Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chapter 17

It was nearing Christmas and I was busy getting ready for the annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Banquet at the church.  The night was a huge success with many visitors in attendance.  Just as I was getting ready to close off the evening one of the ladies stepped up to the front beside me.  I was told that they had a surprise for me.  Two huge boxes filled with wrapped gifts for our family were brought out of a side room and placed in front of me.  I was speechless and the room erupted into laughter when Elizabeth's little voice was heard saying, "Is that ALL for us?"  I barely knew how to say thanks for such an outpouring of love.  It took such a heavy burden off me as I hadn't known what I was going to do about Christmas.

Later that same week there was a knock at the door one evening.  I opened it to find a man holding a big box.  Someone from the area had put our families name into the Eastern Passage Benevolent Society.  The box held everything you would need for a Christmas dinner including a big frozen turkey!  There were also other grocery items packed in it as well.  He then said that there was more and brought in another box filled with candy, hats, mittens, toys and various other treats.  I was again overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of people. 

As our money problems got worse, Gary's wild spending got even more out of control.  Expensive cowboy boots, hats, coats, rare books took up residence in our house while the kids and I went without.  I went for years not having a winter coat or boots.  I had to borrow money from Jessie in one instance so that I could buy myself some much needed underwear!  He came first with everything, even the food.  He would take what he wanted first at the table, then I divided up what was left between the kids and I.  I remember one time that all that was left was a few french fries and 1 hotdog.  I divided it up between the kids then just started cleaning up the kitchen.  Josiah came over to me at the sink and said, "Mommy I'll split my hogdog with you if you want."  I looked into his sweet little face and just hugged him.  I assured him that I was fine and told him to finish his supper.  His love for me just made Gary's lack of love and care more hurtful.  After a while you really start to believe that you don't matter.  Over the years that belief extended to include everyone..I didn't matter to anyone, I was a blob of ugliness just taking up space.

I always drove the kids to and from school each day, including at lunchtime.  I started to realize that while waiting for them I would fall asleep each day.  At first I thought it was because I was just overworked and stressed.  But repeated throat infections finally made the doctor suspicious and he sent me for futher tests.  It came back positive for diabetes!  That was when I remembered an incident from the previous summer.  I had cut my leg really bad on vacation and it had taken 7 months for the thick scab that had formed to fall off!  I was put on pills and finally started to get a little energy back.

One day I was sitting in the car waiting for the kids to get off at lunch when I spotted Josiah coming across the schoolyard towards the car.  Suddenly 3 bigger boys came out of nowhere and started jumping all over him.  I was out of the car and across the schoolyard in a flash.  I grabbed Josiah and put him behind me and then I turned to those boys.  I railed up one side of them and down the other, threatened to go to the principal, their parents and the police if they ever came near my son again.  I then took Josiah and put him in the car beside his sister and started for home.  I was furious!  I looked at him in the rearview mirrow and asked him if he was ok.  He looked at me with his blue eyes huge and said, "Yes".  Then in a small unsure voice he said, "Mom...those boys were my friends!"  I pulled over, turned around and looked at him.  "What do you mean they're you're friends?"  I asked, with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Well, that's how I found myself back on the playground after lunch asking 3 boys to forgive me!  Josiah still to this day teases me about going "all mothery" on those kids!

At the end of that school year Gary decided that he wanted the kids to be homeschooled.  That was fine with me.  Looking back I think I was very overprotective of them because of my circumstances, but at the time all I knew is that having them with me all the time would help put my mind at ease knowing they were safe.  I tried to make Gary understand that if I was to teach them then they would need my undivided attention during the day.  This would mean that I couldn't be available at his every back and call.  But this wasn't to be the case.  When he demanded my attention, it was then and right then.  I found it very frustrating to be constantly interrupted.

By this time I was caring for 2 babies.  Ben was 4 months old and his parents were both in the Navy.  His father was at sea for a couple of months at a time and his mother was a cook at the Navy Base.  He arrived at our house at 4:00am each morning.  He didn't usually go back to sleep which meant neither did I as I had to keep him from waking everyone (mainly Gary) up.  Gabby was a sweet little girl I had started babysitting the year before when she was just 2 months old.  She would be dropped off at 8:00am.  I would then get Josiah and Elizabeth up and feed everyone.  School began at 9:00.  I stopped for lunch at 11:45.  Gary was up by this time.  We were back at school at 1:00.  Ben would be picked up at 2:30, school finished at 3:00.  Gary was out the door at 3:45 for work.  I had 5 piano students at this time, one each day at 4:00.  Supper was at 5:00.  Gabby was picked up at 6:00.  Josiah and Elizabeth were in bed at 8:00.  Because we had no money I made my own lessons for 2 kids in 5 subjects.  I worked on these until midnight when Gary got home.  After 4 hours sleep...more or less, depending on Gary's demands, another day would start.  I don't know how I survived with a schedule like this.  It helped that I loved and thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling.  Ben and Gabby were like my own children, I loved them very much, they were like part of the family.  I joined the Nova Scotia Homeschooling Association and was able through them to have Josiah and Elizabeth (and Ben and Gabby) included in organized field-trips with other children from around the Province.  They went to museums, a goat farm where they got to make goat cheese and play with baby goats...they loved that!  They even got to go horseback riding a couple of times.

One thing bothered Josiah however, and that was that they didn't get any storm days!  One day he was complaining about having to do school while their friends got the day off.  I turned to him and said "You can have a storm-day...,"  his eyes lit up..."When you can't make it down the hall because of the snowdrifts!"  The smile left his face and he walked away.  He never bothered me about a storm-day again.  I did however once a month have a "Teacher Day", when they didn't have school...I just got a break!  We also had "pajama days".  I would even put Ben and Gabby in pj's for the day and they'd all "do" school, they loved it.  Gabby's parents got her a little backpack and a scribbler and crayons for "school".  She loved to bring her paper up to me during class to be graded and a sticker put on in.  She always wanted "homework" and was so excited to turn it in each day.  She learned her letter and numbers with me;  she was so cute.

Gary allowed me to join Weight Watchers with Jessie and some other people from church when they offered to pay my way.  I did good and within 5 months had lost 40 lbs.  But when people started noticing and commenting on how good I was looking I panicked.  I didn't want attention, I didn't want to start looking pretty.  It brought the potential for getting hurt by others back.  Plus the sexual abuse was increasing in frequency and intensity and it just wasn't worth it to feel better.  I quit and before long the weight came back on.

Even today I panic when I start to lose weight.  I feel safe from unwanted attention.  Who is going to like someone who looks like me?  Women who are stalked or raped are pretty.  It's a very difficult battle.

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    1. Thank you Sally for your comments, they have been an encouragement!

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