*April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – According to ChildHelp.org, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and more than four children die every day as a result of child abuse.*
MY FAVORITE TEDDY BEAR – Easing the Memory of Abuse
The above image is of Sparkles. I got this teddy bear, if I remember correctly, for Christmas in 1979. Yes, I still have it. And I still sleep with it. No, I don’t cuddle with it. I don’t cuddle with it mostly because it’s so old, and has a music box inside. I picked Sparkles out of either a Sears or JC Penny catalog. Where I lived in Texas there were no department stores and we ordered a lot via catalogs. At that time, there wasn’t any mall, department store or even a “big box” store for about 70 miles.
When I got Sparkles, I lived outside a tiny town – it’s still a tiny town – called Bremond, TX. I lived in a modest, clean home on a then dirt road. It was peaceful there with moonlit, Milky Way Galaxy-filled nights with crickets chirping and cows mooing. I moved there to live with my mother and step-father. I was nine years old when I arrived in the summer of ’79, leaving the big city and it’s horrors behind.
This was not as big of a culture shock to me as one might think. I actually liked it. I had some issues with my past life in Chicago. Now, I know what you might be thinking. You might be wondering what past issue can a nine year old have? I’ll tell you, but many of you may not like the story.
You see, I was a victim of abuse. Not by the hands of my biological parents or my stepfather. However, my biological father was a bit dysfunctional and a drinker at the time, but he still was an okay guy for the most part. Very naive though. My father had custody of me and my siblings. My mother had a modest job, living in a no-bedroom studio apartment. She could not take care of three kids in a place like that. During the divorce, the judge was going to award my mother custody of us and our brick home in Chicago. However, at that time, the mortgage payments and taxes were way too high for her to handle. My father kept the house and because she could not give us a proper place to stay, it was ordered we live in the house with Dad. That is a whole other story on it’s own.
The couple years I spent living with my father are a blur to me now. Maybe because I was so young, or the household was so dysfunctional. My father, to the dismay of Mom, decided that my well-being would best be served living for a time under the care of my Godparents since my Godmother was mostly a stay-at-homer. My mother protested the idea, but in those days it was whole custody or no custody and my mom had very little say without an attorney. Plus this meant leaving Chicago proper and going to the suburbs and she hated the idea it would be so hard at that time in history for her to get from Chicago to suburbia to check on me.
So, I spent awhile living with a couple named Rose and Mike. At first, Rose and I got along quite well. Until her son decided – or rather imagined, that she preferred my company to his. This wasn’t true. But, you see, my Godparents were a pitiful pair. Their son, little Mikey Jr. – whose face I still want to smash in with a brick after all these years, was very jealous of me. He did horrible things to me, and played tricks that pissed off his parents and set up the crimes to look like I did it. Yes, Mikey…those Gaines Burgers under my pillow were a neat trick. Rose, the Nazi, thought I was sleepwalking. Really? Well, that Nazi, Rose, locked me in my bedroom with a sliding lock mounted on the outside of the door. She loved me a lot, until little Mikey started his rotten tricks. And instead of getting to the bottom of things, she took what she saw as fact. When I asked her what I should do if I have to pee at night, she said, and I quote like it was yesterday, “Piss on the floor.”
So then started her little sport of holding my tiny hands over open flames of the stove, or forcing me to put them into the oven; calling me foul names like, bitch, began. I can’t remember what year it was, but I imagine I was somewhere between 1st & 2nd grade. You see, I cannot remember. With the exception of the incidences that occurred, I cannot remember my age. I never asked my parents how old I was at the time these things happened when I lived at Nazi Camp Rose.
Now I have no problem posting their names here…Rose & Mike Gregor (maybe not spelled correctly) and their stupid little boy who used to hit me with extension cords and knocked me down and kick snow in my face…actually kicking my face in the process. Hey Mikey…I’m all grown up now, bitch. It’s a small world and I hope I don’t ever see you. And I hope you are not abusing your own kids.
I was but a baby. I was a baby, baby, baby…you ruthless bunch of Nazis. And I say this because that bitch, Rose, was right out Germany and cold like a stone. Now, do not get me wrong, I have known many warm, friendly German people – this is not my opinion of Germans. It is my opinion of Rose based on how she abused me. This bitch was a nightmare. Yes…my Catholic Godmother. Rotten piece of shit. Even 30 years later, I hate your guts. I have never forgiven you, your stupid pansy of a husband, or that devil the two of you spawned. I will not forget either. But, I had to move on and work through the pain, the shame, and mostly, just the overall hurt feelings.
My father, who was a very good friend to my Godfather, Mike, who by the way, had little to do with what happened to me. He did not participate and I never felt he condoned it. But that Nazi & her dirty little boy ran the house and Mike did what he was told. I will never forget the day he placed that lock on the outside of my bedroom as I sat on my bed crying. The look on his face when his eyes fell upon me. He went out later. And I bet I know where he went. To the tavern. Or to the other woman. I also know that he knew if my Dad ever found out, he would’ve shot Rose Gregor dead. And yes, he would’ve. My being a frightened baby, and later the burying of the entire incident into the dark crevices of my mind and heart, are the only reasons that bitch lived.
My mother on the other hand had the instinct. She told my father that if he didn’t take me out of that house she would and he wouldn’t like what would happen next. My father picked me up and I was never the same. I never spoke of these incidents to my dad until I was about 20. We were in the car driving by the street where I lived with that ogre and her devil son. My father said, “I think Rose and Mike still live there. Maybe we should stop and see.”
I almost had heart failure. Goosebumps rose up, my mouth went dry. I started to cry. After all those years, the hell I endured the few months I lived in that hell came storming in. I blurted out all the horrors that took place in that den of devils. My father almost crashed the car.
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me!” Tears filled his eyes. “I’ll go find them. I’ll kill that whore.” I told him not to bother. There’s no way to prosecute the filth that late in the game either. It was hard to convince him to let it go.
Later I confessed these same things to my mother when I was about 28. My father told her about it at some point but I really didn’t want to talk about it. I actually had to get “help” in my late 20’s because I was still their victim. Sometime after that, I told my mother of the incidents that I endured under the care of Rose, the child abuser.
After I left that nightmare and moved back to my father’s house, I felt better but the fear that he might send me away again was always present. My father met many good women over his later single years, but he never could procure me a nice stepmother who could put up with his antics and drinking. My mom, however, did find someone who was the opposite of everything I’d ever known. A quiet, gentle person. They got married and in January of 1979 moved to Louis’ hometown of Bremond. They had a new home that they built on the outskirts of town on an acre of land they purchased from Louis’ brother. Louis had a farm as well only a couple miles up the road.
My mother came and took me away from my father and I went to Texas in July ‘79. I was afraid of the new place, yes. I was afraid of the very foreign Texas kids who went to the school in the small Catholic school, St. Mary’s, that I attended. But I loved those Texas nights with inky-blue skies that turned purple in the twilight. The smell of fresh-cut hay still takes me back to the best days I ever lived.
I felt lost trying to rebuild my world at nine years old. And a few months later, Sparkles came to me at Christmas. It was the first teddy I had in a very long time, since my brother ripped the arms off my panda when I was only about 6-7. That’s brothers for you! I never again felt lonely, or vulnerable. Sparkles was there with eyes wide open at night, keeping watch for human predators…and dare I say Texas-sized spiders ! 😉
After Sparkles came my lavender-colored bike. Me and the spirit of that bike explored many places together, sometimes with Sparkles on the handle bars. We climbed trees, hunted scary spiders, picked dewberries, and rode the long trip into town.
But my Sparkles, she was the teddy of the house. Easing my memories of abuse at a time when I still dare not tell another soul, except Sparkles. Oh, the secrets she kept. And no matter how many stuffed animals came after, she was my favorite. My protector. Sparkles, who came alive at night to watch for scary things after I fell fast asleep. Still to this day, my teddy bear sleeps with her eyes wide open! Now going on 35 years old, age and a glued-in eye do not hinder her in watching through the night for spooks, spiders and Rose.
When I die, Sparkles will die with me. She won’t have to watch any longer.