THE BEAUTY QUEEN WHO WAS BORN WITHOUT A FACE…and how a baby can become a drug addict

My mother was born with severe cleft palate and underwent 13 major surgeries in order to design her face. My grandmother said it was the worst case her doctor had ever seen, she had no nose, no upper palate at all. Just a gaping hole. She had to be fed with an eye dropper. My grandfather would not hold her or look at her. He blamed my grandmother for the travesty. Certainly nothing like THAT came from HIM. It was 1952 and you just didn’t see this type of thing often. He was an old-fashioned man who worked with his hands, his father an Irish immigrant who spoke very little English, he’d had no one to teach him to read and no time for school so he was illiterate and frankly pretty closed-minded. Surgery was out of the question because he couldn’t wrap his head around spending a life’s savings on something that would take a miracle. So grandma, in 1952, seduced a wealthy department store owner and black mailed him into sponsoring my mother’s surgeries…and the other two girls as well. From the way the family tells it, my grandfather knew full well what she was doing and would even send her to the man’s store to borrow money for bills. I guess that’s when she fell out of love with him, if she’d ever loved him at all. My mom and her sisters have more memories of their mother’s boyfriend than they did of their father. When I was growing up mother would take me to visit with him and I swear to God he is the ONLY man I ever laid witness to my mother actually respecting. When I tried to understand who he was she just called him Uncle Pete.

Grandmother never loved the man who gave her daughter a face. She told me she could never respect a man who would let his own wife live with the shame of her husband doing what he was doing. She told me he had odd tastes in the bedroom. This was drunk talk and I was a little girl lying there silently listening so I thought she meant that she didn’t like how he decorated his bedroom, rofllmfao. When I was 12 during one of my mother’s visits to him I found a stack of magazines in the bathroom where women on the covers were always damsels in distress TIED to something, a tree, railroad tracks, etc. Grandma said she hated her husband even more, who could go to work and face those men who knew his wife was the kept woman of another man. How could a man live with himself knowing his wife was seeing another man, she wanted to know. I never gave her answers. I was her confessional. She could tell me these things knowing I didn’t understand and even if I did I would not tell a soul.

Edna’s girls wore the best clothes, carried the best handbags, were entered into Piano, Ballet, Basketball and Beauty Pagents. And my mother was slowly over the course of 15 years given a steel palate with a gorgeous set of dentures and a face that would for the net 40 years be the downfall of countless men despite how hard she was on her body with drug use. Until 8 she was a monster whose dad wouldn’t look at her or touch her, who kids stared at and pointed at in school, who made mother’s cry to look at her. She may have become a ribbon winning beauty queen, but inside she will always be that little monster with no face who became addicted to painkillers before the age of 10 because of countless surgeries. I don’t forgive her nor can I overlook the way she raised us…all I can say is I understand HOW she became an addict so young.

Edna Jackson with her three girls.
Edna Jackson with her three girls.

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Grandmother’s behaviour taught the girls that if they want something, they must work hard to find a man to buy it for them. Mother was a master at her craft, one sideways look from her crystal green eyes as her platinum hair swayed with the swing of her hips would make a man drive into a phone pole. She acquired her first husband at 15, promptly left him in the first 3 months of marriage and he died on the way to her sister’s house to beg her to come home. After that it was one victim after another. My blood father is not the man she was married to but a married man 30 years her senior she met at the VFW while her husband was away in the Navy.  My mom slept with so many men that I can’t keep count. They sniffed her out like bloodhound chasing a fo. I remember being woken up one night by her yanking me in the floor and putting her hand over my mouth and saying “Ssshhhh” as we hid behind the bed…and I hear my father’s boss at the window tapping “Pat, I know you’re in there. I know you have another man in there” While my father was away on a hunting trip she is cheating on his boss whom she is sleeping with, with yet ANOTHER man she has in the house. This is how I was raised. If I looked the slightest bit lonely or sad her answer was to take me shopping. We would get in the car and drive to the workplace of any number of sponsors she had and she would say “Be right back” and then come out with a big smile on her face about an hour later and take me to Davidson’s department store or Lionel Playworld.  Men were playthings, yet dangerous. I blessedly have forgotten the faces of the men who would beat her in front of me for toying with them. She would drive each and EVERY single man she EVER slept with to hit her. My father must have had something pretty special because he held on to her longer than anyone else did, finding her and dragging her home countless times. But finally, when I was 13 years old, she found the one who made her leave my dad and stay gone. My stepfather Robbie.  She wanted a house in the country, so he bought her one. He worked night and day to support this beautiful blonde queen he’d managed to acquire. He was a loving gentle man, a bit of an alcoholic, but even when shit faced drunk he was sweet to me…which is what made mom start hating me. When I was little I was just a nuisance but at least a cute one. When or how I’d grown up she wasnt sure but she didn’t like her admirers looking at anyone but her. And even though I have some pretty horrible memories and even scars from the days I went from moms baby girl to her rival and enemy, I understand the how and why she never had any girlfriends. Everyone was competition. Inside she was not the beauty queen but the girl without a face. She could not let any other female anywhere in her vicinity or her man may realize she is no beauty queen at all but a Black Widow spinning him in her cocoon.

I did, admittedly acquire some bad traits from the women in my family. After all, what is the first thing I thought of when I couldn’t get a job? Using men’s weaknesses to my benefit. What it does to you was whispered into my little ears from a tender age before I knew what they meant by the drunken ramblings of a woman trying to drown her shame. But how it is done was learned by watching my mother. I knew we were about to go somewhere before she even said a word. How? Baby Powder. Yes, Baby Powder. It was the 70’s and long hair was in. My moms platinum blonde hair was made even whiter by baby powder. She would come get me from playing and ask me to hold the blow dryer as she bent over and shook her head back and forth as it dried. And after, she would dust baby powder in it to whiten the roots and around her temples. She smelled like baby powder and suntan oil. She BAKED herself in the sun so the contrast of white hair against shining tanned skin and light green eyes was striking. And when she smelled like baby powder and had black mascara on her white eyelashes, I knew we were about to go shopping. We just had to stop to visit one of moms friends first. Luckily listening to my grandmother’s guilt and shame made more of an impact. Just because I know HOW to get money out of men doesn’t mean it’s the preferred method. It was an emergency go to. My dad taught me three very important lessons that influenced my life more than anyone.

  1. Education is the single most important thing a woman can do for herself. He would drill me on my spelling words and test questions Thursday nights before Friday tests. A’s on my report card got me $10 each (A whopping amount in the 70’s) He didn’t get past the third grade, being one of 10 children, he left home before he was even a teenager to become a Golf Caddie in Atlanta. There he met the owner of a large landscaping company  who took my dad under his wing. Eventually he bought my father a bulldozer and helped him start his own company. (He also was the man outside my bedroom window when mom had me in the floor trying to hush me. Bless his heart.) I learned by watching him that working for yourself means freedom.
  2. No matter how strong a man is, his mind and heart are weak, and he will punish a woman for exposing that weakness if he has pride. So it is our choice, we can cater to their pride or we can challenge it. And only if we challenge it and get to their mind and fuck with it will we acquire their heart. If we cater to it we may be able to hold on to him as the motherly home maker, but he will go after the woman who can fuck with his mind no matter how hard he tries not to.
  3. No matter how much a man worships the ground a woman walks on, once he has lost it to the point of hitting her he will always hit her.

Now we come to the part where I’m glad I don’t have an editor to bitch at me. This is why I can’t write a novel. I’ve got to go get ready to visit my daughter today. She lives in a residential facility in Atlanta, if I have not mentioned it already, and remembering it’s time to visit her made my other thoughts go right out the window. So I’ll just abruptly end this here. No witty ending or nothing. Plus I totally got off subject. Luckily I can cut out what I need and make another post some other time when I feel like editing this, or I may just leave it.
Sorry! LOL

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