Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Y’all read this, and read until the end, because I am asking for everyone’s help. He smelled of Old Spice aftershave and smokeless tobacco. You could spot him in a crowd in his Liberty overalls and his “brogans” typically with dog leash in hand with a big drooling bloodhound on the end of the leash; with a big ol’ smile across his face. He liked to call people by their first and last name, and would often say “This is Jackie Sheffield” when on the phone with friends and even family. He was a simple man, with simple dreams, who wanted to live his life doing the things he loved. I loved that man with all my heart :) --- I was sitting at my desk at the Journal, typing up articles for that weeks paper. It was July 25, 2011. Days before my 25th birthday. My daddy had went to the hospital the night before. He’d had gallbladder surgery around three weeks earlier and he was still experiencing excruciating pain. Sunday night, they’d decided to keep him...acknowledging that that shouldn’t have been happening. My mama called me that morning....around 11 a.m. I remember asking “What’s the latest? What has the doctor said? How’s daddy doing.” And my mama said hesitantly, “Well, they’ve found a mass on his pancreas.” Of course, my mind was going a mile a minute with questions like “What does that mean? Could it just be a cyst? What does that MEAN?” Mama just stated that the doctor’s didn’t seem to think that it was a cyst and she would keep me posted. Doctors came and went. None of their news was positive. 
The next day was one of the few times that Rheba and I didn’t go and visit daddy. Mama called me again on her way home, I could hear the tears in her voice. I will never forget her saying “Aleta, they think it’s pancreatic cancer, and they’ve told your daddy that he only has a year to live.” Words cannot describe what I felt at that very moment. People often ask me, “How did they find it?” Like a majority of cases, they found my daddy’s too late. His had already spread to his liver by the time they found it. At that point, there was nothing that they could do. Chemo would only be a manner in which to prolong his life, it would never cure the cancer. Here is what my daddy experienced: He lost a major amount of weight; he had pain in his right abdominal side; he got very sick when he ate; and I can remember him sitting in his recliner with his shirt off and actually seeing a lump on the right-side of his stomach. All of these can be symptoms of problems with your gallbladder, which is precisely why they didn’t catch it quicker...as daddy said, “Everyone at the hospital, including the janitor, told me it was my gallbladder.” Watching a man that you thought could conquer the world go from being a very robust, active man become a very pained shell of the person that he was is a very hard process. I will say here that pancreatic cancer is a very painful cancer. Dad couldn’t eat, couldn’t even stomach the smell of food, he couldn’t get comfortable sitting. His liver was so swollen that when they went to put in his feeding tube, they said that he wasn’t able to eat because his liver was literally pressing on his stomach. I won’t get into all that we faced, but it was very, very difficult. Nothing...Nothing prepares you to hear your daddy telling the doctors “I just want to live...I just want to live.” I tell y’all this, to tell y’all that on Friday...my heart just broke. I sat at my desk at the ELC, trying to fight back tears and keep it together while at work. I learned last Friday that another great, very loved man, Mr. Tony Cruse, in Trenton has just found out that he has pancreatic cancer. He has a family; has a young, teen daughter. My heart just broke for this family, having walked in those same shoes; having gotten that devastating news. I hated to think of someone having to walk down the same road we did. Then, after asking Chris to send me the articles, I was so proud of how our little community is coming together to honor and support Mr. Tony. This Thursday, May 2, The Cracker Box in Trenton will be donating all the proceeds that they make that day to Mr. Tony and his family. The Cracker Box is open for both breakfast and lunch, and I am PLEADING with y’all to go there at some point that day and either order food or donate. There has been a scholarship fund set up at Capital City Bank for Mr. Tony’s daughter, Grace Cruse. And on May 15th, there will be a luncheon held at the Trenton Community Center to honor Mr. Tony for his service to the community. I beg all of y’all to come out an support this family in their time of need. And please, please, lift them up in prayer.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Modern Day Mayberry

There was a question posed to me the other day: Do you miss your old job? Now truthfully, this was asked by my new boss as I was showing her the picture my friend Megan had sent of my Hoarders-worthy old office. What a loaded question. Of course I miss my old job. My first thoughts were completely work-related. I missed the creativity of my old job. I enjoyed making up the newspaper; I honestly felt pride in the finished product every week. I loved my coworkers. I loved my Journal babies. I loved that there was a fairly definite schedule to my work week. There were very few things that I didn't like about that job. Then my thoughts began to wander... You know what I really miss? I miss Trenton. Now, I can vividly remember wishing aloud several times that I could leave the town. And granted, I only moved 11 miles down the road...but truthfully, it might as well be on the other side of the planet, as I never seem to get over there anymore. See, Trenton was my modern day Mayberry. I miss having a "hen party" with Mrs. Cindy Jo each week and hearing all the latest gossip; hearing about Carrie's latest thrifty find or about Allie Claire or Whitt's latest funny story. I miss hearing Mr. John say the same phrases over and over again; and Chris telling me something about the episode of South Park that was on the night before. I miss seeing Mr. Mark's newest, beautiful orchid sitting on our Counter. I miss Megan, and being able to laugh with her at the crazies that walked through the doors. I miss playing ball with Gus at the front of our store. I miss walking into the Courthouse and seeing Mrs. Sabre and Lyndsay; and gabbing with Mrs. Cindy Chadwick. Or seeing Lisa Renee or Mrs. Connie Sanchez's smiling face. I miss being able to have lunch with my friend Crystal Rodgers, and getting to hear about the crazies that have crossed her path recently. I miss selling a newspaper to that little, sweet, old black lady that walks all over town, even the heat of Florida summer, with her cane and a dip of snuff tucked in her lip that has kept up with me since my Hitchcocks days. I miss having D. Ray come in, and sit in the chair that I deemed my "D. Ray chair" where he would always have a dirty joke or a comment about me being his "streetwalker." I miss the fiesty Mrs. Diana Harrison. I miss taking a newspaper to Mrs. Dale Bryant at the Courthouse and having her give me an encouraging word. I miss walking into the Cracker Box (or Crack Shack, as I lovingly called it) and seeing the Pine Grove Pastoral Staff to my right, Mr. Thomas Bryant and friends to my left and Mrs. Julie Kincaid smiling at me from the register. Mrs. Julie is gorgeous and her personality is just icing on the cake, she always ready with a compliment to brighten your day and put a little pep in your step. And of course, I miss the Crack Shack's peach cobbler. lol. I miss seeing the old man driving his lawnmower around town in his American Flag pajamas. I miss seeing Mrs. Clara Nell riding her bike. I miss running into Hitchcocks and hearing Ryan Weaver singing or humming down the aisles as he stocks shelves; or hearing a dirty joke from Robyn in the deli and having Mrs. Karen just shake her head. I miss catching up with Ren as I wait to check out. I miss Mr. Gray Schofield walking around with his diet coke bottle. I miss the small town politics. I even miss being asked about my pedigree. The truth is, y'all...I miss Trenton's familiarity. I miss it's warmth that just sucks you in. I miss my Modern-day Mayberry.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pearls of Wisdom for Young Adults living in Small, Southern Towns

**Disclaimer—don’t read this if you’re easily offended. This is meant as a funny blog, filled with things that some of us have done, for which we should've thought better.** So, growing up, sometimes adults and friends don’t tell you everything that you need to know. Granted, sometimes they might not think they need to tell you SOME things…when in fact, they might. So, this is a collaborative effort of advice that you will probably never receive from the typical adult: Doing anything to anyone’s mailbox is a federal offense…just so you know…and it’s even worse when it’s the preacher’s and the music minister’s. Along those same lines…never do anything illegal…especially if you’re related to the sheriff. And do NOT make a video of it, you’ll provide your own evidence. Don’t go parking down a back country road in the middle of the afternoon…because it is likely that a slow-moving tractor is bound to drive by and see exactly what base you’ve made it to. Don’t go out with the good, Christian kids, lest your brother get pulled over across the street from whatever local restaurant you’ve patronized that evening, who will then be forced to take field sobriety test. Never write “I love _____” in all of your textbooks, because it will come back to haunt you years later when you walk through Walmart and see all the young hipsters looking your way, and you wonder “do they know??” Everyone knows everyone in this town. Don’t hide your friends in your closet when your parents get home, they’ll have to climb out of the window. Don’t give your friends anything off your plate at Mya’s…you will get kicked out. Don’t learn your “drinking rules” in a “small, little drinking town.” Ex: You can’t get a mixed drink in one bar, and then walk down the street to another bar with it in your hand in EVERY town… Never show up to church hungover. You look like hell; people will probably see you and know; and chances are, the sermon is on partying. Hot tubs are dangerous. Trespassing is never a good plan…especially while inebriated. Even when returning someone's dog, be careful driving up someone's driveway...they might meet you with a loaded gun. Never take part in a sham wedding. Street sign theft is harder than you’d think. You’re never nearly as smooth as you think you are. It’s best to figure out that you’re allergic to latex, before some events take place…if you know what I mean… If you’re going to be out in the middle of East Jesus Nowhere, BYOP. You don’t want to have to buy dusty old pack at the local BP. Have a safe word. And by God, make sure you have people who will do something about it in the event that you scream it. Don’t buy a car at night. And along those lines…be hesitant when your parents say a car is in “immaculate” condition…you might find that your “immaculate” (being a mustang), and their “immaculate” (a Toyota truck with it’s side mirror being held on with a goggle piece) are not quite the same. Don’t buy things online that might be embarrassing for your neighbors to receive by accident. Never believe your friends when they say “you can make it” while trying to park a massive truck. And always, ALWAYS look behind you when backing up. Trust that your neighbors will call and report your driving to your parents...even when you're over 18. Don’t tan and use sunless tanner. You’ll become what we lovingly call “oompa-loompa orange.” If you’ve done something that will most likely make your parents angry, pray you don’t have company when you come home. That really makes it awkward when you come home with mud in your hair and your parents proceed to lecture you in front of said company. If you’re ever involved in an accident in the middle of town, don’t get out and say the f-word. Chances are, all anyone will be able to talk about on Sunday is that you were being a bad witness for Jesus. Be on the lookout for cauliflower. Don’t be surprised when your tire goes flat when you’ve had your radio playing too loud. Don’t drive down a dead-end road while trying to escape cops. Be very careful in relaying a story to your parents. If you’re like me, you’ll get nervous and start talking fast…which will change “and then my pants made me slide off” to “and then my pants slid off” real quick. And you will find yourself in a whole new pile of shit for no good reason. Never show your nipple piercings to customers in your employer’s parking lot…while on the clock. Married men are a bad idea…Married men are a bad idea… And finally, don’t go “parking” in the church parking lot…it’s never a good plan.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Steel Magnolias

We are the ones that don’t know God’s plan but have faith that He will see us through. We stand beside our father’s bedside, holding his hand, choking back tears, so that we are strong for him in his last hours. We are the ones that stand in a long line of mourners to pass our friend’s casket to give our condolences to her family. We are the ones that step in to help a child facing bullies or hardships. We are the ones that hold our mother’s hand as she faces her first round of chemo. We are the ones that make the extra effort to make sure some of the needy families have their needs met. We are the ones that beg God to loosen the grip of alcoholism that our husbands or boyfriends are facing. We are the ones that stand and receive a folded flag in place of our fiance's safe return. We are the ones that face the defeat of rape and abuse and sexism and harassment and come out of it stronger. We are at our husband's side when he is weak; yet, we can stand on our own. We are the ones that can survive poverty, or bad relationships; we are the ones that thrive despite bad odds. We believe in greatness. We hold our heads high even when our world is crumbling. Yes, we are the ones that smile through our tears. You will not see our worry lines on a daily basis, but you will notice how our laugh lines somehow soften our face. We dream through our despair. We continue to see beauty even when the reality of life knocks us down. We love fiercely through the hate. The only thing that surpases our beauty is our strength. We are tough as nails, and yet somehow tender. We are just as God intended. We are the Steel Magnolias.