Monday, October 16, 2006

There's somethin' happenin' here...what it is ain't exactly clear...

If you click on the link in the title, you'll be able to read the basics about this weekend's murder in Bonaparte, Iowa. I saw the news item for this on Saturday afternoon or evening (can't remember which), and my heart dropped into my stomach.

Just to give some perspective on this from my POV: Bonaparte is in Van Buren County, about 1.5 hours from my hometown. Bonaparte is less than 500 people, and several towns around the area make up the Harmony school district. So OBVIOUSLY, this is going to rock a small town.

The final paragraph of this writeup has a quote from their church's youth minister, and it goes like this:

"You saw this in the Amish country when those girls were shot, and now it's in our backyard," youth minister Mike Linnenbrink said, referring to the shooting deaths of five girls at Amish school in Pennsylvania this month. "It's not surprising at all that we turn to church at this time. This is a tight community, not just in Van Buren County, but in all of southeast Iowa."

It's not like murder has never happened in Iowa. However, it's a heck of a lot less frequent there than in larger cities. Therefore, it's a shocker when it does happen.

Some murder cases hit closer to home than I think for. In the early '90s, a female mail carrier was murdered in Cedar Rapids. Apparently, she and her live-in boyfriend had a very dramatic breakup, and he had confronted her at the post office branch she worked out of. I think the proper authorities got him out of there, but that didn't stop him from his final attack.

What he finally did in order to take her out was this: he knew that a relative of his lived on his ex's mail route. He sent a certified or registered letter to the residence that required the postal carrier to hand-deliver the item and procure a signature.

The female carrier delivered the letter to this house, not knowing the murderer was waiting there for her. She knocked on the door, and he opened it and shot her to death. She had no way of knowing that he was going to be there.

The event shocked me, and it scared my mom to death; she had a mentally unbalanced person on HER route that constantly accused Mom of tampering with her mail. What if the same thing happened to her? Even now, the thought sends chills.

As much grief as I give my home state, there is something about Iowa and their small communities rallying around a family or comforting each other when something like this happens. I can't handle people knowing all my business at times, and (in spite of my blogging) treasure my privacy on many issues. I guess this quote made me realize that sometimes, it's OK for people to know your business so they can be there for you.

I think that's probably one of the few positive things about Washington that I can cite with confidence. Even now, as the one-year anniversary of Dad's passing draws closer, I worry about Mom feeling alone. A little voice inside me, however, tells me that I have no need to fear. Perhaps it's God telling me this? I don't know.

All I have to do to be reminded of the positive aspects of a small town is remember the people who keep my mom feeling strong.

Mom has two friends (a married couple from square dance days) that stay in touch with her; they go out for Sunday lunch a couple times a month.

My aunt Martha comes to visit all the time, and they do things together like lunch, small trips, dinner, etc.

Jennine (a family friend) is there to help Mom out, and Jennine's friends and family come over to visit my mom for holidays and "just because".

Ruthi and her kids are just a cornfield away.

I admit, I do worry about bad things happening to my mom and Jennine because they're by themselves. The authorities have found meth labs in abandoned farm houses around the county, and I worry that someone will attack Mom and Jennine in a drug fueled murder. The world has changed, and smaller towns are getting a taste of the darker side of urban life.

Two things keep me comforted, though. The first is knowing that if something bad happens to my mom, people will be there for her in body and spirit.

The other thing? My mom's a damn good shot, and the perp might get a taste of hot lead.

Just sayin'.