Desperate for Love: The Life and Times of a Survivor - Part 3

Updated on February 2, 2018

I have often looked back, over the years, digging in my memory bank and excavating random memories with Ireland in those months when I was 13 and she was 14, searching for signs of what was really going on in her life.

I honestly wasn’t aware.

I knew only what Ireland let me know. Her mother sporadically popped in to see whomever was there at the house at the moment, often with her own agenda but no one really knew what. Herman’s life, to me, was boringly routine. Up at the same time in the morning during the weekdays, made his lunch and walked his way to his ride to work. In late afternoon, we walked down the same street home. I assumed he caught a ride somewhere down the street and around the corner. I spent a lot of time in that house. I slept over often. I just wasn’t there every night.

It was those nights I wasn’t there.

In looking back, I can remember we were both messed up in our own ways, a couple of teenagers with low self-esteem just trying to make it through to that thing called adulthood everyone was raving about. Freedom.

I can remember normal things like going to the drive-in with my mom to see Jaws. Ireland was with us. I can remember mom driving us to Ryan’s on a Sunday afternoon to a teen dance. We did fun things with PWP (Parents Without Partners) like roller skating, bowling and days at Pebble Beach Amusement Park. When Mom sewed me a new outfit for the first day of school of grade 8, she sewed a similar outfit for Ireland. When Ireland needed new bedroom furniture, paint for her walls, and her window fixed (at one point I do remember snow coming in her bedroom), mom gave her my old bed, leftover paint, a dresser from the basement. The money for the window came out of Mom’s wallet. And then there were the many suppers Mom fed her when there was no supper waiting for her at her home.

As a single mother working as a part-time, independent music teacher, Mom had very little but she always made the best of it and we didn’t really notice how little we had. She still shared with Ireland. And Ireland showed her appreciation in return, in her shy, withdrawn in front of adults way. Ireland became like a part of the family.

In looking back, there were two things my mother could not give Ireland: safety and acceptance at the core. Only her real mother had the ability to provide that.

If only she could.


And then there was a third thing Ireland did not get in those days – understanding.

I got that Ireland and I naturally would spend less time together once we grew older and got boyfriends. Steady boyfriends. I understood that. What I couldn’t understand with my 14-year-old mind was how she could just stop coming around when her mother came back into her life, dropping my mother like that for her mother, after everything she did for her?

Ya, I know…. it was easier to think like that.

Her mom, Helga, came back into her life when Ireland was 15. I don’t remember if I was even aware of the specifics at the time but it seemed that Helga just swooped in and took over the family home and Herman moved to Fairview with the boys. Ireland stayed in the house with her mom. But her mom hadn’t come back to the house alone. She came with a boyfriend, Gord.

Ireland, her mom….and Gord.

Gord was younger than Helga. I think about in between Helga and Ireland. And Gord, from the first time I caught sight of him, reminded me of a rat. Thank goodness it wasn’t a frequent occurrence.

I didn’t see Ireland much after the move, and I felt this. To me, it seemed she no longer wanted help from my mother. I focused it all on how she was betraying my mom; she traded my mom in when her real mom decided to come back. This is what I focused on. As a 14 year old girl, I did not see 2 things: the fact that I felt abandoned, not that my mom was abandoned (in fact, when I look back, my mom didn’t really seem effected at all) and I did not see the real reason why Ireland backed away from my mother and I.

Ireland had been pulled into yet another net of secrets. She had been pulled into a situation no 15 year old girl should have been put into. And because I didn’t see what was happening to her, for the simple reason she didn’t want me to see it, I misunderstood and turned on her.

I then made new friends and moved on, tricking myself into believing I was better off.

One day I passed Ireland in the hallway at school. I hadn’t spoken with her in months. She was by herself, not just in that moment, but day after day. I remember this moment as if it was only a year or so ago, not 35 years ago. She was at her locker, unaware of my passing by her. She was wearing bright red, stretchy pants. And she was pregnant. Oh my God, she was pregnant. She looked exactly like she usually did – no belly or anything – but something just told me she was pregnant. It was just a knowing. I kept walking.

Weeks carried on and eventually it did start getting around Ireland was starting to show. Yep, she was pregnant. I didn’t know what to think about this. My best friend was moving even further away from me. It felt like there was no returning. She was 15 years old. And she was going to be a mother! I remember thinking how strong she was to continue going to school each day, all alone, as her belly continued to expand in front of everyone, not giving birth until sometime in the summer.

I didn’t get to meet Raine when she was born. I didn’t get to know when exactly she was born. I don’t remember hearing about it. Ireland had become so isolated into her own world, and she was just on the next street over.

Life, once again, carried on for the both of us. One day I had heard that Ireland had moved to Tilly. Shortly after Raine was born – 1-2 months after – she, Helga, Raine, Gord and Gord’s brother Jack decided to move across a few provinces to Tilly. Her mother stayed behind just long enough to sell the house.

And then they were gone.

I hoped that this was a good thing. I hoped this was what during those years in our childhoods she was yearning for. I had hoped.

The following year, I too, had gotten pregnant. I gave birth to my daughter, Lisa, July 23, 1982. I was 16 years old. I didn’t know it as I became I young mother, that on July 23, 1981, exactly 1 year prior, Raine arrived and Ireland had become a mother at 16.


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