We arrived in the town of Wilton Manors, FL and I began my new life in another rented house. The neighborhood was cleaner, the people were nicer, and the weather was warmer than anything Cambridge had to offer. But I was still afraid of everything around me and I still didn’t understand what was really happening to me. I had made no new friends since I left my home in the 5th grade and I knew of no one else whose parents were divorced. That left me with no one to talk to about it and only the hope that perhaps someday someone would come along and explain it all.
I began to notice that my mother had a way of using up her friends and subsequently the places that we lived. I couldn’t see any good reason why we seemed to be moving so often except she would eventually start complaining about the neighbors. These were the same neighbors that she liked so much when we would first move in, but now were making life untenable for her. Her new motto was in full force now. We only lived in Wilton Manors for a short time when she bought a condo in a complex in Ft. Lauderdale. This was one of the first condos ever built there and I have to admit, it was pretty cool. It was a U-shaped building, 3 floors high, with a pool in the center and a canal and dock at the open end. Things were looking up I thought. Unfortunately we moved again in the middle of the school year and much of my energies were spent in the transition. My grades in 6th grade were a little better and my new teacher in Ft. Lauderdale, Miss Betty Jean Price, started to take an interest in me. She would help me with any of the subjects that I found difficult and took a genuine interest. This was my 5th school in the last 18 months and she was the only teacher who could be bothered with me.
We moved again in about a year to a duplex that my mother had built. Always conscious of money matters, she wanted the duplex to add a little income along the way. Fortunately I was still in the same school district so I could continue at the same school. The new house was on a canal, but I was really going to miss that pool and those long swims. While I did manage to finish 7th and 8th grade at the same school, life was getting progressively worse at home.
I had wonderful times when I was able to return home for my summer visits with my father. We had wonderful adventures together. He taught me to cook on the BBQ grill and I still use those lessons today. We also built a small utility shed from scratch and he used that experience to teach me carpentry and geometry. And there was always the BB gun, which I missed terribly. But those wonderful vacations on Cape Cod were always too short. He would try to cram in as much teaching and advice as he could in 6 weeks but it was never enough.
By the end of the 8th grade, my mother had decided that she could no longer raise me by herself. I was too wild, growing up too fast, and too much like my father. The thought of raising a high school kid was apparently more than she could handle. Considering the still growing numbers of pills she was taking, it was not surprising to anyone who would bother to notice. During the summer she had raised the idea that I might go to a military school and that there was one locally that we could see right away. We went there to take a look and nothing more was said about it. It was late in the summer before 9th grade that she announced that she had enrolled me at Miami Military Academy. This was a full-time residence academy where I would live for 9 months of the year. I would still be able to go back to Cape Cod during the summer and spend a minimal amount of time with my mother. I had no idea what a military school was all about but that was where I was being sent.
I had no idea at the time, but when I left for military school it would be the last time that I would ever live with my mother. For now though, I could only see some relief from the drugs, the wild mood swings, and the constant moving from one place to another.
© J T Weaver
Thank you for sharing. So many children carry burdens. A sad injustice. I want to be a Miss Betty Jean Price “kind” of teacher.
Thanks Heidi. It would be great if all teachers wanted that kind of excellence. I’m glad you liked the story.
I know you are writing these blogs for your children, John, but they are eye-opening to all those who read them. How difficult all of this must have been for you as a child/teen. And yet, look at the man you have become! God has done a good work in you!