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Archive for July, 2009

What The FUCK??

I’m going to step away from what I’ve been writing about for a while here. Sort of a literary “falling off the wagon,” if you will. I’ve recently run across an example of law enforcement run amok. In this particular case, it’s run amok in the state of Texas. Now, while we all know that Texans are a rather strange breed of people, this case goes beyond even their own kind of, shall we say, single-mindedness.

I will be quoting several articles from Texas newspapers in this post. At times, I’m going to quote the entire article, at others, just excerpts. I’ll give you links to the appropriate sites, so that you know that I’m not making this up. This stuff really did happen. I’ll save my sermonizing for the end of this post, though I’ll probably throw a few comments in here and there along the way. This is a fairly old story, but I think it’s worth writing about, regardless.

So sit back, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and prepare to be entertained by the Texas judicial system.

From the Dallas Observer News:

When does a snapshot of a mother breast-feeding her child become kiddie porn? Ask the Richardson police.

1-Hour Arrest

By Thomas Korosec
Published on April 17, 2003

The service was fast, the judgments even hastier. Never did Jacqueline Mercado imagine that four rolls of film dropped off at an Eckerd Drugs one-hour photo lab near her home would turn her life inside out, threaten to send her to jail and prompt the state to take away her kids.

For Mercado and her family, last fall was a happy time, one they wanted to record and save in the venerable tradition of the family photo. Johnny Fernandez, Mercado’s boyfriend, had just emigrated from Lima, Peru, ending a yearlong separation, and on top of that, it was their son’s first birthday.

The photographs they took over several days in late October included pictures of Fernandez reunited with the family at their modest home in suburban Richardson. Others captured their 1-year-old son Rodrigo, and 4-year-old Pablizio, from Mercado’s earlier marriage, playing in a neighborhood park. Using the camera’s timer, they also took three snapshots of themselves, naked in their bed. They arranged their bodies in ways that showed less flesh than most freeway billboards.

A half-dozen others recorded the kids at bath time. Fernandez took several photos of the boys “playing around,” naked and innocent, with the oldest flashing a big smile. Mercado, who says she often bathed with the kids, is in several of the shots unclothed from the waist up, holding her arm modestly across her bare chest.

In one–the photo that would threaten to send Mercado and her boyfriend to prison–the infant Rodrigo is suckling her left breast.

After Mercado dropped off the film for processing, a technician viewed the images and decided they were “suspicious,” according to a police report. As required under Texas law, he immediately contacted local police. Mercado says that when she went to pick up her pictures, the clerk told her there would be a delay, and then only returned three of the four sets of prints.

To Richardson police, who arrived at the store that afternoon and apparently made up their minds from the content of the pictures alone, this was nothing short of a felony case of child pornography. “We thought they contained sexuality,” says Sergeant Danny Martin, a Richardson police spokesman, explaining why two Richardson police detectives began pursuing a criminal case. “If you saw the photos, you’d know what I mean.”

With nothing else to support their contention that the photos were related to sex or sexual gratification, the police and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office presented the photos to a grand jury in January and came away with indictments against Mercado and Fernandez for “sexual performance of a child,” a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The charges centered on a single photo, the breast-feeding shot. Fernandez and Mercado say they took it–although the child had ceased breast-feeding–to memorialize that stage of their baby’s development.

“We wanted to see if he would take it, and he did,” says Mercado, explaining through an interpreter that it was a spur-of-the moment notion to which they gave little thought. “Johnny never saw the child breast-feeding, so this was for memories. For us.”

Mercado, who brushed back strands of brown hair from her reddened eyes as she spoke, has a story that has not changed from the start. She told the Richardson police officer who responded to the store’s call that she had always taken pictures of her children nude, and that it wasn’t uncommon in her native Peru to do so. They were innocent baby pictures, taken for the family’s benefit, she said.

Five days later, when a state child welfare investigator and two detectives arrived at her house, Mercado again insisted that she saw nothing wrong with the photos. She allowed the group to search the couple’s cramped room, and the detectives went through everything, including their photo albums, apparently looking for more evidence of child porn. They found nothing.

“We fought so hard to come to this country,” says Mercado, a 33-year-old who was a nurse in Peru and aspires to become licensed in the United States one day. “For this to happen is unbelievable.”

Andrew Chatham, one of three lawyers working on behalf of Mercado and her boyfriend, says it is difficult to imagine a clearer case of over-reaching by police and prosecutors. “Their theory, which is supported by nothing, is that these pictures were taken to satisfy the boyfriend’s sexual desires. These aren’t pictures that were peddled on the open market. This wasn’t on someone’s Web site. This is just a mother who took a roll of film and left it off at Eckerd’s. The state used them to arrest her, indict her for a felony and take away her kids.”

On November 13, the day Richardson police “tossed” or searched Mercado’s house, a caseworker with the Dallas County Child Protective Services Unit of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services took custody of the children and recommended to a family judge that they be placed in a foster home. The caseworker’s notes state that a supervisor, acting on the content of the photos alone, decided that “the children needed to be removed from their mother’s care.”

Her hard-rubbed eyes drooping with worry, Mercado says she told the caseworker, “Please don’t take our children. We love our children.”

In the months since, one of the couple’s most onerous problems has been resolved. In late March, a week after the Dallas District Attorney Bill Hill about the case, he ordered the criminal charges against both parents dropped. “It has some gray areas to it, but it doesn’t rise to the level of a crime,” Hill said. He said justice comes from more than isolating facts and interpreting them in a way to make them narrowly fit into a criminal statute.

Still, at press time, child welfare authorities continue to maintain control of the boys, even though a lawyer appointed to represent them says he believes they should go home. In its latest legal filing, the state said it would not consent to releasing the boys until the couple jumps through more hoops, including a lie-detector test they must take at their own expense.

“They ripped out my heart,” Mercado says. “Even if we get them back, I don’t know how we’ll recover from what’s been done.”

“How could they accuse me of doing something with our own children?” says Fernandez, a lanky 35-year-old who worked as a hospital technician in Peru before embarking on his disastrous start in Texas. “How can they accuse us of being something we’re not?”

It wasn’t difficult at all.

When Andrew Chatham first learned of the Mercado-Fernandez case from lawyer Steven Lafuente, who the family hired at the outset, he was certain there must be more to it than a picture of a mother with an infant’s lips on her breast. “I wondered what I wasn’t getting,” he says. “There had to be more.”

There was not.

Police and child welfare files contain no criminal histories, no hint that there were other suspicions or evidence of child abuse or neglect. Mercado and Fernandez had not been in the United States long enough to have histories of much of anything. She arrived in August 2001, moved in with her parents in Richardson and took a job cleaning a nearby Wal-Mart in the middle of the night. Johnny arrived about 13 months later and went to work cleaning stores, too, before moving on to a job in a budget steak house.

By the time Chatham became involved in the case, which his partner Bill Stovall took on without a fee, the parents were devastated and penniless. “I think the police department and the DA’s office select people to prosecute who have the least ability to defend themselves,” says Chatham, who says he took the case on principle. “If these pictures were on their way back to some big home in Highland Park, they would have turned around and left. They were going after easy marks.”

Mercado and Fernandez–who were released on bonds of $10,000 and $12,500, respectively–borrowed money from their family to get out of jail and drew comfort from the help and encouragement they received from their church.

Maybell Palacios, Mercado’s aunt, says her niece is as dedicated a mother as she has ever seen. “She’d be working seven days a week at nights, and when she’d come home tired she had time for her children. To feed them. Wash them. Do their clothes.”

Victor Jaeger, pastor of the Iglesia Adventista del 7 Dia de Richardson, says, “The community has been very supportive of them. They see it as a big misunderstanding.” About a third of his Spanish-speaking Seventh Day Adventist congregation in blue-collar East Richardson is Peruvian-born.

The pastor says he was prepared to testify on the couple’s behalf and explain what appears to him to have been a cultural misunderstanding. Jaeger, who grew up in Peru, says breast-feeding is culturally important in his native country and considered acceptable to do in public, particularly in the country’s jungle regions. “My cousin sent me a picture of her newborn, and it was of the baby being breast-fed,” he says. “As someone who has lived here for 20 years, I asked myself, ‘Why did she send me that picture?’ To her, it was nothing.”

To memorialize the act of breast-feeding in a snapshot is as common in Peru as wanting to save a photo of a first step, or a first two-wheeler, or a first baseball game, he says.

Jaeger says Mercado and Fernandez, who both have roots in rural Peru, “sat in my office crying” on several occasions. He has come to the conclusion that they are good parents caught in an awful bind.

Their most pressing problem was the breast-feeding picture, which the indictment characterized as sexual, “to wit; actual lewd exhibition of…a portion of the female breast below the top of the areola, and the said defendant did and then employ, authorize and induce Rodrigo Fernandez, a child younger than 18 years of age, to engage in said sexual conduct and sexual performance.” In other words, says Chatham, the act of simulated breast-feeding, captured on film, was being portrayed as a sex act. “They’re saying the guy who took the picture is a sicko and wanted a photo of this to satisfy his sexual desire.”

Through the ages, Chatham says, images of breast-feeding have been viewed more as art than deviancy.

“Look at this,” he says, handing over a print of The Lucca Madonna, painted in 1436 by the Dutch master Jan van Eyck. The painting, depicting an enthroned Mary suckling the baby Jesus, hangs in the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, an art museum in Frankfurt, Germany. “My sister-in-law was an art major in college, and when I told her about this, she said, ‘Andy, there are thousands of great works of art portraying the breast-feeding of children. They grace the halls of great art museums around the world. I could have used dozens of others.'”

Adds Stovall, his law partner, “I was just up at Z Gallery last weekend, and there’s a print of a woman breast-feeding.”

The breast-feeding Madonnas no doubt were done with live models, Chatham says. “You may think it’s kooky, but through the ages this is how we’ve portrayed the bond between mother and child.”

In late February, Chatham drafted a legal motion seeking dismissal of the indictments, using The Lucca Madonna as his star exhibit. “The material at issue falls squarely within the ambit of the First Amendment’s protection,” Chatham wrote in his brief. “The portrayal of the suckling child is found in countless numbers of artwork. Whether the medium is canvas, marble or Kodak film is irrelevant for the purposes of First Amendment protection.”

The motion was pending and being studied by an assistant prosecutor in late March when the Observerasked Bill Hill about the Mercado-Fernandez case. “I’ll look into it,” he said. A week later, he said his assistant thought the case would “wash out of court” on The Lucca Madonna motion, so Hill says he ordered him to dismiss it. “I looked at those pictures and there were some quirky things to them, and I can see where the grand jury had probable cause. But a woman has her breast exposed, and her child is there. I’m not sure that is a prosecutable offense,” he says. He says his assistant agreed the case was “weak.”

Hill did not fault the work of his assistants who presented the case to the grand jury, or the police who now are reportedly perturbed that their case was dumped. The charges and the couple’s arrests were no doubt “traumatic,” he says, “but in this instance the system worked.”

Not if you are Rodrigo and Pablizio, who have not been returned to their mother yet.

Lieutenant Bill Walsh, head of the Dallas Police Department’s youth and family crimes section, says calls from photo labs and computer repair shops are a useful tool in policing child sexual abuse and child pornography. His department makes several important cases a year after being alerted by technicians who stumble across the evidence.

“The law in Texas says all adults must report suspicion of child abuse, but it doesn’t set out what the boundaries for that are,” he says. Once detectives review the pictures, Walsh says, it is usually a “no-brainer” which ones are the work of abusers and child pornographers and which are innocent pictures of bathing children and “the cute one of the kid whose bathing suit fell off when he ran through the sprinkler.” Naked baby pictures and photos of toddlers’ backsides are on display in work cubicles and office credenzas all over town.

“We don’t see many sticky cases,” Walsh says. “Child porn usually isn’t subtle.”

A photo of a mother breast-feeding, or a couple of smiling kids getting ready for a bath, or, separately, two nude consenting adults, “aren’t something we’re going to be too concerned with,” he says. “The most important thing is to look at the pictures in context. Under what circumstances were they taken.”

To make a case against Mercado and Fernandez as parents, Richardson police and CPS investigators made no mention in their reports of any other photos on the four rolls, such as the ones of five kids at a birthday party. They focused only on the naked ones.

“It’s like they took something from each one and twisted it to try to make a case,” says Lafuente, who is handling the custody side of the couple’s legal problems.

In his report to CPS, Richardson Detective John Wakefield wrote, “I viewed the photographs and had concern of possible sexual abuse, inappropriate sexual behavior and possible child pornography from nine [of them].”

The four photos in which Mercado is seen with her forearm closely covering her chest, for instance, Wakefield described thusly: “Mercado is in the photograph topless and touching her breast.” In two others he notes that the older boy was “touching his genital area.” Mercado told Wakefield, and anyone else who cared, that the boy had a rash and was constantly scratching himself there. She produced a tube of prescription medication to prove he was being treated for the problem, police reports show.

Her explanations and defenses came long before she was forced to hire lawyers, and they have not changed since the day the Richardson officers knocked on her door.

Lafuente says the actions of CPS and criminal authorities tended to reinforce each other, to the family’s detriment, as the case has gone along. Meanwhile, nobody was interested in Mercado’s and Fernandez’s explanations. “I wanted Jacqueline to waive her Fifth Amendment right and testify before the grand jury. They didn’t want to hear from her,” he says. CPS reports, meanwhile, make prominent mention of the fact that the couple had been indicted on felony charges.

Says Stovall: “The very accusation in this case carries such a bad taste that they automatically assume the worst. I tell you they are charged with possession of child pornography, and you automatically envision the worst possible scenario.”

Lafuente says he has been willing to concede that the photos show behavior that some people of a conservative nature might consider inappropriate, such as a mother bathing with her 4-year-old, or being topless around the kids. Yet those hardly rise to the level of sexual abuse. The family lives together in one room, making privacy difficult, but that does not mean Mercado and Fernandez are not loving parents, he says.

At a December 5 hearing on CPS’s removal of the children, Lafuente reached a compromise with the state to put them in the temporary custody of Mercado’s former husband, who also lives in the Dallas area. Mercado says that in the five months since, he has given her liberal visitation rights, but she and Fernandez cannot be left alone with the children, nor can the children sleep at the couple’s house.

They also agreed to attend “group treatment for sexual issues” and submitted to extensive psychological exams.

At the group counseling, Mercado says, she has learned that kids in the United States are subject to the most horrendous abuse. “Their parents are on drugs…They’re left with relatives who molest them. It’s horrible.” None of it seems to apply to her and her boyfriend, she says, although they say they attend the sessions regularly and try to partake.

“It’s about as useful as tits on a bull,” sniffs Chatham.

In their psychological exams, which they made available for this report, the only problems the experts could discern in interviews with the parents were those heaped on them by CPS and the police. And those, too, seemed to be held against them in the less-than-empirical world of psychoanalysis.

“When asked about problems occurring in his life currently, Mr. Fernandez states that the children have been removed, there is little money for lawyers, and it’s all a big injustice,” wrote Robert Antonetti, a Dallas psychologist who interviewed the couple earlier this year. “He reported currently feeling anxious, angry at the injustice he is enduring and fearful of what may happen. When asked about coping with stress he said he’s been praying a lot.”

In his summary and recommendations, Antonetti mentions no evidence of sexual deviancy in either parent. Instead, he concludes that Fernandez “feels very vulnerable to criticism and judgment.”

The accusation that you’re a sexual deviant who victimizes his own children might tend to do that.

The psychologist divines from his own psychological tests–and no material evidence whatsoever–that Fernandez appeared to be so “anxious to please” that he might be hiding something. “The profile suggests the probability that he attempted to present himself in an improbably favorable light,” Antonetti concludes. Hence, the state-hired Antonetti recommended Fernandez be made to take a polygraph test before getting his son back. He recommended Mercado should be hooked up to one, too. He further recommended both should undergo parenting classes, individual counseling and couples counseling.

Two weeks ago, with a deadline looming for the state either to return the children or go back to court and ask to remove them permanently, Dallas Assistant District Attorney April Carter asked the judge in the case to require the parents to take the tests and attend the counseling before anyone goes home. “There are concerns we need to address,” says Carter, who is representing CPS in family court. She says the store clerk, the Richardson police, the grand jury and others took issue with the photos and without further proof, “it’s not clear whether this was sexual or cultural.” She says she believes lie-detector tests would put that question to rest.

At press time, a hearing on that matter was pending. “We’re going to fight it,” says Lafuente, saying the state has dragged out the matter long enough and has had five months to ask courts to order tests or counseling. He says there might be a disagreement over appropriate parental behavior, but it isn’t something that will be settled by psychologists or lie detectors.

Robert Herrera, who was appointed by the family court to represent the interests of the children alone, agrees. “My feeling is at this point the children should be returned to their parents,” he says. “I don’t know how strongly CPS disagrees with that, but I think this should be resolved without any more trips to court.”

If what she and her boyfriend did was wrong, Mercado says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know these pictures were wrong…I just want my children back. They belong with us.”

Find this article at: http://www.dallasobserver.com/2003-04-17/news/1-hour-arrest/1

As I’ve been copying and pasting this, I figure there’s really no need to post more about it. You get the idea. Before I go further, a sort of hidden message for some whom I know come to this blog from time to time. I know that there are people who feel that law enforcement is ALWAYS correct, no matter what they do. That their actions are always justified, that they never overstep their bounds. So, Mr. A.S., if you’re reading this, kiss my ass. I’m making this post, and if it goes aginst your concepts of propriety, tough shit.

My first comment would be that if some morons in Texas can’t tell the difference between a woman who is modestly covering her naked breasts with her arm, as opposed to a woman who is “playing with herself,” then “y’all” need to get a better sex life. The second comment would be that this is not the first case of a woman being cited or arrested for breast feeding. How on God’s green fucking earth did breast feeding – the most natural act that a mother can engage in with her child, become a sexual act? Just because a lot of American women choose to bottle feed rather than breast feed does NOT make breast feeding child sexual abuse. And if you, as a prosecutor, as a law enforcement officer, or just as a private citizen, view it as sexual, then you have a sick mother-fucking mind, and you need some very serious help.

There were also brought into question pictures of the children naked, in the bathtub and preparing to get into the tub. Uhm… Excuse me? Where the hell have you people been, for Christ’s sake? Those pictures have been around since the camera was invented. They are most often used for two things. 1.) To allow parents to relive those days when their children were young, when even playing in the bathtub was an adventure; and 2.) To embarrass your kids when they’re teenagers, and they bring their first girlfriend/boyfriend home to meet you. Let me tell you, I’d be afraid to do that these days. I’d worry too much about being charged with displaying child pornography to a minor.

Let me make this abundantly clear. Children need to be protected. And since the vast majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone who knows the victim, usually a family member, great care must be taken to protect kids.  But to flush our common sense down the toilet like it’s nothing but a stinking pile of shit is just stupid.

Bathtub pics are normal. Yes, there are people who will get off on looking at them, so parents need to keep them off the internet. But to arrest a parent for taking this kind of picture is ludicrous. My mother still has pictures of me naked in the bathtub, and trust me when I tell you that my mother is about as far from being a child pornographer as it is possible to be.

In Vermont, the case of Brook Bennet has brought about a knee jerk reaction. There have been sweeping changes made in the sex offender registry laws here. That’s all well and good, but some things need to be remembered. Brook was allegedly raped and murdered by her uncle.  This is a man who was a known sex offender; in fact, Brook’s mother knew very well of his criminal history. And yet, she allowed her daughter to be alone with this man. The so-called reforms that have been put into place are not reforms. They are a knee-jerk reaction that will do nothing but make politicians feel good about themselves, give a false sense of security to the public, and in the end, ruin the lives of people who until now have very successfully reintegrated into society.

We’re a nation of idiots. We act without thinking. Nowhere is this more evident than in this case in Texas, where a mother was arrested and charged with a felony for the simple act of breast feeding her child.

Shame on you, Richardson, Texas…

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The DVD Struggles

I went to see my Mom again this past week.  She had a DVD player that she wanted installed to her television in the bedroom, so she can watch something besides commercial TV while she’s resting. Not a big deal for someone who spent a few years installing satellite television systems and custom home theater systems, right?

This was one of those really cheap little DVD players – in fact, it was one of the same models that DirecTV used to give away as a “free gift” for subscribing. This should have made it easier to install, since there was only one set of outputs. Now, the television in the bedroom there is ancient, really. It has one coaxial input in the back, and one set of RCA inputs in the front. That’s it. Already, I’m thinking, “Uh-oh,” because my Mom is one of those people who makes Felix Unger look like an utter slob. In order to set this up, she’s going to have wires running from the front of the television to the shelf below, where the DVD player is.

Mom must really be mellowing, because when I told her this, she said, “Oh, I don’t care about that. Just leave the wires showing.” I just shrugged, said, “Okay,” and made the connections.  In my mind, though, phrases such as, “Holy shit! She really is sick!” kept running around. No matter though; I got the DVD player connected, put a DVD in, and got ready to test it.

I picked up the television remote. For the next forty minutes, I searched through every option I could find, trying to figure out how to change which input would show on the screen, the front panel, or the coaxial cable. There was no input button, no options in the menu, nothing. Now I was getting pissed. I went and asked Mom if she had the manual for the television. She went hunting through her file cabinet, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s probably the one piece of documentation that she hasn’t kept for fifty years.

Frustrated, I went into the office, and fired up the computer, then went to get the model number from the television so I could look up the manual online. Guess what? The model number was not listed anywhere on the television. I mean, it was not there. All I could find was that it was a Magnavox Smart Series. Another thirty minutes of searching online finally got me the information I wanted. How much of an antique is the television? To watch the DVD player, you first have to change the channel on the television to channel 2. Then, you have to press “Channel Down” once. Voila! You’re now watching the DVD.

Excited at having figured it out, I got my Mom, and showed her how to do this. Then, we ran into the next snag. You try to explain to a seventy-three-year-old woman who refuses to touch a computer what a DVD menu is, and how to use it. We finally got it straightened out for her, though, and she was excited about being able to watch some good movies.

As I was getting ready to leave, she thanked me, gave me a hug, and said, “Bring me some trout the next time you come, if you can.” I had to laugh – if I’m a fanatic about catching them, my Mom is a fanatic about eating them.

The things we do for our parents…

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Emotions Do Settle In Time

It’s amazing how human beings can learn to adjust to situations. I went to visit Mom again yesterday. My stepfather was sleeping, so it was just my Mom and I. We had a nice visit, actually. I’ll need to bring her more trout – she informed me of this in her typical fashion: “I’m out of trout, by the way.” Translation: “You need to get your ass out on the stream and catch some more for me, Steve.” Quite honestly, I enjoy the hell out of it. It’s a small thing that I can do for her.

She was in extremely good spirits yesterday. She had some of her old energy back, and even though she’s still tethered to that oxygen tank, she seemed more herself to me. She was up and down from the table, wandering here and there as we talked – when people see us together, they know where I get my inability to sit still.  We talked about a lot of things: politics, the odd weather we’re having, the environment – just general conversation. It was really nice to see her in such good spirits, and feeling so much better.

We did also talk about her treatment. She has three more rounds of chemo left to go – she has another treatment next week. She’ll be knocked back down for a couple of weeks. It takes so much out of her. Even though I know that it’s necessary, it actually pisses me off to see her like that, knowing that it’s a side effect of something that is being done deliberately. I know, I know – the alternative is worse. I just hate seeing her like that.

I’m painfully aware that my mother is dying; that this disease is slowly but surely eating her away from the inside. I want to kill something, but there’s nothing that I can direct my anger at, really. If the truth is told, there is only one person responsible for this situation: my mother. She knows – and she has always known – what smoking can do to you. This is something she said herself: “I’m paying the price for refusing to quit smoking for all those years.” And yes, I suppose that in part I’m angry with her about this. No matter how much we may talk about this, no matter how much closer we are becoming, I can’t look at her and say, “Mom, I’m really pissed off at you for this, you  know.” I just can’t do that.

I’m also angry at something I can’t define. Not God, Creator, or whatever you choose to call your deity. Just… Angry in general about the fact that she’s dying. There’s nothing for me to direct that anger at. It’s just there, kind of simmering below the surface for me. It will stay there until I can figure out where to direct it.

So I’ve learned – a little bit, anyway – how to internalize that anger, at least for now. I can keep it compartmentalized until there’s a way for me to deal with it. I spend a lot of time in the woods these days, on the streams. The equivalant of going to church for me. It helps. But it doesn’t eliminate the anger. That’s going to be there for quite some time, I suspect.

But really, things seem to have settled to a much calmer state for now. We all know now that Mom isn’t going to die within the next couple of weeks. We know that we have time, and that we can spend that time doing things we need to do together, saying the things we need to say.

I’ve thought about this for a few weeks now, and I’ve decided that with my next post, I’m going to begin posting memories. Just little anecdotes about my Mom. I’d like to post mostly things that just concern incidents that happened with just her and I. Things that other people in the family may not be aware of. Mostly funny things, some poignant, but all of them precious memories for me. I want to share those memories. I know that there are some family members who read this blog, even though they don’t comment. (I’m the black sheep of the family, remember.) I don’t expect everyone to comment, I just want these things here for others to read about. I want people to know my mother as I know her. To others, she is sister, aunt, cousin, grandmother, etc. To me she is Mom, and I want people to see her as I see her. So I’ll start that process with my next post.

For now though, I’m just happy that things don’t seem so dire, so depressing to all of us. The undercurrent of sadness still exists, that’s true. But it’s not such a cutting sadness now. It’s more of a quiet sadness, knowing that we’re taking time to settle everything, to make our feelings known to each other in ways that we never have before.

Actually, it’s a healthy kind of sadness…

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