Stoics are misunderstood,
especially in today’s world of the “precious snowflake” and a call to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Don’t bottle your emotions. Don’t hide your pain.
Hiding your pain
does have its drawbacks. European white men would torture Native Americans, who had conditioned themselves from infancy to endure pain in silence.
“Oh, look, they can’t feel pain!” white men said. “Triple the torture!”
They couldn’t comprehend the self-control these Natives had, enduring exquisite pain without a whimper, without wincing or flinching. I’d cites some historical examples but it’s just too brutal, lurid, horrific, and inhumane.
If you read my 28-February-2018 Steemit post,
you already know how my sister’s cold case has left me agitated and irritable in various ways, especially when asked to read, critique, or review thrillers, police procedurals, whodunnits, and horror stories involving violence and senseless killing.
Authors and Writer Friends,
I don’t want you to be afraid to show me your work. Let me look. Just, if I don’t love it, or finish reading it, please remember: I really don’t enjoy reading about slit throats, disemboweled aliens, guns, swords, lasers, and mass murder. Oh, I won’t miss out on a great story with epic characters due to my distaste for blood, guts, and horror, but so many books in recent years have been sordid and lurid, I’m just burnt out on this stuff. My sister was strangled, her body stuffed naked into a culvert under a gravel road, where an animal feasted on one side of her face and neck, and her killer(s) were never apprehended. They walked the streets, free and unpunished, living long enough to become grandparents, while Julie at almost 19 still hadn’t had a boyfriend. I’ve been ranting about this online for some time now, and I recently decided it was
Time to Move On
But the phone rang a few days ago (on our 30th Wedding Anniversary, when I was focusing on happy things). Another small-town newspaper reporter. Planning a big
Memorial Day story
on my sister’s cold case. Would I consent to an interview, being recorded, i.e. my face and voice on the internet or TV channel for all the world to see? No. Would I bring photos and mementos, talk about the person my sister was, “bring her to life” in story, in hopes someone out there would be inspired to come forward with some detail that hadn’t led to the solution in a 42-year-old Iowa Cold Case? No. I understand that Cold Case statistics are one thing:
Bring her to life,
in story, for all the world to see, the reporter urged me; tell us what she was like, what she wanted to do with her life.
No, no, not gonna go there,
Been there, done that, blogged about it, for years; I’ve been telling the world about Julie.
Tell us her story!
But, but, but, killers don’t care who you are or what your story is.
People who cover up for killers don’t care, either.
Witnesses, those who “know” something but don’t dare tell, are either scared, or they just don’t care.
“She was so beautiful”
I’m tired of hearing about how young, bright, and beautiful so many murder victims were. What if they were Plain Janes (that was me), or fat, or dull, with no musical or artistic talent? Maybe it’s survivor’s guilt: of the five sisters, I was the one who should have died young, me, the klutz, the ugly duckling in the corner reading books. Years would pass before I ditched the awful glasses, got my teeth straightened, and blossomed from wallflower to social butterfly. But I still wince whenever reporters dwell on how BEAUTIFUL and viviacious and LOVED some victim was.
More here: Iowa Cold Cases by Jody Ewing
I’m not whining
about my own loss. People die of cancer, car wrecks, wars, all manner of things, every day. Everyone knows someone who’s suffered a tragic loss. The difference here is that a life was stolen and the thief is still out there walking free.
Consider the Peak family, less than a year after my own sister was raped, strangled, stripped, and tossed like roadside trash:
Lisa was survived by four siblings: Peter (14), Carmen (12), Martin (10), and Meredith (7).
Just two months after Lisa’s death, Carmen, a seventh grade student, died of head injuries after one of her riding horses fell on her.
In the years that followed, both of Lisa’s parents died without ever knowing who killed their daughter or seeing justice served in her death. Dr. Frank “Doc” Peak passed away Friday, Nov. 8, 2013… Lisa’s mother, Mary Peak, died Dec. 8, 2014, at age 85.
Who the victim was,
how valued and wonderful, is not as important for the public to know as the murderers among you.
So, I have a counter-proposal.
You tell us a story about the killers.
The local police as perps are a cliche in Hollywood and TV shows. But ya know what? There’s a reason for that. Drug dealers buy them off all the time. How often does a local minister or a do-gooder like John Gacey turn out to have bodies buried out back?
Investigative reporters end up dead
in all the TV shows and movies. Those who ask questions are silenced.
GREENLEE: TIME’S RUNNING OUT TO SHED LIGHT ON WAVERLY’S COLD CASES www.communitynewspapergroup.com
So, no, I don’t really expect journalists to do the work of private eyes, detectives, the FBI and BCI. But I would like to tell the news outlets:
Rather than focus on the victims
and remind us of their humanity, let’s spotlight the inhumanity of the perps. They feel no remorse. They are the ultimate narcissists. They often hide their black hearts behind a facade of charm and leadership. Ironically, the most heartless killers are not just in the mafia; they include your local minister, your local police officers, your civic volunteers (think John Wayne Gacey), the good ol’ boys, getting pats on the back and kudos for all their good deeds. Don’t even get me started on witch-burnings by good Christians, or lynchings, or–
–But wait. Am I doing my sister a disservice by refusing to talk about the person she was? Should I help a newspaper reporter show the world what a wonderful and beloved and treasured person she was?
Dad might say his pain is not for public consumption
if he spoke of it at all.
I know what he means.
While Julie was missing, rumors went around that our family was cold and hard-hearted and didn’t really care.
See above (Native Americans. Stoics.)
Two years ago,
after a grueling day with newspaper reporters writing about Iowa Cold Cases, my mom said it took her FOUR days to recover. “It was as fresh as if it had just happened,” not 40 years ago, but as if it were only yesterday. She relived the anguish all over again. Mom was able to talk all day about Julie’s sordid, heartbreaking case to those reporters, but after they left, she came unglued. And she didn’t even let ME, her daughter, see. It was after I’d left that the dam burst. It was two more years before she told me that.
I’m not saying this is how everyone should be – just, this is our way. You might argue it’s unhealthy; it’s better to express pain, anguish, rage; bottling it is bad.
It is what it is. The older I get, the more like my parents I get.
And those who see it as “cold, uncaring” have no clue what’s under the layers and walls.
Books Julie read in her teen years – eerily prophetic? Or was everyone reading books like these?
October 1975 Diary entry:
“Lately I’ve been getting into things I’m interested in, especially Indians. I hope they have a great uprising and get liberated like the Blacks did. Every time they bomb a building I say ‘right on!’
I bought three really good books: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Geronimo, and Custer Died For Your Sins.”
Julie tried making pottery,
designing her own unique clothes and jewelry, and sewing the dress she wore her last day on earth.
She wrote her penpal, “I’m making a choker out of polar bear claws ($16 a pair!), bones, squirrel tails, beads, feather and leather. I’m going to do a chamois cloth and feathers like Cher and Tina Turner had on last Sunday. I’m going on the warpath!”
“I’m reading Journeys Out of the Body, Charles Manson The Family, The Book of the Hopi, The Bermuda Triangle, etc. I look up my weird interests in The Whole Earth Catalogue and then find the books. Small wonder people think I’m bizarre.”
“Last night I went to Deb’s. She’s as depressed as me, worse, she even thought of suicide.”
“I saw ‘Winterhawk’–it was a great movie.
Today I’m feeling somewhat happier. In February I may be moving to Independence. They (Don Verrips and his father) may manage a bar there that has rock bands and I will be going along if they do to be a barmaid or bartender.”
“And maybe, by next fall, I’ll have enough money saved to go to college.”
The last page
of the letter, the last words we know of that she ever wrote, shows her optimism and usual zany cheerfulness waning:
“One person too many called me weird, strange, bizarre, etc
last weekend, so I’ve been a changed woman all week. I’ve not talked unless spoken to and then not much. I haven’t wiggled or danced around my tables when ‘Get Down Tonight’ is on, even though my body is crying out ‘let’s dance, child!’”
Everyone says ‘are you mad Julie? Are you sick? Are you depressed? What’s wrong?’
I simply say ‘Nothing, I’m just being normal like everyone else. Isn’t that what you wanted?’ My boss gave me the night off. I think she thinks I must be overworked or seomthing. I’m going to keep it up too, until people realize they have to accept me the way I really am. Only maybe this is the real me. Before, if I got depressed, I laughed it off, but now, when I’m going along with my plot, I can go ahead and be depressed and sad, that’s how I really feel, so that’s how I’ll act. I may really learn something from this. Next letter, I hope I’m not such a depressive person. I really thank you for enduring it. So, go ahead and pour your problems out on me next. Keep on smilin’ Happy Halloween!” Julie
No comment from me on how sad this is. Her words speak for themselves.
Our beloved grandpa died
in February 1975, less than a year before Julie would end up dead herself. She wrote in her diary:
I don’t care what anybody says. Death is not a natural part of life. What’s natural about seeing someone you love sick and miserable, and then seeing them dead? Nothing! It’s not a natural life process. It’s cold, it’s cruel, it’s so final, and it’s not fair. … Funerals are awful. They’re no consolation. They only make you cry. (17-Feb-1975)
“Murder is a horrible crime to commit and, of course the offender must be punished, but does that mean he should rot in prison until he dies? I don’t think so . . . nor do I think any person has the right to say someone should never be let out of prison, or give them the death penalty.” Julie urged her readers to “Put yourself in their shoes — the convicts are still humans, too. I hope people will be willing to help them and lend support in convicts’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves.” (Julie’s words from a May 1975 high school newspaper editorial)
Life goes on
and the dinner table is so full of new family members, we hardly ever notice the missing seventh plate. Weddings and babies came and went for us, but not for Julie, frozen in time at almost 19.
and the dinner table is so full of new family members, we hardly ever notice the missing seventh plate.
Weddings and babies came and went for us, but not for Julie, frozen in time at almost 19.
Julie, you’re a great-aunt!
Seven nieces and one nephew never got to meet their Aunt Julie, but our niece named her baby Julia. Little Julia is the fourth generation to be baptized at the old country church with the white steeple where Julie was baptized, confirmed, and buried.
And no, sorry, unless you’re a really good writer with a compelling voice, I don’t feel like reading another police procedural or whodunnit. John L. Monk’s “Kick” might sound like the kind of sad, violent stuff I’d rather avoid, but it is one of my favorite stories of all time.
Until next time,
because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)
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Let’s Fry Chicken Little nominated for 2015 Pushcart Award