December 31
I am infinitely ME....and there ain't a DAMN THING you can do about it. NYAH NYAH! With that said, I thought that the one paragraph would force some folks to READ and find out who I am. Didn't happen. So, in order to stop explaining "WHO I BE" during comments here goes nothin': I was born with Sickle Cell Disease and Diagnosed with Cancer. I am married to an Active Duty U.S. Army member; and the two of us are parents to three children and a doggie who does not think she is a child. She insists that WE are all dogs. I am an Attorney born of an Attorney and a Physician. I was a teen mother. I have lived in project housing while attending college and then law school on Scholarship. I practice mainly in the areas of Criminal and Family law when I am well enough to do so (wich is not often right now). I have also had the pleasure to teach Legal Courses to college students, and English in one of the worst school systems in the midwest filled with what the city called "underpriveleged children" and treated as throw aways. I stumbled upon OS by mistake, and decided to buy the ticket and take the ride. I cuss, I don't censor myself, and since I have been nuked and fried, I forget words and spellcheck. Now, You are being and find out the rest.

Editor’s Pick
JULY 16, 2010 1:27AM

You aren't the first, and you won't be the last

Rate: 48 Flag

Sprinter When I was 16 years old, I met a 19 year old man child that my mother would never approve of.  Although my parents divorced when I was 11 years old, I spent weekends with my mother at her chic condo in an exclusive neighborhood.  She had married me off in her mind to the scrawny pimply son of one of her Buppie girlfriends, the ex-wife of a dentist who was also comfortably ensconced in her own condo (this boy later became a Pro-football player....but I am still glad we did not date).  I had already been fitted for my debutante dress, and she envisioned a life for me that would take me off to exotic chi-chi places, or at least to an Ivy League school.  She lamented that she never got to travel or stay in a dorm room because she had met my father during her last year of a college located only miles from her mother’s house, and was “forced” to get married when she discovered she was pregnant.  She knew I would not be stuck.  I would date “prince charming”, get a degree, travel the world, and then maybe marry and have children. When I showed up with a “date” during her second marriage ceremony, she barely noticed.  This boy from a poor family that lived with a single mother on the wrong side of town was merely a trifle.  There was no WAY that any daughter of hers was serious about someone like him. I was only 16 and a 16 year old girl was fickle at best, completely confused at the worst.  No, this new boy was nothing to worry about. He would disappear like the few that appeared on her doorstep before him.

When I introduced my new boyfriend to my father two weeks later, my father had four questions.  Who were his people? Was he in college? Did he work? Were we having protected sex?  My answers were truthful.  Miss ____ is his mother and she says that she has been to your office many times. He was about to begin his first semester at a community college.  Yes, he was a landscaper and made fast food on the weekends.  NO! We are not even doing that! What do you mean?!? (Complete embarrassment from his daughter, with whom he had never broached the subject before, and had not even explained the use of a tampon to).  My father clasped hands with my “boyfriend” and showed him politely to the door.  My heart fluttered, “What do you think, Dad?”  I asked, eager for my father’s approval as always. “If you like it, I love it. I think you need some birth control.”  I  explained to my father that he was really embarrassing me and that I was not doing THAT.  My father then told me that I was at the age where THAT was a normal urge and he would rather be safe than sorry.  He told me that there was no way for him to embarrass me, because he had brought me into the world (He literally had.  He caught me and cut my umbilical cord while he was the first Black resident at the hospital where I was born) I told him that I was not expecting to do THAT, because this same boy had asked politely to kiss me and had tried nothing but hand holding (which is why I decided to bring him home in the first place). However, I did what Daddy said (as I do to this day) and I left the familiar world of my pediatrician’s office in order to get birth control pills from a gynecologist.  I was actually pissed off when I learned that someone was going to have to examine me with a cold speculum and slimy jelly; just so that I could get a few pills. But, I told myself that I was still not going to do THAT.

A year passed, and much to my mother’s dismay, I was still hanging onto Mr. “All wrong for you.”  He would pick me up after track practice in whatever piece of shit beater he could borrow to bring me home in. Sometimes we would stop for an ice cream cone. Sometimes we would go to the park and he would push me on the swings.  There were a million reasons why I loved him (and still do) and I knew at once that I did.  We spoke on the phone each night; sometimes I fell asleep while listening to his voice. We spoke about things that were important to each other.  I told him my dreams; at least the ones that were important to a 17 year old me. One of them involved Drake Relays.

I had been running track for years, and had even attended a junior Olympics.  I knew that my father had been a record holding sprinter in his heyday, and I used to never tire of him telling the story about his great showdown in the 100m dash against his nemesis during the Drake Relays.  My father beat his rival, and broke a record that year.   I wanted to run in the relays.  I didn’t know if I was good enough to break any records, but qualifying and running on the same track that my father had before me was enough.  Every year from the time I was a tiny girl, my father would buy tickets to the Relays, and every year on the way there, he would repeat his story. When we had found our seats, I would watch with pride as my father stood when the announcer would ask all former participants of the relays to stand for a round of applause.  I told myself that one day I would come and do the same while my own children watched me.

I lived on a track during the winter months.  I began preparing to qualify by running indoor track during the season.  When the snow began to thaw in March, I worked like a dog with my team mates.  If I did not qualify for an individual event, I would make sure to anchor my sprint relay team to a qualifying time.  I was going for it.  I knew that this was the year, and that a track scholarship was in the wings.  By the middle of March, my 4x100 team had qualified to go to Drake. My dream was coming true!

 The first week of April, I ran in the All City meet, and was once again victorious.  However, I became ill and was placed on heavy antibiotics in order to kill the bacteria that had invaded my body.  I was a bit panicked that I would not recover in time to run at Drake within three weeks time, but my doctor assured me that I would. 

 The third week of April, I began to vomit.  I purged until the room would spin and I could not rise from the bathroom floor.  I was clinging to the bowl when the doorbell rang.  My boyfriend let himself in when I didn’t answer because he knew that I had been extremely ill.  He phoned my doctor, but my doctor did not have an appointment open.  I was scared to death of the emergency room, and did not want to go there.  We decided that we had no choice but to go and see my father.  I did not want to do so because I knew that he did not like to treat family members, and I had moved out of his house two weeks before (his girlfriend had spoken horribly about my mother during a drunken fit on a trip to New Orleans.  I felt that my Father had not done enough to protect me and I decided that I would not enter his home again as long as she was around). However, I gave in because by that time I was so weak that I needed help getting myself together.  My boyfriend carried me to his rusted out old beater, and we made the trip to my father’s office unannounced, while I held a plastic shopping bag to my mouth and vomited furiously, until I heaved nothing but frothy yellow stomach lining.

I entered into the office through the front like any regular patient, because I somehow felt that I was no longer welcome through the back, where the staff and family would always enter when they arrived.   The secretary, Judy, was surprised to see me, but knew right away that I needed help.  She let me bypass the lobby full of people who had been patiently waiting to see my father.  I was placed in one of the sparsely furnished exam rooms and told to put on a gown.  I did as I was told (I did a lot of that back then. Boy, have I changed.)

My father came in and exclaimed “Pooh, what are you doing here? What’s going on with you?” concern in his eyes like we had never argued and I had never left my comfy room in his home for the one that my mother kept for me on weekends.  “I” Gag “am” Gag “SIIIIIIICK!” I managed to sputter as my boyfriend rubbed my back. My father called for his nurse Rita, whom we all affectionately called Mama Rita, because she was old enough to be his mother, and looked much like the pictures I had seen of Mrs. Clause.  Mama Rita came into the room, gave me a wink, and then proceeded to draw blood from me upon my father’s instruction. 

 I was told to get dressed, and then shown to my father’s private study, located in the back corner of the practice.  I sat miserably with the door closed, the medical books lining the walls seemed to pulsate and swim.  I was soaked in sweat.  I wanted to go lay down.

I heard loud whispering on the other side of the door.  Judy opened it, peeked in, and then shut it just as quickly.  I heard more whispering, and then what sounded like soft crying.  Rita opened the door, and peered in at me just as Judy had, but her eyes were watery and bloodshot, when they had not been only twenty minutes prior.  She too quickly shut the door, and I heard more whispering.  I began to panic.  I turned to my boyfriend and began to cry.  Why was everyone acting so strange?  I was dying! I had some horrible ailment that was going to preclude me from running at Drake and then ultimately take my life! My strong and devoted father did not have the strength to come in and tell me himself.  He was somewhere on the other side of the door trying to summon the courage to tell me that I would not live for much longer! I wept, and gagged.

Finally, the door opened, and my father stepped through it.  I wanted to be swallowed up by the floor before he could give me the horrendous news.  He looked at me and asked “when was your last period?” I looked at him blankly “huh?”  How could he be concerned with periods at a time like this?!?! I was on my way to the local Funeral Home in short order and he was asking me about “girl time”?!?!

Dad handed me a piece of paper with the word POSITIVE on it.  He looked at me and stated “You aren’t the first, you won’t be the last. Keep going. You’ll make it.”  As I stopped weeping about the loss of my life and started weeping about the beginning of another, my father walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.  He had patients to see.   


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Having read your bio again after your post I realize again what a remarkable woman you are. Thank you for this honest post, glad you did so much more than survive.
This is powerful writing from a powerful woman. That is one intense moment between you and your father as well. Thanks for posting this.
Never understood how large-chested women could be track stars ... you must explain that sometime ... my wife (top-heavy) has a really difficult time playing tennis or power-walking

Enjoyed the read ... hope you're feeling strong and in good spirits

Wow! Just can't imagine that final scene with your Dad, well I sort of can because you described it so well, but it must have been excruciating.

I am keen to read more.
Wow, I won't say anything more as nothing is enough to express just how mind blowing this is.
Great post. Great storytelling. Great dad.

So well told. Love your dad._r
Very well done. I was rivetted until the very end. I do hope you still got to compete in the Drake Relays one day...We hope to have my daughter's soccer team's striker back from her pregnancy at 15 years old. She ain't the first, and she ain't going to be the last. But she deserves to compete as well.

I feel better about it now.
Wow, what a sweet and awful story. Congratulations on having plowed forward with life... And here's hoping all the best with the condition...
Even though I take care of teens for a living, I can't say I would have reacted as your dad did. I'm glad he gave you the response you needed.
i ended this read loving your dad and thinking "not even birth control pills are 100%". r
Oh those tests! You really convet the fear, which never ends, I guess. Keep on keeping on, girl!!
Wise Dad. You did make it :)
Thank You all for your responses. In order to gain some perspective on my Dad, I have a blog called "the blind girl and the elephant." You can read it if you'd like, I would be happy to hear your thoughts.

My father is my biggest chearleader, but he has his own stinkin' way of cheering. He always tells me "I didn't raise no F*cking Quitters" and I heard the term "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" Long BEFORE Morgan Freeman ever said it.

And Someone asked how I ran track with all of that answer was that your chest has a lot of fat tissue. I was not as large as I am now (although I still had a pretty good cup size). And, the secret to not giving oneself a black eye during a sprint is to put on two sports bras (not cheap ones, the good kind), one smaller than the other goes underneath. They should fit very snugg. Your uniform goes over it, and voila! My duaghter is now a sprinter, and I have taught her the trick, as she now seems to have the family "boobage" as well.
Oh, and I am in no way shape of for advocating teen pregnancy. It is so very hard. But, I DID make it. My son is one of my great loves (again...shameless prods to read, but see blog LAXATIVE MAKE FOR SHITTY GOODBYES)

Also, I never competed in the relays. I sat there sick a preggers and cheered my team on, anchored by a friend from grade schoool who took my place (she went from firt leg to anchor, and an alternate took the third position). We still speak via an occasional e-mail.

However, do not feel sad for me. I don't think that I would have made it through all of the shit I am going through now if life hadn't "seasoned" me just a little. AND, I still go to the Relays with my family each year if I am able (Last year I had an open hole in my tummy so I couldn't travel from Georgia). THIS past APRIL, on the last weekend (as always) I sat in the stands and got to cheer on my son's track team, as well as see World champions compete. And, as always, My 70 year old father stood (a little slower now days) to applause, and my heart filled with joy!

Even now, whenever sit in the stands, or see a meet from the television, I can feel the hot rubber (or cinder...I am old) of track beneath my fingers, I can aticipate the gun, I can feel the wind, I lean forward in the blocks, I take off, I can hear "go!.....reach!" in my mind. It is still very much a part of me, even if I can barely walk now.
Oh, how is it that you can evoke tears and laughter in one reading. to say I admire you is an understatement. And I just read the comment you made about remaining a runner in your mind. Makes me think of my own father who ran college track. He always related what he learned as an athlete to life stuff, so when he felt as if the pain was too much to handle after mom died, I reminded him that he did know how to work through pain and that seemed to help a little.
Oh sweetheart. You gave me chills and made me cry. r.
This blew me away. What powerful writing! Your dad is fantastic.
What a powerful storyteller you are, I dove right in, came up for air at the end....the more I read of your posts, the more I want to read...

...and the double sports bra trick! Thanks for that, maybe I'll try that for tennis, which I love, but those darned black eyes are a drag : )
Dang antibiotics!!! Those warnings are for real, eh?

How cool to read about the Drake Relays right here on OS! (I live in Des Moines and probably lived across the street from the Relays when this happened.)

Great Dad. Love him.
@ Waking up: Hello to YOU! Iowa holds a special place in my heart. I am a Mizzou fan, but I will scream for the Hawkeyes as long as they aren't playing Mizzou. (and Iowa State and Kansas Jayhawks stink! had to put that in there of course)

the antibiotic warning IS real, and if you are only able to take very low dosage (I couldn't take the high dosage b/c of my sickle cell disease.....prone to clots and stroke, so the pill will KILL in high dosage). And, who knows. I managed to go a whole year without having a kid, but a 17 year old with shit on her mind could probably miss a pill dosage. I am not sure what did it. It was God's will for my life, I leave it at that.
They never bother to ask when giving antibiotics.

Not the first not the last. I have had so many students (junior high mind you) on that boat. Your father managed it with surprising grace and love.
What a wonderful Dad. Truer words never spoken.
Wow . . . life altering news, to be sure. And your writing/storytelling continues to pack a punch.
You just freaking amaze me! I love how you write and what you write about. When I get home later today I need to go and look up your past posts and find out even more about you.
I loved this story and your dad and you!
Yup. You know how to pack a punch. I had glanced at the whole piece as I sometimes do - and saw the capitalization of POSITIVE.
As I read I thought this was going to be an Aids story. I was glad it was not. I'm sorry I missed this earlier. This is excellent!!
What a dense post! Very deserving of the EP.
Wow. As the father of three girls, I can only hope to be as understanding as your Dad was should the need arise (although I do hope not in a similar circumstance, wink). Rated.
Fathers like yours...teach daughters like you to be the women they eventually become. I loved this father/daughter story...from one Daddy's girl to another...
@ Keka: I am still in the process of "becoming" I think. So, I hope I have him around a little longer (he is getting up there). He called me at 8:00 this morning (SLEEP on a Saturday? Who needs THAT? LOL!) and wanted to pay a delinquent bill for me. I didn't want him to, but I was greatful for the help (and he was already standing in his local branch of MY bank, which is not his own and demanding an account number from me. He said he had been dictating charts all morning and decided to stop. I think he probably decided DAYS ago to stop.) I cried and told him I was sorry for not being able to work and do better, and what did he say? "Sorry? What the hell for? If that's how the Good Lord made you, what chu gon' do? Just keep going. Pay the damn bill. Goodbye" And he hung up. I think that God made my Father give me the pregnancy test, so that I wouldn't have to figure out how to tell him (because I never could have). Funny how things in the universe work themselves out.
You won't be the first or the last, but you might have written the most compelling version of events. I'm glad I read your bio and realized you survived and thrived. I would have been breathless otherwise.
The idea that you were pregnant never crossed your mind? Im so paranoid if I even crave a pickle I start thinkin kate plus 8.

Thankyou for posting this, it couldn't have been told better. Im dying to read more!
Your writing works because who you are. And you are something! Congratulations on living your life in a way we all should. Love your dad.

Can't wait to read more.
Wonderful post! Did you marry the boyfriend? He sounds like a fabulous human being. I'd like one of him. I look forward to reading more.
Glad to have found you. All best, HB
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