My mother, sister, and I were driving down Highway 124 on a hot July day when my mom screamed and slammed on the breaks. Fear rushed through our bodies. Outside the car window, a short young African American man was launched into the air. As he came down, a loud boom sounded as his body helplessly rolled off the hood of the faint green Toyota Corolla in front of us. The man lay motionless in the road while we waited for what seemed like hours for the driver to exit the car. His red shirt and gym shorts were ripped.
The driver of the opposing car threw the vehicle in reverse in a spasmodic action in an attempt to end the man’s life. The injured man made an effort to crawl onto the Wendy’s sidewalk, forcing his body up on the curb to evade the car. The driver drove up onto the curb and blew its tire, just barely missing the wounded man. Realizing the driver would stop at nothing, my mother drove her white suburban in front of the car, blocking the violent perpetrator from doing any further damage. Our eyes were now locked with the driver and we could easily identify her distinct features.
She was a tall, crazy-eyed AfricanAmerican woman who began yelling obscenities that my eightyear old mind never heard before. The threat of the deranged woman possibly attempting to harm us was felt by everyone in the car. The woman sprung out of the car, and she gave my mother an evil look and headed for her beat-up car trunk. Knowing he possible danger, my mother drove us to a safer spot. Now that we were parked at the Wendy’s, my sister and I leaped into the trunk and looked out the back window. In a state of panic, my mother ordered my sister and me to remain in the vehicle as she ran to help the man.
The crazed woman flung open her trunk and, in a frenzy, hurled lawn equipment at the man’s head as he struggled to get away. My mother ran and took the rest of the equipment out of the woman’s car, tossing them into the bushes. I turned to my sister and asked, “Is mom gonna get hurt? ” My sister reassured me that everything would be okay. The enormous woman, now realizing she had no more weapons, jumped onto the small man and proceeded to strike him with her fists. My mother yelled and flailed her arms, but the psychotic woman viscously continued to pummel him.
Sacrificing herself, she hopped onto the woman like a monkey and attempted to yank her off the defenseless man. The crazed woman was unfazed by my mother. I wanted to run to my mother’s aid, but her forewarning replayed in my head. Devastated, my sister and I cried as we watched my mother being flung side to side. In the distance, I could see a large group of strong men standing inside the Wendy’s watching the struggle as if it were merely a television program. Conflicted, I had to make a decision between listening to my mother or leaving the car to get assistance.
My mother motioned to the men for help, but they stared blankly right back at her. I was in disbelief; they did nothing as my mother endangered herself to help a stranger. They had no intention to take action or to call 911. The man and woman continued to wrestle on the ground for several minutes until the man pulled off the woman’s hairpiece. Her bald head was now revealed. Humiliated, she stood and snatched her wig. “This is not over,” she snarled, and drove off. The Corolla with the busted tire raced down the highway and a feeling of relief overcame us.
My sister and I rushed out of the car to greet my mother and the injured man. My eyes widened as I saw the man covered in blood. Until then, the most severe injury I had ever seen was a scraped knee. “Get the first aid kit,” she said. As she retrieved the kit, she called 911. A sense of satisfaction flowed through me as I could finally help the man. My little legs ran as fast as they could. People were depending upon me. My mother began to interrogate the man while she was tending to his wounds. The man spoke in a quiet, nervous voice and stated that the woman was his girlfriend.
They were riding in the car when a voicemail from another woman appeared on his phone. His girlfriend snatched his phone and listened to his messages. The voicemail was only from a co-worker, but she was so infuriated with him that she ordered him out of the vehicle. After he exited the car, the woman then proceeded to hit him with her vehicle. When the cops finally arrived, they questioned the man even further. He indicated that she suffered from Schizophrenia and hadn’t been taking her medication for the past couple of weeks.
Also, she owned a handgun, and he feared that she might go home to retrieve it. Realizing the danger of the situation, the police ordered us to evacuate the premises. We left unknowing of whether or not the woman returned. On the ride home, I asked many questions. I did not understand why this woman wanted to kill the man. “The woman did not know what she was doing,” said my mom. I did not believe her. I saw the fury in the lady’s eyes. This was no accident. As we continued down the road, I looked at random people and wondered what kind of evil they had done in their lives.
My views of others had changed. Once I was home, I sat in front of my mirror and stared. Was I capable of killing someone? Would I ever turn into a murderer? Those questions cemented in my mind for months. My mother was badly bruised, but I never heard her complain. She never portrayed herself as the hero when people asked what happened to her. She did not expect praise for something she believed everyone should do. She prayed for the woman every night at dinner, and it puzzled me. Why would she care about someone so evil? Years passed until I finally understood her.
That hot July day changed the way I think about life. This was the first time I witnessed true evil. People could hurt me, and I needed to be on guard. If I did not manage my anger, I could be like that lunatic. Realizing that many people will sit back in times of crisis, I was determined not to be that person. I strived to be fearless and independent like my mother. Her humbleness and fierceness impacted me. That moment, when my mother bandaged the man, sparked my interest in nursing. From then on, I took joy in helping family and friends who were sick. My passion took full effect when I was sixteen.
My mother and father usually fought every night, but this one evening was far different from the rest. My father screamed about my mother making too much noise while washing the dishes. “Stop making so much noise,” he yelled. “I can’t help it,” she said. Because of her failure to comply with his irrational demands, he ran to the kitchen. Grabbing onto her, he slammed her into a corner. I saw her eyes, and she looked helpless like the poor man I saw eight years ago. I ran to help my mother. When I pulled his hands off her, my father turned his anger toward me.
He grabbed the back of my neck firmly. “Don’t you ever interfere with your mother and I,” he said. He ferociously flung me to the floor and stormed off into his room. I looked at my mother, and she was as battered as the day she tried to help the man. I couldn’t believe that this was happening all over again. I sat with my mother and iced her wounds just like my mother had done for the man. I was determined that day to spend the rest of my life helping victims of domestic violence. Although these experiences were tough on me as a child and young adult, they shaped the person I am today.