Pinterest is the big craze right now, and I admit that I love visiting there, too. Fashion, cooking, and DIY crafts, and my favorite of all — flowers! Anything to do with flowers brightens up my day!
Ten years into our marriage, many years before anyone ever heard of Pinterest, John was a person who was “creative” with his gifts. We didn’t have much money at all for gift-giving with our growing family, so we often did things like searched at auctions for a piece of furniture, sanded it, and stained it and that was a “together” gift. I like that — a lot! Those were the kinds of gifts that had meaning and purpose!
I’m going to tell you about a gift that I received from John that is the most unique gift ever, and I feel fairly safe in saying that it was a one-of-a-kind never to be duplicated!
If you are new to this blog, I would strongly suggest you begin reading here in order to get the complete meaning of John’s gifts, his planning strategies for gifts, and to understand more completely the thought processes of this man who was a preacher, teacher, father, husband, insurance salesman, outdoorsman, and child molester. Yes, I did say child molester. For almost forty years (while we were married) John hid a very dark secret from me and countless others. He had begun molesting children at the age of fourteen and continued to do so until his arrest and conviction at age sixty-three.
Let me give a little bit of background to set the stage for this particular gift — a Mother’s Day gift. I was eleven days away from the due date of delivering my sixth child on Mother’s Day. My oldest daughter was now ten, and following her birth I now had five healthy, active little boys — stair steppers. They were fireballs full of energy, and I thank God for that!
We had just moved from the church parsonage to our home in the country that we were renting. We finally had a yard — a BIG yard for the kids to play in, and the house was far more than I could have ever asked for. It was lovely, and I remain living there to this day.
On this particular Sunday morning, I got up and got the younger kids ready for church while the older ones got dressed and ready for Sunday School. John was up at his usual time of 4:30 a.m. to study his lesson, but on this day he was dressed and showered early and was outside doing something. He popped his head into the kitchen to ask the three oldest kids to come outside with him, and that’s when my heart began racing. I was hoping upon all hope that he had somehow managed to get me a used rocking chair — the one we had looked at when we went to a second-hand shop. I fell in love with that rocker immediately, and my heart was dancing as I imagined rocking my new baby, in our new home, in that rocking chair!
I began putting the ham for lunch into the oven. I had already made the potatoes and salad. But, I didn’t make dessert this particular Sunday. Okay, I admit it. I was hoping that John would have bought a cake for dessert. Being this far along in my pregnancy, I didn’t feel much like cooking! And, it was Mother’s Day! I would have loved a day off from cooking!
The three older kids came running inside all out of breath! “Mom! Dad said to sit down in the livingroom. We have a Mother’s Day gift for you, and it’s gonna be great! Just wait until you see it!”
Can you feel my heart racing as you’re reading this? Honestly, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I was feeling so special — so blessed. It was Sunday — a beautiful day to begin with, plus it was Mother’s Day. And, here I was blessed with so many beautiful children, and another one about to be born. And, now this —– a surprise gift (that I was still praying would be that rocking chair)!
“Close your eyes, Mom! No peeking! Dad is finishing wrapping the gift and he wants all of us around you when you open it so he can take a picture.”
Can I just say that I was dying from the anticipation? This was about to be the happiest day of my life! I knew it! I absolutely knew it! I sat in the chair and gathered the kids around me. I even dabbed on some lipstick for the picture about to be taken. Every pregnant mom wants to look her best for a picture!
John called for the three oldest kids to come get the gift. “The gift is ready for Mother! You can come get it now!”
“Open your eyes, Mom! It’s time to open your gift!”
Ahhhh….ohhh…..I sighed with so much joy. The box was wrapped beautifully. I knew it wasn’t the rocking chair, but who cared? I knew this lovely surprise had been chosen just for me and that’s all that mattered.
I took my time untying the ribbons as the kids were jumping up and down with excitement yelling, “Open it faster! C’mon, faster, Mom!”
Finally, it was time to lift the lid to the box, and I could feel the happy, thankful tears begin to stream from my emotional face. Maybe this was the outfit the baby would wear home from the hospital. Maybe it was a lovely blouse for me to wear home from the hospital. No, maybe this was a delicious Mother’s Day cake with fluffy white frosting with “I love you” written across it.
I smiled softly at John as he stood nearby with the camera in his hand to capture this moment for us as a keepsake that we would have forever!
It was time to reveal the gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On Sunday, May 10, 1981 part of my heart died when I lifted the lid of that box. And, that part of my heart will forever remain dead. There is nothing or no one that could ever bring life back to the part of me that died that Mother’s Day morning.
Sitting inside of a beautifully wrapped box amid pure white tissue paper was the skull of an animal. Inside of the eye sockets of that skull John had placed purple wildflowers that he picked in the yard that morning. Because of the heat and humidity of that mid-May morning, the skull attracted flies and bugs. When the lid to the box was lifted, those bugs swarmed at my face.
I will never, ever forget that moment — ever. I cannot explain in human terms how much that hurt. I could never express to you the pain I felt that morning. I sat trance-like as the kids jumped up and down yelling, “Ewww…..where’d you find this skull, Dad? Is it a dead dog? A fox? A possum? What is it, Dad?”
The kids were young. A skull is exciting to a little boy, and I had five very excited little boys. They thought it was a really “cool” gift that their dad got me. How would they know any different?
I remember looking up at John and he had the most horrifying sneer on his face — almost scary. He enjoyed seeing me hurt. I could feel it. I saw it on his face. And, I knew on that day in May that I no longer loved this man with all of my being. This time the pain had gone too deep. He cut out a piece of my heart, stomped on it, and killed it. He killed part of my spirit that day and that part of my heart has never come back to life.
The ride to church was quiet on that Sunday, Mother’s Day morning. I looked out the car window and softly cried. I wanted to scream and sob and punch in a wall but I held a tissue over my mouth and muffled my voice so the kids wouldn’t hear me crying. I didn’t want them telling everyone at church that I had been crying.
Somehow, I prayed to God that it was all a big, ugly joke. I prayed that when we went home there would miraculously be the rocking chair sitting in the middle of the room. Of course you and I know that wasn’t so. My gift was a rotting skull with flies flying from the eye sockets. And, I knew from that moment on that I was nothing more than a convenience for John. Love doesn’t hurt like that. Love would never hurt like that!
It was years until I shared that story with a counselor and I remember the odd look on her face. She simply said, “Maybe he has a personality disorder.” And, it was dismissed. That left me feeling a bit crazy. Maybe I was overly emotional because of the pregnancy on that particular day. Maybe it was just meant to be a funny kind of joke. Victims of abuse always have a thousand reasons why it’s always their fault. Victims of abuse never want to hold the abuser accountable. Victims feel ashamed and powerless.
The red flags of manipulation and control that are part of a practicing pedophile’s profile were there! The kids thought their dad was the absolute best! He told funny stories that made them laugh so hard they would cry. He loved playing basketball with them. He built campfires and told scary stories. He took them on nature hikes. He was, in their words, “the best dad in the world.”
I was the one who disciplined. I was the one who made them pick up their dirty laundry, clear away their dinner plates, make their beds. I was the mean mother who lost her temper and was never fun. I was the cranky one. The one who didn’t have a sense of humor.
John was building up his airtight support system! He used “shock” methods in front of the kids to desensitize them to the wrong he was doing to me, and later on to the children in the community. Why would his kids ever believe wrong about their dad who was their hero? Besides, I was the perfect enabler. I didn’t call him on the carpet for things such as the skull gift, so they didn’t really see anything too wrong with that. I didn’t speak badly of John to the kids. In fact, this story never got out. Isn’t it amazing how this was an “understood” thing that none of us would talk about in public? As young as the kids were nobody told them not to say anything at church. And, believe me, tons of people were asking me what I got for Mother’s Day. I just said through dripping eyes, “John got me a special surprise.” And, their response — “You’re the luckiest woman I know! My husband would never get me anything for Mother’s Day — not even a card!” If only they had known………..
Pedophiles who molest children are liars. They manipulate. They control. They build a wall of support so that nobody — and I mean nobody — would ever suspect them of molesting a child! John was loved and adored by his children. He was cherished by the people of the church where he served as minister. He was a servant to people in the community. He went out of his way to show love to others. He was a practicing pedophile and he was masterful at grooming his victims!
Memorize this quote and keep saying it until you really understand and believe it: After a molester is exposed, it is common for adults to say things like, “He was the last guy I would suspect to do something like this.” Molesters become friends to adults, helping them out, being friendly and nice, and just doing things that friends would do. They don’t do this out of kindness; they do this to get to your children.
For the sake of the children, let’s speak out! It’s time to bring these actions to a halt!
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