The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

A Word Called Hate

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This is an oppressive, onerous, burdensome word. I have used it indiscriminately without giving it much thought. It had lost its meaning until September 12, 2014. Before this debacle I can never recall using it with the full force of its meaning – despise, loathe, abhor, to be repelled, to recoil from. I had never felt like that about anyone in my almost 65 years. Was I just lucky until now? Did I lead a charmed life? I have known people who felt true hate. I understood them and could feel empathy with their emotions. A couple of nights ago I watched Secret in Their Eyes. Julia Roberts’ character acted on her hate and took revenge; I understood her actions. But I realized as did Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character that her hate and revenge cost her as much and maybe more than the person she took revenge upon. I wonder if my child died as hers did, would I be able to control the hate? I have imagined the scenario of death. Jacob told me that if he died in jail, and I was told it was a suicide; do not believe that. Why was he saying such a thing to me? I imagined terrible things. Eventually I pushed those feelings back into a little nook where fears of jail lay dormant. Despite having empathy for all those mothers who experience the loss of a child, I know that I can never feel that intensity of  loss without actually experiencing it. It is not an experience I want before I die. Over the years I have remembered a great-aunt and her losses. Her first son died in his 20’s. A few years later, another son and his wife were killed in a car crash. A few years later her young grandson who had survived that car crash died from cancer.  Her husband died during those years, and she was widowed for probably 30 years. Her last son died before her. She had buried three children. What kept her going? I imagine what was left. She had a daughter, grandchildren, siblings, friends, faith.  She must have found a way to bear her pain and make life worth living. I remember her beautiful smile. I think if you are lucky, you find some purpose in life even in the midst of great despair.

Hate feels wrong and is unwelcome. How do people control it, tame it and live with it? Hate feels like a betrayal of my upbringing. I feel as if I have lost a part of who I am. I was raised to believe in forgiveness. I had an understanding of how I was to act in my life and behave towards others. Hate does not fit into that. Still, I have failed before in behaving in the way that I believe I should. I am not perfect, and in fact, do not always strive to do right. I have done the easy thing when the right thing was too hard. Everyday is a struggle. I watched a show last night of a man who was running for a local office several years ago. He was a therapist, and his philosophy was to always tell the truth. He said he would answer any question asked without lying. The interviewer started by asking him if he had ever had an affair. He said yes and added that he had slept with hundreds of woman, had affairs with men, had gonorrhea once, had herpes for 30 years. She asked if he had used drugs, and he gave her a litany of illegal and illegally used drugs. Is that carrying honesty a little too far? Do we want to share everything in our life if someone decides to ask? Surprisingly, this man won 25% of the vote as an independent. Does he have the right answer on how to behave to be happy? I think this is too extreme for me to practice. I try to be honest, but some things remain unsaid and unwritten. I write now of hate because it is a part of the story of my son’s marriage and his incarceration, and I cannot tell the story without admitting my own hate. In the beginning I moved with the waves of hate carrying the surfboard of disbelief. There were waves of hope, but hate still popped up like a shark in the water. Back flowed the waves of hate with disbelief. As I adjusted to Jacob’s incarceration, hope came back with that occasional appearance of the shark. I know there will always be waves, and I ride them to escape going under and drowning. Hate has metamorphosed into writing as a release of emotion onto the page in a way a reader may understand without agreement.

I can remember specific moments of hate that lit the fire; I have written about these moments in other postings on Facebook. I feel that they are simply memories now that no longer stoke the fire. In short explanation, there was a phone call with Jacob’s ex-mother-in-law to ask if she knew where Jacob was the night he disappeared into the system. There was a blocked phone call from Jacob’s ex-father-in-law to Roy. These were phone calls from two people toying with us; we were fools. Their games became clear when we learned who knew what when. There were the texts between me and my ex-daughter-in-law about marital property. They ended when she began to write threats that she would bring the police to bring us to heel. She actually did come with the Swissvale Police to collect her father’s Bible; she needed back-up. I persuaded Jacob to give her the Bible. I am sure when he handed it over, she felt vindication and validation of her might and right. Jacob and Roy did not want to return it, but bowed to my advice. I regret it now and wish they had held to their guns. When she moved her things over the course of three days, she chose to take things to hurt Jacob and not her sentimental belongings. I understood why she threatened police action as I learned more about their family connections to the police and judicial system in Allegheny County. There are people who make connections to use those connections with the law and police as weapons against others in their line of fire. They threaten legal actions to coerce, use connections to get out of trouble, or use the might of the state to inflict pain and destroy people’s lives often at little cost to themselves while their victims spend fortunes to defend themselves. Such people of entitlement then sit back and claim a righteousness, a morality, a superiority as if these institutions are the bastions of truth and justice. I wonder if there are others with stories like ours.

One only needs to listen to the news, read the paper and news feeds to know that the judicial system has been and is making errors and perpetrating injustices upon citizens. You can hear almost daily now about the abuses of police officers that have led to deaths. Whether these people committed crimes or not, death should not be their punishment. Police officers have a duty to protect the innocent and the guilty. It is frightening for people like myself and my family who had little experience with the law to witness police, lawyers, courts and jails up close and personal. You can never put the genie back in the bottle. I understand those who may discount my writings about the police and courts; those who want to believe in the system and think that injustices are rare and happen to other people, those who want to believe that innocent people do not get convicted, those who do not want to believe that there are people who would without compunction destroy you with a lie. I was once one of those people. I have trouble believing in so many things now. I feel betrayal. I experienced two small instances when Jacob’s ex-family used influence to accuse and infer things about me and my family. I can feel in a very small way the role of an accused. Your stomach churns; you feel angry; you feel overwhelmed as if by insurmountable odds. At the preliminary hearing, we (the Yockeys) were accused of contacting the family (not the accuser or the accuser’s mother). If you would ask me why I write so much about my son’s marriage and the relationship with his in-laws, this is an example of why. You cannot separate the story of those relationships with the family from the accusations. There was an inference of wrongdoing in that accusation when our only contact was those first phone calls as we learned of Jacob’s arrest and the texts about marital property. I actually felt fortunate though to have that legal ‘no contact’ order put in place.  It created a clear divider. Later, my postings and blog were brought up in court for me to defend at the sentencing hearing. The reality is that in both of those instances, no one cared about the truth. These were maneuvers by a family that knew how to use the courts, make the system work for them.

Hate can rear up randomly. Once I thought I saw the ex-brother-in-law crossing the street near BRGR in East Liberty; I began to ruminate at that trigger.  Just a few days ago, I saw a woman in exercise attire walking along Braddock Avenue at dusk. Her shape and hair reminded me of my ex-daughter-in-law. Perhaps these sightings were them and perhaps not; it did not really matter. It started thoughts and conversations. Jacob’s girlfriend and I talked about the wedding. I described the day as hellishly hot with the late-day sun bearing down harshly on our heads. I told her Roy, Cary and I waited in the shade while the bridal party and her family were in an air-conditioned room getting ready. She thought it rude Cary and I were not invited inside; I did too but pushed that thought away. Jacob’s girlfriend told me about a wedding planning show she watched that advised the mother-in-law to be seen and not heard. I thought, “That’s the rule they were following then and through the marriage.”  We were an addendum to her family and our $15,000 contribution to the wedding bought us no consideration. I must admit she said ‘thanks for this’ to me that night of the wedding, but those words were negated by her words the previous night to Roy when she said ‘this will soon be over and you won’t have to see us anymore’. I think the only person who appreciated our monetary contributions was her mother because that lessened her expenditure, although I know the wedding cost more than $30,000. I am ashamed to say that we contributed to our son’s downfall in this way. I feel self-loathing for my acquiescence to this family. Perhaps my own self-hatred at my role fuels the hatred also as I find it difficult to understand how I could have had such poor judgment of character. I had ignored what I saw in my daughter-in-law and missed the similarities in her mother. This was a disastrous ill-fated relationship long before the actual ceremonies; her mother told us on our last meeting only a week before the arrest that relatives had told her that her daughter was so unhappy but so in love when the marriage took place. I still hate myself for not responding to that comment. I scoff at the characterization of her daughter in love. I do not believe her daughter was in love with Jacob that day and believe she had not been in love with him for a long time. I believe he was an addendum to her life to fulfill her dream of being married and be the spouse in her wedding spectacle. Those are things she was in love with on that day. Was Jacob in love? I think he cared about this woman but was out of his depth. I know we thought the marriage was a mistake. I know his friends thought the marriage was a mistake. I hate myself that I did not try harder to stop it. Some people might say as I might have once said, children must make their own mistakes. They will definitely make mistakes, but should you allow them to get run over by a bus? Would you let a good friend get run over by a bus without yelling a warning? I allowed my son to be run over by a bus without yelling a warning first.

Hate can be useful when it is turned into a purpose. I watched two television shows recently. The first was called Hate in America. The show featured two stories of hate in action. In 1981 a 19-year-old black man was murdered by two young white man at the instruction of the KKK. His death was in retaliation for the hung jury decision in the trial of another black man’s killing of a white man. This young boy was murdered simply because he was black. The second story was about a white man who hated Jews. The man believed he was dying and wanted to kill Jews as his last act of hate. He murdered three people who happened to be at a Jewish community center and Jewish nursing home. His goal was to murder Jews, but none of his victims were Jewish. He was not dying and sits in jail now still hating Jews. The loved ones of these victims turned their tragedies into actions of hope and strength. The mother of the young black man sued the KKK and won. The woman who was the mother of one victim and daughter of the second victim began an organization to promote religious tolerance. These people found a purpose that helped them fight their pain. The second show was titled The Girl Who Forgave the Nazis. It was a documentary of the trial of a 90-year-old Nazi accountant charged as a war criminal and documented by the stories of survivors of Auschwitz where he had worked. One of those survivors called to testify was Eva Kor who survived the camp as well as the experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele. She told her story and then she forgave this old Nazi as she forgave all Nazis. Other survivors were outraged and petitioned against her. One survivor though admitted it (forgiveness?) had to start somewhere; he said he envied Eva. I relate these stories as examples of how people cope with pain and hate. I too envy the abilities of survivors to find ways to deal with unimaginable pain.

People have said to me, karma. Karma will eventually punish those who have done this. As we sat in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse awaiting a verdict last July, Jacob’s attorney used that word. He said karma will come to this family someday, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Was that comforting? Should I waste the short life given to me wishing for that? I did not care about karma for them; I wanted my son to be found innocent. I wished this family nothing good, but wished them nothing bad either. I wanted Jacob to be free. I wanted Jacob to regain his profession and dreams. I did not wish revenge. I thought if I had never met any of them, the deletion from my memory would not even leave a hole. There would be no happy memories to lose. I thought that was a sad statement to say about people I had known for a few years. I have more positive memories from strangers I met randomly on a walk and none of a person who should have been my second daughter. Someday I will ask Jacob again about the good things he remembers. I know he told me a couple once; he said she ‘could be nice.’  I honestly wish I could share just one positive story about my ex-daughter-in-law, but there’s nothing.

Revenge, karma (used in the loose way of people who do not have real understanding of this Eastern concept), lightning bolts or any of those things people use to describe bad thoughts and intentions are a waste of time. How I feel does not matter to anyone except me or those around me that may be subjected to some story or rant of hate. Time does change the intensity of my feeling. Writing this blog of love and hate is cathartic.

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