Dixie Adkins is a retired teacher and Sunday School teacher, but still works as a proofreader and copy editor with decades of experience. I have written a little and want to write more, and develop my artistic talents.
I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on May 17, 1947. My earliest memories were of growing up in Picayune, Mississippi. My family moved to Chalmette, Louisiana when I was about five years old, where I made good grades in school, but did not fit in. I liked art and reading.
Hurricane Betsy happened right before I left to attend Southeastern College at Hammond. While stranded at Kaiser Aluminum’s refugee center, my mother wrote the college on paper towels asking them to hold my scholarship until I could get there. Someone offered her paper, and she grimly said, “No, I want the Scott towels.” She knew the Scott towels would tell more about our dire situation than her words would. Soon I was on an army transport vehicle, in my donated refugee dress and shoes. Those shoes produced enormous blisters from walking for hours on campus, trying to find classes that still had openings.
But it was worse at home, where my sister was removing mold covered sheetrock, and cleaning up debris. She learned to love the smell of pine oil so much she was thinking of using it as perfume and dabbing it behind her ears.
Two years later, I lost my scholarship and went to UNO. That’s where I met Pat Adkins. My boyfriend was reading a manuscript of Pat’s when I came into the student union.
“Who was that?” I asked him when Pat left.
“Oh, he’s a sophomore,” my boyfriend said dismissively. I was a junior. Eventually, we went on a date. I was interested in Pat, but realized I must be serious about him after the date when I had to help push his car. Even my parents liked him. We married in the Methodist Church, and my parents gave us 100 silver dollars. We tipped servers and played poker. It was fun.
My daughter Alisha was born in 1972 and my sons Alexander in 1983, and Adam in 1985. At the beginning of 1997, our house burned down. We had just bought the house next door, so we had a house but no bed, no fridge, no clothes for Pat, etc. Red Cross wouldn’t help, but a friend gave Pat some clothes, and we muddled through. It seemed money was always short. After Pat’s mother who we cared for moved to a nursing home, I got a part-time job. A friend advised me to look for a job as a teacher and take courses as I worked. I became a Special Education teacher for eight years.
Pat was sometimes unemployed, but he wrote well. His introduction to David H. Keller’s The Human Termites, which we published, is the finest introduction I have ever read. Later, he got a job as an information technology specialist, which used his editing and computer skills. A job he actually liked. He looked forward to retiring and traveling. We appreciated that our kids had turned out well. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and I was happy.
I have a mental picture of myself about five years of age sitting on the floor of the front room, looking out the screen door at the clouds. In that image I didn’t become more adult, or cunning, or social. And it’s still is pretty much the way I am, contemplative, a little imaginative, lacking in malice. I later realized that image indicated I was an artist.
I remember wondering if all thought is related, as if the core thought was of one brain, just expressed differently because of all the various human situations it manifested in. And then I thought, that other girls were probably thinking of things like lipstick shades. Nope, I don’t think we thought similar thoughts.
I was a Methodist, and the Methodists appreciated Martin Luther’s message of salvation through faith, but by the time it got to me the message was, “Believe in God or go to hell.” Teachers at church could not answer my questions, and I became agnostic, preferring not to believe in the punitive God presented to me. Instead, I read and questioned, wanting truth. Twenty- five years later, I found God on a morning walk. And soon found the Love Lutheran Adult Sunday School class led by Ross Gamble. I was a little leery of saying what I thought, but did, and was surprised that they accepted me and appeared to like me. I’ve been going to that Sunday School class for close to thirty years now.
After my husband’s death, I had seen my role as Pat’s widow, and as a loving mother to my wonderful kids. I did not plan to date again, but eventually realized I loved a trusted friend whose character I admired. We were married on the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, October 31st, 2017. Though I’d known him for twenty years, it turned out I didn’t know him well enough; he was cruel and 100% the opposite of what I thought he was. I divorced him, a long process that lasted longer than the marriage did.
And then I felt free and realized what a wonderful time it is in my life. I now had time to develop my talents, something I had never had time for before. I joined Southern Christian Writers to help with my writing skills. I connected with my daughter Jackie, who had been given up for adoption fifty years earlier, also an artist, and now a source of happiness in my life. And I have one grandchild, Julien. He is a delight. And I chose to date again, and have found a man who appreciates me and whom I appreciate. I am grateful for the surprising ways God shows his love for us. I am happy.