The Original House Horrible

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

When You Need Shelter From Your Shelter

The original House Horrible was a rambling duplex owned by my maternal grandparents. It was a big hulking thing, painted battleship gray with green and blue striped awnings over the front porch. The green wicker rockers and turquoise glider were the best things about the house.

My mother’s family moved to the house when she was 13, in 1945. When she married my father, in 1956, her parents kicked out the tenants so Mom and Dad could move in.

There are many things that make a house horrible–neighbors, location, landlord, often a combination of all three, but ultimately, what makes a house horrible, and prevents it from being a home, is the family within.

My father was a spoiled brat; a man who had served during WWII, already in his 30s when he married my mother, and a typical male of his times. God knows why he married my mother, who was, he claimed–ad nauseum–a woman he never loved but had been guilted into marrying. This I never understood, after all, she wasn’t pregnant and her family did not have money or position, two things very important to Dad.

I can only imagine why my mother wanted him. Of course he was dashing with a wicked sense of humor, good looks, a flirt; world-wise and no doubt a big brass ring to my shy mother, who was 18 when they met. Mom never spoke to me of their dating relationship, and her specific wants, but I assume it was tradition–a husband, children, a house that was a home. Well, she got two out of three.

Both my parents were good people, they just weren’t good together. Maybe it could have worked, if not for one big problem–my maternal grandmother.

Now that I am an adult, I have only sympathy for my grandmother, who had a lousy start in life. Her mother was an alcoholic and a miserable human being. My grandmother learned cruelty from a master. I believe, after years of contemplation, that my grandmother had a good heart, she just didn’t know how to use it. Many times, as she was raining slaps down on me, she would wail, “Why can’t you LOVE ME?”