Good evening to all,
I hope everybody had a great weekend. The countdown continues, 17 more days to launch. My two older children, Anthony and Vanessa are flying into town this weekend from Dallas and San Francisco to visit their maternal Grandma and to say bye to their Dad! The three of us, including my youngest Jonathan, will be together for a blowout party next Sunday! It is a rare occasion for us to be reunited, being so far apart from each other these days. I can’t wait!
My story left off as Dora and I, living in Phoenix with my sister, were ready to get our own place and start a new chapter with our two kids. In August of 83’ we had already saved a little money for an apartment, when Dora’s brother called from Tucson and told me he could get me a job at his place of employment. I was still waiting tables and Dora was unhappy at her job at McDonalds. We were delighted at the opportunity to return back home and be closer to both our families. My mother was living alone at the time, since all her seven kids had already flown the coop by then. She never did well living by herself and was happy to take us in until we found our own apartment.
We packed our bags and our kids and gratefully thanked my sister and brother in-law and headed back home. They were happy for us, and probably relieved to have their space and privacy back after 14 months. I was and still am eternally indebted to them for all they did. We were so excited driving back to Tucson as we pondered all the wonderful plans we dreamed about fulfilling. I went to work at a door manufacturing company for $4.50 an hour, she went to the local job service to seek employment. To her great fortune, she landed a job at the new National Semiconductor plant in town. She was overjoyed at the opportunity, and I for her. Now things were really looking up for the both of us we felt. But the joy would be short lived.
Dora was not happy staying at my mothers, and she quickly lost her zeal for her new job. Even after we rented our first apartment, she found herself struggling to maintain a positive outlook with anything or anybody. That would be a pattern that would haunt us for the next few years. I went through a rollercoaster ride of emotions with her trying to figure out not what made her happy, but what made her so unhappy about everything. She quit her good job after two years because she wanted to be a “stay at home” mom. I explained to her that if that was what she wanted, then money would be tight. She agreed and was willing adjust. Problem was, after a few months, then she was miserable, bored and we were broke. She then reluctantly went back to work and was miserable again.
That was a pattern she would repeat constantly for the next four years. Back and forth, job after job. It stressed me plenty and was the cause of much of our friction. I went along because I just wanted her to be happy. But happiness was the furthest thing from our life. She struggled with relationships outside of our own, alienating most of my family and hers.
I didn’t worry too much, since I was raised with so much chaos and dysfunction that it just seemed like a normal marriage and family. We fought all the time over the most trivial things and many times got physical with each other. A punch in the arm or a slap was not that uncommon. We were totally immature and got along almost like siblings or school ground kids. Yet we went on.
I for my part was not helping. I was controlling, domineering and unyielding. I lacked warmth, sensitivity and compassion for her emotional needs. I was not much better with the two kids either. The cycle was not being broken. I didn’t realize I was being such a detriment to my young family and was doing more harm than good. I did not have the skills or knowledge to be the kind of father and husband they deserved. Again, in my shallow thinking at that age, I was doing okay, as long as I was not being like my dad. That was all I had to compare it to. Nothing else.
Still we went forward. Not to say that there were never any good moments or that we never got along at times, but they were too few. My kids never went without the basic physical needs and they seemed to thrive and be happy children, despite their parent’s obvious deficiencies. I still never worried too much about our situation. I just felt like it was a normal marriage, and that someday we would outgrow all the childish drama.
Inside I only fell more deeply in love with my wife. And so did all the other boys. At 23, Dora was in full bloom. She attracted a lot of attention from her male coworkers and just ordinary guys on the street. Stares and catcalls were not unusual when we were out and about. She to my knowledge never initiated the attention and I had total trust in her fidelity. For I felt she had the same trust in me. I’ve never been the jealous type, even then. For me, it was a proud feeling of having such a beautiful mate and felt lucky to have her on my arm or in my car. I believed I didn’t deserve a woman this gorgeous. I felt like an ugly duck next to the beautiful swan!
Over time, her discontent with me and our situation only increased. She would tell in more intimate moments that she no longer was in love with me. She felt she missed out on all the fun of her young adulthood due to getting pregnant so early, and envied her friends for being able to go out and party. I would remind her that she had two children now, and that she had to live with her choices in life. That it was her who pursed the marriage, not me. I would tell her that she really DID love me, and that her depression would pass. I was naïve, and putting rose colored glasses on with ear muffs. I didn’t want to accept what she was telling me. The next morning she would apologize for her attitude and things would get better again for a while. She did that often.
In November of 1987 we threw ourselves a fifth year anniversary party. With both our family present, we tenderly exchanged gifts and kisses. Things were going well then, I thought.
The next spring, I landed a job at a new grocery chain in the meat dept. and Dora got a job at the competing chain store as a clerk. We were doing better financially, but were still dealing with our drama. The kids were 5 and 7 and were doing well in school. My mother once again was living alone and opened her house to us for the second time. This time we decided to take her up on her offer and use the opportunity to save some money for a down payment on our first house. That, Dora declared was the gist of her unhappiness. All she ever wanted was for us to own our own home, and now it looked like our dream was within reach!
That spring we planned a long awaited trip down to Mazatlán, Mexico. The five of us would drive down for two weeks and visit my mother’s sister. Dora said she always wanted to visit the much talked about sub-tropical city where my parents were born. We couldn’t wait for the trip. When August arrived we were just a week away from departing. Out of nowhere Dora announced that her boss would not allow her the time off since she had recently been promoted to a new and higher position. I was disappointed, but understood. After all, she seemed to like her job for once. So we left without her.
For 12 days we were gone. I tried getting in touch with her constantly, but never got through. In 1988 there was no such thing as cell phones or internet, so catching her on the landline at home or at her work didn’t seem that disconcerting to me at the time. We never made contact, but that didn’t dampen the fun we were having in Mexico. Still it seemed strange.
On the night of August the 22nd my mother and my kids and I finally arrived home after a long 26 hour drive. We were exhausted from the road, but happy to have made it back in one piece. We were all ready to end the day, little did I know it would be the longest day of my life. By the time the sun rose the next morning. Our lives would be changed forever. For me, Anthony and Vanessa.
Have a good night friends, I have to get up early tomorrow for my first of three interviews this week!
Thanks for your support!