BETRAYED

Mom felt well enough to accompany me on a two-week road trip across Nevada to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon in my first car, a 1954 Ford Victoria. The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Sun Valley, Idaho, exceeded our expectations.

Craters of the Moon, Utah

Tetons through lobby window of Jackson Lake Lodge

Mom in Jackson, Wyoming

Yellowstone bear

When we arrived home, Daddy told Mom their friend and his coworker Agatha had filed for divorce.

As Mom’s condition gradually worsened, she consented to use a wheelchair.

I married and moved a 30-minute drive away across the bay to Marin County and continued to visit her once a week. By then she was completely bedridden. During one visit, she told me, “You are the apple of your father’s eye. I want you to know some things because I can get back at him only through you. He spends a lot of time at Agatha’s apartment in between chauffeuring her daughter to and from school events. Agatha wants to take my place. Promise me that when I die, you will take my cup and saucer collection. I do not want Agatha to have it.”

I could not believe what I was hearing, but I agreed to her request.

On my next visit, Mom was very upset. “Your father sold my shotgun. He took it and sold it without asking me. My father gave it to me,” she said as tears welled in her eyes. He taught me to shoot it and to hunt with him. Your father had no right to sell my gun.” And she cried.

Note: Years later I learned he gave it to my younger brother Ransom. It would have given Mom peace of mind to know that her favorite child inherited her .410 shotgun. I’ll never know why Daddy lied to Mom.

Mom hanged herself seven months to the day I married. Within hours Daddy showed me her death certificate signed by the family doctor. I scanned down to read the cause of death: strangulation, self-inflicted.

“This could ruin me,” Daddy said. “Promise me you’ll never tell. Ransom must never know this happened.”

Note: After publication of my memoir, a cousin informed me that all the family in Martinez knew immediately after it happened. If I had known, it might have eased my burden of keeping Mom’s suicide secret for 60 years.  I’ll never know why the father I adored, admired, and believed could do no wrong, lied to me and later disowned me.

Another note: After Daddy died 40 years to the day he married Mom, I obtained a copy of Mom’s death certificate. It was half the size of the original death certificate Daddy showed me the morning Mom hanged herself. No cause of death appeared; only the date and place. Daddy fixed it so Mom’s suicide would never surface.

A month after Mom died, Daddy asked if I would go with him to attend his father Pa’s funeral in Martinez. Pa had never been a grandfather to me or to Ransom. He disliked Mom because he blamed her for his wife Laura’s death. Laura was dying from a kidney disease with no hope of recovery. Mom offered to help care for Laura during her final days at home in addition to working as a registered nurse at the community hospital. When Daddy’s mother died four days later, Pa blamed Mom because she happened to be with Laura when she died. Pa never acknowledged me as his first granddaughter or Ransom as his second grandson. Every holiday season, an envelope addressed to Manfred Richards arrived by mail to our house saying “Merry Christmas, Son.”

Four generations of Richards

Left to right: Great grandmother Ida Roberts Jones, born in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail, holding baby Lynne Richards; father A.M. “Chick” Richards Jr.; and grandfather Arthur Manfred “Pa” Richards, 1934.

 

~ Fini ~

 

 

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About Lynne Schaefer

Lynne Schaefer has written two newspaper columns ("The Schussboomer" about skiing in California, and "Notes from Lynne's Journal" about Oregon wildlife); travel and garden articles for regional magazines copy for DVD tours of the High Desert Museum and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, both in Bend, Oregon. She has published three non-fiction books, A Traveler's Guide to Historic California, Christmas Trivia Quiz, and His Daughter's Remembrance.
This entry was posted in Family, History, Human Interest, Memoir, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to BETRAYED

  1. Jane says:

    What story, Lynne! So so sad!

    Like

    • When I think back on some of the family history I have heard about, I often wonder where “the good ol’ days” are. On my dad’s side, his grandparents didn’t speak to each other for over 20 years…used the kids as communication. Makes you wonder what was so awful that they could live together but not talk. My mothers’ dad was a silver miner in Park City, Utah. During the depression, he left his family of five kids and wife to go ride the rails as a hobo! My mother had his little tiny tablet, all written in pencil (I have it now) and I transcribed his adventures, it is now published on my blog. But wow…times…don’t seem much better than they are now.

      Like

  2. Ja Tromblay says:

    There are actually plenty of particulars like that to take into consideration. That may be a great point to bring up. I offer the ideas above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions just like the one you bring up where crucial factor will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged round things like that, however I’m sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls really feel the impact of only a second’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

    Like

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