Lost in Translation. It’s not an original thought, but it’s a familiar one to those of us with the creative mind. Since Thanksgiving, I haven’t found the time to write in my blog, not so much because I didn’t have the burning urge of creativity, but mostly because I find myself lost in a life spent trying to patiently find my way out of the path I choose, into the life in my mind spent creating beautiful works of art, be it on paper, marketing or doing philanthropy work. Somehow I have always managed to pull my creative side into everything that I do, enough so that I find happiness in life. But there has always been that feeling of a goal line way off in the distance, kind of like being on the biggest loser life segment your entire life!! Except instead of needing to loose 200 pounds, I need to walk 200 miles barefoot on 110-degree asphalt. Ok, so now I’m exaggerating just a little, because well, I always was a bit of a drama queen!
Like a lot of people, at times I have wanted to make a million excuses why life has dealt me a bad hand. But the truth is, almost every time life handed me some sort of tragedy, there was also something good put in my path as well. If you read back to my blog about choices, you know I found out much too late in life that how our life turns out is all about those choices, and it’s only after careful examination that we sometimes figure these things out. First point in check, when I was a little girl, my Dad was very ill and couldn’t work much after I was eight or nine years old, so our family didn’t have a lot of money. My Mom worked two and three jobs to keep the house afloat, and went from being stay at home, crazy ass PTA Mom, to nearly absent Mom. Sounds sad, right? God knows I’ve leaned on that excuse in my life, but I hope you will keep reading to see the valuable lesson I’ve learned.
At first it was weird having my Dad home instead of my Mom, but, my Dad had worked very hard to go to college, and he valued education and the arts, and he made sure that we did homework, learning activities, and all of us had to take up an instrument at school. In addition, over the summers he would make us learn a word from the dictionary every single day and come and tell him the word and the definition, and use it in a sentence. He would take us to the library to get books, and would make us a read a book each week, and then give a verbal book report to him. If he wasn’t satisfied that we had actually read the book, he would make us read it again the next week, and report again. It was Dad who continually told us how important it was to go to college and get an education. I loved my Mom, but to the day I graduated from college the first time, I know she was proud, but I don’t recall her ever caring if I went one way or the other. In fact, when I told her I got accepted to the University of Tennessee (my dream school), she said, “Well good for you, how are you going to pay for that!”
In addition to education, Dad truly cared about us being outside and learning about nature. Prior to getting sick, my Dad had a job that put him on the road constantly, and he was gone all the time. Once he was home, we would get in the car and take long drives out in the country, walk along creeks, go fishing and skip rocks on Elkhorn creek. By the time I was probably ten, I knew how to shoot a gun proficiently, and I knew to leave it the hell alone at home. Even though we couldn’t afford instruments, Dad knew a man in our neighborhood who ran a community band who would give us instruments and teach us, even before band started in school, and by fourth grade I had a saxophone, learning to play. My Dad was completely responsible for my brief moment sitting at second chair my sophomore year of high school!! He made me practice every day, at whatever I did. Can you see where this story is going? My life could have been so different if my Dad never got sick. He made good money. We never would have been poor, but he also never would have been home. My Mother, God love her, was more worried about my hair being perfect, and that I sat with legs crossed, than she ever was about what I did with my life. Sadly, I’m not sure that ever changed about Mom.
So you can see how this situation was having a positive impact on my life, although there were things about it that didn’t seem perfect at the time. Then at the ripe old age of 14, my Dad passed away. No it wasn’t sudden, it was coming for years and we knew it. I was a batgirl for the freshman baseball team and came home to find out they took him in an ambulance. I spent the next month or so sitting with him at the hospital as much as they would let me. I missed most of that month of school. You see my mother had to keep working, she always had to work, and I didn’t want him to be alone. It wasn’t the first time I had sat by his side in the hospital. I had done it one summer in Nashville, and another time at the same hospital in Lexington. But this was the last time, and we all knew it. I will indentify this time as when I became lost in translation, as 14 is a pretty young age to lose your moral support system.
After Dad passed, there just seemed to be no point to try hard in school anymore. No one really seemed to care. Mom seemed relieved of the burden, and still was never home. Luckily for my brothers, one was already off in college, and the other practically was. But for me, I was just starting high school, so it would be a rough road to go getting through high school without Dad cheering me on. But somehow I managed the shark-infested waters alone! My grades were not fantastic, certainly not what they could have been with more effort, but they were good enough to get accepted into a few colleges. My Dad would be proud! This is where the tragedy takes the positive spin again. Remember I wanted to go to UT, but my mother certainly was not going to financially help with that? I found out that I could get a full paid tuition scholarship in state through my Dad’s veteran benefits if I stayed in Kentucky. Hello EKU!!
The fact of the matter is, that my Dad was a life long alcoholic who died of liver disease. He had a choice at one point early in his life to save himself, and he just didn’t. He had no way to know at that point in his late 20’s, when doctors told him to quit drinking, or else, that when he died at the age of 47, his death would offer his children full paid college tuition. My Dad was a man who valued education and the arts, and you know what? He raised three children who all went to college, and all appreciate the same things!