Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cactus and Rose Bushes

Five miles away from where my parents lived their last days on this earth, a woman and her four children were found hanging in their trailer's only bedroom. The woman's sister found them, the youngest baby still alive, having managed to work her way out of the arm of a yellow sweater that had been placed around her neck. The sister called the police and told them to come quick, that her sister was "sick really bad" and needed help. I can see the scene, the rows of trailers surrounded by cactus and rose bushes, by children's toys. It's a bleak, poverty-ridden stretch of road, the stuff of not so quiet desperation and crystal meth addiction, a place you don't choose but you end up there all the same. The neighbors say the standard lines about the woman who committed this act -- She was a good mother, happy, played with her girls. I guess you could say that she was a crying on the inside type. At 23, she already had four girls under the ages of five for which to care. It's not difficult to see her world, as circumscribed as her makeshift nooses.

Texas has had a fair share of mothers who murder their children and the most famous, Andrea Yates who drowned her four boys in the bathtub, was a nurse at MD Anderson during my mother's stay in their famed gynecological cancer ward. I saw her from time to time, and she looked a little strung-out and appeared to never wash her hair. She had that thin, haunted look of someone whose eggroll is wrapped a little too tightly, but that hardly prepares one for the horrible morning in which she chased her sons down to drown them in a bathtub and cover their little bodies with sheets. The latest filicide cases haven't resulted in the death penalty which Texas loves (provided that the mother doesn't kill herself along with the children) -- but lie under the umbrella of the insanity defense. Andrea Y. said that she believed the children were possessed by Satan, that the demons got to her and their voices drowned out the sounds of everything else. The sister who found her nieces hanging in the trailer said that things were eerily quiet until the tiniest baby started to cry, struggling to hang to a life already haunted by its extraordinary beginning.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You have folded up my life, like a wever who severs the last thread." Isaiah 38:12

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Rain Dogs Tom Waits

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Wednesday!


Sir Basil Seal said...

"Someone whose eggroll is wrapped a little too tightly" is very smartly done, Michelle, but I prefer "more than a little balmy on the crumpet," as we say on the other side of the pond! Do drop by the consulate in Detroit for a drinky poo anytime.--Bahzy

Dr. Charlie Chan said...

Tight egg rolls believed to be leading cause of ovarian cancer. Eat red chili pepper.

Tony Soprano said...

I must admit that multiple murders are not quite my thing, Michelle. However, I must admit that the St. Valentine's Day Massacre scene in "Some Like it Hot" just cracks me up. It's probably just me. Please remember, Michelle, that this coming Sunday, June 3rd, is the next to last episode of the Sopranos. Please, don't miss it, and thanks for all your support of the Sopranos!--Tony

rush limbaugh said...

Someone tried to tell me that I am wrapped a little too tight. I was gonna take them on the show and blast them.

I decided instead to up my dosage. Now they are my best friend. These meds are great.

Charles Gramlich said...

Such a horrible story. But I thought to myself, already so many children and just 23. How did she get into this position? Did no one ever mention birth control. Did she have no education at all about how to control her own reproduction. Talk about a baby machine. Very sad.

paul said...


Dan said...

Whew. What can one say when things like this happen. In Zen, they say you can't have an up without a down.

D'Augustine said...

this is very powerful stuff, m. I've always noticed that it's the strongest writing that makes people have no idea of what to say. You have awed us all with this tribute to murdered innocents.

Very few people would want to write about that and it's good that someone like you does feel a need to do so, to give those little souls a voice here in a future for them that they didn't get to but we did. And we have memories like this that have to be wrote down on the page to prove the journey was a fruitful one, if not tragic and macabre in that way that the nightly news is also macabre, but no where near as elegant as you are, and not as willing to take chances with their writing beyond what grabs ratings.

A brave, kind lady you are.

D'Augie said...

although, it seems we all found a voice and words at the same time

the walking man said...

for a better understanding of this phenomenon, which as it turns out is not really all that uncommon. More uncommon in the US but in some cultures it is an accepted practice.

This study runs 13 pages,describes the differing reasons for maternal filicide, which has been more heavily studied than Paternal filicide because men generally kill their older children.

It is a PDF document but although it does not relieve the universal pain of the loss of the societal loss of a young child or children, it does offer a rather comprehensive explanation for the different reasons.

If you read it you will see Andrea Yates described to a T not by name but by order of mental illness.

at least the dead young ones will never know much more than that they rested with their ancestors and that is the only comfort for this.



Susan Miller said...

Chilling. Its as if all of a sudden we are made keenly aware of someone's hell.