Hopefully Beautiful - "I more than survived... I thrived."

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Chapter 3


By now Momma was back in full fight mode and she made it a point to fight anyone who thought they were bad enough to try and take her man, mess with her, mess with her children or made her mad in general for whatever reason.

Country music was her favorite kind of music. She would play Loretta Lynn’s song ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man’ on the eight track whenever she was upset and about to fight one of the women in Dixon Circle; it played on repeat while she sat in the chair with her legs gapped wide, leaning forward with her forearms on her thighs smoking cigarettes and weed.

When she was finished, she got up, pulled her hair back into a ponytail; rolled the ponytail into a bun and went out into the court… all hell was about to break loose.

Once Momma found a lady’s phone number in daddy Presley’s shirt named Miss Jean; she lived across the court on the second floor. Daddy Presley denied that he took the number, “She must have put it in my pocket” he cried! Momma let it go but had sideways eyes for Miss Jean every time she saw her.

One day Miss Jean boldly tried to impress daddy Presley by offering to take Kooky and Sand to her apartment to give them ice cream; but for some reason would not let me go.

Now you know I went straight to the house and told Momma! “Miss Jean won’t give me no ice cream, but she gave Sand and Kooky some!” I looked at Momma. “Any ice cream” Momma corrected me.

Momma stood up as the look in her eyes changed, “Where is Sand and Kooky?” she asked shifting her weight to her right and placing her hands on her hips. I told her “at Miss Jean house” Her eyes grew large. “Where ya daddy?” she asked, as her lips started to pull back over her teeth. I pointed and told her he was in the court.

Momma got up and pulled her hair back into a ponytail and rolled into a bun. My heart is pounding because I know Momma is mad.

“Come on” she says as she kicks open the screen door and stomps across the court like Miss Sophia in the ‘Color Purple’. Daddy Presley looks like he is instantly sobered and his body stiffens as she walks in the direction that he is sitting talking to the ladies; but she walked past him to the other building.

Everyone is watching and coming out of their apartments as she stomps up the stairs to the second floor with me right behind her and daddy Presley not too far behind me.

Momma got to Miss Jean’s screen door to find it locked. She lifted her foot and started kicking the screen door until it broke; stuck her hand inside and unlatched the hook and stomped inside. I could hear Sand and Kooky crying.

I could hear Momma and Miss Jean cussing, and the next thing I see is Momma dragging Miss Jean out of her front door by her hair and down the stairs! Daddy Presley, who had been standing off to the side of the door, dashed inside and picked up Kooky as soon as Momma came out dragging Miss Jean.

I took Sand by the hand and we walked down the stairs behind Momma, as she dragged Miss Jean down the stairs telling her “Bitch you think you can take my man” “And you won’t give my baby no ice cream either” “I’m bout ta beat yo ass” with daddy Presley running down the stairs behind us all.

Momma dragged her into the middle of the court and beat her where everyone could see. I just hoped Momma did not have a razor. Daddy Presley took Kooky into our apartment placing him in the play pen and ran back out to Momma.

“That’s enough Pat, that’s enough”, daddy Presley pleaded. Momma jumped up and hit him in his eye so fast he didn’t have a chance to flinch, ‘Whomp!’ “You taking up for her?” Momma asked with the ‘Oh-no-you-didn’t’ face.

Daddy Presley grabbed his eye with both of his hands, turned around and went running back to the apartment yelling “My eye, my eye!”

Momma beat Miss Jean until she was satisfied. No one helped Miss Jean and no one called the police. Sand was beaten for going in the house and I was beaten for being a tattle-tale.

This was our life at Dixon Circle until Momma got a phone call that Grandma Dot had died.

We all went with Momma to Goldsboro, NC for the funeral. Granddaddy Babyface asked Momma to let us stay for the rest of the summer; so Momma left Sand and I there with granddaddy and took Kooky back to Dallas with her.

The summer was going great. We were enjoying playing with our cousin Bun; yelling Tarzan and Jane yodels across Uncle Russell’s and Granddaddy Babyface’s yards, gardens and trees.

My cousin Gina came over to stay with us for a while at granddaddy’s too! Gina and I had to get our stomachs pumped after eating a whole bottle of Flintstones Vitamins that we thought was candy; Sand said “That’s what we get” for not sharing with her. Sand, Gina and I played house and ate the red clay dirt, sour grass and wild berries that we found in the woods and had cooked for our pretend dinners.

But the best part was Grandma Dot visiting me at night. Grandma Dot would come and visit me in the bathroom of what used to be her and granddaddy Babyface’s bedroom.

One night as I stood talking to Grandma Dot in her old bathroom “I will always be around to take care of you; don’t you worry” she said. “Okay” I said smiling as I shook my head up and down.

BOOM! I hear as Grandma Dot throws herself on top of me pushing me down to the floor. “Granddaddy” I screamed!

Granddaddy Babyface flipped the light on to find me crouched down on the floor. He grabbed my arm and pulled me up from the floor. He grabbed my shoulders and shook them, “What are you doing in here” he asked angrily?

“Talking to grandma” I said. Granddaddy let go of my shoulders and looked at me funny; he then looked around the bathroom behind me. His face scowled up and turned red.

“Stay out of this bathroom and my room; you almost made me shoot you!” he said.

Towards the end of the summer granddaddy Babyface married a new wife and she moved in with him. She was mean and she did not like Sand and me!

“There are monsters under your bed”, she would say, “They are going to eat you while you sleep!” We were scared to go to bed at night! Sand told Momma when she called to check on us.

Momma lost it when she heard granddaddy got remarried and that she was mean to us! She flew back to Goldsboro! Momma walked into the house and Momma’s new step mother said, “Don’t be walking all up in here unannounced.”

Granddaddy Babyface jumped up from his favorite lounge chair, but not fast enough. Momma had already made it across the room and proceeded to beat up our new step-grandmother; with granddaddy yelling “Pat, stop Pat!”

Momma moved off of her and left her lying in the floor; looked at granddaddy and asked “Why you let her treat them like that?” She pushed past granddaddy and went to our room and packed our suitcase; she and my Uncle Richard loaded us up in the car.

As we were leaving, driving up the dirt road; Momma opened her car door while we were moving and tried to step out the car! We all screamed and Uncle Richard, who was driving, grabbed Momma by her shirt as he stopped the car; pulling her back inside and locking the door!

That was the first time Momma had a seizure.

After we got back from North Carolina that summer, Momma started having seizures a lot. She started having to go to the doctor all the time, and more than one doctor; and they all gave her medicine.

They said she had partial complex seizures. Momma now had to take pills daily. She started getting sick in different ways after taking the pills, but she said the doctor said they were side effects from the pills they gave her; so they gave her more pills for her side effects.

She had so many bottles of pills they had their own section of our kitchen counter. She stood in front of our kitchen counter each day taking pill, after pill, after pill.

The medicine did not always make her feel good. It made her rampage harder than ever; we just had to wait and see each day, which one it would be.

Momma said she was sick from the stress that daddy Presley was putting her through in Dixon Circle with all of the women; and if we did not move she was leaving him.

We moved to Cherry Oaks apartments in Oak Cliff, which was a step up from the straight projects; even though Cherry Oaks was mostly mothers and children with housing assistance.

I was 6 years old and starting first grade at Elisha M. Peace Elementary School. Daddy Presley continued to have sex with every woman in the new complex that would have him and he continued to get drunk.

Every evening when Momma would leave for the first and only job she would ever have, daddy Presley would leave to go to this lady’s apartment that lived three doors down from us.

He would be gone so long that we would get scared and go knock on her door for him. He would come to the door and tell us to go back to the apartment and that he was on his way.

He would come in and tell us to go to bed and not to tell Momma that we went to get him from that lady’s house; he didn’t want us to get in trouble for going outside.

We lived there until the end of my second grade year; that’s when Momma met the third man I would call daddy.

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