Before I Tell You How To Build A Coffin…

…You need to know a bit about my parents.

Growing up with alcoholics is weird. Growing up with eccentric alcoholics is even more weird. My parents were not your average run of the mill Mom and Dad down the street.

My father has always been known as Wild Bill no matter where he went. If you venture into Benton Harbor, MI, Sterling, CO or where ever he traveled in France and Germany, and ask around, someone is bound to remember Wild Bill Winkel.

His best friend Don explained my dad to me when I was about 12, “Your father marches to his own drummer, he always has and he always will. Just get used to it.”  Daddy cared little for societal convention; he cared about Curiosity, Individuality and Fun.

My father had an incredible ability to talk with anyone about anything. His friends were scattered where ever he wandered and he did some wandering in his day. On any given night at our house you might run into college professors, inventors, janitors and members of the 1% biker gang, the Sons of Silence.

It wasn’t always safe, but it was always interesting.

My mother was an incredibly gorgeous woman. In the 50’s when she was growing up, that was her currency. She could write her own ticket. Trouble was she was also Wicked, Wicked smart and independent. She spent any free time in Chicago in the jazz clubs, dancing, drinking and smoking dope. When Monday came she would be back in school in her pedal pushers and cat eye glasses working on her biology homework.

My mother was an actress and did semi professional Summer stock in Chicago. Her two best friends, Sharon and Jennifer, were in the theatre with her. They both became heroin addicts and single mothers not long after they entered college.

My mother drank scotch and drove fast. My father knew how to steal a car and not get caught; very often. They both read everything they could get their hands on and could argue for days about what Dostoevsky was getting at.

My mother and father were well suited for one another .

My parents did not live by  Leave it to Beaver rules and never even considered it. There are reasons for that, but those are for another post.

My parents “went their own way”. There are gifts in growing up with people who are not like others; I  also lost so much growing up like that.  I grew up knowing what it means to Go My Own Way; all the way.

Going Your Own Way; both a curse and a blessing.

Going your own way means you need to figure out how to build a fucking coffin in two days. Thank God I was born to this.



~ by Step On a Crack on October 5, 2011.

8 Responses to “Before I Tell You How To Build A Coffin…”

  1. I was forced to go my own way when I was growing up, too, but for very different reasons. It was Leave it to Beaver and there was great love. Jen, just know that, while you may have been born for this, you were also born for so much more. It shows.


  2. It is SO good to be reminded of that very point, thank you. It is too easy to be Who I Was in my brain when I am writing about the past.

    Why did you go your own way?


  3. Jen, it’s obvious you have emerged from your cocoon a beautiful part of creation. Thanks for sharing your emerging with us.


  4. Just saw your qt. The year I turned 11, we moved to a new town, both of my parents nearly died, my sis married a guy who chose Canada over Vietnam so she disappeared without a word for 7 years. I was assaulted (but not raped) by 2 different ‘friends of the family’ etc… My folks never really recovered from the cancer/crohns and rejection by my sister. We pretty much switched roles that year and that’s how it stayed. They loved me, I just needed to be the caretaker and guarder of all hearts from then on. Nothing tragic. Just grew up a little quicker.


    • Growing up too fast has a tragic side I think. I think it makes a person stronger BUT it also can help us become caretakers without the ability to see that we NEED care too. I am SO sorry you had to live through SO much at such a young age! Your heart shows in your writing; that is for certain! Assualt: any physical abuse leaves emotional scars. I am so sorry you had those kinds of “friends of the family.” It is a testament to Grace and your Heart that you are who you are! I for one am grateful for that! Peace, Jen


  5. […] We Go Our Own Way.. […]


  6. […] Before I tell you how to build a coffin… […]


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