My Parents History
Names of family
they are identified by
their relationship to
Mom age 3 years
Since my therapy ended I have learned a great deal more about my
parent’s lives that I did not know before they died. Consequently, I
decided to write their story and put it into the context of how I was
affected by the events in their lives.
I grew up knowing that my mother hated her grandfather and that she
was very glad he had died before I was born. I knew her first husband
was an adulterer and they divorced, her second husband had an affair
with her best friend and they divorced. She was pregnant with my older
brother when she married my dad. She stayed married to my dad until
she died twenty nine years later. During their marriage my father
started drinking heavily; he was out of control and earned the title of
alcoholic. However, this was only part of the story.
Mom was born before the Great Depression, on 5 August 1925. She
was the second of three children born to her parents, all daughters.
She died on 17 June 1988. Her father was described as a kind,
charismatic man who took good care of his family – an upstanding
community member. Her mother was described as quiet, gentle, and
someone who never left her house. She was a meticulous
housekeeper, loved her daughters, and did her best with what she had.
My mother’s grandfather was the family historian. He compiled an
extensive family history but never finished it. A distant cousin of his
finished compiling it and wrote the following description of my mother’s
grandfather, “(He) was a kind and considerate gentleman, who was
known and greatly loved by many of his relatives.” This was hard to
believe considering what he had done to his granddaughters, and I am
highly suspicious that he also did this to his own daughters.
I had an analysis done of his handwriting from when he was elderly,
and as a young man. The analysis was very revealing. The following is
from his elderly handwriting: “He was very jealous, terribly sarcastic, a
dirty old man, annoyed easily, very nit-picky, very domineering, had a
good mind – if and when used, a lot of enthusiasm, very determined,
good imagination, wild imagination, needs constant change and variety
in every aspect of his life, very direct and to the point, skill with hands.”
The analyzer did not finish, she noted: “had to stop here, although
there is a lot more. He is such an evil/dirty old man, the spirit was too
uncomfortable.” The following is all that was noted about him as a
young man: “As a young man - much the same, except he was not
dirty, but was possibly being abused.”
Here is a man who was more than likely abused as a child, who
passed on the abuse to future generations. He was well liked by those
outside his immediate family, but those in the immediate family circle
knew him better. One of my mother’s cousins said that she could
believe that he sexually abused my mother when I told her that he had.
She emphatically denied any belief or possibility that my mother’s
father would have done so because he was too kind and gentle of a
Mom was four years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. Her
family was not wealthy and ended up living with cousins who owned a
nursery. They all worked there to support their families. Mom knew a
great deal about plants and their care. Life was not easy, but they had
enough in that respect.
I do not know when her grandfather started sexually abusing her but
mom told me that “he had all his granddaughters that way.” What I did
not know was that her father was also sexually abusing her. I do know
that they were abusing her throughout her teens because she had a
miscarriage and was sent to a home for pregnant teens her junior year
of High School to deliver a son who was adopted out. She kept a
picture of him that she was given at his birth. She kept it hidden her
whole life, taking it out to look at and mourn only when she was alone.
The abuse did not stop even after that evidence so loudly proclaimed
the abuse was happening. They caused her to experience the, at that
time, shame of being an unwed mother and sent her away to hide their
own shame in causing the pregnancy - blaming her for her condition.
Mom never graduated from High School. She received a GED after I
graduated from High School. I have all of her school report cards.
There are no report cards after the second semester of her 11th grade
year in 1942. She would have graduated in June of 1943. She was a
good student, and also won an award for her penmanship. World War
II began during her high school years and the United States entered in
December of 1941.
Mom told me that she married the first time to get away from home, not
for love. She did not say she was escaping such an abusive situation.
She got what she wanted. She married a soldier on January 20th,
1943, who took her to Kentucky. She gave birth to their son on July
19th, 1944 and a day or so later while she was still in the hospital, she
was informed that she had to be tested for a sexually transmitted
disease because her husband had just been admitted for treatment.
Her test was negative, proving conclusively that her husband was
having an affair. She left him and returned to her home state, near her
family, with her infant son. I do not believe that she returned to live with
her parents. My mother paid the divorce fees in full on January 29th,
1947. My assumption is that the divorce was final before that date. By
this time World War II had ended (in 1945).
She married again, this time because she needed help supporting her
son, and because she was six months pregnant, but not for love, on
August 2nd, 1947. This man had a mean streak in him. I saw him once
as a young child, and I was instinctively afraid of him. Mom did not talk
about this marriage, but it lasted longer than the first one did. They had
two sons, one born in October 1947, the other born in November 1948,
giving my mother three boys to look after.
One day she returned home from her errands in the afternoon to find
her husband home from work already. She found him in their bedroom,
in bed with her best friend. Her friend left right away. Mom never
forgave her and never spoke to her again.
Mom confronted her husband about this affair, more than likely about
the audacity of conducting it in her own bed with her best friend, rather
than the affair itself. His response was to beat her nearly to death. She
was in the hospital for six months with a broken leg, several broken
ribs, skull fracture and concussion.
Her boys were taken in by her family while she was in the hospital and
a divorce was obtained. She worked for a few years before she met my
Her father died on December 22nd, 1951, and three years later, on
January 20th, 1955, her grandfather died. I can only imagine her relief
that both her abusers were finally gone from her life.
When I had the handwriting analysis done, I included a sample of my
mother’s handwriting from when she was in her fifties. This is the
report that was given on her handwriting: “Emotions extremely deep,
has been abused – sexual deviations, is very independent, an extreme
nit picker, has lots of initiative, pays very close attention to details, is
very very very loyal, procrastinates excessively, her mother is more
influential than her father, deceit is present, very very analytical, very
curious – has to find out for herself, good sense of humor – witty,
wants to acquire things and keep them, secretive and yet blabby, has
organizational skills but doesn’t use them, a good imagination, quick
mind – very sharp, her father does not exist in her mind, is stubborn
and domineering, extreme – very selfish to very generous (generous
most of the time), desire for culture and refinement, resentment, very
impulsive, trying to control herself, very determined, very independent
– like messing with a brick wall, brilliant (extremely), not a lot of will
power.” When I read this analysis, I felt vindicated because this
substantiated what I said about my mother to my therapist.
My dad, age 9 months,
with his mother
My parents just before I
My dad was the youngest of nine children, the fourth son. He was
born on December 29th, 1934 to a very poor family barely surviving the
Great Depression. Abuse seemed to be the norm of the era because
his life was not free of this plague either. When he was about twelve
years old he contracted rheumatic fever and was an invalid for a year
before he regained his health. This illness left him with an enlarged
heart that eventually contributed to his death over 55 years later on
August 1st, 2000. World War II came and went during his childhood.
During the summer of 1951, he moved to another state and finished
his last two years of High School. He lived with a family who may have
adopted him, but did not change his name. They had a dairy farm that
provided hard work and discipline. He graduated from high school and
soon joined the Marines. He spent four years as an enlisted man. He
was a marksman but assigned officially to the supply company. He
spent time in the brig on three or four separate occasions for disorderly
conduct. He also spent most of his time in Viet Nam before the Police
Action was declared by the United States. He was on a peace keeping
or advisory mission with the French army. During this time he chose to
exercise power and control over the women on the enemy side. He
raped whomever he happened across and got away with it because
they were the enemy, and there were no witnesses to accuse him. He
learned that he could take what he wanted anytime he wanted it. He
was discharged with this attitude. He grew to manhood in an era when
men still had final say in matters concerning their families and no one
interfered if they chose to abuse their spouse or children.
When he was discharged he did not return to either of his families. He
joined his brother in another state entirely, where he met my mother.
My parents were married on the 17th of April, 1958. Mom was three months pregnant at the
time of their marriage. Considering both of their histories, I have often wondered who did
what to whom to necessitate this marriage. Did my mother deliberately get pregnant to trap
herself a husband to support her and her three sons, or did my dad rape her and get her
pregnant whereby he married her because it was “the right thing to do”? Or was it both?
Either way, they married because she was pregnant. My father took on the raising of those
three boys and fathered two more children, my brother and I. We were born a little over
eleven months apart. Mom had just barely recovered from the cesarean section she had at
my brother’s birth (in October of 1958) when she was pregnant with me. One could surmise
that I was conceived as a result of my father’s habit of raping his wife.
I learned that my father had sex with anyone who was willing, and regularly forced himself
on my mother. Was there love in their marriage? Not likely. Was there trust between them? It
is doubtful. Was there respect in their relationship? No way. Did my father provide food,
shelter, and clothing for this family he took on? Yes, he did that very well. My father was able
to do anything, his handyman skills were phenomenal. He could build or repair anything. He
could raise animals for food and butcher them. He could do any farm work. If anything he
was a workaholic.
I was born on the day my mother chose in September 1959, also by cesarean section. I was
the first girl my mother gave birth to and her last child of five. When I was around two years
old she developed cervical cancer and had a complete hysterectomy. She did not tell my
father that she had cancer, he never knew why the surgery was necessary except that “she
was messed up inside.”
When my youngest half brother left home, I was six years old. This was when I was moved
into a bedroom of my own. Up to that time I was sharing a room with my brother. That was
when my father started coming into my bedroom and sexually abusing me.
About three years later my father started drinking, usually only on weekends. His
conservative drinking did not last long. He discovered the escape being drunk provided him,
and his inebriated state happened more and more often. By the time I was twelve he was a
full-fledged alcoholic. We could always tell what he had been drinking. He was mean if he
drank hard liquor, if he only drank beer he was the opposite - silly, uncoordinated, sloppy,
His full time employment was seasonal. He was in the logging industry so worked long hours
in the spring, summer, and part of the fall. In the winter there was no work because of the
deep snow in the mountains. Because of his seasonal work, his sexual abuse of me was also
I think that my mother and I shared the pleasure of him having such exhausting work that he
could not do anything to either one of us. My mother was glad because she was provided for,
and he was gone a great deal of the time. She did not mind raising her children without him
present all the time. For her that meant she was not being attacked.
By the time I reached my mid-teen years, I had little respect for my father. There was a day
he was so drunk that he could not walk, yet had to go to the bar for more beer. I lost what
little respect I had for him because he began beating on my mother when she would not let
him drive drunk. That day I pointed a gun at my father and ordered him to leave after he gave
the car keys to my mother. He threw the keys at her, cursed us both, and staggered away on
foot. He did not return until the following night – sober. After this event, my mother collected
his beer bottles and charted his trips to the bar for a week. He was shown the results and
shamed into quitting completely. Oh, he also took apart all the guns in the house so I could
not pull one on him again.
I was a prominent witness to my parents strained relationship; however, I did not know what I
was seeing. As a child who has no idea what a healthy relationship is, what I saw was what I
thought was normal. Looking back, I realize that there was very little normalcy to their
relationship. To all appearances it was a marriage of convenience and lies.
They never talked of their feelings for each other; they never hugged or kissed each other.
In fact, when I stop and think about it, they never touched each other except when angry. My
father would go to bed early because he had to get up for work at 4:30 in the morning. My
mother would stay up very late at night and sleep in until it was time for my brother and me to
get up for school. Even then she would stay in bed reading the paper and only speak to us
as we walked out the door to catch the bus. We got ourselves up, got our own breakfast,
made our own lunches, and hoped mom would let us out the door without yelling at us to go
back and do something differently. There was no intimacy in my parents’ relationship. There
was no unity in their relationship. Each considered the other a necessity in their lives to
provide specific things in their relationship. My father provided the support my mother
desired, my mother submitted to being raped in order to have that support and she took care
of the house, bills, her children, and making sure there was food stored in the house for the
winter lay off. She also believed that she had no choice but to submit to her husband, her
abusers taught her that.
Up to the day my mother died, I feared her anger. I would do anything to prevent her from
becoming angry at me. I had witnessed her beat my brother, seen her fight off my dad when
he was drunk, and watched her hit my father with a piece of stove wood about the head and
shoulders when he was drunk and had made her really angry. I have had to duck as she
threw heavy objects at me. I knew that my mother hated men in general; I figured she had
good reason to. However, I did not realize that her hatred extended to my father until I
learned that he was raping her.
When I was going through my father’s papers after he died, I found a large envelope that
was about half an inch thick that was labeled ‘stories’. I opened it and began looking at them.
I was sickened. The titles of each thing showed that every one of the pages was a degrading
story or joke about women and sex. I put them all through the shredder when I was done
going through the rest of his papers for the important documents. When I was pre-teen but
old enough to read, my brother showed me a pile of magazines under my fathers mattress,
every one was titled “Playboy”. When I was listening to the stories that were being told about
my dad the day after he died, I heard several of him inappropriately touching women. The
worst was that he was in a public eatery and reached out and slapped a young woman on
the fanny in front of her husband, and nearly got beat up for it. His girlfriend told me that he
could not keep his hands to himself. Not only was my father an alcoholic, he was also a
deeply involved pornography and sex addict.
The day my mother died, I felt rejected by my father because he told me to stay at my sister-
in-law’s house that night. I have recently realized that he actually did me a favor. I realized
that if I had been there he probably would have raped me. He tended to rape my mother
anytime he felt stressed or emotionally needy. Since he suffered with post-traumatic stress
from Viet Nam emotional stress was frequent. My mother’s death would have been enough
stress that he would have acted on his desires without any concern for whom his victim was.
I understand why my mother was angry all the time. She never had a chance to heal from
her childhood sexual abuse. She went from that to three disastrous marriages, the last of
which kept her as a victim until the day she died.
I believe she had suspicions that my father was sexually abusing me, but that she was
incapable of facing the idea of it happening to her daughter too. I believe she felt powerless
to stop it and hopeless of preventing it. She learned from experience that she was powerless
because laws and society considered a man to have the right to do as he pleased in his own
house. I do not believe that she had any power to prevent or stop what happened to me any
more than I did. Looking back as an adult, I do not believe that she would have killed my dad
if I had told her what he was doing to me. I believe that she would have told me to keep quiet
and be glad it was not worse. I do not think she would have told me what her father and
grandfather did to her, or what my dad was doing to her. I believe that she would have been
too afraid of my dad to confront him, especially after what her second husband did to her as
a result of confronting him.
There was a time that I was angry with my mother for not protecting me and for withholding
her love from me. When I discovered that every man in her life made her a victim and she
never had a chance to be anything else, I lost the majority of my anger. I understood her
then, I did not need to blame her any longer. With this knowledge, we stood as equals. I
knew that if it had been safe for her to show her love for me she would have. I knew that she
respected me. I had great respect for my mother after I learned these things, and finally I
could replace the anger with the love that had been hidden in my heart all those years. The
problem was that she had already died.
As for my father, I had renewed anger toward him after finding these things out. Yes, I had
forgiven him for what he had done to me, and released the anger associated with that.
However, I was furious with him for what he did to my mother and how it affected our
relationship. I was softened slightly toward him when I found that he had begun his life with
abuse too. However, he chose to be the abuser, and he had many victims. I felt anger toward
him for every woman he raped in Viet Nam, for every woman he raped or had an affair with
after he married my mother, and for every act of rape he forced on my mother.
I have been able to release that anger and forgive him again, but only because I knew that it
was not my place to hold that anger. Each of his victims had the right to their anger and it
was not mine to carry. Each of his victims had the responsibility to forgive him for his crime
against them. I knew that the Savior would judge him according to the laws of justice and
mercy, and I did not need to be any more involved than I already was. I knew that I could and
did feel empathy for his victims. I was once again content to let those that knew better than I,
judge him for his crimes. With his death, no one else will ever be harmed by him. This
knowledge brought peace and great comfort to me.