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STICKS AND STONES



If there was ever a time when I, as a child, felt totally worthless because of the actions of an adult, it would have to be when I stood before Mother Winters, the head matron of the Children's Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida.

I will never forget her constantly calling me a “son-of-a-bitch” and an “illegitimate bastard.” If this did not happen on a daily basis, it certainly happened on a weekly basis for more than 10 years.

I would stand there, as a little boy, with my head down, eyes to the floor. Even as a young teen, I would do the same thing when she plowed into me with her foul mouth. I would stand there wondering why and how she hated me so much. I would wonder if what she was saying to me was really true.

"You are an illegitimate bastard, who should have been put out of your misery at birth," she would say.

"Yes ma'am, Mother Winters," I’d respond as I stood motionless afraid to move a muscle.

No matter what I did or said to her, she would not stop. I had already learned from experience that crying in front of her meant nothing.

"Get down on your knees and ask God to forgive you for being a worthless bastard," she order.

Slowly, I fell down on my knees. I pressed my hands together and then raised them in the air.

"Please forgive me God for being a bastard," I said.

"A worthless bastard," she hollered.

"Dear God, please forgive me for being a worthless bastard," I responded.

"Doesn't it feel good when you tell the truth?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am, Mother Winters,” I said.

"Is there any way that I cannot be a bastard any more, Mother Winters?" I asked as I lowered my hands to my sides.

"I'm afraid not, Roger Dean."

I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I can still see myself sitting there kneeling down on my knees wishing I were dead. That was the exact split second in my life when I finally accepted the fact that I was worthless - that I had no value to anyone on the face of this earth.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." So goes the saying.

Let there be no doubt that the ‘words’ we adults use to our children can have more of an affect than "sticks and stones" ever thought about having.



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