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"?
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".
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