Saturday, January 24, 2015
Early Years, from Memoir KIDNAPPED TWICE
In the summers at the Lake, my job every evening was to pick up all the papers that the swimmers had left behind. Grandpa made me a stick with nails on the bottom for me to use, and I had a bucket to put the trash in. I loved doing this every day. After that, my cousin Linda Mae and I would crawl under the snack bar porch, which had spaces between boards…when people dropped their change, it would sometimes fall under the porch, where we would collect it.
At just the right time in early evening, I would sit on the swing and watch the sunlight sparkle on the Lake. I loved that beautiful time back then, and I still love seeing that sparkle even now. I think the memory of that time is why I love sparkling objects so much. Those were such wonderful years in my life. I often think that the Lord gave me those early years so that I would be able to get through the ones that were to come.
My cousin Linda Mae will be shocked when she reads what happened after my father married Ann. I never told Linda Mae, but I missed her so much, as I didn’t get to see her a lot after our move to the new house. Her mother and Ann would talk every once in a while, so I never told Linda Mae anything, for fear that she would share it with her mother who might in turn tell Ann.
MEMORIAL DAY AND THE LAKE
Memorial Day weekend was always a happy time when I was with my grandmother and grandfather. Almost all the people who rented cottages would come up for that weekend. I would get to see all of my friends. When we moved to our cottage for the summer, I got to sleep in a screened-in porch. I loved sleeping in the porch, as there was a big maple tree right in front. There was always a breeze, and the leaves would be rustling, which became one of the favorite things in my life. In fact, almost all of my favorite things were acquired from that time of my life. Only certain of the wildlife came after that.
I often wonder how my grandparents’ children grew up in that wonderful place without loving it. I know my Aunt Jennie loved it, but not the others. Maybe they all needed some tough love. Maybe a kidnapping or a lot of beatings and hurtful words thrown their way in their childhoods would have made a difference. Maybe they needed to know what it is like to live in fear every day. They lost the entire Lake property, which angers me and my cousin. We both miss it.
It is interesting that two of my Aunt Jennie’s daughters built houses by the Lake. They are on the other side of the Lake from us. My father bought a house by the Lake, one road up. Both my cousin and I wish we had.
THE STEPMOTHER, ANN
Then came Ann!
I must have been five or six years old when my father started dating this woman, Ann, who had a son, Norman, who was approximately a year younger than I was. Ann was about 6 feet tall, with a solid build, and fairly attractive. As time went on– considering the unpleasant trio of her son, her mother, and herself– knew I was in big trouble. When my father asked me if I was OK with his marrying her, I said, “Please, no!”
They got married despite my wishes, and they built a house in a small town in New York.
The first thing my stepmother, Ann, did after we moved into our Cornwall house was to get rid of my Boxer dog, Buster, my bodyguard. After my father brought me back to New York State, Buster and I had been together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m sure that Ann knew that she could never do to me the things she had in mind if I had Buster at my side.
The second thing Ann arranged to do was to cut my long blonde hair off. Before this, my grandmother would make spiral curls with my long hair. I cried a long time over Ann’s having cut my hair.
I often wondered where my father had met Ann. I can’t think that it was anywhere but a bar! Looking back, knowing my father’s third wife, Anita, I cannot think of one thing that Ann and Anita had in common. Anita is a very kind, loving person.
One of the most humiliating things Ann made me do was to take baths with her son. Norman was only one year younger than I was. It was very embarrassing, and I also walked around every day worried about whether I could become pregnant just from taking baths with this boy. Finally, I asked the school nurse if that could happen. The nurse told me it could not.
The incident (described below) on the school grounds, where Ann punched me several times, had already happened, so the nurse promised me she would never tell anyone about our conversation about my possibly becoming pregnant from taking baths with Ann’s son. The nurse kept her word.
These ugly incidents happened in one form or another day after day, so it would be redundant to tell about all of them.
Daily, Ann would call me terrible names. The problem with being called such names and with being abused in one form or another every day is that it led me to be living my life not thinking well of myself. For example, I had the gift of a fine singing voice, but I was afraid to sing in front of people because I thought I was not good enough, and therefore I did not continue. I never thought I was pretty. Because of this daily abuse, even if I had been Miss America, I still would not have believed that I was pretty.
This is where I want to express my opinion on abuse. When I hear the experts say that an abused child will in most cases then become an abuser, I reject that. Having been abused, I found it quite easy not to abuse my son. Why would I want my child to feel what I had felt? Why would parents want to hurt their own children or any child?
Having had a drinker for a father, I also do not want to become an alcoholic or drink at all! Why would I want to become a drinker and make that my legacy for my son and grandchildren?
We keep the circle of abuse going from each generation to the next. We must stop, rather than continue making excuses. And that’s what they are: excuses, not reasons.
Let’s not leave out the animals. People who abuse animals are toxic and evil people also!
We are serializing KIDNAPPED TWICE by Mary E. Seaman and me. This memoir shows how the abuse of Mary as a child warped the rest of her life. She has only recently made significant progress in overcoming it. The book is available through Amazon and other on-line retailers and from its publisher, Outskirts Press.
My writing-coaching-editing site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.