This post will be a bit more on the personal end. I've mentioned in a few previous posts that I've written a book about my journey thus far, particularly the part about discovering and meeting my brothers for the first time. Several friends have asked if I'm going to publish it or if they can read it, and I don't exactly know the answer.
If it were only my story I would have published it three years ago. I literally started and finished the whole thing about a month after meeting them and have just tweaked a few updates in the time since. Fortunately and unfortunately this story is not just my own and there are some less than pleasant pieces that involve other people's choices and I need them to be ready to share it with the world first. So that's where I'm at with that.
That said, I thought it might be fun to put a few excerpts from it in this space.
A Continental Shift: The Adventure of Writing a New Story
By: Cynthia Viola
An Excerpt from Chapter One
I grew up the beloved only child of Lynn and Larry Jackson in the small, mountain town of Boone, North Carolina. We moved around a lot, but my fondest memories come from the home I first knew. Complete with three 250 pound hogs, acres and acres of forests to draw out the adventurer, a swing made out of an old Jeep seat that would send me fifty feet in the air and a giant waterfall that never failed to produce the best salamanders.
Boone is growing now due to the popularity of Appalachian State University, but at the time, it was the quintessential small mountain town. Boone was like that little town you’d see on a postcard bought in a gas station of a picturesque little village covered in snow with happy people waving happily to their neighbor as they shovel snow and make gingerbread houses.
It’s a town where people don’t necessarily know each other’s names...but they always offer a welcoming smile as if they do. Where people actually let you go first in the grocery line because you have fewer items than they do, where hospitality in any home is expected...not in a forced way, but as a simple fact of life, and where families set deep roots, rarely ever moving away.
I didn’t really notice it then, but I was primarily raised by my father.
My mom worked nights and weekends, so she was asleep when I woke up and went to school, and she was gone when my dad brought me home and put me to bed. She was also gone when my dad would wake me up at 2:30am to go “run the wrecker” for some poor soul who’d sent their car over one of the mountain edges. I didn’t notice it was late or that dad was tirelessly working two jobs to make ends meet. I just knew that it was a blast getting to ride in the Jeep in the middle of the night and watch all the bright lights as he pulled them out of the ditch.
Perhaps because I was an only child raised by a father who did the best he could, perhaps because some inner gene or strand of DNA gave me a rebellious scrappyness, but I was always a tomboy, and often alone. My weekends usually consisted of mountain bikes, four wheelers, salamanders and adventures. ...
When I was nine my mom gave birth to the most beloved baby brother anyone ever set eyes on. I finally had someone to play with. A boy who would understand that when you attach a parachute laden G.I. Joe to the ceiling fan and rocket launch him across the room at the highest speed the fan would send him, glorious things happen. A boy who would understand that only a tree house in the tallest tree in the forest would adequately satisfy our desire for adventure and bit of danger.
Apparently in that year certain pesticides were used on the Christmas tree farms that surrounded our little town. They also blanketed the acres of land surrounding our tiny single wide trailer on the side of the mountain. It was not uncommon for those pesticides to seep into the groundwater and into wells. As you can imagine, this is not a drink that is suggested for developing babies.
Cody was born with a hole in his heart the size of a golf ball. After much debate about the possibility of a baboon’s heart and years of complications, my parents finally decided to take him off life support. As the family passed him around the room in his final moments, it fell to me to be holding him as he breathed his last. I’m told that should have affected me more than it did at the time, but I think I was aware that it was best for his elder sister to take on that responsibility, my parents didn’t need the extra weight on them.
Dad was strong...he knew he needed to be for me. But then, that’s how he always was: strong for me. Strong when he swept hundreds of yellow jackets off of me and our dog, Sheba with his bare hands after we stepped on a hidden hive. Strong when he carried me in one arm and eight bags of groceries in the other up the side of our mountain in two feet of snow when our car got stuck at the bottom. Strong when Cody died. Strong when he discovered it wasn’t his DNA that produced the greatest joy of his life, this daddy’s girl, his ‘Bumble Bee,’ as he would affectionately call me later in life when I got too busy to spend time with him. He’s the strongest man I’ve ever known.