There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
My foster mom was shot in the calf. She was walking from the bus stop to our house on Perry Street and a random shooting took place. I'm sure they weren't shooting at her, it was just an errant bullet. She went to the hospital. A neighbor drove her. They bandaged her and she came home. She wasn't even gone long enough for us to get into trouble. And she still walked to work the next day. She never really talked about it. She walked with a cane afterward, but she was that type of person - she never complained.
Our house was different from the other single level houses on the block. It had a long covered porch that protruded from the front like the bill of a boot, and the back of the house went up three floors. The top floor was more like an attic, but was used as a room, because there were so many of us.
Most of us had come through the foster system. Some where abandoned grandchildren given to her to raise. I had been there the longest and was the oldest, at that time.
She stopped working at the uniform store because of her leg pain. The owner outfitted the house with a huge sewing machine in the front room, and would drop off large quantities of uniforms. My foster mom would sew badges and names on the uniforms on the covered porch. Police officers, Firemen, Postal workers. She would look out at the children playing in the front yard. Sometimes officers would come to the house to pick up a new uniform.
I left when I turned 17. I received a state grant to go to the university. When I said goodbye there was no big send off, I remember her looking up from the sewing machine, saying "Good luck". There were others who left before me for whatever reason. The state had sent her more kids because she was in the house full time. I don't remember all the names.
When I saw the news report of the shooting, I wasn't shocked. There were always shootings, but I didn't know if the name they said was one of the foster children or one of her grandchildren. I wanted to go to the house to find out, but I doubted she would tell me anything. Only ten-years-old. I intended to go to the funeral, but I never found out the information or if they had one.
The next news report, years later, I went to the house. There was a gang of news people on the lawn and the entire neighborhood filled the street. From what the reports and the neighbors said, she had put a sedative or drug in the food. One of the neighbors said Kool-Aid, but we never drank Kool-Aid. Then she shot each child in the head and drugged herself.
I guess she thought she was saving them. They interviewed me and I said, "She just always seemed tired, but she was a good woman."
There was an Old Woman