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“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ― A.A. Milne

Wednesdays, always reminds me of the poem from Christopher Robin ,“Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit. There isn’t any other stair quite like it, It’s not at the bottom , it’s not at the top . So this is the stair where I always stop.” A.A. Milne

Ever think when you wake up on Wednesday that your half way through the week? We not quite seeing as their are five days in a work week and seven from start to finish. So not truly half way, but close enough.

I loved the Winnie the pooh stories, I read them cover to cover and remember most of the poems inside these books. This one was always a favorite of mine for I felt (and still do) that I often found myself doing just that sitting half way on the stairs . Sometimes I referred  to as the meeting place, Id say “Meet me half way!” My children always knew where that spot was. Many an evening I sat there talking to one of my children it was as good as any other place,  often tended to be a place where no confrontations existed  just a good place to sit and talk. even a great place to sneak a hug or two. I suppose that comes from  my childhood. I met my first boyfriend in the stair-hall to sneak a kiss once or twice. (hush, do go spreading rumors now.) Often the stairway was a quiet place to think, read, and even talk on the phone when I had a house full of noisy children. The hallways were always my safe haven.( as a small child it is where one might have found me while screaming and yelling and a flying dishes sailed across my homes) If I could climb stairs these days I’m sure you would find me halfway up or half way down any stairs. Usually my back stairs these days when waiting for my granddaughter to arrive home, and on a beautiful day waiting for my husband at the end of his day, the beginning of our time. Halfway up or half way down, it is the very best place to sit.

Nothing better than dragging your best bear wherever you go. ( I still have mine )My bear now sits with the comfort of my husbands bear and my children’s  favorite ones from their childhoods.

Panda and Tracy ( my bear)

Panda and Tracy ( my bear) & X-Mas my weird rabbit.

I was thinking last night of all my adventures and how we’ve just begun, I had Pooh bear and Christopher Robin running through my head. Each, day when my husband comes home he often says “hello Piglet,” and I reply “hello Pooh” .

When I was 7, April 1st, of 1970, I arrived in Chicago exactly one year after my mother was murdered. I was a scared , shy little girl, black and blue covered in bruises head to toe,I had    long straggly  dark  hair, I was a very UN-kept sort of child. I was not a pretty child at a glance. I was afraid of everything and everyone.

It was a crisp April morning when I arrived, Chicago had quite the snow storm that Spring . Snow was up to my knee caps, and I was barely dressed .We had just driven from Florida I agree I was an unusually small and frail looking child, so the fact that snow was up so high really wasn’t impressive at all. I thought it was amazing.

Weather word.

April, 1970 snowstorm: On April 1 in 1970, a major…April, 1970 snowstorm: On April 1 in 1970, a major snowstorm began in Chicago. A total of 10.7 inches of damaging, wind-driven snow blasted the city on April 1-2 (8.2 inches on the 1st, 2.5 inches on the 2nd); “thundersnow” occurred on both days, and high winds caused drifts 2 to 3 feet.

That was A LOT of snow to a small child!

I had just spent the last 6 months living in Florida, and had missed the winter, I was so excited to play in the snow, I was after all a young child! That was not to be my destination however, I did not know what I was even doing in Chicago, I would soon find out this was to be dropped off and left at what was going to be  my “forever home.” Or so I would be told.

I arrived in Chicago after having spent the last year in many foster homes,22 to be exact. Mostly ugly ones with ugly people, one family after the next being worse than the last. They told me it was so I would be safer moving me across the country into different homes because “they” ( the NYPD Blue along with the F.B.I.) were on the hunt for my mothers killer.

I remember being at an elderly woman’s home sitting on the back stairs( half way up ) when my grandfather and a police officer came to see me ( I think there was a lady as well.) They came to tell me that I was SAFE! They caught the man responsible for the death of my mother and now I could go home! They told me the name of the man, and I shook my head no-no no they had it wrong I knew they did. They made up a name of someone who didn’t even exist, I told them who killed my mother but no one seemed to listen of believe me because I was a small child( back then there really were no children rights) Later in my life I was told that they made up some stranger so I would believe that nobody I knew could have done something so horrendous to my mother or to me. They were wrong in what they did, it only scared me more. Now ,not only did I have to fear the man I KNEW killed my mother the man with the black beard,the man who beat my mother for sport,( he was an “important ” man of diplomatic status .The fights they had were tremendous. It was not odd to see my mother tied up with chains and ropes to bind her hands. She fought back but to her it was a game. to me it was just the world I lived in. My mother and her many notorious men  often spent time in  Dungeons. The Dungeons were a scary place though, I found some comfort in some of them. People were dressed with masks and worse extremely bizarre clothing. Some wore nothing at all. They had many contraptions . As I am older now I understand a little better what they were used for . I found comfort in the dark places we went to because for a short time I could hide and no one remembered about me. SAFE! that was not always the case there were too many times to recount that I was the center of attention to many, using me as a toy to throw about and be used up and left for the next. Some nights when I closed my eyes I prayed for the Wicked Witches to rescue me and take me away flying through the air being carried my blue monkey’s I recall a particular evening when I was in one of these dark locked up secret places The  Dungeons! After being tortured for what seemed like forever, a woman wearing all black a long beautiful flowing dress she looked like a witch, and a black  veil which covered her face, picked me up off a bed of nails and carried me to another room and placed me in a tub in the center of the room. Steam rose from the tub and the smell of lavender still brings me back to that place.

Lavender has healing powers.

The woman spoke in soft tones as she carefully washed my tired body, though I remember feeling nothing , nothing at all.  Soft cloths moved about my body removing the scent of evil, if only for a short while. The woman was kind, she was kinder to me than what I was used to experiencing. She spoke in soft tones and was gentle with my small frame. The woman told me I should be very quiet, and went on to tell me a tale that has stayed with me all these years later. She told me that if you closed your eyes really tightly you could travel to a place somewhere over the rainbow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fahr069-fzE ( this is my favorite cover of this song.

She told me she was the Wicked Witch that saved little children from the evil Warlocks that lurked around. I believed her, and I saw her many times. She saved me on several  occasions. My world was extremely dark, kindness and gentle hands came rarely, I understood physical pain but I did not  know what kindness felt like. I found comfort in this woman whom I later found out was an Angel. She belonged to what I now understand was the world of BDSM, which is often referred to as cruelty, and abuse.  There is a huge underground world of this lifestyle. It was not a world of “Fifty Shades ” and happily ever afters. It was a world for grown ups who CHOOSE to “play”. Sometimes a very dangerous game. It was not a place for children, in my childhood I was not a child, but rather an object of amusement for my mother and her horrible friends. I can still hear my mothers laugh in my nightmares. She was cruel, unkind. she was abusive, she tried to destroy me. Something deep inside forced me to endure the acts of physical cruelty, for  I knew something wonderful would happen when it was over.  When my mother was done “playing” she would gather me up and say to me” lets grab Chinese to go!” We would go way of a Taxi cab that she whistled for ( two fingers inside her mouth the loudest sound  I ever heard would come shrieking and cab would come to a dead halt just in front of us  whisking  us away to the local Chinese place. My mother would grab the paper containers and whistle for another Taxi which would take us back home. When we got inside our dwellings it was as though time stood still, nothing else existed . We would climb up on TOP of the dinning room table and sit “Indian style” and eat right out of the boxes with chopsticks, she would smile and laugh. It was a messy affair. I longed for those moments.

I can still see her throwing her head back with a robust laughter that drowned out anything else. Even though my  mother was  mostly laughing at my expense about all the terribly  wrong things I had done that day. I enjoyed the sound of her laughter, I was glad she wasn’t yelling at me pulling my hair and reminding me what a mistake I was.My mother would remind me if I didn’t shape up nobody would ever want me.I just lived for the laughter and stopped hearing the words she repeated so often.

I did a lot of research in my older years and I realized my mother was training me to be a “submissive slave” for the world of BDSM.

In my adult life, I have discovered there is a very fine line between pain and pleasure. As a child I knew only pain, as an adult, I live for the moments when pleasure is what I feel. Pain is apart of my life, that is just the way it is.  Torture and cruelty , however is not apart of my world today. Abuse is not something I allow, no matter how small, I stand tall when it comes to how I am to be treated . YOU teach people how YOU want to be treated!

I taught my children the same.

Nobody has the right to treat you with disrespect, and if they do run ! Run like the wind!

“The answers my friend, are blowing in the wind”

(Is it any wonder my life today is full of witches and rainbows.)

  Every stranger could be a person with the intent to do harm to me. Nobody was safe, I trusted no one! I was petrified of everyone. I just wanted my grandfather to take me home , I wanted my mother,(evil as she was,she was my mom) I wanted to go home.

(A rare photo that I have managed to hold on to for my entire life, it is the only photo of my mother and I.)

My mother and I.

I no longer had a home, everything I owned had been burned to the ground. The murder of my mother had left our home covered in blood. I had nothing. I belonged to no-one, I lived nowhere, nowhere at all. My life was full of darkness every day. Every night.

My life changed completely in April of 1970, I was driven  across the country and arrived in Chicago. My father drove me ,along with my two siblings,( a tale for another day)

It was a very long drive, a big red car,a convertible as I recall, I loved when the wind would blow through my hair and it took me to places where nothing hurt no pain no tears that anyone could see. To this day I love when the windows are rolled down and all I can hear and feel is the wind running through my hair and into my brain stopping it from thinking if only for a moment. I sat stuck between my sister and baby brother. We arrived at to the place I would eventually call” home” for the next many, many years. We stayed in a hotel , During the day we visited this beautiful place, a castle in the sky I imagined. Artworks  covered the walls with  Kings and Queens , a Large royal chair sat just inside the front doors.  What caught my eye was a huge  Victorian dollhouse. I wished I could live right inside that house. I told that to my father while we were back at the hotel and he said.” great ,”

The next day my father drove me back to the red brick building with a bright yellow door, we walked inside and while standing, hiding behind the door a small man ,who spoke with a thick accent  reminded me of my grandfather.  “Come here child, I will protect you, you stay with me from now on”

Bruno Bethlehem, A man who changed my life forever! He stole my dignity. He saved me from one kind of Hell .He  gave me a new kind of Hell . He was not the man he was supposed to be .He was not the man anyone except those that lived at the end of his wrath and hard-hitting fists would ever really know.

Eventually this man, this revered man, slipped a plastic bag over his head and killed himself. This was the man who was supposed to teach, help children, and be a role model for so many. (stories for another time.)

I did not even bother to look up, my stepmother and father with both their children in tow simply walked through those yellow doors and that was the last time I saw my father, it was the last time I heard his voice. He dropped me off and never came back.

A woman with glasses, slightly round walked over to me, ” Hello my little one ” she spoke. “Here is a little bear to keep you company, you will never be alone again.” My name is Sandy, she continued, what is you name? I could barely breathe let alone speak my name. I hated my name I hated the sound it made. So I said nothing, nothing at all.( Sandy, a woman about the age of my mother, was really the hero of my childhood. I would grow to love her like nobody else in this world.)

The small man with the thick accent said, ” do not worry my child, we will think of a name that you shall be called. That was the beginning of the first day of the next part of my life.

I had no family, I had no clothes, I had absolutely nothing but a beautiful bear. The woman( Sandy) extended her hand as she started down the hall, I did not  lend her my hand back to her,but I followed her, I quietly spoke. “I said “this is Tracy” and she replied. “Hello Tracy, welcome home.”

Home. what a wonderful word. It was not my home, rather a placed I lived. For a moment that day, standing beside this woman, my heart would find a home.

With that, I will close for now, for today, I do have a home, a beautifully old home with quirks and a leaky roof, but it is my home and I am madly in love with it. I am grateful to my home, and the man who gave it to me. He may never truly understand the depths of my gratitude or  what HOME means to me. Wherever he is where my home is.  Some days he tells me hes putting me in his pocket to keep me with him all the day long . On those days my home is in his pocket. A safe place to be. It is close to his heart and it holds me up on the days when mine is weak.

Thank you for coming with me today, though my tale is not always a happy one it is my story.

I am not sad, I am grateful , for I have walked ten thousand miles, with each step changing the colors of my fabric with every thread of my being.  It is a rich life, full of many shades.

Robin ~  a simple bird.

It is a wickedly,beautiful, complicated life.

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2 thoughts on ““Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ― A.A. Milne

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