It wasn’t long before I had figured it out – the true story about the about the bruises – when I had walked in and saw her crying, I should have known. It was a time of upheaval, not only for her, for all of us in our world and the world in general. She was a beautiful woman, and never deserved to be here. But here she was. This was proof of her strength, and even more her courage. The 1960’s made her come to realize that if life was going to be worth it, the it was up to her. She had the babies, at least that’s how she always saw her children, even if some were almost grown. It was left to her to stand up to what and who would attempt to take her down. And that just wasn’t happening.
She was beautiful, so pretty there was a jealousy among her sisters. Truth be told, even her mother seemed put out about it. Her auburn, wavy hair and crystal blue eyes were an unbeatable combo. And she had a smile for days. She had many dreams, a nurse or a teacher maybe. She wanted to help, but it all changed when she met him. Tall, dark and handsome. The best worst decision she would ever make. They loved fiercely and fought about the same way. Those first days were splendid and the life they led was bittersweet. He was a young Army private being sent away to a foreign country.
She managed with a heart longing for him. They had married and he left her back with her parents. This was most painful since her Mother was a strong voice, constant and judgmental. Soon, she was a new mother, which made it so hard to be without him. The Army gave furloughs, but once they send overseas, it will be a while until they are together again. But she was strong, and tended where she was planted. They made their home in Army housing in different states. Soon there would be another baby. Then to Germany. Korea was hard….Her heart was full, but his was tormented, knowing that his beauty was back home without him. The struggle to believe whether or not she was faithful weighed on his mind, which began the fear in his heart. Proud men languish with crazy thoughts that can ruin lives. He soon would return back home.
Then began years of painful fights, jealousy, alcoholism, fists and of course, pride. She stood up to him. She loved him so much, just as he did her. But his fear of losing her was overbearing and he acted out. She was the one who felt the brunt of it all. Yet, she kept strong, raised her children and fought the great fight, believing that it would change. He was not her enemy; the drugs and alcohol were the real culprits. He would not stop, and eventually loved it more than her. This was the saddest part. Because he loved her so much and was a sweet man, full of life, smart and multitalented in so many areas of life. They were the most beautiful couple and everyone loved them. But it wouldn’t last.
The day she knew would be the last day for them, she knew it would never change. She had to protect herself as well as her babies. He was not going to take care of her and the kids. He went too far, threatened too much, forbid one time too many. It was time to take the leap. This was 1969 and you don’t just leave. But he left, eventually into the arms of another. She was left to pick up the pieces, feel the shame, and know the hurt it caused the kids. She took the blame around everyone; they wouldn’t listen anyway. Their self-imposed judgement was mis-directed, even among her own family. But she kept her head about her, went to work, relocated, took every job she could. I missed her.
“We are women hear us roar” was our mantra. Vietnam was raging on the left. It troubled our hearts every hour of every day. The one who was now the man of the house was there. We prayed for God to keep him safe… He did!! Hard work was on the right. Never underestimate the power of a women scorned. She taught us all, and it served us well until it didn’t… until our lives turned out hard. Time to bare down and move forward. She taught me how to re-create and start over. Her legacy is one of fortitude, never giving up and “you can’t tell the good guys by the white hats!” (a direct quote) I wish I was more like her, sometimes, but at other times, I’m more like my dad. That’s ok too; he wasn’t all bad. I was fortunate. I met a man who changed me and loved me, both unconditionally. That made my life take a different turn… for the better. I’m not a statistic; I broke the mold. I’m grateful for my heritage, yet even more thankful for my future. She made me stronger. Thank you Mom.