Platitudes Have Consequences – Wilma Terretts

“You’re going to do what?”

“Turn you in as an illegal alien, hon. With this 9/11 hysteria, you’ll be tied up…for a while.”

“But I’m a naturalized citizen according to my mother’s papers. Why are you doing this to me, Harry?”

“Because you wouldn’t do as I say. Let’s see how you get out of this one, Mildred.”

“Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll do it…Please don’t bring this down on me.”

“We’ll see.”


“But I have to get my papers in order.”

“We’re swamped, ma’am, with the government shutdown and all. You’ll have to go across the state to get any speedy action. You sure you can’t wait?”

“No, my husband threa—No.”

“We’ll arrange an appointment. You’ll have to get there by the date set.”


“I found my army papers; I was honorably discharged. He hid them on me, Wilma.”

“Those prove you’re a citizen, Mom.”

“It’s not enough. He’s still threatening deportation.”

“Well, come up here and we’ll go together. It’s a fairly short drive.”


“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity…and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

“You are now citizens of the United States of America.”


“How’d it go?”

“Fine, I’ve got it.”

“That must be a relief.”

“I’ve got to go back, Wilma.”

“Please spend a few days up here with me.”

“I have to go back before he does something else.”

“You can’t keep living in fear, Mom.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Sometimes God sends a boat to rescue us when we expect miracles, Mom.”


“I’ve been preparing him for a few months. I’ve made sure he has everything he’ll need.”

“What are you talking about, Mom?”

“Can I come up? I’d like to see you.”

“Sure, I’ll take vacation. I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work and I need time off.”


“I’ve come up here to make sure you have everything you need, and I find you’ve been taking care of me.”

“What do you mean? Of course I want you to be happy, Mom.”

“Don’t hug me when I go. I don’t think I can take that. Just leave when the train comes in.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Just do it for me.”


“She’s what?”

“In the hospital. I’m sorry, Wilma.”

“What have you done, Dad?”

“She had a stroke.”

“Did you call 911 in time?”


“I’ll be down.”

“Stay here.”

“No, I’ll stay in a hotel.”


“So, how are you doing, Wilma?”

“It seems she was hiding her condition for months, maybe years, Maud.”

“Why didn’t her doctors see it?”

“They didn’t find the first cancer for five years. It showed up in the earlier radiographs only when they knew where to look.”

“So the prognosis isn’t good?”

“She died last night, Maud. We’re having the funeral as soon as possible.”

“I’m so sorry, Wilma.”

“Me too. I feel something I said caused all this to happen.”

“You can’t blame yourself. Your father’s relentless brutality took its toll. She simply took the opportunity that presented itself. Look, she might have died even if she did everything medical science knows to do. Our lives really are in His hands.”

“Yeah, it’s just that I said, sometimes God rescues us from our circumstances through common means. But, I didn’t mean this.”