REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

By

1-Mamie at Book SigningRosemary “Mamie” Adkins

Today, I want to share with you one of my memories of long ago yet when reflecting on this time, it too relates to a form of another way of abuse.  Abuse that was a way of life for many in a country that lived in hard times.  Our effort is to try to eliminate that life style by bringing awareness of the many ways abuse effects the life-though this story is about a memory that was not intended to focus on that subject.

 Reflecting back on the turmoil of more troubled times reminds me that we do indeed have the resilience to survive sadness and despair.  As we emerge from our sorrows to enjoy a bountiful lifestyle, we are mesmerized by the effect of having come full circle.  Similarly, the misfortunes of others causes us to be thankful for what we have and to count our many blessings.

This brings to mind a traumatic experience from back in the 70’s.  I’d like to share that with you.  My then husband and I travelled on business to Columbia, South America where crime was rampant and border police were as corrupt as the underground criminal element.

Our first shock came at the airport upon our arrival.  Passing through customs was not smooth at all and taught me a lesson that I’ve never been able to erase from my mind.   The customs official took our passports and proceeded to open and close them repeatedly as he mysteriously rubbed his fingers together while pretending to stroke his hair.  Well, this didn’t make any sense to me at all and I had no idea what he was trying to tell us.  I nervously glanced toward the glass where the party awaiting our arrival kept making strange hand signals to help us out.  Oh my gosh!  I finally got it!  That nasty official was signaling that we were to place money in our passports before he would grant us customs clearance.  My first reaction was shock that such an offense could happen…at least not in my world anyway.

Oh yes, I’ve been known to react first and regret it later and this was one of those times.  True to form, I blurted out words that would come back to haunt me, “You must be kidding!”   Immediately, he greeted my remark with a vicious scowl that assured me he most certainly was not kidding as I was about to find out.   He wasted no time in letting me know just who was controlling this game and it surely was not me.  He grabbed my suitcase, ripped it apart and strewed my belongings everywhere for all to see.  As further punishment for my miscalculation, he made a special point of displaying my personal items most flamboyantly for others to make fun of.  I’m quite certain that those next in line quickly reached for their wallets out of fear that the same or worse might happen to them.  My privacy was shattered as I made a mental note to be more discreet on my return trip home.   I couldn’t imagine that anyone would dare to bribe a US Customs Official that way but then, one never knows.

What happened next is surely the stuff that movies are made of.  As I was scurrying about to collect my belongings and get this unfortunate event behind me, I realized that I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I had just retrieved the last piece of personal clothing—okay, if you must know, it was a lacy black negligee!  As I arose, I came face to face with a man who was sporting a black suit, black turtle neck sweater and a black hat that seemed highly inappropriate attire for the scorching heat of this tropical summer.   For a brief second, he seemed to believe that I was his contact and I could feel the panic rising in my throat while my life passed before my very eyes.  Standing right behind him was another man in similar garb who was carrying a bag and holding one hand over his chest.   Now even I had seen that movie before!  Was it Men in Black?  Sorry, that was a comedy and this was surely nothing to laugh about.  My husband got my drift when my eyes screamed the words, “Get me out of here now!”  I was witnessing a drug deal going down right before my eyes and there was little doubt that these guys were packing items far more threatening than my underwear.

I was thankful for the party on the other side of the glass who had witnessed our ordeal.  He was the contact we planned on doing business with; hence, the purpose of the trip.  In an attempt to calm our nerves, he explained what these events were about, that they were a way of life resulting from a devastated economy and an extremely impoverished population. I nearly knelt to kiss the ground as we emerged from that airport and begged off business until another day, to which he agreed.  I needed to unwind and collect myself before I was ready to venture out into this unfamiliar world that I found myself in.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bogota as our home base.  Enroute to the hotel, we were so impressed with the natural beauty of the landscape yet bewildered by the contrasting decay of the buildings and the potholes that seemed to be designed into the roads.  Little did we know that we were in for the culture shock of our lives.  Extreme poverty and squalor were everywhere we looked and we quickly realized that we were experiencing the real Bogota, not the sights that were intended for tourists such as ourselves.

Before long, we checked in and were escorted to our rooms.  I must give five stars to the luxurious surroundings that greeted us.  The vivid colors will be forever etched in my mind…one of my treasured memories from this trip.  Once inside our suite, we entered a sitting room with a desk and next to that was a full bathroom with marble counters and chandeliers.  Our oversized king size bed was adorned with elegant toss pillows and silk sheets.  What more could we ask for?  Somehow this seemed out of place with the tragic world outside but was such a pleasure and a much needed respite from our terrifying events at the airport.

Allow me to wax on a bit more about this wonderful Hotel and its offerings.  We decided to order room service for our dinner and found it to be second to none.  We had been told to try their fresh Columbian coffee with our dessert and it came to us served in a silver service accompanied by an equal sized pitcher of hot milk.  We learned the Columbian recipe for Café au Lait…half a cup of strong Columbian extra strength coffee syrup with half a cup of hot milk.  Oh my…a treat we were not about to forget and one that I made a point of serving once we were home again.

That night, sleep did not come easy.  We could hear the sorrowful cries of small children from the side street below who had nothing to eat or a place to lay their heads to sleep.  Here we were, wrapped in luxury while these poor homeless babies were starving in the street.  This was a scenario that reminded me of my daughter’s origins.  We had recently adopted our darling baby daughter from Vietnam, out of the war torn ruins of a society that rejected GI babies and there were many.  The prospect of adopting one or more needy children from Bogota was tempting but when we learned of the pitfalls of doing so, we quickly changed our minds.  Yes, we could attend a hospital or an orphanage and choose the children we wanted to adopt but at a hefty price…a bribe if you will.  Proper papers would not be provided to us which meant that we would never be able to legalize these babies back in America.  We had no way of knowing if this was fact or not but it made perfect sense to give up the notion and play safe.

The next day, we emerged fresh from a delightful breakfast and determined to explore the city.  All the while, we were praying for our safety yet anxious at the same time to learn more about this part of the world.  As we exited the hotel, the manager cautioned us to hire a guide and directed us to where it could be arranged.  It should have been that simple but trouble seemed to be following us wherever we went.  I had one foot inside our taxi when I was abruptly knocked to the ground by a mugger and commenced a wrestling match that would have put the professionals to shame.  I fought the good fight on that dirty pitted pavement while the mugger struggled to remove my jewelry.  The taxi driver was yelling, “Cover your ears!”  Just then, the police emerged and chased him away.  I was later to learn that he would have cut off my ears for my gold earrings had I allowed him to get away with it.  Where was my husband you might ask?  To be fair, he was on the other side of the car and it was all over before he even realized what was going down.

After this sordid ordeal, I was hysterical and wanted only to hide out in my hotel room all day but it was not in my nature to give up so easily.  I wasn’t about to let some dirt bag ruin my day so we returned to our room to clean up but you can bet that I left my jewelry behind.

Anxious to move on, we decided to seek out merchandise to market through our business back in the USA.  Foremost in my mind were cultural products but especially dolls.  At the very least, I would seek out a doll in native dress to bring home to my little girl.  Once again, our driver instructed us to shop with caution and always be aware of our surroundings.  I could only wonder if there was anywhere in this dangerous city where we could feel safe and at least enjoy a shopping expedition.  So, armed with his sage advice, we headed downtown to walk and shop the area where he dropped us off.

What happened next gave new meaning to the concept of sightseeing.  By no means was this a pleasurable downtown stroll for window shopping.  Simply navigating the numerous potholes kept us looking down so as not to risk a broken leg or ankle.

Bazooka

Once I looked up only to find myself confronted by a policeman holding a bazooka carefully aimed at criminals close by.  Eeks!  Now it all made sense.  Those hundreds of potholes were not the result of traffic overuse at all but caused by overactive weapons in the hands of the so-called police.   Just a few feet away from where we stood was another police officer with a machine gun and that was when sheer panic set in.

machine gun

Feeling threatened didn’t even begin to describe the spine-chilling fear that propelled us to run for our lives.  By no means was this a shopping mecca fit for tourists and our only objective was to make it back to our hotel quickly and safely with our heads still sitting squarely on our shoulders.  Never again would we feel safe enough to stroll freely anywhere in this city and all future excursions would be in the company of a hired guide with our taxi driver parked within feet of our destination.  Suddenly a return trip to the airport didn’t seem so threatening after all and the certain knowledge that we would soon be departing South America was somewhat reassuring.

The next morning we dressed and went about our way to conduct the business that we had come for which was importing leather hides from Bogota and Cali for our business at home. Everything went as planned though we couldn’t shake the prospect of danger everywhere we went.  The highlight of our day was that our business did come together in Cali where we also found the best treasure of all.  Yes, we were able to purchase a large supply of that spectacular Columbian coffee to take back to America.

Now that I’ve shared this reflection with you, I can only express my heartfelt thankfulness for my lot in life.  Would I appreciate what I have so intensely had I not seen how the other half lives?  Likely not but that doesn’t ease the sadness I feel whenever I recall how those poor people lived.  Poverty most assuredly leads to crime and the police state that we visited so long ago.

Giving thanks and reflecting on my good fortune includes my marriage of twenty-five years to a man who has protected me in the worst of times.  And so I ask  you, “Do your reflections spell turmoil or grandeur?”

Before I leave, may I share a touching meditation about reflections.  It comes from the National Park Service in Jackson, Wyoming where we travelled this summer.

 A MEDITATION ON PHELPS LAKE

 A feather floats on Phelps Lake

a cradle of light

rocking with the breeze.

Wind speaks through pines.

Light animates granite.

An Eagle soars – its shadow crosses over us.

 All life is intertwined.

 We see the Great Peaks

mirrored in water-

Stillness.

Wholeness.

Renewal.

Reflection leads us to restoration.

 Nature quiets the mind

by engaging with an intelligence

larger than our own .

Mindful of different ways of being,

Our awareness as a species shifts-

We recognize the soul of the land as our own.

The path of wisdom invites us

to walk with a humble heart

recognizing the dance

between diversity and unity,

action and restraint.

The Scales of Nature

will always seek equilibrium.

A feather can tip the balance.

-Terry Tempest Williams

Thank you for visiting The Write Room.  You can find my reflections elsewhere but recently told in my new book titled:

 Reflections of Mamie: A Story of Survival

 http://www.Reflections-of-Mamie.com

It’s a story of abuse and hope-With the sale of each book, donations are made to Dreamcatchers for Abused Children and Kitsap Humane Society for abused and abandoned animals.

Help us stop abuse!

Please send your additional comments or share one of your own reflections with me at: Mamie@Reflections-of-Mamie.com

Many outlets are listed for where to purchase my book on my web site.rosemary_adkins.indd

Please stop by for dates and locations I will be attending and pick up your own signed copy while supporting victims of abuse.

Mamie

27 thoughts on “REFLECTIONS

    1. Mamie Post author

      Thank you Trish. It means a lot to hear these words and know you enjoyed it enough to share. Child abuse or any other is one battle I do plan to fight with all I have to make sure it stops or that the victims at least get help.

      Mamie

      Reply
  1. Kenneth Weene

    I love the interplay of darkness and light you shared with us. There is good and bad, caring and sordid in the world. Life challenges us to negotiate both the dangers and the joys.

    Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Thanks Ken. That statement was exactly what was necessary-a challenge to deal with right then but made us stronger in all our future experiences that shaded both sides of life.
      Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  2. catnipoflife

    Mamie, thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece when you posted it at The Write Room. What an experience filled with good and bad, happiness and sadness. Not sure how I would have handled such a situation! What a trooper you are! That, of course, goes for Doug, too :-) Sharing everywhere!

    Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Hello Sharla,

      Thank you for the support you always provide.
      It is a great feeling when one can write a story others enjoy and then share.

      Mamie

      Reply
        1. Mamie Post author

          Hello Louise, thank you for the comments and prayers you have sent my way. Looking back, these memories have a touch of what one would think impossible in todays world but I think the real experience is in what you get from it-for us, we learned so much.

          Mamie

          Reply
  3. labelleotero

    You’ve got at least three strains going here. One is the military or para-military presence that is pre-eminent in a despotic, tyrannical, authoritarian society. Another is the widespread corruption, certainly tied in with the gov’t corruption and possibly a mimicry by Everyman of their betters, as we like to say. And the gross extremes of existence that, though you found in such a society, can be found most everywhere; though many like to play denial, that includes here in the US. We just try to hide it; some places, like Miami and Las Vegas, go to extermes to push it aside, even to make it illegal. Include racism into the mix and you get more than 25% of the non-dominant population, at least of males, in prison or with a record (and excluded from employment thereby). RD Liang noted that we live in an abusive society, playing by the same rules as the abusive familty. Abuse is endemic, if for no reason than society is exclusive. These are, more or less, the crimes that Det. Lupee deals with: man’s inhumanity to man. This abuse I have fought socially since my early 20s (late 1960s) and living at home. I thought I had escaped the latter after leaving home but, alas, with the demise of my father, my siblings have seen to continue the behavior. I do not wonder that their politics is far right wing closed society. All I really escaped is the physical abuse.
    As for the oppression, repression and corruption: it’s here in the US. Perhaps not as open and wide-spread but here nonetheless. I see it paralleling my dissertation whidh dealt with the direct effects of pop culture on society, including mores. Once begun, the process becomes a Moebius Strip. I wrote a follow-up showing these parallels but no one was the least bit interested. Denial.
    Ooops! Going to get carried away here.
    You survived the Columbian experience. But if that’s as far as it goes, what does it mean, in the end?
    minna vander pfaltz and jimsecor

    Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Well Hey There James. Getting carried away is okay. I’m glad my article was able to promote such responses. I have lived in the cities where crimes lie and criminals are hidden away such as Miami and Las Vegas but while they can steal away ones innocence, they are great teachers.

      Thank you for stopping in and leaving your take on societies dark side!

      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Hello Cherrye,

      It’s always nice to see you again. Thank you for joining me here and sharing your thoughts. I too respect the work you have done and currently working so hard to accomplish. In many ways our goals are the same.
      Please do come again,
      Mamie

      Reply
  4. Jon Magee

    Mamie, thank you for sharing from your experiences again, and to do so with such eloquence. Even more important, thank you for surviving with such a story to reveal to the world.

    Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Jon, thank you so much for stopping in to read my latest post and visit my web site. As usual your comments are uplifting and appreciated.

      Mamie

      Reply
  5. linniescorner

    So happy to see your wonderful blog piece here on your website. As always, you have managed to inject your unique sense of humor into your story telling and therein lies the secret to your strong hope in the face of adversity. This is how you must have overcome the trials and tribulations in your life and rise above them. Never stop doing that!

    Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Hello Linda, You know better than most that the way I have survived my entire life was by keeping close to my heart and mind-NEVER GIVE UP-it works and has been my crutch in life.

      Thank you Linda for being one of my dearest supporters.
      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Clayton, you have no idea how much I would love to write fiction but for me its one step at a time. I feel the most comfortable writing from the hear and not sure how to do that in fiction but so willing to learn-just not sure how to write from the heart a story thats not real.

      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Thank you Marta for a vote a confidence. One day I may give it a try again. When I wrote my current book, it took sixteen years because of facing the demons and finding the courage-I tried in 1st and 3rd person and as a novel before deciding on 3rd person as it seemed right. But I was torn about writing it as a novel-it intrigued me. In the end, the only way I could help another victim was to write it as I did. Now when I write again, I will consider seriously, fiction.
      Happy Holidays,
      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Hello Lori,
      It’s been a while since hearing from you. Thank you for your comments and the support. Your well wishes and prayers are a very special message and I appreciate them much.
      I also wish you the same and a very happy, health Holiday.

      Mamie

      Reply
    2. Mamie Post author

      Lori, you are so kind and the best wishes are very much appreciated. Our family also wishes you the very best and know how hard to have worked to share your experiences.
      I do hope you will return again.

      Many Blessings,
      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Cynthia you are such a dear. I’m hoping that means you enjoyed the piece-I did not mean for you to have tears. You are entirely too kind for me to be causing you sadness.

      Happy Holidays,
      Mamie

      Reply
    1. Mamie Post author

      Hey there- How are you? I have missed you and your wonderful comments. I am so happy to see you here. Thank you again for your support and enjoying my story.

      Happy Holidays,

      Mamie

      Reply

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