When That Door Opened Up… All Hell Broke Loose!
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/ aka Granny Gee
We sat there, just little girls wishing to be happy. We had been thrown away …. we were at our Grandma Alma and George’s. They had a grapevine that grew over a trellis in the back yard. As children we knew where to go find all the little, cosy places to sit, to dream. Under that grapevine was one of those places.
Linda and I sat there talking, daydreaming about ‘how we were going to do this, do that’… when we were old enough. I wished to be a fashion designer, though I was too young then, to know the name of what I wanted to be.
I loved to draw on every white, blank page I could find in Grandma Alma’s books that sat in the bookcase in the ‘front’ room. I would constantly draw pretty woman wearing beautiful clothes.
While we sat there talking, we were holding clumps of grapes in our hands. We were eating them as we talked. The sunshine was shining brightly, Linda’s hair looked so pretty…. she had two plaits in her hair. I loved my cousin, I felt a closeness to her.
For the time-being we were going to be best friends as well as cousins. Of course at our young age… we didn’t know that in our family … that wouldn’t be possible. If anyone ever saw a close relationship forming, they were quick to destroy it. Being children was no exception… we all learned young.
We had good teachers, the older ‘adults’ in our lives taught us alot. Maybe not the best things… we learned nevertheless.
I know as that little girl sitting there with my cousin who was a couple of years older than I… I felt proud that she wanted to be my friend. It lasted for a short time… but, for that time-being it was wonderful.
Through all the years any involvement with ‘family’ turned out just like this relationship… this was how we were taught to be ‘family’… never trust, always break up any two people you see getting close even if it meant saying things that weren’t true… don’t let anyone be close.
They ‘might become real family’….. there ‘might be peace among family members’… no one could stand that. Someone ‘had to be prettier than the other’… someone ‘had to have more’… as children we always played ‘king of the mountain’… bullying each other off that mountain… we all wanted to have the ‘upper hand’.
Linda was taken away from Grandma Alma’s to another ‘hell on earth’…I stayed in hell there. Grandma Alma and George’s house ‘guarded the door to the portal of hell’. When that door opened up… all ‘hell broke loose’.
I cried over Linda… I didn’t care that she could draw a prettier girl than I could… I wished for her to come back. I could only hear rumors of where she was taken, I never saw her again until the early seventies when our Grandmother Alma died. She and her little baby flew here from New Mexico.
At Grandma Alma and George’s … many children ‘came and went’. Many children ‘came to hell’…. I was one of the few that stayed ‘too long’.
At my Grandma Alma’s … life was hell. Sometimes it could be so happy, but… only for a few minutes. There were so many people coming into their home to shake their life up ….at any time. Come into their house, they did!
The room Grandma Alma sat in every day of her life (she was paralyzed) was in the ‘middle’ of the house. Her upholstered rocking/recliner chair sat beside an old dresser with a mirror. George’s old wooden, bottomed chair sat beside her chair…. always. They sat ‘cata-cornered’.
They sat facing an old tv that sat on a little table in the opposite corner. In that room, also…. was their white refrigerator. That white refrigerator that held ‘precious milk‘…. to this day I don’t ‘see milk’ because there I learned ‘not to see or want it’. It was so costly and Grandma Alma needed it. She would have given it to us freely…
George looked after Grandma Alma. He protected the milk for her, her health. ‘Someone would sneak that milk and drink lots of it!’ I learned ‘who’ …..one of the ones who used to do that….. not long ago in my adult life…. Linda! She told me that she would drink it all the time, and it tasted so good! :))) I was blamed for that, sometimes!
On that old brown dresser sat her ‘famous’ glass of water. George (he was blind) kept that glass of water filled up for her at all times, even knowing it became ‘ammunition used against him’ later. She had other things sitting on her dresser…. her many bottles of …. medicine, her alcohol and Beauty Ray lotion.
Grandma Alma’s ‘many bottles of medicines’ made such an impression on me as a little girl. I grew up afraid to take any more medicine than I needed, sometimes … not taking what I need to take. I never wanted to be dependent on medicines in order to live life… even ones needed. I don’t take pain medicine to this day unless I am completely ‘past my breaking point’… crying, and in agony. Sometimes… I don’t take it, then.
Every day faithfully, George would sit beside her and ‘rub her up’. He would rub alcohol on each arm and massage it, then… each leg. As he rubbed, massaged … he would do ‘range of motion’ exercises. For over twenty years, George did this faithfully, several times a day. George loved our Grandma Alma. Looking back, I think he was trying to do everything he could… to help her to walk again. If Grandma Alma could have… she would have, she was full of fight, determination.
Though George and Grandma Alma loved each other with their hearts, they still ‘got into fusses’… which could be quite loud. As children (we were always somewhere close by)…. we would look at each other in alarm that slowly changed to laughter.
We always got tickled at George… he could be LOUD! He always said the same thing! It was an ugly word, but, to us it was just absolutely funny. He would yell loudly ‘G___damn it’! The whole neighborhood could hear it, he was that loud. That was George’s ‘famous word… George was truly a good man, he had limitations though… Grandma Alma ‘knew’ how to ‘push his buttons’. Push them… she would!
Grandma Alma would get ‘stirred up’… she always said the same thing! As children, we ‘knew’ what they were going to say…. this played out daily… we could sit there and move our lips, say exactly the same words they were going to say. It was ‘their thing’.
Grandma Alma’s famous words were ‘He-man! You are a He-man!’ My cousins and I would roll on the ground laughing… Grandma Alma didn’t just say those words, she put drama behind them… and made those words sound out so ‘long, and full of meaning’.
When she did that… ‘the s_____ hit the fan!’ ‘All hell broke loose’… and anyone who was around would just stop doing what they were doing… to listen, while grinning. It truly was entertaining. It never lasted long… it was like a fast thunderstorm coming up in the summer… hard and fast, then, it just rained gently thereafter.
Looking back to ‘then’, I can see that was their only outlet to vent all the pent up feelings they surely carried inside themselves. What in the world would ‘we do’… if it had been us? I may not have been as good of people as they were with all the odds against them. They both lived, took care of each other for over twenty years in their own home.
Not only that… the house they lived in, owned… sat over the ‘portal of hell’, it ‘guarded hell’. When ‘that door opened’… that’s when … real hell broke out. Grandma Alma and George would suffer all the consequences.
The ‘middle’ room Grandma Alma and George sat in every day (their living room)…. was what I came to think of as ‘The Arena’ through the years.
Every day of their life… drama would unfold in that room in front of Grandma Alma and George… the middle of that floor ‘became the stage’… and ‘everyone came to act on it’. That’s when ‘all hell broke loose’.
This was The Stage’…. one never knew what to expect. There were daily shows on it… sometimes, several shows. These shows were ‘rated R’… for foul language, fighting, screaming, yelling, shoving. These were the ‘shows that scared, frightened a little girl like me. Grandma Alma and George ‘had the best seats’ ….. whether they wanted them or not. They couldn’t go anywhere… they ‘had to watch and listen’… they had no choice.
I ‘saw bad things’ on that stage. Some of the things I might never can write about … I can still ‘feel’ that feeling in my stomach that reaches through time to this moment.
I can still hear flesh against flesh as punches were thrown. I can still see in my mind… blood splattering everywhere. My stomach feels sick from these things from my childhood… even at this very moment. Biting, scratching, pulling hair, screaming… one would be trying ‘to kill the other’ to dominate, to be ‘the one you don’t want to mess with’. Always a ‘battle to the end’…..
I would hide in the real living room… at the front of the house. I would get in the space between the bookcase and couch… with my back against the wall. I always trembled, always felt so scared. Sometimes, out of anger someone would strike out at me because I ‘might look like my mama, my daddy’… striking me was ‘getting back at either of them’. I was the one who felt the pain… my mama or daddy never knew I took blows meant for them.
As a ‘thrown-away’ child… at Grandma Alma and George’s… I was there with no one to protect me…. I could be treated any way anyone wanted to treat me. Who was I going to tell? A paralyzed woman and a blind man? What could they do about it?
People were evil at Grandma’s house… they did bad things. At times they could be good… then, at other times, it was like they were ‘possessed’. I learned to watch, listen, know when it was a good time for them. I could tell by expressions on their face, their eyes.
Anger… how that house held such anger …. anger that a little girl learned to harbor in her heart until today. Anger that she constantly battles to keep from hating…. it’s always there ‘underneath’ the smiles. It’s natural, it’s a part of a little girl who grew up to be an adult. She learned it well……
The strange thing about this anger… it isn’t toward anyone.. ‘everyone is gone’ now. The little girl who is an adult now… still has to carry that inside ‘until she’s also, gone’.
Hell, blue lightening balls, screaming, cussing, fighting and tearing flesh, pulling hair from one’s head, blood splattering in patterns on the floor… if I looked closely I could sometimes see shapes of things like in a work of art…. blood art.
Blood art that would affect me… a little girl standing in shock, feeling faint, heart beating fast, crying inside that someone was hurting bad, stomach feeling those ‘scared butterflies’. Many things at my Grandma Alma and George’s affected me as a child … even to this day.
Sometimes…. I bled. Sometimes my skin would break open from being beaten with a belt, or big switch. I knew how it felt to have hair jerked and pulled from my head, how the stinging pain felt from a forceful slap. I knew how it felt to be pushed onto a hot, burning wood heater… the pain, the blistering that followed. I ‘know’ alot of things… how they felt.
I’ve worn more ‘shoes in life’ than any Hollywood star has in her closet…. hers are more fun…. mine were ‘life lessons’ both good, and bad. The good part is that as the years went by in my life… I am truly a good person.
I could have been …. very bad. As a young woman, I could have traveled paths I got on to the very end… thank-God, I didn’t…. I wouldn’t be a good person now. Thank-God, I had the foresight to come to a screeching halt, turn back around and ‘run like hell’ to get off those paths.
I remember once my Grandma Alma getting so angry at me…. it broke my heart. Her eyes looked as if she were possessed as she screamed at me. Never had I seen or felt her wrath as I did that day…
I was a teenager and had made friends with a girl whom I had to fight when pushed to do so… I won, I meant to win. I came into Grandma Alma’s house from school telling her what happened, that now… I was friends with that girl. My Grandma Alma ‘went ballistic’… her eyes had a light in them that was ‘other-worldly’… she was the most angriest I had ever seen her. I believe if I’d been close enough …she would have slapped me with her good hand.
She began screaming ‘that girl is nothing but, a whore… nothing but, trash!’ She screamed at me to not have anything to do with her… on and on, she screamed. I never knew ‘why’ she did that, nor what she knew about the girl. Strangely enough, ‘that girl showed her colors’ and that affected me in an awful way. Grandma Alma… was right! How did she know? She couldn’t get around to know… how did she know?
At Grandma Alma and George’s home… at any moment… ‘something dramatic could unfold on ‘the stage’… that day I told Grandma Alma, I became one of the characters on it. Grandma Alma and I… were the only two on it…. my Grandma Alma’s anger hurt me deeply… she always loved me. Strangely enough… she was usually right about something. At that moment… I didn’t know that she was… again.
Yes, at any time there… when that door to hell opened… all hell would break loose. One never knew when they’d be caught up in it… what I’ve written here is only an idea of it… if one knew. That house guards the portal of hell… even to this day. Bad things have happened in that house.
I say prayers for the people I see living there. Time after time again people move there… something bad happens. At any minute… that door could open and…. all hell break loose!