At this writing, I will soon be 65. I was probably 8 years old and in the 3rd grade when the following happened, I’ve never written it down, nor have I told anyone. Strange because I think of it often.
I am not certain if I wanted to stay home from school on this particular day, or if I came home from lunch and Mother agreed I could stay home. I was not physically harmed in any way, but what I witnessed has left scars of a different kind. It revolves around hangers and since I see them in my closet every day, they are reminders, some would call them triggers.
On this particular school day, Mother and I were reading children’s books in bed. I remember she had her slip on. My school clothes were on. The phone rang a few times. Mother did not answer. Since I wasn’t at school and should have been, they must have called my father who taught 6th grade at a school about 30 minutes away.
While we were reading a book, my father came in the door shouting. “Where is Nancy?!!!” It alarmed my mother so much that she jumped out of bed and began screaming. There were wire hangers on the bed, and in the melee, one of them caused a very small amount of blood on her back. My father yelled, but he was never, ever violent. He never physically assaulted my mother who had paranoid schizophrenia.
I remember my mother exiting through the front door with her slip on. She went screaming down the street, “He’s going to kill me! He’s going to kill me!” She was shouting so that all the neighbors could hear. My father hollered and waved at me, “Go back to school!!”
How could I leave this intense scene? I’m sure I stayed to see what would happen next. Again, my father screamed, “Go back to school!!” I left and walked myself back to my classroom. My classmates and teacher were curious about where I had been. I most likely did not hear anything the teacher said the rest of the day. I was probably in shock. Later that day, I was called to the principal’s office where my father was seated. I’m sure he told him about the events that had happened. Mr. Goodman, the principal, probably didn’t want to know. I’m not sure I would have if I were the principal.
I don’t remember what happened next. I suspect my mother had to go to the local psych ward, and my father and I marched through the following days as best we could. I don’t remember ever discussing it with anyone, including my parents.