The way I describe my mother lately is, “She has grit.” A month in the hospital, stoically accepting surgery that would leave me howling in a corner. Followed by two weeks in rehab. It was initially agony to shift her head on the pillow, but shift it she did. Now she’s walking. She’s 86.
“We’ve got to get you out of this hellhole,” were my first words to her there. I saw my job as half goad, half cheerleader, providing encouragement and chocolate.
My wife and I were on my way to visit her Monday about 11 a.m. when we stopped by Jewel for more Lindt bars. My sister-in-law called. A mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
I thought of going straight there. Or back home. But the paper already had people on the scene, and my mother was expecting us. So we continued numbly to Arlington Heights. Their parade must have just let out. Arlington Heights Road crawled. A stray float decorated in red, white and blue. A dad pulling a red wagon containing a little girl wearing star deely bobbers. Hallmarks of American innocence, though how we could still be innocent at this point is beyond me. I’m as guilty as anybody.
The parade in my leafy suburban paradise of Northbrook, near Highland Park, was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
“We have to go to the parade,” I told my wife. I thought of how, when a terrorist bomb goes off at an Israeli cafe, they mop away the blood, put back the scattered chairs and tables, and order coffee.
My wife disagreed. People in the neighboring town had just been killed. We can’t have a parade. She was right, of course. The shooter was still at large anyway, mooting the question. Northbrook and at least half a dozen nearby towns canceled their parades.
“No reason to tell my mom about the shooting,” I said, as we arrived.
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The sign on the door reminds me of what I hate most about a hospital stay. I can tolerate the discomfort of lying sleeplessly on my back for hours, the pain of pokes in the arm seemingly every 20 minutes, the tubes stuck in both arms, which are turning black because one of those tubes is drenching my blood with heparin, the scorch marks on my chest from futile attempts to force my heart to beat regularly; all this I can stand, but not to eat for a minimum of 12 hours, which always seemed to stretch to several hours more, is unbearable and somehow seems vindictive -- what did I do to deserve this?ReplyDelete
I remember being NPO on a Saturday & all that was on tv were sports that I had no interest in & cooking shows on Channel 11. I tortured myself & watched the cooking shows.Delete
Neil, Aldi's Moser Roth chocolates are better and cheaper than Lindt!
Perhaps you know the answer to this question. History is full of innumerable massacres and genocide, but they were carried out by governments and armies. This disease of individuals killing large numbers of people seems to be a modern scourge. There must have been cases of maniacs killing many people at once, but I can't find any examples prior to the mid twentieth century. I'm not saying that trumpets and flags justify wholesale murder, I just wonder if I'm right in seeing a change.ReplyDelete
If this is indeed the case, what in heaven's name changed?
This might be a wild conjecture, but I'll float it anyway: maybe it's the guns?Delete
The earliest example that I know of was the "Walk of Death" in 1949, which resulted in headlines that read CRAZED VETERAN RUNS AMOK.Delete
Howard Unruh, a WWII combat veteran, casually strolled through his New Jersey neighborhood while firing a Luger pistol. He killed thirteen people in twelve minutes, and then spent the next sixty years in the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, until his death at the age of 88.
I never heard of that. It's quite the case. I'll write about it on the blog tomorrow. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Grizz.Delete
I found a list of what they call "Rampage Killers." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rampage_killers_in_the_United_StatesDelete
Heavily, heavily, weighted to mid twentieth century and on.
List doesn't include Charles Whitman in Texas, 1966; 14 dead 31 injured. So many, you can't keep track of them all, I guess.Delete
My pleasure, Mister S. I first heard about this guy when I was quite young. I knew someone who actually owned a couple of houses on that very same block in the 80s and had neighbors who had survived the massacre forty years earlier. I even knew a woman whose father was a doctor and who lived on the grounds of the hospital in Trenton at the time, but she was only five or six and has no memory of it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's blog, Mr. S.Delete
Shari @ 8:05,Delete
That's because he (and plenty of others) are covered on a separate list, "School Massacres."
The "rampage killer" page notes: "This section does not include school massacres; workplace killings; religious, political or racial crimes; or mass murders that took place primarily in a domestic environment, like familicides, which are covered in their own categories."
It’s not so much change but rather evolution. Disenfranchised white people created this ideological divide spawning murderous loners who are not really alone.ReplyDelete
I don’t know how much disenfranchised white people or ideological divides are to blame, but social isolation has become a profound problem that has been fostered by the proliferation of electronic distractions that have enveloped our civilization. It usually manifests itself as extreme depression and loneliness that occasionally leads to suicide, but in a few ghastly (but thankfully, mostly rare) instances, tragedies like this are committed.ReplyDelete
Mister S: If you click on http://www.dvrbs.com/people/CamdenPeople-HowardUnruh.htm there is a treasure trove of news stories from the local press, including the minute-by-minute account by Meyer Berger of the New York Times, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. The Wikipedia article on Howard Unruh also has additional links to news coverage from 1949.ReplyDelete
Thank you Grizz. That Meyer Berger account was key; I have a book of his columns; excellent stuff, completely forgotten today, though that is the fate of the columnist.Delete