Secrets behind picture windows

Published 7:08 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2019

As an interior designer for over 40 years, I walked through the doors of many houses and know within the walls of most homes are hidden secrets. 

I met Mary when I first began my design career. She called the office, set up an appointment, and within the week, I pulled onto her driveway. Her house was a modest brick ranch with a carport attached. A large picture window graced the front next to the entry door. 

Mary’s welcoming smile illuminated a pretty face with dazzling eyes. After introductions, she explained her sister was getting married, and Mary wanted her house to be in perfect order for the bridal parties she planned to give.

Mary was a corporate nurse and a young mother to a ‘cute as a button’ three-year-old girl. I immediately bonded with this lovely young, spirited woman. 

“I’ve never had draperies on this big window, and I finally have enough money saved to afford custom made. Could they be finished before the shower?” Mary excitedly asked. 

It was the ‘70s when swags, cascades and sheers were the rage in window treatments. They were expensive but the height of style in those days. I thought they were a little over the top for this modest house, but I didn’t want to tarnish Mary’s dream.

Instead, I designed them with a more casual look, and Mary adored the fabrics we selected. After the drapery installation on a Thursday, I phoned Mary to see if she was pleased. “Oh, my gosh, Lynn, they are fabulous! I love them!” She shouted as I heard her little girl calling, “Mama,” in the background.

The following Sunday, while drinking my coffee, I read the headlines in the local paper. Seconds later, I dropped my cup. 

Mary’s little girl found her mother on Saturday morning lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. The murder was a result of multiple stab wounds. The little girl’s father was under arrest. 

I recalled in my first meeting with Mary, asking her if her husband liked the idea of new draperies. “Oh, I am not going to tell him! He bought a new car, so I am getting draperies with my saved money.” 

Could draperies have sparked rage? Probably, but I know with certainty, resident violence hid in the little house behind the pretty picture window. 

Ten million people per year are victims of domestic abuse. And, unfortunately, Mary was not the only one I would meet who was living in fear behind their front doors.

One of my clients was thrown from the top balcony of her three-story home yet survived after days in ICU. Another, an educator, was so mentally abused she feared for her children’s future. A respected physician finally divorced a physically abusive spouse after her last stint in the hospital.

All of the above were highly successful independent women who suffered one day too long, tried one too many times to work things out, until the one day their lives shattered because of death or injury at the hands of a “loved” one.

After my divorce, I began dating an old friend. He was very late for dinner one evening. My son, who was about 11, was in the kitchen when my friend arrived. A quick spat developed between my date, who reeked of alcohol, and me because of his tardiness. 

Suddenly, with violence, he grabbed me from behind, jerked my neck to the left, and threw me across the great room where I hit the wall with a resounding thud before landing on the floor. 

I saw stars but immediately gathered myself because I knew I needed to protect my children. With adrenalin pumping, I picked up this 6’2” man and threw him out the back door, never to see him again. When I did, I passed my small son, violently shaking, standing in the kitchen holding a large butcher knife. 

 “Son, that will never happen again,” I whispered as I tightly held him. Today, when my neck creeks and aches, it is a reminder of an evening long ago when I refused to let abuse take up residence in our world. 

Secrets hidden behind the welcoming doors of a home can quickly turn into terror. There are countless reasons folks stay in horrible situations, but there are no good ones. Our homes are deemed to be our sanctuary, and our loved ones are supposed to protect, defend, and live in harmony with us.

As I write this, I see sweet Mary with her illuminating smile standing over my shoulder to encourage all who live in chambers of violence to get help immediately. Our children deserve to have sweet dreams of peace and wake to see the dazzling eyes of their mothers.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233