Happy Ian Day, Sad Day for Women

Today is Ian’s birthday.  He would have been 15, and a student in high school.  Birthdays are always difficult.  They show you exactly how much time has elapsed.  All the things you have missed, that he has missed, are highlighted in stark relief.  I love him.  I miss him.

On the boys’ birthdays, it has been my habit to post a “Happy ________ Day” post, focusing on who they were.  Sometimes I suggest something that can be done in his honor – different for each one of them, since each one was different.  I post a photo or collage.  I change my ring tone to  something the birthday boy liked.  Sometimes I change things to a favorite color.  I desperately want to remember and celebrate who my boys were and share them with others.  I have posted such a post for Ian today on social media.  He was a bright, sunny, three-year-old, who didn’t get a chance to be four.

Today was also a difficult day because of the Senate hearing on the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  Like one in three American women, I have also been the victim of sexual assaults – three different times.  That could have been me facing all those hostile men.  I could have had to answer the questions of a professional prosecutor designed to poke little bitty holes in my story and make me seem to be a liar or a mercenary, or a dupe.  So, I want to talk to you about trauma and memory.  I want to tell you my experiences.

The first time I was assaulted, I was about 10.  My uncle took me into a big hug, and then proceeded to fondle my growing breasts.  It hurt.  I scrambled out of his grip and ran away.  Did I report the incident?  No.  I’m not even sure I had the language to describe it.  Vaguely I knew that it was wrong, and that it would cause a lot of upset.  I felt bad.  I feared I would be blamed.  And, I never said a word until I was in my 20s.

Why did I finally say something?  My brother was taking his kids to visit the same uncle, and my niece was the same age that I had been at the time of the assault.  What happened?  My mother told me that I must have misunderstood.  I may have not fully understood when I was ten, but I knew it was wrong. And I understood it when I was in my 20s and talking about it!  By the way, I have no idea of the dates of the incident or my relating of the story.  I probably didn’t even know the date at the time of the assault.  What 10-year-old knows the date?  The assault is crystal clear though, as if it was yesterday.  So is my telling of the incident and the hurt of having it blown off.

The second time I was assaulted, it was by a room service waiter in Rio de Janiero.  I was 16, and had accompanied my parents to an international convention that my dad was attending.  They were at a boring lunch meeting, and I stayed behind to read and write postcards.  I got hungry and ordered a steak sandwich.  After he set up the meal, the waiter reached out and took hold of my hair.  I thought he was just interested in the color.  My long blonde hair had caused interest as we traveled through Central and South America.  It was unusual to the people there.  Then he stuck his hand into my shirt and grabbed my breast.  He stuck his tongue in my mouth.  I didn’t know what to do.  This was beyond my experience. He only spoke Portuguese.  I tried to indicate that my father was on the way back and pushed him out of the room.

Did I call anyone?  No.  I was afraid.  What if they didn’t speak English either?  What would I say?  What if I wasn’t believed?  I hid in the locked bathroom to wait for my parents to come back, and all the while he kept returning and knocking on the door, and calling to me.  I could hardly breathe, I was so traumatized.  When my folks finally returned, they called the hotel manager and my dad held on to the man while waiting for someone to show up.  After questioning me in English and the waiter in Portuguese, the manager said that he would be fired.  That’s it.  Everyone continued as if nothing had happened.  It meant nothing to anyone except me – at least, that’s how it felt, as we attended dinners and went sightseeing.  My trauma was trivialized.  And, I do not know the date.

The third time I was assaulted, I was a 49-year-old, over weight grandmother.  I worked in the fundraising department of a college, and had gone in to the office on a Saturday to catch up on some work.  The phone rang.  It was an important, well loved alumnus, who wanted some duplicating done.  I went to pick it up.  He was wheelchair bound, and in a private home that cared for the elderly.  I was shown to his room and found it odd that he wheeled over and shut the door.  He told me I was beautiful and asked me to take him to my house.  I told him it wasn’t wheelchair accessible, and tried to get back to the duplicating.  He handed me to a huge stack of papers – at least a full ream.  I took it from him, and he suddenly reached around me with both hands, grabbed two handfuls of ass, and pulled me close.  He plunged his face into my breasts and rubbed his face back and forth, making smacking noises.  I managed to extract myself from his grip, but had difficulty opening the door, which opened inward.  He was too close with his wheelchair.  I had to squeeze around and try to wrestle the heavy chair away enough that I could slip out.

This time I called someone right away.  I reported the incident to my supervisor and to Campus Safety.  My first thought was fear that this man, who was always coming to campus events, would assault a student.  Did I go further and file a police report?  No.  A DA wasn’t going to file charges against an old man in a wheelchair.  He was revered and beloved by many rich, important, alumni.  I knew what the response would be, and as a single parent, I needed my job.  I needed my health insurance.  And, I didn’t want to be humiliated.

As far as humiliation goes, well, the incident flashed around the campus with the speed of light.  People actually said to me, “Hey, I heard about what happened to you.  That is absolutely hysterical!  So funny!”  I ask you, is it any wonder women don’t come forward and report these things?  “So funny” some of my colleagues thought.  A fat grandmother grabbed and groped by an old guy in a wheelchair strikes people as funny.  It wasn’t funny to me.  It was painful and humiliating.  It was traumatizing.  When I think about it, it is like reliving the whole experience again.  I don’t remember the date though.  It was a Saturday.  There are probably records somewhere.  But, no, I can’t tell you the date.  Does that make it a fabrication?

This has been a bad, bad day for me, what with one thing and another.  I hope my stories have at least been thought provoking.  And I hope you will still remember sweet, energetic, little Ian with me, with a smile for the beautiful child that was.  Monkey.

 

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Grief

Whatever the cause of death, what ever faith or religion we have, the pain is the same. It’s not a thing you even need words to understand. I can read what a father wrote about losing his daughter to the Black Death in medieval Europe, and know I am sitting right beside him. Our lives are nothing alike, but I know what he feels… Just as I know what a parent in any other time or place feels. I even understand why a monkey carries her dead baby in her arms for more than a week, unable to let go. And I empathize with the elephant who keeps gently touching and trying to wake her dead child. Grief is a primal thing, especially the grief for a child. We who have experienced this know that the differences don’t matter. The differences are superficial. Monkey.

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Happy Devon Day

Happy Devon Day!  My kind-hearted angel would have been 18 today!  Old enough to vote!  His friends graduated from high school this year.  Would he be driving?  Have a girlfriend?  Play an instrument in the band like his dad?  We’ve missed so much.  I love and miss you, golden boy.  Devon Michael Williams, 7/26/00-8/8/07.  Monkey!

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Garden Wars 5/12/18

We are quite humiliated!  We are in a terrible funk!  Mouse has been caught, but not by a garden warrior.  The shame!

Our human slave bought a strange plastic contraption a couple of weeks ago.  She said it was a trap for Mouse.  We scoffed.  Mouse is an evil genius.  He could never be caught in some kind of plastic toy thought up by a human!  The idea!

Stubbornly, she went ahead with her stupid plan.  She wasted perfectly good peanutbutter inside, that could have been given to dogs.  Nothing happened, just as we predicted.  So, she wasted a morsel of bread, again taking food out of the mouths of the garden warriors!  Disgraceful!  We told her so, but she didn’t listen.  And, as before, it was all for nothing.

This afternoon, the human slave was sharing an apple with us, and had an impulse to put a bit in the trap thingy.  It was a crisp, juicy apple, that rightfully belonged to our faithful soldiers.  She said that since Mouse ate part of an apple before, maybe the fruit would tempt him into the trap.  What an idea!  She can be stubborn, though, and went right ahead with her “idea”.

Ten minutes later we heard a scrabbling noise, and the trap had been sprung!  It caught not only Mouse, but a mouse clone as well!  We are flabbergasted!  Two at once!  Well, there will be no living with the human after this!  You can’t let them start to take their silly ideas seriously, you know!  No telling what they might try to do next.  We are going to have to think long and hard about the best way to redeem our reputations!  Monkey!5F24FCC4-99BB-43F5-9369-7B050828FD39

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Garden Wars 5/3/18

Tomorrow (May 4th) is Star Wars Day.  We are concerned about this.  Our research has shown that evil characters (probably rodents), make up big armies of clones to do their dirty work.  We have seen an increase of mice in our garden, and are concerned that Darth Mouse has been cloning an invasion force!

One of these mouse clones has actually invaded our headquarters.  Brock is quite upset about this.  The clone could be scouting for weaknesses.  Maybe it is stealing for supplies for the clone army!  We can’t have that!  Our human slave found that it had eaten part of an apple!  Everyone knows that apples are for dogs! What’s next?  Carrots?  Kibble?  BACON?  The end of the world?

Brock has spent hours trying to get that clone to come out from behind the piano or wherever it is hiding.  It is extremely uncooperative.  It inconveniently hides in a place that no one can reach, and despite Brock’s most authoritative bark, it absolutely refuses to cooperate and come out!  Disgraceful!

It’s exhausting for everyone to be on high alert all the time.  Well, almost everyone.   We are not happy with Merry’s performance in this crisis.  When the Mouse Alert is sounded, Brock, Hamilton and Pippin boldly leap into action and try to effect it’s capture.  It’s true that Pippin often runs to the wrong spot, but at least he attempts to do his duty.  Merry gives a few loud barks, but when everyone else has rushed into the breach, he doesn’t follow.  Instead he takes over the warmest, comfiest spot of lap that one of his more heroic comrades has vacated, and curls up for a nap.  Court marshal, do you think?  Monkey!

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Garden Wars 3/26/18

Hamilton almost caught that evil Mouse today!  Twice!  He caught up with the malefactor in the narcissus bed, pouncing and driving him back and forth.  After a while, he couldn’t seem to catch up with him anymore.  Brock had been helping, but as the search through the jungle of stems went on and on, he decided that he would be of more help guarding the door to headquarters, so that our food supplies would be protected.  What thief could enter with Brock camped right on the threshold?

It wasn’t until we were all headed back inside for a well earned rest and snack that our human slave mentioned that she had seen Mouse run across the garden path to hide in the geraniums!  What the heck!  She couldn’t give a bark or yelp or something to give us a heads up?  She then claimed that every time she tries to warn us about an incursion, we always run and bark in the wrong direction!  Humph!  That is so ridiculous, that we didn’t even dignify it with an answer!  Humans make very unreliable lookouts.  You can’t depend on them at all!

We all settled in for a nice afternoon nap. Suddenly, we were startled by a horrible grinding noise.  Brock looked out of the window and discovered Squirrel!  Right on the front porch!  In broad daylight!  The malefactor was gnawing his way through the hard plastic lid on the birdseed canister!  Well, we soon chased him out of our territory!  Several times the cheeky rascal hopped back over the fence and tried to saunter across our lawn.  While we were right there on guard duty!  The nerves of these knavish rodents these days!  No respect at all!  Disgraceful!  Monkey!

 

 

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Enough is Enough

No parent should have to bury their child as I have. No grandparent should have to pick out little coffins for their grandchildren as I have. Whatever the cause, it is a tragedy that hangs like a cloud over your head and causes you pain for the rest of your life.

Losing those precious lives to violence – to murder – is a special kind of Hell. Nothing is more devastating or nightmarish. To know that someone deliberately did this to them – that their lives were thrown out like trash – that is an agony I don’t want one more parent of grandparent to know. To have to sit in court with the evil person who committed this horrible act, day after day, while you learn the details of what your babies went through is awful. You are told you can’t show emotion or it could influence the jury and be a basis for an appeal. So you hold it in, an impossible task, and collapse when it is over. Every day. For years. And for the rest of your life you still worry about appeals, and see your tragedy portrayed in books and television programs. It’s an insane way to live.

My boys were not killed with a gun. That doesn’t matter. Guns are too easy…too easy to get and too easy to use. You can kill at a distance. You can kill many more victims. You don’t have to even notice the humanity of the lives you are ripping away, as you move on to the next. If tougher gun laws can stop one family from going through this kind of half-life, they are worth it. Every single one of the lives lost to violence diminishes us all. This must stop. I don’t want to hear the same excuses one more time. Enough us enough! Monkey! #enoughisenough #neveragain

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