Childhood Sexual Abuse – Part One

I binge watched Dr. Phil last night and there were two shows about false accusations. One was a stepdaughter who is lies compulsively and  accused her stepfather of molesting her and one was a woman who accused her child’s father of physical and sexual abuse. How someone can fabricate something so serious and that will adversely affect a person’s life for the rest of their life, is beyond me.

As a survivor, I wish that those women could understand what an insult it is to those of us who truly experienced sexual abuse. My innocence was stolen from me. I never remember not knowing about sex. Imagine that as a 4 or 5 year old or perhaps younger, I knew that my parents had sex and what it entailed. I knew because I had an older boy orchestrate   intercourse between me and my brother when we were approximately 5 and 6. That is a secret I never thought I would write about. But my hope is that it will free me from the shame and anger. About the same time, a girl who went to our church was babysitting my brother and I and she molested me and him, though separately. And then there was my grandfather… I have blocked the details of all but the encounter involving my brother and remember only up to the actual acts. I did tell my mother about all but my grandfather but we have both blocked out the details of those conversations.

Back then, no one talked about it and no legal action was taken which is why so many women and men are coming forward later in life. I believe it was as rampant then as it is now, it was just kept quiet. Alcoholism can be a contributing factor. I heard a saying once, “Scratch and alcoholic and you will find a pedophile.” I am certainly not saying that all alcoholics are pedophiles just that they often go hand in hand.  Which is the contributing factor?  Do pedophiles become alcoholics or do alcoholics become pedophiles?

I have to wonder how someone can see a child as an object rather than an innocent human being. How can a man or woman see their own child as an object to fulfill their deviant desires? How can they believe that because it is their child, they are a possession to be used for pleasure? Then there are those parents who prostitute their children for drug money. Although sometimes it seems that suspicion has gotten out of hand, thank God that abuse is coming to light. Although the internet has encouraged blatant child objectification, it is also exposing the perpetrators.

More and more school teachers are being arrested for child molestation. I have a theory on that issue. Teachers are most often hired straight out of college so they are about 21 or 22 years old. The senior students can be as old as 20 so there isn’t that much age difference, hence the attraction. That, of course, doesn’t excuse the teacher or the student crossing the line but I don’t believe that young teachers should be hired to teach high school. Now when it comes to the older teachers and the garbage they are orchestrating, I am still shocked when it comes to light. Though even when I was in high school there were rumors about gay teachers and students, true or false.

Something of which I became aware when I worked at a police department was that many women will sacrifice their children for the sake of having a man in their lives. Sexual abuse by a boyfriend or husband would be reported and the mother would take the word of the man over her child. Why? Because they were desperate, as many women are, to have a man in their lives. I believe they knew the child was telling the truth but didn’t want to give up the man. Throughout history, we women have been pressured by society, especially our mothers, to get married and have children. It was an embarrassment to our parents if we weren’t  married by a certain age. Being that there were more women than men, there was a scramble to find and hold onto a guy, any guy. Or was/is it hormones driving the desperation? I don’t know but I have seen situations where we women couldn’t see the forest for the trees as evidenced by my last post. The atrocities in the news about the abuse of children by stepfathers and boyfriends make me wonder when we women will wake up. Not to leave the men out of this topic, there are men who look the other way as well, however, statistics show more sexual abuse by men than women.

I want to encourage all survivors of childhood sexual abuse to realize that it wasn’t our fault, we were not objects and to have been used as such was the product of a sick mind. Maybe it felt good and maybe that’s why we block memories perhaps out of some sense of guilt. However, we were children who didn’t understand that it was just a sensation, one we couldn’t control. There was a gained awareness of our body’s sexual reaction to stimuli and that may have added the guilt feelings. We may have even began to seek out stimuli or become promiscuous to duplicate that feeling. We didn’t understand that we were exposed to these sensations before we were equipped with the emotional maturity and knowledge for making responsible decisions regarding our actions.

Though this post started out in disgust for false accusations of sexual abuse, I would like to make the following suggestions based on personal experience and what I have observed. I do not hold myself out as an authority, these are just suggestions:

  • Parents listen to your children when they tell you of inappropriateness.
  • We are not equipped to judge the truth because we are most often guided by our emotions where our children are concerned so get your child counseling by professionals who can get to the truth and they will take action or advise you where to go from there.Be advised that they are bound by law to report their findings to law enforcement if evidence of impropriety is discovered.
  • Watch your children for signs but don’t interrogate, have calm conversations so that your child feels comfortable and non-threatened talking to you.
  • Support them no matter what! You don’t have to approve of what they do and they should know that but they need to know that they have someone in their corner unconditionally.
  • Be honest with them about your feelings, let them know that you are angry about what happened to them but don’t show bitterness.
  • Tell them that the two of you will get through this together, step by step.
  • Don’t rush the process.

Your child’s ability to heal will depend upon your reaction.

Silly but True

images.duckduckgo.com images.duckduckgo.comWhen I was dating my ex, I told him that there was a stock car racing track in a certain location in Houston. I looked up the address and we made plans to go and were both really excited. However, when we got there, it was a indoor slot car track. We both laughed about the mistake, ate barbecue and called it a day

laughter1262542393When I was about 7 or 8, we had a family get together and my dad was talking with some men. We had some wooden candlesticks and I got this idea to pretend to clock my dad on the head with the candlestick and click my tongue to make it sound like I actually done it. I saw this on television and it was funny then but when I did it, not so much. There was an epic failure of enormous proportions! Unfortunately, I actually did clock him on his head and he was so shocked as I’m sure the other men were. He yelled out in pain and asked what I thought I was doing. How do you explain? I don’t think I even tried. I cannot think about this without laughing uncontrollably.

images.duckduckgo.comWhen I was about 6, my mom was making iced tea so I thought I would help. I got up on the counter and started stirring the tea in the pitcher. Of course, the spoon was much shorter than the pitcher and my mother said “Get down from there, you are going to drop the spoon in the pitcher!”. Power of suggestion, I dropped the spoon in the pitcher and mom said, “I told you that you were going to drop the spoon!”. I responded, “Weren’t me mama, were my hand. I don’t know what made my hand do it.” (This was one of my dad’s favorite stories).

images.duckduckgo.comAfter a church dinner, I was in the church kitchen washing dishes as I was helping with clean up. Danny was chatting with some people and our kids were roaming around. The minister’s wife came up behind me and said “Patriciaaa” and let me know that my dress was tucked into my panties. Many people had been in and out of the kitchen, men included and no one told me. Here I was in the church building with my butt on show for anyone who cared to look and no one said anything. To add more misery to the situation, our son had seen and told his dad but Danny did not get around to telling me. It seems that the problem was rectified by the time he got around to it. We all had a good laugh over it later but it was truly one of my most embarrassing moments.

images.duckduckgo.comFirst, I suppose I should explain how my cat, Mouse, got his name. Mouse was a blue and white, straight-eared Scottish Fold and when he was a kitten, he looked like a mouse with his coloring, little pink nose and big ears. His actual name was Mouse-Mouse. I got him from a breeder and never changed his name. Anyway, Mouse was small even as a full grown cat but very sturdy with a round head. Somehow, he got his head stuck between two of the chair back spindles. He howled and howled. I was puzzled and a bit panicked by the situation because it was obvious his head was too big to pull out from between the spindles. I tried and tried but could not figure out how to get his head out. Finally, it occurred to me that he got his head in there so I should be able to get it out the same way, but how was that? Duh, I finally turned his head sideways stretching out his neck and eased it out through the largest opening. Problem solved.

images.duckduckgo.comFor Christmas one year, our young teenage daughter bought us tickets to Handel’s Messiah at Jones Music Hall in downtown Houston. We were very touched by her thoughtfulness but a little puzzled by her choice.” After we attended the concert, we told her that we enjoyed the music. She responded, “I thought you would because of Dad’s playing hand bells.” Danny and I were confused for a moment, then started laughing. Danny said, “It was Handel’s Messiah, not hand bell Messiah.” She said, “Oh” and started laughing at her mistake.

Laughter is the best medicine!

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Step-mother-ing Part Two

2hearts     When we got engaged, Danny and I felt strongly that the wedding should be formal, in a church, and have the kids included in the ceremony. We wanted them to understand that this marriage and joining of family was a serious commitment for all of us. It was a beautiful wedding on Valentine’s Day in red and white and the reception was in a historical community center with a DJ and fajita buffet. Danny wore socks that his ex had given him and boxers that I bought him, complete with hearts, and I wore red shoes. I have never been jealous of his ex with regard to their relationship so though I shook my head at his lack of concern, the socks represented his observance of Valentine’s Day. Our son, the best man, gave a toast saying that he was glad I was in his dad’s life because it made him in a better mood. He was 17 at the time.

13778409-graduate-girl-cartoon     I set an example by getting an Associates Degree, having a home free of alcohol, attending church and maintaining a good work ethic. If that was all they needed, it would have been easy, but I couldn’t control the world outside our home or what had come before my appearance on the scene. To add to the challenges, I had no clue as to how to be a good mother or even a mother. I thought that my commitment to their well being would be enough. Our son went through some serious problems but has his own family now and is a devoted husband and father with a good work ethic. Our youngest daughter graduated from college with3363355-graduation-diploma-shallow-depth-of-field a high GPA and is a good wife and mother of 2 twin toddlers of 2 years old, a 4 month old baby and a teenage step-daughter. She handles it well because she is organized and keeps everyone on a schedule. Our oldest daughter is going through a difficult time but is working to repair the damage done to her life by choices she has made. Problems the other two children went through were obvious but not with this child. She was quiet and shy and the other two were getting most of the 6501912-portrait-of-sad-lonely-girl-with-umbrella-outdoorsattention with their acting out and getting into trouble. As an adult, she is struggling to come to terms with feelings she has repressed all these years. Though I have always tried to be there for her, it was not enough and that makes me sad. Could I have done better? In some ways yes, however, I wasn’t the problem. As a result, damage has been done by her actions and she doesn’t seem to understand that you can’t just say “I’m sorry” and make it all go away. When trust has been lost, hard work has to be done to gain it back. She is on the right track and has a lot of support.

      I have always reminded myself that the children were in Danny’s life before me but I still struggle with my need to be #1 in his life. I have never asked him to betray his children for my sake but his sense of fairness seems skewed to me.  What piper2_17245_smhappened to the words “forsaking all others” spoken in our marriage vows? Of course, I don’t ask him to forsake his children or anyone else, my point is that as an adult and his wife, I should be his partner not treated as one of his children. That being said, he is an awesome husband, father and grandfather. His grandchildren follow him around like he’s the pied piper and each child feels special in his eyes. The problem, as I see it, is the children tattling to their dad about any disagreement they have with me. I have told them he is not my “daddy” so they need to talk things out with me when we don’t agree. When they have come to him, Danny has felt the need to mediate which sets up a resentment, at least on my part. I have always left the door of communication open which works in theory but not always in reality. I do understand that he is afraid of losing their love and I am afraid of losing his. My solution to the problem is to step back from my involvement with the kids, letting Danny and their mother take the reins without my interference. This solution has been great for me because I have more peace in my life.

22673131-child-with-gift-box-near-white-christmas-tree-isolated     One of the nice things about the grandchildren is that there is no step, I am just their NeNe. They are beautiful kids with outgoing personalities and each one is unique. I’m not exactly the fun grandma, I’m the gifting grandma. I love to shop for gifts that that will suit each child hoping to convey that I have paid attention to their individuality. I want to believe that my gift is in gifting. Sometimes I fail but often I am right on the mark. I will not let myself believe that I bought their parents or am buying them because its a personal delight for me. Its sorta like problem-solving and I love problem-solving (as you can tell if you have read my posts).

     Danny and I finally have our house to ourselves and are enjoying it immensely. We are working to prepare ourselves for moving to the mountains where we will only have each other, communication being the key. This has been Danny’s dream for at least half of his life and has become mine. Our families are not happy about it but we need and deserve this. We are happy in our relationship and looking forward to our adventure.

UPDATE

I have been reassured, since this original post, that my sister’s family and my mother are happy for me but jealous that I will be living in ski country. lol

Yep, that's he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.
Yep, that’s he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.

Step-mother-ing – Part One

 

Wicked Stepmother Stigma

    When I took the position as Stepmother, I realized with the position comes stigma. When the word “stepmother” is uttered many people envision “the wicked stepmother”. It doesn’t help that there are always stories in the news about a stepfather or a stepmother or boyfriend or girlfriend of the parent abusing kids, physically and/or sexually. I was told over and over again by my counselor and anyone else who felt it necessary, that I would always be only their stepmother, never their mother. I was offended by these warnings because I never had any intention of trying to take their mother’s place. What I wanted was for us to be a family and for the children to have my love and support. I wanted to help them have the best life possible with Danny and I, giving them a stable, comfortable home base.   

Explanations could be dicey.

    I do, however, refer to our three children as “my” or “our” children because I never wanted them to feel any different. Also, I did not want them to feel they had to make explanations about their parents which could be dicey for them. Even before Danny and I were married, we became a family. Since Danny had custody, I  believe it was because they needed me to fill the void left by their mother’s inability to be in their lives daily. This was evidenced by their behavior once we all decided that it was o.k. for me to sleep in their dad’s room. That move forward did away with the usual arguments over which of the two girls I would sleep with when we spent the weekends together.  A calmness came over the household like this was what they were more accustomed to. It was like having a mother figure rather than Dad’s girlfriend.

 

Day by Day, Month by Month, Year by Year
Day by Day, Month by Month, Year by Year

   While being a stepmother has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, it has also been the most difficult. If you are considering taking it on, be aware that it is a serious commitment. Just loving each other is not enough because I promise you that love will be challenged on a regular basis. When you are a bio-mother, you grow with your children day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year but as a step-mother, you are already in the year by year. Your husband has already developed a relationship with his children as has their mother, and you are just getting started.

 

 IMG_0153    When Danny and I met, we were both coming out of marriages with chemically dependent spouses. Bad timing, you bet, but we got into couple counseling right away because we knew about baggage. When the children and their therapist decided it was time for me to meet them, we had dinner at a restaurant. I was nervous but brought pictures of my cats hoping it would be a good conversation starter and it was. The dinner went well and when we returned to their house, they introduced me to their cat.

 

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     I was asked to join them in family counseling which included their mother. Family counseling went well because we were all on our best behavior but out in the real world, not so much. I did my best though there were problems with their mother. Out of respect for the children and their mother, I will not go into detail. Yet, we were able to come to an understanding about my role in her children’s lives and we still have our moments, but only in the background. As a stepmother, I highly recommend setting aside one’s feelings about the person and respecting her position as the children’s mother. I call the kids’ mother my ex-wife  in-law because there will always be family ties between us. Danny cautioned me early on that, as the children’s mother, she would be in our lives for the rest of our lives. I learned acceptance from her family who encouraged me to be comfortable in their presence, acknowledging my place in Danny and their grand-children’s lives. We often have family events together so that the kids don’t have to do double duty. It depends from event to event, year to year, on how well we are all getting along. We are a blended family made up of high strung individuals and all it takes is one person to say the wrong thing and the shit storm starts. Don’t get me wrong, there is never a free-for-all, again, it is all in the background but drama is always the motivator.

12358046-vector-illustration-of-justice-scales     The hardest thing for me to handle has always been having joined a family already in session. It hasn’t been easy for Danny having to balance his loyalty and attention between his children and his wife and even now after 20 years, it remains a struggle. We didn’t have that alone time that newlyweds need to adjust to living with one another. One would think that having had so much counseling and having dated for three years, we would have had it all down but though we spent most weekends together as a family, I never moved in until we were married.

 

12418478-coraz-n-roto-con-el-rbol-blanco-y-dos-p-jarosContinued in Step-mother-ing Part Two

 

 

Ya Have to Laugh…

     My writing has been pretty heavy lately, so here is some light humor:

     When our daughter was working at a pharmacy as a tech, a really buff guy was in line dressed in his workout clothes. Here’s the thing, he had a stream of toilet paper hanging out of his back waist band. All the girls working in the pharmacy were trying to get each other to tell him, but no one did. She said what made it funnier was that he seemed very cocky but little did he know… Wouldn’t you think at least one of the other customers would have told him?

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11861286-young-shopper-on-the-car-parking     My mom, sister and I are all seriously ADD so when we get together, crazy things can happen. The best part about it is that we can laugh at ourselves and each other. So, one day the three of us were shopping and as I was driving out of the parking lot of Hobby Lobby, I was telling my mother a story about my sister driving through a parking lot the wrong way, when I pointed it out to her she said “It’s o.k., I’m just cutting through.” like that would avoid a head-one collision. Mom and I were laughing and I noticed that my sister wasn’t laughing so I said “Uh-oh, she doesn’t think its funny.” I looked in the rear-view mirror asking, “Are you mad?”. In actuality, she didn’t even hear the story because she wasn’t even in the back seat. I left her in the parking lot when she went to return the basket. We turned around and went back and she was standing where the car had been with her hand on her hip and a fake stern look on her face. We laughed and laughed.

    

Old Man Cactus
Old Man Cactus

     My husband, Danny, has white hair making it easy to find him in a crowd. I went to Texas Road IMG_0554House restaurant to meet him and our daughters for dinner. One inside the restaurant, I walked to where I thoughtI saw his hair which turned out to be a round topped fake cactus with white hair looking spines.  There were a lot of these cacti so it took me a while to actually find him. I can’t help but think about that every time I go to that restaurant.

 

 

    

 

     Our son and daughter-in-law love to tease their kids, especially the middle daughter because she gets so mad. She is a tiny thing and was about 5 at the time. Our son was teasing her and she turned around and said “You are nothing to me.” and turned back and walked off.

    

5b70f2f6b53ba55c8422cdac5a3951f2.th     Recently, our daughter-in-law was teasing the same granddaughter by pretending that the granddaughter’s favorite cat loved my daughter-in-law more than her. The granddaughter got mad and said “She has never even met you.”

 

 

 

     Our 3 year old grandson was spending the weekend with us and Danny said something to him and the grandson walked off saying “Whatever, Bro.”

24933088-cute-gorgeous-boy-standing-on-studio-white-background

 

 images.duckduckgo.com    Our daughter-in-law was talking to a group of our family members about her girlfriend. She said, “She is dating a Mexican!” in a righteous tone of voice. Someone said, “Duh, you are married to a Mexican.” She had the most stupefied look on her face and we have never let her live it down

    

     After a camping trip, my mom woke up and she was squatting next to her neighbor’s house, peeing. I guess some habits are hard to break.

Camping at Williwaw Campground, Portage Valley, Chugach National Forest, Alaska. (MR)


Opossum Photo     My mom who has no fear of creepy animals once heard a possum in the trash. She decided that my sister and I needed to see it because she considered us, “City Girls”. We wanted no part of it and were totally freaked out To get to our bedroom, you had to go down the outside stairs and inside a screened area that had a door with a latch on the outside. There was also a screen door and a wood door to our bedroom (the bedroom was an add-on). Mom said if we didn’t open the door, she was going to put the possum between the wood and screen doors and leave it. Unfortunately for her, the door leading to the outside from the screened in area had latched when it slammed shut so she was locked in. No way were we going to help her to get out. So, I climbed out our bedroom window and went upstairs to get my dad’s help. I made him promise not to let her out until I had climbed back through the bedroom window. He cooperated. Pretty sure she was drunk but it was funny

    

     My ex was drunk one time and when he got home from the grocery store, an egg was broken in a newly purchased carton. Mind you, he was a chemical engineer and highly intelligent and cheap. Determined to save the egg, he gets a bowl and turns the whole carton upside down to pour the broken egg into the bowl with the remaining eggs still in the carton. Needless to say….

9221012-isolated-full-egg-carton-on-white

 

     Once when our son had friends over, Danny heard them laughing hysterically and went to see what was going on. One of our son’s friends who was about 12 and husky/chubby at the time was red faced and pissed. As the story went, the boys were rough housing around on the floor and this boy was bent over. Zeus, the Great Dane thought he looked really enticing and started great_dane_loping_field_ball_ears_forward_cg7p0218004c“humping” him. Poor kid, these boys have been relentless ever after.

 

 

     Zeus got out of the back yard once and the neighborhood kids were trying to help corral him. Zeus ran after the same kid and pulled the kid’s pants down in the middle of the street.

 

    

     When Danny sneezes, he sneezes 5 to 7 times in a row. Once when he was at the grocery store, he had one of his sneezing sessions and he heard someone on the next aisle say “Bless you Danny.” Our neighbor recognized Danny from his sneezing. When he sneezes, people around will most often say “Bless You” and it gets kinda embarrassing when he keeps going and they have to keep blessing him. I usually say something like “This could go on for a while.” or “You might want to wait until the end.” so they can move on.

8073640-pink-face-and-arched-eyebrows-sneezing-illustration

     We went out to eat with my parents for Mom’s birthday recently and I saw on the menu that you eat free on your birthday so I pointed it out and when the waitress came to take our order, told her it was Mom’s birthday. After all was said and done, Mom told the waitress in a low voice “I really didn’t know that my meal would be free because it was my birthday, I am not trying to take advantage.” We all rolled our eyes. When the check came, Mom started saying “Frank, do you need a tip?” and “Now Frank give her a good tip, she was really nice.” and hovering over him the whole time he was paying. I explained to Danny that according to Mom, Frank is a cheap tipper and it embarrasses her. She has a tendency to overcompensate when he isn’t with her for his “cheap” tipping.

 stock-photo-waitress-serving-senior-couple-breakfast-in-hotel-restaurant-207855637   

     A similar story: My dad was transported to a well-renowned hospital in Houston by helicopter. He had contracted pneumonia 200246525-001when he had heart surgery. When he was at the new hospital, he asked a nurse for a box of tissues and added “We will pay for them.” I told him, “You will definitely pay for them Dad, big time.”I guess he didn’t know about hospitals billing the insurance companies $20.00 for a box of tissues. Both my parents had a tendency to go overboard in trying not to take advantage, that was and is a good thing.

    

     Mom called me recently and said “Let me tell you what happened.” She went to China Wok to pick up food to go and said that their door was locked. She said they are never closed when she goes there. Not being one to give up easily and probably craving Chinese, she knocked on the door. A man opened the door just enough to poke his head out and asked if he could help her. She asked, “Are ya’ll open? The door is locked.” The man asked “Are you by any chance looking for China Wok?” and she said she was and he said “China Wok is next door.” and closed the door. As it turns out it was a nude modeling studio and/or massage parlor. She said, “They wouldn’t let me see in!” very indignantly and I just shook my head. Mom has a tendency to be nosy.

dbf93cf7-6241-493a-b704-5b14a9545d93

 

     Once when I worked in commercial property management, the power went out in the high-rise building where our office was 4835692-public-urinal-with-space-for-textlocated. We were also management for the building. One of the executives asked to borrow my cigarette lighter so he could use it to see in the restroom. I was on my way to the restroom also but I deferred to him. When I got into the restroom, it was pitch black but I figured I could feel my way. I am 4’ll” so I almost had to jump up to get onto the toilet. All of a sudden, I panicked thinking “What if I am sitting on a Urinal?”. As it turned out, I was on the handicapped toilet. It didn’t occur to me that Mr. D was in the men’s room so I couldn’t have gone into the wrong restroom.

When my dad was in CCU and the family was camping out in the waiting rooms, I woke up200246525-001 from a deep sleep and headed for the restroom. The hospital was doing construction at the time so I wasn’t real clear as to what was what. I was sitting on the toilet and I looked up and lo and behold, there was a urinal in front of me. Yep, I was in the men’s room. Luckily, it was the middle of the night so traffic was light.

   

7627385-senior-couple-sees-a-therapist-to-cope-with-grief--could-also-be-funeral-director-meeting-with-clien     My roommate was getting married and she was having my dress made by her seamstress. One Saturday, we went to her seamstress’ house for a fitting. We rang the doorbell and a man answered and let us in offering a seat on the sofa. While we were waiting, we noted that there were several other somber looking people sitting around the room. The man said, “I guess you are the Smiths.” My roommate said, “No, I’m Pam and this is Patty! Is Ms. so and so here.” The confusion on the man’s face cleared and he said, “Oh, they live next door.” We were so embarrassed but that wasn’t the end of it. When we got into Ms. so and so’s house and told her what happened in between gales of laughter, she said, “I’m so sorry you did that, they just had a death in the family.

    

Tetsu420full798969 gallery_1_4_8533    Same roommate, our phone rang in the middle of the night. We had been getting obscene calls so like an idiot, I kept asking, “Who is this?” My roommate who had picked up the extension was half asleep and like a bigger idiot kept saying, “It’s Pam.” I would say “No Pam, there is someone else on the line. Who is this?” and she would say, “It’s Pam, Patty. It’s me Pam.” OMG!  She was dating a police officer and told him she wanted a gun. After that, I told him, “If she gets a gun and she shoots me, I want charges filed for murder. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and comes across me, she will surely shoot me because she wakes up stupid!”

Some days you eat the cow and some days the cow eat you!

Funny-Cow-02

Emil

     Emil was my maternal grandfather for whom I feel nothing but pity. He was an alcoholic and a pedophile and I wish I could totally discount him, but I cannot. He was, after all, my mother’s beloved father. Is love blind or do we only see what we need to see?

My grandfather was born in 1900, the year one of the worst storms in history all but wiped out Galveston Island. As this was before hurricanes were named, it has always been referred to as “The 1900 Storm” or “The Great Storm”. Galveston Island is located approximately 50 miles from the town of Alief where my grandfather was born. Could it be a coincidence that his birth and a severe hurricane occurred simultaneously? Could it have been an omen?

Devastation of Galveston Island, Texas

September 8, 1900, hurricane. Texas State Library photo

Historical map with Bohemia proper outlined in pink, Moravia in yellow, and Habsburg Silesia in orange.
Historical map with Bohemia proper outlined in pink, Moravia in yellow, and Habsburg Silesia in orange.

Emil’s family immigrated from Bohemia, now Czechoslavakia. My grandmother, Anna, always told me to never marry a”Bohunk” (slang for Bohemian) and though she never gave me a reason, I think even as a young girl I understood. I don’t have much information on timing but at some point, Grandpa followed his brothers to Galveston Island when they went there to work for the newspaper (he took a job but I cannot recall what it was.) In Galveston, he met Anna and no one still living seems to know how they met or anything about their early marriage. One of Anna’s sisters did often say that my grandmother got pregnant “every time Emil hung his pants on her bedpost”.

Emil and Anna were always poor and lived in a small house with 2 bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was a passageway to the bathroom from the living and remaining bedroom areas so it was the kind of house referred as a “shotgun” house. The house was on stilts, typical of Galveston homes, in order to prevent high water damage. They had five children, all of whom they raised in the little house. In later years he and my uncle had a shrimping business and were very close.

I never felt any love or affection for my grandfather, he just was. I never felt any animosity toward him either because sometimes a child’s mind has a way of protecting them from the truth. Most of the childhoodmemories I have of him are pretty mundane even though we were around him quite a bit. What I remember follows

  • He told me to hold a spoon full of sugar in my mouth to get rid of hiccups.
  • When he passed gas, he said he stepped on a frog.
  • He had rabbits and Beagles, the rabbits became dinner.
  • He once let the grand-kids ride on the running board of his truck and my grandmother yelled at him for it.
  • He helped my father work on cars and other projects.
  • He would sit me on his lap and bite my cheek. I have read that cheek biting is something that pedophiles do for whatever reason.
  • He called me “Pat”, a name for which I have an intense dislike to this day. When people call me “Pat” or ask if I am called “Pat”, there is an unreasonable anger that wells up in me and I have to work to keep it from showing in my tone of voice.

As the story is told, my grandfather lost his mother at an early age and his father never remarried. My great-grandfather was rumored to have been a bit of a tyrant. Two of grandpa’s sisters, in my mother’s opinion, were distant and introverted. Family lore has it that my great-grandfather physically abused my grandfather and Mom suspects that he molested at least some of his daughters. One of my grandfather’s sisters ended up in a mental health facility as a result of a “nervous breakdown”. My mother’s observation of her grandfather is that he was stoic and unfriendly though she was around him very little..

One of my grandfather’s sisters was a constant in my life. She was a very strong and independent woman having the opposite personality from her two sisters. My great-aunt called my grandfather “Brother” and he called her by her last name, “Fenack”. My uncles called her “Aunt Fenack” but the rest of us called her “Aunt Louise”. I asked my mother why Aunt Louise was so different from her sisters and my mother said she thought it was because Aunt Louise married “up” meaning that she married “money”. I’m not sure what happened with her husband since I never met him and never asked. Aunt Louise raised her granddaughter after her daughter was shot and killed by her daughter’s husband who ended up in prison. Aunt Louise was very strict with her granddaughter, parenting possibly learned from her father or possibly because she was afraid her granddaughter would follow in her daughter’s footsteps. Aunt Louise late, late in life married my grandmother’s brother when they were in their 80’s. Aunt Louise had Colin Cancer and would not marry him until after her cancer surgery. When she was cancer-free, they married but the cancer came back. They were in their 90″s and his family had to remove him from the home he and Aunt Louise shared and take him to live with them. Aunt Louise and Uncle Johnny had opposite medical needs; she had to have the house hot and he could not tolerate the heat. Aunt Louise eventually died of colon cancer.

See Continuation in “Emil” Part Two

Picture Credits:

September 8, 1900, hurricane. Texas State Library photo

Description: Historical map of Bohemia (Bohemia proper – pink, Moravia – yellow, Austrian/Bohemian Silesia – orange), Source: German Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon, 1892, Author: Photo made by User:SebastianBreier,  License: Public Domain, because copyright expired

Description: Hotel Galvez and Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, http://www.wyndham.com/property/GLSHG/Images/18122_x1.jpg.

Anna

Anna was my German maternal grandmother in honor of whom I received my middle name “Ann“. I never liked the spelling “A-n-n” and wanted to legally change the spelling to “A-n-n-e” but my grandmother wouldn’t hear of it. She said “You were named after me and by God my name is not Annie.” I could not convince her that “Anne” was not pronounced “Annie” so out of respect to her, I never changed the spelling.

She called a refrigerator a “Fridgidare”, the sink was a “zinc”, and the hide-a-bed was a “do-fold”. She crocheted doilies with those tiny crochet needles and loved to embroidery. When I spent a week with her once, she taught me how to embroider my initial on a handkerchief. I loved that handkerchief. My brother used it for a grease rag when he worked on his bicycle. I cried.

My grandparents lived in Galveston where I was born. They lived in a two bedroom shotgun house on stilts as many houses are built in Galveston to prevent flooding from hurricanes. In a shotgun house, you go through bedrooms to get to another room. For instance, you may go through a bedroom to get to the bathroom or kitchen. In my grandmother’s house, you went through the second bedroom to get from my grandparents bedroom and from the kitchen/living room area to the bathroom. There was no air-conditioning and only a gas heater in the living room. The house was very small. Its hard for me to believe that they raised five children in that house. As I understand it the kids all slept across one bed in the second bedroom. I don’t know how many kids were in the bed at one time but there were three boys and two girls in the family.

I can see my grandmother walking to work at the corner store with her “pocketbook” over her arm and wearing a thin cotton shirtwaist dress with a thin patent leather belt around her large girth. She wore a long black wool coat with large round buttons and a patterned scarf on her head. She was a caregiver for the invalid wife of the store owner in their home above the store. My mother, sister and I would visit the store with my grandmother most likely to collect her pay. I remember looking up at a shelf high up on the wall where there were dolls that to me at the time appeared almost life-size. There was a bride doll that I would look up at wistfully, so pretty in her white dress with lace and pretty veil. My grandmother told me that she would buy me that doll if I would stop sucking my thumb and I ended up as the proud owner of that doll. Looking back I realize that she could ill afford to buy it for me or even have the money taken out of her pay. My grandparents were and always had been very poor. My grandfather was an alcoholic and had difficulty keeping jobs though I was not aware of that as I was growing up.

One of the things that bothered me as a child but I find funny now is that my grandparents cursed, a habit that embarrassed me as I was growing up. My paternal grandmother was very religious and my siblings and I were so paranoid for the two grandmothers to be around each other which didn’t happen very often. We were afraid my maternal grandparents would curse in front of my paternal grandmother. My mother’s family and my father’s family were total opposites so there were no joint family gatherings except for wedding, baby showers and funerals. My mother’s family was German and Czech and loved to party and my father’s family was Church of Christ and there was no partying.

My grandmother would best be described as “jovial“. She laughed a lot. My mother says that my grandmother was just a “big kid”. Mom would tell me stories of the pranks and play fights she and her siblings would get into and I would ask what her mother did when she was aware of their “free-for-alls”. She said her mother was “right in the big middle of it”, throwing eggs right along with them. I can still see her laughing as my mother, aunt and their oldest brother would get into water fights at family gatherings. Some things never change.

After my grandfather died of cancer from smoking hand rolled cigarettes, my grandmother would stay with her sister a lot on her ranch. She loved and was loved by my rancher great-uncle and would help with the cooking and serving of lunch to the men working the cattle. For payment, my great-uncle Kiddo would gift her with a calf that he would eventually slaughter, sell the meat and give her the money. I always thought that arrangement was much kinder to my grandmother than paying her in cash. Once a year, my Aunt Emma and Uncle Kiddo would have a big Texas barbecue on their ranch for the men who helped with the round-up and branding of cattle. They would invite the whole town along with family and friends. There was always so much food since the guests would each bring covered dishes with my uncle furnishing the meat. I always dreaded getting to the meat section of the wooden tables holding the food because there was always an assortment of meat that was not always readily identifiable. There was usually someone serving it up who would tell you what it was but I was embarrassed to ask knowing I wouldn’t be able to hide my grimace. There would be beef, rabbit, pork, goat, rattlesnake and whatever else they could come up with. While it was fun to tell your friends about, I was always afraid that I was going to end up with barbecued rat or some gross thing because these people were fun-loving pranksters.

The band would play Country-Western, German and Bohemian (Czech) music for dancing the Two-Step, Waltz, Polka and Schottische. My mother never really learned the folk dances oddly enough though she was exposed to them when her parents took her and her siblings to the dance halls and bars that were called “beer joints”. Back then it was a family thing for the German and Czech families to go out drinking and dancing. My mother didn’t drink back then because of her father’s alcoholism. She didn’t drink at all until she was in her twenties and married. My aunts and uncles would take their kids to the dance halls so my cousins learned to dance country-western which included the German and Czech folk dances. My mother didn’t take us with her and my father when they went out with friends and relatives. At first they didn’t go because they were heavily involved in my Dad’s family religion that did not believe in dancing or drinking. They began drinking and dancing  when I was about 7 or  8. I don’t think my mother wanted a  repeat of her childhood through her children. I did learn the German inspired dances when I got into Country-Western dancing in my single days. Anyway, the cowboys would always dance with my grandmother and make her laugh, they all loved her. She would tease and laugh with her older grandchildren as well. When I look back, I would have to say she was very child-like in a fun way.

Grandma loved to go to Wresting Matches or watch them on television. She called it “wrastling”. I thought it was really silly when I saw it on television because of their silly costumes. The one that sticks in my mind was a woman dressed like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Grandma also loved to play the card game “Canasta” and later “Bingo”. She played cards with her neighbors which she called by their last name like Faulk or Emby without even a Mr. or Mrs. I remember playing a card game with her and my mom as a young adult and I made a winning play that she didn’t pick up on right away. When she discovered it, she said “Bullshit” and I spewed my ice cream across the table cracking up. Her car was taken away from her because her driving had become so bad that she went the wrong way on a one-way street and hit another car head-on. She ended up in the hospital and cried because she couldn’t play bingo any more. She didn’t play for money, she played for food and proudly won a bottle of ketchup for me to use at her house because she knew I loved ketchup.

As a German, my grandmother expected you to kiss her on the lips and if you turned your cheek, she would playfully slap you and say “Don’t you turn your cheek to me.” We grandchildren weren’t thrilled to kiss her on the mouth because she had these thin, wet lips so you would wipe your mouth off afterward. She always laughed at this which made us laugh. It is one of those things we all bring up when we talk about Grandma.

I don’t remember her as that storybook grandmother who is there when you need a shoulder to cry on. When I was around seven, I became very sick and my mother had to work so she asked my grandmother to take me to the doctor. Not only was I very sick but whenever I smelled the odor of ether at the clinic, I would get dizzy. I laid down in a vinyl straight backed chair with my head in her lap. She never touched me or comforted me in any way. It was like she was being put out by having to take me to the doctor. I wonder if she was tired of raising kids after having five or if it was just the stoic German way. When I talked to my mom about this, she said “Yeah, she never was a very good grandmother.” I never thought of her as not being a good grandmother because she was more affectionate than my paternal grandmother who I distanced myself from somewhat due to her religious expectations.

I sometimes don’t know what to feel about my grandmother Anna. She was married to an alcoholic and pedophile (back then they were called “child molesters”). If she knew and I’m not convinced that she didn’t, she didn’t protect her daughters or her granddaughters. My grandparents called each other “the old man” and “the old lady”. I once asked them to call each other by their first names and they used the old world pronunciations of Anna and Emil, “Ahnna and Ahmeel”

I was the oldest granddaughter and I have apparently blocked my memories of my grandfather molesting me. The safety net of blocking out details was a pattern in my childhood. You see, there were others and the memories begin prior to the act and afterwards but I have no details of the actual act. I can even remember telling my mother about the others but cannot remember the specifics of that conversation. My mother also blocked out details of her life so she can’t tell me what I told her only that I did tell her. Anyway, I remember sleeping on the hide-a-bed with my younger sister one night at my grandparents. My grandfather came in from the beer joint drunk. He sat down on our bed and my grandmother came in and told him to “leave those kids alone” and he told her to go back to bed and she did. I have no memory of what happened after that. My sister and one of my younger cousins both remember details of being molested by my grandfather.

After my grandfather died, a conversation took place between my mother, her sister and my grandmother in my presence. I was in early adulthood and pretty open to discussions of sex. I have no idea what started the conversation but my grandmother said she had never had an orgasm. My mother and aunt were shocked that she would say that especially in front of me. I was a little shocked at her flat tone and her being so matter of fact about it. According to a conversation I had previously with my aunt when she called me drunk one night, my grandfather molested my aunt and she asked to go live with family to get away from him. I don’t know if she told my grandmother but she told my mother who didn’t want to hear it. My mother told me that one of my grandmother’s sisters told my mom before she died that my grandmother said she never knew about his molesting children. I’ve wondered how she found out though I do know that he was arrested for molesting a child though the judge dismissed the charge. I try not to push my mom too hard when it comes to the past because she loved her father so much. The reason none of the granddaughters told their parents about being molested by their grandfather is that we didn’t want to hurt our parents who loved him. Its a whole other story how it came out to my mom but suffice it to say it was not comfortable  even though he and my grandmother were both deceased at the time.

My grandmother broke her hip at an advanced age and when she went into the hospital, whether from being drugged or out of her comfort zone but she lost touch with reality.  sShe ended up in a nursing home and I began to grieve that very day because she was never the same.  Before she died, there was nothing left of the grandma I knew. The last time I saw her alive, she was slumped in a wheelchair drooling and asking if the old man was still in the bathroom. He was a common theme of her ramblings from her telling me about his coming up there on a motor cycle to his bringing balloons that he tied on the bed. I have no idea whether she even knew who I was.

When she went into the nursing home, Anna told my mother and aunt that she wanted me to have her cedar chest. She also told me she wanted me to have the old hand framed picture of her  family. When I look back, I can see that she loved me for all that I did for her which wasn’t enough in my opinion. She treasured the cards from me and kept every one just as I have kept the ones she sent to me. I was going through a box of keepsakes not too long ago and found a $1 bill in a birthday card from her. Until we were young adults, all her grandchildren got a one dollar bill tucked  into a card for our birthdays. We knew it was all she could afford and it meant a lot to us.

I have learned that life is not black and/or white as I once believed but is made up of dark and light colors blended by each of us based on our beliefs, judgements and acceptance or non-acceptance of our life experiences. The result is a shade that colors who and what we are today. Should I throw away all the good memories because of the bad? I choose to love my grandmother’s memory and believe that she did the best she could with the cards she was dealt. There were a lot of factors that went into who she was. With regard to my grandfather, I don’t think I hate him because I don’t normally hate or hold a grudge. I honestly don’t think I feel anything and don’t recall ever having felt anything for him.