Mother Goose is proud to introduce you to her friend, Miss Murriel — the beautiful woman pictured below. We have known each other for about five months, but we believe that our friendship was in place long ago. She’s just that kind of a person — Mother Goose met her and fell in love with her for life and beyond.
The reason that Mother Goose is saluting Murriel today is because she is a TRUE American hero — she’s not one of these Yankee Doodle dandies all waving the flag and singing the National Anthem but not really caring a lick for the veterans, the servicemen and women, and the families who know what true American sacrifice is all about. Murriel cares because she knows first hand what it’s like to be a Navy wife, a Navy widow, a Navy mother and as of this past Sunday, the woman who saved the life of a suicidal veteran.
Yes. She did that.
Murriel grew up in Cleveland County, Mississippi through the 1950’s and into the ’60’s. There were thirteen children in her family — she was the seventh of the bunch. Her family worked a farm — picking cotton by hand was still the way to make a living in those times. The summers were hot and the kids all enjoyed a dip in the pond when their work was done. Her aunties lived in town and had good plumbing for taking showers so Murriel and her sisters would go to visit them often.
She married her childhood friend, Bobby Jenkins, just before he left for Navy boot camp. When he came home on leave from southeast Asia in 1968, she presented him with his newborn son. The sailor returned to duty in Vietnam, and then tragedy came in the form of Navy officers and a chaplain at her door with the terrible news that her husband had made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Murriel held her newborn daughter and her toddler son and cried.
By that time, she had moved to Chicago with other sisters and brothers. Her sailor husband was buried in the church cemetery in Cleveland County.
Life goes on, and she was able to pick up the pieces. She eventually remarried — a Navy veteran actually — and worked as a registered nurse and raised her family. She had another son, and the two sons grew up to be sailors as well. The older of the two was serving in October 2000 at the time of the suicide bombing of the USS Cole and was part of the rescue team for that horrible tragedy when seventeen American sailors lost their lives and an additional 39 were injured.
Because of the horror of that rescue operation, Murriel’s son was hospitalized in a catatonic condition in the hospital for seven months. His mother sat by his side, praying for his own healing and recovery. Today he is fine and works as an inventory manager in a large grocery store chain. Murriel is very proud of all of her children, but this one checks up on her most often, protecting her and defending her against any and all harm that may befall her.
Murriel’s heart is all about helping the veterans, and she volunteers her time at our Easter Seals office every week. She is active in her church, New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, in Chicago. She cares for heroin babies and advocates for them in the court system. She checks in on veterans who are living in church-sponsored apartments in the neighborhood.
And here’s the bottom line of this story:
This past Sunday, Murriel was checking in on one of the vets. She visits often but he seldom opens his door — many of the vets prefer to be left alone with their problems and their PTSD, but Murriel knows how important it is to keep checking on them. His door was unlocked so she walked into the apartment, searching the rooms for this troubled man.
She found him sitting in a chair in his room with the barrel of a handgun in his mouth.
“No!” she screamed and rushed at him.
Murriel walks with a cane because her knee is bad, but she still managed to get to the man and pull the loaded gun out of his mouth. The barrel was actually pointed directly at her when he finally took his finger off the trigger. She wrestled it away from the poor hopeless man, screaming the whole time. “Stop it, you gotta stop this, put that gun down NOW!”
Other people heard the commotion and came running. Somebody called 9-1-1, and the paramedics arrived. They put the straitjacket on him and took him away to the suicide watch ward of the hospital. Before they closed the door of the ambulance, Murriel got in the last word:
“When you get out of the hospital and you’re feeling better, I’m gonna kill you!”
She’s so precious to Mother Goose — that’s just the kind of friend and Hero she is…