Chapter 4: 1988

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place. — Washington Irving

1988 was a year of a lot of changes. I look back on 1988 and realize that it was the year that I was faced with a complete change of both mind and body. My whole world went spinning out of control. In 1988, our house on Virginia Street was sold. I say that as a matter of fact, but really what happened is that my mother had driven us so far in debt that we could no longer pay the mortgage. It was the first time my mother had done this much damage to us, but it would not be the last.

1988 was also the year that my Grandfather Godsey moved to Madisonville, Kentucky to live on his own. After all those years of living with us, he now was gone. That impacted me in ways that I would not realize until years later. He had been a father and a mother to me for as long as I could remember. And now, he would not be there to make me eggs in the morning, or to go for walks with me after school.

Also that year, my father had a run in with the local Catholic priest. Father Francis Mastrovito was a good man, but because of his Italian ways, he often came across as a prick. My father was a very new convert when Fr. Francis was stationed at Sts. Peter and Paul. The priest before him, Fr. Stephen Dunn, had been a much more progressive priest, while Fr. Francis was a much more traditional and less personal priest. When my father had questions about his faith, rather than explain the faith to him, Fr. Francis chose to tell him he would either believe it or leave. Dad being the scientist and wanting data not ultimatums chose to leave. This was another devastating change that would have repercussions far beyond the moment.

What made that situation worse was that my mother was still a Catholic at heart even though she went with dad to the Baptist church. She would have her parents come and get me for mass and then tell dad that I had called them to come pick me up. As a result, I was caught in the middle of an internal dispute that raged between my father and my grandparents; all the while I battled the internal fight of my own soul. I wanted to go to mass and receive the sacraments but I also wanted to please my father. And thanks to my mother, I felt that I was in a loose-loose situation. I have no doubt that this contributed to my life long problems with guilt and anger.

This year was also the year that my mother’s mental health issues really started to flare up badly. She made accusations against my Grandfather Godsey which caused him to move out. She also started accusing me of doing things I didn’t do just so she could be the martyr and I think, so that she could see me get punished. She always seemed so happy to see me getting punished. This made home life a living hell. But what is a child of nine years old supposed to do? I couldn’t tell dad because in his eyes I was an unruly child, thanks to my mother”s lies. So I was stuck.

Now mind you, I have no hard feeling towards my father. He was a hard working man that my mother almost put in the grave. In 1988, my father had 2 heart attacks and a stroke. His stroke left him blind for almost two weeks and then color blind the rest of his life. He has never recovered all of his memory from his childhood. If it had not been for the stress my mother put him through, he might still have perfect sight and memory. But that situation would not last forever. I admire my father for the hard work he did. He tried very hard to keep us together as a family and to meet our needs despite my mothers spending problem and alcoholism.

It was also during the year of 1988, that we fell in with a group called the Shulamites. (They derived their name from the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon.) They attempted to live a simple life, wearing nothing but plain clothes and head coverings, much like the Amish. They did allow electricity and vehicles, but they railed against TV and radio. They eventually decided to start a commune in Tennessee. We were all directed to come to North Carolina for a “retreat” where there would be details of the commune and the financing needed to start such a commune available. We went and dad paid the $1,000 down payment to buy into the commune. That was until we learned that we had been had. The $1,000 they told us was really for the retreat and we would need to come up with more money to join the commune. Needless to say, that ended that. We had spent every dime we had to make the trip in a car that was barely running and given them the last of our money to join this commune only to have been swindled. The ride home was very quiet. And the next few weeks would be the same!

This group of Shulamites would not last long. The charismatic leader, Mother Shirley Raper, would eventually join the Roman Catholic Church only to find that she could not become a deacon or priest in their church and therefore would not have the power and authority she craved. That would lead her to leave the Roman church and join the Independent Sacramental Movement where she was a priest. This all happened years later and well after I had found my way to the ISM. Mother Raper passed away on December 17, 2017.

Chapter 5