I have been judged my whole life. With my last name being "Nimrod," reddish naturally curly hair, fair skin and freckles, I was a prime topic for snide remarks, and constant picking. Same for my siblings. Add glasses, being dirt poor, and Moma making our clothes, and cutting our hair, let's just say we relied on each other (my siblings and I).
Our sister who is 8 years older than me raised us. When she was in school and we were not, we went to a day care center. That center was directly across from where Moma spent her days. I could talk through the fence to her and more than once when I saw Euvah pull up, I would beg her to come get us.
The day care was great, but what kid wants to locked behind a fence when they can plainly see their Sissy is home?
Euvah and Steve got married on 1977. As per usual, it made Moma mad and she tried to keep us from seeing them. Okmulgee is a small town, though, abs by that time we were old enough to go wherever we wanted as long as we were in the house when the street lights came on.
In late October, 1980, I decided to live with my father and my grandma in Alabama. It hurt my mom but it also saved my life.
When I got to Alabama I reinvented myself, somewhat. I stood up for myself and I got a reputation for being tough.
I was hurt, angry, belligerent, and had an attitude that would not stop. Mr Morrow stepped out of the room for two minutes and when he came back in he had to convince me I did not want to drop the boy who had been picking on me two stories to the drive below. I had the kid dangling out the window. Had I dropped him, I could have had a "twofer." In Selma, a "twofer" means I could have taken out two people at the same time. Terr was able administrator I despised walking under the kid. The guy was clueless.
My best friend became Lanai Lippe and she was part of the cool crowd. With the help of Lanai and Mitch (my silent protector), there was a lot less picking and most folks just let me be.
My first actual job was at Piggly Wiggly as a cashier. I worked my butt off late into the night and still passed high school.
The April after I turned 17 I joined the USAF. I had just gotten off of helo after flying for several hours and asked where to sign!
I left Alabama in early June for a brief sojourn at home (Okmulgee) on my way to BMTS in San Antonio.
I arrived in July and due to issues with my JROTC commanders, I did not think I would get to " Proficiency Advance," (PA) out if basic. With the dedication of my DI's, and squadron Commander, and XO, I was able to complete basic in three weeks.
Because it had been so difficult, I ended up in "Casual" which is another word for slave who has no job for now. Lol. They moved my Tech School slot up and I arrived in Wichita Falls in August.
While there, I passed a kidney stone, broke my foot in 7 places, destroyed 4 cats in 6 days, and still graduated with the highest aggregate.
I worked hard and I partied hard. I was blessed to have my dear friend Mitch close and I had nothing to worry about. Life was great!
I visited home for a long weekend and when I left for Minot, I was excited and terrified. I have always preferred to be close to family and here I was 17, headed somewhere I had never even considered.
I arrived at Minot in October. It was 40* out, there were 5' snow drifts and folks had shoveled the deck and we're laying out in swim suits.
I immediately went to the pay phone and called Grans. I asked her if she still had the list of things I would do when hell froze over and she said, "yes." I told her to get it out because I had arrived in Minot and hell had indeed frozen over!
In January 1985, I was supposed to be painting the vertical stabilizer on an F-15. The entire plane was covered in 4 mill Visqueen (very thick, slick, plastic).
I was training a buck airman and our Sergeant (<--that does not look correct) insisted we put paper booties on our low quarters (shoes). I tried to insist that this would not end well and was told to follow his orders, so I did.
Jay, the airman, followed me to the stairs. Once poisoned, we locked the stairs in place and began our ascent. I told Jay not to get on the wing walk until he knew I was steady. I placed my left foot firmly on the wing walk and picked up my right foot - I clearly remember skating across the wrong like I was flying and can still draw a very clear picture of the inside of the hangar roof.
As I feel 16.5 feet to the concrete below I remember thinking, "If I survive, this is going to hurt."
I hit in (as the doctors explained) in the ONLY position that I could have landed in and not be in a wheelchair instantly or dead.
I had only been permanent party since October. Ate the accident, I was given grunt candy, aka Ibuprofen and released to work. They said I had fractured my lumbar spine butt they were stable, go back to work. So, I did.
In February I received a bad result in a pap smear and deliberately got pregnant.
I chose to leave the USAF due to internal issues as well as medical. I received an Honorable discharge and made it back to Okmulgee to be with my Moma and my little sister.
With fonds of help from my family, Euvah and Dee arranged a surprise baby shower for me and their friends and them, rained gifts, love, and laughter on me.
On November 15, 1985, Michél Lanai Nimrod came into this world as strong as an ox. I was sick and was in the hospital 9 days. Michél stayed, as well.
I made a ton of mistakes in her short life but I loved her more than life itself and she knew it. Because of my spinal injury and the pap smear my pregnancy was very high risk. I had been denied care but was lucky to get David Parker here in Okmulgee.
I would be walking and suddenly, I would be grabbing the nearest person, rack, country, mannequin... you get the idea. I fell, a lot. I had to have blood work and an ultrasound every week.
On June 6, 1986, our apartment building burned to the ground. A police officer who was a dear friend (Chris Edwards) came pounding on our door about 6:00 a.m. We literally grabbed Michél, bet diapers, as many clothes as possible, her formula and food and ran like hell.
On June 29, 1986, I woke up and Michél was gone. It would be determined that she was a victim of SIDS.
On August 24th 1986 due to my health I had to have a complete hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at the age of 19. According to the surgical report there were "no recognizable female organs left."
After losing Michél and almost dying, I was in a very bad place. I weighed 89 pounds, soaking wet with a Brock in my pocket. I am 5'11" and no, I was not anorexic, I was poor and I was proud. Had I ever asked, Moma and Daddy (David) would have helped even with what little they had. And that is why I didn't ask.
For the record, I have received state assistance in the form of medical and/or food stamps, NEVER check or cash, precisely 25 months since I turned 18 on November 2, 1988.
When I was injured the second time in August 1990 I was active duty for training with the 1st/377th USAR. My civilian job at that time was managing the Henryetta Pizza Hut. I spent 9 months on crutches and was forced to quit. I not only completed my Arms Training, I did it in halfthe allotted time and was helping train other soldiers. ALL while on crutches and permanent profile, meaning I could not march, nor do any PT.
I have worked an average of 40+ hours per week since 1993. I stayed home for 5 months between November 1994 and March 1995 to help the kids settle in.
With those exceptions, I have worked. I have paid taxes, it was hard. I was repeatedly denied my disability because, "Obviously, [I] could work, therefore [I] was NOT disabled *enough.*"
How about you ask my kids? The kids that would have been homeless, shoeless, food-less... if I had NOT worked my back-side off.
ASK them what shape I ended up in; how much pain I stayed in; how much they had to help because I was working 2 and 3 jobs or, when at Heilig-Meyers, my one job meant they were asleep when I left and when I got home. They fondly remember helping with the paper route while I remember being so worried about them missing sleep.
Virtually every job I had, I worked my way up from the bottom. I was never too good for a job. Scrubbing bathrooms, sweeping, mopping, dishes, coming, fast food, retail, collections, management, telemarketing... if I could earn money and support my family I did not care.
Money can be made. On May 31, 2002, I left my job as executive assistant to the owner of Arco Electric in Baton Rouge, LA.
I came to Oklahoma at my sister's expense to relieve her in taking care of our Moma in September, back to LA (Sis and Steve, again) in November and back to Okmulgee again, this time bringing Jeremy's car ($ by the Bryant family, yet again).
In 2003, Moma passed, on my watch, I stayed to care for my step-dad.
It was then that I was finally able to get the mental, physical, financial and educational help I needed and was owed, by the military and VA.
It took 9 more years to get approved. I began school in January 2007 and graduated with a Bachelor's in English in December of 2010. I was notified in November of 2010 that my disability had been raised to 60% permanent and total and was told that unless a job had prior approval from the VA, I would not be able to work. Period. November of 2011 I was approved 90/10. Permanent and total.
That 90/10? That means I am un-employable. I am not **allowed** to work. Yes, I do get a check every month. I also get told twice a year or so that because I did not "earn" my disability that I may not get paid next month. This year, there was no COLA (cost of living adjustment) which is not a huge deal except that most everything else went up even though oil went down.
I do not get any other assistance except medical... that I have to spend hours arguing for.
Since 1985 I have almost died 3 times, I have been paralyzed from the waist down twice, I have beaten, and I have used, and abused my body beyond what most could tolerate.
This is not a whine, nor do I need or want sympathy. This is the very top of a massive Iceberg that I don't discuss. For almost 30 years I have gone to sleep and I have my daughter's face as I drift off. Not the face of love but the face of death.
I am imperfect and impatient. I have nightmares that won't stop but I also know that God has this. God had me and he has Michél.
I was blessed with four beautiful children in 1994 and I have never looked back. I don't really know that there is a point here. Maybe I just want people to stop looking at the surface. Everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting a battle.