Not a Pretty Story
My childhood was fraught with much turmoil after my mother’s death at my young age of eight years. We were placed into foster care, my sister and I, due to my father’s choice in wives (plural for a reason). One foster home that we went into was with Juanita and Lou Acres. They were an elderly black couple. They were loving and kind and took us to Church every Sunday morning and said prayers with us every night after our Bible readings.
Juanita had inherited the big old farmhouse we lived in from an old lady she once attended. We tended a garden and hung clothes on the lines outside. We managed the farm animals and cooked all the meals. There were 14 of us children, and we were every color of the rainbow. There were white, black, Korean, and Vietnamese, all living and getting along well under one roof. I was the eldest at the age of 12 years. It was like Old Mother Hubbard in the shoe, but Juanita would never think of spanking anyone.
One day, we were out waiting for the school bus. Two young boys, Mark and Drew Wright, were out joy riding early in their souped up, chopped off convertible Charger. Their father owned the hardware store in town. There were pressurized paint dispensers at the hardware store. They sped past us at the bus stop, spun around and came back. They threw paint filled balloons at us and screamed out nasty racial slurs. Our clothes and shoes were ruined. Our school books destroyed. Our self-esteem wrecked. The little ones cried and consoling them was not easy. We all went inside and stayed home from school that day while Juanita cleaned us up with mineral spirits. She told us to pray for those boys. So I did.
Weeks later, we were divided and sent to other foster homes, none of us being young enough for adoption. Lou had a stroke and Juanita was overwhelmed. We had found ourselves taking care of them more than they were able to care for us. At my next Foster Home, on the very first day there, my new foster father was reading from the local paper. “Two young boys, Mark and Andrew Wright, were speeding across the top of Pine Mountain at faster than 100 miles per hour when they lost control of the car, hitting the stone bridge at King’s Gap, bursting into flames, and tumbling down the mountainside to their deaths.” Now, I don’t wish death upon anyone. How tragic, but I did think, at 12 years old, “Karma, she’s a bitch, I wonder what color they are now!”