Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 9, 2012

Dysfunction will make for good reading in my future book

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — My sister Margie has a saying “Memories are an imperfect vessel.”

I have never really thought about it, but she is so right.

I grew up in a family of five children, all girls. Sometimes, I think we all grew up in different households. There are so many memories  I don't remember. One sister will remember an event, and the rest of us will say it never happened, or happened differently.   The truth lies somewhere in-between.

People who remember things from their childhood, and find out later it never happened, are those memories Margie always talks about.

My two older sisters are about 18 months apart in age. They both think their memories are correct. I am about five years younger, and my memories not so clear.    

I have wanted for a very long time to write a book about my life. I have to wait until all my sisters are gone, because they all disagree with my version of our childhood years. I’m not sure they would like what I have to say.

I have always said I grew up in the original dysfunctional family. My sister would say we put the 'Fun' in dysfunction. Not so true.

Anyone who lives long enough has a book in them. You can pick anyone out of a crowd, and they all have a story to tell.

My friend says her life was boring. I say just look deep enough, and there is something in your life worth telling.

The older I get, the more I realize most families are  dysfunctional. Some more than others. Our family may have been considered on the high end of dysfunction.

The old adage, “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger” is true in my family. I come from a family of very strong women. Not only strong, but very outspoken. Sometimes that’s not such a good thing.

I watch a lot of those Lifetime movies, and always think my life was  much more interesting then theirs. At least, I think it was. 

I don't want to give away my story, but for a short time I lived in a girl’s home. This was after my mother passed away when I was 11. The home was called “Parental Home For Girls” in Jacksonville, Florida. Horrible name for a horrible place.

When I was grown was about 18 years-old. Okay, I just thought I was grown. I would wish that place would burn to the ground. It was just wishful thinking. I just didn't want any more little girls to have to live there.

After my son was born, Jackie and I took a trip to Florida. We drove by the Parental Home. I wanted Jackie to see where I lived for about two months.

Oh my goodness, it was gone. The place had burned down.  I was so glad I lived in Texas. I could have been easily accused of burning the horror house down. Don't worry, I didn't  do it.  Not really gutsy enough.

It was part of my past. I didn't have to deal with it as an adult.

There are stories about the Parental Home that would be part of my book, and  the soon to be movie.  I definitely wouldn't give too much attention to that place.  The State of Florida should have never put little girls in that home.

 Here is just a small preview of my book.

“The girls home every Friday night would make those young girls take milk of magnesia. YUK. Who knows why? They just did. I personally think it was child abuse. But no one would listen to a loud-mouth 13-year-old.

“There were about 40 girls in this home. They would line them up in the hall, and one-by-one make them drink milk of magnesia. You had to stand there while you drank it. They didn't want you to go spit it out.

“Me being the smart teenager I was, I made the decision this was just wrong. In the middle of the night, a girl named Josephine and I took all the gallon-jugs,  and hid them. When I say gallons I mean about 20 gallons. The girls’ home was on about 50 acres  where they grew corn. The pink, nasty stuff ended up in the cornfields.

“Those mean old women tried everything to get us to tell them what we had done with the  pink liquid. I was never telling, and thank goodness, neither was Josephine. They threatened us with everything. How bad could it be? I live in the Parental Home.

“After about two months, I moved from the home, but the pink stuff was still in the cornfield.”

That's a preview of my made-for-TV-movie.

If you think you have a book in you, put your thoughts on paper. Remembering your past can be freeing. If you don't remember, then you very well may repeat  it.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.