Eternal Defilement, A Story of Betrayal, Abuse and Destruction
A. Amara and Reynold Jay
July 23, 1971 was my first beating from my father, Jeb.
He beat my mother, Rose….
And sent her into preterm labor—taking me from the only safe place I will ever know.
My official arrival was the late morning of the 24th, a day that will bring sadness for many years to come. I was the third child out of five for my father and the third for my mother. Jeb insisted on naming me Rosa, a name that was so beautiful to him. I wonder why he chose such a beautiful name for a person he will one day come to defile and torture.
The drive home took almost an hour because the city we lived in did not have a hospital or much of anything else. The farm was not a “working farm” although we always called it that. Dad worked in a nearby General Motors plant and spent most of his time there when he was not around the house. It was a very small city made of dirt roads and a population where nearly everyone was related in one way or another.
My grandfather, Joe was married to two women, a black one named Grandma Mabel, and a white lady named Grandma Greta. They shared a home with my grandfather and together had fourteen children. Grandpa owned enough land such that each of his children was able to build their own house on different lots. The land was on both sides of one long dirt road with woods being everyone’s backyard. The main house was my grandfather’s home which was a farm that sat at the bottom of a big hill. Everyone lived within a mile of each other, so our only friends were our cousins.
I have three older brothers and one sister who all had cousins their age, I was the youngest and, needless to say, no one wanted to be bothered with little ole me.
Falling into a hole was my earliest childhood memory. It happened while I was walking out of the house. Uncle Daniel was driving a green car really fast and my mother was holding me in the back seat. I remember my mother screaming to my uncle to slow down or we would not make it to the hospital. The memory fades after that, but I know must have been alright because I am still here—unfortunately.
Uncle Daniel was very special to me.
I knew that he loved me so much but he would not be around long to protect me for all that was to come. .
That leads me to my second memory of Uncle Daniel.
I remember his coming to my house and giving me a fake white bird and telling me how special I was to him. The next day I was told he killed himself during the night and my heart was so sad.
Grandma’s house was always magical for me. I recall many evenings; I skipped up the gravel road while the sun was low in the west and cast long and languorous shadows across the wheat fields that seemed to stretch forever. I could stand on the hill that overlooked the long winding drive and gaze upon the immense farm and view it at a glance in its entire splendor. Sometimes the laser-like light would peek through the sky and shone upon it as though it was blessed by the heavens. An old wooden fence corralled the bulls, cows, horses, goats and sheep. At the bottom of the hill there was a little red barn that housed the chickens and a nasty rooster who ruled the roost like no other. I had learned to stay away from him as we had a nasty encounter one morning that I chose to forget.
On the north side of the house was a fenced-in yard that you could walk through to get to the pigpen and chicken coups. Out back and a short jog to the left was the little red outhouse. Yep—outhouse! She often said, “We don’t need one of ‘dem new-fangled bathrooms like ‘dose rich city folk!” We often fished the pond that sparkled in the sunlight every afternoon. And off to the north sat the fruit and vegetable fields that stretched endlessly—at least it appeared that way to this little girl.
When one entered Grandma’s house, you were met with an oak staircase and a glorious polished banister. At each side sat the bedrooms with two beds and a large television in one. At the end of the hallway was a living room which held a nine inch television and a large dining room table. On the other side sat the dining room which had a small table and four chairs that sat directly in front of the window so you could see who was coming down the hill. Walking through the back of the dining room you entered the kitchen that had a washing machine, refrigerator, and a large black wood burning stove. There were lots of white cabinets and a large sink area that often had stacks of clean dishes scattered about. At the rear of the kitchen area was a storage area and a door that led to the back yard.
The next memory I have is the one that would take my life from me. It would change who I am and who I would become. I was down at my grandpa’s house where all of us visited on a daily basis. Our grandmas would always cook huge meals so anyone who came over would be able to eat. Grandpa was old and the only time we would see him is if we went into his bedroom. Grandma Grete shared a room with Grandpa on the first floor and spent much of her time with him. Grandma Mabel was always in the kitchen or doing chores.
I don’t remember anyone being in the house that day other than the grandparents and my Cousin Will. Will was about seven years older than me and never really paid me any attention until the day he ask me if I wanted a piggyback ride. I was excited that someone wanted to spend time with me and accepted the ride with a bright smile. He lifted me up and placed my legs around his neck and acted like a wild horse, I was laughing with such delight.
The happiness I felt was long awaited and only momentary. Will asked if he could play a special game with me and the only rule was that I could never tell anyone. I was elated that I was going to do something special with one of my cousins; it must be my lucky day!
I remember the red corduroy dress I was wearing and the white panties that he pulled aside to insert his fingers into my vagina. From then on, that became my special piggyback ride and Will made sure we played every day. I was four years old and that memory is more vivid than a memory from a month ago. It is my guilt memory because I enjoyed the feeling and always looked forward to my piggyback ride.
I don’t remember how long the piggyback rides continued, but I know that Will became a very angry boy. We had a baseball field next to Will’s house and all the cousins were in a heated game when Will hit a ball that came straight for my face. It landed a nice punch to my eye. “Ouch!” Everyone was annoyed that I put a stop to their game and once again I was harassed for being the baby.
When Will hit that ball I saw something so mean in his eyes, I know that he aimed for me on purpose to punish me for the guilt he was feeling. Will became very aggressive towards me to the point that my brothers on many occasions were going to fight him.
I did not know what to feel inside. All I understood was that Will hated me and it was my fault. On the other hand, I realized that my brothers cared about me and would protect me—and that meant the world to me.
My sister and I never had a good relationship or closeness that most sisters share. My father loved her so much more than me and he had no problem demonstrating that to me. He would come home and give her gifts and money while I would just stand there wishing that he would acknowledge that he loved me too. I watched as he kissed and hugged her while they both giggled with such huge smiles. I carried a hole in my heart that could only be filled by my father’s love and still today I carry emptiness so deep inside me.
I could not worry anymore about Will or life outside of my house because life at home became hell.
I woke up in a panic because I heard my mother screaming and crying. Opening the bedroom door I saw my father dragging my mother by the hair down the hallway. She yelled for me to go back into my room and shut the door but I could not leave my mother. He was punching her and kicking her but all she was worried about was me. I stood there as he took her in their room and the screaming became louder. I was lost for I could not help her, and none of my bothers or sister came to help her.
The beatings became a regular part of our lives but I don’t know if I could only hear what was going on because I was the only one trying to help my mother. I became known as my “mother’s shadow” for every step she took, I was right beside her. I wanted so much to protect her from this monster that I called, “Dad.” I imagine that he came to understand that the beatings would not break my mother and this was the point that would damage all of us for good.
My sister, brothers, and I were all snug in our beds when we heard my father’s deep threatening voice, “Get your lazy asses up and come to my room now!” My sister Christina and I who shared a room both jumped straight up and stared into each other’s eyes.
Instantly, fear consumed me as my mind raced with different violent scenarios. Jeb’s voice was so stentorian when he was angry that I would rather fall out and die than to face him. We all met in the hallway when his voice resonated again, “DON’T’ MAKE ME DRAG EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU IN HERE!”
As we made that short journey to my parent’s room, our knees shook in pure terror.
We sensed that something—something evil— something from the pits of hell was about to descend upon us. My mother was sitting on the edge of the bed with a look of desolation on her face as she stared at each of us. Instantly, pure terror took over me, for my mother never looked defeated no matter how bad things were. “Your mother is a stubborn whore that needs to tamed.” This was not a shock to us because my mother was stubborn and unbreakable but a “whore”—NEVER. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I was sure that it did not apply to Mom.
Dad ordered everyone, “Line up from the oldest to youngest and stand at attention.”
Now remember, I have two brothers the same age but Miguel is my mother’s son by her first marriage, and John is my father’s son by his first marriage.
Dad sent himself into a blind rage. “I WILL BREAK THIS BITCH TONIGHT AND MAKE HER WANT TO KILL HERSELF!”
I don’t know what my siblings were thinking but I couldn’t imagine what he could possibly do to bring my mother to such a point. That thought only lasted a moment because what came next was the most horrifying thing I ever heard. It was but a whisper, but stuck terror like an arrow into our hearts. “I am going to kill you all ONE BY ONE while your mother watches.”
Did he just say the unbelievable? “Kill us!” How does one describe “terror?” Fear or terror seems to come up short in that sickening feeling that came over me. I carry the terror within to this day. “Terror” is not the word that could describe the feeling I felt. I was faint; my heart was pounding so fast! I remember that I could not move for I was sure that would bring the inevitable to us swiftly—death for everyone in the room. Fear pierced every muscle in my body providing sharp stabbing pain all over me. Standing at attention—afraid to move—wanting to reach out to my mother, my sister, my brothers. Would we die without being able to say goodbye or comfort each other? Was the monster that cruel?
All these thoughts passed through my mind in what seemed like eternity. It seemed unreal until the walls echoed, “Miguel get in the chair and look at your mother.” As I was lost in my thoughts, my father put a chair in the front of the room a few feet from my mother. He chose Miguel to go first because he was my mother’s love child by her first husband that she lost in the Vietnam War. Miguel was all she had left from her first love that she had lost so early in her life. “Miguel, John, Liz, Alex, Rosa— that is the order that I will rip your heart from your mother.”
As the words were coming from his mouth his hand reached into the closet and grabbed a shotgun. “No, No, No, you can’t shoot our children!” My mother screeched, “KILL ME INSTEAD! “My heart dropped as I knew this is how our story would end. I always knew it would end tragically, but I never imagined this nightmare in my wildest thoughts— that it would be this extreme.
We were trapped….
It was too risky to try and escape—
The voice of my mother that always soothed me was now tremulous and taut. “KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME, YOU BASTARD!” She said defiantly, “YOU ARE A COWARD!” Her words stopped when his fist battered her face.
Unearthly silence filled the room.
The gunshot is not going to kill me; the pain of my mother will take me first. Darkness encircled my mind and the fear began to fade—wishing to die became my plea.
With one hand he held the shotgun, with the barrel on Miguel’s temple. “I will show you what a coward I am when I pull this trigger.” He ranted about the strong man he was and how much control he had over us. His definition of a “good strong man” made me sick.
My inner voice was vibrating in my head.
I said a prayer. Please don’t shoot my brother. Please God, don’t allow him to do this. I repeated it over and over hoping that somehow God would intervene.
His index finger cradled the trigger as he slowly pulled it back, “No!” screamed my mother as she covered her eyes. Holding my eyes so tightly together I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to open them again. In that moment thousands of images—lurid—terrifying pictures of my brother’s face being blown away invaded my brain. The images departed instantly when I did not hear the sound of the bullet being fired.
I could only hope.
Opening my eyes with a hopefulness and anticipation, I could see Miguel was sitting in the chair with massive tears streaming down his face. I’ll carry that look with me to my grave.
I can’t explain the many emotions that were evident in his face, but I can say my handsome brother was in shock—but alive. My father, in nearly a whisper, gave us an order, “Go to bed and let your mother think about what her actions will cost her in the future.”
We walked silently from the room.
Not a word was not spoken.
We moved as if we were zombies, with no emotion, no life.
That night was the beginning of our hell and we all knew that it would only get worse. I grabbed the Bible and hugged it that night hoping that somehow God would wake me from this hellish world into which I was born. I held it in my arms every night after that and prayed for a better life for many years to come….