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Friday, September 2, 2011

The Story of me part 4

*** My neighbor and one of the few people that have read this story all the way through asked why I introduced Clara after Lily. My thinking was that her story and Harmony's don't go together until after Lily leaves town. Let me know what you think!

Random People

Clara Van Ingen

In the course of a life there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of random people who come and go for various reasons. They may be neighbors, coworkers, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, store clerks, delivery people or any other combination of at least a million acquaintances you will encounter. Many of these people will come and go without leaving an impression on you. Others, for better or worse, will leave their mark on your life. You may like or dislike these people, but you will not love them and they will not love you.

Clara Van Ingen was my grandmother and aside from Lily the only family I had. You may think I am an awful person for not loving her, but please remember that I was a child and she did not love me either.

Clara was eighteen years old in 1970 when she married her first and only boyfriend, Harvey Gomez. They were young, dumb and in love. Clara had managed to graduate from high school but Harvey stopped attending school on the day he turned fifteen and never looked back.

Harvey made his living the way many young and illegal immigrants made their living in Miami at that time, selling drugs. It was the early seventies. The time of free love and LSD. Harvey made what seemed like good money to them and Clara was a good housekeeper. They were happy in their three room, north Miami-Dade duplex apartment. Happy, that is, until the spring of 1971 when Harvey was shot and killed as he walked out the front door.

Two days later Harvey was laid to rest in a cemetery that had served as the final resting place for Miami’s indigent and unclaimed bodies for almost fifty years. That cemetery still exists and if you visit it today you may see the brick, etched with a number, that marks his grave. Somewhere, in that same cemetery, you will also find the etched brick that now marks my grave.

Clara was eight months pregnant with Lily at the time of Harvey’s murder and the stress caused her to go into early labor. Clara was not at Harvey’s burial because while he was being laid to rest Lily was being born. Clara never visited Harvey’s gravesite and she never bonded with her daughter the way most young mothers do.

Clara was not cruel. She was simply changed. Heart broken, scared and forever changed. Clara had always known how Harvey earned his money, but she knew better than to ask for details. Other than Harvey, Clara knew nothing about the local drug dealers. She could not name them or identify them. However, she was afraid that they could name and identify her so she chose to start using her maiden name of Van Ingen again and to give Lily the last name that had belonged to her maternal grandmother, MacDougal.

For most of Lily’s youth Clara was able to go through the motions of being a mother. They lived in government subsidized housing and used food stamps to buy food. Lily was dressed in clothing that had been donated from churches or bought at the Goodwill store.

Once Lily was old enough to fend for herself Clara withdrew even further into her lonely and isolated world. She began drinking and drank on a daily basis. It would be years before anyone ever saw Clara sober again and that sobriety would not last for long.

People do not believe that babies as young as six months old are capable of forming long term memories, but that is how old I was when my first memories formed. I have been told what I think are memories are really just recollections of stories that I've been told. That is not true though, because there was no one present in the room for my first memory except for myself and Clara. She never told anyone and neither did I. At least, I never told anyone the details of that memory until today.

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  1. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 6 post on Sep. 02, 2011. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks Ginger for the fabulous freebie. hugs Shirleyxxxx

  3. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave in the DigiFree category today [03 Sep 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria



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