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  Goes Back, b'y    Interactive - Articles - My Brush with Vandalism

Author: Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe,RN.Rtd.

Dew on the grass sparkling like crystals, a man walking his dog, church chimes softly ringing in the distance, all created a surreal atmosphere on my drive home from work at 7:30am. My night duty was through for the week and it was Sunday morning. A quick rest and then maybe a drive to see the boats or off somewhere to enjoy supper with friends was what occupied my mind. This June day promised to be hot, the air already still and heavy.

After working a twelve-hour night shift I was exhausted, but such a beautiful scene developed before my eyes with every kilometer of my drive I couldn’t help but feel energized and appreciative of the fact that I now had four precious days off to do with as I wished.

But it was not to be. Some unknown persons had stolen my days, created a sense of unease and a bundle of work and tears for me and my family in the days ahead. It was so senseless that to this day I go over it in my mind and wonder why someone would do such a thing.

I turned my car up the street where our little grey bungalow sat surrounded by large willow trees and a row of pines, all tenderly cared for by our family and neighbors. But this morning a different set of shadows seemed to be falling across the front of my house with its huge front window made up of twenty panes of glass. The shadows looked odd, and I had driven this route hundreds of times before and not seen such a picture as this. As I pulled in the driveway, I was shocked, beyond belief, to see that these were not shadows, our house was covered in spray paint and filthy words written by that paint.

References to Hitler, the little panes saying ‘Heil Hitler’, the words saying

"We got you good this time sir," the filth too dreadful to reprint. I wondered later if they even knew who ‘Hitler’ was and what he had done to the world.

I stood outside my car and looked around at the silent neighborhood. Then I noticed the broken window pane, the tires flat on the vehicles in our driveway, and then I remembered my husband, who was home, hardly ever locked the door, and how did he not hear any of this? What had happened to him? The worse case scenarios raced through my tired, trauma exposed nurses’ mind. I ran toward the door and into our house.Everything seemed just as it would be, the only thing out of place was a golf ball on the floor, something not commonly seen in our home.

I went toward the bedroom and spoke my husbands’ name and he said "Hi, are you tired?"

And then the fatigue, the awful paint, the terrible words, the broken window, the flat tires all imploded on me, and I fell apart. Usually I have a cool head, but this was too close, too frightening to absorb. My husband quickly came outside with me and we stood and looked at the house that he had worked so hard to put clapboard on and paint ‘Seaside Grey’, my choice, two summers before. We were both devastated. But he was OK. Thankfully so.It seemed at first to be a personal attack, and we would think that by the words painted on the house, and the fact that he was in law enforcement. But as the neighbors came and stood with us, the police came with their equipment, and finally it was found that the whole neighborhood had every second or third house attacked. A random act of violence would steal my sense of ease in that little community forever. The sad case of the young man up the street who, with Parkinson’s disease ravaging him at the age of 48 years, had taken three weeks to plant a garden, and it was torn up, destroyed forever. The gardener cried tears of helplessness and wondered ‘why’- as we all did.Gradually all the neighbors got out, gathered supplies, and when the police were through we helped each other with the clean up. In our house the signs of a second attack were apparent in that the spray paint can was poked through a hole made by the golf ball I had seen, and the paint sprayed ruined the drapes. My husband had heard a strange noise, got up to investigate, saw nothing, and returned to bed. But obviously the vandals had moved on at that time. The little church on the corner had pink paint sprayed on its’ beautiful stained glass windows. It was horrible, destruction for the sake of destruction. One house had a small fire started on the front steps, and it died thank heavens.

Later that week a father heard his son and two friends talking about their nightly exploits, realized they were the vandals, took them by the shirt collars and carried them to the police. They met with youth workers, the judge demanded they apologize, and what a farce that was. Those boys smiled through the whole process, no remorse, no regret, just a slap on the wrist after a neighborhood was left in shambles and people no longer trusted the nights. It was wanton destruction for no determined reason, but there never is really a reason for such sinister acts.Everything was made like new, but everything had changed. I never felt the same about my house, and I will never forget the fear in my daughters’ eyes when she arrived home. Her big eyes filled with tears as we sat on the lawn later that day and watched her father in all that heat, high on a ladder, with a paint can and brush doing his best to cover up the filthy words painted there. The church chimes were ringing in the background, the sound coming from a little church splattered with pink paint, the splatters spreading over a stained glass window, a window that depicted a beautiful picture of a shepherd guarding his flock.

That middle of the night attack changed everything. It was unprovoked and uncalled-for. But it changed so much for so many in that neighborhood. The sense of feeling secure was gone. We felt defenseless, and it stayed that way up to the day we left that little village.

When I hear of acts of vandalism now, I am very aware of how people are left feeling, and they are in my thoughts as I know they try to work through the miserable grief of the loss of security.

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe

 


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