"For there needs must be an opposition in all things..." is a scriptural verse that really speaks to my soul. I have seen incredible beauty, exquisite tenderness, and eternal love over and over in my world. I have also seen hideous evil, hatred supreme, and personal persecution.
Vonda was two years old. She had the wise aged eyes of a ninety year old woman. She said at random times, "My Mama is in jail. She is a pwostitute." No two year old should even try to say the word prostitute, let alone label her mother with that reality.
Presley, her oldest brother seemed thirty years old but was actually only eight years old. He was canny, street savvy, and a bit frightening to an extremely innocent twelve year old me. He was a veteran of the war to survive. He had two half siblings, two year old Vonda, and six year old Ronny. I don't think their Mother knew who their Father or Fathers were. Seeming to forget that she had three children his Mother would simply disappear from their lives from time to time. That left Presley to figure out ways to feed all of them. They entered the foster system when Presley was caught shoplifting to feed his family.
Six year old Ronny was so sweet. It was amazing after being in a very dysfunctional family that the sweet, innocent core of Ronny had maintained. He was wide-eyed, wide-hearted....loving, and learning from every single interaction with other human beings.
Ronny didn't talk a lot. He had these large warm eyes, like the
sweetest puppy dog imaginable. When he turned those strong, loving eyes on
you it was hard to doubt that he loved you with the warmest
Ronny's laughter was more beautiful than the
sweetest of music. It was absolutely impossible to NOT laugh when he
laughed. It didn't matter what he was laughing at or if you thought it
was funny, you HAD to laugh!
I don't remember much about a transition period as they adjusted to living with our family. Of course, I was also quite young but in my mind they were NOT part of our family one day, and then they WERE part of our family the next.
The youngest, beloved child to this point, I was ever so jealous of the attention that they all needed. I was also frustrated that I needed to help with them...and did not receive any monetary remuneration for my labors! I babysat from the age of eleven so I had no problem watching younger children as a job but not in my home, my sanctuary, the place where I reigned supreme as the beloved youngest sister and child.
Mom and Dad just folded them into our lives smoothly, like laundry that came out of the drier a bit wrinkled and then were lovingly smoothed and adjusted into neat, tidy packets to be put away in a drawer. I did not adjust as well.
There were difficult times...like Vonda telling random people, "My Mothew is a pwostitute in jail." I'm not certain that she understood what those words meant. She only knew that people were nicer to her after she expressed them.
I sometimes picked on these three, I'm ashamed to say. I was jealous...so jealous...I used to be te pampered youngest...now I was the "middle" child. THEIR transition into our family was much smoother than MY transition to having them as part of OUR family.
In short order my older brother and sister both married (Within six months of each other), and moved away to their own homes. Now I was the OLDEST child. How many of you have made that transition in your life....youngest, middle, oldest? It was a foreign, frightening, frantic place to be. I loved them, and they had become my family, but I still missed the relative freedom I had enjoyed as the youngest child.
Lovingly, my parents determined to adopt the three and end the temporary nature of their lives to that point. By this point I considered them my siblings and I loved them dearly. We still worked to help Presley understand that he wasn't the boss of Vonda and Ronny, and he could forget that role and act like a regular young man coming close to puberty.
The sweet song of our lives together was torn apart. The Mother was out of jail and the state wanted to rehabilitate her. She would be a "Responsible," parent now, right? Alcohol and sex weren't her only two thoughts anymore, right?
Apparently the Mother's rights were far more important than the safety of those three children. She was pushed into a job, and told to be a good Mom. She didn't just "fall off the wagon," she jumped far and wide, and soon was again practicing her previous habits.
My parents were determined, (by Social Services) to be "too old" to adopt. They were in their mid forties, in good health, comfortably middle class in income. They were perfectly fine to house children on a "Temporary" basis. They just weren't allowed to adopt.
The children were bounced into a crowded foster family that had eight children of their own. The Mom had a well earned nervous breakdown. Now the kids were split into three homes. Vonda's new family wanted to adopt her. Again the rights of the "Mother," were taken more seriously than the rights of the children.
Back the children went to their Mom. Again she was rehabilitated, and again she jumped off "The wagon," in short order.
Now the children lived for a time with an aunt. The aunt was single, and worked hard to earn a good living. She provided an excellent home for the three.
Then back to Mama they went....they were bounced about like rubber balls. The biggest difference is that when you have a really good bouncy ball you keep track of it and don't let it fall into the bushes and stay there. These three precious children were dropped literally and figuratively into the worst kinds of lives.
By sixteen Presley was married, and they had a child. He entered the military life. Unable to handle the rigid discipline he went AWOL and spent time in jail.
Ronny, became a drug addict. His life was one of despair and degradation...married multiple times, and unmarried just as many.
Vonda married an abusive husband. She abused him as well. Children were born into this mess of a home. The children were abused, abused each other, and Vonda and her husband were there, not, there, not, in and out of jail. Drugs were a part of her life as well, and her husband's.
When they took Presley, Ronny, and Vonda away from our family we all felt as though we were going through the grieving process that occurs in the death of a family member...three family members. In reality we were. We were allowed no contact with the children as they bounced about through the Social Services System. Mama managed in various ways to track their lives.
Years passed. The grief softened as it must do for those left behind to survive. Then the grief would become sharper again...as though it were brand new as we would learn of the horrors of their lives.
I have faced many traumas and dramas in the course of my fifty seven years of living. The hardest ALWAYS is the crisis where you have no control. Having my brothers and sister taken from us gave us NO POWER. We could not take them and run to a different country. We had to accept the power of the government (social services?) and their decisions on how to treat the lives of my siblings by love, not blood.
I have faced this sorrow since I was a teen. I pray for them, wonder how they are doing. I must believe that there WILL be justice for those three. I doubt that it will be in this life. I believe that after we die there will be all kinds of healing that will happen. The ugliest of evils that happen in this life will be made right.
So I end where I began...in this world we learn through "Opposition." The bad teaches us to appreciate the good. Pain teaches us about health. Sorrow teaches us about joy. How do we find a way through the ugliness that life will inevitably cause us to confront? It may sound overly simplistic but it's true...we handle the dark by making ourselves face the light. No matter how dark our world, the sun always does come out at some point. (No I will NOT burst into a chorus from Annie, "The Sun will come out tomorrow..." OK, maybe just a little).
Life is hard, earnest, and sometimes completely dark. Yet life is beauty, the exquisite experience of our senses. Great philosophers have tackled this earth life conundrum. It seems no coincidence that when you read through the writings of the past there is a common theme or facing the light to cope with the dark. I'm still praying...