He was only five when his mother was gunned down in cold blood. When he asked his older sister where Mama was, he was told she wouldn’t be coming home again. His mama was his world, and he was her baby. But he would never see her again, and his life was changed forever.
I’ve thought often of this woman I never knew. I have felt the pain that her children left behind went through, and have cried many tears of disbelief that someone could be so cold.
It all began over a man. Nancy was dating a man who was apparently seeing another woman behind her back. Nancy loved this man and thought there was a future with him. She had no idea there were secrets being kept, and therefore felt no suspicion when she was contacted by a woman claiming to be with the department of welfare services.
One quick phone call set up the meeting. Nancy agreed to meet with this supposed social worker to discuss her case. The idea was to meet away from the children so that the older ones didn’t get upset about the conversations that could take place, especially if they became heated. Nancy believed every word this woman told her, and in her graceful, quiet manner, she didn’t question it, not wanting to cause any problems with her welfare case.
They were to meet in a church parking lot. But Nancy never met the woman claiming to be her social worker. In fact, she never knew what happened because she had no time to even think about it and wonder. When she arrived at the meeting, this other woman approached Nancy before the car had even been turned off. Without knowing what was coming, Nancy was shot point blank in the head. She died instantly, leaving behind six children who would never understand the evil that took their mama away.
The first person investigated was the man Nancy was dating, but he was cleared. Secondly, her ex-husband (the five-year-old’s father) was questioned and for a short while was considered the main suspect because he had been abusive and had ducked out on her in the middle of the night some years back. But, finally, it came back to the real guilty person.
Her name was Mildred, and she was a cold-blooded killer. When she confessed, she told it all – and it was a terribly pathetic tale. She had been dating the same man Nancy had been dating. Mildred only knew about Nancy because she had followed her boyfriend to her home on more than one occasion. She was in love and was not willing to share her man, even though Nancy knew nothing about her. The killing could have been called a crime of passion, but because she confessed how she had planned it out, she was charged with pre-meditated murder.
Off to prison she went. But the tragedy didn’t end there. The sudden heartbreaking loss of their mother sent six children into a world of pain and anger. From the oldest down to the five-year-old Momma’s baby, they all went from typical children to troubled youth. Each went on with their lives by destructive means. Several became alcoholics. Each of the male children held resentment in their hearts for other women and became abusive to their partners. And the baby held onto his anger all his life.
He was seventeen when he met her; she was thirteen. She was innocent, and that was what he wanted. He wanted someone untouched by another so that he could claim her as his own. Their relationship had a rocky start when he couldn’t even believe she would stay with him. He often talked of his mother, no longer just grieving for her but actually blaming her. The years had been hard on him and it showed.
Less than a year after they met, she was pregnant with his child and though there had been a few break-ups, he knew this would keep her. She wouldn’t leave now that she was helpless and pregnant, especially once he married her. Years passed and sure enough, she never left him, no matter how much he hurt her and left her alone. She stood by his side, not only trying to remain faithful to her vows, but because she was scared to leave.
After many years and three children, she was so close to dead inside that she was no longer as scared and tried to make the break. He had always been the one to leave her when he was bored, but she had never wanted to not be his wife, no matter how much he hurt her. She thought that was the way it was supposed to be. And she accepted it.
The night she faced him and told him she no longer loved him was the night she could have died. He went into a rage, telling her she wouldn’t leave him like his mama did. Though this was nothing like the incident concerning his mother, her death still rocked him some 21 years later. He was determined that no one would leave his life unless he said so.
He left that night with one thing on his mind – to keep the woman that was his. The next day, he tried to trap her and keep her from her job. She went anyway. He then tried to win her back with a brand new wedding ring. She said no. When she wouldn’t leave her job with him, he came back full of anger. He was upset, no doubt, but he wasn’t handling this rationally. He was determined to have her, and to make sure that if he couldn’t, no one else would. Through a brief scuffle, he got away before the police arrived. Shaken and scared, she remained at her job, feeling more secure there than anywhere else.
When her shift ended, she drove to the home of a friend. Her children were kept there safely out of harm’s way, and she thought she might be safe there as well. But shortly after arriving and telling the tale of her night, he arrived, again determined that she would not leave him. 911 was called, but the police arrived too late. First shouting, then the sound of a gun. Someone was shot. She was holding onto her baby girl, dazed and in shock. She walked toward the doorway and looked down at him. He lay at the bottom of the stairs, a gun still clutched in his hand. His face was turned away from her. The last she saw of him was one small breath. She never saw his open eyes.
One shot. It was either him or her friend. One shot killed him. The friend did not even look when he pulled the trigger. A gun was already aimed at his own head. He fired his in self-defense with his eyes squeezed tightly and no intent to kill. He only wanted to protect his own life, that of his wife’s, and those of this man’s wife and children. No one knew what this angry man was capable of. No one knew what would have happened if he would have pulled the trigger first.
Though this was never the way she intended to be free of him, she was indeed free. Never again would he hurt her or cheat or make their oldest son feel insignificant. Never again would he be able to cause her or anyone else pain because of his own pain. She was free to live out her life, though he had wanted to snuff it out. She had won the battle that had begun so many years before.