[Continued from previous post] “That summer our whole family went to Mackinac. A few weeks after we arrived Mom, with red-rimmed eyes, asked us three children to sit with her at a big round table…. It had been the team’s ‘guidance’ that Mom had to tell us how she and Dad had tried to live absolute purity [one of MRA’s four absolutes] and for a three-year stretch of time they had not had sex, but Dad confessed he had an affair with our grandmother….
“The tone, the accusatory eyes that came with this meeting killed my childhood for me. In a moment’s time I lost my father in a way the plane crash hadn’t taken him…. I lost all I knew to be true in life…the warm memories of my grandmother…. My 12-year-old sister, Helen, came apart…and all alone hitchhiked as far as Chicago….
“Mom was sat down in a meeting with her friends, people she had shared her life, her goals, been vulnerable with, and they said it was because of her impurity and failures that Dad was killed…. On the night before Dad had left on his trip they had sex without having team guidance about it. With the viciousness of a feeding frenzy of sharks they attacked her. Mom never recovered….
“There was no savings, no insurance…. Dad and Mom had given their time, their money, their commitment to MRA…. With one exception, I don’t remember anyone in MRA offering this 37-year-old widow any help….
“That summer of 1958, when Mom left Mackinac in her shattered state, I had my clear profound moment of epiphany when I felt God’s presence…[and] gave my life to God…. With cynical eyes I look back at that experience. What was deep and real at 15 I now view as the only option left in my destroyed world….
“The next summer at Mackinac…I was smarter at 16, seeing the way people were used, the power structure, the manipulation, yet I remained deeply, totally committed. If it were Jonestown I would have drunk the Kool-Aid…. I truly got the global picture, the vision of the ideology…. I worked seven days a week…used all my time for changing the course of history….
“I miss the truly wonderful people who were kind to me…some of the finest minds and giving personalities…. How did it go so wrong with as much talent and ability and wholeness of its individuals…?
“I was the only family member left in MRA…. I worked all spring after school saving money for my trip to Mackinac. The summer of 1960 was hell…. I was noticeably shunned, leaving me feeling like the group leper. I worked double shifts…. I nibbled as I cooked and slept about four hours a night. I went home to my senior year in high school exhausted.
“Someone at the [local MRA] Club had guidance that I would look like a more committed, disciplined person if I lost 15 pounds…. Every Saturday I would go to the Club and be accused of not succeeding to lost weight. I was so nervous I ate more, then took more Dexedrine pills thinking maybe by the next Saturday someone would finally approve of me…say they were glad I was part of God’s perfect plan for the world.
“From the exhaustion of 16-hour workdays all summer, then the Dexedrine high for three months, my body crumbled. I got German measles in January of 1961…. Encephalitis followed and I was hospitalized in a coma which lasted about ten days. I had significant neurological damage. Two years were spent in and out of the hospital. It took another two to return to relearn to read, walk, regain fine motor skills….
“I don’t remember even one phone call or visit from those in the team I considered my friends…. For five years I worked for MRA, gave every cent I was given or earned, gave all my heart and teenage passion, and when I was no longer well I was meaningless to the group….
“When I was 23 I met John, who had been full-time with MRA and left Caux in 1961 to go to college…. John and I talked for hours like war comrades must when they meet…. We fell in love right away and married in 1966 before he went to Vietnam…. We lost contact with MRA and left it behind in our lives. When I read the Forum I realize how alive all the pain still is….”