Friday, September 24, 2010

Laying the Foundation - Chapter 1

I continue to pray for His leading in regard to what I am to share here and am committed to keeping my hands off this as much as possible. I have a strong sense that I am to share my testimony and that God will guide me along as it unfolds. So, with that in mind, it would seem the best place to start most things is at the beginning, so let's go back about 47 years then shall we? I will begin just prior to my arrival in the world......

My mother was the 2nd of 5 children raised by Depression era parents in the Toronto's west end. They were a typical Catholic family who attended church and Catholic school and observed the teachings of the Catholic church. Fish was served on Fridays and certain things were just not ever spoken of - there were many 'unwritten' rules. My grandmother's younger sister was a nun and the children were expected to walk the straight and narrow both at home and at school because the nuns had a network and news spread fast!! Being reared in this environment, certain things were expected of young men and women. Getting pregnant at 18 yrs. out of wedlock was not one of them!! My impeding arrival was not happy news.

My mother kept her secret for some time, but as you know there are some secrets that tell on themselves - I was one of those. My mother was 'sent away' to nanny for a family at a safe distance from possible detection and family shame. Much of the story I am telling you has been pieced together here and there from various sources over the years, this was not something anyone cared to talk to me about much and I never knew why until about a year ago, but I'm getting ahead of myself. she went to be cloistered away until the blessed event. My father was not involved at this point. My mother always told me that he was very jealous and controlling and because of this she did not reveal her condition to him, rather, ended the relationship. She feared a forced marriage and so his identity was not public knowledge either. Time passed and during a Thanksgiving gathering at the home where my mom was entrusted she was busily assisting the lady of the house with various hospitality related tasks when she became aware of pain that continued most of the afternoon. It wasn't until the guests were gone and clean up was under way that the "Mrs." was aware of the pain my mother was having which she correctly diagnosed as labor and my mom was taken to the hospital.
This is where the story gets a little confusing, not all versions line up. I will tell you the one my mother told me and then we can move on from there....sound reasonable? OK - Good. After my birth my mother and I went to live in a rooming house where my mother was allowed to stay as the resident housekeeper in exchange for our room and board. We stayed here while 'the family' figured some things out and made some decisions. Several months passed in this manner and finally it was decided that we would return to my grandparents home with the understanding that I would be introduced to family, friends, neighbors and everyone in general as a 'Foster Child' that the family was taking in. I know - hard to imagine but it happened all the time in those days. My mother and I moved home and daily life resumed. My mother was working so my care fell to my grandmother and aunt, who was still in high school, while my mother was at work. As the story goes, my mother was not at all happy about the big lie that she was being expected to live. It was not uncommon for her and I to be ushered out of the house on Sundays when visitors would frequently come calling. One Sunday however it seems a little Divine Intervention took place and it just so happened that my mother was feeding me at the kitchen table in a clear line of sight from the front door when my great grandparents arrived unannounced. Great Grandma Amy took one look at me and said "Oh Anne, she's beautiful ! Whose baby is she?" In a moment of unbridled defiance my mother looked her straight in the eye and said simply "She's mine". "Let me finish feeding her" was all my great grandmother said and that was it the secret was out! I can only imagine some of the conversations that took place behind closed doors in the days following!!

This is my beautiful Great Grandmother, Amy - she was a real lady born in England no less and known far and wide for her 'naturally wavy hair' - she was proud of it ;-) Also in the picture are my uncles, Peter is the eldest of the 5 children and Gerry, the youngest who is just 10 years older than me - he was more like an older brother for me growing up. This picture was likely taken on a holiday gathering of some sort, very possibly Christmas and I was just a little over a year old here.

I will continue on from here next time and absolutely welcome any questions or comments. If I am missing something and not piecing things together clearly please call me on it and keep me straight - this is going to be an emotional journey and I may miss some things that would seem obvious. By the way - just to pique your interest there is much drama that will unfold in the chapters to come!!

I will say this much, when I look at the sweet little girl in the picture above, I ache for her, I long to comfort her through what lies ahead and see so clearly as I look back from this day to that one how wonderfully and graciously God's hand has been on her, protecting her and guiding her along so that I might draw from all the experiences, trials, joys and pain and potentially help just one........


Stacey said...

Oh, Leisha! I am so interested in your story. I was actually disappointed the first chapter came to a close so quickly. I have to remember, you are laying the foundation. God bless you for your courage to share your heart with us. I look forward to learning more of you. He is with you every step of the way, as always.

-Stacey : )

Lisa Laree said...

(I was going to say, 'Oh, Leisha!', too, but that would be redundant)

Y'know, it was just about a year ago that we drove to Kentucky and you told me some things that just dumbfounded me; this part of the story explains a lot. Wow.

Um, any way you could ship a box of kleenex to anyone who stops by? ;-)

Love you, my friend. I'm cheering on your bravery!!!

Anonymous said...

You have shared a good deal with of this story with me already. throat tightens and my eyes start leaking. I'm in awe of what you are doing here, Leisha. Thank you for sharing and for your honest bravery.

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