Anne Saves the Day, Part 1

I am sharing my story with you.  The following was originally written as an academic paper however, it captures my love of reading and how God shaped my life during some very difficult times.  While some of the content has been changed for the purposes of a blog post I have left the citations in tact in order to preserve the integrity of an academic piece.  There is hope, there is always hope and we serve a good God, a good and gracious God.  As I have mentioned in previous posts I did not have the sunniests of childhoods however, I do have wonderful and lasting relationships with both of my parents  and their respective spouses.  I wanted to introduce you to me… who I am.  Blessings.

                It is four o’clock in the afternoon.  I’m sitting in a meeting listening to the drone of my supervisor and trying to find comfort on the hard of the chair.  I am not really listening, my mind numb from a long day.  Pen in hand I am doodling. Writing the nonsensical in hopes of keeping my eyes from drooping.  One more furtive glance of the clock and I look down at my pen scratching on paper and recognize that I am doodling Es, over and over a long continuous line of curls and dips.  Pretty  Es.   And in an instant my memories stumble through the fog of my day and I’m reminded in that moment of  another time, of a too-small wooden desk in a  Sixth Grade classroom and a wish that my name was Anne “with an ‘e’” (Montgomery, 2008, p. 28).  The even cadence of my teacher’s voice opened a world that was “fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook ….”  (Montgomery, 2008, p. 1), a world that had me wishing for peace in the midst of little girl anger that bubbled with a ferocious intensity.   Anne of Green Gables opened up places in my heart that were slowly being covered with the hardness of abandonment and neglect.  My eleven year old brain unable to comprehend the meaning of what this early introduction to literature would mean.  At that time my angry heart could not fathom that these words would bring joy, enhance learning and provide me with a compass to navigate through the mess of my reality (Stodt-Hill & Amspaugh-Corson, 2001, p. 6). How is it that thirty years later my mind chooses the drudgery of a weekly staff meeting to pluck a moment out of the timeline of my story?

            My mother moved to Alberta.  I wasn’t left with strangers or on the steps of an orphanage.  She simply left me with a man who knew nothing of raising three small children.  She left me with a man prone to violent outbursts, his hands often extended in anger and the long arm of punishment was in the form of a wooden spoon broken across my backside. Penalties would be handed out for the inane and innocuous: laundry left in stacks on the bed instead of in drawers, bathroom towels hung incorrectly and for any mischief that my younger sister and brother would find, because “don’t you know Tonya, it’s your job to be their example.”  There would be days when my bottom was so bruised that sitting was difficult and broken eye vessels would be the evidence of a hard slap to the face.  There were days when I would feign illness, so that I didn’t have to go anywhere where there might be questions.  Except on Anne days.  On those days I would cover the marks and the hurt with lies.  Because it was on those days at 3PM my teacher would call the school work done, press open the spine of that beloved story and conjure the magic that was Avonlea.  On those days my bruised body would be transported out of my wooden desk and I would use my imagination, a defence against the abuse (Santelmann, 1994, p. 70), to enter the “nice and quiet” (Montgomery, 2008, p.56), because it would be all too soon before the cowering and fear would begin again.  


            I would trudge home from school and my mind would race through thoughts of what it might be like to live in a place where I could be a child, where discipline did not come in the form of violence,  and have a mother to hold me soft when life pressed just a little too hard.   My imagination would be wild with thoughts of my mother returning home with arms open wide and a father who would foster a space for me to be great (Svitak, 2010).  I would pause just at the end of the drive, the old house with the dirty siding and the crumbling porch steps, blooming ugly right out of the ground and the trembling would begin in earnest.   The crack between the sidewalk and driveway was the border between my dreams and my reality, a place where misery and words that would bleed a soul were common place.  My shoulders were heavy from more than my school bag, and I would hesitantly open the door and step into the musty and old, a house full of secrets and dark corners and crags.   Holding my breath I would hear the floor boards creak under the weight of my small frame and I would cringe if I heard the sound of my father’s voice…


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