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My mother's name, as I knew it, was Carmelita. She was born in 1932 in a small town named Blind River, Ontario, Canada. Her father's name was Stewart and her mother's name was Stacy.
My grandmother Stacy died at a very young age, and I am assuming, that she did not get to know her very well. My mother didn't really say much about her, except that she was a kind and soft spoken woman.
My Mom said that after her mother passed away, her father remarried this woman named Gretchen. My Mom knew by the look in her eyes that she had the demon in her. She also stated that she was the wicked step mother of all times. Gretchen was really mean to her and my mom had felt as though she was not wanted around, nor did she feel that she was liked by her, let alone, loved!
My mom really didn't say much about her, other than what I have mentioned and maybe a few other things. Obviously, she did not want to bring it up, for one reason or another, and by the sounds of it, I can't say that I blamed her.
My mother also told me that her father was also a drunk and a son of a bitch and he and his new wife, mentally and physically abused her. As well her own dad repeatedly raped her, on many occasions in her youth. My mom was not even loved by her own dad. At least not the way a Daddy should love his little girl. I didn't find any of this out though, until my mother told me, when I was in my late thirties. So this was why she was always running away from her home! She was trying to find a safe house for her to go to and it surely was not her own.
Of course, I was shocked when my mom told me about all this, but it did explain a lot of her wandering ways. Whenever I would question her about her past, she'd say to me, "Let sleeping Dogs Lie." Then, pretty much the subject was never brought up again. They were both dead, her father and step-mother, so it really didn't matter much anymore to my mother and she figured that there just wasn't any point in hashing it all up.
My father's name was Leonard Knox, born 1915 in Waverly, Liverpool, England. I wasn't told much about his parents except for the fact that his mom died on the operating table when he was very young and that his father was killed by mustard gas in the First World War.
My father and his siblings were raised in an orphanage. There were six of them, four boys, and two girls. One of their sisters was predeceased by the time that they came to Canada and her name was Patty-Lynn I don't know what happened to her. Just for the fact that she once existed.
My father and his siblings came to Canada by the way of the Catholic Church. After, their parents had passed away. There was now no-one to help take care of them, so, they all ended up in the orphanage. I'm told that's how and why my Aunt Christine became had a Nun, and also, My Uncle Patrick became a brother of the church. I assume it was because they did spend so much time with the members of the church, and as well the nuns and priests were the ones who ran the orphanage.
They were all asked to join the church on numerous occasions. So, the Catholic Church did end up recruiting two out of five siblings. That's pretty good statistics, I'd say. They spent a large portion of the young lives in and out of different orphanages.
Then with the helping hands of the Catholic Church in the 1930's they arrived by boat. They did not all arrive in Canada together but they did meet up later.
My story continues,
My Mother and Father were married in 1954 at a small catholic church in a quaint Northern Ontario town. As I was told, my mother was a resident of our local town Convent for quite some time.
The convent was run by the Nuns as a home for girls who wouldn't or couldn't obey the rules and regulations of everyday life. The disobedient girls, the girls who just wouldn't listen, the uncontrollable ones, It was a convent for girls that the court would appoint to go and on a rare occasion for the girl who just had nowhere else to go.
My mom for some reason was having a heck of a time at home, and was being abused by her father and step mother, so, yes I am sure she really did not want to stay with them and because of the constant abuse she was always running away from her home of destruction and the police would always bring her back. Back to her HELL on earth!!
That's actually how she ended up at my aunt Jessica's home. My mom ran there and asked if she could live with her. My Aunt agreed to let my mom stay with her and Uncle Berry and their four children. Only under the condition that she didn't cause them any trouble. My Aunt Jessica had a lot of her own problems to deal with, and she really did not need any of my mother's games, that was for sure.
My Uncle Berry was no prince charming. He was a mean and nasty drunk. Anyhow, she figured she had to give my mother a try; after all she was her sister. So she did let my mother stay with them, but shortly after my mother,s arrival there were too many problems with my mom. My aunt Jessica said that she couldn't control her and that my mom just wouldn't listen to anyone or anything "period." She also said that she was always being brought home by the police, for one reason or another.
I was told that my mom wasn't a really bad child; she just did not want to go to school. For she had her own agenda and it mostly involved men. My Aunt Jessica said she was always being caught by the police in the company of the opposite sex. Well, what would anyone expect after what her own father taught her. I always wondered about the way that she loved men, and I understand it now, O so well!
When an adult sexually abuses a child, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, it's like a contagious disease and it most always spreads like a wild fire and probably as fast. They would all say, "All she had to do, was to go to school on a regular basis," and she couldn't even do that.
So that's when myAunt Jessica said that she had no other choice, that it was the convent or jail for my mother. My Aunt Jessica told me that she couldn't see my mother in jail, nor could she put her there. So she chose the convent for her. Well it was actually the courts that had given my mother the ultimatum. My Aunt let her decide where she wanted to go. She had no other choice now. So that's how my mom ended up in the convent for girls.
I am not going to justify anything that my mom did or did not do, but I do know that she had one hell of a childhood. With no one there to take care of her and no one there to love her. The nasty cycle continues and my story goes on.
Once my father came to Canada, he was hired by the nuns, to help maintain the building and the property of the Convent. Basically, he was to take care of everything and anything that needed fixing. In return for his services, my dad was given a small house at the back end of the convent for himself. It was not much but it was a roof over his head. He also got paid some money for his hard work so that he could buy the everyday necessities that he needed.
The Convent is where my mother and father met. My mom now lived here and my dad worked here. I'm sure it didn't take my mother long to notice my father. Knowing my father, if my mom gave him any special attention, he most likely fell madly in love with her. Although once she left home, he didn't really talk about her much; actually he barely talked about her at all. I did know at one time though, he truly did love and respect her.
My father was a sweet, extra ordinary, plain, hard working catholic man. My mother saw that he was infatuated with her and that he genuinely cared for her. She saw it as a safe place for her to be. I might be mistaken on that point but that's how it seemed at the time, I was told. Mind you my mother was twenty two when they were wed. My father was sixteen years older than my mother and that was quite an age gap.
It didn't take much time at all and my mom and dad were married. I do believe that when my parents were married, my mother did love my father and vice versa. At least I hope they did.
When my mother and father got married in 1954 that is where they lived in a little house in the back of the Convent. I remember it well.
It was a tiny two room house. I lived there with my brother Jason who was the eldest and he was born in 1955. My sister Ellen who was two years older than I, she was born in 1956. My Uncle Peter, my dad's brother also stayed with us for some time. I remember my mother separating the two rooms with blankets so that there would be some kind of privacy at night.
The house was very old and the floors were so uneven that you could roll yourself down as if you were sliding on a hill. We use to put the ball down and it would roll to the other end of the house.
Walking was a little tricky but we all got use to it. If someone didn't know any better we looked like we were all a bunch of drunks, by the way we would walk in our house. Maybe it wasn't all that bad, but that's how I remember it. For some strange reason I was always falling to the left. None of our household drank or smoked, other than the wine at church on Sundays, or on a very special occasion.
We were definitely poor, but we had all the essentials that we needed. We had a fridge, a stove, a kitchen table and chairs. We even had a television set that for most of the time was situated on the kitchen table and a calendar that hung on the kitchen wall. We had an old couch, but other than that, we had only the bare necessities. We were all content with what we had and really, we did not care for we were only children. We had each other and that is all that mattered to us.
I remember sitting on the couch watching television and lifting my legs, screaming as a mouse scurried by. I would look up and see mice on the curtain rod, as they would be walking along the curtains doing acrobatics, as if they were in a show or something. It was like they had no worries in the world, until my mother would come up behind them and try to kill them. She would yell and chase them around the house uncontrollably and try to get as many of them as she could. This would happen on a nightly basis. So I kind of got use to it. I remember crying because they would come into my bed at night and you could actually feel them moving around under the covers. It was awful but that's the way it was, and it was where we lived.
We prayed in thanks for what we had and we were constantly reminded by the nuns, "That we should always be grateful for what we had and never take anything for granted." They would also always say, "That the Lord helps those who help themselves." What that meant to us at that time was a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Although we did understand that it was something serious, just by the way it was said to us and the expression on their faces as they said it.
We had an old rope close line beside the house. It was somehow attached from our house to an old pole at the end of the property, and of course you could guarantee that it was always full of clothes. None of us ever complained about anything because we were lucky to have what we had. People said that we were poor, but I never saw it or realized it or never even cared, for that matter.
My father believed that he got his job at the convent due to the fact that my Aunt Christine, his sister, was a nun. But I think he got it all on his own, and that he showed them that he was a hard worker. They got the best man for the job and they knew it.
My Aunt Christine was a head nun, at one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. We called her Aunty Christine and her Sister name was, Rev. Sister Gabriel. As well as my Uncle Patrick, who also worked at a church and he was announced as Brother Mark. I believe he was stationed in Winsor and I know he moved around in other churches in other cities as well. My father's other two brothers, Peter and Paul; they worked at other jobs not pertaining to the church.
Well, now we are three, three children. I remember that I was afraid of the nuns and how they almost never laughed and how their faces we always meticulous and so editorialized. They were always so serious that I don't even remember having any fun there, other than at Christmas, of course.
Christmas was a fun time at the convent. Santa always came and brought us a gift, but really, my Dad bought them. He would give them to Santa to give them to us. It was that time of the year that everyone seemed cheery.
The Christmas tree that was situated in the Convent was humungous. It had shinny tinsel all over it and it also had these beautiful coloured balls that hung from the branches of the tree. There were big balls and little balls of all shapes and sizes. It was the nicest tree that I had ever seen. I remember that my eyes grew as big as pop bottles, and I smiled a lot on that particular day. There were also these flashing and flickering lights on the tree that I remember and I would sit there for as long as the nuns would allow me to, although that was not long at all.
This was the one time of the year, that I do remember being somewhat happy. Not because of the gifts, just because everyone was in better spirits and life was good, if only for a short time.
I don't ever remember being a happy child except for when I was with my dad. I don't remember any happy thoughts of my mom when I was young. I really don't even remember her much at all. In fact most of the time we were all motherless!
I felt that my life was like a roller coaster. One day it was up and the other it was down. Never knowing what to expect! As you will see my mother was rarely with us, so we never got to take many pictures of her. I do remember though that my heart really ached for her and for her attention but she was never there for us.
I do remember some things, like during the day when we were all very little, my mom would tie my brother, my sister and myself to the clothes line, in the back yard by a rope that she had somehow tied to our clothing. I guess she had assumed that we would be good there, but we would get out of the rope by taking off all of our clothes. Then we would trot on over to the convent, stark naked.
The nuns would march us home and tell my mother to put some clothes on us. They also told her to keep a better watch on us. We got away much too often and the nuns would bring us back time and time again. The faces on the nuns were priceless. I could still picture them huffing and puffing and dragging us along the side of them, as they would almost stumble over there black and white habits.
Believe me they were also not in the best of moods being that they were always bringing us back to my mom. The nuns most definitely wanted my mom to know that they did not have the time to keep bringing us back home, and they certainly were not anyone's babysitting service. My mom understood and she did the best that she could to contain us in the back yard but we seemed to always get out.
We had an old mattress in the back yard that we use to play on it when we were little. We also had a swing set but by the time I was old enough to swing on it, it was broken and my dad got rid of it. Although he did buy a bigger and better one by the time that I was old enough to go on it by myself. It also had a teeter totter and a slide that came with it. It was a lot of fun to play on. The bush was our playground and we got some dirty.
I remember we had this old round wash tub and our babysitter Angelle would bathe us all in it. She would bath us one at a time and with all her patience. Not sure why she was the one who bathed us, but she did. Why did we need a babysitter? My mom did not have a job, she did not work. Where was my mother and really what was so important that she was not home taking care of us? What was she doing anyway?
From a very early age, I remember more of Angelle than any other woman in my entire life, including my mother. I remember that I liked her very much. She was a very soft spoken woman and she was always very kind and gentle to all of us. She had this wonderful oar about her and I'm not even sure why I felt that way, but I did feel safe around her. I don't even ever remember her getting angry, or upset with us. Angelle made me feel wanted and loved. She was somewhat the calmness of the storm that I felt inside of me as a small child. She, I believe was my saviour, and she doesn't even know it, and neither had I, until this very moment in writing this book.
Excerpted from In Care Of? by Courtney Knox Copyright © 2011 by Courtney Knox. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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