• op ed

    What Do You Think?

    sisters forever

    an OP ED for July 9/19 USA headlines

    A friend’s daughter told me today her mother has been deeply affected by the politics in the States over these many, many months. There must be so many others, I thought. And then I had to think about myself, given that this friend is a strong, compassionate woman. Have I been affected?

    Of course, the answer is yes. And yet I would say the impact is less and less since the election. It’s a ‘what can be done now?’ kind of attitude. Ah, the slippery slope of apathy. But not now! No, indeed – not with hearing more on the “powerful” cowards south of the border… Epstein and friends, and all who have colluded with him. How will the souls of these young women ever heal? How can the collective female soul recover from Mr. Trump’s vulgar words and misogyny toward Megyn Kelly. Is there a way to forget the video of the Access Hollywood bus driving into 2016. That was when Mr. Trump was seen for what he truly is. And the beat goes on through revelations via the Me Too Movement.

    And so I, like a multitude of females, have been led into the overgrown pathways of buried ‘sexual happenings’ against me and my friends and family… the big older brother of a friend exposing himself to me, a step-grandfather trying to molest me when I was 11, the full-on kiss from someone I barely knew when I was in my forties, the hand on bottom when the choir was climbing a narrow a narrow staircase to the choir loft.

    I was meditating on something a friend had said about forgiveness in a note a few days ago. Is there anyone I have not forgiven? For some reason, forgiveness comes easily to me. But there was something niggling at me. And then it hit me. There was someone I have not been able to forgive. That step-grandfather I mentioned.

    I escaped from him by leaving my house and going to a friend’s house. I didn’t tell anyone. And I quickly forgot what had happened. Until I returned home.

    She was standing on our porch steps. When she saw me, she ran to me, very upset. She had been molesteded by that step-grandfather, that United Church minister. There we were, an 11 year old and an 8 year old, and it was my job to tell our father, our fathermother, who would – and did – take care of the situation. He never did know about me – I knew it would have been too much for him. How could I add to his grief and anger?

    Our mother’s response was a call to silence – “think of the money.” The next summer, when we were getting ready to head to Ontario for our biennial vacation with family, Margaret shared her plan to throw herself down the stairs so that she could stay in hospital while the rest of us were in Ontario. I said I would be ever vigilant and would never leave her alone. Interestingly enough, our grandmother Violet converted the chicken coop for our hangout and bedroom. Our mother’s sister gave us a rescued three-legged chinchilla as a pet. I was relieved that she gave us this acknowledgement that she knew. And we were safe. The next winter we learned that the predator had been killed in a car accident.

    Margaret’s sexual assault affected her for the rest of her life. We would talk about it quietly. We delivered it, along with Robinson’s perennial clerical collar, to a cosmic sinkhole when she was approaching the end of her singular journey.

    She went elsewhere… to the great beyond of Love, which is God. I was with her. I still am.

    Perhaps you’ll understand why I can’t forgive that long-departed man. It has to do with what he did to my sister and all the consequences it had for her. And it has to do with what he did to me. For all these years, I have felt like I abandoned my little sister that day.

    I can’t shake that sense of having deserting her.