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Ther Moment I Grew Up

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I have always been a crier. I come from a long line of criers, my mother being the queen of them all. Therefore, seeing my mother cry is not the end of the world. Seeing a man cry could imply otherwise. I learned this lesson when I was 14.

I have always been a daddy’s girl. Two tall blondes with the gift of physical fitness and a tendency to be shy at times, we were the exact opposite of my mother and my brother. I did things for my father that my brother refused. I opened my eyes to a world that was still sleeping so I could accompany my father fishing. I tried so hard just so I would get to see my daddy’s smile when I reeled in those huge redfish any normal girl would go overboard before catching. I loved the chuckle my father made when another man said “I’ll be darned I’ve never seen a girl gut a fish before! That’s one heck of a daughter you got there Tim.” Daddy brought me to pick out my very own shot gun. We went to the riffle range where the blast of a gun was permanently engraved in my mind. Not a girl in sight, I was the tough girl that could not only handle the explosion in my eardrums but also the tremendous toll a gun takes on a body. My father taught me the meaning of “pull!” During our trips to the skeet shooting range, that word was said more than any other word. Right foot in front, leaning slightly forward, gun positioned in the socket of my arm and shoulder, from this stance I would scream “Pull!!”, and my father would pull the release. A clay pigeon would fly across the horizon, and it was up to me to take it down. These sorts of things were the things my dad lived for. I was not particularly fond of being covered in fish blood and scales at the end a successful fishing trip or of have my eardrums and arms begging for mercy after a long day at the range. I, however, was always fond of the happiness my father radiated after every one of our days. We were an unstoppable team of athletic outdoorsman, or so I thought.

In the fall of my 8th grade year, my dad went on a hunting extravaganza. It was a rabbit hunting trip he and his friends had been planning for months. My mother and I received calls of how great the trip was going and of the multitudes of rabbits they had managed to kill. Unfortunately, my dad came home from the trip with more than just prize kills. A couple nights after Daddy had been home, he started feeling ill. What started as a slight fever and hot flashes escalated into full body convulsions and delirium. I could not believe that Daddy was sick; he would not believe he was sick. My dad did not get sick, it just did not happen. So I decided to reassure myself that he was okay. After a long quiet afternoon, I figured my father would be feeling his best so I walked into my parents’ room. I saw his feeble body lying there and before I knew it the bed began to shake. My father’s body was covered in a thick layer of perspiration and was trembling like an epileptic. I turned to my mother who was, to no one’s surprise, crying. I asked her, “Momma, what’s happening to Daddy?” My mother has always been the kind of women to pretend like everything is alright. Some people may portray her as fake, but I know her insincere optimism is simply a way to cope with the bullets life shoots her way. At that moment, however, her usual attempts were not visible. She looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Baby I don’t know, I just pray to God he’s not dying.” This is when I was forced to stand tall and except my father’s sickness as a reality.

The next day I received a text message from my mother that said my godmother would be picking me up from school because my father was in the hospital. My Nanan filled me in with an update on my father’s condition. She said they had narrowed his sickness down to 3 three possibilities, one of t hem being an extreme form of Salmonella Poisoning. She said they were doing stool samples and that we would find out the official cause in a couple of days. During the car ride to the hospital, all I could hear was my heavy breathing. The beating in my chest refused to stop and my mind wondered to morbid aftermaths to my father’s sickness. Being young and naive, however, I really had no idea what to expect. Each step toward my father’s room became harder to make. I was in a building where so many lives had been brought back into the world, but I was walking into a different world, and I knew it. I finally reached the door. I grew roots connecting me to the floor between the two worlds. From where I stood, I could only see my godfather leaning over my dad’s bed and my father’s legs still restless with shaking. I could only stand and analyze my godfather. He was my Paran and my father’s best friend. Throughout my entire existence, I had never seen this man cry. He was a stone wall of emotion. He loved everyone close to him and people knew this, but rarely did he show his affection through his facial expressions. But there he was, hunched over the bed with tears pouring from his bloodshot eyes. He stayed there, unaware of my presence, pleading with my father “Tim, come on man. Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. You can’t die on me.” After these words reached my eardrums, and my mind processed the unwanted information, my heart sunk and my breathing quickened. Up until that point, surprisingly, I had managed not to cry, but now I had lost all composure. My mother rushed out from the other side of the hospital room hidden from my plantlike position. She suffocated me in an embrace. We stood there united, two members of opposing teams, crying and wishing we were not really experiencing life at that point. Then she did what I should have expected. My mother looked down at me and attempted to tell me that everything would be alright. She told me that my father was a strong man and that he could do anything even conquering the sickness. I refused to accept her logic, and I flushed her fake words out of my young mind. People always ask if others feel older when they have a birthday, but the answer is always no. It is days like this that age people. That day, I had to face reality and become an older, stronger version of myself.





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