It was a cold and drery day when mom's water broke. The Missouri landscape was teaming with potential beauty and wonder, but Old Man Winter held it captive in his death chains of cold grayness. Dad wasn't home. He had escaped this desolate land for the much milder duck hunting climate of Arkansas. Mom had no way of reaching him, so she enlisted the help of my oldest brother to get her to the nearest hospital, 30 miles away. After many long agonizing hours of labor, I was born with a stainless steel spoon in my mouth. The steel tasted bitter at first, but being the youngest of 10 children, I quickly learned that it would do me no good to complain. My sibling informed me that I was the "Lucky one". They entertained me with stories of carving their own wooden spoons, so I should be happy for my prefabricated steel one.
My dad was 52 and my mother was 40 when I was born, so I was tagged with the title of the change of life baby. I had a relativly happy childhood. We were not rich, but we never went without. We always had a garden with fresh vegetables, and my dad and brother were avid hunters and fishermen, therefore, we always had a freezer full of fresh game and fish.
I remember learning life lessons in the form of stories told by my father. He always had interesting tale about fighting in WWII and flying small commutter planes with his old Navy buddy. He also told stories about living through the depression and about traveling as a hobo with his brother Frank. The only bad memory as a small child occured when I was 10. One of my brothers was killed in a car accident that year. He was only 23.
I moved out of my parents house 3 months after I turned 18 and 3 months before graduating high school. My parents had bought a house in a different state, and I didn't want to go with them. They were willing to wait the three months for me to finish high school, but I didn't want them to. They had already devoted so much of their lives to their children. So, I skipped school one day and rented myself an apartment, turned on utilities and the following weekend I was on my own. But not for long.
Shortly after moving out, one of my sisters came nocking on my door. She needed a place to live, so I let her and her son move in. We lived together for awhile and then, my youngest brother asked to move in, so we let him join us too. Soon, my two bedroom apartment became very cramped. Not long after my brother moved in, my sister decided to move back to Michigan with her boyfriend, so this just left my brother and me.
But my sisters departure was actually the beginning of one of the darkest times of my life. It should have been a wonderful time. I was young, smart, funny, and a hard worker. I held down two jobs to pay my way through college, and times were hard. I remember weeks where I only had 7 cents left in my checking account after paying all of my bills, and I wasn't sure how I would buy groceries. But, thanks to my friends, I always seemed to have enough to eat.
But the trouble was with my brother. He became heavily addicted to drugs. He stopped paying for his half of the rent, and wouldn't pay anything on the utilities. He even did the unthinkable and began to steel from me, even when I barely had enough to get by as it was. I put up with him for several months because he was my brother and he had nowhere else to go. He had lost his job, his house, his truck, his wife, and his son. But it was all his fault. I began to feel rather desparate when he started to get violent with me. There were several times when he would come home after a drug beng and tried to use me for a recreational punching bag. I was a strong woman, and always managed to put up a pretty good fight, but I still ended up hurt in more ways than one. He was in so much trouble with the law, and one fateful day they came looking for him. He wasn't there. He has been gone for the past three day. I assume he was hiding out, but I don't know where. They left me a card and asked me to give them a call if he showed back up. Later that night, he appeared. The look in his eyes were very wild. I don't know what he was on, but I knew that he was extremely dangerous. He instantly began to push me around hitting me as often as he could and grabbing me by my hair when I tried to run away from him. Constantly demanding to know what I had told them. I still don't know how I got away from him, but I managed to run into the kitchen. He threw a glass piggy bank at my head and it shattered on the cabinets behind me spraying my face with shards of glass and coins. Then he started to run at me. I was afraid that he was going to body slam me into the cabinets. If this would have happened, he could have broken my back and paralyzed me for life, or worse. To my luck, there was a cast iron skillet sitting on top of the stove. I grabbed it and swung. It connected with the side of his head and I knocked him out. In a panick, I dragged his body out of the apartment and into the parking lot. Then I went back inside and called the police. They picked him up and took him to jail, and that horrible chapter in my life ended.
Then the best chapters of my life began.
I graduated in 1995 with my associates degree in Medical Technology and started dating my husband. We married in 1996 and had 5 wonderful child free years together to get to know one another and solidify our relationship. In 2000 I went back to college to finish my Bachelors degree and in 2001 we had our boys. In 2002 I graduated again.
In 2005 the bad luck cloud found it's way to my door once again. My sister, who had been fighting breast cancer since 99 was told that the cancer had spread to her bone. She underwent radiation therapy and became extremely ill. At the same time, my mother broke her knee and had to have knee replacement surgery and both my dad and father-in-law were admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. So 4 members of my family were hospitalized all in the same week. Later that year, we got custody of my husband's troubled 16 year old neice. This little demon child caused us a ton of greif. Shortly after gaining custody of her, my father-in-law became extremely ill again, and this time, he did not return home from the hospital. His death did not come easily, and I am still haunted today by this experience. But something good did come from it. It strengthened the bond between my husband and I. Two months after the death, the neice ran away from home and we ended up placing her at the Arkansas Sherrif's Youth ranch. This lifted a heavy burden from us and things slowly began to get back to normal. 006 came and my mother in-law suffered a stroke. Luckily, she was still able to live by herself, but she relied on us greatly for assistance, which we gladly gave. We grew very close, and eventually, she began to come and stay for days at a time with us. Last year, she had another stroke while driving home from our house and wrecked her truck. She suffered severe head trauma and an intracranial bleed. They did emergency surgery to stop the bleed, but she never came out of her coma. We waited for two months for some sign or miracle, but none never came. Eventually, my husband and I had to make the hardest decision of our lives and had her feeding tube taken out. The Dr's and nurses all told us that it was the most humane thing to do, but this didn't make things any easier. It took her 12 agnoizing days to die. Last summers experience left me extremely bitter, sad, angry, but most of all, it left me completely faithless. I have always struggled with religion, and the concept of God and Jesus, and this completely desolated any glimmer of faith I had.
So, my life has shaped who I am today.
I know that we all go through good times and dark times, but we must pick up and move on.
So now that you have endured this tortur to the end, I have a favor to ask. I would like for each of you to explain briefly how you are able to maintain your faith, what your faith is, or why you lack faith.
PS. I did not spell check this or proof read it because my kids are fighting and I need to go and split them up. So just endure the errors, because that's what makes me human.
Have a great weekend,