Tuesday, July 13, 2010



Yes, I know, one of the goals of this blog is to be always upbeat about things… this is why I stick mostly to the beauty I find in nature, the joy of wonderful friends, positive things. I seldom let any of life’s sadness or badness take over my life for long periods of time. I do not impose my political agenda on my readers, nor do I push my religious views. I don’t think this blog is the place for that. I try to stay as neutral as possible, and to avoid unpleasant subjects.

But recent events have knocked me for a loop, and I feel the need to write about them. Whether I post this or not is something I will decide when the time comes. Maybe it will just be therapeutic enough putting the words on the screen. And my readers might come away with the idea that we live in an area ridden with crime – but perhaps it is because this sort of thing is so rare around here that we are in so much shock.

No one should have to bury their child. Trust me, I know this absolutely. I have not figured out which is harder, losing a little one and being deprived of all the growing up moments, or having had all those growing up moments, then losing a grown child. Then again, what difference does it make, but I do wonder about it when a friend loses their child. Who knows why our brains think certain things.

I have been deeply touched by the loss of several people lately, the first being Johnny Strand, the manager of our local Pizza Hut. The headlines read ‘The kindest man’ – (May 5th, Eastern Shore News) and the front page article went on to tell about what a good kind soul he had been. His goal was to make you a friend and to make you smile. True, not everyone “loved” this man – the insecure, the mean spirited, were unable to trust his friendly ways looking at what their perverted minds thought he might “want” from them. Johnny was murdered… there has been an arrest… I will not discuss the details here. But on Saturday:

“Slain Pizza Hut Manager Johnny Strand will be memorialized this Saturday, July 17 at 11:00 AM at his former restaurant in Onley, Va. The public is invited to the event.
A plaque honoring Strand will be mounted in the dining room in the Onley Pizza Hut. Plans for a scholarship fund in honor of Strand are currently being talked over and will be announced soon.”

I attended one funeral last Saturday for the son of a dear friend of mine and will probably attend a second funeral later this week – both funerals for the adult children of friends of mine. My heart aches for these mothers, no one understands the pain unless they have walked in these same shoes. And even though this son was not out in the public eye, his family grieves just as much, just not as publicly.

The next funeral will be on Friday for Sharone Bailey. Sharone was in one of my classes my first year teaching here on the Shore, her mother was a teacher’s aid at that school. The headlines read (July 11, 2010, The Virginian-Pilot) Slaying of Citizen of the Year Stuns Eastern Shore. The article goes on to say:

“Sharone White Bailey was known for her selfless giving and volunteer work in her small tight-knit Northampton community. She regularly helped needy people get eyeglasses and medication, and she bought food for struggling families in the area.

Last month, the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce named Bailey the Citizen of the Year because of her volunteerism.

But her love of helping others ended Friday.

Bailey was stabbed at her home in the 11000 block of Occohannock Neck Rd on Friday afternoon, according to the Northampton County Sheriff’s office.”

I will not bother you with the rest of the details… a man has been arrested in this case also. For more information on these senseless murders, there are more details on http://shoredailynews.com/.

The man charged with murdering Sharone White Bailey will have a preliminary hearing today. The Judge will decide if Derrick Demond Epps 36 of Exmore will face first degree murder charges after he stabbed Bailey to death Friday. Bailey was named Citizen of the Year by the Eastern Shore of Va. Chamber of Commerce at their annual banquet last month.
Bailey founded and ran Therapeutic Intervention, a 90 person counseling service that served hundreds of Eastern Shore residents. Bailey also was on the Board of Directors of Eastern Shore Rural Health where she served as Treasurer and worked very hard to raise money for the new Onley Medical Center which ironically will open within the next few weeks.

There is so much here that has my heart aching – one part is for the good souls who are no longer among us and the great loss to the people of the Eastern Shore, and the other part is that for the second time in a week, a mother will have to bury her child. And when I also expressed my sorrow for the mother of the boy that killed Sharone, I was shocked at the negative reaction by a couple of the people in our little community. A mother’s loss is a mother’s loss, no matter who your child is or what they might have done. And the mother of the Epps boy must be suffering, too. It may appear in a different form, but she suffers nonetheless. How can she not?


Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Good post on such a tough topic and thank you for deciding to post it and share. The untimely and tragic deaths of Strand and Bailey is unfortunate to so many - their familes (mothers especially) and just as importantly there is a big loss for those they helped. It is ironic when very bad things do indeed happen to such good people. It makes me wonder about the sense of it all, but then there isn't any. And, I agree with your comments about a mother's loss whether her child was the victom or the assailant. The situation differs, but loss is loss and just as heartfelt in either situation.

Ginnie said...

I hope it was cathartic for you to get this all down. I sometimes wonder what life is all about. Just a week ago our little town was shocked to hear that 3 men tried to rob a small convenient store in town. The attendant was a woman in her 70's who'd worked there for years and her husband always came to pick her up. When he got there he confronted the men with a shotgun and of course they retaliated. Now he is dead, the 3 men are in prison for murder and she is left to live the rest of her life with this memory.
I, like you, have a hard time to make sense of any of it.

ancient one said...

That was definitely a tough post. We've had a bit of sorrow over my way too. Sorry about these people you knew and the tragic deaths.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I have been missing your daily emails of late, so here I am visiting your blog.

You and your community are suffering indeed, some senseless deaths. I trust all in your community are filled with thoughts of your losses and how this experience might strengthen each one and strengthen the community in ways that will make such senseless crimes less likely in the future.

I hope your Spirit heals in due time and your appreciated email resume.