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Each year, the R.O.S.E. Fund receives numerous applications for our awards. These applicants tell stories that are, at once, poignant, heartbreaking and awe-inspiring.

The stories we hear from these remarkable women are constant reminders of the tremendous support we receive from our donors and volunteers. Because of this continued support, we are able, proud and extremely humbled to announce the 2009 recipient of the R.O.S.E. Fund Award; a woman of extraordinary spirit and strength of character: Nadine Walker Mooney.

Nadine’s story greatly moved and encouraged all of us at the R.O.S.E. Fund; now, we would like to share some excerpts from her incredible story of transforming from a victim of brutal abuse to the epitome of an astonishingly courageous survivor.

“In spite of our mutual reason for coming together, I am happy that the R.O.S.E. Fund has made it possible for the opportunity to connect with all of you. I am certain that the sharing of our respective stories will ease some of our pain. In addition, I am hopeful that our stories will empower our lives for the better.

My new life is more challenging than anything I have dealt with. I am legally blind. I have been this way since March 20, 2006. On that day, I became the victim of an attempted murder/ suicide.

I was involved in a relationship that I tried to end. He would not let me. What he did to me then, to him[self] and our families, was horrific, sad and completely unnecessary. I made every effort to end the relationship in an amicable manner. But, he was very possessive, obsessive and destructive.

Knowledge of these things prompted me to put a quick end to this relationship. I was faced with the fear that he might kill himself and take me with him. In the end, my fears were confirmed. That is exactly what he tried to do, on that fateful morning in March. I survived. He did not.

Besides losing my vision, my hearing has been somewhat reduced. The doctors expected me to have very little hearing left. But, because I took such good care of my health and body, I was able to make what the doctors called “an amazing recovery.” I no longer have any sense of smell and my taste buds have been drastically reduced. I have just enough to enjoy the food I eat. Thank God for that.

But, I can walk and talk and think and move and hug and kiss and smile and breathe and dance and sing and so much more.

My children are grown. I have four: three girls and a son. They are wonderful and productive and strong and kind and loving and intelligent. Three of them have children; I have six grandchildren: Five girls and one boy. They are all incredibly funny, smart and beautiful. [They] could not have asked for better parents.

Prior to the ‘incident’ that left me blind, life was good. I had a wonderful career as a medical skincare professional. I had a nice apartment in Boston’s upscale South End. I had an active social life and lots of fun times. I was applying to Northeastern University for a degree as a Physician Assistant. This is one level below an M.D. My new ambitions were to work in the operating room of one of Boston’s top hospitals, specializing in plastic surgery.

These dreams have come to a screeching halt.

This relationship was a short one. We had been together for only eleven months. On a Monday night, April 18, 2005, the man who would forever change the direction of my life walked through the door of a Boston jazz club I often frequented. Ron approached me and started up a conversation. He was physically attractive. I found him somewhat interesting, funny and sure of himself. Before I left, he asked for my phone number. I took his but did not give him mine. When I finally called him, he was more than ready to see me again. During our first date, he told me that if I had not called him, he would have returned to the club, every Monday night, until he saw me again. In hindsight, I should have suspected certain things about his character that could be a problem. But, I did not. Like most women, I was flattered by his admission.

Our relationship started [well]. He was very considerate, funny and very protective of me. But, by the eighth month, things rapidly began to change. He started showing parts of his character that were going to be a problem: he became easily angered, very jealous and hit and hurt me on two different occasions as a result of his own insecurities. He was likely an alcoholic. His bouts with depression returned after I told him I wanted to end our relationship. Then, he became threatening and began stalking me when I refused to see him. By now, though, it would be too late to get out of this unscathed. Making matters worst, he practically lived at my place. I made the terrible mistake of giving him a key to my apartment. In the end, I had to change the locks on the main hallway and my apartment doors. As a result, I also had to pay for eight additional hallway keys made for the other tenants in my building. Consequently, my landlord threatened to evict me if he was seen visiting me. I was OK with that. This threat of eviction would allow me to tell him, in the hope that this would make him stay away.

But, neither the changing of the locks, nor the threat of eviction, kept him away. He told me that a restraining order would not keep him away, either. He admitted to having received those in the past. So, rather than staying away, he began stalking me in the mornings, on my way to catch the train for work.

It was on one of those mornings when he attacked me. It was shortly after I left my home for work, between 6:10 and 6:15 in the morning.

Through God’s mercy, I have no recollection of the attack. But, what I do know is that his possessive, obsessive and jealous personality would not allow him to let me find happiness elsewhere.

I awoke one day in Boston Medical Center to the sound of familiar voices of family members, engaged in conversation with each other. I had no idea where I was, or what had happened. I knew that whatever was wrong with me, he had done it.

Upon awakening, I saw only blackness. Then, I raised my hand to touch my face. My eyes were covered with heavy gauze bandages. I found a long stitched incision along the left side of my jaw. My mouth was wired shut. I discovered later that my right eye had been reconstructed then stitched shut; I no longer had an eyeball in there. I ran my hand over my head to discover that most of my hair had been shaved off. I had metal staples running across my head, from one ear to the other. This incision was done so that, whenever the surgeons had to perform another surgery, they could cut and fold down the skin from this scalp incision while unfolding the skin down over my face. This surgical approach would avoid leaving scars over the surface of my face, and saved me from looking like Frankenstein’s daughter.

These very skilled doctors did an incredible job of putting me back together. My daughters made sure of that by providing them with photos of me, before the ‘incident.’

Beyond my obvious physical scars, I had the emotional ones to deal with. I will never see again. I will never be able to look upon the faces of my children or grandchildren, my mother or that I know and love. I will never see the sunrise or set. I will never smell the aromas of life or of nature. I will never again see or smell those things in life that we take for granted. Instead, I live and move in total darkness all day every day. No matter where I go or what I do, I will see only darkness and smell nothing. My hearing has been reduced, in part, to the constant non-stop sound of electrical currents that I hear. Cover your own ears and you will hear what I hear, all day everyday. Except, I hear it louder.

I began a residential program at the Carroll Center for the Blind, where I lived for three months. Here, I received training in independent living: how to cook, clean my home, use a talking computer, mobility training with a cane, iron and use a washing machine and dryer, use of a vacuum cleaner, etc. One-on-one counseling services were also part of my training in independent living, as well as one class per week of group counseling. We lived in a mansion that had been converted into a dormitory. Upon completion of this program, I returned to Boston Medical Center for my final major facial surgery.

I began seeing a therapist once a week. Now, I attend my sessions only once or twice a month, as needed. I have never taken medication for depression, and hope I never will need to.

In March of 2007, I moved into my new apartment. Thanks to my training at the Carroll Center for the Blind, I am able to live alone. It is easier that way. I do not have to worry about anyone leaving shoes or things on the floor for me to fall over, or, things on or near the stove for me to set on fire. I no longer have any sense of smell; by the time the smoke detectors go off, the house could be engulfed in fire.

Due to the loss of my vision, I am currently living on social security disability income. I must be retrained in another field before I can hope to find a job. In this current recession, with so many skilled workers unemployed, I have no idea when I’ll be able to return to work. But, rather than worry about it, I am making plans to attend school for a degree in political law and advocacy. I am planning on a career in public policy, researching different degree and certificate programs offered at local universities and colleges. My goal is to become a political advocate, in order to help change or create laws / policies that help battered women, the disabled and the elderly.

I’m interested in training as a motivational speaker in order to inspire others to control the destiny and outcomes of their lives. I am currently engaged in talks with various women’s centers and organizations for speaking assignments, as well as other volunteer opportunities that will be helpful to many.

I do not want this tragic thing that has happened to me to be swept under the rug. I want to turn this tragedy into a triumph for helping others avoid, or get away from abuse in their lives.”

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