The shirt off her back. That's what she would give you if you just asked. But, they didn't ask, they took.
One week ago today, my mother, sister and brother awoke to a terrifying nightmare. It was about 4:30 a.m. when my younger brother woke up to see a man holding a flashlight in his face as the intruder reached across the bed to snatch up a cell phone.
A struggle ensued as my brother attempted to free himself of his bed covers. He managed to land a punch at the guy who then scrambled down the steps - the third floor steps. It's not an attic but an actual finished third floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
Later, all of us would shake our heads in disbelief that anyone would be brazen enough to go from the basement to the third floor in a house where three people were sleeping.
As my brother raced down the steps he yelled to alert my mother and sister of the intruder. They were screaming by now, while attempting to call 911. It was dark in the house as the intruder headed toward the back door.
The back door opened and closed twice, meaning there were two intruders. Chills still run down my spine when I think of what could have been, and yet I'm most thankful that no one got hurt.
The intruders disappeared through the backyard toward the pitch black alley. My brother raced back inside, fearing what had happened to our mother and sister. Physically they were OK but their peace of mind was shattered. My sister called my house, and my husband and I hurried to be with them.
Police arrived in record time, having already been in the area. With guns drawn they checked the house as I ushered my mother and sister to our car to stay warm. Police warned that the bad guys were probably still in the area. Nearly 90 minutes later, after police had gone, one burglar was spotted hiding in the backyard. He got away.
The shaking begins hours later when you realize that at least two strangers were inside the house long enough to unscrew a TV from the cable box, rifle through cupboards and creep up the staircase to the upper floors. The items lost are replaceable, but there's a high price to pay for a good night's sleep again.
Just hours later, we learned that another home had been burglarized in a nearby neighborhood and the family slept through it all. They lost a lot of possessions, but they did not have a face-to-face with the burglars, thank heaven.
If there is anything positive to result from this it may be that we learn never to take life for granted. We go about our daily routines often forgetting that others may be watching, waiting for an opportunity to cash in on our predictable lives.
My family has taken measures to protect my mother's home from a repeat occurrence. We suggest you do the same.
Lock your doors, get a dog and get mad. I am.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.