My mom was an underground railroad for abused women

As a child, I didn’t understand most of the midnight phone calls to my mom, or the times women would come over with children in tow, sometimes even in pajamas, and I would be told to go entertain them while Mama ensconced herself in her bedroom with their mother.

Once, my mom spotted a bruised woman with three children holding a cardboard sign in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It was pouring down rain. I was seven.

“Stay in the car,” she said, locking me in. She went to talk to the woman. I was so uninterested in what was happening; we were on our way to Wal-Mart to get a new something-or-other for me, and this weird stranger and her crying kids were delaying our mission.

I was even less enthused when Mom got back in the car and said, “We have to make a little trip first,” and then drove, with the woman in her own car behind us, to either a battered women’s shelter or a food cupboard.

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