A Story of My Life, Part 2: The Bees

My eldest sister Faye, my eldest brother Jerry, and our brother David stayed at home while Mom, Dad and the rest of the children went on an excursion into the country to visit some other relatives on a Sunday afternoon. I was an infant in arms at the time, so I have no first-hand recollection of this story; it comes from my brother Louie.

It's part of the family arcana. Louie remembers it vividly. It's one of those memories that can't be erased, no matter how much time goes by.

Our Aunt Barb stayed with us; she was a house guest for a short while. David, who was nine, and Faye, who was twelve, were NOT supposed to cross the road. It was one of Mother's rules.

We always had such fun when both the parents were away! The atmosphere became instantly lighter. We went all giddy from the relief.

We were also a little bit naughty. While the cats are away...

David and Faye DID cross the road. They went exploring in the woods.

 They laughed and chased each other and scared up a rabbit and went splashing through a creek.  They had a BLAST!   They ran and laughed, having a heck of a good time.  Jerry (who was 14 years old at this time) was  back at the farm, tinkering with something electronic he was fixing for a neighbor.   

So much fun, until...

David stepped on a ground wasps' nest.

David and Faye both fled, screaming, pursued by thousands of angry bees.

David and Faye both suffered many, many bee stings. Auntie Barb did what she could for them: she pulled the stingers with tweezers, she washed the stings in baking soda and water.

David was ok, though not happy. He had a lot of stings on his arms, but only a few on his face and neck, and none on his legs or elsewhere. He was wearing long pants, socks and shoes, and a short-sleeve shirt. The swelling went down soon and there was just a little red place, like a mosquito bite, only larger.

Faye was definitely NOT OK. She was wearing a dress, bobby socks and sneakers, and she got swarmed more than David did, so she had stings EVERYWHERE! She also experienced an allergic reaction.

Her face and body became extremely swollen. Her throat swelled up. She had trouble breathing. Her face turned blue.

Jerry came inside the house. He saw the situation was an emergency, so he got out the tractor and went down the road towards the doctor's house. No one knew how long the parents would be gone, and it looked like Faye might die. There was no phone in the house at that time.

Mom and Dad met Jerry on the road. They stopped the car and stopped him on the tractor, demanding an explanation. What was he DOING, driving the tractor down the road? (I think they might have thought he was running away from home, while they were gone.)

He explained to them what had happened. And it was MOM, this time, not Dad but MOM, who turned Jerry around and sent him back where he came from, and wouldn't let Dad go for help, either. Mom said, "This wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been disobedient. Faye deserves everything that's coming to her. It'll teach her a lesson."

Jerry, David and Louie, all thought that Faye was a goner, and wouldn't survive the night.

But she did.

The above picture is a screensaver she made and emailed to me a little while ago. She calls it, "The Teddy Bear's Picnic".

My sister Faye is a wonderful woman. She's got a lot of spirit and is fun to be around. She makes us all laugh.

She moved south, early on. She can't stand the cold, up north here. She has been married and divorced. She raised four lovely children, mostly single-handed, and my hat is off to her, big time, for that. She loves her children; she loves her grandbabies. She has a deep soft spot for kids. She's a retired schoolteacher now, living in Florida. She taught kindergarten for many years.

My Fayesy Daisy worked hard, all her whole life--sometimes two or three jobs at once, to provide well for her children. We don't get to see much of her, up here, up North, because she really didn't have the time to travel, and because she really doesn't like the cold, and, now that she's retired, because...

I think she doesn't want to be reminded, either, of the hurts of those early days. I really can't say I blame her.

She DID come back to visit, once, about ten years ago. She came back in order to escort our mother on a paddle-boat trip down the Mississippi River.

On the eve of the trip, the bee sting story came up.

Both Faye and Mother remembered it the same way, and both accounts agreed with Louie's memory of that event, which I've related here. Louie was in the car when Mom turned Jerry back around, heading him home and away from the doctor. Louie remembers that long night, helpless to help Faye, thinking each breath would be her last.

I said, "Well, Mom didn't know. She didn't realize bee stings could KILL!"

Mom snapped back, "I DID TOO KNOW! I'm not ignorant, you know. I got stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. I went to the doctor and he gave me a shot  If I didn't get the shot, I could've died."

Faye and I looked at each other.

I said, "But then Mom, WHY didn't you get Faye a doctor?"

Mom said, "Faye deserved whatever she got. She disobeyed me."

Those were almost the exact words Louie heard her speak. She hadn't changed her mind one little bit about the extremity of death as a punishment for minor disobedience on the part of her child. She hadn't softened on that any at all over the years, or experienced any remorse. She had gained no perspective at all over time.

Fay and I both had to shrug our shoulders and shake our heads and let it go.

i discovered then that our mother is not capable of changing.

We can't change the past. We can't change our parents. We can't change someone else's mind for them. The most we can do is try to share a wider perspective; that works at least sometimes.

I'm glad I'm who I am. I'm glad both my sisters are still with me. I'm glad I have my own deeply contented life, which I'm grateful for every moment of the day, apart from my mother's and not under her thumb.

I still love my mother. Of course I do; we only get one mother. If I have some reservations, I try not to let her feel them. I try not to have a punishing attitude towards her for all that we went through as kids. I try hard to extend to her now the kindness and ruth that were missing in her heart for us as children.

If I can succeed in doing this, in spite of an objective recognition of all that was wrong in our upbringing, maybe the world (or at least our tiny corner of it) is a better place.

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Comments 35 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Forgiveness is the key to a happier life. For everyone!

Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

Wow, you do have a very forgiving heart, I would have a hard time forgiving such actions, not that I wouldn't forgive, but it takes a lot to do so. I'm so glad Faye lived, although it would have been nice if you would have had the satisfaction of having your mother show her some remorse for that day.

What did you parents have against doctors anyways? First your dad, and then your mom. I know people have there beliefs and principles, but when your child is sick, it's time to put those aside and get help. I know you agree, but it's sad that not everyone see things that way.

You have quite an amazing life, and I'm only on chapter 2. Excellent hub. Rated up.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you so much, Tammy, for your kindness in visiting these hubs and leaving such generous comments!

Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

It takes a brave person to have such a forgiving heart. Your stories are riveting.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you so much, Mike, for those kind and understanding words. I do think people in her generation expected absolute obedience from kids. They were the tzars of the household, the absolute rulers, and were a lot more despotic in their treatment of children than parents are today.

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

It is difficult to understand the mindset of your mother, although I am certain she is not alone in seeing obedience as absolute. Did your mother see obedience as an expression of love--perhaps the only expression? I think everyone reading expected to find that time had softened your mother's perspective and was surprised to find it did not. You are a truly loving soul, Paradise. I'm not saying your mother is not worthy of love, but it must have been difficult at times to show her you loved her, which is why I wondered if she saw obedience as love....

All I can say is wow...


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Nope, she can't bear to be thought ignorant. She'd rather be thought cruel, instead, I guess. People's pride takes them to funny places, and leaves them there.

Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

wow...I would have expected your mom to deny it...crazy

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Justine, it really sounds like you do get that. YOU aren't alone. I thought I was, until I started writing these. WE aren't alone. It really takes someone who's been through something similar but different (everyone's life story is unique), but similar in the way of being and feeling very unloved as a child, for good reasons, to really get these stories.

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Justine76 6 years ago

I so get that, and intend to read every single one you can bear to live thru again. Im stuck on mine anyway. Its soooo hard to know that anyone suffers, but in a strange way, it helps to know your not alone?

Its like, HEY!!!!! I feel that way too? Maybe Im not crazy?

Oh, and if you ask my mom, she'll tell you I was a born liar, trouble from the start and she's only too happy to be rid of me. She was a good and loving mother, I was a brat, impossable to deal with.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for reading these, Justine. They are difficult reading, and unpleasant subject, but true. I want this record. It validates our sufferings, which the parents denied, in a way.

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Justine76 6 years ago

"Faye deserved whatever she got. She disobeyed me."

sounds just like my mother. And your right, all you can do is let it go. You survived, you can do better then what was given you.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks so much for that comment, mega. The family members that have read the stories reacted postively, so far, for the most part. I had to get past worrying about what they would think in order to tell the truth.

I'm not really saintly--just older. As we age, we find it easier to forgive, as we've all made plenty of mistakes, too, and those childhood hurts recede into the distance. It's a grace for us here on earth.

mega1 profile image

mega1 6 years ago

Well, I'm just not as forgiving as you are and I wonder that you are so, well, saintly about this! I had similar experiences, tho different, I can't say whether they were as bad or not - but really - this amazes me. I will be thinking about this - and wondering whether other people in your family read what you write here and how they react? that's part of what keeps me from writing my story - the fear the family members who already barely talk to me would somehow "get" me! sounds funny but its not. anyway, you've pulled me in and I'll be up for awhile reading these!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Jen. Resentment hurts yourself more than the people you resent, a LOT more, so sad but true. I was lucky enough to learn that early on.

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

You have succeeded Paradise7, its the biggest victory there is when you can let go of resentment even though it is justified.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks so much Deborrah K. Much love and blessings goes back to YOU!

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Paradise, This is powerful! You are amazingly strong! You have a level of forgiveness that is rare! However it is because of it you have weathered the horrible treatment you received as a child. No doubt your Mom's heart has been terribly hardened... yet you have been blessed to have within you and know what it means too truly love!

You are an excellent example of what it means as to getting "better than bitter!" Thank you for sharing, In His Love & Blessings!

Wonderful picnic scene!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you so much, Kim. Your kind words mean a lot to me.

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Kim Garcia 7 years ago

You're an amazing testimony of a true survivor and courage. I can't fathom this type of abuse, especially from a mother. Many Blessings to you!!~K

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks, poetlorraine! How good to hear from you.

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poetlorraine 7 years ago

this was an interesting hub loved the pictures to...... looking forward to reading more

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Yes, I know. I really can't cay I understand completely. I'm not sure I want to. It's better just to let her be. She's 88 with no regrets...ok, ok. WE lived.


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ralwus 7 years ago

I am overwhelmed even more of such a mother

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, A Kirchner. I agree--understanding is half the battle. Time is the other half, I think. Time and a better life than where we came from, that we managed to create for ourselves.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

I grew up in a family just like this in many ways and all I can say is that it certainly molds you (if you survive it that is)! I always remember the adage though "good people do bad things" and when I look at my family of origin's beginnings, I can see how the damage began; it doesn't make it any easier but understanding is half the battle as far as I've been able to deduce! Kudos on the writing - excellent!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for the comment, RM. Letting go and forgiving, as hard as it is to do, is the only way to stop hurting. We learned that, and have better lives for learning that, and a lot more empathy for a wider variety of people and their situations as a result. It took a long time; it was a process. I think people think I'm a better person than I really am. A lot of good people wouldn't have wanted to be around me much while I was in school.

rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

Wow Paradise7, your mother's thought process is truely hard to fathom. I'm amazed that you and your siblings have been able to let go given the hurt you've suffered. It would be sad but understandable if you had let it consume your lives.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

I know these stories are hard for people from more normally loving homes to get their minds around, and I wouldn't blame those folks for never reading this. One a week is the most I can stand myself, and I grew up in this environment, was immersed in it from the day of my birth, so I grew up expecting extreme harshness. Nothing moves me more, nothing surprises me as much, as kindness.

So naturally I want to spread a lot of kindness around and supplant harshness with kindness. Mom's life was no picnic. She DID do things for us, change diapers, cook meals, EVERY DAY, and those tasks were basically thankless. She had a very, very harsh environment herself. She's 88 years old now. Of course we all forgive her.

She still can't see it's wrong to think the way she does on a lot of topics. None of the kids let her babysit, when their kids were little. That's the saddest part. We couldn't trust her with the little kiddle nephews and nieces.

I cried for her, too.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

I have a problem empathizing with your mother, Paradise7. It's tough for me to argue that anyone deserves death over discipline. You showed yourself to be a stronger person, albeit better person by forgiving her for being who she is and for the decisions she's made.

Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Under the adage that, "everything does happen for a reason," I believe that your mother is who she so you can become a better person. At least that's what I believe.

Jaspal profile image

Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hats off to you siblings. Despite having been chastised by fire as it were, and at such a tender age, you've grown up to be wonderful adults.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Veronica. You said it.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

It is hard to believe that some parents truly have no "natural affection." Whether it's due to how they were raised or emotional or mental setbacks, it's a fact of life. It truly takes a good spirit to be able to stop the cycle of indifference.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Catherine, your empathy and great heart are a testament to your spirit, too. You have a wonderful heart. I think you can understand, too, that my mom's life was actually worse than mine. I could grow up, get away from the sitation, go out on my own, and learn all the better ways to be from some very good people. My mom was stuck. She had so many bad experiences in her life, and her way of coping was to be much more hard-hearted than anyone could possibly be, naturally.

Both my sisters are wonderful people. We were wounded by these things, but when the danger was past and we had a chance to heal, we could move on.

Mom stayed with Dad until the day he died. 60 years of marriage.

I know it's hard to think of, but a lot of parents are simply not equipped to love their children, for whatever reasons.

I try to come to grips with this and not let that make me bitter. It isn't easy but it's entirely possible, and by showing my mom some mercy and forgiveness in her old age, I can spread the love we never had back around in my little corner here, and take some care of people that are my kin.

Thay had it rough, too, and we just need to break the chain and love them anyway. It's OK (well, not really OK, something like that is never OK), but it works out in the long run.

Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I think it is truly amazing and a testament to your generous spirit that you can have such a forgiving attitude to your mother. What kind of a childhood did she have I wonder? I find it hard to even imagine that a mother would be prepared to let her child die to teach them a lesson. She must have been/must still be a deeply unhappy individual.

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