Innocence Denied : Where Is My Hero?, by Dr. Pat
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- ISBN: 9781449765378 | 1449765378
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 10/4/2012
I remember that first day of school. It was an exciting day with my mom holding my hand all the way. My first grade teacher was Miss Dinkins and she was one of the nicest women that I had met at the time; outside my family. . She was just a plain looking woman. Her softly-spoken voice had a calming effect. Her eyes were large and bright with an air of sincerity about them. Once she gave you a hug, the softness of her touch made the whole world alright again. I was her favorite student; helping her around the classroom each day. I fantasized about being her child; then I could go home with her. It was around this time that I began feeling uncomfortable at home. We had moved from Grandma P’s in North Nashville to a separate house in West Nashville; across and down the street from Grandma M’s. After the move, my mother started back to working at night with dad being left to babysit. Most of his jobs were during the day; driving truck, cooking, and construction work. The job he kept the longest was as a truck driver for Super Service Trucking. One day while working on the job, he had an accident. Another truck side swiped his truck on the driver’s side. It crutched his left arm (it was hanging out the window) and twisted the lower part around so that he could look down and see his elbow facing him. I really liked him working there because it kept him away from home a lot. Another reason was the summer picnics the company gave every summer for the employees and their family members. As children, we played games and received prizes when we won. They had games like the “potato walk.” This was a child-parent game; each person would put one leg in the same burlap bag and tied at the top. The two reaching the finish line, with the bag intact, won the game. My dad and me won several years in a row. He acted more like a “dad” at those picnics than any other time. The truck drivers and family members got the impression that he was the best dad and that I was the apple of his eye. How misleading! A couple of weeks before my sixth birthday, my sister, Holly, was born. Growing up, she always said that she was going to be a movie star. I call her Holly, which is short for Ms. Hollywood. She often pretended that she was a rich and famous person; trying to imitate the flare and speech of a celebrity that she had seen on TV or at the movies. A year and a half later Queenie joined the family. She was rough and touch as a child, always wrestling and challenging the boys in the neighborhood. Her favorite playmates were the twins across the court; Wilbert and Gilbert. Sometimes I believed they let her get the best of them because they liked her. I call her Queenie because, not only did she grow into a beautiful woman herself, she is in the business of making other women beautiful and she loves it. She is a talented beautician. Then, the experience happened; one that began the denial of my childhood innocence. Me, Holly and Queenie slept together in the same bed. I slept at one end (to keep them from peeing on me), and the two of them slept at the opposite end together. A new arrival, Chattie, had been added to our family of girls. She slept in the front room of the house in a baby bed across from my parents’ bed. I was sound asleep when I felt someone shaking me. They were bending over me whispering in a low voice “wake up, wake up.” When I opened my eyes, it was my dad. “Get up, come on, I’ve got something to show you.” He motioned for me to follow him to their bedroom. Right away I was afraid. Even though I was only eight years old, I knew in my heart this was not a good thing. As I walked behind him, my mind focused on putting one foot in front of the other. The house was so quiet. As I stepped into the room, I could see Chattie asleep in her bed. She was always a quiet little baby. She hardly every cried. She had a head full of beautiful curly, fine hair. She was extremely bashful as a little kid; smart in school (all S’s), and easy for others to play with. As an adult now, she is talkative and gossips a lot; that is why I call her Chattie. As I approached the bed, I kept looking for my mom to walk in any moment. He climbed in bed, flipped the covers back on the other side and said, “Come on get in.” Slowly, I sat down on the other side. I kept wondering what was going on and what could he have to show me under the covers. Feelings of anxiety and fear were building up inside. I wanted to scream; what would happen if I did, I thought. Before I could figure it all out, he raised the covers close to him and exposed himself to me “touch it” he said. I shook my head “no” but he grabbed my hand and made me touch it on top. I jerked my hand away screaming, “no daddy, no daddy, please don’t do that, please, please, please.” I was horrified, what in the world was that, I thought? My reactions shocked him, I guess. He let go of my hand, “ah, go back to bed.” It took me a long time to go to sleep that night. I finally fell asleep with my eyes fixed on the entrance door to our room. The next day I couldn’t wait to tell my mom, but it seemed that catching her alone was impossible. He seemed to be making a special effort to keep her occupied and entertained. Days later, I still couldn’t catch her alone. It seemed like he was always around. I thought to myself, “When is he going to work?” I was beginning to wonder if he was staying at home purposely to keep me from talking to mom. Well, now I know that’s exactly what he was doing. I never got a chance to tell my mom about that night. The old adage that “children should be seen and not heard” was carried out religiously in our family. During the day time, when they were at home, they laughed and talked together a lot. As children, we were told to go outside and play or go into our room and play. It seemed that children couldn’t be in the same room with adults for any length of time while a conversation was going on; which was usually the case. It was almost as if they felt children had nothing of value to say. I could, however, talk to either grandma; but over time I felt too afraid to say anything. The older I became the farther my dad moved us from all relatives, especially his people. Whenever we visited our extended family, again we were treated the same. They would pat us on the head, smile, and say things like “You’re just as pretty as ever,” “I bet you are still making those A’s too,” “What grade you in now sugar?” “Don’t forget, always take care of ya little sisters now, ya hear.” “Ok, yall go on out there and play.” “We’ll call yall when the food gets ready.”