Thursday, April 16, 2009

Restraining Orders and Close Encounters

Tuesday morning I got a frantic call from my sister. I could barely understand her, but I knew it was something about mom, and she was very scared.

I excused myself from the breakfast with my family-to-be, and tore out of the parking lot to deal with my family-that-is. I normally drive aggressively, but this was very different. This was no holds barred, red-lined, getaway car driving. I stopped just short of dangerous very dangerous, but my little neon surprised me. Even through it stank like burning rubber when I arrived, and the engine temperature was much higher than usual. There was no one besides my sister there.

Apparently mom called her, so she ignored the call and locked the doors. She continued on with her day, when mom showed up, pounding on the doors, windows, yelling at her, and trying to get in.

After I got there, I made sure no one was there, and she let me in. We reviewed the security cameras her husband installed after one of mom's previous visits. After mom pulled up, instead of going straight for the door, she entered the side gate, and checked the side door, then moved to the backyard, and checked the rear door. After finding them locked, she returned to the front, and attempted to enter the front door. The front door was locked too, and up until this point, she had done nothing to make her presence known. She had intended on walking straight into the house, where my sister was alone. After she couldn't get in, she started pounding and yelling, which was the first my sister had heard of her.

After seeing the footage, I realized it was time to make this official. My sister was very afraid of what would have happened had mom not called her first, prompting her to lock all the doors. We called the police.

Unfortunately, after describing the situation, there were no laws broken sufficiently (in conjunction with extenuating circumstances) to warrant a report. The officer made it clear that what we wanted was a domestic restraining order, so we could start building a case to make her stop. She told us where we could go to get the paperwork, and answered some of our questions about the process. The officer asked for a recent picture so she would know what mom looked like when she did the occasional drive-by. Emotionally, I was doing fine until then. I was helping my sister stay together while she explained the situation and the history to the officer, but seeing my old mom, smiling and happy just like I remembered, was too much. I teared up and excused myself. After the officer left, I knew we needed to do this, or we wouldn't do it later. We went to the courthouse to get the paperwork for a restraining order.

While standing in line to get past security at the courthouse, my sister suddenly went white, and started walking away quickly. I followed her, asking what the matter was, and she said mom was four people ahead of us in line. Today was a court date for the divorce.

We retreated to a nearby TGIFridays to regroup, eat, and talk about the situation. Only one part sticks out in my mind.
Sis: I mean; I know every family is dysfunctional in some way...
Me: Yeah... It just sucks to make it official.
An hour later, we went back.

Unfortunately, when we walked back, we forgot not to bring our pocket knives, so my sister waited just inside the building, next to the security checkpoint, with my knife and cell phone.

I talked to the receptionist, and got an idea of where I had to go. Strangely enough, when I entered the elevator, the tall white man in his 40s and the short asian girl who entered with me, were going to the same place. Maybe it's a full moon or something. Once on the correct floor, the signs were no help, and as I wandered, I was stopped just short of a hallway by the whistle my dad used when we were kids. I turned around and saw him in the other direction, standing next to a man in a suit, obviously his lawyer.

Me: Hey dad, where's mom?
Dad: You were just about to walk into her. She's right down that hall. We had court in the morning, then a recess, and we're picking it up in a little bit. What are you doing here?
Me: I need to file a restraining order. [to the lawyer] Do you know where this room number is?
Lawyer: Uh, well, for a, uh, is this a restraining order for a family member?
Me: Yeah.
Lawyer: Oh... Uhh... well... I-- hmmm... Oh, wait! It's right over here.
The lawyer leads me to a room around the corner that somehow escaped all the helpful signs in the main area. I approach the door.
Me: Thank you.
Lawyer: Oh, by the way, I'm your dad's lawyer.
Me: [without turning] I gathered that.
I don't particularly care for lawyers in general, but I really didn't like the lawyer my dad had been telling me about for the past few years. His lawyer.

I shook off the rudeness I used on the lawyer, and returned to my polite self before approaching the counter, and asking for the paperwork to get a domestic restraining order. After a short, rehearsed speech about what a restraining order is, what it does, and why it is in place, I was asked again if I wanted to proceed with the process. "Yes." This started a second rehearsed speech about the process, what to do for help with the process, what to do, when to do it, and what to expect. They actually have free early morning workshops to help people with the process. I thanked her and left.

Dad was still in the hall.
Dad: So, what happened with mom?
I give him a quick recap. He seems impassive.
Dad: I guess she went after the morning court.
Me: Yeah. [my sister] was really scared. I gotta go down to see her.

Downstairs, my sister was asked to leave the area inside the building (because she couldn't just stand there, in full sight of security!), and was waiting around a corner for me to come out. I told her what had happened, and dropped her off. She was feeling much better now.

I wasn't.

I took the day off and busied myself with video games and movies until I fell asleep.

1 comment:

Gudis said...

It really sucks that you can't trust your own mother, I just can't imagine how shitty it must feel.