Doors Opened, Records Revealed

In friendly conversation the other day, someone asked me: “So how do you like your Charles Ramsey now?”

I was like “huh?”

Then he told me one of the Seymour St. heroes has a drug and domestic abuse record.  He had served time, repeated offenses, gradually got back to “okay” terms with his ex-wife, and helped save four people from a domestic abuser/abductor whose depravity is another category of torture that prosecutors, media, moms all struggle to label. Anyway, the details of those earlier years are not Hallmark Hall-of-Fame film material. At all.

I mumbled something about, how, well, you know, nothing he did before devalues the five to ten minutes of neighborliness he and Angel Cordero displayed on Seymour Street Monday night. My convo partner couldn’t disagree, but I nonetheless felt caught in this “gotcha” game where people who rush in to praise – especially to praise the heroes who don’t look like the heroes we think we’ve been waiting for – are punished as the dust settles and background checks come back. Messy.

I still think the guy is a hero, just as I still think the police work left boulder-sized stones unturned, no matter how badly many law-enforcement officials wanted to find Gina De Jesus and Amanda Berry. No matter how hard they worked, no matter how hard police work is. Allegations that neighbors called – cops say they didn’t – will be fully reviewed, I hope.  One story noted that someone close to the abductor’s battered ex-wife, now deceased, encouraged police to investigate Ariel Castro in the girls’ disappearance. It’s another chapter in this tangled and sad and stunning case that begs the question “how?” I really hope that’s not true. And if it is…

…none of it undoes the nice things that anyone writes this week about Mr. Charles Ramsey. I am a mom with a blog, and my credentials begin and end here.

I, for one, will soon get back to writing more about Indian food. And I will test (aka background check) all my recipes. But when I don’t write about cooking, I won’t make it a standard practice to background check someone who clearly did something good before I praise them for doing that good thing. Folks who want to read from the experts, maintain some emotional distance, think more deeply and more critically than me — they have lots of other reading outlets to choose from.

We Don’t Need Another (guy) Hero?

Yet some things about my writing of this last week have troubled me.  Among them, why am I so into this male-hero angle? What about the three women in that house? Delivering and reviving a baby in the dead of night, seeing no sun for years, having the courage to continue to test their captor and his aluminum front door at great, gruesome risk to their lives?

I write less about them, I think, because I want to know as little of their ordeal as possible. After telling her family members not to ask about her captivity, Gina De Jesus must see some of the darkest details of her life splashed on every front page. We still have not seen a photo of Michele Knight, whose physical and emotional losses sound the most devastating, and that’s fine with me. Not being an expert, I nonetheless speculate that healing is easier when people are on a need-to-know basis about your medical, psychological, reproductive trauma.

The mayor of Cleveland has asked the media not to “leak info.” Agreed.

Let’s keep some things between the women and girl who are finding their way home, and their families and counselors. Let’s agree they are heroes, and contribute to the Cleveland Courage Fund if we want to and if we can.

Thanks, Mom


Life happens at the corner mailbox.

Those who can’t send money, or choose not to, well keeping your eyes and ears open is free and it can really work. Here I think of mom, who stopped a domestic abduction at the mailbox on my sleepy suburban corner decades ago. She heard it, she saw it, she asked me to watch the car from the safety of our yard while she dialed 911. The authorities came, the child was separated from the parent, another relative was called in.

Until Tuesday, I had forgotten all about that. Happy Mother’s Day, mom, and thanks.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lynn
    May 10, 2013 @ 16:50:08

    I have never forgotten the incident by the mailbox that Angie has written about. There are several reasons why, but the most personal for me is one that she has not shared here with her readers, and it is this: Angie did not long remain in the safety of our front yard; she ran to the street corner, grabbed the young girl, and the next thing I knew they both came running breathlessly through our front door.

    The call for help I remember well, but once I realized that Angie had left the safety of our yard, everything swirled for me in a blur of panic, fear, and uncertainty, until …what seemed what seemed like a lifetime later…when she safely, with the other young girl alongside her, burst through the door.

    I have often thought of that young girl on the corner, and of the fearlessness of my own young girl on that day. Once safely in our home, Angie and I…and I can no longer recall whether or not her brothers were also home…retreated to the basement so that the officer who responded to my call could speak privately with the young girl. She would now be about Angie’s age, and when she comes to mind, always I hope that she is happy and well.

    Often I’ve thought about what had made Angie so fearless on that day, but as she grew to womanhood, I came to recognize that though fear and uncertainty might be words she recognizes, they would never have the power to stop her fom doing whatever she felt it was necessary to do. I SO love that in her.

    Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.



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