It was October 1958. I was six years old and in the first grade. I am in line with a group of first graders, fidgeting, can’t be still, looking anxious and nervous for our first school picture. I feel pretty, and I will give my best smile. My smile presents a gap in my front teeth; my eyes are large and bright. I inherited both from my dad. The cruel children made cruel remarks about my large eyes. The children called me bucked eyes, frog eyes, and other mean remarks. I would stick my tongue out at them and turn my back, although it hurt my feelings. I was not pleased with hair style; mama was rushing when combing my hair and my sister’s hair to prepare us for school. She had cut the front of my hair to make bangs and five very tightly braided plats. The plats were so tight they curled at the end with the rubber bands. I hate bangs and would have preferred loose two strand twists instead of the three strand tight plats. I would not dare tell my mama I hated my hair style, although I had this incredible lump in my throat and the desire to cry. There were five children during this time, four girls and one boy. I kissed her and smiled my best smile as I told her with a tight hug, “Thank you, mama” I was the second child born. Eventually, there will be a total of seven children in our family.
I graduated from high school. I met the first of six husbands, the summer after my graduation when I was a car hop serving hamburgers. He was twelve years older than my eighteen years of age. I fell instantly in love with him. He was a good looking, chocolate complexion, wavy black hair, and beautiful white teeth with a gold crown on one of his front tooth, and his body ripped with muscles. He worked construction on the road near the burger joint and came for his lunch each lunch hour and flashed that beautiful smile at me. My heart raced every time he came to order the same thing daily. He ordered a burger with mayonnaise, no tomatoes, fries, and root beer. He was an excellent tipper. My tip was always more than the price of his meal.
I gave him my virginity in the front seat of his car. I did not enjoy the sinful act because I was afraid of God’s wrath, and I knew my mama would kill me. My heart raced, I couldn’t catch my breath, I felt all the air sucked out of the car, I felt physically ill. I was looking for my mama to catch me at any second. I became pregnant with my son from the one encounter with sex.
We married when I was three months pregnant. He was a monstrous husband. He was physically and verbally abusive, extremely possessive, a violent drunk, a degenerate gambler, and a convicted killer of two. I divorced him when my son was two years old, and I moved away to Houston to get away from him.
The first day of school for my son was exciting. The school was directly across the street from our apartment. He selected his clothes the previous night for his first day and corrected me on shaping his afro the way he liked it. I smiled, as I thanked God for my little son and the opportunity to be here to see him go on his journey of his first day of school.
Years later my ex-husband had another son. The mother of his son died with an aneurysm when his son was eight years old. I had divorced and between failed marriages. I let him convince me we should reconcile and raise the boys together. I took two weeks of vacation from my job, and we went to six flags for vacation. Our sons had a wonderful time, and we got along fine. I was hoping this monster has changed, and we could make this family work. He worked as a D J, spinning records for his part time job, at the Groovy Grill club. We dressed up to go out that night. He looked handsome with a little hat on his head and had been on his best behavior the first week of vacation with our boys. He bought me this beautiful silver shiny dress and we looked great together. We stopped to drop the boys off at my parents prior to our date. My mom took a picture of us; she told us we were a dynamic looking couple. His behavior became obnoxious and disgustingly drunk a couple of hours later at the club. He started a fight with me while accusing me of flirting and rolling my eyes at him disrespectfully (I did roll my eyes. I felt embarrassed.). He slapped me and busted my lip. We left together when he completed his job. I waited until he was asleep. My son and I left without our belongings. I drove back to Houston without a word to him. I thanked God for revealing how stupid I was to believe that the relationship deserved revisiting. I was grateful I had not given up my job or my apartment to move back to Temple.
Two years ago his girlfriend, the mother of two of his children, ran over him with her vehicle, backed up and ran over him again. He suffered from two broken legs and currently uses a wheelchair. One of his legs is severely longer than the other leg, and he cannot stand without assistance of a walker or a wheelchair. I took his grandchildren to visit him in the hospital. He looked awful. His skin color was gray, ashy and dry, he looked as if death was at his door. His teeth are missing, his hair color is white, and he does not have any muscles. He exhibits a dent in his forehead from an old bullet wound, the results of the actions of a sixteen-year-old ex-girlfriend in 1972. (Pedophile) The incident happened three weeks after I left town to get away from him. The same troubled teenager a few years later kills her husband and stuffs the body in the trunk of her car and leaves it on the side of the road. She dies in prison at the age of fifty-six. Our twelve-year-old granddaughter sticks her finger in the dent in his head and asks him, “Grandpa does that hurt.” I thank God; I got away in plenty of time before the monster turned into a true monster.
One of my abusive ex-husbands beat me in my face with his fist. He put a dent in my cheek. After the bruising had healed, my dent looked like a dimple. I have received compliments about my dimples, (although there is only one). I smile to myself for another one of God’s blessings, my abuse of a fist in my face turned to a complimentary dimple in my cheek.
God’s blessings from my first abusive husband contribution of my only son have procreated a large sized family for me. I have one son, four grandchildren and another grandchild on the way and five great-grandchildren. My family is my joy in my life. I never expected to live to be sixty-two years old. I had feared being murdered before I turned thirty years old. I thank God daily for all my wonderful blessings in my life.
Debbra Williams was born and raised in the small, rural town of Temple, Texas. Growing up she faced prejudices, segregation, and abuse. Rising above her hardships, she is a retired Airport Supervisor. She attends Lone Star North Harris College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and has aspirations of becoming a novelist and writing children short stories. Her autobiographic essay, “My Rainbow Family,” has been highly praised and won first place in a writing competition for a 2014 scholarship.
Debbra’s journey of overcoming obstacles has proven that hard work and maintaining a strong, clear vision of your goals can lead to success.
Debbra’s inspirational favorite bible quote states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Philippians 4:13.