A Good Snake is a Dead Snake

July 8, 2013

Well, I hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday, even though it was a wet one. I know we’re supposed to be grateful for all the rain we can get, but even the ducks have begun to complain. Just kidding…it was the frogs.

Lately, I’ve been seeing several pictures posted on Facebook of snakes that people have taken from around their homes. I even saw a video of one crawling down someone’s front door after hanging on a wreath from right here in Clay County. I also heard a story at church the other day about a lady finding three of them in her house. It’s very scary to me.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that snakes are my worst fear. Yes, I know there are good snakes that are supposed to kill the bad ones, but I don’t care. I hate them all. It’s just not natural for a creature to have no legs and still be able to hurt you. They make my skin crawl…even the good ones. The definition of a good snake to me would be a dead one.

My fear of snakes goes way back to my younger days. Many children are scared of snakes, but mine went beyond that. I was flat out terrified. I used to have recurring nightmares about being bitten by one. They were always so vivid that it would take days to get over them too. They say that dreams can come true, and for me,  it did, and not in a good way.

The year was 1992. It was about 8:30 one Sunday night in early June and I had just finished clearing the table when I realized I had movies that needed to be returned by 9:00 pm to the local video store. So, I quickly grabbed the movies and left with my youngest daughter, Angela, who was only four at the time. I left in such a hurry that I didn’t even put on any shoes. BIG mistake…

When we returned home, Angela and I were climbing up the outside steps to our house when I felt something on the inside of my right foot that felt like a sharp prick. I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark, but I remember feeling a sense of alarm immediately that this was going to be bad. With that thought in mind, I quickly picked up Angela and started running. To this day, I thank God it was me that was bitten and not her. It would have probably killed her.

My husband was on the phone when I burst in the door and told him that something had bitten me. He didn’t seem very concerned when he looked at the area. He thought maybe I had stepped on a stick the wrong way and it had jabbed into my foot. By now, the affected area had two little splotches of blood and had started to burn. I told him there was no way it was a stick, or briar, or anything like that because it was burning too bad.

Because I was so adamant, he went outside and shined a flashlight down the steps. It was only a few seconds when I heard him say “Uh Oh”. I knew instantly what that meant. I said “Please don’t tell me that it’s a snake”. He said that it was. A small copperhead still lay there at the bottom of the steps. He told me to call the hospital and let them know we were coming while he went to find something to kill it with. I learned later that when a snake bites you, It requires a lot of their energy, and you will find it within 10 feet of where it bit you.

I was in a state of complete panic. I did as he said, and then sat down to gather my wits. My heart was racing and the slow burn that had started in my foot was now traveling up my leg that felt like a liquid fire. My mind struggled to remember everything I had heard about treating a snake bite. I recalled  reading somewhere that in the event you were bitten, you should try to remain calm because the more panicked you were, the quicker the venom would spread through your body. Upon recalling this, I remember saying aloud “Yeah, right”. But somehow I did. I began to pray for God to help me calm down. After a few minutes, I felt a calm wash over me like nothing I had ever felt before. My neighbor told me she couldn’t believe how relaxed I was because she was freaking out.

After he had killed the snake, my husband came back in the house to get me. I remember thinking “This is it, this is how I’m going to die, I’m never going to get to see my kids again.” I hugged them and kissed them both and told them how much I loved them, trying not to cry. I remember looking back at them trying to form a mental picture of them in my mind.

The ride to the hospital from our home was usually about 8 minutes, but I think we made it there in five. I remember telling my husband I didn’t want to die in a car accident in the same vehicle with the dead snake. When we arrived at the ER, they quickly began working on me. I was given two skin tests in each arm, a tetanus shot, and had an IV ran. I remember telling the nurses the actual snakebite itself didn’t hurt as bad as having all those needles stuck in me. My leg turned a bright shade of blue and had begun to jump, as if the central nervous system had been affected. The liquid fire I felt was now all the way up into my hip.

People were coming in and out of the open room because in a small town, bad news travels like a brush fire. Everyone wanted to see what a snake bite looked like. At one point, the housekeeper stepped in the door timidly and said “Are you the one who got snake bit?” I replied “ Yes” and she moved closer cautiously,  pointed to my foot and said “Is that where it bit you?”. I said “ Yes”. She then backed up a little and said “Where’s the snake?”. I said “ Behind you, in that sink”. She quickly turned around and let out a little scream when she saw the bag with the snake in it and ran out of the room. Guess there is someone out there who hates snakes more than me. It was hilarious.

Now, we have always heard to get to a hospital immediately when you are snake bitten, that minutes count. But I arrived at the ER a little after 9:00 pm, and I was not given anti-venin until the next morning. The reason explained to me was that over 90% of the people who are given the anti-venin experience such a strong allergic reaction, that is sometimes worse than the actual snake bite itself. Some even die.

I was admitted into Intensive Care and was not given anything for pain until after midnight. They lay a small measuring tape under my calf and would come in every 15 minutes to measure the swelling. They would mark it with an ink pen and I would scream every time they did this. It was a long restless night and the pain was excruciating.

Finally around 5:00 that morning, Dr. Rush came in and said they were going to have to give me the anti-venin because my leg was still swelling. He stayed by my bedside the entire time the anti-venin was being distributed through my IV. The only allergic reaction I had was my leg breaking out into bed red splotches. Dr. Rush was thrilled that it had went that well and told them to give me some Benadryl to take care of it.

I spent the next four days in the hospital. I had lots of visitors because everyone wanted to see what a snake bite looked like. I heard many horror stories about how my foot was going to rot off. But it wasn’t that bad. My leg did bruise, turning from blue, to purple and then yellow. It was a long time before I could put any pressure on that foot again. I walked with crutches for about three weeks. For about a year after that, I could predict the weather from that leg. I barely have a scar there now. So, don’t believe everything you hear.

Bottom line is, you can live through a poisonous snake bite. I remember someone telling me “Well, you were lucky it was a small snake that bit you.” Another myth. The younger the snake, the more pure the venom. It’s actually worse on you. Does it hurt worse than childbirth? In my opinion, yes it does. But the pain you feel during childbirth has a purpose with a beautiful end result. The pain I felt from the bite served no purpose, other than to remind me to watch where I was walking and always wear shoes.

On the plus side, I stopped having nightmares about snakes…Go figure…

Just Let the Woman Cook…

July 1, 2013

Paul Deen seems to be taking a serious hit by the media and I’m sure I am bound to offend somebody when I offer my opinion on this matter, but I have never been one to hold my tongue, so here goes…

Recently, Paula Deen’s empire began to crumble after her deposition in a discrimination lawsuit was leaked to the news media. I guess someone in the media decided they wanted to be famous by ruining someone’s career. I hope it was worth it to them. Let me just add I have zero respect for these people trying to make something of themselves in the media field. There’s plenty of real news out there to report without making a mountain out of a molehill.

The way this woman is being shunned in the business world is appalling to me. This woman is taking the beating of her life, shoved in the public eye to be eaten alive by a media frenzy. This poor woman has apologized more than once and every time she speaks, her words get taken out of context. It seems she can do no right.

Since the leaked deposition, Deen has lost major endorsements, been fired from Food Network, a channel that she practically made with her cooking shows, and twelve companies have severed ties with her. To say this is a bit drastic would be putting it mildly. It’s a monkey see, monkey do act on these companies. Can’t anyone think for themselves anymore?

Is no one brave enough to stand up and say “Give this woman a break”?  It’s a shame this woman’s entire career is being seriously threatened in this manner. It’s is the most senseless act of exploitation I have ever witnessed.  And all for something she said 27 years ago?? I can’t even see the reasoning in this.

I’m not saying that calling someone the “N” word is acceptable, but c’mon, this was 27 years ago. Society has changed a thousandfold since then. Racial slurs are no longer acceptable or tolerated for that matter. But this was a different day and time. The world was evolving every day concerning discrimination. Evolution is not just for society either, as people we also evolve. If someone told you that you had something offensive 27 years ago, could you even remember it? I’m sure you can’t because that was almost three decades ago. Most people don’t even have the same views they held that long ago.  Besides, isn’t an apology the only thing you can do to make something right?

What really kills me about Deen’s situation is that while she is apologizing for such a trivial act, you have much, much worse acts of social behavior out there that is being pushed under the rug. Recently while filming his music video “God Bless Amerika”,  Rapper Lil’ Wayne appears to be trampling on the American Flag. Some lyrics in this song include “My country ‘his of thee,  Sweet land of kill ’em all and let ’em die,  God bless Amerika,  This ole’ godless Amerika.” Offensive, right?  Of course, Lil’ Wayne defends his actions, but you don’t see him under fire the way Deen is.

Just last week, Actor Alec Baldwin unleashed a profanic rant aimed at a Journalist who accused his wife of tweeting at a funeral. Not much said there either. It just seems to be kind of accepted where both these guys are concerned.

Last but not least, you have rappers who seem to spit racial slurs full of offensive words, where the “N” word is used quite frequently. Sometimes you can hear these same offensive tunes blaring from some moron’s radio in several public places. I think the most ironic part about this is to watch these “artists” receive some sort of music award, the first one they dedicate the award to is God. Really?? You think he didn’t hear your blasphemy? Why not also remove all the these same CD’s with racial slurs from all music stores if it’s so socially unacceptable? Should we also boycott these stores?  This is a serious double standard that goes way beyond making Paula Deen the flavor of the week. It is doing irrepairable damage to her career.

As for the off color jokes, we’ve all told them or laughed at them at some point in our lives. Don’t even try to kid yourself by saying you haven’t. Rev. Jesse Jackson himself came to Deen’s defense, saying there was no need to make her a “sacrificial lamb.”

I am happy to say that the support Deen has received from the public has been overwhelming. Not that it seems to be helping her get out of the limelight. But it is refreshing to see.

Bottom line here is, we have much bigger fish to fry in this world than to worry about something someone said 27 years ago. I say we put the Paula Deen controversy to rest and tackle some real issues out there. Just let the woman cook….

Good Friends for Life…

June 25, 2013
How many people in their mid 40’s can say they have true friends that have been there for them the largest majority of their life? This number is staggeringly low. Oh, I mean we all have friends, but I’m talking about the ones who have been there for them through every crisis in their life. If you are lucky, you might be able to name three. I am fortunate to have great friends, but the one that has been with me the longest is Mary Heath.
I met Mary at the age of 16 when I went to work at Higgin’s Manufacturing. We hit it off immediately and became great friends. She eventually quit working at Higgin’s, and babysat my children. My kids loved going to her house and I knew they were in good hands with her.  Mary and her husband Jimmy had this way of “adopting” people. I guess you can say they adopted me too. Anyone was always welcome at their house, unless you were looking for trouble. They would both give you the shirt off their back if they thought you needed it. Jimmy and I were bad to play pranks on each other and sling playful insults at each other. It’s just what we do…
Mary and I eventually would stray apart because of job changes and such, but every now and then we would meet up with each other, or call the other one just to see how things were going. We would usually end up talking for hours trying to catch up. A phone call from her always made me smile. She was always a much better friend than me, because I seem to stay so busy with work that I don’t have time to visit anyone. Although I didn’t get to see her much, she was on my mind every day. This woman has seen me through some of the hardest times in my life and I thank God for sending me a friend who is as compassionate and caring as she is. She is truly an angel among us, not just to me, but to many others as well.  Family is everything to her and she would walk through fire for her kids and grandkids. She has devoted her life to taking care of them. Her youngest son, Mikey, was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident and she has spent the past 10 years taking care of him better than any nurse could ever think about doing. She supported her daughter, Shannon, who overcame a terrible drug habit and has now been clean and sober for over three years. These are just a few great things I can say about her among many… I won’t even get into what a great cook she is.
  On Saturday, June 22, I responded to a one-vehicle accident on Hwy 77 with one fatality. I did what I always did, took my pictures for the newspaper and went home. One hour later, I was shocked to learn the victim was Mary’s stepson, Jeffery Heath, better known as simply “Waldo”. In the Heath family, if you don’t have some kind of nickname, you weren’t truly accepted. Upon hearing this news, I quickly called Mary’s home in hopes that this was not true. But I knew as soon as she answered the phone that it was so from her sobs. I went to her home immediately, already filled with family and friends, which served as a testament to the kind of people her and Jimmy are. My heart broke for her as I held her when she cried hysterically in my arms. I I hadn’t seen Waldo in years, but I can remember him as being a fun-loving kid. I know he held a special place in Mary’s heart. She never showed any favoritism between any of her children, she treated them all the same.
  Today, my friend will lay her beloved son to rest and I know it is going to take a piece of her with him. Burying a child, regardless of the age, is not something a parent is supposed to have to do.  So, I would just like to say to Mary that “I Love You” and I will always be there for you. You can lean on me whenever you feel the need. I hope I can be half the friend to you that you have been to me. Thank you for being my best friend in the world…I hope you know how much you mean to me.
Sometimes in life having a good friend doesn’t mean you have to be around them on a daily basis. As the years pass, people tend to grow apart for various reasons. Perhaps you will move to different places and only see each other every once in awhile. Sometimes years may elapse without much contact. If you never stop caring about your friend, don’t lose them. Pick up the phone, send them a letter or email. He or she will be happy to hear from you. You were friends for a reason in the past, and you may find the same bond still ties you together. We live in a society where people are always on the go. The days of visiting someone doesn’t exist much anymore and I feel this is due to technology. It just seems easier to send a text, or send a personal message via social media which lacks that personal feel.
Reach out to an old friend today. What do you have to lose?

Let’s Fix this Country…

June 17, 2013

As I sit scrolling through the daily news, I am amazed at the mess this country is in. And it appears to be getting worse with each passing day. Most people want to blame it on the end of time coming, as the Bible begins to fulfill its prophecy and maybe they’re right. Or maybe as a society we have lost our way and just need to put a few things in perspective. So, I’ve prepared a top ten list of things we could do to get our country back into shape:

10.   An Eye for an Eye punishing a person who has committed a crime in a similar fashion. Example: caught stealing, your hands are cut off, you break someone’s leg, then yours gets broken as well. You murder someone, then your death will come in the same manner. Sound inhumane? Maybe…but it works. There’s no sense in anyone who has committed a violent crime and sentenced to death to remain on Death Row for 10 years. That cost the taxpayers millions. Our jails and prisons are overrun with repeat offenders. And why not? Free rent, free food, etc. Many repeat offenders will get out of prison, only to break the law again to get put right back in because its just easier. Third world countries have been practicing this method of punishment for years, and it seems to be working quite nicely for them. Quite frankly, I think being a “civilized” country has made us soft.

9.   Limit Politician’s terms to one– There’s a saying out there “If you’re not a crook when you go into office, you’re a crook when you come out”, and its mostly true. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but it seems these days that taxpayers are losing their voice as a whole. We sit by and watch helplessly while the people we voted into office pass laws that we don’t agree with, but no one seems to listen, so who else are we going to gripe to? And these same politicians seem to forget that they work for us, that we are the ones who put them where they are now and our tax dollar that pay their salaries. Limit this to one term and you won’t have to worry about any of this.

8.  Limit Political Leaders vacations – How many times have we watched as our President has taken very lavish vacation after vacation? Not just him though, this is a common practice with past Presidents. During Bush’s eight year term, he was said to have taken 879 total days vacation. Clinton and Jimmy Carter are said to have spent the least amount of days on vacation. Since Obama took office November 2012, he has already racked up 48 vacation days. The most recent will be a trip to Africa, which comes with a pricetag of 60-100 million to the American taxpayers.  The average American family gets 10 vacation days a year, and not all of them are spent away from home. If it’s good enough for them….then it should be good enough for our political leaders.

7.  Lower the cost of diesel fuel– I remember a day and time when diesel fuel cost about 20-40 cents lower a gallon than regular and now it as average of 20-40 cents higher. And why exactly did this happen? Oh sure, we get all kinds of speeches about it, reductions in sulfur content, environmental regulations, blah, blah. But in reality there is no excuse for this kind of increase. The truth is they are taxing it to death. In all honesty, the United States has enough crude oil to be self-sufficient, even though the government would never admit it. And every time there is a natural disaster anywhere near the vicinity of an oil refinery, we pay the price at the pumps. Lowering the cost of diesel fuel will reduce freight charges, therefore slashing your prices at the register, wherever you go. This will begin to heal our disastrous economy. It may not be much, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

6.  Religion– The nation was built on Christian beliefs. “In God We Trust” was our motto and now we have to walk on eggshells when even discussing religion. Why? Why should Christians have to bite their tongue every time to keep from offending anyone? If you ask me, it should be the other way around. If you belong to a different religion, that’s fine. To each his own. A person’s choice of religion is to be respected, not used as a source of ridicule. But like it or not, you cannot deny the fact that when God was in the picture, and the Bible was used as a handbook for life, this country ran a lot smoother.

5.  Media hype– Our media is killing us…literally. How many times have you watched as the media sensationalized a mass serial killer? And what was the end result? Giving them exactly what they wanted. The fame they never had. Most gunmen that have stormed schools and malls ended up taking their own life at the end. Why? Because they are cowards. They were nobodys in life, so they want to be remembered for something. Now, being remembered as a killer isn’t much, but to some people, something is better than nothing. And in the aftermath of the tragedy, the media spends weeks and months trying to dissect and analyze these killers to figure out exactly what made them tick. Who cares? They were crazy, let it go. If the laws were changed to never reveal a gunman’s name, then you would see a sharp decline in mass killings.

4.  Child behavior– How many of you spank your children? This number is staggeringly low. Oh, I’m not saying beat them, I’m just talking about a good old fashioned whupping. A hand to the backside, a belt, or even a fresh cut switch will cure many things. You can shake your head “No” all you want, but it’s true. This method of punishment is not inhumane or abusive, it is necessary. Kids will push as far as they can on a daily basis, just because they can. Its encoded into their DNA. For those of you in disagreement, yes, this means your child too. And all the amount of “talking”, reasoning,  groundings, and timeouts are going to get your nowhere. A child will never respect you until you make them and respect comes from fear. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”. Simply put.

3.  Put Prayer Back in School- This goes along with religion and child behavior. Over the past two decades, the number of school shootings have grown tremendously and many innocent children have lost their lives. Think this is a coincidence? Not even a little bit. Schools used to be the safest place for a child to be, and now it’s the scariest. Shootings, killings, rapes, kidnappings, bullying, gangs, drugs, etc. I could go on for days. Back in the day, no one would have ever considered hurting a child. Now it seems to be way of life. Who’s going to protect our children when we can’t? That’s right…God will. All you gotta do is let him back in.

2.  Speak English– Press 1 for English. That’s crap. This is America, Jack. You wanna be a U.S. Citizen, that’s fine, but talk the talk. When you visit any other foreign country, you have to learn their language, and that’s the way it should be here. End of story.

1.  Welfare Assistance– This is my biggest pet peeve and I could go on for days about it. The people who are living off of government assistance these days who do not really need it is unbelievable. Roughly, 49% of Americans receive some type of government aid and pay no income taxes. You do the math on this one. So, here’s the bottom line on how I think things should go.

  • The screening process for any government aid should be more extensive and thorough. Even the cost of hiring additional employees to perform these screenings would still save this country billions.
  • Mandatory sterilizations for those who remain on government assistance, while still on government aid. Many women plan to have more children just so they can draw a larger check. There is no excuse for this. Don’t believe me, walk into a Wal-mart on the first or 15th of the month. These people are eating better than we do.
  • If help is needed, then have a plan. Put these people in need on a 2-year plan. Give them everything they need to exist and improve their lives on a long-term basis for two years. A place to live, food to eat, a secondhand car to drive, and teach them a trade or provide them with an education that will allow them to be financially independent. But after the two years is up, then they are on their own. Two years is more than adequate period of time to change your life.

 

America, it’s time for a change…a GOOD one!

 

 

Precious Memories

June 10, 2013
It’s a beautiful Summer morning in early June as I sit on my front porch listening to the birds and watching the squirrels dash from tree to tree. The sweet heady scent of mimosa stirs a hint of nostalgia in me of summer days past. My mind drifts back to my carefree childhood days as I close my eyes and let the memories overtake me. Back to a day when my needs were simple and the days seemed endless with possibilities. We didn’t have much…but we didn’t need much either.
I was raised in a community called Ophelia, just off of Hwy 48 over the Randolph County line. A place that sit in the middle of nowhere, which many people never even knew existed, but to me it was everything. My whole was there and it was all I needed. Our community consisted of a small church ( Mt. Prospect) and loads of family. A place where the blacktop ended and the dirt road began.  I can remember walking that dirt road barefoot countless times.
Mt. Prospect Church
Mt. Prospect Church
Our summer mornings began early. My grandfather always had a very large garden of just about every vegetable you could possibly imagine. I can still picture him now coming in from the heat with sweat dripping. He never wore a shirt, just work khakis and a straw hat with a visor. Papa rarely wore shorts unless he was going to the creek to bathe with his bar of Dial soap in hand. My cousins and I would tease him about his white legs in contrast of his deeply tanned torso. For those of you who are not familiar, Dial soap is the only bar soap that floats.
I was Pawpaw’s sidekick on many occasions. Back then, I thought it was because I was his favorite, but I think he made us all feel this way. Oh, how I loved riding on the tractor with him or just being beside him as he picked vegetables. I called myself helping him, but I’m sure I did a lot of hindering, although he never complained. He loved to lounge under a huge shade tree that sat right beside his house, where he would enjoy a freshly rolled cigarette from Prince Albert in a can or a chew of tobacco. If he was sitting enjoying the shade, everyone just kind of seemed to migrate to him. Sometimes there would be many sitting around just chewing the fat while us children would play a game of freeze tag or hide and seek.
Pawpaw was always humming or singing a gospel hymn as he walked along. The one I remember most was “Singing His Praises all the day long, I’m going that way”. I can still hear his beautiful baritone voice now. Papa loved to sing. He was the song leader at church and also part of a gospel quartet called “ The Yates Family, that consisted of my two aunts, two uncles, and Pawpaw.
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80's
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80’s
Pawpaw would ride us to the nearby little country store called “ Malva’s” in his old pickup truck  where he would always buy us a piece of “blow gum”, costing just one penny at the time. We would all pile in the back of his truck as the wind would whip in our face.  I can also remember him letting us walk on his back to “crack it”.
Back then, there was no internet or video games, we made our own fun with nothing but our imagination. We would set out early morning and sometimes stay gone until we were called in at dusk. Even then we were still reluctant to go home. Our days would consist of roaming the roads and woods with nothing particular in mind, sometimes on a bicycle and sometimes on foot. Back in these days, you didn’t have to worry about being kidnapped or many other dangers that befall children in this day and age. I look back now and think I would never let my children roam so freely. But, then again, things were different back then.  
My cousin and I, Richard, were the same age so we would play together almost every day. We would entertain ourselves in various ways. Whether it was by go cart riding or going to the cemetery in search of lizards to shoot with our BB guns. It was a contest, whoever filled their mason jar up first with dead lizards was the winner. At night, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in a jar as well.
Going to “the creek” was always a treat. We would beg endlessly until Daddy would take us. I can remember him getting mad about us pestering him so much about going, but in truth he loved it as much as we did. Our swimming hole consisted of bend in Fox Creek with a huge tree that had a rope swing on it. Not sure what age my daddy taught me to swim, but I know it was preschool age. I loved to swim and was fearless in my endeavors. I was jumping off the rope swing not too long after I learned to swim. If we had enough people present, we would have a mud battle. There was always a large mudhole nearby that never seemed to dry up. Sometimes we would be so covered with mud, you could only see the white of our eyes. Some of my best memories are of this place. Our swimming hole no longer exists, covered by water when they backed it up with the construction of Harris Dam.
I was blessed with many cousins to play within our small community made up of strictly family. Large Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings would fill my grandparents’ house to a point where it would literally burst at the seams. After our meal, with weather permitting, there was usually some type of extracurricular outdoor activity to participate in. Softball, Kickball, football, or some type of ball. Sometimes we would even make up games to play. Red Rover was also a favorite pastime. Time seemed to stand still on these days. I look back on these days fondly…
lots of family
lots of family
As I grow older, these memories are even more precious to me. As much as I loved my parents, it was my grandparents that made this time so special to me. There’s just something about grandparents…
So, to all the grandparents out there, I will finish with this advice. No matter how small the time you have with your grandchildren, make it count, because I promise you it will stick with them for many years to come. Their memories will last a lifetime and beyond, because one day they will share their memories with their grandchildren. These special times can shape and mold their lives and with any luck, will instill family values in them they will pass down to future generations. Legacies have to start somewhere…

When Drinking and Driving Comes Into Your World

June 4, 2013
You hear about drunk drivers all the time, yet you never really think something like this can ever hit close to home….and then without warning, it does. And just like that, your world is changed forever.
In late March, my seven year-old granddaughter was the sole passenger in a one-vehicle automobile accident with a drunk driver…her father. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured, but if you could have seen the condition of the vehicle, you would have thought someone was killed. They say it was a miracle…I say it was God watching over this sweet child.
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
Her father suffered a head injury and had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital, but later recovered from his injuries. His blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. You may not think there is much of a story here because my granddaughter was not injured, and while she may not have suffered any physical injuries, her innocence was shattered forever. It was a cruel awakening for such a loving child as this.
The wreck scene
The wreck scene
Much like many young girls, her father was her hero and the unconditional love she felt for him made no room for imperfections. With one adult’s terrible error in judgement, a child’s life would never be the same again. She was introduced to terms such as DHR and supervised visits. She was confused as to why she could not see her father or talk to him. Strange people came to visit her and ask her personal questions about home life. It was such a confusing time for her and my heart broke for her as I watched her grasp for understanding in the aftermath. She became withdrawn and would not even talk about her father, I guess for fear she would get into trouble.
Her father was charged with a DUI and no child endangerment charge was ever filed. I even went to the State Trooper who worked the accident and asked him why child endangerment charges were never filed. He told me he could not charge him with anything else but DUI, and that he had done everything he could in the manner by getting DHR involved.
The really sad thing about it is that my daughter’s parenting skills were put to the test by getting DHR involved. It was her home that was disrupted by inspections at random times. Questions were asked and eyebrows were raised about my daughter as to how she could not have known he was inebriated when he came to pick his child up for weekend visitation. It’s a question that tortured my daughter’s mind as well, as she would beat herself up about it regularly in the next few weeks. She swore he acted no different than any other time, which finally led her to believe she had never actually seen him sober. She continues to have nightmares to this day over what could have been…
the following morning when Rylee's Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
the following morning when Rylee’s Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
Just last week, only two months after the accident, we were informed that the father was moving to another state and that the state of Alabama (DHR) was dropping the case. He was free to go and would retain all normal visitations. When my daughter asked how this could happen, she was informed that it was out of their hands and that he had complied with all regulations. Our minds were stunned with this turn of events.
I’m not placing all the blame on DHR, I’m sure they followed the guidelines following this case. I’m not even sure who I can blame, but something in our system needs to change somewhere along the way so we can keep our children safe from the evils of the world. How are we supposed to protect our children to the best of our ability if our hands are tied with legalities?  We wake up in the morning, not knowing how the day’s event will unfold, but the one thing we do not is that we will do everything on our power to keep our dear children safe. It is our job as a parent and something we are supposed to be allowed to control to an extent. And when that control is taken from you, it leaves you with a feeling of helplessness you can never explain.
sweet Rylee
sweet Rylee
I give thanks to God for watching over my sweet granddaughter on this fateful day, because in the end, it is He who is in control. It is Him that I turn to now in my daily prayers to continue to keep her safe when we cannot. After all, our faith is what we cling to everyday in our daily struggles.

“It’s not Good-bye, It’s I’ll see you later” Brianna’s story

May 20th, 2013
As the first Graduating Class of Central High School of Clay County made their entrance into a packed gymnasium of family and friends Friday night, there were cheers, applause, and tears. It was history in the making…
Brianna Andrews poses with fellow classmate
Brianna Andrews poses with fellow classmate
Her long, beautiful mane of golden, blonde hair was easy to spot among the sea of navy gowns, and a small smile formed at the sight of her as the threat of tears began to blur my vision. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I had already had the honor of seeing my two daughters graduate and had thought that part of my life was over. It’s funny how God works sometimes…
The first time I laid eyes on Brianna Andrews, she was a adorable little five year old with big baby blue eyes, and cute little dimples that showed when she smiled a toothless grin. She was such a precocious child, as she had already named herself the lady of the house, taking fierce care of her little brother, Michael, and her daddy.
Michael, Brian and Brianna
Michael, Brian and Brianna
At three years old, Michael’s speech was hard to understand, because of the missing front teeth from an “unfortunate” Superman incident, but Brianna could tell you every word he was saying. She could also tell you everything her daddy was thinking at any given time, because his moods could be hard to read sometimes. She loved them both with everything this little doll had in her. It was very refreshing, yet could get testy at times too.
 For example, when Michael would get into trouble, which was frequently, she could not bear to see him get a spanking. She would cry when he would cry, and beg her daddy to stop. When she was in the 3rd grade, Brianna learned about calling 911 after having a police officer visit their class and speak to them about all of the dangers that can befall a child. That same night, Michael got in trouble and her daddy had to take a belt to him. Brianna cried and begged him to stop, saying she was going to call 911 if he didn’t.. Her daddy wasn’t very thrilled about it, but I had to leave the house because laughter would not have been welcomed at this point.
Brianna very rarely had to be punished, she knew when she did wrong and she would literally take her own course of action in this field. For instance, if she made bad grades, she would go to bed without dinner or retreat to her room without being told if she had done wrong. Apologies weren’t easy for her, so at times she would write you a special “I’m Sorry” letter that would  always end with “ I Love You”. These letters  would  mysteriously appear under your pillow or on your desk. I know, because I still have several of them. She didn’t share her feelings with you much, but she would always ask about yours.
To say she was a daddy’s girl would be putting it mildly…and still is. She was perfectly content to spend a quiet day with him, versus staying at a friend’s house. She loved going places with him, even if it was just to the store and back. If he was in a good mood, she was in as well. If he hurt, she did too. Her empathy skills in this area were amazing.  I know it is not uncommon for children to worship their father, but he remains her hero today even still.
father and daughter...birds of a feather
father and daughter…birds of a feather
I have had the privilege of watching this sweet girl grow into an even more beautiful young woman with an extremely bright future ahead of her. I had never intended on becoming a stepmother, but I think God knew I needed something a little extra special in my life.
I’m not going to sit here and say we didn’t have any problems, because that would be a lie. Being a stepmother is hard, for there are invisible boundaries there that cannot be crossed without some repercussions. But I was fortunate in that area, because I always had the support of my husband, Brian to enforce any rules I laid down. But not once did I ever hear “ You’re not my mother” from either one of them, a very common retort from stepchildren.
 As I watched her exit the gym floor on her special night as a 2013 CHSCC Graduate, diploma in hand, those beautiful baby blues still sparkling and dimples showing from ear to ear, my pride for her overwhelmed me and I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of her life.
She left us on Sunday, her car loaded down with boxes, as she begins a second chapter in her life, a journey that is as exciting to her as it is scary. She never looked back as I hugged her bye, because I knew she was too emotional at that point. She will still come to visit as much as she can, but not as much as she would like. She says she will come back one day to pursue her career as a paramedic. I’m holding her to that….
“ It’s Not Good-bye… It’s I’ll  See You Later”

Special Gifts for a Special Patriot!

Jason, also known to many as "Huggins" with Oxford Coaching staff
Jason, also known to many as “Huggins” with Oxford Coaching staff
May 27, 2013
What a glorious Memorial Day weekend! Whether you were vacationing, grilling out, or just doing yard work, you had to admire the spectacular weather. Like many, we headed south for the weekend to P.C. Beach where the ocean was fabulous. The water was the clearest I had ever seen it. There’s just something soothing and mesmerizing about watching those waves roll in. Kinda serves a type of therapy for me…

jason soft ballIt was also nice to see the show of patriotism as we rode through many towns. I cannot count the number of flags I saw on display in honor of our fallen heroes. Regardless of what you did this weekend, I hope you remembered the true meaning of this day. We wouldn’t be enjoying the freedom we do today without their sacrifice.

 I understand the very first Memorial Day Service that took place on Sunday, May 26th at the Veterans Memorial Park had a nice turnout. Special Thanks go out to Lonnie Schlosser and the Clay County VFW Post 9581 for their hard work in making this event a success. I hope it is the first of many…
Memorial Day brought about a surprise to one former Clay Countian. Mr. Jason Hendrix of Oxford, AL, a tremendous patriot for all Veterans, was honored with a special keepsake. Lineville Native Nicholas (Nic) Hunt, of the 167th Infantry Unit E-Company in Talladega, AL presented Hendrix with an American flag signed by all members of this unit in front of a small crowd at the Veteran’s Memorial Park. This flag was also paperwork certified from commanding Officers to have been carried through several missions in Afghanistan. Hunt had returned home with his Unit recently from a nine month deployment in Afghanistan. This was the very first face to face meeting for Nic and Jason, although they chatted regularly through Facebook during Hunt’s deployment. They met through a mutual friend, Nic’s father, Jim Hunt, and struck up an instant friendship.
Rep. Steve Hurst, Jason Hendrix, Nic Hunt, and Jim Hunt
Rep. Steve Hurst, Jason Hendrix, Nic Hunt, and Jim Hunt
  The location of this informal ceremony, seemed most fitting with four generations of Jason’s ancestors written in stone on the Wall of Honor that stood in the background. Some of Jason’s relatives had even driven quite a distance to see such a special family member honored in such a way. Representative Steve Hurst also presented Jason with a special commemorative coin from “The Sooner Sailors” on behalf of Retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer Chris Peyton, of Moore, Oklahoma, in recognition of Jason’s patriotism. Hendrix was overjoyed to have received such invaluable gifts. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
Jason's holding his priceless flag
Jason’s holding his priceless flag
 Jason may have never served in the military, but he holds a deep respect for those who do and comes from a long line of great men who have: his father, Garry Hendrix, both grandfathers, Felix Hendrix and John F. Sprayberry, Great Uncle Euless Sprayberry, Jesse Lee Sprayberry, William Clayton (Johnnie) Sprayberry, and Otis Rooks, as well as numerous cousins.  And finally, possibly his greatest influence,  his Uncle Bill Sprayberry, retired Chief Master Sgt of the U.S. Air Force. In fact, it was his Uncle Bill who instilled Jason’s desire to honor Veterans each year on Memorial Day by distributing American Flags to the graves of family members and also friends of family members. Each year around Memorial Day, Jason and his Uncle Bill would travel to several different cemeteries for the placement of these flags. After the flag was placed, they would each salute the fallen soldier in honor of their service to our country.
Jason salutes a fallen soldier
Jason salutes a fallen soldier
When his Uncle relocated to Oklahoma, he passed on this tradition to Jason, who has taken this task very seriously, and has not only continued it, but his list of visited gravesites has grown tremendously. This is a tradition that he holds dear to his heart for more than 10 years now. Although many have offered to provide financial assistance to help pay for the flags, Jason always covers the costs alone, an act of kindness that should never go unnoticed. Jason says it is a true honor to be able to do this for those who gave so much for our freedom. Jason also has collected a great deal of military memorabilia over the years.
41 year old Jason is loved by many. He is employed with Wal-Mart and gives his time graciously to others voluntarily through extracurricular activities. He has been an honorary “Coach” with the Oxford Yellow Jackets Football team since

Jason with former Alabama player Tyrone Protho
Jason with former Alabama player Tyrone Protho

his high school days, where he is affectionately known as “Hug” or “Huggins”. He has also been an assistant Coach for girls’ softball with Oxford PARD, and coached Upward Basketball at Grace Baptist Church, where he also serves as an Usher. He is considered a great friend to all who know him. Jason is also a HUGE Alabama fan.

Jason has distributed these flags to numerous cemeteries that cover four counties, but most of them in Clay County.  So, if you discovered an American Flag on the grave of your loved one who served in the military and wondered about it, chances are Jason Hendrix placed it there!

Prayers for Benny…

 May 13, 2013
Mother’s day weekend was a busy one for me, but a good one. Friday night, I was glad to see such a great turnout for Chief Benny Davis wrestling fundraiser at the Lineville Armory. Special thanks to Larry Patterson in his organizational efforts in putting this event together. The large crowd was very well entertained with comical performances from the wrestlers.  Also, a big  thanks to Kevin Moon and Mike Coleman with their amusing performance of their wrestling debut of the night. Moon was declared the winner of the match up, but he may have had some help with an act of diversion . All’s fair in the world of wrestling though, right? Anytime you can see Moon in a dress, it’s always entertaining. I understand that’s happening a lot more these days too…
On Mother’s Day, I was treated to a special brunch by my husband at The Cheesecake Factory, which was delicious as usual. The gorgeous day was a bit cool, but filled with abundant sunshine. It was if God himself had decided to smile down on all mothers…
After our meal, we made the trip to see Chief Benny Davis, who is still listed in critical condition in the UAB Burn/Trauma Unit after almost four months.
We were pleased to see him awake and alert, although he remains on a vent. He was unable to talk because of the trachea, but what we couldn’t make out with lip reading, he jotted down on paper. Doctors are hopeful the trachea can be removed in a couple of weeks and his children are excited about this because they desperately miss the sound of his voice.  When he is able to go without oxygen for 48 hours straight, he will be removed from the vent. He has been able to make it only six hours at present time.
Benny Davis
Benny Davis
I teased him about getting too attached to that place and although he managed a small smile, I saw his eyes well up with tears. I can only imagine after being such an avid sportsman and outgoing person how hard it must be for him to be laid up for several months. His frame is no longer swollen with fluid, in fact, he seemed rather thin.  He really seemed to enjoy our visit. It is important that we remember his daily struggles in prayers, not to mention his family, who all try to make a daily visit. And one or more is there every single day. His father, Cecil drives from Columbiana, AL every day, a two-hour round trip to sit with his son for a few hours. I told Benny he had some pretty good kids and he smiled and jotted down “They do real good”.
Before I left, I told him how much we all missed him and were still praying for his recovery. Teary-eyed again, he gave us a thumbs up sign and wrote down “I miss everybody”. We told him we would treat him to a big fat steak and an ice cold Pepsi when he comes home, which got another smile and big thumbs up. That man misses his Pepsi…
What this man and his family has endured is nothing short of a nightmare. It’s the kind of situation no one dreams of being in, and when you are actually living it, there are no words to express how it alters your life forever. He is expected to make a full recovery eventually, but how and when is not known at this time. He has lost a chunk of his life that he will never be able to get back.
I ask again that you please keep this family in your prayers. They have been through a traumatic ordeal and the road to recovery is still a long one. A fund has been set up at FirstState Bank of Clay County for anyone who wishes to donate to the needs of this family. Call any Branch: Lineville, Ashland, or Wedowee for more information on how you can donate.  His children have not been able to work regularly and making those trips to Birmingham can get expensive every day. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop turning just because you have a life crisis. Life goes on and bills still have to be paid.
Sometimes in life, we get so wound up with our busy daily routines  that we forget there are some out there who lives are at a standstill. At any given time, this could happen to us. Don’t ever  take anyone or anything for granted. I’m sure if Benny could speak right now, I’m sure this is the advice he would give us all…

Clay County Etiquette

May 6, 2013
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Every county has their way of life and Clay County is no exception. But I’ve taken the liberty of jotting down a few tips for you, just in case you are new to the area. You can thank me later 🙂
Clay-County-logo
Clay County Etiquette
Mud– Familiarize  yourself with it. Most people don’t like mud, but here, we embrace it. We work in it, park in it, roll in it, and play in it.  It is not uncommon to see trucks riding down the road outlined in mud with nothing but the windshield visible at any given time.  We even make mud biscuits. How many of you have ever eaten a good ole’ mud biscuit when you were little…or drunk? Raise your hand…no don’t, it’s a dry county, after all….
Fresh Game– No, we ain’t talking about sports, that’s a whole ‘nother subject entirely. We talking about every outdoor species known to man that gets caught in the crosshairs. And if it’s big enough to be considered a trophy, it’ll get slapped on top of a truck for the day and driven around to be proudly displayed.  If we shoot it, and it can be skinned, we gonna eat it. Deer, turkey, squirrel, dove, snake, frogs, and boars, etc. We got it all here, and we ain’t afraid to try it…once anyway J
Fishing Yeah, we got fish too. Lots of fish. We fish all day and then come home and fry it up…Clay County style. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, we ain’t scared to fish anywhere. If the weeds are too high for comfort, we fish with a gun nearby, just in case something slithers up to us. Then we just shoot it…and eat it too. Hey, it’s protein J
Firearms– Here in these neck of the woods, we are very serious about our protecting our assets. We strongly believe in the 2nd Amendment and we ain’t afraid to put it to the test. You trespass on our property or show intent to harm, there’s a good chance you might be carried off in a body bag. So, if you enjoy having all your body parts…then heed this warning. We don’t provide warning shots….
Sports– What can I say about this category? Uuummm, everything. We live for football here. In fact, we even move holiday celebrations to accommodate the big games. Here, you’re either for Alabama or Auburn, there is no in-between. Pick one and stay there. You can’t straddle the fence on this one…it’s for your own protection, believe me. There’s a law in Clay County that you can shoot someone if they change sides. Now, I ain’t never seen this happen, but I heard a few things. When the Iron Bowl is on, you can pretty much drop a bomb in Lineville and Ashland and nobody’s  gonna get hurt. Businesses close, and phones are turned off. If you wanna rag someone about the score, make sure you know the person you’re ragging, or you’re gonna lose some friends, or family , or teeth for that matter…and possibly even an eye. Just sayin’
Food We take our eatin’ very seriously here. If it’ll lay still long enough, we gonna fry it up. Any small animal is not safe when we hungry. Just put it on the grill and wrap it bacon, cuz bacon goes with everything. The bigger the varmint , the bigger the get together.  See Fresh Game for more tips on this category.
Parties– Yeah, we like to party here and we can make a good time just about anywhere we go. On a river bank, lake side, camp site, or just in the back yard. Put on some Hank and crank up the radio and you got yerself some good ole’ fun. But we like our local boys just as well as Hank or George. Kevin Moon and Jonathan East tunes can be heard at just about any shindig. And we like it that way…In fact, we expect it.
Politics– Ugh, I hate politics, but unfortunately, we got too much of that here. You gotta watch this category, cuz we also got gossip and these two can be intertwined in a way that really stirs up some crap. And you can also lose an eye and some teeth on this one too, if you ain’t careful. Seen it happen J
Volunteer– This is a big word around here. If you live in this county, you have been one of these at one point in time. Where do you think our Football team got their name? We got 17 volunteer fire departments and a volunteer rescue squad. We got organizations, clubs, and non-profit organizations. Our county relies heavily on volunteers and they don’t disappoint either. You got a crisis, and they are right there with you, rolling up their sleeves and jumpin’ in to help. It’s a great place to live. Gotta be careful on this category too, or you will find yourself so far in the volunteer status that work will interfere with it.
Fun– The sky is the limit on this category. We may not have a mall around here, but we got all the fresh, clean air you can stand. Just step outside and take a whiff. You can’t find that in any big city. Here, we make our own fun and we got all the resources you need. Mountains, valleys, lakes,  and dirt roads. Riding four-wheelers,  river-floatin, hunting, fishing, mud riding, walking, running, swimming, camping…I could go on for days. It’s just a great place to live. But again, be careful cuz we grow on you like a fungus and you’ll soon  find yourself a citizen J
People– Clay County folks are the best people you will find anywhere. We are a typical small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. Sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. But generally, all round great people that will give you the shirt off their back if they think you really need it. On the down side, don’t think you gonna run to the store in your pajama pants with no makeup on and think you ain’t gonna see somebody you know. It ain’t gonna happen. I’ve been to the grocery store for one thing and ended up staying gone for three hours.
Religion– Yeah, we got religion. In fact, we take our Bible very seriously. We like to call it “Handbook for Life”. Anything you wanna know, it’s all right there. You got a problem, look it up. I promise you, there’s an answer there somewhere, but whether you choose to follow that answer is up to you. You don’t need Google for that. We go to Church, we tithe, and we pray…all day everyday. You got a problem you can’t solve, you pray about it. End of story.
Now, all of this may sound like Redneckville to you, but we just call it home in a Mayberry sense. Any banjo tunes you may here are strictly for fun and not to be fretted over. Come check it out for yourself…you might just like it 🙂
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The Nitty Gritty – Clay County News and Events