Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rainbows Aren't Always Full of Promise

We moved. I don’t remember why we moved or even what we did with the camper we lived in. We may have planned to make payments on it and didn’t. We may have gotten behind in our lot rent and abandoned it. I really don’t know. I am sure some of you can’t imagine ever doing such a thing. I couldn’t either. I wasn’t in charge. Since then, I have learned that sometimes you just do what you gotta do to survive.

Packing our meager belongings into our 1951 Chevy tank, we moved to another trailer. Bigger than the last, but very old. It was in town. Alvin didn’t like living in town. He was a country boy. Before the song: Thank God I’m a country boy, he was true to its meaning. I, born and raised in Brooklyn NY, we couldn’t be more mismatched. I tried to be country. I tried to learn his ways. After all, I chose the wedding song Wither Thou Goest as one of our songs. I meant it. I was determined to be a wonderful wife.

Again, no matter what I did, it was never enough. I tried to can vegetables. I actually did pretty well with the jelly. I hadn’t been in 4-H so what did I know about food preservation? We had food of every variety within steps from our door in Brooklyn.

Then there were the trips out into the country for various reasons. I have always been uncoordinated. I didn’t know how to do most of the things he wanted me to do. I usually slipped or fell. He'd get mad. But I tried. I tried so hard.

Our new address was 52 Rainbow Village. I thought we had actually moved up in our status. Somewhere along this time, I went back to Hickman. Pregnant, married, I started my senior year. I now looked at typing, shorthand and bookkeeping. College was out of the question. Perhaps I could learn clerical skills. Mr. Thomas taught most of these classes. That was good. He didn’t look down on me. The rest of the teachers looked at me as a loser.

Loser, a term I’ve heard a lot in my life. Even today, like “you’re lazy” it resonates with me. I wonder when I will ever not be a lazy loser. The adage about stick and stone and names never hurting is not true. 
Words stick. Words hurt. Sometimes they echo through the soul even when the mind knows they are untrue.

I managed to get a doctor’s note to excuse me from PE. I remember the look on the teacher's face when I gave it to her. She had been nice to me when I first came to Columbia. She seemed disappointed and surprised. What had been her opinion of me before? I don’t know. I don’t even know what her look meant. I just know she had a reaction unlike most of the teachers.

It didn’t last long. I don’t know why. I quit. This was the first of three times that I quit High School. I turned my attention to being a good wife. I was preparing to be a mother.

My prenatal care came from the University hospital. People without insurance could find prenatal care there without many issues. I had no idea about insurance. I just knew there was a clinic there. Medical students and residents examined and poked me at Clinic 7. I was required to have a shot of penicillin each month. They told me it was because of a heart murmur they heard. Having had Rheumatic Fever as a child they were unsure of what this murmur meant. They just felt antibiotics were necessary.

With my bare butt exposed, I ask a scowling nurse why I had to have an injection each month.  She really didn’t like pregnant teenagers, married or not. Her reply was, “you can’t be trusted to take a pill.” Like some macabre retribution for my teenage pregnancy, she thrust the needle in my butt. I will never forget that nurse. Dressed in white with a pillbox style cap, she seemed evil to me.

I suppose the murmur was serious. They did send me for follow-up at Clinic 4 – the cardiac clinic. Fortunately, the murmur disappeared once my child was born. I never had to have injections or even oral antibiotics after this pregnancy.

Soon I would be a mother. April 1, April Fool’s Day was his due date.  He didn’t wait that long. He came early, two month early. He came with his butt first into the world. An emergency that would have been handled so differently had I been older. If I had a voice, an advocate, knowledge, I would have said no, you can’t do this to me. Read about the birth of Nathan, here.


  1. Well Joyce. In your later years accomplishments, I think you showed quite a few people YOU ARE NOT A LOOSER.Quite the contrary to what you were led to believe in your younger years.

  2. Joyce, you have accomplished SO MUCH!! Despite what others have said to you, about you... you have proven you are NOT lazy, NOT a loser! I am so proud of you the way you came out of so many adversities and have risen above them! You are definitely a winner as you have learned to triumph in Christ Jesus!


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