I grew up on the east side of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Everybody knew everybody. My parents went to school with most of the kids’ parents. You had generations and generations of friends and family in that town, but with that, you also had 30 to 35 percent of the people living below the poverty line. It is the worst of the worst. The atmosphere was oppression, depression, and anger. It was a place where you know one another, love one another, but there are things you do to pay your bills, buy a car, eat. You resort to other means. There’s wasn’t another option for some families, including mine.
Sure, some of the time my lights were cut off.
My mom was a school teacher, and my dad worked on the railroad. He did a lot of drugs and was gone a lot, so I didn’t see him much. We lived in a small duplex, some would call it the projects. My mom was clean, but we didn’t have much; however, our neighbors were dirty. They were hoarders and had stuff all over the place. And, that attracts rats.
My brother and I, for entertainment purposes, would play a game to see who could catch the most rats. It’s a lot different than the hours of Fortnite kids get to enjoy today. We would race to see how many rats we could tally up. One day, we caught 15. Nasty, I know, but that was normal to us. It was just another day.
I remember this one night, in particular, I had to sleep on the floor in our living room because our beds were broken. All of a sudden, I felt a tugging on my arm, like a burning sensation. It startled me awake. I wasn’t sure what it was, but as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed the silhouette of a rat near my hand.
I shoved it out of the way, but shortly after that, the burning sensation got worse. I decided to get up and turn the lights on.
“Maybe I bumped my hand on the ground when I pushed the rat away,” I thought
The lights came on, I blinked a few times and finally saw what was causing the pain. There was a small a hole in my wrist from where the rat was chewing on me.
I freaked out.
“Mom! Mom! A rat bit me!” I yelled
My mom jumped in a panic, swooped me up and rushed me to the emergency room. It was about 5 a.m., and my mom had to be at work by 7:30 a.m. I was now equally as nervous about the rat bite, and whether or not my mom would get to work on time.
After the doctors checked me over, I got shot up a good 15 times with tetanus shots. It was painful, and I still have the mark on my wrist.
I have this scar on my wrist to remind me how far I have come. It was rough, but I persevered while smiling at the world no matter what life threw at me. As a 43-year-old man, I look back at my troubles and they helped mold me into the person I am today.
Keep smiling at your troubles and they won’t be troubles anymore. Anybody can do that.
Tomorrow Part 2 – A BEAR AND A DEER