Opinion: Lesser talked about things

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

When I learned I would be writing this week’s column I felt a great sense of anxiety, not because I did not know what I wanted to write, but because I did not know if I could do the subject matter the justice that it truly deserves.

I will begin by saying that I cannot rightfully remember when I first learned about the fact that my mother was married to someone before she married my father. This was simply a fact about her that managed to escape my knowledge and it flew well below my radar for at the least the first decade of my life.

The act of learning things like this however, the less talked about things, is something that comes with the journey of growing up and is part of the territory that everyone passes through. I think for everyone there eventually comes a time when you realize that your parents are people, like everyone else, and that they too have chapters of their story that come before you arrive in it.

For my mother, this first marriage was such a chapter. Although it’s one that she has never tried to keep a secret, it’s also not one she sets out to discuss with great frequency.

I tell you this because it is all that I could think about as I worked on a story that ran in this past week’s paper. After just beginning my second week here at the Shelby County Reporter, I received the opportunity to preview a charity golf outing being organized by The Megan Montgomery Foundation. It seemed to me, at first, that it would be an easy story to approach.

I did not know about Megan Montgomery, nor the foundation that carries her name, when I took on that story. I had never heard her name, or known about the mission currently carried on in her memory.

Some of the many things I did not know about Megan, until I spoke with her mom, was that she was a golfer, a cheerleader, a loving daughter and an amazing friend. She cared for animals, graduated college and even achieved a master’s degree. In all appearances, she was getting ready to lead a long and productive life intent on helping others. Unfortunately, in addition to those qualities, Megan was also a victim of domestic violence. Just as my mother once was.

Both my mom and Megan had healthy and loving families that supported and cared for them. Both her and Megan were smart, talented and filled with potential. Both did what they were supposed to do, both took the advice they were supposed to take and they both trusted the systems in place that they are meant to trust.

Megan and my mother also married young and both found out, nearly instantaneously, that the men they had decided to be with were monstrous abusers.

In fighting against their situation, they both had the deck stacked in their favor. They both had what they needed to escape, and both did. But this situation, domestic violence and abuse, it never fights fair. Unlike with my mother, Megan’s husband returned and murdered her on December 1, 2019.

I could not escape the recurring thought that the only thing that likely separated my mother from Megan was that my mother happened to be one of the lucky ones. One of the ones who found escape when others, like Megan, unfortunately, could not. That my mom’s life, and therefore my own future existence, were once in the crosshairs just as Megan found herself to be.

Learning Megan’s story, and how it mirrors many parts of my own mother’s story, is the reason why the Megan Montgomery Foundation’s intention of stopping domestic violence before it starts is one that I find crucially important and immensely noble. It’s the same mission my mom has when she tells her own story to anyone it might help.

I can truly say that I never expected to be so affected when I first set out to write about a charity golf tournament, but I’m glad that I was.


Donald Mottern is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached by email at donald.mottern@shelbycountyreporter.com