Dysfuntional, A Family Trait

Dysfunctional, a family Trait

The basis of my thinking comes from a dysfunctional childhood, a rocky road to adulthood and over 50 years of marriage that cover two marriages. Ten years that were unsuccessful and over 44 years of success.  Three things shocked my thinking and emotions and caused tremendous personal change.  First was being arrested and put in jail for 59 days, while facing a possible prison term, the second, getting divorced, and the third was meeting legendary martial artist Bruce Lee.

Because of a bad family environment, I had been brought up in an orphanage for the first 12 years of my life and developed a “survival of the fittest” attitude (another story).  Dysfunctional is the proper word to describe my linage.  My grandfather was from Alabama and a proud member of the Klu Klux Klan, as was my grandmother.  My mother said she recognized when grandpa marched by in clan parades because of his shoes.  Grandpa worked for the railroad and they moved him to Texas and then Oregon where mother ran away at 14.  She went to San Francisco with a friend, who was caught and sent home leaving mother alone and lost in a strange city.  A series of events pushed her into a marriage, at 16, to a 46 year mental/physical abusive gambler from the Philippines, which made grandpa almost hang himself with his KKK sheet.  My father was half French, ¼ Castilian Spanish and a ¼ Filipino.  Mother was, 1/2 Irish, the rest English, German, Scotch and French.

Unable to deal emotionally with the responsibility of three children by the age of 19, and a husband who treated her as a punching bag, the Catholic services sent my brother and I to an orphanage and my sister to a foster home.  I cannot remember the orphanage in California, but I recall St. Mary’s in Oregon, run by nuns, which was my introduction to eternal damnation if I didn’t follow God’s rules.  The nuns had an amazing talent to tell stories that filled you with fear,  guilt and the importance of suffering for your fellowman.

While St. Mary’s was psychological, my next home was Briscoe Memorial school in Kent Washington, run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland, and they were very  physical  The Brothers believed in harsh corporal punishment, and carried leather straps that I came to know well. I have to admit that the majority of whippings were deserved since, according to them, I sinned a lot. Once I left the orphanage I went to a Catholic school, in Seattle, also taught by nuns.  I was constantly in trouble.  Although I had excellent grades, my playing hooky from school, as well as my disruptive behavior, finally got me expelled from school.  The nuns did not carry straps and only threatened me with going to hell and eternal damnation, which scared me, at least for awhile.  I decided not to return to school.

By the time I was 15, the school system decided that only a judge could determine what to do with me.  I belonged to the capitol hill gang of young hoodlums and was getting into a lot of fights and misc trouble.  I was sliding towards to a darker side of life. (another story)

Return to DeMile History