A Family Story

When my oldest sister C. was only 18 months old in 1964, our daddy ran over her on his "dinner" break.

C. had assumed all these years that Daddy had been drinking and didn't care enough about his kids to not run them over.  In the logic and structured she had created out of the shards and scraps of her childhood, it made sense.  Our sister L. had almost drowned a few years after that because Daddy had been drinking.  And Daddy and her mama had lost custody of the kids on June 3, 1974, one day before her tenth birthday, so it made sense.  Daddy had to have been drinking.

But he wasn't.  C.'s mama, not my mama since C. is actually a half-sister, now has dementia and sometimes forgets that Daddy is no longer living.  What's hard with C's mama is that she can no longer remember who is here and who is lost.  Her timeline is all jumbled up.  On a recent weekend when C. had brought her home, she just looked at C., truly seeing her, and started crying.

"What's wrong, Mama?"
"I'm just thinking about when you were ran over as a baby," C.'s mama replied.
"But I'm here, Mama.  I'm alive.  I made it."

Her mama gave her a few details, and C. confirmed from her mama's sister that she was ran over as a baby, just as she had heard all of these years.  But Daddy had not been drinking.  Her mama and Daddy had lived next door to her aunt and uncle, and Daddy and her uncle worked together.  One day when she was eighteen months old, they came home for dinner.  And when they went to leave, Daddy didn't see C. behind the truck and ran over her.

He walked into the house cradling her in his arms.

Her mama asked, "What happened?"

"I hit the baby.  I ran over the baby."  And he cried and cried.

In my sister's words--or maybe, her aunt's words--they "threw" her into the truck and took her to what is now Conway Regional Hospital.  Doctor Bob Bannister worked on her all afternoon.  He finally came out.

"We did everything we could."  They didn't expect her to live.  Two ribs were broken, both of her legs were broken, she was broken all over.

But she did live through the night.  And after three months in the hospital, she came home.

Today I talked to C. for over an hour and learned more about my daddy and mama's marriage than I probably ever knew.

And there are other things I didn't know about my daddy, my oldest sisters C. and L., and my oldest brothers V. and D. until we talked and I learned.  Like how C. used to collect bottles and turn them in to buy food for her siblings, how she used to beg to feed them, how she did anything to take care of them and she was under the age of ten.  How Daddy used to beat up their mama but never laid a hand on them.  How she used to cry and beg him to stop.  How her mama split V. or D.'s head open with a broom handle.  How Grandma made half their clothes and all their Christmas presents, and how their other grandma and aunts made the other half, but their parents just lost them all the time.  How they moved to Florida three different times before she turned 10 to escape the law.  How they lived in mostly good foster homes, except for one, and how their foster families got them involved in activities like volleyball.  How hurt the boys were because our aunt got custody of the girls later, and they were left behind.  How V. never felt loved growing up.  How close it was between the four kids being taken away and when our daddy started a new family after their mama went back to hers.  How resentful her brothers and sister were that she finished her education and settled down.  How C. kept so much of this from them...until now, until they had to know, to make them cherish their lives before they lost them.  How she has used her childhood to move on and how theirs has held them back even though it was just a few years.  How she wanted to grow up and have things and told our daddy when she gave birth to her son that maybe he could choose to be in his life since he wasn't in hers.  And how he was for awhile...until he took another drink.  And how Daddy never bought her anything until he was with my mama before he took another drink and was sober and had a job and owned a vehicle and could hold conversations and make you laugh and laugh until you cried.

And so we pray for those that are saved, but their lives here are consumed by their demons.  And we hope for a better future and more happiness for them, but Sis and I still guard our own.

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Last Day of "Spring Break"

What is this Spring Break that some folks have been speaking of?  I know some of you have a break from taking classes or from teaching, or maybe you have been excited to spend the week with your kiddos, who are home.

I am a bit spoiled because I work in education.  We tend to get off holidays and snow days, and at least for faculty and students at our school, for spring break (and for fall break, starting this next academic year).

Staff, however, have to work...unless they take the week off.  It's kind of ridiculous how few people were there this week, especially today.  I prodded on because 1)  I had lots of do to get ready for my new job; and 2) I have no more vacation days to spend.  In fact, Zach and I worked until after five today.  And in fact, when I walked out to the parking lot, half of the hallways had dimmed because no one had used them in a long time, I only saw one other person, and our car was one of two in our parking lot.  It was kinda creepy.

This "break" was spent tidying up and following up on various projects, cleaning out and packing up, and mentally preparing for my transition next week.  (I didn't actually start much of the physical preparation, other than packing up my cubicle, because I ran out of time to begin researching.)

On Monday, I will be the new Associate Director of our Academic Success Center!  I'm honestly still kind of shocked that I am in this new position.  I never dreamed of being any kind of director per se, mostly because I feel like there is still so much for me to learn, but I do agree with the committee that I am more than qualified.  I will be hiring, training, and supervising our tutors; developing student success and academic workshops; advising students on probation; working with some other student success tools; and continuing to coordinate the mentor program.  I'll still be doing some things for the grant because they will still be funding part of my salary.  Sheesh...I hope I'm ready for these big changes and responsibilities!  I know I am ready to be working more directly with students again!

Here is what my cubicle looked like before:

And after:

It seems strange that it looks smaller without everything.  And I have soooo many files.  The day was particularly tinged with sadness, not just because I was leaving and wrapping everything up, but also because so many folks had taken off today, that I didn't get to say goodbye to.  I actually haven't even seen my boss since I interviewed, got the job, and worked my last week because she's been out of town for various things.  :( 

Thankfully, I will just be a few stairs away!  Bring it on, Monday!?
Until then, we're heading to Hot Springs for the rest of the weekend.  :)

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