If you are new to this blog, you may want to read the posts “In a Nutshell” or go to July 2012 and read “Sending out a Letter.” My daughter Emma Katherine Roey lied about a friend being raped and attempting suicide, claimed to have been molested by a priest, and then, just as her attorneys were about to file a law suit, Emma accused her mother (me) of physically abusing her and later of poisoning her with DDT. Emma claimed to have a toxicology report to confirm that her mother (me, again!) poisoned her, but would never turn over this report to my attorney. If you read through the blog, you will find many other examples of Emma’s lying. At one point, she even complained about the way her dad touched her and that he called her a “bitch” and a “slut” everyday. (I refused to listen to her when she talked about her dad like that.) As long as Emma continues with the lies, I will tell her story. Love and thanks to all of you who read and have written to me. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Please continue to share the blog with others.
Emma, this will be one of the more difficult sections for me to write because I have to take a lot of the blame here, but I think it’s fairly equally divided between the three of us: me, your Grandma Harriett, and Daddy. Like some of my other posts, I’d have preferred to keep this between you and me, but since we can’t communicate, I will share it here. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
Your Grandma grew up down south, in N.C., and at some point the family moved to New Jersey. When Grandma was about 18 she married your Grandpa Danny who was about 18 or so years older. The marriage lasted long enough to produce two babies, and that was it.
Grandma waitressed and Grandpa worked in a bar up until he bought the diner. Grandma went to work for Grandpa, and eventually took over running the restaurant. Both your grandparents were hard workers, and Daddy grew up working in the diner for them. By the time I came into the family, Grandma really did everything, and Grandpa just sort of showed up and waited on customers for part of the day. It was more like a social thing for him. He worked right up until he died. Grandma Harriett ordered him around both at work and away from work. I got the feeling, when he was younger, he wasn’t quite the pushover, but when he was older, he was very agreeable and just went with the flow.
I’ve told you about how your daddy was raised. He was the older brother, and the peacemaker. Daddy’s little brother, your Uncle A, would hold his breath until he passed out if he didn’t get what he wanted, so Daddy was always expected to give in to his little brother. After the divorce, your grandmother had some difficult relationships, and your dad claimed there was a lot of fighting going on at home between your grandmother and various boyfriends and then with her 2nd husband, John. Daddy always claimed that any kind of argument made his stomach hurt. He did not like to argue, and just wanted peace. Some years later, he enjoyed arguing with your uncle in Ct. about politics, and the arguing between your dad and your uncle seemed more like fighting to me, and it made me uncomfortable. I asked Daddy to stop, but he loved egging on your uncle. Daddy is conservative or libertarian and your uncle is a democrat. They were never going to agree on anything, and you know your dad was always pretty passive, and wouldn’t speak up to his mother or borther, but he could go at it with your uncle. I just wanted to enjoy my family, but this was the one thing your dad wasn’t his easy going self about.
Your grandmother was married to her 2nd husband, John, for about 7 years. From what your dad said, it was not a happy marriage from the beginning. John bought your grandmother a big diamond engagement ring that she had to take over the payments for. When your dad and I were up visiting one time, your grandmother showed me the ring and told me it would be mine one day. Although it was a sweet thought, since I’d never had an engagement ring, I wasn’t crazy about THAT ring because it seemed like bad luck to take a ring from a broken marriage. I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t really want the ring.
If I remember right, John drove a bread truck. I don’t remember all the problems they had, but your dad said that marriage was doomed from the start. They were divorced after a while, and later on, John came to work for your grandparents at the diner, so in addition to traveling with her ex-husband and her live-in-boyfriend, Kenny, your grandmother worked with her 2nd ex-husband as well as working with her 1st ex-husband. It sounded odd, but when we were up there visiting, everyone seemed to get along ok. And then there was Pat, who carried a torch for your grandma, who came by the restaurant every afternoon to help Grandma close.
In addition to a tumultuous household, Daddy described his childhood as one with a mother who always had to have a boyfriend, if she didn’t have a husband. These men could be married or not, it didn’t matter, but Grandma always had some kind of boyfriend. I just figured that grandma was raised in that southern tradition of “You are nothing without a man” and always had to have someone, just like her own mother, Stella, who was married several times.
The first time I met your Grandma Harriett and your Grandpa Dan, things were great. Harriett lived with her boyfriend, Kenny, and Dan wasn’t too far away in his own house. We got along fine and had a lot of fun. Harriett was an animal lover as well, so we had that in common. The only bad side of this was that your grandma would call me up and say, “I know you love animals, so I have to tell you……………..” and then proceed to tell me about some horrible animal abuse situation that she heard about up there in New Jersey, and no matter how many times I stopped her and said, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” she would do it anyway. Having worked with a dog and cat rescue for many years, Emma, I think you know how many horrible stories we hear and see constantly. When someone brings up something they heard in the news, I ask them not to tell me, and most people oblige. If I hear a story starting on the news about some horrible animal abuse story, I turn off the radio. I know what goes on, and I know there is nothing I can do about it. I really don’t need to hear it.
As for your grandpa, Danny was very easy going. He let Harriett call the shots and just went along with whatever was going on. He was likeable and pleasant to be with. Danny was also very generous and sweet. One time when we were visiting he showed me some camera ads. He knew I was into photography and offered to buy me a good camera. I thought it was such a sweet gesture, but I couldn’t accept something like that. At that time, good cameras were very expensive.
On the funnier side, once after Daddy and I were married, he was on the phone with your grandmother. I walked into the kitchen and Daddy yelled into the phone, “Well, F__K you too!” and I was so shocked. I got on to Daddy for talking that way to his mother, and he said, “Well, she said it first!” I don’t know if she still talks that way, but your grandma could swear like a sailor.
I think it was the second time I saw your grandparents that I found out how things could be. Harriett and Danny came down some time shortly before your Uncle A got married in March of 1984. They were going to spend a few days at A’s and then a few days with us. Your uncle lived quite a ways from us, so it was a good long drive. We drove over to pick them up and the next day, we were all going to have dinner. Your uncle thought we should drive back to his place to go to a Mexican restaurant near his house, and Daddy didn’t want to and suggested meeting somewhere in-between. That was the first time I saw Grandma Harriett get mad, and how mean she could be. I stupidly spoke up and said I agreed with Daddy, and Daddy and I got the cold shoulder for the rest of her trip.
Uncle A won out by refusing to go anywhere else, and Daddy and I gave in, and we drove all the way back over there to eat where he wanted to go.
During that time we had a friend named Steve, who was temporarily homeless because he’d quit his job, living with us, and your dad, Harriett, Danny, and I were going to go up to Amicalola, so of course we invited Steve to go with us.
The whole trip, Grandma Harriett only talked to Daddy and me if she absolutely had to. She flirted and fawned over Steve the whole trip, and pretty much ignored us. It was ridiculous to see a 45+ year old woman hanging all over a 20-something year old man, and of course it hurt my feelings that Grandma wouldn’t talk me. I think your dad was used to this kind of behavior from Grandma, so it didn’t bother him as much.
The cold shoulder went on for months, but eventually it passed, and I think things were back to normal by Christmas. (BTW, Emma, if you and Daddy didn’t throw away all our old photo albums, there is a great picture of your grandpa that I took at Amicalola. We were at the top, and he was wearing his camera around his neck.)
Usually, when your grandparents came down, all three of them came: Grandma Harriett, Kenny, and Danny. Considering one was the ex-husband, and one was the boyfriend, they all got along fairly well, with Grandma Harriett always in charge. Kenny was a retired policeman who liked to work on cars. He was still married, being catholic he wouldn’t divorce, but had left his wife and moved in with Grandma Harriett.
Kenny was known for having a temper, and I remember your Daddy telling me a story about the two of them having a huge fight and accusing each other of cheating, and one of them going after the other with a shotgun or something, but whenever I saw them, they got along well.
Kenny often went to the diner at the end of the day to help your grandma close up, but for a while he wasn’t allowed in there. Daddy told me he got very jealous of some of the men who came into the diner to see your grandma and could get very angry.
As far as visiting, your Grandma always favored Uncle A, but I understood that we were 2nd class citizens because we had no grandchildren for many years. Grandma would make secret visits down to your uncle’s and call us on the weekend, pretending she was at home, so we wouldn’t know she was down here. She even did it once with us after you were born. She came down to visit us and called your uncle, pretending to be in New Jersey. The first time I figured that out that your grandma did this was when she called, pretending to be in New Jersey one Christmas, and after talking to her, we hung up and I remembered something else I wanted to tell her. I had hung up the phone, but still had it in my hand and immediately called her back, but the phone rang and rang and rang. Later, when we asked her about it, she claimed that she and Kenny had gone to his sister’s, but she wouldn’t have even had time to put on her coat by the time I called back. I knew Grandma was lying, but Daddy wasn’t about to question things, so I let it go. Of course there were other times when we visited and Grandma let stories slip about being down at your uncle’s. This didn’t really bother me. I knew how she was and like I said, we had no grandchildren for her. I’d seen enough childless friends get cast aside by their parents in favor of spending time with the children who provided grandchildren. That’s just how people are.
One 4th of July weekend, maybe the first or second year we were married, Grandma Harriett and Kenny came down for a short 4 days or so, and they were supposed to stay with us for a couple of days and then go to your uncle’s for a couple of days. They got to our house late one evening after a long drive from New Jersey and then had to get up at 4:30 the next morning to go to your uncle’s house because he conveniently did not have a babysitter while they were visiting. That one did bother me, but I got over it.
Whenever we went to visit, the only time we could do something with your grandma was on a Sunday, and only for part of the day because she still wanted to go in to work to get the diner ready for Monday. If we went out on an evening during the week, to a movie or out to dinner, Grandma would always fall asleep in the car or at the theater.
I don’t have to tell you how generous Grandma Harriet was. She always wanted to take me shopping to buy some new clothes, and one visit, she arranged for a limo to take Daddy and I to a Brodaway show and have dinner in New York at Mama Leoni’s. It was a wonderful night. When Daddy and I bought our house in Doraville, Grandma Harriett and Danny gave us some money to help make the downpayment.
After we had you, I thought things would change. Your grandma was so excited that we were having a baby. She, Kenny, and Danny came down for 4 days after you were born. Grandma could never leave the restaurant or close the restaurant, and she told me that it was a short visit because she was going to come down 4 or 5 times , but those 4 or 5 visits turned in to ONE visit 9 months later on Labor Day weekend, when your grandma, Kenny, and Danny flew down after they closed the restaurant on Saturday and then had to fly back Monday afternoon, so those 4-5 visits turned into one visit for about 72 hours. That Sunday, your grandma called Uncle A, and we all had to be quiet so she could pretend to be in New Jersey.
That year, we couldn’t go up to visit because your dad had used up all his vacation to stay home with us when you were born.
When we did go up to visit after you were born, Grandma still would never close the restaurant and take a day off, so we would drive 17 hours up and spend a week, to have part of a Sunday to spend with your Grandma, although I heard lots of stories about how when Uncle A and his family went up, she would close the restaurant and rent them a house on the beach, paying for everything. Grandma frequently complained about your Aunt K and how she could not “do enough or spend enough” to make Aunt K happy. She complained about how your aunt had her girls in those little girl beauty pageants and was always asking Grandma to buy the dresses she needed for competitions. She complained that Aunt K abused prescription drugs. (I never saw anything to indicate this, and from what I saw of your aunt, she was a very good mother. To be fair to your aunt K, your grandma complained about your uncle’s first wife until he married his 2nd wife, and then she only had good things to say about the first wife. I have no doubt that Grandma had plenty to say about me to your aunt. I always suspected that grandma kind of liked the tension between your dad and his brother. )
Daddy and I never cared about renting a house at the beach or anything else, we just wanted your grandma to spend some time with us, and especially with you. We always went up and stayed in her tiny pre-fab home, and it was fine with us. Later on, I did worry about taking you up there because your grandma fed dozens of feral cats, and the backyard was like a big litterbox. I really didn’t want you playing out in that yard. The inside wasn’t as bad. Grandma had four inside cats in her and someone was always throwing up somewhere or missing the litterbox. You know I am an animal person, but it did bother me a little bit in the house as well, once we had you, but I tried to ignore it and never said anything about it.
Another time, early in our marriage, your Grandma was going to come down and spend Christmas with us one year, but at the last minute decided to go to a Slot Machine Tournament in Las Vegas instead. I was pretty hurt by that as we’d been planning on it, and she didn’t let us know until almost the last minute. Grandma sent us some of the promotional gifts she received for attending the tournament. You know the lamp that was on the old sewing machine in the living room? That came from there along with the candle holders that were in the china cabinet.
In April of 1995, Kenny Died. He was out in the yard working on one of his cars and had a heart attack. I can’t remember who found him, maybe the neighbors, but your grandma was at the restaurant working when it happened. Of course it was horrible. There was lots of drama when the EMTs were called and Kenny’s two grown daughters came over. Later on, your grandma noticed that a big gold necklace with a boat propeller charm she had given Kenny was missing. Of course no one knew what happened, but it was suspected that Kenny’s daughters took it. There were some things inside that turned up missing as well, such as a Kenny’s checkbook. I can’t remember what happened, but I think your grandmother said the girls emptied our Kenny’s checking account.
Your grandma was understandably very upset. Daddy and I were about to move to Hoschton, and we thought it was a good idea for me to go up with you to see Grandma. We stayed with her, and sat with her through all the tears and while arrangements were made. I think your grandma appreciated me being there with her, and I know you were a wonderful distraction for her. You were such a sweet baby, just having you around made grandma smile.
Kenny was cremated and the funeral was rather awkward. Daddy and your uncle A came up. On one side of the funeral home was Kenny’s wife, daughters, and other family and friends, and on the other side was your grandma, your uncle, Daddy and me, and a few friends.
Kenny was cremated, and since he loved the water, your grandma rented a boat for everyone to go out on to release the ashes. That was a little awkward too. The ashes were divided between Kenny’s wife and your grandma. Like the funeral, the boat was divided with Kenny’s wife and family on one side and Kenny’s mistress and family on the other side. Before we left, the captain of the boat stopped your dad and I and gave your Dad $200. He said that Grandma had overpaid and over tipped and that she gave them too much money already and he wanted to return this extra tip she had given him. Your daddy quietly put the money in your Grandma’s purse and didn’t say anything about it to her about it. Grandma’s purse was always stuffed with cash, so she wouldn’t have even noticed an extra $200 in it.
You were 2 ½ years old when we stopped toing up to visit your grandma. We drove a long 17 hours up (since Daddy always wanted to drive straight through and not stop to spend the night), and it was pretty miserable for you. It was the trip we often talked about how you had learned the song, “You Are My Sunshine” and we were singing it in the car, and you pounded your little fists on the car seat and sang very loudly, “You are NOT my sunshine…..You make me NOT happy….”’ You also pounded your fists and chanted, “Get out, get out, get out, get out, get out…..”
We had a pretty good visit, and took you to Storybook Land ( http://storybookland.com ) on Sunday afternoon, which was so much fun. That was the only day we could really do something because, as usual, Grandma wouldn’t take a day off. You loved it. You should be able to find the photos I took of that trip in the boxes of photos in that breakfast nook drawer where I always kept them.
I don’t even remember what your grandma got mad over, but we got the cold shoulder once again at the end of the trip, and by the time we left, I was so ready to go home. I think it was the day before we left when we went out to eat. (Grandma never cooked, but working like she did, who could blame her?) Grandma Harriett had a fairly new waitress working for them, named Maureen, and all through dinner Grandma talked about Maureen and how she loved Maureen and people thought Maureen was her daughter, and how she wanted to take Maureen here, and wanted to go there with Maureen, and Maureen said this, blah, blah, blah……….. I knew this was directed at me because usually when we visited, and we’d go to the restaurant, Grandma loved to tell people I was her daughter-in-law like she almost forgot that was her son that was with me. I always enjoyed how she seemed to be so proud of me.
Of course, I was hurt after this trip, and Grandma wasn’t speaking to us again. I was so tired of having a fair-weather- friend. When your grandma was nice, she was like one of my best friends and she would call to talk to me, barely saying hello to Daddy. I would also call her, like one of my girlfriends, over any little thing I wanted to tell her. But when Grandma was mad, you (or we) got the cold shoulder for months.
I’m trying to remember what year that was, I think 1996, and Daddy and I had been married for 12 years, and during those 12 years the only time your grandma took a day off when we visited was when Kenny died. Her visits down south to see us were usually about 2 days.
After that visit, I told Daddy I wasn’t going up there anymore. I wasn’t fair to drag you all the way up there for what usually ended up being pretty much one day of time spent with your grandma. I was also tired of the love –hate way that grandma treated us. I told Daddy that your grandma was welcome at our home anytime, but I wasn’t going back up there. Daddy didn’t argue and never said a word about it. He never spoke with his mother and asked her to take time off when we visited like she did for your Uncle and his family. Eventually, I figured Daddy would want to go back up, but he never said anything about it. He couldn’t stand up for his family and tell his mother she needed to spend time with us when we came all that way to visit.
The next time we saw your grandma was about a year later when she was traveling back from Disney World with her new boyfriend, Rex. Your Grandma and Rex stopped and spent the night at your Uncle’s and then drove on to see us and stayed for about 3 hours because they were in a hurry to get home. (Grandma had promised to go to Disney with us one day, but I knew that would never happen. She would never close the restaurant to do that for us, but she would for a boyfriend. Later on, you told me that you remembered Grandma saying she’d go to Disney with us, but you were pretty young, so I thought you must have made it up.)
Rex was a little more demanding of Grandma’s time and she went on a trip to Iceland with him, closing the restaurant for that trip. Sadly, the relationship didn’t last, but they were together for a year or so.
A year or so later, we were going to Tybee, and out of the blue, I got some mail from your grandmother. There wasn’t anything personal in it, just some Xeroxed copies of silly sayings, quotes, cartoons, etc. I thought this was ridiculous, since Grandma didn’t even talk to us, but I sent your Grandma a letter, inviting her to go with us to Tybee. I told her the dates we were going and that we had a condo with plenty of room and all she had to do was fly down and we would pick her up and do the rest. She never responded to my letter.
I gave up on inviting your grandma to anything else. She finally retired and sold the diner, and I thought Daddy would want to go up to visit since she was no longer working. I guess I should have brought it up, but after being hurt so many times by your grandma, I was hesitant and let it slide and Daddy never mentioned going up to New Jersey, although he did see your grandma sometimes when he drove up that way for UPS and she would come meet him for dinner.
I think I told you that with your grandma, I always thought of her as someone who loved drama. I used to say, “there are no molehills” with your grandma, only mountains. I’m sure when you and Daddy went to visit after your “sexually and physically abused” stories, Grandma was all over it.
When Grandma found out your uncle was cheating on his wife, she was fine with it. She just wanted him to be happy. She told me about meeting the mistress and how your uncle left his wife and moved in with the mistress and then went back to his wife. She complained about the mistress (Wife #2) calling her, sobbing and carrying on because your uncle went back to his wife. Later on, your uncle left his wife a 2nd time and moved in with his mistress. It was your Grandpa Danny that told Uncle A that he had an obligation to his wife and family, and so your uncle moved back in with his wife again. At this point, I thought your Aunt K was kind of stupid because she’d been through this once already, so why let a married man move in with you a second time while he was still married? Grandma again talked about how the poor mistress was so hurt that your uncle had left her to return to his wife a 2nd time.
You know the rest of this story, how your Aunt L (first wife) gave up and threw your uncle out, but by then the mistress had had a baby by someone else, and then married the man, later left him, and eventually, your uncle and your Aunt K got back together. They have been married a long time now, so maybe that was meant to be.
Anyway, Emma, what I wanted to say was to be very careful of how you treat your mother-in-law and your sister-in-law. I heard some lies you were telling about Sherry Buchheim and about Caitlin Buchheim, and you know that it is wrong. From what Sherry told me, you spent very little time with Caitlin, so why the need to lie about your her? I think you can’t help lying, but that is for another post, and I will get to that later. You are what you are.
In my case, there is enough blame to go around. I should not have cut off your grandmother like I did. You know that I come from my own dysfunctional family, so I never really learned how to handle difficult people. I guess I was a lot like your dad in that I wanted your grandma to like me, and I didn’t know how to deal with someone who loved me one minute and wasn’t speaking to me the next. I was a young wife and mother and had my own insecurities, and it was very hurtful to me the way your grandma acted. I should have handled things differently. Your dad should have stuck up for his family, which he just couldn’t do, and your grandma should have treated us a little better. We all had fault here. I hope you will learn from my mistakes and from the mistakes you have already made and do a little better with your in-laws.