I am a child of the 60’s, grew up in Los Angeles in a lower income area. My mother left my father when I was 5.  She was an alcoholic and self centered person, who never should have had children.  I was left unsupervised a huge part of the time and at one point I used to light matches to smell the sulfur.  The apartment would reek of sulfur and match count would prove my misdeeds.  The thing is she never moved the matches, a point I have pondered for many years.  I was left in very incapable hands and have experienced things way before I ever should.  My surrounding family consisted of a grandmother who hated my mother, her daughter, an aunt that I have an awful lot of proof is really my sister and my mother.  My aunt and grandmother have always turned a blind eye to how my mother raised me.

I was put in foster care in 1972 and became a ward of the count in 1973.  From there an endless line of foster homes, many of which I only stayed long enough to clean up, gather clothes and hit the road again.  Ending up a lot in Mac Laren Hall, Central Juvenile Hall, Los Padrino’s Juvenile hall and a few times in plain old jail. 

I did not fear the streets like I should have and have ended up in some tight situations, mainly as a result of hitch hiking.  I eventually married a man I didn’t love or really even like, to escape the court system.  When I turned 18 and knew the courts couldn’t touch me, I got rid of him.  That marriage gave me 2 of my 3 children. The years from 1978 to 1980 were hard and my ex husband ended up taking my children out of state, I did not find them until 1986.  I got pregnant again in 1980, on purpose trying to fill the empty hole my children’s absence had brought.  I spent many years driving many miles to see them once they were located and visitation was allowed.  They barely remembered me.  Now they have a little brother.  Those relationships have had a strained toll on them to be sure.  In 1986, I ended up in backwoods Kentucky and a little happy and a little miserable.  I stayed that way until 1993 when  I moved to Kansas.  After being married 3 times already, I met my present husband, 22+ years together now. 

I have worked a multitude of jobs over the years and know a little about a lot of different areas.  I have stayed in homeless shelters and lived in the finest house in my home town, my experiences are unique and very diverse.  I am very fortunate that way.  I have survived stage 3 cancer but lost my oldest son to ALS, the scales of fate seem to tip more at an older age for me.  I lost my mother at age 20, it took 6 weeks before I would cry.  I lost my father a few years ago and still cry at the thought of him.  I fight for animals rights, bully’s are my biggest pet peeve.  I root for the under dog and yeah, I guess I’m a tree hugger too. 

Always a good day above ground. – Patti Rodenbaugh


Patricia was turned over to the L.A. foster care system at the age of 12. By her late teen years, she had given birth to two children and married just to escape the system. While Patricia had a rough start, she was determined to ensure a better life for her kids.  Listen to Patricia’s Story >

This is a talisman to affirm our responsibility to protect, nurture and teach our own and all vulnerable children with strength, grace and understanding. Opal has long been associated with love and innocence.  See all our Ally Collection Gem Set’s >


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1 comment

  1. Wow! Such resilience.

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