Happy birthday, Diane

Today is my sole sibling’s birthday. She turns 80, and lives — still I imagine — in a stationary, double-wide trailer* in the Northern California town of Arcata. We have not communicated in nine years. I was the one who called it off.

Around 1955.

She was a good Big Sister in our youth, always having my back, but in her late 30s she got involved in what many consider a cult, and things went drastically downhill from there. It’s a “therapy” cult that had a guru in New York City. He had many slavish female followers. I cannot remember the name of the organization or its leader.

But it calls itself a form of therapy. I often asked actual therapists whom I ran into if they had heard of that form of “therapy,” and no one had.

Diane was married briefly in her 20s to a guy I liked. She once said this: “He zips, flips and knows where it’s at.” This was the 1960s, and some people actually talked like that. She dumped him after a few short years, but they remained friends for a spell.

About the same time she enlisted in the cult, she decided she was a Lesbian, and her personality began a descent into fanaticism. She developed a hair-trigger personality. Her politics went hard left. She became a fan of the French writer Michel Foucault. Her cult guru also has a book. My mother and I tried to read it, but it made no sense to either of us. It was utter nonsense, but it became Diane’s Bible.

She was a university English instructor through much of her 20s and 30s, but then she turned to her “therapy.” The cult runs “therapy” centers, which are actually traps, around the United States, and she co-managed one in Atlanta. She found a partner, a California woman named Roxan who was divorced with three adult children. They stayed together for decades till Roxan died about four years ago, something I learned on Facebook.

They moved from Atlanta to Arcata to be near Roxan’s family, most of whom were not overly fond of Diane. So, two divorcees, one with kids, who had flipped to Lesbianism. I liked Roxan quite a bit. Unlike Diane, she was not explosive. She was cuddly.

Diane had a falling out with the co-manager of the cult’s Atlanta outpost, so she opened a private therapy practice that focused mostly on occupational issues, and later became a “life coach.” You may have heard of that relatively new field. It’s all the rage. Interestingly, my second ex-wife also became a “life coach” after our divorce.

I have been surrounded by female “therapists” for years. My first ex-wife is a therapist. My daughter became a therapist. And there, of course, is Diane. I wonder if she still practices. Her website remains online.

Until I canceled my Facebook account a few months ago, I used to look at Diane’s page where she almost daily posted “Woke” pronouncements and other leftist, PC nuttiness.

Many people mellow with age. I have. She hasn’t. As Trump would say: Sad.

And today she is 80. I wonder if someone brought her a cake.


* Which I learned via Google Street View.

A Florida childhood

sibs
Circa 1955.

I WAS RAISED in north Florida, Jacksonville, where I lived throughout the 1950s and on into the 1960s. I graduated from high school in 1962, and left the state forever.

That’s me and my sister, Diane, sitting on the bentwood bench in the back yard of our home in the Jacksonville suburb of Arlington, across the St. John’s River.

I don’t know why we were dolled up like that. It likely was Easter Sunday, and my paternal grandparents must have come to town. Otherwise, we would have ignored Easter because my parents were socialist agnostics, usually.

But when my father’s parents were around, we were upstanding citizens, good churchgoers, teetotalers. My father hid his booze bottles. Paternal grandfather was a Baptist deacon, and grandma was a Methodist.

Around them, we were another family altogether.

mother

Here’s my mother, Virginia. She died in 2009 at age 90, but she would have been about 38 here. I wonder if her Miltowns were in the purse or on the kitchen window ledge, which is where she usually kept them for easy access.

Our green 1950 Dodge is parked in the driveway. I have no idea who those rug-rats are who are opening the screen door. Probably kids of the Dawsons who lived next door.

My sister towered six-feet-tall in high school and had just one date the entire time. I wonder if that was when she began her spiral down the road where she ended up decades later as a militant, explosive, feminist, lesbian fanatic?

But she was very nice when she was young. She was smart and kind and reasonable. I miss that sister.

An American family of the 1950s. You never know what hides behind the Easter Sunday smiles and lies.

American Gothic

Family

MY SISTER RECENTLY  mailed some photos to my daughter, and my daughter sent this copy to me. The original was in color, but I made it black and white because it’s more in line with reality. It would have been taken around 1987.

You might notice that nobody is smiling. We were not smiley people. I still am not.* Oh, but my sister is smiling, you say. Not really. That’s her Cheshire Cat expression. She was probably planning an assassination of someone on Fox News.

We were not a happy family. Strangely, I would not have said that had you asked on the day of this photo. I would have shrugged. My father was a boozer, and so was I. He had stopped when this shot was taken, but I had not.  We both stopped voluntarily in our early 50s.

For the same reason, I imagine. It got too painful.

We drank in the same fashion. We were not violent or abusive. We were quiet and out of touch, the sort of drinking that can do about as much damage to relationships as someone who throws chairs through windows and screams. We did none of that sort of thing.

My sister was no stranger to the sauce either. I don’t know to what extent she overdid it because I rarely saw her. She graduated from high school and left home when I was 14. That was about the end of a sister in my life. She went on to stumble around, primarily in university settings. She took up with hippies. She taught English a while. She got graduate degrees in stuff like counseling.

In her 40s, she hooked up with a New York City gang called Social Therapy, which had connections with the New Alliance Party and a shadowy, charismatic figure named Fred Newman. Many call it an anti-semitic cult. I am one of those who call it that.

She is 73 now, lives alone in Atlanta, and has a private counseling practice. She is a left-wing fringe, lesbian, feminist fanatic, and I quit communicating with her about two years ago. I would have cut ties far earlier had my mother died sooner. My mother long embraced a family fantasy. As it was, I communicated only rarely with my sister via snail mail and then email. I have not seen her in person in about 12 years.

My father died about four years after this photo. Downed by a heart attack at 75. Like me, he had been a newspaper editor. He retired early, age 49, and became renowned in American haiku poetry circles. He still has two books of poetry available on Amazon.

My mother, in spite of appearing in this photo as if she could be the wife of Josef Mengele, was the nicest of the lot by far. In contrast to the other three, she drank not a drop. She was an elementary and junior high schoolteacher before becoming a school librarian in middle age.

She died in 2009 at the age of 90.

Some people sweep their dark family secrets under a rug. I take that rug off the floor, hang it on a clothesline, invite the neighbors, and beat the bejesus out of it with a big broom. And I feel better for it. Photos bring memories, no?

Thanks for listening.

* * *  *

* In spite of that, my child bride says I have a fantastic sense of humor, and I do. Go figger.

(Note: Unrelated to today’s topic, let it be known that there is now a Moon Google+ page.)