All three of my mother's odd statements came in the summer of 2014, after a college "friend" (who has proven to be anything but a friend) deposited me in Springfield, MO -- while Carol remained in Birmingham, packing our belongings for a move to the Midwest because of the wrongful foreclosure with which we had been targeted. All of this came just a few weeks after I had been released from a five-month stay at the "Shelby Sheraton," otherwise known as the Shelby County Jail in Alabama.
My mother's comments certainly are open to interpretation. But as probably the most observant of her four children -- I'm the one who went into journalism, after all -- I think I can come as close as any living person to making an accurate read on my mother's words. I must say, however, that I barely recognize the person she has become over the past several years. But I suspect there still is at least a sliver of the wonderful mother I thought I had for the first 35 years or so of my life.
With that in mind, here are her three curious comments, plus my analysis of what they might mean:
(1) "Oh, Roger, you shouldn't have named names" -- My brother-lawyer, David Shuler, regularly spins the yarn that nobody in my family knew or cared much about my blog and the legal woes Carol and were facing because I dared to report, accurately, about legal and political corruption in Alabama. My mother's statement suggests that's not exactly true. What does it tell us specifically -- or, more accurately, what does it tell me.
a. She knew quite a bit about my blog, and the abuse that prompted me to write it. Since I've seen no sign that she's ever had a computer or an Internet connection, that information almost had to come from my David, my brother.
b. By saying I shouldn't have "named names," my mother indicates she has a general idea of who is behind the abuse Carol and I have suffered, probably going back to being cheated out of our jobs, maybe earlier. I doubt my mother knows the specific Alabama legal and political names involved -- or if she once did, she's probably forgotten -- but I have little doubt my brother knows the specific names. And he almost certainly has shared at least some details about them with my mother -- enough that she knows they are dangerous, corrupt people. My mother said this in a tone that suggested she was talking about the Mafia, and she probably was -- at least a Southern version of it, known as the Dixie Mafia. Given what we've learned about Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration, she might have been (unknowingly) talking about the Russian Mafia -- or what some have come to call the Eurasian Mafia.
c. My mother has some idea of what my reporting has been about -- and she knows it has been accurate. She could have said something like, "Oh, Roger, you've written a lot of untrue stuff about these people, and it has really made them mad." But that's not what she said. The only problem with my reporting, from her perspective, was that I "shouldn't have named names."
(2) "Why did Carol let you stay in jail all that time?" -- This is part of the "evil mother-in-law" act my mother has been practicing -- at least to our knowledge -- since at least 1992. It probably dates to our marriage in 1989, and maybe to our two-year period of dating before that. I swear, if the moon's glow suddenly went out -- and the sun lost its ability to produce warmth -- my mother would find some way to blame Carol.
But I think this statement involves more than my mother playing the bitchy, "no way to please 'em" mother-in-law role that she has perfected. What else could be going on here?
a. Part of me is grateful for this comment because it indicates my family has no clue how jail works -- and that's because we generally have no experience with that kind of thing. The notion that Carol had the power to magically get me out of jail is absurd. But it sounds like the kind of thing someone in Alabama might have said to David, and he passed it along to my mother. Never mind that political thugs Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, via a baseless defamation lawsuit that ran contrary to 230 years of First Amendment law, were the reason I was in jail. And a corrupt judge named Claud Neilson, who clearly was a patsy for the state's white, racist, right-wing political machine, was responsible for keeping me there. I know, from experience, that jail cuts you off almost totally from the outside world -- and I was lucky if I could get one 15-minute phone call a day with Carol. I could only hear a few words here and there amidst the relentless and ear-splitting noise in our jail block; I doubt Carol could hear much of what I said.
b. My mother was unaware, or didn't care, that Carol was subject to arrest, too. Riley and Duke included her as a defendant in their lawsuit -- even though Carol had nothing to do with my blog, at the time -- because they wanted both of us to be captured. That clearly is because they wanted something they thought we had, and I believe they were prepared to kill us if they didn't get it. At the very least, they wanted both of us out of our home, so someone would be free to go through all of our things. With both Carol and me in captivity, that would have meant sure death for our two kitty kats at the time (Baxter and Chloe). Carol was willing to fight through fire to make sure that didn't happen. And that's why, at my insistence, she never came to visit me at jail. Had she come for a visit, I had no doubt she would have been arrested -- and Baxter and Chloe would have starved to death, or been killed by bastards ransacking our home.
c. My mother's comment is not the only one I've heard that indicates someone was frustrated at their inability to capture Carol. During out trip to Missouri, my college "friend" asked, "Does Carol drive?" I thought it was a strange question at the time, but I said, "Yes, she drives, and she's a very good driver, probably among the top 10 percent in Alabama (although that isn't saying much)." It later hit me that the "friend's" question probably was driven by law-enforcement types who were frustrated because they had not been able to nab Carol -- and that allowed her to get news out to the world about my arrest, causing whatever plans they had for us to more or less fail. This suggests the "friend" is compromised -- and probably has been for a long time -- receiving "intel," directly or indirectly from Alabama thugs, possibly via my brother.
d. The "friend," like many others underestimated Carol. The title of this blog comes from a genuine love of our pets -- and animals in general. And Carol demonstrated that love by her actions while I was in jail. Carol knew Baxter and Chloe's lives were on the line, and she took extreme measures to go underground. I'm not going to reveal what those measures were, but I'm pretty sure cop/thugs never came close to capturing her, even though they probably had regular (maybe constant) surveillance on our house during daylight hours. Comments from my mother and "friend" tell me that quite a few people were highly frustrated at their inability to grab Carol. Needless to say, I'm damned proud of Carol that she outsmarted them and kept our pets alive. Others might not have cared about their well-being -- or ours, as a matter of fact -- but we sure as hell did.
(3) "Maybe You and Carol shouldn't be together" -- This wasn't the only time my mother and brother brought up the subject of Carol and I splitting up. It happened several times in the days before Carol arrived from Birmingham. ("Oh, she'll never come up here," my mother said; news flash: She did come up here, and she's still here.) Given my family's increasingly conservative religious leanings over the previous 20-plus years, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"Are you suggesting divorce as a way to solve our problems?" I asked my mother.
"Well, if two people are miserable together . . . "
"Who said we're miserable together? We're miserable about the stuff evil people have done to us, but that doesn't mean we're miserable together -- that we're miserable with or toward each other."
She didn't have a response to that one, as if the notion never had occurred to her. I'm not sure if I said this or if I just thought it: "You've never shown any respect for Carol and me and our marriage -- and you wonder why we haven't been up here in 25 years?"
What was with this divorce talk. Was it just another sign of the dysfunction that has engulfed my family? Or was it the product of some warped political/legal mind in Alabama, thinking Carol and I would be less of a problem (threat?) if we were separate rather than together?
Quite a few folks reading this probably are dealing with screwed-up families too, so I will close with a thought that many of you might relate to. I mentioned earlier our love for our pets, and how it drove Carol to make sure cop/thugs did not apprehend her in Alabama. Well, that goes not just for the animals who belong to us, but for domestic animals of all types. I can't tell you how many times we've been driving and seen what appears to be a stray dog or cat and stopped to see if we can learn more about it -- and possibly help find it a good home. These often prove to be some of the most downtrodden, sickly creatures on earth, usually too skittish to let us get near.
We've not had much success at trying to help these creatures, but we have tried. Here is the sobering part: Carol and I care more about stray animals than my mother and brother (or anyone else in my family) care about us. They've proven since summer 2014 that they literally don't care if we live or die, if we even have a roof over our head.
They undoubtedly know who has abused us -- who has taken criminal actions against us -- but they refuse to speak up or do anything about it. They have sided with political/legal scum like Rob Riley and Liberty Duke (and probably Doug Jones and Jessica Garrison) over their own flesh and blood. I can only assume they've taken that stance because they believe it somehow furthers David's interests in the legal "profession."
That's sad, but I think I've come to grips with it -- realizing my family is "bad company" that "ruins good morals," the kind of twisted individuals of which The Bible warns us. I would help them if I could, but I've seen numerous signs that they are beyond help.
My mother, by the way, is not the only family who can spew some mighty curious statements. We'll look at another in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)