My first cousin, Roy “Butch” Utley slowly gained a curious interest in the workings of my brain when he discovered 1) I have Bipolar Disorder I 2) I have experienced out of body experiences and 3) I died in surgery a little over a year ago and he was keen on knowing what the experience had left with me. I will not in any way, shape or form be able to cram all this information into one blog post so, I suppose the best place to start is at the start.
I was born on a 17 degree winter morning on December 13th, 1960, in Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama. The nurses at the hospital were seriously concerned about my behavior, even at birth, and asked my Mother over and over again if she had experienced anything traumatic during her pregnancy because, as the nurse told my Mother, “This is the most nervous and frightened baby I have ever seen in my whole life!”
My own earliest memory that I can recall at 53 years old now, was sitting in a wooden stroller on a gravel road that ran by our house and I could see my older brother and sister playing down the road a few paces. I was not of walking age and I had no shoes on my feet. One of my first words was “shoes” but, I pronounced them as “hee’s.” I must have been around 6 or 7 months old but, I knew I didn’t want to be in that stroller alone and that I did want to be down the road with my brother and sister. So, I began constructing plans in my mind on how to get out of the stroller and down the road. I did manage to get out of the stroller but, it came with a hard tumble onto lima bean sized gravel rocks. Of course, I started screaming my head off because, my plans had failed and now I was a scraped up, cut up, scratched up baby girl. Marilyn, as usual, came to my rescue.To this very day, Marilyn is always running to my rescue. Well, it’s her own damn fault. She had little faith that God could answer her 8-9 year old prayer with a little brown eyed sister. Thunderbust on her….she got a little brown eyed sister, when it was genetically impossible. And, I’ve managed to make life hell for everyone since the day I arrived. Just before Christmas, the year John knocked down the Christmas tree and Mom threw a shoe at him and hit him in the head. He deserved that, too.
Onto toddling, I was not a child that required sleep and when I did try and I did fall asleep, I would fall out of the bed and hurt myself because, apparently while toddling I believed I was the sleeping acrobat. There were nights when I had long been put to bed and the adults had settled down for the evening movie or television show and then, they would hear a small voice coming down the hallway quoting whatever was being said on the television. One night I was the mighty shepherd boy David from the Bible calling out to King Saul, “Saul! Saul! Saul!”, another night I was Lawrence Welk and Orchestra singing “Good Night, Sleep Tight.”
At 3 years old, my then 12 year old, sister, Marilyn, left a copy of 16 magazine laying on one of the double beds. I liked looking at pictures in magazines and newspapers. On the front of this 16 magazine were four faces of four young men. I studied each face as I usually do and then, my eyes fell on the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen! Who was that man? His eyes are so beautiful and pretty. I wanted to know. No, I had to know! I didn’t want to ask Marilyn because she was very picky about me playing with or getting into her belongings. So, I started quietly turning the pages of the magazine until I found another picture of the man with the pretty eyes. There were what looked like millions of letters all scrambled up on each page but, it had to mean something or why would Marilyn be interested? Then, I looked at all the letters on the page again and started putting their sounds together. I knew my alphabet by 3 years old. By making the sounds of the letters whispering, I found that the letters strung together made sense into a word. So, I slowly started making out the words, then the sentence parts, then running the whole sentence together and within weeks I was fully reading and even requested parts of the newspaper on Sunday’s. And, the man with the pretty brown eyes? I learned his name. Paul McCartney.