I once had wings of wax and gold.
To the Sun my soul was sold.
My freedom burned blisters on my skin.
My cold heart begged for the warmth to be let in.
These wings will surely be able to withstand the fire.
My heart will grow warmer once I climb higher.
As I fell I laughed and screamed and cried.
At least I had been free when I died.
~ Gloria Catherine (“Gia”)
“Icarus” was written by the second “Phoenix rising”, my daughter, Gloria Catherine, on October 18, 2018, unbeknownst to me until it was revealed the day after one of the most bittersweet days of my life, Christmas, December 25, 2019. The irony is that I have long been fixated with the ill-fated “Flight Of Icarus” and his toxic relationship with his father. This glimpse into the burning embers and fire of her soul have now become one of the GREATEST gifts I have ever received. Some day “my gift” will be “your gift”, and by that I mean “a gift unto this world”, as The Light I’ve sought so desperately in this otherwise very dark place will live out loud through her. She’s the culmination of every one of my failings, disgraces, accomplishments and acheivements and the truth behind all the lies I’ve searched so hard to find. MY daughter … MY legacy … “MY Phoenix”.
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and from the outside looking in our family appeared picture perfectly charmed. My sister Julie and I were raised by two parents who chose never to divorce despite the many odds stacked against them and the years of turmoil and dysfunction that besmudged our own family legacy. My mother bore the brunt of our childrearing, which as it turns out was probably for the best, and in being honest and for that reason alone there are so many wonderful memories I have as a child. She did the very best she could to make a happy environment for us. She suffered, struggled and sacrificed in every physical and psychological regard for the sake of everyone under our roof, most especially my father, and certainly for me and my sister.
My mother was there for everything she could manage to be present for considering that she worked so hard at a career she’d built over many years with Texas Instruments and Raytheon and through that career she made sure my sister and I had all of the things we would need to get out there and survive, not the least of which was college educations that she paid for on her own. She took each of her roles as wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law as dutifully and faithfully as she possibly could under any and all possible circumstances. At one point in our life my father’s mother had even come to live with us after my Grandpa passed away and thereto mom took the brunt of her overall care and well-being, which I have to tell you is something I still do not understand to this day because my grandmother was a mostly cruel and selfish human being who cared nothing for my mother whatsoever and made no bones about it, yet happily and selfishly enjoyed the many comforts and caterings to her every whim that my mother alone provided her alongside everything else she had on her already full plate at any given time without any regard or consideration for her overall care and well-being. What Ida wanted, Ida got, no matter the cost to my mother, and this was how it was.
My mother didn’t exactly have a fairytale childhood much less was there an appearance of anything “picture perfect and charmed”. Born the second oldest of eight children, she’d been raising kids since she was old enough to change a diaper by the time she’d met my father. Her family demographic was probably near poverty level and I know for a fact that she never owned a store bought dress or new pair of shoes until after she married my father. Her Catholic faith was very strong though, and at one point she’d even considered becoming a nun. Life took her down a different path however where she would stumble upon the man and his family that would test her faith forever.
He was the youngest of four brothers born eleven years after the last. With a headstrong iron will, despite the psychological abuse he suffered at his mother’s hands he managed to create a life filled with the most beautiful things for his family out of literally nothing at all. Over the years many have come to know him as a Midas Touch, as everything he’s ever set out to do he has succeeded at beyond measure. His father, Ernie, was then and remains to this day as one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever known. He was loving and kind, caring and thoughtful and all about his family. The man was a truly a saint by even the harshest critic’s standards and I would be hard pressed to look for and find even a single shortcoming or failing in either his integrity or character. Put it this way: I knew the man a total of 18 years, in all of which I never once heard him raise his voice or his fist and never once heard him say anything unkind, hateful or cruel about another person. Which is not to say that he never ever said them, it’s just that if he did ever say them he certainly never let the younger, more impressionable of us that were lucky enough to be in his presence actually hear them.
To this day I still smile when I remember the “worst word” any of his grandchildren ever heard him say: “Garl darnit!” This was my Grandpa’s version of profanity and it took a fair amount of anger or frustration to get him there. My Grandpa was the polar opposite of any man I’d ever known until the day I met my husband Zachariah, but I’ll get to that much later. Sufficed to say, my beautiful Grandpa was then and still remains one of the brightest stars that has led my pathway from the sky. The legacy he left behind was one of true love and kindess and the memories he left are completely unsoiled in my heart and soul. Of course he was but a mortal man and with that it is certain that just like all of us he’d had his moments, greivances, “grudges” and maybe even “yelling, screaming and profanity”, but as any truly good man and father should of he was wise enough to shield the younger eyes that were watching and ears that were listening from anything less than “kind”. Little did I know that without even knowing it he’d set a standard by which to judge any other human man against so deep inside my psyche that after his passing it took me YEARS to finally understand it and YEARS to finally find that man!
Now back to Ida, my father’s mother. As we would later find out she hid a dark and painful childhood secret of her own and thus led a mostly miserable existence. Even from the grave she managed to pit her sons one against the other throughout the entirety of their lives by constantly manipulating them with her contingent based system of affection and reward. If she didn’t get what she wanted, when she wanted, HOW she wanted it, the final outcome to her children was always: “I’ll fix you … I wash my hands of you … You’re nothing to me … I’m done with you … YOU ARE NO LONGER A PART OF MY LIFE!”
My grandparents were not extremely wealthy people but my Grandpa was a hard worker and they never really wanted for anything. This suited my grandmother exceedingly well in her heavy reliance on a human judgement and value system based upon “what people had, did or accomplished” and accordingly “what they could therefore do or provide for her”. This judgement and value system unfortunately funneled and bled it’s way through to our own family home and ultimately almost cost me my sanity and life. Again, I’ll get into that later. But in my own lifetime, up to and including during some of my very darkest of hours, I too have fallen prey to that familial inheritence that never stopped giving and has all but blackened and asphyxiated our family tree. Dozens of times since as old as I can remember I’ve heard the very words that my father and his brothers grew up hearing from their mother’s mouth: “I’ll fix you … I wash my hands of you … You’re nothing to me … I’m done with you … YOU ARE NO LONGER A PART OF MY LIFE!”
My “charmed childhood” was nothing but a farce and now I’m going to speak my truths, no matter what the cost, because at this point I have absolutely NOTHING left to lose but the lovely black Spider-Man suit that’s been wrapped around my body from the moment I drew my first breath. These are “The Pages” of my life …
“What happens to a man when he spills his heart on a page and he watches words flow away then his feelings lie on the page alone there waiting for someone who cares to read them, to open their eyes to see them, to see if they can make his thoughts their own, to find out that maybe your life’s not perfect? Maybe it’s not worth what he gives away? You can see that this broken soul is bleeding. So you can see your feelings inside yourself and wander through my heart. Letting you see through me now only iyuconsumes me – Forget your pain, watch me fall apart. What happens to a soul when it’s trapped inside his emotions and all of these words he’s spoken, they bind him to the life he’s left behind, and every new step he takes he knows that he might not make it to all of these dreams that he has yet to find? ” – 3 Doors Down