The weeks following my mothers death were a blur. She died December 7th 1982, 10 days before my 13th birthday. My father allowed my brother and I to choose the inscription on her tombstone.
“A loving mother so gentle and kind
What a wonderful memory she left behind”
My mother instilled in me a love for God. She had a faith that was unwavering, and always saw the best in everyone. She volunteered at my school and acted as a ‘Mother Teressa’ of sorts’ loving the unlovable, and the abandoned. She opened herself and our home up to those in need.
She was a true representation of love in action.
She enjoyed the simple things in life…We sat in the warm California sun to air dry our hair together…She used to tell me Gods sunshine is the best remedy for the dull drums.
She quietly tended her flower garden, talking to God throughout the day, thanking Him for the beauty that surrounded her. She honestly KNEW God.
Unfortunately all the fond memories were not enough to sustain me. I was deeply grieving, and not sure what to do with the pain.
I was angry at God, angry at my dad for sending me away, angry at the world.
At 13 I attempted suicide twice to try and escape the pain, and started cutting myself regularly.
I started using drugs and alcohol which led to promiscuous behavior.
Eventually I found myself being moved to various mental health facilities as I was a suicide risk, and my father grieving himself had no clue what to do with me.
After trying everything he knew to do, he finally demanded I leave the house, and not come back until I had my act together.
I found myself alone on the streets of LA at 13. I learned how to survive there…
Friends snuck me into their houses for a warm bed, and I stayed in abandoned motels, parks and cardboard boxes in Hollywood. I learned to be a survivor. I was never going to let anyone or anything ever hurt me again. That was my inner vow.
I met a young man, a gang member at 15. He was charming, brave…my ‘knight in shining armor’ (so I thought) He protected me, loved me, adored me. Oh yeah thats when he wasn’t beating the living daylights out of me.
At 16 I found myself pregnant. Because of my previous loss, I just knew I had to keep this child…I remember thinking; This baby will love me unconditionally.
His father and I moved into a small apartment in a seedy part of town. I was only allowed to leave the apartment to go to work waitressing. I had a curfew and was expected to be home right after work. This was a dangerous neighborhood where drive by shootings were a regular occurrence, so he received no argument from me!
It was a rough 9 months for me. I literally had nothing to eat 90% of the time. I felt scared and alone.
However Christopher Anthony arrived 9 months later, a happy healthy baby boy. My life was changed. He brought me such joy! He was my world, my everything.
His father was arrested a few months after his birth for selling drugs, and once again I found myself alone and afraid. Eviction notice in hand I begged my father to let me come home.
He welcomed me home, I started attending nursing school during the week while my father watched Chris….but this was short lived. I still had much unresolved anger and pain, deep into addiction. I found myself making one bad choice after another.
I was asked to leave and found myself alone once again, living on the streets with my almost year old baby boy.
After months of trying to find food and shelter, bouncing around from place to place I plopped myself down on a bus stop bench, Chris sitting in the stroller next to me, I just started weeping. “How can I do this to my child” This is not the life I want for him. I looked down at his smiling face, it was a cold winter evening and neither of us even had a jacket to wear. God I cant go on, help me!
That’s When ‘she’ came up behind me. I felt a warm hand touch my shoulder…”Honey. is everything ok”?
Startled i turned around quickly to see this woman with the most piercing blue eyes staring down at me. She looked like a homeless woman. Heavy set, scraggly hair, filthy dirty nails and face, old torn clothes.
She sat down next to me. “Are you ok”?
I was a painfully shy child and teenager. I never shared my feelings with others let alone a complete stranger, but something about her made me feel ‘safe’.
I spilled out my entire story to her through tears, every ugly detail….Then I said…”Wait!” Are you one of those born again Christians? Because if so I dont want to hear what you have to say”
She laughed for what seemed like forever, then held my hand, looked me in the eyes and replied. “I’m Jewish honey” Ahhhh, what a relief, one of my people! We hugged. I found it odd that a jewish woman would be sharing a bus stop with me in one of the toughest neighborhoods in LA, but hey, maybe she was crazy.
Listen, she said. Go over to that pay phone and call your dad, he will let you home dear.
Oh no! I replied, you dont understand lady, he hates me and wants nothing to do with me. I had plenty of chances, and blew them all.
She looked at me smiling, and simply repeated..”He will let you home, call him now” She took my hand in her dry, cracked dirty hand and placed some coins in mine.
I reluctantly accepted and made my way to the phone booth. I dialed my dad, “sorry, he said, I have given you plenty of chances, you are no longer welcome here, you are no longer my daughter.”
I fought back the tears, and hung up the phone…The woman standing next to me held my hand, and said softly, “He will let you come home” Here is some change. Get on the bus, go to him, he will let you home.
What did I have to lose? I had nowhere to go. She followed me on the bus. It was a long ride, felt like an eternity.
All of a sudden everything started shaking, an earthquake??? Oh great! Just what I need. We all braced ourselves. The quake jolted me out of my deep thoughts and before I knew it we were approaching my stop.
The woman followed me off the bus, and said “You are going to be ok” Trust me. I turned to thank her, but she was gone, seemingly disappeared into thin air. I stood there crying for what seemed like forever.
Eventually I regained my composure and headed home.
I knocked on my fathers door, but he would not answer. Finally I resorted to begging…He eventually opened the door.. He looked at me, then at Chris and we both started weeping, and held each other tightly. Come in, you’re home now baby girl.
16 and 8 months pregnant with my son Chris