Mary was an Emergency Room Nurse in Massachusetts at the major Hospital where I was taken after suicide attempts, beatings, and other nastiness. She first met me or treated me when I was around 8 years old which I must admit fascinated me because she knew me before I met her son Kevin.
Earlier this year we were talking about her career as a Nurse and she told me one of her requirements was to keep a log or more accurately a personal diary of what happened in the Emergency Room. She told me it was a hospital process that helped the Nurse look back on what had happened analytically to improve Emergency Room care. She also told me she had kept a diary since her childhood and had kept one until the day Kevin was reported KIA in Southeast Asia. I guess she was broken by that like all of us were.
She asked if it would be okay if she sent me a copy of something she had written on her computer in Microsoft Word and I agreed not thinking much about it. She then added please do not be offended by what was written. I found that comment odd until I received her document.
She titled it "Girl at First Sight" which I thought interesting and she had pulled her notes from her diaries and in chronological order listed the key dates in her life when I interrupted it in one way or another. There are notes from both the Emergency Room and her personal home life and I guess it gives an insight into the issues kids like me can cause in the lives of others not belonging to your family.
I will admit I find it disturbing and honestly do not remember some of the incidents she describes in the Emergency Room. Her personal comments are both disturbing and enlightening because I never ever thought what issues I had to have caused her family. I had always thought my time with Kevin began in June 1959 but he obviously saw something a lot earlier than I realized.
I was an Emergency Room Nurse at a major Hospital in Massachusetts. Trauma was something I was accustomed to and death was something you became immune to because getting involved emotionally was not wise for Doctor or Nurse in an Emergency Room. We had the mundane mainly but some of the horror is beyond horrible.
I am not sure of the actual first time this child was in the Emergency Room but the first time I saw her was in March of 1954. The words are different because I used a shorthand note taking process and I have added my own thoughts to what I remember. When the notes come from my personal diary I will add (P).
My life and the life of my family were about to change and initially not for the better.
I did take out her real first name which ironically when shortened to a nickname can be a girl name.
Wednesday, March 17, 1954
We received a call for an overdose case and they were bringing the patient in. It was a child and the child had downed a lot of sedatives. The one thing that is difficult to deal with for any Medical Professional is children. We will tell you that we do not feel any different but as a mother I am sorry but I felt for the children.
My initial thought was why in the name of god is a child attempting suicide? When the Ambulance arrived they wheeled this beautiful little girl in with an obviously distraught family and I was not the primary Nurse for this child. It is weird but when we get kids everyone seems to take a look when the child is wheeled in.
I was dealing with a rather nasty automobile accident. It was hectic and I thought I recognized one of family members but amidst chaos there is little time for a reunion. We were in the process of losing a foolish young man from a drag racing accident and it was messy.
Emergency rooms are busy even in the calmest of times and I heard the child had attempted suicide again and had been treated and released which seemed odd because a young girl should not be attempting suicide. In order to have a more stable home life I moved from the Emergency Room and went to work in patient recovery. We try to become adept at putting thoughts of patients out of our minds for obvious reasons but I never could and Emergency Room medicine is hectic and exciting when your Hospital is the only Critical Care Emergency Room locally. We received all the bad cases and I loved it.
I was bored silly and in late 1957 went back to the Emergency Room as a confirmed junky of the excitement and variety of cases. It was less than a week later that I had my second encounter with that young girl I had witnessed arrive as a suicide attempt only this time someone had beaten her almost senseless.
Friday, November 15, 1957
The Police arrived with her and it was odd. They seemed so blasé about the entire incident despite how hysterical the child was. She was not quite 12 and had several broken ribs and bruises everywhere and had been obviously kicked savagely based on the extent of the bruising and the shape and angle of the bruise marks. She had taken a very savage beating. We stabilized her quickly and while she was being X-rayed I walked over to one of Police Officers and asked why they were not upset and got the shock of my life. The officers said “boys will be boys” and “he asked for it being the way he was” and I was speechless. There was no way that was a boy was my immediate comment. One officer made a sarcastic slur that I refuse to include here.
When she or was it he came back from X-ray she/he was still crying and asking for her mother. I found it impossible to look at the child and think “boy” but there on the chart it said “M” and I was dumbfounded. The mother was in route from Boston according to another nurse and it was a very chaotic Friday afternoon and I was on another case in a matter of minutes. My dissociative mindset put the previous case out of my mind so I could concentrate on a new emergency.
Misc Notes. (P)
Occasionally I would hear that “the” child had been back in Emergency but life went on. My youngest son Kevin was quite the athlete and in 1958 was a sophomore in High School and as a QB had led his High School to a very successful season and we were so proud of him. He had little interest in schoolwork and that was a problem so as he started his junior year the school assigned him a tutor, at our request, and this is where all of our lives changed forever.
My husband and I had encouraged our children to come to us if they had any issues and we would discuss them together and no issue was out of bounds including sex and girl/boy stuff as Kevin said. Kevin had a “steady” girlfriend who I was not particularly fond of but Kevin seemed to like her so it was what it was.
Kevin said his tutor was the boy they had started the entire advanced curriculum for in the high school. Kevin then said he had never met anyone so timid as his tutor or so weird and confusing but I missed that part initially. Kevin’s grades improved dramatically and as parents we were pleased and after the football season Kevin said the tutor recommended a Saturday session and it was arranged.
Saturday, November 29, 1958 (P)
The door bell rang and this very pretty young girl was standing there and she was Kevin’s tutor, according to her, and I asked her to wait in the entryway as I called Kevin from the Study. When Kevin walked by I quietly asked him why he had told me his tutor was a boy when in fact it was this beautiful young girl. Kevin stopped and said something very problematic.
“That is a boy mom and it is very confusing because … She is not a boy.”
Well, I was kind of confused also and very startled to hear Kevin use a female pronoun. When I took his coat to hang it up his body was willowy like a prepubescent girl but I could see the narrow waist and the wider hips and my first thought was this should not or could not be. His voice was like a little girl and he had very long hair for a boy of late 1958 and when he shook my hand it was so soft and feminine I have to admit I found it disconcerting. I would guess he was 5-7 to 5-8, around 115 lbs and indescribably beautiful for a “boy”. He so obviously looked like a girl but he was not a girl. No wonder Kevin seemed so confused.
The way Kevin looked at him as he walked into the study was not how a boy looked at another boy and we needed to have a talk. The boy looked ashamed, very timid, and so incredibly shy. The door closed loudly and he was startled. I cannot imagine what this child went through every day and I suddenly realized this had to be the boy from the Emergency Room. He was exceedingly polite and every time he looked at Kevin he turned away quickly.
I found it hard to use a male pronoun and I wondered if he was maybe a hermaphrodite. I have never in my life seen a boy this feminine and that depressingly sad. There was an almost eternal sadness in his every movement. His eyes were just so sad and it is hard to explain but they seemed like a window into some kind of internal agony. He was literally scary beautiful for a boy. I had this weird thought that with makeup he would be model beautiful which I pushed aside very quickly.
After the tutor left I told Kevin we needed to talk. How do you talk to your son about a boy that looks more beautiful than most girls? Carefully I guess.
Kevin was very distressed. Kevin said people hurt her all the time and told me point blank he found it impossible not to consider her a girl. Kevin then said she shows up to school with bruises and contusions and will not tell him what happened. I get this feeling he wants to protect him which I find distressing. The first talk did not go well and this cannot end well. I need to get his dad involved. Is my son possibly gay?
Thursday December 4, 1958
Oh my god. Kevin’s tutor was rushed into the hospital this afternoon with some horrible injuries. I was on another case but everyone seemed stressed by it and there were multiple fractures and contusions everywhere and the child was just asking for his mother. This is not good. Asked several of the police officers, when I had time, what happened and they said he fell down granite steps of high school but I don’t believe it for one second. One of his arms was obviously broken when he was wheeled in.
Monday December 8, 1958 (P)
Kevin appeared very distressed at dinner and when questioned said someone had hurt his tutor very badly and I had expected this but not the tears and the threat he would kill whoever did this to her. I looked at his dad and they don’t teach you how to handle this as a parent. Kevin appears to care for him a lot. We need to deal with this and sooner rather than later.
My husband and I talked and we decided to sit down with him this weekend.
Saturday December 13, 1958 (P)
The tutor came again this morning and watching him with the tutor is eerie. Kevin is treating him like a girl. Pulled out his chair and is obviously concerned about his welfare. He has to be in a lot of pain because a broken collarbone really hurts and his fractured arm is in a cast. I cannot believe he came to tutor Kevin like that. Shit, I wonder if he likes Kevin. We need to stop this now!
Sunday December 14, 1958 (P)
The sit down with Kevin was a disaster. Kevin was upset we thought he liked a boy but he insisted she is a girl and we had a really bad argument with him. I do not think he realizes his attraction and I do not know how to stop it. His dad is beside himself wondering if his son is gay.
Thursday January 8, 1959
Kevin’s tutor was in Emergency again and this time it was really serious. It was called in as a pediatric resuscitation which meant every nurse and doctor was to stand by to assist because the child was barely breathing. He was very close to death on arrival and an older brother was with him and obviously very distraught claiming “she” had overdosed on sedatives and he had not found her soon enough. A brother using a female pronoun like Kevin was something I never expected. What appeared to be her grandmother arrived and asked how he was doing and a heated argument took place with her grandson who screamed something about “you might have finally killed her you fucking old cow” which caused a few red faces in Emergency waiting.
Luckily we had a Cardiac specialist in house and we brought him back but it was too close for a 13 year old. We pumped him out and I was surprised how quickly he woke up. His grandmother never went near him but his brother was immediately by his side holding his hand. The child was hysterical because we revived him. Children should never want to commit suicide and I knew this was not the first.
Emergency was very busy and I turned that dissociative mindset on and put him out of my mind or tried to anyway. There was a minor commotion about 30 minutes later and his mother had arrived and I thought I heard the child ask why they just would not let him die and then something about “I am a girl” that garnered my attention but patient care comes first. The voice of her mother did sound familiar.
Saturday January 10, 1959 (P)
Kevin was very quiet and when I asked him why he said his tutor was supposed to be there today but her brother had called and said she was sick and could not make it and he did not believe him. I told Kevin he had tried to commit suicide on Thursday and was barely saved so I doubted he would be around for quite some time.
Kevin was very distraught and I asked did he have feelings for him. Kevin was actually upset and told me to please use female pronouns and that shocked me. Kevin told me, quite emotionally, that he tried to be her friend but she has built this wall around herself and the only time it comes down is when she is tutoring him. She will not even talk to him in the school corridors and all he wanted to do was be a friend.
I tried a different tact and asked Kevin what he thought of her and made sure to use a female pronoun. Kevin’s response totally shocked me. He basically said she is the nicest and kindest girl he has ever known. How could he say that when he has never seen her as a girl bothered me but if I am honest I realized if I did not know I would say girl instantly. I did not want to push Kevin any farther. He was very distressed. He will talk to us when he is ready or I hope he will.
Misc notes (P)
We tried to talk with Kevin several times but he refused. He appears to be very confused by this 13 year old whatever. Kevin Sr. is beside himself over this but he has not seen the child. Nothing good can come of this and I asked the school to assign him another tutor and they offered but Kevin refused. Not good at all.
The tutor was here on multiple Saturdays and he is prettier if that is possible. It is girl pretty and not boy pretty and I think he is using mascara. His eyes are striking. He never and I mean never looks anyone in the eye. The child is terrified it seems and is confused possibly. I kind of feel sorry for him.
Saturday April 18, 1959
We received an Emergency call from an ambulance that they had an attempted male rape victim in serious condition inbound and if it is possible raped boys are worse than raped girls. When the child arrived it was Kevin’s tutor. He arrived with his mother and both were hysterical but the child was crying and begging his mother to please let him die. It sent shock waves through all the Emergency personnel. His mother was my best friend during High School but reunions would have to wait.
There was blood everywhere on the child and he was very badly bruised with obvious signs of trauma around the head, buttocks, and a laceration, that was the blood culprit, that required 30 stitches on his head. I was one of the attending Nurses and it just infuriates anyone seeing a kid like this.
Police were there and I almost lost it when one cop told me he came on to some guy and the man defended himself. I told him I knew the child and he was afraid of his own shadow. It was just a truly horrible scene. I tried to talk with Martha, his mom, but we needed to rush him to X-ray for the head injuries. There was a hairline fractured skull so this child had been beaten with something very formidable. This was one time he was not going home.
Kids with Head Trauma go to the Intensive Care Unit and when I returned to Emergency I found Martha with her two other sons and the older boy said “I am going to kill that motherfucker this time” and Martha tried to calm him down. Martha was in such shock I realized she had not even recognized me and when I got a chance I pulled her aside and we talked.
How do you ask a mother about her son? Is your son gay? I never got that chance. Martha simply said, “He has told me I am a girl” almost from the day he could speak and nobody can cure him. She said she has had him with Psychiatrists and nobody has an answer and she said something about a Physician in New York that had a solution but it was outrageous. I wanted to say he sure does look like a girl but under the circumstances it seemed inappropriate. The older son asked me, “Is she going to be okay?” and I looked at him weirdly and he simply said, “If she is not a girl I have no idea what a girl is”, and walked away giving his mother a very stern look.
I was not expecting this.
Sunday April 19, 1959 (P)
It was a very rough day in Emergency on Saturday. There were lots of crazy fools and that child. I got home very late and decided Sunday was when I needed to talk with Kevin. After Mass we came home and we just sat him down in the Living Room and refused to let him avoid the problem we felt possibly existed.
I just bluntly asked Kevin are you attracted to him. Kevin asked me again not to use male pronouns. Kevin said he was very confused about his feelings for her. He said she smells like a girl; she feels soft like a girl; she walks like a girl; she acts like a girl; and she certainly looks and talks like a girl. Then he added, “I want to protect her but she will not let me be her friend and I am worried for her”.
I decided now was the time to tell Kevin what happened yesterday and he stunned me when he said he already knew because her older brother Ray was a friend of his. Oh shit. More complications than I need to hear about and deal with. The brother already considers him a girl.
I just bluntly asked him if he liked “her” the same way he liked other girls and he said he thought he did. Not what a mother and a father wanted to hear their son say about another boy but even I was beginning to question whether he was really a boy and we had both decided we would support our son even if he was gay and we told Kevin that and he simply said he was not gay. I guess that depended on how one looked at his tutor.
to be continued....?