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The Early Years (cont.)

The evening after coming home I stayed as quiet as possible, even when being asked a question, I said as little as I could get by with saying. It was as if I could read her mind and I was apprehensive about being left in the house alone with her when my Dad went back to work the next day. I knew that without my braces I was absolutely at her mercy...there was no way for me to get out of bed or into the bathroom without her assistance.

I woke up early the next morning with my stomach in knots, but I wasn't awake long before she came into my room and did her customary morning routine of throwing me into my wheelchair like a sack of potatoes. I said nothing, but as soon as she left the room I sank into feeling very alone. Aside from leaving my room long enough to eat breakfast, I stayed in my room as much as possible, but at around 11:25 that morning I really had to go to the bathroom. My stomach tightened up when I had to call her to come help me. Her help amounted to helping me to stand and holding me under my arms so I could walk into the bathroom, which she had done many times before. However, this particular morning she decided she just couldn't help hold me up. She got me out of the wheelchair and to the point that I was in "no man's land"...I had nothing to grab to hold me up and the way she was holding my arms I couldn't grab for anything...I went straight down with my legs crumpling under me. I tried as I was going down to push myself so I wouldn't fall with all my weight on my lower legs and feet...but she held me so I couldn't, and it felt as though she put extra weight on me as I fell. My left leg was twisted under me the worst and as the weight hit, I heard it snap like a small tree limb, the pain was severe and I screamed. When I screamed she let go and I managed to fall over and off my legs. The pain was so bad I could hardly talk, but I can remember begging her to call the doctor or an ambulance. She yelled at me to shut up as she was beating my head against the floor then she very firmly grabbed my left leg, which made me scream again, and said, "You've just sprained it! You've got to get up and walk on it." I had sprained my ankle before, but it had NEVER felt the way this did...when my leg was touched there was a numbing pain that caused my leg to draw upward. When she picked me up I couldn't even put my foot on the floor to take a step, so she put her foot on top of mine, forcing it to the floor and making me walk on it. I still wonder how she managed to pick me up off the floor so easily when she had originally claimed she couldn't hold me up.

It has come to my attention by someone that has donated money using their credit card to inform you that PayPal takes 2.9% of every donation amount given by credit card. So, this will make the "Current Balance" seem like an odd dollar amount. This is not a big problem for me, just something I want everyone aware of in the future. If by some chance you have an account with PayPal, you can donate directly from your account to mine by using the email address of: sweethp@adelphia.net. There are no fees charged when making a donation from one account to another.

Or you may send donations to:

National Bank Of Commerce

115 West Main Street

Bedford, VA 24523

Please note that it is for the Lynn Orange Handicapped Van Fund when sending your donation!

I sat there all day...crying silently, because she had already threatened to "Give me something to cry about." I guess my leg was a bit deceiving about being broken because there was no bone protrusion and very little swelling, we later found out this was because it was what the doctor's called a "clean" break, meaning it was a straight across the bone break, something the doctor told my Dad could ONLY be done to me deliberately by someone else. Too bad it took almost 24 hours to find out my leg was broken...

My Dad usually got in from work around 5:00 in the evening, but unfortunately he ran just a little later that day and didn't get home until around 5:30. I thought it would be a relief when he came in...that he would be, at the least, upset that she hadn't even contacted a doctor. He asked me what was wrong because I had tears in my eyes, but before I could even answer him she jumped in and said, "She got lazy and clumsy, and she sprained her ankle today." Then he looked at me and shook his head...almost as though he was disgusted with me, and said, "You really need to be more careful." After that, I only remember bits and pieces of the rest of the evening, until going to my grandparents that evening.

My grandmother was always really good at knowing when something was hurting me, or if I was sick, and I always felt "safe" when I was at their house. Well, she could tell I had been crying and I told her my leg was hurting, my Dad volunteered that I was clumsy and had sprained my ankle. When he said that I could no longer control my crying, I knew I couldn't go back home to her...I was afraid she would kill me and the pain in my leg had become excruciating. My grandmother tried several things to ease the pain, but eventually she called a friend whose husband worked for the local lifesaving crew and asked how to tell whether I had a sprain or if my leg was broken. Before I knew it, the ambulance was coming to take me to the hospital.

The time at the hospital is a bit of a blur, I remember having x-rays done and I remember part of what the doctor said, "I don't see anything. I think she just pulled a muscle, so stay off of it a few days, take Tylenol and she should be all right." When I left the hospital my grandmother convinced my Dad to let me spend the night with them. I was awake all night, even the strongest pain medication for children wouldn't give me any relief. Throughout the night my grandmother called our family doctor several times at home. Finally, he went to the hospital early the next morning to look at my x-rays from the night before, and called in a new doctor that could read x-rays. They determined that it appeared to be broken, but they needed more x-rays. So, my grandfather took me back to the hospital, and by the time they were done and a cast was put on my leg I had stopped talking to anyone. I later heard that the doctor told my grandparents I had gone into shock and that's why I wouldn't speak.

All I know is that three days later I heard my grandmother say that my stepmother was talking about getting things in order so I could come back home, something about hearing that made me snap and all I could do was cry. My grandmother finally sat down and in a very straightforward way asked me what happened when my leg was broken. She and my grandfather had asked me this several times over that three day period...I think I had just shut down because I was scared and up to this point I had always had to go back to more beatings. However, when my grandmother asked me on that third day...I told her the whole story. Throughout the rest of that day she periodically asked me to repeat the story of what had happened, when she realized my story wasn't changing she decided to confront my stepmother and my Dad with what she knew. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what went on from here, except that my Dad came back to my grandparents and never went back to my stepmother.

No legal action was taken against her because lawyers were afraid of child abuse cases in the early 1970's, and even though there was a Social Service Agency there was no such thing as Child Protective Services back then...if there was...let's just say it wasn't as prominent as it is today.

Now, let me for a few minutes bring you to the present time. This section of my life was (without a doubt) difficult to write, but I want my feelings about it now to be known. I have forgiven her for doing this to me, because as an adult I have come to understand how she must have felt. She was an independent, employed woman, she fell in love with my Dad, it was her first marriage, and she had taken on the responsibility of caring for another woman's child that was disabled. I also just realized I failed to mention she and my Dad had a daughter together, which she had also abused...just not to the degree she did me. She was extremely overwhelmed and her frustration just landed on me. Did she handle it correctly? No. But haven't we all done something out of frustration that was wrong? Some would ask about my Dad and why he didn't do more. I really can't answer that one with 100% certainty, but in his defense he really only knew what she told him. Yes, he had seen the bruises and knuckle prints on me, but I'm sure he really didn't want to believe she would do something like that to me. So, in the end, I let God handle it. There is no one to "blame" for what happened, and there is no way to go back to change it...with God's help, I have moved on and learned from the experience. I will never really be able to forget it because as a result of my leg being broken, I was never able to walk without braces or crutches and eventually had to become a full-time wheelchair user. Now, back to the long version of my life story...

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It has come to my attention by someone that has donated money using their credit card to inform you that PayPal takes 2.9% of every donation amount given by credit card. So, this will make the "Current Balance" seem like an odd dollar amount. This is not a big problem for me, just something I want everyone aware of in the future. If by some chance you have an account with PayPal, you can donate directly from your account to mine by using the email address of: sweethp@adelphia.net. There are no fees charged when making a donation from one account to another.

Or you may send donations to:

National Bank Of Commerce

115 West Main Street

Bedford, VA 24523

Please note that it is for the Lynn Orange Handicapped Van Fund when sending your donation!