As I reflect on these tragedies, I wonder how it would be possible for a woman to find herself in such an impossible situation. I remember growing up that we moved early and often, and that there was little permanence to our residences. Things happen in families; bad things, tragic things and events from which one might never recover. In my mom's case, it was the loss of her husband, leaving her with three young children and another on the way. What kept her from becoming a homicidal maniac? What keeps any woman from doing the same?
I'm not sure I know. But I have a few ideas.
|My niece Jessica and Me|
|Janis showing Britton her new tattoo|
For the record, I love my mom. She's a lot tougher than you might imagine a sixty-five year-old woman could be. She is not well educated and she is certainly not well-off. But my mom can do things- practical things- which will forever escape me. For instance, she can knit, crochet and quilt. She can make clothing. She is a decent photographer and in my younger years, made beautiful stained-glass objects, including a lampshade and several window hangers. She and my step-dad taught me how to skin and process a deer.
My mom had support her whole life. Not so much financial support, but emotional. She was able to count on other women when her plans and ideas went astray. My dad's sister, Lorraine, was there when my dad was killed. They had spent years together raising children- Aunt Rain (as we call her) had four of her own, and only one boy out of eight). Eventually, my mom moved "home", to Dayton and had others to count on; aunts and female cousins and some high school friends. She made friends along the way, too. Currently, my mom lives in Joseph, Oregon, with her husband, and spends time with her women friends and she also visits my sister in Dayton, because they are the ones who keep her sane.
I want to know where the women were in the lives of Lashanda, Susan and Andrea. There is no mention of Andrea having women friends or even an intervention by her own mother. Susan's mom betrayed her. When Susan's step-father molested her, he was only required to leave the house for one night. Then Susan's mother brought him home, saying she would rather sacrifice her child for her husband. He continued to rape her for years and years afterwards. Susan didn't have female friends- other women were merely competition. Of Lashanda I know nothing. I suspect, however, that for whatever reason, she didn't have many women to rely on or trust.
Did we not used to band together as women to spend time working and talking and raising children together? I remember camping and family reunions and friendships~ many of which still continue today from when I was a child. I do know where my friends are. They serve different purposes in my life. Sometimes my women friends and I plot the takeover of the world. Sometimes we complain and listen to each other's problems (then plot the overthrow of the world). Sometimes we just go have fun and be silly and other times we buckle down and work our asses off together to accomplish more and keep each other focused. We talk about the men in our lives. Yes, men, we talk about you! But it's not what you think. Ok, sometimes it is what you think. But not all of the time. Not all of my female friends are heterosexual, and we still talk about men- but also about women and people in general. And women talk about politics and how the world might be a better place. We inspire each other and act as that safety valve for letting off steam when circumstances (even those of our own doing) make life a daily pressure cooker. My friends remind me to be gentle with myself and that I am worth taking care of.
|Shelly and Mindie|
|Mindie and Kat|
|Orinda and Me- friends since 1986|
|Family! My cousin Chryssee, her daughter (my "niece") Allie, and my Grandma|