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November 13, 2013

My Childhood: How I Lived To Tell About It

by James R. Yarbrough

My Early Childhood: I Thought You Might Want to Know

(An Excerpt From My Book Manuscript)

You cannot replace or substitute the absence of love, and the source has to be compatible with the need.

Each time that I write or speak about the most important stage of our life, I think should I include what others have said. What about the many reports and statistics, should they be included. Each time my answer is no. I do not need it to say what it means to lose your childhood. I know so well how hurtful it can be. There is no pain equal to the hurt you feel that you do not know how to stop. The more I would think about it the heavier it got. It was a load I had to carry alone. No one seemed to care. My low self-esteem and insecurity were always with me. The harder I tried the harder it got. There were not many days, especially in a row, where I felt at ease. Now I have to tell it the way it was.

Early on, when I was no more than 2 or 3, I realized that my life did not match up. And there were some pieces missing. Things did not feel right, look right and they were not right. My feelings were all over the place. It seemed as if they were up for grabs for whatever came my way. I was apprehensive and full of dread one minute and trying to still my mind the next.  It did not take long for me to understand why. I had no “real” family. And it was not a nice feeling. It was painful. The other kids had a mom and a dad and I did not. Well, it was not that I did not have parents, I did, they were alive and well. I did not have parents who, in my mind, wanted me. I could find nothing to change that thought and the way I would think about it. What I felt, saw and heard always confirmed for me what I knew, and it told me the truth. What I did not know was why.

I do not know to this day the reason I came up short and I no longer feel a need to know. I will never know. Truly, it has lost its relevance and importance, it no longer haunts me and I am fine with that. Though being of the human kind, I would like to think that there was no other choice. For now, it would be my father’s sister and her husband who would be tasked with my care. They took good care of me, and the key word here is they. But much too soon my uncle would be out of my life.

He died in the mist of my pubescence after suffering many months from the ravaging effects of lung cancer. If he were awake, he would have a cigarette in his hand. He once told me that he started smoking when he was a mere 8-year old boy. And he had just crossed the threshold of 52 when he died. He was much too young on both ends and I was too young to be in the middle. But there I was, the person who wanted me most is gone. Though I could not have imagined how his passing would change my life. And it would not be for the better.

It seemed only a matter of mere days; though, for sure, it was a bit longer, had passed after my uncle’s death that it all changed. I had no way to know that one of the most trying times of my life was upon me. It would be a nightmare. What was will be no more. He seemed to have come from nowhere, This is the man who would become, in short order, my what? I did not know, and no one told me, if he was an uncle by marriage, a stepfather by my aunt’s adoption of me, or just plain old mister. It did not matter one bit what I called him his agenda would not change. So, I did not address him at all nor did he ever call me by my name. Either way, it would be in name only. To add to my feelings of unease, the new “man of the house” will soon be on trial for the killing of another man. A boy he and his wife raised who would become his wife’s lover.

This killer had thrust himself onto the scene, at least it appeared that way to me, and he left no doubt about his intentions. He wanted and got control of all that my uncle had worked for and had loved, including his wife. He wanted it all, but he did not want me. So much so that he made a threat to my mother that he would do to me what he did to the boy he raised. I had no doubt that there was no lengths he would not go to carry out what seemed to me to be an obsession. That would be my departure.

Now, I am only 13 years old. My aunt said not a thing as if she did not see what her eyes were showing her. She was in love. For the second time in my life, I felt abandoned. This time by the aunt, who was now my mother for she had adopted me. This was after my uncle’s death. I had thought it was out of love, but now I am not so sure, it may have been more about survivor benefits.

 What Difference Does it Make?

 A race against your Self can never be won. You will always be the last one to the finish line.

I am terrified as his large hands closed around my throat. I feel nerves where I never felt them before. They are on the move, they will not settle down. My whole body is shaking in fear. I am in shock as this man’s grasp tightens. I could feel his dislike for me ratchet up at each increase of his grip. I had no way to know what else he had in mind. Would my next breath be my last? My heart beat as if it was headed for the finish line. As though in a hurry to stop.

Then just as unexpected as it started he stepped away and back to where he came from, my aunt’s side. What could this all mean? Was it really because my aunt had asked me to turn off the television and I was not moving fast enough. No, this is a message from him to me. This is his way of letting me know what he thought about me up front. He wanted me to be gone. I was in his way.

Thinking about what he would do next took my mind and twisted it in knots. It was difficult for me to go about my day when my thoughts were about having to return home. What turn would my fate take tonight? Whenever I neared the door, I did so with dread. My aunt would utter not a word. It is not as if she did not know. She was a witness to much of his cruelty and said not a thing. Had she lost her voice?  Was it shock because he did these things, or maybe I was not worth the trouble. She did not speak and I could not understand why, though words did not need to be said. Her silence spoke for her as if  her eyes did not see what they saw.  This is what hurt the most.

When I was around him, I could not help but think there is not much up there. He acted as if he knew so much, which only showed how little he knew. That he could not read or write did not help his case at all. Who is this man, really, and what does it mean to me. More so, what is his plan. He came to us we did not go to him. Only he knows what he has in mind.

(To Be Continued)

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