Monthly Archives: September 2010

You Can’t Argue with Crazy

I have a sister who is crazy. I will just put that right out here in the beginning of this story and get it out-of-the-way. Mental illness is a part of my family that gives us character, we own it….she is not alone. She has five biological children and has adopted five special needs kids. Her name is Junene and she is a nurse who works full-time, while maintaining a home with two dogs, two horses, some chickens, and a partridge in a pear tree. It is my belief that she lost her sanity on the roadside on the way to adopt numbers four and five. She is a good and special kind of crazy though. We need more mental illness like this in our society. She might be delusional in her belief that she can make a difference in every kid that she meets, but what if she is right? What if my sister is completely sane?

As her attorney, I learned a long time ago to not try to dissuade her from expanding the family at the courthouse. That is what I was thinking yesterday as I was helping a client adopt a special needs kid. Junene was a foster-mother for several years to special needs kids….quadrapalegics, Down Syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome…they all had a place to call home within the walls of her house. Junene has had numerous kids come in and out of her life…she felt a need to latch on to five of them, to love them as her own. My life and hers are better for the additions to her family, I have to admit that. I tried, unsuccessfully, on several occasions to stop her from being a foster parent….as she was beginning to fall in love with every kid that was assigned to her….emotionally that can take a toll on a person. In the end, she decided to stop, on her own terms, and go back to her job as a full-time nurse….but there were now five kids under the age of 12 in her house. Junene is a single mother and is 53. You can’t argue with crazy.

Junene is not a perfect mother…she knows that her biological children, born to her in her earlier years have some valid complaints. Whom among us is not without faults? But the one thing she has that makes her a great mother…is the blind desire to make the life of a child better…one step at a time….one hug at a time. I can only visit Junene’s house for about two hours and then I start to lose my grip on the one thread of sanity I have left. I am a childless, middle-aged woman…I am too set in my ways and am used to complete silence in my house, save for the occasional yapping of my wiener dogs. The three-ring circus that Junene oversees, after working eight hours as a traveling nurse, is a sight to see. I doubt that she will mind my description of her house…it is structured chaos at its best.

One of my nephews is named Roy and I am certain he would be dead, if not for the care and love of his adoptive mother. Roy has severe autism and was born with several medical ailments…including the necessity to breathe through a trach tube for years. He is nine years old, happy and healthy as can be, as I write this today. Roy always has a broad smile on his face…he enjoys eating good food and Shrek….all things Shrek. What if Junene’s crazy had only one reason to be? What if the one reason was if Roy could just be nine and enjoy eating a grilled cheese sandwich, while watching Shrek on TV? Crazy has its place I guess.

I am writing this blog today as a love letter to my sister. She has had a tough time of it lately. One of her kids has been hospitalized…out of necessity, for his safety and the safety of the other children. Junene doesn’t miss a beat…although it is a heartbreaking situation, she makes the difficult decisions, never faltering in her job or in taking care of her other children.

Junene, my hat is off to you today! It is a good thing that there are other people out there like you. Those people who sacrifice their time, money, personal space, even retirement years…to reach out and help kids in need. I admit my hedonistic life is not comparable to Junene’s. We are as different as night and day…though only five years apart, and in the same gene pool. I couldn’t survive her country menagerie anymore than she could handle my urban lifestyle. In those differences though is a bond and an appreciation…she respects my “alternative” life and I respect the fact that she is bat-shit crazy.

My niece’s name is Ashley. She has Turner’s Syndrome, but other than that she is perfectly healthy. She is about 36 inches of personality and love…a smart as a whip six-year-old. I called her recently to see if she wanted to spend the night at Aunt Juju’s house. I asked her if she could just come alone…(wanting to curb the noise in my house, but also let me focus on one kid at a time). No! said Ashley, “where I go, my sister goes!” She refused to make the trip without her older sister, Lesley. The two girls are a matched set….Ashley, always looking after her older sister who has survived open heart surgery in her brief life and has learning difficulties. Ashley knows what it is like to have an older sister who thinks differently than you, but is a part of you. I can’t argue…I’ve got one of those too.


It’s in the Seconds

It was 3am on a Tuesday morning and I was struggling to keep focused. I was wishing in my head for anything to happen….hoping the dispatcher would broadcast my number and give me a call. I had the windows rolled down so the cold February air would rush against my face like a splash of water. Four hours of mundane and routine was taking its toll on me, for sure. The old saying about police work is totally true though….hours of boredom could be followed by seconds of sheer chaos and/or terror. Life is funny, you always seem to get what you need…and on that night I needed an influx of adrenalin.

I was traveling eastbound towards Fort Worth on an access road, on the dog shift again, patrolling. Another old police adage came to my mind …there are only two types of people out at 3am….cops and crooks. I was the former in search of the latter…even paperwork would be welcomed on this cold, quiet, winter night….and then he passed me. The drunk was also eastbound, but the problem was he was traveling in the westbound lanes of a four lane divided highway. A wide median of grass separated the eastbound from the westbound…he had entered the highway on the wrong side. The drunk was traveling to his own death. Up ahead was a big curve in the road, a blind curve. Lawful traveling westbound traffic would not see this guy until it was too late. A head-on, fatality accident was not the answer I was looking for that night …I had to take action fast!

I radioed the dispatcher my location and the circumstance. I hit the accelerator as I flipped on my lights and sirens. I had to get in front of the drunk to warn on-coming traffic before it was too late. My speedometer sailed past 90 mph as I pulled even to the drunk…hitting him with my spotlight….doing anything I could to get his attention! I could see there was one occupant of the car, a white male….his head was bobbing up and down.

In the distance I could see several sets of headlights moving westbound in both lanes of the highway. I increased my speed…my only shot at preventing a head-on was to beat the drunk to the highway crossover and prevent him from hitting that blind curve! My Sergeant was about 5 miles away and traveling towards my location, his help would arrive too late…I was definitely on my own.

My speed increased as I passed the drunk….reaching the crossover, I jerked the patrol car across the the intersection. I was now straddled across both westbound lanes with my lights on and the siren blasting. I was sacrificing my own safety, but all I could think of was the brand new patrol car….the Sergeant was going to kill me if I survived. The westbound traffic, if sober, would hopefully see the lights, after they cleared the curve, hear the sirens, and slow to a stop. Operative word being “if” sober…remember…cops and crooks, right? The head-bobbing drunk was going to be stopped….one way or another.

I turned to my right and watched as the drunk approached me at a rapid pace. I braced myself for impact…I was the most alive I have ever felt. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention. I felt good knowing I was going to prevent a head-on fatality accident. All these thoughts were racing through my mind as the drunk was bearing down on the intersection. This was going to hurt, I thought….my only chance was if the drunk was startled to attention by the patrol car and lights. The wait seemed like an eternity….but was, in fact, about 7 seconds.

Then the darndest thing happened. I watched as smoke began to come out of the tire wells of the drunk’s car…..he was braking hard! The drunk had bobbed to consciousness and was trying with all his might to stop his car. He became aware of his situation too late for any evasive measure except to stomp on his brakes. The tires were squealing as the smoke increased….I focused on the Chysler emblem at the front of his car….as it continued towards me! The drunk came to a stop within 6 inches of the passenger door of my patrol car! The westbound traffic stopped in both lanes on my left….safely. It was unbelievable! I exited the car…pulled the drunk out of his, cuffed, and stuffed him.
His only comment to me was, “what the hell are you doing parked on the highway?”

I got a letter of commendation put in my personnel jacket for my actions that night. I tell this story, not for that reason but to make my other point. The next time you see a cop pulled into a Jack in a Box, eating a burger….or sitting on the side of the road running radar….think about what I am blogging about today. Cops go through the day performing mundane tasks….sometimes goofing off….they are people just like everyone else…with one exception. Those boring shifts can be interrupted, at any given moment, by a call for service or an on-view situation…that necessitates that they ACT. Cops have volunteered to act in those situations that most people would run away from…avoid. Those seconds of sheer chaos…terror….excitement…that is where they earn the badge.

The thin blue line separates those 3am people….the cops and the crooks. The distance between the two….it’s in the seconds.