Tuesday, October 25, 2005

October 25, 1976: "The Accident"

29 years ago today...

A day I will always remember.

A day that is permanently burned into my memory.

The day of "The Accident". Or that's how my Mother has referred to it over the years... And I have no real idea why. I've come to think that it was a polite (or politically correct) way of referring to it...

"The Accident", the adults would say when talking about the situation.

It was a cool Autumn day, and my earliest memory of October 25, 1976 is of my mother picking me up from Sullivan Mitchell Academy off of Bankhead highway, the private school I attended. We went by McDonalds. There was no "Happy Meal" back then, so I got my usual order of a double cheeseburger, small fry, and small orange drink.

We went on home, as usual. I finished my food, and then I went to play in my room. About an hour later, she called me into the dining room and said that her friend Carlos was taking her to Red Lobster. She wanted to know if I wanted to go, or if I wanted to be dropped off at Grandmama's house.

Sure, I had just eaten and I was full. I knew I should've gone to Grandmama's house. But I was a sucker for Red Lobster's popcorn shrimp, so I told her that I wanted to go with her.

Well, Carlos came over around 8:00 p.m. that night. I liked Carlos. I wasn't sure if he was my mama's boyfriend or not, but I liked him. He always played with me. I remember just looking forward to seeing him when my mama said he was coming over...

We rode around for awhile in my Mama's orange 1972 Ford Pinto with the black vinyl interior. (I use to love that car!).

We never went to Red Lobster. I can't remember why we hadn't gone there. I mean, we lived in Adamsville, off of MLK. We didn't live far from the Red Lobster on Campbellton Road.

But we drove around for a long time. Looking back, it had to have been at least an hour.

Then we turned onto a dark road. There were no streetlights at all on this road.

Then Carlos pulled the Pinto over to the side of the road, then pulled out a huge butcher knife and began repeatedly stabbing my mother.

I don't remember saying anything. I don't remember screaming. Probably out of pure shock I didn't scream or speak. I remember getting on my knees in the back seat and leaning forward and watching as my mother pleaded with Carlos.

Then Carlos turned the knife on me and lunged at me twice, grazing my stomach area. I jumped back against the back seat out of his reach. He jumped into the back seat, straddled me and began choking me... I think my mother tried to open the passenger door, because he jumped back in the front seat and began stabbing her again. I tried to get out of the backseat through the driver's side door. He caught me doing this and jumped back in the backseat and began choking me some more. (I am unable to scream till this very day because of a damaged throat...)

My mother distracted him again. Somehow, while wrestling with him in the front seat, she was able to get the driver's door slipped open. I distinctly remember her left index finger hooking around the silver handle of the driver's side door and pushing it open. I slid out of the back and fell on the ground. I got up and started running as fast as I could. I didn't look back.

I ran into the entrance of some apartments on that road. I bang on someone's door. A white woman in a white gown and white housecoat opened the door. I yelled "A man trying to kill my Mama!" She pulled me inside and quickly closed the door. I told her what happened, and she called her brother, who happen to be a police officer.

A few minutes later, the police came over and we ended up going back down the street from which I had ran.

Our Pinto was nowhere in sight.

More police officers and an ambulance showed up. They ran up and down the streets, shining bright floodlights in the thick woods.

They found my mother in the woods.

The police told me they had found her, but said nothing else. They took me to a hospital emergency room, where I was treated for two small slashes on my stomach. I remember them rushing my mother in on a gurney right past me...

I talked more with a police officer and with a newspaper reporter. My grandparents picked me up from the hospital and took me to their house.

I don't remember anyone in the family talking to me about it. That's not to say no one did, but I just don't remember. They told me that my mother was alive. She wasn't dead.

I stayed out of school the next day, but returned the day after. My grandfather would pick me up and drop me off at school everyday.

The next time I saw my mother was maybe a couple of weeks later. I was sitting on the couch, just coming home from school, and watching cartoons with my grandparents.

Then she walked slowly into the room. "Hey, Lisa!" she said with a smile.

I was shocked. I hardly recognized her, with her swollen face and nappy hair. (My mama usually wore a wig or straightened her hair). She was barely walking and from what I could tell, she had a slight limp. I didn't say anything to her. Just stared at her in horror. I remember thinking "This can't be Mommie."

Turns out that Carlos had stabbed my mother 40 times (if I'm remembering correctly. Actually I think it was higher than that.) Her liver had been cut in half. She had a long cut on her jar that leaked saliva. Carlos had thrown her out the car, ran over her twice, breaking her collarbone, and left her in the woods to die.

I still can't believe she survived all of that. Hell, I can't understand how we are both still alive.

We stayed with my grandparents in the Hunter Hill Community of Atlanta for several months. We never went back to our old appartment on Cushman Circle in Adamsville. We moved to Ben Hill instead.

There was a court trial. I remember walking into the courtroom with my Mama and Carlos sitting there waving at me and saying hello. I didn't wave back. I just looked at the ground.

But what has been particularly hurtful, even some 29 years later, is that she never sat down and talked to me about what happen on that October night in 1976.


Oh I heard the adults sitting around talking about it. I was an only child, and an only grandchild for that matter, so I had perfected the art of sitting close by and eavesdropping on adult conversations. No one seem to know what to label what happened that horrible October night.

They always referred to it as "The Accident".

But she never talked about it with me. Not even as an adult.

And yeah it hurts. It hurts that it was never important enough to sit down and have a Mother- to-daughter discussion about what happened that night and what led up to it.
This is probably why me and my mother DO NOT get along to this very day. Her sorry sorry choices of men have reaked havoc for me and my younger brother and sister for so so many years. And I hate to say it, but I really resent her for that sometimes...

My mother is "Mother of the Year" when she doesn't have a man in her life. She's caring, thoughful, etc. A regular June Cleaver she is.

But when she has a man in her life, we (her kids) become shit on the ground. (Excuse my language, but there's no other way to put it.)

There have been many times over the years, when she has brought some derilect alcoholic or crackhead nonworking jerk off the street she just met to live in our home (mind you, she never tells us she is moving someone in, we just happen to notice that they live with us). I want to say "Damn woman, do you remember 'The Accident'? Why are you exposing us to possibly harmful men?"

My mother and I are in a little vicious cycle of ours again right now. She gets a man, she worships the man, expects me to worship this no good man (you've got to be kidding me), and she ends up not speaking to me because I don't worship the man, then runs my name into the ground with my brother and sister (trying to turn them against me, which will NEVER happen). She finally ends up getting rid of the deadbeat and then she runs back up on me, grinning at me...

...like nothing ever happen.

All I got to say is it hurts like hell. If that was her mission, I hope she's satisfied with that. I need a mother-daughter relationship. I yearn for a mother-daughter relationship. I'm blessed that my mother's sister, my Aunt, has filled in that gap all these years. Not just for me, but for my brother and sister as well.

Thanks, Auntie. I love you, Auntie.

Personally, I think my Mother wants her choices in men validated. Sorry, I'm not validating such obviuosly bad choices. She's cursed me out over it. She's called me everthing except a child of God over it. I'm always thinking about "The Accident". I've even had to go over to her house and threaten one of her men for taking my younger brother somewhere (he was 8 years old at the time) and then telling him "Don't tell your Mama where we went today." Mama didn't speak to me for two years after that. She's hated me for even longer stretches in the past because of her men.

It took a long time for my brother and sister to understand why I always question them when someone shady moved in with them (after I moved out and went to college, etc.) Questions like "Is anyone touching you?" "Are you scared?" "Is there ANYTHING going on that you're uncomfortable with? If so, call me IMMEDIATELY!" I told my brother and sister, who have openly discussed things with me (in all their confusion, no less), that I never want them to go through what I went through in October of 1976. I don't want anything to happen to them, or my mother, if there was something that I could've done to head it off...

Don't want them to be part of or be a witness to any "Accident".

Will my mother and I ever have a heart-to-heart discussion about "The Accident"?

Probably not.

Something strange happened, though. My sister told me a couple of months ago that Mama said something to the effect of "Gee, me and Lee never talked about what happened back in 1976. Maybe I should talk with her about it."

That was a bit shocking, causing me to smirk. But like I said, she probably won't. She just got rid of an alcoholic, threatening husband recently (supposedly). She's trying to step back in her "Mother of the Year" mode.

She doesn't have to play that part though...

I just want her to make better choices. If not for her own sake, at least for the sake of her kids, who have been deeply affected for so many years...

...So there will be no more of these "Accidents".


  1. Anonymous9:05:00 AM

    I may help to know that you have 2 opportunites in this life to have a mother/child relationship.... Once as the child, and once as a 'mother' (side note: and I don't mean mother in the biological sense only).

    My mother has had similar issues with her biological mother and it is a shame, but that pathology has infected not only my mom, but me, my aunts and uncles, their children and it will probably effect my children. I feel for you.

  2. what ever happen to carlo ? Did he suffer for the crime he committed

  3. As someone who was disfigured (burns) by such an accident by an individual similar...I am thankful that never did my mother stop talking about it to me....always encouraged my feelings...she with a face exactly half burned....She never made such a bad choice again...Communication is key...as well as listening...I hope you can one day express all of this to your mom...(I hope i'm not being too forward...but I do understand)

  4. Anonymous2:07:00 PM

    Geez oldgirl,
    You told me you witnessed your mom being stabbed, but I thought it was in your house and he was drunk or high and then left. I didn't realize you were carted out to the middle of the woods and that you were also attacked in the process. I already know we both have mama-drama issues, but now I understand more how this event shaped the rest of your life. It is a very tough cross to carry and you have really done a lot for your siblings. I know you are probably right that your mom will never talk to you about it. Their actions do hurt us, but only because we can face and accept the events in their lives that made them that way in a way they cannot. They live with a lot of anger. In addition, I fianlly understand your need to be independent from men. If Carlos had attacked me, I'd have trust issues too. That is just too much for a six year old girl to go through without getting professional help. It has left a huge scar in your life and it sounds as though it still hasn't healed. I hope you can find the closure you are seeking someday. In the meantime, take care--oldgirl #2

  5. @Anonymous...

    You know, I think that's what folks don't understand... That whole "trickle down" effect of the messes we get caught up in affect everyone in the family.


    Carlos got 10 years in jail, and had to serve 5. (Don't exactly know what the heck that means, but I picked that up from the adults around me who were whispering about it at the dining room table...) So when I turned 16 or 17, it use to cross my mind to wonder whether he got out or if I would run into him by mistake...

    @DJ Diva...
    Thanks for the encouragement DJ Diva. I think that is what's been missing all these years... communication... Wish she would have talked to me about it. She never felt the need to. My Aunt has shared her opinion on the situation some 20 years later, but I would like to hear something from my mother... and not some old bullshit, either, but something from her heart... She's not that type of person though.

    Thank goodness you had an open Mom, who talked with you and checked her choices. I think when things like this happen, kids need some help with that confusion...

    @Original Oldgirl #2...

    Yeah, we did talk about this back in grad school, what, 12 or 13 years ago? And we both have those "Mama-drama" issues too. I do have trust issues. Takes me a LONG time to trust someone, and right now,I can afford to do a background check if I have too. And if a man is untruthful/shady or causing me problems, you know me Oldgirl, I hit the freaking road, no questions asked...When I'm done, I'm done, and I got my own money and education so that I don't have to waste time sitting around depending on NOBODY but myself... Makes me have more of a compassion issue (I'm definitely not a long-suffering female) than anything else. My best friend Lady Tee gets on me about this a lot. ("Damn Lee, when you cut people off, you cut them off!)

    I've been HOT lately because Da'Kari (my brother) has had to deal with Ma's stupid druggy alcoholic husband, to the point where Da'Kari has had to pull a knife on that idiot and kick him out the house. Da'Kari collects medieval swords and daggers, so the dude was a little scared of Da'Kari. I hated to see my baby bro go through that crap. He didn't want my help, and felt like he could handle that fool. (Of course, Ma wasn't talking to me at the time... the vicious cycle, you know...) That's why I thought Da'Kari ran off and joined the Army.

    Ma's never gonna talk with me, and I hate we didn't get any help. I have to admire Da'Kari though because he has been the only one bold enough to sit Ma down and ask her WTF her problem is and why she gets caught up in so much drama...

    Oldgirl, I wish I had his guts...

    (Look for a call from me this weekend!)

  6. I hope writting about it made you feel better.

    Something very similar happened to my aunt. She didn't survive. Her and my father were very close and it hurts my father to this day. No one in my family talks about it,so my father takes it out during his drunken episodes.

  7. This is so sad. It made me cry. I am a mother and I can't understand why there would ever be a situation when a mother would put a man before her kids. I'm glad you lived to tell and I hope one day you can have a decent relationship with your mom.

  8. @Chubby Chocolate...

    Writing about it is a bit cathartic. Me and my siblings discuss this among ourselves from time to time, but I havne't been quite sure of my feelings about it until writing it out...

    i think similar things happen in a lot of families. The residual affects of it all can be disheartening...


    I think women who do put their men before their kids are dealing with some serious self worth/self esteem issues. That's my only explanation of it. And I hope I do have a decent relationship with my mother some day. There have been 1 or 2 year stretchs when we have had some semblance of a relationship.. Like I said, when she doesn't have a man, all is well, then BAM... here comes a new dude and then she changes... same old vicious cycle... makes me a little more leary each time...

  9. Mothers and daughters go through some strange things sometimes, and sometimes we come out as the mothers in the situation. We can't understand why our moms make bad choices. I can't tell you how many times my mom has stopped talking to me, or chose my stepfather over her only child, or got mad because I chose my husband over her. Mothers and daughters have the most unique, I believe, parent child relationship. You are not alone.

    First of all, be glad you were there. As horrible as it was, if you weren't there and able to get away, your mom may not have survived, and subsequently, you would still be an only child. We don't understand why we have to go through these things, nor do we want to, but there is a higher plan. Just gotta have faith.

    Secondly, ever think that your mom may suffer from low self esteem. What you see as bad choices, which they are, she may see as attention getting. Once she thinks about it, she turns into mother of the year out of sheer guilt and wanting that attention from her kids. Think about it, her kids have become successful, self sufficient adults, and sadly, she may not think she had anything to do with that.

    If October 1976 still bothers you, it may still bother her too. Somebody's got to make the first move. Turn it around, and be the mom in this situation. Don't let the enemy keep you from the loving relationship you desire with your real mom. Learn to Forgive.

  10. Anonymous6:40:00 PM

    What happen to you is sad and my prayers go out to you and your family. Sometimes we forget that our parents, like us, are human too. They can be jealous, junkies, overbearing, idiots, too loose at the mouth, and not tight enough at the hip and money hungry. They can have low self-esteem, bad attitudes, and no will power. Or, they can be just the opposite and we could still have issues with them. I think that our opinions of what our parents can be strains our relationships with them. But, they are who they are.
    You spoke about the trickle down effect earlier. Some things may have trickled down to her from her parents, everything passes down. Sometimes, as human beings, we are not aware that we have inherited those same issues. But it is glorious to know that those issues that trickled down are acknowledged and don't have to be passed on to the next generation and you may be in some small creative way be able to bring your mother out of the darkness and into the light.
    Starting out small may stop the trickle down effect on your own children, as well. We are taught to cut people off when they do us wrong, but think about reaching back and showing your mother the way it OUGHT to be done. Wouldn't you want your child to do the same for you? I am sure your mother needs you just as much as you need her.
    I love you Lisa and I am very proud of you.

  11. @Blessed One...

    You know, Blessed One, that has been the pertinent thing... that I was there in the car when this occurred. I've always thought over the years, and in my prayers also, that I thank God foremost for being there and saving our lives... Whenever I get angry or depressed about certain issues (especially trivial stuff like work, etc.) I am always reminded of that day... I know that I do have some type of purpose in life or I would have ceased to exist on that day. That's kind of a wierd way of thinking of things, but sometimes it gets me through... I, Ladylee, am HERE.

    I struggle with forgiveness. It is one of those things that I have to WILL myself to forgive. Mother came over last week to see the new house. We haven't been on speaking terms since March of 2003, when she began seeing her current guy (He and she accused me of stealing, and I cut lose), but she has since broken up with him and came over and saw the new house and beamed that she was very proud of me... Her compliment didn't affect me one way or the other. I just smile and nodded. I was proud of myself for being cordial and talking with her like nothing ever happened...

    And I agree with you on the whole self-esteem/attention getting aspect of this whole situation... Hopefully, one day, me and mother can sit down and have a cordial talk about this whole matter...

    Thanks for stopping by...

  12. @ Anonymous, i.e.,
    my lil' Sister Kay...

    I think you are right in what you are saying... You and I and Da'Kari have discussed this numerous times, and I feel a little better about things each time we do. All I know, I sure do admire (and am somewhat envious) of both you and Da'Kari's level of compassion and patience and love for Mother. I think you two understand her phases a lot more than I ever will, and I do admire that you two have a decent, albeit edge-of-your-seat, relationship with her... even when she's rolling in that vicious cycle of hers... You two are able to stand her temper tantrums, etc... Will I ever be able to grin and bare it like you two? Who knows...

    Love you too, Kay, and thanks for keeping me level headed these past few years, girl...

  13. folks gave you a lot of insight, and sometimes I hate reading the comments to a post, because so much of what i wanted to say was already said and it causes me to lose my initial energy.

    but yes, it is possible not to pass your issues onto your kids, but i believe the only way that can happen is through forgiving the offending parent or at least coming to terms with the issues.

    i would agree that you might want to walk up in there one day and just start talking about it. you might be suprise at the outcome.

    I was watching oprah a week or so ago, and there was a football player who had been raped repeatedly as a child by his stepfather. The one thing he said that shocked me (further) was that after it came out in the open, him and his mom NEVER talked about it...I was thinking how is this possible?? I kinda feel the same way about your story, and even though I can see how it could happen...it's so sad that it has.

    its unfotunate that parents arent required to go through psycological testing or to get a license in order to have a child...no one looks at the things they went thru as children to see if they were damaged beyond repair.

    What happened to your mom could have happened even if she had chosen better men, but her obvious disregard for the lesson this could have taught her is just as frightening, i can see if i do something to hurt myself, but to drag another thru that mess....


    I hope you find peace with this eventually.

  14. @Chase...

    Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I got a lot of insight from this post. I don't think about this event until maybe a few days before the anniversary date. I understand that it still bothers me a bit, and hopefully I'll get up enough nerve to speak to my mother about it...

    Thanks for stopping by...

  15. wow!

    that was a lot to say...

    i just recently lost my mother and i miss her dearly. we didn't really have a mother-daughter relationship but she has taught me so much.

    hope you get to have that conversation ONE DAY!

  16. Pretty effective info, thanks for the post.
    Kamloops apartments


Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!