There are memories from my life that haunt me to this day. They’ve shaped the way I view things going on around us today.
It’s like facing monsters, both real and imagined.
The first “monster” I faced popped up nearly four months before I was even born, when my father died an accidental death while working to support a wife and 2-year-old twins — a girl and a boy — with me in my mother’s womb.
My brother suffered with cerebral palsy. His disability was severe. He could only say one word — flower. He couldn’t walk. I remember his smile, it was bright. I remember countless visits to hospitals in Boise and Salt Lake City. His body wasted away. A “monster” visited again in 1968 when my brother died at the age of 10. I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember the scene the morning he passed away: the bedroom we shared, the glare of a light waking me up while it was still dark outside, the screams coming from my mother as she found my brother’s lifeless body face down in his bed.
For whatever reason, the thought came to my mind then that I needed to be the man of the family. I called an aunt down the street to start spreading the news. I was 7 years old when that “monster” came along.
Maybe it was from loneliness after living around eight years without my father, maybe it was from a deep need to feel some happiness after my brother’s death, but my mother remarried in 1969. That’s when the next “monster” came along.
There was nothing fancy about my mother. She was raised on farms. She rode a horse to and from school. She wasn’t big on dresses and styling her hair in a fancy way. But she married someone who expected those things on a daily basis. I remember calling the man “dad” on their wedding day, but it didn’t feel right. That was the last time I can remember using the word with him.
Heated arguments between my mom and her second husband were common, even starting during their honeymoon to the San Francisco area to visit — of all people — the man’s first wife, who was “more stylish.” My mother soon got the impression that she was being shown an example of how her husband wanted her to be from then on — hair piled high, perfectly neat; dresses, there had to be dresses worn daily; dinner served promptly after getting home from work, right down to salads being served in a black plastic bowl. If salads weren’t served in that black plastic bowl, there’d be hell to pay.
The man seemed to look at himself as God’s gift to humanity, or at least a gift to members of the opposite sex. He’d look at himself often in a mirror, and if any hair was out of place he’d lick his fingers and put it back in place. He’d take me out to breakfast at a coffee shop on Saturday mornings and flirt with the waitresses.
I learned to pray late one night when I almost lost my mother during a particularly heated argument. Maybe she was tired of being objectified by the “monster.”
On more than one occasion, my mother, my sister and I spent the night sleeping in our car out in the woods or in a motel room when the “monster” got to be too much.
The haunting came to a head one night in 1972. I was around 11 years old at the time, my sister was 13 or 14. A particularly frightening argument made its way from the master bedroom to my sister’s bedroom. The abuse was both mental and physical. When my sister stood up to the “monster,” she was slapped down. At that point, I felt the need to be the man of the family again. I was big for my age. I stood face to face with the “monster,” not saying a word but looking at him in a way that dared him to try something with me.
The “monster” apparently got the message and left the house. The locks were changed the next day. I still remember him yelling at that discovery, demanding to be let in. That was the beginning of the end of that “haunting.”
I swore that I would never allow myself to become like that “monster,” and if I ever showed any signs of it in me I’d vow to change my ways.
That experience alone brought about an anger in me that lasted into my teen years. I’d find myself imagining beating that “monster” to a pulp.
I lived most of my formative years around my mother and sister. It gave me a respect for the opposite sex that a lot of men will never know.
It’s that respect that makes my blood boil when I see anyone objectifying women in a blatant way.
This all leads me to Donald J. Trump.
Trump’s actions have made my skin crawl for a lot of years. His run for the presidency of the United States has been … monstrous. He has become the monster in our midst.
Trump needs to experience a loved one with a disability dying and the horror that surrounds it before mocking someone with a physical ailment. I remember my brother whenever I see Trump acting the fool in mocking someone with a disability.
I remember the abuse my mother and sister suffered at the hands and words and attitude of someone acting like less than a man when I see and hear the way Trump views women, especially with the 2005 video released last week which found Trump boasting about how he could get away with being a sexual predator.
I can honestly say at the risk of being contacted by the Secret Service for publishing threats against a presidential candidate that if I heard Donald J. Trump speaking that way about my wife or daughter or any woman I loved, I would kick his butt around the block numerous times. And he’d deserve it.
I’m sick of people falling for the Trump excuse of this being “locker room talk.” I’ve been around that setting enough to say there’s bawdy talk in locker rooms, and then there’s boasting about making unwanted moves against women that classify the person doing the boasting as a sexual predator.
Trump fits that mold. And yet some people buy into his excuse. I’m sick of this game.
I’m sick of hearing people talk about how refreshing Trump’s “not-so-politically-correct” approach is. To hell with the term “politically correct.” How about just practicing common decency? What’s political about that?
It’s amazing to have people talk about American values and morals eroding, and yet so many of those same people defend Trump over “words.” It goes well beyond words, it goes to an attitude of entitlement that people like Trump haven’t even come close to earning throughout his drama-filled life.
It’s humorous to find people who get up in arms about a fear of transgender people using women’s bathrooms because women and children could be groped, yet so many of those same people still support a presidential candidate who’s been caught on a hot mic encouraging the act of groping women.
This monster is in our midst, front and center. It needs to be rejected.
This is a strange frontier.