by Mick 7
A family hears grandmother's silenced voice 71 years after she's passed away.
Our Grandmother is Revealed
What you are about to read is my long overdue rendezvous in revealing the true facts of my life. These are the bare honest avenues exposed as they happened. Although I am gone I do believe those I have loved should know my history even at the risk of embarrassment.
Oddly it is it has taken 71 years for my unspoken voice to be finally heard. I yearned for this one fateful day when my family might perceive me as I was, one strong willed woman with a big loving heart, a genuine survivor. I want them to see me for who I really was and not the person they heard or imagine I was.
I have prayed that one day all my family would have clarity and be proud of my accomplishments of having raised a loving family who worshipped and followed the Lord.
Understand this; although I may have been poor my family was rich. They all were taught good moral values, and became compassionate people with respect in their hearts. It has broken my spirit once again to think my past has caused shame and disgrace to my family and our reputations.
Who would ever believe my day with fate and revelations of the past would resonate from the most unlikely resource? An unknown family member would finally set the record straight on my behalf; a grandson never known of dearest son Clarence.
I have been known under several names in life, starting with Marie Saucier, proceeding to Marie Potvin, and finally ending up as Mary Portwine. I was born in the small American-French town of Fort Kent, Maine bordering Canada. I spoke French and a tiny bit of English like practically everyone in that part of the northern United States.
My mother gave birth to me in 1892, and I died on January 11, 1941, at 49 years young. My doctors said I died from a stroke, but I know better. I believe it was a broken heart and an extremely tough life that took me so early. Yes unfortunately there was no contraception in my day and I became pregnant 18 times by several different men. Those are the facts. I hope you don't believe this was all by choice, because I promise it wasn’t.
I'm sorry to say I was completely illiterate. I couldn’t write or read one bit. Not that I didn’t want to, but I never had the treat of attending school. I secretly fantasized about the day I would learn to read and write. I was self-conscious and felt a sense of humiliation at not being unable to write my name or a simple sentence. The fact that I didn’t learn something so basic cost me dearly though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Mother, bless her soul, died when I was only three. That frightening event was a game changer for me. After her death I became more of a victim than I already was. I was too young and innocent to know better and too weak and frightened to protect myself. I soon found myself being preyed upon by all types of sick marauders; men and women took advantage of me. I was born in a time when women had absolutely no rights or a say about anything and were often treated as nothing more than sex objects.
Most of my earliest memories are sadly tainted. The rapes and beatings suffered have haunted me right up until my death. It is a tragedy that anyone should have to endure physical, emotional, mental, or sexual abuse. Imagine experiencing and surviving all of them? I have been tormented beyond what most imaginations can only imagine.
“Hear what I say, believe that I have lived it.”
Of all my miseries losing my children cut me the deepest. It is a small miracle that I never took my life over those circumstances as much as I may have wanted too. I find it a tragedy that I unknowingly ruined my life. Depression got the better of me on many occasions thus the family believed that I would harm myself and had me on a suicide watch at different times. The only thing that saved my soul and my sanity was my strong faith in God and our savior, Jesus Christ.
Our family happened to be quite poor. We had only the bare essentials; nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. My mother and father were born into poverty and likewise their lifestyle of paucity was passed down to me. I know mom worked hard to keep up with motherly duties and family chores. It seems she was always taking in extra laundry and cleaning homes on the side to help ends meet. Because I was too young to leave alone I accompanied her to many of her side jobs where I quickly learned the unskilled trade of a bucket, mop, and broom. At the time I did not realize her destiny was to become mine. The love and protection she offered me wasn’t appreciated until it was gone.
My father was a tyrant, He was an angry no nonsense man. My mother was afraid of him and so was I. Together we learned that when Daddy drank, he became mean. Mother and I shared in his abuse up until her death. After that he became even more abusive. He was driven to drown his tears in alcohol and sorrow. Did he truly miss my mom or just the extra money and fringe benefits she provided for him?
For all intent purposes he forced me into childhood slavery after her death, making me work instead of going to school like I should have. I found myself cleaning homes just as mother had taught and turning over the meager sums of money earned to father just like she had done.
I suffered abuse early in life. It came from those who were trusted, like family, friends, and some of my employers. Separately but together, they took a small piece of me one day at a time, one abusive episode at a time. Considering all I endured it was just as sad I had no shoulder to cry on and found sympathy from no one. They exploited me. They exploited my circumstances.
Saying I grew up fast was an understatement. Unfortunately nobody really cared about me except the woman who brought me into this world and she was gone leaving my life changed forever. Those childhood years being as bad as they were, somehow became less painful memories as time progressed replaced with new agonies and suffering to think about.
By the time I was 15 my father had spoken of marrying me off to one hardworking lumberjack he befriended in town. His name was Maxime, Maxime Potvin. I had been told Maxime admired me since he laid eyes on me years earlier. He usually came around a few times each year when he came out of the woods for supplies and other necessities needed to sustain his rugged life in the deep northern forest. No doubt there were countless lonely nights for loggers’ secluded miles from any civilization. Not only was it a lonely existence but extremely dangerous as well. If you were seriously injured the chances of receiving medical care in time of crisis would be unlikely with the worst of circumstances to follow.
I really wasn’t that surprised when I turned 16 and my dad told me I would be marrying Maxim. Arranged marriages were still customary in those days. Countless young women were subjected to relationships based on convenience and money rather than love. Shortly after my birthday I found myself married to a man 8 years my senior and living in a simple cabin completely secluded by forest, crystal lakes and fast flowing rivers.
There was a transition period filled with loneliness, hardship, and personal horror I never thought I would survive. To think it was easy is a foolish thought. I was alone and cooped up in the middle of nowhere. While learning about myself and my new husband I often found myself frightened for my life and then other times wishing I was dead.
It wasn’t long before I became pregnant with our first child. To say I was frightened, lonely, and insecure would be an understatement. The life style adjustment to the raw daunting wilderness proved extremely difficult and costly to life. At first Maxime and I were overjoyed upon learning I was with child and rightfully so. Our time spent alone together proved to be a test and after carrying our baby for months my worst fears came to fruition. I had a miscarriage. To make matters worse this happened while alone in our cabin. My screams and cry’s were unheard. Not really knowing what to expect when the stream of blood started flowing down my thighs I reacted by my first instinct and did what most would do, I panicked.
to be continued....