We all know a woman who has impacted our lives in a major way. For me, my mother is that woman. She taught me everything I know about the world. I’d like to talk about one of her most iconic moments: the time she walked in on a robbery taking place in our house.
The House By the Lake
First of all, you should know that my mother and father worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. Everything they achieved in life they did through perseverance and determination. Well, my mother always wanted an A-frame house by the lake, so she and my dad bought a plot of land right by this beautiful lake in East Texas. They built their house themselves right next to that lake even though my mother didn’t care at all about swimming. In fact, she couldn’t swim to save her life. Literally. It was truly a beautiful house; we were one of the first people to move to this particular lake, so we were really out in the middle of nowhere!
How I Found Out
Now, the day she got robbed my brother and his wife picked me up from school. I was nine years old at the time, so they took me to Dairy Queen for some ice cream to break the news gently and not alarm me. As a kid, this was an exciting moment for me. I got to see my brother who lived almost an hour away, AND he was taking me to get ice cream! What a great day!
So we were eating our ice cream, making conversation, and out of nowhere my brother says, “Oh, by the way, Mama got robbed today.” Surely, I thought, he was pulling my chain. No one would say something like that so nonchalantly. I looked over to his wife and sure enough, she nodded and said it was true. (Why is it we always look at the female in the situation to see if a man is pulling our leg?) That’s when they started telling me everything that happened between my mom and this robber.
My mom had been out for the day, running errands, and when she arrived at home, the first thing she saw was that our front door had the window panes knocked out. For any sane person, this is when you turn your car back on, turn around, and get out of there as fast as you can! Not my mom, though. Instead, she got out of the car and barreled through the door, furious that someone messed with her precious A-frame house on the lake. She figured no one would still be there; after all, her car was the only one in sight. So she walked into the house and around the corner walks this man with a hatchet in his hand.
Startled, but keeping her cool, she looked at him and said: “I’ve got good insurance. Take what you want and get out.” She’s one very nervy woman!
The man told her to go upstairs and get underneath the bed. She questioned it for a moment but reluctantly followed his instructions. When she got upstairs, she looked at the bed. Beds today are much higher off the ground than they used to be, so she stared at this bed wondering how she was going to get herself UNDER there to satisfy this robber. She knew she wouldn’t fit just by looking at it. Still, she had to try. She lifted the dust ruffle and shimmied as far as she could underneath the bed frame.
“I told you to get under the bed!” he said. My mother lifted up the dust ruffle and replied, “I’m in as far as I can go!”
Fortunately, he accepted this answer and asked where the family guns were. Being in Texas, he knew there were guns in the house! We actually had them hidden in a closet downstairs. So she gave him some instructions about how to find the closet. After a while, he came back up, gun-less, and asked again. So she gave him some MORE instructions—still from under the bed, mind you. She heard him moving around downstairs for what felt like an eternity. Finally, he came back up.
“I found the guns and I’m leaving,” he said. “Don’t call the police for 20 minutes.”
Then he fled the scene, leaving my mom still halfway under the bed upstairs. Some time passes, and my mom starts getting restless. What if the robber or even someone else, like an accomplice, is still in the house? Is he coming back with more people? All sorts of things would go through your head in this kind of situation.
Eventually, though she steeled her nerves, got up and walked downstairs to search the house. First, however, she got her HIDDEN gun—like any good Texas woman has—a pistol from under her mattress. She started checking everywhere, pointing the gun in every doorway and opening every closet door just to make sure the place was truly empty. Relief swept over her when she cleared the last room. Thankfully, he was really gone.
“Lady, can I help ya?”
My mom whipped around to see a young man standing on the patio by our torn-up back door, leaning against the ladder my father used to shingle the roof. She pointed the gun straight at him, purposely allowing her hands to shake a little.
“I’m just tryin’ to help ya, lady,” the young man said, clearly growing anxious.
“Son, that may be true, but you are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she coolly stated.
“Lady, I’m so scared. I’m thinking about running.”
She cocked the gun and it wobbled in her hand some more. “I wouldn’t if I were you.”
So with her pistol still pointed at this young man, she picks up the phone and calls her sister, Charmaine who lives just a few miles away, and says, “Char, I’ve been robbed. I promised I wouldn’t call the police for 20 minutes. But I never said I wouldn’t call you.” Now that’s what you call a woman of her word!
The best part of this whole thing is that while she’s got the pistol in one hand, cocked and aimed at the young man, and the phone pressed against her ear, she reaches over with her free hand to stir those beans she’d left out earlier! Who stirs their beans while holding a guy at gunpoint? My mom does, apparently. That’s what we women do, right? We take care of business, and we SURE don’t waste a perfectly good pot of beans!
While she stayed on the phone with her sister, my father, and the police arrived around the same time. Turns out, my mom was right to hold the young man at gunpoint as he was driving the getaway car for the man who broke into our home. He was actually the nephew of the robber. The police found the robber in the woods near our home and were able to retrieve all our guns at least. I remember he had hacked away at the cord attaching my TV antenna to my TV (apparently intending to steal it)… and for a nine-year-old, that was a VERY big deal! I actually recall telling my mom that I was “mad as a wet hen!”
A few months later, the case went to trial, with the robber being charged with armed robbery. During the trial, though, the defense lawyer tried his hardest to get his clients out of this mess. I get it; I’m a lawyer and I understand he was just doing his job. But this lawyer didn’t know who he was up against when my mother took the stand. The lawyer pulled the hatchet out and asked my mother if this object weren’t simply a tool of trade and nothing more.
“Could you repeat that?” she said, shocked by the question.
“Is this a tool of trade?” He repeated.
“All I knew was anything that thing hit … wasn’t going to live.”
And that was that. He was sentenced to twenty-five years. I still have the newspaper clipping telling the story, which was pretty big news in a small town in east Texas!
A Remarkable Woman
Needless to say, my mother knows a thing or two about a thing or two. My parents both made it their mission to teach me as much as they could from their simple, practical life. Common sense things which are often lacking in today’s world. My dad is no longer with us, but he taught me as much as he could during his time. I will have to share some of HIS great stories down the road.
My mother continues to give me so much of her wisdom; it would be such a shame and a waste for me to hold all this information to myself. Because of that, I wanted to share this story with you. Everyone should know about the many real-life triumphs of this remarkable woman I call my mother.
Remember to take time to appreciate the strong women in your life. And remember to take time to BE a strong woman, bringing knowledge, wisdom, hope, and a smile or two to all those around you.
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