|Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 27, 2009||Chapters:||...30 31 -32- 33...|
Valerie is sent away to live with relatives.
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
by S. Pumpkin
Sexually abused as a child and young adolescent, Valerie's constant compaints are met with complete denial. Finally, tired of listening to Valerie's daily rants, her parents send her to live with rel
Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.
Mom was outside working in the garden. I sat on the porch watching her magically transform each rose bush into a beautiful work of art. She painstakingly clipped each dry, dead stem, allowing more room for the tiny, new, green shoots to grow.
It was remarkably relaxing just watching her move slowly from one rose bush to the next, repeating the process on each, as if she were doing it for the first time.
I had not thought about it before, but looking at Mom kneeling on the ground, I realized she was an incredibly beautiful woman. My hatred of her had blinded me to her gentle beauty. In my mind's eye, I had always seen her as an ugly old hag, when in reality she was really quite stunning.
Her blonde hair came from a bottle but against her flawless porcelain skin, it appeared natural. Mom seldom wore makeup. The natural rose blush on her cheeks and her perfectly shaped lips accented her charming soft cleft chin. She had sky blue eyes that occasionally appeared grey in the early morning hours. She seemed taller than her five-foot-six-inch height. And, despite giving birth to six children, she still had the figure of a twenty-year-old.
Mom was an only child. Born in Northern Calgary in 1922 she had an ideal childhood. Her father was a strong-willed, yet kind man. He died of a heart attack when she was thirteen-years-old.
She was devastated.
Although it was more than twenty-seven years since his death, Mom still cried when she spoke of him. Her mother was a well-educated woman who served as a nurse in France during World War 1. Unlike most women of her time, my grandmother didn't marry until her late forties. She died of ovarian cancer in 1943, two years before I was born.
Staring at Mom, I wondered if she realized how beautiful she was. She was meticulous in her personal hygiene, almost robotic. She washed her face twice a day, applied cold cream to her cheeks and neck both morning and night, brushed her hair 100 times and brushed her teeth three times a day. Yet she seemed oblivious of her own beauty.
I got up from the porch and went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. Wrong move! Daddy was sitting at the table. I wanted to turn back and walk out of the kitchen, but it was too late. He had already seen me.
"Think you're hot shit don't you?" he asked pointedly.
I had no idea what he was referring to.
When I didn't answer he repeated the question.
I was not in the mood for his stupid game but to avoid an altercation I simply answered, "No, I don't."
Daddy grinned and said. "Your Mom and I have made a decision. We are tired of your tantrums and ridiculous accusations, so we think it would be a good idea for you to go live with your cousins in Vancouver."
Completely caught off guard I said, "I'm not going anywhere!"
Standing behind me, I heard Mom say, "Valerie, we think this is the best for everyone."
I turned around to face Mom. The beautiful woman I had just been secretly admiring in the garden was gone; the old ugly hag had returned.
"You can't send me away," I protested. "You can't make me. I won't go!"
However, my resolve came to nothing. Within two days, I was on a bus to Vancouver with two suitcases containing all my worldly possessions. It had all happened so fast I had had little time to think about the positive side to leaving home.
My sisters were my primary concern, but the realization that I had finally escaped the insanity in my family life began to sink in.
Auntie Bea and my cousins welcomed me into their home with open arms.
Throughout my childhood, Teresa and I had spent a month every summer in Vancouver and, I had fond memories of our visits. Despite being a devout catholic, Auntie Bea had been married three times. Her first husband, Blair, was the father of Moira, her first child. Husband number two, Kennedy, was the father of Luisa, Jimmy and Padraic. Uncle Bill, her current husband, was the father of Kathleen and little Bill.
Auntie Bea wanted me to attend a local Catholic school, but I refused. Instead, I opted to enroll at a beauty school and learn to be a hairdresser. When I wasn't at school, I spent most of my time alone. I didn't make any friends at school, so I relied on my cousins for companionship. While they were kind to me, they had their own lives to lead and their own friends. I often felt alienated and abandoned when they couldn't be with me.
Thoughts of my father were always with me. I continued to have nightmares and my seizures became more frequent. I explained away the strange bumps and bruises saying I was just clumsy.
I began finding items hidden in my drawer with no recollection of placing them there. As before, I returned the items to their rightful owners, but not always before they had been discovered missing. Convinced I would not be believed, I didn't bother explaining that I had no memory of taking the items. I quickly gained the reputation of being a kleptomaniac.
On several occasions, Auntie Bea criticized me openly for saying terrible things about her brother. Just the mention of Daddy sent me into a rage and I immediately reverted to swearing and throwing things. Once, after another of our frequent arguments, Auntie Bea dragged me by the arm all the way to church. She made me kneel down at the altar and demanded that I beg God for forgiveness. When I refused, she dragged me back home, lecturing me the whole way. She repeatedly warned me that my soul was in mortal jeopardy if I did not repent. Knowing it would infuriate her I said. "I don't believe in God, anyway."
The marvelous look of horror on Auntie Bea's face gave me the courage to elaborate. "God is just a convenient invention for weak people to lean on."
Before she could answer, I continued with my rant."
"I will never understand why people need God to tell them what is right and what is wrong. I certainly don't need the fear of hell to make me be good. As far as I am concerned, the only real hell is the one you, Mom, Daddy, and the rest of my family have created right here on earth."
Feeling very pleased with myself, I stomped out of the room leaving Auntie Bea reaching for her rosary. I had no doubt she would spend the next two hours on her knees, praying for my redemption..
* * *
Insanity comes in many forms. When I moved to Vancouver, I simply traded one form of insanity for another. The only consolation was that Canadian insanity was far more tolerable than what I had left behind.
A year-and-a-half later I decided it was time to go home. I had worn out my welcome and I missed my sisters. My homecoming was quiet and uneventful.
Without bothering to tell my parents of my decision to come home, I arrived late in the afternoon. Holding my suitcase in one hand, I knocked on the front door with the other. When Mom opened the door, I simply smiled and said, "Hi, I'm back."
Earned A Seal Of Quality
My life in Canada can stand alone as a book in itself. However, I felt this period of time was but a small moment in a life filled with constant turmoil, anger, cruelty and very real insanity.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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