40 YEARS AGO | today, at about this time, I was just getting home from school (in Porcupine) on the bus. Dinner was cooking (my mother was, and IS a magnificent cook!), and I was being told that I had very little time before it was ready and that I would need to be doing my homework.
Around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., after dinner, I was at the table working on math, when we heard a loud ruckus outside. Then gunfire. The streetlights were being shot out and there were men streaming onto the street in front of our homes.
Homework was forgotten. Fear took hold. Smokey, my dog, was shivering with fright. Mom and Dad were frantic. Mom put me in the tub so I wouldn’t be hit by any of the stray bullets streaming through the air.
When she left the bathroom I climbed up on its edge and looked out of the tiny window and saw people I didn’t know shooting out more lights, rushing into and back out of the store carrying hunting rifles, food, clothing and other stuff – and before I could gather my next breath I realized that some of those men were heading to our home, and the home of my great Aunts Agnes and Girlie and Uncle Clive’s home not 50 feet from our front door.
I knew in that moment that things were about to get really ugly for my family as my fingers slipped off the edge of the window sill and I landed on my feet back in the tub, ready to run to my Mom.
Before I could fully open the veneer thin bathroom door, the back door of our trailer opposite me across the very narrow hallway, was being beaten in. In moments I would be face-to-face with raging men pointing guns and knives at me–a 12 year old without defenses…
And that, as they say, was the beginning of one of the most traumatic and unforgettable events of my life…