A woman from Odessa, Texas, who wrote a now-viral obituary about her late abusive mother, has revealed that she received messages of support from around the world after her hurtful words were published last September.
Katherine Reddick and her brother, Patrick Reddick, who co-wrote the stinging obituary, decided to share the story of abuse and neglect Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick inflicted upon her eight children.
"We got a lot of courage--'thank you for the honesty'--that it was nice to see that people don't always have to lie on an obituary just because it's customary to say good things about someone," she told The Huffington Post. "She was an incredibly awful person, not just to us, but basically anyone that knew her."
Reddick and her brother collaborated on the obit for Johnson-Reddick, who was 78 when she died on Aug. 30, 2013, with the support of many of their other siblings.
"My brother and I spoke to each other by phone, and after we hung up it was like a day or so, and we both called each other again and we both thought the same thing: who's going to write the obituary? And what did we want to do with it? And so I said, 'if I'm going to do it, I'll do it. But I want it to have a purpose.'"
"And so our purpose was really to re-ignite the discussion about child abuse in this country, and how our society has neglected to do much about it to help it."
Writing the obituary provided Reddick with some catharsis, saying that she felt a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
"Not just what I wrote, but just knowing that she wasn't here on this earth anymore was such a relief,” Reddick said. “I know that's something awful to say for most people, but just like you can't understand how I could do this to a parent, I can't understand the love that others feel for their parents. So my relief was that she was gone."
Both Katherine and Patrick had been estranged from their mother for 30 years. Six of Johnson-Reddick’s children grew up together at the Nevada Children’s Home in Carson City in the 1960s after being removed from their mother’s care, according to the Daily Mail.
The abuse would happen when they were spending time with their mother during weekends – typically lining them up and beating them with a steel-tipped belt.
When they got out of the orphanage Johnson-Reddick’s sons and daughters appeared before the 1987 Legislature, testifying for a change in a Nevada law that stated that parents’ rights are more important than a child’s best interests.
The full text of the obituary published in the Reno Gazette-Journal:
Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.
On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.
Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgiveable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a “humane society”. Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.