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The Double Life of a Young Woman

Updated on July 22, 2012

Memory Lane...Palomar Way, Playground and Street view

Street sign on Palomar Way
Street sign on Palomar Way | Source
Our house as it looks today, 5.21.12
Our house as it looks today, 5.21.12 | Source
The playground, just 2 blocks away from my house, which used to be filled with kids playing together.  Today...empty...barren
The playground, just 2 blocks away from my house, which used to be filled with kids playing together. Today...empty...barren | Source
Street view
Street view | Source


The modest home on Palomar Way still stands today. Tucked safely amid others of similar design and size, the house disappears into unremarkable conformity. Nondescript and secure as it stands under trees which have been growing steadily since those years; the house and environs appear to have survived the many changes other neighborhoods succumbed to. In an idealized image; my childhood stomping grounds seem unchanged. Just as it was when my brother and I dodged emotional bullets which were constantly being jettisoned between my mother and ‘step father # 3,’ gorgeous Mike of Irish lineage. As I walk down the street today, I vividly recall the names of my neighborhood friends and the street games we used to play deep into the dark night, street lights beaming, spreading protective light over dozens of kids at play. Sonda, who lived at the end of the cul de sac, whose home was the nicest, by far, was my very good friend. Sadly, she was rejected by so many of the other kids. I had moved into an ongoing ostracizing of this nice girl, and I never truly understood; I did not know why. I do remember fending off a group on their bicycles one day, in front of Sonda’s home. They had come to taunt and tease. She remained inside, I ran out and yelled back, calling them the worse names I could come up with at the time… “stupid,” “idiot,” I yelled back as I screamed loudly; commands ordering them off her property. I always suspected their rejection of her was out of an inability to understand her upper-class behavior. She spoke quietly and with a beautiful command of the English language. She practiced ballet, piano and singing. Most of the kids in the neighborhood were from working class families who did not participate in such activities. Her demeanor was somewhat aloof, not out of snobbery but because she was shy. She and I would dance around her home to music I was very familiar with; classical and baroque, by musicians and in a style with which I had been raised, as well. Not out of any connection to the upper echelon of society but, strangely, because my Oklahoma born mother had sought to erase her own humble beginnings by familiarizing herself with the classics. So, Sonda and I were friends, much to the chagrin of my other friends, who weren’t quite sure how to handle it. Eventually, everything worked out; it’s like that when we’re young and forgiving.

These memories flooded back as I walked along a street that, now, seems very small compared to the larger than life way I saw it as a younger person. I had just turned eleven; the year things began to change…again!


Days, weeks and months passed in a predictable fashion after my mother’s divorce from Mike. My brother and I attended the local schools; he starting his second year in Junior High (now called Middle School…ugh!) and I in my last year; 6th grade, at the local school just blocks away. Most of my friends were also my classmates so, attending school was just as much fun as summer vacation. I had grown used to my small little world on Palomar Way; everything I needed was right there or within several blocks walking distance. Life was good. Home life had leveled out. All was well in smallville!


Just when my brother and I thought that we had finally reached an even keel; just as we felt as if we really belonged somewhere and had spread our roots within the warm and welcoming soil in the community of our little housing tract, something started to stir. Mother’s hours began to vary…greatly. She came home later and later at night after her "dates," and acted as if she were on some kind of love potion # 9! She was moody and giddy. I noticed, too, that she began to pay more attention to her appearance, styling her hair differently, applying more make-up and wearing high heels with nylons instead of comfortable shoes. She began to buy pretty perfumes which she placed on her dressing table along with the recently unpacked and displayed bangles and baubles which had been put away quite a while before. Something was in the air! I sensed that things were about to change.


My grandmother shared our home and acted as babysitter, driver, shopper and all around helper as my mother worked full time and at odd hours. We couldn’t afford a full time sitter, so grandmother did what she could to help out. She still owned her own home and, in fact, spent several days a week there just to have a little time to herself, away from the commotion which is always present when kids are around. She took two or three “days off” each week. Ours was a comfortable little family unit; everything went along smoothly with no major problems.


Mother worked ‘graveyard’ shift at the local hospital. This had been going on for several years, and she was quickly growing weary of the difficult hours. Her work was hard, too, as she was a Licensed Vocational Nurse which translated into hands on, down and dirty, hard labor. But work she must which meant that, sometimes, brother and I were left alone at night when grandmother was away. She’d lock the house up tight and insist that we never open a door or window to anyone…”do you hear me, Kathryn? Billy? Do NOT open the door!” We were brave. Oh yes, very brave. Until we heard her car drive away and realized that we were alone. No friends were allowed over during these times, either. So, believing in the divine protection of bright light, we’d run from room to room, turning on all the lights, and then cuddle up in front of the television which we'd dialed up real loud as we sat together on the big couch with comforters and pillows to protect us from the scary unknown.

Other times, when grandmother was with us but had to be elsewhere for a while; she’d bundle us up warmly and drive to the hospital where my mother’s car was parked. As we drew nearer, I could feel my heart start to hammer in my chest. It was dark and quiet; so quiet. Grandmother would park beside mother's car, unlock the back door and quickly usher us into the back seat. With lots of blankets and covers, she’d tell us to lie on the floor while she completely hid us from view under piles of bedding. “Be quiet, kids, and DO NOT open the doors for anyone. Your mother will be here soon. Go to sleep and don’t talk. Just be still.”

She’d slam the door tight and, soon, we’d hear the motor of her car start and the wheels crunching over the gravel parking lot. Now, again, we were alone in a strange place…sometimes cold; always fearful. Mercifully, soon we were asleep, tucked 'safely' (we hoped) under tons of fabric.

The driver’s door was opening! It was light outside and the loud, blaring siren which indicated change of shift was wailing. Even though my mother stood just outside the car door, this was the most frightening time of all…I don’t know why; it caused my heart to pound and stirred my senses on alert, waiting to hear my mother’s voice to be sure we were okay. ( I often recall these mornings; and try to understand why, at the point of safety, I felt the most terrified. Perhaps it is because at that very moment, even though relieved; was when that sense of relief translated into the "what if's" of the potentially disastrous outcome, leaving the rush of fear mixed with the 'exhale' of having escaped, yet another, risk filled situation).

She slipped into the drivers’ seat and started the engine, as she whispered to us that we would be home soon.

And, once again, all was well in smallville.

Back to reality. Mother was beginning to look and act as I’d seen her before, in her predatory days, looking for another husband.


Without warning, grandmother, brother and I were being introduced to my mother’s new love interest, Leonard. He had a stocky build, square jaw and a leering gaze. This one seemed particularly rigid; “uptight” seems to fit the way he handled himself. He stood with straight back as if 'at attention.' Leonard was overly obsessed with his appearance and that of my mother. His gaze seemed to be assessing and evaluating everything around him; particularly my mother... and me.

Theirs was a short 'dating' phrase. In no time, my mother sat grandmother, brother and me down for a 'serious' talk. We already knew what was coming, and we were not happy about it. His demeanor was stiff; his gaze felt like he was undressing us; he was unfriendly and far too 'observent,' as well as being very self conscious.

Along with the news of another impending wedding for my desperate mother, came the news that Leonard did not want to live in my mother's house...oh NO! So, plans were made to place the home on the market as they searched for Home # 6!!! I remember standing on the driveway, looking out over the street I loved and crying my eyes out.

In no time, even before our family uprooted and moved on, he was becoming very judgmental. He’d constantly berate my mother if he perceived her to be the slightest bit imperfect. He would insult her with the goal that she do whatever necessary to achieve his idea of physical beauty.

One day, he showed up with the latest invention designed to slenderize and shape the female figure. Called “The Relaxasizer,” this contraption was touted to be the latest and greatest device to achieve rapid results, melt away unwanted fat and sculpt a body even Venus would envy. It sent electrical pulses to the targeted areas where little electrodes were attached using moisturized pads which adhered to flesh. One could choose whether the “shocks” would be minimal or maximum. The idea was that inches and pounds would melt away as if the subject were exercising long and hard while laying still, body jumping with each jolt. Mother religiously applied the pads to her naked, "flawed" places everyday without fail; hoping to please him.

Of course, nothing was going to please him. He was the original misogynist. Nothing she did was right; everything had fault and error in his eyes. And though she was still beautiful; slender and proud, he saw only what he thought were imperfections. She would never achieve acceptance.

Soon after they were married, my mother became pregnant with my younger brother. During this time, Leonard became deathly ill with Hepatitis. His health rapidly deteriorated, rendering him unable to work or even leave the house. This continued for about 9 months. My mother took on a second job to carry our family through the crisis.

I became the “chief, cook and bottle washer,” taking over all the duties typical of the woman of the house during that era. Ironing, preparing many meals ahead of time and then freezing them in the huge Frigidaire freezer for future use, cleaning and caring for my stepfather became my daily existence. It was summer and school was out. I was chained to the house, overwhelmed with so much responsibility. During this time, my brother, Bill, was no longer living at home and rarely visited.. He and Leonard did NOT get along. Once, this resulted in a broken arm and bloody face and brother being sent to live at my father’s home with our new step mother. Beaten and evicted, essentially, he was gone and I was there….alone.

Sick as he was, Leonard could not help but make comments and gestures in his desire to gain my attentions…oggling, staring and inappropriate attempts at touch were becoming constant threats…and I learned, quickly, how to dodge his advances.

Mother was very pregnant now, and soon to deliver. He was not happy about the pregnancy and had no qualms about reminding my mother of it over and over while complaining about what the pregnancy had done to her looks. What a jerk!!!!

Leonard loved porn. I’d find it everywhere when I was cleaning the house. I wasn’t supposed to have found it; hidden away so carefully as it was. I’d tell my brother, who just had to share in the secret! Boys will be boys! But Leonard’s obsession was a little over the top, to be sure. And he expected my mother to live up to the images he flaunted before her in an effort to control the situation.

Still an undeveloped child, I was not fully cognizant of the level to which his improper interest was directed at me. I did not have the depth of understanding. But, it wasn’t long before my young body began to blossom into adolescence….and Leonard noticed, and reacted more aggressively. It wasn't long before I began to 'get the picture.'

In the beginning, as a younger girl, he would speak to me using endearing terms and pet names. Pumpkin and Tiger were his favorites. He loved lavishing attention on me as he beckoned me using these names…..and I wanted to be recognized; to be favored. The pet name gestures were like a warm, welcoming acceptance. I had no idea.

As I grew into a teenager, the pet names ceased. Leonard became hostile and accusatory. He called me names about which I had no idea of their meaning. He believed my behavior outside the home was less than sterling. I was completely unaware of what he meant and which of my activities he seemed to have an awareness of, and were so bad. He wasn’t there; how could he say these things?

The rejection I felt was enormous. And undeserved. My mother told me that he could not handle the physical changes which were happening to me. Of course, I didn’t understand…not at all. The only way I could relate to the overt disapproval was to believe that I had done something terribly wrong. Guilt! Shame! For what; I did not know.

As time passed, the tension, the turmoil and discord grew exponentially.

Our ‘happy little family’ environment grew more tense and more peculiar….

more to come in the next of this series.


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    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh Mar, hey...I so understand the rush of our lives and the time we don't have these days. I have done this so many times; and, once in a while, I'll bookmark to come back and forget to do so...I think HP's is changing a little in that we are all (the original wonderful group) so busy that our time here is not as frequent...surely, it is true of me and my poor performance when it comes to follow through and follow up of the wonderful writers I've come to care so much about. Anyway, I so appreciate your wonderful and kind comment. I'm hoping to do just that...someday. Much gratitude and love...kathy

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      My Dear Kathy,

      I decided to check out your hood after being so remiss with my hectic schedule... this piece looked so very familiar. Indeed, I had read it when you first published and absolutely did not leave a comment as I was out the door to class.

      Of all the writers in the HubVille community, I love the way you connect with your past. You write with your heart and take us along with you on your journey. I honestly foresee a published work in your future and hope you are considering this to capture your legacy and wisdom.

      Voted UP and UABI. Love, maria

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi there Dream On. Yes, it was a harrowing time of life...and learning. Fear not, though...I was and am a 'fighter,' and he never had his way; though he tried. As a young adult, I was able to confront him - in no uncertain terms - with no doubts, whatsoever. Shame was the name of the game....who knows, though; how such people actually interpret or handle what the rest of us would regard as totally humiliating. thank you so much for visiting!!!! Kathy

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      5 years ago

      The way you explore your past to share and to inform.It must of been aweful to put up with such problems but you bring beauty into your neighborhood and many other parts of your childhood.A strong willed girl with great knowledge and street smarts.I admire your brave attitude.I love how you have turned your love to animals and found so much satisfaction in the best things life has to offer.Looking forward to reading many more hubs.Have a great day.

    • Pages-By-Patty profile image


      6 years ago from Midwest

      I feel the same about you, Kathy!

      I'm so glad your mother was wise enough to raise your awareness.

      I still think of Ronda often and wish her life had been different.

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Patty! I am very sorry to hear about your friend. I fear this is far more widespread and common than we might have previously thought. Many imbalanced, weird and dangerous predators are 'out there.' I escaped through the gift of awareness which I received from my mother who, though she made enough mistakes and bad decisions, was a very intelligent and somewhat cynical woman...I used these tools to fend off evil. I need to tell you, again, Pages by Patty, how very much I appreciate your fine, caring writing and how much I respect and admire you. Your voice is a reasoned, balanced and caring one for animals and I am happy to know you, relieved that you work for animals and glad to have you as an internet friend. Thank you for the kind, honest comment. Your new friend, Kathy

    • Pages-By-Patty profile image


      6 years ago from Midwest

      Wow, this is quite powerful...on so many levels. Your courage, strength and wits are quite admirable.

      Reading this transported me back to my own childhood, the good, the bad and the ugly. Although it was not I who had to fend off an evil stepfather, it was my best friend. At 13, Ronda's mother was killed in an accident leaving behind 5 children and a new & perverted husband. Ronda lived a life no child should.

      A very well written and touching remembrance of your childhood.

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Janice...yes, everything as worked out in the end...I was old enough to defend myself finally, and nothing happened. I appreciate your comment and visits...

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, what a story you have written here. I cannot wait to read more and truly hope that things turn out for the better and that Leonard didn't do more harm to you.

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi there Minnetonka Twin! Well, it was a weird and wacky childhood but, thank goodness, my brothers and I survived and have done well. I thank you for such a great comment. Much appreciation. Your friend, Kathy

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Your a true survivor Kathy-I feel so sad that you had to deal with this sick man. I also feel sad that your mother felt she always needed a man to be happy, even if it meant uprooting her children. I will continue to read your series.

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi DearBandit. I really appreciate your kind comment. thank you! Kathy

    • DearBandit profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh Lucky cats, you are a Strong women, it takes a lot of guts to write this, I think you story will help other people as well!

      Voted up to the sky!

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Billybuc...thank you for the visit...FYI..I am originally from California and , about 5.5 years ago, decided I wanted to try something completely different. So, I packed my animals and best friend and bought a 10 acre farm in SE Kansas..I've written quite a few hubs about differing aspects of this experiment...and, in the end, decided to return to CA..had I NOT followed my curiosity, though..I would have been like Jim Liar Liar...!! Anyway, it was great fun, very challenging and so many other things. I am back in Napa, now but I still have the farm which is an animal sanctuary...trying to move the whole menagerie back to CA...thank you for commenting and the positive Vibes!. I must catch up w/your work ... Kathy

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for having the courage to write this. There are so many skeletons in our closets.

      On a different note, you are the second Hubber who has moved from Kansas to Calif...I just befriended a lady named Jill who recently moved. How strange, two in one week for me. Anyway, thank you for the kind remarks on my hub and I'm sending positive vibes and thoughts your way.


    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      We haven't had any hummers but, I have the in my yard but have yet to see any tiny ones...they are so beautiful and intricate on such a miniscule scale. Keep up your excellent and kind work, AVN..thank you for that!!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad you're enjoying my little world. Babies will keep you hopping, that's for sure. Ever see baby hummers still in the nest? About as big as your thumb for two of them...

    • Lucky Cats profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Rest assured, nothing happened...attempts were made, to be sure but, it was stopped before anything happened.. thank ou for visiting and your comment...this is a series which is being written out of order as the memories surface...i guess this is # 9 or 10.

      BTW, my work with the nudies, nestlings, fledglings and injured birds is proving to be such an incredibly positive experience. My last shift, there were 57 birds in the small clinic. I felt like a Tazanian Devil...whirling around as I tried to keep up w/feeding, cleaning, 'watering,' and inspectinsg cage after cage and incubators holding up to 10 tiny babies. Very rewarding ! So far, we have not lost a single one and, believe me, this is truly amazing when one considers just how young and tiny some of these nudies are. Hope all is well with you, aviannovice. I thoroughly enjoyed your series.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hmmmmm, sounds like the family unit was a lot less than ideal. Hope the perv just ogled and didn't try anything else.


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