I’ll ALWAYS BE YOUR LITTLE GIRL

My parents were twenty and nineteen, when they became husband and wife. Legend has it, they married on Saturday and started a revival that following Wednesday. That’s been the life of Themos and Frances Cribb since. This morning, they’re guests at RINGEL HEIGHTS BAPTIST CHURCH, for homecoming Sunday, where I’d love to be, but, it didn’t work out for my Chipper and me to go. Upgrading my status from daughter to wife to worship leader myself prevents me from being able to spend most Sunday holidays with my folks.  Daddy was the pastor there for twenty three years and it will always be my home church.

I am the fruit of two unbelievably extraordinary people. It’s hard to write about one without including the other because my parents are a team. Through their examples, I learned most of what I know about God, life, and people. I want to tell you about them separately though. Daddy is the oldest, so he gets to go first, Mama, not partiality, Seniority! 😀

My daddy was a polio victim, his left leg is 6″ shorter than the right one and he has a distinct limp, with or without his built up shoe. Daddy has dreadful memories of growing up with that fatal disease. It was the era of the iron lung and quarantined wards..Daddy’s stories about his many hospitalizations are like nightmares.

He was three when he contracted polio and doctors told my grandparents if he survived, their son would never walk. I had a praying grandmother who refused to accept that her boy would have useless legs so she went to work to keep Daddy’s leg from wasting away.  Everyday Grandma Susie would bend and contort his leg; the excruciating pain would cause her little boy to scream and cry, begging her to stop!  If daddy were telling the story, he’d be wiping tears from his eyes like I am; I never hear it that it doesn’t give me goose bumps. She was a farm wife in the 1930’s; she knew how to do what she had to do.

In Pleasant Hill, S.C., Granddaddy Ronnie(ROWN-NEY) and Grandma Susie Cribb, were Christian celebrities! You did NOT want to compete with either of them for Man & Woman of the year at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church!

Daddy pulled through and when he did, his special treatment was over! He wasn’t catered to because he was sick. He was in and out of hospitals during his childhood, but when he wasn’t, he worked in the tobacco fields exactly like the rest of his eight siblings; he sat down and scooted along the rows instead of walking!

He played baseball with his brothers and school friends and though he couldn’t run the bases, he could slam the ball WAaaY further than anybody else, so they altered the rules and made him a batter for both teams.

Daddy wore braces and had to use crutches, but he was never allowed to use Polio as a crutch to get out of his chores, playing, going to school or church, or whatever else the rest of his family was doing. His iron will strength, is what made him who he is today.

I had my first severe asthma attack when I was four years old; my parents were told how I would suffer from it the rest of my life. Daddy raised me the way he was raised. Being a scrawny little girl with asthma didn’t exempt me from working in the garden, building dog pens, learning to shoot, bait my own hook, catch and clean fish-you know-things girls don’t usually do! I wasn’t relieved of my duties even after my three sisters came along. I carried my weight as he had carried his.

One of my WORST memories is the day daddy told me that I needed to ride to my grandparents’ farm with him. I was twelve. ONLY after we got there, did he tell me why I was needed. Since I didn’t have a license, I couldn’t drive his truck from Pleasant Hill community through the town of Hemingway, South Carolina, where I went to school. Apparently the police don’t require you to possess a driver’s license to drive a tractor down Main Street! Some friends still tease me about that ordeal. And, by the way! I wasn’t steering a JOHN DEERE, I was on an old jalopy like Oliver Wendell Douglas had on Green Acres! SHAME!

My love for nature and animals, I got from Daddy. Days spent following him through the woods, feeding the hunting dogs, looking for squirrels, shooting squirrels, skinning squirrels, eating squirrels! It’s funny; I didn’t want to see an animal hurt..because daddy didn’t. We picked up mangy dogs and nursed ailing critters back to health.  But, I loved me some squirrel brains! I ate’em as fast as daddy picked’em. Mama’s squirrel gravy is the best ever!

I tried for years to pick my own brain to come up with a philosophical explanation about what I learned from that. About the best I surmised was, you do what you need to do, but don’t go around hurting animals or people just to be mean.  We ate squirrel, rabbit, dove, quail, deer and lots of fish. He pastored country churches who paid him a small salary. Hunting and fishing kept our family fed.

Daddy was a disciplinarian and I’m not saying anything behind his back that I haven’t said to his face. He expected a lot out of me from the very beginning. I was the firstborn and prototype for my sisters. Four & half years later came Lori, two years later, Amy, and I was ten when Kelly was born. Daddy never pushed or expected from the other three like he did me so to be dangerously transparent, I didn’t understand why. If brought home six A’s and one B, he was bothered more about the B than he seemed to be proud of those six A’s. If I got second place in a spelling bee or essay contest, the bottom line..I DIDN’T win. My sisters got by with more than I did, although I tried twice as hard to be the best at everything I put my mind to and it didn’t seem my daddy realized that. I knew he was proud of me and that he loved me..I’m not talking about a parent who belittles and abuses..I’m saying the expectations he placed were way above what he placed on the other girls and I struggled with why.

In my late twenties, the dark years I referenced briefly in another post, caught up with me and I spent time going through a healing process with a professional. Part of therapy was dissecting my life and defining the roles each of my parents played in my childhood and in my adulthood.

During one session, as if a light bulb went off in my head, I understood why Daddy had been so hard on me. Because of his illness, he always had to go above and beyond to gain acceptance and credibility. I don’t think Daddy  comprehended what he was doing completely-while I was growing up but, it doesn’t matter-GOD DID.  Daddy bent me when it hurt. And, I’m so glad that he did!

Not to whine.. I HATE whiny…but, it’s important for you know this about me. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t sick.

From the first asthma attack, I stayed sick. I had to have allergy shots every two weeks and tubes in my ears.  I had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was six. I began my periods at ten and by fifteen, my left ovary was removed with an orange sized cyst.  My pelvis was covered in Endometriosis.

At nineteen another cyst formed on the right ovary and I lost half of it.  The evening my Chipper asked me to marry him, I told him that I would probably never be able to have children. I only had a piece of my right ovary. He said we’d adopt….GOD SAID…you’ll have a son and a daughter who will grow up and make you very proud! I had a complete hysterectomy at twenty nine after six surgeries to prevent having to do something that drastic at my age.  I feared becoming old before my time, having to be on estrogen for decades….GOD SAID…you’ll survive!

All those surgeries led to my abdomen being covered with adhesions. From my diaphragm down, over my intestines, my liver..everywhere.  We’ve seen pictures and my insides look like a giant spider web; the more they clean it out, the thicker those things come back.

Eleven years ago after YEARS and YEARS of endless tests, diagnosis, new medications for this and that…I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Wheat and gluten had been poisoning my body for years. It was good to know what had wreaked such havoc on my immune system, but it’s a rigorous lifestyle.

I have progressive degenerative spine, multiple herniated disks, a bone spur on the sciatic nerve that resulted from my tailbone being broken twice in my twenties and it is inoperable. Spinal stenosis, widespread osteoarthritis and an abnormally shaped pelvis, causing my spine to slowly collapse onto itself..but, wait, there’s more! I snapped both bones in my left leg in 2007(no half way..all or nothing, baby!) We waited three days for one of Charlotte’s best trauma surgeons to built a bionic leg for me! I don’t wobble because I’m drunk or drugged!   My asthma advanced to COPD in my mid fortiesI’ve lived my life being afraid of suffocating so living with a disease that suffocates..not cool.  I don’t bring this up to sound pitiful.

SEE…that’s where MY DADDY comes back into the picture.

Daddy knew I could sing, he recognized that I could pick up about any instrument and play it. He realized I could write songs, create stories, had a gift of gab and a way with people. He believed in me all along, but he knew from his own experience that life would be harder for me because I was sick.  He didn’t want me to do things half way, because for sick people, half way doesn’t cut it. I’m an overachiever because I was raised by an overachieving Daddy.

When Daddy was in the yard, building dog pens with me, taking me fishing, planting our gardens, hauling me around from church to church, city to city, he was teaching me..just because I was sick, I did not get a pass to sit and watch the world go by.  He expected more from me because it requires MORE for ME to do what I want to do.  What I realize in my fifties as opposed to five, fifteen, twenty five, thirty five, forty–I have lived all the way! I’ve climbed  mountains a lot of people would’ve said, no you can’t. I’ve pushed myself to walk through valleys that sure would have been easier… to sit out.

Can’t was a word I just wasn’t allowed to use. Daddy did what he did..NOT TO BE MEAN but to give me the courage and tenacity to accomplish all he believed that I could achieve.

I understand because of my illnesses, the sacrifices Daddy made physically as I was growing up. The world said he was a CRIPPLE, but, I didn’t think of him that way because he didn’t act like one. Daddy is the soldier who could opt for honorable discharge, but chooses to retain his active duty status on the front lines instead of peeling potatoes in the safe zone.

Daddy has mellowed out a lot. I tell him all the time, you ARE NOT the man who raised me..when the grandchildren (including my son & daughter) get away with anything. But you know..I’m glad he was who he was back then because had he not been who he was..I WOULDN’T BE WHO I AM today.

My best selling poem of all time is I’ll Always Be Your Little Girl. I have  no idea how many daddies have received the poem since it I wrote it in 1994, but it’s safe to say that it sits on many desks and nightstands. We had multiple mall locations and contracts with LifeWay, Hallmark and even a Walmart, so it made its way around.

Not long after our family moved to New Zealand, we were searching for a house and as we toured one on our list, I spotted one of my frames on the TV. Sure enough..Lisa C. Morgan was stamped at the bottom. I was 10,000 miles away from South Carolina and there my daddy and I sat. I walked to where it was, picked it up and began to weep.

I asked where they’d gotten it and the man’s eyes welled with tears. He told me his little girl had grown up and married an AMERICAN (actually, he said a bloody American stole her heart…tehee) they were living in New Mexico, I believe it was. She mailed it to him for Father’s Day. He said it was one of the most precious things his little girl had ever given him.

I produced my “bloody” AMERICAN Driver’s License..LISA C. MORGAN and to prove I was SHE..I recited it..word for word, through my tears and theirs.

It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Had Daddy not loved me enough to push me to excel and overcome those obstacles hurled at me early in life, I would never have believed that I could ever sell a poem, let alone have a business that enabled me to share my thoughts and touch a man’s heart all the way in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On days when Spiriva and Advair aren’t doing their job and my worn out lungs beg me to stop..I think of Daddy and his shriveled leg. In his seventies now, he still preaches, visits folks in hospitals and nursing homes..he hasn’t slowed down much at all.

I’m a WARRIOR, a SOLDIER a girl turned woman who’s never been satisfied doing anything half way I’LL ALWAYS BE MY DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL!

Daddy, I’ll always be your little girl…somewhere deep inside, even though I’m all grown up and living my own life. I still depend on you, like I did back when.. you would pick me up in your arms and swing me in the wind.

Sometimes I find myself, just longing for those days, when you could take all my problems and make them go away. You’re still my hero, Daddy, like you were right from the start and I’ll always be your little girl…I love you with all my HEART ❤

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Edna Yarborough
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 20:25:45

    Lisa, this brought back such warm memories of times spent with our grandparents in the country. Some of my best childhood memories were spent in Pleasant Hill, sitting on the front porch with Granddaddy Port singing all the old gospel hymns and just waving to everyone who went by. I have very fond memories of Mr. Ronnie and Mrs. Susie as well as all the fine children they raised. It’s hard to believe that most of them are gone now but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are all together in Heaven. You were very blessed to have been born into the family you have. Your daddy has always been like a part of our family so when he married your mom, she automatically became a member. Over the years we watched and welcomed each of you girls into this world and watched over the years as you all grew up, way to quickly, might I add. We saw you all dating, getting married and then having children of your own. Now, with everyone being spread out with your own families, we only get to talk with you on FB or see you at funerals or homecoming but you all are always in our hearts. I think that most of us, as parents, expect more out of our first born since they are more of the leader to the younger ones and we want them to set a good example. As I hear you girls talking about your children, I can hear the same love and pride in your words as we did in your parents when they talked about their girls. I pray that your new meds are still helping and that God will bless you with good health.

    Reply

  2. Nett
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 20:54:50

    Lis…this is so beautifully written!! And….you made me cry! Thanks for being so DANGEROUSLY TRANSPARENT!
    Nette

    Reply

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