There is a laundry list of her murderers: The failed social/ political system that denies mentally and drug sick folk civilized long term easy access to inpatient mental care– we leave that to jails and streets in the ‘village’– where people preach but don’t care to get involved or to pay; Inherited DNA that both gives and takes away– (her family history included violence and homicide); and a violent drug- sick environment. Yet she was hard working and brilliant becoming wealthy until suffering increasingly severe psychotic episodes during the last 35 years of her life.
The list includes physicians who thoughtlessly gave her narcotics and other toxins for headaches; the famous Stanford Neurosurgeon who hacked her temporal lobe, even after all the rest of the neurologists and neurosurgeons proclaimed her deep brain cyst was benign–it would have been prudent to take serial CT scans. He neither mentioned hacking her temporal lobe, nor finished the operation, but took off for SE Asia letting an underling botch the closure that required two further repairs; and the long series of physician killers who prescribed aderal and ritalin, whose effects are almost identical to cocaine but faster and longer acting. The last killer-prescriber declared to the court, despite pleas from her family, that she was not a danger to herself or to others– just hours before she shot herself.
Add to her killer list the men who–while not altogether well or drug free– suckered and sucked her dry and spit her out; and in her last long sad 15 years, those men who moved on her when she was sick, alone and lonely in a little mobile home; the last was named Fenwick, a creation of her psychotic, paranoid, and drugged mind who became real, and shot her with the gun she herself put to her head.
Her first killer, however, was also a physician who, with some exceptions, was an absent father. It was a time when many physicians did not belong to one family, but were priest-scientists, benefactors of humanity, whose family was the world.
I was that physician, blindly devoted to my own grandness, ambitions, and responsibilities. I was ‘called’. In marriage I ran from confrontation; when my resentful wife squandered our money I remained silent, arrogantly self-contained. She always had full day help five days a week, while I put in 14 hour days because I hoped to continue my work with children of migrant farm workers. The ‘because’ was my contribution of course. Always exhausted, and marinated in self importance, I tended to withdraw into myself.
A parent has no idea how parental anger may be interpreted by a child. I had been spanked as a child, but that never troubled me; though my father was an angry man, I was the benefactor of unconditional love from four grandparents with whom I spent at least several months every year. Yet I firmly believe that corporeal punishment of children is wrong; deadly wrong. It also is training in adult violence.
I very clearly recall an episode my daughter left buried in extensive in hand written autobiographical notes. I had spanked her in anger over- nothing; she told, and defended, a lie. What child wouldn’t when facing an angry father? A specific detail not recorded there is one I hate to even think about: Her bedroom was upstairs. After spanking her, I felt terrible, and apologized. But later I went up and found a mason jar with a stool in it. I can see that mason jar even now, and can only think that she was too terrorized to go down to the bathroom.
I was- and am- so shamed that I never spanked a child again. Yet I was her first killer; and there is no cure for either of us.
Give some ashes back to the shore
Of the oceans she loved so;
back to the sands she walked before
And to the tides that ebb and flow.
Give some back to the little towns
Where she was born and nourished
And those cities of renown
Where she grew up and flourished.
Give back some to the vaulting team
Who won a national championship;
Give some to mountain lake and stream
And days and nights of camping trips.
Give some back to that long gone time
Of promise and hope for love,
When it was sure that she would climb
More high and far than stars above.
But give nothing to her demons,
prescriptions, drugs, or faulty brain,
Or the living nightmare dreaming,
That filled her life with fear and pain.
None of us could correct her course
Marked by conflict, abuse and strife;
She left us sadness, not remorse,
So Give back. Give her back again
To her best self, the girl she was
To the woman’s soul deep within
And give to her remembered love.