My Life Before Eli

Chapter 1

 

I want to believe that I was once an angel, too; a gift that my mother had held in her strong arms.  I looked down on my own arms and they were normal, the usual two long pale stretches of muscles and bones God had blessed me with.  But in these arms, I held my angels also, and for that I sent Him my gratitude.

But before I met any of my beautiful angels, when I was the one flying, hovering on earth all innocent and full of hopes and dreams like an angel, I became aware that there were bad things in the world.  In fifth grade a tumor was found under my left nipple. The good thing was that it was benign.  My wings were clipped a few inches, but with a great zest for life I still fluttered around.  In eighth grade, another tumor which turned out to be nothing to worry about was found in my upper left arm.  Though it was removed, the incident broke my wings this time.  I became more aware of life, seeing it unfold before my young eyes.

I had become accustomed to hospitals, doctors, and to them saying that everything’s going to be all right.  In the end though, good news wasn’t always to be had.  And cancer, no matter how much I battled it, would come and go in my life to torment me about how beautiful life could be.

Little girls have the wings of angels, and so do little boys.  But as they grow, challenges would be hurled at them like a shuttlecock of badminton game. Like the sport, if they are faced against veteran players, the shuttlecock shoots toward them rapidly; and more often than not, the feathered, conical birdie would land on the wooden badminton court.

My mother Ethel perhaps underwent a lot of stress and pressures too when I was growing up because instead of remembering her affection toward me, all that flashed in my memory were the strong unyielding hands that dragged me by my hair across our house. During those times, I would scream, curse and beg her to release me.  But when her hands loosened on my hair, her feet would find their way to my stomach.  More often than not, they would land at my head, too, and I would howl in agony.  For how could a mother act with such hatred toward her daughter?

I really have no idea why she was never affectionate towards me or any of my siblings. I suppose she may have grown up without hugs or family affections herself in Oklahoma. Loving warmth was never learned; as a child I would try to pull my siblings next to me in photos.

When I see families who truly love and care for each other it is a most beautiful thing. I had that with my father but sadly not with my mother or siblings. Most all my siblings were estranged from her. On Matt’s side though, I do have some of his siblings who consider me their sister and I feel the same way. To have a man who truly loves you is most precious. I am thankful that Matt is in my life, I am thankful to have had my boys on Earth for the time the Lord let me have them, and I am thankful Matt’s sister, Jolana, has shown me what being sisters really means. I am just thankful.

Peas have Vitamin C, E and zinc content.  Because of that, I can say that they were indeed nutritious; and for that reason, I shouldn’t have felt Mother was punishing me for giving me peas.  But when peas were being served to me most of the time, and I was forced to finish what she packed me for lunch, which was more than any five year old could eat; I knew that what she was doing was not a manifestation of her love.  She force fed me, mostly with peas to the point that there were instances I threw up.  I kept on begging her to make me peanut butter sandwiches instead, which I would have gladly eaten, but she never did.  My food was not open for discussion.  I never had the option aside from peas.

At school, when I was beyond her peripheral vision, Mother would tell my teachers and friends to make sure that I ate the lunch she packed me. The food she forced me to eat at the school lunches such as cooked spinach and cheese, foods that made me sick to my stomach and caused me to throw up. I had to stay in the lunchroom for hours.  I would sit alone in the lunchroom, feeling horrible and bad about myself.  Was I being a disobedient child?

At such an early age, I missed classes because of the horrid reason that I had to consume food that my mother dictated I have. When finally I finished my lunch—either by downing the food or by dumping the remainder of my meal in the trash bins – I would stand up, clean up the table I used, and alternately walk and run to head back to my classroom.  It was a long journey because lunches were in the old junior high basement in Golden, Colorado, where I went to school, and a good two blocks separated it from the grade school building.

In the 60’s, there were only a few channels on the television.  The unavailability of shows made me interested in other modes of media such as books and magazines.  One day, as I was browsing McCall’s magazine, I came across an article that featured scrawny, malnourished kids.  I stared at their pitiful bodies that were mostly bones covered with a thin coating of skin, and told myself that maybe my mother didn’t want me to be like these children. But when day after day, she would serve me repeatedly with the food that I hated in large servings; I realized that it was the opposite.  Mother wanted to punish me.  She literally spoon-fed me. If ever there was a reason for that, I never knew what it was.

In high school, I would invite some of my friends over to my house and they would stare at me and my mother with horrified expressions as soon as Mother became shrouded with her usual coat of hostility toward me.  Sometimes, it was just a wrong word I said or a smile that she believed was not right at a particular moment, and she would without hesitation grab me by my hair and start dragging me in the house, unmindful that my friends were gathered around watching us.

When tears rolled down my face, my friends would stand one by one as though they knew that the tears were the cue for them to leave.  They did leave me. I watched sadly as their backs turned on me; and prayed that the following day in school I would receive comfort from them.  And always, my friend’s eyes would acknowledge me with understanding and they would talk to me as though they had not experienced Mother’s tumultuous outbreak.  They knew that the incident was not something I wanted discussed.  The friendly smiles on their faces and the gentle pats of their comforting hands were all I needed.

My mother scared our neighbors as well. On many occasions, they heard her wrath usually towards my step-father Paul or me, and this I never understood why we were the “chosen ones” for her wrath during my teenage years. Later in life, after most of my siblings were estranged from her, she chose to pick on my mentally ill younger sister, Ella. Even on the phone in another state, I could hear her in the background, mentally and emotionally abusing Ella. I saw her more than once drag Ella around by the hair, and I never was able to rescue Ella. My little sister ended up with my mother’s wrath until my mother died. Even on the phone, in a different state, hearing my mother yell and scream and abuse my sister, it brought back all that she had done to me in years past, and the fact that even in her early eighties she remained abusive. That was why I kept a “Protection From Abuse” court order on her, so she could not contact me, email me, write me letters, or go through Ella to get to me.

I had three step-brothers, Levi, Isaac and Wyatt Hunter. My mother treated them better as they were larger stronger men and she did not beat on them. However, she also did not really want them in the home she now shared with my step-father Paul Hunter. My mother and Paul really weren’t together very long and the day Levi turned age eighteen years she banged on his bedroom door and ordered him to “pack up and leave!” Levi was forced to leave then and there. Isaac already was living out in the country with another family per his choice and that left only Wyatt at home. Wyatt eventually left as well and he moved in with his mother.

As I grew more mature, I became stronger and more open-minded and there were even moments when I felt like I could handle any challenge that might come my way.  And maybe in a way, I did.  Because after the devastation that came with each blow, I stood up more limber and supple, ready to bend and play along the hurdles of life.

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