This story is long, so I'll have to write it in parts. This particular part, the background, will seem somewhat dark and harsh, but it's only the background. I promise you will find the story uplifting, if a bit unusual.
I don't know what my stepmother was like before she married my dad. But, I imagine that she was a lot different. There was a day when she was walking a country road and her life was suddenly cleaved in half. Stop. Begin again as a new person. A different kind of person. Of course, I'm guessing here.
All this happened before I knew Virginia, but I come from a small town, and we know everything about each other, or we know where we can find out everything. I'm telling it as accurately as I can, but most of it comes from gossip and newspaper articles I read at least twenty years ago. The rest I guess I just made up.
So Virginia was walking along a country road, which she did every morning. Whatever was in the fields she passed glimmered with fat drops of dew. Birds called: quail and pheasant and red-winged black birds. She had a lot of energy. She loved to walk. Because her mother and one of her sisters weighed hundreds of pounds each, she was petrified of gaining weight. Her walks were her only peaceful moments. She sang, prayed, and talked to God, right out loud if she felt like it. She held membership in three churches because she loved going to church. She would have liked to go every day. She was seeking peace.
Semi-trucks never used to go on the two lane country road, but in the past decade some of the Amish in the area had started manufacturing furniture in barns here and there, and they had wood delivered by trucks that drove too fast for the narrow roads and misjudged the width of the lane or didn't see an old lady at all. An old lady can fly through the air for what seems like a mile and not remember her name when she lands.
That Virginia who set out on her walk would never be again. That Virginia was gone completely, killed by a wood truck on a country road. The body was left alive, and eventually a new personality filled it. The body had to learn to walk again. The personality had to mark time in a convalescent home because it had no one to come to its rescue, although there were grown children and a husband. The insurance paid for it.
There was a load of insurance money. The truck driver was clearly in the wrong. Luckily the settlement was put in the hands of an impartial financial officer who meant to protect Virginia's interests.
After being beaten with all manner of objects, tied and bruised and browbeaten and scorned, flung in closets and hung in barns and left without water in the sun, Virginia was not inclined to express her own needs at all. (My uncle Joe was a cop, and he was called out to that farm many times. Men weren't usually arrested then for getting drunk and scaring the devil out of their wives.)
When Virginia came home from the nursing home, she was addled and nervous and unable to stand, fragile but somewhat stable. Her husband wanted some money wanted some money wanted some money and he couldn't get it away from that lawyer.
Virginia couldn't think, couldn't get away and walk between the fields, couldn't get a hold on her emotions, couldn't hear God speak. In the home, her church friends came and went in a long parade from breakfast to afternoon nap. They brought so many little treats to cheer her up. She had held court in her wheelchair with a nice lace shawl on her legs, and now she was heavy. She feared being heavy. She would have to get out of that chair and learn to use her legs again or she was going to go mad from his constant harping about the money and her fear of her weight and her overwhelming confusion about how she got in this state.
She was able to walk by the evening he took her by the neck and said he would never let go. He wanted some money. There was nothing she could do about it. She was incompetent and her money was in the hands of some lawyer. When he threw her into the corner, she stayed there crumpled and choking. She couldn't do anything.
But she did do something. There was that money at the lawyer's office to be spent to make her well. It was like a ticket on a train that went far across the mountains to a new life. She waited for him to fall asleep. This is the part that could have put her in prison for life. That she waited.
And when he was snoring, she took the gun he kept on the nightstand and pointed it down at his chest and pulled the trigger. He wasn't dead when she put the phone next to him on the bed and took the van he parked out back. She didn't even have a license to drive.
Virginia drove all the way to Ohio without stopping. Actually she drove without thinking. She drove as if she knew what she was doing, and luckily had stopped in the parking lot of a truck stop to wipe her eyes and wonder when the car ran out of gas, chugged once, and was dead to her.
She didn't know who she was. She certainly didn't know where she was. She remembered her sister's phone number. That, and her weight.
Let's not talk about Virginia yet. It hurts me to tell this part of the story, although she will find a little broken piece of happiness in the end.
The exercise is better than I ever thought it would be. After only five days I have noticeably more energy and perhaps even a better mood. I'm proud of myself. Yay.
So, how do like cruising around with me so far? I've had a ball this week and will try to blog each day next week. It's therapeutic. Blogging sounds like a good reward for jumping around sweating like a fool, doesn't it?