Christmas on the streets. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas morning 1966: 2:00 A.M. #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

BEAUTIFUL BABY DOLL FOR BLOG CHRISTMAS 2017

Thank you for joining me. Whenever the darkness of our crazy old world threatens to overwhelm me I remember the times when the wonderful spirits of good people who saught only to give joy with no expectation of return enriched my life. I share this precious miracle with you each year that I am able. My Christmas gift to all those that may despair or have lost faith in the belief that most human beings are intrinsically good.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets … In ANY town.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions, yet for us, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked Baby Jenny to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some leftover decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He spoke to Jenny…”I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut except for a “Gee thanks … Big Mike”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing, but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all, he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, so we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the Palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable; if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence, I just grinned like mad and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped up in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so…Um…Yeah, thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow…squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

Tinned Hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce …with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, a radio, and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using, we sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping place; she was a little tipsy as well having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said…but the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a good place for us to be. It was an alien experience but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy. Strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch; I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess–what is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was around eight-years-old.

Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world, she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all; was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves’ over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart … is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

Thank you for being here. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, serene and joyous Christmas, no matter where on this planet you’re from.

Faint Echoes of Laughter here on Amazon.com

KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

Preview my Non-Fiction books “Empty Chairs” & “Faint Echoes of Laughter” @pursoot #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

Please be advised, the contents of my non-fiction memoir books are disturbing. Child abuse is not a pretty topic. If my books helps you understand the long term repercussions  of abuse, it will have been worth the pain of writing them.

.”Empty Chairs” BOOK 1 (Standing Tall & Fighting Back) By Suzanne Burke writing as Stacey Danson.

empty-chairs-cover-kindle-showing-series-details

 

Newly Edited May 2017.
Stacey Danson, lived through and beyond horrific child abuse. This book tells of her brutal beginnings, the streets of Sydney at the age of eleven were preferable to the hell she endured at home. She ran, and those streets became her home for five years. She was alone, ill, and afraid. Stacey also had an unshakeable belief that she would do more than just survive her life. She would not allow her future to be determined by the horrors of her childhood. She reached out for something different; there had to be more to life; if she could only find it. She had a dream of a life where pain and humiliation had no place. She was determined to find that life. Empty Chairs is the beginning of the journey. Now she is living the dream.

Just one of the 390 outstanding reviews of Empty Chairs.

on March 13, 2017
This was a profoundly painful read. The author writes from her experience, from her terror, from her strength. She uses the language of this experience to powerfully capture the depraved situations that she ultimately survived. Everyone should read this book – everyone. Why? Nothing will change in terms of child abuse until we are all aware of its horror. Perpetrators, whether doctors or priests or parents or neighbors, need to be incarcerated where they will learn what it means to be terrorized and used. Therein rests the hope for our children. No one who tortures the most precious among us (little children) has a right to walk our streets freely.

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 (Standing Tall & Fighting Back.) By Suzanne Burke writing as Stacey Danson.

Faint echoes kindle with series details. (2) copy

The shocking and spirited sequel to the much-praised ‘Empty Chairs’. Life on the streets of Sydney was preferable to the nightmare Stacey Danson had survived in the hell that was home.

She hit the streets running at the age of eleven, and armed with a flick-knife and a fierce determination to live a different life, she began the journey from the 1960s to today. For those that came to know ‘Sassy girl’ in ‘Empty Chairs’, and for those caring people that asked how her life worked out from there, ‘Faint Echoes of Laughter’ continues the story.

For those that haven’t met her yet, this book stands alone as a tribute to the kindness of strangers, the loyalty of true friendships and the way things really are on the streets of any town …. anytime.

JUST ONE OF THE 189 Outstanding Reviews.

on April 26, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read Stacey’s first book ‘Empty Chairs’ and was eager to read the sequel and find out what happened to this brave and courageous little girl, who ended up living on the streets of Sydney at the age of eleven. ‘Faint Echoes of Laughter’ continues her story. As you read you are pulled into Stacey’s world, her struggles, her thoughts and despite it all, her dreams for a better life for herself. Tough decisions are made and with a reference written by the local librarian and friend Eunice, Stacey lands herself a job after many knock backs. A page turner in every sense of the word you read how are slowly her life changes for the better. Heartbreak and pain follow as the scars from the past are impossible to erase, despite being married to a loving husband. The roll of honour at the end of this most emotional and inspiring memoir brought me to tears as Stacey recounts what happened to her friends from her past life on the streets. An absolute must read.

BOOK 3 of my memoir “Still Sassy at Sixty” Available early 2018.Still sassy at sixty 1st promo SEPTEMBER 2017

Celebrating the newly edited edition of “Empty Chairs: (Standing Tall & Fighting Back Book 1) #Memoir On sale now at $0.99.

The following trailer and the contents of my memoir are very confronting. Because they absolutely must be. Child abuse will never cease if we continue to turn away, seeing nothing … doing nothing.

HERE IS THE TRAILER Created by my dear friend Sessha Batto.

PREVIEW EMPTY CHAIRS BELOW.

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Book REVIEW Video “Empty Chairs” by Suzanne Burke writing as Stacey Danson. Reviewed by Gwen Plano. #RRBC

How marvelous it is to have my book reviewed in this way. I am so honored to have  Gwen Plano feel strongly about my work. Please, pop over to the YouTube site and leave a comment on her video.

Thank you for dropping by.

 

 

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“Glimpses Across The Barricades” #Poetry in progress. ‘In Dreams of A Perfect World’ by Suzanne Burke.

Welcome to ‘Glimpses Across the Barricades’ This poem was included in the epilogue of my book “Faint Echoes of Laughter”.

In A  Perfect World

by

Suzanne Burke

 

Dreams of aperfect world image

As I lay snugly warm and safe
Within my families womb
My heart begins a slow sad ache
For another child will cry tonight
Another child will die tonight
What was once their home
will become their tomb

Anger tears me as I read
The desperate plead of a child in need
How can we continue to ignore
The deafening cries from every land?
Can the balance be restored or
Are we so desensitized to pain
That we can’t give
Without thought of gain

If I had but one wish to make
Then that wish would surely be
That when my own sweet child has grown,
and if fate so decrees

I’ll hold her own children on my knee
And when I lay them in their beds
No sad thoughts will fill their heads

For our world will have become a place
Where all its children have their space
Where no ugly thoughts will touch their minds
When faith is restored in humankind

No sweet child will need to cry
No hungry child will need to die

We have that power in our hands
To make these changes throughout all lands
If we can but clearly see
That our world is not
What it needs to be

Once the changes have been made
Each child may sleep with sweet child dreams

Each child will wake to see the dawn
Each child will be thankful
they were born.

In my dreams of a perfect world.

 

 

What Mother’s Day means to me: “Mothers In The ‘Hood.” #RRBC

The ABSOLUTE Privilege of Motherhood.

‘Mothers in the ‘Hood!’

HER child.

Yes, I did say privilege. Why? … Because it must be so!  Motherhood must be regarded as the greatest joy of your combined life experiences.

We hand out special licenses to folks wishing to drive a car. A car is a potentially lethal weapon.

A child created and raised by unfit parents is also … a potentially lethal weapon.

I have written much about the woman that gave birth to me. For that is all she ever was. I spent many, many, soulless, and empty years hoping to find a different, a more palatable and convenient truth. For I so badly needed to believe, that She was damaged, and accordingly had no control over what she caused to come into being.

That thought kept me reasonably sane, in a violent, pain-filled world … that hated world, that world that made no sense to me at all.

But the years have peeled back the blinders that I used for safety, and I have come unwillingly to believe, that rather than an illness that caused her to inflict pain, I was instead her living sacrifice, to be punished upon the ‘altar’ of the train-wreck of her own life.

In order to accept that, I needed to lose the hate. Whilst I’ll never be indifferent, to even the mere mention of her name …  that bitter bile of hatred has been tempered over time. Not ever fully understanding what caused her to inflict such vile pain, is simply now just something I have learned to bear. Losing the hate I have accomplished. Forgiving her is a whole other journey I have at last been at least willing to begin.

My Child.

Amanda and MUM together ashfield
My daughter and I at the outset of our new adventure together.

The joy of giving birth will never leave my mind. Into my freshly awakening soul, a precious girl-child was permitted entry. I have yet to feel a more all-encompassing need to protect another living being. For the very first time in my life I was grateful to have been born a woman.

The greatest love I’ve ever known erupted into my unprepared world.

Her laughter and that boundless lust for life colored my planet with sunshine … as did the never ending fear that I would somehow let her down. That reflected in much darker corners in sombre tones.

My husband and I created ‘Magic’ for her newly awakened self. Her fathers’ loving parents, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews all became our willing accomplices, as they fell captive to her joyous laughter. We reconstructed ‘Neverland’ and housed her as the reigning princess within its seemingly impenetrable walls.

All those marvelous days we’d celebrate with the ‘Magic’ element firmly in its place.

Christmas, and Birthdays, Easter egg-hunts, and Halloween. We never granted any excuse to miss a single one.

We sheltered her like a fragrant Frangipani, never allowing even a hint of the cold touch of frost to damage those tender flowers.

And when unheralded, the end of the reign of the King and Queen ruling together united …  stormed into her life, at the as yet untested age of eighteen; that precious ivory tower melted like chocolate into  untried sands.

She staggered into a world she was unprepared for, for we’d never handed her the weapons or the skill with which to use them.

We lost some years she and I, whilst each of us learned to both grow, and let go. Time was an ally then, and softly the healing leaves were sown.

Please know we’ve journeyed far in those intervening years, and know too, that life is joyous now, and we share our tears  our truths and fears.

She asked me to be there, in that precious, priceless, unforgettable time as she gave birth to her son. How lucky am I to be so loved.

My Child’s Child.

Jacob Birthday
My Grandson on his 3rd Birthday.

He came screaming into his world two weeks earlier than expected. My child’s child … my grandson. I had the utter joy of seeing that look on her face as she craned to see and experience that ageless ‘falling in love with your first child’ moment.

We live together now, my daughter, my grandson and I. She has done me the great honor of asking me to assist her to raise her son.

Wise beyond her years she knew that living with my grandson’s daddy would only end badly for all three of them.

I’ve watched on proudly as she works tirelessly with the little ones’ father to be as utterly fair to each other as is humanly possible.

You will never hear one negative word about him. NOT in the house where his son lives, and grows. The young one loves his daddy unconditionally, which is as it should be for now. My child, grants, to her child, the right to ask questions, and she answers them with as much honesty as an almost five year old can handle. She gives him the ‘fairy tales’ with a hefty dose of magic …. but she also reads to him the darker ones, age appropriate to him.

Which does he prefer? I’m smiling here. For as long as there is no blood shown, or discussed, he’ll choose the dark stuff, every time. He’s relentless in the joy that he sheds when he’s just being a boy.

My daughter yesterday repeated something she says on occasion, which I will never tire of hearing. “Mom, I had the happiest childhood of any kid ever.”

She gives to me freely the greatest compliment I have ever heard.

Her way of parenting is uniquely her own, she teaches and creates using magic, and world truths tempered by her own life experiences, and above all things her all encompassing and unconditional ability to show and give love.

We’ll make quite the proud trio on Sunday Mothers Day May 14th  …. My Child … Her Child … and I.

I’m here and overjoyed to be so.  I have so many marvelous reasons to celebrate.

I wish you happiness, and the ability to share it with people that you love, on that special day. I am,  and will remain, forever grateful for the privilege of being graced with the title of  “Mother”.

It is possibly the hardest earned and most rewarding of any title you may have been granted.

Happy Mothers Day roses

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“Glimpses Across The Barricades” My Poetry in progress. ‘Jamie’s Laughter’ #memoir.

Hello and welcome to my poetry in progress. “Glimpses Across The Barricades” is my collection of poetry and moments from my strange and unprepared life.

I had fifteen wonderful friends … damaged beyond repair. They lost their brave attempts to win a battle with a life too harsh. They removed themselves one by one from a world they had grown too utterly weary to exist in.

They were wild, wilful and wonderful.

My soul is incomplete now that they have all gone.

I would never have believed it possible that I would be the Last One Standing.

This poem is dedicated to my ‘Jamie’ …  “I’ll know exactly where to find you, where the shoreline meets the sun.”

Jamies Laughter overlooking ocean

Jamie.

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

I didn’t recognize the voice when that call was made

Although that number was long etched into my soul.

How could a glowing day suddenly fall dark and forever lonely?

Why did you leave without me …

and leave me here forever …  without the protection of your shade?

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

All the echoes of your presence are shattering my soul.

Sleep no longer welcomed for the nightmares that it holds

The tears I will not permit to fall now,

Lay waiting beneath the anger

But … that anger first needs a place to go.

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

Days have melted into weeks now,

The faint echoes of your laughter at last come welcome to my heart

Of all those crazy years together and the remorseless times apart.

They all seemed so insignificant when we did together meet

 

But two people with needs such as ours … cannot forever be

Not needing each others strength enough

The one thing we could never forgive.

We knew with ageless wisdom

That our great love had nowhere to live.

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

Every year we’d meet again when summer touched our skin

When e’er we both resided in the country of our kin

And year-by-year those numbers dwindled

As fate took dear friends to its shores

We remained the last two standing

Conscious of our mortality

Like we’d never been before

We held each other and promised that our own lives we’d never take.

 

I know now that was a promise we should have never dared to make.

 

For we are all combatants on this battlefield called life,

and our individual weapons are by experience finely honed

But when life carries greater guns than ours

And battle weary …  bloodied and broken we resign

It is not meant as a punishment to those we leave behind.

 

I need to believe that the solace of your eternal dark

Has comforted you with arms that will hold you safe

Until again I join you under that summer sun

And our dreams have a second chance of rising from the ashes of our lives.

Be at peace, My Jamie.

I’ll hold you safely in my dreams.

Until at last I rejoin you on our sacred shore.

I have included the links below to some URGENT ASSISTANCE HOTLINES and Organizations World Wide. Suicide Prevention is possible, if we know what to look for, and have qualified folks on hand to enlighten us further and offer immediate assistance.

I ask you, wherever you may be on our planet to take a brief moment if you would, and ADD to the list of bonafide Hotlines, by sharing the link to them and their location in the comments section.

I will then compile them and ADD them to a long list I am preparing for my next NON-FICTION work. Thank you so much.

BEYOND BLUE AUSTRALIA.

LIFELINE SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AUSTRALIA

Relationship Crisis Assistance AUSTRALIA

Australian Govt Mental Health ASSISTANCE HOTLINE

A Comprehensive List of U.S.A and U.K telephone HOTLINES and HELP-LINES

Kids Help Phone: CANADA

The Lifeline: The Canada Foundation. CANADA

My Non-Fiction works written under my pen-name of Stacey Danson are available as follows.

empty-chairs-cover-kindle-showing-series-details

“Empty Chairs” on AMAZON.COM

faint-echoes-kindle-with-series-details

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” on Amazon.com

I will be featuring posts over the coming months that will give insights into what signs to look for in ‘Child abuse and neglect’. Insights into how to approach a child that you suspect may be enduring abuse. How to contact the authorities and what response you may reasonably expect.

Thank you for taking the time to be here today.

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