Updated: Jan 5
The following blog post may include subjects inappropriate for younger readers.
READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
(click here to read the previous post)
In October of 2015, we reached settlement on the 20-acre Idaho property across the street from my youngest brother and sister-in-law (Anne’s sister). The house and land were a true blessing from God. There was a beautiful red original barn, a local landmark known in the area. There was also pasture land, fenced in yard, 14 acres of irrigated land growing hay. The rock-solid house was built in the 1890’s and still had original wood decor and hardwood floors. The outside walls were just under 24 inches thick made of lava rock, limestone and concrete. The house was rich with character and history, one of two nearly-identical houses in the area that still stood.
Being in horse country, I planned to get involved with horses again.
My mother planned to have all of her children and grandchildren close, so she offered to pay the down payment on the property if Anne and I would secure the financing. She could have bought the house all by herself but she didn’t want my father to know where she was living. She also had been researching ways to turn the property into a business so it would produce income.
The next 2 years included Anne and I cleaning up, repairing and beautifying the property as my mother focused on updating and beautifying the house.
After buying the house in Idaho, my mother wanted to break our current lease on the rental house in Utah. I disagreed, and insisted that it wasn’t fair to the landlord for us to duck out of our commitment until it ended in March of 2016.
My mother agreed to pay the mortgage payments on the Idaho house while Anne and I would pay the rent on the Utah house until the lease ended. She was not happy about it one bit, but I reminded her how upset she had been when she was a landlord and tenants had broken their leases.
We moved out 90% of our belongings from Utah to Idaho and took our time to clean the rental house before we moved out completely. I still had my job in Utah, so I began living on the RV at a local RV park.
There were no local Idaho jobs available within my company, so I lived on the RV during my week shift and drove to Idaho for my weeks off. Sometimes Anne and a few of the kids came back with me for my work weeks. I hated having to drive back and forth, but the money was helpful to complete some of the projects around the new property. I was only able to work on the new place for 5 days at a time, because it took half a day to drive between Idaho and Utah, and the rest of the day to recuperate and get ready for work.
It was difficult for me to juggle the challenge of getting projects done and spend time with my wife and kids. Anne (still pregnant) was even more stressed because my mother made it known that she felt she owned the house 100% - she had to approve everything we might want to do - even hang a picture on the wall.
My mother and Anne continually butted heads, and Anne got upset that my mother was taking over the discipline of our kids - because I wasn’t there to back her up (because I was working in Utah), Anne backed down and my mother took over.
Before long, our kids would comment that “Grandma doesn’t like it that way,” or “Grandma doesn’t make us do that.” They defied our rules for them and then disrespected our authority over them.
The kids were also fighting among themselves, and we saw them adopting the mindset of my mother’s values, which meant Noah, our oldest son, became very selfish. Our children would respect everyone except their own parents. When we were reprimanding our kids about their actions, my mother and middle brother would jump uninvited into the conversation and defend the kids.
Anne and I were beyond frustrated but we wanted to keep peace in the house, so we conceded that if my mother and brother were talking to our kids about God and disciplining them for their actions, let them.
Our concession completely backfired when Noah began to seem afraid of me whenever I would try to talk with him. I eventually overheard my mother telling him, “Your dad’s not very good at dealing with feelings, so maybe I can help you with it.” I was livid over what I heard her say, but overall, for the sake of the kids, I still wanted to keep peace.
I hope you can see the nasty cycle beginning again. My mother had continually complained about my grandparents getting in the way of her parenting. Here she was, doing the exact same thing with my kids. I confronted her about this parallel: she denied it, became angry, and deflected by saying that Anne and I were failing as parents by not disciplining our kids. Keep reading and you will see how much deeper this goes as God brings us to a choice in the path.…
This next time in my life is terrifying for me to share and I’m not sure how to be open about it. There are many reasons for my misgivings. Though God has brought healing to my heart about my childhood and teen years, the next part of the story is still happening. If I choose honesty here, I may lose many friends. If I choose to be less than honest, I will disappoint the Holy God I serve.
To recap: My two brothers and myself were molested by our grandparents, beginning as toddlers. I was steadily abused for 9 years, but my youngest brother was massively abused in the 2 years he was exposed to my grandparents. Without getting detailed, all three of us suffer not only emotional and mental scars, but also physical and medical repercussions of the abuse. Only two of us ever got married.
I can’t speak for my youngest brother, but I spent 14 years of marriage working through my own mental and emotional issues regarding sex. It has been a long, tough road for me, especially with the way I was introduced to anything sex-related.
Obviously, Anne and I had children, so we clearly had sex, but my shame was so entwined with anything sexual that after our intimacy I would run to the shower to wash off the “filth,” and I would get depressed and angry. I would often make excuses to avoid sex, and other times I wanted to get sex over with. In retrospect, this explains why I was still a virgin when I got married. I fought a million battles in my mind over sex, my gender, and my overall identity.
Around the time my youngest brother’s daughter was born, something snapped in him. I’m not sure if it was because he had turned 30, or that he had become a father in general, or because his child was a girl. Whatever the reason, he made it clear that he had gender issues, and he was miserable with how he saw himself. He later announced that he was struggling with his gender identity. I was very cautious on how and when I addressed the topic around him.
At first, my brother was kind, gentle and understanding toward our thoughts and feelings about the changes he was discussing. Anne and I wanted to discover more regarding his position, and over time he admitted that he had been spending a lot of time on LGBT forums. Out of curiosity, I read some of what was said on forums similar to those he was visiting, and all I saw was hate and threats against those who disagreed with their lifestyles.
My brother began to become just like those he spent so much time around, and
his attitude quickly changed - he had become hypersensitive, angry and confrontational if anyone but my mother spoke to him.
My mother began to spend all day at his house, which led her to begin speaking as my brother’s mouthpiece to us and she was adamant that it would be better if all communication with him went through her.
For my entire life, my mother ensured that she was the only person who could talk to my youngest brother - any time there was an issue, she would run to his rescue. Over time, nobody could talk to my brother because my mother was the only one who could calm him down and solve his problems.
I requested (of my mother) to talk to my youngest brother because we shared the same past, and it seemed to me that having someone who lived through it might be helpful for him. My mother replied, “No. Just tell me what you want to tell him and I will deliver the message.”
I said, “Deliver this message: I love you and I want to be there for you, without judgment, any time you want to talk.” I have no idea if she ever delivered it.
I asked my mother not to discuss my brother’s identity issues with my children because it was our place to discuss it with them. About a month later when Anne and I and Dresden were back in Utah for the week, my youngest brother came into the front door of our Idaho house completely dressed as a woman, makeup, wig and all. Averie and Noah were terrified, crying and upset. When my mother jokingly told me what had happened, I was livid.
I asked if she had spoken with our kids about the incident and she replied that yes, she had talked to them. Upset, I questioned why she had done that when I’d asked her not to, because we were going to handle it. She unapologetically excused it by saying that my brother just “dropped by.” I responded, “He doesn’t EVER ‘just drop by.’ You knew we were out of town and you knew he was coming over and you said NOTHING to warn us. You deliberately used this opportunity to ignore our wishes.” Our eyes were opening to my mother’s mental games, and to the changes in dress that my youngest brother was starting to adopt.
Our fourth child (and third boy!), Lincoln Ferris, was born in early 2016.
After the rental lease expired on the Utah house, we moved everything out completely and I began living full-time (for my weeks at work) on the RV at the Utah RV park, waiting for an opportunity to find a position in Idaho near our new property.
One day, a local horse owner stopped by our property to ask if she could leave her mare and new foal in our overgrown pasture. We were ecstatic to have horses on our property, and whole-heartedly agreed. She later sold us our first horse, a “paintaloosa” we named Liberty, and was instrumental in the acquisition of our second horse, an ex-racing dapple grey quarter horse we called Atlas.
By June 2016, I was still working in Utah and decided to attend Comic-Con in Colorado, staying with cousins while we were in town. My middle brother and I drove 8 hours, super excited to spend the entire weekend having fun. We arrived Thursday night and relaxed a bit, and Friday morning began opening day of the convention. After dinner, I, my middle brother, and our cousin waited for my youngest brother to arrive - he was driving from Idaho to join us for the weekend to attend Comic-Con.
He arrived around 8pm that night, coming up the driveway and just about hitting us as we sat outside the garage. After he parked his truck he opened the door and stumbled out, so my cousin asked if he’d been drinking. My brother admitted that he’d gone to another cousin’s house for dinner and had drunk a few beers.
His behavior clearly indicated that he was intoxicated; later we discovered that he had only drunk half a bottle of beer with dinner. He had never been drunk, but had wanted to appear that way to us. Before bed that night, he chugged down one beer and went to bed about an hour later while the rest of us hung out a bit longer.
The next morning, we all got up and went to the second day of Comic-Con with a few other friends - and of course, Saturdays are the busiest day of the weekend. We were all walking around having fun - my cousin and my middle brother went to a seminar, while the rest of us kept walking around soaking it all in. Suddenly my youngest brother leans into me and said, “If another person bumps into me or even looks at me again, I WILL PULL MY KNIFE AND STAB THEM DEAD!”
I said, “Okay, why don’t we just walk over here and wait for the others to come back.” It was the longest wait of my life. My youngest brother was eyeballing every single person that walked past the open area where we stood. I could see his hand in his pocket gripping his knife harder and harder with every flood of people who passed.
I started texting my middle brother to come meet us because we needed to leave the convention as soon as possible. After the seminar was over and we were all together again, I pulled my middle brother and cousin aside to tell them what my youngest brother was saying. My middle brother mentioned that he was aware that our youngest brother had a problem with crowds. Nobody - not my middle brother, nor my mother, nor my sister-in-law had ever told any of us going to the convention that my youngest brother might have an issue with large groups of people.
I was afraid that I was going to have to break up a fight, but I was very concerned about accidentally getting stabbed.
We left the convention early. After getting back home we hung around my cousin’s house the rest of the day.
I called my sister-in-law and asked why, if her husband had a problem with crowds, hadn’t she warned me or suggested that he not attend the convention? She answered that he had developed the phobia very recently, and she had hoped that going to the convention on the busiest day might force him to deal with it. She was unapologetic and dismissive.
The next day, Sunday, was my youngest brother’s birthday. It was also Father’s Day that year. The night before, we suggested that we not attend the last day of Comic-Con, and we offered to let my youngest brother pick what we did that day, since it was his birthday, but he declined and told us to go do what we wanted without him.
The next morning, when I went to tell my brother “Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day” and I asked if he had changed his mind about doing something, he told me to f*** off and to leave him alone.
He has always hated his own birthday (more than likely because he wished he was never born, even though I never heard him outright say it). I understood because I wished the same thing, on and off, for years.
We went to the convention for a few hours while my youngest brother stayed behind. When we got home that day, we found him sitting in the garage with more than a dozen beer bottles around himself while he was playing with his guns. We later figured out that he had staged the beer bottles - he had pulled them out of the recycling bin.
As we got out of the car, he lifted the gun he had in his hand and pointed it straight at us, dry firing it (pulling the trigger without a bullet in the chamber). As I got closer, I noticed that he had bag next to him with several loaded magazines. We attempted small talk with him, but he continued to point his gun at us and pull the trigger.
My heart was broken for him and I didn’t know how to help him, but I kept reminding myself that I shouldn’t get involved, that I should let my mother handle it because that was what she had trained me to believe. But what should I do now, when Mommy wasn’t here to help her precious Baby deal with things like an adult? She wasn’t around and he was a mess.
Later that night, we asked my youngest brother if he wanted to go over to the neighbor’s house and see the wicked toys he had. He declined, and we went without him. While we were out of the house, I called my mother, who was with my sister-in-law. I explained what was going on and they both insisted that we keep showing my brother love. His wife also suggested that I get in his face and shake him out of it.
I was confused - for years, I had been told to never confront him ever, and now I was being told to confront him. I asked them, “Please call him yourself and tell him to go home and deal with his problems.” I got off the phone and went to bed, but before turning in for the night, I locked the door to my room, and for the first time in my life, I placed a loaded a handgun on the nightstand - if my brother snapped in the middle of the night, I’d be able to defend myself. My brother’s behavior really scared me that weekend.
The next morning, I had no idea that my youngest brother was planning to head home that day. He had locked himself in the bathroom, so I knocked on the door and asked if he wanted to go mountain biking after breakfast. He never answered, but I heard him turn on the shower. We ate a light breakfast and got our bikes loaded up, and each of us separately checked on him, making sure he wasn’t interested in joining us because we would be leaving in 10 minutes. Since he’d originally locked himself in the bathroom, 45 minutes had elapsed with still no answer.
I was done letting my youngest brother’s tantrums hijack the rest of my weekend. We jumped into the truck and off to the hills we went. We had an epic day of biking in the mountains, and when we got back, his truck was gone.
We went in the house to eat lunch and started to discuss how much pain my youngest brother must be experiencing for him to be acting this way.
I was making excuses for my brother during the conversation, but my one cousin (who was a nurse) called me out - she was heartbroken for my brother’s pain and that nobody was standing up to him and pushing him to get help. She said, “I’ve worked with kids of all types, and a lot of them are dealing with depression and suicide attempts. Stop making excuses for your brother. Somebody needs to stand up and tell him that he has to get help. His destructive behavior will only get worse - I see how parents cover for their children every day because they’re not willing to get their kids the help they need. Can’t anyone see that your brother is screaming for help?!”
Her heartbroken outburst opened my eyes - I had been making excuses for my brother, and those excuses were keeping him from getting the help he needed. I sincerely apologized to my cousin and agreed that she was right - but if he refused to face his past, and his wife and mother refuse to push him to make a change, what else could we do?
This is when we all opened up about what each of us had experienced during his time with us that weekend. My middle brother and cousin admitted that my youngest brother had pointed a gun at them (separately from the time he’d done it to all of us) but he’d also turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger with the muzzle pointed at his own head in front of them. This was shocking to me because they were talking about the person who had taught me gun safety - he and I had run drills at the outdoor gun range together in the past!
I called my mother immediately, wanting to warn her about his possible state of mind as he drove home toward my family. She was in her car with my sister-in-law and my two oldest children. I informed them of what I had learned during lunch and I suggested they take precautions before my brother got home. I strongly suggested that my sister-in-law bring her daughter next door to our house until they were able to assess his mindset when he got home. I reiterated that he may or may not be calm, and I pleaded with them to bring a weapon to defend themselves when they sat him down to talk, just in case. I had no idea what he might do and I was afraid for the safety of all my family back in Idaho.
My mother interrupted me and said, “I don’t believe you. Your brother called me last night and said you were mean to him, you were teasing him, you ignored him the whole time, you didn’t want to do anything he wanted to do. He said he asked to do something other than go to Comic-Con and you told him to f*** off.”
At this point - I can’t lie - I couldn’t listen to anything more, and angrily let them have a piece of my mind. I told them that my brother was too scared to try and kill himself, so why weren’t we standing up to him and his behavior? Unfortunately, by responding in such a way, in their minds I was actually proving that everything my brother lied about was actually true.
When my mother and sister-in-law ignored my concern, I called Anne and told her what happened. I didn’t realize that my mother had been telling Anne what was going on, and my own wife had started to believe I was lying too. Everyone turned against me.
My mother talked to my cousin (the nurse), but all my mother heard from that conversation was that I made my cousin cry because of what I said about my brother. That was true! But what my mother refused to hear was that my excusing his behavior was why my cousin cried for my brother. When I told my mother she was wrong, and that we should have everyone talk together on a conference call to get the facts straight, she said, “No, I’ve heard all I need to hear. Leave your brother alone from now on.”
My mother and sister-in-law said they planned to send my brother to the doctor to get him on female hormones so that he would calm down. I said that he didn’t need hormones, he needed serious help.
I got the silent treatment from my mother and sister-in-law (and obviously, my youngest brother) after that. More tension grew between Anne and I, and between our kids and ourselves.
I want to state for the record that Anne and I and our kids never treated my youngest brother any differently after he decided to pursue gender changes in his lifestyle. He was still family and we still showed him love the way we always had.
Tension from “The Colorado Incident” seemed to calm down after a month or so. My youngest brother came back around but wouldn’t ever look my direction.
In August 2016, my Utah base was ending the work contract, so I was again looking for a new base to transfer to. I applied to be hired on with the new company taking over the base, but they refused to hire me because of the damage inflicted through the 6-year-long rumor mill.
I only know of one pilot coming to my defense; I’m not sure if any medical crew defended me, or if they believed the negativity that the few had continued to spin about me. I stayed until the end of the contract, and in November I moved a few aircraft back to Colorado before collecting my things and returning to Idaho for good.
As my job ended in Utah, a position opened up in Idaho. I spent the entire month of November catching up on outside projects and spending much needed time with my wife and kids. I started my job through a smooth transition in December.