Originally created 07/25/02

A mother's anguish

A new study says women's brains are better able to receive and retain emotions.

One need not share that study with Joy Batchelor. She knows it all too well.

The Aiken County woman's brain must now attempt to absorb the unthinkable - the deaths of her three children - and somehow fathom the senselessness surrounding them.

It was horrific enough that the boys - 11-year-old Drew, 13-year-old Brandon and 15-year-old Raymond - died after a fiery head-on crash July 11 on Belvedere-Clearwater Road that also injured three other boys in the vehicle. And that Raymond, who did not have a license, was allowed to be driving.

But the South Carolina Highway Patrol also alleges that the boys' father and Batchelor's ex-husband, Michael Batchelor, supplied the boys with beer prior to the fatal collision.

If true, the charge is one of the most outrageous in memory - that a man who should be mentoring these beautiful young boys, who should be showing them the way and warning them of the dangers of drinking and driving, was actually fueling it, funding it, encouraging it, initiating it.

Unbelievable. Unconscionable. Unforgivable. If true, what could this man have been thinking? That drinking and driving is a rite of passage? That it's an integral part of manhood? That it's how fathers and sons create lasting bonds?

The only lasting part of all this is the 121 years in prison this man may be facing if convicted on all counts - and the bottomless sorrow he will have left their mother.

Yet remarkably, this grieving mother seems determined to make the best of a nightmarish situation. Already she is planning a crusade to warn youth about the potentially fatal consequences of drinking and driving.

It's a growing movement, thankfully, but one that desperately needs women with the unquestioned credibility and wholehearted courage that Joy Batchelor brings to it.

She quite possibly could end up saving someone else's children. And if her activism brings her even a dollop of consolation, then all the better.

For, it matters not whether the father's possible prison term were 121 years or 1,121 years. Joy Batchelor's anguish amounts to much more.


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