Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Aftermath of Molestation


In the past two weeks, I’ve posted the story of Mr. Jackson’s molestation of me when I was in the fifth grade. I told those stories from the point of view of a ten-year-old who truly didn’t understand what was happening during those three months of 1946.
         Today, however, I’m shifting gears to share with you what I remember of the aftermath of this episode in my life. So I’ll be speaking as an adult looking back at a situation that continues to puzzle me despite my having been counseled by three psychiatrists, a therapist, and two spiritual directors in the forty-six years since I left the convent and realized I needed help.
         This section of my on-line memoir may be a long; I’m not sure what I’ll say. I know only that when I woke at 3:30 a.m. this morning with words pin-balling through my head, I realized that what I wanted to say didn’t fall neatly into one posting. In fact it may take three or even four.
         So today I’m just going to write until I’m written out. Then I’ll edit and polish the words into two or three postings for the next few weeks. To being I’d like to return to Mr. Jackson.
         I do not know what happened when my mom and dad confronted him.  I have some memory of sitting on the couch with Mom’s arm around me and she’s telling me that I’ll be taking the bus from now on. But, so far as I remember, nothing more was said. No one counseled me or explained what had happened. Nor did I ever hear that Mr. Jackson was arrested or counseled or that his life changed in anyway. I never again saw him until I was in my early forties.
         At that time, one of his two sons died. That son had been only a year older than I and I’d always liked him. So when my brother asked if I’d accompany him to the funeral home, I went.        With trepidation, I stepped into the foyer and there, seated on a loveseat, were Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. When he stood to greet my brother, who had walked forward as I hung back in the doorway, I saw him for the first time in more than thirty years.

A funeral home in Seattle, Washington. From Wikipedia.

         I remembered him as being a towering giant with large, calloused hands, a coarse face, and black straggly hair. A monster in fact. But there he stood, a pipsqueak of a man. Instead of being broad-shouldered and barrel-chested as I remembered, he was bent in upon himself. Of course, he’d aged and his back was now bowed. But still, I stood pole-axed.
         Thoughts raced through my mind: I let this little man terrorize me for all these years. I’ve been afraid of men because of him. I’d not let myself be hugged or kissed. I’ve been afraid to be alone in a room with a man. I’ve been afraid to sit in the front car seat with a man. I’ve lived in fear. And here he is, a man that would totter in a mild wind.
         I walked forward and said, “Hello, Mr. Jackson. Do you remember me? I’m Danny’s sister.”
         He turned and simply looked at me, not knowing at all, it seems, who I was. I took his hand and expressed sorrow over the loss of his son. And my brother and I walked into the funeral home and viewed our friend’s body and then left.
         I wish I could have left my fear there, but too much happened in the two years after the molestation for me to do that. And it is those happenings that I’ll share with you in my next two or three postings.

Postscript: You have perhaps noticed, to the right, the new cover for A Cat’s Legacy. This past Sunday I asked a favor of those who read my blog on writing. If you have time, I’d appreciate your clicking here and going to that posting so I can ask the same favor of you. Thank you. And peace.

60 comments:

  1. What struck me as I read of his reaction to seeing you as an adult is that sadly, he probably victimized a host of children in his lifetime. A perpetrator like him doesn't personalize his prey, just treats them as objects to gratify his own perversions.

    You were terribly brave to approach him and speak, after the damage he wreaked upon you.

    I admire you, my friend, truly so.

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    1. Dear Shelly, I wonder now how many young girls he did victimize. Quite frankly, I so blocked everything about this incident that I never wondered that. I didn't even think about his daughter. In my next posting, I hope to talk about the blocking that took place. Well, it will be next Wednesday or the Wednesday after that. I wrote a lot today and now I need to do some cutting and pasting of the parts!

      Thank you for your kind words. I didn't feel brave. I was scared quite frankly. Peace.

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  2. Why were abusing men aided and abetted by a system of keeping quiet? I can’t bear the though of that man being allowed to abuse other children when he lost access to you. Nowadays the knowledge of abuse going on is widespread and although many children still daren’t speak out there are also many who come forward, even if years later.

    These people need to be exposed, pushing abuse under the carpet helps no one.

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    1. Dear Friko, I don't know the answer to your question. I just know that these were things we didn't talk about and that nothing was ever done. Those victimize others do need to be exposed. I do wonder if someone had really talked to me about this and I'd seen for myself that Mr. Jackson had done wrong and that others saw that too, then maybe I wouldn't have been so afraid of sex for so long. Peace.

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    1. Dear Fishducky, I agree with them too that we need to expose those who abuse and victimize others. And we need to listen to our children when they come to us with fear in their eyes. Peace.

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  4. I do think Shelly has a good point. I do wish however he had shown some shame or contrition upon meeting you. I am sorry but I sincerely hope that man suffered more than just a wizened body for the long term damage he caused you and perhaps others. Like Friko, I would like him to have been exposed.

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    1. Dear ARkansas Patti, do you mean what Shelly says about his having victimized so many children that he really had no memory of me? If so, I think that's true. I think I was simply an object to him and that it never occurred to him that the object could think and feel and be hurt by his actions. Either that or he simply didn't care. Peace.

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  5. Creeps!!! Lowly, cowardly creeps... I so admire your courage!!!

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    1. Dear Turquoisemoon, I didn't and don't feel courageous. When that little girl inside me cowards because a man steps too close and invades my private space, I coward inside. Peace.

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  6. Dee....I have struggled so in the last few weeks. I'm sorry for my silence, but this agony...this horror rips at the very fabic of my soul. Facing ghastly memories is something I am familiar with, your bravery is stunning. I am so glad you are strong enough to do this....and sorry beyond words and tears and the depth of the sea that you went through this. Such peace and love I wish you...

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    1. Dear Chantel, I hope you can be gracious to yourself. Be as kind to yourself and to your own memories as you are to others. Thank you for the peace and love. It is the Oneness we share. Peace.

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  7. I shuddered when I realized that even seeing him, old and bent, did not help enough for you to move on from your horrible childhood experience. I didn't realize how blessed I am for nothing like that ever happened to me. I only got beat up by little boys for being tall and though being bullied was traumatizing, it was something that had no effect on the rest of my life. Except for an awareness of the problem of bullying. I can't tell you how sorry I am that you had to go through this.

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    1. Dear Inger, I wish that seeing him had made all the internal darkness go away, but it didn't. And I think that next week's posting will explain that a little. Today I wrote and wrote and still I haven't exhausted what I'd like to say about childhood trauma for myself and others.

      I am grieved to learn that you were bullied as a child. But a bet that it has had an effect on you. I suspect that because you were bullied you have been more loving toward others. I hate that you were; but I so admire what you have become because as the saying goes "you made sweet lemonade out of sour lemons." Good can come out of evil. But only if we somehow choose to look at something in a positive way. And we both know how hard that can be. Peace.

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  8. Unfortunately, most survivors do not have the opportunity to have closure. Many carry this with them, always feeling that sense that things are not right, unable to make them so. Even when some involved are confronted, they refuse to accept their part, leaving the true "victim" forever one.

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    1. Dar McGuffy Ann, you so understand this. I wondered if it's happened to you. Or if something even more traumatic happened. Your words seem so wise to me and they certainly reflect my own experience. Peace.

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  9. I think you were very brave to go to that funeral home......I don't know that I would be able to do that. It's a horrible thing and as a result you lost so much! I hope you feel the love in these comments!

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    1. Dear Nancy, I bet you could because from reading your blog I think you meet life head-on. I do feel the love in these comments. And I am deep down grateful for it. Peace.

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  10. Amazing how we LIVE with that fear and horror all of our lives... I know that it destroyed alot of me ---all through the years. I had a weight problem --which I may not ever have had if I had been healthy. I had that need to be 'perfect' in my job---so ended up working myself to death for many years.... I had relationship problems --and have always had them. My first marriage fell apart due to my sexual problems. First hubby said that I was frigid... Kinda sad... The list goes on ---and I didn't find myself until I turned 59 and met George... Life then changed for me --after all of those years...

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Dear Betsy, I so admire your honesty. It is hard won I'm sure. Out of all that went before has come a new life for you with George and that life has enriched all of us who read your blog and the comments you leave on ours. You are a dear. Peace.

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  11. How very brave and kind you were to go to the funeral home with your brother. If the man had taken you aside and apologized to you, then do you think it would have helped you? I pray that he never attacked another child.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Dear Janie, I'm just not sure whether an apology would have helped. It seems to me that the seeming abandonment at age 5 and the molestation at age 10 and then three other things that happened in the next two years when I was 11 and 12 became a "perfect storm" of emotional damage that shredded all my self-confidence and feelings of security.

      I hope to post about those two years each Wednesday for the rest of February.

      Peace.

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  12. Oh Dee. Courage isn't about having no fear, it is about facing up to and triumphing over those fears. Which makes your act in speaking to that unspeakable man very brave indeed. I so admire you.

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    1. Dear EC, thank you for your kind words. In truth, I so admire your fortitude in the midst of all the health issues you and your husband have had. Your fortitude and your ability to hold on to that which is good in your life and in your surroundings. Peace.

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  13. I am saddened after learning that your parents knew about this abuse and he was never punished, leaving him to abuse others, no doubt. What a shock it must have been to see him, the monster of your nightmares turned into a wizened old man. He suffered either poor health or self-abuse to end up like that, don't you think? Four events in your young life that shaped you, two of which I know about, and two I will learn of in the next weeks. Your are definitely a survivor, Dee.

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    1. Dear DJan, I don't know if it even occurred to Mom and Dad to report my father. Unlike today, the newspaper headlines seldom if ever spoke of people who molested or abused, sexually or physically, children.

      It was a shock to see him. And to see his wife. She always looked so peaceful and serene and I always admired her for looking that way while being married to him. In my young man--full of Catholic saint stories--she was a modern-day saint.

      Every counselor I've ever worked with has spoken of my survivor instincts. I don't know why they are so strong. But I think my mom was a true survivor also, so maybe I got those genes from her. Peace.

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  14. He most likely did not remember you because if he did that to you, there were plenty of other victims. That type of person never stops with just one. You were brave and a good sister to accompany your brother to the funeral home. I don't know if I would have been as magnanimous.

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    1. Dear Manzanita, I agree that he probably did this to others, especially his daughter. I wonder also what he did to his wife. I suspect from reading your blog that you are greatly magnanimous most of the time. Peace.

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  15. Dee,
    You are so brave! I'm not sure I would've had the courage to see him again.
    Love ya,
    E

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    1. Dear Elisa, thank you. I suspect you would have had the courage. You've done many more courageous things than this particular one in your own life. Peace.

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  16. Dee~ I so admire your courage..

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  17. It is amazing how often our heroes and the villains in our lives become something of mythological proportions in our minds. I am sad that your parents didn't know what to do to stop him altogether, but even today the stigma and shame of sexual molestation continues to silence people who are otherwise vocal. I honestly believe that the only way to combat continued acts of sexual abuse is to tell our stories like you did - to share them in ways that empower us and educate others and to discard shame in all its uselessness.

    As for "closure," I think that the only way to achieve that is by forgiveness. It has nothing to do with retribution or punishment or "justice," and everything to do with acknowledging the frightened young girl within you, nurturing her and loving her for who she is, and forgiving Mr. Jackson with the knowledge that it is not your job to mete out punishment or judgment. That he had his own demons that led him to do what he did. It doesn't condone his actions or negate their effects on you, but it does free you from the considerable pain of reliving them over and over again.

    Peace and love and light to you, Dee.

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    1. Dear Kari, as someone who has read your blog for a year and a half now and who has again and again applauded the direction of your moral compass, I want to say a profound thank you for your words here. They are so true to what I have come to know about life and my experience of it.

      And they remind me of a posting you made recently about yourself and forgiveness. If anyone is reading these comments and responses, I hope they will click on the following URL to read that posting of yours: http://the-writing-life.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-balm-of-spring.html

      On Tuesday, I finished reading a novel that I believe should be awarded the Booker this year. And every other writing award for a novel that is a mystery.
      It is a tour de force--I dare say a masterpiece--by the Canadian author Louise Penny, entitled "The Beautiful Mystery."

      And within its pages I encountered the whole concept of darkness within the human spirit and forgiveness. The writing makes me think of you, Kari. I do so hope you consider getting your posts published. Peace.

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    2. Thank you, my dear. I am glad that my words resonate with you. And I do so appreciate your support of my writing.

      Love.

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    3. Dear Kari, your writing is so powerful. I think are your readers want you to reach a much larger audience. That's one of the reasons I was so thrilled for you when your essay was published in that recent books. I hope for more of that happening for you. Peace.

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  18. Thank you for visiting me, Dee. Your "picture" is fascinating. It's the sort of security picture I select when required. Some foreground narrowing into the background. A path, a stream of light.

    Susan is very kind to mention my writing. I admire her work. I've signed on for yours.

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    1. Dear Joanne, I'm glad you like the "picture." A friend came to my computer in late May 2011 and introduced me to Blogger. I really didn't understand the concept of a picture/icon to accompany my comments and so I chose the scene of lake and goose and surrounding glory to show the coming home to myself that was to be the name of the blog.

      Thank you for signing on. I mostly forget to do that as I bookmark all my favorite sites and visit them from the bookmark. I bookmarked yours after I visited but when I next return to it, I'll also sign on. Peace.

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  19. I'm so sorry this man affected you the way he did. No child should ever have to go thru what you did. You are so brave.

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    1. Dear Stephanie, thank you for your kind words. The sad truth is that so many, many children go through this. And if I let myself think about that too long or too hard I fall into melancholy for the tragedy of it. And so I then need to say the words of Julian of Norwich that have comforted me and helped me find my center for so many years: "And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well." Peace.

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  20. Hello Dee. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your stories are fascinating. Thank God parents are more vigilant these days. It's beyond belief that yours did nothing to expose that pervert who took advantage of you so criminally. But somehow, in those old days, we weren't allowed to question our elders. So sad you suffered all your life from that abuse.
    Stories of abuse seem to be in the air! I was just reading about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland on Wisewebwoman's blog yesterday. Hair raising stuff perpetrated by the nuns and the church, none of whom we dared question....Different stories, same mindset.

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    1. Dear Molly, It's true that in those days of the forties, we didn't question our elders. In fact, I don't think I even thought about questioning them. And I think our parents really didn't think about reporting him because that also wasn't thought of. These things were kept secret and in the family.

      I'll go to Wisewebwoman's blog to read the posting you mention. Thank you for drawing me attention to it. Peace.

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  21. I do think you were quite brave and strong to attend your friend's wake, Dee, and to handle yourself as you did for the sake of your friend and your brother. Not an easy thing to do, for sure. While these horrendous molestations still go on, we at least now have services in place to help children.

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    1. Dear Penny, the thing was that Mr. Jackson's son had nothing to do with what Mr. Jackson had done. And so I truly never thought about not going. I just felt frissons of fear as I thought about what I'd encounter at the funeral parlor.

      And yes, times truly have changed and there are services and reporting is considered what to do today. But oh, the very fact that it continues to happen with such frequency is heartbreaking. I've never been able to do much reading about pedophiles but I wonder if they simply cannot face the emerging power of women in our world and so turn to children. I don't know of course, but it's the thought that comes to me. The men never matured and so they are attracted by children. Peace.

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  22. It took great courage and maturity to do as you did, Dee, and i'm sorry it didn't have the effect of breaking the hold the abuse had had on your life. I too think Mr Jackson didn't recognise you because he'd never really seen you as a person, just as a way of satisfying his own inadequate desires.

    Paedophilia seems to me to be the product of profound selfishness and inadequacy - a way of finding personal satisfaction without having to consider the needs or feelings of others, as a man would have to do in a relationship with an adult woman.

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    1. Dear Perpetua, I agree with your understanding of what lies behind pedophilia. And sometimes I wonder if there is more today of it--which may not be true because things weren't reported when I young--because of women taking their rightful place in society. I wonder if this doesn't truly threaten these immature men. Peace.

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  23. I wondered how the meeting would go. I imagine he would have had to push thoughts out of his mind. Likely all of his wrong doings were part of an imbalanced mind and he too may have been abused. The circle of this is wider than we once imagined. More people are now admitting to abuse.

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    1. Dear Heidrun, yes, I think that perhaps he had been. He was so gruff. And I wonder how much love he'd known in his own childhood. Peace.

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  24. thank you for writing your story.

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    1. Dear Mimi, you are welcome. Peace.

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  25. You amaze me with your strength! To have gone to the funeral home, and to extend your hand to this man, took guts, Dee! I look forward to hearing more. You have given a lot of thought to how the period of molestation affected your entire life, and it is amazing to me that you can share it now. I will be ready to hear the next part of the very impactful story! oxo

    Debra (http://www.breathelighter.wordpress.com)

    I have a feeling you haven't been getting my responses again...hmmmm. Using the "anonymous" setting seems to work. Mysterious, huh?

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    1. Dear Debra, I have given a lot of thought to this because it and two or three other things that happened in about a three-year period so affected the way I felt about sexual and men/women relationships. What I don't know is why other young girls have been molested and/or abused and they have come out of it so able to establish sexual relationships. Peace.

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  26. You know Dee I think that, unfortunately, many little girls had to go through what you did, one way or another – I know I did. But, even though I knew what my great uncle did to me was wrong, I tried to forget it – and I did, until I read your post. So, it depends on how it affects you or you let it affect you in the long run. I never told anyone and know I could not ever write about it – I want it to be kept forgotten.

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    1. Dear Vagabonde, I'm sorry to learn that you too when through this. For myself, it so influenced my life--perhaps because of what had gone before--that I've needed to discuss it with counselors so as to see how this puzzle piece fits into the overall arc of my life. Writing about it really helps me put it in perspective. Peace.

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  27. It was good to see some sort of full-circle here. I love the new book cover!

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    1. Dear Susan, thanks for commenting on the book cover. I'm liking it too!!! Peace.

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  28. Here in the UK there has been a terrible scandal concerning a once loved creature named Jimmy Savile -- he was a huge celebrity known for his charitable works over many many years. He had television shows and was a huge BBC star. He died in his 80's in 2011. Suddenly complaints began to surface about his rampant sexual abuse of young girls -- it's thought the numbers involved are in the hundreds. Even though complaints were made many times to police and to higher ups in the BBC no action was ever taken against him and he continued to find favour, even acquiring a knighthood, until the day he died. Now, as as a result of this scandal, there have been a number of other celebrities arrested and brought to trial because officials are taking accusations seriously. When you were growing up and when I was growing up it was something you didn't dare talk about -- sex and sexuality were taboo subjects. And in some ways things still have not changed. A week or so ago a young woman committed suicide because of the way she was cross-examined by the lawyer, a woman, defending her alleged rapist. Many people thought the judge should have intervened against her severe questioning. The point being that it really takes a great deal of bravery to confront an abuser in a court of law. One judge, a man, last year threatened to have a woman arrested if she refused to testify against her attacker. So you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

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    1. Dear Broad, you've really put all this into perspective. The problems continue and the law--police and judges--take a while to realize the seriousness of all this. It does seem, from your examples, that a victim is damned if she reports and damned if she doesn't. What a strange and weary world we live in. Peace.

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  29. I respect your bravery in firstly going to the funeral home and then introducing yourself to that man. I'm not surprised he didn't know who you were.
    I love how you remembered him as a huge man but this person in the funeral home was A "pipsqueak" of a man someone so small he could've been blown over by the wind.

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  30. Dear Rosie, yes, he seemed so wizened and wrinkled. I'd made him into a giant and he was just a frail human being. Peace.

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