How many of us have those old family pictures? We look at them and we see memories of our past. However, what about when we can’t see those happy memories?
Some may know I won here not long ago a free year to ancestry.com . I started doing my family tree and looking for some answers of my past. Immediately I found another tree started of my family. After a few messages back and forth I found out it was my second cousin. Soon we exchanged addresses and she sent me pictures and stories my great grandmother wrote. I will be honest I can not even bring myself to read those stories completely. I am wrapped up in these pictures for some reason. I want to remember good things just like many of you have of your families, but I can’t.
I had some pictures that was in my baby book so I added them to the ones she sent me. Started putting my story together piece by piece. Asking myself questions, trying to remember.
I was born in June 29, 1968 in Herrin, IL
I was once a happy baby apparently. I look through my other pictures (the few I have) I don’t see many of these smiles. What happened to them? Mom is apparently happy, and playing with me. But I don’t remember times like this either.
My dad apparently was a happy man or so I see in this first picture. The most smile in the first picture anyways I have seen from him, unless he was drunk. Wait? I don’t remember many times him sober during my childhood. Okay lets move on
He was in the service apparently. That means he was honorable? Served our country and did the right thing. Wait, but he was dishonorable discharged. Those eyes those are my brother’s eyes. Heck he even looks like him completely. Â Is that why mom was always angry at my brother? He looked and acted like dad? Â That isn’t going to help either.
I look at this picture the one and only Christmas I remember with my father there. See that blue corner shelf behind my brother? I can remember that, I don’t know why but I can. There is something about that shelf. This house I remember, it was in Pontiac, IL . A lot of abuse happened in that home, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, domestic abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse. Those gifts he is passing out. They are the stolen ones he stole, not the ones mom got us. That I can say for her she never stole, did drugs, or drank that I know of. Just wish she didn’t do anything else emotionally towards me. That home I remember the ceiling falling in the one bedroom. Only blocks from my great grandmother’s that had a weeping willow tree. I am sure I don’t have to conclude on that topic.
Lets back up to pictures I was sent recently.
This is a new home now but my grandmother and grandfather’s mobile home was here. I remember ducks, chickens, the big pig, horses, grandpa in his wheelchair, grandma making barbie clothes. Boxes of Barbie clothing sat around for us to pick one out for our collection every birthday, Christmas, even at visits. I spent a lot of time here I was â€œGrandpa’s girlâ€. However, grandpa touched me a few times yet I still miss him. I never got to go to his funeral. When I reunited grandma told me she called mom to bring me a week prior to his death. That grandpa wanted to talk to me. What did he want to say? Why was he so determined? Was he sorry? Did he really love me?
The second of the two really reminds me. My uncle took my childhood there. On more then one occasion. I can remember this, I remember he getting caught by the ones who was to protect me. They walked off one even laughed. I remember that laughter, and those eyes. I remember the horse back rides with my uncle to end the same way each time. To this day I won’t ride a horse, I can’t.
This store, I remember walking to with my grandmother a lot. We went there to get milk, and I always got a piece of candy. They also sold tobacco, which she got for grandpa. But there is something else, I just can’t remember.
Here are older pictures I was sent. They look happy and in love. I can say I remember how grandma always cared for grandpa. She worked as a care giver (C.N.A.) then came home to grandpa in his wheelchair and cared for him. Â Maybe this is why I became a C.N.A. and E.M.T. Â I also remember when I stayed he didn’t let her stay in the bed, I did. Yet she loved him dearly, I remember that even after reunited she talked so much of him. She always concluded though with â€œYou were grandpa’s girl, no one mattered when you was aroundâ€. Â I see my sister in my grandma’s looks, especially younger pictures of my sister.
Of course I don’t remember these times either. But are there answers in these pictures? Dad is in the front, nothing there. Great Grandma Bethel is holding the babies, I remember her and her dolls. No wonder my grandma loved dolls as well she must of took after Great Grandma.
Grandma is in back row third to left, again she looks happy. My Great Aunt Sara is back row on right, she was married to my Great Uncle Don till he passed. Both the most spiritual and happy people I ever knew. Still no answers so I will move on.
Grandma is the second to left in middle, grandpa the back right. Okay I officially see where my dad got his looks from, down to that half smile even. Its right there looking at grandpa. He gets his curls from grandma I can see that too. But nothing else do I see to bring a memory out or answers.
This is my Great Great Grandpa Charles Bethel of course no memories here this is before my time. Answers? I don’t know but grandpa smoked a pipe as well even made some of his own. Dad still smokes a pipe to this day even though he has cancer. What is that in the jug? Moonshine? Makes me wonder I just don’t know.
See family pictures in an abused child’s life does something different. For many of you its beautiful memories. For us we look at these and try to find answers why the abuse happened? When did it start? How did it start? Was it a cycle?
If cycles are not broke in families these pictures remain being looked at with questions. I want memories, pleasant memories I just can’t grasp. Maybe in time, but for now they aren’t there. I have to many questions and searches for answers.
Then when the abused child speaks out as an adult. Â There are no more family pictures. Â Family members become angry, deny, ties are broke. For me I don’t see “neat” pictures, I see unanswered questions.
Bring out the memories,stop the cycle. Most of all don’t destroy that family scrapbook.
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This post is not intended to take the place of a therapist or Dr.