Here’s an excerpt from the book I’m writing….
I never looked at my life and thought that I had much purpose. Heck, most of my story is a bunch of twists and turns full of pain and heartache that plagued me most of my life. Somehow, by some miraculous coincidence, my story turned into one of victory and triumph and put me in a position to help heal others. And somehow, something inside of me burned with a fire so bright that instead of succumbing to my hardships, I instead overcame and learned some valuable lessons. Lessons that need to be documented for others who face many of the torments I have faced. This is my life… My story. A story of a spiritual journey that transformed a broken little girl into a woman on the mend. A woman who never truly walked alone, even though most of her life she felt like an outsider that wasn’t loved. In this book you will find that names have been changed or omitted in some cases. That’s not me hiding anything, however it is me respecting that some people might not be able to handle the truth of their actions. And that’s ok. You’ll also find disgust in me at times as well. Although I have been the victim many times, (I hate that word), I’ve also persecuted others and possibly brought some of this pain upon myself as well. I’m no angel… I’m not a demon either. I’m simply me, a spiritual being having a human experience. Sounds crazy enough, right? Trust me. It’s about to get weird! And before we can get into any of that, let’s start with my parents, specifically my father, as he is a huge part of my story. My daddy, Thomas Balthaser, was a stern man, solid in his ways. His upbringing had a major role in that. He grew up with his grandmother, Molly, known to us as Gram, and the man she married, Irvin Ream, who my father considered his grandfather. The man who is biologically responsible, still to this day remains a mystery. My gram swore that she would take his name to the grave, and she did with her passing in 2004. My dad’s father, Glenn, known to us as Pop, was a Sergeant in the Army. When my father was just a boy his parents, Glenn and Dottie, moved away, leaving him, and his two older siblings behind here in Pennsylvania with Gram, Pop’s mom. Long story short, when they returned to reunite the family, they were told that they couldn’t take the kids back. My father and his two other siblings lived a very separate life from their parents and two additional younger siblings. Pop was a stern man too. Military through and through, and Grandma Balthaser, she was a rare gem. In 1967, my grandparents were in the process of moving their trailer from Mt. Airy, Maryland back to Myerstown, Pennsylvania when the unexpected happened. You see, their trailer was placed on cement blocks as a preparation for the move. My dad’s youngest sister Robin, who was about to celebrate her 6th birthday in just a few days, climbed under the trailer, at the now separated steps, to capture the family dog who was hiding under the home. For whatever reason, some of the cement blocks slipped, crushing her skull and pinning Robin between the trailer and the steps. The accident immediately killed her and sent my grandfather, Pop, into a deep depressive and aggressive state of mind. This fueled his alcoholism and abusive nature. It also mentally tormented him to the point that he would take off without warning because, “the devil was chasing him.” He blamed himself for her death, and he never truly forgave himself. It was the most difficult thing my father’s side of the family ever endured. This is just skimming the top of my father’s childhood. He was 10 when this all happened. It just seems so unfair. To understand my father, you would have to know my great grandmother as well. Awe hell… She was a stick of dynamite! Gram was in her 60’s when I was born and obviously a little watered down from the stories I would hear of her in her prime. She had a little farmette that was handed down to her by her family and raised chickens, goats and geese. She wasn’t the cleanest woman either but, I didn’t care about that in my young age. My brother and I loved it out on the farmette because of the acres of yard and wood’s we could play in. Gram was always on the go. Cooking, taking care of the animals, and harvesting plants. I spent a lot of my time out there because my parents crazy work schedules. She ended every night with the Channel 8 News, followed by some Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. And if I was there, I would be laid out across her legs getting my back rubbed or my eyes brushed over with her hands. Some stick of dynamite, eh? Just wait. She was gentle in her old age, but I got to see the side my father and his siblings talked about so often after calling her by her first name. Biggest mistake I ever made in her presence. It was like someone crossed wires on an electrical box and sparks flew! I never ran so fast in my life. My father was the best story teller ever. He could take a completely traumatic experience and turn it into an escapade of humor and fear. Most of the time those stories included Gram. She wasn’t the sweet old lady I grew up knowing in those times. She was a pussy willow hording, golf club over the back of the head, no holds barred. I’m sure she was overwhelmed to say the least. Hell, she raised three children of her own and now was raising her three grandchildren. It was the 60’s 70’s and the teenage life was all about sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Tom grew up in the fast lane. Honestly, he should’ve been dead numerous times. In hindsight I see that God had a purpose for his life, specifically in bringing healing to his linage that would come after him. You see, his childhood was full of “not feeling good enough”, so he rebelled. He was a bull of a man caught in a boy’s body. Stubborn and didn’t take to any sort of authority or injustice. He was expelled from High School after finding out that someone grabbed his sister inappropriately. He confronted the situation not with words, but with his fist. Nobody liked messing with him because they knew he could be a lose cannon if provoked. Yet others knew that if you needed someone to protect you, Thomas Balthaser was the one to call. I remember hearing “he was the best friend I ever had.” Muffled through the tears of his childhood friend at his funeral. Followed by a story of being so high and pulling the steering wheel out of the shaft while driving on route 501 together. The laughter that burst through the tears was the exact mixture of emotions my father would bring. Tom was a wild one in his prime. And the events in his life that led up to his demise mirror the torment and pain I’ve been through, just on a slightly different scale. Almost as if there was a curse in our linage. He was hell on wheels, and boy, did he love his wheels. My dad was a motorcycle enthusiast. Let me take you to the Summer of 1982. By this time, he was married to my mom, Karen and they already had a son, Shawn Thomas, who was 4 years old. My father was already in a motorcycle accident by this point as well after being run off the road. But in August of 1982 something happened that was so devastating yet divinely appointed. You see, my father was driving on a road when a Peterbilt Truck turned towards him. I will also add that this truck was now on a road, the same road my father was on, that didn’t allow his truck to be on because of weight limits. My dad had nowhere to go as the speeding truck bee-lined for him and thought to try and slide under its carriage. He didn’t have time to think that through though, because a Peterbilt Truck only has a clearance of 3 inches from ground to the base of the bumper. My dad and his bike were wedged. And while he laid there lifeless, he was immediately set before a “being of light” that he began pleading with. “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!” And in response, that being said back to him, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to die. You will see your daughter be born. She’s going to need you.” And that quick he was back in his human body and in the hospital where he woke up with a ruptured eardrum, a broken right hand, a broken left arm, cracked ribs, bruised lungs and a crushed kneecap. He also needed a blood transfusion because of the amount of blood that was lost. When my mom was finally able to talk to him, he told her about this being of light and their brief conversation. My parents didn’t know the gender they were expecting, but my dad assured my mom that she was going to have a little girl, and she believed him. I wish I could say that was how his encounter was received by all, however, that wasn’t the case. My father confided in the Pastor of their then church and he made a mockery of what happened, which caused a separation between my dad and him believing in organized religion. Little did that pastor know, that his reaction caused a world of hurt in my father. One that would last 20 years. Still in most of his casts, on September 14th, 1982, my parents welcomed their second child. A healthy baby girl, and they named her Stacy Rae. Yup, that’s me! I don’t remember much about life before the age of 4, I remember a few brief things. Like, my Sesame Street bathing suit and my plastic baby pool. Or the time I stuck my finger in the electrical socket as my father watched from his recliner. Yeah, he laughed his deep chuckle of a laugh and added it to one of his infamous stories to tell others. I also remember his shop Fastlane Raceways and Gameroom when it was in the Sunset Complex in Lebanon. It was his dream come true. A slot car hobby shop and the only one of its kind in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my dad’s bad luck seemed to follow him. A junior fireman decided he wanted to fight a real fire and started the building on fire. My dad lost his entire business that night, as well as many others at the Sunset Complex. It took him a little bit but he did rebuild and rented a business space in Jonestown from a guy by the name of Larry Blouch.
I don’t remember much about Larry prior too everything. I remember he had a wood stove and chainsaw shop in the same building as my father’s hobby shop, and I remember he always had candy. At the age of 4, that’s like having a millionaire for a best friend, so I hung out there often. The perk of being over at Larry’s store was not only the candy, but the large cardboard boxes that I could play in. He would cut them out for me and make them look like houses. I didn’t realize it then, but Larry preyed on my innocence. I remember things happening that no child should go through. Yet, at the time, I didn’t know it was wrong and I did it because a grown up told me too. If I wanted a lollipop or candy from his jar, I had to do something else first. He also instructed me that I had to wear pants with a button and not a snap. And if I did wear a snap I got scolded and told that if my parents found out he would kill me. You see, Larry had a breakroom in his store. It was in the very back of his shop, past all of his part shelves and tucked into the side of his parts room, which laid adjacent to my dad’s backroom of his shop. All it contained was a single bed, refrigerator and a radio. That’s where most things happened, and if not there, I was under his desk in his main show room. I remember one night, we had a big race going on over at my dad’s shop and I told my brother Shawn about the candy stash in Larry’s backroom. So, without Larry knowing, I took Shawn back and we grabbed two Hershey Bars and walked back out to the Hallway and ate the candy together. When Larry found out what I had done, he lost his shit. I didn’t know why then, but I’m sure it was because Shawn was 9 and might let it slip that Larry had a bed in the back of his shop. That night Larry told me that if I ever took anyone else in that backroom again, he would kill them. I started to distance myself a little at that point for no other reason then because I loved my big brother and he said that he was going to hurt him. I don’t know how much time it was between that incident and the one I’m about to tell you about. But my next memory from my childhood is being in my dad’s shop, in the backroom where we had a tv, a dining table and a sofa. My parents were arguing in the showroom all morning and I knew that I needed to stay away because my dad was the color of a cherry and screaming at my mom. I didn’t know what was happening, but I now know that Larry made a proposition to my mom. He said that he would get rid of the rent we owed for that month if she would sleep with him. My mom ended up telling my dad about it. After they were finished talking my father decided he was going around to all the other businesses in the complex and ask if Larry ever propositioned any of them the way he did my mom. Apparently, the lady from the movie rental store told my father, “No, but maybe you should ask your daughter,” as she knew I was over at Larry’s often. It got quiet for a while and when my father returned to the room, he pulled up a chair and sat down beside me. I was scared to look at him because I knew he was mad about something. He asked me again to look at him and proceeded to question me, asking if Larry ever touched me. I was in shock. Larry is going to be so mad at me, I thought. And my dad repeated it again… “Stacy, did Larry ever touch you where your swimsuit covers?” I shook my head, yes. He started asking me more questions. I know it wasn’t my father’s intent, but he started crying. And then his crying turned into anger. And that anger turned into rage to the point that he got his shotgun and went over to Larry to confront him. I was terrified and so disappointed in myself for making my dad so angry. I believed for years that in this moment a shift happened between my father and I. I carried that hurt with me for nearly 32 years and up until the days after he died. When a molestation between a 4-year-old little girl and a 43 year old man comes to light, a lot of judgement gets passed. Where were the parents? How did this happen? Why didn’t she tell anyone? And along with that judgement comes the realization of good and evil, right and wrong. At the mere age of 4, I was forced out of my innocence and forced to grow up. My normalcy shifted. Now we’re being rushed to appointments and meetings. Strangers are questioning me about things I’m suddenly ashamed of. I had to take dolls and show people what he did with me and trust that when they told me that he couldn’t hurt me, like he told me he would, that they meant it. Needles and blood work, talks of sexually transmitted diseases. I felt dirty. I felt like a burden. And suddenly I felt different. It was a pivotal moment in my life, because I started to dislike me, and as I started to dislike myself, my self-esteem left too.