Life is a Puzzle

By Katy Curry©

 

Life is a puzzle.  Have you ever felt that way?  You think you are doing things right, then you get comfortable, maybe a little too comfortable.  Before you know it, things are not doing so well!

Take this week, for instance.  I knew we would have just enough money to pay the monthly bills, pick up some Christmas presents (what you get for a thirty-six-year-old son who pretty much gets what he wants is a challenge) and plan a crown rib roast for Christmas Dinner.  All was somewhat good in Curry-Land.

Sunday night the phone sounded off with its normally merry tune, but this time it sounded something ominous, I didn’t want to answer it.  It was son number two.  Lord, give me strength.

“Alloooo,  Moooom.”  Ok who was talking?

“Frank?  Is that you?”  I responded hoping it was a friend with a mouth problem.

“Yeah,  I’mmmmm  shorrry di no get ovvver.”  These sounds only a mother could decipher, I could hear the background music of that TV show The Twilight Zone.

“What on earth is wrong with you?”  I was still in hopes that this new venture into a time of mystery and the unknown would end without too much pain or expense.

“I ha a toof ache, really urts.  Can cloth my mouth.  Gum ith all swollen aroun it.”

Ok, it was time for Rod Serling’s voice over to begin and the climactic music to begin playing.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love my son dearly, but God Bless Him, he has never put money aside unless he wanted to buy a “toy” for one of his hobbies.  He definitely doesn’t have a dentist.)

“Frank, you have got to go to the dentist.  I will make some phone calls.

My dentist called and with my sadly lacking explanation, he decided Frank should come in immediately.  Frank got there before I did and it was worse than the doctor had feared.  There was no time to set him up with an oral surgeon to do it through anesthesia.

The cost of removing the top and bottom molars, the jaw bone they had fused to, replacing the removed jaw bone with cadaver bone, insert drains, cutting away diseased gum tissue was around four thousand dollars.  In my mind, I saw Christmas trees sprout wings and fly off ‘til they were but dots in the distance.  No music this time, just flying Christmas trees leaving the area in droves. No wonder those Christmas trees had flown away so fast.  The standing rib roast shrank and shrank until it disappeared with the best animator’s “POP!)

Doctor Aswan and I talked; he showed more compassion than any man I know.  I shared the tremendous challenges this year had already presented, he then excused himself and went back in his office; shortly, the girl who did the billing called me over while doctor went to work on another patient.

She explained he had brought the bill down to just over thirteen hundred dollars.  I swallowed hard and said, “Go ahead, do what he needs.”

Frank could speak better;  asked me to sit with him.  It was obvious he understood this was a serious situation and that scary things were going to be done to him.  He was not just a little scared.  It if had been me, I would have been shaking in my boots and crying just a little.

The procedure began and just the application of the numbing agent prior to the Novocain was painful to him.  When Dr. Aswan arrived, I took that as a signal to leave.  Much as I love my son, I could not bear to watch what was about to happen.

For the next two and a half hours, I heard him moaning and gurgling in abject agony.  The Novocain was not as effective as all had hoped.  Slowly the teeth came out, in pieces, and with them the fused jaw bone.  Then came the replacement bone, the sewing, the cutting away of dead gum tissue and all that goes into such an operation.  It was done not once but twice!  The same procedure was mirrored on the upper jaw.

Christmas would be a bit more humble this year, but the first Christmas was very, very humble

My “Twilight Zone” experience was perhaps a lesson that was an answer to the puzzle of life.  Don’t forget who is really running things and in all things act in humility and obedience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday Memories (critiques encouraged)

It was my eleventh birthday so I got to pick what was for dinner. As always, I wanted roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, and birthday cake! Mom would make it so well, just the right amount of seasoning. The blood running out would say it was rare to medium rare … perfect. Mom’s mashed potatoes were what we would call ‘smashed’ potatoes today. They were just the best, a little lumpy so you knew they were real, with salt, pepper, milk, butter. She used a smasher, never a mixer. When you added the gravy she would make from the pan drippings it was sheer heaven. When everything was ready, Mom would ring the dinner bell and Fred, my brother, and I would come running.

To get to the dining room from the stairs, you would walk through the living room. In December there was a fire in the fireplace; our dog, Buttons, part boxer part everything else, would be curled up in front of it along with our cat Cindy. When Buttons would see us, her curled tail would thump, but the fire was too comfortable to get up.

Mom always outdid herself on birthday night. She used our best tablecloth, special cloth napkins, even flowers and candles adorned the table. Bowls and platters were placed just so with the various foods, the wonderful scents wafted through the house, Daddy sat in his chair, sharpening the carving knife waiting for everyone to arrive. Mitch Miller would be playing on the stereo.

I had the privilege of saying blessing and took that responsibility very seriously. I beamed when Daddy said; “Very good job, Kathleen.”

While Daddy carved the roast, Mom handed a shot glass filled with blood from the roast to Fred and I. It was a tradition that beef was roasted, some of the “juice” would be syphoned off for each of the children. It was thought the blood would help to grow strong bones. Both of us liked the flavor and were pleased to get it.

The meat was always, tender, juicy, and filled with flavor. Oh, so good. The juice from the meat would fill our mouths and run down our throats, It was like my mouth was in epicurean heaven. I would beg for seconds and thirds.

Once dinner was finished, I helped Mom clear the table and put the dishes in the sink to soak. While I scrapped the dishes, Mom put on a fresh pot of coffee and poured milk for me and Fred. Although I was not allowed to have coffee, I loved that rich scent. She pulled the magnificent cake out of the refrigerator. The white icing was spread so thick with all those wonderful swirls and tips. She got the Neapolitan ice cream out of the freezer and handed it and the scoop to me to bring to the table. She followed with dessert dishes, cups and saucers. I sat down and she went back to retrieve the cake. It took her a bit longer as she set up the birthday candles and lit them. Daddy lifted his camera to get the first picture of the birthday cake.

Everyone sang, I blew the candles trying to get every single one. I usually missed one which caused Fred to start teasing, so he helped. If Daddy missed the shot, we had to pose for another. Candles would be relit and we would blow them out together after the required pushing and shoving. Finally, I made the first slice and the obligatory wish.

There was something silver on the cake, it looked like a ballerina. “What’s this, Mom? It’s so tiny. Is it a new Monopoly piece?”

“No, it’s a reminder that this is a charm cake. Each one of you will find a charm in your slice and you will get a prize based on what charm you get.”

Mom cut and passed out cake with scoops of ice cream. She warned us to be careful; it would not do if we choked or bit the charm in half. As we masticated the cake, we got to better enjoy the flavor and texture of Mom’s baking expertise. Once discovered, charms were wiped off and identified. Always prepared to make a special time better, Mom had grab bag prizes. They were simple dime store items, but fun.

My parents had a way of making my birthdays special; I remember those birthday dinners, the love and family spirit.

Follow up to Moving Furniture

IMAG0038[1]Oh what was intended as a time killer and a poor attempt at humor has changed to something so much more serious.  As my husband has had a turn in his health and ability to get around, moving furniture has now become something closer to making the house safer .  The big dining room table with the glass top must be sold and the tiny two person dinette table will sit in the dining room in it’s place.  The recliner in what I called my “Mom’s den”  will come back into the “guest bedroom” as the treadmill now fills that area.  Better he get his strength back there than having to step down into the garage, deal with boxes and the clutter that comes with a garage that is not as well as the heat and stuffiness of no air conditioning.

Things have taken a far more serious turn as I listen to him breathe, make sure he is breathing.  Afraid to go to bed, afraid he will wake up and decide to get up and fall yet again.  The first fall meant an ambulance and a trip to the hospital that turned into a nightmarish odyssey into a world of  understaffing with a never ending torrent of patients with all manner of needs streaming through door to the point there was no where to even stand and not be in the way.   He was kind of shoved into the corner of a one patient room while the second patient who was dying of lung cancer had a panic stricken episode of being unable to breathe which brought on a heart attack.    After hours and hours of working with that poor man, the nurses were able to move him to ICU, but forgot to give my husband food or water or start his IV (his fall was the result of severe dehydration).  He became so weak he was unable to pull himself up in the bed or turn on one side.

The following day, as his body began to recover from a lack of fluids his reason for dehydration kicked in, IBS.  Well, that was messy.  A well meaning CNA gave him one of those rolling thrones, giving him the feeling he could get out of bed, in his cramped corner while he was hooked to leads for heart, blood pressure, pulse, IV, just a web of tubes and lines.  He had his second fall and this time laid open his forehead and damaged his neck and shoulder.  He would up with 17 stitches, two black eyes, a bruised cheek and a lot of pain.  He was transferred to two more room on two different floors and was sent home Sunday.  Monday he fell again, I was asleep.  At least it was on carpet with carpet over it, good and soft.

So now it is no longer how to move the hutch,which is moved and looks so good, or move the desk, which is in it’s new location so I can be away and still hear everything his does, every breath he takes, it is about keeping him safe.

You know, you never know what life will hand you next.  I had so loved that glass table, now I see it as a threat.  The oversized coffee table that opened up to store the grands toys, another impediment to his safety.  Both go, neither to be missed.

I have to get some sleep, but will he fall yet again?  Will he aspirate his gatorade as he did earlier?

The lesson is be ready.  Life gives us wonderful things and we need to enjoy them, it can also hand us challenges, we must take them all in stride.  I am not doing the in stride part too well right now.

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Katy Curry©

Those boys!  Her foot pressed ever harder on the accelerator while her brow furrowed in anger and frustration.  Tears ran down her cheeks while her mouth was set in a firm grimace.  How could they?  She had worked so hard to make everything perfect!  The leg of lamb, garlic smashed potatoes, asparagus garden salad would have been perfect.  They were her favorite dish; dessert was homemade lemon meringue pie; perfectly browned.    She set the table as beautifully as her mother had taught her and planned everything for a quick and easy clean-up so she could enjoy the day with her family.    It was to have been, should have been HER DAY!  Mother’s Day!

She stood on the brakes and pulled off the road as she realized her rage could make a bad situation worse.  “Get ahold of yourself, Kathy.” She scolded, and then allowed herself to collapse into the steering wheel in a cascade of tears.

She was furious, scared, angry, disappointed, horrified, and hurt and so much more all at once.  She did not know how to react first.  Her son, her youngest, got himself arrested Saturday night.  ARRESTED!  Thrown in jail on a marijuana charge!  His brother had come over to tell his parents.

She and Frank had been sitting in the living room, watching their favorite Saturday night show when their older son had burst in and sat down on the couch, clearly upset.

“Mom, Dad, I have to tell you something.”  JR started.

“What’s wrong, Bud?” Dad sat up straight in his recliner.  “What’s happened?”

“It’s Jackson.  Jack has a problem.    Well, more than a problem, um, he’s in trouble.”  J.R. managed to get out.

He had Mom’s full attention.  “What is the matter with Jackson?  Is he hurt?”

“No, Mom, he’s, he’s, Jackson was arrested and is in jail!   But if we go down we can bail him out, I called and checked.  We can make it all right.  He had a roach, oh sorry, marijuana…”

“I know what a ‘roach’ is, J.R.” Mom said tersely.  “I thought he was at work.”

“Well, yeah, he was, he was delivering a pizza and lit one for the drive, but then he ran a red light and got pulled over,”   Frank explained.  “We just need to pay his bail, and he can get out.  His bond is six hundred dollars so we can bail him out for sixty dollars and get him home!”

She had sat there in disbelief.  Drugs.  Jail. Bond.

Mom reached out her hand as only she could.  “Give me the phone.”  She commanded.  She dialed the non-emergency number for the sheriff’s department and asked for the jail, gave the man her son’s name and asked if he was there.

“Yes ma’am, “responded a bored jailer.  “If you come down to the jail you can bail him out….”

She cut the jailer off, “Can you give him a message for me?  Can you tell him to enjoy his night and he can figure out how to get home because no one will come?  He buttered his bread, and now he can sleep in it.  It is his mess.”  Her voice was tight the fury barely under control.

“Yes Ma’am, I’ll be happy to give him the message!”

She thanked the jailer, got off the phone and pointed at J.R.  “Don’t you dare bail him out!  He can figure his way home, do you hear me?”

“Now, Babe, don’t you think that is a bit harsh?” Frank, Sr. suggested.  “After all, it’s not like he robbed a bank or killed someone.  J.R. and I can go down to the jail in the morning…..”

“I’m going to bed.” She said and walked out of the room, took her shower, her sleeping pill and climbed into bed in a fury of motion.  She had suspected both sons were smoking pot, and it angered and terrified her.  She said one simple prayer that in its own strange way would be answered the next day.  “God, get me through this!”

Mother’s Day dawned, she got up, went to church, left through the back door so no one would have the chance to talk to her, ask where Jackson was, wish her Happy Mother’s Day.  At home, she went through the motions of preparing the Mother’s Day meal, but her heart was no longer in it.  About noon, J.R. walked in and behind him was an exhausted and chastened Jackson with a bouquet of flowers.

“Now Mom, I didn’t bail him out, he was released on his own recognizance.  I just couldn’t leave him to out there; the jail is in the middle of nowhere.  Look, he has flowers for you; you know how you love flowers.”

Mom looked over at Jackson; ice and pain were in her eyes.  “I don’t want those.  I don’t care what you do with them. “

Jackson reacted as if his mom had struck him.  Never had he expected this type of response from his mother.  She was always the one who had fought for him in high school, always the one who spent the extra time to get him to do the homework he tried to hide from her; she had championed him from his earliest memories.   She had always seemed to understand.  Other kids had wanted a Mom like he had.  He got his answer quickly.

“How could you?  Everything I have done for you and you repay me with, with this?  Arrested?  Drugs?  You were brought up in the church!  You were taught right from wrong!  Now you do this?  Get out of my sight!”  Mom was sobbing.

Jackson tripped over a chair as he backed up, struck a second time by the physical blow of her words.  “Mom, I’m sorry,” was all he could say.

Almost hysterical, she grabbed her keys, stormed out of the house, jumped into the car, and taken off.  We join her as she drove maniacally into an undeveloped area where she knew she would not have to watch for people or dogs.

As she sat, sobbing into her steering wheel, beating it with her fist there was a knock on her window.  She looked up, and a sheriff’s deputy parked behind her, light’s flashing.  Oh great, they always show up when you don’t need them.  She wiped her face with her hands and lowered the window.  “Am I doing something wrong, Officer?” she asked.  She had pulled over in a deserted area, so she knew she was not disturbing anyone.

“No ma’am.”  He answered carefully.  “May I see your driver’s license and registration?”

“Oh sure, sure,” she answered; wishing she had not quit smoking as now would be a very good time for a cigarette.

He studied them for a moment and made some notes, then handed them back.  “We got a call from a very concerned family about you, ma’am.  I am glad I found you in one piece.  I need to call this in that you are okay.  Can your family come out and talk to you?  They are pretty upset.”

“THEY are upset?  THEY!”

“Your son told me about what he did.  You know, he isn’t the first kid to get into trouble.  As bad as you feel right now, I can guarantee you he is in worse shape.”

“Oh yeah, I bet.” She answered, bitterly.

“Jackson said you go to church, over at Freedom, right?  My wife and I just started going there.  Good Pastor.”

“Yes, I go to Freedom.  Not that it did my family any good.  What did I do wrong?  What didn’t I do right?”

“You were fine, I am sure.  Kids are kids, Kathy; may I call you Kathy?”

“Sure, that’s my name.” she answered with a ghost of a smile.

“I don’t want to preach, I’m a cop, not a preacher, but something that struck me was something that Jesus said.  He said in Matthew that we should forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven times.  I think that means every time.   What do you think, Kathy?  Did Jackson sin against God or you? “

“Well, both…..”

“You are right there, but his sin against God is between him, and God and his sin against the State of Florida is between him and the State of Florida, right?  So that leaves just him and you.”

Kathy had no words; she just stared at the deputy wondering at the wisdom he had shared.

“Now I don’t mean to overstep here, but my guess is you have had to say you were sorry a few times.  Now your son wants to tell you in the worst way how sorry he is.  Jesus said seventy times seven….  Looks to me like you have a pretty simple decision to make, whether or not to show him, Jesus.”

Kathy stared at the officer as the truth entered her heart.  It was true.  Jesus had already forgiven Jackson.  She knew she had to, not only because of Jesus teaching but because of her love of all of her family.  She needed to forgive all of them as badly as they; especially Jackson needed to hear her forgive him.

Kathy looked over at the Sheriff’s Deputy; “Deputy  … D’Angelo?  Are you a deputy sheriff or an angel here from God?  I want to thank you.  You helped me to realize something I needed to remember.  Thank  you, and God Bless you.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Deputy D’Angelo smiled.  “Now I really have to go, seems there’s a problem that needs handling.  You be safe now.”  He climbed into his patrol car, turned around, and well, where did he go?  Kathy shook her head, wondered if she had just had a conversation with an angel, there was no trace a police car had ever been there.

Kathy put her car in gear, turned around, and drove home.  She walked in the door and Frank Sr. and Jr. and Jackson looked up at her.

“Mom…” Jackson started.  That “Mom” hand stopped him.

“I need to say something to all of you.  I let this get out of perspective and punished all of you for Jackson’s mistake.  Dear, I should have let you finish what you were trying to tell me last night, but I was too angry.  J.R., you did the right thing by getting your brother when he was released this morning.  Jackson, thank you for bringing me flowers, it was very thoughtful.  I know you never meant to spoil Mother’s Day, I know you made a bad choice that you will have to deal with.   I am sorry I was so harsh to you, and I need to ask that you forgive me, that all of you forgive me for behaving so badly.”

Jackson was up and had his mother in a bear hug.  “I am so sorry Mom, so sorry, forgive you?  Please forgive me, I was so stupid….”

J.R. was there to giving his lop-sided grin.  “It’s okay Mom, no harm done.”

Frank Sr. sighed with relief.  “Jackson, where are those flowers you got for your mother, let’s get them in some water.  J.R.; let’s get the water on for the asparagus.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am hungry!”

“Oh, one other thing, I was surprised the police were out looking for me, I didn’t think they did stuff like that.”  Mom commented.

The three men looked at each other confused.

“Babe, we never called the police, why would you think we did?” Frank asked.

“J.R., you know the deputies around here,” Mom said.  “Do you know of Deputy D’Angelo?”

“Uh, no, or he’s new, but there is no D’Angelo that I know of,” J.R. answered.  “Why?”

Mom smiled, she remembered that angry statement she had made as an excuse for her evening prayer.  “My prayer last night was answered in an unusual way.  Now let’s get this meal going so I can love on my family.  Where are Joe and Irene?  Jackson, will you say blessing today with a special thank you for blessings received?”

Jackson gave his huge smile and gave Mom another hug.

The doorbell rang, and Joe, Mom’s eldest son, and his wife, Irene were there.

“Come in!  You’re just in time for dinner!” Frank said as they came in.  “We have had quite a time here.”

“Talk later, food now!”  Jackson said.

Everyone sat down, Jackson prayed, and Mom watched her family and realized what a perfect day it was, because of God’s answer to prayer.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Part of this story is autobiographical.  Jackson (not his real name) continued to have problems with drugs and ‘graduated’ into cocaine.  I only wish I had had that angel when “Jackson” was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of pot and possession of paraphernalia.  The next ten years were to be the most challenging and frustrating Frank and I had ever faced as we struggled to get our son out of the drug scene. 

The following year, on Mother’s Day Eve, sheriff’s deputies showed up at the house to arrest Jackson on a violation of probation from that original drug charge.  I asked them if they knew what Sunday was.  They had forgotten and were somewhat sheepish as they confessed they had forgotten to get cards and flowers for their own moms and wives.  I asked if I guaranteed Jackson would be waiting for them Monday morning, would they let me have him for Mother’s Day.  They agreed.  Jackson was taken into custody that Monday morning.  He called me at work to tell me they were there.  I warned him to be cooperative; his voice shook with nerves and shame.  That will be another story.

 What I can tell you is this.  Love your children where they are.  Don’t sugar coat, don’t try to protect them from consequences of their actions, but don’t turn them out.  Tough love is not kicking them to the curb.  Tough love is loving them through earned consequences and being there to try to provide guidance, reassurance, and most importantly, unconditional love.  They need you, more than you know and more than they will admit.  It was love that brought Jackson back.  Love from God and from his family who never gave up on him. 

Verses referred to:

Matthew 18:21-23 (NIV)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

 

I am Pro-Life and Why

In high school, I wanted to be a nun, a bride of Jesus Christ.  Not just any nun, but a Maryknoll nun.  One who would minister to the poor, bring them the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I loved Jesus, loved my rosary and did not fit in too well with others.  I was unsure of myself and quite shy.  There were stresses at home that added to that.  I graduated high school never having been asked on a date, never attending my Senior Prom, still waiting for that first magical kiss.  I was afraid to tell anyone I wanted to be a nun.  After all, they were smart and I wasn’t.  They expected you to go to college, learn Latin.  No, that was nothing someone like me could do.  So you can see, I had a self-image problem, from the very beginning:  too fat, not pretty enough, not good at sports,  not good at school work, few friends.  I had no idea what kind of future I could have not with a pedigree like that! There she was, no skills, few friends, no social life.  She discovered a place where none of that mattered, where she could just be, she found dance clubs.  Finally, she was not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  The local military base made one club her favorite as was no shortage of handsome young men to dance with, sometimes take her out on a date.  It did not happen often, those dates, but going to those clubs made her feel more like a part of life.

My parents had sent me to secretarial school, but my typing was sad and my shorthand worse.  Before they kicked me out, I dropped out.  I did not want my parents to know that I wasn’t smart enough to do what my mother had no trouble doing.  It seemed better to look the rebellious teenager.  So Mom and Dad got me a job at a local bank.  There too, it seemed I was another square peg in a round hole.  The other tellers only talked to me if the absolutely had to and would make sure I knew I was not part of the group.  Well, I quit.

In the process I did find a place where I fit in, on the discotheque or dance club scene.  Every now and then I would actually have a date.  One Saturday night my date stood me up.  I announced to no one in particular; “Well, I am going out anyway.”   Mom warned me that it wasn’t right, a lone girl going into a bar alone. “ Oh Mom, it isn’t a bar and I know everyone there.  Besides if he shows up I don’t want him to think I didn’t have anything better to do!”    I had no idea how right my mother was, but I had gotten into the habit of arguing and doing the opposite of whatever my parents said.

I headed on out to my favorite club which was a ways from home, but it was near a military base so obviously to an eighteen year old, the best possible place to go.  When I got there I waved to the owner and the bartenders and then saw a young man I had been wanting to know better.    We made small talk for a bit and then he asked if I could run him back to the base so he could grab some more money, he was running light. It was a pretty common thing so I didn’t think much of it.  One had to hold a certain rank to be permitted a car and many of the non-coms just hadn’t been in long enough to make rank.

When we got to the car he reached for my keys,  “I’ll drive,” he said.

“Oh no you don’t,” I said laughing.  “You’ve had too much to drink.  I don’t want my car wrecked!”

SLAP!  The blow landed hard across my face and almost knocked me to the ground.

“I said “I’ll drive!'” he said again, anger edging his voice.  He picked the keys up from where they had fallen out of my hand onto the ground and opened the passenger door for me to get in.  Now, I should have ran immediately back into the club screaming my head off, but at eighteen I was nowhere near as sophisticated or street smart as I thought myself to be.    I got in quietly, afraid to argue more, too naive  to be smart.

He be-bopped around her car and slid into the driver’s seat;   “Boy, you have short legs,” he remarked as he pushed the seat back.  They were not bucket sets so the entire seat slid back.  I did not respond, just looked out the window and wondered if she was going to have a black eye.  I will never forget him trying to joke me into a party mood.

He maneuvered the car out of the parking lot and turned right.   “Wait, the base is left, why did you turn this way?” I was afraid he would hit me again, but was afraid he had forgotten his left from his right.  He wasn’t drunk, he knew exactly what he was doing.

“Oh, just a little something I wanted to show you.” he remarked casually.

I had heard of these tryst spots and did not want to have anything to do with one.  What went on in those spots was something I was not ready for and did not want to learn about.  “I don’t want to see, let’s just go to the base.  I promise I won’t say a word about what happened and you can get another ride back to the bar if you want, I just want to go home.”

“Aw, come on, I promise, nothing will happen, it’s just a nice quiet place, you’d like it.”  He never took his eyes off the road.

I felt  helpless and lost and moved closer to the door wondering if I could just open the door and fall out of the car.  I looked around and didn’t recognize anything and was too afraid to jump from a moving car.  So I stayed put and hoped for the best.  I just wanted to go home.

He stopped in a deserted area facing a swamp that opened eventually onto the Atlantic Ocean.  She was truly lost.  There was no water to see,  just cattails that belied the wetness of the area.  He had driven pretty far in so they were surrounded I couldn’t tell other than by the back of the car which way we had come in.

He reached over and tried to pull me to him.  I resisted.  He chuckled and moved across the bench seat himself and began to try to seduce me with gentle kisses; but those gentle kisses became harsher and angrier as I tried to push him away.

SLAP!  POW!  I saw stars.  The slap had not been too bad but the punch, I had never been hit so hard in my  life.  I was terrified.  I didn’t know what to do next but knew what he planned and what he would do.  So there I was, in the middle of who knew where with a man who had no problem beating me up to get his way.  How far would he go?  How much did I want to get hit?  I stopped, stopped resisting, stop responding in any way.  I just laid there.   This was my  first experience with a man and I was beyond terrified.

After a time, he seemed satisfied and sat up and started the car and drove to the base.  No words were exchanged until he stopped the car in front of his barracks.  “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” he began;  “If I ever want a date with a really nice girl I will call you.”

I just looked straight ahead.  Again I could have called for help, could have told an MP what had happened.  I was still so afraid, and now so ashamed.  Mom had been right;  now I was used.

On the way home, my car started to act up with loud backfires and billows of black smoke.  I   got as far as my girlfriend’s house.  All the lights were out but  the car would go no farther.  The entire family got up.  I scrubbed my face with my hands, put on a smile and asked if I could spend the night.  Once in Deb’s house, I ran upstairs to her bedroom and looked at my panties.  Tthere was the proof of innocence stolen, they were covered in blood.  I screamed  a loud, horrified scream and fell on the bed sobbing.

“Is everything alright?  What is wrong?  Did something happen to you?: Mrs. Rizzi called up the stairs.   Deb ran to the door.

“Everything is fine, she was just a little nervous and then tripped and scared herself.  She is fine,” Deb called down, trying to cover for me.

Mr. Rizzi called my dad to advise where I was.  He shared that he thought something bad may have happened.  Kate had not realized how bad she had looked, pale face, in a state of shock.

The next morning  mom and dad came out to pick me up.  They wanted to see the condition of the car and what it might need.  The car engine had blown up and the men decided there was no point even having it towed home so the appropriate arrangements were made.  I climbed into the back of Dad’s car and  did not utter a word all the way home.  Mom and Dad tried to find out what had happened but I stayed tight lipped.

In in those days, a girl was either good or nice.  A good girl was a virgin, married a nice man and raised children.  A nice girl was the town tramp.  I was no longer a good girl, I was a tramp.  With that in mind I began to act the part in the way I dressed, talked, and acted.

Dad found this out, what I had become when he  was talking to someone who was new to the town.  He started to talked about a town tramp he had heard about who was pretty friendly.  He only knew her first name and had a general description.  As he described her and finally gave the name, her father froze.  The man had described his daughter, Kate down to her name.

Mom and Dad tried to get me into counseling which I refused; they tried to restrict my activities by locking me out if I came in too late or threatening to kick me out.  I would give them a blank stare and say  “If that is what you want.”  I didn’t figure I deserved much else.

Finally I became pregnant.  My parents had no regard for the man I had been dating.  I was in love with him and had daydreams of us raising this child in a land of rainbows and lollipops.  Dad ordered him to marry me.  Well you didn’t order Frank to do anything.  He refused.  I was in such a state of confusion and denial I just sat there.   Dad and Frank had a pretty bad argument and Dad decided I would never marry him.  I was whisked off  out of the country for a very illegal abortion.

He was a real doctor and did a number of abortions for people in the States.  He was all business and never thought about the placement of the equipment.  The vacuum tube ran right next to my face.  As the babe was pulled into pieces as the suction machines do, the tube would vibrate as larger parts of my now  dead baby were pulled through the tube.  I will never forget the sound or the vibrating of that tube. suctioned out.  In the recovery room I cried the tears of a mother who lost her child.  In my mind an entirely new persona was forming.  I had been just a tramp.  Now I was a tramp and a murderess.  I was worse, I had murdered my baby.  What could possibly be lower or more disgusting?

This all took place a few days before Christmas.  When I returned home, I slipped out of the house to return Frank’s Navy sailor shirt and other things to him.  We sat down on the steps at his rooming house and he apologized for everything and said he thought we should get married.  I responded with one sentence; “It’s too late.”  We sat in silence for a while and then I got up and left.  The next night we found ourselves at the house where he rented a room for Christmas Eve.  Mom and Dad were trying to get me to leave the room where Frank was and sit in the dining room with them.  My deviant behavior kicked in and I began to jump up and down as hard as I could.  I refused to stop and the more people told me to the harder and faster I would jump.

I started drinking heavily and had a brush with alcoholism.  I quit drinking for two years but prior to the shock of possible alcoholism; my hard drinking would drown out either what was happening to me or give me the false courage to drive my car into the big oak trees that grew in my neighborhood.  The car would never seem to cooperate as my suicide weapon and sometimes I would scream in frustration and fury.

Even though I stopped drinking, my destructive behavior continued and Mom and Dad finally talked me into seeing a psychologist.  He did not seem very caring or interested so I put on my show face.  I was sent to a  woman but I was having no more of it.  They couldn’t change what was or had been and in my mind they were putting me down, pointing figers at me.  Secular psychiatry offers a hurting person no help, no answers, at least it didn’t for me.  They did not see what I needed.  I needed to have my soul treated first.  They were starting in the wrong place, putting the cart before the horse as it were.  No one realized I still wanted to be a nun, dedicate my life to God, but a murderess, a killer of babies?  I deserved hell and I knew it.

Years went by and she produced another pregnancy, out of wedlock.  I was forced out of the Navy, harassed by the Navy wives, abused by the doctors who would examine me and I found myself back home with Mom and Dad, this time an unwed mother at twenty five.

When I let it be known that the baby’s father was Philippine I was told I had to put it up for adoption.  Besides, it would be better for the baby, what could I possibly offer it, someone like me.  I was loose and a single parent.  I had finally found an obstetrician who treated me with kindness and compassion.  He gave me permission to keep the baby.  Erick’s birth did not fix me.  I was still the tramp who had killed her baby.  I was a good mother or tried to be but I always saw myself as garbage.

I married Bob, a monster.  He beat Erick to a pulp, this made my final failure complete.  I had allowed a monster to beat and possibly permanently damage my child.   The marriage lasted five months.  Again, she was back with her parents, dependent on them as she could not earn a living wage to feed her and her precious son.   He had become her identity, for she had none that she was willing to look at.

As a single parent, I was shunned by married women as a threat to their marriage.  I knew they had nothing to worry about, but evidently they were not secure in their marriage.  I hated them for that and had “fun” with their attitudes and insecurities.  Deep down it hurt so much, but  I was used to it.

I met Frank number 2 and we married and I had two more children.  I asked Jesus to come into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior, to forgive my sins.  Jesus did, I did not.   I lived under the guilt of what had happened so many years ago.  Eventually I lost sight of why Jesus could possibly love or forgive me.   I would reach out to Him – I knew then and know now that he is truth and salvation, but how could I have that I was a  murderess, worse, the murderer of my own baby.

The trials of life continued, my younger sons made  disappointing choices, I buried my parents, suffered merciless nightmares begged God, apologized to Him, became unbelievably defensive.  I was coming undone, not much was mattering any more.  All she could see was baby killer.

One sad night Jesus came to me,  a dream a vision, I can’t say, but He was there.  He dressed me in a white gown and put the most beautiful white veil on my head.  He told me I was pure just as my name, Kathleen meant.  I shook my head and He stopped me;  “You are pure because of My blood.  You are my bride and you are pure with no stain of sin.”  For forty eight years I  had punished myself for that act; longer still for the rape.

Sexual sin, be you the sinner or victim damages you for the rest of your life.  I was that girl, I am now that woman and fir the first time in almost fifty years I am beginning to put that sin, the sins it led to, the guild it caused behind.  I still give praise because Jesus took what was broken and through His love, mended it, mended me.  I am still mending.