The Witness Protection Program was authorized by the Organized Crime Act of 1970, then amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The U.S. Marshals have protected, relocated, and given new identities to more than 8,600 witnesses and 9,900 of their family members since the program began in 1971. Approximately 95% of witnesses in the program are what "we call criminals", said the creator of the federal program.
Naomi was of the 5%. Naomi was the up close and personal witness. Naomi's witnessing took more than 5 years of culminating information, a seriously risky endeavor, to testify for the prosecution against her ex-husband. Naomi and husband were married for fifteen years before she knew intuitively that something was amiss. Her husband's behavior, secretiveness, changed friendships, and a new job suddenly with an answering machine always answering.
Naomi has three children, just like I do. Ages of our six children were identical, along with our children's genders. Matched evenly and precisely, and yet with assorted personalities. The extra lovely thing, the children got along famously. Rare squabbles between them ever happened and when the squabbles happened it was nothing serious. Forgiveness of opposing forces took place in five minutes or less.
Naomi absolutely refused to call me by my nickname, as she would say, "because quite clearly, Victoria is too beautiful to shorten", she would say. We were kindred spirits. Naomi cooked, knitted, and was an avid reader. I am writing this in the past tense, for they are just memories now. I am sure Naomi still cooks, knit, and reads just as passionately as I, even now.
Naomi's favorite pie is this weekly blog's feature, and I named my Blueberry Crumble after her; Naomi's Pie. It was her favorite and I am sure it still is. Naomi's birthday is this month, and I chose to remember her again, and to put my memory into words and pie. Two great forms of communications; words and pie!
Naomi would say that "there surely must be Blueberry Crumble in heaven," because it truly was her one and only pie she liked to eat.
I miss her. A person going into Witness Protection is quite like someone passing from this life, for those of us still here in this geographical location, without Naomi's smile and friendship. It is different than death and yet the same with grieving.
Our last phone call was three hours long. We played out what we thought our lives would be like, to each other. We shared how we grew older, and wiser, and keener, living life in matters of love, and in compassion, and in commitment. We knew this was the only way to sort of share our futures together. We talked about our children graduating and finding jobs and moving away and marrying and most importantly about our children bringing our grandchildren to see us. A new grandchild perhaps every year or two! We knew grandchildren would be a lovely highlight of our lives. We talked about everything else in our futures, and we said goodbye.
Naomi and her children are protected and I am glad. I still feel it is a lousy deal for me, and yet I know she is safe from at least the one thing. The thing that put her and her children in Witness Protection.
I am celebrating with her in spirit. I am cutting a slice of Blueberry Crumble and topping it with homemade whipped cream with a sprinkle of lemon zest; just like she liked it. Happy Birthday Naomi!
Standard Crust or Cookie Crust
1 1/4 c. flour and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. chilled butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp. cold water
Directions: Cut butter into flour and salt into you have crumbles. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the pie dough comes together. Roll out on lightly floured surface until the size of the pie pan you are using. Bake at 375 degree oven with a piece of parchment in center of crust with pie weights on top of parchment paper for 20 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and continue to bake until crust starts to turn golden. About another 12 minutes.
8-10 cookies of your choice
3 Tbsp. sugar
zest of one lemon
3 Tbsp. melted butter
Directions: Using food processor grind cookies into crumbs add sugar and lemon zest and melted butter until crumbs are moist. Press into pie pan. Bake at 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
2/3 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 c. fresh blueberries
Directions: Combine all ingredients for filling and let sit for 20 minutes or until blueberries start to release their juice.
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