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Saturday, July 30, 2011

"THROUGH MY EYES ONLY: The Marilyn Dixon Story"


by Cyrus Webb (August 2011 Conversations Magazine)

Everybody has a story, and at times it might feel as though no one else understands what we are going through in our own lives. The more time I spend talking with individuals and meeting new people, however, I realize just how untrue that is. Take for instance Florida native Marilyn Dixon. Her personal journey is one that included heartache, anger, disappointment yet a strong faith that has aided her in weathering storms that would have destroyed others.

For Marilyn, tragedy struck early in her life almost 40 years ago when her brother was killed in a traffic accident involving a police officer. Then earlier this year she had to face a blow that no parent should have to endure. On January 7, 2011 her 37 year old son Timothy was sentenced for robberies of drug stores. He was given a life sentence. "As a mother I was feeling empty, loss and hurt," she says. "I then began to question myself. I felt guilty that maybe I did something wrong as a mother. I replayed my choices in my son's life in my mind over and over again."

Timothy had started to get in trouble at an early age. Marilyn says he was a follower, someone who wanted to be a part of his step-brother's family. Around the age of 15 he began stealing cars. After facing misdemeanor charges he was put into a preventative program with hopes that he could be rehabilitated before it was too late. Instead his life seemed to spiral further out of control. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade at 16 years old.

Marilyn says this was not just because of the trouble he was getting into. "He always had a problem with learning," she says. "I took every step I could to make sure he could get an education. This is something that even her son acknowledged. "He told me 'Mama you did all you could,'" she recalls " 'It was me and the choices I made.'" This offered some consolation. "It helped some to hear him say that," Marilyn says, "but you always question if you could have done anything differently."

The cycle of bad behavior continued for years. Timothy was caught in possession of a gun at age 17, was arrested and sent to a juvenile facility. He stayed there about two and a half years. When it comes to analyzing what kept leading Timothy in the wrong direction, Marilyn says that among the factors was the environment in which her son found himself in. "There are more bad apples than good apples," she explained. "My son found himself around more followers than leaders."

2007 was year that brought more violence to their neighborhood and turmoil to Marilyn Dixon's family. In August 2007 a police officer was killed. There seemed to be few leads and no arrest was made. During that time there was also a string of drug store robberies taking place, and once again Marilyn's son Timothy was implicated.

When the latest trouble with her son came up, Marilyn went through the emotions that would be expected of a mother. "I was angry, hurt and in disbelief," she says, "but it hasn't stopped me. God had to help me to heal from this." After they had Timothy in custody for the drug store robberies, Marilyn told me that the police tried to get him to confess to the killing of the police officer. "At first an officer told me that Timothy confessed to killing the police officer," she says. When Marilyn went to the police station she asked her son what was going on. He told her that they wanted him to confess to the shooting. It was at that point that she knew the law was not on her side. "A detective later told me that Timothy hadn't confessed," says Marilyn, "but the detective told me that he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that they were able to put the shooting on him."

In spite of the life sentence that was delivered earlier this year, Marilyn still has hope that the last chapter of her son's life has not yet been written. "Recently a new investigator said that he didn't believe the police killing had anything to do with the drug store robberies," Marilyn said. This has given her hope, but it was a different story when she first heard of the connection that police were trying to make between the drug store robberies, the death of an officer and her son.

What does Marilyn hope you take away from her experiences and her upcoming book THROUGH MY EYES ONLY? She told me that she wants her story and her family's experiences to encourage someone and let them know that they are not the only one going through hard times. At a time when so much is geared towards the things that divide us, it's good to know that there are still people out there who are willing to use their experiences to benefit someone else.

Keep in contact with Marilyn Dixon on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/marilyndixonstory.

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