There is another human element to this story and it's what my wife and I have dubbed the "Spencer Crazy." The Spencer's are my mother-in-law's family making Aunt Bee a Spencer by blood. There are two brothers and two sisters. My wife's mother was the youngest. The most dysfunctional (well maybe not the most, but the family is so dysfunctional that you'd really be splitting hairs to try and figure out an order of dysfunction) aspect of the family is that they don't talk about what's bothering them directly. They either don't talk about it and let it boil to a psychotic breaking point, or they talk about it by talking around it, hinting at it in code, then denying it when you figure it out. It's an infectious psychosis that will drive you mad if you aren't constantly on guard. Now I've never had any official psychological training, but I've always had an ability with it. People have always decided to confide their problems in me, and so I've learned a good bit about psychology over the years. I've read books and dabbled in quasi shrink rolls like tending bar and dealing with the highest level of human tragedy imaginable on the streets. Ever told somebody that there obviously dead spouse that's lying on the roadway with the mandible showing and one leg over their head after hitting a truck head on while joy riding on their Harley one fine Sunday afternoon, 100 yards from their bike, is dead? It takes a certain psychological ability.
Back to the Spencer crazy. My wife was brought up in a house where you didn't talk about your problems...you ignored them. That's what her parents did, and I suppose that has a lot to do with why her father blew his brains out with a 30 aught 6 in their garage during Wendy's senior year of college. Not talking about your issues has been the largest challenge for my wife and I. My mother brought me up in such a way that we didn't go to sleep until whatever source of contention was dealt with...I consider that a healthy way to be, as does my wife...but a lifetime of being taught dysfunction doesn't dislodge over night. Aunt Bee is infected with this type of dysfunction, but her meds help a bit. Aunt Bee broke the mold and that's why the family considers her crazy. Aunt Bee was much older than Susan, Wendy's mother. In fact Aunt Bee left the psycho Spencer house while Wendy's mother was a small child and never looked back. A bit of background on the starting place of the Spencer crazy may be in order here.
Grandpa Spencer might have been mad before WW2, but he most certainly was afterwords. While there he suffered some shrapnel to the brain and actually never had it removed. Whether this contributed to the cat of 14 tails that he used to beat his children with we will never know since he died quite some time ago. At any rate, the cat of 14 tails, best we can determine from some of Aunt Bee's stories, was not the worst of it, but I'll leave it at that. We've asked Aunt Bee about it, but she has compartmentalized her childhood. Basically we can dislodge information by getting her to talk about it, and things come out of her mind about the past that she has forgotten about. Horrible things, and I can tell that she isn't listening to herself while she is telling it. She can't because the memories are too painful, but the meds let her tell it while keeping herself at a safe distance...I suppose. There are things about my wife's childhood that I won't even write about out of respect for her. Suffice it to say that Grandpa Spencer was an evil, psychotic man, and he infected all of his children as well as his wife with it. It's oozed down through the years and his children infected their children. My wife is having to do the hard work it takes to stop this cycle. She has an overwhelming need to have a large family because she wants to experience a loving one, and I have no problems abiding that wish because I want the same. I was an only child, and Wendy's sister is ten years younger, pretty much making her an only child. We want our son to have siblings.
I'll give one more example of how fucked up this family is to sum up the Spencer crazy for now. Wendy's mother, Susan Spencer, has seen her only grandson, Ayden Zen, less than my mother who lives on the other side of the country. My entire family is in California, we live in South Carolina. When we were in Suck Hill we were 70 miles away from Susan. Now we are 8 miles away from her house, but she drives within five miles of us on her way home from her job at the Super Walfart where she moves boxes all day long. She has been to our home in Whoville, her older sister's home, three times since we have been here. The first was because we brought some of her crap from her house to here and I needed help unloading it due to weight. Her boyfriend of the last six years or so, a redneck with long hair and a white beard named Rick James (this is the man's actual name), had to help, and so she came to the house. The second time was because we invited her over for some home cooking. The third time was for Ayden's second birthday. The fact that she has no desire to see her first born child's son, making him her first and only grandchild, has made me pretty much no longer give a shit about her. I just can't understand why you would not want to spend time with your only grandchild. My mother flies from California to SC at least twice a year for 10 days at a time to see her only grandchild. I understand that Susan has had a traumatic life, but we are all responsible for ourselves. It's not acceptable to me that she wants nothing to do with her grandson.
Let me sum up what Spencer crazy is so that we can move on. Due to the fact that talking about what's wrong is not possible, and therefore asking questions about what's going on is not possible, the only thing that's left is assumption, speculation, and pure untrue fiction. The way it works is something is said, and then it's taken the wrong way due to internal assumptions, and can't be talked about, and therefore spirals out of control into a psychotic mess. I end up having no idea what the fuck is going on, but because I was raised to continue with a problem until it's dealt with, I go into my own madness. I imagine it's like a boarder collie trying to herd water coming out of a garden hose. Now I have to try to figure out what exactly the problem is, which is usually figuring out where the assumption started so that I can root it out and expose it to light. Fortunately Wendy has recognized this dysfunctional aspect of her personality and has begun the work of stopping it. The fact that I have a hint of Aspergers doesn't help matters much either. I don't feel emotionally about these things, just logically. This makes me very good at arguing, but blind to her feelings, which results in me always "winning" any dispute. This doesn't help matters any. However, this story is not about my wife and I's marital disputes on account of our psychological issues, it's about Whoville and our experience in it. I just use this aspect of our story to illustrate how deeply the Spencer crazy has burrowed. There is no telling where it started. Aunt Bee was the first Spencer we know of to dislodge herself from the crazy. My wife is the second. However Aunt Bee checked out a while back and ended up medicated. I'll tell her story now.
While Aunt Bee was in high school she was made to work at a gas station by her parents. She would get done with school and go to work. She would get home around nine or ten at night and have to do her homework. There would be no supper for her when she got home. That's just one of the layers of cruelty that abounded in that hell house. She learned that there would be no supper for her when she got home so she began buying herself a milkshake on the way home and that was what she ate before bed. This was her only comfort, sugar. This is why when she gets sick now, she eats nothing but ice cream and drinks nothing but Coke, and I mean from morning to night, waking to sleeping. Sometimes she would suffer the wrath of Grandpa Spencer's cat of 14 tails when she got home, and sometimes she would watch Susan get her ass beat. Their mother would just abide this behavior so as not to get her ass beat I'm sure. To make matters worse, when Aunt Bee got paid, the money was taken by her parrents.
This was what Aunt Bee's high school years were like. Naturally she stayed away from the house as much as possible. As soon as she graduated from high school she was gone, and this goes a long way towards explaining her dysfunctional relationship with her younger sister Susan. Aunt Bee feels guilty for leaving her in that hell house, and Susan hates her for it (although she doesn't know that's why she hates Aunt Bee, she just hides behind "she's crazy" and leave it at that) but she continued to work at the gas station as a clerk. Eventually she married an older man because he bought her things. Mink coats were her favorite, and she developed a taste for the finer things...needful things. Her first marriage lasted a year. She was pretty much a trophy wife. She was beautiful, in her 20's, and married to a successful business man in his late 50's. He kept her in an apartment while he was gone, but she had money to buy her fur coats and jewelry. However, he got sick with lung cancer from chain smoking and began developing lots of debt for some unknown reason. Their marriage broke up just as soon as it began. It lasted just over a year. She divorced him and was rewarded a small fortune which she promptly blew on a car and her needful things. It was back to the gas station for her.
19 years went by and there she was, working at the Spinx. It got to where she was working 16 and 18 hour days 7 days a week. Why? I guess because when they called her she didn't say no for fear of losing her job. She's told us that it was common for her to get home at 1 in the morning from working since 6 only to be called back in at 3 in the morning. She began developing sleep problems like insomnia and restless leg syndrome. They kept on squeezing all of the blood from that turnip relentlessly. Eventually she got hauled into jail for the sale of alcohol to a minor. This type of thing doesn't bode well for a divorcee female in the hypocritical belt of the south. She kept on with the impossible work schedule all the way to the inevitable psychological breaking point. We're not sure what happened exactly, but it has something to do with her and a knife and a certain family member. Aunt Bee just knows that when it happened she had been up for three days without sleep. The sleep deprivation psychoses landed her a stay in the nut house. Since then she has been considered crazy by the crazy Spencer family. She has also been pretty heavily medicated ever since.
Shortly before the break, however, John Who showed up at her gas station and asked her to marry him. As aunt Bee put's it "God sent me my sweet baby John to take care of me." Just like that. She knew who he was, but only as a customer of the gas station. He was building a new home (the one we are living in now) and he was very proud of it. He showed her the plans for the home, in the gas station, as part of his strategy to win her hand. He needed a wife to complete his American dream. Aunt Bee said yes. A year into their marriage the house was hit by lightning and nearly burned to the ground. The home owners insurance should have replaced the modular home with a new one, but insurance being insurance, they took the cheaper road most frequently traveled and hired sub contractors to rebuild, thus creating many irritating nuances to this house (like a hood vent over the stove that blows hot air back into the kitchen because the ventilation pipe wasn't installed). Shortly after the lightning strike John was diagnosed with Parkinson's and began his 18 year descent. Eventually she asked her beloved John if she could quit her job, he said "yes," and she was rewarded a "disabled" qualification from the government along with a check. However, none of this stopped the two from loving each other immensely. Maybe Aunt Bee is right and God did send John to her.
These are the two strands that weave a healthy helping of insanity into our Whoville experience. When we're not dealing with the greedy blood sucking vulture Who's, were dealing with some aspect of the Spencer crazy, and often we are dealing with them simultaneously. The good news is that perseverance can outlast misery's love of company, and we are finding that out now. This also concludes the "getting to know you" aspect of this story. All of the actors have been met, the stage has been set, and the Black Snake, a foreboding foreshadow, has been slain. The chickens are safe in the coop and the garden has been sown and has since began sprouting. The Who's have been making themselves a nuisance to us, but nothing we can't handle diplomatically. I'm in my man cave planing my permaculture heaven, and my wife is off out of town making good money to take pictures. The dead Grandpa Spencer is not happy with me. Misery loves company, and he's got one last lashing from the grave with his cat of 14 tails to dish out. This is where the Satan worshiping southern baptist that I wrote of at the end of Black Snake Drone makes his appearance known. But you'll have to wait for the next installment to find out who his crazy ass is.