It Really Can Happen

It was a perfect Thursday evening. Jake's dad got home a little early and grilled dinner for the family. Vaughn getting home early is a rare and celebrated occasion. After dinner, we decided to go to the park. Tracey, Jake, Cora, and I went ahead while Vaughn stayed behind doing things like... vacuuming.

There were a lot of people at the park, all over it. After about 20 minutes, Vaughn and Gabby (their dog) showed up to play. He hadn't been there for long when a young teenager started using some less than desirable language toward a peer. Vaughn went over and told her to stop using that kind of language - that it was inappropriate, especially with so many young children around.

We went on with our evening.

Ten minutes later, a group of 20 or so people came walking across the park with the girl who used the f-bomb several times and her father in the lead. I started for the exit with Cora because I thought they were on their way over to fight the girl she'd been throwing words around with earlier. (The other girl repeatedly said snap-crackle-pop...I don't know its derogatory meaning...but it aided in riling up the aforementioned f-bomb dropper - in her defense, of course). They bypassed the girl and headed straight for my father-in-law.

The father of the teenager began with "What right do you have to tell my child what to do?" Tracey and Vaughn were trying to explain the situation. After about a minute, it happened.

I will never forget the sound of a fist hitting flesh and bone. I will never forget seeing my father-in-law fall to the ground and his dog run toward me with her leash dragging behind her. I will never forget seeing Vaughn get up with the right side of his face depressed in the shape of a fist.

The confronting man's son, brother of the girl Vaughn told to stop cussing, came out of the crowd and threw a punch. Even after Vaughn got up, the girl's father continued to demand he apologize to his daughter - his face having just been smashed in by his son. Vaughn apologized if what he said hurt the girl's feelings, or embarrassed her, but he did not apologize for telling her to use better language. Kudos to you, Vaughn.

The crowd dispersed quickly, the boy who threw the punch ran towards the tracks in the direction of the cemetery. Vaughn and Tracey left the park just as the police arrived. A high school aged boy happened to get the whole thing on video. I believe this same boy's friend was the one who picked Vaughn's glasses up out of the grass and handed them to him. He gave the video to the officer.

Vaughn went to the hospital, and after a rather long ordeal (which included Holdenville hospital and a transfer Baptist in OKC), he was released with a cheek bone that is fractured in several places and fragmented in many pieces in the middle. He will undergo surgery in about a week, after the swelling goes down, to repair the damage. For now his day-to-day consists of pureed food, slurping from a spoon because he can hardly open his mouth, and a toothbrush just like Cora's for the same reason as slurping. He's the kind of person who runs a million miles per hour from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed at night...this is a kink in his chain of life. But a kink that will hopefully work its way out in a big way when it comes to changing his community for the better...something he's always striving for anyway.

While I've had a million different thoughts about it all, there is one that remains in the forefront of my mind that seems to go best with the actual events of the evening...evening turned weekend with the hospital stay. That is the father confronting a man who asked his daughter to stop cussing around children. Who knows what the girl told her father? But my initial reaction would be gratitude for someone else looking out for my child. If my child was out in a public place stirring the pot with another person, I would gladly take the extra eyes and ears. I would hope that my children would never be in a position to need someone to tell them to act in a respectable manner in the first place.

We need more people to stand up for what they know is right. It is unfortunate that standing up for something resulted in physical and emotional damage. But what kind of damage will result if nothing is done? What if I would have been the one who told the girl to not cuss around my language acquiring two-year-old? There will not always be someone else around to do the right thing. This event really proves that anything can happen to anyone, anywhere. I live on the south side of Chicago and haven't felt the need to pull out the pepper spray my dad sent me with - not once. I go to visit my family in small town America, and I become witness to a completely senseless act of violence.

This post is very matter-of-fact, but sometimes the facts are the best introduction to the various implications that result from a situation. I'm sure I will write a lot more on what I've been thinking about in the days to come. Right now I need to go to bed so I can be ready for the journey back to Chicago in the morning.

PS: Thank you Bryan and Kristen. Bryan, you were a super help for me in understanding what we were dealing with in terms of Vaughn's injury and in making things seem to unfold clearly in a situation that was unpredictable (despite all of the confusion with the stay in Holdenville hospital). Thank you Annie and Michelle for helping me get in touch with Kristen's answering machine. ;) Thank you Ashleigh and Andrew for the food at the hospital and the deluxe accommodations the night before Jake's test. More thank you's to come...


  1. Wow! That is incredible. Makes you wonder where the girl got it from, huh? I probably would have sadi the same thing had the girl been using that kind of language in front of my kids. Praying for a quick recovery.

  2. Ugh, that's just terrible. I know from my experience working at the library that there are simply not enough parents willing to take responsibility for their children or parent them correctly. Too often the idea of family being insulted comes before any idea that the family member might have been in the wrong. I hope your father in law makes a quick and painless as possible recovery.

  3. Wow. No sense of responsibility in this country anymore. It couldn't have been my daughters fault...she wouldn't do anything wrong. So sad but I will keep Vaughn in my prayers.

  4. You have got. to be. kidding me!!! I hope he is doing well!

  5. Wow, this is shocking and very sad. I hope your father in law's surgery is successful and wish him the best. Kuddos to him for standing up to what was right and sticking to his principles. Thank you for writing about it too, it is evidence to others that people are still willing to stand up for their values.

  6. Sheesh. This is quite a story. There are so many things wrong with the situation.

    To name a just one, the parent and 20 other followers who believe that while it is not okay for someone to request clean language, it is okay to violently punch an innocent man in the face. Seriously?! I'm in shock.

    I hope he rocovers quickly.

  7. Holy smokes! That is awful. Wishing your father-in-law a quick recovery. I, like you, would gladly accept any help from strangers, or not, in raising my kids. Maybe I should watch out for the parent of the boys who I scolded this morning for throwing HUGE rocks at my car! Senseless! Sorry your family had to witness that.

  8. Oh my goodness! I can't believe the father.... or the brother! It's always great for a parent/ sibling to stand up for a child- but only if the child is in the RIGHT!!
    Remember my nephews that lived with us? Their mom at 30 still has no sense of responsibility, she like that girl has always had someone bail her out when she should have faced SERIOUS consequenses. Quick example: She stole from a grocery store and was caught... then her mom helped her sue the store for making her take off her sweatshirt because they wanted to make sure she had no more merchandise in her pockets. Steal and then get over $2,000 for it! It boggles my mind!!
    I hope you FIL heals quickly and the surgery goes well- we all are praying for him and the all his family!

  9. Oh. man. crazy. I hope he is well and that he deals with anger better than I do. I'm feeling all huffy and puffy about this and I don't even know your father-in-law. Amber said it all.

  10. Wow! That's crazy! I am a high school teacher in Chicago Public Schools. Many times when I encounter unruly students, I meet the parents and immediately know why the student acts the way they do. I'm horrified. I'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I hope the surgery goes well.

  11. At times like these, when I am exposed to what is really out there, I want to lock my kids in the house and never leave again. Yet, know there are men out there like your father-in-law, and others I know, make it possible for me to still have faith in people and to look at all of the good in the world.

    Please give Vaughn a hug from me and my babies as a "thank you" for being willing to stick up for morals in the face of such opposition. Our prayers are with your family during this time of recovery.

  12. i am really in complete shock about this. what a horrible thing to witness. once again we see the good v. evil in this world. i am so proud of jake's dad. (no wonder jake is so awesome). i am so sorry that this happened to Vaughn. we will keep him in our prayers and will also pray that the change he wants in his town will finally come. let him know that mothers of young (and old) children everywhere think he is a hero!

  13. BrieAnn, I am so sorry for what happened to Vaughn, on the otherhand I am glad there are people like him who will stand up for human decency. Tell him Thank you for doing that and wishing him a speedy recovery. He is a hero!



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