“here comes your sister”-or…40 years today

jo eileens hearse
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


I was told in a recent email that I need to quit living and dwelling on the past!
Something about giving it up to Jesus and all would be gone away!

I was a wee tyke when Aunt Peg said the words to me…”here comes your sister”. We we’re sitting on the stoop at my grandparents house in Pottstown (PA) waiting for JoEileen.

The thing that imprinted me the most was the hearse that carried her casket-it was a Coupe Le flora (and I may have the spelling incorrect). A hearse designed to carry the casket in the open air-draped with the flowers.

They drove by very slowly-you know I can see it in my minds eye exactly. I must have been no older than 7. I have never gotten the sight of that hearse out of my head.

I recollect so much from that time. It is always vivid-I hope always to know it in my memory. I sit at my desk and my sister smiles at me from a photograph-my grandmother Wickie is there too. I love them-and I guess you could say that I dwell on them too. They have been dead for a long long time.

Forty years ago today I was made to rise earlier than usual. There were five others-we were all marched around various buildings around barracks D signing papers and the last building was a warehouse of civilian clothes-all in piles. Piles of pants-and piles of shirts. The only thing we kept were the shoes we wore. We dropped our blue jean uniforms into the other piles and selected civilian clothes from the civilian piles and changed.

It was just daylight when we were marched to the entrance of the base and handed our discharges and final pay. I remember taking my shoes off and leaving them-walking off in stocking feet. I can nearly clearly remember in my minds eye that moment 40 years ago. On the opposite corner was a place that hooked sailors in with offers of credit and the best of civilian clothes-and on the corner across from that was a place that sold shoes-I finished my civilian dress with a pair. Beatle boots-I can never forget them,the most useless shoe I ever wore.

I can look out the bedroom window-just this very moment-at 4604 Bel Pre Road. Vividly I can see my brothers out on the lawn playing. Carl was not even six-just barely. I see the green Chrysler New Yorker and the guy driving it-his black go-tee beard on his face and yet he was turned looking behind his car through the window at a house for sale. He and his wife never saw Carl run out in front of the car. Only me-only our brother Joey-and only the little girl with Down syndrome from across the street.

I remember it vividly-the memory  will never go away…the red jacket my mother had his small body dressed in-or how the people at funeral home treated us with such kindness. I’ll never forget following behind the hearse on the long drive to Pottstown. I will never forget that.

The remarkable date of 40 years is easy to keep track of. 14,600 days ago.

The violence of the dreams that are continual parts of my life since barracks D help me keep track.

The moment I wake in the morning time-I think of the place and the memory of it seems to always be waiting for me…somewhere. I rise up and the trip to the toilet is my next reminder-and then the shower my next…40 years,the memory cannot evade me. The damage is too intense-just as the dreams and just as the shadow  of  barracks D the physical damage is a daily reminder too. Don’t dwell on it, you say? As the toilet paper disappears up my ass….don’t dwell on it? As it takes extra care to wash when finally in the shower…don’t dwell on it? You explain how not too!

Jesus Christ did not die for nothing-He died for my sins,so I am taught to know. But , being raped was not my sin. Spending nearly two months in the presence of my attackers-being abused all that time…never changed,and never ended. And never has been my sin-only my torment.

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11 Responses to ““here comes your sister”-or…40 years today”

  1. bookwitchery Says:

    Sweetheart, I have a few choice words for the person who told you to not dwell on the past, but I will behave myself.

    I’ve read several of your journal entries now, and never once have I gotten the impression that you are dwelling on the past. This is a JOURNAL. It is a release. It is a way to work through emotions; many times getting something down in a journal means your mind can make more sense out of it.

    Also, you are getting the word out that THIS KIND OF STUFF HAPPENS; we cannot sweep it under the rug, pretend it doesn’t exist. For one thing, other men will not know that they are not alone. For another, keeping silent is pretty much giving it permission to happen, to say it’s OK. What was it you were told, get used to it? No. That is WRONG. It is wrong for anyone, male, female. The stigma has to go. Treatment, or even pure, simple, human empathy, has to be made available.

    OK, if I don’t stop now I’m really going to get on a soapbox. Anyway, as I told you in the first comment I left you last week, I applaud you for having the courage to write about this.

    • jayherron Says:

      You climb on and speak as loud as you wish from your soap box,that is what this is about-churning up conversation about a huge wrong-and they have the nerve to suggest it has anything to do with sex.

      • bookwitchery Says:

        I was told that my rape didn’t count as a rape because I was in the man’s apartment at the time. (I should mention that I was told this by a therapist.) One of the security guards (a woman) at the school wanted to know why I had gone anywhere with him, and why was I in his apartment? I had attended a movie with the soon-to-be-perp IN THE DAYLIGHT (it was nearing summer, we hit a 6 o’clock movie.) By the time the movie was over it was getting dark. “Let me drive you home.” he said. “I don’t want you walking alone in the dark.” I accepted, and when we pulled out of the parking lot, he turned in the opposite direction. “I just need to get something from my apartment first before going back to the computer lab.” Uhm, OK. Now, dark, in an area of town I did not know, I went into his apartment with him because I was afraid to wait in the car. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history. He turned on the TV and the radio…threw me a towel after he was finished. I suppose I should be grateful for that kindness. I should be grateful that he didn’t kill me, I suppose.

        Regardless, here I am today. Get over it? Get on with life? Pretty words that usually come from people who have never gone through something like this and in all likelihood cannot begin to imagine. Too bad it’s illegal to smack people who say stupid things like that, eh?

        You keep talkiing. You keep writing. You keep advocating. Changes will happen.

      • jayherron Says:

        I am sad to hear this-you know I would be. The injustice of the lives we as survivors live (live?) the guilt we place on ourselves-and allow others to place on us too (such as the therapist that told you since you were there it is not rape???) how sad I am. I know all too many times the victim is the one to be blamed. Like I said-we are the only ones who understand the pain-we speak a silent language.

      • bookwitchery Says:

        You know, on rereading that comment, I have to wonder to myself, why did I feel the need to point out that I went to this movie in broad daylight? Shouldn’t matter either way. There are certainly risk-taking behaviors, but rape is violence. It is power over. NO ONE deserves to be treated that way, and I am so often disgusted by how things are portrayed in the media.

        Do you remember the Central Park jogger from so many years ago? She was raped and beaten so badly she nearly died, and still suffers from the effects of traumatic brain injury. STILL the defense attorneys played the blame game.

        We really should treat each other better as a society. It’s disgusting.

        I will say that I raised so much hell about the comments made to me at college that the school president made all staff take sensitivity training. Of course, that same discussion with the higher ups got me 2 weeks in a psych ward too, but hey. Did it do any good (at the school I mean. I’ve come to be proud that I’m a stark raving lunatic)? Honestly, I have no idea. I do know that therapist is no longer there.

      • jayherron Says:

        the girl in Central Park-she was cut up so badly,it is all so sick!

      • bookwitchery Says:

        Thought you might be interested in this one as well:

        Not specifically military, but a good write-up.

      • jayherron Says:

        Thanks for sharing that – the article was very good,hopefully others will link to it and read. You seem very interested in the male victim…thank you,as it is such a stigma-as the writer speks in her article. I read your blog-good start! And your other site-and wanted to comment,but had to sign in and will need to sign up before I sign in! soon. peace

  2. bookwitchery Says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen this, but in case you haven’t, thought I’d get this site to you:

    An interesting take on policies.


    • jayherron Says:

      This is some awesome material-no,I had not seen it prior-thank you,I book marked it to read tomorrow! Your interest is so welcome-and your support! thank you

      • bookwitchery Says:

        Started my own journal here if you’re interested.

        I also have a livejournal account which I’ve been writing onto off and on for years:

        Glad you found the info interesting. I can’t wait to see what they do with the new site they seem to be setting up.

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