Friday, March 19, 2010

Remembering What's Important

From Thomas

I appreciate my wife allowing me access to her blog to post a thought that I hold dear. I would like to share a story.

In March 2000 our dojo was running very successfully and we had many great kids in our school. Among them were a brother/sister pair that had been taking karate for 4 1/2 years. The young boy Vince was 9 and his sister Julia had just turned 8. Yes, she was such a wonder she was able to perform Nai Hanchi katas before she was 4 years old. Julia was the once in a lifetime protege, the only student that I have had that learned kata by watching them. Vince was the intelligent, quiet type. He didn't have the technique of his sister but he was gifted in the understanding of what was done. I was very close to them as I had literally watched them grow up. It was like family.

We had spent every night for a week preparing for a tournament that Sunday. The mother and father were going through tough times. She had a PFA against the father for threatening to kill the children and make her watch. There was a hearing on Thursday and the father showed up for court with the most expensive defense lawyer in town to show what a horrible mother was there keeping this father from his children. The judge dismissed the PFA and sent the kids home with unsupervised visitation. Saturday night he kept having the kids call the mom pleading with her to get back together with the dad. She held her ground. That night he killed them both in their sleep. It wasn't a fast death but a slow one. When he was sure they were gone he took his own life.

March 19 2000 Vince and Julia Marasco didn't show up for the tournament. They were dead. Dead because there is no law that says if you threaten to kill your children you should have therapy before unsupervised visitation. The judge says she is sorry - it was a mistake.

This single event was the most painful thing I ever imagined...the funeral of two children.

Tonight, kiss your kids, tell them you love them. And pause for a moment to think about all the children that die at the hands of relatives.

Just one simple law would have given the father a chance to mellow out and not had a chance to go unchecked. No unsupervised visitation within 90 days of a decision on a PFA.


Anonymous said...

That’s very sad, especially since their deaths could have easily been prevented. Highly emotional people should be monitored, especially when they’ve shown violent tendencies. In those, mostly brief, instances people can really change and because of a faulty thought-process and/or emotional troubles they could do things they’d never even consider in a normal state of mind. This is especially true when drugs or alcohol are involved, I know since both my mother and my youngest brother were alcoholics (my brother abused drugs too). One evening my brother (who at the time still lived with us) called me and asked me to stay up until about 12pm since he went to a party and forgot his keys. Misplacing things is something that happens to all us on occasion so I agreed to stay up (even though I was quite tired and planned on turning in early). At 1pm he still wasn’t home so I called him several times, no wonder by this stage I was getting quite annoyed but I felt I couldn’t go to sleep and leave him standing at the door. At about 3pm he arrives at home, drunk as a skunk and god knows with what other chemicals in his system… I enquired where he had been and why he was so late (fairly reasonable questions I’d think, I had been waiting up on him for hours after all) and we got into an argument. He started to spew the most hateful and hurtful comments he could muster, I told him to shut up and when he wouldn’t I pushed him back fairly hard to make it clear I wouldn’t stand for this abuse (we did had fights before but never this vicious). He came back at me, his fists raised, and I struck him (it was clear he was going to attack me and my instincts kicked in). ...

Anonymous said...

He fell down, I didn’t hit as hard as I could so he was up a few seconds later… waking up my mother and starting to complain I ‘hit him’, that I was violent and dangerous (the blow didn’t even leave a mark)and blablabla. I retreated to my room (no use throwing petrol on the fire). Then he came into my room with a steakknife he got from the kitchen, spouting insults and threatening to kill me (he literally said he’d stick the thing into my guts). I retreated behind the cupboard, I grasped a whiskey-bottle I keep in my room for an occasional sip and crouched, determined to take him down no matter what once he crossed that line. Luckily my mother intervened, for a moment I was actually afraid for her safety but I didn’t want to antagonize him further by advancing, and eventually he put down the knife and went to bed. Needles to say I slept very little for the remainder of the night and the next morning I called a friend to ask if I could stay at his place for a few nights. I had never faced anything like this before and I wasn’t inclined to take the risk of him stabbing me in my sleep (when awake I was pretty sure I could take him given my training but no-one can do defend himself while unconscious), I still don’t think he’s the type to willingly assault and kill people (i.e a violent criminal) but with his constant problems with alcohol and drug abuse I knew this was the proper course of action.

This is another instance of people losing it and doing things that are very uncharacteristic for them, yet the consequences of inaction could be very grave as shown by the terrible deaths of those innocent children. If I had stayed at home (as my mother wanted) I might have become a casualty too and luckily I was mature and smart enough to take care of myself and asses the situation realistically. A few days later, when everything had cooled down, I returned home and we had agreed on keeping it civil from now on. A month later he moved out. The second day I had left the house I went to the cops to ask for advice and to let them know (I didn’t press charges, he was still family after all) what had happened in case there was another incident and I had to use force to protect myself. My brother’s a smooth talker when sober (he’s straightend out his life now) and given my martial arts background I could easily see how does could end up: older guy with a background in fighting (no matter the fact I never had any run-ins with the law or have never used violence before, for whatever reason) beats up his younger brother over an insignificant argument. Never underestimate the shrewdness of lawyers, truly hell is kept hot by the boiling of their blood.

Always be safe and protect yourself and especially those that can't protect themselves: every casualty is one too many and violence or the threat of violence should never, ever be tolerated or ignored.


Anonymous said...

Obviously that should have been 1 and 3 am instead of pm.

Michele said...

Zara: I can only imagine how difficult it was between you and your brother. You handled it very well. I was glad to read that your brother has "straightend out his life". Thank you for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

It’s all in the past now, luckily it turned out well ( no damage done) and I’m sure there are far worse things in the world than this incident. My family’s a mess really, especially my father who’s basically a coward and a very harsh and uncaring individual. I’m not a shrink but I’m fairly certain he’s got narcissistic personality disorder (meaning he basically cares about no-one but himself, thinks he’s always right and manipulates and cheats people to get what he wants). This was the source of a lot of grief for our family (in combination with my mother’s alcoholism and depression), from then on this quote became my motto: “From the military school of life: that which does not kill me only makes me stronger” (Nietzsche). Martial arts training is part of this philosophy although I’m certainly not paranoid or aggressive, I do have other things going on in my life and there are other benefits to it than developing strength and character. As for my brother: he has indeed mended his ways (that’s why I said he’s basically not a bad individual, he just had a lot to swallow and he’s quite hedonistic by nature), he doesn’t live here anymore so there’s no more cause for conflicts and when we meet we are civil. However the bond has become very casual, what he does is his business and quite frankly I don’t really trust him anymore. It is quite shocking (at least at first) when someone you know very well (at least I thought I did) turns on you like this and it has taught me to be careful about who to trust and to remain vigilant, it has also shown me that perhaps a job that involves using one’s skills and strength (like the police or private security, I’d like to become a sensei too someday although that’s hardly a job but more of a calling) might be something for me. Academia is all nice and well but sitting behind a desk for the rest of one’s active life is a prospect that’s hardly appealing to me.

Did you receive my email? I sent it through the link at your informations page just as you requested.