Not only did Dad take me to all of my emergency room appointments, he also tried to fill in the gaps left by my mother’s erratic parenting style. I didn’t know this until I was an adult, but my dad would come home from working his 3 to 11 shift at Western Electric and find his three month old baby crying, hungry, and wet. My mother would be nowhere to be found perhaps playing board games and drinking wine with some neighbors.
Another memorable afternoon occurred when Aunt Olive (my mother’s maiden aunt) took us to Chinatown for lunch. I was five and Lindy was three and the darkness of the restaurant (in contrast to the bright sunlight outside) probably scared her. She began to scream and continued on right through the main course. At one point, Aunt Olive asked, “Mary Jo, what is the child screaming about?” and my mother replied, “If I knew I could do something about it” and went right on eating.
Once I started school, I was prone to get whatever childhood disease was floating around. When I caught chickenpox, my mother insisted that Lindy spend as much time as possible with me and that she drink from the same glass and eat from the same plate all in an effort to make sure Lindy had chickenpox at the same time I did. Being practical so she explained, she said she did not want to be tied down with the chickenpox twice. Never one to mince words, she tried to explain her illogical and ill conceived ideas usually ending her tirade with how much we would appreciate her parental skills (or lack thereof) when we had children of our own.