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It Only Took One Minute.......

One Story from My Life

By Gail WyliePublished about a month ago Updated 22 days ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024

It only took a minute. I was sitting at the computer in my office when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and then laid it down my desk as I went to find the student who the call was for. Within seconds I was back at my desk, ready to resume typing, when I heard the student yelling obscenities at me for listening in to his call through the handset that was still lying on the desk. Sick and tired of the lies he was spewing, I was up running down the hall, ready to kill him. By the time I reached him, I had calmed enough not to hurt him, but as I turned back towards my room, I knew that I couldn’t go on like this any longer. The decision was clear. I had to leave.

Being a housemother for 24 teenagers may not be the job very many people would like to take on, but it was my job and I absolutely loved every minute of it. My problem was not with the work I had to do or with any of the teenagers or other staff members but with my husband at the time. He was an extremely jealous man and a compulsive liar with whom I had already spent 24 years. It hadn’t taken me long to discover these flaws when we were first married, but since we had children together, who I believed needed two parents, I had stayed with him, promising myself to leave when our boys were fully grown and living on their own. However, I didn’t follow through on that promise, choosing instead to sign a contract to work with him as houseparents. His jealous behavior only got worse during this time, to the point that I had told him I was leaving him when the contract was over. This led to him making threats to kill me and finally, when we were alone, an actual attempt through which I played dead in order to survive. When he had calmed down, he realized that we could not go on like we were and that one of us would have to leave.

It was obvious that the job was far more my job than his, so he was the one who left. But he couldn’t stay away. He would get in the car to leave, drive for 24 hours to the home he had set up for himself, only to turn around and drive back again. When he was with us, he would keep me awake all night threatening to kill me, our children and anyone else who supported me. And then he was back on the road again. In the meantime, I was doing my best to fill my role as housemother, train the new staff who had taken over his duties and finish the book I was working on, never knowing if and when he would appear. I was exhausted.

It didn’t take me long to leave once I had made the decision. I quickly packed a few things in a suitcase, called a taxi and headed to the airport. I will never forget the young man standing in the window waving good-bye, the only one of the students who realized at the time, I was leaving. For years I couldn’t think of him, or of any of the other students, who I had grown to love, without crying. I was devastated with the thought that I had failed them completely, leaving like I did. but I didn’t know what else to do.

It has now been over thirty years since that minute that changed my life completely. I don’t know if I would have actually ever left, if that phone call hadn’t happened. I wasn’t strong enough to leave for myself, but I found I could do so in order to protect the students. It took years to let go of the guilt and the grief fully, but over time it happened.

Leaving my husband opened doors in ways I never expected: doors that allowed me to finally become the person I am meant to be. Eight years ago, I got phone call from one of the students who was now a mother. She was calling because her daughter was very ill. The medical community could not figure out what was happening with her child and had no way to help her. I sat in the hospital by her side watching the toddler in the crib and offered to try to help, with a new tool I had discovered through one of the open doors mentioned above. It provided the answer: a parasite from wild fish, which we cleared and brought relief to the child.

Last night I had the privilege of meeting this child again for the first time since she was sick. She is now a happy, healthy, ten-year-old who is dreaming of becoming an astronaut and walking on planets other than ours. What a joy it was to see who she has become so far and consider what she will do in the future. It’s almost overwhelming to know I played a small part in ensuring that she would live. As she smiled at me from across the room, I couldn’t help thinking back to that one minute that changed my life so abruptly. Had it not done so, I likely would never have had the knowledge I needed to be able to help her.

Our personal journeys through life are unexpected in so many ways. One minute can make all the difference to where we end up. It has for me.


About the Creator

Gail Wylie

Family therapist - always wanted to be a writer. Have published books on autism. Currently enjoying trying my hand at fiction. Loving the challenges of Vocal. Excited to have my first novel CONSEQUENCES available through Amazon.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (15)

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  • Christy Munson3 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your top story.

  • Anna 23 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Mika Oka27 days ago

    This reminds me of sliding doors. Everything can be so different with each decision we made

  • Jeremy White27 days ago

    Congrats on top story. Glad you made it out. We never know how one choice can change our entire life.

  • JBaz28 days ago

    Amazing the strength we find within ourselves.without knowing it existed. Congratulations

  • Susan Fourtané28 days ago

    It’s that’d to make decisions that will take us away from what is known in our life. I wonder why you didn’t report your husband about the death threats.

  • D. D. Lee28 days ago

    Bravo for making it through and congrats on Top Story!

  • Andrea Corwin 28 days ago

    oops, Congratulations on the TS.🎉

  • Andrea Corwin 28 days ago

    We never know when that turn to the right; or the smile we shine on someone will create a profound change. We are all connnected. Nice of you to share this!

  • Great work! Glad you got out of the situation!!!

  • Dana Crandell28 days ago

    A powerful, uplifiting story. Congratulations!

  • Mack D. Ames28 days ago

    Powerful story well told. Glad you are here and shared your story.

  • Christy Munson28 days ago

    Wow. Hard choices. Kindness and understanding sometimes are all the difference. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Novel Allenabout a month ago

    Those decisions are hard to make. i am so glad you found the courage to start a new life. Kindness is always remembered. Happy that you are here.

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