As a kid, I didn't have the patience to wait for my pleas to be answered, so I took it upon myself to look for my own solution. I was watching television one Sunday morning and I saw a man named Oral Roberts. As I watched his show I learned he was a serious preacher who believed in providing his followers with whatever type of miracle they needed. I was fascinated with his spellbinding promises and mesmerized by his unusual approach to healing. He invited any of the people in his congregation who needed a prayer to be answered, to merely step forward and he would personally lay his hand on the person's head while he contacted God with the request. I observed person after person approaching him and quickly being healed of their illness or frailty. I was amazed and completely curious! At one point he turned to the camera and invited his viewing audience to put a hand on the screen and merely request to be healed. I felt hesitant and a bit apprehensive as I carefully turned around to make certain that no one from my family saw me as I placed my right hand on the screen. I waited for a burst of light to pour into the room announcing the miracle to be granted. I kept waiting, waiting, waiting until I thought that maybe I had placed the wrong hand on the screen, so I put up my left hand...still nothing. As I dropped my hand down, I felt betrayed. Who could I blame? Oral Roberts? God? Me? I quickly clicked off television and never turned on that show again. I felt a bit foolish for hoping that a cure for cancer would happen by simply touching a TV screen, but isn't it a pointedly sad illustration of the true depth of my desperation?
All of our family struggles did seem to bring us together with a special bond built on the solid foundation of survival and determination. Facing each challenge with Dad's drinking or Mary's physical or mental needs, we would gather together and tackle the obstacle with as much of a united front as possible, Mom always leading. Her powerful faith was the main glue that kept us happy and focused on the positive aspects of life. Mom shared her faith with each of us on a daily basis, and we followed her model as dutiful children.
During this time, my relationship with the Catholic religion was growing and developing, while becoming a major part of my daily life. I was enrolled in a parochial elementary and middle school, so I had the opportunity throughout my formative years to learn all the policies and principles of the Roman Catholic Church. I took it all quite seriously as I attempted to faithfully follow each set of guidelines as it would be presented. I was trying to lead my life based on all the facts I had to memorize from the Baltimore Catechism. What an effective way to show God how worthy I was! Throughout these years I continued to feel like a freak, but I was becoming more calloused to the way I would let it affect my outward attitude. Remember, I could easily calm the hurt and pain with food or humor. My Pandora's Box was also never far from my reach. These coping techniques were successful for numerous years. Although once I remember wondering what would ever happen if Pandora's Box was ever opened and exposed. Indeed!