The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Other Victim

By Julie Terry Cartner

After over ten years of teaching, Mrs. Brigman felt confident in her ability to read children, and she rarely was wrong. That’s why she was concerned when Faith’s schoolwork was not up to her usual standards, then troubled when Faith started performing badly on tests. Faith always made the top grades, and Selina Brigman was positive Faith knew the material. Her greatest worry, however, was based on how different Faith was acting. The formerly vivacious girl was a shadow of herself.

It was time to have a talk with Faith, so at recess, Mrs. Brigman sent the children outside. She smiled as she watched the predictable behavior. Donnie, Tim, and Meredith were always first, rushing to the door like they’d die if they didn’t get outside in the next ten seconds. Equally predictably, Bonnie, Sam, and Faith brought up the rear. Bonnie and Sam hated anything athletic. Faith just preferred quiet time to read.

Today that worked in Mrs. Brigman’s favor. Shooing the other children out the door, she asked Faith to stay behind for a minute. As soon as they were alone, she sat Faith down and expressed her concerns, concluding with, “So, what’s going on, Faith? I hope you know you can talk to me.”

Expecting Faith to tell her about someone bullying her or something of that ilk, Mrs. Brigman was surprised when Faith’s eyes filled with tears, and then, she was totally shocked when Faith told her the truth.

“You know my daddy died last year,” Faith said, “but now Mama has a new boyfriend. He works in construction, so he’s not around all the time, but when he is here, he lives with us.”

Mrs. Brigman was starting to have a bad feeling about all of this. “So, what’s happening?” she asked quietly.

“At first things were good,” Faith replied, “Mama wasn’t crying as much. She seemed happy. Then one night, after I’d gone to bed, I heard Pete come home – that’s Mama’s boyfriend’s name – I could hear him talking, and he sounded funny. Then he started yelling, and then I heard a crash. I ran out, but Mama yelled at me and told me to go back into my bedroom and lock the door. I turned and saw Mama and Daddy’s wedding picture on the floor broken, so I stopped, but she yelled, ‘Now, Faith!’ and I ran. After that I heard more yelling and Mama crying, but I did what she told me and stayed in my room.”

“The next day Mama was wearing a lot of makeup, but I could tell she had a big bruise on her cheek. But when I tried to talk to her, she only said ‘Everything is fine.’”

“Was this the only time that happened, Faith?” Mrs. Brigman asked worriedly.

Sadly, Faith shook her head. “It’s happened a lot, Mrs. Brigman.” As the tears began to flow in earnest, she continued, “I just don’t know what to do. Why does she let him in the house? Why doesn’t she stop him from hitting her? Why does she make me stay in my room and lock the door? I could help her. I would help her, but she won’t let me. Is that the way men are supposed to be? Are women supposed to like that?”

Gently, Mrs. Brigman took Faith’s hands. Looking her in the eyes, she simply said, “No. No, that’s not how people should treat each other, and it’s certainly not what women, or anyone else, should like. I suspect your mom is struggling with living alone since your daddy died, and that’s why she’s letting Pete in the house. Will you let me help you, Faith?

“Will Mama get in trouble?” Faith asked.

“No, Sweetheart, we’ll try to help both of you.” After hugging Faith and sending her out to play, Mrs. Brigman called the school counselor, and started the path to help the unhappy mother and child.

“Children who witness domestic violence…are at serious risk for long-term physical and mental health problems…[They] may also be at greater risk of being violent in their future relationships.” “Effects of Domestic Violence on Children.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. womenshealth.gov.

Heirloom Memories

By Marie Craig

I have been a curator of family memorabilia for some time – nothing valuable in terms of money, but rich in memories.  My daughter-in-law went through a painful process of clearing out her mother’s home and belongings a year ago.  Nothing was labeled or described in words that told her what was a family treasure and what was a whim.

I realize that my sons are beginning to downsize and think about their futures with fewer possessions, so they don’t want these items.  A teacher of a feng shui class opened her lesson by saying, “Your children do not want your things.”  What is special to me is not necessarily special to my children and grandchildren.

     Recently, I photographed these family possessions and compiled a small self-published book with each page containing a photograph of an object and words below to describe the family connection.  For example, my great- grandfather, Nelson Beck, gave this oil lamp to his daughter in 1921 on her 25th wedding anniversary.  My mother had it wired for an electric lamp.  Being a historian and genealogist, this is very significant information to me about provenance.  I have a copy of this book, and I sent one to each son.

     The feng shui teacher also said, “Your home is not a museum.”  I think mine probably is.  Seeing victims of storms and fires who have lost everything is very alarming to me in terms of family stories and belongings.  You can replace furniture, but if that walnut dresser which was made by your great grandfather with hand tools is destroyed, it’s gone forever.  But if you have a photo and description that survived the devastation, it’s better than nothing.   Family history descriptions are significant.

     As I did an inventory of my objects for the book, a verse, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth” kept echoing.  Another quote came to mind, “I never saw a U-Haul trailer behind a funeral hearse.”  So I am conflicted, as we all are.

     In addition, I have many old photographs.  My solution for permanence for those is to upload them to Memories in FamilySearch.org.  There are other family descendants who would love to see those pictures of shared relatives.  Genealogists are generous in sharing, and it’s my turn to do the same.

Ramblings

By Gaye Hoots

After our sixtieth-class reunion, I received much feedback from classmates and friends. The main theme has been our class’s pride in celebrating each other. I have not picked up on the competitiveness we experienced as kids. Bill Junker asked several classmates to give a brief history and we all took pride in their accomplishments and successes.

I emphasized that our class produced many educators, nurses, and those in helping professions. One of these couples was Charles and Patsy Crenshaw, educators and a coach. Charles has been the glue that held our class together by keeping up with our email addresses and current info. He posts birthdays, medical issues, and obituaries. When my sister died, he and Patsy were in the middle of a two-week beach vacation. They drove back for her service and then back to the beach. We are so grateful to him for keeping us united.

Grimes Parker is another educator and coach. He started a summer program to teach basketball skills to local children who might be unable to afford a summer camp and has maintained this for years. Norman Woodward and others helped him with this, and others from our class did too.

Charles Markland and Lorene are both educators and have served as vice principals and principals.  Other educators were Sherry Collins Sheek, Mondell Ellis, Glenda Hendrix Beard, Sarah Laird Stockton, Barbara McDaniel Eldridge, Linda Dull Pendleton, Marsha Stewart Ingalls, Donald Jones, Cal Jones, and Rodney Smith before he became a pastor. Larry Cornelison and Jane Hall Smith taught college courses for many years, exhibiting the good character we want our children to observe and emulate. I have missed some because I am not aware of career choices.

There is a long list of nurses: Julia Ritchie Alexander, Ann Towel Gary, Vivian Marion Cook, Mary Lou Smoot Coley, Joann Peoples Stultz McBride, Glenda Potts Boger, Katrina Robertson Summitt, and me. Once, when I attempted to help a grieving family and Mary Lou worked at Davie, she went above and beyond to comfort them. James Groce is our only doctor.

Several classmates have businesses, as do Bill and Kathy Junker, who have been our gracious hosts for many years. Bill, Jim Eaton, and others helped start our college scholarship fund. Others have served on the fund’s committee and the committee to put our reunions together.  Pete and Gail Frye hosted many class get-togethers with the Pages and others assisting.

My Facebook site is full of pictures of generations of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren whom we have nurtured and guided with the same principles we were raised with. Let’s keep on celebrating and raising our families to fill our shoes.