Throughout my life, I’ve learned to listen. In fact, most of my childhood was spent listening due to my inability to speak without stuttering. Adults in my family didn’t have the patience to wait for me to “spit it out.” At a young age, I learned that books didn’t rush me or tell me to “hurry up we don’t have all day” or walk off while I was attempting to compose a sentence. Books had the patience the adults in my life lacked. I found my peace within the pages of dictionaries, phone books and anything with printed pages. I wasn’t particular. The library was my happy place. A wonderful refuge of peace and quiet. A tranquil environment where there wasn’t any yelling. There wasn’t any danger of being molested by my grandfather and there wasn’t any anger or violence from an overwhelmed father saddled with four children he didn’t really want tying him down. I will rephrase that statement to emphasize that my father adored our baby brother. 

Boys in my family are quite rare and celebrated. Girls on the other hand were during our childhood, expected to cook and clean. In my case, also expected to speak clearly. I’ve been called a retard. A mute. An accident. All things said that are never forgotten. 

Cindy and I lost our half sister, Tammy because she wasn’t my father’s child. We lost the only mother figure we would ever know while in 6th grade. We would forever wonder what had happened until I located Tammy again in my 20’s. 

Our mother was a train wreck. In and out prison in California for heroin, it would be an accident after meeting me in California that caused such extensive brain damage that my mother would forget an addiction that had destroyed her family. An addiction that was more important to her than anything else in her life. My mother was selfish and self involved. 

My mother loved heroin but was unable to love anything or anyone else in her life. It’s difficult to accept this even now. Cindy and I will be 55 years old in November. 

Discussing our family and our childhoods has often and normally been difficult. Painful. Memories of a war we escaped to find peace. Cindy and I as well as Tammy were literally running from the forest of our own family. We would all be stronger for what we had survived. We would all be resilient and we would all be survivors. 

As children, admitting our mother abandoned us was embarassing. Looking back, I wish we had said that she was dead to spare us the bullying of other students using our pain to punish us but, children are cruel. By 7th grade, I was overcoming my speech hindrance with musical therapy. Singing to songs was the key to my inability to speak. For a number of years, I sang sentences. 

My father moved my twin sister, brother and I from California to Oklahoma. Leaving everything we knew behind along with grandma Tinney and Tammy, changing schools and our lives was incredibly difficult. The only plus of this move was getting us away from our grandfather. He wouldn’t hurt us in Oklahoma. He didn’t need to. My father’s anger at nearly starving in Oklahoma with three children along with the cruelty of students in Oklahoma City “pulled up the slack.”

My siblings and I would spend a year in Oklahoma. Unaware of tornados and living in a trailer park, our “escape route” was jumping out the side door with a piece of cardboard to slide down the hill and seek safety in an underground tunnel for the sewer system. Tornados always attacked the trailer park. We would survive a year in Oklahoma with bullies at school and little food at our trailer. I will always remember starting my menstrual cycle in Oklahoma most likely due to stress and angering my father who couldn’t afford hygiene products. It was something I couldn’t control. Throughout my childhood, there were many things I couldn’t control. But, that would change.

A year after arriving in Oklahoma, my aunt and my grandparents would move our family to Texas. I wouldn’t miss Oklahoma or the tornados. Cindy and I had learned to fight back in Oklahoma too. The bullies that spit on us and called us names at the bus stop no longer bullied us. Months after being punched in the head and spit at on the bus, Cindy and I had taken our anger and frustration at our helpless situation and began fighting back. When someone hit us, we hit them harder. We found the biggest bullies to be the most effective way to make mean kids leave us alone. We made them an example. 

My father had told us “if you come home beaten up, I will beat you again.” He meant it. We had no choice but to defend ourselves and did. A book, a towel dispenser in the bathroom. You name it. Nothing was off limits in our efforts to defend ourselves. We used equalizers. 

Moving to Texas with our grandfather moving here too was disappointing. The cornering us the kitchen. A grandmother ignoring what was happening and pretending to others for her entire life that she was unaware of it. I was in 8th grade when I finally told her flat out what was happening to my sister and I. Her answer? “I don’t read or write well. I’ve never worked. I can’t help you. How do you expect me to live and support myself if I leave my husband?” My grandmother only cared about her own needs and survival. She always would. 

My father, grandmother and even my aunt never wanted Cindy or I to tell anyone about our lives and our survival. The truth. The real story. They wanted us to portray ourselves as having the perfect family in order to protect THEM. Convenient right? My grandfather dying was the greatest gift we would ever receive. No more worrying about Cindy’s daughters. We never left them alone with him.

My father married a woman who had no children and viewed my sister and I as her maids. Jo Anne was one of the laziest narcissistic people we had encountered in our lives aside from our grandmother who always put her own needs first. Jo Anne was aware of our grandfathers perversions. We told her. Like everyone else in our lives, she didn’t care. Jo Anne drove Cindy and I to our grandparents house every weekend to get rid of us. Jo Anne died of alcoholism. I wonder if she became an alcoholic due to her guilty conscience but will never really know. 

When you have a family that doesn’t love you, you blame yourself. You go to great lengths to win their approval. You question why your family blames you for being abused by them. You also educate yourself about psychology. You find your peace in books. Merck Manuals and solitude about the changes in your body you didn’t realize were pregnancy. I did.

At fifteen years old after being called filthy names regarding my condition, I decided to run away. Cindy ran with me. The police found us eating out of a trash can in Azle, Texas. They took us to the Women’s Haven. We were finally away from “our family.” 

We would never look back. As adults, my grandmother used guilt to get what wanted from us. Widowed, she even lived with Cindy for nearly 18 years while HER CHILDREN shoved off THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES to my twin sister. I would never have taken my grandmother in. I had valid reasons for never taking as much shit from this family. I wished Cindy would have known that she would never earn their approval. I wished Cindy had known she was giving up her life to care for a selfish woman who had never cared for us. But, I couldn’t convince my sister that her efforts and expenses “taking care of grandma because no one else wanted to” were being well spent. Instead, time and life experience would eventually do that for me.

After 17 plus years of dealing with our grandmother taking two rooms of Cindy’s house and calling her names in her own home, my twin sister finally snapped. She finally put her peace and happiness first. What was the breaking point? Cindy’s daughter, Stephaney had been impregnated at 15 years old with twins. The same age as I was when I lost Anna Marie. 

Our grandmother wanted Stephaney to get an abortion because “you can’t take care of them babies AND ME.” That was it for Cindy. It was also nearly 16 years ago. My sister put HER FAMILY FIRST. My sister put the needs of her grand twins before our grandmother. My sister was 39 years old. 

At 40 years old, Cindy and I hired an attorney and sought custody. Her daughter was unable to care for the twins mentally and emotionally. We took on the hefty burden of raising the twins at 40 years old. We have never regretted our decision. 

Our children and grandchildren have never had a close relationship with our father or other family members outside of our own circle. Cindy and I both raised our children and grandchildren as a Team. We had no family to help us and didn’t want them around our children or grandchildren. We wanted them to have the life we hadn’t and they have. We became the parents and grandparents we had never known. We broke the chains of violence and abuse. We took our history of victims and threw that book in the trash. We became survivors. We were stronger for what we had endured. We were strong, resilient, passionate and perseverant. We were warriors. We also earned that title. No one gave it to us. 

While divorcing my first husband after my latest hospitalization due to his violent beatings, my grandmother told me “you go back to him and suck it up. He’s good to me and you can’t support yourself. Stop being stupid and he might stop beating you.” I hated her. I was sick and tired of being a victim. I was sick and tired of being afraid. My fear was that one day, my son would become a punching bag too. 

If my grandmother hadn’t been mooching off Cindy by living with her while our grandmothers two children, my father and our aunt “were living their lives,” Cindy and I would have lived together and consequently, happily ever after. 

But, due to my grandmother being at Cindy’s house, I filed for a divorce anyway. I would work three jobs if necessary to save my son and myself from the ten years of violence I had lived through. It wasn’t an easy choice or path. I had no money, no credit and no car. I figured it out though and never looked back. 

While living in California with my violent first husband, Cindy’s second husband left her for another family. He also took all of the belongings in their home. Many things that belonged to Cindy and I since Larry entered the marriage with only a TV and bed. Larry was a POS. But, even with a violent husband, I moved my twin sister and both of her daughters with me to San Clemente. This would be the “window” of my dad and his sister shoving THEIR mother onto Cindy. The year was 1988. Cindy went to school in California and I watched Leigh Ann and Stephaney. 

In 1990, my son was born in Marrietta, CA. Cindy had her first apartment, a good job, a car the church had donated her and a HAPPY LIFE. Our father took his mother to the office of Cindy’s apartment and effectively moved her in while Cindy was at work and I was watching all three children. 

Our grandmother threw all of Cindy’s possessions out of her master bedroom and into the hall. Cindy came home to the apartment she was paying for to be forced into sleeping on the floor with her two children in their room. Grandmother was a selfish bitch. She took what she wanted and never cared about who she was taking it from. 

If anyone in my family reading this is offended by the truth, get over yourselves. You are all self entitled and self serving. You have also put my sister through Hell by shoving your mother onto her back while she was raising two children without benefit of child support. 

For those wondering why Cindy never received one dime of child support on Leigh Ann or Stephaney, I will elaborate. Leigh Ann is a child of rape. When I moved Cindy and both the girls to California, Stephaney was three years old. 

Cindy enrolled Stephaney in Marietta Elementary School with Leigh Ann. Meanwhile in Texas, POS Larry Mahaney filed for a divorce claiming to have custody of Stephaney. Cindy was unaware of this BECAUSE Larry had deliberately not given her address. The address Larry knew all too well because he had used directory assistance to find Cindy in Temecula, steal the car she had driven from California with her car seats and strollers as well as Christmas gifts for Leigh Ann and Stephaney inside of the car before breaking into her apartment and robbing her AGAIN. 

Because of Larry and his lies and the inept judge NOT requiring Larry to prove he had possession of Stephaney, Larry and his crooked attorney got out of the child support that should have been ordered and wasn’t pertaining to Stephaney. 

Fast forward to the twins and Cindy’s second generation of children being raised without benefit of child support. The twins father has been in and out of prison for Criminal Non Support. Michael Wayne Scherer Jr recently made a $10 payment on court ordered child support that is currently over $50k in arrears. 

In Texas, ANY PAYMENT towards child support voids the Criminal Non Support Order. Stupid right? For all of these years, Cindy and I have circled our wagons and supported each other. We’ve also done this with EVERYTHING going against us. When I say we are survivors, we earned the title.

Makenna and Maryssa are 14 going on 15 and have had no interaction with their father. Why? Because he beat Stephaney upon realizing she was pregnant. He also “copped a plea” of assault on a family. Due to this, when Cindy and I hired an attorney to get custody of the twins, we voided his parental visitation due to his violent history.

People always ask “why are you so passionate?” We’ve had to be. Not because we’ve witnessed compassion either. Quite the contrary, we learned compassion by being the people we hadn’t met until starting Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners and TDCJ Officiant. We also learned that the people we enjoyed working with the most weren’t the affluent people. Not the entitled individuals who thought they were better than others. 

The people we enjoyed working with most were warriors. They were people who knew hardship. Who had kind hearts and compassionate souls. The people we now view as family were different than most people because they weren’t born with a silver spoon. The people that welcomed us with open arms were just like us. They had been broken, they had been hurt, they had moved on and were stronger for it. We have too…