I can not recall a moment in my life when I didn't know what cannabis is and does for people. Always knowing what marijuana was and having parents who wanted you to not know was rather funny; and I recall how much I loved the smell.
As a child in the 80’s it was a never spoken family secret; my dad was a pot smoker, or cannabis enthusiast. Our parents were devoted to the family. When the recession hit in the early 80’s my mom lost her job as a nursing assistant and my dad lost his job at the foundry.
While I don’t ever recall my dad working at the foundry, the day my mom lost her job will forever be etched in my mind. I was only in kindergarten, but something inside me knew it was a life changing day. The friends I was playing with, the street we were on, and my mom dropping me off for a play date only to return a completely different person; though I was young I absorbed the information in some way which I can not explain.
She held it in well; mom’s have a strong poker face. Instinctively, I knew our lives had somehow changed. There’s not much I can say about that day other than the little bits of memory still with me. One mom dropped me off at a play date and a different mom picked me up. The gravity of what was about to happen hadn't yet started. Mom kept a brave face and she ran a firm house. Every day and every night we would eat breakfast and dinner together as a family, no exceptions and pizza on most Friday’s.
My sister claims I traumatized her. We were waiting in the car. Sitting in the driveway of a house, on a country road just outside of town. As I was chatting with my sister, while we waited for mom, I said “mom’s in there buying weed for dad.” I said it as if it were a typical secret between sisters not knowing she had no idea; however, to her it was the most traumatizing thing she’d ever heard.
My parents took in a cousin of ours as a foster child long before I have any memory of it. The one fact I knew was true; if any of us acknowledged that dad smoked pot we’d all end up in foster homes. Growing up one of my greatest fears, besides the dark, was being taken by Child Protective Services.
In my mind, my dad smoking pot was what kept him sane and happy. Without it he couldn't handle the realities of the tragedies he’d endured. My father’s childhood was traumatic to say the least; he lost his mother at seven years old and was shipped off to live with his grandparents. His grandfather was an alcoholic. The environment left him feeling, unwanted; their unfortunate responsibility. I think sometimes adults don’t realize that children understand things.