Cambrian: Opinion

Many nights weren’t so silent, not so calm & bright

Lady Tie Di’s Christmas in 1963: ‘A rare, happy-ish moment for most of us — me, Paul, Mary Jo and Barbara, the baby.’
Lady Tie Di’s Christmas in 1963: ‘A rare, happy-ish moment for most of us — me, Paul, Mary Jo and Barbara, the baby.’ Courtesy photo

This may not seem like an appropriate column for Christmas, but wait, hear me out! It is about giving, right? It is about tuning into the needs of others, right? About remembering that we are all in this together?

Growing up, we did have many wonderful times — holidays, birthdays visiting relatives making it necessary to take them to Disneyland. But, these did not often happen with both parents present at the same time, at least not for very long. Many occasions were often as not marred by arguing, things being thrown, whether angry words or the back of a hand.

Those same weapons were used against me, my siblings and even an elderly aunt once. We got used to dodging the gossip at school spread by the nosy neighbor kids. We also got pretty quick at ducking quickly.

I never had the wherewithal to ask my mother what her motivation was for finally leaving our father. It was the early ’70s. She’d already left Wisconsin 30 years before, alone with my brother in tow, to California. But, now with three more mouths to feed, in glasses and braces, how would she do it?

We could have had it worse, but we could have had it a lot better. And then, there are those who really do have it that much worse. We never got taken away (that didn’t happen often in those days) and we never wound up in the hospital. While he did wind up in jail once or twice, I think it may have been for other offenses.

The last special education school I worked at in the L.A. area had kids from all walks of life, including a young boy with too many unusual contusions on his body, the girl with the black eye, the child who freaked out if you raised your hand above your head. We very often had Child Protective Services at our school following up.

This is not about CPS (now Child Welfare Services). This is about the moms (and sometimes the dads) who find the courage and strength to drastically and sometimes instantly change their life’s course to save their children’s lives, and sometimes their own. If you’ve never been in that situation, you cannot possibly understand what that means.

Sometimes it means leaving absolutely everything but the clothes on your back and running. Sometimes it means putting your own life in peril by walking out. Uprooting your children. Leaving your job. Losing any sense of security you’d ever hoped for, no matter how false it was. Finding strength to know you are not bad.

You can help! The Women’s Shelter Program of SLO County is inviting you to make a donation to assist this often-forgotten segment of our society. By purchasing a gift certificate package and bringing them to 51 Zaca Lane, Suite 150 in San Luis Obispo or going to the website at and donating, you can make a difference in the life of a neighbor who may be feeling very scared and very alone.

From the “Joy Package, for moms and 3 kids” at $200 dollars, they’ll get a department store certificate and a grocery store certificate, to a “Glow package, for a teen or child in therapy, which are $25 certificates to movie theaters, Jamba Juice or other fun places, there is a way to show you care.

If you can’t afford a whole package, make any donation you can to support the shelter programs efforts in stopping the violence and helping the healing. Call 781-6401 ext. 202 for more information. Blessings to you!