A Truth That Changed My World

“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.”

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Tell me about when you discovered or learned about a truth that changed how you view your world.


  1. Fran Stekoll says

    I walked in on my husband of 46 years with my best friend. I had suspicions, doubts, red lights, a ha moments; but I kept my head in the sand. I prayed and realized I was in total denial. I can still see him with his fly open and his
    shirt hanging crooked saying” It’s not what you think”,” No “, I said, I wasn’t
    really thinking. Still, I kept praying, asking myself if this marriage could be saved. Went to counseling, to church, kept going; but that raw nagging feeling in my gut told me I was barking up a dead tree. If only, I thought, the old Wayne would come back. His total personality had changed when he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and had to take cumadin for his heart. Maybe, just maybe the man I fell in love with would return. Then he had another affair with a co-worker. Then he impregnated one of our managers.
    I was confiding in my hairdresser who used to work at our company. ” I have a feeling he’s having another affair.” “Not only is he other directed”, she replied, “but they’ve had a baby,” I got hysterical, called him and moved to Santa Cruz. Everyone but me knew. “I love you both,”he said. What are you going to do, put the baby back?”, I replied. Thank God I had a home to
    retreat to. Needless to say my entire life has changed. I forgave him his indiscretions. We are better friends now than when we were married. I bless this woman he had a daughter with. She’s the same age as our oldest daughter; but had it not been for her I never would’ve met my Matt.
    She told everyone she wanted to find a sugar daddy to support her . Funny how they’re both struggling. He lost his business, his home and Me. Yet I
    found strength to grow not only as a person; but in deeper faith. I can honestly say that for the first time in my 77 years, I’ve never been more content. Being alone now as a widow, I feel completed, accomplished, and at peace with myself and my Lord.

    • says

      This is a powerful story of how positive change can result from what appears to be catastrophe at the time. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational message.

    • Debbie says

      Fran – I am impressed with your ability to persevere and forgive. This is a wonderful statement “Yet I found strength to grow not only as a person; but in deeper faith”. Thank you for sharing this difficult moment and how it helped you to grow.

    • Ilana says

      Fran- This was the first piece I read but it took me a while to respond to it. It is very beautiful in its own way. I totally connected with you on the keeping your head in the sand. The line about “meeting my Matt” was very evocative for me as well. I love it when a piece here is so well written that, although I have never been through the actual events the writer is describing, I can still connect to the feelings behind it. What a triumph it was to come to the end and find that you are content and accomplished and at peace. I hope that one day I can use those words too. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. IM

  2. Frances Lesenski Talamantes says

    Thank you so much for that story, amazing. It was great that you shared. It gives me the strength to go on and face things that are happening in my life.
    Thank you.

  3. Barbara Keller says

    The little island beach was chilly, grey and empty as I sat on the broken tree and tried to find a reason to go on with my life. I was 29, only parent of a two year old girl. I loved her dearly and she was almost enough to keep me going. But not quite, as I had concluded I was a bad mother.

    I considered the things I had heard about Jesus Christ in the past three months in the little country bible church. They all seemed inconceivable. How, I wondered, could a man dying on a tree 2000 years ago have any effect on my life, my eternity. He loved me? Why? How? There was only one way? How could that possibly be true? How would anyone find it? And what made those people so special?

    There, from my seat on the dead tree, I looked across the water through darkened, tunnel vision. I talked to God. “Well, I can’t imagine how you can help. I am not even sure anyone is listening. But, I’m so tired and I don’t know what to do next. So here’s the thing – I’m not telling anyone. I’m going to do this in my head, and we’ll see. We’ll just see. What do I have to lose?”

    I prayed the things I had heard in Church. I asked for forgiveness for my sins, which was possible because of Christ’s death on the cross. Sin is a tricky thing, hard to understand, harder to admit to. But alone, in my head, it wasn’t impossible. I could see that, if there were a God, He had standards that I did not meet. I wasn’t horrible compared to other people. Just an ordinary woman of my time. But I could see that pretty much nothing in my life was good let alone perfect. Compared to God, I definitely fell short, and that seems to be the definition of sin.

    I took the step toward Christ, with no assurance it would make any difference. Even though I told myself it would all be secret, that didn’t last long. Because everything did change. In real life, not just in my head. Things that were unfixable got better. My mother sent my favorite perfume and a lovely warm coat for my daughter. I stopped thinking it would be better if I were dead. People noticed I was smiling and asked why. Oh, it took years of growing up to learn to trust God. But I did. Nothing ever looked the same again after that chilly afternoon at Island Park when I talked to God.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing such a pivotal moment in your life. Sometimes when we feel there is nothing left to lose is when we crack open to possibility. Appreciate your contribution.

    • Debbie says

      Barbara – I could feel the chill of that afternoon at Island Park. A couple of lines really stuck with me: “I wasn’t horrible compared to other people. Just an ordinary woman of my time.” and this ” I stopped thinking it would be better if I were dead. People noticed I was smiling and asked why.” I am grateful you found a connection to life and purpose – so we could have the honor of sharing your story.

  4. Ginny Birskovich says

    It was sobering to realize that I wasn’t in love with the man I married — and it happened on the altar where we were joined in holy matrimony. I had dreamed of that day since I was old enough to think about walking down the aisle, but still waited until I was 24 with a good man who shared my faith and functioned as ‘within the box’ as one can be. My mom loved him and his Midwest family and they loved all of us. As the seriousness of the moment fell upon me while I stood before 200 friends, co-workers, and family who came to share in our happiness, my eyes welled with tears and I found it impossible to repeat my vows because the words just wouldn’t come. Maybe it was because at the moment I knew that this was wrong in every possible way or maybe it was just knowing how many gifts I would have to return and how my mother would suffer with embarrassment one more time. (I had called off a doomed marriage only four years earlier because there was no way I was going to marry a cheater and an alcoholic.) But Mom was actually relieved when I returned the first engagement ring, because she was absolutely sure we would never make it.

    That was different, though. As I said, she loved Joe; in retrospect I’m pretty sure in my heart of hearts I believed he would save me from myself because I had been searching for love since I graduated high school, using all of my feminine wilds that I possessed to try out an endless stream of available men. I understand this now, but it never occurred to me that I was trying to secure love that I never felt enough at home. Don’t misunderstand me though, my parents had six of us and neither of them had parents to show them the love I needed so badly. Dad’s father had left when he was a baby and Mom’s mother had died when she was only two. Dad’s mother had 8 children, and she worked to support them so was home very little. Mom’s father had only the two girls, but traveled to find work wherever he could to support them. Neither one had someone to tell them how much they were loved or how special they were, so how could they do that for us?

    So as my tears literally poured out, our guests smiled and became teary-eyed, thinking how I was overcome with love at the moment. I learned this at the reception. In reality, all I could think was, “How can I get out of this? It will be so embarrassing for all of us!” So I finished the ceremony and hoped for the best.

    As it turned out, the best was going through a fairly mediocre marriage for 12 years. Joe was a salesman who traveled a lot, so there were some reprieves when I felt that these absences could keep the marriage alive. We enjoyed a wonderful life of abundance and were blessed with two unbelievably wonderful children. As a perk during that 12th year, Joe won a trip to Catalina Island for just the two of us for 3 days. We had gone on many trips throughout our time together, but I had been feeling the impending doom of our marriage for the last year. So this trip wasn’t anything that I was looking forward to with anticipation. It was more dread because, after all, Catalina has quite the romantic reputation for most of us. And the last thing I felt during this year was romantic, but Joe felt that I was ‘going through something’ and it would eventually go away. I’m sure he felt that Catalina could be the magic to put things back on track, since he obviously had no idea how badly the train had been wobbling on the tracks for about the last 10 years.

    Catalina turned out to be the catalyst I needed to ‘stop the bleeding’ in our marriage. I wanted only to take walks alone for air because I couldn’t seem to get enough air to breathe in that room with just the two of us. When we returned home it was clear that our marriage was finished, and I told Joe the morning after.

    I felt completely at peace with the decision and quite brave ending our life together with two pre-teen children. It was important to me that they see that a marriage should reflect the love of two people to their children, and they certainly didn’t have that advantage. Both kids were very unhappy about the split, but tried to show their support as much as possible. I was so proud of myself and found that there was actually sufficient air on this planet for all of us when I was alone.

    Life was good, new dreams were dreamed, and my women friends embraced me for my courage. But life moves in mysterious ways. Joe died of cancer 5 years after our marriage ended, though once diagnosed he moved back into our home and communication between us was better than it had ever been. I actually fell in love with him when he came back home. We had an 18-month old baby when he died, and she drowned in our family pool 8 months after Joe left us. My 33-year-old son was diagnosed with the same cancer that had taken Joe, necessitating my leaving my beautiful Santa Cruz behind and moving to Orange County – a greater disparity of area and culture is hard to find!

    My perfect life changed gradually, and I like to deal with life as it presents itself to me. So I plug along like the rest of us, one day at a time. My son is still the warrior battling to defeat this familiar enemy, and makes me so proud of him every day. My daughter has also moved her life from L.A. to Orange County so that for the first time since they left for college, we are all in the same town. It’s a gift I don’t take lightly. But it’s only now – within the last few months – that I realize how much easier all of this would be if Joe was still here. Maybe we would have learned to communicate ultimately and had our lives continue in the happiness we discovered during his illness. I know that Matt would be having a little easier time if his dad was still here. There are things I don’t know about being a man that might be important coming from a father. I know my daughter would be far happier if he was still here. She’s smart and competitive just like him – he would be so proud of his kids. Maybe it would have been worth the struggle to get to this side of our lives together, rather than me dancing on a wire trying to keep my balance emotionally and mentally. There are no perfect marriages and I was married to a decent guy. I just wanted it to feel like love. Maybe love isn’t all there is. Or maybe like Joni Mitchell said, I really don’t know love at all.

      • Ginny Birskovich says

        Thank you, Laura. Oddly, I was able to write about all of this without a tear being shed for the first time. I’m not sure it means anything except that I’ve accepted these parts of my life. I’m sad about so many choices, but I guess I had to get further down my road of life to see more clearly how they’ve changed me. I still want a do-over when I finish here!

    • Ilana says

      Ginny- As Laura said, this is a story of courage but it is also a story of wisdom. After all you had been through you were still able to recognize love when you found it. Your story is an inspiration. I have been married for almost 12 years and head over heals in love with my husband for almost 14 years. Still, with the stress of raising three children, making ends meet and all the other struggles, we sometimes forget to appreciate each other. You have reminded me of the gifts I have and that I MUST appreciate them. Thank you! I look forward to your future posts. IM

    • Debbie says

      Ginny – there is quicksand in looking back and wondering. What I find amazing about your post is how you continue to find ways to show your love for those in your life – even as you question the concept of “love”. Like the Joni Mitchell line – I have sung it to myself more than once.

    • Beverly Boyd says

      Change a few of the details and this could be my story. When “no fault” divorce became the law in California I knew that it was probably just a matter of time before I might take advantage of it. It took another ten years. I was the first in my family for as many generations as I knew to divorce. Few people among our friends were divorced and on the outside it looked fine. I had accepted that I probably was not capable of having the kind of intimate marriage that some of my friends had, but I was dying more every day.
      Now thirty fire years later…I can say I was able to have that intimacy and unconditional love with the man who was my second husband for ten years before he died.
      My Ex and I are friends; share family gatherings and our wonderful grown children. He is a good father and grandfather. I can enjoy the day and be glad we go to separate homes at the end of it.
      It takes a lot of courage the action we have taken in our marriages. I want to commend you for taking that big step when you knew you needed to.

    • Barbara Keller says

      It seems wisdom only comes with time and experience. Love for your children and your husband simmer through the whole piece and it rings with truth. Thanks for writing and sharing it. My man died really young, and not in a romantic, “aah” kind of way. I was left to raise my daughter and spend my life alone. It’s not the scenario I would have written for myself. But it’s my life. My dad always said “You have to play the hand you’re dealt.” Your well written story tells us you’re doing just that.

  5. Ginny Birskovich says

    Thank you, Ilana. It wouldn’t have been so bad to have a little wisdom sooner in my life, but better late than never. I was always considered a ‘late bloomer.’

  6. Frances Lesenski Talamantes says

    My story is short but nevertheless earth shattering for me.
    For years (I won’t say how many) I felt that I was not normal and really did not fit in anywhere. When I come to the realization, thru life experiences, that I was normal and did fit it, it was overwhelming and my my life “a lot better”.

  7. Ilana says

    The truth that changed my world came to me in stages, stages that came years and years apart. Perhaps this is because those were the points at which I could endure exactly that much of the truth. As a child I knew I was different. I was worth less than other people and I deserved to be treated that way. We lived in a very privileged area and the other kids picked on me because my parents bought my clothes at K-Mart. I began to think of myself as “K-mart quality.” That’s just who I was.

    I knew that my family was ruled by the iron fist of my older brother. I knew that it was always “Half for Andy, half for Ilana and Matty to share.” In between, though, we found joy. We had camping trips, birthday parties and holidays. We did lots of fun things together. I knew that, most of the time, my parents loved me, even though I was so undeserving, ugly and shameful. There were a thousand contradictions but somehow I forced it all make sense. I told myself, when life was good and I was happy, that I had gotten lucky and should be grateful. When I felt cheated or wronged I beat myself up for thinking I deserved anything more than what I got.

    Even when he was hurting me, I managed to play it down. It was no worse than what I deserved. My parents would go out on dates, leaving us alone with him. They carried a pager but we were under strict instructions not to page them, “just because you’re fighting.” That’s what my mother called it. While *Matty and I took turns begging for mercy and apologizing for nothing as he tortured us, we were just fighting. When I complained she would respond, “What did you do to set him off? He’s sick. You have to step around. Don’t make waves.” The sexual things he did to me she called, ‘kid’s stuff’, just ‘playing.’ I remember her telling me, “Incest is only if the girl is raped.” Andy never vaginally raped me. That’s how I knew it wasn’t incest. He could do anything else to me and it didn’t matter, as long as he didn’t put his… into my… then it was ‘just kid’s stuff.’

    I would forget the episodes as quickly as I could. I called it playing “The Andy game.” When he was nice to me I pretended that he’d never hurt me. I’ll never forget the day he taught me how to walk to the candy store by making up a story to go with every street name we crossed. I was terrified of getting lost but when I passed York Street, I imagined giant peppermint patties. When I crossed Garland Street I pretended I saw Dorothy walking with Toto. I lived in fear but managed to find happiness through these loving memories. It got even easier to forget when Andy left for college and the episodes happened less often. Sometimes a whole weekend visit would go by without him hurting me. Long before then, he had stopped telling me to take my clothes off. So really, we were a pretty normal family. Whenever something did happen, I had only to blame myself, make it clear I deserved it and my faith in a just world was restored. Little did I know, I was methodically cultivating an intense self hatred.

    In high school I cried myself to sleep every night as that self hatred consumed me, leaving me empty. I never told anyone about it. In the morning I’d go to school and smile and laugh with my friends. In college I started having nightmares and flashbacks. For about three months I was destroyed. Then I got over it, remembered it was no worse than I deserved and went on. There was a brief difficulty when I was in graduate school. I decided to confront him. I went with my father, back to California. My father said he believed me and would back me up. Andy vehemently denied it, claiming that I was my mother’s little princess and that if he even looked at me funny he was severely punished. I looked to my father for the promised support. I got the shock of my life when good old dad pulled the rug out from under my feet. “There’s Andy’s reality and there’s Ilana’s reality. The truth is somewhere in between.” Again, I was destroyed but got over it.

    This happened a few more times but it always ended the same way. Eventually, I decided that the safest thing to do was to bury the past. Three and a half years ago I took a page out of my father’s book. I called Andy up and told him, “You remember it your way and I remember it mine. If you want a relationship with me we will never speak of the past.” This worked for two years. I faked a loving relationship so well that much of the time I even fooled myself. My children, though never allowed to be alone with him, adored their “Uncle Andy” and when he married “Auntie Molly” my daughters were flower girls and my son featured in most of the photographs. Then it happened, Molly got pregnant. “What kind of God” I demanded of my husband, Zander. “allows a man like that to become a father?”

    For the first time, the whole truth came crashing down on me. I was a survivor of incest. My world fell apart, completely. I became obsessed with the question. “How can that be? He never actually raped me.” Zander knew I would get no peace until I dealt with it so he did the research, found testimony from reputable sources that you don’t have to be vaginally raped to have been sexually abused. The reality hit me with all the weight and intensity that I’d hidden from myself for all those years.

    Rather than peace, this achieved for me a new low. At first I tried to cut myself. It scared the hell out of me when I found that the knife in my skin was physically pleasurable rather than painful. I marched right downstairs and told my husband I needed a private word with him. He made sure the children were distracted and then I showed him the marks. I made him a promise, on the spot, that I would never do it again without discussing it with him first so he could stop me and get me help. That promise saved me, more than once. Though I kept my promise, my body fought against it. The intense need to express my pain physically, lead to three bouts of shingles, bursitis and other painful symptoms. More recently the stress has lead to memory loss, nearly constant dizziness and terrible nightmares.

    With Zander’s support, I cut off all communication with my brother and my parents. After 13 years of dancing around the issue, I began to address it head on with my therapist. Once, I asked her if she had known all along that this was going to happen to me. “Yes.” She’d answered, with the same patient, loving, gaze I’d seen for the past 13 years. “I knew you would have to do it when you were ready and not before. It wasn’t my place to push you here. You had to get here by yourself.” So for over a decade she had helped me deal with each of the smaller crisis’ that resulted from my past, knowing that eventually the whole truth would hit me. I found an amazing support group and started reading. That’s how I learned the other truth that changed my life; a more devistating, more horrible, even uglier truth than the one that drove me this far.

    It’s not normal for a mother to tell her eight year old daughter details of her sex life.
    It’s not normal for a mother to cup her teenaged daughter’s breasts.
    It’s not normal for a mother to touch her 37 year old daughter between her legs.
    It’s not normal for a mother to ask her married daughter about her sex life.

    This was a truth that I had never considered before. This is a truth that has not yet begun to wreak its havoc on my life. I don’t know what these truths are going to do to me. I don’t know how much more I can take. I know that it hurts. I know that a good amount of the time I’d rather be dead then keep going. I know that the promise I made to Zander will probably save me a few more times.

    …and I know that when this is all over I will find myself utterly changed as a person.

    *I know it is not good form to introduce a character and then drop him but Matty does not want to face these truths. For his own sake he has chosen to exit my life. Please forgive both of us for his disappearance.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, In so short a piece of writing, you share so much. It breaks my heart to think about and feel the pain you have been and are going through. You deserved none of it; you weren’t bad or to blame. We share so much experience. Please keep me, your friend, as someone to lean on when things are really bad. Pacing ourselves is hard; I have trouble with it sometimes but my body usually balks back if I try to resolve everything at once. Take extra good care of yourself.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – my heart breaks with your pain while at the same time my spirit soars with your courage. It is not easy to tear away the veil of denial, harder still to put some memories to paper and almost unbelievable to then share these kinds of experiences so frankly with others. I am touched and honored – thank you. And the underlying premise isn’t accurate though you feel it to be true. You are not unlovable, you are not less than others and you never, ever deserved to be hurt in this way. You somehow have cultivated the kind of love in your life with Zander and your children that you never experienced. What a joyous creation!! I hope you will continue on letting little droplets of joy into your life until you no longer thirst for it and it washes clean the wounds of the past. Again – I am honored and humbled by your honest sharing.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Debbie. It is scary to share these things because I wonder if the response will be accusatory or belittling. But you and Terry both showed me respect and honored my experience. Something I never dared hope for until I came to this community. Thank you both.

  8. Debbie says

    It was the fall of 1993. While I can’t tell you the date, I will always remember the exact moment when my world view shifted forever. The reverberations of this realization vibrated through each dimension of my life at the time and continue to ripple forth even into my future.

    That fall, I was working as a home health aide, taking my last prerequisite for nursing school and hoping every day the phone would ring to confirm I was no longer on the waiting list for the January class but was now a confirmed enrollee. I had only gotten to the area in late August of that year after my summer class schedule at the university in Atlanta were complete. My partner had relocated a couple of months ahead of me to accommodate the start of a new job.

    It was a lonely time. I didn’t know anyone in our new town. I rarely saw my co-workers as each of us spent most of the day working in the homes of the disabled, ill and elderly. So most of my conversations were with those patients for whom I cared. Often short snippets of comments about weather, children or local news frequently shouted and repeated in order that deafened ears could participate in this most human of rituals.

    On this particular day, I was working with a patient in her living area, as was her normal custom. The TV was on in the background. The TV was always on in the background, usually at Warp 10 sound levels further complicating attempts at conversation. This day, it was Oprah in the background interviewing author Betty Eadie whose new book, Embraced By The Light about her near death experience, had recently been published.

    I usually tried to ignore the inflammatory interviews and public family feuds of daytime TV. That day, however, it was a topic I was interested in and the interviewer was Oprah, not Maury Povich, so it had potential. In between providing personal care and fixing a light lunch, Ms Eadie described the basic premise of her book and the overall experience that had inspired its creation.

    She had nearly died but was resuscitated. When she “woke up”; she remembered everything that had transpired when she was “dead” in vivid detail. Ms Eadie spoke about seeing “the light”, experiencing great peace, noting welcoming figures in the light and experiencing a life review. These were concepts I had heard before when people spoke of near death experiences.

    Then, out of nowhere, she spoke the words that forever changed my life perspective. She stated, “When I experienced my life review not only did I see and feel the events of my own life. I also saw and felt the impact my life had on others. I was aware of how my actions impacted them and the feelings they had in their lives because of things I had or had not done.” I can still feel the stillness that surrounded me as those words seeped into my consciousness. All of the extraneous noises of the day slipped out of my conscious mind.

    I struggled to grasp the implications of these simple words. I like to think I was preparing for my own life review. I was working hard to “make up” for the transgressions of my past, trying to be such an improved person that once I my life review made past my twenties , I would be home free. But now this!!!

    I don’t remember anything much about the rest of that day. I am sure I finished my assignment, and the next, and the next. I must have driven myself home at the end of the work day. My next memories were evening, sitting on the deck, looking into the woods surrounding our little cabin. I was crushed and demoralized. I didn’t want to admit what I knew deep in my soul to be true.

    While I had been working on purifying my own thoughts, bringing my life into balance and growing as a person over the past decade and a half, I could not say I had applied the same rigor, consideration and kindness to others in my life. If my life review would require me to re-experience not only my life, but my life as experienced by the others in my life. I felt squeamish and slightly nauseous – this would not be something I would be proud of – I was pretty sure.

    So that evening, in the quiet of the setting sun, I made a vow to myself. When facing life choices, when deciding how to react to others, when unexpected circumstances seemed not in my favor, when deciding how to share my perceptions with others – I would become aware of how my actions could or would affect those in my life. Should it be true that a future life review included not only my feelings but those I had caused in others – I wanted to be able to at least know I had been thoughtful of what the impact of my life might be.

    I know there is little I can do to amend or ameliorate the first half of my life. Especially in how my choices might have contributed to the pain in the lives of others. I work still to find lasting forgiveness from some of these memories. But I can say that since that fall day in 1993, I have become so much more aware of the feelings of others and continue to work on holding them with much greater respect and tenderness than before.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Debbie- What an eye opening experience. It’s amazing where we learn some of the most important lessons. This one is worth learning again. Thanks for sharing it. As a child I decided that when I left this world I wanted it to have been made better for my having been here. Being conscious of the things you write here will help me achieve that goal. Thank you again. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Debbie, this story gave me a Wow! too. Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but in 1987 after I overdosed, I was also resuscitated after my heart stopped three times after an overdose. For me, I saw no life review. My ‘light’ was feeling totally accepted, loved and understood–through every struggle I survived, the ‘sin’ of suicide (given I was baptized Catholic), and everything I was forced to do. Hearing and thinking about the additional experience of a reflection on how people reacted to me really gave me food for thought. I understand your reaction. It just may have changed my life too. Thanks so much, Debbie.

  9. Beverly Boyd says

    The truth that changed my world

    I lay across the swing in my friend Phyllis’s yard waiting for her to come out and play. The swing on its barely seven foot ropes was no longer challenging enough to want to sit in the seat as I did on the big swing with twelve foot ropes in the school yard. I was whiling away a few minutes as I waited pushing the swing in a circle with my toes until it was wound up enough that I could no longer reach the ground; letting it slip into dizzying return circles and admiring the ever changing arcs my toes made in the dirt.

    I’m not sure how old I was…At least old enough and strong enough to pump the playground swing to the point where the rope suddenly relaxed and gave a brief breath-taking plunge at the top of the arc. I was old enough to have some mastery of my environment; I knew where babies came from, but it would be at least a year before I learned the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

    I’m sure I asked lots of questions. The grown ups in my life seemed quite capable of answering them. There were “givens” that were so much part of my life I never questioned them. We lived next door to the Methodist church where my father was the minister and our life centered on the activities of the church, working in the garden, playing with neighborhood friends, roaming the nearby woods and socializing with like-minded friends of my parents.

    That day as I lay swinging, watching the circles in the dirt the thoughts in my usually busy brain drifted away.
    “What if there really isn’t a God?”
    That thought, so sudden and unexpected, startled…almost frightened…me. Mommy and Daddy were so sure there was a God. What if they were wrong? Would they be upset if they thought I wasn’t as sure as they were? I believed Daddy would probably be okay with my questioning, but I was sure Mommy would be upset and at least try to convince me. So I decided not to tell them.
    The truth that changed my world wasn’t whether or not there was a God. It was realizing I was an independent person with my own thoughts. Information might come not just from my parents and teachers but from within myself.

    • Ilana says

      Beverly- That is truly a magical experience. I got goose bumps as I read the last few lines. How empowering for a child to realize that “I was an independent person with my own thoughts. Information might come not just from my parents and teachers but from within myself.” Thank you for sharing it with me. IM

  10. Beverly Boyd says

    I believe the experience related above made it possible for me to have the independence I would need for the decisions I made in the following story.

    Several years later in another playground, I was with my friend Norma Jean. At thirteen most of my friends were just “too grown up” for childish play unless it was organized sports. Norma and I enjoyed tumbling on her side yard and an occasional trip to the nearby playground after playing tennis.

    On one of those days two handsome boys about our age came riding their bicycles along the path beside the creek. I had never seen them before. Norma Jean told me it was Richard Kendall and Kurtz Gilligan.

    “They go to St Vincent’s but they will come to the public school in ninth grade?”

    I don’t think I thought much about them after that but on the first day of school in September I recognized the boy sitting in the front row of my Latin I class. He was wearing a sporty shirt with horizontal white and navy stripes. The stripes were wider navy at the top and toward the bottom the white became wider….and I was wearing a skirt with the same pattern except the navy was wider at the bottom. Now you may think this is silly, and I kept the information to myself, but I knew we were a matched pair. It was a kind of a sign! The next day in the big study hall Kurtz landed alphabetically right across the aisle from me in back of a mutual friend, Paul Gottschall. So the set up was in place.

    Looking back on my life I feel sure that moment in the playground was destiny knocking. Even though the few seconds it took for them to pass was in real time, what I remember was like a hallucination. Everything went slower. I had time to take in his muscular arms and legs rippling as he guided his bike over the lightly rough dirt path. An earthy primal quality and his handsome features spoke to something deep inside…something deeper than just physical attraction. I don’t believe he saw me but it was like something was saying, “notice him. He is the one you are supposed to meet, fall in love with and have seven children with.”

    By January he had worked up the nerve to ask me to the “Frosh Frolic”. I wore a becoming reddish rust taffeta dress with tiny Scottie dogs embroidered into it. I sang with the band that night and chose the Nat King Cole version of “Unforgettable” which became my private, secret theme song. He wasn’t a very good dancer. I didn’t care. In his arms I felt like I was dancing on air.

    “Unforgettable” was more apt than I ever imagined it was going to be. Neither of our mothers was happy with us. For my mother, the minister’s wife, it was a problem that he was a Catholic. For his mother, a daily communicant from a large Catholic family it was a problem that I was not! Even in ninth grade we were the talk of the small town we lived in.

    The next eight years of high school and college were a soap opera of tearful separations and joyful reunions. We told each other we didn’t love each other, we had found another, we needed space, but we both knew the real reason was the mixed religion issue. No matter how much we tried, we couldn’t forget each other. In a strange way I could not have explained I felt like he was so much a part of me I was not whole without him. By the time we finally married our mothers on both sides had reconciled themselves that our marriage was inevitable and had learned to have an appreciation for us.

    There were a couple of other things that I think helped destiny in the plan for those seven remarkable and varied children. I turned Catholic and for many years was more devout than if I had been a “cradle Catholic” so of course the only birth control method we could use was the “rhythm method.” A friend who was a nun once commented that people who use the rhythm method are called parents! When the last two were twins and obviously conceived a few weeks a part I looked to my mother’s family genealogy and it was evident that the reason my mother had fifty-two first cousins was because her grandmother and aunts had fraternal twins, and the gene had been passed on to me.

    One day I remarked to one of my twin daughters, “Don’t take this personally, because I wouldn’t put any of you back, but if I had it to do over I would want to stop at four.”

    She replied, “That’s okay, Mom, before Tom (the oldest) came in we decided if you did anything to stop it we’d come in an gang.” I always knew after they were born that God must have wanted us to have seven. But, after I started throwing litters I decided to get fixed.

  11. Bobbie Anne says

    It rocked my world when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Thank God It was in the early stage and I had the polyp and cancerous tissue removed. My mother-in-law had similar symptoms. I gently reminded her to get herself checked. She was in stage four and had to get chemo and radiation.

    Then a few years later, I had a mammogram and sonogram. It showed abnormalities. I had a core biopsy complete with tumor markers. Sometimes the breast actually vibrates. I told the doctor but she didn’t know why. My doctor had recommended a lumpectomy, where they would remove tissue “about the size of a wallet”. Hmm, I’d rather it be a small coin purse. If they remove the whole breast I won’t have to have radiation. That’s a plus. In spite of this, I try to be positive. I’m a survivor, and I will survive this!

      • Bobbie Anne says

        Thanks Laura! Your spirit shines brightly too. I’m sending you love and light. Here is a virtual hug just for you! Love, Bobbie Anne

    • Beverly Boyd says

      Bobbie Anne,
      I’m so sorry you are having this challenge with Cancer. I think that any ninth grade girl who can press 90 pounds as you did has the spirit to beat this. I hope so. I love reading your posts on this blog.

      • Bobbie Anne says

        Thanks Beverly. For me, having cancer (or finding it somewhere else on my body) is scary and makes me want to cry I want to be able to beat it so it never comes back. Lifting weights, exercising, watching my diet and eating healthy foods certainly helps. Positive thinking does too. I’m a survivor!

        • Beverly Boyd says

          I can understand that scary feeling. I had it when I had to have a serious eye surgery first in one eye and two years later in the other. If it was botched or I didn’t follow the recovery protocol it could have meant blindness. I believed I had one of the best doctors and hospitals in the country and I had done I could to get ready but wait. Every time I felt that gut wrenching fear I took a deep breath and said “Trust” and felt calm and confident. The next time: same doctor, same hospital I did what I needed to do and to “trust”l which by the way has a much better energy than fear.
          My doctor and I came through with flying colors: two cataract surgeries and three more laser procedures and I have nearly 20/20 again!
          I “trust” you will have as good an outcome.

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