How could anyone hurt an old lady ...
Published: August 3, 2008
Updated: August 5, 2008
How could anyone hurt an old lady?
My mother is five feet two, eighty-four years old and needs a stick to help her get about.
A gentle lady, and very religious too, she goes to Mass most mornings to pray for everyone! She’s fiercely proud that she still has thick ginger hair without too many silver streaks in it, and even though she has a bad heart (she’s had a pacemaker for over ten years now) she’s also fiercely independent, preferring to do everything for herself.
‘While I’m still able …’ is her philosophy.
On Mondays she usually meets her friend Philly outside the church, and they bimble off together to the local Senior Citizen’s club where they have lunch and a game of Bingo. On the way to the club they call into the little shop on the corner for a newspaper and a few bits and pieces, then they cross the road and take a short cut up McCowan’s Lane.
Last Monday Philly didn’t turn up, so she went off on her own, stopping at the shop for her newspaper and a Lottery ticket. Because it was raining she didn’t take a handbag with her, she just took a purse which she kept in the pocket of her raincoat.
Crossing the road to McCowan’s Lane she didn’t notice the young man rush past her.
When she was half way along the lane she was suddenly aware of someone coming towards he, walking very fast. He was in his early twenties; over six feet tall and heavy built, with thick blond hair and Buddy Holly glasses.
Apparently he gave a beaming smile and said ‘Excuse me, madam, could you tell me how I can get to …’
My mother can’t recall exactly what happened next; except that she felt very uncomfortable about the way he stood so close to her, towering over her.
She tried to step back from him and suddenly she was falling hard against the wall. Her mind was in turmoil – did she trip, or did she stagger awkwardly and cause herself to lose her balance?
At that moment in time she actually believed it was her own fault that she’d fallen! She felt sooo embarrassed. She’d made a fool of herself! She turned to see where the young man was, and was amazed that the b*$!*%.d toe-rag was running away towards the main road.
She manager to find her stick and get up, but even then she was still totally confuse about what had actually happened. She dusted herself down and started walking on, thankful that she hadn’t received any serious injury. OK, her pride, but that was something she’d get over – until she discovered that her purse was gone.
Bless her; she still refused to accept what had just happened. She tried to convince herself that she’d probably left her purse on the counter in the shop, so she went back there.
Unfortunately, as is quiet common in Ireland these days, the young girl behind the counter was a non-national with very poor English, and according to my mother, was not very responsive either, so my mother decided to go straight home. She sobbed all the way to her own back gate.
It wasn’t the money in the purse that upset her. 50 euro, that’s all there was! No, what really upset her was the other stuff that she always carried with her. To most people these things would be worthless, but to her they were a huge chunk of her life. A small pearl Rosary that my father used to pray with before he died two years ago. Little black and white photos that oozed history, her history. She would have been married sixty years in March 2006, but my father died on 19th Feb that year, so she carried a Mass card with his picture on it. Bits of paper with all our phone numbers on, little cards from her grandchildren …
Anyway, once she was back in her own house anger took over. How dare this little shit take her stuff! She had driven trams in Birmingham City, England, during the blitz of World War 2, when the German were dropping bombs every single day and night. One time she’d just left for work when a bomb hit the house where she was staying and killed seven of her comrades. She lived through all that and then went on to raise eight children! And some drugged up scroat takes her stuff???
She phoned my brothers and sisters, who all congregated at the house. The detectives came within ten minutes, and apparently they were extremely efficient, kind and very understanding.
They went back to the shop and looked at the CCTV, established the time that she was there, identified the guy, who was actually standing right behind her as she paid for her paper. He was known to the Gardai. He was a drug addict.
The chip shop the other side of the street also has a camera outside the door and it picked him up as he pushed past her and went up the lane in front of her, and then moments later came running out and away up the street.
They caught him within half an hour, and she was so relieved that they also found the purse with all her stuff still in it. He’s spent the money by then, of course, had his fix and immediately started crying with remorse.
But meanwhile my mother was drained of all her confidence, saying that she’d never be able to set foot outside the door again – she was terrified! She couldn’t face the fear of being attacked again, she was old and frail, she’d only get hurt again. She had been reduced to putty because we’re not allowed to just terminate crap like that.
I know it’s a terrible thing to do, but I checked what money I had immediate access to and phoned an acquaintance in Ireland to actually put a contract on this guy. I wanted retribution, revenge; I wanted to take something precious from this guy – like his kneecaps.
Wipe him out totally, maybe. Being a drug addict is not an excuse. No one just becomes a drug addict – they choose to take drugs – they have a choice!
He didn’t give my mother a choice!
What saved him from such brutal retaliation?
Actually, my mother!
She went to Mass the next day – accompanied by two sons and three daughters - and prayed for him …