boyfriend across the city. They're both recently graduated from university, and Sammi's landed a good job in the government. She must be so grateful now, for me keeping on her throughout school and teaching her about rainbows and hard work. I haven't seen her in ages, but I see her photos on the computer, and she and Kirsty are really the only friends whose posts I actually care about – I study those pictures over and over, memorize their words, put hearts on them, use screen capture to store them in my pictures – I even dream of them at night, lol!
About a year ago, after becoming increasingly tired during my workouts, I was diagnosed with emphysema, or COPD as the doctors call it. All those years of chain-smoking caught up with me, I guess, but now is the time for rainbows, not funeral planning. As of today (five hours, thirty-three minutes ago,) I have had my final cigarette. I'm determined to see my grandchildren get married someday, and to do that, I have to be as healthy as possible. There's not much I can do, tied to the oxygen tank in this long-term care facility, in terms of actively taking part in my grand-kids' lives, but the least I can do is help improve the world they live in.
I've started to become interested in the big world of politics, money and power. It always scared me – the big world – because it seemed so bewildering, always with dreadful things going on. I saw on TV a while back that consumerism is a threat to future generations. It helps drive climate change and depletes critical resources. The politicians, the billionaires, the powerful are in favour of consumerism because it has made them what they are – rich and powerful. Couldn't we just get by with fewer things, and what things we do need to use, make them last much longer, so we're not wrecking the planet for future generations? The powerful elites in this world are against that, and they persuade us that the alternative to consumerism is social, political, and economic catastrophe. They use the political stage, the media they control, and, increasingly, education systems to brainwash us into remaining consumers. Their point of view is hogwash!
I've replaced all my incandescent light bulbs with long-lasting, albeit expensive, LED lights. Most important, though is that I'm now signing all the anti-consumerism and anti-greed petitions that I can find online. I want future generations to look up and see rainbows – not dark clouds coming their way. I haven't come this far in life so I'd give up on the future. Show us a world in trouble, and millions of people just like me will stand up and fix it!
Bedtime now. See you tomorrow, diary.
More by the Author
Trevor Hopeworth writes poetry, and has published a few of his poems. They are I Need Love, and Seasons of the Stars (2 poems.)
His other short stories are In the Passage of Memory, and When Animals Are Your Friends.