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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. September 19, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. This book is a very enjoyable read if you are interested in Texas Baptist history or life around central Texas from While stories of ministry abound, I feel the strength of this book is the description of life in the Texas cotton-belt. Dawson grew up as the son of a sharecropper, and the tales of survival and life are wonderful. The book is also filled with descriptions of encounters with other Texas figures, like Charles Goodnight.

The book starts to drag about half way through. Suddenly it changes from chronological order, to random reminisces, then back to very detailed information about his late life endeavors. Hopefully these hints will help you create diagrams that will wow your audience and aid you in expressing your research and ideas.

Has this helped you? Then please share with your network. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More. Written by Laura Grassie. Share via. Facebook Messenger. Copy Link. At which point, at long last, there was the actual doing it, quickly followed by the grim realization of what it meant to do it, followed by the decision to quit doing it because doing it was absurd and pointless and ridiculously difficult and far more than I expected doing it would be and I was profoundly unprepared to do it.

And then there was the real live truly doing it. The staying and doing it, in spite of everything. In spite of the bears and the rattlesnakes and the scat of the mountain lions I never saw; the blisters and scabs and scrapes and lacerations. The exhaustion and the deprivation; the cold and the heat; the monotony and the pain; the thirst and the hunger; the glory and the ghosts that haunted me as I hikedbeleven hundred miles from the Mojave Desert to the state of Washington by myself.

I was wearing green. Green pants, green shirt, green bow in my hair. Some of them were just what I dreamed of having, others less so. All that day of the green pantsuit, as I accompanied my mother and stepfather, Eddie, from floor to floor of the Mayo Clinic while my mother went from one test to another, a prayer marched through my head, though prayer is not the right word to describe that march.

My prayer was not: Please, God, take mercy on us. I was not going to ask for mercy. My mother was forty-five. She looked fine. My siblings and I had been made to swallow raw cloves of garlic when we had colds.


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People like my mother did not get cancer. The tests at the Mayo Clinic would prove that, refut- ing what the doctors in Duluth had said. I was certain of this. Who were those doctors in Duluth anyway? What was Duluth? Fuck them. That was my prayer: Fuckthemfuckthemfuckthem. And yet, here was my mother at the Mayo Clinic getting worn out if she had to be on her feet for more than three minutes.

I followed behind, not allowing myself to think a thing.

What Will We Miss?

We were finally on our way up to see the last doctor. The real doctor, we kept call- ing him. The one who would gather everything that had been gathered about my mom and tell us what was true. As the elevator car lifted, my mother reached out to tug at my pants, rubbing the green cotton between her fingers proprietarily. She was going to leave my life at the same moment that I came into hers, I thought. For some reason that sentence came fully formed into my head just then, temporarily blotting out the Fuck them prayer.

I almost howled in agony. I almost choked to death on what I knew before I knew. I was going to live the rest of my life without my mother. I pushed the fact of it away with everything in me. This was not so. We were led into an examining room, where a nurse instructed my mother to remove her shirt and put on a cotton smock with strings that dangled at her sides. When my mother had done so, she climbed onto a padded table with white paper stretched over it. Each time she moved, the room was on fire with the paper ripping and crinkling beneath her. I could see her naked back, the small curve of flesh beneath her waist.

She was not going to die. Her naked back seemed proof of that. I was staring at it when the real doctor came into the room and said my mother would be lucky if she lived a year. He explained that they would not attempt to cure her, that she was incurable. There was nothing that could have been done, he told us.

Finding it so late was common, when it came to lung cancer. He had a job to do. They could try to ease the pain in her back with radiation, he offered. Radiation might reduce the size of the tumors that were growing along the entire length of her spine. I did not cry. I only breathed. And then for- got to breathe. What did you do? She sat with her hands folded tightly together and her ankles hooked one to the other.

Shackled to herself.


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In reply, he took a pencil, stood it upright on the edge of the sink, and tapped it hard on the surface. Each of us locked in separate stalls, weeping. Not because we felt so alone in our grief, but because we were so together in it, as if we were one body instead of two. Later we came out to wash our hands and faces, watching each other in the bright mirror. We were sent to the pharmacy to wait.

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I sat between my mother and Eddie in my green pantsuit, the green bow miraculously still in my hair. There was a woman who had an arm that swung wildly from the elbow. She held it stiffly with the other hand, trying to calm it. She waited. We waited. There was a beautiful dark-haired woman who sat in a wheelchair. She wore a purple hat and a handful of diamond rings. We could not take our eyes off her. She spoke in Spanish to the people gathered around her, her family and perhaps her husband. Eddie sat on my other side, but I could not look at him.

If I looked at him we would both crumble like dry crackers. I thought about my older sister, Karen, and my younger brother, Leif. What they would say when they knew. How they would cry. My prayer was different now: A year, a year, a year. Those two words beat like a heart in my chest. There was a song coming over the waiting room speakers.

A song without words, but my mother knew the words anyway and instead of answering my question she sang them softly to me. To think about listening to the same song now. I was Karen, Cheryl, Leif.

MARK TWAIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Karen Cheryl Leif. She whispered it and hollered it, hissed it and crooned it. We were her kids, her comrades, the end of her and the beginning. We took turns riding shotgun with her in the car.

Better Than A Thousand

But she would never get there, no matter how wide she stretched her arms. The amount that she loved us was beyond her reach. It could not be quantified or contained. Her love was full-throated and all-encompassing and unadorned. Every day she blew through her entire reserve. She grew up an army brat and Catholic.

She lived in five different states and two countries before she was fifteen. She loved horses and Hank Williams and had a best friend named Babs. Nineteen and preg- nant, she married my father. Three days later, he knocked her around the room. She left and came back. Left and came back. She would not put up with it, but she did. He broke her nose. He broke her dishes. He skinned her knees dragging her down a sidewalk in broad daylight by her hair.

By twenty-eight she managed to leave him for the last time. She was alone, with KarenCherylLeif riding shotgun in her car. By then we lived in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis in a series of apartment complexes with deceptively upscale names: Mill Pond and Barbary Knoll, Tree Loft and Lake Grace Manor. She had one job, then another. She waited tables at a place called the Norseman and then a place called Infinity, where her uniform was a black T-shirt that said go for it in rainbow glitter across her chest.

She worked the day shift at a factory that manufactured plastic containers capable of holding highly corrosive chemicals and brought the rejects home. Trays and boxes that had been cracked or clipped or misaligned in the machine.

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We made them into toys—beds for our dolls, ramps for our cars. She worked and worked and worked, and still we were poor. We received government cheese and powdered milk, food stamps and medical assistance cards, and free presents from do-gooders at Christmastime. We played tag and red light green light and charades by the apartment mail- boxes that you could open only with a key, waiting for checks to arrive. Sarsaparilla or Orange Crush or lemonade.

She would spread her arms wide and ask us how much and there would never be an end to the game. She loved us more than all the named things in the world. She was optimistic and serene, except a few times when she lost her temper and spanked us with a wooden spoon. She dated men with names like Killer and Doobie and Motorcycle Dan and one guy named Victor who liked to downhill ski. They would give us five-dollar bills to buy candy from the store so they could be alone in the apartment with our mom. Karen and Leif and I fell in love with him too.

He was twenty-five when we met him and twenty-seven when he married our mother and promised to be our father; a carpenter who could make and fix anything. We left the apartment complexes with fancy names and moved with him into a rented ramshackle farmhouse that had a dirt floor in the basement and four different colors of paint on the outside. The winter after my mother married him, Eddie fell off a roof on the job and broke his back.

A year later, he and my mom took the twelve-thousand-dollar settlement he received and with it bought forty acres of land in Aitkin County, an hour and a half west of Duluth, paying for it outright in cash. There was no house.

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No one had ever had a house on that land. Our forty acres were a perfect square of trees and bushes and weedy grasses, swampy ponds and bogs clotted with cattails. There was nothing to dif- ferentiate it from the trees and bushes and grasses and ponds and bogs that surrounded it in every direction for miles. And, slowly, it did. Trees that had once looked like any other to me became as recognizable as the faces of old friends in a crowd, their branches gesturing with sudden meaning, their leaves beckoning like identifiable hands.

Clumps of grass and the edges of the now-familiar bog became landmarks, guides, indecipherable to everyone but us. For six months, we went up north only on weekends, working furiously to tame a patch of the land and build a one-room tarpaper shack where the five of us could sleep.

In early June, when I was thirteen, we moved up north for good. Or rather, my mother, Leif, Karen, and I did, along with our two horses, our cats and our dogs, and a box of ten baby chicks my mom got for free at the feed store for buying twenty-five pounds of chicken feed. Eddie would continue driving up on weekends throughout the summer and then stay come fall. We were twenty miles away from two small towns in opposite directions: Moose Lake to the east; McGregor to the northwest. We fought and talked and made up jokes and diversions in order to pass the time. Who am I? Are you American? Are you dead?

Are you Charles Manson? We were swarmed by mosqui- toes as we worked, but my mother forbade us to use DEET or any other such brain-destroying, earth-polluting, future-progeny-harming chemical. Instead, she instructed us to slather our bodies with pennyroyal or peppermint oil. In the evenings, we would make a game of counting the bites on our bodies by candlelight.

The numbers would be seventy-nine, eighty-six, one hundred and three. There had always been a television in our house, not to mention a flushable toilet and a tap where you could get yourself a glass of water. In our new life as pioneers, even meeting the simplest needs often involved a grueling litany of tasks, rig- orous and full of boondoggle. Our kitchen was a Coleman camp stove, a fire ring, an old-fashioned icebox Eddie built that depended on actual ice to keep things even mildly cool, a detached sink propped against an outside wall of the shack, and a bucket of water with a lid on it.

Each component demanded just slightly less than it gave, needing to be tended and maintained, filled and unfilled, hauled and dumped, pumped and primed and stoked and monitored. Karen and I shared a bed on a lofted platform built so close to the ceiling we could just barely sit up. Leif slept a few feet away on his own smaller platform, and our mother was in a bed on the floor below, joined by Eddie on the weekends. Every night we talked one another to sleep, slumber-party style. There was a skylight window in the ceiling that ran the length of the platform bed I shared with Karen, its transparent pane only a few feet from our faces.

That someday I would be grateful and that in fact I was grateful now, that I felt something growing in me that was strong and real. The thing that would make me believe that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was my way back to the person I used to be. All through my teen years, Eddie and my mom kept building it, adding on, making it better.

My mother planted a garden and canned and pickled and froze vegetables in the fall. She tapped the trees and made maple syrup, baked bread and carded wool, and made her own fabric dyes out of dandelions and broccoli leaves. I grew up and left home for college in the Twin Cities at a school called St.

Thomas, but not without my mom. My acceptance letter men- tioned that parents of students could take classes at St. Thomas for free. Much as she liked her life as a modern pioneer, my mother had always wanted to get her degree. We laughed about it together, then pondered it in private.

Plus, St. Thomas was a three- hour drive away. We kept talking and talking until at last we had a deal: she would go to St. Thomas but we would have separate lives, dictated by me. I would live in the dorm and she would drive back and forth. If our paths crossed on campus she would not acknowledge me unless I acknowledged her first. She replicated my worksheets, wrote the same papers I had to write, read every one of the books. I judged her a shaky student at best. She went to college and earned straight As. Sometimes I hugged her exuberantly when I saw her on campus; other times I sailed on by, as if she were no one to me at all.

We were both seniors in college when we learned she had cancer. Thomas anymore. I was married by then, to a good man named Paul.