Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Saddest Stories in the World


Today I heard another one.

Maybe it is only in the small wee places we hear of such stories that would make your heart burst with grief and wonder how so many people just pick themselves up and simply carry on to brave a future full of more storms and other tragedies.

And it sets me to thinking maybe these are just everyday stories. In big cities we simply don't hear them for community life is sadly absent.

Elsie was thirteen and saying her prayers in church after school. She was the only one there, she was a good girl and prayed every single day for her father to stop hitting her mother when he came home late with his body full of drink. Being the eldest she worried about the bare larder and all eight children going to bed with their stomachs painfully empty.

Old Father Shaughnessy had been inspecting the altar cloths. He was very fussy as to how they were laundered and ironed by the parish women. And he oftentimes would humilate them into taking them all down once more and redoing the job. Even if it was only one that didn't meet his approval, the rest were then suspect.

She heard his leather soles on the floor before she saw his feet with her downcast eyes. She was very much afraid of his big roary voice and the way he'd pinch her chest when he asked her about her catechism. Now when he ordered her to the big house beside the church she instantly obeyed. Maybe he would give her some food, maybe he could pray too for her father to stop drinking.

But it wasn't that at all. He told her she would be called to the side of the Virgin Mary if she was willing to do what God had told him she must do and then all her prayers would be answered.

She didn't like it at all, it was very painful but she offered it up for all the sins of her family and Father Shaughnessy gave her some apples and bread and told her not to tell anyone as God would reverse all the prayers she had ever said in her life.

Elsie didn't know what the big belly meant. But her mother did. And her father beat it out of her who had done it. She was yanked out of school and hidden away and her mother told everyone that David was her new baby brother. And her father would go up every Saturday night to the confession box and come out of it carefully folding a few dollar bills into his worn old wallet. But there was a bit extra for them all, in spite of her father trying to drink it all away.

And David was sent off to Toronto when he was fourteen where he was to die when he was twenty-six of a work accident.

And Elsie went on to marry a man just like her father and had seven children in seven years and then the man just like her father was killed while driving home drunk out of his mind from the club. Her mother died from exhaustion the same year.

And Elsie's father lived on and on and on until he was ninety-seven and getting awards and medals for being such a great old man.

And Father Shaughnessy was made a monsignor and died with many Vatican honours and a holy book written about him. There's even talk of beatification still.

20 comments:

  1. It sickens me! And if "everybody" knew this, what did "anybody" do?

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  2. If I didn't know better I would laugh about it, because surely it sounds like a farce? Or is it the evil that men do onto women, catholics especially under the guise of being good religious people? Having been forgiven for every wicked deed they do?

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  3. PC:
    Nobody knew apart from her family. And this was in the days of never ever standing up to the RC church no matter what the priests were doing - and believe me I know far worse stories than this about the church.
    XO
    WWW

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  4. Nora:
    What I can never reconcile myself to is how many got away with their appalling behaviour.
    They were never made accountable for destroying so many childrens' lives.
    XO
    WWW

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  5. The amount of covering-up and denial that goes on in high places is staggering. The only important thing is to save the reputation of the institution concerned. The traumas caused to individuals are a very secondary issue.

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  6. This was a truly sad tale and I think that families like this one don't stand much chance of a really good life.
    maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  7. Nick:
    And the effects keep rolling down the generations.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Marcia:
    I'm awed at how people pick themselves up and carry on - dysfunctionally but doing the best they can.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Maggie:
    No they don't, I see the effects on her children and even on her grandchildren.
    But ignorance can be both bliss and a blessing for them all.
    XO
    WWW

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  10. It gets no better, and the Ombudsman's report re Claudy bombing makes things worse. It is all collusion, and cover up all the way!

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  11. So sad but also an iniquity by church authorities. Or maybe people were too scared to speak up then.

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  12. WWW, hello dear friend. I missed your take on the world... :) Now that I am back, I will visit one of my favorite blogs often.... take care...

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  13. One of the saddest things about that story is that it is just a variation on a theme that is all too familiar. You write it so beautifully that you give shock value to a tale told tragically often.

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  14. My mother was born in 1911.
    As a young girl growing up in Michigan she had a girl friend whose family were devout Catholics.
    The young girlfriend was being molested by her priest.
    When the girl told her family what the priest was doing to her, they beat her, aghast at her blasphemy.
    The family marched the child off to confess her blasphemy to the very priest who was molesting her.
    The priest forgave her and delighted in the penance.
    The young girl, who had confided in my mother, finally, in extreme desperation jumped off a bridge to end the misery of her young life.

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  15. GM:
    The evil and abuse of this institution never fails to shock me!
    And we had to grow up revering these monsters.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Freda:
    the people were cowed and brainwashed to believe in the magical wizard who would torture them for all eternity if they didn't comply.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Nevin:
    Welcome back my dear, I hope your time off recharged the batteries!
    XO
    WWW

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  18. Anon:
    And shockingly, her story was repeated and repeated everywhere this corrupt and evil institution had a hold on the terrified population.
    Their crimes are uncountable. I grieve for these victims.
    XO
    WWW

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  19. 20CW:
    Thanks for your kind words, I nearly missed your comment, catching up after another computer blowout.
    XO
    WWW

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