When Agnes Furey lost her forty-year old daughter Pat and six-year-old grandson Christopher to homicide in 1998 at the hands of Leonard Scovens, words could not describe the hole left in her heart. Even so, rather than hate, Furey chose peace, and she reached out to Scovens in prison.
Wildflowers in the Median tells the story of their journey of restoration. Through a collection of poems, vignettes, and letters, both Furey and Scovens pour out their emotions and reflections. It is a tale not of forgiveness, but of understanding-a story of a survivor of crime and a criminal finding communion as each struggles with grief and suffering, eventually coming to terms with their spiritual identities and a desire to help others in similar circumstances.
A valuable testament to the human heart and its capacity to love, Wildflowers in the Median shows how grace was found in the aftermath of a tragedy.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Wildflowers in the MedianA Restorative Journey into Healing, Justice, and Joy
By Agnes Furey Leonard Scovens
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Agnes Furey and Leonard Scovens
All right reserved.
* * *
Let Me Introduce Myself
I am me. I am a woman who has lived long. I am a survivor of homicide and suicide. I am a grandparent and great-grandparent. I am a poet and a writer. I am.
* * *
When I Was Nine
You, Momma, held me down beneath the weight of your behind while he slashed his extension cord into my back, thighs, arms. I struggled under you and couldn't breathe. The blood running down the valleys and grooves carved into my skin smelled like one hundred wet pennies. I slipped from under you, ran and jumped down two flights of stairs, thinking, I gotta get away gotta run gotta get the hell outta here can't let them hit me no more.
Your feet slapped the hardwood floor in counterpoint to his work boots pounding down the stairs behind me pushing me fasterfasterharderfaster as I ran.
You were so close but I had to make it. Gotta get away gotta run gotta get the hell outta here. I saw the blue-jean sky and blond sun so clear and clean through the window, so pretty and sweet and nice and everything apple pie American, and I had to make it so I jumped.
And the goddamned glass didn't break. Like my bones wouldn't shatter no matter how hard you hit me; no matter how many times he slammed that two-by-two into my head it wouldn't crack, my brains wouldn't spill free.
somebody make it stop please make it stop He made me shower afterward to rinse the wounds and I shivered beneath the cold water praying he wouldn't hit me no more, Andre crying behind me. so sorry i got you into this shit, little brother, so sorry, so sorry i'm so bad; i'm so badbadbad and so sorry i can't kill this crazymotherfucker with the two-by-two.
I saw white fire and little electric flowers when he slammed that slab of wood into my head, his voice booming behind it, Get your punk ass under that water, little nigger!
This must be what it's like when you die— the voice of God judging you, punishing you for all the bad shit you've done. If so, I don't want no parts. I done seen enough hell to know it can't be no more fucked up than this.
* * *
Gathering the Pieces
I remember a room, a living room, in the two-room apartment where Pat and Chris had lived.
David, Pat's former husband, and I had the task of sorting through what was there, what was left of their lives. The bookcase and couch were out of place, the TV table barren, the TV/VCR gone.
A search warrant, newspapers, mail, notes, a church bulletin, and kindergarten drawings were strewn on the coffee table and floor with no pattern or meaning, just as the investigators had left them.
We tried sitting on the couch and couldn't. Standing, we silently fingered through the papers. We couldn't yet speak; we could barely look at each other. Finally, we sat on the floor. Tentatively, at first, one of us would make a comment and then the other. We talked as we sorted; we remembered; we shared old and new stories, feelings, sadness, horror, and disbelief; and we bonded, as only we could. We, each of us, loved them in our own way.
January 24, 2006
A Statement To The Court On Behalf Of Patricia Ann Reed July 7, 1957–March 23, 1998 and Christopher Thomas Reed November 7, 1991–March 23, 1998 In The Case Of Leonard Scovens March 1, 1999
My name is Agnes Furey. I am the mother of three children and the grandmother of four. My youngest child, Margaret, died in 1960. My son, Frank, died in 1996. My oldest child, Pat, and my youngest grandchild, Christopher, were murdered in March 1998 by Leonard Scovens.
This (gesturing to a woman in the audience) is Loretta Bukowski, who is also Christopher's grandmother. Our families have all spoken over the last few days, and I hope to be speaking for all of them: Pat's older children, Jason and Alicia (Christopher always called them "my Jason" and "my Alicia"); her former husband and best friend, David Reed; Christopher's father, Alex Walters; my son's wife, Laurie, and their son, Mark; my brother, Gene; all of Christopher's teachers and classmates; Pat's many friends; and many others who have been affected.
Pat grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, in what would now be called an inner city. She was a happy child, good in school. She loved music, especially the Monkees and the Jackson Five. She sang in the glee club. She enjoyed swimming and the beach, as well as camping in the pine barrens of New Jersey and ice skating in Central Park.
She had a special bond with her grandmother. Her father left when she was six. She and her brother had at least the usual rivalries and arguments of many siblings. They grew closer over the years.
We took advantage of the proximity of New York City. We attended children's theater, Shakespeare in Central Park, the New York Mets, and of course the World's Fair.
I particularly remember a long bus trip, just she and I, and a tour of historic Philadelphia.
As an adolescent and a young person, Pat had two attributes that continued in varying intensity throughout her life: a profound caring for all God's creatures and a problem with alcohol. Dogs, cats, and birds in differing number and combinations were usually in her life; most were strays she simply could not abandon. She also loved plants and grew vegetables at different times. She surely would have had a horse if the opportunity had presented itself.
Friends and acquaintances were seldom denied when they showed up with a problem. I remember a woman with three or four children who was fleeing an abusive husband and stayed with her for several months.
Her primary lifelong goal, from which she never wavered, was to be a mother. As a teenager, she went to Arizona to help her uncle Gene with his two daughters while his wife had surgery. It was in Jersey City that she met, dated, fell in love with, and then married David Reed. They moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was stationed with the navy. They had two children, Jason and Alicia. Jason is now sixteen, and Alicia is fourteen. They were her delight. Pat's kids were what she talked about and worried over.
Throughout, her problem with alcohol would sometimes surface. The time of the war in the Persian Gulf was especially difficult. Pat met Alex, Christopher's father, during this time.
Christopher was born. David gave him his name and loved him as his own. Jason and Alicia loved their baby brother. In time, Pat's marriage ended, but the family endured. As always, her kids remained her primary focus.
Then Alex entered Christopher's life, and a series of many visits to Grandma Retta began.
Pat's drinking became more problematic. David was transferred to Texas, and Pat and Chris were to stay with me in Tallahassee until she could be on her own.
In a very short time, it became necessary for her to be hospitalized. With the intervention of her brother and me and the assistance of friends, she entered into treatment. Although angry and resistant at first, she soon became engaged in the process and embraced sobriety.
Christopher came to live with me while his mother recovered. He entered preschool and flourished. We developed a loving and interesting relationship. He invigorated as well as exhausted me. He accompanied me to board meetings of the AIDS service organizations, crack cocaine seminars, church, and the market. I went to PTA meetings, played basketball, and attended parenting classes. Christopher was beloved by a community of Grandma's friends. It was said he had a talent for making his presence known.
And we traveled. In the eighteen months he was with me, we must have driven from Tallahassee to Sarasota fifty or sixty times. We visited Mommy when she was in treatment and then in the halfway house, as well as later in her one-room apartment and then in a larger apartment.
She first went to work on the bus, then a bicycle, a moped, and finally a car.
Sometimes we stayed at Uncle Frank's and Aunt Laurie's. Frank was becoming ill. When he was at hospice we visited every weekend. Christopher and his cousin Mark built forts with blankets and had their safe space together. We took Frank to Mark's soccer games when he was able to go.
Christopher's teacher told me that he reported all of the weekends' events to the class on Mondays. They observed a quiet moment when Christopher's uncle Frank died.
At Christmas a year after Pat went to treatment, all three of her kids were with her for the holiday break and again the following summer. The older ones, Jason and Alicia, then returned to their dad and school in Texas, and Christopher was reunited permanently with Pat.
They did well—he in school, she sober and working while taking home study courses and planning to move into a larger apartment. Again, her kids were her primary focus.
Her prayer, as she underlined it in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, was as follows:
God, I offer myself to thee to build with me and to do with me what thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help, of thy power, thy love, and thy way of life. May I do thy will always.
Grandma Retta moved to Largo, and Christopher visited on many weekends, swimming in the pool and camping in the backyard. They became buddies. As was his habit, he reported these events at kindergarten on Mondays.
Retta bought him a tuxedo, and he participated in Alex's wedding in Virginia.
Then ... what happened?
I first met Leonard outside of Walmart. Ever vigilant about confidentiality, Pat was careful just to say, "This is Leonard." I recall having an uneasy feeling that day. I later came to understand that this was someone she had met in treatment.
I next met him some months later at Pat's apartment. He was there for several days as he had left treatment and had no place to go. I felt fearful for her well-being, and we had quite a discussion. She said, "You always said everyone deserves a chance."
"But we are not required to provide them all," I replied.
Several days later, he disappeared with her VCR, which was not yet fully paid for. She was angry and felt betrayed but remained sober. We were grateful that was all that happened. He apparently returned to Baltimore.
Occasionally, Pat would mention that she had heard from Leonard. She didn't appear to harbor any resentment. She had been impressed with his artistic interests. I remember some mention of the Ringling School.
In early March of last year, Pat told me that Leonard had just gotten kicked out of the Job Corps and needed someplace to stay. I repeated my earlier caution that he was his own responsibility.
Soon after Pat and I had that conversation, Loretta met Leonard when she'd brought Christopher back to Pat's after having kept him for the weekend. She described the same sense of unease I'd felt upon meeting Leonard.
I called Pat several times that week without success. Either the line was busy or the voice mail did not come on.
Finally, very early Friday, after many calls to Sarasota's police department and sheriff's office, her place of employment, and my daughter-in-law, Laurie, two officers from Tallahassee's police department came to my job and informed me that Pat and Christopher had been murdered.
Loretta saw it on the noon news on TV.
Pat and Christopher are both dead! She was forty; he was six.
Countless lives have been shattered—mine and Retta's, David's and Alex's, Jason's and Alicia's, Laurie's and Mark's, Uncle Gene's, as well as Leonard's grandmother's. Laurie's sense of personal security was affected as homicide detectives sat in her home in the middle of the night telling her that her sister-in-law was dead and that they were trying to find Christopher. They did find him later that morning, hidden from view, covered by laundry.
As I understand the events, Leonard had asked Pat for help and Pat had agreed. He stole her videos, including Christopher's special Michael Jackson and Elton John videos. Sometime after Loretta left to return to Largo that Sunday, he killed both of them.
He used her car and sold anything and everything of any value. He sold all her videos. He sold Bambi, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz, another VCR, the TV, Christopher's Whiz Kid computer and his Mickey Mouse radio, and the dinnerware and glassware that I gave her for Christmas that were still in the boxes because they were for the new apartment.
These things I bought back from the pawnshop. Her secondhand computer that she was so proud of, I've never found.
He used her home to call for taxis and pizzas, to frighten working people, and to steal a few dollars, all while Pat and Christopher lay dead nearby.
He used her car to go to pawnshops, to rob people in parking lots, and to buy drugs. He used her phone to make a thousand dollars' worth of calls.
All for crack cocaine!
I am a nurse and have worked most of the last twenty years in addictions. I've worked in Manatee and Sarasota. I've interviewed people in the jail across the street. I've accompanied clients to appearances in the old courthouse. I've seen enough to know that addiction is powerful. I also know that recovery is possible.
Chapter 5 of the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous states, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves."
Today I will roar like an angry lion. I will let my rage out into the universe in ways that are totally harmonious for everyone concerned.
Edna St. Vincent Millay said, "Childhood is the place where nobody dies." But we don't live in the world of children anymore. Why is that? And why should our childhoods be over already? Who said? Why?
There is a part of us that needs to rage; sometimes, we could take a few cues from children. They pound their fists, yell, and scream at injustice. God bless my anger and grief. Fill my eyes with healing tears of rage.
But I am afraid to be angry. Rage betrays the need to accept what has happened. Yet I am more afraid to accept. Acquiescence might suggest that I have given in to injustice. Despite the taboo on anger, I sense that I have that right, even though it will not alter the facts. It is not I understand but am furious; it is I understand and am furious.
I am also grateful that I have a deep, although undefined, relationship with a higher power. It has helped me make it through some of the darkest days.
Small children have an openness that often escapes us as we get older. Ms. Young's kindergarten class at Phillippi Shores School wrote this:
We learned some news at school It made us very sad After lots of tears and talking We went home to Mom and Dad We gathered round the counselor All seated on the rug We heard what happened to our friend Some kids needed a hug Brown hair and a big happy smile We're going to miss that little guy But when he didn't get his way He would sit right down and cry This happened a lot so ... Our teacher taught us what to do It wasn't hard to fix We just brought him a tissue or two. He was a good helper and a best friend When it came to blocks and tricky puzzles He had a hand to lend He loved to eat his snack And would politely ask for more He kept his snack calendar at home On the refrigerator door On the playground ... He loved to swing and run with speed In the classroom ... He was just attempting to write stories and read If you asked him his name A nickname he didn't need He would answer so proud My name is Christopher Thomas Reed We learned about past memories And good times to plan and share We learned that Christopher's life was cut short by violence And this is just not fair
My friend Rev. William Hull of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Bradenton shared this affirmation during a service for Pat and Christopher:
"In the death of Jesus Christ, God's way in the world seemed finally defeated. But death was no match for God. The resurrection of Jesus was God's victory over death.
Death often seems to prove that life is not worth living, that our best efforts and deepest affections go for nothing. We do not yet see the end of death, but Christ has been raised from the dead, transformed, and is yet the same person.
In his resurrection is the promise of ours. We are convinced that the life that God wills for us is stronger than the death that destroys us. The glory of that life exceeds our imagination, but we know that we will be with Christ.
Excerpted from Wildflowers in the Median by Agnes Furey Leonard Scovens Copyright © 2012 by Agnes Furey and Leonard Scovens. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Let Me Introduce Myself....................1
When I Was Nine....................3
Gathering the Pieces....................5
How I Became My Father....................18
I Wasn't Ready....................36
On Bursting Bubbles of Light....................40
In the End....................41
Perspectives on Crime and Victimization....................42
Listening to Pen on Paper....................45
Somewhere along the Way....................50
Wildflowers in the Median....................58
Now I Know....................65
On the Night of the Full Moon....................75
The Rebirth of Joy....................81
So Much Depends Upon....................91