Photo & Prompt Challenge – Day 4 – Frugal Novice

Photo & Prompt Challenge – Day 4

Today’s Challenge: An experience that made me who I am today

Yep, you saw that right. A visit to Chuck E. Cheese’s changed my life.

I was in elementary school, and my Mema & Papa (mom’s parents) took me to Chuck E. Cheese one Friday night. I can still remember having a lot of fun – they completely spoiled me with plenty of pizza and tokens, and patiently followed me around playing games with me.

As it got later we decided to head back home. Mema, who might have weighed 95 pounds soaking wet, walked in front of me, and Papa followed behind us, having held the door open for us to walk through. We had barely taken a few steps out of the door when it happened. Suddenly Mema was shoved brusquely to the ground as a woman ripped her purse from her arm and took off around the corner to what we later found out was the getaway car. My grandfather followed after them, but seconds later I saw a car zoom by, out of the parking lot and away from us.

That one moment changed me. For years afterward I would always walk beside my mom or Mema on the side where their purse was, holding on to it and hoping to help prevent something happening again. I was suddenly cautious of the world, wondering who else out there might do something so cruel without a moment’s warning. I had nightmares, not of the purse snatching, but of some other faceless person coming to kidnap me.

The nightmares stopped, and I eventually stopped worrying about something happening again. It didn’t scar me – I’m a happy, optimistic person. I’m still fairly cautious to this day, though, and I’ll always wonder if part of it can be attributed back to that night.

Even though that experience was a horrible one for me at the time, what happened afterward affected me profoundly in a way for which I will always be thankful.

The purse snatcher was eventually caught and put in jail – I think some good Samaritan had followed the car and gotten the license plate that night, although I’m a little vague on exactly how she was caught. I remember feeling relief that she was behind bars, and a little vindication that she would be punished for what she had done.

Then I heard that Mema had gone to visit the woman. I couldn’t believe it – the idea of it was scary to me at the time. But what amazed my little elementary school self most was that Mema hadn’t gone to yell at her, or to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing her behind bars.

She went to offer forgiveness. And that simple act has stuck with me my entire life.

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  • Karen March 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    That is one profound lesson–your grandmother was a wonderful person.

  • Alison March 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Your mema sounds like an incredible lady! It’s good to offer forgiveness. Kinda let’s you put it behind yourself so you can move on with your life. It wasn’t her fault something bad happened to her, so it should have to be kept in her mind.

    • Christi March 6, 2011 at 12:47 am

      I agree! I also think it allows you to kind of take control of a bad situation in a way. You have the power to choose to be cynical about it, or to heal & move on.

      • Alison March 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

        Exactly! I think that’s exactly what I was trying to say. My brain doesn’t always put out the right words haha..

  • Lisa March 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    that is an amazing story. thanks for sharing it helps give me some comfort too that my own kids arent’ being scarred by where we live as we’ve had our house broken into, cars broken into, shed broken into etc

    • Christi March 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

      I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that! I think having loving adults around to assure the kids that everything will be fine helps a TON in processing events like that as a child.

  • Amanda March 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Wow, what a great lesson. I’m sad to sad that even though it was a while ago, Chuck E. Cheese is still a horrible place and as I’m sure you know, is ALL over the news; parents fighting parents, stabbings, robberies… blah blah blah. My 5 year old has only been once. She asks to go back, but I don’t feel safe there, even with my big strong hubby in tow.

    • Christi March 6, 2011 at 12:45 am

      I don’t know what the one is like now where that incident took place, but I’m in a different city now & ours is in our mall. It’s actually pretty nice, but it’s also fairly new, and I am sure being attached to the mall helps.

  • Stesha March 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Such a touching story. The will and power to forgives takes a very strong person — like your Mema.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  • Randi March 5, 2011 at 2:02 am

    What an amazing lesson to learn at such a young age. Isn’t it wonderful the things we learn from our elders? Compassion, forgiveness, and love, things that in this fast paced day and age we often times forget.

    • Christi March 6, 2011 at 12:50 am

      I agree! It’s amazing the power of things like that possess, and the difference they can make in other people’s day.

  • Aline March 5, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Thanks for sharing that story. Mema is one very special person.

  • Karrie March 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Wow. Riveting story, beautiful ending! What a great role model your mema is!