Story: Related By Blood

By: Kimberly Potter Kendrick


No word from Sissy in three days. It hurts. That’s finished. How did it all fit, there is one sneaker. Where could the other be… Gotta have 3 house keys made. Oh, yeah, and buy a tire. Brother is lying, always lying, habitual liar. Sometimes he will eventually tell the truth, weeks later. He thinks he’s fooling someone, always tell them you can’t con a conner. Is the tire really or maybe punctured? Then a patch would do, that would be a godsend for sure, could use some godsends about now Probably is slashed though… hugs and kisses, smother me with hugs and kisses. Growing so fast-Big Boy is 5 and Lil One is 18 months. Is the bed off the frame, did the furniture get rearranged, i just flat out don’t like the idea, someone messing with my personal stuff, probably won’t like it. Sissy said she would, but haven’t heard a thing from her in days, wish she understood me, this crap just a little, haven’t heard from Sandy next door this week either…that little Grace is so cute and swimming like a fish. love looking at pictures of all their adventures. Musta have a thousand pictures on my phone, I’ve had some adventures of my own…Italy, France, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, Cayman Islands, entire east coast-lots of airports. Big Boy and me explored the bay area for 3 weeks last summer- man it was hot too, went to see mickey too. Big Boy tans like nothing I’ve ever seen. Today’s high of 86 degrees, feels like 108. Surely will set off bradley’s asthma…. read somewhere that ragweed is high, here comes headaches and runny nose, add tissue to Wally World list, not had a cold or flu in years, but those allergies, that’s another thing. Debating about the flu shot is ridiculous, either get it or don’t. Damn straight, I do, every year. My god I need a vacation, somewhere, anywhere. Relaxation. not the beach or a cruise, something easier for getting around…maybe a small cabin in the woods, at a park or something, had ‘me at the state park back home, don’t know about here. A year later still learning about this state. A fire pit would be nice, my firebug would jump on that. That new indoor trampoline park opened last month, the boys would love going there, no Jumping for me. Hoping dr. B says I can swim and knock 20 pounds off as soon as he says go. appointment is Wednesday with him, I can’t remember the time, thank goodness for the mychart thing and the calendar on my phone, never would know when, where I’m supposed to be…I do believe the appointment is in the morning, hope not too early, So glad Cari’s going with her. Navigating the wheel chair is really difficult, i’m an amateur. Kate’s text was so sweet, so glad I met her, always smiling. Hate thinking ‘bout coming back, fingers-crossed one more and I’m done, will I really walk again…stop right now, get that idea outta your head!!!!! blood pressure has been so high this past week, usually it’s so low they check it twice- stress and pain. Don’t know what to expect, guess most folks dislikes change, scared of the unknown…always got a foot into the future, missing out on today. What did Cari say she was doing today? Oh… yoga and the post office, mailing home that ice machine for me, sure am going to miss it next couple days, but will need it as soon as I walk in the door. Missing them, did they miss me? have to remember to write Cari a check, shipping plus a few other assorted things. Groceries… need someone to pick them up, first balance the checkbook…god hope there is enough. it’s a long time until the third of August, Bills to pay. Bills in the mail every day. Has Bradley been getting the mail or is it crammed into that little box. Who really knows, guess I’ll find out in a day or two. Sissy said she was sort through it on the phone with me, the phone never rang. always rings at seven in the morning. Monday through Friday anyway, Sarah calls me on her way to work, don’t recollect how long they have been friends now…years, we’ve had some ups and downs, everything is all good now. The sun is shining Sarah’s way, a promotion at work, loan approval. Homeowners, how about that, she really wanted that house, happy for him. Will the money come through for me, enough to buy a house, i promised, promised Pop, promised myself.,. Why do promises get broken? Lies. Everybody lies it seems, people can’t tell the truth to save their lives, only a few even do what they say they are going to do. Ethics. Pop had ethics, including keeping his word. I miss him, thirteen years in the fall, hard to believe he has been gone so long. Sissy and Bradley were so distraught, me- living in make-believe, it couldn’t be real, but it was, couldn’t accept it for years. Look over there! there’s that shoe poking out from under the bed, bet that’s not the only thing under there….under there, under there…hmmm..where to put the lock box, certainly won’t fit under the bed anymore. Oh goodness, can’t think about all the changes, even art classes have changed, scheduled both my classes on the same night, Mondays I think and back to back, 3 hours is too long, I can’t pay attention for 30 minutes much less 3 hours, Steven said he was still going, our issues not the same, he called-I couldn’t call back. Vincent left two voice mails, he hardly responds to anything- made this joke once and now it’s his big thing, i stopped laughing the first day, whatcha call a fair weather friend, always busy, I figure people make time for what’s important to them, I sure don’t need friends like that, do need friends though, one neighbor and Steven from art class.. 2 friends after a year., sad just plain sad, price of being introverted. Believe I’ll try that new church, not really a church, It’s a…place..,oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue…hmmm…congregation, that’s it, doesn’t matter what you believe, maybe I’ll make friends there, maybe… have to open my mouth first. Why is it so hard? I have passions, love talking about them, but with strangers, I just don’t know. Forget small talk, I can see
it’s raining or the price of gas at the corner store. I hate these smokers at the pool. Hasn’t anyone been to see the exhibit at the art museum yet, read a good book-Real literature, not some trashy romance novel, might as well watch soap operas… mom watched the young and the restless everyday for 100 years, Mom doesn’t understand me either, it’s rare I turn on the loud box, i’m done with watching the news…wars, violence, ignorance abounds, soooo depressing, social media tells all anyway, gotta check your source, fake news is every where, politics dominate this year, never in my life has an election caused me such distress, how could people vote for him, never will I get it, make america great again, America has always been great until now, other countries’ laugh at us stupid americans. Pop served in the navy for 22 years, that’s how I ended up being born in Rhode Island, the smallest state, pop used to tell me precious things come in small packages. God how I miss him. Florida is a big switch though really was in-between most of my days. Moving day Bradley drove us across the state line, felt so free. I know it was the right decision, took me near a year to make it. New experiences, diversity, the arts are what I wanted, apartment complex is humongous, very diverse, love hearing the different languages at the clubhouse gatherings- it’s good for the children to get a view of the real world, not one race. All white are old home, racism, racists too, that’s not how i raised my children. can’t believe they are grown. I’m a grandma, who would have figured, how’d I get this old, wasting much of my life away. That crazy puzzle the other day, answer was supposed to be this year, 2017, didn’t work for me, used to be a math wiz too. Why do people post such nonsense? Others fight through comments, it’s absurd airing their dirty laundry for all to read. Oh my, look at that overflowing basket, time to do laundry and then the floors, Bradley said he would wash if she would fold and put away not sure who is getting the better end of that stick. That sale at piggly wiggly on steaks is a great deal, oh, ends in two days, have to stop at the market after her doctor’s appointment. amazing, a text from Bradley, he must want something, if he just wanted to know how I was doing, he would have called.

Mom never says yes, I mean what’s the big deal, lots of people drive without licenses, I have did it for so long, why is she changing the rules today? That stupid flat tire, that’s it, I know it is, wasn’t even my fault, he didn’t even have a beef with me. Why is she my mother? Why can’t I have one like my friends…one who doesn’t give a crap, she wants me to be responsible. I’m only 20. I want a job, just can’t find one, damn sure don’t want that vrs’s help either, I never want to go to school again…i hated high school with a passion. Passions, have passions alright, pot and sex. Mom’s crazy, orders them condoms every month, forget that , don’t like the way they feel. I haven’t really thought about it, kids, that is. I mean I love my nephews… never really thought about being a father. Where is my damn lighter? I stashed some smoke in the dresser drawer, that girl better not have stolen it, knew I couldn’t trust her. Cunt. I need to shave…hmm…clean shaven or trim up my beard, Grandmother likes my face smooth, she’s so far away and old. no idea until Mom told me that Grandma was 84 on her birthday, what if I never see her again, she’ll be gone like Grandpa. Shit! I refuse to cry, I’m no pussy, no one can catch me like this. Where’s my ride, got the money from Joe’s mom, gotta get to the jail to bail him out, wonder what if it was me, would Mom bail me out??? I admit she’s gotten me out of lots of tight spots, i’ve cost her lots of money. Mom never gave up on me, I really don’t get it, how I treat her… disrespectful n all, lots of nights i hear her crying at night, Want to know how to tell you have pushed her too far, the f-bomb, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck a duck, Mom hardly ever curses, I’m cursed, that loser of a sperm donor, bastard leaving the three of us, never helped Mom, not a dime of child support, she took care of us by herself. Yeah, we didn’t get all the things we wanted, but she taught us about love everyone-we weren’t less or better, she believed in us, still does, she says always remember where you come from and who has your back. She tries to keep us a family, Sissy has moved on, she wants no part of Mom, well, sometimes i don’t either. Life sucks. God damnit! I knew she stole my shit, both stashes…maybe I have enough change in my jar to at least buy a couple of cigars, had 50 dollars, gone in 2 days. What the hell is wrong with me? Same thing that’s wrong with mom, except Mom is responsible. She cries over everything though, I can’t stand it, crank up the music extra loud just to not hear her wails or the complaint of the day. Yeah, Mom we get it, you’re in pain, you hate your life, you know what, I hate mine too. My stomach won’t stop growling. There’s not shit in the kitchen. Mom spent all that money on groceries this month and Sissy, her boyfriend, and the boys ate it all up, what good is cereal without milk, if I could scrounge up a few dollars I could at least get milk, bread, and Ramen. How can Mom leave me in this situation, she expects too much from me… I don’t wanna call to find out when my appointments are, that’s bullshit! Herjob she’s the mother. If I’m really nice, she will give me some money, i play her, It’s so easy, like abc, a hug, I love you, how are you are all it takes. Mom faces challenge after challenge, but my life isn’t peaches and cream either. a peach, sure would like to have a nice juicy one about now. Wonder who’s online. Gaming, now that’s what life is about, I’m goons create games-make millions, that dude said I need a degree, Fuck that! I will show all of ‘em. What did the little heathen do with my mic? Mom just bought this headset, they don’t last no time, junk. I miss Jason, everything got so messed up, i left the key with him, don’t really know why, trying to help a brother out, I mean Jason is my best friend, my 1st real best friend… mom flipped over the eviction notice, I admit it, I knew what was going on, I didn’t think it was going to blow up, for a second, I felt bad for Mom. She kept saying this was finally home and now it’s gone… We’ve never had a home, she says she’s gonna get a little money and buy a house, maybe that will be a home, this apartment is a hell hole. I miss Jason, not allowed on the property. Sucks, me n j meet down at the park and swing like school kids. Embarrassing. I have another friend, Paul. He’s kinda dork, we were roommates for 4 years, that school was a place I hated, but Paul was cool, over six feet tall, clumsy as hell, and wore these big red glasses. Just like me, he didn’t care what anybody thought, maybe he didn’t notice the other kids whispering about him. We still talk sometimes or I’ll catch him on X-box. Mom will be home in two days, all hell is going to break loose and can you believe this, she needs my help. I’m not doing shit, she’s plenty old to take care of herself. Me, I’m holding my breath ‘till I can move out, no more rules to break. So I said I’d never smoke in the house, who cares Mom is not here? I’m going to enjoy these last couple of days before the bitch comes home, great parents, a loser and a disabled bitch. Yeah, I know she loves me, but she’s insane, always nagging me about one thing or other, dirty dishes in my room or the constant traffic as she calls it, they’re my peeps, i live here too, I’ve got real friends, she has nobody. She is still worried about being evicted, not going to happen. It’s all good. We’ll manage even if we have to move. Mom will take care of it. She always does. Damn, only 5 bucks in change…i need a car, hot as a mother-fucker out here, maybe it will rain, storms comin’, storm called mom.


OMG, what does she freakin’ want this time, I have a job and two kids to take care of everyday, she expects me to help her too, visited that place, she belongs in the nursing home, grandmother is much better, 84 and lives alone, all she wants is a phone call every now and then, just don’t have the time or energy to deal with mom, rent’s due next week, not even earning any tips yet, why the hell did I move, Jose’ n me have a good thing going, we’re happy, boys like him, everything should be good, me enjoying my family on my time off.can you believe Mom thought she was part of MY immediate family, everyone knows your immediate family is the folks ya live with, yeah, I get she has helped us, still we low on food, don’t know where rent is going to come from. Why hasn’t she gotten her money so she can really help me…after all I did when I moved to try to get her apartment cleaned, shit and when she moved too, she owes me, Mom doesn’t get how I break my back at work and then clean for her. Yes, Mom, we know, you have been sick a long time, yes, Mom, we know you are in pain, you are always in pain so why do you keep telling me? Bradley’s over it too, realize you are under a lot of stress but who’s not, your mood swings, can’t take them anymore. Dammit stop asking questions about my private life, Jose’ is none of your concern. I cut Mom off, don’t read messages, ignore phone calls, just don’t care anymore. imagine growing up with a disabled mother, friends wanting to know why she walks with crutches, they actually feel sorry for her, Gimme a break! Mom gets around fine. Well, she did. I do empathize, I can’t get involved, she’s depressed, anxious then she’s agitated, angry. Where is Bradley, he never listens, I told him he n big Boy could only go swimming an hour, gotta get him on a sleep schedule, school’s gonna start soon. I know deep inside mom can’t help it, but I can’t handle it anymore. I cleaned, cooked, and sorted mail all while looking for a job, what I really need is Jose’, he’s the answer to my prayers, so handsome and practically worships me…Mom asks when he is going home, I say soon, but he’s never going to leave me. Bradley’s been a godsend, never realized how responsible he can be sometimes, really helping out by babysitting, he adores Big Boy and Lil One, they love him. I know I said Sundays are family days, Mom takes everything so literally. I changed my mind. I can freakin’ do that, I’m grown, I pay my own bills, I don’t answer to anyone. I guess family day, start after school begins, school starts so early here, don’t think I can get all the paperwork done in time, so what if Big Boy misses the 1st week. It’s only kindergarten for god’s sake. I’m independent. I hated needing their help. Not anymore though, got it under control. Mom bought the boys the cutest summer clothes, I would never tell her, don’t need help buying my kids clothes. I love Jose’, but I will never need anyone again, even him. Phone’s ringing, Mom’s too demanding, she’s exaggerating, she can take care of herself, as for the other stuff, she belongs on the psych ward, why does she call me, I’m not a therapist. I will never be anything like my Mom, not going to let her drive me crazy, made it easy and cut her off, it’s so simple, I just don’t respond. Hopefully, she’ll get the hint and leave me alone. Lil One is not the issue, it’s Big Boy, he loves his Grandma and used to talk about her, to her nonstop, Bradley has helped changed that. Big Boy wants to follow him everywhere. Shit, I thought I took the chicken out of the freezer for dinner, cereal or sandwiches it is. 2 days and Mom comes home, thank God I’m working and can’t pick her up from the airport, Bradley will be babysitting for me. He’s off the hook too. Lil One is teething, need to put popsicles on the grocery list, yeah, I don’t know who is picking her up, but as long as it’s not me, I couldn’t give a damn. Maybe I should change my phone number, mom says she needs to be able to reach me, but the only people who need to call are Jose’ n Bradley when he’s babysitting. Jose’ gave me a beautiful ring, a promise ring, we getting married, going to be so different this time, no one will ever disrespect me again, counting days until I can file for divorce. I remember Mom telling me I didn’t have to get married, asking if I was sure, thought she was stupid, trying to ruin my life, I mean I loved him, well, I used to. Sometimes I guess Mom knows what she is talking about, except for dealing with her, I love my life, she’s such a downer, at 50 she should be able to cope with being sick, she’s certainly had enough time to adjust, me…I don’t have time nor the desire to deal with her anymore. Lil one climbs on everything, was that a crash, I hope jose’ grabs him, aw man he did, peace and quiet. Mom alludes to death, if she is going to do it I wish she would instead of just talking about it, I’m over her being sick, being depressed, anxious, asking me to do things. Jose’, Big Boy, and Lil One are my priorities, we’re family n we are happy. I’m not letting Mom interfere with my life, needs to get a grip or else.


Was going on vacation with Doug and Dawn next week, she called wanting to visit for a week while Cari is out of town, I couldn’t say no to my daughter, I have my own aches and pains, but I have never in my life had to go through what she has, watched her struggle with depression, anxiety most of her life, even before I knew, how was I suppose to know, 3:30 he’s right on time, Bill calls the same time every day on his way home from the post office, I’d never tell him, but I do look forward to his calls, same thing most days, swap the weather, medical news, what he’s doing that he shouldn’t be doing, rotary. I don’t know what to say, my days aren’t very exciting, I do what I want when I want to do it. Dinner or bath, I make my own self laugh, it’s the big decision most days, think the bath wins tonight, what’s looking good in the freezer tonight, chicken or salmon, salmon wins. Oh the warm water feels good, if only all my aches and pains would wash down the drain, wishing I understood my daughter better, feel helpless at times, all I can do is listen. Heart-breaking to see her in so much physical pain and mental anguish. I need to call Dawn and let her know I won’t be going, I have to help her the best I am able, think about those 2 grandchildren and I could shake Sissy and Bradley, she has done for them all their lives, I get angry just thinking about the way they disrespect her or don’t want to help. Barely hear over the jets, it’s either Clara or her. She’ll be hear tomorrow morn, hope I didn’t forget anything, daughter awakens quite early, I don’t want to worry, never been good at hiding anything, exhaustion has set in. My mind goes to Willard, so grateful for a husband who was always beside me and never let me go through anything alone. I thank God every day for the time Will and I shared, what a blessing to spend most of my life with my soulmate. Doing all I can for daughter. I gently wash her legs and feet, put lotion on her back, and assist with her exercises. She cries. Her tears seemed never-ending, she said there was nothing I could do, called it the face of depression, I wanted so badly to take all her pain away. I bet the salmon has thawed, won’t take too long to cook, did I check the mail today, a box full of junk most days, it was Clara who called, no message, probably talk to her tomorrow. She needed to talk and sometimes I just listened, I didn’t know what to say, I had things to do, but I checked on her, sat for awhile, cannot imagine with the torment she lives with in her mind. I do not understand her children, do they not realize the sacrifices she has made their entire lives? The week sure did pass quickly, Cari arrived to pick her up, we embraced, daughter and me, felt like she was hanging on for dear life, she placed her head upon my shoulder and bawled, I didn’t know what to say, I had no words to take her pain away, it seemed she was trying to tell me something, I was telling Clara, I hurt because she hurt. Clara said I did all I could do, daughter thanked me for all my help, not realizing it she helped me too. What will happen when she returns home., so much uncertainty about whether Sissy and Brother will help, I can only pray. I pray for each of them every night. Today’s event was I addressing a birthday card for Big Boy and driving to the post office. My heart and mind remain unsettled. Maybe I should call and check on her, it’s too late, she needs rest.


Yes, racy thoughts have slowed as the storm cloud darkened, each breath takes effort like every movement, lost inside my head. Occasionally Bradley called, conversation superficial, I say the wrong thing, I ask the wrong thing, he was gone or asked the wrong, I am not connected, my home vanished in a few weeks, I could try calling back, pure futility, Bradley just hits ignore, decline, go away mom, not talking to you mom. My mind refuses to listen, the voices argue, sissy’s gone, she’s left, she’ll be back, no she won’t. No calls or texts from Sissy, It’s a frantic, panicked hurt. I need new ice. Cari will come soon, she always does with 4 frozen water bottles and some ice in an old sand bucket. I can’t feel, my mind, my heart, numbness. Confusion. Bradley’s reactions not surprising, usually he comes around, a sense of grief that I’ve lost Sissy forever, can’t cope anymore, imagining no more hugs and kisses from Big Boy and Lil One, they’re all gone, they must be. What’s that sound? I say okay, relax, a medication reminder, listening to the garage door opening, some relief-Cari’s home, she tells me she’s making my favorite tonight, homemade guacamole, stomach was already growling. They are gone forever. There is no other possible answer, my mind only focused on returning to the apartment, what used to be home, repetitive thoughts of my future flood my brain, moving slowly as if a gentle stream, will I walk again. No, not now Vincent. How will I eat, will I starve, will there be water, ice to ease excruciating pain, the picture in my brain was stopping pain medication, attempting to drive, there will be no gas, I’m stuck with this quandary of how I will get to doctor’s appointments. Questioning where I went wrong, how did I raise children who do not love and care about me, are Sissy and Bradley waiting there to watch me fall, to be a failure once again, do they want to see me suffer. Yay dinner time, I’m hungry, seems like I am always hungry, my other favorite-tacos, each bite of guacamole I eat, I feel love, they didn’t have let me stay Week after week after month, what is the best way to say thank you for how grateful I am, not sure I can put it into words, can’t afford a gift. The painting. Remembering the painting I didn’t have time to ship. I’m being strangled, fear, real fear, is it rational, I can hold it in my hand and mold my fear. it was time. I shook, I’m not alone, I’m not alone right now, Cari is with me, I talked to myself, breathe, keep breathing, hating the security motions, time passed slowly, I heard preboarding and knew I had to say goodbye. No words would come out, only tears, embracing Cari like I did my mother, how can I feel alone on a filled to capacity plane, I do feel alone, I am alone. My body and sitting were not getting along, pain intensifying by the minute, a nonstop flight, I am grateful for a nonstop flight, the sun still bright, I am almost relaxed munching on peanuts, sipping Diet Coke. I felt the plane begin to descend, an elephant is sitting on my chest, adjusting the air as suddenly I was burning up, I can’t think, where are my thoughts, blank, I’m blank. The jolt of the plane touching down woke me up. I typed a quick text to Christopher, my nephew, to let him know I am on the ground. We were driving to the apartment. Christopher tells me joke after joke, laugh damnit, he’s trying to help! No giggles, only tears, I sensed impending doom. tears streamed down her face, I heard video game sounds coming from Bradley’s room. Christopher placed my luggage on the end of the bed where I could reach it. We hugged, thanking him for the ride, we said their good-byes. Where is my walker, my reacher, nothing, no one to help, struggling unsteadily on crutches I managed to get to the bathroom, throwing cold water on my red, swollen eyes, numbness returns, it’s true, all true my mind repeated. Unable to change clothes, no water in the room, the excruciating pain will never ever leave, my life is overwhelming, I can’t distinguish between physical pain, broken heart pain. I lie alone, watching the blades of the ceiling fan spinning, I was right, it’s what I imagined…helpless, hopeless, writhing in pain, please god help me sleep, please god hold me, god I don’t know if I want to wake up, god I don’t know, I don’t have answers, my children aren’t coming, no longer a family, falling asleep no longer crying, this is my reality, 3 individuals related by blood.


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