Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mama Mae of the Catholic girls home

The other day, we were talking about abused children, and we wandered back to the girls' home.

The architecture of the complex was very reminiscent of the hotel in the movie The Shining. But there were no spooky events like in the movie.

One of the girls was a Vietnamese teenager, let's call her Li. Li was about sixteen, thin, short, and very afraid of men because of abuse. Li had been placed in a training program for office work, and she would have to take the bus to get to the company.

On her very first day, she made it a few blocks down the street before the bolted from the bus at the next stop: a man had taken the seat next to her, and she panicked. She called her group at the home, and several girls went to pick her up at the McDonald's near the stop.

Li was in tears. Not only had the the simple presence of the man on the bus freaked her out, she had been verbally abused and shoved by two Hispanic girls at the McDonald's while she waited for the rescue posse.

There were some tensions in the neighborhood as the traditional Hispanic population saw an influx of Asian immigrants and the Hispanic youth gangs did not adjust well.

The teens from the girls home stuck together, they had a reputation.

You'd recognize the girls?


Back at the home, several girls rushed to the kitchen and grabbed some knives.

Mama Mae was surprised. She had no time to stop the riled up teens.

Don't you dare! was all she could deliver as they rushed out.

The group, five or six plus Li, found the two girls near the McDonald's. Despite being angry, there was no physical altercation, and the two Hispanic teens were quick to deescalate.

Sorry, we are really sorry, we didn't know she was from the girls home.

Apologize to her.

They did, and the group returned to the home.

As this one episode illustrates, Mama Mae did not have an easy job, but her girls loved her, and she loved them.

It is just a guess - probably not the worst to make - that her emotional stability, her grounded outlook on life was precious to the girls who all came from highly volatile, frequently violent environments.

To this day, one of the former girls breaks into a big smile when she recounts the simple manner in which Mama Mae dealt with finding out the girl had lied when she said she was visiting her mother for the weekend and instead had gone to a three day rock festival.

Hi, Mama Mae, I'm back.

Oh, good, how was your weekend?


I'm sure it was. Now, next time you tell me you visit family but go to a festival instead, do yourself a favor - don't wave at the TV news helicopter.

I'm sorry.

The windows on your floor haven't been washed for a while. So, that's your job this weekend.

Mama Mae did not live to see how this last group of her girls did after they left the home on their eighteenth birthday. She died of cancer before she reached the age of 50.

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