The fastest selling book in Simon and Schuster’s almost 100 year history debuted this week and it was written by — Mary L. Trump, Ph.D.
It is entitled Too Much And Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man and in a very brisk 225 pages it gives us the unvarnished details of what it’s like to grow up in the extremely dysfunctional and just plain mean Trump family.
It also sheds light on why she believes our current president is a mentally ill sociopath with an inability to care about anyone but himself. The book contains an enormous amount of stories about the endless string of Donald lies, Donald incompetence, Donald bullying and, well, pretty much every other type of anti-social behavior any Donald could display short of murder, from the time he was very young up through the present day.
Ms. Trump, 55, is the niece of our current POTUS, Donald J. Trump, and a clinical psychologist who spent quite a lot of time around Donald, his siblings and his parents (Note: Her grandparents) growing up. So she knows whereof she speaks.
She is also a lesbian.
Well, to be fair, in the late nineties she was married to a woman for an extended period of time, they had a child together, later divorced and she now raises and lives with their teenage daughter.
So at the very least she is a member of the LGBTQ community.
This in no way is an outing of Ms. Trump, who rightly neither hides her sexuality nor dwells on it in her best seller.
But in watching and reading the myriad of coverage about her life and the book roll out, it’s impossible not to notice that the one person in the extended Trump inner family clan strong enough to make a full and healthy break away from all that immorality and, umm, financial dysfunction – and live to come clean about it to the world – is gay.
We gay people certainly have as many faults as anyone but the one thing we do know how to do is open a closet door and let the truth come out.
Our very lives are an embodiment of the old adage the truth will set you free because for the vast majority of us it has.
For those of us of a certain age (Note: Ms. Trump is younger than me but still of my generation), and still, for some, of any age, this has not always been easy. But once we realize it’s not the end of the world but the beginning of a brighter new one, we’re far less likely to be the keeper of anyone’s dirty little secrets, especially when they cross us.
In short, the Trumps were f-ckng with the wrong person when Mary finally found out after many, many decades, that Donald and his siblings had financially f-cked her and her brother over to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars.
(Note: Buy the book and google her in the NY Times and you can read endless articles about how the family undervalued the size of her grandfather’s estate and threatened to withhold health insurance from her brother’s very sick baby until she and her brother capitulated for a pittance of their inheritance).
Still, this does not appear to be the primary motivator for why Ms. Trump wrote her book, which sold ALMOST 1,000,000 copies in its FIRST DAY. Rather, it was Donald playing out the same type of lies he had perpetrated upon her and other family members to enrich himself from his father’s estate on the entire country that tipped her hand.
Watching him lie and deny the plan to put immigrant children in cages or expound on the virtues of KKK members instead of defending the Jews and people of color they wanted to exterminate, was an all too familiar playbook.
In the Trump family, you did what you were told because to not do so would cost you your standing in the inner circle. To maintain the power, the protection and the position – even if all those brought you were scraps – you kept your mouth shut (nee lied) or risked being thrown out and DESTROYED.
That is what Donald did through the years to all his rivals and perceived enemies (nee EVERYONE), especially Mary’s alcoholic father, Freddy, who died broken and penniless at the hands of the family and Donald at the age of 42.
Again, all of this is recounted in very readable stories throughout the book in ways that are surprisingly even-handed and, even a bit sympathetic, towards Donald. It’s what gives Too Much and Never Enough its power, and its undeniable ring of truth.
Still, while most readers will no doubt linger on all things Donald, and how his equally sociopathic father Fred, Sr. preyed on each member of their clan and then the outside world to their maximum personal benefits, it is the moment that Mary Trump finally owns her power to us as an LGBTQ woman that most stood out to me.
All through her life, Ms. Trump watched as her father Freddy was shamed into believing he was a failure by the only family that she or he knew, one that they were led to believe they were beholden to (Note: Because they indeed, were; see the above DESTROYED) for personal survival. Yet many years after Freddy died, Mary still remained close to her grandfather, Fred, Sr., and her grandmother, who she called Gam.
It is with this history she recalls the last two weeks of her grandfather’s life in June, 1999, and how some of the family (Note: Though not Donald) gathered around the dying Fred, Sr.’s hospital bed.
Her grandmother, Gam, sat in a chair, an aunt held his hand, while another aunt stood to the side with Mary, bemoaning the fact that she and her husband (Fred Sr.’s youngest son / Donald’s youngest brother) would have to postpone their London trip with Prince Charles because of Fred’s likely passing.
He invited us to one of his polo matches. I can’t believe we had to cancel, her aunt noted in an exasperated and too loud voice that others would likely hear yet, in true Trump fashion, not react to one way or the other. At which time Mary reveals the following to us:
I could have topped that story. In a week I was supposed to be getting married on a beach in Maui. Nobody in the family knew; they’d always been spectacularly uninterested in my personal life (when necessary, I asked a guy friend to accompany me to any family occasion that required a plus one) and never asked about my boyfriends or relationships.
A couple of years earlier, Gam and I had been talking about Princess Diana’s funeral, and when she had said with some vehemence, ‘It’s a disgrace they’re letting that little faggot Elton John sing at the service,’ I’d realized it was better that she didn’t know I was living with and engaged to a woman.
Seeing how serious my grandfather’s condition was, I had a terrible feeling that when I got home, I’d have to break the news to my fiancée that, after months of planning and overcoming logistical nightmares, our mostly secret wedding would have to be postponed.
As it turned out the wedding was postponed and Fred, Sr. died several weeks later.
The entire Trump family attended the funeral, including Mary, yet Mary was the only one to escort Gam, her grandmother, home and sit with her for several hours more in the house she had shared with her husband for more than 30 years so she wouldn’t have to be alone.
Any number of LGBTQ people from dysfunctional families will read the above passage and recognize a familiar scene. The single young thirty something with no discernible life taking care of the elderly relative the straight, married siblings don’t quite want to be bothered with or can’t be because they have a family.
But equally familiar to some will be the scene some 30 pages later when her Gam also turns on Mary once Mary and her brother realize they are not receiving their own father’s share of his inheritance from Fred, Sr.
Apparently it was Donald’s edict that unless Mary and her brother disavowed their claims to their share and let Donald and the remaining siblings have the many more millions, her brother’s permanently disabled baby, would lose his Trump family health insurance, which he was guaranteed to in perpetuity and, in fact, needed in order to be able to survive with round the clock care.
Now not quite sure of what to do, Mary gets a call from Gam who not only tersely tell her off amid Mary’s protestation, but to pound her point home, admonishes her with these choice words: Do you know what your father was worth when he died? A whole lot of nothing.
Not knowing what to say, Mary pauses. At which point there is a click. Gam had hung up on her. In fact, Gam never spoke with her again.
It took awhile but after all this time Mary Trump is finally talking back to the entire Trump clan, most especially about their leader, and ours, Uncle Donald. Like many in her community, it’s taken almost a full lifetime for her to embrace her voice and the entire truth about who she is and where she came from full throttle.
Now that she has it would behoove us, ALL OF US, to listen.