Ann’s parents failed to provide an adequate home for their children due to mental illnesses. The home was well known in the neighbourhood for its critically dysfunctional nature, and the authorities frequently took the children away.
Ann’s aunt repeatedly provided required clothing, and neighbours would bring food for the children. Inside the home there was barely enough disreputable furniture for needs; even that the mother’s worst periods of bi-polar extremes often destroyed.
Ann’s three brothers—all from different fathers—spent most of their childhood in institutions. Ann finally went to live with her grandmother during her teen years.
These appalling conditions did not lessen Ann’s love for her parents. During her teen years, when her mother would return home after her frequent stays in the local mental hospital, Ann would attempt to restore normality in the home with donated furniture and equipment.
Even knowing the destructive behaviour would repeat itself, she determined to alleviate the home conditions—simply because they were her parents. Even during our early married years Ann used items from our growing home to rebuild her shattered childhood home.
Ann feared for our own children’s safety; for a period we lived close to the mental institution that often housed her mother, and she kept the doors locked. But she kept ongoing contact with her parents, ensuring, as she was able, their well-being despite their destructive behaviour.
She honoured her parents in this way until their deaths, seeking to follow God’s greater imperative more than her natural responses.