Ya know, sometimes I sit here at night, and being the age I am, or at least I like to blame it on my age, I get to thinking about things that have gone on during the day in my world, and that’s when I rehash what’s been said, or not said, as the case may be. But, I got to wondering about one of my neighbors. I don’t know her real well, but I know her enough to have borrowed a cup of sugar a couple times.
But last week I happened to see a sign on her door saying “Oxygen in Use.” Well, that stopped me right now. Of all the people that live in my little apartment building, I was the one we all thought would be on oxygen, Not Madeline. Of course, I thought about calling her, not knocking, I don’t knock very often. But I also noticed her car hadn’t been moved for all that time, either.
I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I called her today. Her daughter answered, and that worried me right away. But when I asked if Madeline was OK, her daughter put her mother on the line, and that’s when I learned the ugly truth. My friend has stage 4 cancer of the pancreas. Why is it we never know what to say. My friend said the words so calmly, and without the least bit of sorrow or even hint of fear. I think that’s what threw me.
She spoke without rancor, or anger, just matter-of-factly, almost like reading the words from a piece of paper. We talked awhile, and I found out that the doctors couldn’t tell her for sure how long she might have left. A month, maybe a year, she said. I said nothing to that, for what could anyone say. After chatting a bit longer, we said our good-byes, I promising to call often, and visit.
I’ve thought about Madeline all afternoon and evening. I’m glad she has not been alone through all this, because it happened so fast. I mean, one day you’re fine, and next week, you’re dying. Its so strange, and so final. I’ll have to keep my promise to my friend, though. I won’t let her go this path alone, and I will walk beside her part of the way.
I just finished writing an article for another site about sexual abuse lawyers, and the good job they do in representing the victims of child and adult sexual abuse. While I know that adult sexual abuse is an important subject, and one that is not talked about enough in the media, child sexual abuse is an even more important issue in the world today.
One of the things I learned while researching my story for the other article, was that the statute of limitations is so darned short on these cases. In some states, it is only a few years. The problem with this is the short length of time allowed. Not only that, several articles I read mentioned “repressed memories” as being not allowed to be used in many cases. I’m talking about time limits here, for being allowed to bring charges.
I can see where a child would easily repress the memory of being sexually abused, and would want to put the incident out of their mind. The issue of repressing the memory is brought home when the child later is perhaps diagnosed with “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” or PTSD. Then, it could take months of therapy before the root cause of the PTSD is discovered. Often times, it will be too late to prosecute the abuser.
It would be interesting to know if there is a way to bring someone to justice after an incident that took place long ago is finally remembered, the years of abuse finally brought to light, and how the law would apply in that case. PTSD is a real ailment, and, to me, one of the body’s defense mechanisms for protecting us from events so traumatic the mind finds them too much to deal with. Child sexual abuse certainly fits this category, hands down.
It’s one of the first words we learn to say, isn’t it? Hate, the word is so permanent to me. It’s like saying, “I wish you were dead.” And that is very permanent. Then, as we grow older, depending on our family dynamics and the peer groups we end up hanging out with, we learn how to hate. It may be one thing, as a young child, to say you hate this or that person, but until a parent or guardian explains what the word means, you will continue to use the word, with the tacit agreement of your family.
But as we grow older, and begin to understand the meaning of the word, we also learn that it can hurt, and many of us like how it hurts others, and take great pleasure in seeing how much we can can make people suffer with our words. I wonder, sometimes, why people are so hate-filled. They must lead miserable lives, so caught up in their dislike of whoever or whatever they profess to hate.
My friend, Carol wrote a comment in response to a story I wrote on hate-music, and it’s growth in the U.S. today. She has asked the same questions I have been asking myself. Yes, we have freedom of speech, the right to say what’s on our minds, along with the right to put our thoughts in print or in music, but the thing is, when we act on those thoughts, then we have stepped over the line, haven’t we?
I don’t even know what possessed me to turn on Turner Classic Movies, but there it was. A whole afternoon of Tarzan movies was airing, and these were the ones made way back there in the 1930’s. Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan starred in the original ones, of course, and I had forgotten how much I and all the kids in our neighbor loved them.
These movies brought back memories of a much simpler time, for all of us. There were no smart phones, computers, and hardly that many television sets then. Of course, I hadn’t been born yet, either. I wasn’t around until the 1940’s, but, even so, I remember watching those movies, at the theater and on Saturday morning television.
I sometimes wish for those simpler times. Not because the movies were in black and white, or because it only cost a quarter to go see them. But, those days reflected the innocence in all of us. The values and morals we had meant something, and they seemed to be real, and not contrived.
A friend commented on a story I wrote today on breastfeeding. In her comment, Carol said that with breastfeeding being one of the most natural ways of showing a mother’s love for her child, it was a shame that so few women bothered to try today. She mentioned also, that in countries overseas, things that we here in America are so prudish about are considered “normal”.
It got me to thinking, especially after getting my belly full of Tarzan movies, are we really living in so complicated a world today? And, if so, who or what caused it to change? It just doesen’t make sense to me anymore that we can’t have a world where honesty, integrity, morals, and love of family is more important than money, prestige and material objects.
But, that seems to be the way things are today. It really is sad, and I’m afraid it is going to become even worse than it is now. We have politicians handing us nothing but lies, and those are to suit these own needs. Women are being exploited in the worst possible way, not only on television, but publicly.
We have lost our moral compass, and it has dribbled down to our young people. Our youth have no direction, and no self-discipline to go with it. They have nothing to believe in, and no one to look up to, either. And this is the saddest thing of all. We may have had a fictional character, but he was the epitome of what was good, and a hero of sorts.
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the expression from television crime-drama shows of yesteryear, where the bailiff tells the person about to be questioned in court to answer him, after he asks, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.”
With all the election rhetoric, the Penn State scandal, and God only knows what else that’s out there, Is it any wonder that the public is cynical anymore? I am, that’s for sure. I really find it hard to take anything I read, or see when watching the news on television, without a little bit of skepticism. You know where I’m heading, right?
What has happened to telling the truth? Let me tell everyone a story. It’s a true story, as sure as I am sitting here typing on the old laptop, but it happened to me. As a child, we lived in what used to be called the “projects.” Today, they might be called public housing, or something like that. But, my family was not well-off.
Not being well-off meant that we kids, there were four of us in the family, didn’t have the money jingling in our pockets that other kids our age had, and so we couldn’t afford to buy a candy bar, let alone a Mickey Mouse comic book. To put it in perspective for you young folks reading this, this was in 1956, when a 3 Musketeers bar cost 5 cents and a comic book was a quarter.
Well, one afternoon, my parents sent me to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. I was given 50 cents, and my Mom said to be sure and bring home the change. My little brother insisted on tagging along, which was alright with me, though later I would wish fervently that he hadn’t come.
After buying the loaf of bread, we lingered at the magazine rack at the front of the store. There were comic books galore, and I longed to read every single one of them. A big sign warned that if you read one, you had to buy it, so I stood there a minute, just looking. What happened next, and why I did it, I will never know, but I grabbed the Mickey Mouse comic I had been eying and slipped it into my grocery bag, along with the loaf of bread.
I grabbed my brother’s hand and strolled out of the store, scared to death I would feel a hand grab my coat collar or worse yet, yell, “Thief,” Nothing happened, and I said not a word to my little brother as we walked home. Later that evening, after supper, my father came in the kitchen while I was washing dishes, and asked me where I had gotten the money to buy a comic book. It was then I noticed my brother peeking around the kitchen door, his eyes as big as saucers.
I told my father a friend had loaned it to me so I could read it. That was my first lie. My father then asked me which friend, and on and on the lies went, as I dug myself in deeper and deeper. It seems my brother had gone into my bedroom and found the comic book so he could look at it, and my father had seen him. Questioning my brother was easy. He told my father I had got it at the store. Being a five-year old, he didn’t think he had said anything wrong, and of course, he hadn’t.
I want to tell everyone, my father never, ever spanked or hit any of his children, ever. The exception was to take place on that night. He took off his belt and swatted me on the behind, twice. It wasn’t the pain, there was very little, as I remember. It was what he told me that stung, and has stuck in my mind to this day. He said, “Karen, never tell anyone a lie. A lie will stay with you, and in trying to explain it will cause you to tell another lie, and then another, and they will keep piling on until they reach the point of smothering you.”
He was right, of course. And I learned a valuable lesson. I tell the truth, even if it hurts me, but once that truth is told, what comes after isn’t near as bad as it could have been if I had instead lied. And too, I expect people to not lie to me. I forgive them if they do, sometimes, because it can be difficult for some of us. But just think how much less damage would have been done if Joe Paterno hadn’t lied, or President Obama had been a bit more forthcoming, or Mitt Romney had admitted he put his money in overseas accounts to avoid paying taxes? I think everyone gets the picture, right?