My brother Larry was under the illusion that our mother was a good mother, but he had a different childhood than the rest of us. My sisters were convinced otherwise: Carleen complained Mom was thoughtless and self-centered, Betty resented her for abandoning us, and Claudia simply thought she was weak—all of which was true by the way. I was never under the illusion I had a bad mother, I was under the illusion I had the wrong mother, and although I was not under the illusion she loved me, I hoped she might someday. I was raised by omission, but neglect doesn’t leave a scar, it leaves a hole. Some say holes are harder to heal. Fortunately, I only lived with her from the time I was five until the age of nine. I figure that’s why I’m not completely neurotic. Or dead.
I wrote our story, which evolved into a five-year journey. A magnitude of personal growth work put it into perspective; a writing class helped me get it down on paper. It’s about doors opened, closed, and locked, and about a family so complicated you’ll need a scorecard. As my friend Billy says, “There are really only five-hundred people on the planet, the rest are just crowd scenes done with mirrors.” It seems I’m friends with, or related to, most of these people. The rest I’ve dated.
What follows is what I’ve been told, what I recall, and what my family claims I’ve made up. Some stories I’ve never disclosed; some I’ve recounted so many times I can’t remember if they’re even true anymore. But do we ever recollect what actually happened? Certainly we remember our version—and what we believe is true for us, so we better be careful what we believe. And does any of it matter? Only when we make it mean something.
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About the Author
An opener of doors, teller of tales, and family scribe, Catherine (Clemens) Sevenau happily resides in Sonoma, California. She is the author and publisher of PASSAGES FROM BEHIND THESE DOORS: A FAMILY MEMOIR, has compiled five volumes on her family genealogy, and entered information on over 6,000 ancestors on FindAGrave.com (a sort of Facebook for the dead). Her writings are published in Syndic Literary Journal along with a number of genealogy sites, and she co-hosts a monthly open mic, Random Acts, at her local bookstore. She is also the co-owner/broker of a well-established local real estate company.