Akron Newspaper: The next time you think you’re having a bad day, image how Valerie Spruill felt when she discovered that her husband and her father are the same person.We will pause here briefly to enable you to process the previous sentence. Took me a while, too.Talk about a psychological blockbuster.Not that her life had been a breeze four decades earlier when she found out at the age of 9 that the man she thought was her father was actually her grandfather, and that a person who had been identified as a “family friend” was actually her mother.
Spruill didn’t learn until later that her mom also was one of three “night ladies,” as she terms it, who testified in the infamous 1980 corruption trial of Summit County Probate Judge James Barbuto.
Why would anyone volunteer this kind of information?
Because Valerie Spruill wants to be an example.
The 60-year-old Doylestown woman wants to show other folks born into miserable situations that they can still lead good, productive, fulfilling lives.Spruill has.
Now retired, she worked for 34 years in the accounting department at Goodyear. She has three kids and eight grandkids.Although Spruill has fought through serious health problems — she believes they were brought on by the stress of discovering the longtime family secret in 2004, when her husband/father died — she is relentlessly upbeat and optimistic.
For years, she overheard odd whispers she couldn’t figure out. She finally learned the truth from an uncle not long after her husband/father’s death.
When asked to estimate how many people know about this, she laughs and says, “Half of Akron.” Spruill says she confirmed the relationship with a DNA test. And if anyone doubts it, she says, she still has plenty of his DNA: About five years ago, she found a hairbrush of his that somehow had become lodged under their dresser.
Now, I think it’s safe to say there aren’t a lot of support groups for people who marry their fathers.
Fortunately, Spruill has been working with a therapist since she found out. She praises the therapist for helping her realize she did nothing wrong.
“I’ve been getting great help,” she says, “because, God knows, if I hadn’t of went and aired out how I feel, I wouldn’t have made it, because I would have continued to stress out about this problem.”
Still, the pain understandably persists.
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