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Out of the Picture

Posted Feb 06 2013 2:05pm

This is a post that I have written AND deleted many, many times and for very different reasons, mostly because it is not a very nice story and, honestly, unlike our house (IRL) I do prefer to keep my blogging world as light (and airy) as possible.

Also, it is not my story to tell (not all of it, anyway) and, although very few childhood images remain as clear in my mind, some memories are best left forgotten, right?!?

Truth be told, I was more concerned with my children inheriting the same self-perpetuating fear that I've had to live with for the last 40+ years:  questioning myself, over and over again, whether or not there was anything I could have done or said to prevent it from happening to me, this is the legacy of domestic violence.

In other words, what they don't know can't hurt them...and won't, if I have anything to do with it...DAMMIT! 

Mama, Kerestzmama and Anyu
Nagy Mama, Aunt Theresa and my Mom (standing) c. 1956

Then I recently came across this picture of women I have loved and admired all my life.  I pinned it to the bulletin board, right above my desk.  I adore and cherish this picture on so many levels, but most of all because they are all smiling.

Also, there is a reason why it seems slightly off-center:  I had cut out the image of my grandfather, long ago.

Still, I felt a wave of nausea and had to fight to keep from getting sick.

I did not invite my grandfather to my wedding and he's never met my children.  In fact, the man has been dead (figuratively and literally) to my (and my aunt's) family for years now, but I was suprised how just the simple thought of him could STILL hold such power over me.

I turned the picture over in my hand, found writing on the back (it was grandmother's) and then I cursed myself for not translating it first.

What I could make out:  it was taken in the small village where they lived, right before the Hungarian Revolution broke out, and judging by my mother's and aunt's age (at the time) probably right before they immigrated to the U.S.

Without my grandfather.  Yes, my grandmother left her husband behind, on purpose.

Back-story:  he followed them here, lying about their separation to a social worker, who gave him the address of their foster family, so that he could reunite with his wife and children.

This is the part of the story that is not ALL mine to tell:  suffice it to say, he was the type of man to hide food from his starving children. True story. 

I can tell you:  my earliest memory is of him, hitting my grandmother hard enough to knock her into the next room...right in front of me.

Thinking on it some more, I probably should have asked my mother's permission, before cutting his image from the picture, but deep down inside I know she most likely would agree:  my heart was in the right place; we are ALL in a much better place.

If only I could cut away the pain he's caused our family, just as easily -- most especially, now that both my grandmother and aunt have passed.

On the other hand, my children's memories of their grandfather ARE very, very different; they WILL be better wives, husbands, mothers and fathers in spite of it.  

I win!

Are you a victim of domestic violence?  Call or text the National Domestic Violance Hotline:  Peer Advocates are available for assistance and support 24/7. Text “loveis” to 77054 or call 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 TTY or  chat live online .

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