My Life is like a River

Fifteen years ago, thinking that LIFE was exciting, easy, and fun, according to the world of media and music, I soon realized that real life is full of trials, tribulations, and agony. Media portrayed life through rose-colored glasses with the ideal Donna Reed family in which every member was happy and cordial with no problems within the family unit. The perfect "10" woman, lying on a tropical island clutching her umbrella drink, reflected the carefree life in which a profession was not necessary to maintain this "Akuminatata" lifestyle. Unfortunately, my life has fallen into another category: "gloom, despair, and agony on me."

Where were my "Days of Wine and Roses"? Those moments weakened and dried-up about fifteen years ago when the roses appeared on a special secretary's desk, the other woman. She was always there to meet his every need while I was busy taking care of my son and the 30 students in my classroom. Even if he had given me the wine and roses, there would have been no time to enjoy them.

A second reason: Why didn't my father pay attention to the words of "Summertime" when the lyrics said "Yore daddy's rich"? My father's failing health began to trouble him at about the time of my divorce. As a pork producer, who at the age of 75 works from before dawn until after dusk, he never discovered how to make "livin' easy." Even now, I worry when he worries. With the price of hogs, the cost of feed, and the incompetence of employees, anyone would worry. Daddy's richness never meant money, but his wisdom has helped me turned the wintertimes of my life into "Summertime."

I think of a third example. Why did my son spend so many years "turning around"? I often think of the words, "Where are you going my little one, little one?" My little one, Ed, appeared on October 8, 1972. Because he was so tiny, his esophagus muscles were not developed and I fed him less than one ounce of formula at each meal. He did survive, but he suffered through a succession of illnesses: pneumonia at two months, numerous ear infections, tonsillitis, and a rare bone infection. Raising Ed alone during the teenage years was difficult enough; however, his rebellion made everyone miserable. His uncontrollable temper caused bodily harm as he hit anything to vent frustration. In the midst of this turmoil, he lost his grandfather and great-grandfather on the same day. Several months later, his step-brother's death in an automobile accident contributed to his growing depression. A head injury resulted in seizures and curtailed his driving within one month of his sixteenth birthday. Ed reached the point where life meant nothing to him.

Band was one pleasant experience for Ed during his junior high school years. However, by the tenth grade, his depression from all of his trials turned him even further from a desire to live. His continued depression resulted in his dropping out of school at age 16.

At age 18 Ed's life did turn around, and "he became a young man with a life of his own." He received his GED, continued his work on the confined swine operation, and joined the volunteer fire department. By age 21 he became a partner in V & S Farms and a first responder and training officer for the Colquitt County and Coolidge Volunteer Fire Departments.

This life of "gloom, despair, and agony" didn't really stay that way. No matter the circumstances, my life became

A dream just like river Ever changin' as it flows, And a dreamer's just a vessel That must follow where it goes. Trying to learn from what's behind you And never knowing what's in store Makes each day a constant battle Just to stay between the shores. There's bound to be rough waters, And I know I'll take some falls. But, with the good Lord as my captain, I can make it through them all.

Even with the trials, tribulations, and agony of my family and life, I am happy and face each day with genuine joy.

Jan Barrow