June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness month so I am sharing this story about my traumatic experiences that happened in the first 10 years of my life. Also it’s father’s day and I am floods with good and bad memories and how they have contributed to my healing and transformation journey that my soul chose for this lifetime. The good helps deal with the bad. Being a seeker pushes me forward.


My parents lived in Columbus, Ohio at the time of my birth. It was in the last 6 months of mother’s life when we shared ourselves deeply, for the first time in 40 years, the first time in our relationship and our last time together. I am very grateful I had the courage to be completely open about myself, even telling her my deepest and darkest secrets. The stories my mother tells about my early life contributes to my understanding of who I am.


She shared how during the birthing process “when my labor would get painful they would medicate me and the contractions would stop. Eventually after 3 episodes of this pattern, I asked for natural childbirth and not to be medicated”. When I was in my 30s I tried group Re-birthing and experienced being frozen and unable to move, this happened 3 times, it was extremely uncomfortable and I saw how true to my birth it really was. Wow, what a confirmation. Freezing is one of my coping responses, which I have worked hard to overcome, and deal with. In intensely stressful situations I have learned to use mindfulness, awareness and breathing in order to rise above my neurological responses and create new healthy pathways in my brain.


Mother told me “I was breast-feeding you and you were always crying. I felt you were starving so I told the doctor who disagreed and told me just to continue. I did not believe the doctor so I put you on formula and the crying decreased”. I have had digestive problems from the get go. I love milk and during childhood after meals I would be bent over in pain, which I believed was just a normal thing, later learning I am lactose intolerant. Back then you never heard about this. In my 20s, while in nursing school, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I was instructed that they did not know much about it so I would need to learn what foods my body did not tolerate. This was very helpful suggestion-rather than taking an addictive substance named Phenobarbital, which is a barbiturate used for seizures, which they wanted to prescribe. I have always used holistic approaches to self-care.


“You would sit quietly in your crib for hours on end. By 9 months of age you were potty trained, you didn’t like being dirty, and when you got a spot on a dress you would cry and insisted on changing. You threw away the bottle and would insist on drinking out of a cup.” Recently I realized that I was trashing that formula and the high fructose corn syrup that was added to my water, listening to my body. IBS has been my companion into my 60s when healing occurred after consulting with a Naturopath, who treatment the Candida in my intestines and with a whole foods diet. I am a sugar freak which has caused many distressing symptoms, and getting off all those addictive foods has taken away my stomach pain. YEA! Being introverted and enjoying meditation/quiet moments is my major self-care technique my life raft. When in my 20s I took to the wilderness and learned to love the feel and smell of the earth, being alone with Mother Nature, basking in her nurturing qualities was healing by connecting with the universal life force.


When I was a year old my mother lost my baby brother who was born a “blue baby” my mother had RH negative blood factor, my father and the baby had RH positive, which resulted in my mother’s body experiencing the baby as a foreign body and he died the day of his birth. These babies were blue because of their circulatory problem of having poor blood flow, and not getting enough oxygen. This was due to poor fetal development because the mother’s immune system attacks the fetus, as if it is something foreign the body needs to get rid of. My parents really wanted that baby boy and they were emotional distraught over the loss of their dream. I feel as though I was always aware of emotions in others and myself, ever since childhood, which proves to be one of the driving force leading me down my path to healing.


1951 was a difficult year for my parents. My mother had a miscarriage when RH negative reared its ugly head again. This created a hospital bill, “We were in over their heads”. This resulted in my father having to work 2 jobs so Dad and I had less time together. “You would cry when he would leave and we had decided to tell you ‘He is doing it to get you a bike’. This conversation happened over a Weegie Board experiment that wrote out “It is not your fault”. I was in my early 20s, learning to be a psychiatric nurse who loved group therapy. This information she shared lead to understanding where my feelings of guilt were coming from, the underlying cause of my poor balance and aversion to riding a bike, for I have many great memories of my daddy teaching me to ride. Creating my prosperity consciousness has been difficult due to the influence of these early experiences; money has been a major issue in my life that I work on like an onion: peeling back layers after layers of fears and limitations.


While in the terrible 2s, I tested the limits placed on me. I remember disobeying my father. He told me “Stay on the top of the stairs, do not to go down the stairs to the sidewalk”, while he was working on his car. Well I have a rebellious nature so I slowly and quietly went down each step on my butt till I got to the street amazed by my success. All of a sudden he was scolding me, carrying me back up the stairs, telling me “stay put”- that was not the last time I ever disobeyed him. I so wanted to be with him, enjoying our times together, happy just being near him, feeling secure and loved. I learn to create that sense of safety and security within thru living in my car while visiting some of the wildest places in the US.


My life was transformed in 1950 when my sister Barbara was born, I was 22 months old.  Barbara has always been a leader with great courage to try new things, something I have always admired. She taught me to get out of my crib, following her on many adventures that I would never have done on my own. I have great memories and wonderful pictures of us in our matching dresses that our Meme made for us. We loved to dance, do the can-can and play together, especially in the park with our mom & dad. We are sisters & friends. It was a wonderful time and I remember it well. To this day I honor my Meme and my ancestors for giving me those seamstress genes. I am ever so grateful for my first sister Barbara, I am forever learning a lot about relationship, communication and acceptance. Thank you little sister.



My second Trauma was at the age of 4, back in 1952, being a care-giver became a strong force, when my father got polio. I can remember that day when night fell, I was awake and praying when a woman appeared to me, I knew it was a vision; it was comforting and scary all at once. I did not know how to handle it; I did not tell anyone about it, I just told her to go away because I was scared. A few weeks later I woke up believing that I was paralyzed and saw my first psychiatrist. I felt responsible for my father’s illness because he was working a lot to get me a bike. I thought that he got polio because people got polio when they overwork. Later I would learn that he did not get the vaccine, while Barbara, Mom and I got it. Thus the responsibility for his illness really lied with him & karma. Deal with my angry at him and the healing of my abandonment wound was a difficult process due to the fact that I idealized him.


My father was in the hospital in an iron lung for a year and we rarely got to see him. I have a memory of that Christmas, when we visited him in the hospital, and how big the iron lung towered over us, how different he looked for he was just a head jutting out of a massive contraption. We now knew he was still with us. All we saw was his reflection in the mirror above his head. He was looking up and into the mirror, which looked down at us. I remember the joy I felt seeing that he had a picture of Barbara & I, which was taped to the cold metal cylinder, and I knew he loved us still. That old torn photo is now in digital form on my computer, we look very happy and without a care in the world. There is a lot to be said about being surrounded by love when there is a trauma; it’s easier to heal when you are surrounded by unconditional love. This I learned from a Chinese Psychiatrist who shared about his PTSD experiences. He was a young teen, escaping the Vietnam War with his family, fleeing on a crowded ship, people getting sick and dying, creating horrendous living conditions: that was countered by their tight family ties and support of each other.


When I was 5 years old my father was back home with us. Our life was very different because he was a quadriplegic in a wheel chair, he live in the living room, unable to get upstairs to the bedrooms. Barbara, Mom & I cared for him. We had home care because father was getting therapy on the parallel bars which were a permanent fixture in the living room. I loved being with my father and wanted to help so the care-giver in me blossomed. Back then in 1953 my mother had to go to work to support us. This was the beginning of my dream of becoming a nurse, which has proved to be my life saver.


1954 was a joyful loving year, I was 6 yrs old and my sister Tina was born, my mother and father shared a great love and mother always called her “My love child”. The next 3 yrs were wonderful and filled with love; dad and I would care for Tina together, on the tray he had attached on the arms of his wheel chair. What a special time it was learning to care for a new soul from a man, such an unusual experience during those times. Babies bring new life and energy to a difficult situation making life worth living for all involved. I was awed by my father’s ability to accomplish his goals with a positive attitude, using him as my role model for developing coping mechanisms that were helpful and life affirming.


At the age of 7 yrs I experienced my third trauma that had lasting ramifications for me in the years to come. Barbara & I were playing; she was riding a bike while I was running along beside her. We were going down a grassy small hill when I fell hitting my chin on the curb of the sidewalk, taking a bite out of the cement. This was very traumatic Jaw Injury, breaking my 2 front teeth and having the dentist say they can be fixed when I am 18 years old, creating self-esteem issues for many years. When I was in my 40s a dentist took a circular x-ray and pointed out that I had chipped a piece of bone in my chin and dislocated my jaw sometime in my childhood. Talk about symbolism and my difficulty with communications and expressing myself with others. Later when I started to do energy work, I drew a stick figure of myself with a dark line across my neck, showing how I felt; my energy was cut off between my body and mind pushing me to seek healing and understanding. Living in my head, no longer grounded in my body and leading me to body/mind approaches for healing.


At the age of 9 my father died which was my fourth trauma and was the most difficult to deal with. The LADY IN BLUE appeared to me again, the night of father death, my rational mind took over and she disappeared; due to fear, not having any spiritual guidance in these matters, and creating a symbol for healing. I know now she was the Virgin Mary. At that time I prayed to her and especially loved the story of the children of Fatima, and when I received my confirmation I took the name of Bernadette for it was my mother’s mother’s name. The seeker within me starts pushing me down my spiritual path. That’s a story for another time. Having shared my traumas with you helps me feel a part of the bigger picture for I know you have experienced your own and together we can light the way to healing.


Death Experiences

We moved to Central Falls; named after a waterfall in the Blackstone River, 1.5 square miles, the

most densely populated city in the nation, home to the textile mills of the 18th century, known as old mill

town. Living in a white hobbit cottage, with a chain link fence around our small grassy yard, looking

like a normal home; trying to keep death at bay. The neighbor’s trestle grapevine canopy shaded her

picnic table, creating a scene of serenity and peace; comforting us by sharing yummy treats, of stuffed

grape leaves, and fresh ripe fruit from her trees.  Always playing with our cousins, who lived up the hill

from us; having snowball fights, creating snow tunnels through snowdrifts on the sidewalk, and sliding

down the hill on linoleum, the hula-hoop craze, the slinky that goes down stairs, Easter egg hunts, and

family celebrations .Everywhere we walked was within a half-mile radius of our home; the place of

bittersweet memories and feelings that ran like melted chocolate.



Father was an amazing and a positive person, no matter how difficult things were; propelling the

wheel chair through the 3 small rooms, approaching me when I was withdraw, saying, “I want you to be

able to tell me anything”, having surgery on his paralyzed hands then learning to repair watches; when

just two years before, he was completely paralyzed and unable to do anything for himself. I watched a

man who never gave up, making me aware of my own difficulty sticking with things I found hard,

giving me encouragement to push on through obstacles, admiring him and following his example. We

were told father was very ill and would die, and so we moved here so that mother would have her three

sisters around for support.



This is the place where death came knocking; getting my attention, seeing it through the eyes

of a child 8 years old. On that dreadfully anticipated day, a week before thanksgiving, my sister and I

were walking home from school, pressing our fantasizing faces against the shop display windows in the

old brick buildings on Main street, suddenly hearing the sirens screaming, announcing the impending

demise of our father, we run through the thick gluey air around us, feeling we can’t get home fast

enough. As we turn the corner, our neighborhood has turned chaotic, the ambulance speeds past us,

straining to see in, we freeze in place, gasping for air, struggling to break free of our paralyzing fear, we

run towards the small cottage surrounded by menacing triple-decker buildings: reaching home, our worst

fears come to life, and an overpowering cloud of grief descends down upon us.



Being in the back seat of the car give me a drive-in theater view; we pull into the Charles

Chapin hospital’s drive-up, large bay view window, keeping the polio monster away. My vision alters,

the scene becomes surreal; we are at a drive-in movie, father is a  TV. actor, lying on a metal table,

surrounded by masked people all in white, closing the curtain on his last act, his final curtain call.

Mother returns and tell us “your father is dead”. We hold onto each other crying, not fully gasping her

meaning, just knowing he was gone from us forever.



Here I’d like to consider the word dead; it is a four-letter word, considered obscene, not easily

talked about, defined as the end of life, whose meaning brings fear, dread, loss, grief, anger, disbelief

denial, anguish, and maybe even acceptance, of the loss of a loved one, or when facing ones death. Since

my first contact with the grim reaper back in 1957, I was drawn by the gravity of the situation, always

aware when the angel of death was just around the corner, learning not to hide from it.



I was an adult, when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and given the death sentence.

While death was knocking at the door, we were together in the 2nd story yellow sears siding house,

where her mother had stared death in the face; spending our days sharing our life stories, determined to

leave no unfinished business,  opening up and connecting with each other,  hearing her say “ I know my

daughter as an adult”; learning the importance of closure. I supported myself working at RI hospice,

caring for the dying and their love ones; being the on call nurse from 5pm to 8am, covering the state of

Rhode Island, in the deep dark nights of the soul, going to their homes, sitting with them while they

experienced the valley of death, and staying with the family till the body was taken to the mortuary.

Learning to be with those who are dying, in an open supportive way, was what I experienced that year.



I was a hospice nurse for 10 years after the loss of mother, working with a team, we were a

family who gave excellent care and learning to enjoy life and not take things for granted. Dying is the

state leading up to the place called Death, an area shrouded in mystery. Death comes in all shades and

colors; good deaths for those who have lived a loving life, transformational deaths for those who have

lead exceptionally unselfish aware lives, peaceful deaths for those who are ready, and bad painful deaths

for those not able to let go; learning we die the way we live.  We can be holding on to attachments, not

being able to let go! Our resistance, pain, agitation and anger can mobilize energy, temporarily. During

the final 36 hours, it is not uncommon for the dying to rally and have lots of energy to do things they

have not done in awhile; eat a large meal, wake up and say goodbye, get out of bed, walk outside; then

suddenly pass on; while the family are in shock, having believed that they had gotten better. There may

be unfinished business; waiting for someone to visit, for someone to give permission to die, to say that

its OK, that everyone will be OK, and will miss them. There is a thin curtain between reality and altered

states of consciousness during the dying process; they may describe seeing those who have gone before

them, coming to assist them through the transition.  Some eventually get so exhausted that death creep in

and steals them away, not able to keep death at bay. Death is not at our beck and call.



Today I interact with Alaskan pioneers, who live well beyond their 90s, asking, “why am I still

here?” wondering, “what use am I?”. They are strong people, having a great ability to adapt to the harsh

environment, who live with diseases and illnesses that kill others, with a strong life force that is slowly

evaporating into the ethers, while they share with us, their final gifts of wisdom, acceptance and love. Is

it so difficult for us to just sit with them, listen to their stories, and enjoying them, before death comes

and takes them away?