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Innocence ErasedVictoriously healed by His embrace
By Cathy Moore-Coleman
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Cathy Moore-Coleman, BS, MSOL
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the Beginning
From the womb, the birth canal was dry; too dry to bring Cissy forth without force, pulling, stretching, challenging, and bruising; nevertheless, here she comes. Doctors are pulling, using forceps, bruising her tiny hips; her tiny thighs, her tiny back and shoulders, leaving her black and blue. Cissy came feet first, a breach birthed, and dry birthed baby girl. Would this be a glimpse of how her life would be; hard, challenging, kicking and screaming through life?
From the birth canal to earth, the enemy's aim was clear, it was to steal, kill, and destroy her. The enemy has vowed his purpose for all mankind is to steal, kill and destroy them, specifically, before they have an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Savior of their souls.
"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10a)
Why did warfare start against Cissy so young? Her beginning was not much different from most little girls. She grew up with dolls, playing with tea sets, running around playing with her sister, cousins and friends. Cissy's daily routine was hopscotch, jump rope, hiding-go-seek, jacks, dodge ball, and playing tag. Cissy was surrounded by relatives living in three nearby houses. It made her feel safe and secure. By many accounts, she had a great upbringing. Cissy ate pecans, walnuts, and apples from the trees in her relative's yards. She picked strawberries, grapes, and blackberries from patches and brushes in the community. If that was not enough, nearly every yard in town had fresh juicy peach, plum, or pear trees to look upon its beauty and to pick from.
Cissy was raised in a small Southern town in a home with her maternal great-grandfather, maternal grandmother and grandfather, and sister (actually, Renee was her first cousin, children of two sisters, as both of them were raised by their grandmother. Everyone thought they were sisters, and they referred to each other as sisters). Living near so many relatives allowed Cissy to experience family in a special way. Someone was home most of the time. Family meals were eaten together daily, especially on Sundays. Extended family members walked through the door at any given moment. In Cissy's community, everyone spoke to each other; there was a wave given to every car that drove by. She was raised in a house full with fun and laughter from the front porch throughout the house. According to some, she was growing up in a well-to-do Christian home. Many in town believed her family was one of the wealthiest in town. Her great-grandfather's house was one of the largest in the community. He owned a store and five small houses. A Negro owning so much property in the 1930s and 1940s was nothing to wink at, especially being a grandson of a slave.
Her great-grandfather was well up in age by the time Cissy was born. He was an authority figure in the community and family. He was respected and favored Cissy to her sister/cousin, Renee. Cissy was an easy going child. No one could have known what Cissy would face growing up. Why was she a target of child sexual predators? Was she homely looking? Was she shy and timid? Did she give the impression she wanted these things to happen to her? It did not matter who her great-grandfather was or what he owned. The predators, used by the devil, came to destroy her, robbing her of what was rightfully hers, a childhood. She deserved her childhood as long as she could possibly hold on to it. She warranted the innocence every child should have.
The effects of child sexual abuse can be confusing and numbing to a child. Child sexual abuse can have demoralizing effects. It can take the victim on various destructive paths, depending on the child. Child sexual abuse has the potential to place a child on a track of irreversible ruin. Cissy was not equipped to handle such a traumatic selfish act. She pondered later in life whether her family could have done more to protect me. "Does family matter when predators target a child?" Let's take a look at her family.
Chapter TwoDoes Family Matter?
Cissy's Papa was an entrepreneur. He was a faithful deacon. He was the Chairman of the Deacon Board for more than fifty years at his local church. He was Superintendent of Sunday School, a member of the Sunday School Convention, a member of the District Union, a member of Masonic Lodge, and Christian Aid Lodge. On Sunday afternoon's after church, men from the community and church had meetings with him in private. They came to him for loans and advice. His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren called him Papa.
By the time Cissy was born, indoor bathrooms were in, but it took an army to persuade him to spend money to add an indoor bathroom. He was an extremely frugal man. Papa was tight with money. Tight was not the word, Papa was cheap, beyond frugal. He only gave Cissy and Renee a nickel and a banana for their school trips. Ironic, only because he owned a store that sold cookies, cakes, soda pop, sardines, and Vienna sausages, all the things a small country grocery store would sell in the 1960s. He could have given them all kind of goodies for their school trips. The family sat around and laughed on many days about how frugal Papa was. Papa gave as if he did not own anything and had nothing to offer. Although, his houses brought value to his immediate portfolio, if you will, he did not invest in his homes by remodeling or upgrading his properties. While he had so much, he invested that much less, adding no value, and leaving no lasting tangible inheritance to his children and children's children. It appeared with all the advice he was giving, there was no one to advise him.
"A good man leaves an inheritance for is children's children." (Proverbs 13:22a) "A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him". (Proverbs 28:22)
"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but come to poverty." (Proverbs 11:24)
Cissy had fond memories of her Papa. She had a strong reverence for him like everyone in the family. Papa was the glue of the family. Cissy and Papa did not sit around having long conversations, but he did certain things around the house to let her know she was special. He left the skin of the fried fat back he had eaten from on his plate for her. As gross and disgusting as that may sound, it was his way of showing he cared. What did she know; she was only a child. He allowed her to eat his special bananas, only meant for him. He even allowed her to go with him to the store to work with him sometimes, and every morning of her childhood, while living in his home, she witnessed him in his one piece long john undies on his knees praying. Surely, many of those prayers were on Cissy's behalf. His house was the big house. Papa was the reason so many came together. Papa's home was home base to all her nearby relatives, mainly her great aunts and cousins who lived two houses down the street (one aunt across the street, and the other aunt right across the yard). Her second cousin, her Papa's grandson, (her mother's age) who Papa helped to raise lived directly across the street. He was fathered by one of Papa's sons. With so many family members so near, why didn't someone know? Why didn't anyone see the signs? With authority, money, and a good reputation, Papa could not help protect Cissy when she needed it most. Did Papa know what signs to look for when a child was being sexually abused? He was in his late seventies by the time Cissy was born. He was still managing his corner store and overseeing his houses. In his late seventies, walking with a cane, it was clear; his focus was not on looking out for child sexual predators. What, if anything, could her granddaddy have done to recognize the signs of a child predator and protect her? Was he too preoccupied with his demons to help his granddaughter?
Willie's mother died when he was born, which resulted in him being raised by his paternal uncle. He endured corporal punishments until blood poured from his body. Willie served in the United States Army, but was given a dishonorable discharge for acting out in rebellion by going AWOL. He could never quite understanding why a Negro, who was disrespected, without equal rights, was expected to defend a country that treated him that way. Since Willie never knew his mother, and never knew his father, consequently; he found it hard to live a peaceful relevant life. He drowned his pain and disappointment in alcohol and women. With a dishonorable discharge, it was difficult to make a good living, yet Willie always found a way to provide. He drove trucks while working at the Mill. He worked as a foreman for tobacco farmers, and later in life, he ran a transportation service for the neighborhood. He always found a way to provide. He was not a lazy man and had a good work ethic. His uncle set that example for him. His uncle was an entrepreneur and worked very hard.
Willie also did not complete high school. He was a stern, yet loving man. He had a sense of humor and loved to tease Cissy's grandmother, Violet, to the point of boiling. Violet would get so annoyed with him, appearing to erupt at any moment. Willie would wink his eye, indicating to Cissy and Renee, "I am just teasing her, but watch how easy I get her upset." Renee and Cissy would fall on the floor laughing because they knew their granddaddy was only teasing their grandmother, but she always fell into his trap. Willie, affectionately called "Daddy" by both girls, thought teasing his wife was the highlight of the day. He was the only father the girls regarded as provider. His life with Violet affectionately referred to as "Mama," seemed fine in their tender young eyes while growing up; however, Willie and Violet soon separated. Willie moved out of Cissy's Papa's house before she started first grade. Cissy and Renee continued to see their granddaddy, as he continued to come by the house to bring food and give their grandmother financial support.
Willie was a womanizer and often came around intoxicated. If days went by without Cissy and Renee seeing him, they tracked him down to get money to go to the store. They went to women houses he was living with at the time to get money. On their search, it included going to a few dance joints, a few houses of ill repute where they sold and drank alcohol, but they always tracked him down. Willie was known throughout the community, which resulted in his granddaughter's known throughout the community too. All they had to do was mention their great-grandfather's name, their granddaddy's name or their grandmother's name and people knew who they were.
The family always knew Willie loved Violet, but puzzling to some, the woman Willie lived with the longest looked so much like Violet, family members could not tell them apart from twenty yards away, often mistaking the other woman for Violet.
Willie's reputation labeled him as "one you did not mess with." He did not take anything off anyone and no one meddled with him. He was a brutally honest, strong, loving provider. In those days, though he ran around with other women, Violet only had eyes for him. For certain, there were fights about his indiscretions, yet Violet remained faithful and loving toward him. He spoke lovingly to Violet in front of the girls with words of endearment (sweetheart, honey, darling). Maybe those words of endearment kept her holding on to him in her heart. It was obvious by Willie's choices; he could use healing from his wounds and regrets.
Oblivious of the emotional and psychological needs of his granddaughters, Willie could not speak to their pain and feelings of rejection by their mothers, Lilly and Neddy, who both moved to New York City; yet by being a part of their lives, he gave them an example of a strong male figure. He always made them laugh and made sure he gave them money. He often took them for rides in the car when he came by the house. He left a lasting image, but he did not warn them about child sexual predators. It was a stroke and failing health that brought him to Christ and home to Violet to be faithful at last. Willie returned, however, it was not without sacrifice on Violet's part. Cissy's grandmother cared for Willie until her death. What about Cissy's grandmother, Violet? Was her life so cluttered with the cares of survival that she could not recognize the signs of her granddaughter being sexually abused?
Known as Mama, to the girls, and Violet to the community, she only completed tenth grade. Violet's mother died when she was only eleven years old. She was the youngest of her siblings and a loving woman. She was highly respected in the community. You know; how the world views certain women who husbands fight them, run around with other women, and the wife remains faithful, and a Christian; those women are often called "good women." Cissy heard people refer to her grandmother as a "good woman" because her grandmother, Violet, remained married and faithful to her granddaddy, Willie, though, her grandmother knew of his adulterous behavior. Through it all, Violet treated him with respect and endured the gossip and backbiting of the community. She never spoke evil of him in front of her granddaughters. They could see she loved him unconditionally. Maybe it was because she knew how men viewed adultery, "I can do it, but you had better not try it." Perhaps, she knew if she had another man, it would be hell to pay. Some men have the unmitigated gall to think this way, especially back in the 1950s and 1960s. Stories are told of him waiting under the house (some houses in the South were built lifted off the ground sitting on stones) with a shotgun because he had suspicions, though unfounded, that his wife was unfaithful. God intervened and the shot was never fired.
By the time Cissy had memories of her grandmother, she was in her forties. If you were in your forties back in the 1950s and 1960s, you were considered old or getting up in age compared to today's forty year olds. Violet was settled. Neddy, Cissy's mother, told Cissy that her grandmother, Violet, did her share of drinking and partying once upon a time as well. However, when Cissy and Renee came along, it was a thing of the past. As life and time would have it, by the time her granddaughters were born, she was a committed Christian. It was Violet who made sure Cissy and Renee attended Sunday school and church services. Violet always hummed spiritual hymns while she cooked and did her work around the house, seeming to have a level of peace that only God could give, despite all she had to endure.
The family church was a traditional Missionary Baptist church. As a child, Cissy did not remember much of what was said or if they explained how to become a Christian, anyway if they did, she did not listen. All she knew was she had to go to church. That was what Mama and the family did on Sundays, and she had fun while she was there. It was made very clear to Cissy that the church house and church grounds were sacred. It was also clear that if you had a bad word or wanted to do something disrespectful, you did not do it in the church building or on the church ground. Violet sang in the choir and later became a Mother of the church. She was kind, but had no problem disciplining Cissy and Renee with the switch from a bush or tree limb for going out of the yard, or being disobedient. Violet also had a since of humor, and was affectionate by giving hugs and kisses. She laughed and talked with the girls. She was a nurturing and caring person who opened her doors to anyone in need. She worked doing what was referred to as day's work (worked primarily in white people's homes, cleaning and cooking) and cleaned hotel rooms before managing her Papa's store. Surely, Violet cried out to God about her husband's adulterous behavior. Perhaps, it even contributed to her developing a personal relationship with God. The fact that Violet's father, Papa, did not care for Willie could have also contributed. Maybe it had all taken its toll. It was rumored their two daughters were fathered without the benefit of marriage. Was that what led to a shotgun wedding, if the rumor was true? Was that the bad blood between her Papa and Willie, the man she married and loved? Somewhere in Violet's psyche, she decided to do three things: 1) raise and take care of her two granddaughters, 2) never leave her Papa's house, (perhaps facing the reality her husband would never be the husband she longed for, deciding she would be better off living with her Papa), whom she had lived with all her life and 3) live a life devoted to Jesus Christ. Violet became the primary person to care for her father as he aged. Since she lived with her Papa all her life, it was without saying her job to care for him until his death. Violet also cared for many of her siblings until their death, as all her siblings preceded her in death.
Excerpted from Innocence Erased by Cathy Moore-Coleman Copyright © 2011 by Cathy Moore-Coleman, BS, MSOL. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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