A Past Buried in the Shrouds of Serendipity

January 31, 2013
I can remember as if it had just happened yesterday. The heat of the day was beating down on my blistered neck. Sweat poured down from the ridge of my brow like a waterfall and stung the retinas of my brown eyes. I dragged my swollen feet across the jagged pebbles of the rough dirt of the desert. My dry, cracked soles twitched from the occasional shard of glass penetrating my skin. I hoisted my right arm to shield my face from the seething rays of the sun as they beat down on my tattered, bare back. The only protection I had from the elements was an old pair of torn denim jeans with holes in both knee joints and the bottom leggings ripped off. This was the last pair I had found since my last trip to the town junk yard back in southern Kentucky. Things had not always been as bad as they seemed. I can remember back to the happy times I used to have; the house I used to live in. And I wasn’t born an orphan. I was born an only child to two loving parents that I held dear to myself.

My father’s name was Jason Eslauw Stadent. He used to work in an old mine shaft back in Lincoln County as the leader of an in-ground digging team. That was until the accident.

The morning of the incident was harsh. My mother and father had gotten into a heated argument that ended with a melancholy mother with a bright pink silhouetted palm on her right rosy cheek sitting at the dinner table, and a slam from the front door that could have been heard all the way to Arizona. Little did they know, but their eight year old had witnessed the entire thing. I had woken to the sound of screams and snuck down stairs to see what was wrong. I hid behind the entry into the kitchen and eavesdropped on my parent’s fighting. The worry in my heart suddenly changed to confusion, and at the end of the fight, the only emotion I felt was a deep wondering poisoned with the bitterness of an un-matured anger and hatred. Unbeknownst to me, none of my questions would be answered. Once my father left, he didn’t return home. My mother and I later received a telephone call later that evening that the mine that my father had been working in collapsed. The workers in the mine were later found to be unharmed. There were however two that were injured, and there were three casualties. Amoung those three was my father. He had been crushed by the falling debris while saving one of his workers from a falling support beam. The person on the other line told us my father had died a hero.

I never really healed completely after that. I didn’t get to tell my father good-bye.

When the stock market Crashed, so did our family; my mother and I. Our house was foreclosed on after all of our money in the bank disappeared. We couldn’t pay the bills. My mom had lost her job and couldn’t get another due to a problem she had developed in her lungs. As our lives slowly started to collapse, we had to leave our little town in Kentucky and move into an old shanty town. We drove in and made our home out of our old jalopy jeep. We lived, breathed, and bleed in that thing. The first few weeks of our new lives were a living hell. And the worst part of it all, was that we couldn’t even feed ourselves. We were lucky not to have starved to death if not for the food rations. The food was given out everyday at seven in the morning and at 5 in the evening. The food portions were small, and they weren’t very healthy for everyone, but nobody cared. We all were just happy to have something in our starved bodies.

Every person was living their own filth. There was a film of dirt and grime on any part of open skin not covered by clothing. There were no public showers and no means of cleaning ourselves for almost 40 miles. Everyone lived and sweat in their own filth. The entire town was an off-shade pale grey. There was a putrid odor that shrouded the town in a cloak of foul air. The town stunk of death and decay. The smell was so horrible that it drove all of the birds away. The only thing that this town had, other than the corpses of crushed dreams and hopes, were insects. There wasn’t a single place in the town that wasn’t crawling with them.

Eventually all of the stress and poor living conditions took a hold on my mothers health status. She fell incredibly ill and was bed ridden for months. Death came knocking on her door three months later and my mother passed away at a very young age of 34. Her birthday was the following Tuesday. I later found out in my advanced years that she had contacted a special disease that gradually destroyed the lungs. My mother died of Typhus.

After my mother’s death, I was left to fend for myself. The jeep brought back to many painful memories of a life that once was, so I never returned. Instead, I was off on my own wondering the streets as a seed carried by the wind, never to take root. I was living off of whatever I could find. I was like this for another 12 years before my sullen, lonely life finally took a turn for the better when I met a girl named Elise that would soon become my wife. She was working in the back yard of her father’s house when I was walking in the back alley trying to find a place to sleep for the night. She looked up from her gardening and looked at me. From one single glance, she knew how bad I had had it and how poorly I had been living. She ran inside her father’s house and retrieved him. Her father and she came out to me and took me in. Her father was a pastor in one of the nearby churches. He had set a family goal to save any person less fortunate than them.
Life got better when that happened. Elise had saved me from the destruction of a life that was forced onto me from my adolescence. I now am a loving father of two beautiful baby girls, and a very committed husband to my beautiful wife. If not for Elise, I don’t know what my life would have turned into. I can only wonder how lucky I am and how much sorrow I feel for those who are less fortunate than I.

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