Tragedy from a distance – still scary – and overcoming fear

My mom called the other night to tell me about a close friend of hers whose 90-year-old parents were brutally beaten in a home invasion this week. Even though the crime happened 2,000 miles away to people I had never met, it still shook me up.
The parents had been ill, so my mom’s friend left work and went with her daughter to check on them. She found them lying on the floor — her father was awake but her mother was unconscious. The thieves had kicked in the door and beaten their victims senseless. They took the TV, some cash and the small gold wedding bands from the elderly couple’s fingers, then drove away in the victims’ car.
The father is in the hospital in serious condition. The mother never woke up — she later passed away at the hospital.
When my mom relayed all this to me, I was dumbfounded. How could a World War II veteran and his bride — married 65 years ago! — live over nearly a century on this earth, only to have possibly the last defining event of their lives be a vicious attack in their home where they had lived for decades?
It made me think of another story my mom had told me years ago. Back in the ’70s, she used to work for a pastor in Oklahoma City named Dr. Richard Douglass. He and his family were the victims of a terrifying home invasion; he and his wife were shot to death in front of their kids, who themselves barely survived. The pastor’s son, Brooks Douglass, went on to become a state legislator, but those kids were forever altered by two insane scumbags and one awful night.
Growing up, our family had our own brushes with home invasions. Thankfully, they ended less tragically, but they were scary nonetheless. When I was 9, someone broke into our rural country house; luckily, no one was home. They stole mostly electronics, along with our sense of safety. I remember even at that tender age feeling violated by someone I had never seen.
Another time, my mom and I were alone in the house (I was around 4) when she saw an unfamiliar pickup truck make its way up our long driveway. (Our house was situated in the woods, quite far back from the main road, about a half-mile from our closest neighbor.) A strange man got out and began lurking outside, checking out the garage. Mom told me to hide in the closet, and she got her gun. With her pistol in one hand and the phone in the other, she watched his every movement. (This was prior to the advent of 911 — I’m not sure if she had the phone number for the sheriff, but in any case it would have taken the county officers a good 45 minutes to get there.) By a stroke of luck, a UPS truck drove up with a delivery — not an every day occurrence, but certainly welcome at that moment. The strange man jumped in his truck and drove off.
After I hung up with my mom, all these stories flashed through my head — reminders that desperate, imbalanced scum are amongst us, ready to do terrible things to good people. Now that I’m a mom with two daughters, many nights putting them to bed alone before G gets home from work, my imagination can get worked up pretty quickly thinking about “what if.”
I was lost in my thoughts when Baby Sis woke up and began to cry. I went upstairs, tucked her back in, and immediately she calmed down and went back to sleep. I stood for a moment, looking at the pretty hand-made white blanket with pink ribbons that my mom’s friend had made for Baby Sis when she was born — the same woman whose parents had been victimized. I was reminded that there is way more good in the world than there is evil, and that love and goodness will always survive, no matter what bad people try to do to it. That elderly couple lived a life full of love and goodness, and in the end that’s what really matters.
My condolences go out to the Strait family during this difficult time. Despite this tragedy, I know that the goodness and love they have sown throughout their lives will be returned to them many times over.
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About A Mom In Brooklyn

A mom in Brooklyn
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