as reported by: Tammy Griffin Andrews in the July 22, 2012 edition of The Clay Times-Journal
An answer and counterclaim has been filed by former Clay County jail inmates, Anthony Haywood and Daniel Hall, also in response to the civil lawsuit for libel and slander filed against them and former Correctional Officer Phillip Green by Clay County Administrator Scott Cotney.
In addition, The Counterclaim also names the Clay County Commission and Sheriff Dorothy “Jean Dot” Alexander to the list of the Defendants.
In the answer and Counterclaim, Haywood and Hall report the sexual misconduct in 100% true. The 21-page lawsuit gives explicit details to the sexual abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of Scott Cotney and how Clay County jail employees were aware of wrongdoing, yet not one would come forward. It goes on to state how Sheriff Alexander and the Clay County Commission were and should have been aware of the sexual misconduct and still did nothing to report it.
Here are those named in the lawsuit and counterclaim and what role they played:
In the original civil lawsuit, Cotney claimed that former Correctional Officer Phillip Green and inmates Anthony Haywood and Daniel Hall made” false defamatory statements” against him as well as “instigating vicious rumors” that accused him of abusing an inmate.
As a result of these allegations, Cotney claimed he suffered humiliation, embarrassment, damage to his reputation, mental anguish and/or emotional distress.
Cotney was placed on Administrative leave when these allegations unfolded, but is not back at work as Administrator for the Clay County Jail.
Attorney for Plaintiff Scott Cotney, Joseph Ficquette, says the allegations in the counterclaim made by Haywood and Hall are utterly false or “almost fantasy”. “ I look forward to our day in court when a jury of Clay County citizens will be listening to testimony and hopefully agreeing with us.” Says Ficquette.
Former Correctional Officer Phillip Green said he was employed at the Clay County Jail for two years. Not long after being hired there, he began to take notice that some things were just “not right”.
Green earned a trustworthy reputation with the inmates along the way. One day, Green claimed that inmate Hall came to him and said “ Mr. Green, I just can’t take it anymore.” Hall began to tell Green stories of the sexual abuse he had sufferd at the hands of Scott Cotney and how he had no one to turn to. Green stated Hall told him this misconduct had been going on for quite some time, even before Green’s employment.
Green felt it was duty to investigate these complaints to help Haywood and Hall, so he began gathering statements from Haywood, Hall, and even other unnamed inmates who also claimed they had suffered sexual misconduct from Scott Cotney as well.
Green took the information he had gathered from these inmates and reported these allegations of Cotney’s sexual misconduct against them while Cotney was in charge of the Clay County Jail.
Agents from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Attorney General’s office traveled to the Clay County Jail to investigate, interviewing the inmates Hall and Haywood to take their statements. Quickly thereafter, Hall was removed from the Clay County Jail and transported to Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery.
A short time afterwards, Inmate Haywood was also transferred from Clay County Jail to Kilby as well.
Green said he had always thought a great deal of Sheriff Alexander because she was always good to him. But one day when Green and Alexander were making idle conversation, he made the remark to Alexander “You don’t know about a lot of things going on around here.” To which Alexander replied, “ I know more than you think I know.”
After that, Green said it wasn’t long before he was released from his employment at the facility ( Clay County Jail) with no specific reason being given for his sudden termination.
Green took the accusations of the inmates very seriously, and continued to assist in the investigation even after his employment was terminated.
Anthony Haywood claims during the period of time he was incarcerated in the Clay County Jail, he would be assigned to work on road crews. Upon returning from work, Cotney would single him out of the four- -to- five man work crew and take him to a private area where he would order Haywood to remove his clothing and then proceed to touch him in a private manner. Haywood claims these strip searches were not for legitimate jail security, but for Cotney’s sexual gratification.
In 2009-2010 Cotney made Haywood a Trustee and assigned him to work in the jail kitchen. At different times, Haywood was subjected to sexual advances from Cotney that stemmed from innapropriate touching to sexual remarks referring to Haywood’s body.
As an inmate under the control of Defendants, Haywood said he was unable to escape Cotney’s sexual advances, thus claiming this caused him constant humiliation, embarrassment, and mental and emotional distress.
Former State Inmate Daniel Hall claims his endurance of Cotney’s sexual abuse spanned over an 18 month period.
During this time, Hall was taken off the jail premises numerous times by Cotney, and transported to Cotney’s mobile home in Millerville, AL, and then later to his new residence in Ashland. It was during one of these times when Cotney forced Hall to allow him to perform sexual acts on him while Cotney was still in full uniform and badge. Cotney threatened Hall that is he told anyone, he would send him back to prison with a “ bad report card”. This reference meaning denial and delay of this parole and/or severe disciplinary action, such as confinement in “The Hole”, or being sent back to a maximum security prison.
During Hall’s 18 month period as Cotney’s unwilling sex slave, it became customary for Cotney to take Hall out of the jail and off the premises with Hall dressed in street clothing at least one to two times a week.
These trips included accompanying Cotney to the local grocery store, where Hall claimed Cotney would purchase food for his personal use on the Sheriff’s personal account. Hall also stated he accompanied Cotney at different times as well to go shopping for clothing, shoes, a camper trailer, a flat screen television, and a DVD player. These trips occurred on weekdays and weekends, ranging as far as Sylacauga, Childersburg and Pell City, AL.
On many of these trips, Hall claimed they would encounter Sheriff Alexander, who would just wave as they passed by in their vehicles. Cotney also kept Hall well-groomed by regularly taking the inmate to a local barber shop in Ashland.
On days or weekends when Cotney was off-duty, he would call the jail and have Corrections Officer or jail employees obtain Hall from the jail and deliver him to Cotney’s home for sexual purposes. Hall, who is married and has a son, said this would cause him great shame and humiliation.
One particular occasion Hall recalled when Cotney took the inmate to his residence to help him install a large flat screen television Cotney had purchased by using rebates earned from food purchases for the jail from Red Diamond Foods. After the installation, Hall said he was forced to watch pornographic movies on this television with Cotney present, resulting in sexual activity.
Cotney also purchased a digital camera on one trip to Walmart when accompanied by Hall. After purchasing the camera, Cotney then ordered the unwilling inmate to be photographed in the nude for Cotney’s own personal pleasure.
Hall also claimed in the counterclaim it was common practice for the inmates to be taken from the jail to perform personal services, such as lawn care, carpentry, auto mechanics, and general manual labor for the employees of the jail and Sheriff’s Department, the Court system, individuals and businesses in the community unrelated to legitimate work release programs.
Sheriff Jean Dot Alexander said she was not at liberty to divulge any information on the counterclaim because of the ongoing criminal investigation which has links to the lawsuit, as she has previously reported to the Clay Times Journal.
However, Alexander stressed she felt quite confident that once the criminal investigation was completed that there would be no wrongdoings found and she, Cotney, and the County Commission would be exonerated. “ I am quite certain of this” said Alexander confidently.
County Attorney Greg Varner says they were currently preparing a defense strategy. “ We are planning to vigorously fight the allegations made toward to County Commission” Varner stated.
Hall and Haywood are seeking compensatory damages for mental and emotional anguish, humiliation, mental, physical, and emotional distress. They have both given statements to investigators for the ABI and the Alabama Department of Corrections. Both are still incarcerated at Kilby Prison at this time. According to reliable sources, Hall and Haywood have both been given polygraph tests and have both passed.
Anniston Attorney Ray Bryan. Attorney for Phillip Green and inmates Hall and Haywood gave the following statement: “This case represents the worst kind of abuse of power. These young men were entrusted into the custody and care of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department while paying their debt to society for the crimes they committed. However, their punishment went beyond all standards of decency as they were made to submit to the sexual demands of Jail Administrator Scott Cotney, who demanded the surrender of their manhood or face severe punishment in prison or longer prison terms. The irony of this case is that these men were so ashamed and humiliated by what happened to them while incarcerated in the Clay County Jail, they would have probably never talked publicly about the harm they suffered at the hands of the Jailer, had Scott Cotney not sued them for reporting what he had done to them in the jail. By Cotney suing them, the inmates and former Correctional Officer Phillip Green were forced to publicly answer Cotney’s complaint and slander by responding with the truth of what really happened to these inmates, Haywood and Hall.
A Clay County Sheriff’s Department Corrections Officer has filed a civil lawsuit against several jail inmates over alleged accusations of sexual misconduct.
Scott Cotney, the Plaintiff, filed the suit against Defendants Phillip Eugene Green, Daniel Hall, Anthony Haywood, and nine fictitious defendants categorized as Defendants A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I, who will be individually named later. All of the named defendants are adult males over the age of 19 and were residents of the county at the time the allegations were made.
The lawsuit claims that in early 2010 in Clay County, Alabama, the defendants acted lawfully, maliciously, and without any legal justification in making false and defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff.
The statements basically accused Cotney of criminal conduct and acts of moral turpitude against those defendants. He was basically charged with abusing an inmate in those accusations. As a result of these accusations, the plaintiff says he suffered humiliation, embarrassment, damage to his reputation, mental anguish, and/or emotional distress.
The suit also charges that the allegations were made for the purpose of resulting in great embarrassment, humiliation, and mental distress on the plaintiff. This also led to embarrassment before the Sheriff’s Department by accusing him of a criminal offense.
Cotney’s suit demands judgement against all of the defendants because of the malicious and willful nature of the statements that have been attributed to the defendants.
Sheriff Dorothy “ Jean Dot” Alexander added the allegations made by the defendants are also being investigated by the Alabama Bureau of Investigations. Alexander also believes the attacks on Cotney were intended to hurt her politically as they came in the season when elections were approaching.
“I’ve never played dirty politics, and I don’t intend to start now. I will still be Sheriff until at least January 2011, and I intend to carry out the duties of this office. Meanwhile, I will not tolerate my name of employee’s names being slandered”, states Alexander.
There is also a possibility criminal charges could be filed against the defendants when the Alabama Bureau of Investigation completes their investigation.
It’s been over eighty years since the 1932 “cyclone” as it was called back then, cut a path of destruction throughout Clay County, Alabama leaving behind a trail of debris, numerous injuries, and even several deaths within the county alone.. hundreds statewide. Those who survived this monstrous storm may be numbered in years, but they will never forget… Sunday March 20, 1932 marked the arrival of the first day of Spring in Clay County, and what a memorable entrance it would make. The country was in the midst of an economic depression, and the outlook was grim for any turnaround soon. The big news making the headlines during this time was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, whose body had still not been found. Easter was just around the corner, and the sweet smell of spring flowers were in the air. Everyone attended their regular church services, and made their rounds to neighbors and friends houses to do a little visiting. It was a way of life back then. Just another lazy Sunday in the South. Little did anyone know the very next day would change their lives forever… The very next day, Monday, March 21, 1932, Alabamians awoke to a sticky, very humid and windy day, with the temperatures reaching an unseasonable high of 80 degrees. Eyewitnesses who can still recall this day can tell you they will never forget the humidity of this day and how you can sense an almost impending weather situation approaching. Without any of the latest weather technology we are accustomed to these days, they had nothing more to go on but their fears…and those fears were about to come true… A massive storm system was wreaking havoc on southern states including Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, but in the end it would be Alabama who would bear the brunt of it. This significant weather day would go down in history as the greatest weather catastrophe to hit the state of Alabama, even worse than the red letter weather day of April 27, 2011. In mid-afternoon of this day, fifteen tornados struck within the state of Alabama, eight of which were later estimated to have F4 intensity, meaning winds likely exceeding 250 miles per hour. The official count from the U.S. Weather Bureau reported that 268 persons were killed in the state of Alabama with 1874 injured, a total of 315 deaths were reported in Alabama, Texas, and South Carolina. In Clay County alone, there were 12 deaths reported and over 200 injuries, but this number is believed to have been even higher. Just after darkness fell on this fateful day in Clay County, a tornado touched down below Ashland, cutting a path through the following communities: Bowden Grove, Bellview, and Barfield. It is probable the same tornado remained on the ground for 30 miles or more as it made its way throughout Clay County, darting in and out, with little areas in its path unscathed due to extremely brief periods where the twister would recoil to the sky only to regain its ground with increased intensity. This path that only affected Clay County was a small part of the overall devastation however, because the overall path stretched some 400 miles between Alabama and Georgia. The twister was thought to have F4 or greater intensity, judging from the path of devastation it left behind. Eyewitnesses reported hearing a tremendous roaring, as the night sky lit up as though it were daylight with continuous lightning that left as quickly as it came. Widespread damage was reported within the county. Within minutes after the deadly tornado has passed over, eyewitnesses reported the sky became miraculously clear again, with the moon visible and beautiful twinkling stars carpeting the night sky. On this night, after many shaken residents had gathered their wits about them, they grabbed lanterns and set out on foot to assess the extent of the damage and to also to check on their friends, relatives and neighbors. The storm’s path was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Homes were completely swept away as if they had never existed. Pine needles and sage grass were infused into tree trunks from the massive winds. Eyewitnesses accounts also recalled chickens were even stripped of their feathers. And surprisingly there were things that were untouched in these same areas. For example, in one home there was a bowl of freshly gathered eggs that had the centerpiece of a table were found approximately 200 yards outside and not one single egg was broken. As always, in the midst of a tragedy, our citizens came together after this deadly storm, thus proving how Clay County gained its name as the “Volunteer County”. Everyone who was able immediately went to work. Search parties were formed and many would spend the remainder of the night sifting through the wreckage of many destroyed homes searching for survivors, and in some cases, digging out dead bodies. Every one of the doctors in the county made numerous house calls, treating the wounded as best they could, even though it was difficult to make their way through the rubble and devastation. And after it was all over, people joined together to help those rebuild the homes that had been ravaged by the wrath of the cyclone. One of the hardest hit areas was the Bellview community in Barfield, where the largest death toll of the county occurred, wiping almost an entire family. The Birchfield family would lose five of their family members: Willard, Buell, Larry Dell, and Lucille. Other fatalities in this area included Leslie McKay and Pauline Garrett. After the storm, Clay County Courthouse opened its doors as a refugee center, where those who were left homeless and injured parties would seek shelter. Sadly, it was also used as a morgue. Other surrounding counties also suffered tremendous damage. The city of Sylacauga was literally blown away, as the mammoth twister cut right through the heart of the storm’s path, where many antebellum homes were leveled. The city of Talladega would also sustained heavy damage. This historical day is carved into the memory of those who survived this monstrous storm. And even though these victims are past their golden years, many can still recall this day’s events and how it all unfolded just as though it was yesterday. But I’ll just let them speak for themselves as told in their words…
Thomas J. Whatley
It appeared as any other cloudy day, but the air was stiff and still. I was a 14 year old 8th grader and had not been home from school long before the storm hit. That afternoon, we had went about our usual farm routine; feeding the livestock, milking cows, etc. We did not the animals seemed more excited than usual. Darkness has just appeared when we heard a slight roar, which continued to grow louder. I remember the roar sounded like a dozen freight trains. During this time, our house became as light as day and was shaking like it was going to pieces. All of these events lasted for maybe a total of two minutes, but it seemed like much longer. After the storm had passed, my dad and I went to survey the damage. The livestock were all unharmed and there were some loose planks on the barn. We decided to check on our neighbors, Miss Lula and Effie Perry. Their home was heavily damaged and unlivable, but none of them were injured. While we were talking to the Perrys, one of their neighbors ran up and said that an injured Harold Birchfield, my first cousin, had crawled about one-fourth mile to report their house had been destroyed. Harold also reported that he had been able to locate his mother and his youngest sister, but he did not know the whereabouts of his brother, Buell, or his two sisters, Mary Dell or Lucille. My father left immediately for the Birchfield place to join in the search efforts, while I went to my Grandfather Watts house. I also recall our nearest neighbors, the Bud Knight family had also lost their house. Thunderstorms soon rolled in again and continued throughout the night, as did the search party. They were able to locate Aunt Celia ( Birchfield) and youngest sister, Myrtie and took them to Grandfather Watts’ house, along with Harold (Birchfield). As I recall, Aunt Celia had suffered a broken hip, dislocated shoulder, and several other serious injuries. Myrtie, was five years old, had suffered no broken bones, but had sand and dirt driven through her skin. Harold had a broken leg, glass driven in his skin, and major bruising. Harold gave me his recant of the moments leading up to the tragedy. He said his Uncle Willard ( Birchfield) heard the roar, opened the door, and saw the tornado approaching. Willard yelled to the rest of the family to get out of the bed and take cover when it hit the house. Harold said the next thing he remembered was being in the air and looking down in the fireplace. He thought he must have been knocked out for a few minutes, because he awoke to his mother’s ( Celia) and sister Myrtie’s cries and was able to locate them because of those cries. Seven of the Birchfield family members were blown in a counterclock wise direction approximately 100-150 yards from the house. The search party was finally able to locate Uncle Willard and Buell, both under and large, uprooted tree about 50 yards west of their house. Buell had appeared to killed instantly, but Willard was unconscious when found. He died the next day from severe head injuries. The two girls, Mary Dell, age 14, and Lucille, age 11, were blown across the road, about 50 feet from their father. It was evident they had died instantly. The tornado passed one-fourth of a mile from our home. And even though I am a World War II veteran, I still remember it as being the most frightening experience of my life.
Morine Horn Stringfellow
I was a young woman living in my family home about three miles west of Ashland with my father and three siblings, ranging in age from 13, to late twenties. On the night of the tornado, threatening weather had sent the entire family to the storm pit where we spent a good deal of time. When the lightning seemed to decrease, my father declared it safe for us to return to the house. This must have been the proverbial calm before the storm because just as we were closing the front door, the tornado struck without warning. My brother tried to hold the front door closed, but was blown across the room. I grabbed my younger sister about the time the chimney came down into the bedroom, and knocked a large dresser over onto us. I remember hearing my father saying “ Kids, we are gone!” The house was knocked off its foundation and badly damaged but none of my family was seriously injured- just a broken finger, skin lacerations and lots of bruises. We exited the house through the bedroom window and walked barefoot to an Uncle’s house about a mile and a half away. When we returned, some unusual effects were found, one being a crock of eggs that had been on the kitchen sideboard was now sitting in the front yard. Neither the crock or the eggs were broken, and the crock still remains in the family today. We lived in the storm pit and in a tent in the front yard, and ate our meals in the smokehouse while neighbors helped rebuild our home, which continued to be occupied for many years. It was recently torn down.
Don Keith Ingram ( reporting what he was told by his father, Gifford ingram, now deceased)
The storm came on March 21, 1932. Gifford and Clanda Garrett were at the Barfield Baptist Church for a youth function. Only a few had shown up due to the threatening weather. They decided to cancel and go home. It hit around 7 pm, while they were still at the church. They went to the Garrett ( George & Hattie, Clanda’s parents) home on Hwy 9 and learned of the storm. Little by little, they checked on neighbors and discovered the home of Artis ( Clanda’s brother) & Eunice Garrett had been blown away. Their baby, Arlon was missing. He was discovered in a field quite a distance away from the house. Howard Schultz picked glass from Arlon’s face as he carried him back to the gathered neighbors. The Garretts were found to be alive, although injured, and were reunited with Arlon.
Checking on his own home, Gifford discovered that the Ingram house had been destroyed, but Robert & Swilly Ingram and Dad’s brothers were all right. The nearby homes on (what is now) Barfield Fire Department Rd were all destroyed of severely damaged. It was later that they learned of the Birchfield’s families deaths west of there where Barfield Fire Dpt rd intersects State Lake Rd. The next day, the extent of the damage was more evident in the daylight and in a word, devastating. It was discovered that high tension powerline towers had been toppled near Hwy 9 and Foster’s Bridge Rd. A neighbor’s barn was leveled…its roof missing. About two weeks later, a hookup of tandem wagons pulled by four mules pulled up in the Ingram neighborhood with the barn roof…INTACT, sitting on the wagons! The roof was found in a field in Georgia owned by the man who built the barn ORIGINALLY! Witnesses reported damage a mile wide swath across the Barfield community ( north and west). No damage occurred from the Garrett house south through “downtown” Barfield. The George and Hattie Garrett home was on the southern edge of the storm and suffered warping, creating an uneven floor. The house had additions later, but the original part remained warped until it burned a few years ago. I, myself, was a witness to the uneven floors. Hundreds of people died that day, across four states from Arkansas to Georgia. It was one of the F4/F5 tornadoes that swept across the state that day. Witnesses called it a cyclone, because of its size. The particular tornado’s path was 45 miles long, from Talladega to Randolph counties. Gifford and Clanda were married on June 9, 1932 and lived in a tent in the front yard of the Ingram place while the Ingram home was rebuilt. Their firstborn son, William Maxwell, was born on March 18, 1934, only 3 days before the second anniversary of the storm.
Doris Proctor Fetner
We lived in the Olive Branch community which was located one-fourth of a mile from the tornado’s deadly path. I remember the day to be noticeably warm and very windy. Mama looked out the window and saw lightning flashing. That’s the only way we knew a storm was coming. She told Daddy we needed to go to the Holman house which was a sturdier built house. Daddy refused to go at first, but after us begging relentlessly, he finally gave in and went with us to the Holman house. We had never heard of a tornado, so we didn’t know what was about to happen. When the storm hit, I remember the noise was deafening and the lightning was tremendous. There were 20 people in the Holman house with us at the time of the storm. We all had to crawl out where the chimney was once located. We walked right by the well that had the cover blown off and it’s a wonder that no one fell in it. When we got back to where our house once was standing, there was nothing. It was as if you had taken a broom and swept it clean, and hardly any boards around. There were seven of us and if we would have stayed there, we would have surely been killed. We had only been living at the house for one day when it was destroyed by the tornado. We lost everything we had.
I remember the day very well. Papa tried to plow, but was unable to because the sun would come out, go back in, then it would cloud up and rain off and on all day and the wind blew really hard. Papa saw the lightning and we went to the storm pit . I remember seeing chickens running around without feathers and pine needles driven all the way through pine trees that you were unable to pull out. After the storm had passed, we came out of the storm pit and got the word that several people had been killed near Lineville. Papa got the wagon and went to try to help.
Sue Rogers Proctor
I remember the lightning from the storm was so vivid and coming so fast you could have read a newspaper by it and it was dark out. My daddy got the entire family in the living room and we joined arm to arm and held onto each other as the house rocked. It blew the windows out and filled our hair with dirt and mud. Daddy stood up and prayed the whole time. It moved the house off the rock foundation but it didn’t destroy anything. We lived a half a mile from the actual storm in the Olive Branch community. When it was all over, went outside and one of the houses within seeing distance was blown away and the people who lived there were blown out in a field. They were not dead, but they were seriously injured. I remember you could see the fire still burning from their chimney, but their house was no longer there.
We lived in the Bowden Grove area near Hassell’s Gap approximately one fourth mile from the storm’s direct path. I remember the day being unusually blustery. Some of our relatives had come by earlier that day and had mentioned the weather. It was cloudy and the wind blew hard. When the storm started coming, Daddy got us all in one room. Some of us got under the bed and some of us got in it. Daddy was not a guy who wore religion on his collar, but he had enough sense to know how bad it was, so he began praying. The house shook and the roaring was unbelievable. The wind blew the rain in so hard that it blew rain in through the walls and across the room we were in. The windows were never blown out, but the rain almost blew the lanterns out. It moved the house off the foundation some but did not blow it away. Daddy and I had worked to seal the house and reinforce it some time before the storm. The next day, Daddy and I went out and built a storm pit. We dug a hole in a bank and covered it with logs and whatever we could find. From then on, if the weather looked the least bit threatening, we were in the storm pit.
Linda Dewberry McDonald (as told by her mother, Wilma Young Dewberry, who is now deceased
My grandfather, Morgan Hurley Young was employed by N.G. Blair, who owned the Blair Furniture Store in Lineville and also did mortician and funeral preparations in the back of his store across from the First United Methodist Church in Lineville. My mother’s family lived a block north near the concrete water tower at this time. My Grandmother Irene also related this fact to me when I was a little girl, that my Grandfather Morgan worked seven days, 24 hours a day following the storm. He only came home to eat his meals and he never pulled his shoes off for the entire seven days. Editor’s footnote: So, there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth as told by people who survived this historical weather catastrophe. It’s amazing that with the amount of years that have passed they can still remember it clearly. Just seeing the look on their faces as they recanted their vivid memories was enough to see the impact the memory had on them. It was one they would clearly never forget and would take to their grave. With all the latest modern technology at our hands, all we have to do is tune in to the television, internet, or just look at a weather app on our phone to get the latest breaking weather information. Most of the time we know days ahead of time. I cannot imagine what it must have been like not to have any warning whatsoever. This firsthand recollection of the memories above just goes to show you that no matter how old you get, you will always remember the horror of a tremendous weather situation.
November 6, 2013
October 30, 2013
When you are a child, all you want to be is grown-up so you can do whatever you want to do without any type of restrictions. You have all kinds of unrealistic expectations of how one day, you are going to travel all over the world, drive nice cars, and everyday will be nothing but 24 hours packed with non-stop fun. Of course after you have reached your adulthood, you realize that even though there are advantages to being an adult, it is nothing like you had envisioned. Being a grown-up comes with its own set of rules that include things like paying bills, raising a family, and just trying to keep a roof over your head. Responsibilities seem to overwhelm you sometimes. All of the sudden, being a child doesn’t seem so bad after all. Every time you see one playing happily, you find yourself thinking how nice it would be to have those carefree days back. When there were no responsibilities other than school, homework, and chores. You actually feel envy inside at the very thought of it. That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20, not only in this case, but in many other areas as well.
Teenagers are perfect examples of little humans you can never please. They always want more. New clothes, cell phones, a new car, and always, always money. As parents, we love our children dearly, so our goal is to make them happy by giving them everything in our power. But the real kicker is on top of everything they want you to give them, they still want you to allow them 100% freedom to do all of the things they love, with no restrictions while you foot the bill. If you attempt to put your foot down, they get furious with you. Why can’t they have cool parents like Sally’s (hypothetical name)? Sally’s parents are always so nice and very rich. They bought her a new car and she can go wherever she wants with no curfew. You find yourself wishing you had her perfect life. What you don’t know is that Sally’s mother is a closet alcoholic, and her father cheats on her repeatedly. They fight almost every night with little thought of how their behavior is killing their daughter. Sally would give anything to have YOUR life, complete with the restrictions you hate so much with parents that love her. And one day you find out the truth, when you are delivered the sad news that Sally has taken an overdose and you don’t know if she is going to make it.
Nancy married her childhood sweetheart when she was 16 years old. They have been married for 12 years and have three kids. For over a decade, she has wiped snotty noses, played taxi cab, and had dinner on the table every night. Along the way, she and her husband seemed to have lost that spark. Oh, they still love each other, but the romance seems to have flown out of the window through all the crazy, daily chaos. Nancy wishes she could have the same kind of marriage that her best friend Tracy has. Tracy and her husband go out once a week, they travel places, she goes shopping, and gets a new car every year. They seem like the ideal couple. What Nancy doesn’t know is that Tracy’s marriage is completely a front for her husband to be in good community standing. Tracy’s husband does not care about her, he only cares what people think of him. At night, when they are alone, he closes himself off in his study so he can concentrate on his work. They never even have a conversation unless they are in the presence of others. Nancy would be surprised if she knew that Tracy was actually envious of her marriage and she would trade places with her in a second just to have one day in Nancy’s mundane life , where she would know she is loved.
All three of these examples are just cases of how the grass is greener on the other side and we have all been guilty of it at some point in time. We always seem to want more; more money, more time, more freedom and more love. As humans, we never seem to be satisfied with what we have. But the sad thing here is that while you are so busy wishing for more, you are wishing your life away. You are missing out on the here and now. God never meant for you to have every single thing you wanted in life, He wants you to be content with what He has given you.
The best person to talk to about life is an elderly person. Because they can tell you a lot about hindsight. They have lived it, and now that their years are getting smaller, they can tell you that it’s just not worth it. They will tell you in the end, it is about good times with families and friends and making memories to last a lifetime. The kind that will make you smile every time you close your eyes and think about it.
This, my friends, is real life, this very moment and you only get one shot at it, so make it count. Where you are right now and who you are with is it. Nothing else really matters but knowing true happiness. Stop looking at the glass as half empty and see it as half full. So, let go of all the “ what if’s” and embrace what you have. I promise you will find an inner peace take over that will enrich your life in a manner you have never dreamed possible.
As for the grass being greener on the other side…well, you know what they say about that…