My Mom's "Circle of Peace"

Herbie J Pilato

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Herbie J Pilato

Towards the end of their lives here, my mother and father became more than my parents. The roles were reversed as their needs increased.

Ultimately, they became my "children" and my best friends. And today, I make every attempt to live to the fullest the life that God gave me through my parents.

I am compelled to celebrate their legacy by living as joyfully, generously, and productively as possible, sharing loving-kindness along the way.

I don't always reach that daily objective. But I make a valiant attempt to do so, and it's my great hope that somehow I inspire others to do the same.

My mom, Frances Turri Pilato, passed away in 2008, and died, Pompeii Pilato, died in 1995. I have nothing but wonderful memories and instructions that they left with me, all of which remain in my heart and mind as whispers of guidance from heaven.

My mom, in particular, was the least judgemental and confrontational person I have ever known. And one particular memory of her stands out.

Many years ago, when I was maybe ten or eleven years old, I journeyed with my parents to see my father's sister and her husband who lived in a suburb of Rochester, New York, my hometown. En route, we drove past a circular field of green grass next to the freeway.

As we made our way to an exit near that field, we noticed a group of teens standing in confrontation with each other. One group was on one side of the field; a second band, on the other. A few of the kids had broken bottles in their hands, while others had knives.

It appeared that these two groups were rival gangs of some sort who were planning to fight.

Upon noticing these two opposing young groups, my mother turned to my father, who was driving, and instructed him to "Stop the car."

Those were her exact words.

My father was like, "Uh? What do you mean?!"

My mom reiterated her words with a slightly firmer and halting tone.

"STOP...THE...CAR!"

Consequently, Dad gave in and pulled over on the side of the circular exit near the field where cars usually never tread.

Mom then proceeded to exit the vehicle, shut the car door behind her, and stood, glaring at the two groups of kids. She wasn't budging, and she wasn't kidding.

Meanwhile, I turned to my Father and asked, incredulously, "Dad – what the heck is she doing?!”

"Who knows?!" he replied in complete exasperation.

We then both looked on in awe and in fear of the scene before us, waiting for God only knew what.

By this time, Mom and all the kids from the two rival gangs were staring at each other. It had become a contest not between the two opposing groups of teens, but between both of those bands – and my mother.

A few minutes passed, and as Mom remained firm in her stance and her glare, something miraculous began to transpire.

One by one, each of the teens from both sides of the field, started to drop their knives and bottles. In a few more minutes, the two groups began to disband, and get into cars of their own, or walked away into the distance.

Soon, the field had become empty again, save for that beautiful green grass.

At that point, my Mom got back in our car, and we drove away.

Somehow, she had prevented a riot, and possibly some tragic, if not fatal injuries.

Years later, when I saw the movie Gandhi, starring, Ben Kinglsey, I was reminded of this one day with my mom. In many scenes of the movie, Kingsley's Gandhi remained steady and calm. "The Great Soul," as he was called, was frequently confronted by violence, and experienced personal threats against his physical being. But he never struck back. He remained firm in his stance and belief that violence solves nothing – and that aggression is weakened by doing nothing in retaliation.

That's how my mother was that day near the green field of troubled young souls. She stood there, as Gandhi would, but looking like Clint Eastwood, minus the hardware of any weapon, as if to say, "Go ahead...make my day."

But for my mom, "make my day" meant, "Put down your weapons, hurt no one, and cause no harm."

Somehow those bands of kids listened to her as she spoke her "peace" - her silent wisdom – all the way across that field and around that circle and into their hearts.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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