By: Toni Tucker
Rev. Gilbert brought home a raccoon that he had shot on a hunting trip...As if all the shootings I had heard from the Detroit riots and having to 'hit-the-floor' nightly, as well as being up-rooted by him from my safe, comfortable and familiar surroundings was not enough! He just came home and plopped down a two-foot motionless raccoon that was still bleeding on the dinner table and announced, "this is dinner meat until it's all gone." At first glance I thought the raccoon was a dog! It was only in my six year old mind for I could not tell a raccoon from a canine.
My big sister and I were sickened by his shameless display of disregard directed towards us as children and the fact that he knew we were already scared out of our wits by the gun-fire and deaths reported on the nightly news. My sister was seven I was six. My mother tried to stand-up for us...But that just led to another beating tirade. Afterwards, Gilbert came out of their bedroom and rolled up his sleeves and called us back into the kitchen area and said, "You're going to help me skin this raccoon." I could see the devil in his eyes, red, bloodshot, and I remember the grimace on his face.
The first time I tasted that raccoon that I was forced to help skin and cook, I threw up right on the dinner table. That ended the meal for us all. And Gilbert never laid a hand on me. We just stopped eating, cleaned up, and put what was salvageable up. He never made me eat that stuff afterwards. Isn't it weird, we were living with an emissary of the devil, who called himself 'a man of God' and he beat my mother and sister, and never, never, laid a hand on me. Back then I didn't know why, he just didn't lay a finger on me. Not that I can recall while I was awake.
This man was a control freak! He was a type-A personality laced with liquored breath. A small framed, 5 foot 6, dark skinned, less than average looking man with a close hair cut and he wore 1960's styled eye-glasses with thick black frames. He was a stern, unhappy person. I don't recall ever laughing with him as a 'family'. Even if we did share a laugh or two, his sadistic ways overshadowed any memory of short-termed happiness. I just remember an exceptionally mean, drunk, controlling, manipulative, multi-personality, miserable person. Yeah, he was a monster. The boogieman reincarnated. Just how could he hit my precious mother and young sister without any remorse?! He only started his out of control fits once he got us away from Chicago. Away from the security of our family and friends.
Sitting in the back of the car while leaving Chicago and the closer we got to our destination in Detroit, we all witnessed, the rioting, fires, lootings, and what seemed to be dead men on the ground. It was a total nightmare. At one point, Gilbert, remarked, "There's another N-word, dead!"
That was the first time I had ever heard that word, at least where it stuck in my mind.
I recall on another one of Gilbert's drunken and outburst of anger tirades, where he took off his black belt and struck my mother on the back, and then grabbed my sister lifting her up and throwing her on the bed in our room, when suddenly, an overwhelming "I'm not going to let you do this anymore" spirit took over me! I jumped on his back, he easily knocked me off. I fell on the hardwood floor and immediately got right back up, determined. And before he could strike my sister again with that thick belt, I jumped on him again, this time, my 45-pound frame and left arm, had an instinctive chock-hold around his neck. He flung me off like I was a feather. But in my young mind, in an instant flashback, Gilbert, was going to be another "N-word dead", or at least wounded real bad - and by me!
At glance I could tell and feel that my mother and sister were astonished by my little 'engine that could' fight-back temerity.
Even more determined, I started pulling on his leg, sobbing but tenacious, I kept tugging on his leg, begging him to stop! "Stop hitting my mother, stop hitting my sister with that belt, stop it!...Stop It!!...STOP IT!!!" I yelled in horror and in anger at the top of my six year old lungs. As he turned around with a look of incredulity at me, I reached up and scratched his chin, and I felt the little piny pricks of hair on his face. He started bleeding. He was in shock that I did that. And he stopped!!
Again, he didn't touch me. It had to be God...he went back to he and my mother's back bedroom, slammed the door, and fell asleep. When he woke up...We had a 'family talk.' And he apologized to us all.
But, that didn't stop his tirades. Every time he drank, he'd start up again.
What my mother ever saw in him, I do not know. I do know now, that it was based on lust and her need at that time to be loved. I thank God she apologized to both my sister and I after our escape.
Prior to my mom's hookup with this imp, she always bought my sister and I the most beautiful dresses, often-times she'd dress us up like twins. And we are Irish twins, less than 11 months apart. Back when my mom and biological father were married and when my sister and I were babies my dad branded us on our upper left outer arms with a car cigarette lighter, which, in his mind, proved that we were Irish twins. Go figure. Now, my biological dad was not at all like Rev. Gilbert, the only thing they had in common, was their pension for drinking 'Richard's Wild Irish Rose' wine. Straight out of the bottle they gulped it down, but never together.
We had two gold fish, two turtles, and two birds. Back in Chicago we had a closet full of clothes and shoes. But in Detroit, we only had two sets of dresses that matched, where we had no option but to alternate wearing to both school and church. One dress was tan with a dark brown center that resembled a belt, and the other dresses had a little lace on them and were prettier. Mine was yellow, my sister's light green. We wore the pretty laced ones to church mostly.
Gilbert made us wash dishes a certain way, line up the glasses in a certain way, and fold the dry towels in the kitchen that hung over the railing in a certain way. All neat and regimented. If we messed up at just six and seven, my sister was the one who got the beating with his thick black belt. Once, he hit the bird cage and our birds flew around the house. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were their names. I remember watching Jeremiah dying in his cage right before my very eyes. It only added to my trauma.
Well my mother was a strong woman and why she let that idiot beat her and my sister for the time that he did during the months we lived there must have been activated by a ruling spirit of that territory. The principality of mayhem, murder, anger and lawlessness was in full swing.
One day my mother woke up after my sister and I begged her to take us back home. She looked at our sad little faces and the tears that streamed down them, and could not take it any longer. She finally called my granddad and grandma and other relatives back in Chicago and planned our escape!
All I remember after 'pretending' to leave for school that morning, is how anxiously we waited for my grandparents and a great-aunt to arrive at the door inside the apartment. My mother had a friend to watch out the window for us, our 'look-out', just in case Satan decided to come home early. Just in case he would become enraged and try to forcibly stop us from leaving him. Just in case he would try to fight my Grandfather, grandmother, aunt, or even my mother. As soon as my grandparents' car pulled up - we got - the Hell up out of there!
We were out the door, without incident! God's sent his angels to safely get us back home - to Chicago.
What we left were the goldfish, turtles, Ezekiel, and those two ugly tan and brown dresses in the closet. We also left Rev. Gilbert for good. We were rescued and had finally escaped!
We escaped the madness of the horrific nightly shootings, the riots, the fear, the repression, and the haunting's of Rev. Gilbert.
Years later, while on a trip with our youth choir to a Detroit revival my sister and I ran into Gilbert. My sister just turned her head away from him, ignoring him, and she hurriedly walked away. I tried to play nice again, and said hello and smiled. I felt so darn sorry for the lonely looking sad man. I had Jesus by then and no longer feared Gilbert, but I didn't really like seeing him either.
He died back in the late 80's I hear, alone in a car by the side of a road. He finally escaped from his life of misery by hurting others. But our God is a merciful and forgiving God, if we only repent. And by the grace of God, I hope he repented and made it into the Kingdom, if not by the piny prickly - hair on his chin.
When we got back to our "safe place", the spirit of lawlessness, anger, death, mayhem, murder, hate, craziness, had to flee from me, my mother and sister. We got our deliverance! People prayed for us who were strong in the Lord! So, I was immediately set free from any prolonged anger or hate of certain men, who may have reminded me of Gilbert.
Whom the Son has set free, is free indeed.
By God's healing hand and grace we had Escaped!