Ever have something so bizarre happen that 30 years later you’re still thinking, “what the heck?” Trying to remember the year, think it was 1992. We’d been living in Michigan about 5 years. Our house was on the outskirts of Jackson in a housing addition consisting of one huge oval with about 60 homes. Most of the homes were built during the mid-50’s when lot size still mattered. Every house was situated on an acre. While a few of the homes were two story, the majority were rambling ranch style like ours.
This neighborhood was changing. Originally thought out and built for mid-level execs employed by Consumers Power Company which was one (still is I think) of Jackson’s largest employers. The folks who bought these homes while raising their families had since retired and were now selling to move closer to their adult children and grands, giving families like ours some growing room. There was a nice mixture of retirees and younger families with scads of kids but spread so far apart it was very quiet. And safe.
Our house had four doors leading to the outside, although 2 were seldom used. There had been a breezeway between the garage and house which had been enclosed before we bought it. Kind of an odd room we used as a dining room because we had an extra table. (the main function of this gorgeous antique oak table was to collect school bags, coats, hats, miscellaneous gloves, candy wrappers, half eaten food, mail, toys or wet towels recently used in our hot tub). The room had 3 doors (one going into the garage), plus a double doorway to the living room and a single to the eating area off the kitchen. There was one wall for a large Amish cupboard plus the round oak table plopped right in the middle of the room. Everything else was doors or windows. But this little room got used frequently for either going to the backyard, out the front side to the driveway (bikes-skateboards) or into the garage if we were coming or going. No wonder it was always such a mess.
Shannon and Ariana (1 at the time) were living in Lansing because Shannon was about to graduate with her first degree from MSU. (First of three, she excels with the whole school atmosphere) Joshua was in high school and Adam was in junior high.
For several years after we moved to Michigan the only vacations we ever took were to Iowa. About 750 miles west of Jackson to the little town of Rock Valley, our old stomping grounds. John’s dad had passed away in ’87 but his mom, my folks and most of our siblings/nieces/nephews lived within an hour of each other. We went at least twice a year, usually spring break and late summer. My parents were still driving to visit us a couple times a year too.
We were just coming back from a week in Iowa during the boy’s spring break because it wasn’t hot outside. We drove straight through which took about 14 hours with the addition of a couple of stops and losing an hour for the miserable Eastern time zone. The boys were excited to get home, spend their remaining free time with friends before heading back to school. Our dog Chico stayed with our neighbor Mildred (2 acres away) while we were gone. They were besties but it wasn’t the same love Chico had for the boys. And the boys felt the same way so they were anxious to bring him back home before Mildred went to bed.
We were all exhausted, but the car was still loaded to the gills with crap that had to be hauled inside, unpacked, thrown in the laundry or put away. (Usually included was a huge cooler filled with Iowa beef already frozen). We’ve all got jobs to do before we can call it a day, so we start unpacking the car. First thing I do is hit some lights and turn up the furnace. (It maybe called spring break but the weather is seldom very springlike, it’s still quite cold). Everyone’s doing their own thing when I hear The Hubs and Josh talking to someone-and it’s not Adam or me. I walk from the kitchen into the hallway where John has a hold of a woman’s arm (which is still connected to the rest of her). What’s going on?
She’s petite, maybe in her 50’s with gray/blonde hair and glasses. She’s incoherent, mumbling, agitated, nervous. (First thoughts-Where did she come from? How did she get in our house? We never thought to call 911 at this point. We thought she was hurt or needed help). John leads her into the living room and sets her down in a chair to put her at ease and get some answers.
We’re nearly as befuddled as she is. She seems incapable of putting sentences together and her discomfort is palpable. She’s getting hysterical and it’s giving me the willies. We’re all looking at each other, then back at her, wondering what we should do. (Hold onto her, call the cops seems prudent).
All of a sudden she “springs” out of the chair and makes a mad dash to the breezeway door leading out to the driveway. A pickup screeches (we live on a corner with a stop sign) to a halt just before the stop sign, opens the passenger door and she literally throws herself up and in the truck. The truck squeals away at a high speed and we’re left standing there with our jaws dropped. John got within a yard of grabbing her feet as she flew through the air but was a couple seconds late. We stood there, looking like saps and shaking our heads.
What just happened? Now we call the cops. Duh, 10 minutes too late. We start going through the house trying to determine if anything’s missing. Was she casing the joint? Looking for drugs? Homeless and trying to stay warm? How long had she been there? And how did she manage to get in our house? John had replaced all 4 entrances with new storm doors and none had signs of a forced entry. We only used the door going into the garage since we pulled in, but the way she flew out of the side door appeared as though it was already unlocked before we got home.
It takes awhile for the cops to arrive. We explained what transpired in the hour since we parked in the garage but we’re really at a loss. Hubs gives a good description of the truck (he knows his makes and models) but we didn’t get the license plate number or a description of the 2 guys in the truck. The police are not very optimistic about finding out who broke in and what they were after but at least a police report was filed.
Some 30 years later we still wonder about the crazy lady in our house when we got home. John thinks she was searching for drugs. Although I don’t know what she was looking for, my opinion on her behavior (after we literally had her by the arm) was she got the drop on us. She acted scared and agitated so we’d let our guard down until she found the right moment to sprint out of the house. Had the truck tooted their horn to let her know they were outside? I don’t remember hearing anything. Did she spot headlights coming to a stop through our big bay window? Possible, but guess we’ll never know. But I still think we were played…