My world was turned upside down when my parents divorced in 1971. My mother moved us from our home in San Antonio, Texas to my grandparents home in Nitro, West Virginia. Talk about culture shock! We didnt really know my grandparents that well, so this was a huge change. I was 7 years old at the time with 2 younger siblings.
I was angry and confused. Back then, parents didn’t talk to there children. They sheltered them from the world. I was not a very nice little girl. I blamed my mother, telling her I hated her and couldn’t wait until I was 18 so I could go back to Texas to live with my dad. Being a child I didn’t realize how lost and confused my mother felt.
We lived with my grandparents for about 6 months until my mom found a house for us to rent. It wasn’t the greatest but my mom made it a home. There were a lot of memories made in that quaint little home at the top of 8th Street.
The lot behind us was empty. I can remember catching fireflies after dark. So much fun. There was a tree in the back yard I used to climb. So peaceful up there listening to the leaves as the breeze blew through, looking down into my small world.
The house was at the top of our steep street. The backyards of the neighborhood houses had no fences. In the winter, when it snowed, we would get cardboard or trash bags and slide down that hill with socks on our hands to keep them warm. We had pretty much settled into our new lives.
Our world changed again on May 10, 1974, it was the Friday before Mother’s Day. Now 10 years old, walking home from school with my 8 year old sister and 6 year old brother, and a few friends. Carrying our handmade gifts for Mother’s Day, enjoying the sunshine. Out of nowhere came a car onto the sidewalk. The woman driving passed out behind the wheel from recent tests at the hospital. My brother saw the car coming and began to yell a warning while jumping out of the way. I heard his voice, turned to see the car, and stood there like a deer in the headlights. Everything began moving in slow motion. Four decades later, I still vividly remember this moment.
My little brother, unharmed, ran the remaining 4 blocks home to tell my mother. My sister ended up with a few stitches in her knee, along with several bumps and bruises. A 6 year old boy had a ruptured spleen, an 8 year old girl had to have her hips reconstructed. As for me, the car hit me head on. I remember seeing it coming, then rolling like I was doing somersaults; and then waking up against the side of the house wondering why so many people were standing around. As I lie there on my back, I reach down to touch my leg and pull back a bloody hand. I raise up to look, as kids will do, and see my lower leg bone standing straight up and I pass out again. The next thing I remember is being in the ambulance, sirens wailing and screaming for my mom, then out again. I wake up in the ER as they’re cutting my clothes off, now sick at my stomach. The next time I wake up, I’m in a body cast from my armpits to my toes.
My right leg was hanging on by threads. The doctors attempted to save it, saying amputation at the time of the accident might have killed me because my body was in so much shock from blood loss, multiple internal injuries, and of course the leg. All I remember about that first week was the room smelling like rotten meat.
To sum things up, I was in the hospital 2 1/2 months and nearly died 3 times. I came out as an above knee amputee.
Why do I tell you all this? Not for sympathy, that’s for sure. Anyone who knows me forgets about my leg. At 10 years old I came to the realization that it was my mom who always had been and always would be there for me. She was at the hospital every day. She didn’t drive so she had to depend upon the help of others to get there. She encouraged me so much over the years. She never treated me any different than my siblings. Sometimes she expected more, after all, I was the oldest.
My mom went through a lot. When my parents first divorced, she was searching for herself. We attended different churches searching for the right one. When the accident happened, a member of the church told my mother it was her fault. That God was punishing her through her children. This turned my mother against organized religion. She studied on her own after that, but never went back to church.
My mother died of cancer in 2008. At the time, I was not strong in my faith and knew very little. In the last year I have studied and read and asked questions and watched sermons, you get the point. When I rededicated my life to Christ, I wasn’t sure if my mom knew Jesus. The more I learn the more know she did and that I will see her again one day.
What I’m trying to say is that our life on this earth is short. It can be taken away so quickly. Don’t harbor resentment. When you think something nice about someone, tell them. Forgive and love like there is no tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.
Thanks Mom, I’ll see you on the other side. Love you and miss you bunches!