First let me start off by saying that, my website would not be my website if i did not upload the first two chapters of my sister’s and I upcoming book.
Our book will leave you in suspense, and keep you reading until the end. As we publicly speak about every secret in our lives chapter to chapter and what it was like growing up with two neglectful parents, being forced to grow up at an early age and fend for ourselves. This book is the first opener to what our lives were like, and the foundation of what led us to who we are today.
I would also like to mention that an no point of time is this book intended to bash, hinder or ruin the characters of the individuals mentioned, but rather to raise awareness and shed light on our history. Our parents completely supported us through our journey and understand that this was something we took on to help young parents in the future. Trauma, Neglect, & Substance Abuse are all very serious matters that create dangerous consequences for families later on in life.
What we don't reveal we can't heal.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Just the Beginning
Did you ever understand the term” The grass is always greener on the other side”? Well I believe this to be true. Except for at this point and age in my life I didn’t quite understand the term. It was the year 1997 and while walking down the littered streets of Flushing Ave in Brooklyn, New York, hand and hand with my father and my sister in her umbrella stroller; everyone seemed to be in a rush. I never understood where everyone was rushing to. But apparently New York was known for its fast pace and busy lifestyle. I didn’t want to go home, the route my dad always chose to go back home; people looked like zombies and we always passed by these weird orange capsules on the ground. Plus, I enjoyed the breeze and I liked watching all the vendors attempt to sell their cheap toys and listening to my father always telling them no. This area I knew as Graham, there was a strip of stores, just stores everywhere selling; jewelry, clothing, sneakers, bags, and even food. The stores were owned by a wide range of different people from different cultures which made them that much more interesting to pass by.
We walked by the local Burgher King on Flushing Avenue, frequently since this is where my mother worked. I remember going to my mother’s job every other day for lunch. It was pretty nice; typically we could eat lunch for free there. My mother would even bring home the leftover food that didn’t get sold home at the end of her shift whenever she closed the store. Any other time if we didn’t visit my mother, we would go to my school to have lunch there. During the summer time school lunch was always free and God knows with my mother being the only breadwinner, we sure needed it. My mother was always arguing with my father about not having a job this particular summer. But in my opinion, this was the best summer of my life. My father always brought us on an adventure we either went to; the zoo on Wednesdays because that’s when it was free, to the library, or the parks. I liked the zoo, but I think my baby sister loved the zoo; she seemed to always enjoy looking at the different animals. I also remember being so excited to go to the library for the first time; especially when my father got me my very own library card. Every trip to the library thereafter was exciting because, I was able to browse amongst the hundreds of books on the shelves; this is all I ever looked forward to. I just wanted to sit in the library all day and read or play on the computer. And on other days, we would go to the park and we would play in the sprinklers and play on the playground. My sister was too young to understand anything but I remember everything during this time. This summer my mother told my father she was pregnant with my baby brother. Everything had been different ever since.
We lived in this very aged and dirty building on Myrtle Avenue. The building was either black or dark grey, there were a few steps that led to the front door in which you needed a code to get in, or you needed to get buzzed in but this feature never seemed to work 100%. Just below the apartment building were also little stores; a hair salon, pharmacy and a music store. My grandmother on my mother’s side lived right across the hall from us on about the third or fourth floor, and my older sister Bianca lived there with her. I always use to ask my mom why my sister “Bianca” didn’t live with us, and she would always tell me because “your grandmother wants her”. I always use to feel jealous because she would always get what she wanted, whenever she wanted it and I was stuck having to share my things with my baby sister “Crystal”. My father and mother still continued to always argue about work and finances. My dad had to find a job and fast, especially because we were having a new addition to the family. Things seemed to get harder and harder, and mom seemed more stressed and tired than usual.
One day I was watching the television with my sister, I remember this day specifically because I wanted to watch Teletubbies and she wanted to watch Barney. Crystal loved Barney, and often my parents would let her watch anything she wanted just to keep her quiet. So, we argued over the remote and my mother decided to shut the television off completely. When this happened, my father got up from the couch and proceeded to go into the hallway, he always spent a lot of time in the hallway. This day was different though, as he got up to walk to the hallway my mother watched him like a hawk. Three minutes later she emerged from her seat and followed behind him, I heard her yell his name in Spanish JOSE CERVACO and me being me; nosey Rosie, I went to go see what the commotion was. I noticed my father’s eyes bloodshot red and him stumbling around in the hallway. At this point my grandfather was already outside of his apartment also in the hallway trying diffuse the situation between my mother and my father, my mother immediately yelled at me to get inside, but before I could I looked at my dad one more time and at that very instant a small bag fell out his pocket. My mother immediately scooped me up and told me to sit in the living room and not to move. She then went back out in the hallway, and when she came back in it wasn’t a pretty sight. My dad’s face and nose was bloody and all I can hear him say is “You broke it”. Later, that night everything resumed as normal, as if nothing ever happened. My dad fell asleep with an ice-pack on his face and my mom fell asleep with her back towards him.
That summer my father finally got a job, things were started to become different. I started school and my sister was in Pre-K. I used to love going to school especially because I had the biggest crush on this boy. During playtime we would build huts and play house. He used to kiss me on the cheek whenever we played together and I liked it. I always looked forward to playing house every day, because he gave me so much attention. Usually, all I did whenever I went home was sleep, eat, go to bed and do the same thing the next morning. My mom was always too tired from working and my dad was always too busy listening to music. If I ever got the chance to anything other than the usual I would have a chance to; play with my toys or with my sister. And then one day my dad went missing for days. My mother was so frantic she had been trying to get in contact with him on his cell phone him for days, since the day he went missing. Then one day he appeared late at night banging furiously on the door. He came in stumbling barely making it through the door and slumped himself on the couch I recall hearing my mother crying asking him what had happened to him. He had a black eye, a busted lip and his face was covered in blood. He seemed to be incoherent at the time, and he could not really talk. My mother had to call the ambulance and immediately they admitted him to the hospital. My grandmother and my aunt came to the hospital where we were with my father. I was asking everyone what happened to him and no one would ever tell me. My mom finally told me a few days later that my father had fallen down the stairs.
This pattern continued to persist with my father throughout my entire life and typically my mom would always say he fell down the steps whenever he came home like this. It started to become a normal thing to expect. It happened so frequently that my mother stopped attending to him when he came home like this, she stopped calling the ambulance and she stopped caring. My baby sister Crystal had to be about three or four years old at this time. And even she began to become in sync with things that were happening at home. Sometimes when our father came home beat up, Crystal would go find rags, band aids and any first aid products she could find to help clean up our fathers face. As young, small and petite as she was she always seemed calm and in control in stressful situations. None of it began to matter anymore; I kind of isolated myself from the reality of my life. I observed it all but I never recalled it bothering me, either that or I set up a wall inside of myself to protect myself and keep it bothering me. I was an A straight student and going to school was the most exciting part of my life. School was an escape goat from my personal life. The teachers gave me the attention I wanted and needed and so did that boy that I liked. During lunch time we would all go into the auditorium to watch movies and they would dim the lights, he would get closer to me and I remember him putting his hands in my pants. It felt funny but good at the same time. He continued to do this throughout the school year till he moved away somewhere else. I was so sad that the only person that has ever acknowledged me was leaving me. I could still remember him till this day, he was always neat and clean and always had a fresh haircut, he gave me a kiss goodbye on his last day and I never saw him again.
As time went by personal problems persisted; my dad was spending a lot of time on the computer. He would go online and enter chat rooms and he and his online friends will take turns playing their best music, his favorite to play was salsa music. My mother argued with him day and night about these stupid chat rooms and the music he played. She always said he gave more attention to the computer and his online friends than he did his wife and his children. She even argued with him about women he will converse with online.
After a while the arguing stopped and I would remember my mother bringing me and my siblings to some guy named Martello’s house. There had been multiple times where my mother brought us to this guy’s house. I remember when we went to visit him, and him introducing himself as Martello, “a friend of my mother’s”, he was a bus driver. We would ride his bus and go to his house after his route was completed. He was a bit older and had a cane, he always treated us nice and his house was nice to. I remember seeing a fish tank full of exotics fishes. He would tell me each of the fishes’ names and I remember being specifically infatuated with one. It was a catfish; it sucked on to the glass of the fish tank. He gave me and my sister Crystal permission to look at the fishes and play with anything we wanted in the house as long as we did not go to the back room. My mom disappeared into the back room with her friend Martello for a little while and I and my sister stayed in the living room looking at the fish. I remember before leaving my mother and her friend Martello told us not to tell my father that they had seen each other. But I did not understand why, why was her friend a secret? I thought it was okay to have friends. When we got home that night my mom and father argued, and I remember my father asking where we had been. He knew me and my sister knew something, but he knew I wouldn’t tell. So, he pulled Crystal to the side I saw them speak for a while and he then handed her candy. Crystal always seemed to be a daddy’s girl, even with everything that was going on at home. I remember the next time that we went to Martello’s house which was the very next day; my father had secretly followed us there. I know this because when I got home my father and mother argued about it. My mom started to yell at Crystal saying it was her fault, and that she should have never told, and that she would never take her anywhere again. My father told her it wasn’t Crystal’s fault and it was hers for putting us in the situation. I was in disbelief of my sisters actions, but she was young, she was practically still a baby. And like I said she was a daddy’s girl.
As I was sitting home watching television I remember my mother crying out of nowhere, she called my grandmother over and was telling her that she hasn't been in contact with my dad for a whole twenty-four hours and that he had my younger sister with him. She told me she will wait till the next morning to see if my dad will come home. The next morning my mother called the police when she woke up. I remember the police coming in my home and asking a series of questions,
Such as what my sister was wearing? What my father was wearing? And how long they've been missing? The officers said they were sorry about our situation and that they would file a missing person’s report for both of them. I was petrified; I wondered where my sister was and if she was ok. And I knew that my dad had really messed up.
Loyalty and Abandonment
All I could remember was bits and pieces as the last three days began to go by. Here I was sitting on the grass in a dark park in Queens; right beside me was my father sitting in a beach chair; in which he was only present for one of the three days. Two out of the three days there were no familiar faces that I could remember, I spent the days and nights with total strangers or alone. The area of the park that I was in was filled with adults consuming alcohol; drinking beers and consuming a variety of liquors. It looked like zombie land, with people stumbling around while holding glass beer bottles in their hand. There were various types of music playing from different areas, and some people were making food on their personal grills. I remember walking up to this one in particular older lady, who was grilling up some hot dogs. I asked her if I could have some, and she told me no that I had to find my mother and father and ask their permission before she could give any food. I remember thinking to myself what kind of woman denies a child food, especially with the condition I was in. I was dirty and starving and I certainly looked the part. My mother always used to tell me “Crystal when you bring over friends, or when you grow older never deny anyone food; even if it is your enemy”. For the next few days hours my stomach just kept growling, I was so hungry and all I had for the time being was candy and a few sips of Heineken that I found next to this lady. She had a real short haircut like a boy, she was light skinned and wore blue Bermuda shorts and a pinkish collared shirt, and she was Spanish. I could remember tossing the candy wrappers onto the grass and playing with them and then eventually falling asleep in them. I remember feeling alone and terrified and I just wanted to run away to a safe zone, I just wanted to see a familiar face like; my mother or my sister. I knew my father was neglecting me and I was scared that I would be kidnapped or that I would never see my family again. All I wished was that I would find a police officer and he would take me back to my mother and my siblings back at home. For three days and two nights I continued to dream how wonderful it would be to see my mother’s smile again and to just get a hug from her. As I opened my eyes just a tiny bit to observe my surroundings I could hear a woman in the distance telling another woman to put me in the van. I awoke out my sleep in a panic and began crying, I just wanted to see someone familiar, and I just wanted my father at that very moment since he was the one who had brought me there. I was a daddy’s girl, and I don’t know how he could just abandon me. Was it because of what he was going through with mom? Is this how he wanted to get back at her for being friends with Martello? Was he upset that I shared mom’s secret with him? I WAS SCARED, and all the woman behind the wheel could say to me was stop crying and to go back to sleep that it would be alright. As we left flushing meadows in Crotona Park Queens, NY, She said that we were going to pick my father up from his friend’s house and that she would then bring us home. Although she shared this information with me I was still frightened, and I believed in my heart that I would never make it back home. I didn’t know where my father had gone, but I recall him leaving with a woman. Why would he leave me behind? Why couldn’t I just go where ever he was going? I knew in my mind that he had to be acting out because of what him and my mother was going through, though I still could not understand it.
As I laid in the back of the van cold, hungry and terrified I just wondered if I would ever actually make it home, I wondered where my parents were, and if this was intentional or just a careless mistake. I thought that I was abandoned by my parents, or even worse sold. Well, I must have slept through the whole car ride because when I was awoken it was from my father’s voice telling me we were home. My father carried me upstairs into this old and poorly taken care of building on Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn, NY where we lived. I absolutely loved being carried by my father it made me feel safe and loved. Anytime I would fall asleep in a cab or a car or even in the wrong room he would carry me to my bed and make sure I was tucked in. We finally arrived at our door and when we got into the apartment my mother was still up, with a very worried look on her face I had no clue what time it could have been but it was dark out. From what I could remember my father was still intoxicated, and maybe under the influence of other things. He sat on the couch, slouched his head and then my mother smacked him, and then she began arguing with him and yelling at him. I can tell by the sound of her voice she had no idea where we had been, she had no idea where I was and she was worried, and furious. And she began asking my father with her voice trembling, where were you? Where did you take our daughter? Have you even fed her? That night I felt so guilty as if everything had been my fault, as if I could have ordered my father to go home or as if there was something I could have done but I was only a small child. I didn’t have any real control over anything.
By this time, I have realized the severity of what was going on, I gathered bits and pieces of the conversation my mother had with my father. As my mother yelled to my dad, she was saying that she had called the police to report us missing. My mother then awoke my sister Rosalyn from her sleep, and asked if she could go make me some hot dogs so that I can eat and then I would take a bath. I ate as many hot dogs as my stomach could take, I was practically starving and I must have eaten three or four of them before I sat on the couch next to my mother. My mother noticed how much and how fast I had eaten. No matter what was going on I wanted nothing more than to be in clean clothes with a full belly and in a warm bed. I was so dirty, I was covered in dirt and my clothes reeked of urine. My mother took some time out from yelling so that she could call the police. The police came to the apartment we were staying in, and they began to ask me questions like; where did we go? They asked if I was hurt, and where was my father in the three days? My mother saw I was exhausted, so she told my sister to help me take a bath and get me into pajamas while the cops aggressively questioned my father. As I was getting into pajamas I could hear my mother kicking my father out of the apartment. She told him “Jose Cervaco, get the fuck out” and he left. I have no clue where he went, but I don’t remember seeing him for a while after that. I was so physically and mentally and emotionally tired, I never even remember falling asleep. It had been a long few days and I finally felt safe at home with my family. How I felt, and the arguments my parents had never made a difference, things continued as they were. And I was now elected to be with my father always whenever he left the house, even if it was just to the store. And with doing this it must of gave my mom some insurance that he would return home at a decent time, and never go missing again, or go missing with me again. And each time we left out that door I feared I would never make it come, at the hands of the carelessness of my father.
My personal life was a mess at just the age of four. I had experienced many things in a short period of time. But one thing for sure the main things that made me happy was my dog, and going to school. I had this very large Rottweiler named big bear, he must have been at least over 100 pounds, his fur was short and he was brindle. I remember climbing on him, and he would walk around the house. It was like my own personal miniature horse. That dog would never leave my side at home; he was extremely loyal to me. And I was grateful I had a friend, I love animals. That dog was the most loyal thing I had, and the closest thing to family I had. School also made me happy; I had this huge crush on this boy in Pre-K. I remember going to a school in Brooklyn, NY, and my teachers name was Mrs. Clarissa. She was very tall, dark skinned, and pretty. She typically wore long straightened weave or curly weave in her hair, and her nails were extremely long at least six to eight inches long. I often wondered how she could clean herself with those nails, with how long they were. Mrs. Clarissa was a good teacher; she was open, funny and outgoing. In my Pre-k classroom I remember there being a reading area. There was a large two-foot-tall bookshelf that was probably five to ten feet long; which divided the circle time area from the reading area. As you walked in the circle time area was to your immediate left side, there was a colorful rug with circles on it, also to the left towards the front of the class was the reading area and then the students desks took up the whole right side from front to back. In the reading area there was also this large wooden play house, where you could sit up top and read or sit at the bottom and read with a curtain; almost like a club house. My reading partner would always be the boy I liked. And on frequent occasions we would meet up underneath the house to “read”. We would sit underneath there and kiss, and touch each other and ask to see each other’s private parts. I never really knew how I had learned about sexual behavior, but I knew it. Does that make me a bad child? Anyways, well one-day Mrs. Clarissa discovered us underneath the wooden house in the reading area exposed and there our relationship ended. I recall at the end of the day when my grandmother, who was my mother’s mother; came to pick me up, she also received a progress report and Mrs. Clarissa told her all about my day. My grandmother was furious as you can imagine, and truly I feared what might happen. I believe the entire time on the walk home that I would get my butt whooped or something. But in the end my grandmother blamed my mother later that day in an argument for my out-lashing behavior. And for knowing certain things that I really should not have known at age four. Was it my mother’s fault? Could I have learned this at home, or at school? I Really could not remember either way where I learned it from.
For a while everything was still a blur, my memory was still in and out because I was at such a young age. What I could remember next was my 5th birthday. It was held in Brooklyn NY, and was Barbie themed. So many family and friends came to attend, but I cannot fully recall who was there. I do know my mother, father and siblings were there and we all seemed so distance from each other. There was plenty of tension in the air for sure. This birthday was probably the worst birthday of my life, not because I was a brat or because I did not appreciate what my parents had done to get this party together. But because of the way I felt, I was extremely unhappy, and my sister was taking the spot light again as she did at most parties with singing and dancing and on some occasions, she would even battle dance with some of our cousins and other family members. I thought in my mind if I would just stand up and be as outgoing as her and do the things she did that I could possibly feel more acknowledged. I hated being seen, I was never like that, I did not like a big crowd around me. I was always very scared, shy, and confined within myself. But I also disliked being the black sheep and outcast of the family, like if I never belonged.
I tried to ignore it as much as I could and walked over to the table to grab; chips, my favorite cut salami, cheese, olives and another thing that was a burgundy purple color and looked like jelly. But I never ate that jelly looking stuff it always came in a tin can that stated, “Goya Guava” at the top of it. And I just watched my sister’s performance from afar, my dad seemed proud of her, because he was recording and I remember my sister being so happy. We started taking our pictures behind the decorated Barbie table, and as usual dad tried to hold my mother for us to take loving family photo. He always used to try to smile to lighten situations, but behind closed doors he was the operator of most issues to begin with, due to his drinking habits. Seeing them happy or pretending to be happy comforted me a little but not enough to last me through that night.
I felt even worse and even began to cry when they sang happy birthday to me, I had small candles lit on my Barbie cake and had the big number 5 which was hot pink it was also a candle and it was also lit. I proceeded to make a wish, and for most birthdays that involved a cake and candles I would always wish that my parents would get along better. I always longed for them to just love each other rather than hate each other. At my age I may have been a little selfish because I thought that the way I felt was correct, and I strongly believed that mommy’s and daddies had to stay together for the kids. But later in life I find out I was wrong, oh I was terribly wrong. When they were done singing someone had put cake all over my face, I know now that this was a traditional thing they did to everyone probably with families all over the world. But at the time I thought it was a way to humiliate me, I did not like it, in fact I hated it. I cried and cried, and everyone awed and told me I didn’t need to cry and saying everything was okay. I remember not even eating cake that night. For some reason I just was not feeling the atmosphere, I was trumped in my own emotional world and I had no clue how to get out. I was an emotional wreck without even knowing it at the time.
From this point on I knew nothing would ever feel the same in my life again. I was going through unexplainable changes within myself due to inconsistencies with my parents and my home. In fact, things were going to start changing and moving as fast as a speed ball and my life would soon be very different; because, from what I can tell from my next recalled memory, I was over hearing my mother telling a family member about a move. I remember the disagreement in their voices speaking of the distances between our families. In my head I pictured us moving far, far away but where were we going? Would moving correct all the things that had happened with me, my siblings and my parents and what we been through? Or could this make it worse, and a lot worse?