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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Beyond mere survival, this is a tale of redemption

I have a longstanding friend who lives in the midwest and is married to a cowboy. No, it's not Rhee, but another really amazing woman who is living life amongst cattle, horses, dogs, and barncats. Not to mention her two biological daughters E and S, both of whom are quirky, delightful, and full of life.

My friend L is a social worker by trade, and has the heart of an angel. She is one of the kindest, most open people I've ever met, and this is the story of her newest daughter and granddaughter.

L was working for a large medical web site as a forum moderator and editor when she met a woman with an interesting story to tell. She asked L if she would please speak to her granddaughter, a teenage mother having a lot of trouble reconciling her past to her present.

L says "I met her originally through a co-worker at
drgreene.com. She knew A's grandmother and her
grandma and I chatted a few times. She knew I was a
social worker and she asked me if I would mind talking
to her granddaughter as she was worried about her. I
said I wouldn't mind talking to her but it would be
strictly as a friend, not as a "social worker". I
didn't really expect A would want to talk to me,
but it turns out she did. She was a new mom to K
and she was very stressed out due to her past and
on-going experiences.

She had a horrendously abusive childhood. Pretty much
any horrible thing you can imagine doing to a child
was done to her. She and her older sister and younger
brother were kept in the basement whenever they were
not at school and often went unfed and were punished
if they tried to sneak food. The youngest sister,
child of her mother and the boyfriend they lived with,
was left unattended upstairs while mother and
boyfriend went to work. H. was 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 years
old during this time. A would go upstairs and
check on H even though she knew she would be punished
for it if she was caught.

When A was 12, a teacher noticed bruises on her
and some of the story came out. It was enough that
Child Protective Services removed the four kids and
they spent a year living with their great aunt.

A's grandma fought her great aunt for custody and
the three older kids went to live with her when A
was 13. H. was...returned to her father. A brilliant
judge decided that a child-molesting drug-abuser was
great father material because he had a nice new
girlfriend and a sister in a town 90 miles away who
would help out with raising H. ::sigh::

A's life was briefly better after going to live
with her grandmother, but she was raped several times
while she lived there, plus on-going emotional abuse
from her mother and others. I think her grandma
tried, but she just didn't have the courage to really
protect the kids. Her brother went to in-patient care
and her older sister got pregnant at 15 and married at
16. Believe it or not, they are still happily
married.

When I met A, she was severely depressed and
stressed and really didn't think she was worth
anything. There was a spark in her that I could see
at the time and I figured as long as she was willing
to keep talking to me, I'd talk to her.

When K was 1 year old, A was diagnosed with
incurable leukemia. They offered her the chance to
survive possibly 2 years if she had chemotherapy, and
maybe a year if she did not. She chose not to have
treatment feeling that if her time was short, she
wanted to spend it feeling as good as possible.

When K was a year and a half, she asked us to take
custody of her upon her death. We decided we didn't
want A to die alone and we asked her and K to
come live with us. One thing after another prevented
her from traveling and, as you have guessed, she
didn't die. For no medically explainable reason, her
blood counts returned to normal. : )

When she was physically able to travel, she and K
came to live with us. We had come to think of her as
our daughter throughout the course of her illness. We
talked every day on the phone and got to know each
other really well. We wanted to make it legal, so a
year ago July, we did.

Papa S and his four girls.

She is the neatest, sweetest person. She is working
on getting 100% physically healthy and emotionally
healthy as well, sorting through the events of her
life with a really great therapist.

Now, that's a story in and of itself. L and her husband S took in a young mother with incurable leukemia, plus her toddler daughter, and a very large amount of emotional baggage from years of child abuse, physical, emotional, and sexual. But the story is far from over.

A's mother is an alcoholic and drug abuser. She was also a victim of terrible abuse, as was her sister. That abuser was their father. He was arrested and put in prison, from which he escaped after serving only 6 months and disappeared for twenty-two years. He was just recently apprehended, and will be sent back to prison to serve out his term. When he was caught, I asked L if she had known about him all along, and she said
"Yes, it was one of the things she told me from the
start. They wondered if he was dead since no one had
heard from him throughout her entire lifetime.
Her biological grandfather, Lyndal Ritterbush,
was sentenced 22 years ago for abusing
A's mother Shonna and her Aunt Leah. He escaped
6 months after he began serving his sentence and had
not been heard from since. His actions led to
Shonna's descent into drugs and alcohol which in turn
led to A's horrific childhood.

He was *caught* a couple weeks ago! He stole his
brother-in-law's identity and has been using that ever
since. He was living in Oregon with a new (common
law) wife who knew nothing about his past.

He isn't sorry in the slightest for
anything he did to Shonna and Leah and thinks his
escape was funny.
This isn't a story about Lyndal Ritterbush. It's the story of his legacy, the legacy of child sexual abuse, and how if it is not confronted and treated, it can continue for generations. But even bigger than that, it's the story of redemption. For A, who grew up in horrific abuse, there is the chance to put that abuse aside and learn how to be a good parent. She has been saved by L and S, my wonderfully kind and good friends. They took this generational mess into their home, they worked with A to learn how to be a parent, how to work with a therapist to rid herself of her demons, and to learn to love herself.

My friends aren't rich. They live on a cowboy's salary. They don't own the ranch that S works, they don't own much at all. But they have hearts that stretch all the way to the moon and back. They are wonderful giving people, kind hearted and loving. They believe that people can put their past aside and become good working members of society. They gave A a chance to be the best person she can be, and then they went beyond that, inviting A and her daughter K to become a part of their family.

I've known L for about 15 years now. That seems almost impossible. We met on a Usenet newsgroup long before there were blogs or even the web. We were hardcore mommys that learned to use UNIX based newsreaders. L and I were fast friends. Her daughter E and the Girl are about the same age and they were absolutely the quirkiest two kids we had ever heard of. Whatever E did, the Girl did. And vice versa. Some of the funniest things I've ever heard came from Lynda's descriptions of her daughter. Years later my family visited hers in the mid-west on the ranch. My kids loved it. They got to ride S's cow pony and watch him inseminate some cows. They got to experience what rural life was all about, and they got to see that quiet and peaceful living was possible.

All the time I've known L and S, they've wanted another child to complete their family, but due to some circumstances well beyond everyone's control, that wasn't going to happen. So the joy that A and K have added to their lives has been immeasurable. It might not be easy, but it is good and right and we should all learn from this amazing act of kindness.

L, I love you madly. S, you'll always be the epitome of a REAL man to me. E and S, you're growing up to be such wonderful young ladies. I'm so proud of you. And A, you've found the best family and the best home ever.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Catherine said...

Hi, Michele sent me today - this is a truly inspriing story. You are blessed to have such a wonderful couple as friends.

16/11/07 9:32 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

That was quite a moving story. Thank you for telling it. And a miraculous recovery. Life works in strange ways. I had trouble following the Alphabet letter names though. Maybe assumed names would be better. Michele says hi.

16/11/07 10:02 PM  
Blogger craziequeen said...

Hi Margalit.

I'm so glad I stopped by today to read about your friends - what a wonderful, wonderful family!

Honey, I need your help at the Palace :-)

cq

17/11/07 10:01 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

What a wonderful, giving family.

17/11/07 1:38 PM  
Blogger moon said...

I really enjoyed reading this , what a story for so many different reasons. Thanks for sharing it with us..

18/11/07 7:53 PM  
Anonymous auntleah said...

I'm sorry but that is the biggest line of bull-shit I have ever read. I personally Knew A until she appox. 15 and became mentally unstable. She has these people so strung out on her bag of lies, there will be no healing until these are delt with. she is continueing the cycle with her milicous lies. although her past was not perfect and her mother may have been a drug addict but she was never miss treated or abused at her grandmothers house nor has she aever been diagnosed with lukemaia or any other life threatening illness. We were trying to address her mental ailments before she found these people to believe her bull-shit and disapeared. I am her aunt leah and if anyone wants the truth refer to dust_busters@live.com. She truly needs help. The father of amandas baby "K" has been posting searches on the internet for almost a year now. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=ApzX5B2p20TUV7bwE6eOJ5gjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20070209141151AAwdJb7
there is no legacy. she is creating her own legacy, a legacy of lies and deceat.

12/12/07 9:17 PM  
Blogger amandas uncle said...

wow that is the biggest line of crap i have every heard....amanda suffers from the same mental illness that her mom does...i am glad to see amanda has carved out a place in the world for her self and her kids....to bad its all based on lies....amandas mom is my sister and ive seen the crazy stuff first hand....from both of them....wild story though totally untrue....good luck amanda....uncle E

2/7/08 5:13 PM  

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