Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit

Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit

by Norma Joyce Dougherty

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Overview

Everyone loves a good fairy tale and Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit, from author Norma Joyce Dougherty, fits the bill. Norma shares how in 1970, God led her, a poor, young farm girl from Prince Edward Island, Canada to live out a real-life fairy tale on the world stage. “I became a world traveler and overnight success as Miss Dominion of Canada and contestant in the Miss World, Miss Universe, Queen of the Pacific, and semi-finalist in Miss International. She found fame and fortune,” but adds, “I lost my home, my self, and a sense of belonging. It took many years to find ‘me’ again.” Women of every age will relate with her identity crisis—a crisis that is all too common in this post-modern era due to the bombardment of direct marketing campaigns designed to focus our goals on looking, acting, and being someone we're not. Norma Joyce recounts her story in a lively “fairy-tale” theme as she shares the long journey from a world where lies and deception prevail to one where the truth of Jesus Christ is her power source, her light, radiance, beauty, peace, joy and her triumph.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595540935
Publisher: Elm Hill
Publication date: 08/14/2018
Pages: 364
Sales rank: 636,590
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Norma Joyce Dougherty received her B.A. in Philosophy, with a minor in Political Science from prestigious Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. During the past twenty years, Norma has volunteered with the international women’s ministry, Stonecroft Ministries, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri as a motivational speaker, conference planner, and a leader of women’s Bible study groups. She also served as a District Consulting Coordinator and a member of the National Board of Directors. She states, “I do not claim to be an expert on any one subject. I share what I have learned from both my successes and failures, in hopes they will help another young woman going through the same experiences. I believe my message is powerful for those seeking authentic validation to the questions...who am I, where do I belong, and what is my purpose in life? Norma Joyce resides in Charlotte, NC.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Legacy

From about ten thousand feet, I looked down on the frozen Northumberland Strait. It was indeed a cold dreary day as I breathed against the frosty window. My gloomy spirit matched my surroundings, and I snuggled ever so deeply under a blanket on the two-engine aircraft that would soon land on Prince Edward Island, my birthplace and the smallest province in Canada. It was December 23, 1986.

The approach to the island did not yield the same breathtaking beauty it does in summer months. Due to a blanket of ice and snow, there was no sparkling blue water from the Atlantic Ocean rushing and breaking against the red rocky cliffs or lapping gently in the quiet coves of this cradle-shaped island. There was no luscious countryside, marked off in fields of varying shades of color, one field different from the other depending on the farmer's choice of crop: yellow, lime, green, or emerald patches bordered with pine trees or dusty country roads. Then, it would look like a patchwork quilt spread out across the ocean, welcoming me back home to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the natural, unspoiled beauty of this cradle by the sea.

A multitude of memories flooded my mind, memories that were colored like the patchy fields with favorable and unfavorable shades, memories that had contributed to my choices in life, memories of events that made me the person I had become at age thirty-five. I thought about my home on the farm, my nine brothers and sisters, my alcoholic father, and my mother who endured all that life had to offer. These thoughts reminded me of the nursery rhyme, "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn't know what to do." Mother is what we called her, and I could remember many times when Mother didn't know what to do. This December day would be one of those times, as the family gathered to lay Father to rest under the patchwork quilt.

* * *

Oh, Father, I thought, why did you disappoint us so much? I was recalling another time, many years earlier, when my eyes peered through an icy opening in the window of the old farmhouse. I breathed against the opening and rubbed it with my little fingers. I believed if I persisted in keeping the spot from frosting over, if I kept watching through that opening, Father would come home, as he had promised, to take the children to the skating rink. It was a Saturday afternoon, chores were completed; and it was too cold, blustery, and snowy to play outdoors.

But as the day wore on he did not appear and I finally gave up. This was just one of the many promises that had been broken and had left Mother not knowing what to do. But more than that, it left me, at a young age, with a broken heart and an ever-increasing awareness that I could not depend on anyone in life, particularly my father.

He was a strict parent with a loud military style voice gained from having served in the Army during WWII. Often he would come home and roar like Father Bear in the Goldilocks fairy tale when things were not to his liking — a scattering of toys, a meal not prepared, or children not quiet enough. Yes, Father had a way of making his presence known and instilling a fearful respect for authority among his children.

He was certainly a handsome man, tall with a full head of naturally curly hair, an expressive face reflecting a big charming personality, and a hearty laugh that was contagious. Everyone liked Father and thought him to be a very pleasant man. He and Mother met prior to their service in the war — he a soldier in the Army serving overseas and she a secretary in the Air Force. Mother was headquartered at the war department located in Ottawa, Ontario, capital of Canada. They fell in love and dreamed of coming back to Prince Edward Island to raise their family on the rich potato farmlands of this majestic island close to the Atlantic Ocean. And thanks to the military compensation of low-cost land to returning veterans, Father and Mother were able to make their dream come true. (See Appendix A and B for Father's and Mother's War Records.)

Together they purchased one hundred acres of rolling farmland in a small community named Darnley, just up the road from our paternal grandfather's farm. Father and Mother's farm included twenty acres of breathtaking beachfront property on the northern shores of the island. The farm also comprised a large white-shingled house with a green roof, typical of northeastern Canada. A three-story barn capable of housing horses, cattle, pigs and chickens, farm machinery, and lots of bales of hay and straw was situated within close walking distance. A pump house for gathering water was conveniently located between the house and the barn, and an unobtrusively placed outhouse was sheltered in the trees behind the farmhouse, next to an old dilapidated machine shed.

A white picket fence separated the front yard from the apple orchard and a rail fence, intended to keep the farm animals in the barnyard, divided the two areas. However, the chickens managed to have free run all over the place, and this made Mother angry. Murmuring a few unpleasant words she would chase them off the front porch and out of the front yard with her broom. Her displeasure was just loud enough for the children to hear her anger but never loud enough to make out what she was saying.

A red clay driveway, often filled with mud puddles on rainy days, circled in front of the house and into the barnyard. As children we would run and splash through the mud puddles, shouting gleefully at the mess we were making. Needless to say, this too made Mother angry. But this time, her murmuring was loud enough for us to hear, "You children stop running through the mud or I'll make you cut a switch that will sting your little bottoms." Usually this was just a threat, but on occasion cutting our own switches was something Mother made us do when we misbehaved. We thought we were being smart choosing the thinnest one off the bush, but what we didn't realize was the thinner the switch the greater the sting. Therefore when Mother threatened us we listened carefully, but not until we made one last splash just for the fun of it. Yes, it was an idyllic setting for a family homestead set at the end of a long country road with good neighbors, the MacKays, on the other side of the road.

Each year for five consecutive years following their marriage Mother gave birth, always a girl. Father's hope of raising sons and developing his farmland seemed to evade him. The costs of rearing and feeding his family far exceeded the income from the meager production of potatoes he was able to harvest and sell each season. Hired labor and modern machinery were just beyond his reach.

Father kept slipping backward, but he never gave up. He and Mother continued to try for sons and, within two years of the fifth daughter, a son was born, then another. As time went on, there were two more daughters and, last of all, another son. Seven girls and three boys completed Mother's childbearing years, between 1948 and 1963. Born in 1951, I was the fourth daughter in this lineup.

Oh, how I loved my father with the pure love a child has for her parents. I yearned for his attention and affection. However, his attention and affections were spread hopelessly thin among all his children, his need to provide for his family, and his ever-increasing need for drink. Drink to drown the pain of recurring nightmares resulting from serious emotional battle scars acquired during the war. Nowadays this is known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but in those days there was no recognition of this disorder. It was then and is today an unfortunate, invisible, and often lasting emotional and mental affliction for war veterans. Many families had no option but to live with the pain and suffering, often in silence and secrecy, and sometimes in shame depending on the severity of the problem. Some were capable of hiding the symptoms of PTSD, but Father's memories of the traumatic effects of his war experience led him to re-experience symptoms — avoidance symptoms and hyperarousal symptoms. As a young girl I did not know any of this; I simply did not recognize or understand the emotional pain Father was suffering.

My reality became fragmented as I began to seek a safe place in which to hide my own feelings of rejection. I felt lost, as if I were out to sea trying to find the shoreline. My favorite pastime was reading nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Their pseudoreality provided me with hope, the hope of a better life, the hope of security, the hope of happily ever after. As the clarity between what was real and unreal began to blur, everything became patchy, like the quilt that formed the veneer of the island on which we lived. Understanding why my family lived the way we did — with so many secrets — eluded me then. It would only be unveiled later, over time, and pieced together by a master hand far greater than my own.

* * *

"Come on, Norma, get away from that window. Let's go do something. We can play checkers. Do you want the white buttons or the black buttons?" said Barbara Ann, the oldest sister. Barbie was always playing the maternal role. She filled in when Mother was either too busy or too preoccupied with what Father might or might not be doing. Barbie always bore the burden for the younger siblings. "I'll get the board," she said, "if you will count out the buttons." We huddled by the furnace grate in the floor to warm ourselves while we set up the homemade cardboard checkerboard. I counted out twelve black and twelve white buttons from Mother's sewing kit. We would barely get our game started when a quarrel broke out. All the other children wanted to play also.

The struggle over who was going to play checkers ended in a playful wrestling and tickling match on the floor. The laundry, which Mother had washed earlier and hung indoors to dry on the rack next to the furnace grate, was knocked over. We began pulling some of the garments over the top of ourselves. "Guess who I am?" one or the other would cry out. And then the guessing game would begin. Little legs would entangle with bigger legs. Arms would wrap around one another as we hid under each garment and under each other. Whoever was "it" would tickle and pinch until a sound came out, and then we would know for sure who it was. This was a game we often played, keeping ourselves occupied as we passed the time.

"You want to go skating?" Mother asked, having just finished scrubbing and waxing the kitchen's tiled floor. "Here," she said. "Put on these wool socks and you can skate all you want." Pushing the furniture aside, Mother handed each of us an old pair of woolen socks that were either missing a partner or full of holes. This was indeed one easy way for Mother to polish the floor. Slipping on the socks, making sure the holes were on the top part of the foot, we would run and slide across the floor, squealing and laughing, often falling on our bottoms, getting up, running and sliding some more, bumping into one another and knocking each other down.

"This is fun, Mother. I really am skating!" one of us would shout as we got in a good run and a successful slide. We kept up our skating until the floor had a beautiful high-gloss shine. Unfortunately, the shine never lasted long due to little feet tracking in snow and mud throughout the following days. Mother's constant reminder to remove our boots at the door never stuck in our heads, especially while we were in a hurry to be coming and going. Therefore, sweeping the floors after supper became a daily chore for the kids. Taking turns, we often gathered two or three dustpans full of island dirt.

* * *

Darkness fell early on the homestead during those short wintry days. While electricity was available in the 1920s in the larger urban areas of PEI such as Charlottetown, it was not available in rural Prince Edward Island until after the Second World War. Even then, it was not fully available to the majority of rural islanders until after the 1960s. Hence as each winter day wore on, Mother would retrieve the oil lamps from the shelf and clean the glass globes in preparation for the oncoming darkness. We would spend our evenings huddled by the kitchen's woodstove, sitting around the table reading, each of us struggling to glean a share of the lamps' dim light.

Mother stoked the fires in the stove hoping for Father's early return from town, especially when the weather grew threatening. Soon Father would appear with a silly grin on his face, a sack of groceries under his arm, and several pounds of flour and sugar for Mother's constant baking needs.

Saturday night was always a treat: homemade baked beans, hot dogs, and Mother's special homemade crusty bread, fresh from the oven, with just the right amount of butter, molasses, or brown sugar. Mother had spent the day baking several loaves of bread, and the aroma of freshly baked bread was so comforting as it filled the kitchen. We couldn't wait to get the first bite. All of us wanted to have the end piece, which we called the crust, because it had lots of flavor in it. Mother hoped the number of loaves would last the family throughout the upcoming week, especially for school lunches. Cookies and brownies were also baked on Saturdays, but we were not allowed to eat many. These too had to be saved up for school lunches; however, we were allowed to eat one warm oatmeal and raisin cookie as they came out of the oven. This was a special treat for us but causing Mother to have to bake another dozen or so during the week.

Often there was a surprise in Father's grocery bag for the children, usually a block of ice cream, which Father placed in the old icebox to keep cold. Iceboxes were common in many homes before electric refrigerators were invented. In winter months, Father would harvest our constant supply of ice from the frozen pond on the farm. He would store as much as he could in the icehouse outside in the backyard. But inside the home the old icebox had to be replenished every day with ice, because it was constantly melting. In summer months the ice was purchased from an industrial provider. However, the family's need for ice was the last thing on our minds on these Saturday evenings; eating the ice cream before it softened into slush was first and foremost. We couldn't wait to taste it.

Even as children we knew the ice cream was indeed a payoff for the disappointment of not being able to go to the skating rink or on some other adventure that day. But we were so happy to get it; we had already forgiven Father for his misdeeds and enjoyed our treat. To this very day I love to eat soft ice cream because it brings back memories of happier moments sitting in a circle on the floor with my sisters and brothers, giggling and laughing, a bowl between our legs, squirting soft ice cream between our teeth and making milk mustaches.

Each Saturday after supper, Mother would begin the laborious task of filling the tin tub for baths. She retrieved water from the hot water tank on the side of the woodstove, while Father filled more kettles and pots heated on the top of the stove. He retrieved this water from another tank sitting outside the front door. Both of these water tanks had to be filled from the pump house every day. Mother would get us dressed in our boots, coats, scarves, and mittens, give us a couple of buckets, and send us marching out to the pump house to fill the buckets and carry the water back inside. We always followed the path Father had already carved out of the snowdrifts during his daily treks to and from the barn. As children we found the filled buckets to be so heavy we would have to double up, one child on each side of the bucket. If we were in-sync, we would manage to carry the water without spilling or splashing. But if we were out-of-sync with one another, we would often splash the water and get each other wet, creating an argument, "It's all your fault. Can't you be more careful? Why are you being so sloppy?" After we handed the bucket over to Mother to empty into the tank, she would send us back to the pump house again. "This time, try to be more careful," were her unsympathetic instructions. "Then you will not need to make so many trips back and forth." The memory of us struggling to prime the freezing cold pump and to carry buckets of cold water into the house during those winter days is still very painful. However, during the summer months it was not quite as painful, yet the chore still had to be accomplished and the woodstove still had to be fired up in order to heat the water for cooking and baths.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Island Girl"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Norma Joyce Dougherty.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreward, xv,
Introduction, xxv,
1 The Legacy, 1,
2 The Miracle, 31,
3 The Transformation, 51,
4 The True Victory, 83,
5 The Fairy Tale, 125,
6 The Choice, 173,
7 The Identity Crisis Continues, 203,
8 The Unfolding, 241,
9 The Heart of the Matter, 261,
10 The Triumph, 283,
Epilogue: The Next Generation, 309,
Appendix A Father's War Record, 319,
Appendix B Mother's War Record, 327,
Author's Final Notes, 331,

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