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03 May 2006 @ 12:54 pm
Mysteries of the past  
Lately I've been trying to learn more about my childhood medical history. It was distorted by my Munchausen-by-proxy mother. As I read more about MBP I learned that often one sign is that the child has siblings who died or suffered medical abuse. Suddenly I had the horrible thought that my half brother's death while in my mother's care might not have been as innocent as it seemed. My mother's story is that James had a cold and by the next morning he was found turning blue in his crib, was rushed to the hospital but arrived DOA. Asphyxiation is a fairly common tactic of MBP mothers and sometimes babies die because they carry it too far. They seek the sympathy that a mother of a sick baby normally gets, and want to appear heroic by rushing the baby to the hospital. Did it backfire on her? I know my mother was haunted by his death and told her story over and over again, blaming herself for not taking him in the night before. But is that really what she blamed herself for?

I'm tracking down old medical records, a death certificate and talking to my father's siblings to flesh out the story. I'm trying to find out which hospital he was taken to, the one in Carthage, IL or Keokuk, IA.

I learned more yesterday about my half sister's injury. My mother held Bea's hands under scalding water and gave her third degree burns. Apparently she was in the hospital a few weeks and then taken to my Aunt Laura's where she was raised. My parents separated soon after. (My mother always said she left my father but it looks like the other way around. Perhaps I should dig up the divorce papers.)

I feel for my half-siblings; their own mother abandoned them as toddlers while my father was out of town, then my mother abused at least one of them and maybe both.

I have to wonder yet again why my father didn't keep in touch with me and visit regularly even if he felt he couldn't gain custody. He used to come to the hospital to sign the insurance paperwork but then not bother to visit me. How do fathers do this? He's hardly the only one. For the life of me I can't understand how they shove children to the back of their mind and just go on with their life. I still get tears in my eyes every time I watch some show that portrays such a father. Most recently Meredith Grey's father in Grey's Anatomy has made me so angry on her behalf. The excuse: her mother "broke" him. I guess a bitchy or cold ex-wife is one of the common reasons these absent fathers cite for not keeping in touch with their kids. Oh come on, are you adults or not? And if the woman frightens you, don't you think you ought to check in on the child(ren) you leave in her hands?

The grey weather seems to reflect my mood. I hope the fog burns off soon.
litlebananalitlebanana on May 3rd, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
My mom was a "bitchy ex-wife" as you called it. But my dad always made an effort to see me, even though she made it as difficult as possible. Not that he's a huge saint or anything, but I'm glad he didn't just disappear like she wanted him to. Now you're making ME teary-eyed...
Tapatitapati on May 4th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
I'm always interested to hear about people's relationships with their dads. I try to imagine how mine could have gone. Of course sometimes I hear about abuse and I have to be grateful that at least I wasn't abused by mine. It's good to hear about the dads who do stay in touch after the divorce. Father's Day is coming up and it's a good opportunity to show your appreciation. :)
crushednchurned on May 4th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)
My ex has totally abandoned our son. He has no excuse. I've always been gracious, kind and invited him into my son's life without any strings attached. He has nothing to say, he knows it and yet the best he can do is repeat promises for fatherly commitment that he never lives up to. On one hand I can't believe how callous it is and I wonder how he can possibly rationalize it. Then again, I think he'd be such a shitty father, it's probably best he's not around. Life is serene without him.
Tapatitapati on May 4th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
My children's father was just like this too. I think even a lukewarm father who stays somewhat connected is better than complete absence. It really does something to you when you feel like one parent doesn't love you at all. Even if he sent regular cards or something, to make G. feel like he's thinking about him, it would be something.

It's painful to watch your child be neglected by their other parent. I used to tell my kids that their dad did love them; he just wasn't sure how to show it to them. I made it a point to say it was not their fault, also, that the problem was entirely his.
crushednchurned on May 5th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Good for you. I think I may do the same.
crushednchurned on May 4th, 2006 03:49 am (UTC)
I just realized I got caught up in my own shit there for a second and I want to address what your mom may have done. I'm really sorry. It's a horrible prospect. I'm touched by what you are dealing with and beyond working with it on a personal level - I think you do that with wonderful strength and insight - there's also more to write about, for your book.
Tapatitapati on May 4th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
I'm happy to hear about others' experience with this issue. It makes me feel less alone.

Once a writing teacher told me that the Goddess has blessed me with so much material to write about. Later I looked upwards and said, "Thanks, I think I have enough now." :)

I'm trying to walk the line between working with it and not wallowing in it. ;)

On the bright side I got in touch with my father's family and at least am getting some validation that there was no excuse for his not staying in touch. I'm also getting some good geneaological info on that side of the family. Apparently the McPherson brothers who came over were escaping the fallout from the Jacobite rebellion--their older brother was executed over it--and they changed the spelling to McPherson to distance themselves from it. (The original being Macpherson, I gather.) Some of the McPhersons ended up in California and I'm told it is likely that the local ones, same spelling, are distantly related to me. I'm going to go photograph their headstones in our local cemetary. Of course the most famous of these is Bruce McPherson, our current California secretary of state.


The brothers were William, Richard and Daniel, and our branch is descended from Daniel.

I'll have to read up on the Jacobite Rebellion. It feels different to know that my own family was involved! Really makes history come alive.
Tapatitapati on May 4th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
Hmm, from the web:


"A Day's March to Ruin." Alan G. Macpherson, Clan MacPherson Association, 1996. Retells the story of the participation of Clan MacPherson and its chief Col. Ewen MacPherson in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46. Lists 346 men of Badenoch, mostly MacPhersons, who participated in the rising by home village with biographical information about many of them. In the clearances following their defeat at the Battle of Culloden many of these clansmen were exiled to the Americas.

Also, on the Rebellion:


just for my future reference, another account of three supposed brothers emigrating: