Rescused from Within
A story for my sister
Rescued from Within
Her eyelids slowly shut as I looked upon her face with curious eyes. Her breathing slowed and finally stopped causing my pupils to dilate. I looked as if I had just come from an eye exam, eyes all big like an owl’s. My sister Monique slightly shook her but there was no response. It happened so fast. Suddenly there were sirens and strangers all over my mother’s bedroom. She was carried outside and carefully put into an ambulance. Then she was gone. What just happened? I wondered to myself. Where are those people taking my mother? It never occurred to me that that day would be the last time I would ever see my mother alive until my aunt Frances came by to tell us that she was never coming back.Annie Ruthe Waddell, October 16, 1946-January 20, 1990. I never knew I needed to be rescued until my mother died. I was seven years old and in the first grade. The teachers at my school thought I needed some counseling, but what I really needed was something they could never give me, a mother. They could talk to me over and over but still had nothing to offer me in my time of need but sympathy. I don’t even remember crying for my mother at her funeral. I just didn’t believe she was really dead. My sister tried to get in the coffin with her, now when I look back it seems kind of funny. I didn’t know what was going on. I just looked at her all stiff inside that box.
My aunt Frances had legal guardianship over my siblings and me but my sister Janet took my twin sister and me to live with her. Since Janet had always kept us it was only natural that we move in with her. She had no children of her own so she was glad to do it. I must say that my family had always been poor and with good reason. My mother had ten surviving children, seven of which lived with her at the time of her death. My two eldest sisters Janet and Ursula were living on their own.
I remember times when there was nothing in that three-bedroom trailer to eat but bread and mayonnaise. I remember when there was no running water and we couldn’t even flush our toilet. I remember Christmas’ without Christmas trees and hand-me-down clothes and presents from the shelter. I can even remember wearing mix-matched shoes to school and tacky clothes. I was picked on so bad. But all these things changed when I went to go live with Janet.
At Janet’s house there was less noise and more food. Ashley and I had our own room, just the two of us. In the trailer we had bunk beds and the girls slept in one room, the boys in the other. There are eight girls and two boys. Most of the time my older sister’s slept on the floor in the living room. At Janet’s house we had running water. I can remember over flooding the toilet once and watching the water run all over the bathroom floor. I was scared to tell Janet but when I did she didn’t get to mad about it.
My first gift and fondest memory at this time was a bear that I received in my first Easter basket from Janet. I named the bear Ted E. Bear after one of my favorite books. My sister got a bunny rabbit in hers; she named him Spike My Main Man and still has him today. He has no eyes; I don’t remember how he lost them. But, oh how I loved my teddy bear. I use to tell my siblings that my mother gave me that bear but I knew that she didn’t. I just wanted to have something from her that I could hold on to. I think I wanted to associate the bear and my mother because it felt as if it could have been a gift from her. I kept Ted E. Bear until I was a teenager in high school. I probably would still have him if my niece Corra and my sister Ashley had not tore him to bits. They knew that the only way to make me cry was to torture my bear.
Corra and Ashley had ripped Ted E. Bear’s arms off and I loved him more. When they pulled out his stuffing and he was only an empty soul of a bear, I think that is when I loved him the most. I still took him wherever I went and slept with him every night. I don’t remember what happened to him, Janet probably threw him away.
Janet is my other mother. She instilled in me the values that I possess today. Sure she gave me things I wanted but she also gave me what I needed. She saved me from depression and famine and made me want to grow up and be just like her, a rescuer of souls. As a child the best part about living with Janet was Christmas. I was use to getting used or unwanted presents so I was amazed when Janet bought us all new things. Janet had the biggest most beautiful Christmas tree and the presents toppled each other coming from the kitchen door to the front door of the living room. I mean presents on top of presents on top of presents. New clothes, shoes, and toys of all kinds were everywhere. Ashley and I didn’t have to share a thing. One year we even got a playhouse that had electricity and everything. We put beds inside and had sleepovers in it. My favorite gift was a walking GO-GO pup. Back in that trailer the only gift I remember getting that I liked was a big wheel. The same day I got it my sister Quita rode it down a hill and smashed it. I only rode the damn thing once before she broke it.
I got my first bike living with Janet and I wanted to ride it with no training wheels. I remember running it into the trash dumpster about three or four times before I finally got it right. I got banged up quite a bit but Janet always fixed me up so I kept on riding. I had never gotten the one on one attention that Janet had given me from my mother so I felt happier than I had ever been when I was with her.
I love my mother but to be honest I could not have grown to be the woman that I am without Janet. I sometimes wonder who and where I’d be if my mother were still alive. If I had had to live my life the way it was before life with Janet I would probably be bitter, depressed, and a drop out. I do miss my mother everyday but I am also glad that when God picked out who was to be my mother he had a backup plan just in case something happened to the first one. So instead of having one mother I have two.
Janet molded me and she showed me that there was more to life than just being poor. I used to read and write to escape my everyday life, now I do it because I have my own dreams to share. She took up for me when others questioned my integrity and she trusted me when I told her things. One of my first jobs was a cashier at Burger King. One day a boy stole a hundred dollar bill from the bottom of my cash register and I was blamed. I called Janet and she came to the restaurant ready to tell the manager where she could go. She told them that every time I found a dollar on the floor or in the dryer I gave it to her and if I was anything it certainly was not a thief. The manager later saw the videotape and saw the guy stealing the money. Janet told her that she should have done that in the first place and then I quit that same day.
I was so proud that Janet was my sister and honored that she trusted me. I think I loved her more that day than any of the days before. It was Janet who taught me that life was worth living. Janet was the one who bought me books to read and encouraged my writing. It was she who made me understand that life was what you made of it. I show compassion for others because of her. I made good grades because I wanted her to be proud, I went to college because I wanted to show her that I could be successful. I continue my education so I can be rich and buy her a house one day. I am who I am because of her and I want to show her that she did a great job raising me. Of all the people who have impacted my life my sister Janet is the one that I will love and cherish above all others. She gave me love when I needed it most. She took me in when I really had nowhere else to go. She gave me dreams and goals and I will never forget what she has done for me.
I once lived in a three-bedroom trailer with no running water and nothing more than condiments to eat. Janet saved me from this. She saved me from famine and destruction. I don’t know what I would have done if she had not been there to rescue me. She saved me from a life of unhappiness and pain and I will forever be grateful to her. Janet still has no biological children of her own but she will always remain a mother to me. When people ask me about my mother I tell them that she died but I also tell them that I have another mother, Janet.
If my mother could see what I have become, I think she would be proud. She raised one hell of a daughter who raised another. I believe that she watches over us and perhaps she is the reason God chose Janet instead of anyone else to take care of me. Maybe she whispered to him that I was better off with Janet than anyone else in the world. I would like to think that is what happened.