Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where I Grew Up

House on Highland
I was not blessed as a child to grow up in the same house for all of my years.  Recently I drove by the houses, we called "home" in Phoenix.  Floods of memories came back to me, the house I lived in during my elementary school years looked so small to me now, across the street was the Solice family.  I was in 2nd grade throwing the football back and forth with the Solice children when the football exploded in my arms and immediately broke my eardrum, I remember my mom grabbing me and hugging me tight as I cried from the pain. I endured many many surgeries on my right ear.  Previous to the football explosion I had a blow to the ear, my birth father was drunk and hit me one night when I was 2 or 3 years old, I am now deaf in that ear.  In this house my step brothers and sisters were taken from school one day by their mother, she drove them to California and I never saw them again.  I remember my sisters and I throwing toilet paper all over the yard and trees the night my mom gave birth to my little brother Lance.  One of the scariest things that has ever happened to me happened here, my mother was cooking dinner in the kitchen,  I was sitting at the little table I looked up and there standing in the middle of our kitchen behind my mom was a child, not just any child she never came out during the day, she had what seemed to be transparent pink skin, extremely white Afro hair, even more white than mine was and her eyes were red, she looked right at my mom and asked if I could play with her.  I later found out she was an albino of African decent, we became friends and then one day she was gone, I wonder now as I think back about that day, where she is, who she became, where she grew up.  Then I realize in this house there are memories, but this is not where I grew up.
51st avenue house

I actually drove past our house on 51st avenue several times before I recognized it, then I sat in my car for a long time in front of the house, this was my junior high years, down the street was the Hulshoff family.  In the summer months I remember playing kick the can and hide and seek with them every night, I had my 1st kiss on this street with a boy named Eric. I'll never forget the day Elvis Presley died my mom cried like a baby, I remember learning how to mow the lawn here, pull weeds here and get grounded for lint balls being left behind on the carpet after vacuuming.  I don't want to look at this house, this is the house where bad things happened, this is the house where I was forced to choose between sparing my mom's feelings and my step dad's desires.   The tears are flowing as I look at the bedroom window (on the left) where I lived, so many times I wanted to jump out that window and run, run and never look back.  This house is filled with horrid memories, but this is not where I grew up.
79th avenue house

Driving towards our house off of 79th avenue I was shaking, actually not knowing if I could do this,  and why was I doing this?  I turned in and on the left was Sara's house she lived  behind us, up ahead was Susan's house. Driving towards my house I was overwhelmed with emotions, this was the house I lived in during my High school and young adults years.  I could just see my white 65 mustang parked out front, I  smiled  thinking about the memories my friends and I had in that car.   On the front lawn is where I took pictures  in my cap and gown on graduation night from Alhambra High school 1981, little did I know just a few short years later in this very house my brother Lance would die,  he was only 15 years old. I will never forget that cold November morning.  I wonder if the people living here now know what a special spirit lived in that house, we all loved Lance so much.  I miss him.  I met my husband Eric while I lived in this house,  he was the 1st person to ever say "I love You", I fell in love with him while I lived in this house.  I knelt and prayed at my bedside sometimes for hours, begging the Lord to help me SURVIVE.  I made promises with the Lord, I promised HIM if he would help me get out of this house I would promise to always keep the Gospel in my life,  and try my hardest to be good.  Now looking back I realize the Lord kept his promises to me, and understanding the Atonement a little better than I did back then I know all things happen for a reason.  In this house is where I first new the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that HE loved me, even if I felt no one else did, HE DID.  As I stare at this house I cannot help but remember so many bad memories, there was  not a lot of love in this home, there was abuse verbally, physically, mentally and sexually yet through it all I knew that it was just  a small chapter of my life, I some how knew good things were yet to come for me, and believe it or not this is not where I grew up.  As I drove away I looked in the rear view mirror, thinking good-bye and good riddance I will never come back hear again, but the memories will never fade.
Our Home on Seneca in Chandler

On my way home I decided to drive by the homes Eric and I have lived in, I wanted to write down the memories I felt at each one of those homes also.  In Chandler Arizona there is a house where Eric and I brought home Kayla and Blake from the hospital after giving birth. In this home we laughed, cried and loved together, in this home I worked hard at learning how to be a wife and mother, I always felt like I was still not good enough.  In this home I learned to cook, clean and be responsible not only for myself but now for a family. I remember one night a cricket was just outside our bedroom window and I went outside searching, determined to get "rid" of it.  In this home I was so busy with being a mother I failed to read my scriptures like I should,  I compared myself to other mothers and wives I let the world define "motherhood" I struggled with self esteem.  I attended the Temple once a week with Eric's dad for over a year so that I could learn more.  We met Tom and Tamy Scheurn, she became a great friend and sister in the gospel.  Still as I stare at this home thinking about the memories I know this is not where I grew up either.
Our Home on Cove in the Islands

One more stop before getting home, the Islands.  In this home  we welcomed Kaitlyn and Haleigh to our family.  In this home I still continued on my quest to do everything "right" I wanted to be like sister "perfect" you know the one ... she gets up at the crack of dawn grinds her own wheat, bakes her homemade bread,  picks fruit off her own trees and makes jams and jellies, makes breakfast for her family, has family scriptures and prayer,  having FHE was a priority,  visits the sick with a prepared meal,  and looking impeccable on Sundays was a must, all children matched clothes on Holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and although these things are admirable, I realized while living in this home I needed to want to do these things because it would enhance and bless our life, not because everyone else was doing it.  In this home Kayla broke her arm and had to have surgery, Blake broke his arm and several other bones jumping off everything he could climb on.  Eric and I met Mike and Jenny Scow, they have become forever friends, we celebrated my 30th birthday with Jenny and Mike while living in this home.   In this home is where I realized a dad should have respect and compassion for his children, I learned this by watching Eric with our children.  I learned that I was not living in reality and it was time to face it, a year later I confronted my step dad about my abuse,  he denied it, my mother denied it and ultimately walked away from her children and grandchildren.  In this home was the darkest time of my life, the guilt I felt for breaking up our "Eternal Family" was so overwhelming I went into a deep depression, but still this is not the home where I grew up.
Where we live now in Gilbert on Poinciana

Leaving the Islands we moved into the home we are in now, still I was broken, my heart ached for my mom I wanted that relationship to be mended, I tried so many times and every time I came away even more hurt than the time before, I once sat in a fetal position by the front door crying until Eric got home because I was so upset about my mom. Debbie Slade became a dear friend and helped me through some pretty rough times, she called David LeSueur  who at the time was our Stake President, he layed his hands on my head and gave me a blessing that I will never forget, a blessing to be able to find peace in my heart, from that day on I began to heal from my past, finally realizing none of what happened was my fault, finally for the 1st time in my life I felt at peace with my decisions.  Haleigh was in the nursery, only 18 months old when we moved here, all of my children were baptized on their birthdays while living in this home. In this home I raised my voice way too much trying to deal with being the mother of teens.   I began looking to other woman for inspiration,  advice, love and recipes, I seriously hated that I could not just get on the phone and call mom for those things. In this home I watched our children face challenges, I spent  and spend many many hours on knees praying individually for my children to understand the importance of obedience. I learned the importance of saying "I'm sorry, I was wrong" We took pictures of each one of our children going to Prom, they all graduated from Highland High School while we've  lived here. Kayla and Jeremy were married and had their reception in our backyard.  Eric and I gathered our children and son in law together at our kitchen table to break the news that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, 6 weeks later I  sent my son off to the Dominican Republic so he could full fill his dream of serving the Lord on a 2 year mission,  I went through a double mastectomy, was told my cancer had spread,  endured another surgery to have the lymph nodes removed,  had another reception in our backyard for Kaitlyn and Brian, started chemo 2 days later, the next month our 1st grandchild was born, followed by radiation and another few surgeries.  It was not until I went through my cancer treatments that I finally realized how much Eric loves me, how much love I have to give and most important how much my Heavenly Father loves me and has been with me for every step of my life decisions.  I know HE lives, this is something I am completely sure of,  I can now see the times when he carried me and literally pulled me out of overwhelming situations, but still this is not where I grew up.

During my short 48 years  on this earth I have learned that a House is just a structure built of wood or stone to create 4 walls and a roof.  What truly makes a HOME is the love, compassion, respect, laughter, joy and enduring the trials a family goes through together.  A HOME is where a child should not be afraid to live, every person in that HOME deserves to be listened to, and hugged.  Every member of that family needs to know they are loved, especially by their mom and dad, everyday they should hear those words.  I wish I had been taught this as a child.  I wish I had lowered my voice and softened my heart when my teens were struggling, knowing this now surely makes me want to be a better mother, wife, and grandmother, this is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement, no matter what age we figure all this out, it's never too late, HE loves us all THAT much.

The Beautiful Mesa Arizona Temple

It is here that I grew up, in the Temple of the Lord.  In this Temple  is where I searched my heart and soul and found answers to life's scariest questions.  Who am I really?  What defines me as a woman?  What and who are the most important in my life?   Have I done all I can do to be the kind of person the Lord will be proud of?  What can I do to make life better for someone else? I learned here that I am a daughter of God, that HE knows me by name and wants nothing but happiness for me, and that it is up to me to decide how I will obtain that happiness.  In this Temple is where I discovered my true identity and it had nothing to do with the size of our home, how much money my husband makes, the style of clothes I wear, or the car I drive. This is where I learned to listen to the spirit for my answers and guidance.  I also learned how to forgive, truly forgive those who have offended me.  For me the answers came at different times in my life, when the Lord knew I was ready to hear the answers, when it was my season to learn what I needed to learn.  I learned to let the Lord work things out, to put things in his hands and if I am doing all I can do to be more like him,  whether in this life or the next it will all work out.


Anonymous said...

Dear Monya,

Thanks for the difficult walk down memory lane. I have known most of these stories and I will never forget Lance's death. Now I can picture it more clearly. I love how you tied in the temple as the 'House in which you grew up' It certainly is a house of 'growing' if one is open and desiring that process to take place. I met you in your 4th home, in Gilbert, the Islands. Do you know the last time I was in Az I tried to find our home in the Islands and could not!! HMMM maybe there is a reason for that beyond the obvious 'development'.
Thanks for sharing some of your toughest times and tying them in so beautifuly! WEll DONE!

Patti Hatch Beck

Marilyn said...

I love you Monya!

Anonymous said...

and I love you too.


Anonymous said...

I love you more than you know -

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
I, also, survived in a series of homes with sad stories. Five years ago, I told the truth and was comopletely cut off by my mother. My older sister and brother, who also found the courage to tell the truth, were cut off, too. Although we are called liars and troublemakers, I would do it again. There is no going back.

The Roussels said...

i love you're such an example of a strong woman! thank you for everything.