Saturday started out like any day at the clinlc.
One of the seminarians follows me down the sidewalk, telling me over and over that there is blood on my hands. “You can’t see it, you don’t believe it, but there is blood on your hands.”
I resist the urge to even look at my hands, and just keep walking. No big deal.
A companion threatens to hit Mary, but doesn’t.
Then, I’m up by the clinic, and Ron, one of the protesters who’s been coming forever, approaches me. If you saw the video of the protesters who were taunting Anne, the clinic director ~ one of them was Ron.
“Hey,” he says. He holds out his smart phone, as if he thinks I’m going to look at it.
“Is this your mother?”
The question seems so out-of-place, it doesn’t quite register. Of course, I don’t answer.
“It sounds like she was a good woman,” he says. “This is her obit, right?”
And he begins to read to me from my mother’s obituary.
I am surprised. Surprised that he’s doing this ~ reading the words that I wrote almost two years ago when my Mama died ~ reading them aloud to me on the sidewalk. Surprised at my own visceral reaction.
I’ve worked with kids who informed me, with great seriousness, “But I HAD to hit him. You don’t understand! He was ‘talking ’bout my Mama.’ I HAD TO hit him.”
I get that now.
Nooooo, of course I didn’t hit Ron, or shove him away, or do anything. But for a second, I had a vivid memory of kids saying that, and I mentally apologized to them for being so obtuse at the time. Apparently, someone “talking ’bout my Mama,” does elicit a strong reaction.
Then I had to laugh. Good grief. Really, Ron? You’re gonna talk about my Mama?
I wanted to imitate Arnold in “Different Strokes” – do you remember this:
I wanted to say, in just that tone, “What you talking ’bout, Ron? Don’t be talking ’bout my Mama!!” I didn’t, I didn’t say a word, but the thought made me laugh.
Ron blindsided me, of course. It won’t bother me again. Now that I’ve expanded my concept of the protesters to “people who would read to me from my mother’s obituary,” I won’t be surprised again.
Ron shared it with some other protesters while he was at it, handing them his phone to read, nodding in my direction to point me out. I think they’ve just learned that you can google someone and find out a lot about them, and are really excited about this new skill. Quick to share their opinions too.
According to them, my mother is ashamed of me. She’s looking down from heaven, she can see me, and she’s afraid for me. She doesn’t want me to do this. She’s upset that we’ll be separated for eternity, cause I’ll be going to the other place. My mother wants me to know that there’s still time for me to change, to turn away from this evil.
They insist that my mother didn’t raise me to do this. “What happened to you?” Ron demands, “Did you get violated when you were young? Is that what happened to make you turn out like this?”
When I walk away, he follows me down the sidewalk, reading the obituary to me.
None of that nonsense bothers me.
My mother taught me to be a feminist. My mother believed in trusting women to do the right thing for themselves and their families. My mother believed in empowering women to take care of themselves and follow their own conscience.
My mother taught me not to be intimidated by bullies. She taught me to stand up for people who are being bullied.
I know she’s proud of me.
But I was a bit surprised that they would stoop to this ~ for what purpose? How does this help “save babies?” Oh, wait, I forgot. It’s not about the babies. It’s about controlling women, on the sidewalk and off…