Clearing the Air

The Long Story


The Long Story.

Death Info.

My baby sister, Kathleen Dawn Baker, 55, was found dead in her apartment in Elizabethtown, Kentucky of an apparent drug overdose-type unknown at this time. She’d been dead for 2-3 days, coroner says.

So far, I’m listed as next of kin, but not legally until all efforts to find her daughter, Rhiannon, have been exhausted.  At that time, I’m the official NoK. (I’m on a NoK list. For those in the know, that’s a Mission Impossible pop culture ref)

EDIT: They found Rhiannon. Now they’re waiting to see if she shows up.

The Story

This news has been expected for a long time. Kathie was an addict for a very long time. She’d been abusing percocet for a while, then went to crack and crank. My mom got her into Rehab on 3 separate occasions. She left each rehabs early, refusing to complete them. During each time, she’d ask my mom to send her 8 cartons of cigarettes per month. After I found out during the last rehab, I told my mom to stop doing it b/c I recognized the pattern. She was selling the cigarettes to buy dope. No one, and I mean no one, smoked that much at a rehab. Had she been in jail, or prison, I might have said nothing. Cigs are currency in prison. Yeah, you can buy dope, but you’re in prison, not rehab. You get caught, your sentence gets extended. Not so in rehab.

This drug addiction was the reason her daughter was taken away from her to become a ward of her paternal grandmother, then the state.  I’m the one who did it, back in 1995.  My mom wouldn’t go that far.  She saddled me with the task of taking care of Rhiannon but I am NOT the maternal type and after 45 days, and clear evidence that Kathie wasn’t cleaning up her act for the sake of her daughter–never mind Clear Evidence that I had to get rid of the child for her own sake b/c I don’t trust myself not to hit the kid b/c ISSUES–I called her other grandmother to come get the child.

Kathie blamed me, not herself. She knew better. I’d already gotten Rhiannon out of her apartment about 6 months before that. The kid was in a soaked diaper under the supervision of Kathie’s doped up boyfriend (having a party) while Kathie had me driving her around to pick up dope. I hadn’t known that; I thought she was collecting money owed. Once I realized that I’d been used, I drove to the apartment–with sis in tow–grabbed up the kid from her crib(who’d been standing in it crying while the boyfriend had a party going), and took her home: my parents house, where I was living, helping my mom take care of the house. Mostly I was there to act as a bodyguard in case my dad ever went on a drunken rage. My mom and I sat Kathie down to get her into the 1st of 3 rehabs.

We are adult children of an alcoholic. My dad was a mean drunk, then a dour, scary drunk after he was too old to abuse his wife and kids. I laid the law down around 1976 or 77 (when I was 16/17). Hit my mom again and you’re going to your grave. Dad went to rehab in ’75. Decided in ’80 that he couldn’t give up the booze. My mom stayed with him for economic reasons: as long as he made money with his own business–and used it to drink instead of their pension money and her job money–she’d hang around.

We learned, in ’75, how to cope with a drunk after my mom handed us kids (4 daughters) a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics. It was massively useful and I did my own research after that.

Skipping ahead…

After my parents died in 2000, and me and Kathie purposely lost touch, I didn’t hear from her for about 6 years. Saw her again at the welfare office, in passing, then went our separate ways.  In 2014 or 15, my memory is shit, she called me here in Greenfield.  She “sounded” okay.  Said she was in Elizabethtown, having followed a guy there.  A year or so later, called again.  She sounded high (and pot was never her “drug”).  We got into an argument because I was “judging” her. Well, hello. Big Sis here. It wasn’t long before she was screaming at me that I’d ruined her life and I told her not to call me again until she’d gotten her shit together.

She never did.


I expect the coroner to call me again to inform me whether or not I’m officially NoK. At that time, he will have to send me documents to sign, then he can have Kathie’s belongings sold and the proceeds used to cremate her ashes and put in the county cemetery. I have no interest in the remains. The remaining funds will go to charity.

I have no feelings other than a bit of sadness. The reason is that I’ve already run through the gamut of emotional pain with my sister for the last 38 years and I’m not gonna spend any more closely-guarded sanity on the woman. She had a hard life that she apparently was too weak in character to handle. That’s not a put-down. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain that was a direct result of fetal alcohol syndrome—thru sperm. My mom rarely drank, not even pregnant, and she lived at the mercy of a violent husband. She had a choice in 1972: divorce or live with the bastard. She chose to live with the bastard after a brief separation b/c of finances. In so doing, she condemned her kids to living with the bastard, too. My sympathy for her was there nonetheless b/c after living in a fear-based household, you learn to cope b/c it’s all you know.

There’s a whole lot of shit left to unpack but suffice it to say that this is a typical tale of addiction and how it magnificently fucks up children and their adult lives afterward.

Mourn her if you knew her. I did that a long time ago.

About the author


Writer, Veteran, Wiccan, Artist, Progressive Pain in the Ass. The order of these titles changes at a day's whim, but the last one always stays put for emphasis.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By Joy
Clearing the Air

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector.” ~ Hemingway

Recent Posts


Writer, Veteran, Wiccan, Artist, Progressive Pain in the Ass. The order of these titles changes at a day's whim, but the last one always stays put for emphasis.

Get in touch