This is a photo of my Aunt Suzanne taken in November 1963. I drew the dress form and made the tiny necklace from broken pieces. The folder I cut out after tracing it out. Inside is the journaling:
Her name is Suzanne Florence Cooper. She was born in Prince George, BC on July 17, 1937 to a woman who was self-centred and cruel and a father who either couldn’t or wouldn’t change the situation she grew up in. When she was 14 she was raped and got pregnant. The family knew who it was that had forced himself on Suzanne and her mother made her marry him. He took her to Winnipeg where his family was. She gave birth to a girl, Terri Ann on August 29, 1952. One day when Suzanne was at work and her husband was watching the baby she came home to find Terri alone. She was in her crib and she had marks on her neck where her father had tried to choke her, presumably to stop her crying. Suzanne gathered up what she could carry and with her infant daughter she boarded a bus to Victoria where her family was living.
A one night stand a couple of years later saw her pregnant again, this time with a son she named Richard William Arthur who was born July 25, 1956. The man, Frank, offered to marry her but she saw a man very like the husband she had left behind and she declined. Along came Billy Sova and for the first time she fell in love. They eventually moved in together and created a home where she had two more boys, William Daryl born July 3, 1957 and Kenneth John Leroy born September 23, 1958. Suzanne liked to have a drink sometimes and she did drugs now and then. Somehow the now and then became more and more often and her and Billy split. The kids lived with him, even Terri and Richard who were not biologically his. He met another woman and they moved in together but she had three kids already and she got pregnant. So it was decided the two oldest that were not his would have to go back to their mother who by now was living in a room hotel in a area of Vancouver called skid row. Terri was just into her teens and Richard was 10. Suzanne sent Terri to live with her great Uncle Charles and Aunt Violet in Seattle (it didn’t last long) and Richard stayed with his mom for years except for the two times he was put in foster care. Somehow the social workers chose to put Richard back his mother each time.
Suzanne never overcame her addictions but she did learn some control and was able to get a job on an Alaskan cruise line as a cook. When that fell apart she managed to get a job taking care of elderly. That also came to an end. Suzanne became ill with hepatitis that she contracted by sharing dirty heroin needles. She died in hospital in Trail, BC on October 5, 2004.
Terri went on to a life deep in drugs, alcohol and criminal activities even accused in a murder at one point. Her life is ending much like her mothers as she is currently in an Edmonton hospital dying of the hepatitis that she got the same way her mother did. Richard eventually got himself out of that lifestyle and currently resides in Castlegar BC with the love of his life Cidalia. Kenny and Daryl are both drug users and dealers living in the birthplace of their dead mother, continuing the cycle of abuse that started long before their existence began.
Suzanne is my Aunt, my fathers older sister. I never met her nor have heard much good things about her but I can't help wondering who she might have been if she had had a better start in life, had made better choices. I wonder about the girl that she was. What did she dream of? What made her laugh? What defining moment was it that made her walk away from her kids for the drugs? What might her story have been if that fateful moment had not come to pass?
TFL I know that was a lot to read so to those that did, thank you. I appreciate it.