Sunday, February 1, 2015
"Every day I woke up scared...." From KIDNAPPED TWICE
MY MOTHER AND ANN MEET
I remembered recently that my real mother, Elaine, did come to see me right after we had moved into the house in Cornwall. That visit was when I was approximately 7 years old. Given that her parents, my maternal grandparents, lived on the other side of the Lake from my paternal grandparents, the Seamans, a distance of a few miles at most, I assume she visited them many times thereafter, although she did not come to see me. Nor did my maternal grandparents participate at all in my growing up. My mother’s sister lived nearby, as well, and she was the mother of Ella, mentioned below.
I know Ann was the only parent at home when my mother came to visit at that time. Surprisingly, Ann allowed my mother to take a walk with me around the block! When my mother asked me how I was, I told her candidly. When we returned to our house, my mother and Ann talked in the kitchen. My mother must have told Ann what I had told her. After my mother left, I got a very severe beating from Ann and another one from my father when he got home!
When I think now about that day, I ask myself why Ann let my mother and I take that walk. Was Ann hoping that I would be kidnapped again? How I wish I had been!
On one occasion, Ann had papers in her hand and started screaming at me that those papers were proof that no one wanted me, that my mother had given me up for one dollar.
Shortly after this, Grandma got very sick and was put in the hospital. I was already being slapped by Ann, dragged around by my hair, pushed down the cellar stairs, and even whipped by my father’s belt. I had to lie facedown across the bed and Ann would stand in the doorway, telling my father he wasn’t hitting me hard enough, so he would hit me harder.
My father was drinking a lot, which was his “legacy” to us for his entire life. When you ask a drinker to tell you why and what and how, he will tell you he doesn’t remember.
On April 9, 1952, my grandmother died. Her spirit came to me and woke me up. She was standing next to my left side with a beautiful glow around her. She told me I would not be able to see and talk to her as we had done before, but she would always be with me, and I would be OK! I started crying, asking her to take me with her and stating that I was not OK. She told me that she loved me, and then she floated up through the ceiling into this beautiful light.
The evening before she died, my grandmother had wanted to see me in the hospital, but I would only stand at the bottom of her bed. I would not go to her side for many reasons: the main one was that Ann was there.
I now think Grandma came to me that special night because she wanted to say goodbye to me and let me know her spirit would always be with me.
When my grandmother was laid out for viewing in the big house after she died, no one wanted to take me to view her. My Aunt Jennie finally did take me. Grandma was in the purple dress that I had picked out for her for her birthday the year before. Strangely, she had lipstick on, and she had never worn lipstick while she was alive. I started screaming that it was not my grandmother. For just a few seconds, I had a ray of hope that they had made a big mistake, and that this really was not my grandmother.
I was only eight years old. The slapping by my stepmother Ann soon became punches to my head and stomach.
I was not allowed to play at lunchtime with the rest of the school kids. There was a line of trees around the playground. One day I took the chance of getting off the bench I was supposed to sit on, and I started playing kickball. The next thing I remember was Ann’s grabbing me, punching my face all the way back to the bench, sitting me down and telling me I would get more of a beating when I got home.
The school nurse came out and took me to her office. She cleaned me up, as my nose and mouth were bleeding. Some people came and took me to my Aunt Jennie’s house, which was only two houses down from the school. They asked me lots of questions about what happens at home. I thought that if I told them they would let me stay with Aunt Jennie.
My father and Ann came, claimed that I was lying, and made me go back with them. I never again told anyone about what was happening to me at home.
Somewhere in this daily life of pain and fear, their daughter, Marlene, was born to my stepmother and my father. It then became my job to take care of her when I got home from school and on weekends. I would walk her in her carriage every day, weather permitting, around the nearby hospital. Every minute I was with her at least I was away from Ann. As my half-sister Marlene grew up, she remembered many good times when I was with her. She would remember things that I did for her and stories I would tell her. She still thinks I’m this wonderful sister who brought her up. Everything I did was not because I was a great sister. I was just trying to survive her mother, my awful stepmother.
I had a stuffed panda bear that I loved and slept with nightly. Ann would take it every night and throw it down the cellar. After they went to sleep, I would sneak down to the cellar and get my bear. To this day I am still afraid of cellars.
Every day I woke up scared, and I went to bed scared. I never remember Ann’s hitting my half-sister, but I do remember my father’s hitting my half-sister once. I will explain that later.
My stepmother and her sister would go shopping every day, no matter what the weather was. In the summer, no matter how hot, I was responsible to take care of my half-sister in the car. One summer day I had changed her diapers so many times that there were no clean ones left. When Ann came back, she took the diaper off my sister, and I held the girl on my lap, at which point she pooped all over me. This remained all over me for hours as Ann laughed and laughed. To this day I hate shopping.
We are serializing on my blog the new memoir, KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abused, by Mary E. Seaman and me, recently published by Outskirts Press, and available from them and from amazon.com and other on-line publishers.
My writing-editing-coaching site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.