The Room

•June 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

As I have mentioned in prior posts, Bill lived in an unattached room behind my grandmothers house. The room was attached to the garage, had a full bath and was plenty of room for one person to live in comfortably.

For many years I was never allowed in “the room”. Every evening I would get a treat of a candy bar and/or soda from Bill who I called Daddy Bill. I would  run out the back door to the room and knock on the door. Bill would answer the door by only opening it a crack and would hand me my treat. I remember asking him all time if I could come in and he would say no and tell me maybe some other time. He never let my grandmothers in and I know they had no idea what was behind that door or they would have never let me go in when he finally allowed me inside.

Bill would take me everywhere with him. He never received any mail at the house so we would go to his post office box everyday. He would always get these magazines that were in brown paper wrap. I remember asking him what they were and he would just tell me they were important magazines for adults. After the post office we would go to the liquor store so he could pick up his Coors and I got to pick out my treats from the candy section. From there we might go pick up an ice cream or go to the park to feed the ducks. Occasionally on the weekends Bill would go to these photo shoots that were held at the fair grounds. I remember my great-grandmother saying that he was going to go take pictures of naked women. At my young age I didn’t really know what that meant or how to respond to that. I was so modest as a young girl that I couldn’t imagine why women would want to let strangers take pictures of them. Bill was always taking pictures and home movies wherever we went.

So time passed and as always I went out to the room to get my treat. I asked if I could come in and see the room. I was shocked when he said that I could and he opened the door wide for me to come in. I was so stunned that I just stood there for a moment looking at the door with Bill holding it open with a smile on his face. I remember the first thing I noticed was the smell. It had that smell of a place that was closed up all of the time, a place that never got fresh air. The room was very dim and full of all kinds of stuff. Full of junk that he would buy at thrift stores to the point of what we would classify today as a horder. I remember there being a refrigerator to the right just inside the door with a stove next to it. Just inside the door was a bed, beyond that I remember seeing a picture of him in his Army uniform on the wall directly across from the door. There was a trail to get to the bathroom, TV and the recliner that he sat in. There wasn’t any open floor space to be seen. Once my eyes better adjusted to the dim  lighting from the bright sun outside I really began to look around. I realized that there was also no open wall space because it was completely covered with pornography. Everywhere I looked there were centerfolds on the walls. I remember the feeling of embarrassment washing over me, the feeling of my face getting hot and blushing. I looked away pretending that I hadn’t seen it and trying to process it all.

Bill had finally brought me into the lion’s den. I was in a place that no one else was ever allowed into and no one would ever come to check on me. After all, I was with Daddy Bill and he was a great guy that was like a father to me and he would never hurt a child.

Jumping Off

•June 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

Love her or hate her, Oprah has been one of the most outspoken and informative about the grooming process of child molestation. One thing she always talks about is how the molester builds trust in the child and uses it to control them. This is yet another example of that control.

My grandmothers house was rather large and it had a swamp cooler on the roof. Every year the pads in the cooler would need to be replaced for the upcoming summer and since it was an older cooler there were times during the year that it would need to be looked at. The roof on that house was peaked on the side and the back but was flat toward the front of the house. My step grandfather (Bill) would always do the maintenance and take care of any issues that would come up. Bill would put a ladder up in the backyard and climb up the steep part of the roof to the cooler. At a very young age (7 or 8 yrs old), Bill would make me climb up the ladder and get on the roof with him. Of course I was scared because I knew that one slip would mean an awful fall that I would probably not survive. I would crawl up to the top and straddle the peak while Bill worked on the cooler. Once he was finished he would make me crawl down the other side of the peak to the flat part of the roof. Bill would take my hands and swing me out over the edge of the roof several times until I would start crying. I remember being so scared because I always felt like my hands were going to slip out of his and I would fall unto the sidewalk below. Bill seemed to enjoy this very much and would laugh even harder when I started crying. After we came back down from the roof he would always give me a treat like a candy bar or soda or tell me we would go somewhere fun.

In addition to the roof, there was a playhouse in the backyard that looked more like what many people have in their backyards as storage buildings. It was probably 10 feet high and Bill would put me on the roof and make me jump into his arms. There were times that I was afraid and didn’t want to jump, he would tell me he was going to leave me up there. I remember once that he actually did leave me on the roof for what seemed like hours but I think it was about 20 minutes. I was crying and calling for someone to help me. Bill walked very calmly out of the room that he lived in behind the house and put his arms up and said “you have to jump or you will never get down”. I was crying so hard but finally jumped knowing that he would leave me there alone again if I didn’t. As usual, he hugged me, gave me a treat and sent me back into the house.

I think about this and know that neighbors must have seen him swinging me off the roof but back then (early 70’s) it just wasn’t a big thing and people didn’t get involved in other people’s business.

They say “it takes a village” and this is one of those times that I wish the village would have stepped in.

Scoliosis

•June 1, 2011 • 2 Comments

Since I mentioned that this blog is also about scoliosis I thought I should explain how it is applicable. When I was in 5th grade they began screening for scoliosis in elementary schools. I remember all of us filing into the nurses office by class to be screened. The nurse would ask each of us to bend over at the waist and let our hands hang down with our palms together. The nurse put her hands on each side of our backs to see if there was any curvature of the spine. A common symptom of scoliosis is one side of the back having what I would describe as a hump to it. The nurse would then make some notes and out you would go. The exam took all of a couple of minutes. Nothing was said about the results at the time, they just sent us back to class.

A week or so passed and my grandmothers received a letter in the mail saying that I needed to have a more through exam. Needless to say, my grandmothers freaked out. No one had ever heard of scoliosis at that time and it wasn’t in my grandmothers medical encyclopedia. What was in her encyclopedia was multiple sclerosis and she was absolutely positive that I was going to die. My grandmother called my mom and i’m sure my mom assured her a was not going to die. So began the process of everyone becoming educated on scoliosis. It’s worth mentioning that I was the only one in the entire school that was diagnosed with scoliosis. Lucky me!

My mom took me to a scoliosis doctor at Loma Linda Medical Center. After more x-rays than I could count, it was confirmed that I had scoliosis. The doctor said I had a pretty severe curve and immediately scheduled me to get fitted for a Milwaukee Brace. They made a cast of my torso and used that to make the brace. When I first saw my new brace, I was shocked that I had to wear that thing. It was terribly hot and uncomfortable and I had to wear it 23 hours per day. I could take it off to bath and do the exercises they gave me. The set of exercises were to be done twice per day and was meant to strengthen my back.

I remember when I first started wearing it to school everyone made fun of me. I was called all kinds of names and I just wanted to crawl under a rock. The brace would rub holes in my clothes and nothing that I tried on fit well. My hair in the back would get caught in the brace and it would pull it out. After a few months I was left with a section in the back of my head where there was either no hair or it was all different lengths from being broken off.

I very quickly developed thick skin against the name calling, torment and stares that I received at school and out in public. I don’t remember every crying in front of anyone but I remember fighting the tears back plenty of times. In the end, the brace was ineffective for my type of scoliosis and at the age of 15 I had major back surgery to place Herrington Rods in my back to stop the curve from progressing to the point of shortening my life span.  Scoliosis was just one more thing that I had to learn to handle without letting it break me down.

Evil Ducks

•May 27, 2011 • 4 Comments

Last weekend I was cycling around a very popular lake in Dallas. There is a grassy area next to the lake where many geese and ducks tend to congregate. I’m not fond of ducks and I am especially not fond of geese. Geese are big and aggressive and they just don’t like me. As a matter of fact, they usually chase me.

I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with anything. I’ve always found it interesting how very random sights, sounds and smells can bring back memories. This is a memory of a time when I was 6 years old or younger. My grandmothers (I called my great-grandmother “mama” , my grandmother by her first name “Bernadine”) and my step grandfather (Bill) would take me to feed the ducks when I was a child. We would pack a picnic lunch and drive to the day old bakery to buy bags and bags of bread to feed the ducks at the park. On the way to the park we would tear all of the bread into little pieces and put it back in the bags. When we got to the park we were ready for business. Being the age that I was I couldn’t wait to get out of the car with my bread and start throwing it to the ducks watching more and more of them gathering around me. It didn’t occur to me that if I kept dropping the bread at my feet that the ducks would continue to fight to get closer and closer to me. So here I am a very small child and these ducks and geese are fighting and crawling all over each other to get to the bread at my feet. I remember some of the geese were as tall or taller than I was. At some point I looked up and realized that probably 40 or more ducks were after one thing….the bread that was in my hands. I started crying and looked at Mama, she told me to “throw the bread out”. I could barely hear her over the very excited ducks. Again, she is telling me to “throw the bread out”. So I did what she said and grabbed the bottom of the bag and dumped the contents on my feet. As you can imagine, a feeding frenzy began with me in the middle of the main course.

It’s funny how adults find dumb things that children do very funny even when the child is crying. I will admit that if I were to see the same thing happen today that I would probably laugh as well. After the laughing ended, Bill waded through the sea of ducks and geese, picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. He carried me back to the car where Mama explained to me that she was telling me to throw the bread out away from me so the ducks wouldn’t get so close. Well that sure made a lot of sense after the fact.

Bill coming out to rescue me from the evil ducks was the beginning of creating the trust that would be used against me the rest of my childhood. It turns out that he was a master of control and so began the grooming of me as his victim.

Hello World!

•May 26, 2011 • 3 Comments

I have considered writing a blog for sometime. Actually, it started with the thought of writing a book as i’ve always said “my life should be made into a Lifetime movie”. I thought it might be best to start with a blog and see what happens.

I don’t claim to be a great writer. I’m sure this will become very apparent as you read on. I am probably a much better oral storyteller but I think that writing allows for more time and reflection.

I’m sure I will change the look and feel many times over until I get the hang of this. All comments and recommendations are appreciated.

The purpose of this blog is to tell the story that made me who I am. I don’t want this to be a massive stream of consciousness that overwhelms you or I. My plan is to write memories as they come. They will not necessarily be in chronological order, just thoughts and visions as they come that day.