Lenora grew up primarily in several western states. Her childhood was a blend of diverse arrangements and agreements by her immediate and extended family. Though an orphan she had siblings, one known and one unknown until recently. She was a witness to her mother’s murder when she was four and half years old. The stain of that memory followed her throughout her years. The pain has since dissipated but the memory periodically haunts her. She currently works as a store manager and likes to hire people from half-way houses to help them get their feet back on the ground.
NP: Do you recall much about the day your mother was murdered? And the immediate years afterward?
LK: My mom was killed in 1971, I was four and a half years old. My sister Donna (with the same mom, was two years old) immediately afterward I remember the car ride home with my grandparents. They were crying and very frustrated. I do not remember the funeral, but my sister remembers playing with me in the cemetery. It was surreal considering the death. Life goes on. You see, it was my stepfather that killed our mom. The day she filed for a restraining order to him, he strangled her to death that night. The family story and stories I have heard through people, was that she wanted a divorce and to take Donna and me away, to begin a new life.
NP: Did you ever become close to your real father?
LK: I recently discovered (three years ago) that my real dad died in 1971 maybe 1972. He was an alcoholic and basically drove his car into a wall and died. I have a sister with him that I just found out about three years ago through ancestory.com. A friend of mine found his real dad and after years of searching, so I thought why not try it. Within three weeks not knowing what I’D find out, I discovered the other sister (Chera) with the same father and a sister (Donna)with the same mom. Other than her name I didn’t know much.
I was torn…torn between the sister I knew of and the sister that I just became aware of. I called Donna and told her the whole thing. Donna had known for years that I wanted to find my real dad, and now my real dad was dead, but I have a sister with the same father.
NP: How was the relationship with Donna?
LK: Donna did not know anything about us (me, grandparents, aunts and uncles) until she was about 12. She was living with our stepfather. He kept us a secret. We all knew about her and would send her boxes at Christmas time with presents, until she was old enough to ask questions then the boxes stopped going to her. The stepfather remarried about six months after the murder. Donna always thought that the stepfather’s new wife was her real mom.
NP: What about relationships you had with other relatives?
LK: My mom’s parents adopted me. I found out about eight years ago that it was a closed adoption meaning that all legal names were changed on my birth certificate. What a surprise when the state of Oklahoma called me, as I was needing a copy of my birth certificate to tell me that the name of the mother on the certificate is not what it was supposed to be. I called my aunt, who I am very close to. I went to live with her when I was ten. She became my older sister (and mom) and taught me about life (how to put-on make-up, when I started my period) and so forth.
My grandparents were alcoholics at this time, and it was thought it would better to go live with my aunt. She suggested I try my grandmothers name and sure enough, there it was. I asked the lady on the phone why the names would have changed, her answer was simple but also confusing “closed adoption”, no wonder I couldn’t find my real father all these years.
NP: How do you think these early experiences affected your relationships?
LK: Wow – this is a big one – I was married when I was sixteen to a wonderful man who was ten years older (father figure, maybe) my dream was to have children and live happily ever after. Nope! Not at all. we have four beautiful children. who now have kids of their own! We would have been married thirty-seven years if we had stayed married, if I knew then what I know now I would have fought harder.
Although it is words repeating in my head “Lenora, you will die old and lonely” that is what keeps me going and trying to find love and a career. You see we divorced when the youngest was about three months and I had to go on with my life one way or another. One relationship after another.
Within a year of the divorce, I became pregnant with “my soul mate” only to have him get married to someone else when I was about seven months pregnant.
One night my ex-husband with the four kids called me and said he wanted to go on a date. I was confused as to why he was calling me, but he wanted to go on a date with me. I said “you do know that I am seven months pregnant” he said he would close his eyes, we both laughed. And we went on a date and we forgave and forgot and got married after the baby was born and moved to Tennessee.
The soulmate that impregnated me was marrying a woman who could not have kids, so I gave them my baby. That was the hardest thing I have ever done but he was the father (soulmate) of the child. Over the years my child with my soulmate and I grew very close.
My soul mate became the biggest heart ache. He was also running from the law because his ex-wife accused him of sexually abusing her daughter. He ended up spending four years in prison. I forgave him and locked him away in my heart and never believed the lie she had told, but I moved on with life again.
NP: How would describe your relationships over the years?
LK: I have been married six times including my first husband (married him two times) more times than I ever wanted to be married and honestly say that I will never do it again. it seems like when they wanted to tell me what to do and when to do it, is when I would question myself with the marriage, so I would end them.
One summer many moons ago I became involved with a much younger man and within this relationship I found “Rachel,” – she was a spunk of life and full of problems of her own: two kids with ex-husband. I guess I thought I could save her. For whatever reason it seemed like I needed to take care of her. My boyfriend at the time and her and I had a threesome (City of Angels music soundtrack) and boy was my world awakened. Her and I are still friends, but we really do not talk about those days. She got married again and for her husband’s birthday one year we had our last threesome. We started it and they finished it. It was beautiful, but not like the first time. The first time was like a sympathy in and out all the moves and touching and just being in touch with every feeling you have within your soul. But my kids would never approve of me loving a woman like that.
NP: Let’s get back to your stepfather. Did you question him when you got older?
MK: I have questioned him, but he denies it. Even though I witnessed it myself. When he was arrested many years ago for the murder, he was surprised about how much I looked like her. We could have been twins. The detectives even had me dress up like her so that maybe if he saw me, he would break. He did not. He would not even look at me. At this point her death is still unsolved as the court would not allow the testimony of a four-and-a-half-year-old…regardless, it does not stop the fact the I saw him murder her and run away.
NP: Did you find a need for therapy at any stage of your life?
LK: In the beginning, but I never liked doctors and because of the nature of the counseling, I would never open up. I have recently found out that after my mom was killed it took me several years to really talk to anyone. I have been told by my ex-husbands that I needed help. I am now on Prozac because I married someone just like my dad and my grandparents – an alcoholic.
NP: Did religion play a role at all in your journey?
LK: My grandmother was Roman Catholic. I attended catholic school until the 2nd grade. I got saved when I was ten and the first person to forgive was my stepfather. And I really did forgive him. No anger toward him just sadness from what he took from me, my mom. Today in life I’m affected by all the beliefs that I have come into contact with.
Years ago, I met a guy named David (he is probably my best friend, and a mentor) he told me about “the Secret ”… (there is none that’s not readily available to everyone) …it’s about positive thinking, visualizing, and creating your world from the universe…this in part, is how I came to a manager of the store where I work. It was my dream, thoughts and application of effort that brought me here.
I still believe in the power of the positive and negative forces in life. Forgiveness to others and to myself for all the mistakes I have made in this world called life. I do have my days that I am sad about choices I have made but think we all have them.
NP: Are you more spiritual today?
LK: I am – empathy towards others, sharing and giving to people is what I crave. Helping others in anyway, possible. Although I am taken for granted by this, I am still a willing to do what I feel is right.
NP: Where are you at now inside with that experience and others as you matured?
LK: On the inside I’m unsettled – I am married to an alcoholic that adores me and loves me. I love him too. But as I grow older in age and knowledge and strength in my spirituality, he is not, which is one reason why I am on Prozac (to deal with him).
NP: Who are you at this moment in time?
LK: Struggling…to stay or be on my own. My husband knows this too. He was married nineteen years to the mother of his kids. Nineteen years? I had six husbands in roughly that period of time. My work identifies me; it always had. I am a work alcoholic just like an alcoholic we all have our vices. I think if he knew the real me, the one that went shopping with an eighty-five plus old man to give him company and to help him shop today, probably would not shock him at all, but he may question the relationship.
You see I was abused when I was about eight or nine years old by one of my grandmother’s boyfriend, he was old (to what I remember) very old. He would get her drunk and then take advantage of me. To tell you the truth I am surprised that I even like sex today. After my grandmother found about it, he died within weeks. I always wondered if she had anything to do with it. So, to me going shopping with an older man means forgiveness for all that has happened to me. I feel at my age it is more of companionship that I seek.
The sex was when I was younger and needed the words “you are so good” to now just kiss me hold my hand and say good night.
I have dreams. one of them is to travel. I have also considered having a home with one half of it for young women getting back on their feet. I was never in the drug scene. Although I experimented with drugs and alcohol to test whether I had an addictive personality…I don’t. I don’t like extremes that comes with it.
We must all learn from the mistakes – good or bad. I am living this life just like everyone else, Except, some days feel like more minute by minute. Breath by breath………I have my dreams which are somewhat hidden for the sake of others – a small comfortable, clean home and or traveling in a renovated school bus to nourish my hippie soul. Meanwhile, I reach out to others in need.