Adkins, Dixie

I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on May 17, 1947. My earliest memories were of growing up in Picayune, Mississippi. From there we moved to Chalmette, Louisiana when I was about five years old. I went to school there. I made very good grades. I didn’t fit in. I liked art, reading, the Ouija board. Hurricane Betsy happened right before I was to leave for college, Southeastern at Hammond. 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 Scot 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, shoes that produced enormous blisters from walking for hours on campus trying to find classes that still had openings. SLC, education factory. But it was worse at home, where my sister was removing moldering sheetrock, and cleaning up debris. She wrote that as a result of that, she had come to love the smell of pine oil so much that she was thinking of using it as perfume and dabbing it behind her ears.

After two years I lost my scholarship and then 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 out though. I was interested in Pat, but realized I must be serious about him after the date where 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 waitresses, we gambled at poker, it was fun.

Alisha was born in 1972, Alexander in 1983, Adam in 1985. At the beginning of 1997, our house at 626 Anson burned down. We had just started buying the house next door at 622 Anson, 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 seems we always had not quite enough money. I got a part time job after the fire. Pat’s mother, whom we had cared for, was now at Wynhoven. A friend advised me I should look not for a job as a substitute teacher, but as a teacher, I could take courses as I worked. I became a Special Education teacher for eight years.

Pat was sometimes underemployed, 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 on, he got a job as an information technology specialist which utilized his editing and computer skills, a job he actually liked. He did look forward to retiring and traveling. Things calmed down, we started watching Netflix movies and appreciated that our kids had turned out well. He had a wonderful sense of humor. I was happy.

Those are the historic details of my life. Some other details tell more about who I am. I have a mental picture that I made when I was about five: me, sitting on the floor of the front room, looking out the screen door at the clouds. I was finding pictures in the clouds and I realized that God could see my pictures and everybody else’s and more. I occasionally would revisit that image of me and every time I would feel that was still a true picture of me. I didn’t become more adult, or cunning, or social. It still is pretty much the way I am, contemplative, a little imaginative, lacking in malice. It is only recently that I realized that those pictures I saw were also an indication I was an artist.

I remember wondering one time, in fifth grade, if all thought was related, as if the core thought was of one brain, just expressed differently because of all the various human situations it was made manifest in. And then I thought, as I stood in line at the water fountain, that other girls were probably thinking of things like lipstick shades. Nope, I don’t think we thought similar thoughts.

I was a Methodist then, 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 did find God on a morning walk. And somehow 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 coming to that Sunday School class for close to thirty years now.

After my husband Pat’s death I had seen my role as Pat’s widow, and as loving mother to my wonderful kids. I did not plan to ever date again but eventually realized I’d come to love 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 never had time for before. I joined this group to help my writing skills. I realized I was an artist, and I want to develop those skills too. 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, now two, at an age that others have produced generations of descendants. 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.