Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil on CBS 62 called Second Chances. A recovering boy band enthusiast, I tuned in to see the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter. Later, Dr. Phil had on two other guests, Laura and Maurice. Laura wrote the book An Invisible Thread about her unlikely friendship with Maurice.
Their real-life tale takes place in New York City beginning in 1986. Maurice was an 11-year-old panhandler. Laura was a 35-year-old advertising sales executive. He asked her for spare change; she kept walking. Then, she turned around and went back. She took him to McDonald’s for a meal. They met every Monday for decades.
Doesn’t that sound remarkable? Wanting to know more, I logged onto the public library website and put a hold request on the book. I couldn’t check it out for six months because many patrons had already reserved it.
Well, I just finished reading An Invisible Thread. It reminds me of the movie The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock, another true story in which the Tuohy family adopts 17-year-old Michael Oher who had been in foster care. Eventually, the NFL drafts him.
While an emotionally touching relationship, there are many differences between Laura and Maurice versus Leigh Anne Tuohy and Michael. It seems like Leigh Anne took a bigger risk inviting a stranger to live with her family. She was married and had children. Laura was single and childfree. Laura never adopted Maurice because he had a mother, albeit a drug addicted one.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Live On The Street
Laura Schroff co-authored the book with Alex Tresniowski. The biographies of Laura and Maurice are intertwined throughout the pages. Despite disparate age, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds, we learn their childhoods had some common threads. Neither did well in school. Laura’s dad was addicted to alcohol; Maurice’s uncles and mom were drug addicts and dealers.
Laura recounts her heritage from immigrant Italian roots. She shares her deepest regrets: a turbulent relationship with her violent father; disappointing ex-husbands; not having children of her own. From stories Maurice shared with Laura, we find out about his past. Drug deals gone wrong; apartment fires; thefts and jail sentences.
I looked forward to grabbing a few minutes of spare time to discover what was happening in their lives. It’s an easy, interesting read that left me thinking. If they were such good friends, why did Maurice lie to Laura? Couldn’t Laura have done more to help Maurice and his sisters? She gave Maurice food and clothing to bring them, but she never invited his sisters to her apartment. At one point, Maurice was staying on the streets and Laura didn’t ask him to live with her. It seemed she controlled the time they spent together…when and how it was convenient for her.
She did teach him life lessons, make his days brighter, and give him hope, which is a marvelous gift indeed. In fact, Maurice says she saved his life. “After meeting her, I began to broaden my view on my life.” Over the years, they inspired each other and created a mother-son bond. Laura says Maurice showed her many things: “He taught me to be grateful for what I have.”
Laura schedules speaking engagements on her website, aninvisiblethread.com. I wonder if she’s capitalizing on her connection with Maurice to recoup what she feels she missed during her life’s journey? I’m dismayed she doesn’t donate some of the proceeds from her book sales to a nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth.
Read the book and decide what you think about their truly unique friendship.
>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti