Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 23, 2009 Chapters:  ...25 26 -27- 28... 


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Valerie's sister Colleen, lives in a fantasy world

A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind

Colleen's World

by S. Pumpkin


Colleen is special. She is 8 years old but has the mental capability of a 3 or 4 year old. Although examined by numberous psychiatrists, no one can tell he mother what is wrong with her.

Background
Valerie is the second eldest of 5 girls. She has been sexually and verbally abused as far back as she can remember. No one believes her when she tries to seek help. She shows signs of severe psychol

“She is the mother I never had, she is the sister everybody would want.  She is the Friend that everybody deserves.  I don’t know a better person.” 
Oprah Winfrey


 


I woke late, well after ten o’clock. I dressed quickly, went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. I saw mom at the dining room table, completely immersed in balancing her checkbook. Oblivious to my presence, I sat at the other end of the table and quietly watched as her expression changed from frustration to despair.

Although both Mom and Daddy worked, money was often an issue. House payments, a new car, food and clothing for five children, and paying for new living room furniture left little at the end of the month for extras. However, the physical aspect of our life was comfortable. Mom always found money for dance lessons for the twins, a new pair of shoes for Teresa, and a tube of Pretty in Pink lipstick for me. The one thing money could not help was Colleen.

At eight, Colleen could not count past five. Her verbal skills were excellent, but her communication skills were almost non-existent. She seemed to understand little of what anyone said, but spoke eloquent gibberish that was quite fascinating.

Occasionally her comments were lucid, but in general, she lived in her own private world that did not include any of us.

Colleen’s imagination had no boundaries. She was always busy making things from odd bits and pieces of what we saw as nothing more than junk. Using paper clips, string, and tiny pieces of wood, she created the most incredible mobiles. They were perfectly balanced and quite beautiful. She twisted the paper clips around pencils, dipped the string in food coloring, and carved the wood into perfectly shaped circles, squares, and triangles. Colleen spent hours in the garage creating her mobiles. No less than five hung from the ceiling of each room of the house.

One day Colleen heard Daddy in the shower singing Clementine. The song was a familiar one that we had all heard a hundred times before and Colleen became obsessed with the line, ‘she wore boxes without topses, they were shoes for Clementine’.

She immediately began wearing empty Kleenex boxes over her shoes. To keep them in place she wrapped scotch tape around the box, often using an entire roll for each foot. Not wanting to discourage Colleen’s creativity, Mom kept a hefty supply of Kleenex and scotch tape in the hall closet.

Despite Daddy bringing home five newborn puppies, Colleen was not content. She wanted her own puppy, and after spending thirty minutes in the garage with a hammer, a nail, a paintbrush, a small can of black paint, and a long piece of string she emerged with her new pet dog. She painted a smiley face on the shingle and nailed a three-foot length of string in the center.

It was not uncommon to see Colleen happily walking around the neighborhood wearing Kleenex boxes on her feet, and taking Sue Boy, her shingle on a string, for a walk.
I loved Colleen very much and like Mom, hoped someday she would wake up and be normal, but I also envied her. Despite her strange behavior, Colleen seemed to be the only one in the family that was truly happy.


Earned A Seal Of Quality


Valerie loves her sister Colleen very much but also envies that she lives in a fantasy world void of all the ugliness Valerie is forced to deal with every day. Valerie's mother and sisters also live in a self-made fantacy world called denial. Valerie's understanding of her sister's mental problems is unique for someone her age. She often goes with her mother to the psychiatrist's office and is familiar with what she calls "psycho-babble". Valerie is very protective of her sister and sees the beauty behind her odd behavior.
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