The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP! Goes Alaska letters – chapter 37
37. The turquoise coat – Part four: Once and for all
The two letters of her mother’s that Mildred responded to here were not in her collection of papers. My guess is that she destroyed them. Those would have been the letters Mildred set her mother up to write so that her daughter could respond back to her in exactly the way that she did here. Minion Grandmother, kept as no more than a pet to Mildred, could exist as a 3,400-miles-away outsider to our family just so long as she kept her mouth forever shut and pointed no fingers at possible maternal flaws in her daughter most centrally regarding Mother’s treatment of me.
Very, very little indication of Mother’s abuse toward me or even of her great rage appeared in her letters. All-good Mildred wrote about her all-good world with me remaining invisible in her all-bad hell. No need to speak of THAT – unless Mother had a psychosis-serving purpose for doing so.
That she so specifically detailed her feelings about my clothing in her letters was an invitation to her mother to arrive at her own slaughter, or at least at her own castration. Grandmother took the bait, which is what Mildred’s illness planned all along exactly so she could write these letters and put her mother in her place. These are some of the phrases that appear throughout the following letters.
“Also please let’s straighten out matter of Linda once and for all.”
“You’ve always interfered with Linda and probably more reason I’ve had difficulties with her in past than her wearing Levis in Glendora.”
“Sorry if this hurts but next summer I don’t want fusses such as in past over your well-meant but unwanted suggestions.”
“You’ve always been far overly concerned with LINDA’S actions anyways.”
“It takes far more anyways than ‘a pretty dress and a pretty face’ to be nice. She does wear pretty dresses to school and looks like a Princess in her beautiful jacket (when it’s clean!!) I no longer wish to discuss it with you and I will appreciate no further comments and psychological theories from you!”
“We feed, clothe and love our children and we will discipline them and reward them as WE see fit now and in the future!!!!! They are our responsibility – we brought them into the world – they’re NOT your children ‘only your grandchildren’. PERIOD.”
“I want to bring them up the way WE see fit – it’s one reason we wanted to come up here…. In order to bring up our children in our own way – as we see fit!!!”
“You’re their grandma – their only one now – and they need grandmotherly love and we need love too.”
How did Mother define love? Grandmother followed the only choice she knew how to. Her lips became sealed after these letters. There could have been no greater love shown to me by anyone than for someone to have confronted the truth and have gotten me out of that home forever.
In the end, and by the time this correspondence was completed, Mother had won the war. Her mother was the only “grandma” in our life because Mildred had disowned her husband’s family through her hatred and made sure he disowned his family, as well. Although in the final of these letters Mother implicates money as her concern, nothing about that was true. As will become obvious throughout later letters loan after loan from her mother financed Mildred’s homesteading obsession.
I don’t feel sorry for Grandmother. She helped to destroy her own daughter. In the meantime, however, in the thickening ooze of their adult relationship my grandmother was the only hope I had ever had for an ally or a rescuer. I would have added my grade school teachers before I read what they said about me even on the backs of my report cards that were saved among Mildred’s papers.
Like some brave but errant Ponty Python knight about to have his appendages whacked off at the bridge Grandmother marched right into her daughter’s trap to have her power to hold her own in any way against my mother regarding me completely destroyed. By the time Mildred finished writing these letters Grandmother’s influence over her grandchildren was dead. This was ultimately what Mildred’s move to Alaska was designed to accomplish.
Here it comes Grandma, with both barrels. By the time Mildred completed these letters the isolation of our family was nearly complete. All Mother had left to do was move us up the side of a remote mountain out of reach of anyone.
November 20, 1957 Wednesday
Received No. I and No. II letters today – no real need to number them, as I’m certain I receive all of your letters!! Thanks so much for the very generous check and of course I could use it but then I could really spend a million if I had it!! But it’s far too generous and I cannot and will not accept such a large amount so I am mailing it back. The thought was sweet but we’re all trying far too hard to get caught up to be so overly-generous! Please understand and $10.00 would be marvelous! (Anyways I’m 32 in December!)
We’re really trying so hard to get caught up and will have a tight two years in doing so but can’t see accepting $31.00 for Birthday – just can’t. Why we won’t spend more than $50 on Xmas for children and Bill and Me!!!
Also please let’s straighten out matter of Linda once and for all.
No. I. I did not write to you for advice!!!
No. II. Linda has always been dressed feminine and given as many (if not more) advantages as any girl!!
No. III. I did buy her more clothes this year and a prettier and more expensive jacket on purpose to make her feel feminine – with NO AVAIL!! She still wears dresses to school and always does look nice! – When she leaves home!
No. IV. She looked nice up until two because she was in a play pen and stroller!! – So does Sharon NOW!
ENOUGH SAID except please don’t pass on unwanted unneeded advise air mail please, concerning children – I only mentioned it to let you know that she is not taking care of her clothes and I feel should not wear expensive clothes until she takes care of what she now wears!! For no other reason.
Linda always was kept nice and still is. Her hair has always been clean and shining (no child of mine will ever have a permanent in first grade!) and her nails have always been manicured. I have three girls and you had one – I think I am capable of caring for girls – thank you! If you want to give advice and must why don’t you give it to Carolyn [Mildred’s sister-in-law], seems Sandra needs it. Linda looks feminine and always will just hasn’t matured fully but in time I’m sure she will – and never could or would be like Mimi, Diana or boyish girl you mentioned (but Sandra may – dancing lessons or not). Probably dieting and less fussy, expensive clothes would do Sandra more good than dancing lessons at four!! See I have my ideas too only the difference is I keep my suggestions to myself unless asked for and usually then too as most people don’t relish advice asked for or not asked for (your clients excepted!!).
WHEW – well that’s off my chest. You’ve always interfered with Linda and probably more reason I’ve had difficulties with her in past than her wearing Levis in Glendora.
Sorry if this hurts but next summer I don’t want fusses such as in past over your well-meant but unwanted suggestions.
Remember I’ll be 32 in December – not 2! [all written very large on paper]
P.S. I. When my temperature simmers down in a few days I’ll write a letter.
P.S. II. Weather is warm and rainy here, thanks!
November 26, 1957 Tuesday
Bill brought home ‘the letter’ last night that you addressed wrong – isn’t it funny how you can do something like that. I did it many times last summer.
I am glad I wrote my recent letter and hope you fully understand so I won’t have to repeat myself in the future. You’ve always been far overly concerned with LINDA’S actions anyways. I am not nearly as concerned with ‘Tom Boyishness’ which is not as prevalent now anyways as with poor behavior in school and traits and personality. It takes far more anyways than ‘a pretty dress and a pretty face’ to be nice. She does wear pretty dresses to school and looks like a Princess in her beautiful jacket (when it’s clean!!) I no longer wish to discuss it with you and I will appreciate no further comments and psychological theories from you! Save them for the Cahill’s – I’m sure they’ll welcome them – I never have and I especially don’t now.
We feed, clothe and love our children and we will discipline them and reward them as WE see fit now and in the future!!!!! They are our responsibility – we brought them into the world – they’re NOT your children ‘only your grandchildren’. PERIOD.
* * * * * * * * * * [Mildred put these stars in her letter – notice how easily and thoroughly she dropped the subject having assured her complete power of control over me.]
The weather has turned cold here but we like it. The temperature has gone down to 18° nights and 20° and 22° days. There’s no snow on the ground – although weather report predicts it today. But it looks as if it’s snowed as the ground has a thick white coat of frost which remains all day now and the trees are also heavy with frost. The creek is partially frozen and has widened considerably. Parts of the surface are ice but the water still runs swift beneath and around the ice. In places there are big chunks of ice and icicles hand around edges and from trees where water has splashed. It’s fun to watch the changes – it looks more like a pond now, in places and although rough in spots will be good place for children to learn to ice skate when frozen solid!
We haven’t gone out lately – not since last Saturday. Second concert is this Friday so we’ll plan to go to that. Oh, yes – we did take the children into Anchorage Saturday to see “Perry” Disney’s production about wild life in forest. The scenery was identical to woods and creek near here and we enjoyed that plus music plus pictures of change of seasons BUT I squirmed and so did John at pictures showing animals chasing, hunting and devouring one another. The poor frightened, frenzied animals still haunt me. Sharon woke up at least four times during the night crying – I think she had bad dreams after it – she’s so sensitive. She never ordinarily awakens during the night.
This Saturday Santa comes to town and there’ll be a parade – I hope we can go. We’ve told Cindy about SANTA this year. Our Xmas is going to be zero this year – except for tree, dinner and 10¢ gifts and some clothing SO – thought I’d better explain. The thoroughly understands and feels big knowing. Anyways her questions were getting too involved.
The days pass fast – almost too fast – there’s so much to be done each and every day. The girls play very well together and Sharon says anything and everything. She’s cooperative, good and plays like a four year old – they have fun! Cindy likes being a big sister and is patient and good and also a Big help to me. She picks up her room, wipes dishes etc. I’ll be lost when she does go to school.
John and Linda are doing perfect in reading etc. – they work hard in school and their hours are long but they’re learning a lot!! They watch TV at 5:00, at 6:00 we have dinner, any reviewing, a story – it’s usually 8:00 by the time they get to bed – although it should be 7:00.
The days are so busy! My sewing got me behind. Yesterday I washed windows and cleaned walls in living room, washed curtains and rehung them. I have lots of ironing to do today and am writing this with my wet shampooed hair wrapped in a towel and better get to work! And also get my hair dried before I catch cold.
Before I close I must remember to tell you that big hat arrived and one smaller one. We opened them – of course didn’t unwrap Xmas packages but guess the smaller ones were books you mentioned and large one contained two quilts. (1) John’s quilt (beautiful!) and pillow THANKS – I only hope he’ll take care of it! And he needs a good pillow and (2) Sharon’s quilt and pillow (Mom may I return girls’ pillows to you). Remember I made those tiny pillows and just finished more pillowcases and embroidered on them. They’re very attached to them and those are too big for now. I could use rompers etc. so badly needed instead OK?
You did say you were sending four quilts and see only two came. Will others be in another box or what? We were worried but maybe put on another boat or something. Certainly everything got here SOON ENOUGH!!
Let me know about pillows please or can we return them here – I think we should mail them to you direct. They’re beautiful but just can’t use them now! And need other things SO BADLY!
This is my last piece of paper. I’ll form a few articles and have them reading in case he wants them. OK? Love, Mildred
P.S. I hope I never have to mention again about children. I don’t want to feel I can’t tell you about children or say something without a barrage of letters of advice following.
So once and for all:
We want no financial assistance in any way from now on. [What a joke. As future letters describe, Mildred and Bill continually benefited from Bea’s financial support.]
Only birthday and Xmas etc. gifts and those inexpensive and no more spent on our children please by you than we can spend on them! I don’t want Grandma giving them expensive gifts – love and thought count just as much.
We’re tight financially now and will be for two years but even if I were a millionaire I want children to learn the value of money and saving and spending own allowance etc. – also to be considerate, polite and thoughtful. I want to bring them up the way WE see fit – it’s one reason we wanted to come up here.
* In order to bring up our children in our own way – as we see fit!!!
I don’t want them to be materialistic or have false standards – I think it will be far more possible here than in southern California.
We intend to scrimp and save and don’t want you (please) influencing them in any way! [What a confused sentence along with whatever the thoughts were that made it.]
You’re their grandma – their only one now – and they need grandmotherly love and we need love too.
Use your well-earned money on yourself. Take trips, buy pretty clothes for you. Do things! – Go places!
From now on let’s limit your Birthday gifts to children to $10.00 or under and Xmas $5.00 apiece. NO MORE!!
An aftermath comment from Mother to Grandmother appears in the next chapter in a letter dated December 6, 1957:
Your letter arrived last night. So sorry you’re “low” – please don’t be. I should be able to mention one thing (as a Mother myself) without your getting like that. I’ve never criticized YOU as a Mother and I’m not now – you’re wonderful!! It’s only that I don’t want a lot of advice on the children – no more, no less. I have to rely on my own judgment in bringing up the children.
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