My Brother/ My son… part 3

There were tears and rejoicing from mom when we got back to my grandparents’ house. She kept repeating, “I forgive you.” Words I couldn’t imagine coming from my lips. I was furious.

As we settled in at my grandparents’ house I asked mom where she was sleeping. To get the court order allowing her to take us she had to prove she had a safe place for us to live. She lied because she wasn’t living there. She had gotten a one room apt. with a shared bath that was close to the dive bar where she worked. Not the nicest area of town.

The first few days went by with her coming to visit during the day acting all gaga over her baby boy and giving me wide berth. Then she announced her landlady (whom none of us had ever met) had agreed to babysit while she was working. One little hitch… the apartment was only big enough for her to add a crib for my brother so I would be staying with the grandparents.

My gut told me this was not a good idea but I was powerless to stop her from leaving with the baby. I remember my grandmother saying, “Now you know how much your mother loves you. She’s changed now and you have to accept it.” I believed neither comment.

My uncle James, who’s only eleven years older, was like a big brother to me.  He and his wife were always there for us when we needed them, providing they knew where we were. They lived about a mile from my grandparents. I wanted to talk to them about this new development so I walked over to their house, a few days after my mother had left with my brother.

James suggested he go to mom’s new apartment, while she was working, to see how the new babysitter was working out. I made him take me. It was worse than I even anticipated.

The area had been a very wealthy neighborhood many years before. Large stately homes had become run down rooming houses over the years. If you squinted you could see the former majesty. Wide stone steps leading to a double door that was, no doubt, mahogany under multiple layers of chipped paint. Inside a foyer with what was once a grand staircase now had cheap paneling and multiple doors along the hallway. We knocked on the door with ‘MGR’ on it.

A disheveled old lady opened the door. She was clearly drunk. I was cursing my gut for being right. My uncle asked if she was babysitting his nephew. She looked at him quizzically before it dawned on her sotted brain what he was referring to.

“Oh, sure!  Sweet kid.  Sleeps all the time.” She said. We pushed our way in and she said, “Oh, he’s not here. He’s in his own crib. He likes it there.”

I thought my uncle was going to choke her but he stopped himself. He knew it wasn’t this old lady he wanted to choke, it was his sister. I thought he had better get to her before I did!

She took us down the hall to mom’s lovely apartment. I heard him crying before she opened the door. Then I began to cry.

He was standing in his crib with a filthy diaper dragging down past his knees that most likely hadn’t been changed since morning. His little face was red and swollen from crying for God only knows how long. He reached up for me and I just crumpled.

How the hell could ANYone do this to an innocent child? How could ANY court system give this person custody?! My tears turned to rage. I wanted to kill her. I saw the same look in my uncle’s eyes. We just stared at each other for a moment then he said, “Grab the baby and let’s go.”

We figured out our plan on the way to his house, where we spent the night.

Leave a Reply



  1. Barbara Hammond

    Yes. Common sense wasn't in my mother's world Joyce!

  2. Jotter Girl

    The visual you have painted with your words has moved me to tears.

  3. Barbara Hammond

    I know Catherine, I was crying when I wrote it. It's burned into my brain.

  4. Caroline

    How horrific.

    thank god you had your uncle.

    That's too much for a girl of that age to have had to deal with

  5. Adrienne Carrick

    I'm with Catherine….. 🙁

  6. ElizOF

    Urgh! Terrible, terrible thing to do to your own child… I am speechless.

  7. Barbara Hammond

    As I've said all along… I had great adults helping me. No 12 yr. old could do this alone. Thanks Caroline.

  8. Barbara Hammond

    I know Adrienne, it's sad. This is the worst of it for now. I'll post one more in this series.

  9. Barbara Hammond

    I know Elizabeth… I write this still shaking my head that anyone could do this to their own children.

  10. countingducks

    Thankgod your brother had you to look out for him and you had your uncle to look out for you. The character, stubborness and bravery you showed are beyond impressive and truely impressive. As for your mother: it's a sad story and God knows how she became as she did

  11. Barbara Hammond

    I never understood either Peter, until I discovered she was bi-polar. Also, abused children often grow up to abuse their own.

  12. winsomebella

    Your story is so compelling and heart-wrenching. You are a lovely survivor.

  13. Mjcwriter

    what an unbelievable story! My heart breaks for your twelve-year-old self. Having been raised in an alcoholic home, I can sympathize with the chaos, but cannot fathom the extremes you and your baby brother experienced!

  14. Pingback: My Brother/ My Son…the end, for now | Zero to 60 and Beyond