Why Forsyth County?

on January 1, 2011 in Why Forsyth County?
Diane and Linda before the storms of life.

Diane and Linda before the storms of life.

Why in the world did I move to Forsyth County? I am a stranger here. Not even a familiar landmark to comfort me. And here I sit in the waiting room of a Forsyth County hospital on Highway 20 at the 400 Autobahn, in a town with multiple lanes of traffic as far as the eye can see. I sit here alone with my ex-husband, Jim, waiting for a miracle, at three o’clock in the morning. It’s July, but you would never know it. Except for the two of us, the waiting room is empty and the air conditioner is set to cool dozens. It’s just Jim and I and a bubbling fish tank in a freezing room.
I am here because of a telephone call. It was Jim. He said, “I hate to call you at this hour, but Jon is in the hospital – up in Cumming. When they started talking exploratory surgery, I knew it was time to call you.”
I left for the hospital immediately. The dark sky was pouring buckets of rain with strong winds. It was impossible to stay dry. Not thinking about how cold the hospital would be, I did not take a wrap or dry clothes. I just wanted to get to my son.
So there we sat, worried and watching the rain come down like sheets on the hospital windows. From where I sat, I faced a wall that had words on it:

 

And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2

I tried to focus on the words, but worry pushed them aside. I tried to pray, but the only words I could think of were – “Help, please help.”
“Exactly, what did the doctor say, Jim?”
“All the tests came back negative. They don’t know why he’s in pain…”
“How much pain?”
“Excruciating – in the stomach area.”
“What about appendicitis?”
“Negative. They don’t know what it is. They have to go in there and look around. That’s what the doctor said. They just left before you walked in.”
“Maybe he will be all right. What did you think about the doctor?”
“Didn’t have time to really talk to him all that much. He told them to get him into the O.R. and they rolled him out.”
“Sounds like they were in a hurry.”
“Yes, it did to me too. But I believe he’ll be okay. I have a good feeling about it.”
I sat there shaking from worry and the cold. Jim nodded off to sleep. I was aggravated at myself for not working harder at prayer. I tried again and again, but could not focus. I went into the chapel and sat in a chair and looked at the cross. “Lord, please help my son. He has a stressful job and a baby on the way. His wife is on bed-rest, because my grandson is insisting on coming too soon. We know he has an ulcerated stomach. Of course, I know You already know all of this, but for some reason I feel like I need to explain it.” I went back out into the huge empty waiting room. Jim was sawing logs. I sat down and tried to resume my prayer. I could not. I could only focus on the cold.
I recalled a time on Morgan Road in Tucker when I felt this cold in the hot summer time. It was at my Uncle Doc and Aunt Sarah’s house. Aunt Sarah was my father’s sister, number three of the Story children, my father, Tom, was number eight.
Aunt Sarah and Uncle Doc lived across the street diagonally from our house. In the summer-time, we worked with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Doc in their big garden. The kids shucked corn or shelled butter beans. One night, Aunt Sarah and my mother took the vegetables we worked on and made homemade soup for dinner. Later that evening, my father and uncle churned homemade ice cream out under Aunt Sarah’s backyard trees. We little cousins ate all the ice cream our tummies could hold and started shaking with cold. Aunt Sarah brought out one of her handmade quilts and wrapped the little cousins up together. We huddled together and shivered trying to get warm. The next day, Aunt Sarah called to let us know that her son, Roy, woke up this morning with the chicken pox. All the little cousins got the chicken pox. We had incubated together.

Patricia, Roy and Linda

Patricia, Roy and Linda

Jim now awake asked, “What ya smiling about?”
“Oh, nothing.”
“Sure you’re smiling about something…”
“Oh, just thinking about something that happened a long time ago in Tucker…”
“Oh yeah! Your roots are in Tucker Tiger town! Let’s hear your roar!” laughed Jim.
I know Jim was trying to cheer me, but I was not in the mood. This was a serious situation. I ignored him and quickly focused again on our son – in the operating room. And Jim nodded off.
Tucker Tigers! Please. This was not a time to be teased, though I know Jim had good intentions. He thinks humor will fix anything. I must focus on being serious and pray again. “Help,” was all I could think of to say. Thunder was booming and the storm raged on. I recalled a time back in Tucker when I got caught out in a bad storm.
I had spent the night at Judy Falandys’ house on Oak Avenue in Tucker. The lake in Tucker had been drained and we talked Judy’s mother into letting us go to the Tucker Pool by walking across the waterless lake. The roots of trees were exposed while the weeds were taller than us. It was quite an adventure, and not all that easy getting in and out of the big hole of a lake.
Judy and I showered ourselves clean at the pool. We joined our friends poolside. But before long, the thunder, wind and rain rolled in. It came suddenly and we had to get home. It was too dangerous to go back across the dried up lake, and too far to walk around it to her house. We took a short cut – up Ball Park Drive to Chamblee Tucker – to get to my house on Morgan Road.
As we crossed Chamblee Tucker to Morgan, an old turquoise car pulled over. It was packed full of the hunkiest Tucker Tigers football players ever. One of them shouted, “Get in! We’ll take you home! We have room. You can sit on our laps!”
Yes, they knew where I lived because they knew my Tucker Tiger Drill Team sister, Pat. Judy started toward the car. I suddenly had a three second movie run through my mind. I saw my mother’s face as she stood on the front porch and saw Judy and I pile out of that turquoise car full of Tucker’s finest! I grabbed Judy’s arm and shouted, “Oh no, we like a good storm! Don’t we Judy?” Judy looked at me like I had lost my mind. “Come on Judy! Where is your sense of adventure? We crossed a lake today and now we’re gonna walk through a storm! Come on! This is great!”
The trees were bending with the wind and water, and I was looking about for a funnel. It really was a bad one. But I had rather meet the wrath of a tornado than my mother. Judy and I walked to my house, without the help of those perplexed jocks. The boys could not believe it. They drove slowly passed us, stopping periodically shouting, “Really, we can make room!”
“No!” I shouted back, “I love the rain!”
“The rain is slowing up,” said Jim.
“What?”
“The rain is slowing up. Where have you been? A million miles away?” asked Jim.
“No, just wondering why it is taking so long. Did they say how long the surgery would take?”
“Di, the doctor didn’t hang around long enough to ask questions. It’s been almost three hours already. Looks like the sun is beginning to come up. He’ll be out soon. I hope so anyway.”
Jim nodded off. That man could sleep anywhere. There I sat alone, just the fish and me and those words on the wall.

And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2

What perfectly wonderful and beautiful words. And Jim was right, the rain was slowing down and I could see an orange hew of color peeping up over the trees. And beyond those trees was the never ending line of cars and trucks, all going somewhere. The streets are one big parking lot during rush hour traffic. Oh, how I longed for Tucker – the days when I knew everybody and knew I was home. Why in the world had I moved way up here in Forsyth County?
I tried to focus and pray, but I could not. “Help, we are in the trenches here,” was all I could get out. No eloquent words here. My mind drifted back to Tucker again. When I thought of Tucker, the time went by faster and I didn’t feel so cold. I found myself on Henderson Road.
My cousin, Linda Goss lived on Henderson Road. Linda’s mother was my father’s baby sister. Aunt Nancy was the ninth child in the Story family.
One day at Linda’s house, we spent hours writing songs to her father’s brother, Uncle Bill, who was away in the military. We wrote about the beautiful world that God made. Our little songs were written on Rainbow tablets. We wrote all the songs to the tune of – I Shall Not Be Moved.
We really wanted to go outside, but Linda and Aunt Nancy had just gotten new perms and Linda was not allowed out in the “dampness.” We asked time and time again to go out to play, but Aunt Nancy said it had to be “bone dry or Linda’s perm would be ruined.”

Nancy and Carl Goss with Tom Story

Nancy and Carl Goss with Tom Story

The rain slowed down to a drizzle that day at Linda’s house, just like the rain slowed down here at the hospital today. Oh, how I missed living in Tucker. Why in the world did I move so far away? The traffic, that’s why. I could not work here and drive to and fro from Tucker. The traffic on 400 and I-285 is a killer and I have no patience. Here in Forsyth County, I’m just four miles from my office. I am very happy here. But here, today in this hospital, I longed for familiarity. Every time I tried to pray for my son, my mind wandered to Tucker.
Linda and I tried everything imaginable to get out of that house.
With all that songwriting, we had been inspired to go to Heaven and not Hell. And with all this rain available, we made the decision to get baptized. We were both very young then, and did not contemplate going before the church with this revelation. All we had to do was get Aunt Nancy to let us out of the house and into the rain. Linda would baptize me, and then I would baptize her.
Finally Linda remembered that, “Diane left her little doll out in the woods, down the bank, next to the creek.”
That’s right – I remembered it too. And now Aunt Nancy was aware of it. And how I missed my doll and surely she would ruin in the rain. Linda hoped that the creek did not get out and whisk the little doll away. I cried. Linda cried. Aunt Nancy tied our heads up with stiff plastic rain bonnets. She put raincoats on us. She gave us an umbrella.
“Linda Sue, if you get your hair wet, your perm will be ruined tomorrow. Your Aunt Miriam (Story child number five) spent all day here yesterday perming our hair. Now you go straight down that bank and get that doll and get yourself back in here! Do not doddle! Do you hear me? Both of you! Do you hear me?”
“Yes ma’am,” we said in unison.
Finally, we were out of that house and carefully made our way down the slippery steep back-door steps. We gingerly walked to the woods at the edge of Linda’s backyard, and down the bank we went. When we were sure to be out of sight, we threw down the umbrella and Linda leaned me back in her arms and allowed the rain to soak my face. She said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
Now it was her turn. “Be careful not to let my hair get wet,” she reminded me.
I put my arm around her shoulders as she leaned back and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” The rain bounced off her plastic rain bonnet, but her hair was safe and dry. It was time to go back and say we could not find the little doll and get out of this rain. Only thing, the umbrella was gone. We ran all the way down the slippery bank and followed the creek. And there it was! The current was taking Aunt Nancy’s umbrella away – really fast. Linda and I ran after it, but the current was too fast for us. We ran faster, and the faster we ran, the harder it rained. We passed the back of several houses along Henderson Road. We really tried hard to catch that run-away umbrella. Linda was a year older than me and was out running me by a bit. But every time Linda almost had the handle, the current took the umbrella away.
I saw the hopelessness of the situation and yelled out to her over the rain, “Linda! Listen! We are almost at Tucker Elementary, why don’t we go there, cross Lavista to Doc Newsom’s house? Daddy’s working over there today! We can get him to drive us back to your house!” Linda ignored me. I shouted louder, “If Daddy’s not there, we can go next door to Emory Plunkett’s house. He or Marie can drive us back to your house! They are nice people! They gave us our dog, Rusty! The cocker spaniel. Remember? Linda! We have to get out of this rain!”
Linda must have heard me, because she looked back at me, and her eyes were as big as saucers. And then a miraculous thing happened! She dug in and her little legs out ran that current, and saved Aunt Nancy’s umbrella. We had to sit down a while to catch our breath. We then hurried as fast as we could to back track our way to Linda’s house.
Linda and I climbed up the bank and regained our composure as we steadied the umbrella over our heads. We took tiny obedient baby steps as we walked across the backyard to the back door steps. And there at the top of the steps was Aunt Nancy. She had a pink towel tied around her head which was topped off with her own plastic rain bonnet. She had on a raincoat and rain boots. She was about six feet tall, but standing at the top of those steep steps, she looked even taller. And – number nine was not happy. Linda and I froze in our tracks. We were in big trouble. Then I realized, I was not in big trouble at all, but it was Linda that was in big trouble.
“Linda Sue Goss!” shouted Aunt Nancy.
I turned to look at Linda to see why her mother was so upset with her. And, we were not going to have to wait until tomorrow. Linda’s perm was ruined – just ruined!
I was jolted from Tucker back to the Forsyth County hospital as I saw a young man in blue scrubs coming toward me. He was almost running.
“My son?”
He took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “He’s going to be okay. I removed his appendix. I don’t know why the tests came back negative, but…” He stopped talking for a moment and tried to catch his breath. He noticed I was staring at his name tag. “Please allow me to start over, I’m…,” but he stopped in mid sentence and shook his head as though to clear his thoughts. “I can’t explain it, but the whole time I was operating, I had a tremendous pull on me to finish quickly. It was like someone screaming at me to hurry up and get out to the waiting room, because someone out there is worried sick!”
I could not take my eyes off his name tag.
He took another deep breath, “I apologize. Please, allow me to introduce myself. I’m the surgeon who operated on your son. I’m Dr. Jeffrey Tucker…”
The doctor continued to speak, but I cannot tell you what he said. Although I had one eye on him, my other eye was on the words on the wall. As I looked past the words on the wall – out into the sunrise – the words came to me that I really wanted to say. I pretended to listen to the doctor, but I was involved in a private conversation.
Oh my awesome Father! Thank You for the rain, thank You for the sunrise and thank You for all that traffic. Traffic means You have blessed this community with commerce. Traffic means folks are busy with their lives and soon my son will join them. But most of all Father, thank You for Tucker.

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