Eleven months after our mother died, our dad suddenly remarried a very tall woman named Linda that few of us knew much about at all. She moved into the house with her daughter, Tiffany, and instantly removed any sign that our mom had ever existed. I imagine it must have been like moving into the home of a ghost, but she did not treat my four teenage brothers so well. After a while, they sold the house we all grew up in and moved to Idaho. Each of my brothers found somewhere else to live, except Paul, who was only 13 at the time. He went with them to Idaho, but the home they lived in had no bedroom for him, so he lived in the very crude unfinished old basement in the same room as the washer and dryer and furnace. A few weeks later he returned to Utah to live with a friend and his family.
At this point, the only conversations I had with Dad consisted of a) what a bad marriage Linda had been before and how abused she had been, and b) what a bad marriage it turned out he had with my mother, and c) how frigid my mother was. The extra-religious talk disappeared altogether as Linda did her best to control him, his actions, and his mind. All for the better, I suppose.
After about five years, they were in a terrible car accident. Linda was rendered an invalid. Dad walked away without a scratch.
Soon after that, Giancarlo and I had our commitment ceremony and much to my surprise, Dad rode buses and trains for 24 hours to attend. He is deathly afraid of flying, and it was his first and only time in California.
One evening while sitting on our back patio, he told me that he was utterly relieved that Linda was hurt in that accident, because he could now live a life free of abuse. He claimed that she had been physically and emotionally abusive to him over the years, and that he lived in fear.
Soon after that, Dad got married again. This time he married a woman with early onset Alzheimer's named Vonna. During his marriage to Vonna, he seemed to participate in the mainstream of the Church and he didn't say anything that seemed strange to me until Vonna's disease became more advanced, and her daughter, Nawlene, began spending more time with them.
The next round of crazy came along soon. Apparently, Nawlene was an ex-Mormon who also happened to love herself a good conspiracy theory. Her attention plus her ideas made Dad fall in love with her and the idea that the government and some of the leaders of the Church were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Of course, he took it to the next level. Paranoia once again reared its ugly head and Dad became convinced that prominent leaders from both organizations had him on their radar, and that he needed to lay low, as he was somehow a threat to their violent, hidden agendas. He called often during this time period as conversation with Vonna had become impossible, and I listened to his tales of conspiracy without much objection.
I should have known better.