Chattahoochee Child, Domestic Abuse, Family, Uncategorized

Domestic Abuse — “A Family Matter”


Dearest Readers:

Below is an excerpt from “Chattahoochee Child.”

A FAMILY MATTER…

Domestic Violence…Domestic Abuse… Regardless what it is called, it is truly a vicious monster. A wild, destructive monster that roars with such anger and turbulence I vowed never to allow it to knock at my door as a grown up. There were times I felt domestic violence knocking at my door, especially whenever Garrett felt threatened by his green eyed monster of jealousy. At times I was horrified of my husband, especially on one occasion when we were fighting most of the day. He was in one of his PTSD rages, shouting at me, raising his fist, threatening, and when his anger got the best of him, he thrust his fist through the doorway of the hall. I jumped back.

“Was that directed at me?” I asked him, rubbing my face.

He smirked. “No. I’d never hit you.”

I raised a manicured finger at him. “If you ever hit me, our marriage will end. IMMEDIATELY. Domestic violence is something I will never forgive.”

Garrett rubbed his fist. “Whatever,” he said, walking away.

In my marriage I was blind sighted to domestic violence. I made excuses. He didn’t mean to swing at me. He didn’t mean to squeeze my arm so tightly, he left a bruise. I smiled at the wrong person. Garrett just doesn’t understand. I LOVE getting attention. He will never hurt me. It’s because he loves me so much… Always forgiving Garrett’s jealous rages, I tolerated his verbal abuse. Excusing his quick, hot temper as another rage from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I apologized for making him angry. Whenever men looked my way, I quickly glanced away. I did not want Garrett to lose his temper, or shout at me. I closed myself inside my home, afraid that if he called and I wasn’t home, he would retaliate with another shouting match.

Domestic violence I knew much about as a child, although at the time it did not have the title of domestic abuse or violence. It was labeled a “family matter…” It’s just the way marriage is… Shunned…Never mentioned. Ignored! As a married woman, never did I consider that my husband might become violent, and on the day that he thrust his fist through the door, I felt the fear that a victim of domestic violence fears and I promised myself that I would not become the next victim.

At the age of five-years-old, I saw domestic violence for the first time. My mother was outside, gossiping with neighborhood women at Joel Chandler Harris Homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I was inside our apartment playing with my doll babies when I heard my daddy shouting, calling in a harsh voice for my mother. I screamed at him, “Daddy, she’s outside talking to the neighbors.”

“Go get her.” My daddy demanded.

I rushed outside. “Mommy. Daddy wants you inside.”

My mother laughed. “He can come get me,” she said. One of the five women she was gossiping with snickered. “Guess you better get inside. Gotta keep the ruler of the house happy!” All of the women roared in unison.

Living in a housing project, the women were not exactly the Donna Reed style of women, dressed in fine clothing and high heels. My mother wore bed room slippers and a dirty housecoat. No makeup or lipstick. Two of the women were dressed in raggedy jeans and T-shirts. Their hair was messy and they smelled like dirty ashtrays. I decided on that date that I would always do my best to look my best – to groom myself like a woman and wear makeup and have my hair styled. Never did I want to be ‘frumpy’ or a plain Jane.

“Mommy,” I said, my voice rising a bit. “Daddy’s gonna get angry.”

The back door closed. My daddy rushed outside, waving his fist, shouting.

“Sa-rah!” He roared. “You get in here now.”

My mother did not move. Daddy rushed to her, grabbing her arm. She pushed away from him and he shoved her, knocking her to the ground where she hit her forehead on the concrete curb. The metal trash cans by her fell over. I saw blood on my mother’s forehead. Daddy grabbed her arm. “You get up…Now.” He barked.

My mother struggled to get up. I reached to help her. I touched her forehead. “Are you, Ok, Mommy?”

I stood between my parents, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, daring my daddy to reach for her again. “Daddy, don’t you ever do that again!”

My mother glared at me. “Hush, child.”

Daddy stomped back inside. Never did he show any concern for my mother. Mommy followed. The women standing nearby snickered amongst themselves and I realized I was the only one who came to my mother’s rescue. No one cared. Domestic violence was a family matter at that time. Everyone looked away, with exception of me.

One of the women turned to move away, whispering something about a family matter while exhaling smoke from her mouth. I didn’t understand her words, but I did know I didn’t like any of these shabbily dressed women, and I hoped that woman would choke on her cigarette smoke. I wanted to shout at them, asking why they didn’t help my mama. After all, I was a small child. Too young to help, too young to have any rights or say-so. I decided these women were nothing but trouble! ‘Poor white trash,’ I thought to myself…’Nothing but white trash!’ I followed the blood trail from my mother’s forehead back to our apartment.

After Mommy got inside, I got her a cold washcloth, placing it on her forehead.

She rested on the tattered sofa of our apartment, blood still pouring from her forehead. I brought her another washcloth.

“Get me a butter knife,” my mama screamed. I rushed to the kitchen. She placed the cold blade of the butter knife on her forehead.

“Don’t cut yourself, Mama. Please. You’re still bleeding.”

“The butter knife will make the swelling go down.”

That night when I said my nightly prayers, I prayed that my mama would be all right, and I ask God to make my daddy stop hitting and knocking my mother around. After my prayers, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow any man to ever hit me, or knock me down, like my daddy knocked my mother down. At the age of five-years-old, I became the referee to my parents.

Ten years later, I served as the referee for the final time… Arriving home from Russell High School in Atlanta, I rushed inside; anxious to tell my parents I had the lead in a play at school. I knocked on my parent’s door. No answer. I rushed to my room. A voice inside my head encouraged me to go back to my parent’s door. I knocked again. I heard the shuffling of feet, and a slap. I opened the door. My mother was standing hunched over, blue in the face, gasping for breath. A handprint was on the side of her face.

“What’s going on in here?” I asked. My mother was getting weaker. I rushed to her side. My dad stood by the bed, cursing and throwing mail at me.

“She’s made all these damned bills. They’re garnishing my wages. I can’t afford this. To Hell with her.”

Moving my mother to a chair, I sat her down and moved closer to my dad. “Don’t you ever hit her again? Do you hear me, Daddy? I’ve watched you over and over again hitting my mother, and I’ve watched her hitting you, but this has got to stop! One of you needs to leave this house and marriage. One of you needs to leave before someone gets killed.”

The next day, I rushed home from school, horrified I would find my parents fighting again. My mother was sitting on the couch with tissues in her hand.

“Is everything all right?” I asked.

My mother threw a tattered pillow in my direction.

“I hope to hell you’re happy now,” she shouted. “Because of you your daddy left me today. It’s all your fault. He’s divorcing me. I hope you’re really proud of yourself, you stupid girl.”

“How is it my fault? Yesterday, he was beating you. You said you hated him. You called him words a child should not say. All I did was make him stop beating you.”

“That ain’t all you said. You told him to leave, and he did. He came home this morning. Packed up his things and moved out. It’s all your fault. You ain’t never to say his name inside this house again. Do you hear me, child? Never! Your daddy is dead. DEAD. Dead. DEAD! It’s all because of you. We’re moving from Atlanta, and I never want to see that bastard again. NEVER!”

“Where are we going, Mama?” I cried, tears rushing down my face.

“We’re moving to Columbus, to the mill village. We’re gonna live with your grandparents now. I hope you’re happy.”

I was heartbroken. I would not get to be in the play, or have the lead. I would not sing on stage. All of my hopes and dreams were vanishing.

Years later, I became an advocate for domestic violence. I was thankful when laws against domestic violence became a crime and I was thankful that I did not have to be the referee between my parents anymore. In their later years, I became their caregiver, serving as a parent to my abusive, cruel parents.

After their divorce, my dad became a new man. Kinder. Happier. Religious and gentle. I received birthday gifts on birthdays and Dad and I bonded as a father and daughter. Never did we discuss domestic abuse. We focused on happy times. The birth of my child. The home Garrett and I bought in South Carolina. Our strong, happy relationship as father and daughter. Before his death in 1999, we were closer than ever. Dad was fun to be around. Never did he show any anger or hostility at my mother. Reborn inside the body and mind of my father was a man easy to love. So different. So kind. So caring.

My mother? Slowly, she became outraged. Violent. Bi-polar. She died a questionable death after suffering a stroke. The one concern from my youngest sister on the day after her death was, and I quote, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

My youngest sister spent the night at the hospital with our mother on the night of her death. Suppose I’ll let this story decide if an autopsy was necessary, although I suspect an autopsy should’ve been completed – to discover the true reason our mother happened to die on the one and only night my youngest sister chose to spend the night at the hospital. Interesting?

And so – now I am developing the poignant story of “Chattahoochee Child.”

Family Matters…Oh how they matter!

Domestic Abuse, Free Writing, Uncategorized

Ray Rice…Let’s Just Say…He Isn’t A Role Model…


Dearest Readers:

Yes, it is a true…everyone has an opinion about Ray Rice. Of course you must know, I have an opinion too and my opinion is this story is about Domestic Violence…from both sides.

In the TMZ video, I noticed Janay Palmer (his fiancee at the time) slaps Ray. This appears to start the fight BEFORE the fight intensified after the elevator door closes. I imagine this video is edited, after all, many of those broadcasting sites have the tendency to report, and I quote, “If it bleeds…it leads…”

As an advocate against domestic violence of any type, I believe Ray Rice is finally getting what he and his wife deserves! Reportedly, Ray Rice has been suspended from the NFL. President Obama has spoken out about the suspension stating and I quote, “…Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football, and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it…”

I am just a bit annoyed at all of these comments. Domestic violence has been happening within the closed doors (or elevators) for generations. Most people have always looked the other way…! “They don’t want to get involved…besides…it is a family matter!” Why is it suddenly coming to the surface, and finally getting the attention of a President — NOW! Because of football???

It is a known fact that domestic violence INCREASES during football season. Maybe it’s the testosterone that gets a man’s blood rushing thru his body while watching his favorite, and violent sport — football! I certainly had opportunities last night to observe this scenario at a football bar and grill locally. Sitting at the bar with a friend while my husband and her husband watched the game, I looked around the bar area. We were the only women sitting at the bar, so it was just a bit easy to listen to these men as they fought over that silly brown ball. During half-time, the discussion of Ray Rice began, so I listened — not to the TV, but to these testosterone overloaded, booze drinking men. Among the words I heard were:

“She got what she deserved…”
“She put herself in a man’s place…”
“Why is the NFL getting involved with a situation between a man and woman who love each other…”

My Julia Sugarbaker demeanor was steaming!

I looked at one guy speaking with another guy. “She started the fight…did you see her slapping at him? She was asking for it.”

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I interrupted. My husband shook his head and mumbled something. I suppose I was embarrassing my husband, but I didn’t care. I had a message to deliver:

“You gentlemen keep saying she got what she deserved. After all…
“She put herself in a man’s place… Obviously, you are not educated about domestic abuse. While I agree that she shouldn’t take a swing at him, she did not deserve to be knocked down. And IF you saw the video, you will notice HE did not knock her down within public settings…He waited until the elevator doors closed…and THEN the swinging, pushing, and knocking her around began…This IS what happens with domestic violence…The perpetrator waits until the doors close, and then he goes after his prey!”

The two men glared at me, along with my husband. I am certain my husband was livid that I was speaking, but this was my moment to voice what domestic violence is! Let’s just say, my husband knows that when I feel a passion about issues, I definitely attempt to voice my concerns, AND, I will not go quietly into the night!

I continued. Much to my surprise, these men were not interrupting me! “You also questioned, and I quote, “Why is the NFL getting involved with a situation between a man and woman who LOVE each other…”

“All of you need to understand, domestic violence is not about love. It is about control…jealousy…anger…outrage…never is it LOVE. A man who loves a woman, and a woman who loves a man, will not swing out at each other, slapping, hitting, shouting and knocking the partner to the ground.”

The two men glared at me again, ordering another beer. I cannot imagine why, but they got extremely quiet, choosing to gulp the beers and watch the beloved football game. I hope and pray the team they wanted to win — LOST!

I have no compassion for Ray Rice, and I have a limited compassion about his wife. Never do I understand why she married him, but that is for her to decide, and I imagine within a few years there will probably be a divorce…when she gets the courage to say — Enough is enough.” Perhaps money was a deciding factor???

Nevertheless, I do hope the scenario between the violence of Ray and Jayna Rice will open the eyes to the reality that domestic violence occurs daily in America. While there are laws regarding domestic violence, http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/ffc/chapter5/chapter5.html, we need shelters, venues and education pertaining to domestic violence. Unfortunately, the State of South Carolina has the highest rate of domestic violence in the nation. My, ain’t we so proud! This state appears to have the tendency to just slap the good ole boy on the wrist while giving him community service, or a night or two in the jail system. Yes, I live in South Carolina — a state — way behind the times!

As for the Rice Family — It is sad that they have a beautiful little girl. Why? Simple. She will grow up observing her parents fighting, sometimes slapping and knocking each other down. I walked in those shoes. Since I served as a referee between my parents when they fought physically and verbally with shouting and boxing matches I fought to end, and I promised myself at the age of five-years-old that I would not treat my family in such a way. It is horrible to watch your parents fighting, shouting, cursing and demonstrating what Love IS NOT! I pray that this precious child will not have to stand between her parents. One thing I did notice in the environment of our home as a child — whenever my parents were around company or family, never did they shout, curse or fight. All of these actions were behind closed doors with exception of when I was five years of age. On that occasion, my dad knocked my mother to the ground — outside, around other women. The other women simply walked away, never saying a word. As for my actions, I stood next to my dad telling him he was a mean man and I never wanted to see him hit my mother again! Never did I SEE him hit her again, but I did see the bruises!

Children need to grow up in a LOVING home, not a home filled with the monster of domestic violence. Regardless, I will still say, Domestic Violence is not LOVE! Love is gentle and kind…not control or violence!

As for Ray Rice, I pray that soon there will be another news story to broadcast, not another tragic story of domestic abuse. Maybe Ray Rice should join another long line — isn’t it called the unemployment line?

ARTICLES, On My Soapbox!

Domestic Violence in South Carolina…Will It EVER END???


Dearest Readers:

Yesterday, I posted a story related to the book I am working on: “Chattahoochee Child.” The post I published yesterday was written months ago, revised a bit yesterday and published. I suppose the articles I am reading lately, a series from the Post and Courier newspaper titled, “Till Death Do Us Part,” http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/ has really hit home with me. Why? Simple. My mother was a victim, along with my father. For years, I watched both of them brutalizing each other…sometimes with their fists, slaps, and most especially, with their toxic tongues. As the second born child, I stood up to them…unafraid of another slap. I said to myself, “So what if Mommy or Daddy slaps me…it isn’t the first time.”

Yes, it is true….I grew up in a household where slaps, angry words, and volatile tempers ruled the nest. Instead of praise, we learned at an early age that violence makes a statement. For me, the violence left me cold and alone. There were many times I hovered inside my closet. I covered myself with clothing so no one could find me. When thunder roared from the heavens, I screamed. When lightning flashed, I curled my body tightly into a fetal position, comforting myself because I was so afraid. Never did I share my fears with anyone. After all, the domestic violence brewing inside our home was a ‘family matter.’ No one else wanted to get involved, and so, I remained in the closet. Alone. Afraid. Horrified, especially when I listened to the shouting voices of my mother and father.

When I started dating, I apologized to my boyfriends…if I was late…if I was too quiet…If I didn’t please the boyfriend. I suppose I had stars in my eyes, wanting to please everyone. I am happy to say, I no longer behave in such a manner. Years later, married for fourteen years, I learned to stand up for myself during a fight with my husband. After he used abusive language, calling me disrespectful names I shall not repeat, I turned towards him…tears dancing inside my eyes, I said, “If you really loved me, you would not disrespect me in such a way. I’m tired of you belittling me. Stop it now!”

Dumbfounded, my husband glared at me, then he did something totally out of character. He apologized?!?

I suppose our marriage took a turn for the better on that date, after I finally found the strength to stand tall and not take his verbal abuse any longer. For years, I was blind-sighted to his verbal abuse. After all, when a child grows up with criticism and abuse, that is the only behaviors she expects as an adult.

Today, our marriage is better…stronger…and when the fits of PTSD escape from my husband’s body language and lips, I find myself speaking a little softer…and much wiser, telling him he needs to apologize to me because I am a worthy, decent and special person. I deserve better. I surprise myself at times — by the courage I have now to stand up and become an advocate for domestic violence…domestic abuse…and verbal abuse. I am so proud that I chose to turn my back on domestic violence and child abuse and not repeat that vicious cycle.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or verbal abuse, please — PLEASE find a way to escape. Read the articles on the website, http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/, a series of seven articles worthy of your time. If you are dating someone who is cruel to you, contact – http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics?gclid=CjwKEAjw4PCfBRCz966N9pvJ4GASJAAEdM_KXkD41t_tfyDkHDeVmXwIwmILULyyF6nBN0_atjBskhoCDFXw_wcB or call 1-866-331-9474, text – “loveis” to 22522.

For women, I found this site — http://www.whbw.org/education/the-stages-of-breaking-away/ — call 1-800-abuse95. Hopefully, if you are a victim, you will have family or friends to turn to. That isn’t always the case. As an advocate against domestic abuse of any type, there have been several times I came to the rescue of a victim. On one occasion, the abuser threatened to hit me, if I didn’t shut my mouth. I moved closer to him, daring him to hit me! Much to my surprise “Brutus” turned away, stopping the abuse. Later, this couple divorced.

I suppose these articles touched me in ways I never anticipated. Perhaps bringing back the memories of how I stood between my parents — serving as their referee from the age of five-years-old until I was fifteen. Yes, it is easier to lock those memories away, but I cannot. I have too much passion to do what I can to stop domestic violence…domestic abuse…or whatever titles the ‘good ole boys’ call it. I do not believe that a woman belongs in the home, or two steps behind a man, and I do not believe that a woman is a man’s property. I detest those types of comments and when I hear them — let’s just say — my Julia Sugarbaker charisma kicks in. Just the other evening someone said something demeaning about women and when I heard it — I stood my ground and let him have it! He called me a feminist. I replied, “Yes…thank you for the compliment. I am a feminist and I am proud to stand tall as a feminist. Any questions?”

Please, if you know someone who is dying inside from domestic violence…do not turn away. Encourage them to get help. If you live in South Carolina — well, let’s just say — our state is still behind the times…antiquated. Let us make some noise to get our legislators to awaken — to end domestic violence…Welcome to the State of South Carolina — Number One in Domestic Violence. My…ain’t we proud?!?

Please love yourself by remembering — to love — you must first love yourself!

1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
(New King James Version)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Uncategorized

Excerpt from “CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD”


Dearest Readers:

Today, while finally gluing my butt to the chair, I am writing again. Today, I would like to share the latest Excerpt from “Chattahoochee Child.”

I hope you will enjoy!

A FAMILY MATTER…

Domestic Violence…Domestic Abuse… Regardless what it is called, it is truly a vicious monster. A wild, destructive monster that roars with such anger and turbulence I vowed never to allow it to knock at my door as a grown up. There were times I felt domestic violence knocking at my door, especially whenever Garrett felt threatened by his green-eyed monster of jealousy. At times I was horrified of my husband, especially on one occasion when we were fighting most of the day. He was in one of his PTSD rages, shouting at me, raising his fist, threatening, and when his anger got the best of him, he thrust his fist through the doorway of the hall. I jumped back.

“Was that directed at me?” I asked him.

He smirked. “No. I’d never hit you.”

I raised a manicured finger at him. “If you ever hit me, our marriage will end. IMMEDIATELY. Domestic violence is something I will never forgive.”

Garrett rubbed his fist. “Whatever,” he said, walking away.

In my marriage I was blind sighted to domestic violence. I made excuses. Always forgiving Garrett’s jealous rages, I tolerated his verbal abuse. Excusing his quick, hot temper as another rage from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I apologized for making him angry. Whenever men looked my way, I quickly glanced away. I did not want Garrett to lose his temper, or to shout at me. I closed myself inside my home, afraid that if he called and I wasn’t home, he would retaliate with another shouting match.
Domestic violence I knew much about as a child, although at the time it did not have the title of domestic abuse or violence. It was labeled a “family matter…” Shunned…Never mentioned. Ignored! As a married woman, never did I consider that my husband might become violent, and on the day that he thrust his fist through the door, I felt the fear that a victim of domestic violence fears and I promised myself that I would not become the next victim.

At the age of five-years-old, I saw domestic violence for the first time. My mother was outside, gossiping with neighborhood women at Joel Chandler Harris Homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I was inside our apartment playing with my doll babies when I heard my daddy shouting, calling in a harsh voice for my mother. I screamed at him, “Daddy, she’s outside talking to the neighbors.”

“Go get her.” My daddy demanded.

I rushed outside. “Mommy. Daddy wants you inside.”

My mother laughed. “He can come get me,” she said. One of the five women she was gossiping with snickered. “Guess you better get inside. Gotta keep the ruler of the house happy!” All of the women roared in unison.

Living in a housing project, the women were not exactly the Donna Reed style of women, dressed in fine clothing and high heels. My mother wore bed room slippers and a dirty house coat. No makeup or lipstick. Two of the women were dressed in raggedy jeans and T-shirts. Their hair was messy and they smelled like a dirty ashtray. I decided on that date that I would always do my best to look my best – to groom myself like a woman and wear makeup and have my hair styled. Never did I want to be ‘frumpy’ or a plain Jane.

“Mommy,” I said, my voice rising a bit. “Daddy’s gonna get angry.”

The back door closed. My daddy rushed outside, waving his fist, shouting.

“Sa-rah!” He roared. “You get in here now.”

My mother did not move. Daddy rushed to her, grabbing her arm. She pushed away from him and he shoved her, knocking her to the ground where she hit her forehead on the concrete curb. The metal trash cans by her fell over. I saw blood on my mother’s forehead. Daddy grabbed her arm. “You get up…Now.” He barked.

My mother struggled to get up. I reached to help her. I touched her forehead. “Are you, Ok, Mommy?”
I stood between my parents, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, daring my daddy to reach for her again. “Daddy, don’t you ever do that again!”

My mother glared at me. “Hush, child.”

Daddy stomped back inside. Never did he show any concern for my mother. Mommy followed. The women standing nearby snickered amongst themselves and I realized I was the only one who came to my mother’s rescue. No one cared. Domestic violence was a family matter at that time. Everyone looked away, with exception of me.

One of the women turned to move away, whispering something about a family matter while blowing smoke from her mouth. I didn’t understand her words, but I did know I didn’t like any of these shabbily dressed women, and I hoped that woman would choke on her cigarette smoke. I wanted to shout at them, asking why they didn’t help my mama. After all, I was a small child. Too young to help, too young to have any rights or say-so. I decided these women were nothing but trouble! ‘Poor white trash,’ I thought to myself…’Nothing but white trash!’ I followed the blood trail from my mother’s forehead back to our apartment.

After Mommy got inside, I got her a cold washcloth, placing it on her forehead.

She rested on the tattered sofa of our apartment, blood still pouring from her forehead. I brought her another washcloth.

“Get me a butter knife,” my mama screamed. I rushed to the kitchen. She placed the blade of the butter knife on her forehead.

“Don’t cut yourself, Mama. Please. You’re still bleeding.”

“The butter knife will make the swelling go away.”

That night when I said my nightly prayers, I prayed that my mama would be all right, and I ask God to make my dad stop hitting and knocking my mother around. After my prayers, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow any man to ever hit me, or knock me down, like my daddy knocked my mother down. At the age of five-years-old, I became the referee to my parents.

Ten years later, I served as the referee for the final time… Arriving home from Russell High School in Atlanta, I rushed inside; anxious to tell my parents I had the lead in a play at school. I knocked on my parent’s door. No answer. I rushed to my room, but something inside my head encouraged me to go back to my parent’s door. I knocked again. I heard the shuffling of feet, and a slap. I opened the door. My mother was standing hunched over, blue in the face, gasping for breath. A hand print was on the side of her face.

“What’s going on in here?” I asked. My mother was getting weaker. I rushed to her side. My dad stood by the bed, cursing and throwing mail at me.

“She’s made all these damned bills. They’re garnishing my wages. I can’t afford this. To Hell with her.”

Moving my mother to a chair, I sat her down and moved closer to my dad. “Don’t you ever hit her again? Do you hear me, Dad? I’ve watched you over and over again hitting my mother, and I’ve watched her hitting you, but this has got to stop! One of you needs to leave this house and marriage. One of you needs to leave before someone gets killed.”

The next day, my dad moved out. My mother told me that from this day forward, I did not have a daddy and I was never to speak about him again. I ignored her. She said my dad was divorcing her and it was my fault. I caused the break-up of my parent’s marriage.

Years later, I became an advocate for domestic violence. I was thankful when laws against domestic violence became a crime and I was thankful that I did not have to be the referee between my parents anymore. In their later years, I became their caregiver, serving as a parent to my abusive, cruel parents.

After their divorce, my dad became a new man. Kinder. Happier. Religious and gentle. I received birthday gifts on birthdays and Dad and I bonded as a father and daughter. Never did we discuss domestic abuse. We focused on happy times. The birth of my child. The home Garrett and I bought in South Carolina. Our strong, happy relationship as father and daughter. Before his death in 1999, we were closer than ever. Dad was fun to be around. Never did he show any anger or hostility at my mother. Reborn inside the body and mind of my father was a man easy to love. So different. So kind. So caring.

My mother? Slowly, she became outraged. Violent. Bi-polar. She died a questionable death after suffering a stroke. The one concern from my youngest sister on the day after her death was, and I quote, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

My youngest sister spent the night at the hospital with our mother on the night of her death. Suppose I’ll let this story decide if an autopsy was necessary, although I suspect an autopsy should’ve been completed – to discover the true reason our mother happened to die on the one and only night my youngest sister chose to spend the night at the hospital. Interesting?

And so – now I am developing the poignant story of “Chattahoochee Child.”