Partial Excerpt-Chapter 1 Sacrifice
I am the youngest of two children who was born and raised in a small community in South Mississippi. My sister Robin was nearly six years older than me. I had a good childhood. Our family was not wealthy, not even middle class. We had issues and concerns as most families. My parents both worked outside the home. They were both hard workers but neither had a college education; however, education was a necessity. We were raised in the church and taught Christian values and to show the love of God to others. In Matthew 5:43-44, King James Version, it speaks of “loving thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy, but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Throughout our upbringing, I remember being taught that character reflects behavior. Being independent from God, we could not love our enemies. This type of love comes from God. I believe in the old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” The support of our grandparents, small community, and church family was an influential part of our lives. Our values and beliefs were reinforced by our family and church family.
I grew up in a time that has almost become foreign to most of us a time when you left your doors unlocked. Everyone in the community knew everyone; your grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins lived in walking distance. Neighbors looked out for one another and were often extended family. Sunday worship and fellowship was the highlight of the week.
Your mother was known in the church and community for her kind and generous spirit; her southern cooking was loved by many. Her red beans and rice and pig feet were favorites. And church members raved over her blueberry cake reserved for special church gatherings. We can’t forget her famous candy apples. Mama had a generous spirit that was extended to many. I remember her best friend, we called her “Granny,” who was like an older sister to her and like a grandmother to Robin and me, died and Mama became a second mom to her daughter, Renee. She was like a grandmother to many children. There were even clothes and toys at our house for the children who referred to her as “BeeBee.” In the community, she was known as Ms. Annie B.
My dad was know for his stern demeanor, infrequent smiles, and one-finger hand wave when seen in public. Even though Daddy was a man of few words, he was known for his craftsmanship and love for cows and country living. When the children were visiting, he didn’t engage much, but you knew he enjoyed them being there. When they were gone, he wanted to know when they would return. Those were the days—the days of sacrifice?
In 1992, while in my junior year of high school, life took an unexpected turn for our family. My dad, a man who didn’t miss work and was never sick, became ill with extreme back pain and was hospitalized. My sister was away in graduate school in Louisiana. Daddy was in the hospital for several days as doctor’s ran test after test until determining that a bone biopsy was needed. A day or so later, we received the results it was cancer multiple myeloma. We were puzzled: “how, what is this, what’s the prognosis.” The answers to the how and what would come later. According to Mom, the prognosis was good as it was benign: no progression, no chemotherapy, and no radiation needed at this time. Daddy was quiet. He didn’t want to discuss it. He seemed withdrawn and in denial. Daddy insisted that no one knew, and we go on with life as usual. While we respected Daddy’s wish, it was difficulty to ignore what could potentially be ahead of him. It was scary!