Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Marlene, Ann, College" from memoir KIDNAPPED TWICE


Despite my difficult childhood, often being forced to take care of my sister, I love Marlene and she loves me.

For my most recent birthday, Marlene sent me a lovely card, with the following note:

Dear Mary,

I hope your birthday is wonderful! I know I’m really early, but the weeks and months just seem to fly by, and I didn’t want to miss your birthday. Like you in your last card, health issues just seem to go on and I don’t have the energy or want to be depressing, so it is wise just not to get into it.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know how much I have always loved you and how important you were in helping me to be what I am. You’re the mother I never had, the sister I love, the most important person in my life. It doesn’t matter whether we saw each other in person, since we are both hermits. I think of you all the time and hope you are well and happy.

Always know I love you,



I have been thinking about how my sister and I have dealt with the trauma of our childhoods. I was in fear every day because of both Ann and my father. As a grown woman, I have pushed it back as far in my brain as possible and have plowed through for years until now. Marlene has also plowed through, but she has wisely taken medications most of her life to help her deal with all this.

When Marlene went through it, she told everyone what was happening, even though she knew she was going to get hit for telling, every time. When she told me about her life with Ann, I felt she had been much stronger than I had been.

To me, my sister was a brave little girl who has paid dearly through the years for the early mistreatment by our parents. In fact, we both have paid dearly for those years. In many ways, we still are paying.


One thing that I have forgotten to mention is that I did have voice lessons for approximately four years, paid for by my grandfather. As I look back now, I wonder what Ann was thinking. Any time my grandfather wanted to do something good for me, Ann expected him to do the same for both her son, my step-brother Norman, and her daughter, my half-sister, Marlene. That usually would not happen, so she would not let him do things for me. For some reason, though, my voice lessons were OK with her.

There came a time when a movie was being made in a small town north of ours. Ann dressed the three of us up in what she thought were the best clothes we had and drove us to the town with her sister. She had us walk the streets where they were making the movie. Thinking about it now, I wonder: did Ann think, as did Mrs. Callahan, that my voice was so good that someday I would be someone who would be a success and become Ann’s cash cow? Or perhaps she thought that one of us would be picked out of the crowd at the movie scene and help make money for her.

I always felt that Ann married my father because of the wealth my grandparents had succeeded in building in their lives, thinking that wealth would then be passed down to my father and his brother and sisters and their spouses. Who knew how stupid my father and his brother would be with all of the business and land? No one could blame their failures on my Aunt Jennie, but they did!

All the lake-side cottages were furnished by my grandparents. Ann and her sister went out to the Lake and broke into many of them and took whatever they wanted. I am sure that a lot of the people who came every year had some of their own possessions in the cottages, as they had rented the same ones every year.

Ann thought she was marrying into a wealthy family, and she was. Who knew that the children of that wealth would be so stupid and lose it all? Once, there was no mortgage on the property or the business. All they had to do was take care of it and pay taxes. They failed. Stupid, stupid, stupid!


As I entered my senior year in high school, my grandfather wanted me to start applying to a few colleges I would like to attend. All the music teachers and other teachers thought I would be able to get at least a partial scholarship, for singing, to the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

I wanted no part of that. I just wanted to get as far away from New York as possible. I applied to the University of Miami and was accepted. My thoughts at that time were not to go to college to get educated but to get free.

My father and Ann would not let me go, even though they were not paying for it. Once my father objected, my grandfather would not go against his wishes and so would not pay for my college tuition. I have never understood this, as both my half-sister and step-brother got to go to college. Why did my father stop me from going to college? Just another one of those questions that never got answered!

During high school, I was made to work every summer vacation.

My first full-time job was in the meat department at the local Grand Union. I really preferred to work in an office environment, so when such an opportunity came along, I took it. My boss at the Grand Union was very upset that I was leaving and offered me a nice pay raise to stay. I was flattered that he wanted me to stay, but I really wanted to work in an office.

I took a cut in pay to work in the office but made it up within a short period of time. I was living with my Aunt Jennie by this time, so my life was going well, and I was happy. A woman who lived across the street also worked at the same company as I did, and she rode to and from work with me. Unfortunately, within six months that company went out of business. We both found new jobs in the next town and again traveled back and forth together.

We are serializing the memoir Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abandoned,
by Mary E. Seaman and myself. It tells of the abuse she suffered as a child, primarily from her step-mother, and her partial recovery during the next half-century of her life.

My writing-coaching-editing site is

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