Not Far From The Tree

My mother, Norma, was an exceptional beauty. Class oozed from her pores like sweat. Sibling rivalry was the household problem. She was her father’s pet, and her brother was her mother’s favorite. There was no give and take. No profile of the psychological damage that this could cause.  Back then, the rules were:”..spare the rod and spoil the child…” All the way, bordering on abuse by today’s standards.

My mother graduated from North Carolina State University and was qualified to teach. Her brother suffered failed businesses until he finally found his niche in the family funeral business. My mother married a physician from a prominent, South Carolinian family. All I know about Harold B.’s family is that out of seven living children, three were physicians, one  a nurse and the others were educators. Harold B’s mother, Catherine, had been  a school teacher and his father, Peter, was among the first black postal workers, according to what we have been told. 

Their family home was in the middle of an all-white Georgetown, South Carolina neighborhood. This came about because two slave children took care of their aging masters until their deaths and were freed as well as bequeathed this property. My father also tells of his great-grandfather on his paternal side, who jumped off of a slave ship outside of St. Maartin. He was never a slave. He became known as Pierre Calais. I was told that he was a trapper. Now, Peter Kelly, he migrated to New Orleans where he got together with some mixed-race gypsy-type woman.  The Kelly name remains prominent until this day.

When my father met my mother he was intoxicated and followed her home. He was convinced that she was the only woman for him.  She was a white as you can get without being white and he had some issues. Despite family objections, my mother married my father.  She traded stature in a small place for luxury in a larger place. She was always a social butterfly and gave the greatest parties wherever she lived. She had a moral core, where my father had none. He could be described as amoral.  He showered her with material things as he drank and womanized his way through the years.

I have memories of going with my mother in the car to find  my father at whore houses and mistress’s apartments. It was quite traumatic. My mother felt unloved, but stayed because she knew that my father would forsake us if she left.  My mother had quite a temper and she threw him down the stairs while he was drunk, and he never knew why he felt so bad. As he sat drunken in his recliner, she took her high-heeled shoe and pummeled him everywhere. He still did not know why he felt so bad. He would get drunk to the point that, while fishing in Canada, he burned a cigarette hole down to his viscera before he was aware of a problem. When he tried to hit my mother, she responded with a butcher knive that assailed his surgeon hands and required emergency- room repair. He told ER that he had tried to separate frozen fish and cut himself. 

A couple of his siblings died early from alcohol-releated diseases.  He used to give himself  B-12 injections reguarly just so that he could continue to drink. I understand that he had other addictions that only a physian could easily access. It is my belief that he was bipolar and compelled to act out with promiscuity and alcohol, as well as to behave in a grandiose manner. He talked about his greatness to anyone who would listen. What I do understand is that he was a brilliant gynecologist, who lectured in Russia. He was an obstetrican who later in life traded his life-brearing hands into the more profitable life-taking hands of a successful, boycotted abortionist.

2 responses to “Not Far From The Tree

  1. The Kelly’s were not “all that”.

    I love you and miss our lose innocent days.

    We were so much like one another. Our fathers’ mistake was not letting us grow up together.

  2. You are a like a breath of fresh air in a room of stagnation. I love you too.
    I miss those days of innocence and the joy that they held. I am saddened
    that we could not have spent more time together as well. I have felt like a branch cut off from a tree for such a long time. Now is the time for new life and sap is rising. Your cousin,
    Alice Parris

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