For a long time, we thought Mom had Dissociative Identity Disorder, and had several abused little kids living in her. The professionals all assured me it was “just dementia.” Our observations turn out to be accurate, and she has set aside her agenda about it (to invite Jesus in to heal the little one). For several years I’ve been mothering a very angry, rebellious ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old who wants to escape, and could get out of bed after hip surgery and walk to the door of her room before she fell. But later, with Big Frances in charge, couldn’t get out of bed unassisted, and couldn’t walk. I’ve seen those older ones many times, and intuitively knew to enter into their world and mother them from there.
But there are several younger ones.
I’ve been giving comfort and love and ideas for escape to a five-year-old, a four-year-old (I think twins, a boy and a girl), and a two-year-old. Mom isn’t in there anymore, there is no artifice or roles or pretense. Just the babies, looking up at me shyly, chin tucked. When I ask how old she is and she says two…my heart is shattered.
Jenny and I did the math and realized for the first time that while she believed the abuse started at age 5, the story she had told me was that her Grandma came to help her Mom with the birth of her brother. When the two women went down to fix breakfast, her Dad went to the foot of the bed where her baby crib was and lifted her out, put her in bed with him, and started his perversion. Her brother Bill was born when she was two and after that there were only sisters, for years. I just hadn’t done the math, or remembered the age gap.
But there is some healing happening. A lot, actually. For me, for Jenny, and especially for the babies, who now get to be acknowledged and given the love and help they have wanted for so long. Jenny made mom a lifelike baby doll (who looks about 2) a couple of years ago, but Mom showed little interest in it. Now she clutches the front of its pinafore and won’t let anyone move it. With her other hand she clutches the picture of her mother, who she now refers to as “mother Mary” (her guide) and gazes at it for hours, as if she’s trying to understand or remember something important. She drags the doll over to show her the picture. She tried to kiss the picture but it was too flat in its frame, so she licked it.
A few days before she died, she tried to scribble an illegible version of the Betty and Bobby story, about twins who had a Magic Cloud parked in the pear tree, and any time they wanted to, they could climb on the cloud, say the magic words, and zoom off to Magicland, which could be any kind of land we asked for, when she told us the story, which we also told our children and grandchildren. I asked her to tell me the story and wrote in the words she said, over the scribbled words.
I think Magicland had been her happy place, from the age of four.
Monday morning: I asked how old she was and she said “four.” I asked if she wanted to live or die, and she said, “Don’t want to die.” (Why not? Frances is trying to die.) “Daddy did bad things to me, and I don’t know where he is.”
So I told her the Betty and Bobby story. I told her that Big Frances was the one who made the Daddy stop hurting the little ones, and asked her if she would let Big Frances gather up all the little ones who had been hurt, and take them with her on the magic cloud to Magicland, where they would always be safe with her. She was radiant, beaming—“Yes!” Later that day, while Jenny was reading her a “letter to Baby Frances from God” she took her last breath and died peacefully.