Anchorage Daily News (AK)
August 9, 1992
A STORY OF INCEST: FATHER'S SEXUAL ABUSE OF YOUNG DAUGHTERS LEAVES FAMILY IN TATTERS
Author: DEBRA McKINNEY
He was still heavy, the way she remembered him. The hair had grayed and the beard was gone; in its place grew a thick mustache. Though she'd been married to him for 18 years, his eyes were unfamiliar. This was the first time in six years Diana Wade had seen her ex-husband. It would be the last. Their final goodbye took place last January behind the security doors at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center.
Diana hoped he wouldn't notice her hands shaking. Though she'd rehearsed this over and over, she clutched a set of notes on 3-by-5 cards so she wouldn't forget what she needed to say. It had taken so many years to get this far. So many years and so many tragedies since the day she learned the truth about her husband: The man she loved, trusted and built a life with had sexually abused their three daughters.
The confrontation was arranged through Hiland's sex offender treatment program. The rules were simple: She talked; he could not respond. Diana got down to business.
"After today, I want absolutely no contact with you," she began, forcing herself to look him in the eyes. "I have a new life. I am a new and different person. . . . I have a really good future waiting for me and you will not be part of it.
"I also want to tell you that I am very, very angry."
Diana paused a moment to reflect on the unraveling of her family: Renee, 24, now a single mother on welfare who spent six years in a physically violent relationship, thinking she deserved no better. Trey, 22, whose struggle with his father's betrayal twice landed him in Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Jennifer, 19, who excels at all she does but still hasn't faced what her father did to her; she says she can't remember.
And then there's Tanya.
Adopted as a toddler, Tanya was the compassionate one who wrote poetry, the one always eager to help. Tanya, the daughter Diana thought might become a counselor or schoolteacher someday, numbed the pain with alcohol and crack, and, at 18, became a $40-a-trick Spenard Road prostitute.
Anger pulsed through Diana's veins: Her husband, George "Tom" Wade Jr., was serving 12 years for his crimes. But she and her children had received a life sentence; they would live the rest of their lives without feeling whole. He had raped their souls.
"When people tell me that you have a really raw deal, I feel a rage well up inside me," she told him. "Your actions put you in jail but my children, my family, and I have . . . suffered incredible pain and agony. . . ."
Diana's hands no longer shook. She glanced down at her index cards and realized she didn't need them. She felt power. What a change from the submissive role she once played, "the mouse," as she puts it, dressed in dumpy, homemade skirts and blouses, a woman often ridiculed by her husband for being gullible.
"I don't know what will happen when you get out of jail, but I want to be real clear about one thing. . . . I do not want to hear from you, see you or hear about you. I want absolutely no contact with you at all, nor with anyone who sees you."
The session lasted less than 20 minutes. When it was over, no one spoke, no one moved.
Diana got up and walked out without looking back. She stepped from the darkness of those prison walls and into the radiant light of a clear winter day.
At last she was free.
The path had been long and painful. Seven years ago, Diana thought she had all she ever wanted. A university degree almost in hand. Four wonderful children. A husband people respected, a man of integrity. A Baptist preacher.
But for several years, while Diana had slept, traveled or otherwise been too busy to notice, her husband crept into their daughters' bedrooms, doing things to them no one should do to a child, least of all a father. If the girls told, he said, terrible things would happen. He was their dad; they kept their mouths shut.
The truth yanked the footing right out from under her.
In the aftermath, Diana lost everything family, career, home, health, even some church friends who couldn't understand why she had her husband arrested and then divorced him: He'd said he was sorry and would never do it again; why couldn't she forgive?
To some who scorned her, Diana committed the ultimate sin by suing the Southern Baptist Convention in Virginia, the organizational arm of her church (winning a $1.56 million judgment, then losing it a year later on appeal). She sued because church officials knew the oldest daughter, Renee, was being abused long before Diana did. One of them, according to Renee's sworn testimony, told her to forgive her father and not tell anyone what he had done. It was three years before Renee got the courage to speak up again. By then, her father had started in on her two little sisters.
Tom Wade refused repeated requests to be interviewed for this story.
What remains is the story of a woman trying to heal after waking up one morning to find everything she's ever believed in, everything she's ever lived for, has been an enormous lie.
Diana came from a long line of Southern Baptists and was the daughter of a Baptist preacher. She met Tom in choir practice at her father's church in Anchorage. After four months, they were married. He was 26; she was 17.
Four children later, the Wades had what appeared to be a wholesome life. Diana raised her children on "old-fashioned American values" and three to five church services a week.
In 1977, the family moved to southern Africa to work as missionaries for the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Hired as part of a husband-and-wife team, Diana was thrilled by the chance to live an exotic life overseas, doing work she considered her calling. But while she was living a fantasy, she was losing a daughter:
"The first event that really sticks in my mind," Renee recalled, "was when I was 11 years old. My mother was out of town. We were getting ready for bed and he asked me to come in his room and give him a hug. He was in his underwear.
"He told me to climb in bed with him. He was my daddy. . . . He began to touch my breasts, my body, all over. He said we were being naughty. . . . I felt naughty. I felt sick."
Renee was abused first, and longest. It started overseas. Between 11 and 16, her father's assaults accelerated to joint showers, finger penetration and oral sex. There were times, when Diana was away, he would visit her room almost nightly.
"When he would kiss me goodnight, he would slip his tongue into my mouth. . . . We had a trailer in our yard, which we used as a playhouse. Most often, it was my private place. One day, my father took me in there. I don't know where the rest of the family was. He showed me his penis, showed me that he wasn't circumcised. He made me kiss it.
"He said the devil made him do it. He didn't know how else to express his love for me, he loved me so much. He said if I told, nobody would ever want to marry me. And my mother would be jealous."
Diana closes her eyes and shakes her head: "I think of myself as just kind of da-dee-da, going around doing my thing when all this chaos was happening around me," she said. "I was just oblivious to it. I was just real busy, which is very typical for abusive families, for the mother to be distracted."
The first sign Diana missed was when Renee started acting up in school. Soon after the abuse started, the 11-year-old refused to do her work and began challenging authority. Slowly she slipped away, becoming more and more distant from her mother. In retrospect, Diana understands that they couldn't remain close with such a dark secret standing between them.
When Renee was 14, Diana decided to send her to a missionary school in Johannesburg, 700 miles away; maybe the change would get her back on track. But before too long, mission associate area director Marion "Bud" Fray was on the phone telling her and Tom that their daughter was a bad influence on other kids. She smoked cigarettes and propositioned boys. He complained about her grades, her table manners, her sloppy dress and her constant claims of feeling sick. He called her a hypochondriac.
But Renee was affected physically. She carried the secret like knotted barbed wire deep inside her.
"My stomach hurt a lot," she said. "I felt like screaming, like I was crazy."
When Renee found out her father was making a trip to Johannesburg, she begged her housemother not to let him stay in her home. When asked why, she told.
According to Renee's sworn testimony, the housemother told her husband, who told Fray, who in turn confronted Tom.
Fray testified that in a tearful confession in his office, Tom admitted only to a little fondling, and that it happened a long time ago. Fray said he had no reason to doubt Tom. Fray referred to Renee as a "sexually deviant child" and said he suspected she was lying.
"(Tom) said that she liked attention," Fray told the court. ". . . He was heartbroken as I perceived it. . . . She would say, 'Dad, why don't you just hold me close, hug me, hold me close,' which he did. And he said one thing led to the other."
Tom promised to tell Diana and get the family into counseling. Fray took him at his word.
Later, Renee testified, Fray told her to keep quiet. If she told, she would ruin her father's ministry and her parents' marriage.
In his testimony, Fray denied saying these things.
"He said I needed to pray," Renee said in a recent interview.
"Two days went by and I was right back where I started, except that more people knew about it," Renee said. "It started going around school that I was seducing my father. I was made out to be this wild slut."
Diana missed another sign when Fray once referred to the "family secret." She thought he was referring to the fact that she was pregnant when she and Tom married. At 17, with her upbringing, sitting in front of a boy on a sled was considered scandalous by her family. Unwed pregnancies weren't open to discussion.
After the confrontation in Johannesburg, the Wades decided to return to Alaska on furlough, two years earlier than scheduled. The plan was to get Renee into counseling for her behavior. But other than a few sessions with a pastor, the counseling never happened. Tom never did tell Diana.
After three months in Anchorage, Tom moved his family to Anderson, a town of about 500 people 80 miles southwest of Fairbanks, to become pastor of the North Star Baptist Church. Instead of getting the counseling he promised, he continued to pursue his oldest daughter. By then Renee was angry enough to refuse. When she did, he turned to the two younger girls.
Jennifer won't talk about her abuse; she gets up and leaves the room when the subject comes up: "I've trained my mind not to listen to certain subjects," she says.
But Tanya, the prostitute, talks more openly.
Tanya always was the most affectionate, the most loving, the most insecure of the four Wade children, according to her mother. As an Alaska Native child adopted by whites, all she ever wanted was acceptance, to be part of a family. With Tanya, Tom had the perfect victim because he had the perfect threat.
"Tom always told me I'd be taken away if I told," Tanya said.
"I remember the first time he tried. I backed up into a dresser as far as I could. I was scared. It was real confusing. He got mad and went away."
But he came back again and again. He attempted intercourse, but stopped when Tanya cried out in pain.
"I went away from myself when he did it," Tanya remembers. Now, she says,she uses the same escape when she works as a prostitute. To this day she can't sleep without a light on, she says.
As is typical in incest cases, the sisters never talked among themselves about what their father did to them at night. Jennifer and Tanya, 11 when the abuse started, shared a room, and while their father was with one, the other would sleep through it, Tanya said. Or pretend to. Even after their older sister Renee walked in on Tanya and Tom, there was silence.
"We were on the living room floor," Tanya recalled, "and he was feeling me all over. We had a blanket over us and my sister walked in. I couldn't figure out why she wouldn't help me. All she did was look at me like she was about to cry."
In her own way, Renee did try to protect her younger sisters by sneaking them into her room at night. She knew he couldn't have all three of them at once.
Meanwhile, Diana continued to miss signals. Renee's dark poetry. Tanya refusing to dress for gym class. Renee asking out of the blue, "Mom, are you frigid?"
"There was an undercurrent of knowing something was wrong, but denying it," Diana said. "I didn't even know this world existed."
Diana was denying a lot of things back then, mostly that her marriage was slowly suffocating her. She'd grown up watching women get lost in their husband's shadows, and although she always wanted more to be a writer and photographer, and to be capable of looking out for herself she ended up right where she never wanted to be. She hid by burying herself in school, work and other projects.
"I allowed myself to be sucked into a subservient, submissive wifely role," she wrote recently in her journal.
"When I began to spread my wings and start to say I like this or I think that . . . (the marriage) began to unravel.
"And sex oh, we can't forget the all important sexual thing. . . . By the time my son was a year old, I lay in bed night after night thinking I was really awful because my husband rejected me sexually. I remember saying to him one time that it had been three or four months since we had sex and he got so angry. . . ." Now she thinks she knows why: He wasn't attracted to anyone over 18.
In the years after Tom's arrest, Diana often felt people blamed her for the abuse; it was her fault for not keeping her husband happy.
By the time she was 15, Renee refused to go to church. Listening to her father stand at the pulpit and preach turned her stomach. By her senior year in Anderson, she was drinking, smoking dope and staying out until 3 or 4 in the morning. When her father threatened to call the cops, she laughed in his face.
"I took my father's training well," Renee says. "I was able to get away with anything I wanted because I had something on him."
All the while Renee craved a chance to break the silence. After what had happened the last time she talked, she had to be careful. She got the chance to test what was possible when she learned that a friend of Tanya's was being abused by her own stepfather. Renee told a school counselor, the man was arrested and sent to jail. Renee liked what she saw.
The grand jury subpoenaed Tanya to testify against the man. Tom drove her into Fairbanks and, en route, abruptly pulled over the car. Tanya remembers being terrified that he was about to hurt her.
"It was kind of like he blew up," Tanya said. "I remember his face went red. He told me not to tell anybody (about the abuse) or all this bad stuff would happen to me. He grabbed me on the arm and was saying something about me being taken away. He was saying, 'I love you and this is the way I love you.' "
Renee left Anderson the day she graduated from high school and moved in with her grandparents in Anchorage. She was pregnant by her boyfriend.
One afternoon, she and her mother's younger sister, Linda Travelli, were discussing Renee's hopes for a wedding. When Linda asked if Tom would perform the ceremony, Renee said he wouldn't even be invited.
"Why do you hate your father so much?" Linda asked.
But she already knew. Memories surfaced that had been buried for years. Linda remembered that Tom had abused her, too. At 11 and again at 16, she said. Renee told her story and Linda told hers. Together they decided it was time to let the rest of the family know the truth about this man.
The news shattered Diana's family. But Diana, in Fairbanks attending summer school at the University of Alaska, was still in the dark. Someone had to tell her. The task fell to her parents, Helen and Ed Wolfe.
Seven years later, Helen's eyes still fill with tears when she recalls that day.
"It's the hardest thing we've ever done," she says in a whisper.
"Diana was like this," her father says, waving his hand in front of his eyes, indicating no response. "She turned to stone. She wouldn't let anyone comfort or hug her."
Friends and family describe Diana's parents as two of the most gentle, loving people they know. Learning what Tom was doing to her grandchildren brought forth powerful emotions Helen had never experienced before.
"If I could have found a gun, I'd a killed him," she said. "The Lord can forgive instantly. But we as humans, it takes time."
After an all-night drive to Anchorage, Diana consulted her family, her attorney, her conscience and her God. She knew what she needed to do to protect her children; she asked the lawyer to call the police.
The next morning, Diana lay in bed with the curtains closed, swallowed by darkness. The phone rang. The familiar voice on the other end sounded so hurt:
"Why are you doing this to me?"
The Alaska State Troopers had arrested Tom Wade at the church parsonage, charging him with six felony counts of sexual abuse.
It was June 16, 1985.
It was Father's Day.
The letters began arriving soon after word got back to Tom's family in Georgia:
"It is absolutely unheard of for a person such as Tom to have been treated the way he has by his own family. . . . We will continue to do something to try to undo what you all have done. . . ."
The letter from Tom's sister, Caroline Smith, damned Diana for turning on her husband.
"You have allowed a young girl a very immature girl who happens to be your daughter to destroy what has been a beautiful life . . . ," she wrote two weeks after Tom's arrest.
"You allowed Satan to take control and until you allow God back into the situation, Satan will have the victory."
Some of the letters were directed to Diana's father, then-pastor of Anchorage's Grandview Baptist Church:
"We have been told we must forgive you we do but do you even know the wrongs that you as the Biblical head of your household have allowed? Do you even realize how weak you appear to people all over this country. . . . You have allowed an immature minor to rule your family. What does God say? Forgive them for they know not what they do."
After a while, Diana stopped opening the letters; she just threw them in a box in a closet. The children haven't heard from their father's side of the family in years.
Although Jennifer won't discuss the extent of her abuse, her pain comes through in the letter she wrote to Judge Rene Gonzales urging him to give her father the stiffest sentence possible:
"I hated every minute of my life during those two years. I think he should stay in jail until I get out of high school and college. I would be scared that he would find me and do something like killme. . . ."
In her own letter to the judge, Renee wished for a life sentence for her father.
Tom Wade pleaded "no contest" to the sexual abuse charges. Before pronouncing his sentence, Judge Gonzales said:
"I've presided over quite a few cases of sexual abuse; in many respects yours is probably one of the most tragic. . . . As a result of the mishandling of your problem in 1982 (when he was confronted in southern Africa and promised to get counseling), we have you before this court, not facing one count, one victim, but multiple counts and three victims. . . You have victimized so many people in this case. You've not only victimized your three innocent daughters, you've victimized your wife, you've victimized basically every friend who believed in you. You've destroyed so many dreams and expectations."
Tom's attorney reminded Gonzales of how remorseful his client was and of the good deeds he'd done as a pastor. He argued hard for nothing more than the eight-year presumptive sentence.
Gonzales gave him 12.
With Tom off in prison, Diana assumed the healing could begin. She didn't realize the family hadn't yet hit bottom.
Renee's escape from an abusive life was short lived. Two days after her father's arrest, she miscarried her baby.
After her child's death, she turned to alcohol and remained for several more years in a destructive relationship. Abuse she just thought that's what women got, she said.
Eventually, she became pregnant again and had a daughter. Determined to be healthy for her child, Renee began pulling back from her destructive behavior.
Trey, the only boy in the family, was an "A" student and president of his class in Anderson at the time of his father's arrest. Two years later, he had dropped out of high school. It became almost impossible for his mother to get him out of bed.
"One day he got up, took a shower and instead of getting dressed, he wrapped a blanket around himself and told me he wasn't getting dressed again," Diana said. "I remember him leaning against (the doorway) talking about death, and that there wasn't any real death, that he had been told you could pass back back and forth between it. I mean it just went on and on and on."
Diana had Trey committed to API, the state mental hospital, twice. At 17, he entered a treatment program for drug and alcohol addictions.
Over the years, he has gone from mohawks to dreadlocks to pony tails in an effort to discover who he is. Today he's sober, living in a friend's garage and about as far from a Baptist as he can get a ceremonial pipe carrier and board member of the Native Spiritual Culture Councils. He's dyed his blondish hair dark brown. He wears animals bones around his neck. He goes by the name Grey Wolf.
The way Trey explains it, he found his father's secret so humiliating, such a betrayal, that he wanted to reconstruct every atom of his body.
"I'm not related to my dad anymore," he said.
Tanya, the one who sank the furthest, so believed her father's threats that she'd lose her family if she ever told that for days after his arrest she insisted he never touched her.
After he went to prison, her feelings toward him were a confused torrent of love and hate. They gelled as rage.
During fights with her mother, she'd pound the walls and scream until she was hoarse. She locked herself in a bathroom once and threatened to carve herself up with a knife.
"You didn't know, but you should have!" she shouted.
Diana, who had moved with the kids to Anchorage, tried joint counseling. But Tanya would just curl up into the fetal position and refuse to talk.
By the seventh grade, Tanya was running away, drinking, using drugs and hanging out with street kids. Pregnant at 15, she gave up her baby for adoption.
Tanya tried to kill herself with pain pills. She lay in the intensive care unit at the Alaska Native Medical Center with tubes up her nose and all four limbs tied down as she thrashed about. For 24 hours, doctors didn't know if she'd live.
By 17, Tanya had been in eight institutions, shelters and treatment programs, including API. In the fall of 1989, she disappeared into the streets of Anchorage.
"It's like it never ends," said Linda Travelli, Diana's sister. "Every time we have Christmas or a family get-together and Tanya's not there, Jennifer and I are in tears. At graduation, there was an empty chair sitting right next to Jennifer and it should have been Tanya's. She should have been sitting in that chair."
Other than visiting her a couple of times in jail, Diana has seen Tanya only once in the past year. Diana arranged to meet her this winter in a Midtown family restaurant. Tanya walked in with a limp, holding her stomach.
Tanya had lunch. Diana wasn't hungry.
Diana studied her child arms bony, shoulders slumped, eyes at half-mast. Tanya wore all black, except for a set of acrylic fingernails painted Woolworth's red by someone in a big hurry. The remnant of a black eye shone through her makeup.
It wasn't her boyfriend this time, but "a crazy out there," Tanya said. Last fall, some guy had beaten and raped her. Now she takes time to pray each night before hitting the streets.
Tanya talked of bouncing from the streets to jail, to shelters, to a laundry room she knows of when there's nowhere else to sleep. She spoke lovingly of her boyfriend, the one she also accuses of beating her face black and blue, chipping her cheekbone, breaking her nose and giving her a permanent lump on her forehead.
Tanya rolled up the sleeve of her sweatshirt and showed off a fat, 3-inch scar where he had sunk his teeth into her arm one night and held on like a pit bull.
"He likes to bite," she said.
She told Diana she plans to marry this man; she was already pregnant with his child.
Tanya paused and looked at her mother to see if she'd made her flinch. Diana waited until Tanya's head was turned before she did.
Diana understands her daughter's need to hurt her. A mother's job is to protect her children. Diana failed. She doesn't know how many times she's been asked: How could you not know?
ON THEIR OWN
Diana filed for divorce immediately after her husband's arrest, and for several months she kept herself in isolation. The support she expected from friends and her church community didn't come.
Few people called or came to see her, she said. "It was as if I had this disease, and other people were afraid if they were around me they'd catch it."
The barrage of letters from Tom's sister in Georgia blasted her for making an "ugly mess" of the Wade family tree. Diana was reminded again and again that wedding vows are for better or for worse; how could she call herself Christian?
As time went on, it became harder and harder for her to go to church even though her father was the pastor. She'd sit there by herself, arms folded, with a "don't touch me" air about her, her father said.
Life's unfairness dived a layer deeper when news of Tom's arrest reached the missionary board back in Virginia. He was fired. Because they had been hired as husband and wife, Diana was fired, too.
"I wasn't the one who committed the crime," Diana says with disgust. She fought it for five months before finally giving up.
For the first year, her parents paid all her living expenses. Diana got property in Missouri out of the divorce settlement and $40,000 from the state of Alaska's victims' compensation fund. But the money went quickly for counseling services for her and the children.
Meanwhile, Diana's attorney, Ken Norsworthy, started trying to convince the foreign mission board to compensate this anguished family.
"Along the way, I started learning more and more about what happened over in Africa," Norsworthy said. "The more I heard, the more livid I got. Practically all that happened to Tanya and Jennifer I laid it at the feet of the board. That all took place after they had the opportunity to stop it and didn't."
After getting nowhere, Norsworthy sued on behalf of the children and Diana, charging the board with breach of contract. They won a $1.56 million judgment in 1990. A little over a year later, she lost it when the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned it on appeal, saying, basically, that the board's failure to inform Diana did not make it liable for the abuse.
Long before the suit even came to trial, Diana announced she was leaving the Baptist faith and becoming a Roman Catholic. On her mother's side are four or five generations of Southern Baptists; on her father's side, at least that many. Her parents were devastated. Her mother still can hardly talk about it.
Forgiveness is a basic tenet of the Baptist faith. Diana's parents have struggled to forgive Tom Wade and now say they have, although they will never forget his deeds. Today Diana's father is a minister at the First Baptist Church in Soldotna. As he explains it, forgiving means "accepting the person as if they had not done it." It does not require amnesia, he says, but it does mean getting past the events. That's what he's done. If Diana can't, it's because she has taken forgiveness too literally, he says.
About the time she left the church, Diana's family decided she was emotionally unbalanced and needed to be hospitalized. Her sister Linda offered to quit her job on the North Slope to take care of the children so Diana could get her life in order. In Diana's mind, it was a family conspiracy to take away her children.
"She thought we were trying to run her life," her mother said. "We were. Somebody had to."
Diana tried bulldozing her way through the remnants of her life. She got a job as a bookkeeper, and lost it. She bought a condo, and lost it. Bills piled up. Checks bounced. She landed in the hospital with a suspected ulcer.
Everyone could see Diana wasn't functioning well; everyone except Diana.
Diana considered Mary Kay Cosmetics her saving grace. Selling cosmetics at home parties, she enjoyed the company of other women and started reclaiming some of her battered self-esteem. But she also got lost in her work.
The way her family tells it, she labored day and night to meet her sales quotas. The kids were home alone a lot, left to scrape together their own dinners. Although it was obvious to everyone else that Tanya was on drugs, her mother denied it.
In 1988, Diana won a Mary Kay top sales bonus: use for two years of a flashy red Pontiac Grand Am. It was tangible proof of success at last.
The kids, however, weren't doing so well. By then, Tanya was pregnant and living in Booth Memorial Home. Trey was in drug and alcohol treatment at the Akeela House.
By 1989, Diana started losing her grip. Her cosmetic sales plummeted and Mary Kay took away her fancy car. About the same time, her parents cut her off financially. By then her mother's retirement fund had been nearly depleted.
"I think we should have let Diana go on her own sooner," her mother said. "That's one regret. But she had needs, I had cash. Finally when I did it, it caused a break between us. But for my own sanity I had to back off.
"The most difficult thing for a parent to do is let them go. You want to rescue them."
At last, Diana had hit bottom. She checked into the psychiatric ward at Providence Hospital in the fall of 1989. Two weeks later she emerged with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and borderline manic depression. She's been on medication and disability ever since.
In the years since, with the help of therapist Helen Craig from the Langdon Psychiatric Clinic, Diana has made the transition from victim to survivor to taking control of her life. And just as her parents had to cut her free, she had to do the same with her own children.
She screens her calls now. Because the kids constantly pop in and out, she hangs a "do not disturb" sign on her door when she needs peace.
She has made it clear to Tanya she's through rescuing her and visiting her in jail. Until Tanya quits prostitution and starts trying to change, she knows not to call.
But sometimes Diana does get calls in the middle of the night where the caller says nothing. She knows it's Tanya just wanting to hear her voice, just wanting to make sure she's still there.
Today Diana is closing in on a degree in journalism at the University of Alaska. She's still active in Mary Kay Cosmetics. She talks about writing a book.
More than anything, the confrontation with Tom at Hiland Mountain has allowed her at last to get on with her life. Others see it, too.
"Since she saw Tom she's been a different person," her sister Linda said. "It's been really freeing for her."
After being able to say to Tom what she needed to say, Diana broke the final tie in March when she rid herself of the Wade family name, taking back her maiden name, Wolfe. The whole family gathered to celebrate with a barbecue and cake. Jennifer took the name, too. Renee and Trey want to, when they can afford the $200 legal fee.
That leaves forgiveness as the final issue.
It's been a difficult one for this family. It's one Diana is still trying to work her way through.
It cost her her Baptist heritage because, she said, the notion of forgiving and forgetting would never have allowed her to heal.
When there's forgiveness, she explained, the past is wiped out. It's as if it never happened.
But it did.
Copyright (c) 1992, Anchorage Daily News