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Today is the anniversary of when I was stabbed. The memories are even heavier and darker. The emotions are raw and indescribable.
Note from Becki: This is a guest post from Chris McMurry, who I met today along with his father, Preston. Their story is interesting and I wanted them to share it.
“I recently contacted Becki Duckworth, the owner of this blog, about domesticshelter.org, a new, first-of-its-kind searchable online and mobile database of domestic violence programs in the US. You can read more about the free service from Theresa’s Fund and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence here.
As it turns out, Becki lives in the same community as I do. She is new to town. I figured she could use new friends. And having read her story, I thought it would be healing for her to hear a similarly remarkably tale my father, Preston, recounts about his second marriage and wife; a chronicle that gave rise to Theresa’s Fund and all the good it has done since 1992.
The origins of Theresa’s Fund reach back to the conclusion of World War II, to a ravaged Italian nation and a child fathered by a wandering shepherd and sometime coppersmith. High upon a mountain top, 100 miles east of Rome, a child was born who would, in her time, bring both heart-ringing sadness and opportunity for renewed life to people living across the U.S. Her name is Donna Theresa.
She was born the sacrifice. Emotionally detached from the events of her horrific childhood abuse in a desperately successful triumph of sanity and human endurance, the price she paid for survival was a total loss of her childhood memory. Gone forever are the memories of a broken hip and eardrums, tortured by the coppersmith’s fire and worse; then finally her rescue and adoption by loving American parents by age 5, who renamed Theresa … hoping to blot out the past … to Donna.
But children are who they are going to be by that age. So Donna unknowingly carried the physical and emotion scars of her personal tragedy into her adult life and into her first marriage with my father, Preston, himself an abused child. It was a marriage of souls at peace. It was a compassionate union. Yet childhood ghosts haunted their relationship.
They struggled privately and without complaint. They sought help. For ten years they attended weekly counseling sessions. Donna would come and go, periodically, as the exploration of the past occasionally became overwhelming. The couple soldiered on and progressed, and the decision was made to answer the question everyone must know: who am I and where am I from?
Donna was born in Agnone, Italy, a village teetering on a cliff edge, overlooking a valley of vineyards. Millenniums past, the Romans fought and died there along a meandering stream. Today the ancient discolored buildings of stone and peeling stucco cling to one another for support. The streets are shaded, cool and cobbled in granite taken from nearby hills where sheep graze in the summer months.
The sound of footfalls and bubbling fountains echo along narrow streets, but there is not a word to be heard about the secrets of the private lives living there. Some things are “as forgotten,” they say. But Donna needed spaces filled in where emptiness existed. With Preston, the couple drove east from Rome through mountain passes and across a valley back home, as though back in time to Donna’s birthplace.
Aided by a young woman, a local English teacher, they found the city courthouse, a dark and musty place. As luck would have it, the young woman’s father was the local judge. He woke the clerk of courts on the day they arrived in Agnone. Encouraged, the huge book of Births and Deaths, was retrieved by the clerk and opened, beginning the long, and for Donna, the agonizing search for her roots.
Finally, after much turning and racing down dust-covered pages, the clerk’s finger stopped. He paused, looked at Donna, then spoke words foreign to her conscious memory, uttering the name that would have a life-altering impact.
“Theresa,” the clerk whispered. “My name is Giovanni. I am five years older than you. I remember you. We played together in la piazza.” Then the rest of the story came tumbling out. Three half sisters still living; two in Italy and one somewhere in America. Different fathers. Alcoholism. Both parents deceased at early ages. There followed a visit to a long empty home where she had been born 35 years earlier on a dirt floor, and then, the refused invitation to visit her parent’s grave site.
The discovery was neither the beginning nor the end. But, it was the beginning of the end for Preston and Donna’s marriage. The trauma of discovery and the reawakening was more than the marriage could sustain. Some short time after the couple returned from Italy, Preston arrived home one night from a short business trip. He entered his home. He discovered it was empty. His beloved wife gone. All that remained were his books, clothes, a bed and his TV. No note, no message, not even a phone call. Theresa has simply vanished. And with her Donna. The date was April 23, 1990.
During the following years that my father required for recovery, from the shock of his loss, he resolved to “do something about child abuse and family violence.” That something became his crystalline clear purpose in life through the creation of Theresa’s Fund, which has gone on to help change the landscape of domestic violence services and awareness in Arizona, and now through domesticshelters.org, across the country.
In August of this year, on the very same day that Donna Theresa passed away from inoperable cancer, the new site that promises to help millions of victims fittingly and coincidentally launched. Some years before this time Donna Theresa and Preston had reconnected as friends. Before she died, Donna Theresa asked Preston to give her eulogy, which he did. She also asked that he join her second husband Frank to deliver her ashes to Agnone. Which they will do together early next year. At long last, there was peace.
Thank you Becki,
Director of Theresa’s Fund”
The dreams are vivid, the pain is real and raw. The vicious attacks I suffered as a child are haunting me, interrupting my sleep, and causing extreme anxiety. My mother would be happy knowing she’s still causing me pain. The nightmares are so realistic, I smell the stench of her sweat, I feel the fear that she may kill me. It’s been 37 years since she last beat me. The majority of the beatings I remember started at 8 years old and ended at 15 years old, when I eventually escaped. But I do remember several from when I was around 5 years old because of the location we lived. When I was 5, her weapon of choice to strike me with was my baton. She eventually broke that baton across my back. Continue reading
It’s trending on Twitter, the elevator punch seen across the world. You know the one !Ray Rice the former Baltimore Raven’s running back, knocks his then fiance’, Janay out cold. This happened on camera at an Atlantic City Casino in an elevator. Preceding this altercation, the vile Ray spits on his then fiance’, also caught on camera. After Ray knocks Janay out in the elevator he’s seen dragging her unconscious body from the elevator to the lobby. Continue reading
The thief has once again arrived and is attempting to steal my soul. All I can take solace in at the moment is I know I am not alone.
Ive attempted three times since Monday to blog about this, each time the thief stole the words from my soul. The thief is depression, it’s a soul sucking debilitating illness that is all consuming.
Suicide is probably what’s triggered my latest round of depression. Jennifer from Newberg, Oregon committed suicide, soon thereafter Robin Williams and last week, Derek also from Oregon took his life. My heart aches for all three of these wonderful people, depression got the best of them and they were unable to live another day on this planet. Continue reading
I discovered this incredible location on a friends Facebook page. Havasupai Falls is located in Arizona,tucked away in the Havasu Canyons. There are guided tours into the Canyon. The Havasupai Falls is one of several waterfalls and swimming holes along the trek.
The Havasupai falls are located deep within Native American Indian land, a Native American Indian serves as your guide.The guides set up your tent and camp site which includes meals prepared by the guides. Camping has never been my idea of a fun experience. In fact I have only camped once and it was horrible. Unfortunately the Hyatt doesn’t have a location near the falls. I will have to suck it up and sleep in a tent.
Since I first discovered the Havasupai Falls I have met several people that have made the journey. I’ve been told the 3 day journey is an incredible spiritual experience. The water is crystal clear and warm, the scenery is magnificent and the picture on this post doesn’t do justice to actually seeing the falls in person.
I have a feeling once I witness the experience first hand I won’t want to leave. Wishing everyone a very beautiful peaceful day.