Abused Women

This article never fails to inspire me. The words Veronica wrote here touch abused women to the very core…and enable healing to begin. Read it, feel it, make it part of your wardrobe…and please pass it on to other women who need the hope of a better life. Thank you!

~
After a while…you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand
and chaining a soul
and you learn…
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
~
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up high and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman
not the grief of a child
and you learn…
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
~
After a while you learn…
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting
for someone to bring you flowers.
~
And you learn…
that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and you really do have worth
and you learn…
and you learn…
with every goodbye, you learn.
~by Veronica A. Shoffstall
~
[This is a repeat of an earlier post. It was found in an old Dear Abby column. I believe it warrants reposting now and again for abused women everywhere who need advice.]

WHO IS THAT?!


© Jeanne E Webster  All rights reserved

I looked up and there she was, smiling at me with a squashed-cockroach grin.

Amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, I had been browsing a department store’s offerings early one morning. Sale items were piled here and there on shelves and hangers, tempting buyers to unleash their monies and take them home. In a hurry, I wanted to get a few last minute gifts before getting back home ahead of the rush hour traffic. I admit I was in a tizzy that day and probably should have stayed home.

She didn’t say a word, just stood there staring right through me as if I were a ghost. My thoughts rambled into a frantic search for a name. Who was this woman?!

Search….search….search. Nothing solid…a few pauses, hesitations to process. No, that isn’t it…no, not her. Running out of data…. She looks so familiar but I can’t pull out a name. WHO IS SHE?!

Knowing I had only seconds before this woman would call my bluff, I shuffled my feet to change position, trying to shoulder her out of direct vision. I caught a quick glimpse of movement and shuddered. My bluff was over!

Pretending I had just noted her presence, I slowly pivoted my body full force towards her, ready to face a tongue lashing. Before I could utter a word, the woman chuckled out loud, “Oh my! That’s me!” (I hadn’t noticed the mirrored wall at all!)

Oh well, another senior moment. Have a nice day!

The Witness

 

© Jeanne E Webster  All Rights Reserved

The Witness

PART 1

 

“It’s been a long time.”

“Yessir.”

“You haven’t changed much.”

“You neither.”

Moments faltered as stammered thoughts riddle through bygone days; eyes clung awkwardly like a skittish handshake.

“Ya wanna sit down?”

“Sure. Have you been here long?”

“Naw, ‘bout a year.” Hands fidget across the table, waiting for the right moment.

“I, er… I received your letter.” Compassion rendering his unsettled spirit, he gently muttered, “I’m sorry, Joe.”

Suddenly breathing came easier; hearts shifted back into normal sinus rhythm. “Thanks, man. I didn’t know if you’d come.”

“You knew I would. That’s why you wrote to me.”

“Yeah, I knows.” His fingers, stuffed in his pockets, fidgeted open and closed, open and closed, open and closed.

“Well…”

“I knows I have done sumpthin’ really, really bad, Frank. An’ I got’s ta pay fer it.” Clearing his throat he continued. “But that’s not why I asked ya ta come.”

Looking up with tearful eyes, he leaned closer to Frank, “I been doing lots ‘a thinking and …”

“…and I needs ya for my witness.”

“Witness for what, Joe?”

“. . . for when I meet my maker.”

The stagnant air became electrified by the hush. It wasn’t what Frank had expected to hear.

But I Could Catch the Biggest Bull Frogs

© Jeanne E Webster All rights reserved

Thank you, Lord, for Mom and Dad,
My angelic grandma I loved so.
Abundant sustenance all my life,
Safe environments in which to grow.

I respected my brothers and sisters,
Though we fought like cats and dogs.
We played and wrestled and got dirty
…I could catch the biggest bull frogs.

You gave me a sound body and mind;
I learned well to read and write.
Mostly I behaved quite proper;
A few wrongs but tried to do right.

Summer time we got rounded up
One year for that Bible school;
Met this gentle young man, Jesus,
Who taught me the Golden Rule.

He’s led me down life’s pathway,
Soothed my heart and hell-bound soul.
Cleaned me up one side and another;
Dug me out of that dark, deep hole.

The loving heart you gave me, Lord,
I used for lost sisters and brothers
That forgiving spirit was harder to bear;
But you said we should love one another.

Oh, the wisdom in that there Bible,
The tools for us to use in our lives.
I’m finding new ones most every day,
‘especially joys from just being alive.

A thankful heart and loving spirit
Is my offering, Lord, back to you.
Reflecting a happier way of life,
And a heart that’s tried and so true.

FOILED


© Jeanne E Webster All Rights Reserved

I went shopping today for a few groceries and craft supplies. After loitering in the craft area for assorted items, I realized I was tiring and needed a rest room. The restroom came with explicit instructions on how to use the sink, water faucet and soap dispenser, and I was back out onto the main floor in just a few minutes.

One comment: I detest those self-flush toilets! I was “resting” on one of them that insisted I was finished every time I leaned forward just a tad bit. That gadget must have surprised many a rester.

Back to shopping, I pieced through the pet supplies aisle, picked out a few cans of dog food for my spaniel and a cuttlebone for my cockatiel.

Ahead was the sundry aisles . . . should have been a snap. I selected some room aromatics, a jug of laundry soap, a couple of mousetraps, and 12 rolls of toilet paper. Almost through, produce aisle awaits!

I am not a happy shopper. I detest the ordeal. Give me a list and I’ll go through a familiar store in no time flat. Usually; today was an exception. Perhaps I should not have shopped today, it being Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

In my previous life, we never went anywhere on Sunday, ‘cept church and Sunday school. We stayed home the rest of the day and read the Bible, sat outside in decent weather in the porch swing, watched the chickens go from yard corner to fence corner, kicking up lawn stubble as they searched frantically for bugs and more bugs.

Occasionally we were allowed to go swimming at the lake down the road apiece, if it was warm enough out. If it wasn’t warm enough, we would pitch stones across the water or look under rocks for fishing worms. Then, if that adventure was profitable enough, we’d do a little fishing from the bank of the pond next door to my uncle’s house. But we never, ever went shopping. We wouldn’t dare make anyone work on the Lord’s Day. No siree.

To get back to shopping, I was approaching the produce aisles, almost done with my ordeal in the store. I suddenly remembered I needed some aluminum foil, as I was in the midst of fixin’ Christmas recipes. I had already baked Gram’s filled cookies, a full charge of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, a batch of penuche fudge, and a new recipe of oatmeal cranberry bars. All I had left to bake was the old-fashioned sugar cookies, and maybe if everyone behaved, a batch of brownies with a great big Hershey bar in the middle of it for added effect.

I returned to the paper product aisle and found the foil. All I needed was one roll, and not the heavy type for roasting turkeys and such, just one roll of regular foil. So much for that.

There before my eyes on the shelves from top to bottom was FOIL: heavy-duty foil, 20 feet of foil, oiled foil, frosted foil, thin foil, 50 feet of foil, extra heavy duty foil, 200 feet of foil, 3 foot long foil, unoiled foil, brand name foil and store brand foil.

This is why I do not like to shop. I make a list, a simple list of standard things, no embellishment stuff or bells and whistles on it, just ordinary everyday things. You’d think a person could go into a store, walk over to the right shelf, pick out the item, and set it into the shopping cart. No major decisions; simple equations. Go on to the next item, select it and set it into the cart and in no time at all, you’re checking out at the register, walking out to the parking lot, in your car and, poof, you’re home again without a hitch.

But it doesn’t work that way and I know it. I don’t want to have to make decisions that materialize from the atmosphere within the store instead of my organized frame of mind in my own home. Too complicated.

I made it home with all my STUFF, unpacked it and put it away. The box of ungreased, unlined, non-perforated, non-heavy-duty, uncrinkled, 200 feet of Great Value Aluminum Foil currently resides in my cupboard. And that is that. Tomorrow I am going to bake.

Summer Dawdlings

© Jeanne E Webster. All Rights Reserved.

“Summertime…and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.”

I’ve always liked that song, mainly for taking me back to memorable  summer vacations spent at my grandparent’s home in Massachusetts. Those lazy, hazy days of summer were the happiest times of my childhood.

Small town life in the mid-1940s was kid safe; one could play outside unsupervised from sunup to sundown with no problems. We’d stuff a peanut butter sandwich in our pocket after breakfast, and off we’d scamper on our all-day carefree adventures.

Our youthful bantam legs struggled as they carried us up that steep knoll to the top of Walnut Hill, then braked as down, down, down we coasted to the placid waters of Lake Mattawa.

Dawdling around the lake edges for a while, we’d skim stones across the water, search for baby fish, and wade into the warm clear waters to extract pretty rocks or other treasures not too far out into the lake.

After resting from our arduous one mile trek, we’d wander through the adjacent pine trees and head for Uncle Brad’s house. to play with our cousins.  We had an unwritten privilege of fishing rights to his pond, and after we had dug up worms and crawlers, we’d grab some of his many fishing poles and scamper down to the stagnant, bubble-gurgling pond. We were delighted to snaggle luminous bluegills and sunfish, and catfish and brilliant yellow pike were always in bountiful supply.

Tiring from catching such “huge” fish, we’d retreat to Aunt Winnie’s back porch and eat our sandwiches and partake of her home-made lemonade especially set out for our disposal.

It was our habit to linger a while after our repast and visit the hen houses, barnyard and outbuildings of their chicken farm. What merriment was had while playing in the granary, jumping on top of the loose corn and smelling the aromas of earth’s harvest offerings!

Next we’d ramble on south a couple of miles towards Aunt Judy’s house and spend the rest of the day interacting with her eleven kids. We’d play hide-and-seek, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and with adult supervision, we could play croquet. We had no store-bought toys; we merely used our imaginations, which in all reality, was pure delight… pretty much.

Once one of my cousins dared me to pick some poison ivy and rub it on my arms and legs. So I double-dared him to do it too. Well…the next day he had poison ivy all over his body, and I had nary a blister. To this day I’m not allergic to the ivy!

Aunt Judy filled our tummies with her family’s supper fixings before we headed back to Gramp and Gram’s home. If the sun was still halfway up the western sky, we’d stop off at the churchyard and wander out back to the cemetery to pick the delicious wild strawberries there. They were so tiny but, oh, so succulent!

Summertime…heaven-sent days for earth-bound children, quickly spent and forever gone. Oh, to be a kid again!?

A Long Ago Story

 

© Jeanne E Webster. All Rights Reserved

“Jesus loves me this I know…”

Curled up in bed, she finds no escape from Mommy’s piercing cries. Softly tiptoeing to the window sill, she  longingly looks up to the heavens, as if searching for an old friend. She believes her home is out there and a heavenly, loving Papa awaits her return. Since learning the “Jesus Loves Me” song at Vacation Bible School one summer, she drew much comfort and hope. Peering impatiently into the dark, starry expanse, she pleads with her Papa. “I don’t like it here anymore, Papa. Please send an angel to take me back home.”

Only five years old, she knows fear… fear of her stepfather. He’s hurting Mommy now, and she’s afraid she’ll soon be the next victim of his drunken rages. Trembling with dread and hatred, she hears him bellowing her name. The routine is humiliating. He forces her to remove her clothes and stand before him naked, then proceeds to beat her with his army belt. Glaring into his eyes with intense rage, she is most afraid of crying in front of him, not the pain he inflicts. He mustn’t know he has hurt her; she must remain strong. “Please, Papa. I’m so afraid. I want to come home.”

“For the Bible tells me so…”

Stumbling through school with average grades and many sick days, she grew slowly into an angry, stubborn, withdrawn young girl. Teachers comment on her report card, “She will not act like a young lady. She’s always fighting with the boys.”

Home life is chaotic. Constantly on guard when her depraved stepfather is present, she keeps mainly to her bedroom or stays outside until nightfall. His lack of morals is evident as he prowls the house, naked except for a newspaper shielding his privates. “Thank you, Papa, for making me strong and protecting me. I wish Mommy would be strong enough to leave this nasty person.  I asked her once why she puts up with the beatings. She said, ‘Because I love him.’”

“Watch over me, Lord.  I still want to come home but I don’t know how to make that happen.”

“Little ones to Him belong…”

Many years passed.   The young girl mellowed into a happily married mother of four. Life was good for the first few years, but overshadowing this semblance of normalcy was the Viet Nam war. “Papa, watch over my husband and protect him from harm and send him home to us soon. The kids really miss their daddy. Thank you.”

“They are weak but He is strong…”

Daddy returned from war a stranger, dishing out physical and mental abuse on a daily basis to the young wife. Physical battles ensued with resulting scratches and bruises. Before long Mommy had become the villain, according to Daddy. He encouraged the kids to hit her, declaring her an unfit mommy. The Sears & Roebuck catalog was searched routinely for a new mommy. Divorce ensued after Mommy got on a greyhound bus headed for nowhere, leaving her whole world behind and calling it quits to the abuse.

Due to the fierceness and severity of the divorce dynamics, the young mother had only one viable option regarding her children. She had to leave them in the care of their father. There were no safe houses, no support for abused families in those days, and she had no family support or a job. Her husband promised to shoot her if she applied for a divorce, removing the children out of state would result in a kidnapping charge, and both options were not in the best interest of the kids. A dead mom and a lifer-in-prison dad were not good alternatives. So she walked. And inside…died…for a long while.

“Please take care of my children, Papa, and protect them from harm. I know You are stronger than anything life can throw at them, and they are good kids. They are my life. I give them back into Your hands. I know I will see them again someday; that’s all that matters. I love you, Papa!”

Epilogue:
Long ago Anna B. Warner penned the song, “Jesus Loves Me.” A young woman took those words to heart and believed them and staked her life on them. Why? The Bible told her so! The Word of God is far mightier than abuse, fear, threats and even death itself.