"My father owned a large auto parts store that was originally owned by my grandparents. He always had a Cuban cigar hanging from his lips and a 35 caliber handgun somewhere on his person. Dad taught me to drive when I was six by sitting me on his knees in his Cadillac, closing his eyes, and handing me the steering wheel. He taught me to shoot a gun when I was ten. He made a surprise pit stop to a shooting range on the way back from picking me up from sleep away camp."
Sexy bohemian artist mom. Brooklyn Jewish 'guido' dad. It could have been funny. It was. Until that fateful night on October 1st, 1995. Mom was shot. Dad was jailed. His gun, the weapon never found. "There were eight hours between my mother's time of death and when my father's lawyer called the police to alert them about a dead body being in the home I grew up in. I asked my dad what happened. He said he couldn't remember. One year later I asked him what he was doing during those eight hours. He said he couldn't remember. Two years later I asked him how it could have been an accident like he claimed when the police report said that mom was shot point blank range in the head. He said he couldn't remember. Three years later and in a deep depression I started writing very dark poetry during my sleepless nights and then I began writing my show, trying desperately to find closure despite all the unanswered questions from the only person alive who could give me those answers.
My writing, my performing led me to take stock of my life, my choices, looking deeply into family patterns of denial, abuse, lack of boundaries and responsibility and co-dependence. My eyes started to open, responsibility seeped in, over-responsibility flowed gracefully away, humor took over and believe it or not I learned to open my heart - meaning to love myself enough to let go of the past.
I went back to school and received a Master's degree in 'Spiritual Psychology.' I hope to be able to help more families who have been torn apart by domestic violence, losing someone they love at the hand of someone else they love to make wise decisions made from a place of awareness and self-esteem.
My father went to jail on a plea bargain, Involuntary Manslaughter, a year after my mother's death. He got out of prison after 2 and a half years for good behavior and moved directly into my Aunt's, my mother's sister's house. He took her as a bride shortly after my mom's death in 1995.
My half-brother and I (different father's) reunited two years ago. Our relationship was torn apart by my father's role in our mother's death and my inability to face it at first. We took my father to court together in a Wrongful Death civil lawsuit. A jury awarded us 2 million dollars in damages. My father fled to another state and secured his assets in foreign offshore accounts.'
What I've learned:
1. I'll always miss my mom and she's always right here with me in my heart. In fact, I embrace her kookiness and artistic genius, her sexiness and her sense of humor.
2. I believe in a higher power and a divine order.
3. I've learned to stop asking why and instead look for what I can learn from each situation that I face. How can I be happier, more aware and proactive?
4.To forgive is to really free up space in my heart, which then lets more love in. And I am in love again.
5.To be grateful everyday and not take anybody or anything for granted. It may not be here tomorrow.
Brenda Adelman grew up in Brooklyn with a bohemian artist mother and a Jewish Guido dad. It was an eccentric childhood. "Mom smoked a pipe in the 70's and wore gowns that were completely cut open on the sides to show off her Marilyn Monroe-like figure. She painted and was an award-winning photographer. She played Betty Boop and W.C. Fields cartoons on an old projector in our basement and on the weekends she would take my brother, Warren, and me into Manhatten to see Broadway shows. We started traveling together when I was about six, first to Puerto Rico and Hawaii and then to France, England, Spain, Holland, Austria and then Hong Kong and China. She was my best friend."