As the weeks passed with Grandma Rose and Uncle Don joining the Maher family, the tiny 900 foot home was extremely crowded. Emotions were high as four adults and three children attempted to find “solo” space.
A rollaway bed for Grandma Rose was moved into the diminutive bedroom where Jalene and Louise shared a full sized bed. With their bed already pushed against the wall, the narrow path between the bed and door was now almost impassable. Uncle Don bunked on the tattered living room sofa with the protruding springs, but the entire family worked together to accommodate the additional members.
Because of Grandma Rose’s mental illness she would hide perishable food in closets and cabinets so Jalene’s and Louise’s room often times was more than crowded. The air was filled with repugnant odors, as the food would begin to decay.
Glenn and Jayne’s impatience for life’s situations increased, as Jalene’s frequent beatings also escalated. Jalene was fearful of doing anything which might upset her parents. Therefore, no matter what they requested, she obliged with no queries for the rationale.
Shortly after Jalene’s 16th birthday, she obtained an “after school” job at the local Dairy Queen. Without a car she walked daily to her job which was approximately two miles from the high school. Rain and snow made the walk more difficult, but Jalene realized the job was a necessity for her and her family.
She had been earning money while baby sitting for the past six years, but now her income increased from .25 per hour to .50 an hour. Therefore, Glenn and Jayne required Jalene to provide for all her personal and school necessities. Jalene was a diligent employee necessitating that she frequently worked seven days per week.
One day when Jalene returned home, Grandma Rose said she was concerned about the fact that Jayne and Uncle Don had been “sleeping together”. As a naïve teen, reared in an ultra conservative home in the 1960’s, adultery was not readily discussed.
Jalene queried, “why are Mom and Uncle Don sleeping together when he sleeps in the living room?” Looking back to that time now over 50 years ago, Jalene chuckles at her naivete. Nonetheless, even with Grandma Rose’s illness, she realized something was awry with the antics of Jayne and Don.
Grandma Rose continued, “I have called the pastor and also discussed this matter with the neighbors, but I don’t know what to do.” Certainly Jalene didn’t know what to do either, except to tell Glenn of Rose’s news. Glenn didn’t flinch. He quickly removed his belt and beat Jalene for citing such mistruths about his wife and brother.
Tearfully Jalene cited, “ Dad, I didn’t say these things about Mom. Grandma said she saw Mom and Uncle Don in your bedroom.” Glenn refused to listen. He continued to beat Jalene for the words he was hearing. Like Grandma, Jalene was perplexed. What should she have done about this? When Rose knew of Jalene’s beating, she was extremely distraught.. She and Jalene had a close relationship. Seeing Jalene beaten for sharing a concern, brought Rose unwelcomed anxiety.
Glenn and Jayne determined the way to “hide” this revelation was to return Rose to OH on the next available bus, citing she was a mentally ill liar. How could Jayne commit adultery with her brother-in-law and then declare her mother a flagrant liar for disclosing such information? Moreover, Jalene’s beating for her mother’s sin seemed an exceedingly unfair penalty.
Jalene’s sorrow over the estrangement of her grandmother lingered for years to come. She never again saw Rose. Rose passed away while living in an OH retirement home. Jayne’s hatred of her mother had been well known for as long as Jalene could recall. However, for Jayne to hate her mother to the point of accusing her of lying about a transgression she had committed was difficult for Jalene to accept.
A full decade later when Jalene was a young wife and mother in her 20’s, she was visiting Uncle Don as a terminal cancer patient in the VA hospital when he took her arm and pulled her close to him. He said, “Jalene, I’m so sorry for my deeds ten years ago.” Tearfully, Jalene looked at him and said “that is okay, Uncle Don. I have forgiven you.” Believing Don was speaking of an assault toward her, she had pardoned his actions.
“No, Jalene”, Uncle Don whispered. “I was wrong to have the affair with Jayne.” Jalene abruptly pushed away from Don’s face. “What?” You and Mom had the affair Grandma Rose told me about?” Don was quick to answer, “yes, we did.” Jalene ran from the room as Glenn stood in the hallway of the hospital. Jalene’s hysterical sobs were loud and audible. “Dad, you lied to me. Uncle Don just admitted that he and Mom had an affair over ten years ago. You said, Grandma was lying.”
Glenn was livid! He harshly grabbed Jalene’s arm and mandated, “meet me at my house to discuss this. We will not discuss this matter here.” Jalene’s entire body shook from the shock of the revelation that Rose had been telling the truth, but she died knowing her daughter and son-in-law had cited she was a mentally ill liar. How could they do that?
As Jalene walked into her parents’ house, she had not yet gained her composure from the information she had learned. It seemed whatever Glenn had to tell her paled to what he and Jayne had done to Rose all those years earlier.
Glenn instructed Jalene to sit down and he would divulge the circumstances of the previous decade. Glenn was explicit in his knowledge of Jayne’s and Don’s affair; admitting he often observed their sexual activities. Jalene felt nauseated and weak; assuming she might pass out.
Jalene pleaded through her tears and sobbing for an understanding of the horrific treatment of Rose. Glenn quipped that he and Jayne had been angry with Rose for proclaiming the saga to their pastor and neighbors. Jalene continued sobbing, “but Dad, what was Grandma to do? She knew it was wrong and felt she needed to seek advice on how to handle it.”
Glenn touted that Jalene was never to view her mother in an unfavorable manner. Jalene was on the verge of shouting, “you were an observer of the sexual acts between Mom and Uncle Don. Yet I’m to hold her in high esteem. Mom is a whore.”
Glenn slapped Jalene harshly, “reminding her Jayne was her mother.” The relationship among Glenn, Jayne and Jalene had never been a good one. However, that day in the 1970’s caused a permanent wedge among them for the remainder of their lives.
Please follow Jalene’s journey with her uncle and parents.