Copyright © T. GhostWolf Davidson.
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My Siblings: 1999
My siblings and I were taken away from my mother and stepfather as described in Rescue: November 1959 and placed in a foster home; a few months later our maternal grandmother Sara and step-grandfather "Pop" obtained legal custody of Peggy and me. My brothers, Danny and Leslie, disappeared into the legal system; and I did not find out what had happened to them until Christmas day, 1986.
These pictures show how Peggy, Danny, and I looked then, just a few short months before the rescue. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of Leslie from those years.
At first, Peggy and I were frightened, unsure of ourselves, and very withdrawn. Peggy cried herself to sleep very quietly every night, after all, "children are to be seen, not heard".
If there were any sudden movements or loud noises or voices near us, I would freeze - and Peggy would flinch. Our maternal grandparents - legal guardians - saw this, and kept reassuring us that we had done nothing wrong at all, that we were not going to be punished, or beaten.
My grandmother insisted that we call her "Mom" - "Pop" was always Pop, and I'll continue that here, on this page.
In retrospect, looking back from the perspective of the year 2005 to the year 1960, that was the first hint I had of my grandmother's - interesting - perspectives, which I will document at some point in the future.
Mom and Pop worked hard to bring Peggy out of her shell; never forcing her, never yelling at her for being a baby or telling her to stop crying.
I'll never forget that one day when Peggy was very frightened that we'd be sent back to the foster home - She was holding back the tears, her body shaking; and Pop gently crouched in front of her and told her it was OK to cry, that she and I would never be taken away from them. He then held out his arms - and Peggy suddenly grabbed him and wrapped her tiny arms around him, crying her heart out; and Pop gently held her, gently telling her over and over again she was safe, his eyes brimming with tears.
Mom and Pop weren't well off, but they did what they could to give Peggy what she wanted - some of it special clothes; Peggy had always wanted a good easter outfit - and they got it for her, letting her pick it out.
She also wanted to see the truck that Pop drove for a living - and even though it was against company policy, Pop took us out to the yard and let us climb all over his rig. The officials of the company melted when they saw the look on Peggy's - and my - face as we first laid eyes on that tremendous huge truck...
Peggy - like me - also enjoyed the ocean almost more than any other place; and Mom and Pop took us there at least once a month.
These are the few pictures I have of those times...
One of the most special things Mom and Pop did for Peggy five years after they'd obtained custody of us was to help her get her horse...
Peggy had become friends with a neighbor girl who already had a horse, and spent every bit of free time she could get going up to the ranch to ride, groom, and learn about horses. Peggy had managed to save up some money, but was nowhere near what it would take to buy a good horse as well as all the tack and rigging - and she'd set her heart on one particular horse, a huge 17 and a half hands tall Palomino named Desert Dew - and the owners had to sell Dewy before the month was out because they were moving.
Peggy had already come to terms with the idea that she wouldn't be able to get Dewy, and, as she shared with us over dinner one night, she was reconciled to the idea that it would take a couple of years to save up the money she needed for a different horse. I saw the look Mom and Pop gave each other; Peggy didn't - Pop announced that he had to get to bed early as he had to work Saturday, the next day - and went to bed.
The next morning, he drove off in the truck instead of the station wagon.
Later that day, around 1 PM, the phone rang; Mom answered it, said something, then hung up - and told Peggy and I to come outside with her to the front yard. We did, and Mom told us to wait, since she was expecting a "delivery" and would need our help with it.
About five minutes later Pop came driving down the street, horse trailer in tow - with Dewy inside. He pulled up to the curb and got out of the truck, a huge wonderful grin on his face; looked at Peggy and said "well, you going to stand there with your mouth open catching flies, or are you going to get Dewy out of the trailer?"
I think if Peggy had been any older, she would have cracked some of Pop's ribs as she hugged him, crying her heart out with joy...
This is the one picture of Peggy with Dewy that I have... and I treasure this as one of the last happy pictures I have of her. She's 13 years old in this picture.
Unsurprisingly, Mom and Pop had their hands full with Peggy and me; the courts almost did not allow them custody of us, stating that we were both manic depressive and should be institutionalized.
Since Pop was on the road most of the time (medium-haul driver), it fell to Mom to work with us and help us... and, in the early 1960s, there were not many resources that dealt with helping child survivors of abuse.
Mom had her own particular ideas of how we should be handled, how we should cope with what had been done to us; and one of those ideas - demands - was to drop it, forget about the past, get on with our lives; we quickly learned that trying to talk about what had been done to us, how it felt, what our fears were - was not allowed, as that was "dwelling on the past." So, we did the best we could to "get on with our lives", in spite of our fears and insecurities.
Mom used sarcasm a lot to motivate us; in later years she told me that she knew if she could get us mad enough that she knew we'd go out of our way to prove her wrong, to prove that we could achieve the things she told us we weren't capable of doing... the things she constantly needled us about... grades, appearance, social graces, and more. Peggy and I pushed ourselves to prove her wrong, to get her very rare approval and her "I really knew you could do it". Mom also hammered her own version of our histories into us over and over again, using her diamond-honed sarcasm, put-downs, and arrogance to silence us and make us doubt our own experiences - and accept her version of history. She was very successful; I didn't find out just how duplicitous and manipulative she was until September of 2005.
Peggy and I also grew apart as the years passed; some of sibling rivalry, some of it different interests. We talked less and less, and went our own separate ways pretty much - and because Mom and Pop were watching over both of us, I relaxed my own "take care of your siblings/sister" stance.
Peggy and I saw even less of each other after I moved out of home to go to college - and later married; by then, we no longer talked about real things any more at all; any conversations we had were more like "how's Dewy" or "how's the wife". We both kept our pains inside, suppressed, out of sight - but not out of mind.
Peggy attempted suicide in early 1973, using a combination of uppers, downers, and vodka. Her suicide note mentioned that she could no longer deal with our Mom's sarcasm, that she could no longer deal with the memories; that no one (including me) would listen to her, let her talk about what had happened to us - that she could no longer face the rejection; the "forget about it, it's in the past, get on with your life" and "I don't want to hear it, it's over" comments that she heard from family and friends.
She was 20 years old.
Mom and Pop discovered her and got her to the hospital in time to save her life - but not her.
Peggy was in a coma for three months - and emerged from the coma quadreplegic, blind - and brain fried. Her IQ is less than 60 now, and she also has epilepsy as a result of the damage done to her brain... She requires 24x7 care... remember the picture of her and Dewy - and compare it to this picture of what she is like now.
She was placed in a rest home; but after seeing how she was treated there, Mom and Pop took her home. Then, in 1976, they moved to Missouri, where the state programs offered a lot more than those of California (therapy, schooling, etc.)
Pop (again, guardian) died in 1986; and Mom (maternal grandmother) was able to care for Peggy until 1997 - but nearly killed herself and Peggy (lack of hygiene, food poisoning, mis-dosing drugs), because she was very carefully hiding the fact that she had Alzheimer's. My aunt, who lived next door, fortunately discovered what was going on; so both Peggy and Mom were placed in a rest home in Missouri in 1997. Mom died there in early 1999. She was 88 years old.
In 2000, my Aunt moved to Florida to be closer to her children (all grown), and took Peggy with her, putting her in a nearby rest home - where she'll spend the rest of her live - and where she will eventually die.
In 1995 I moved back to California from New Jersey - I had been in voice contact with my mother since 1986, and had her address in California. Shortly afterwards, my wife Mou and I felt it was time to visit my mother - and Danny and Rachel. That visit, and further descriptions of what they and their lives are like, is described in Reunion. It was the first time I had seen my mother and brother Danny since 1959, and the first time I met my sister Rachel. These pictures were taken on that and subsequent visits.
Danny is still living with my mother and our half-sister Rachel, not far from here (three hour drive). He is on permanent disability due to brain damage from the beating our grandmother gave him, and the repeated beatings our maternal grandfather inflcited on him. He is a handyman and an incredible gerry-rigger, always improvising with the tools and materials on hands to build a wide variety of items, such as the poultry pen, fences, a sun porch, and more.
Unknown to me, the court systems gave him and Leslie back to my mother and step-father in 1960. The last time I saw him before 1995 was the day my mother brought him with her to visit Peggy and me in the foster home in 1959. I thought for years that he was safe; then in my late teens, my maternal grandmother (legal guardian) Sara - thinking it was best for me to forget Danny because she knew I wanted to find him - and in a very successful ploy to renew my hatred of my mother - lied to me and told me that Danny had been starved to death by my mother. This was in early December of 1968; the poem "Merry Christmas" was the only outward way I expressed my pain and grief.
Leslie moved to Vermont to in 1984. He too was placed in abusive foster homes by the social system, as were all of my siblings. He has a job in a lumber mill, is a woodworker and computer geek like me, is married, and has two incredibly beautiful children. I know no more than that, and I've not met him yet, and it likely will be a long time before I do since he lives on the opposite coast.
Rachel and Kelly
I did not know I had two half-sisters until 1986, when I regained voice (phone) contact with my mother. Both Rachel and Kelly endured/were subjected to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse along with Danny and Leslie in the many foster homes in which they were placed at various times.
Rachel, as noted above, lives with my mother and brother; she too is on permanent disability as a result of the abuse she endured.
I've never met Kelly; all I know is that she ran away sometime in the early 1980s. My mother and I have talked about that, but I didn't have a way to take notes or record what was said. Now that I have a laptop computer, I can take it with me and document far more with my mother at my side.
She too is on permanent disability; still living. As mentioned above, I was taken from her in 1959, and regained voice contact with her in 1986. I finally met her face to face in early 1995.
I have visited her several times since - and continue to do so. Her verbally abusive manners (to which I too was very prone in my earlier years) have decreased dramatically over time - and as she has said more than once, in reference to her mother, "You and I got that naturally".
By 1986, I had gained some knowledge of the mechanisms of abuse, of how a parent can be unaware of events happening right under their nose; in later years, as a result of participating in recovery-oriented newsgroups, I learned and understood far more - and the intense hatred and desire for vengeance I carried for years turned to - pity? - years ago, years before I regained physical contact - and you're probably wondering why I would continue to visit her, see her.
The answer at first was not simple - but part of it was to learn as much as I can of the mechanisms of abuse, the perpetuation of abuse from one who was there, so that I can then share what I learn in this web site in hopes it will help someone somewhere save a child, or break the cycle of abuse in their own life - and perhaps understand and deal with their own dysfunctionalities and repercussions, as I'm trying to understand and deal with mine.
When my maternal grand-aunt finally died, and when my mother and I started going through the accounts on this web site, it opened the doors to digging up what had really happened. Now, I visit my mother not only because I want to document everything she knows - but also because I enjoy visiting her, spending time talking to her - because I love her.
Our plans are to continue adding to this web site, not only filling in the gaps regarding my own life, but the lives of all of us - and to collaborate on a book detailing the machinisms that produced generations of abuse and silence.
Prior: Rescue - November 1959 more to come...