Over the years many people have asked about my early years, before my involvement with the law. This is my first public response to that question.
I was born in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio in 1957. At 22 months of age I was adopted by Jim & Artie Fussell of a small town in southern Ohio.
I was raised on a large farm, with two other adopted children, Dan and Margaret. None of us kids were related by blood, they both were five years older than me.
I do not have a lot of memories from a early age, the only grandfather figure I ever knew was Grandpa Louis, he killed himself one day with a rifle. He had bouts with mental health issues and had spent time in a mental hospital. I was in grade school when he took his own life.
My Mother worked nonstop taking care of three kids, running a home, gardening, canning, basically possessing super powers to manage so much. She was always a remarkable woman.
My brother took on farm chores, cutting, rakeing, baleing the hay. One day he got caught in a baler machine and it nearly ripped his arm off, he suffered very serious injuries. Another time he was sledding and crashed into a tree, a piece of the sled imbedded in his scrotum/anal area and left him in serious trouble. He seemed to be accident prone.
I did farm chores when I got old enough. We had a family milk cow that I/had to milk every day. At a/young asge I looked into the barn thru a knothole, a habit I had to make assure no snakes were lurking inside before I opened the wooden door, but instead of a snake, I saw my brother standing on a milk stool behind our milk cow, having sex with the cow as she ate her oats. He was about 15, I was about 10.
My Father was always away working on pipeline construction, he would return on weekends sometimes, or my Mother should drive to stay with him for a day or two.
He was a great provider for his family, he was a hard worker and dependable, however there were family secrets that few ever knew about. I learned them ad I got older.
My Father on occasion would get drunk, after months of working non stop away from home, he would return and I guess you could say “unwind”. He might stay drunk for a week, loud, obnoxious, demanding.
On one occasion I cut thru my sisters bedroom from the kitchen and saw my father getting out of her bed, he was naked, she was crying. I was too young to know what I was witnessing and I never spoke to her about it even when I got older. I know my sister always said that our Mother did not like her, perhaps in hindsight, my Mother knew. Back in those years, pedophilia was unknown and I did not know anything about pedophiles/child molesters, until after I entered the prison system.
It is sad that my sister had to endure, live with, whatever happened to her. Maybe one day she will find peace and understand, she was a victim. I am estranged from her so discussing it is not a option.
My father was a bully. He was abusive to my Mother, he got arrested one time, and convicted for hitting another woman, a family friend. He served 30 days in the county jail. My Mother cooked and delivered his meals to him at the jail every day.
My father was a womanizer. While he was away working, he would seek companionship from women he would meet. He would have affairs. My Mother was back home taking care of the kids, the farm, running the entire homestead, oblivious to my father’s activities. All she knew was he would return home with a paycheck every two weeks.
I got old enough to take over most of the farming chores, my brother ran off and got married. My father gave him over a hundred acre farm, maintaining the timber and mineral rights so my brother could not sell the land.
I did the fencing, plowing, disking, planting, upkeep, then bush hogged, mowed, raked, baled, loaded bales/onto trailers and stacked the bales in the barn. Planted 25,000 pine trees, kept tabs on our 88 head of cattle, horses, and other livestock.
By now I am in high school, not a good student, hated school, a small rural school with about 30 students in my class. I got involved in basketball, was a great bench warmer, could barely dribble a basketball. Involved in band, got a new trumpet, could not and still can not read a note of music. Can not play a note either.
My sister n law had a sister that was my age and went to same school, same classes as me. She would always report anything and everything to my sister n law, about me. She would then blab to her husband, my brother.
My Father had bought me a Ford Fairlane car when I was 16, after I got my driver license. It was a very nice car, I loved it. One time a classmate was in the hospital with mono and about six of us decided to go after school to the hospital to visit him. The hospital was located in Belmont county, the next county over. I drove. The weight of all of the extra people inside my car was noticeable, but I drove responsibly and we safely reached the hospital, went in and visited our classmate Trent and brightened his day.
I had told my Mother that I was going on a date so my lying to her was not cool. I should have been honest. When we returned to the spot where everyone had parked, I saw my brother waiting for me. He told me to follow him home, I did and I got yelled at by my Mother and when my father called that night, he grounded me and had my brother confiscate my car. My brother took the car to his home and held it captive.
That summer my father took me with him pipeline constructing. He arranged for me to get my car back from my brother. He had gotten my union card for me and I was working the entire summer as a welder helper making good money. The day before school started, we returned back home so I could begin my school year.
My father insisted I invest my money. My idea was chrome rims for my car, he was thinking registered polled herford cows that were expecting. So I bought two which soon turned into four.
One of the calves was a steer. Keeping a eye on my small herd and making sure they were switched to different pastures, staying on topo of fencing and feeding during winter months, all extra chores.
I planted 25,000 pine trees over a few months time all over our farm, back breaking work even for a young person. My dear herd decided they loved eating the dark green tops off of the freshly planted trees. In a short time they had devoured almost every tree I had planted. My fondness of my herd was fading fast.
One year my Mother started acting peculiar, doing odd things. I called my brother to tell him, he brushed me off. I was worried so one night I phoned my father at his emergency number.He was out of state pipelining. He convinced my Mother to get a doctor appointment.
On Christmas day my Mother suffered a stroke. Her entire left side of her body paralyzed. The family dynamic changed drastically. My father and I drove to Columbus, a two hour drive each afternoon after I got off school, we would spend time with Mom, helping her with physical therapy, trying to get her speech to return.
When Mom was finally released from Riverside Hospital, she was speaking almost normal, but could not move her left arm or leg. She was fitted with a special shoe with a brace and walked with a cane. Mom was placed on a 1200 calorie diet, specific foods prepared specific ways. I was given a book from the hospital with instructions. Egg beaters, which are not real eggs, and tiny size portions. I became Moms meal preparer, she never once complained even though I am sure my cooking was bad.
I would help Mom get to and from each room in the house, I often had to bathe her which was embarrassing for us both. Mom got a little better, my father decided he and I would go to Michigan to pipeline my Junior year of high school ,during summer break. He agreed to hire my girlfriend Denise, to live with Mom while we were away and care for Mom.
Denise was 16, we would phone home every night and speak with Mom and Denise. Things seemed to be going well. My father and I would drive back home to Ohio on Friday nights and stay home until Sunday afternoon when we would hit the road again, back to Michigan to be ready for Monday 4:00 a.m. work.
One Friday night as soon as we arrived home, Mom pulled me aside and told me that Denise threatened to shove Mom down a flight of steps. Without hesitation I drove Denise to her parents home and broke up with her and food her to never step foot on our property again.
My father decided to take Mom with us to Michigan. He rented a lake house on Chippewa Lake in Big Rapids Michigan, a beautiful lake. He hired a lady to spend the day with Mom, prepare her lunch, and we followed that routine. We even brought our Schnauzer Smug, with us.
We would return home in Ohio often. After graduation I was back working pipeline construction. My father had bought a airstream travel trailer that we lived in. It was remarkably comfortable and enjoyable. He and I split the food costs, plus I paid a portion of the lot rent per month since I was living under his roof.
I came downstairs while at home, hearing my father speaking harshly to my Mother, I caught him standing over her, she was on her couch, he was choking her with both hands. I yelled “don’t you hurt her” he stopped and looked at me saying ” I would never hurt your Mother”. Then he moved towards me, swinging at me. We exchanged a few words and after that incident we barely spoke to one another.
One year we had just returned took Ohio for Christmas and within two weeks my father was making plans for us all to return to work. He had not discussed it with me and we got into a argument, he told me to get out, move to my own place, that I was not going to live under his roof.
By now I had been increasing my usage of drugs/alcohol and my thought process was hindered. I should have made different decisions, I should have stayed with my Mother to make sure she was protected, but I thought of only myself and I moved out on my own.
Perhaps this gives those concerned, a better idea of what my home life was like. So often people blame their troubles on things that may have happened during their childhood. I am of the opinion that each of us experience things in our lives and we deal with those things to the best of our ability. I feel that any choices or decisions that I made, those were mine and no one else is responsible.
Have I mishandled many parts of my life, YES. But I am the person that must live with my choices. Do I have regrets, INDEED. Do I seek forgiveness, NO. I am of the opinion that if a person can NOT forget, then forgiving is useless. You are always going to remember when someone does you wrong. It is always growing to eat at you.
Hopeful that this clarifies. My older adoptive siblings were either clueless or simply turned a blind eye, or were too occupied with their own families, kids. They must face themselves in the mirror just as I must face myself in my mirror. We are estranged so I will never know their side of the story. My Mother and Father have both passed away in the late nineties.