Friday, February 22, 2008

Payback for Child Abuse

“No one can tell what goes on
between the person you were
and the person you become.

No one charts that
blue and lonely section of hell.

There are no maps of the change.
You just come out the other side
… or you don’t.”
Stephen King, The Stand

Can't help wondering... what you're wondering about?

People said my parents really cared about kids.

Mom and Dad didn't hesitate to take in kids who needed a home for a while.

Didn't matter if they were kin or not.
And those kids were treated exactly as their own kids...not one bit of difference.

Kids remember experiences like that.

They especially remember if that treatment was different from what they were used to receiving. Makes them see everything in a different way.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that one boy left our house determined to pay back. Just living with us for a while turned his entire life around. He never was quite the same kid again. He'd never become whatever he might have been.
In fact he told us later his only goal in life after he lived with us was to grow into the biggest strongest toughest meanest s.o.b. possible (actually he used a lot of other words, too, but you get the idea?) so he could come back and beat the hell out of Dad. He did it, too. The part about becoming the biggest strongest toughest meanest s.o.b. possible, anyway. When he came back he was a lean, mean, proud Marine. His presence filled the room, his voice boomed when he asked,

Where is he?

In bed.

You tell him to get out here.

He's sick.

Tough. I've been waiting a long time for this day. I'm not leaving until I repay that bastard for every beating he gave me when I was too small to fight back. I couldn't even walk after the worst one. Remember? And I didn't even do anything wrong. One of you guys hid my shoes...

Dad came from his room, dressed only in the tee shirt and boxer shorts he wore when he wasn't ripping off his clothes for some bizarre reason during those final days. At those times that frail, scrawny, naked, white-haired man, who looked old but was only 57, would rage and slam walls and, there alone, taking care of him, I'd hold my breath in terror and stare at the cords on his unnaturally white feet, until he'd come to his senses and exhausted, meekly return to his bed.

I wondered how he'd be, what would happen. Weeks before he died of cancer, Dad's voice was still the strongest part of him.

You looking for me? Haven't changed much have you…always were looking for trouble, weren't you, kid? C'mon. Let's go outside and finish this once and for all.


You bastard. You lousy bastard. I don't fight people who can't fight back.

Ever watch a Marine walk away from a fight? Hear him choke on a sob? See bitter tears of disappointment fill his eyes? Feel his pain, share his frustration, understand the depth of his loss when he realizes the one thing that gave him direction and kept him going for years will never happen?

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

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