The next few months were a blur. I really don’t remember very much. While my mom was healing and being retought how to dress, transfer from one surface to the next, bathe, etc. I was living back in the northwoods with my stepdads sister Shelly. At this point I was a very angry fourteen year old girl trying to deal with the pain this tragedy brought. Even at this young age I worried very often and very deeply about everybody else but me. My mom 3 hours away hurting and scared was too much for my normal mind to handle. I think this was my breaking point. I needed numbness. In my world self medicating was ok. My parents drank but never fought. 911 was never called at 2am for domestic violence. I started to party. I looked and found the exact crowd I was looking for.
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The ICU doctor took my stepdad aside to inform him of my moms current status.
The doctor kept glancing sympathetically at me while whispering to Scotty. I immediately became enraged and probably looked like a very troubled young woman at the moment. I became hysterical. I demanded someone tell me what was going on.
Then I was told my mother would most likely survive but she had a spinal cord injury and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I remember the doctor giving us a statistic that was wildly inappropriate at the time. He said that her being bound to a wheelchair would cut her life expectancy by at least 20 years.
I was filled with so many feelings. I was happy because she was going to live but my mom in a wheelchair? She hardly ever sat down, now she could never stand again? I kept thinking she would be devastated. Then I thought about the fact that I would be able to see her smile again. Hold her hands which was something that always gave me comfort. She had such cute, tiny, gentle pretty hands. I wanted to hear her laugh again. Was I being selfish? I wanted her there for me but what about her?
How would she react when she woke up?
I will never forget what I saw when I walked in the hospital room where my mom was being treated at Froedert Memorial in Milwaukee Wisconsin on that August day in 1991. I remember a very nice nurse taking me by the hand. She gave me a look like she felt sorry for me. The ICU seemed to quiet down as if everyone was watching to see my reaction. There was a pause. I walked into the room to find my mother Georgia Ann, my hero, this overly beautiful and kind woman whom had never hurt anyone. Ever…
Swollen. I don’t mean a little. She looked like she had went from 125 pounds to 250 pounds in one night. She was completely black and blue. Tubes everywhere. They had put a breathing tube in her throat. She was breathing by machine. I was given this long talk before seeing her that I needed to keep it together because she most likely could hear me but I lost it. I lost all hope and strength right there and then.
The doctor took my step dad aside and told him of her current status.
Some of the rest of the story is a blur but My stepdad and I threw some stuff in the car and headed South to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had traveled this highway many of times going back and forth visiting my grandparents. I had actually become somewhat used to the drive. This trip however was the longest four hours of my life. We had no idea of my moms condition. Would she be alive when we got there? I remember praying and being filled with panic the entire drive down. Scotty (my stepdad) was driving way too fast but I didnt care. I didnt care about anything. I found myself becoming numb. Falling in and out of restless sleep. Woken with nightmares. We finally made it. I have no memory up until the doctor said we could see her very briefly. He informed us she wasnt out of the woods yet and warned Scotty that she was pretty beaten up and maybe I shouldnt go in. I went nuts. How could this doctor try to tell me I couldnt go in. I was her only daughter. Fourteen or not. I remember walking into the ICU and everything suddenly became silent. Even though there were doctors, nurses, paramedics and probably sounds coming from everywhere. I suddenly felt as though I was in a dream. I was hoping it was all a horrible nightmare and I would soon wake up. Right before I walked into her room..I prayed. I promised God that if he would let me keep my mom I would never argue with her again or do another bad thing.
As my mom is being transferred by helicopter to Milwaukee the police had been in the field and combing the area for my body. The universe works in mysterious ways people. I was supposed to be in that car that night. I had phoned my mom at the end of her shift to let her know I was staying in town with friends. Still gives me goosebumps. Finally the police realized I was not a passenger and proceeded to contact family. Later that evening My friend Carrie and I were just walking into her old farmhouse which was located fairly near my house. Way out in the boonies. Carrie’s mom was a very strict, scary and very large woman. I can’t seem to remember much about her besides that she always looked mad like she hated the world and Carrie was born as her servant. She hardly ever let Carrie out of the house so when I walked in the door and saw the woman give me the look of death…I really didn’t think twice. Of course she informed me I needed to be taken home immediately due to my mom being involved in a car wreck. I suddenly felt this rush of panic, anxiety and deep sadness come from within. I could feel the severity of the situation but she assured me that my mom was ok and just suffered a broken leg or something of that nature. We pulled into my driveway. I was still on the edge of breakdown because of this horrible feeling inside. I rushed into the house. I could tell Scotty was home because the lights were on. I thought that to be a good sign. Wouldnt he be at the hospital if she was hurt badly? I flew into the kitchen. I was just about to yell out for someone when I saw it. I will never forget it. I still have nightmares often. It was her big white faux leather purse. It was torn and now was colored with dirt and blood. I knew at this moment how serious this was. My moms purse was her staple. She was never without it. If her purse is here…in this condition…she must not be conscious or is she dead? Suddenly I lost my breath. I couldnt speak. Thats when my stepdad walked in. Scotty had the bluest eyes. They always sparkled but at that moment his eyes were bright red. His face was actually swollen from crying. Scotty never cried. I lost all sense now. He started to explain that we needed to get on the road asap. We had a long drive to Milwaukee and it was already like 10pm. I kept screaming the same thing at him. “Is she gonna die?” and I remember telling him I was sorry over and over. I somehow made it to the bathroom. I locked myself in which ended badly. The room started to spin. I couldnt breathe because my sadness, the crying felt overwhelming as if it was choking me. Scotty had to break the door down and handed me a paper bag for hyperventilation. I had to get myself together. We didnt know if she would live or die but we knew our lives had changed forever that night.
My mom and Scotty had purchased 5 acres of land in northern Wisconsin. The house was a double wide trailer but was on foundation. My journey in the new surroundings started very badly. I was put into Junior High at the end of a school year. I was 12 years old and about 200 pounds. I had a white chic afro to boot. I was bullied and picked on so badly at school and at home. Scotty and his friends thought it was funny to MOO when I walked past or I would hear Shamooooo out of them. I survived it and by eighth grade I had friends and half my head was shaved almost bald. The other half was sprayed straight up and out with lots of Aquanet. I wore Levis and Metallica shirts. I have always found comfort in my music. Music has taken through all types of good times and bad times. I feel the lyrics deeply and have a very diverse selection that is near and dear to me. Anyway..although I was starting to fit in I still had this bad weight problem along with a food addiction. Then I met an older girl who lived near me that changed all that. She told me about the Baked Potato Diet (only included baked potatoes and green beans once a day) and helped me with exercise and my hair. Took me to a tanning salon. By my sophomore year I was pretty thin, blond wavy hair and tan. I got a new wardrobe and I felt like I was on top of the world. But no food meant I had a void to fill. I needed a new comfort. Unfortunately it was drinking and drugs. The crowd I ran with did it. I had access to it. I could stay thin and beautiful plus be popular. While all this was going on with me my mom was waitressing at a family restaurant. She was an amazing waitress and her looks definitely helped her tips. Scotty was working for a local mason company. He only worked like five months out of the year than collected unemployment through hunting season (winter) which was most of the year up there. For awhile things were running smoothly. Then it happened. The one event in my life that changed my life forever. I still have nightmares. Post traumatic symptoms. My mother was driving home after working the day shift in town which was fifteen miles from home. She had stopped for pizza and a drink at a friend’s house. It was around 630. The time of day when the light shines directly in your eyes and suddenly you are blinded. She was driving towards home on Killer K. That’s the local name for the highway because of the high accident rate. The story is she swerved to miss a car that was pulling out. She lost control. The car flipped several times ejecting her out the passenger side window. She was found out in a field a ways from the car. She was taken to the nearest hospital but then was taken flight for life to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Froedert Memorial ICU.
Georgia and I hit Wisconsin with what she could fit in the small car we traveled in. We were headed to my Grandparents house in Fontana, Wisconsin. George and Bev. My grandfather had a thriving black top maintenance/tennis court business in a high-end area. Lake Geneva was home to many large mansions and tennis courts were a huge priority among these mostly summer homes. My grandparents swore I hung the moon. I only had 2 cousins both boys and my grandpa had no tolerance for hyper, noisy and destructive little boys. I also had a huge advantage because I was my mothers daughter and my grandpa adored my mom. She did exactly what he wanted. She showed horses, got good grades in school and married a man whom he thought was a hard worker. From the moment he saw me he was sure I would be the one to go to college and be all he imagined his name could carry. George was a man of high morals and he demanded respect. I knew not to bite the hand that fed me. At a very young age I would sit with him on the couch watching Crossfire on ESPN. Of course I hated it…but I loved him. He always looked at me with his eyes overflowing with love. I had my grandma, my grandpa and my mother all to myself. Spoiled I was. Everything was handed to me and this was my life until Step dad number two. Scotty. Step dad number one was a local bar owner. He had a nice house we lived in on the lake. He did what he could to keep me happy because of my mother but he really didn’t impact my life immensely. Then my mom met Scotty. Ten years her Junior. Nice looking. Fisherman, hunter and all around sportsman extraordinaire. I was in sixth grade now. It was April 1989. He moved us 4 hours north to Harshaw, Wisconsin. It was the first time I felt a large loss. A very deep sadness. I rode in the car four hours with my best friends picture in a tight hug and non stop tears.