A picture of my brother Chris and I. The picture was taken in 1971. My family and I were living at an apartment hotel on O'Connor Street. My parents had just sold the house at 87 Clearview and we were waiting to move into our new condo which was still being built which was at 158A McArthur
Rd, the Chateau Vanier Towers in Vanier which now part of Ottawa.
Apartment Hotel, O'Connor St, Ottawa, 1971
I was l6 years old and my family moved from the Paul Anka house we owned
at 87 Clearview Ave to an apartment hotel on O'Connor St near Cooper St. in downtown Ottawa. What astounds me is that my parents never asked us if we wanted to move, and there was no discussion about it with us kids at home. My parents never asked us our opinion about anything that involved us.
My mom gave away my vanity set from my bedroom without asking me. I liked to sit and see the three mirrors and you could see hundreds of yourself in that mirror. My mon gave away my first walking doll and my barbie dolls too without asking me. I felt violated by that. Those things belonged to me.
Mom and Dad had a real estate agent show the house to a few people. The house was so beautiful, it sold quickly. I did not want to leave all of my friends
at Champlain High School. I had gone there for grades 9, 10 and 11. I felt
very sad and despondent and so did my brother. I could tell he was upset.
At the apartment hotel, Chris and I had to share a small bedroom. I didn't like that as I wanted my privacy. We were in a street level apartment next to where the tenants parked their cars and I could smell the exhaust of the cars everyday.
Our apartment had silverfish something I never saw before and I used to scratch
my self silly.
I got an afro hairdo and I wore psychedelic tops and wore hip hugging jeans.
I had a cute little figure, I was slim. One day as I was walking downtown with my brother, a bunch of city cleaners looked at me and my new hairdo and said "what do you have in your hair, a rat's nest"? I felt to awful I had a new haircut and I had it cut shorter. I was not into the drug culture. I was naive.
My friends and I were "squares" and I am still one.
It was the summer and it was hot and we no air conditioner in the apartment.
Ottawa has some muggy and hot and humid days as Ottawa rests in a valley and the heat just rests over the city.
I did not look forward to going to Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School on Carson Road in Vanier in the fall of 1971. I didn't know anyone and I had a hard time making
new friends as I was shy then. Chris would be going to the same high school too. I missed my friends at Champlain High who were Nancy Benoit, Leigh McGuire and Christine.
I went to Maureen Villeneuve's wedding in 1971. She was a fellow Baha'i and a friend of Doris's. Chris and I went to the wedding held in a house off Byron Ave.
Maureen's sisters Olive, Kay and another sister were there. I had on a long red
pant suit. Marvin H. a Jewish man was there. He was a student at Queen's Unveristy in Economics. Marvin was tall and thin and wore glasses. We started to talk to one another as if we had known each other for a lifetime. We got along well. Marvin H. was a gentle soul.
After the wedding, Marvin asked me and my brother to visit him in his room
he had in a co-op townhouse just around the corner from our apartment hotel.
Marvin was very cordial, nice and polite. A real gentleman. He was kind to me.
I would spend lots of time with Marvin in his room. Marvin was my first boyfriend and my first love. Marvin was real special. He would smoke a pipe and then he would play Leonard Cohen's song "Suzanne". We would laugh and talk all day and then take long walks along Elgin Street and down to the Rideau Canal.
We were in love. Marvin would be reading a dictionary and quizz me to see if I knew these long words that he always used in his speech. Marvin was an
intellectual, he was very smart. I spoke to him a few years ago. He is a private
Math teacher in Toronto, Ontario. He said it was very refreshing for him to have heard from me after all these years.
Marvin had broken off with his former girlfriend with who he had an open relationship with. I did not understand the concept of 'an open relationship' so Marvin bought me a book. I told him I did not want that type of relationship.
Things were about to change in the department very quickly.
I invited Marvin to meet my parents for the first time at the apartment hotel.
My dad guessed we were sleeping together even though Marvin denied it.
Dad was not stupid. I make some percolated coffee for Marvin. I misunderstood
my mom's instructions on how to make the coffee and put in 3 tablespoons of salt.
Marvin took a sip of coffee and almost choked. I asked him what was wrong, and he calmly said "it's a bit salty".
Marvin did not like my dad at all. He found him very demanding and stern and cold. Marvin and dad did not see eye to eye. Mom was indifferent to Marvin.
I think Marvin only met my parents once and I didn't blame him at all.
If you saw my parents on the street and didn't know them you would see an
attractive couple who would be very well dressed. Mom would be dressed in her finest clothes and she is really beautiful. She looks twenty years younger. In her family all of the women look younger. Mom would take care of her hair and nails too. Dad looked after himself with exercise.
If you spoke to my parents, my mom would be chatting away and laughing and you would think she was the nicest person you ever met. Dad would be stand
offish and cold and speak very little to you. He always kept his distance from people being the extrovert and loner that he is. He would be polite most times
until he got caught up in a traffic jam or someone provoked him and you would hear my dad swearing in French his mother tongue.
My parents only had to give us the "look" if we behaved in public and we wold stop what ever behaviour immediately. We were well behaved in public because of my parents strict rules with us.
We had to home for supper at 6 p.m. sharp, no later as dad always watch the
6 p.m. CJOH news. We had to eat the main course of our meal or we did not
get dessert. We took turns doing the dishes and we had a curfew too to come into the house at night.
My mom told her friends "children should be seen but not heard"
Dad sent my mother and me to Portugal in 1971 during Christmas time. Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife Margaret had their first born named Justin in
December when we were away on holidays.
The three weeks I spent with my mom in Portugal were wonderful. It was if she was a different person. She was happy and relaxed and we got along well. I shall treaure those memories with my mom because she was so nice to be around, it was unbelievable you could say. We sure had lots of fun. In the past I never saw her so happy for that long without lashing at someone or something.
I believed my dad was a very controlling man and not being around him made my mom feel
free to be herself. I think my dad and mom were mismatched as partners. Mom did not like being bossed by dad and vice versa. I believed if Mom was not pregnant with me, she would not have married my dad but probably someone else. Mom was pretty and could have any had any man she wanted. Mom and dad are still together believe it or not and it has been 53 years. I have not
seen my parents since 1993. My parents did not want to deal with the past and acknowledge the abuse towards my brother and I. My parents would only talk about the past and present. My parents have never tried to make amends or compensate me for the severe abuse that I have suffered in my childhood which still affects me to this day. I have a severe case of Post Trauma Stress Disorder. My brother and I went to a lawyer in the 90s trying to bring my parents to civil court to press for damages but the court case was too expensive and we had drop our case. We were both on disability pensions from the Ontario government and still are. We live on meagre pensions and the one of the disabilities we both have is Post Trauma Stress Disorder as a result of the severe childhood
abuse we suffered as a child from both my mom and dad. I feel angry inside that my parents would not face what they had done to my brother and I and faced up to their responsibilites to be accountable to us. I never had a relationship with my parents. My parents never nutured us or gave us any love.
My parents had poor parenting skills and they were both immature, selfish and mean. My parents should never had had any children. Some people are not made out to be parents.
My parents are now 74 years old and they missed out on a good relationship with my brother and I.
Some people have asked me, why don't you forgive your parents and see them. You can't forget
that my mother used to strangle me around my neck and cut off my breathing and that my brother
saved my life many times pulling my mom off me. I don't forget my dad kicking my brother and I hard in the back of the lower spine with patent leather shoes because we both late for supper...and my mom drowning my brother's pet mice in front of him....those things don't go away in my memory and they should not...my mom and dad are not safe people to be around...never were, never will be.
When people ask me about my family now, I tell them to read about my past online, this online book.
Why? It is still painful to discuss these things with people because some of them don't understand what I am talking about. To those of you who had a relatively good childhood, you are so lucky, because I did not have one. My childhood was a war zone where I felt like I was soldier waiting for
anything to happen to me that was bad. And my enemy were my parents who were supposed to love me and nuture me. Giving me the best of clothes, food and trips was not all that I needed. Love to a child is everything. It makes them feel wanted, loved and cherished. I wanted my parents to make me
feel like I was special to them. I grew up with very low self esteem and did not know what boundaries were because my boundaries were always being violated. I did not realize that I had a right to say
"no", "maybe", "don't do that to me," "go away," "don't hurt me". I grew up with no self respect
and awareness on how to stop someone from abusing me. I did not learn to be assertive until I was in my mid 30s. I allowed people to abuse me, use me, and walk all over me. I now can stand up to people and tell them how I feel. No one walks over me today. I won't allow them to. I know what boundaries are and I let people know when they are crossing the line.
My dad drove me and mom to Montreal to take our flight to Portugal. We got on a big jetliner with only about 30 people on it. I looked down when we were up in the sky and asked my mother if the puffy things outside were snow capped windows. Mom replied "no they are clouds" I was able to sleep on three seats and raise the arm rests. There was some turbulence but not too much. It was a long ride. The plane refuelled in the Azores. We finally landed in Lisbon, Portugal's capital city. The airport was big. There were double decker buses and small coffee and pastry shops all over. People took their time when the walked.
People had on coats. Mom and I found the temperature mild and only wore a sweater. Mom and I wore the 70s new fashion called "the hot pants" I had
a great good figure and some of the men would whistle at me. Some men would
chase my mother and I down the street.
We stayed the Flamingo Hotel in Lisbon. One of the bell boys named Joaquim Armenio
Monterio took a liking to me. He is very handsome. I liked him too.
Mom and shared a bedroom in the hotel overlooking the front of the hotel.
A young handsome Italian man who worked for an airline was in the one of the rooms on our floor. He stopped me and spoke pretty good English. One day he asked me to come into his room to show me some pictures and he quickly closed th door and threw me onto the bed and I told him calmly "don't do anything to me and let me go now or I am going to scream so everyone will hear". He got me off the bed and said he was sorry. I forgave him.
The hotel had a small hand operated old elevator. The Poruguese food was
delicious. I loved their breads and wine. My mom allowed to have one glass of wine with some of our meals. Mom treated me so well on our trip for three
weeks it was as though she was a different person. We got along so well and she
was so kind and sweet to me. I didn't understand the change in her but I liked it.
The change in her would not last long however when we got back home...
The Italian young man took me to some of the parks in Lisbon. He treated me nicely after that one bad incident Ihad with him earlier in the hotel. Maybe it took someone to put him in his place, I guess he respected me for it. He was very cordial and told me all about being a crew member on the airlines. He would travel from city to city all over the world and he liked that. One day he told he had to leave Lisbon so I went with him in taxi to the airport. He gave me his
address and then hugged and said goodbye. I did write to him when I got back home. He turned out to be a real nice guy after all.
I liked Joaqium the bell boy and he knew it. I would bat my eyes at and flirt.
He was so cute and handsome, and had nice manners, a real gentleman.
We would talk after he got off work and then one day he took me with my
mom to see some Lisbon sights. I spent a week in Lisbon too short of a time for me, if I had had my way I would have liked to have lived there. People do not rush in Lisbon. People relax and take their time and talk to everyone. Sometimes
they be very emotional people. One day I looked up a narrow street and saw two
men shouting in Porutugese and it was obvious someone had parked in the wrong spot. Both men had their arms up in the air and rushing up to each other and
swaying their bodies in disagreement with each other. It was like an out of control dance between the both of them. I laughed and then I saw the two men wave goodbye as they had resolved their differences. I have a firey temper at times too. I am part Poruguese and I am a very emotional person too. I use my hands when I talk and I can get very excitable if I am angry or agitated.
Mom and I loved Lisbon with its cobblestoned streets and friendly people.
Mom and I went up this one long and high street and then we went down in a straw basket pulled my a man. It was lots of fun. I loved the pastries and coffee
shops. Mom and I would go into some of them, order a sweet pastry and then some of their cups of coffee that had very strong coffee in them.
We were told not to drink the water as the water supply in Lisbon was not
sanitary so I drank lots of Schweppes soda drinks.
Mom and I visited some of the wonderful museums in Lisbon and we also went up to see a Castle high in the mountains near Lisbon.
After we spent a week in Lisbon, off to the Lisbon airport mom and I went. We took a plane to the Portugal province of Algarve, the southern most tip of the country. We had to take a very long taxi ride to get to the new resort that was built there. It had 300 rooms and only 30 guests.
The resort was lovely and next to the ocean. The resort had their own built in the ground swimming pool. The manager of the hotel was German. We met some of the tourists staying at the resort. Some were from the States and some from Europe.
We sat in the dinning room the first night to have our meal. At the next table was an overweight man in his forties. He looked very friendly. He was sitting all alone. Mom invited him to our table and he felt was happy to do so.
Bill was his name. He metioned he was teacher and asked him what type of teacher and he said he was university professor at Queen's. We made fast friends will Bill. He was such a nice man. Bill had rented a car while he was in Algarve and asked Mom and I to go along to do some sightseeing and we did. The
long winding roads and all the little villages and the ocean was a sight to behold.
We would stop at some of the little fishing villages and go to a small cafe and have something to eat. Sometimes there was a language barrier but we managed to get our message across sometimes through a similated sign language.
We met a French man from Paris and he gave me his address. He was nice and after our trip I did write to him.
Mom got sick and we managed to get a doctor and find a pharmacy.
It was Christmas in Portugal and I was homesick and wanted to be in Canada
and spend Christmas at home. There was no snow at all and the ocean water was lukewarm. One day I walked along the ocean front alone and then a young
portuguese man came up to me and he motioned for me to follow him and I did.
He took a big branch and drew a naked body of a woman and I got scared and took off quick, I didn't know what he meant and I was not about to find out.
I ran as fast as I could but never told my mom what happened. I did not walk along the ocean beach front anymore alone.
I put on my two piece bathing suit and jumped into the resort's pool and it was freezing cold and I let out a loud yell and Bill came off his balcony and he laughed and said "I guess the water was too cold for you" and I nodded to him.
On Christmas Day I went up to the reception desk at the hotel and saw the
manager who was German. I was taking German in high school, so we both sang the song "Oh Tanenbaum". There was a little artifical Christmas tree and few lights and ornaments on the tree.
Mom and I and Bill would sit at the bar in the hotel and order coffee and sometimes wine. That was the social gathering place for the guests at the hotel
to meet each other.
We had to leave Algarve and then were on our way to Madeira. Maderia ia a small island off the coast of Africa that belongs to Portugal. The plane had to make a short and efficient landing as the airport was located close to a cliff. We got out of the plane and took a taxi to our hotel. Madeira was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It had lots of mountains and lots of big red flowers that opened us as if to greet you. The local people were so nice, I feel in love with Maderia. We had many courses of food in one night, the first course was fish which I did not like. Mom ate sturgeon, swordfish and a lot of different varieties of fish.
We would walk on the streets at night and it was safe. We saw local police and sometimes asked them for directions using our Portuguese phrase books and brochure of where we wanted to go. We had supper one night in a small restaurant. There were flamingo dancers wearing colorful long flowing shirts with a white blouse and the men were wearing black pants and nicely colored jacket and they would dance around in circles and a band would be playing. The music and the dancing was wonderful.
It was New Years' Eve and we had a big party in our hotel. I wore my nicest hot pants and did up my hair and put on my makeup. I looked really beautiful that night. One of the young men came over and started to ask me to dance and I did for hours with him. I loved to dance and he did too.
The lights were down low and there was some traditional music and then there was some pop music for the young people too. Everyone got up to dance young and old and we had a whale of a time.
We had a big supper beforehand. I had had too much wine and I was feeling a bit dizzy and mom took me back to my hotel room.
We did some sightseeing too. We visited lots of little shops where the local women made nice jewellery and linens and clothes. Mom was a clotheshorse
like me, I can't have enough clothes. I have lots of clothes at home. I have some fancy clothes to wear if I go somewhere nice but that is not too often. I can't afford to go out to somewhere where the food is expensive and have a good meal.
I live on a meagre disability pension and I have to watch my pennies very carefully and I do.
We left Madeira and headed off to Lisbon again for one more week. I love Lisbon it is such a beautiful city. People show their emotions and are lively and not
reserved at all. I did want to leave Lisbon but I had too and I was sad when I boarded my plane back home to Canada. Portugal was a very different place...
and I would like to go back there again if I could.
We arrived at the Montreal airport and dad had just left. We missed each other, so mom and I had to wait for a bus to take us back to Ottawa. I was so tired from the jetlag that I fell asleep at the bus depot seat and did not wake up until mom told me to board the bus and I did.
Dad and Chris were happy to see us. We had souvenirs for them.... Marvin was happy to see me too. I gave him a souvenir as well. It was culture shock coming back to Ottawa. Ottawa was and still is a very quickly paced city. People walk quickly, don't often look you in the eye as they are too preoccupied. The life here is a fast paced life, in Lisbon everyone takes their time, they are never in a hurry.
Dad and Chris had moved into the new condominium at 158A McArthur Road,apt 1710 in Vanier, Ontario. Our two bedroom apartment was on the l7th floor. I had to share a very small bedroom with my brother and I did not like that, I wanted my own room. I was going to be seventeen and what teenage girl wants to share a room with their brother at that age, I think not. It created tension for me.
Dad was working as a the head translator for Customs and Excise near the
Ottawa Public Libary on on Laurier and Metcalfe streets in downtown Ottawa.
Dad had high blood pressure and he had to take pills for it everyday. Our apartment had a small livingroom and a small kitchen and dinning area.
Dad gave my brother and I in 1972 a $2.00 a week allowance. Dad was a miser
and I did not like that. I started to babysit for a single mom in one of the
apartments where I lived. She was a thin and petite woman with shoulder length hair. He had a daughter that was about 8 years old. She was dating one of the
executive staff of the local garbage company. He was married. He and her would got to Montreal where he showed her with the best of everything. He had a taxi
chit number and she could take a taxi anywhere she wanted anytime of day.
She had a heart defect. She died in her early thirties. I went to see her when
she was in the hospital and she was dying and her lover looked very devastated, you could see in his eyes he really loved her.
I put up an ad in the laundry room of building to do housework. A man called me one day and asked if I was still interested doing housework and I said yes.
The man was 33 years old and he lived on the 11tth floor and he was an Egyptian
who worked at Stats Canada at Tunney's pasture as a statistician. I did his housework and after a few months I started to date him. He was good to me
and took me over to see some of his friends. His name was Sayed Shelbaya.
I was l7 years old. He played Squash at the Rideau tennis club.
An australian friend of his came over to visit and stay with Sayed for awhile in his apartment. Sue was th wife and she was Australian, her husband was Egyptian.
They were a nice couple and I introduced them to my mom and dad. Mom invited them for supper. Sayed and I and his Aussie friends went to Montreal one day and we stayed overnight. Mom took and fit but I assured her I had a separate room that night. I lied.
One day one of my friends from my former high school Christine came to visit me.
I was late for supper. As I opened the door my mother grabbed my shoulder lenght hair and whipped me inside the apartment by the hair. Christine has
never seen any type of abuse at all in her life. Mom yelled at me "I feel like throwing you off the balcony right now". I lived on the l7th floor. Christine
made a quick dash to the apartment door and took off down the elevator.
Christine called me the next day and said my mom was very cruel and abusive and she never saw anything like that before and I should leave home right away
as she was afraid my mom would be violent with me again. I did run away from home shortly after that.
I called Marvin my bofriend and he lent me some money to go to Montreal for the day. I did not know but there was a all points bulletin in Canada issued by the police. The police all over Canada were looking out to try to find me. Mom called the police and told them I was missing. I called the police from Hull one day and told them I was fine and I would not be going home. When they asked where I was living I quickly hung up the phone.
I stayed with Christine and her brother. When their parents got back from Florida I was homeless and had no where to go. I was missing lots of my high school classes and the school psychologist asked me to come into the office to visit her and I did.
I told the high school psychologist why I left home as my mother was abusing me.
She suggested I go to the Royal Ottawa Hospital on Carling ave and talk with
someone in Emergency. I was anxious and nervous and was homeless and had no where safe to go to and no one to run to who would help me in family. I did not want to tell my relatives because of what my mom might do to me if she found out