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When did you know?

Updated on March 18, 2011

Excerpt from the book....

My parents were lagging behind, chatting about their future house. One I would have loved to point out to them would never come to be. I knew it. Why didn’t they? Instead they planned where it would be, what direction it would face where the cars would be parked. So much planning for nothing. I sighed and waited as they droned on.

Bugs were flying around my head and the air was humid and uncomfortable. I was bored and decided I would go on ahead of them to Aunt Olga’s. We were going to drop in for a quick visit and a cold drink. Aunt Olga always had cold drinks ready like she had been expecting you even when you surprised her. She had cookies on a plate or cake freshly baked. She was tall, slender with a graceful way of moving even if it was toiling movement to remove weeds in her garden or picking flowers. We lived down the road from her with nothing but Dolloff land between us. It allowed us to roam, snowmobile and visit family without ever hitting pavement.
I got to her house and went around the front to the driveway. I was making my way to the side connecting door of the old barn, which slid like a modern day slider but was made of wood. Right before the large stone step I saw a black wire sitting in her driveway. Something in my head screamed that something was not right. I had no idea what I was afraid of or if anything was wrong, but a voice in my head said, “Get out of here! Get out!”

So I did, running back to my parents who were plotting the septic and well location of their never-to-be home.
“I don’t think she is home, but something is not right there,” I said breathlessly.
“What do you mean?” my mother asked. “Is something wrong? What are you saying?”
Through the trees we heard a car take off onto the road. “Sounds like someone is leaving now,” my father said. Suddenly, I felt the tension ease in my chest.
We headed on to Aunt Olga’s together. We stopped at the wire in the driveway and I said, “Something is not right.” My father bent to pick it up.
“It’s an antenna wire. No big deal, but why would it be here?” He posed the question to nobody in particular. At that moment Aunt Olga drove her car slowly into the driveway and stopped behind us.
“Hello!” she called, stepping out of her car with a Woolworth’s bag in her hand. “Just ran a errand, did not know I would have company, but come on in!”
I fell into step next to her. I loved Aunt Olga. I loved her gentle voice and the way my hand fit into hers…the way it actually looked like hers….long tapered fingers scented with lotion. She wore lipstick every time she went to town. She would put some on me every time she took me with her to run errands.
“How are you darlin’ ?” she asked me. “I wanted to tell her something was wrong, but I did not know what. So, I said nothing.
We walked through the sliding door of the barn that served as a breezeway of sorts. It smelled of old wood and dust and was much cooler than the late afternoon air. We emerged at the other end into a small yard that led to Aunt Olga’s back door. It was broken. Glass was everywhere and the door was left ajar. Everyone gasped but me.
“Let me go in,” my dad said, as he pulled her aside and carefully entered. I had no idea what he was doing. Nobody was in there now. We waited together, Aunt Olga, my mother and I with her two cats curling around our ankles and purring. Minutes ticked by before dad emerged and said, “You’ve been robbed…they got some stuff….your TV…that’s why we saw the antenna wire out there in the drive. But they are gone. We need to call the police.”
Aunt Olga nodded and we carefully walked through the glass covered doorway. There is nothing like seeing a place of tranquility disturbed by crime. My ancestors built that house in 1700s, on the site of their first house, built in the late 1600s, which had burnt down. There is also nothing like watching someone you love look over the wreckage of their possessions. Olga’s eyes welled up, but she did not break down. Here was another trait I had of Aunt Olga’s, though I did not realize it then…strength and faith kept us going, even when everything in us is asking, “Why?”.
I thought of those moments over and over for weeks after the robbery. I had known something was wrong. I knew to get out of there when perhaps the burglars were still there. My mom even surmised that they heard me coming and that’s what sent them on their way. My parents talked to the police, told them about the car we heard. And I remained afraid that what had happened would happen again and afraid that I had known things others did not.
I worried that they would rob us as well, being that we were next door. I worried because my dad was painting the house again and left the ladder against the house right near my bedroom window. I worried we would be home. I worried they knew that I knew.
At this point my everyday regular childhood fears felt similar to intuitive warning. I could not tell the difference so I worried that I feared these things for a good reason. Luckily I did not. But this was the start of my realizing I was different.


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