One of Those People
I usually don’t mind being one of those people.
I don’t mind being one of those people who fits the definition of a Redneck. I was raised mostly in a trailer (mobile home if you want to get fancy about it) at the end of a dirt road.
Our trailer had three doors but only two sets of steps. We finally just nailed the third door shut. Our trailer had no skirt on it. What that means is, dogs could go under there to be sick or die, especially after they’d been bitten by a snake. That happened to two of my dogs — Cuddles and Brandy. There was at least one snake that never got to my dogs — the one my mom killed outside the chicken house in the middle of the night in her robe and slippers with a hoe while I watched from the bathroom window at the end of the trailer.
We had a fire pit out front made of roofing tin, not for decoration, but to burn the leaves and other trash we’d rake up. And also to throw the dead snake in.
I played outside from the time I got home from school until it got dark. Climbing trees, crawling across pipelines suspended high off the ground below, crawfishing, playing with my dogs, and riding my bike through every square inch of the woods within a 5-mile radius of home.
The evening routine went something like this — stop on the top step, knock on the door, wait for Mama to come out and check me for seed ticks. If there were no seed ticks, I just hopped in the shower. If there were seed ticks, I had to take a bath in Pine-Sol. Unless one had stuck to me already. Then Mama had to put a match to the tick and hope it would let go. They usually did. Then the Pine-Sol bath.
I don’t mind being one of those people who just happens to get lost everywhere I go. I’ve made peace with it. And I thank God every day for GPS. Although I’m also one of those people who gets lost even with GPS, prompting a meltdown of the GPS lady who insistently repeats, “Make a legal u-turn and proceed to the route.”
I don’t mind being one of those people who often let their kids stay up a little too late growing up because it was fun to hang out with them.
I don’t mind being one of those people who is the shortest or the oldest or the last to finish the meal.
Here’s what I do mind.
I do not like being one of those people who’ve lost their child.
Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks. From the middle of nowhere I hear a voice. “You are one of them.” It’s something no one ever thinks will happen to them. You don’t prepare for it. Nor should you. It just happens, and you deal with it. But I don’t want to be one of them. I never asked to be one of them. And they didn’t ask to be one of them. None of us did.
But here we are. We are those people. Those people who’ve lost a child.