Dad

When I was a child, I often saw my father in various fits of rage and wondered why. I didn’t realize then that he was mentally ill with a disease that none of us understood. It was originally called manic-depressive or bio-polar as it’s called now. I know now that some believe that a lack of nutrition could cause the problem. We didn’t understand it then or know what caused his illness, except we would try to pacify him as much as possible. He was never violent with his family though, but he frightened us because we never knew what he’d say or do. I know that a lot of families go through this and I understand what they’re going through. Unless you live it, you don’t understand what they go through. I used to believe he was just angry at circumstances he couldn’t control. That was true, but I learned later that he was mostly frustrated because he couldn’t control things. He had a very difficult childhood and was raised by a half-sister and her husband when his parents died. They were very poor in those days and earning a living was more important than getting an education. My dad never went beyond the fourth grade in school and always resented it. He felt they could have sent him to school because they sent their own children to school. Dad was musically talented and played the fiddle very well and acted as though he really enjoyed it. It was a time he was usually calm, but sometimes he would play the fiddle as though he was trying to disturb others. He’d take a medication called no doze and stay awake well into the night so others in the family couldn’t sleep. He’d prowl the house all night and play his fiddle, or he’d discover a mosquito and chase it down with a fly sprayer filled with DDT. What ever he could think of, he’d do. He was very suspicious of neighbors and believed they were trying to take his property. He was also suspicious that other family members was trying to turn mom against him. I learned later that his mother had lost their property when his dad died. So, that was probably one of the reasons he had that belief, but he was paranoid about it and unreasonable. As much as I pitied him, I also feared him and sometimes hated him. My poor mom must have been very patient to put up with him, but she was an example to the rest of us what love means. When dad went out of town to a job, she’d receive the sweetest letters from him, so I know he really loved her despite his problems. I don’t know what caused my dad’s mental illness, if it was lack proper nutrition or an abusive childhood, but I know he was miserable most of his life. One of my sons ask me once if it was inherited. I didn’t know how to answer him because I really didn’t know, so I told him no. Once, when dad was on one of his rampages, mom had enough and called my brother Don. Don came, took mom to his home so she could spend the night with his wife and Don stayed with dad. He had quite a time with him. The first night dad stayed up all night playing his fiddle and making all kinds of racket. The next morning, when daylight came, dad went to bed. So, Don promptly began playing mom’s little organ very loud and it would awaken dad. Don’s idea was maybe it would make dad want to sleep at night instead of all day. He’d come out of his bed room raising Cain and complaining that Don was a disrespectful child. He’d unplug the organ and Don would plug it in again continue playing. Finally, dad got his bedding, took them to the cellar and went to sleep. I’m not sure who won that battle, but I suspect dad did. We tried to get help for him and doctors didn’t know how to diagnose him. Some of them thought he may have been schizophrenic, but other though he was manic-depressive. Finally one day, a neighbor became alarmed when dad shot over his cow that was grazing in our garden. Things began to get out of control and dad was finally sent to the state mental hospital for a few months. I don’t believe they helped him much because after he came home for a while he’d be okay, but he’d always revert back to his old ways. Once, when he was brought home and as they approached the home, he began acting up and Don told him that if he didn’t behave, he’d take him back to the hospital. He promptly behaved himself. So, I believe he could have controlled his behavior a lot and was never taught how. At times, he could be very funny and we enjoyed those times very much. But soon he became too much for mom to handle and he was taken to a nursing home. He spent his last years there and we visited him often, but it broke our hearts when he’d beg like a little child to come home, saying he’d be good. But we thought he was getting the care he needed and now it hurts my heart to think of it. I often wonder about how he was treated when we hear of abuse in the nursing homes, but they appeared to be very caring people, so I guess we’ll never know for sure. Dad is gone now and has been for almost ten years. I miss him and think of him a lot and wish there could have been something that could have helped him. Maybe he would have had a more enjoyable life.

Read more: http://healthmad.com/mental-health/living-with-mental-illness/#ixzz20duOhNSo

Dad

Luther Louis Gregory was born in Locke Arkansas May 26, 1910 to Shelby Gregory and Mary Bell Campbell. There was two more brothers and a sister born to the family. Dad was the second child. When Luther was 6 years old, his father died leaving the family destitute. His mother was sickly and couldn't work. As a result she lost most of the property Shelby had left them. When Luther in his teens his mother died also and the children were sent to an old folks home or an orphanage. He also worked in a coal mine for a while. They weren't in the orphanage very long before relatives took them all in except their sister. She couldn't earn her keep because she was crippled with polo. So they sent her back to the orphanage. She contacted TB a disease that was usually fatal in those days. She died at the age of 19 in Booneville Ark. Sanantorium. Dad lived with one of his half sisters and her husband. His sister probably treated him well but his brother in law only used him as a servant most of the time. They never sent him to school and he was bitter about that. Dad was a good natured man and could play the fiddle very well, but he could lose his temper because of a mental problem called bio-polar. There wasn't a name for it in those days. He and his younger brother Perry left Arkansas and went to Oklahoma to find work. Oklahoma was where he met our mother, Effie.