by Linda East
(Hamilton, Ohio, USA)
Linda's story starts with these words "I have had an unbelievable life" and there really is no hiding from the fact that Linda's incredible story does seem, dare I say it, unbelievable.
From being born to a teenage Mom who never coped, to being 'stolen' by her Father for 10 months, to never being able to forgive her Mom, to suffering from a catalogue of life-threatening illnesses - this story is somewhat harrowing, and unrelenting, but maybe there is finally hope...
I have had an UNBELIEVEABLE life and have been told several times that I should write a book, so I am going to do just that.
My life started off with issues, my Mother was only 14 years old when I was born. She was absolutely unprepared to be a parent, and never did get the hang of it. I don't ever remember her hugging me or telling me she loved me. My sister is not quite two years younger than I am, and we pretty much took care of each other.
When my mother was pregnant with my sister, our father disappeared from our lives, and soon, Mom married for the 2nd time. My step-father was the only father figure in our lives.
When Mom remarried, they took us to my Step Dad's Mother's house and left us there while they relocated to another state. When my father found out that we were at my Grandma's house, he reappeared and told her he had a court order giving him custody of us, and she believed him. He kept us hidden in a fruit cellar, fed us like dogs, and told us that if Mom found us, she planned to cut our heads off and throw us in the Cumberland River. I was 3 years old and my sister was only 15 months old at the time.
It took the authorities more than 10 months to find us.
A rat had bitten my sister, we had lice, and were terrified of our mother. I vaguely remember her trying to pick me up in the courtroom, and I was kicking and screaming. The worst part of this story was, the judge asked my father why he did what he did, and he told the judge that he couldn't stand the thought of another man raising his girls. He served 6 months in jail, which was 4 months less than we were in the fruit cellar. No justice there!
We were from the backwoods of Kentucky, and were unbelievably poor. The house I remember most had been a chicken house at one time, and only had 2 rooms, no running water, no electricity, and when it snowed, the snow blew into the house. My sister and I used to shake baby mice out of the papered walls, and play with them until they died, then we buried them and shook out more mice.
Dad was a moonshiner, and was sent away to a federal prison for a few years, and my mother became extremely popular with a lot of men. When Dad was released from prison, we moved north to Cincinnati, Oh, and things got even worse. Both were alcoholics, and weekends were not fun for my sister or me. Then Mom started having babies, 3 more to be exact. She was worse than Dad about disappearing for days, then calling from jail. Dad would go get her but before long, it was business as usual.
I tried to pretend to be Mom, sometimes, and called Juvenile Center and reported us as runaways, but no one ever tried to help us. I still don't understand that.
Where were all the adults?
During my sophomore year of high school, Mom was sent to a TB Sanitarium for a year. Being the oldest of 5, I had to quit school and became the mom/housekeeper/cook. I have still not forgiven my Mother for any of these things, and since she died in 1980 of breast cancer, at the age of 47, I have issues and am only now starting to realize that I will never be able to "fix" myself.
I was diagnosed with uterine cancer 6 months after Mom died, and during my hysterectomy, I nearly bled out (I took way too many aspirins everyday) and was given 5 units of untested blood on May 10th, 1981. So, I contracted Hepatitis C, but didn't know it until 2000, when I quit smoking and immediately gained 40 pounds. I saw my family Dr. to ask for diet pills, and she sent me directly to the hospital from her office.
I had had a heart attack, but didn't know it. The bloodwork while I was in the hospital found enzymes in my blood that would only be there following a heart attack. That was when I was diagnosed with Hep C.
By that time, I had cirrhoses of the liver, COPD, type 2 diabetics, and I had advanced liver disease. I was on Pegasus chemotherapy for a year, lost my hair, my teeth fell out one at a time, and my husband left me. This is especially painful, since he is a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair, and he abandoned me for a woman he knew through his job at IRS. That was an all time low for me. I just wanted to die but didn't want to kill myself, being Catholic and believing that you will not go to heaven if you commit suicide.
We were married nearly 20 years, and I loved him beyond reason. I devoted my life to making his life as full as he wanted it to be. I often told people that my job was to help him be the best he could be, everyday, and his job was to take care of me in my "Golden Years". I did my job, he did not. Because I took him all over the US for "Train the Trainer" events, he enjoyed a stellar rise in his career, going from G3 when we married, to G15 when he left me, and is now considered the "go to" guy for pension laws.
I do get satisfaction in knowing that he now pays 3 women to care for him. This is another situation that I will never be able to fix, but haven't learned to let it go yet. I definitely have issues.
But, I have recently rekindled a relationship with a man I've known since I was 16. At that time I dated him a few times, then he introduced me to my first husband. So, naturally, I thought he was blowing me off, and that's why I ended up marrying my husband, the mutual friend.
We still remained friends all these years, though, and he is my daughter's Godfather. We have both married twice before, and when he acted as the father of the bride June 6, 2009, when my daughter married, we reconnected, and sparks are flying all over the place..He makes me feel safe and promises not to hurt me, and I believe him.
And the story continues (I suspect)...