I saw the erosion, the ever-widening cracks, the fights that I tried to block out with a feather pillow. I was placed in a few foster homes before being sent back to my chaotic family who had then relocated to Yorba Linda, an emerging city with tract homes without landscapes, lots of barren hills and a railroad track.  One night my mother said, “You should have married your father” because I asked her to stop picking on him.

Those words were the next chisel in the facade that was my parents marriage. And, I was once again the brunt of her anger. So, I picked up my sweater, slipped on my sandals and headed to the edge of town towards the railroad. 

The track became my shield because the ground was lower on the side away from the road. I wore a thin cotton dress. The tracks finally ended with solid city streets and houses warmly lit with street lights. I started down one of the streets when I ran into a group of adults out for a stroll. The gasps they let out at the sight of a young girl late at night with wisps of weeds clinging to her bare legs covered in scratches, made me pull my sweater tighter.

“Where a-am I?” 

“Are you lost, is there someone we can call to pick you up.”

“No, I ran away. Can you call my foster mother please?”

“It’s after midnight, but you’re welcome to come to our house and we’ll call in the morning.” I learned how to play canasta and pinochle that night. Grace slipped in through forbidden card games. 

Why would I want to return to my foster mother Julie, who was as toxic as my own mother? I had longed for my foster mother’s affection. One day I pulled her laundry basket spilled with days of rumpled clothing that needed attention into my room and cheerfully ironed every piece as meticulously as was required in juvenile hall. I rolled the ironed clothing out and waited for Julie’s reaction. She didn’t speak to me or acknowledge my presence for days. I broke first, and 

turned on the radio full blast until she burst through the door so hard she chipped the plaster in the wall. “You should have married Bob, (my foster father).” Those words punched me so hard in the mother-gut that I never recovered. 

I was returned to my foster home where I began to think, “marriage is a sham, a facade, a convenience, a reason to name your children and that’s all”.

So that was my blueprint for how and why to do marriage.  After two failed marriages and twenty-five agonizing years of solitude, I finally married for the right reason. I was content to remain single as God stitched my heart back together with his delicate thread of grace. This marriage garment fits, even with it’s ragged edges. One day I’ll have the perfect marriage garment that will last for eternity.

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