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Hello, and welcome to Lemonade Tales! Pardon the dust while I get things rolling. I hope you enjoy the stories of inspiration, courage, and grace. I am humbled by each and every person and their personal struggles. This is the …

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The Crooked Family Tree

Crazy Family TreeMost family trees are pretty straightforward and perfectly easy to understand: Child, mom, dad, grandma and grandpa. Some include blended families. And then there is mine. Mine is far from normal. Not even close.

It has so many branches with twists and turns it is hard to keep all the information straight. It bends and sways. The more I learn about my biological family, the more I realize it is not your average oak.

My half-brother Joey found me on February 14, 2013. A day that truly has opened my heart in ways I never knew possible.

I soon found out that he was not my only sibling. I was one of at least six children that my biological father Joe helped to make on his trail of kids and pain across America. I went from being an only child to being in the middle of the pack. Pretty darn mind blowing if you ask me. And very disturbing at the same time.

This is what I know about all the kids.

1st Wife

The first baby born was Dawn in Alabama in 1965. She died when she was five from appendicitis. I really wish I could have met her. She is the only other girl beside myself that we know of. She is Joey’s older sister. Joey was born three years later in 1968. Margaret remarried and her new husband adopted Joey.

2nd Wife Catherine:

We don’t know much about her except that she had at least two children. They were her kids not Joe’s.

3rd Wife Jean:

My mom. She had me in 1975 in Enterprise, Alabama. My mother remarried and her second husband adopted me. And his family is really the only “family” I have ever known.

4th Wife Marilyn:

She had a boy named Joshua and lives in California. We have reached out, but have not made contact just yet. Joshua is 28 years old.

5th Wife Staci:

She has two boys AJ (25 years old) and Nick (23 years old) who live in Washington state. We have talked to Staci quite a bit and only just started talking to the boys. My father supposedly got a vasectomy during this marriage so we think this is the end of the trail of children across the country. Staci remarried and her new husband adopted the boys.

6th Wife Patricia:

No children together and are currently living in North Carolina… about two hours from where I live.

The Mess

My father was a wanderer. And clearly couldn’t connect for more than four to five years with a woman. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t have parental rights to most of his children except Joshua. All of the wives share the same story. He was very charming at first and then he began to show his dark side of drinking, gambling, and abusing each woman. I collectively call them “Joe’s Wives Club.”

He was a train wreck. He has been fired, been in jail, been a pimp, and more. This man who donated his DNA to my existence and the other children was an absolute mess. I joke that he has kept the counseling profession in business since he left a wake of destruction. Hurricane Joe appeared when you least expected it and left just as fast.

The Clean-Up Crew

All of these women cleaned up his mess while they were with him, but also cleaned up their lives after he was no longer in it. They are strong. They are survivors. They are simply amazing.

My mother left my father with almost nothing. She wanted a better life for us. She built it from the bottom up. She put herself through school, found a fantastic man, and is now very happy. He treats her so well. Their love has been a wonderful model for me to grow up with and it’s a love I finally found with my husband.

The Children

We have all had issues with anger, abandonment, and at least one of us has witnessed the abuse. Watching your mother being beaten robs you of your innocence. It is a true crime. But all of us, despite this man, have made our mothers’ proud. We have all become something. Clearly we are more like our mothers rather than our father. Thank God for that.

This one man has caused so much hurt and pain. For so long, I thought I was the only one to experience his destruction, but I am not alone. There is a tribe of people who understand the devastation: Wives and children. I thought I was alone. It was one thing for me to carry my burden, but when I found out there were so many others, I had very mixed emotions. I felt relieved that people finally understood what I had felt my whole life, but it made me violently ill (I was actually throwing up) when I found out that others were hurt so badly. Especially, the children who witnessed his abuse firsthand. I had an empty room. Theirs were filled with nightmares. My heart aches for them. I wish I could take it away. But alas, I cannot. I can only support them and be here for them if they need an ear.

While my tree is very crooked, it is MY TREE.  It is a strong tree that has weathered many storms (most caused by my father). And together we are building quite the beautiful forest. My life is blessed and exciting right now as I get to know and learn more about this newfound family I have been given. I am sure there are more storms ahead, but at least now I know I am not alone.

Stay tuned for more posts related to my newfound family. To be continued…

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