Ishmael's Blog

August 4, 2009

Snapshots in Time

Filed under: Snapshots in Time — Ishmael @ 12:04 am

The Brain and the Mind are two very different things.  You can open someone’s head up and say “Look!  There is the Brain”  Have you ever heard of anyone opening anything up and saying “Look!  There is the Mind”?  I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t mind” or “Mind you, look out for…”

The reason I bring this up is the Mind is a very strange thing.  You don’t remember things the way they actually happened normally, you remember what you want to and forget the rest.  Unless you have a photographic memory, you also don’t remember all of an event.  All you remember are Snapshots in Time, and they are not always in order of time or importance.

If you think of your memories as a series of information placed on a string, you would probably be wrong.  Think more of the string of memory being chopped up into thousands of little pieces and stuffed into a ball.  Each small piece touches another, and one piece of memory/string will remind you of another.  It is disjointed and called Stream of Conciousness Thinking.

Shutter opens.

I am in Anchorage, Alaska skating on an ice rink with skates that clamp on my shoes.  These skates had four runners each, two in front, a space, and two in back on each foot.  Stable for a child, but not real good for speed.  I remember looking up from the rink and seeing my Mom watching me from the window in the Veterans Housing Apartments. I can’t be more than two or three years old.

Shutter closes and reopens.

I’m probably six or seven, my brother is three years older, and we have been sent to bed because we did something wrong that kids always seem to do.  We are both mad about this, and I make a stupid child statement to the effect I hate our Dad, and I wish I could kill him.  Sound familiar to anyone else?  That by itself wouldn’t even warrant discussion, kids make dumb statements like that all of the time, and most of the time don’t mean it.  Here’s the problem:  Our Dad was a drunk, he was drunk when I said it, he was coming out of the bathroom just outside of our bedroom, he heard the statement.  All of these things lead up to disaster.  He storms into the room, pulls my brother off the top bunk of our bunkbeds and drags him out to the living room.  I can hear him yelling at my brother, I can hear every blow, every kick, and I can hear my brother screaming and crying and saying that he didn’t say it.  When Dad asks him “Then who did?”, my brother doesn’t say a word.  Not one word. My Mom comes in and asks me if I said it, and to my dying day I will be ashamed of saying “No”.  I was so afraid.  To this day I have a real problem with lies and liars, I wonder why?  I hate being lied to. 

Shutter closes and reopens.

I am in 1st grade at Woodland Park Elementary school.  I’m in love.  There is this really cute girl named Margo that I like.  We sit next to each other, pass notes and whisper, kid stuff.  One day after school we are waiting for our parents to pick us up, she is sitting next to me on a bench and I kiss her.  I just about fall off of the bench doing it, too.  I look up and there is her Dad coming towards us and I think he looks mad, so I run off and hide behind a barrel and he never finds me.  I mean really, what is he going to do or say to someone who is five years old and just kissed his daughter?  (By the way, I started school early).  I met her many years later in High School and she still looked good, but her attitude left a LOT to be desired.  Narrow escape there.

Shutter closes and reopens.

My brother has left me alone with my parents for several years now, because he is in the Navy.  I’m big enough, strong enough and just plain meaner than my Dad, so he leaves me alone.  I’ve met my future wife, and with her I can relax, let my guard down, and enjoy being seventeen.  My Dad is still a drunk, still comes home and hits both side of the door frame, and I still hate his guts.  I’ve asked my girlfriend if she will marry me, and she turns my world right by saying “Yes”.  I make the decision to leave Alaska and join the Navy like my big brother, and I tell her we will get married in a year when I get out of school.  My Mom has to sign the papers for me to join the Navy, because I’m still not eighteen and won’t be for almost six months.  I leave for Boot Camp in June and the night before I leave for Boot Camp, I confront my Dad.  I tell him that I am having the neighbors watch him, and if he ever touches my Mom again I will come back on Emergency Leave from the Navy and put him in the hospital.  He knows that my brother and I very seldom threaten anyone, but we have been known to warn of future upcoming events.  Dad believes me, goes out the next day, buys a pistol and says if I ever come through that door again he will shoot me.  Funny thing.  He stopped drinking, stopped smoking, came home early, never hit our Mom again – all of the things my brother and I would have loved when we were growing up.  

Shutter closes and reopens.

It’s June 6th, 1969.  I fly into Spokane from Chicago to get married.  There was another Navy guy on the plane with me, and the passengers found out we were both going to different cities and getting married the next day.  They bought us so many drinks that I was smashed when I got off of the plane.  Most excellent flight!  Best I’ve ever been on!  My future Father-In-Law is not a very trusting soul.  He locks me in the camper outside the house where they are staying.  Hmmmm.  Next morning I get up, find out Dad is there.  Oh joy unbounding!  I talk to my Mom and she tells me he isn’t drinking or smoking, and has not hit her since the day I left.  I go find my Dad and we sit and talk.  He brought the pistol with him, because he didn’t know what to expect.  Basically we made up, and over the years remaining to him, we actually became friends.  He was able to see his grandkids before he died, and I think that really pleased him.  I’m glad.

Shutter closes and reopens.

I get a phone call from our friend, Selinda, (we always called her Cindy), she tells me that her husband, Lee has died and the funeral is in a couple of days.  Now Lee is the only friend I have at the time, he and I would call each other every couple of weeks to tell the new jokes we have heard.  He was in the Navy with me in Puerto Rico, and lived just a couple of houses down on base.  The four of us would play Pinocle together, and when we were done, he would gather up his daughter Kim and they would go home.  Kim is tall enough at this point that her head is over his shoulder, and her feet are down to Lee’s knees.  We were close enough that we were in their will stating that if they died in a joint accident, we were to take care of Kim for them, she was NOT to go to any of their family members.  Are you getting the picture that we were fairly close?  So…we are living in Spokane, they are in Vancouver, WA, we leave late at night to drive to Vancouver.  We don’t see Cindy and Kim until the service starts, so they don’t know we are there, but they are just a couple of rows in front of us and keep looking around, we’re pretty sure to find us.  The service is over and we are in the line to pay our respects, Kim sees us and runs to me and cries out my name.  Suddenly I am holding an armload of teenage girl who is crying on my shoulder, and I hear someone say. “Who is that?’  I just don’t care.  This is a Snapshot that I hope I can take to my grave.

Shutter closes and reopens.

Just recently I went to the wedding of a girl I have known since she was born.  Her parents are one of the couples I talk about in Who Do You Owe?  This would be Ken and Laura.  The wedding itself wasn’t that important to me.  What was important was that I was actually wanted there, and would have been missed by both the parents and the daughter.  You see, these people have known me for over thirty years, and they still like me, even knowing me as they do.  That always surprises me that there are actually people out there who know me and will still talk to me.  It’s a matter of self-worth I guess.  I find that most people when you talk to them don’t have a good self-image of themselves.  Thankfully, sometimes you get to see yourself through other eyes.  Now, at one point Ken is talking about his daughter and his new son-in-law.  If you actually listen to him, instead of just having a drink and staring off into space, you can tell that he is extremely proud of his daughter, and rightly so.   As I listen to Ken talk about his daughter, I remember giving my daughter away at her wedding.  The man I gave her to, (and I have never claimed to own my daughter, no one owns her),  is the kind of person I would have picked for her myself.  She chose wisely.  I listen to Ken and I think to myself, this is why we are here.  This is why we put up with all of the crap in our lives, just for this one moment.  This makes the decision to go on every day the right one.

Shutter closes

Newsflash:  I have a problem with authority figures. I seek their approval and hate the fact that I do. 

What’s your Snapshot?
What were the good snapshots in your life?
What were the bad?
Tell me.



  1. I had a brother in law that was closer to me then my own brother but not at first: Hx:My sister had just broke up with my best friend and then she met him. Yes him.I had never met this new guy she was starting to date. I already didn’t like him. One day there was a knock at the door, I opened the door and there he stood. He stuck out his hand to shake mine I turned and walked away. She later married this guy and moved right next door to me. One day I felt God speaking to my heart as I was praying. I knew right away I was being Self righteous, so one night I invited him over for coffee. As the years went by we became close. One day as I was working at the clinic I received a phone call from his daughter. She said that her dad needed to go to the hospital. I knew he was sick. I later flew him out by E vac plane. he passed away that night. As I look back I see that God had a plan. This man was closer to me then my own brother.

    Comment by A.C. Bates — June 15, 2010 @ 12:45 am | Reply

    • Believe it or not, I just found your post, I never received a message that you had left a comment. I think you are a lucky person to have had the chance to invite him over for coffee. One of my friends died in convulsions as he sat in his chair at the age of forty. He and I used to call each other up on the weekends just to tell each new jokes we had heard, and I never had a chance to tell him he was closer to me than my own brother, and that I loved him like a brother. I was actually pissed when his brother took the shovel out of my hands at the funeral. Like I said, you were a lucky person to have that chance

      Comment by Ishmael — February 11, 2013 @ 8:25 am | Reply

  2. Ishmael, I have a very similar background as yours. The differences being I’m a female, it was my Mom that was the alcoholic when my older sister and I were young (God rest her soul), and although he didn’t drink it was my Dad that was the violent abuser. Like you I was the younger sibling, and also like you I suffered that survivor’s guilt. I always had a horrid and unhealthy fear of my Mom dying because of witnessing the abuse both she and my sister endured. I remember as if it happened yesterday, standing in the doorway of my sister’s bedroom. She was only 3 years older than me (still is 🙂 and at that time was only in the 6th grade. She had mouthed off to my crazy Dad and he chased her down holding a pair of scissors. He had her trapped on top of her bed and was holding he scissors at her throat. Thankfully, Laura was always a really big girl for her age (at least thankfully for her @ that moment that turned into a lot of heartbreaks later on in her life). She had her foot poised right at his crotch and said “Go ahead you bastard I’ll kick em right off!” This was just one of MANY MANY horrific childhood snapshots growing up. I’m 54 now, just newly divorced after 34 years of marriage. My husband (like me) had his issues, but we both had the main issue of not being able to open up to ea. other about our true pain and issues. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that a doctor of psychology (my gay sister’s partner at that time 😉 yep, same one that got the crap beat out of her by my Dad) asked me, “So, where were you when that took place?” (the scissors incident) I’d NEVER EVER thought of that, or more specifically ever been asked that. Well, I was standing in the doorway, young, weak, and helpless to do anything about it. So, that was a turning point in beginning to understand myself, why I think the way I do, why I’d always felt an overwhelming desire to protect my Mom, and why today I’m a fierce women’s & children’s protection advocate. I faked being sick staying home from school many days to be near my Mom and protect her. I’m the fixer, the protector, I’m also the one that started drinking at age 12 to “self medicate” and also at age 12 nearly died in a Moses Lake hospital after downing and entire 5th of Jack Daniels. There are so many times I “should have” died, but God literally spared my life. Today I have two beautiful healthy grown children, Ryan 32 & April 30 (all HAPPY SNAPSHOTS WITH BOTH) I don’t hate my former husband, he doesn’t hate me, I have much more to be thankful for than to be whiney about, I guess you could say I’m way to blessed to be depressed. I’m thankful for every step I’ve been allowed this planet. I really loved what you’ve shared here, really rang true on so many levels with me. I’m still, actually currently walking through my recovery of a new life alone (well, alone, but never lonely I’ll say) After having dedicated 37 years to another human being and with every intent of living my entire life with him, I discovered that for 1/2 that time, over 17 years he’d been “planning his escape.” Hmmmmm issues. Well, again Ishmael, thank you for this blog, very interesting, very eye-opening for me personally, and I’m going to say that I hope…from here on out that the rest of my time on this Earth will be filled with all happy snap-shots. You said it best when you said we all have issues of self-esteem, that is a fact, and for me, having the man I’d dedicated my life to just discard me, that’s a true kick in the self-esteem crotch. My daughter told me one time, “If you have one foot in the past, and one foot in the future, you end up pissing all over the present.” So true, I want to live, now, in the present, to the utmost and be awake and present and not miss all the love. blessings, and opportunities that are right in front of me just waiting for me to notice. Thanks so much for your honesty and for being authentic. We can all learn a thing or two in this world from that. I wish everyone would just drop their packs & shovels and just be real!!! Thank you.

    Comment by Claudia — June 15, 2010 @ 1:50 am | Reply

  3. Thank you for this, our pasts form our future and it is tough to talk about sometimes. I took several classes at college on Child Abuse and Neglect and related subjects because I wanted to find out just why I was so screwed up and why I treated my family the way I did. Out of two years of these classes two things stuck in my mind, (I lose a lot when I sleep), the first was that it takes three generations to break any pattern of abuse. I tried to be a better parent to my children than I had, and I can see that my children are better than I was. Thank God! The second was a little known tool called Johari’s Window, take a look at this one, it’s pretty interesting.

    Comment by Ishmael — June 17, 2010 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

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