A yeti named Nora.

I went to a rough elementary school in Albuquerque…imagine that?  If you recall, when you were in 3rd grade the 4th graders seemed like teenagers and the 5th graders seemed like adults.  You had to respect their seniority.   Well there was a near-college aged girl in 5th grade named NORA.  She was very respected…or feared.  In elementary school those two are synonymous.

The last day of school was a celebration when I was a 4th grader…summa time!   I remember this day vividly.  Before beginning my walk home (about three miles…up hill), I stopped to race a few kids on the monkey bars.  I did a few tummy turning spins on the tire swing.  I watched some kids gather for some kind of sports practice on the other side of the huge playground.  And then, after exerting all of my energy, I wiped the sweat from my brow and began the long migration home with all of the other kids who lived in my apartment complex…including NORA.

Nora and her gang were way ahead of me.  She walked ahead of her pack of friends.  She looked more like a chaperone than a peer…kinda yeti-ish (not to offend yeti lovers).   I kicked rocks and tried to waste time so that they could get far enough ahead of me…just in case of…you know…anything.

I was told by my Mom, over and over, “do not go off of the normal way home.  Don’t use the shortcuts.”  I didn’t understand why it mattered.  I was gonna get home no matter what….right?   (spoiler alert:  always listen to your mother!)

By this point, I had let NORA and her pack of wild hooligans get so far ahead of me that I didn’t see them anymore.  I thought for sure I was home-free.  I also realized that I very late.  So, I took the short-cut.  I was the only kid walking that way and it was kinda nice.  I had the street to myself.  I could dart back and forth across the empty street if I wanted…but, of course I didn’t.

I rounded the corner to an open field that sat below the street level of the busy road that I had to cross to get home.   As I rounded the corner, I heard the sounds of kids talking and laughing.  I didn’t want to look…but I did.   And yes, it was NORA and her mad posse.  They were hiding in the bushes and trees…boozing and smoking I assume.

“What are you looking at?”  She yelled.  I replied in silence.  I turned my head and sped up my pace.  If you recall, I used all of my energy earlier, so my “speed” wasn’t quite up to par.   Regardless, I think I only sped up in my mind, because they caught up to me in a split second.  Have you ever seen the movie Lost Boys?  You know the opening scene where the pack of hot vampires swoops down onto a car with two teenagers in it and rips off the roof and then devours them?  Yes, that’s what happened…except there was absolutely nothing appealing about this pack of blood-thirsty animals and I wasn’t old enough to drive a get-away car yet.

It was swift and quick.  I escaped with a few scrapes, a little bloody and pretty shaken.  Apparently, I must “looked” intimidating, since they kept saying that I need to watch how I looked at people.  But, I think it was a lie.  They were probably done with their pack of smokes and bored.

The cross-guard came running to help me up the path that led to the street.  She held me for a little bit before asking me where I lived.  I told her that I could see my apartment building from where we were standing.  Then I ran home….to my Mom.

I remember telling my Mom all about it through sobs and tears.  And she just stood, holding me and making sure that I wasn’t broken, externally, at least.

Fast forward to summa time.  Me and my Mom were going somewhere…but, first we had to stop and get something to drink at the 7 to 11 on the corner.  We pulled up right in front and then I saw her….NORA!  I slid down in the seat as far as I could.  I knew that she’d attack us both if she saw me!   I didn’t want to tell my mom…but, I think she had an inkling that something wasn’t quite right.  I finally managed to tell her from my near-fetal position on the floorboard that the woman/child in the 7 to 11 was, in fact, NORA.

“Which one…which one is she?”   she demanded.  I felt like saying, “the tall furry one with fangs!”  But, instead I reluctantly pointed her out with trembling hands.  She was in the store with her aunt…who, actually looked quite normal.

I kept low…like literally low…in the seat of the car while my mom marched in and had a few words with them.   She was in the store for what seemed like forever!  And then… it happened.  I heard a knock on the window.   My Mom and the aunt were standing behind a sobbing NORA!  I slooowly sat up and rolled the window down even sloooower.

“I’m sorry for what I did to you.”   She said.  I was speechless.  All I could manage was a nervous half-smile and a shrug.

But, what I was thinking was, “WHAAAA???  My Mom made NORA cry?!  YEEES!”

Actually, what my Mom did that day showed me how fierce, passionate, strong and gentle a Mother’s love can be all at once.  She’s always in my corner.  She’s always “got my back.”  She’s a source of my strength.  That is what I’ve learned from my Mom.  If I can only be a smidgen of the same to my daughters, then I’ve been successful as a parent.

To this day, if I tell her about how someone/something “did me wrong”…she’s the first to say, “tell me who it is and I’ll show them!”  And, I’m not kidding.  But, then we both chuckle at the thought of my little 4’11” Mom coming to “show them.”

I never did see Nora again.  I’m sure she’s grown now and has a pack of lovely children.  Oh and my Mom let me go to Rehoboth the next year when I was in 5th grade.  I eventually graduated from there with some wonderful memories.   Thanks, Nora!

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