daughtersofnormabates











{September 15, 2013}   Obituary of an Abusive Mother
Ancient Irish Graveyard and Ruins

“…the pomp of power, and all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, awaits alive the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” –Thomas Gray

The obituary in the Nevada’s Reno Gazette Journal of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick has now made it in news feeds around the world. Her grown children describe their mother as a “wicked, wicked witch” without compassion, love or human decency. The obituary begins: “On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children.”

It continues, “Everyone she met, adult or child, was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit,” the obit said. “Our greatest wish now is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.”

This reflects the purpose of this blog, daughtersofnormabates–to start a dialog and to “out” child abusers wherever they hide, whether it is in a trailer park with 15 cats where Mrs. Reddick resided, or in a gated mansion in the suburbs.  Whether they are outed during their lifetime or after their death, child abusers and their enablers should be known by name and deed.  In America, we have a program for registering and identifying sexual predators. Perhaps we need to also have a national registry to publicly identify parents who are known to torture their children with physical, emotional and psychological violence and neglect. We must protect the innocence and vulnerability of our youngest citizens. These children, if they survive, are our future and our hope for a more peaceful world.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/marianne-theresa-johnson-reddick-obit_n_3921058.html?1379088680&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl3%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D374881



 

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There are times when it is wise to yield–for instance, when someone isn’t looking and is about to bump into you with their shopping cart in the cereal aisle. Or a blind man starts tapping his way through the middle of a busy intersection just when your traffic light turns green.  Ethan Cohen, of the Cohen Brothers writer and producer of movies such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and O, Brother, Where Art Thou? wrote this poem, suggesting that the best course of action when dealing with fools is simply to get out of their way.

 

The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way

The loudest have the final say,

The wanton win, the rash hold sway,

The realist’s rules of order say

The drunken driver has the right of way.

 

The Kubla Khan can butt in line;

The biggest brute can take what’s mine;

When heavyweights break wind, that’s fine;

No matter what a judge might say,

The drunken driver has the right of way.

 

The guiltiest feel free of guilt;

Who care not, bloom; who worry, wilt;

Plans better laid are rarely built

For forethought seldom wins the day;

The drunken driver has the right of way.

 

The most attentive and unfailing

Carefulness is unavailing

Wheresoever fools are flailing;

Wisdom there is held at bay,

The drunken driver has the right of way.

 

De jure is de facto’s slave;

The most foolhardy beat the brave;

Brass routs restraint; low lies high’s grave;

When conscience leads you, it’s astray;

The drunken driver has the right of way.

 

It’s only the naivest who’ll

Deny this, that the reckless rule;

When facing an oncoming fool

The practiced and sagacious say

Watch out–one side–look sharp–gang way.

 

However much you plan and pray,

Alas, alack, tant pis, oy vey,

Now–heretofore–til Judgment Day,

The drunken driver has the right of way.

–Ethan Cohen



{July 19, 2013}   Poet’s Corner
Ancient Irish Graveyard and Ruins

Ancient Irish Graveyard and Ruins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling around Ireland, I was reminded of the ancient people who lived in and around the great ruins that rise up from the countryside. There are so many ancient ruins that many aren’t even marked. An observant traveler can stumble across walls, bridges, and towers from the Dark Ages and remains of medieval homes and castles just by pulling off the road and walking through a field of grazing cattle or sheep.

This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay on Writer’s Almanac today reminds me of the importance of what we leave behind when we shuffle off the mortal coil.

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay



Child abuser Jessica-Ann-Mungia

Child abuser Jessica-Ann-Mungia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because we now live in an age of social media that gives people access to information in every corner of the world, mothers such as Jessica-Ann-Mungia, who submitted her six year old son to horrific child abuse such as beatings, burnings, cuttings and other forms of torture, are on notice. No longer will these abusive mothers and fathers hide in the shadows with no consequences for the harm they inflict on their child. They will be outed by their children, neighbors, teachers and other authorities. This is a huge step forward for all of mankind. Our society is continually eliminating the secrecy, shame and stigma of speaking openly about child abuse and children’s lives are being saved and improved because of the shift in awareness.

The woman above, Jessica Ann-Mungia, is sitting in jail tonight, charged with four counts of felony injury to a child. When Mungia took her child to the hospital for treatment of a broken arm, the nurse examined the child and discovered numerous bruises, burns and lacerations. Because laws are in place to ensure that when children are seen by nurses and teachers and there are unexplained injuries,such injuries must be reported to Child Protective Services.  The nurse in this case contacted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to report the injuries she found suspicious. The boy was interviewed by Dr. Rebecca Giradet, and the child told her about what his mother had been doing to him. “My mom hit me with a screwdriver” the child said when asked how he got lacerations on his scalp. When asked about his bruises, the child said, “My mom grabbed me and choked me.” The child said his mother would tie his arms and legs while his dad covered his mouth with a sock to stifle the screams. The boy stated that his mother, “cut me with a knife,” “beat me with a ‘cable” and “burned my tongue with a hot spoon.” “She heated a spoon on the stove and then put the spoon on my tongue…she was sticking it all around my mouth and I was trying to take it out.” After burning the child’s mouth, Mongia then poured salt into his wounds. “My mom held my hand on the stove” he said about burns to his hands. The child also reported that his mother made him “stand on ants” causing him to be bitten by fire ants many times. About his broken arm which sent him to the hospital, the child stated, “My mom broke it” and told them his mother instructed him to tell hospital staff that he fell off the table and got other marks crawling around the house. The child said that he was scared of his mother and recounted an incident where she slapped him so hard that he fell down. When asked about scars on his arms, the child reported that his mother cut him on his arms with a knife.

Reporting abuse like this boy has done takes a great deal of courage. Small children are completely dependent on their parents for their care so it’s a tremendous risk to “out” an abusive parent. Yet, if the child feels safe enough to report details of the hell they are experiencing with an abusive parent, society benefits from having such a trusting environment. When adults such as teachers, nurses, neighbors, babysitters, relatives and other parents take the time to notice a child who is suffering, asks them about suspicious injuries and reports it to authorities when they suspect abuse has occurred, society benefits. When an abusive parents realizes that their actions are going to be “outed” to the public and that they will be held accountable under the law for the violence they inflict on their helpless children, these parents may start to think twice before they grab a cable to beat their child. They might hesitate before they grab a little one’s arm so hard that they break it. They might learn coping strategies like taking deep breaths and counting to ten before pushing, whipping or slapping their child. Knowing that they will be found out is a great incentive against abusing children.

In the 60’s and 70’s when I was growing up, it was believed that children belonged solely to their parents and it was up to their parents how they would be treated. Parents could beat, demean, and abuse their children without being questioned by anyone. Even if a child reported abuse to a neighbor, teacher or counselor, they were often ignored, and the behavior of the parent was justified, with adults assuming the parent had a good reason for the beatings and abuse of their children. Parents were given the benefit of doubt if a child showed up at school with odd bruises, or looked starved or dirty or behaved abnormally because of emotional and psychological abuse. But no more. Parents who abuse their children are on notice. They will be photographed. They will be recorded. They will be reported. They will be outed by the child they abused, even if it takes that child fifty years to finally tell someone.

Source: The Huffington Post, July 17, 2013

 

 



{July 14, 2013}   The Lucifer Effect

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Retelling my childhood stories in “Daughters”has sparked my interest in the study of evil and the psychological and social conditions that allow it to flourish. In his book, People of the LieM. Scott Peck takes a frightening look into the lives of a few of his patients who he determined have been affected by evil. In developing the psychology of evil, Peck determined that patients who are “falling” into evil can be helped by therapy while those who have “fallen” completely into evil will never seek therapy due to their inability to take responsibility for their actions, and thus cannot be helped by traditional therapy.

Peck portrays evil as a type of self-righteousness which results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims (often children or other people in relatively powerless positions). He considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience through self-deception. According to Peck, an evil person:

–Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self image of perfection.

–Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception.

–Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets, scapegoating others while appearing normal with everyone else.

–Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others.

–Abuses political (emotional) power by imposing their will upon others by overt or covert coercion.

–Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so.

–Is consistent in his or her actions. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency.

–Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim.

–Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury.

In relating all types of child abuse with evil, the continuation of the abusive behavior toward the scapegoated child, even into adulthood–in other words, the consistency of the act of evil, differentiates the behavior of those who are “falling” from those who have “fallen”.

In The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo defines evil as “intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others and/or using one’s authority and systematic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf.” Zimbardo, the administrator of the famous Stanford Prison Project, looks deeply into the cultural and psychological environment of evil and how presumably good people can fall into group evil. He begins his book with an historical look at the formation of the belief in “Satan” or “Lucifer” from biblical days to the middle ages. The word Lucifier in Latin means “Light Bearer” and the story goes that Lucifer was a favored angel before he fell into “cupiditas” defined in modern terms as “cupidity” or greed, jealousy, money-grubbing and desire for power over another. Those who fall under the influence of cupiditas desire to take into themselves everything that is not themselves. In other words, they gratify their own desire by using others. For those afflicted by cupidas, people have no value in and of themselves but are “things” used for their own self-gratification.  This was the beginning of evil, in opposition to “caritas” which means envisioning oneself to be within a ring of love where every individual self has worth in itself and relates to every other self.

Dante Alighieri, 14th century author of the Divine Comedy, whose first section describes Hell or the The Inferno, called cupiditas the “sin of the wolf” which is the spiritual condition of having an inner black hole so wide and deep within oneself that no amount of money or power can ever fill it. Those suffering from the sin of the wolf see another’s worth only in how it can be exploited or taken into themselves for their own gratification. For Dante, those who are guilty of the sin of the wolf are sent to the ninth circle of Hell, and frozen lake of ice. Having cared for nothing but self in life, they are encased in their icy self, separate from others, for all of eternity (Zimbardo).

These two books have been invaluable in my attempt to understand the nature and origins of child abuse and I recommend them to anyone who shares this interest.

 



{July 3, 2013}   Hauntings

 

 

 

Ancient Graveyard at Glendalough, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days ago in Glendalough, Ireland, I photographed this ancient gravesite, which dates back to 900 A.D. One marker, St. Kevin’s, is dated 618 A.D., well over a thousand years ago.  All the  ancient sites in Ireland have graveyards adjacent–castles, towers, holy wells, monk dwellings, as well as prehistoric sites that date back to 400 B.C. Prehistoric graves in Ireland are identified by jagged rocks dug upright into soil while post-pagan, early Christian sites are headstones and Celtic crosses.  It is characteristic of all humans in every time and place to mark the graves of the departed loved ones with headstones. I was moved by the expressions of love displayed as I walked around reading faded inscriptions about those who once lived as I live now. This experience was poignant, particularly because my father does not have such a marker 18+ months after his death. When an ancient human ritual such as marking the burial place of a loved one is ignored, we lose our humanness, our civility and our souls.



{June 19, 2013}   “Dreaming”

Here’s my first attempt at making art–it’s a collage I titled “Dreaming”

"Dreaming" by Lynn Alexander

“Dreaming”
by Lynn Alexander



{June 16, 2013}   Father’s Day, 2013
My Father's Grave Father's Day, 2013

My Father’s Grave
Father’s Day, 2013

This morning I visited my father, Russell Alexander’s, grave for the second Father’s Day since his passing. Still no headstone or marker. I signed in at the office and had the cemetery representative walk me to find the unmarked grave. This time, we had difficulty locating it because there is nothing but grass now. Again I was told that I couldn’t put a marker on the grave since I’m not the “owner” of the property.



{June 9, 2013}   Paw Paw

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Paw Paw

Paw Paw was a born-again Methodist. At least that’s true for as long as I knew him. But he told anybody who would listen tales about what he did before he was born-again. Paw Paw wore a crewcut combed straight up like Bermuda grass that he slicked with Butch Wax. He wore black framed glasses and had a belly that popped out like Jackie Gleason’s. He liked to sit in his La-Z-Boy and spit tobacco into a jar while he watched  Lawrence Welk. When Patsy Cline debuted with her hit, Walking After Midnight Paw Paw said he knew she was destined for greatness. He’d lean back in his brown leather recliner wearing a baseball cap and talk sports or the Bible. I gave him a Yankees cap I picked up on a trip to New York, and that was his favorite out of all the caps that hung on hooks in the garage.  He was Irish and said that his family sang traditional tunes around the piano when he was growing up. His father was Scoogie Jenkins and his mother, Addie. Scoogie was a bricklayer–one of the best in Atlanta. According to family lore, Scoogie helped to lay brick for the Fox Theater and the old Sears building on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Paw Paw had lots of brothers and sisters and he said there were so many mouths to feed that if one went missing, it was okay with the rest of them. He hoboed around before the Depression hit and labor unions formed the middle class. Before unions, he said, everybody was poor. Nobody owned their own house. He said most people went to work after only finishing the sixth grade. The company paid you in money that you could only spend at the company store, and the store took nearly everything you made. You could never save for a house or furniture or a car. You had to take out credit you paid on a weekly basis to buy anything big.  At age 14, he hopped empty train cars and rode them anywhere they were going. He went hungry so often, he didn’t care if the authorities in small towns threw him in jail for the night for loitering because they’d give him a meal and a bed. When he wasn’t hoboing, he was dancing and drinking at honky tonks. But that was before he met Maw Maw when he was 17. They had both finished sixth grade, and went no further with their education because they had to work.

Paw Paw played baseball at the old Georgia Cracker’s field across from Sears on Ponce de Leon. He was a “ham and egger player” meaning he didn’t play baseball for money, but for ham and egg sandwiches. Because he was such a good player, a boy’s school once offered him a scholarship to help him complete his education. He turned it down because he liked girls too much to attend an all-boy school. He said he regretted that decision later.

Paw Paw said since he was Irish, he got in a lot of fights. If anybody gave him a hard time, he’d cold cock them and run. Nobody could catch him, he was so fast, probably from playing baseball. He liked to drink like an Irishman too, before he was born-again. But after he was saved at a revival one night, he changed. He was a tee-totaler after that, though he’d still punch anybody in the nose if they gave him a hard time.

After Paw Paw was saved, he and Maw Maw hit the road to sing gospel on the radio with some friends.  Paw Paw loved gospel singing. He sang tenor and Maw Maw sang alto. After the radio singing days were over, they talked some friends into going in with them to buy an old schoolhouse to turn if into a church. With help from friends, Maw Maw and Paw Paw launched Faith Evangelical Methodist church on Bankhead Highway. Paw Paw was a lay preacher, but what he really liked was choir directing. Maw Maw taught Sunday School and when Paw Paw wasn’t preaching, he lead the singing from gospel hymn books with shape notes. The Old Rugged Cross was almost always sung on Wednesday nights and Just As I Am would finish the sermon on Sundays. On Sunday, church was supposed to end at noon but it often went past one o’clock. The congregation would sing until someone came to the alter to be saved. The former-sinners would weep and ask for forgiveness and they would receive it by the blood of the lamb. On special Sundays, communion was served. Dixie cups with grape juice and pieces of soda crackers were passed down the pews. Then, the preacher would ask the newly saved to come to the alter to be sprinkled with water while Amazing Grace played on the piano. In the summer, a circulating table fan kept the congregation cool. In the pews, there were paper fans with wooden handles advertising a funeral home in the pocket where the hymnals and Bibles were tucked. During one Vacation Bible School, a little girl disobeyed instructions not to touch the circulating fan and cut her finger off. But that was the only time that ever happened.

Other than preaching and choir directing, Paw Paw never liked to work much. His brother-in-law got him a job in a mattress factory, but he didn’t like the work or the boss. One day he said he had enough, so he quit and went fishing. But, Paw Paw had a lot of kids to feed so he couldn’t have that attitude for long. He finally found a job he didn’t mind doing–as a foreman for the Southern Railroad. He worked at the railroad until he had been there 25 years. On the day of his 25h anniversary, his boss called him into the office. “Brother Roscoe,” his boss said, “You’ve finished 25 years today. Now, you can retire today or you can keep working and make a little more pension every month. It’s your choice.” “You mean, I can retire? Today?” Paw Paw asked. “Yes, brother Roscoe. You can…but you’ll make more if you keep working. “See ya!” Paw Paw said, and he cleaned out his locker and went fishing.

Every morning at 5 am, Paw Paw got up, put his baseball cap on and read the Bible. He told me he read the Bible over twenty five times in his lifetime before his vision went bad. He underlined and made notes in the margins of all of his Bibles. He even developed his own concordances. He’d read other books, too, especially books about John Wesley, but the one he liked best was the King James version of the Bible. Since the house was quiet that early, he could read and write for a few hours before he started bacon and eggs for breakfast. Maw Maw said he was her “short order cook”.

After he retired, Paw Paw took up golf. He got pretty good at it because he retired so early. He would play once or twice a week if Maw Maw would give him the money. He walked the course instead of riding in a cart to get exercise and save money. Since Maw Maw paid the bills, she’d give him a weekly allowance of $5. He said all he needed was a little scratch in his pocket. When he wasn’t playing golf, he’d go to the barber shop and hang around to talk. Then, he’d go to the bakery and hang around to talk. Then, he’d go to all the car repair shop on Bankhead Highway and hang around to talk. Paw Paw liked to talk. That’s what he was known for in the town of Mableton.

Maw Maw worked at downtown Rich’s for over twenty years, but she didn’t get a pension. Right before she was eligible to retire, she got into a car accident and broke her leg. Because she couldn’t stand on her feet for 8 hours to work, Rich’s fired her. She was only months away from getting her retirement. Since Rich’s was a department store, it wasn’t unionized. Luckily, the railroad had a good retirement pension, thanks to unions. Paw Paw was able to put Maw Maw onto his pension and medical so they could both live well in their old age. He used to joke that because he lived so long in retirement, the railroad might send somebody to knock him off. He remained a strong supporter of unions because he knew what life was like without them.

When Maw Maw had to go into a nursing home after she got Alzheimer’s, Paw Paw got real lonely. He said he missed seeing her sit in front of the air conditioner eating a glass of ice cream, complaining about being cold. She would sit for hours and listen to him talk, or at least she’d pretend to listen. When she went away, Paw Paw lost his audience. So, I told him I’d call him every day to check in with him. That’s when I really got to know him. He loved jokes so I’d have one ready before I’d call. I thought I was helping him by calling him every day, but it turned out he was helping me. I got to discover his sense of humor and hear stories about how life was like in the old days.

When he died at 93, I was sad but I knew I’d spent time getting to know him, and I was richer for it. When his casket was carried into Faith Evangelical Methodist Church for the last time, I was surprised to see that, sitting on top of the funeral flowers, was his Yankee’s baseball cap.



{June 5, 2013}   Not Just a Fairy Tale

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Once upon a time there was a little boy who loved his Grandmommy. He thought she was nice. She smiled at him. But he didn’t know that hate lurked behind that smile. Grandmommy hated his mommy. She beat and raged at his mommy when his mommy was little.He didn’t know the bad things Grandmommy did to her. Because he was so young and innocent, his mommy didn’t tell him. Then one day when he was three years old, something happened that made him think that maybe Grandmommy wasn’t as nice as she appeared. One day when he was visiting her while his mother was on an errand, Grandmommy disappeared. He couldn’t find her anywhere. He wandered around the giant house crying and calling out for grandmommy for a long time, but couldn’t find her. The little boy’s mother arrived early to pick him up.  They both walked through the house calling for her. They walked up and down the stairs and even in the basement, but they couldn’t find Grandmommy. Finally, when they were just giving up and leaving, Grandmommy jumped out of the hall closet, holding the hand of her other grandchild. “Surprise!” she said. The little boy’s mommy asked her what was going on, Grandmommy told her, “We were just playing Hide and Seek.” The little boy didn’t like playing Hide and Seek like that.  His mommy told him not to worry–she wouldn’t leave him alone with Grandmommy ever again.

Years passed. The little boy grew up. He had lunch with his granddaddy every now and then, but he never saw Grandmommy. She never called him on the phone. She never mailed him a card or a gift for his birthday or Christmas like his Godparents did. She never attended any event at his school and never came to any of his baseball games.  Over the years he forgot about Grandmommy. He couldn’t even remember what she looked like. When his great-grandmother died, he asked his mommy at the funeralwhat Grandmommy looked like. Finally he spotted her across the room. She saw him, too, but she didn’t say hello. He told his mother that he wanted to say hello to Grandmommy. She said it was okay because he was almost grown up. So, he did. He walked up and told Grandmommy his name. In the car on the way home, he told his mother that Grandmommy seemed nice. His mother didn’t say anything.

Another year passed and the little boy graduated from high school. His granddaddy and godparents were there. Grandmommy was not. Then he moved away to college. He was happy about going to college. He had good grades and earned a scholarship. But the scholarship didn’t cover all of the expenses he had at college. Luckily, his granddaddy had saved money for him since he was born to help pay for college. On every birthday, his granddaddy would tell him that he just put money in his college account for the future. Every Christmas, his granddaddy would say the same thing. Now that he was in college, there was enough savings in his savings account to cover expenses. He was very happy and thanked his grandaddy for the wonderful gift he gave him.

Then, the little boy’s granddaddy died. Nobody expected him to die because he seemed so healthy. The boy was sad about his grandaddy’s death. He went to his grandaddy’s funeral. He sat beside Grandmommy at the burial.

The boy went back to college thinking everything was fine. But a few weeks later, his mother called him with bad news. She told him that Grandmommy had closed the savings account for his college. She decided to tell him about how mean Grandmommy had been  to her when she was growing up. She told him that Grandmommy was punishing him because Grandmommy had hate in her heart for his mother. His mother tried to get the boy’s money back, but Grandmommy said no. She threatened to take money from his college account to pay for her expenses if his mother didn’t stop asking for his money back. It appeared that even though Grandmommy had a lot of money, she wanted his, too. Grandmommy didn’t seem to want the boy to have his money for college that his granddaddy told him about. She locked up his college money and warned the new bank not to tell the boy anything about his money. Now he knew what his mother told him was true. He remembered a fable about the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” from a book his godmother gave him a long time ago. It was about people who act nice. Some people actually are nice. But some people will try to deceive by pretending to be nice. Those are the worst kind of people.

The little boy knew that he would still go to college, despite his grandmommy’s deeds. He made straight A’s all through college and kept his scholarship. He majored in Psychology so he could try to figure out why some people behave like Grandmommy. Despite all the bad things that Grandmommy did to him and his mother, he still had compassion for her. He felt sorry for her. She would die one day and never know what a great grandson she had. She had thrown away his love, just because of money. And that was the saddest thing of all.

THE END



et cetera
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