This past Wednesday - I participated in support of the Anti- SOPA and PIPA bills that our ever-so-beloved ( ‘cough’ ) government is being prodded into passing by air-headed Bullies with no conscience.
Anyway - I did not even open up a browser on Wednesday. Next opportunity I took for heading to the Galveston Daily News website was yesterday. My usual routine is to merely glance over the front page before heading to the Obituaries.
Do the math. I never hear from anybody.
Yesterday’s reading of the Obituaries took me to one of those moments that none of us really wants to experience.
On Wednesday, January 14, 2012 - Spunky Bullard passed away. So many will not understand. But typing that sentence is just as difficult for me to think it out - even more - say it out loud.
Ohhhh - do I have some memories! Nothing like some that others have. I do remember the scar that he gave Skippy - from a nail intended for hanging Christmas lights by the front door of the house. Skippy and I had to go get him one night. He pinned me between the house and his giant self - trying to get his drunk butt inside my house to sleep it off!
Reading the news - yesterday - reset the events of my entire day. So many memories came to the surface - again. So much crying - again.
Spunky's brother was The Love of My Life. It’s been a little over 20 years now - since Skippy was run over and killed by a 16-year-old kid in a Volkswagen - driving home from his evening shift at work. Skip was trying to cross Palmer - heading to his pickup in the parking lot across the street.
He’d been at Scruples. He was heading home. And he was drunk.
It was a crazy time in my life. So much going on in my life back then - without ever having a strong and mature structure of family support to prepare me - or - help me survive a divorce.
Our relationship came to be - smack in the middle of it all. Down the road and like overnight - it ended. I had tried moving on. Headed to California for 2 years. He had some woman named Kay living with him all the time I was gone. Very coincidently - they got married - only 2 weeks after I come back home. And there was a boat load of people damn near pushing each other out of the way to get through the door where I was working - just to make sure I knew that.
By then - I’d already had an incident where some of the guys had to keep him away from me - at a public function. I’d only been home a couple days.
And then a couple weeks later - Labor Day weekend comes. And I go on a date with a friend - out to a favorite spot with my aunt and uncle - where my aunt’s father and brother had their band playing. There they are - the newly married couple.
My attitude about the whole situation at that time was - “ He made his decision. He’s a married man now. I don’t do married men. “
He trapped me in the hallway to the bathrooms. Him: “ I just wanna talk to you. “ Me: “ Too late. And you are NOT doing this to her. “
She sat at a table across the main room - watching the whole thing - including watching me walk out to the main room and find my date - before heading out the door and off to another club.
In no time at all - there were more incidents. I decided it was more than obvious. I just was not gonna be able to go out anywhere in town without running into him. And he was always gonna behave the same way. I did not want to be a part of his behavior.
In time - I made the decision to move up to East Texas. I thought it would help. But I always made sure a few of the guys had the phone number for reaching me if anything every happened.
I always came back to Galveston County every 2 weeks - for the kids. I always took the back road - never even entered town. My hair stylist was located on that same road. I could slip in and not be seen. I loved it! Get in. Get out.
There was a particular Saturday when I went in to have my nails done. I sat and listened to the 19-year-old girl doing my nails - while she began spilling gossip to me - after discovering we shared a common acquaintance.
At one point - her boss ( my stylist ) walked over to her and told her, “ I think you’ve said enough. “ And I stepped in with a reply to him, “ No, Hon. It’s okay. I get a kick outta hearing about all the stuff I’m - supposedly - doing in Texas City - all the way from East Texas. “ And I just snickered.
She turned pale as a ghost - apologizing to me - left and right. I had to calm her down - before going back and giving her all the facts and truths. She informed me that she was going to her boyfriend ( close friend of Skippy and Spunky’s ) to fill him in and have him go to Skippy about it.
Had I known what would happen next - I would have told that girl to learn from her experience and just keep her mouth shut.
Wasn’t long after that - he came up there looking for me. Only - I ended up finding him - and a couple others - on the dam - injured - truck damaged - some lady’s car damaged.
I knew they weren’t sober. But I chose not to stop - for a completely different and legitimate reason. I’d had it with all the garbage his wife was spreading all over town about me. And I could only imagine what she’d throw out there if I took the risk of stopping on that dam.
Everybody thought I had issues back then? HA!
It was the day before Thanksgiving - 1991. Decided to close shop and go home for the holidays. Back then - everybody came home for the holidays. And everybody made their rounds at the usual hot spots in town. It was a really fun time back in those days. It’s all been ruined since.
Anyway - I was gonna go out and join all the fun. I hadn’t been out in what felt like forever! Couldn’t even remember the last Crown and 7 I’d had - the last beer - the last shot. I was well over due for a night at Scruples!
I was totally dressed and decked for the Nines! Had a babysitter. Grabbed my purse and keys - looked at the door and took one step - before I had this most Gawd-awful sickening feeling hit my gut. And then this huge emotional blanket of feeling awful about leaving Jen with a babysitter began smothering me. I chose to stay home that night.
The next morning was Thanksgiving day. I woke up before everybody else. Set up the coffee pot - got dressed - stepped outside to pick up the newspaper.
Grabbed a cup of coffee - sat at the dining table - proceeded to open the newspaper to Page 2. And there it was.
I called his best friend. And it was only then - that somebody finally informed me that his divorce from her was supposed to be final at 8am this very morning - less than 8 hours after he was killed.
I don’t remember much after that. I lost it. They couldn’t wait to come throw it in my face about him marrying her. But not one of them ever came to me - to let me know about the divorce.
Very vaguely - I remember going to the funeral home. I remember taking flowers. I remember the ribbon. I remember having the florist put the message on the ribbon - “ Dance with me in my heart forever, Skippy. “
I remember her standing with his mother near the casket - watching me place the flowers on top - next to his portrait. I remember Spunky being the only one in the room to speak with me - hugging me. I remember spending the rest of the time in the break room with others. And then I remember leaving - heading back to East Texas.
I let go of the very last thread of sense left in me after that. I blamed myself. Up until only a couple years ago - I blamed myself. I could have saved him. He’d still be alive - had I gone out that night. I would have run into him. I would have found out about the divorce. I would have given in to him. I loved this man like nobody can imagine. I would have had a whole dozen kids with this man.
Afterward - My life became loaded with Hell - even more than it ever had been. For the longest time - I could not find reason to wake up every morning. I hated God for making me do it. I hated all of Skippy's friends for not one single one of them ever coming to tell me about the divorce. I really didn’t care what happened to me. And I let pieces of my life float - fly - and fall - wherever things just happened to land. Nothing mattered by then.
Except my daughter - Jen. I struggled with survival on a daily basis - only for her.
People think I’m a bit ‘ touched ‘ when I say I can feel the presence of my Dad and the rest of the Casteel family now passed on to the other side. I really don’t care what they think. I only know keeping that open mind has allowed my Dad to SHOW me that he has been with me.
There have been many times when my dad has come to me - bringing Skippy along. And when there’s been absolutely nobody on this planet willing to support me and help me through pain in life - those two men in my life have continued being there for me - giving me the lifeboat I’ve needed for having no choice but to survive.
For almost 20 years - I’ve remained burdened with feelings of guilt for not going out that night.
I always covered his butt whenever we went out! Had a couple times I bs’d cops and kept him out of jail. Had one night I didn’t manage. But I did fenagle keeping them from impounding his truck - which could have brought on more trouble. *snicker* Who goes partying with loaded hunting rifles? ( This was back in the ‘80’s - before all the Gangsta Wannabe’s were born and chose to become a Society of Pure Stupidity. ) Back then - we could do stupid while continuing to maintain a somewhat reasonable level of responsibility - without trying to kill a soul.
A couple years ago - I was cleaning the kitchen in the last house we rented before buying our home here. Once again - Skippy was on my mind. Once again - the guilt was eating at me. And I needed my dad so badly.
He came. I could hear him say it. I guess he decided it was time for me to know it. “ Baby. You don’t understand. You would have died with him. “
And then I remembered I had dressed in black to go out that night. And this huge cloud of an “ Ahaa.. “ moment felt like it filled the whole kitchen. And then I remembered all the sickening feeling that came over me and stopped me from going out that night. And I felt total peace when the thought crossed my mind that it wasn’t sickness… that was Angels.
The Hero I am married to now - will celebrate 10 years of marriage with me this year! We’ve been together for over 12 years. But we got married ( pure fluke ) on September 11, 2002 - during my day off from work at Continental ExpressJet - and his damn lunch break from the Hangar at Continental ExpressJet.
And we’re still dealing with outside entities that refuse to speak with me - simply because - my name " is not on the account. " Nevermind the fact that I write out the damn checks they get every month!!! Marrying me couldn't fix that one. I’m sure that pisses him off - sometimes. But not for reasons you might think. Ha! Unless you know how pissy I can be.
Hubs knows all about Skippy. He is - very well - aware of how different life could be for both of us - if Skippy had never died. And nooo... I do a WHOLE LOT MORE for that man besides getting up at 3:30am to fix his damn lunch!
But then - we all should be aware of the fact that things don’t always turn out the way we might think - as well. We just never know anything beyond what is.
Dwayne is my Gift of Compensation from God. I put Him to the challenge. If God truly wanted me to quit feeling all the hatred toward Him for making me survive on this wretched planet - after taking Skippy away - then He had to bring Dwayne to me.
Because I just could not imagine God having the energy to create another one just like Skippy. I know. ( There are soooo many people that get that one. LOL ) And He did. God gifted me with having Dwayne in my life.
Granted - I've never smelled another crock pot of burned beans left over on the hood of a car that's raced a couple hundred miles to get home. Dwayne has never pulled a 180* with the pickup - in the middle of an intersection - within eyesight of a cop. I've never had to pull another bar-b-que pit with a flat tire - through tiny country roads - not knowing where in the Hell I'm at. ( I got elected because I had a driver's license - clean record - and was the one most sober. I continue disagreeing with that last point. )
Nope. My Gift from God is much more calmer - reserved - busy. However - I have remained without a dance partner. And - I am just okay with that. Although - I do miss my dance partner.
I’m sure Skippy knows and sees all that lives inside my heart. I’m sure he’s happy for me - the fact that my life survived - squared - and found another point of joy and happiness.
I’m sure he gets a kick out of watching me clean manure off the bottom of my shoes - and hosing down muddy animals!
I’m sure he understands all the - what is - in my life today. I’m sure he’s okay with it. I’m sure he knows where my heart - and my butt - would fight to be - if he were still here with us all.
And for me - what is - holds a whole lot of love in my heart for Skippy. But now I can relax. I know how happy he must be - to have his brother come join him.
" Rest in peace, Spunky. Feel free to come visit anytime you want! Just make sure you bring your brother with ya'! "
" I only hope Heaven can survive the two of you - together with my Dad - Dale - and a few others - in the same place at one time. "
" Oh, my gawd… Ronnie Latimer’s with y'all! "