Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Daughter Betko Katsellas

Do you think she ever calls me? Never.

Many years ago, Betko traded her Slovak nickname for an Americanized name Betty, just to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with here, but to this day, I call her by only Elizabeth or Betko.  Betko (make sure you pronounce the T!!) is a perfectly decent nick name invented upon her birth in 1946.  My Late Great Aunt Sabina (an unknown relative from Europe who came to stay with us that year) invented the nickname.

Now sixty some years later, closet doors fly open and Betko tells me that she is a practicing lesbian. She told me this just last year, and it came as such a shock to me because I had no idea that she would do this so late in life. But. I always suspected her of having these tendencies way back to the cradle.  Of course, like all parents at the time, we were obligated by the clergy to ignore that part of her being. I did my best to undermine any and all of her attempts at self-expression,  always concerned with preventing the world from knowing there was a homosensual side to her.  Maybe I had an inkling.

Very often, she was a brazen kid, making fists, and she had a very aggressive tone of voice during her bowel movements. For that matter, she wasn't very popular with any of the boys in Senior High the way I was in my young youth, and I don't remember a day in her childhood where she wasn't crying real tears about something.  I don’t think the poor dear ever got over what had happened at the prom, and as much as I was responsible, my esteem at the church necessitated a cover up.

Maybe the sum total of all these things made her gay? Although I can never bring myself to tell her any of this, all I want for her is to be happy. I was such a proud young mother when I brought her home from the hospital that day.  In my arms I was showing off the fresh fruits of my loom, but even so, I knew that Original Sin would rear its ugly head and ruin her life the same way it has ruined  everyone's lives here in Northeast PA.

"Why even bother trying to be happy about motherhood?" Aunt Sabina taught me, and even though she spoke very little English, boy was she right!  Unless I misunderstood her.  Well, looking back, motherhood was never very joyous for me, and once the newness of those first few days wore off, (when everyone was speaking nicely to me and bringing gifts) I  felt continually sad.  I moved into a sadness that was abnormal for me at the time, but one that has continued thenceforth.  Oh well.   

Early 1945 when Walter returned home from the war,  we married, and one month later, an unclean feeling of nervousness had swept into my life.  Three weeks later, I learned the reason why.  It was Betko, and I was pregnant.  Did having sex with my Walter for the first time on our honeymoon (and never again until several years later) do this to me?  I was so confused, because none of my brothers and sisters and I trusted one another to talk about sex.  It was taboo to have impure conversations, and we always told an authority figure whenever the boys would try to steer the conversations there.  But  I had nobody to talk to about menarche, pleasing a mate, my feminine wiles, garnets with silver, garnets with gold, how to apply mascara, etc.  Is this what pregnancy was like?  I gasped and heaved up potato pancakes for months, but kept the daily agony all hidden up quiet so as not to burden anybody unnecessarily.  Everyone's lives were rough back then, and I did not want to be an attention hog, so I kept mum. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't stopped laughing at your blog. Oh my god, I would just love to know what you did to her at the prom. Poor girl to have a mother like you! Is Betko single? I am single and a lesbian.