Saturday, March 8, 2014

Prompt 28 - Parents

This is an uncomfortable subject for me and still one of great joy. My father Henry Rawlings was a child molester. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s before we talked about him openly. He died in 1968, but my sisters and I continued to keep the secret. I was the only one that had any hint from Henry that he had been molesting the others. I was the youngest and he actually told me at one point that he would teach me about men and women as he had with the others. I was so confused. The school had sent a book home when I was in 5th grade that most of the kids had speculated had information about sex. My parents never had “the talk” with me. Henry had begun touching and fondling me at the age of 8. I was not subjected to much contact because Henry was diagnosed with cancer when I was 12. I finally began talking to my therapist about the molestation when I was in my late 20’s. I joined a therapy group for incest survivors. After several months with this group, I decided to talk to my mother to see if she had any suspicion of what was happening in our home. As I expected she did not know anything. She was forced to begin supporting the family when I was 6 years old. My sisters and I had worked so hard at keeping my father’s secret that I was the only one that suspected I was not the only victim. One sister did not want to talk about it, but it has brought my oldest sister and I closer by dropping the veil of the secret. I am even closer to my brother.
My mother was born Margaret Helen Hughes, but she hated the name Margaret. She adopted the nickname Peg and there were many people that never knew that it was not her given name. She was born in Ohio and grew up there. When she was a teenager she would swim across the Ohio River to the West Virginia side and back. She continued this until the day she came face-to-face with her father upon her return to the Ohio side. That put an end to her river swimming.
My parents met on a party boat on the Ohio River. These trips usually occurred on Saturday nights with a live band. Henry was 26 years old and my mother Peg was only 14. I heard my father once tell a cousin that he knew they were meant to be together and so he waited through her short marriage to another man when she was 17. By the time she was 22 my mother was divorced and had a 3-year old daughter (my sister Barbara). Peg and Henry married in 1947 and added 3 more children to the family.
After my father died in 1968 a very dear friend of my mother’s invited her to meet his brother. My mother fell in love very quickly. She and I even moved about 30 north to be closer to Fred. Fred had been married once and had been divorced for several years. Their courtship lasted 4 years. My siblings and I had become very attached to Fred and kept cheering them on. In 1972 during my Christmas break from college, I helped them get prepared and then attended a very lovely wedding of my mother Peg to her new love Fred.  When I refer to my “dad” I am talking about Fred. He is the only grandfather that my son and his cousins have known. He is now great-grandfather to my grandchildren.

Fred and my nephew Joe before the wedding 

Fred's mother, my new grandmother Ferol

The wedding party
Cal Fulgham, Fred, Peg, Cal's wife Janet

My parents Fred and Peg at the beginning of their 32 year marriage

In 2013 my dad Fred with my sister Barb, her husband Sam, Fred's granddaughter Melissa, Melissa's husband Les and Fred's great-granddaughters Sydney and Samantha

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