Those of you who really know me know that my parents live in Houston, Texas. They are in their 80's and they are still living unassisted. In this day and time, this is an unusual circumstance, but this is what they choose to do and are really not doing too badly. Both still drive, which can be frightening to their passengers, but they stay close to home and my dad is the night driver. They are self-reliable, but my brother is a phone call away should they need stitches, a ride home from the hospital, or someone to crawl around in the attic. My brother and I do our best to protect their freedom of choice, but living over a thousand miles away is hard when your parents get old.
This afternoon, Bosco brought me my cell phone and I saw my brother's name on the screen. Thinking it was a call about the Tucson Match Play, I answered it with the usual, "Heyyy," but immediately, I knew something was up when I heard the tone in his voice. "Mom and Dad have been robbed," he very seriously told me. My heart stopped and suddenly I felt like I needed to sit down. He told me he had received a call from Mom, who was crying, telling him that they had been robbed. Gary was on his way to their home and would call me later. He didn't know what had happened, but he did say someone had come into their home, taken all her jewelry and their cash, and they had called the police. End of call.
An awfully lot goes through your mind when you are sitting on your couch in Douglas, Arizona, and you are waiting for a phone call. My brother sent me a text asking if they keep any cash hidden in the house. I sent him a list of all the places to look and a list of all her jewelry that I could see in my mind's eye so she could report them for the police if they had been taken. But mostly, I sat and prayed and wondered what type of person does this to two old people.
My parents do not lie, steal, or cheat in ANY way. When I was a child, upon receiving too much change at the bakery, my father marched me into the store and made me return the extra money. I never dreamed of taking money that wasn't mine nor did I ever consider taking anything else without asking. To be caught lying by my parents meant that I had broken the code of trust and understanding with the two people who would give their lives for me. I was admonished for being rude/hateful/snarky/witchy, but I was punished for lying. It was drilled into my head that behavior like this was WRONG WRONG WRONG. I was anything but perfect but my parents modeled the correct way for me to grow.
My mother and father are extremely generous. I cannot not count the number of times that they have given money to someone who was struggling, be it family or strangers. They have sponsored teenagers to go to church camps, mission trips, choir tours, and more. If there is a cake auction at church, you can bet S.E. Hill is going to buy several cakes and give them away because he can't eat them due to his Diabetes. My mother made quilts and crocheted receiving blankets for young women at the Houston Pregnancy Center because she felt like all mothers should take their babies home from the hospital in something made from love. She makes afgans for young girls who are graduating from high school so they will have something warm and snuggly to wrap-up in when they are away from home at college. Over and over they have given because they firmly believe that this is what they are supposed to do.
My parents are devoted Christians. They not only read their Bibles and go to church regularly, they live it. Each keeps a prayer list and it would not surprise me to learn that your name or your situation may have been on that list from time-to-time. The honestly believe in forgiveness and unconditional love. They practice forgiveness and unconditional love.
They are not perfect, but they are good people.
A little while later, Gary called and told me that everything was okay and they were safe. He gave the phone to my mother and it broke my heart to hear her sniffle and tell me how it had all happened. At the end of their garage sale, there were three people in their garage. One man showed an interest in buying an old television and said he would be back with the money. He walked away to his car that he had parked at a neighbor's home. One person engaged my dad in a conversation about landscaping and off they walked so Dad could show him some plants. The third started a conversation with my mother about her shrubs right outside the garage. The first person probably used this time to go in the unlocked door to the house and moved quickly, taking her jewelry and their garage sale money. When they closed the garage door for the day, they found their front door ajar and figured out what happened. It probably took minutes. My mother cried as she told me how hard my dad had worked to get ready for the garage sale and how he had sat in the cold damp air all day. She cried when she told me how hard he had worked to buy her nice things and in a minute's time, they were gone. When I told her that all that mattered was that they were safe and it could have been worse, she very sweetly told me that now she couldn't give me those things that my daddy had given to her with so much love. I assured her it would all work out and that she had given me more than she could ever dream. When Dad got on the phone, he listened while I said I was sorry this had happened to them and said, "Jan, it's all just things and things don't matter." He told me that he would be back in the garage again tomorrow for day 2, but he would lock all the doors. I could have argued, pleaded, and demanded that they not continue with the yard sale, but I would just be wasting my breath and time. They are going to do what they are going to do.
When my parents were out of ear shot, I told my brother that I wanted horrible things to happen to these people who would victimize two old people. I even described some horrendous death situations which would include intense suffering and life long pain should they survive. Gary said that really terrible things usually happen to thieves. Then, I remembered who my parents are and if I know them like I think I know them then they have probably already prayed for these people. They are hurt and probably still scared, but they'll let God handle it.
Mom was worried about giving me her jewelry. Doesn't she know they have given me so much more?