My Online Journal (Selected Entries)
The children have missed their lessons again. I know Pa believes that a child will “play himself into learning,” like Mr. Locke’s theory says, but this is getting kind of ridiculous. Even their tutor, Mr. Chitwell, has commented, saying, “With all due respect to your father, Miss Patsy, never have I seen such ungovernable children.” I promised him they would be there tomorrow but I don’t know if I will be able to keep that promise. After their lessons Anne is supposed to come learn to cook and clean with me, but instead she runs off with Peg into the kitchen. Lord knows what she’s learning in there, and I don’t think I’d want to know. Something is going to have to be done, but it has to come from Pa. With Pa gone all the time and Mama not being herself lately all of the responsibility falls to me. I am worried about Mama. I know she really has gone crazy and I don’t know what to do about it. All I know is that Pa must never find out. That is why I have no choice but to take care of everything myself.
Pa finally came home, but now he is gone again, off to defend some other person in need. He finally talked to Peg and spoke to her about respecting me and my role in the household. He and I talked about Mama’s ‘illness’ and he wanted her to go to the section of the jail for people with sick minds but after MyJohn and I went to see it I vowed she would never be there. After discussing the matter with Pa and MyJohn we decided that the cellar would be made into a place for her, so she can be away from the children and safe and comfortable, but still in the house. I don’t like the idea of locking her up but after she tried to kill little Edward and how far gone she seems to be, we may have no choice. If only Pa were home more, maybe none of this would have ever happened. There are times that I worry that I could end up like Mama, and it seems that Pa worries about that too. However, like MyJohn said, Pa, “casts a long shadow” and MyJohn does not. He is probably right. It is not easy being the daughter of Patrick Henry, and being the wife must be even harder. Pa realizes that being away all the time has been hard on Mama but he says that it is his job and he can’t do a thing about it. If only he cared about his family as much as he cared about his clients and causes. I know I shouldn’t feel that way but I can’t help it. Things have gotten so difficult around here. I don’t know what I would do without MyJohn. I wish Pa would let us get married sooner so we could be together all the time and I wouldn’t have as many pressures to deal with on my own. Oh well, all I can do is wait.
Mama has been talking about how she knows that one of us will “inherit” her sickness. I finally gave in and let Anne go down to talk to her to see who she would say it was even though I knew MyJohn would not have approved. When she came back up from talking to Mama, “tears were in her eyes.” I asked her what Mama had said and she told me, ““It won’t be you who inherits the bad blood.”” When I asked her who it would be she said, ““Me.”” I tried to console her but at first nothing would work. She swore she would never marry but I told her that I would help her and that, “we could make our own fate.” I wish that it could be me instead of her although some part of me is definitely relieved. I am also surprised with Anne. She knew all along that I was planning to call off my wedding to MyJohn if I was the one Mama had said. She also showed a dignity and maturity that I thought she never would. It seems almost too much like Mama though and it is somewhat scary. I don’t know if I fully believe this anyway. Mama is insane and believes that Pa is dead and that frog legs make a good cake. It’s hard to take anything she says seriously these days. I am so overwhelmed with emotion right now, good and bad, that I don’t know if I can even believe myself. I need to think about this for a long while and then decide what to make of it. I hope it is not true and that none of us will inherit Mama’s sickness. After all, it is possible that it isn’t blood that is the problem, but her situation that led her to this state. My father’s shadow is long, as MyJohn said, and that may be the cause of everything.
I can’t believe he quoted her. It will probably become a famous line one day. Like Anne said, “It was Mama who uttered those words about freedom or dying.” She was the one who would say, “Give me liberty or give me death,” begging us to let her out of the cellar. Anne was right. I didn’t want to admit it at first but it is clear that Pa definitely took those words from Mama and used them in regards to the Revolution. It hasn’t even been a year since she died. It was so hard to say goodbye to Mama but it had been harder to live with her in that condition. At the end she wasn’t herself at all. She was like a prisoner trapped in her own mind. Maybe that is what she meant by “liberty or death.” Now we will never know. At least now I know that the children are safe and Mama is in a better place.
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