My sister and I took my son out to take photos for this project the other day. My sister is seven years older than me and remembers or understood the events that took place better than I did. There was one detail that never fit for me until we went out that day. It’s interesting to hear my brothers’ and sisters’ perspective on this and I’ll have to get some more of their input. It kind of reminds me of how everyone (in the 60’s) remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot.
I was at my best friend, Dean Ayala‘s house. Dean was a year or two younger than me and used to come to my door saying “is bensy there?” because he couldn’t say my name correctly. That became my nickname, that or “bense” for short.
My family were the hoodlums of the neighborhood. I was six so I won’t take much credit for that but I did do bad six year old stuff. I was at Dean’s house and we were probably writing on the walls or something of that nature and Dean’s mother had told me that I was not allowed back. As I went outside on the front porch, one of my family members was outside and had been looking for me. They told me I needed to go with them and that there had been an accident.
I only really remember what happened after that because of what my siblings have told me. We went to a neighbors house to spend the night. My brother, who was 12 at the time said that he remembers sleeping next to my other brother (10) and hearing him sob all night. I only remember my dad gathering his seven kids together, the oldest turning 18 in ten days, and me being the youngest at age 6, turning 7 in a month, and telling us that my mom had died.
My sister, 8 at the time, said that we used to walk home from school with my mother every afternoon. My mother was a substitute teacher and the PTA president at our elementary school. That day she told us to go on ahead without her. As she was on her way home she was hit by two men on a motorcycle who had been drinking. As my mother was struck she flew into the mailbox and died instantly. There were outlines of her body and the motorcycle parts on the front lawn for a week or so after the accident.
The house looks a lot different now. There were no sidewalks and no fence. There was a single mailbox in the front yard.
My two brothers saw the aftermath but didn’t know it was my mom who was hurt. I’ll go into their story and maybe talk about the funeral and the viewing in my next post.