Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — Ma Meets Pa … Part 15
“Home isn’t home anymore.”
(from Olivia Newton John’s song)
Let’s go back to last week’s blog where Daddy said:
“I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy-whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God and Joseph Smith. Instead, she was rebellious … not spiritual enough to follow her priesthood head, do what was the right, and live the fullness of the gospel.
“She turned my kids against me, besides! Even took out a Restraining Order to keep me from seeing them ever again.* So I had to divest myself of her in order to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Principle of Plural Marriage’ or be damned.
“Before I married yer ma, Eva had agreed to go along with my takin’ a plural wife. But she soon changed her mind, betrayed me … and went to the law to get me in trouble.
“Because of her treachery, I had to sell out and flee the country. And set up a totally new homestead in Old Mexico — though I knew no Spanish! And, as an American, wasn’t allowed to get a job and make a living there, either!
“Eva even had the Mormon church cut me off as an apostate! That was vengeful and traitorous! She couldn’t wait to get me into all kinds of legal fixes and ruin my estate. Due to her actions, I lost a lot of money because I had to sell, in too big a hurry, my home and almost everything I owned, so as to go into hiding in Old Mexico.
“To put it succinctly, she was a revengeful ingrate. Her treachery and rebellion knew no bounds. It was unforgivable … for she had been, so many years, my wonderful wife and helpmate — only to turn against me and do me in!” Under these conditions, Daddy chose to stay with his new, twenty-six years-younger new wife, Mama/ Esther LeBaron de McDonald.
Mama said, “After he married me, he had far fewer migraines than he’d had livin’ with Eva. She was a perfectionist, an immaculate housekeeper, and always pressured him too much. Yer pa could never please her. Her continuous and unending high demands on him to make more money so they could, among other things, live in a better class and lifestyle, stressed him out.”
Well, he got quite the opposite with Mama! She was of a creative and artistic nature, a lay-back, and easy-going person — never much concerned about what others thought of her housekeeping. She lived in a dream world — believed she was high class and the greatest woman in the world … among other things … and above cleaning house and other such menial chores.
He must have missed Eva’s, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” for, in that way, Daddy was like Eva: He kept his shop organized and immaculate. Born with the gene one must inherit to be able to organize things, each one of Daddy’s tools hung proudly and neatly on the wall in its own place when he wasn’t using it.
Not only that, his artistic placement of them formed a beautiful design that was relaxing to the eye and a pleasure to behold. It was such a change from Mama’s disorganized, dirty home — which got increasingly worse over the years as she became more and more inundated and overwhelmed with the responsibility of too many children and all else that goes into managing a well-run and efficiently maintained household.
But to add to her distress and tiring, unending chores, true to stoic Mormon fundamentalist ways, she was in a constant cycle of being either pregnant, nursing, or becoming pregnant again. And to be sure, women’s work never ends! And Daddy never helped out in the house. That was “women’s work,” he said!
And no matter how Mother’s state of health and energies declined, she and Daddy believed it their loyal duty to put childbearing and their own comforts secondary to bringing another little fore-ordained special spirit into their “righteous Mormon home.” She and Daddy would give their life for any one of their yet unborn babies. And Mama loved to tell people her dream was to have twenty-six kids or die trying! Instead, Daddy died first.
But Mother remained ever an artist, as long as she lived … never an efficient homemaker. She should’ve had servants, but, of course, we could not afford them. Though, after moving to Mexico, where labor was cheap, she would hire a cleaning lady, when the place got too dirty and the dishes piled too high — and she couldn’t get one of her kids to do the cleaning — because they had all grown up and flown the coop, or other such.
As for Daddy’s migraines, they generally let up, anyway, as people age. However, I’ve always wondered why Mother’s generally messy home didn’t give him a full-blown migraine every time he walked in the door. Well, actually, Mother would hustle us all into the house to quickly clean up messes, as much as possible, before Daddy got home from work. And that helped keep him from flying into a rage because the place was a mess and his meal was not on the table when he got home after a hard day’s labor in the fields or in construction work, or whatever he was working at.
But what most helped keep peace in the home was Daddy knew Mama was very much in love with him and was so proud of him and all his accomplishments, talents, and abilities. He could not have been more appreciated and valued. And, since Mama believed she was the greatest woman on earth, it went without saying she believed she was married to the greatest man on earth — next to the Prophet! Daddy liked that feeling of importance and being cared for and honored.
On top of that, Mama felt rich due to how well Daddy/ Floyd O. Spencer supported her and her family. But “Rich” is relative. I guess she was rich, in comparison to the dire poverty she and her indigent family of Scrabble farmers grew up in, in Old Mexico — Not to mention, the pitiful want and starvation she saw all around her among many of the Mexican peoples! So I’d like to say Ma and Pa lived happily ever after … but did they?
- Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, that point of view didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva and their kids.
Violent, tyrannical Dad believed it his right to dominate and administer physical abuse when his wife or kids were in rebellion, made a mistake — or irked him.
But sadly, Daddy was probably following the example he was raised with, didn’t know any better, and was only venting his anger, frustration, pain.
This was certainly more than sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the-old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife into submission; i.e., to control her by “whipping her into shape.”
Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives are taught to do … so she wouldn’t “deserve” his wrath.)
Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of Eva, nor the hurt he caused her and her family when he took on another wife and family.
Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law.
Being Stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others involved … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.