Life Topics

Me and My Big Mouth

My senior year in high school was, shall we say, adventurous. I was not a popular, cheerleader type but I wasn’t totally unredeemable either. Me and my clique of six swam in the middle. I liked that; it was safe. We did horrible things like sneak out bedroom windows, lie to our parents about said sneaking, and bribe older college guys to buy us six packs of beer. But we were decent students and other than the above mentioned, followed the rules.

My high school was predominately black. Me and my friends were not. That was ok though, we were in the middle and were extremely diplomatic. We would party with anyone who was, or appeared to be, cool. None of us really had one guy; that violated our pack rules. Oh, we had dates, but nothing heartbreaking. Girls, as Cyndi Lauper would say: Just wanna have fun. And we did. Until we didn’t.

A new guy came to Davis High School one day and stopped time as we knew it. He was super cute, dressed totally cool, and in the words of my mother; was a mulatto. His name was Leslie Thompson, and everyone loved him. And for God knows what reason, he liked me. I was hands down the least attractive of our gang. No, not boohoo, just a fact. Not a dog – but I’m not stopping traffic. However, I did have a certain swagger and I was funny. So, Leslie and I started hanging out. You know, he’d walk me to a class, maybe holding hands in the quad. The standard fare for most high school kids. It was nothing. Ok, it was something; I was gaining a whole new level of coolness, but I would die before I would admit to any such enjoyment. My mother even liked him. My mother didn’t like me.

Leslie and I had been seeing each other for maybe a month, when the buzz around the girl’s bathroom was that Lolli Williams liked him. Which also meant that Lolli Williams did not like me. This was not good news. Lolli was a very loud, proud, come up the hard way black girl. We’d been friendly in a couple of classes, but I could tell that she in no way would be seen with me or any white girl, outside of an inescapable classroom. Further rumor had it that she was wanting to “talk” to me. Nope. That my friend is never happening. Avoid all bathrooms. Check.

Leslie had dropped me off after school one day (in his red Camero by the way), and as I hit the living room, the phone rang. My mother immediately yelled from the kitchen that if that was Gwen I was not going anywhere tonight. She always said that. It wasn’t Gwen.

Let me quickly explain that back in those days, we had phone books; and in those books was the name, number and address of every living breathing soul in that community. “Hello”, I said happily. The voice I heard on the end of that line stopped my heart. It was the infamous, you guessed it, Lolli Williams. “This Evy?” Lolli barked. I stood in the living room with the phone in my hand and my mouth open. Willing myself not faint. “It is,” I said. Real casual like. I won’t go into the exact language but suffice it to say, Lolli’s opinion of my relationship with Leslie was not supportive. She was also not a fan of my hair, friends, or and this was a red line, my mother. She then proceeded to explain to me in graphic detail how she was going to kick my ass. Lolli had an admirable command of the English language.

I had had enough. I come from a long line of Irishman. When the going got tough, the Irish got pissed. My mother, one of those Irish types, moved into the doorway and was looking at me. Probably since I hadn’t said a word in several minutes and this was not like me. I had to respond. Where I got

this line, I don’t know: “Ya know what Lolli? Your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower.” I saw the words leave my mouth. Before my very eyes, I had committed suicide. I freaked out completely and hung up the phone. Oh. Dear. God. My mom looked at me with eyes the size of saucers, shook her head and went back in the kitchen. I sat on the sofa and called Gwen explaining the current crisis. Gwen called everyone else. They all called me back. This went on for what seemed like hours with the general consensus that I would not be going back to school. Ever. It was only two weeks ‘til graduation. The last week traditionally being deemed Senior Skip Week. I could do this.

No, I couldn’t. As I set sipping coffee in the dinning room the next morning, “Don’t you think it’s time for you to get ready for school?” My mother stood with a hand on her hip and a dish towel over her shoulder. I was ready: “I think I’m coming down with mono,” I croaked. “over-night mono?” she glared back at me. I was relentless, “It can happen. Who knows where Leslie Thompson has been.” I was tossing him under the bus and could not care less. My mother was not buying it and with flare pointed me to my room. “Get dressed.” That was it; the death sentence.

The last words I heard from my mom’s mouth as I slowly trudged to Gwen’s waiting Bonneville was, “I told you your mouth would get you into trouble.” Yeah, well…you’ll be sorry when I’m dead I thought.

Plan B was not complicated – simply duck, dodge and stay with my pack. I had to avoid Lolli and her people for two weeks. Thankfully we didn’t have any classes with Lolli this last semester, so it was going pretty well. And Davis was a big school, plenty of flesh to hide behind. Until first period lunch.

Gwen and I burst out of the double doors leading to the parking lot and joined up with Jeanne, Mary, and the two Kims. Making a bee line to the Bonneville. Get off school property and disappear, skip our last two classes, whatever. What we saw next stopped all of us in our tracks. It was Lolli. Lolli sitting on the hood of Gwen’s car; with her crew and talking smack. And they saw us.

What happened next is filmed in my head in slow motion. First, my five friends hit the bricks leaving me standing alone. No surprise really, I wasn’t the only coward. Then, as if by osmosis, the entire student body was out on The Common, a large deck area with a supreme view of the parking lot. Chanting like the blood-thirsty ghouls they were fight, fight, fight. Even the stoners from the park across the street were moving in for a closer vantage point. And they’re a tough group to motivate. I wouldn’t describe what happened next as a fight. Lolli simple strolled over as I stood there praying not to pee my pants and shoved me. Hard. I vaguely remember getting one good punch to her nose and then she unceremoniously mopped the parking lot with me. At some point I must have fainted, passed out, or was knocked out. I opened my eyes to Gwen and vice principal Crago staring down at me. “Am I dead?” I asked to no one in particular. Gwen heaved me upright and simply stated, “not yet.” At least the throngs of on-lookers were gone, and so was Lolli.

Mr. Crago, along with a school nurse, and Gwen looked me over in the office. There wasn’t much area that she didn’t get a piece of. I had two black eyes, a split upper lip, and multiple cuts and abrasions. In short, she really did kick my ass. “Am I kicked out?” I asked Crago. For some reason Mr. Crago liked me. He knew my mom which petty much told him that our household was not built on Leave it to Beaver. “No. he replied, I think you’ve suffered enough.” “But I’ve got to call your mother.”

By nothing short of a miracle, my mother was out. Mr. Crago left a hurried message and sent me home via Gwen. She sat with me in my room until the Commandant herself returned. To my utter shock, she was sympathetic. Gwen was released from her babysitting and sent home. Mom doctored me the best she could and put me in bed. I realized it was Friday. I had two days to recover.

Graduation night finally came, and I did look better. Yellow and blue, but better. Bye, bye high school. So long Lolli, who by the way, never gave me another thought. Oh, and Leslie Thompson? Apparently, Davis was a bit rough around the edges for the boy and he transferred to the Richie Rich high school across town. He turned out to be a coward too.

Two years went by, and I was living what can only be described at that time, as my best life. Gwen and I got a fabulous apartment together, we both had great jobs, and all was right with the world. So much so that I decided to treat myself to a plane ride to Vancouver Canada. I had a friend there who had an astonishingly good-looking brother.

I settled into my seat of the small puddle jumper and thumbed through the flight magazine. There were only twelve seats on the thing and the plane appeared to be full. The exception being the empty aisle seat next to me. I crossed my fingers that no one would sit there. We all have that fantasy.

I decide to lean over and check for intruders and there she was. Lolli freakin’ Williams. Lolli the terminator, bouncing up the aisle, ticket in her left hand and a…a baby on her right hip? Holy shit, I thought, Lolli has kidnapped a baby! And this criminal was going to sit next to me. Thinking quick I put on my sunglasses, snapped the window shield closed, and pretended to be asleep. I would not open my eyes until touch-down, a mere fifty-minute flight. No problem.

She settles in with the kid strapped to her lap and I feel us ascend, level off, and begin our short jaunt to Vancouver. I’ve not moved a muscle. And that would have been true for the duration had this baby, a toddler really, kicked me in my side. Dammit! My reflexes gave me away and I turned to look my assailant in the eye. He was adorable. He looked back at me and my sunglasses with a drooling smile that I could not help but return. Lolli was mortified, apologized profusely and then recognition sparked in her eyes. I did have one unforgettable smile. “Evy?” she was nearly gushing. “Oh my god girl!” The jig was up so I removed my sunglasses and with a straight face said, “Lolli? How great to see you, you look great! Who is this handsome man?” The little scar over my lip was tingling.

We spent the rest of the flight talking about a) the fight, she was very remorseful about the ass-kicking and b) the baby. Terrence. As it turns out, Lolli had been raped after a dorm party a few weeks before graduation. Which meant that she was pregnant when we had our little dust up. I couldn’t believe it on several levels but here was little Terrence. I asked a million questions and she answered some. She never pressed charges because she really didn’t know who the guy was. That’s just how things were. She went on after graduation, with the help of her mom, to get her degree in counseling. And ironies of ironies counsels’ kids at none other than Davis High School.

We exchanged numbers at the airport and vowed to keep in touch. And we have. Oh, I’ve not seen Lolli now for more years than I’m willing to confess but we do keep in touch. The wonders of Facebook. I consider her a friend. I still have no feeling in that small area on my upper lip, but still….I wonder sometimes if I would have ever gotten to know Lolli or Terrence, had it not been for my big mouth.

Life Topics

An Unlikely Friendship

 

I could not stomach it any longer.  This marriage was making me physically and mentally sick.  I never knew what I was up against from day to day.  Between the acrid verbal abuse, “why would you wear makeup, you’re so ugly anyway” and finally the threat of physical abuse there was no way to continue.  My life was a roller coaster controlled by his moods and behaviors. No one really knew what I was going through.  Although, I am pretty sure the kids knew.  They always know.  It was like I had a secret to tell, I wanted to blurt it out, but I didn’t have the guts to let on how miserable I was.  Deep down I wanted to appear like we had a happy marriage, just pretend it was OK; until I couldn’t.  The last straw came when he called me a cunt in front of my children.  Through shock, disbelief, embarrassment, and rage, I balled up my right hand, reached back and swung.  I hit him square in the jaw and his 6’ 4” frame dropped to the floor.  I’m not proud of losing control but I was battered and defeated.  I then told the kids to get their jackets on, and “we are out of here.”  So, we left during a February snowstorm and never looked back.  It was the best decision of my life.

I eventually got on my feet after staying with my parents for 6 months.  They were incredibly supportive.  The divorce was a nightmare, of course, but not as bad as the marriage.  Slowly I gained mental strength and self-esteem.  He had me turned so inside out that I it was hard for me to make simple decisions at first and have the necessary confidence I needed to fully heal.  Thankfully that all changed. I took small yet bold steps to regain my life and get to a place of total independence.  I was no longer that woman who put up with his twisted views or gross negativity.  No one would ever step on me again.  No one.

As miracles would have it, he eventually remarried a few years later.  I wondered what kind of woman would fall for him.  And then I remembered how he could transform into a charming predator at will.  I naïvely and regrettably fell for that once.  Maybe she was lured in unknowingly, or maybe she was as unbalanced as he was.  Either way, I was determined not to like her, and I didn’t.  Afterall, any friend of his was an enemy of mine. You are judged by the company you keep they say.  However, my life was in an upturn as I had met and fallen in love with my life partner.  The only thing I worried about was the time and influence she would have on my son.  Her character was a mystery to me, and I had deep concerns.

Eventually they had a child of their own, a baby girl.  I had to pretend that I cared about my son having a new sister so he would feel content and at ease.  He already had to put up with his father’s erratic behavior when he picked him up on weekends, shouting nonsense at me for no reason.  I didn’t want to add to my son’s stress by saying anything negative about his new sister, nor did I want to.  It turned out that he really liked his stepmother, without elaborating on it.  I think he didn’t want me to feel bad.  He also loved having a sister, he was no longer the baby in the family.  I had very little contact with her, except for a few emotionally charged phone conversations.  She accused me of being “selfish” when discussing child support.  This woman was crazy.

Not surprisingly their marriage dissolved a few years later.  I wasn’t broken up about it.  Nobody could live with him.  Only now, not only a family was split up, but my son would also lose a sister that he loved.  Life continued with weekend visits from his father.  I didn’t give his situation a second thought, as it was none of my business.  However, I received a phone call a few years after the split up that changed my life.

His estranged stepmother called me one winter day and asked if she could drop her daughter off to spend time with my son. I believe it was Thanksgiving.   At first, I was taken aback.  Afterall, here was this “crazy” woman asking me to entertain her daughter.  She was not family. What was I supposed to do?  I agreed and talked to my partner.  My partner said, “why do not you ask her to come along and join us too.  It’s such a long drive, why doesn’t she just stay.”  That was out of the question in my mind.  Why would I do that!  But the more I thought about it, I decided that that would be OK.  I would only have to put up with her for an afternoon if it made my son happy.  Not only did it make my son happy, but it was such a simple, yet brave, act of kindness on her part that I could not help but admire.  She decided to stay.

We eventually started seeing each other with and without the kids.  I would tell my friends that I was hanging out with my Ex’s second ex-wife, at first.  Then as time went on, I did not need to describe our situation.  There was no need.  We were becoming good friends on our own.  Her stories were my stories. Her life was my life.  We are kindred souls who have the same war stories, the same dreams and desires.  It was not all about the marriages.  Sure, we kibitzed about being married to him for a while, but then it turned into more; much much more.  If she never met my Ex then we would have never met.  We discovered that we had so much in common and especially, thanks to her, each wanted our children to have a loving and solid relationship, to grow up and grow old together.

I count her as one of my dearest friends.  We know what each other have been through and keenly understand it.  It’s mostly unspoken today.  Besides being a loving, patient, wonderful friend, she is my son’s mother as well.  Not a stepmother, a true and dedicated mother.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if the kids would be in each other’s lives today.  If it wasn’t for her, I would have missed out on a “once in a lifetime” friendship.  I love her and will have her for the rest of my life, until death do us part.

 

Life Topics

Like a Fresh Bloom

I wanted the picture to be a promise.

A symbol of love that smells like a fresh bloom.  Time fades in the background.
A place that didn’t really matter anyway.

It sits on my desk and whispers stories I’ve never heard.  Was she ever that young?  Those hands didn’t belong to her, aged, wrinkled and riddled with veins and spots at the end.

The picture ties me to her other life.  A life without me. Eyes that look hopeful but cautious, not fully knowing anything.  Soon to be a bride, then a mother, my grandmother.

Promise me we’ll see each other again.

Promise.

Life Topics

Second Chance

How early is too early to arrive at the airport; two hours, three hours?  If you are taking an early morning flight and like to get there when they are washing or fueling the plane – you are there too early.  If arriving before dawn, which I did tonight, chances are the place will be a ghost town with few gates open.  Getting through security is a breeze but getting a cup of coffee is damn near impossible.  Trudging through the dim gray lifeless terminal, I stop several times to put my large pink tote bag and luggage straps back onto my shoulder; a groggy balancing act.  I knew I should have brought my suitcase with wheels. A few people are ahead of me making their way to a glowing area, the place where the journey starts or maybe ends.

I wait at the gate, people watching and typing on my computer.  Across from me sits a pair of new parents with a blue stroller in front of the dad, and a lot of gear littering their space.  The mom sitting a few seats away from the dad eating a yogurt, probably exhausted.  It’s 3:30 in the morning.  A large red bag that resembles a hockey duffle sits between them on the uncomfortable plastic airport seats, no doubt filled with baby stuff.  Mom was tall and thin with shoulder length brown hair, which looked like she wore it up a lot, maybe just took it out of a ponytail.  Wearing black sweatpants and a zipped-up fleece jacket, she sat staring into space.  The dad is obviously on duty, looking into the stroller intermittently.  He is shorter than the mom, a little hefty with sandy blonde hair, with day old stubble wearing a layered winter coat.  It was a cold March night in Boston.

I could see little arms and legs flailing inside the buggy but couldn’t see a formed human.  There were fussing noises coming from inside, as he reached in to relieve distress.  He pulled out an alert and adorable 8-month-old baby girl.  She wore a blue dress, cream tights, and a ribbon in her peach fuzz hair.  The dad held her on one knee which made her shriek with delight.  I can’t help but drift back in time to when my sweet angels were an armful.  I’ve been there, juggling a bag of toys, diapers and Cheerios, my travel buddies for years.  Then slowly over time, one by one, you would lose the rattles, then the diapers and finally the Cheerios, substituted with soft granola bars suitable for their new teeth.

I don’t know if it is because I’m so tired that I can’t stop looking at them.  I didn’t sleep before leaving at 2am for my flight, running on anxiety and anticipation.  Am I having a nostalgic breakdown here at the airport?  My mind continues to wander.

My daydreams happen everywhere, coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, anywhere.  I look at new parents like I’m an infertile woman, longing for a child.  This makes no sense, as I am a middle-aged mother of two grown children.  I was blessed with two sons and feel so lucky to be their mom.  I’ve enjoyed them and have paid my dues; those days are over.  I really don’t want another child.  So, why do I do this?  I think I miss having a little one. Their arms and legs full of rolls and puffy cheeks, kissing exposed knees and rolled necks.  Maybe I’m trying to vicariously re-live those precious days. I want to once again feel that velvety baby skin against my face.  Inhale the unbelievably clean fragrant smell of the top of their head.  I want to be a grandmother.

The dad reaches into the large bag and pulls out a small plastic container of yogurt.  Putting it down beside him, he balances her on his knee and opens the treat to start feeding her.  Her eyes are wide and bright with wild anticipation of a creamy sweet mouthful.  She starts with a shake of excitement for what is coming.  A little shriek of euphoria follows as her eyes are transfixed on the spoon.  Her blue eyes bulge, the arms shake like a baby bird, and the legs stiffen, ready for the first installment.  I laugh a little at how cute and funny she is.  The mom catches my voyeur eyes and sees how amused I am.  We smile at each other.  She is so proud of her child.

About eight years ago I started to think a lot about having grandchildren.  It happened as the realization that my fertile years were over.  My friends were becoming grandparents and were transformed into a higher being.  All the fun with little responsibility; no babysitters, parent-teacher conferences, or doctor appointments.  I thought a lot about my sons having kids and being there to help them.  To me, it would be like having a second chance, enjoying the child of my child.  Watching them create a family and care for them as I did them.  However, my sons do not plan to have children, and I’m proud of them for making such an important decision.  If it’s not right for them, then I totally respect that.  Their happiness means more to me than anything.

There is a loud announcement that my plane is boarding.   I looked up from the computer, and the new parents are gone.  They slipped away without me noticing.  Just like my mothering years slipped away.  I hope they enjoy every step of the journey with their baby.  I gather my heavy bags and decide that this is my second chance.  I will live life to the fullest knowing my kids are safe and happy.  I can travel anywhere I want, whenever I want.   There’s great satisfaction knowing that I did everything I could to provide a happy childhood for them.  I believe being a good mom is the ultimate reward.  No more dreaming about things that aren’t meant to be.

I may never become a grandmother but I gave my mom two beautiful grandsons.

Life Topics

Thank you boys

Adam & Colin

Thank you boys for making me your mother.
There you were in my loving arms.

Thank you boys for teaching me that life’s plans are fleeting.
Ready for the party until someone was crying or had to go to the hospital.

Thank you boys for helping me appreciate time. Birthday party planning
and school trips.
The days were long and the years were short.

Thank you boys for showing me that I could be helpless
especially during the bedtime struggle when the night seemed endless.

Thank you boys for making me the mother I always hoped to be.
Making so many mistakes that you thankfully will never remember.

Thank you boys for your devoted love.  It is pure and sometimes undeserved.
I am only human.

Thank you boys.  You’re grown now, but you have taught me all I need to know.
My heart is full.

I will love you forever.

Life Topics

Perhaps

I fancy myself a wine enthusiast, a drinker, a partaker if you will.  Yes, I drink to an uncertain excess if the truth be told, but just shy of drunkenness.  I hate to be drunk and avoid it at most costs, but it happens on occasion regretfully.  I come from a family of non-drinkers, so I’m the unnamed black sheep. I usually sit with my family drinking wine, while they have their tea.  Eyebrows are raised, silence ensues as I pour my first glass.   My wine bottle gets cracked open at cocktail hour like clockwork.  Six o’clock on Thursday and Friday, if I’m not working that night, and 4 or 5 o’clock on the weekend days. I have my standards.   I try not to drink during the week, but Thursday is close enough to the weekend to count.

“Are you a wino” my mother asks with an accusatory tone, as I stand in her kitchen.  My only response is simple and quiet, “Perhaps I am mother.  Perhaps I am.”  What can I say?!?  “Yes mother, I drink to make you miserable” is what she may want to hear, but it’s not true.  I drink because I enjoy it.  I like the taste, the smell, the feeling.  I think she envisions me as the loveable “wino” character Otis in the Andy Griffith Show; disheveled, falling down, slurring words – a person to be embarrassed of.  I think it’s the idea that her daughter could be “a drunk” that really disturbs her.  I am nothing of the sort.

Most of my friends end their day with a wine or two.  I have no judgement.  However, I found a few years ago, that drinking wine during the week effected my ability to concentrate and focus the next day.  So, I changed it up and only drinking on weekends, with the exception of special occasions, holidays and vacations.  Sipping wine while I knit, watch TV or chat with a friend is a great pleasure.  I am relaxed and happy to share my time and my life.

I write this after having a bottle of wine, no effects of a wine stupor.  I am not drunk.  Why is there such a stigma around enjoying wine or alcohol?  Why must I justify my actions to those who do not like alcohol or those who don’t drink it?  Explaining why I drink wine reeks of insecurity and self-doubt.  I can’t do that.   Is it not possible to partake without being seen as having a “problem?”  I think so.  But, for many, the perception is that one drink is too much.  Is one cookie too much, is one bowl of ice cream too much?  Where are these invisible standards that we must adhere to?  Who makes up the rules?

People know what works for them, so let’s live and let live.   Perhaps we should.

Cheers.

Jo McLaughlin

Jo is a media professional working in Massachusetts. She is the founder of Dilettante life, and the co-host of the podcast Dipstitch (dipstitch.net, available on Spotify and Apple podcasts). She enjoys writing for Dilettante Life observing life and sharing experiences.

Life Topics

Dipstitch Podcast

Hello Dilettante Life followers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Time to get back in the saddle soon.  I miss my blog.

However, the reason I’ve been absent for so long is I have found a new passion I wanted to tell you about…

I have a new podcast!  It’s called Dipstitch,  a 15-30 minute episode of “sisterly conversation” brought to you each week.  What is sisterly conversation?  Well, my sister Susan and I talk about food, family, faith, dogs, knitting, jobs, holidays, parenthood and EVERYTHING in between.  I know you might be thinking, “this is a chic podcast” but it’s not. Most topics are very relatable and entertaining.  We have some laughs along the way and even have a guest every so often to join in the fun.

Won’t you have a listen?  Our audience is fantastic and makes the podcast worthwhile.  But, we’re looking to grow our fan base by inviting you to listen.  Dipstitch is available on a number of podcast platforms, but the easiest one to use is podchaser.com.

To become a loyal listener, go to podchaser.com and in the search box type Dipstitch.  Our podcast page will come up and have a green “Follow Podcast” button on the right side of the screen.  Click on it, and you’ll get an email when a new episode is uploaded.  It’s that simple.  And, if you scroll down, you’ll see Recent Episodes with a link next to it, to “View All”.   One stop shopping.

Thank you so much for being a loyal follower of Dilettante Life.  I hope you will enjoy Dipstitch as much, and become a follower there as well.

Warm Regards,

Jo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Topics

Abduction – #MeToo

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I was almost abducted.  It took two weeks of being followed for me to realize that I was in danger.

My best friend and I would frequently walk the neighborhood, going to the corner store, or just taking walks to pass time.  We noticed a man in a van waving his private parts as he drove by.  We were at the age where we didn’t quite understand what was happening, but knew somehow it was wrong.  We finally asked each other if we saw what we saw, and we were in agreement that we did see something creepy.

Not mentioning it to anyone, I set out to do my daily paper route one day, not knowing what lay ahead.
As I walked the sidewalks that I’d walked a million times, I saw the van drive down the street.  Looking up from my routine, I saw this man wave his genitals as he drove by.  I began to panic. I felt my pulse quicken and was in a state of confusion.  I did, however, understand that this fear was real.  My house was nearby, so I ran inside to tell my mother.

Upon entering the house, I crouched down, as to not be seen through the windows, and confessed to my mother that I was a target of this deranged person.  She calmly told me that I had nothing to worry about, and that I should say the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23:4, and I would be fine.  She continued to say that I should finish my paper route, and to not worry.

I don’t know why I continued the paper route, or why I even left my house, but my mother said to say the Lord’s Prayer, and that’s what I was going to do.  She said I would be safe and I halfheartedly believed her.  As I took a side street, connecting two major roads, I saw the van again.  This time, it was slowly turning onto the side street heading toward me.  I was on the 3rd or 4th Psalm 23:4 as the van approached me.  Without any premeditated thought, I instinctively ran into an overgrown grassy corner lot, heading toward the middle and layed flat on my stomach, paper sack by my side.

I held my breath, as to not have the grass move to give away my location.  I remember feeling shocked as the van stopped on the side of the road and the driver’s door opening and closing.  I was petrified.
He was coming after me, and I had no protection, nowhere to go.  I could see him approaching the lot through the grass. “ The Lord is my shepherd…the Lord is my shepherd.”  Then all of a sudden, I saw him re-enter his van, as another car came driving up the side street.  He didn’t want to be seen I realized, he didn’t want to get caught.  He was going to let me go.

After about 20 minutes of lying flat on my belly, I realized that the coast was clear.  I should have ran home, but I had a paper route to finish.  So, I collected myself and continued my route.  But, it didn’t take long before he appeared again.  I didn’t know what to do this time.  I was safely canvasing my customer’s homes, keeping close to their doorways and away from the sidewalk.  But, it wasn’t enough.  I was inflamed with the psychological toll this was taking on me.  I was not safe, and I had stopped saying the prayer.

Finally, I had enough.  I was delivering a paper to the back door of a customer, when the van stopped at the end of the driveway.  Luckily, the customer was in his back yard.  I implored him to help me, trying to explain what was happening, without getting into the gory details.  Right about halfway through my plea, the van pulled up at the end of the driveway.  The customer was at his back door, not visible from the street.  I stopped to catch my breath and saw a devious smile from behind the van’s glass.  The customer stepped away from his backdoor, and looked toward the street.  The van peeled out with a loud sound of the revved engine and burning rubber.  I pointed toward the van to tell my customer that this was the man following me.  My customer called my father to tell him that I needed to be picked up.  “The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want.”

Detectives came to my house a couple of days later to question me about the incident.  It was during Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  I hated to have to stop watching my favorite show.  They asked me all kinds of questions about the pervert, which I answered completely and truthfully.  My father sat at the table with us.

I learned a few weeks later that the man was caught, and that my mother didn’t want me to go to court to relive the entire events again.  That was fine with me at the time.  However, looking back, I can’t understand why she didn’t want him off the streets.  Would someone else know to say the Psalm 23:4 when stalked?  And, most importantly, I wondered why my mother didn’t protect me at the time.

I have now come to terms with what happened.  I trusted my mother, and she trusted God.  It was her way of dealing with the situation.  It was 1974, and these things didn’t happen in suburbia, or so we thought.  I would have protected my children in a much different way, but this was her way.

I have said the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23:4 under my breath many times since the near abduction.  There will always be predators amongst us, but they won’t take me.  They can’t take me.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil.  Who knows what saved me that day.  Could it have been prayer, or quick instincts?  I’ll never really know for sure.

Can I get an AMEN?!?!

Life Topics

A Mother’s Trail

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A Mother’s Trail

I’ll probably never have girls,
only you have that treat,
To listen to my whining
with patent on my feet.

Bruised knees, temporary curls,
Pantsuits for generations to last.
Hand-me-down memories play over, and I grasp.
Who was this blonde little jewel?
She’s still there, but now box color is a tool.

New clothes sewn with love,
worms enjoyed straight from the can.
The boys cast first, I was once last in the clan.
With baby teeth and warm exposed chest,
those worms were delicious.
Fishing was the best.

Dress up on Essex included gown and fan,
and into the carriage went toy cars and vans.
Pushing my possessions and caring for steel,
I wanted it all and pushed endlessly genderless zeal.

I grew as expected, and tried to stay in line,

Realizing that nothing is perfect – only the
slow, gentle healing of time.

So easy life seems at the start.

Then on my own, and slowly I felt things came apart.

A bad marriage, a struggle, an end.
You supported me almost like a friend.

Only not too close, you are the Mom
and sympathy and emotion is not an Irish charm.
Get through it, and be who you are…
have the confidence to carry yourself far.

You’ve guided and walked my trail with me,
holding your breath silently,
as I’ve veered off without careful thought,
to things you’ve seen – knowing I’d get caught.

I wish you ran after me, or guided me more,
but watching me go, you shared a strong core
that a mother must have to see a child stray…
hoping I would remember my mistakes some day.

Instead, keeping me in sight,
you’ve kept my trail worn, defined and true.
As I fall in the distance,
I lay there just waiting for you.

I can see where you are, and I’m desperate to get back,
this ground is so dark, and so wet and so black.

This offshoot seemed so right at one time.

I’m pleading, please, rescue me, hold me
the way you once did, when I was sick or scared.
But you look, and gesture and slow for me now,
I have to understand a direction, somehow.
I’m too heavy to carry, and you don’t want to break stride.
I must learn to travel with dignity and pride.

When I finally reach you, not a word is exchanged.
I’m muddy and tired and feel so ashamed.
Soon or steps move together, determined yet strange.

We’re not alone on our hike.  Turn and look back.

My own children are coming, they’re now in sight.
I must clear a trail for us that is safe and right.

Mom, let me run back and carry them some of the way.

I want to love and protect them more than any words can say.

You shoot me a glance that is both loving and strict.
I know what you mean, but my heart feels sick.
I’m strong now, I can carry them as long as the day.

Instead, keeping them in sight, I turn and gesture
and slow for them now.

They must understand a new direction, somehow.

You take the trail up the hill to the left,
and I will go right.

My blonde little jewels still keeping me in sight.