Read: The road we all have to travel

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I’ve had the opportunity to live what some folks would call a “charmed life.” I was born in a rural part of Tennessee on our family farm during a time when my parents owned little, but shared everything in a small house with my brother, sister and myself.  I grew up during a time when the community did raise a family and peer pressure only involved a pair of blue jeans without a patch.  I still live on that same road that took me on many adventures from that very day of my beginning to where I am today. I used that road in front of my house to go to school in the same building for 12 straight years and then on to college only 15 miles away to get a degree. I left home on that road to get married and raise a family, start a career and later return with that family to my grandparent’s homestead where I live today. There have been bumps in the road, as all of us experience in life, but with any travels, you adjust and continue the journey.  

One of those bumps appeared in my path back in March, that seemed to almost knock me off the “charmed life.” We always hear things that happen to other people and never consider, at least hope, that what occurs in their life’s pathway could end up being a part of ours. After a scan at the doctor’s office, I received one of those calls you always read about but never wish to get. The doctor on the phone line used the “c” word and it was located near my kidney. Next came more tests, more doctor visits and finally major surgery at Vanderbilt hospital with a four-hour procedure and the removal of my left kidney. After time in ICU, I was sent home for recovery and to wait for the pathology results to come in two weeks.  

A lot of things go through your head while waiting to find out what one report may mean for the rest of your life. Will it mean continued treatments, more surgery, less time for family, the need to prepare a bucket list…and that one did bother me. I still have a lot to do; I am sure I’m not the first one who has said that. So, I did what I have always done during my life when bumps show up in the road, I turned it over to God and watched more Andy Griffith.  

On the day of post-op, the doctor entered the room with my results in hand. For some reason, I was more concerned about the 42 staples to be removed than the report. He looked at me and said the report had come back completely clean and he was saying I was cured with no treatments needed and he would see me in a year for an MRI. We made small talk about the one kidney, took out the staples and I left with my daughter who had driven me for the visit.  

I did all the manly things as we left the building and started down the road returning home. However, as I called my employer to tell him the news and got his secretary on the phone, the words would not come out. I now cried like a girl to know once again I had been blessed. Not charmed.  

I returned that day back on the road that I had traveled so often before, with another opportunity given to me by the One above, to tell more stories about Aunt Sadie and Uncle Sid, as well as to bring rural Tennessee to life for my readers.  

I had visitors to come by my hospital room while I was in Nashville, but Aunt Sadie didn’t make it. She’s only visited a Nashville hospital once, and that was to see her best friend Ms. Fannie Plunder. She also carried along a Tupperware container of her famous chicken soup for her best friend. Aunt Sadie says her soup can cure anything and you know, I think she is probably right. It's perked me up a time or two when I have had the puniness.  

When she got there to see Ms. Fannie, Aunt Sadie felt a little strange going into the modern age facility. She hadn't been in anything but the local clinic and all the new technology sitting around in the halls made her really glad that she did not have to stay there very long.  

After finding out her friend's room number, she prepared to get on the elevator. A technician followed her on, pushing a machine with tubes and wires and dials all over it. The machine alone scared Aunt Sadie to the point that she hoped the next time she came back to the hospital, it would be when she was unconscious.  

Looking at the tech and his strange looking machine, Aunt Sadie made conversation by saying, “I sure would hate to be hooked up to that thing."  

“So would I,” said the technician with a smile on his face. “It’s a floor cleaning machine.”  

Just thought I would put in an Aunt Sadie story to let you know… I’M BACK.       

- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau and may be contacted at:

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