Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Truly unconditional love: Haugh About That?

For the fourth week in a row, the piercing ring of the telephone disturbed my mother’s midday quiet in September 1960. Slowly picking up the receiver, she held her breath hoping it was just a wrong number.

“Mrs. Madden,” Sister Mary sneered, “Jackie will be spending the afternoon in detention – again.”

Chanting a mea culpa, my mom sought pardon for her 8-year-old daughter. As she was about to promise the black-frocked warden that I’d be duly crucified at home, the angry nun steamed, “Doesn’t she ever shut up?”

Later that afternoon, as I was released from my prison cell at St. Charles School in San Carlos, I came face-to-face with my parole office and her infuriated glare. “Jackie, what’s gotten into you? You used to be so good.”

Feeling the intensity of her disapproval escalate, I bowed my head and whimpered, “I’m sorry, Mommy. Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?”

Instantly, the stiffness in her back turned to rose-colored Jell-O as she bent down and took me into her arms. With a soft voice now void of all anger, I heard, “I’m not happy with you right now, but I’ll always love you.”

Over the years, this message was repeated not just for my benefit, but for my three brothers’ as well. But as the arms of the antique cuckoo clock spun in lazy circles toward adulthood, I wondered how she could keep reciting it when one member of the family’s choices constantly caused consternation.

As children, the Maddens resembled images from a Norman Rockwell painting. Life was innocent and sweet. The only discord that erupted centered on who got the last piece of chocolate cake. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, our baby brother’s actions chipped away at the peaceful serenity that cherished childhood memories bring. The phone calls received on his behalf made my indiscretions look like small dribbles of milk dotting my chin, easy to wipe away.

Every family has one member who makes us cringe at times. It’s just how life goes, but reflecting on my parents’ struggle with the twists and turns of raising a child laced in heartache, there was a question I needed my father to answer: “Dad, how are you able to still care so deeply?” I blurted one night while spoon-feeding his medications.

Looking up from his wheelchair, he took my hand and said simply, “He’s my son.”

Now, I’ve always understood that a parent’s love for his or her child is unconditional – that intense affection that has no limitations. I feel it for my kids every day. But when a person becomes toxic and poisons the surroundings you live in, it can feel like an impossible task.

Seeing the question still lingering in my confused eyes, Dad pulled me close to share a secret he’d been keeping all these years. “I understand that you might need to detach yourself from him physically, but it’s his soul you must love. That’s what God sees and holds in his hands.”

My father taught me many things during our time together for which I’m eternally thankful, but I have to say this was the most powerful.

I’ve always been grateful for those who are easy to love. Maybe it was because I was getting something in return – a warm touch, a positive response, a gesture of kindness. But my father understood that loving the soul unconditionally despite the fact that it may be hurtful not only encouraged a balanced heart, but also kept you in tune with God’s vision for the world. “We should love because of who we are, not because who they are,” he said.

Thanks, Dad.

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