When your grandchild asks if she can sit on your knee… do you say yes? After being sick for several days, I was attempting to make up some time while my daughter was off work taking care of the kids this morning. When she left for her late day job, shortly after noon, the kids had both crashed, sleeping off fevers and winter colds. Elizabeth woke up first and came to stand by my chair.
She waited a little, before she asked, “Gramma, can I sit on your knee.”
“Sure, sis, let me finish this message and I’ll lift you up.” I finished quickly, hit the send button and pulled her up on my knee while I waited for a return email from the client on the other end. She had a low grade fever and leaned her head into my shoulder. I massaged her back and touched cool hands to her face.
“Gramma, my old daddy hit my mommy,” my heart stopped. “But he’s gone now.”
I rocked her slowly, still massaging her back.
“Mommy is going to find us a new daddy that won’t hit her any more,” her voice trailed off and I thought maybe she was dozing for a bit. Breathing deeply she said, “My old daddy hit mommy on the purple couch. But we don’t have it anymore and we don’t have him anymore because he hit my mommy and that hurts her.”
I know that fever often brings to life memories that had faded into lost crevices of the mind, illuminating them and highlighting them, as if they’re right there in front of you. I prayed for my granddaughter and for her mother those years ago when they lived with an abusive, drug inhibited man. The sadness of those hours had weighed heavily upon that little girls heart all these years and she remembered to share the account vividly enough that I could recognize the place and time.
The couch, a brown velvet love seat, so dilapidated that you literally fell through the cushions had been a favorite of the old daddy who hit her mommy. The fabric so worn and aged that purple was a highlight color that a little girl would remember. Chills swept through me as I held her close and remembered the many times I’d suspected that man had beaten my little girl, but I had no way of proving. She loved him so much she was willing to take the beatings and defend him, trying to make a home for her child.
Yet now, the child shared the memories of pain. Another wounded heart, so terrorized by the memory that in her fever she could describe the scene without prompting, without coercion and without any assistance from anyone, lived in a child too young to testify against the man in court, should lawyers choose to give him custody, or even unsupervised visitation. My heart bled for the child I held safe in my arms, praying that she never face the brutal beatings of a heartless man who cared nothing for himself, his family or his child.
Wounded hearts exist. There are so many who have witnessed abuse, experience abuse, or been victims of abuse in their own homes. The abuse is more than just a beating, or someone who hits a spouse, it often comes from those who find little or no significance in family values, in life with a family and refuse to take responsibility for their loved ones. WE must keep our children secure and protect them from the abuse.