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    • It seems to me that schizophrenics withdraw from their families, and most everyone else, because no one can enter their internal, frightening world. The words "You don't understand" or "You'll never understand" were frequently heard in our house. My older sister was in constant conflict with mom and left home as soon as she was able. They never reconcilled.

      My father, on the other hand, was the most patient and steadfast person I've ever known. The wife of one his university faculty colleagues experienced a breakdown about the time that mom did. He eventually had her committed to the state hospital, got a divorce, and went on with life, urging dad to do the same. But he refused to even consider it.

      Both my parents beleved in corporal punishment, and I earned the occasional 'spanking' while growing up. I discovered that one of mom's whippings could be shortened by yelling and hollering, while dad expected me to silently "take it like a man." Mom would most often grab a switch in the heat of the moment and let fly at my legs. Dad would wait until tempers had cooled, sit me down to explain exactly why my behavior merited punishment, and after I agreed, apply his belt to my legs. Welts, "the marks of disobedience", were expected but were never severe.

      My last whipping occurred when I was around 6 years old. I had so egregiously disobeyed that mom did not punish me immediately but waited for dad to get home from work. He took me into the bedroom for our "talk", then had me drop my trousers as he removed his belt. Then he said, "You know, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." Being a smartass, even then, I blurted out "Well, if that is really true, shouldn't I be whipping you?"

      The raised belt stopped in mid air, and there was a long moment of silence. Then dad said "I never thought of it that way, but you're right! Pull up your pants and take this belt." By now I was crying, said I was only kidding, that I had done wrong and deserved punishment. How could I do this? It was unthinkable. It was my fault. But dad lowered his trousers, handed me his belt, and instructed me to whip his legs. We were both in tears, and I half-heartedly struck a blow or two, but he stopped me and insisted it must be hard enough to "count", to raise welts. So that I did. But resolved to never again earn a whipping from my dad.

    • I am guessing your father grew up in an era "when men were men", "spare the rod spoil the child" and "men don't cry" era.

      That's so true. I've often wondered why I grew up to be a pushover, as my kids all tell me I am. It was hard on my wife but our kids loved it until they had kids of their own and now they don't like it.

      Your photo of your mother and dad reminds me of what a promotional photo of two movie stars of that era looks like.

      Now that you say that and I look at their photos again I see it!

    • Thank you, Awais. I often wonder what would have happened had I not been caught stealing that sweater? I very nearly outran the detective and for awhile I was mad at myself for giving up because when he caught me I could tell he was completely gassed.

      What would have happened had I followed my instincts and run away, which I so nearly did? I could have pulled it off. Oakland was just over the hill and I knew how to stay hidden. What if I didn't meet Mr. Davis in high school? What if Julie didn't turn out to be the step mom she was? What if I didn't meet Toni at summer camp? I've always wondered about these things.

    • I would never have guessed your story, Chris. I was homeless at age 16, after I moved out to get away. I had the opposite experience of very few people helping, and being preyed upon. It left lifelong scars around trusting anyone that I still struggle with. You are so fortunate to have had Julie and others who helped lift you up.

    • Fantastic. Over the years of knowing you, you've let out bits and pieces of this story to me. I recall talking about some of parts 1 and 2 in our early days on knowing each other, when the average phone call was 2.5 hours :)

    • Thank you, Anne. I can't imagine what it must be like to be homeless and a teen girl. I don't remember even knowing that adults preying on kids/teens was a thing until maybe my 20s? I know some boys are preyed upon too, I just can't imagine and was lucky enough to never have to.

      My daughter recently took in a pregnant teen through a wonderful, inspiring program:

    • Thank you, Chris. I’ll be thinking about you and your life story for quite some time, I expect. The immediate impact took me back to the scriptures and the beautiful passage on love. “Love.....bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” The “believes all things” phrase had me stumped for some years as a young man. Your life story is such a powerful example of the impact of love when it is manifested as the investment of belief in another person. Belief in response to abject failure, even. And such love was not lost on you as you clearly rose to it. How can we understand this kind of love? How are we to respond to the examples of those who loved you in this way? Can we learn to give this kind of love to those we encounter in life? Even to our adversaries? So much content here.


    • Chris, thank you so much for sharing this. It is an increadible story and it meant a lot to me to know of this. I am in awe of the difficulties and strength you had. -Justin Russell

    • Hey Justin!! Great to see you here. For those following along, Justin is one of my sister Jane's sons. Your avatar makes you look all grown up and handsome. I don't know if you've ever seen this, but I digitized one of Grampie's movies of your mom and our older sister Robin with my mom before her illness. It's adorable!

    • What an incredible story Chris. Very brave in the telling and, of course, in the living of that experience. Beautifully written. Once you got with the program about writing, you did not mess around did you? Humbling stuff and a great reminder of the need for humanity and kindness for those who are suffering misfortune through no fault of their own. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Aspad (autocorrect thought you were the president of Syria).

      It’s funny, in some ways I feel my experience helped me be happier since everything is relative in my mind to living on the streets. On the other, there’s a sadness about what happened to my mom that I’ve never been able to shake.

    • Reading your story gave me perspective on my childhood.. It was similar in many respects, broken home, belts& welts, etc. I was always on my own, but I was never homeless. I too have had a wonderful, happy adult life, with a loving wife by my side. My motorcycle has been my therapist since age 12 when I bought a 1971 Suzuki TC90 with my own money from a paper route and working small jobs (never received an allowance). I walked to a ranch in Moraga and rode it home at night, with no parental approval or oversight. I've had 48 years of Moto therapy since. I was surprised to read that we have the same alma mater.................Glorietta, not Stanford (too ignorant). I was there from '65-'69, then onto IVI, Campolindo....

      I want to thank you for pulling back the curtain and sharing some of your experiences, conveying them in a raw, straight forward manner. It gave me pause and reflection on how we are brought into this existence with no perspective, nor influence on our lives.

      Happy Trails - Dave

    • Thanks, Dave! Oh my God I had a Honda 90 that I bought with my own money caddying at Orinda Country Club. I was also IVI and Campolindo. What a small world.

      This is what I looked like then.