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Bastard Child from Ragdoll Redeemed:Growing up in the Shadow of MM

4DawnWith  the glass of chipped ice delivered to her daughter, Elizabeth crosses the room and turns on the old box radio. Between the hard, discordant  sounds  of static, she can barely make out the  broadcaster’s words: “British troops,” and something about “DiMaggio.”  Hunched over the old radio, Elizabeth repeats the news to Veronica: “They’re saying that U.S., British, and French troops have moved into Berlin.”

Despite the fact that Elizabeth only completed the third grade, her passion for current events has remained a lifelong interest.  Veronica, though  only able to complete the eighth grade herself, shares her mother’s love of world news. An eighth-grade dropout, she still reads Encyclopedia Britannica daily as if every word was a required morsel of food. But today, miserably heavy with child, she doesn’t care.

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Bastard Child, from Ragdoll Redeemed, cont..

4DawnRonnie glances up, but says nothing in return. Grandmother muses at his overly quiet behavior as he sits on the porch and plays with a collection of broken Popsicle sticks. It troubles her that the child acts so subdued, almost as if he understands  the grave predicament facing the family.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (Part VI)

Conclusion:

She was my sister, but as the un-witnessed child, I didn’t have the right to call, inquire, reach out, or console. I didn’t realize that the need to comfort could be as aching as the need to be comforted. Beyond these feelings, I think about the four generations of women, entangled within a web of secrecy like old tattered rags stuffed into satchels and forgotten among the attic’s treasures.

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Bastar Child Un-witnessed Part V

Part five of a six part series that I wrote this past Fathers Day as my sister’s death neared. She died the next day.

When I found my sister, Nan, sixteen years ago, I responded to her first loving letter welcoming me into her heart with deep gratitude. Now, unwilling to involve anyone else in our,”undisclosed family connection”, I proceed with caution as I try and tender my goodbye’s at her impending death.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (part IV)

Part IV of a VI part series. I knew my sister was near death but I dare not call. Family members would be gathering for her last days. I worried that her elderly mother would find my newly published book Ragdoll Redeemed. Fifteen years ago, in my sister’s excitement about our first meeting, she mentioned me to her mother. Their conversation was so explosive that my sister and I chose to keep our relationship a secret. Now it is Father Day 2012, feeling sad about there being no goodbyes I reflect on the one and only evening I spent with our father.

Father’s Day, 2012! Honor thy Father. Why? How? I don’t even know how to think or feel about my father, much less how to honor his memory. I only met him once. We had one evening together in New York. It was 1974 when I was twenty-nine and filled with determination−you know, the kind of fortitude−if not obsession−it takes to track down a biological parent who has denied paternity in order to find your roots so you know who you really are. It was the best of nights−I couldn’t have asked for a better meeting. He was kind, warm, loving−and disowning. We got roaring drunk together.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (part III)

It was Father’s Day 2012. My sister lay dying from her heroic battle with cancer. In this series of VI blogs I tell the story of how four generations of denial, secrecy and being the un-witnessed child led to the last forsaken phone call to my dying sister. In part III I share excerpts from my book, Ragdoll Redeemed, and the childhood obsession of meeting my father. I believed the meeting itself could redeem me from the bastard label.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (PART II)

1974

“DON’T EVER CALL me again!” my grandmother warned harshly, as she hung up the phone. This abrupt rebuff, actually just an answer to my greeting of ‘hello’, left me bewildered. She and I had been having long distant phone conversations for at least fifteen years. Sure, the conversations were brief, stiff and unwelcomed on her part, but we had a bargain. Many years ago, we made a deal; if she would talk with me occasionally by phone, then I would not pursue the search for my father. I had kept my end of the bargain so what in the world was the matter with her? I immediately called her back.

“Althea, what do you mean, what happened?” This time she was angrier, “For God sakes, use your head!” She slammed down the phone again.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed

It was Father’s Day 2012. My sister lay dying from her heroic battle with cancer. Since I too had struggled with the grueling treatments common to breast cancer patients, we often shared aspects of this journey. I knew the end was near. I could feel it in ways that I couldn’t explain nor understand.  Regrettably, I couldn’t call to console or be consoled; a fairly common consequence of an un-witnessed bastard child. In this series of six blogs I will share the story of how four generations of denial, secrecy and being the un-witnessed child led to the last forsaken phone call to my dying sister.

I have written a great deal about the similarities between Marilyn Monroe and me, both of us being stamped with the bastard label. “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 23. Now I wonder just how many commonalities our mothers did share. Like the pain of being abandoned by the father of their unborn children, the shame, the inability to support their children, the depression, the pills, the vacant eyes.