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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

As Young as You Feel? Ouch!

Sometimes the perception others have of my job as judge, that it's touch and stressful, is actually more true than most of the time. Right now, today, that's absolutely true. A woman sits in the outer office crying because I've sent her to jail. She's not in the lockup, and we're being as kind to her as possible. She's 34 years old and doesn't look a day over 84. Cocaine and prostitution will do that to you. I feel like a heel. Yet I know it's in her best interest, as does everybody else whose mind is not clouded over from substance abuse. Still, it's hard.

It seems like everything's about money. There are two little girls in the juvenile system right now, and they need lots and lots of help. It could come from Child Protective Services or from MH-MR (Mental Health-Mental Retardation) or from the Juvenile Justice System. It will take a lot of money for a lot of years, and funding is tight everywhere. All three agencies are supposed to be interested in the best interest of the child. All are, but funding is tight.

Yes, sometimes the job is hard. I don't know that the job is aging me, but something is. Could it be the passage of years? Surely not. I was in Quanah visiting my parents who are both 89 until Daddy turns 90 next month. I had a new permanent, one that had gotten to the point of frizzing with the humid weather while all the severe thunderstorm warnings lit up the television. I got up Saturday morning and if I were Elaine I would have sworn there was a ghost in the room, but it was just a mirror. It certainly seemed like Grandmom was there, ready to holler "Whoop, Laudy!" and to give her opinion on everybody and everything around her, but it was just a mirror reflecting back her face. My face. Our face.

It startled me so, I started in on the math. Grandmom was born in April, 1893. I was born in January, 1947. About the time I was four, Grandmom was the age I am now. Circumscription. It's always been one of my favorite words, and it fits this. You're as young as you feel, but it doesn't matter. People as young or old as I am can be really neat people, even if they put people in jail.

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