by Mira Johnson
With a sippy cup in tow and her tiny hand on her soon to be hip, Noa starts parading around the living room getting the attention of her mommy and her nana. They soon notice that Noa starts to limp, favoring her right leg. “Oh my goodness, what is she doing”, Kim exclaims, smiling at her baby girls’ antics. Nana scopes up Noa in her arms and through joyful smiles states, “I swear this child does something new everyday. Kim, I keep telling you to have a video camera going on to catch her antics.” As Nana puts Noa down, she ponders a minute and then asks Kim, “I wonder why she was limping?” “I have no idea”, Kim says. Suddenly it dawns on Nana. “Oh my God, I mean my goodness, she’s mimicking me.” Nana smiles and takes the recollection in stride, as she and her daughter, Kim, spend the rest of Sunday afternoon enjoying the antics of charming Noa. The next morning when walking through the very same space where Noa was limping the day before, I stopped, a sadness griped me, and I thought of my granddaughter mocking me. Ironically, I entered a writing contest where the theme is a Scar. I wanted to write about a family member, but I kept thinking about my own scars. Scars that I needed to write about. Lately, I hadn’t looked at my right ankle. I knew the black line was still there. In fact, whenever I fasten my heels, I see an enormous line. For the last four years, I have felt the need to write about my scars but the thought of it was too heavy and I kept putting it off. I am ready to face the scar and write, so that I can move on to other writings, thanks to my grandchild that holds so much promise, who is now mimicking my pain. I guess that’s what life is all about-promise and pain.
So, I sat down on the side of bed and raised my right leg and prop it upon my left knee and look down at my ankle. My eyesight not being what it used to be, I had to grab the small lamp that sat on the table next to my bedside and strained my eyes to fully examine my ankle. I really couldn’t believe my eyes. The black line had just practically gone and only a small portion was visible. It wasn’t a line but a dark spot on my skin. Unbelievable, when did this happen? I never thought the scar would be gone. Whenever I limped, I had a visible image of the scar. I remember well the day I received the scar, which is from the stitches of the permanent screws inserted into my right ankle. Yea, I still can remember many scars from her childhood but none stings like the one that haunts my physical appearance, my ability to walk, my inability to wear flat shoes, and my mental stability. I never let the mental scar defeat me. I had forgiven my ex-husband but years later that the scar began to haunt me. I was having nightmares and experiencing mental and physical dysfunction. It was comparable to PTSD. Okay, as I am about to put pen to paper, I feel that old familiar tug of procrastination creeping in my bones. I need to brew a pot of my favorite coffee to help me ease away that tug. I don’t have my favorite Duncan Donuts chocolate flavored coffee, so HEB’S Café Ole’ Texas Pecan flavored will have to do.
My husband and I had separated because his mental and physical abuses frighten me to my core. I had gone down four dress sizes in the matter of two weeks. He had agreed to leave the house but that didn’t stop me from worrying and being fearful. One evening he came back to our home to visit with our children. After the children went to bed, he lingered on in the living room. I could sense he was not planning on leaving and I could barely stand to look him into his eyes. Before we separated I had fled our home a couple times during the night because I just felt so afraid. I couldn’t stomach being enclosed in the house with him. The fear was so great that I had fled without my children, which caused me extreme anxiety. All of a sudden that night I felt I had to run for my life. My husband must have sense it to because he grabbed me before I could open the front door. He began beating me. During the beating he knocked me out and when I came to I tried to stand and realized I couldn’t stand. I screamed for him to stop, telling him my leg was broken. But he didn’t believe me. Then our two small children came running into the living room. I told my, daughter, the oldest, to go get help but their father threaten them. He told them that they better not go anywhere. He finally agreed to call for help.
I was glad when the police arrived but I was still afraid and just wanted to get away from him. I was in such shock that I said nothing. I assumed the policeman could tell what had happen. The police officer came to see me in the hospital the very next day and I told him what happen. He said that he could tell that an altercation had occurred by my condition and the look of the room and but that my husband had told him that I had fallen. But any fool could see what had occurred in that living space. I believe he would have killed me that day. While in the operating room waiting for medical care, I called my church family and told them that I almost lost my life. My ankle had to be pop back into place and some of my ankle had been crushed. Some of the pins would be remove after a few months but I have permanent screws because the bone had been shattered. Shattered on a living room floor covered with a thick carpet. How is that even possible? I spent days in the hospital. Finally my mother in law and father in law came to visit me. My mother in law, who I loved dearly and had a lot of respect for, stated that my husband told her that I fell down our basement steps, which of course might explain the broken ankle, since the basement floor was concrete. But how do you explain the fact that my face looked like I had been in prizefight? I disputed my husband’s story but I could tell that my mother in law wanted to believe that story, even though she had been beaten to a pulp by her own husband. As I looked at my mother in law, I knew she wanted to believe the son, who swore he would never hit his wife because he saw his father hit his mother. Later, I had a visit from three former sisters in laws. They proceeded to tell tales of horrible abuses at the hands of their husbands, my brother in laws. One of the most gruesome stories being a tale of being abducted and taken to a vacant location, stripped of her clothes, sexually abused, and abandoned. Thinking about that story now makes me think of SUV, seriously. As I think about the abuse the following lyrics from a song come to mind: ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken Bye and Bye Lord, Bye and Bye’. The abuse that caused my scar and many others needs to be unbroken. I have no idea when or where it started but I hope it finally ends. My father in law must have seen and endured some atrocious abuse and passed it on to his sons and daughters.
After leaving the hospital, I needed a place to stay. I didn’t feel safe in my home any longer. I found solace in The Mary House. It was run by an order of nuns call the Sisters of St. Mary. The Mary House was perhaps one of the best things that ever happen to me. I felt safe and at peace. My ankle was in a cast for about 3 months. My children and I were vey well cared for by the Sisters of Mary. The Mary House was a temporary residence for abuse women and their children. The residents were allowed to stay 6 months, which I did. I was healed physically and met some fantastic people. After my stay in The Mary House, my children and I moved into an apartment. I received a vocational grant to attend a private secretarial school and later secured a great job at an insurance company. I was thankful to be able to have a fresh new start on life.