Mary Stevenson – Idea for a book

Blog Post #2 – Robb’s letter to me of 4/22/73 on the idea of writing a book about the skyjacking.


Mary-Stevenson-Headshot-300x300Some may wonder why neither Robb nor myself have ever written a book about the skyjacking prior to now. One of my reasons is that I was determined that I would never do anything that would possibly hurt Robb, after all he has been through. When I saw his interview from a couple of years ago, I saw that he was finally ready to talk about the event, and possibly even ready to write about it himself.

He did bring up the subject to me in a letter from Lompoc Prison back on 4/22/73. He had an army buddy named Randy Lopez that he stayed in touch with from their Vietnam days. Here’s Robb’s letter:

“Mary, I want to ask you a favor. I’ve talked with Randy and I guess he’s going to Reno to see you about my idea. I’m very stupid sometimes and tend to jump into things rather quickly. I usually wade in over my head. I haven’t really had much of a chance to talk this idea over with you but whatever I do I want your approval.

“During life people have expenses. They need money to make life that much smoother. I want to go ahead with my idea, but I’m afraid I don’t know anything about writing or any phase of it. You and I are us. I want it to stay that way. I want you to talk to Randy, and tell me what to do. In other words, look out for me. I trust your judgment. If you say it’s a bad deal, then I’ll call the whole thing off.

“I really think we could use some $, but you’re the expert on the subject. Seems like I rely more and more on you each day. I might be sticking my neck out, but it makes me feel comfortable trusting you. I love you very much. I want you above everything else. Nothing else matters. Robb”

What I knew for sure at that point in time, less than one year after his crime, is that we dare not try and capitalize on it by writing a book, trying to sell movie rights, etc. No! That would certainly not go over well with the Parole Board. The whole focus was to see Robb get out of prison sooner vs. later, and it was not the right time to act on his idea. I never did meet or hear from his friend Randy Lopez. It was way too soon for me to write my book, too. There were many spiritual lessons to be learned before that, to see the Big Picture of what our souls had signed up for, in what was to be the most intense “initiation” of both our lives. It is only in the last few months that the divine guidance came to me that the time was right. I had put the whole idea so far on the back burner, I was quite surprised myself to see how all the steps unfolded to share this amazing story with you all, at this point in time.

My Mom, my Dad and Me

Winter SunIt was deep in the winter of 1995. Mom was at the end of a long illness. She was dying. We called for the parish priest. He came and administered last rites. When the priest left I was sitting with mom and she said “I must be pretty bad if the priest came. I must be dying.” I couldn’t answer. I just nodded my head. Mom folded her hands in her lap then looked at me. She blinked back tears and said “I don’t want to leave my family.” I don’t know where the words came from but I said “Mom, in heaven there is no time or space. We will all be waiting there for you.” She looked out the living room window for a moment then said “I guess it will be alright then”.

Mom slipped into a coma a few days later. She lay in the bed mom and dad had shared for over five decades. Dad hardly left her side. She died the next day before noon. After the funeral dad and some of us were sitting at the kitchen table. I really can’t remember who else was there because I had withdrawn even deeper than usual. Dad began to speak –

I want to tell you about what happened the night before Florence died. I always held your mother’s hand at night even then, when she was in a coma. It was after midnight when I felt her hand move. The bedside lamp was still on and I sat up and watched her. Her grip tighten then she opened her eyes and smiled up at me. At that moment I felt all the happiness and all the joy of the life we had lived together.

Dad smiled through his tears and looked at each of us as if wondering whether or not we could comprehend what he had just described.

Understanding came to me slowly. It has been two decades since that day. Now, because of my father’s gift to me, I don’t reach for the brass ring of a good relationship. I seek the Holy Grail of a love and devotion that not only goes beyond the grave but is greater than anything I can ever hope to understand.

   The Rain

I release the faint and reassuring pressureLexmarkAIOScan15

of my fingertip on the trigger there.

I let loose my death grip,

hug my weapon like a teddy bear.


The rain keeps coming, more thick than strong,

washing the chemical hurt from the hill

whose side we huddle on.


I can’t say I feel safe, more embraced

by a subtle act of God.

Surely the most hardened Vietcong will not violate

this night of washing clean.

©Tom Puetz 2010