Like my brother, Rollie, my youngest sibling, Vick, came to stay with Donnie and me and our family. By that time, we had produced all four of our birth children and were living in Arlington, Virginia and working in Washington, D.C.
At the age of 16, Victoria was living alone with Ma, Sharon having married and moved out a few months earlier. All the rest of us had already moved out for various reasons—school, work, marriage. So, Vick was left to face Ma’s rage alone, a very dangerous position to be in. Fortunately, an amazing thing happened that resulted in Vick's rescue: Vick, a good student, started failing English and no one could figure out why she could not get her head wrapped around this subject when she had a great gift for language use. Out of frustration, Ma called me one day to wait about this. Failure, to Ma, was not an option. Imagining how difficult the beatings might get if Vick continued to fail, I offered, to Ma's relief, to take in Victoria, much the way Donnie and I had taken in Rollie in our Montana days.
With three bedrooms for the six of us, quarters were tight, but we found yet another bed for Victoria, who moved in with us and began attending high school with Lizzie, who was 14 at the time. They became the best of friends, and their friends insisted that they were really cousins. They would not believe that they were aunt and niece. Actually, they were more like sisters than anything else and remain so until this day although Vick is a massage therapist in Michigan and Lizzie a professor in South Carolina. They spend hours and hours on the phone each week.
Victoria lived with us until she graduated and left to attend college in Tennessee. In many ways, I became a second mother to her, rather than a sister, and to this day, when she has a seemingly insurmountable problem, I get a phone call, asking for advice.
Unfortunately, during her days on the farm with Ma, Victoria, unlike the rest of us, became co-dependent with Ma. She would accept the abuse as somehow meaning that she was to blame. She is the only one who retained regular contact with Ma. Relationships for Victoria have finally normalized, but only after two divorces, including from one abusive spouse who held a knife to her throat (fortunately, 911 help arrived in time and he was jailed), and the chance to move to Michigan. She lives not far over the state border from Rollie in Ohio. He has been a continuing source of support to her, starting from his return to Maine to protect her from her raping cousin through his constant contact during her days of living with an abusive spouse and continuing on to her current single-mother days.
Vick, like the rest of us albeit taking a more difficult path, survived her childhood abuse and went on to raise two happy sons. Initially inclined toward the child-rearing tendencies that she had known in her youth, she fought past that with the help of family, friends, education, and a deeply abiding faith that Almighty God would stand by her, and became a caring mother who independently raised two self-assured sons, pictured below.
Vick with Alton and Moss