A few of the River Rat kids before Cross Dress day at school. Yours truly standing in the front.

When I was younger, I didn’t realize what “family” meant. I thought everyone was family, whether they were the neighbor or the old guy that lived across town that handed out toothbrushes for Halloween. London Mills kids, you know EXACTLY who I’m talking about. Even though we really didn’t know each other, we were family. Why did I think this? Because growing up in a small town and community, you come in contact with the same people over and over as the years ago by, you learn their lives and who they are as people. The same group of kids I grew up with continued to be friends for years, we fought often like siblings but at the end of the day we all made up. We didn’t have electronics to keep us occupied, we had outside. We had basketball at the park, the swings we used to not use correctly but instead sat on top of them listening to the lovely Backstreet Boys. We made up dances to the different songs and life was so stress free. Instead of our parents calling a phone for us to come home, we watched the streetlights and if we weren’t home by the time they came on, we could hear my mom yell for us from the front porch. Many nights we spent stargazing while laying in the roadway, not fearful of being ran over because let’s face it, traffic in town happens two weekends a year. Life was good, it was simple and we were family. We spent more time at our friends houses than our own. My mom cooked for an army not knowing which neighborhood kids were coming to eat, but she made sure we were all fed. The neighbors, whom I have known since ’94 have treated me like a daughter and been there for me without missing a beat since even though I’m grown now. As I laid in the hospital bed after having heart surgery and a stroke, I received a gift from those same “block parents” as my parents refer to them as. Why did they do that? Because we are family. Family isn’t just blood, it’s a group of people who love each other and care about each others well being. It’s seeing the best in someone when they haven’t had the best days. We as a community are a family.

My “block parents” daughter and I, best friends from the day I met her.

Fulton County Proud

One of the first memories I have is of a benefit, held in London Mills for a person fighting cancer. I remember seeing so many people, as a child I thought it was the coolest thing but didn’t understand the circumstances that brought everyone together. That benefit raised a lot of money for that person and they were able to have assistance while they recovered. As I got older, I witness many more countless acts of the community coming together for one of their own. Many places in this country don’t come together to rally around their own but we do, because we are family. In the mid 2000’s, I’m going to say roughly 2005-2006 London Mills had a massive storm that caused major damage to the town. I remember the night the storms happened, it felt like the movie “Twister”, there were firetrucks and people everywhere outside. I was terrified of storms, my neighbors came to our house and we sat in my basement stairwell singing “There’s a hole in the World” by the Eagles. My mom stood in the kitchen making Chinese donuts for us to keep us calm because quite frankly a few of us were a mess. My dad has always told me if I see him worry then I can worry otherwise it will all be alright. After the first storm came through, there were trees down everywhere and we had no power. The town came together to start to clean the debris up as we heard another storm was almost there. Surely enough a second storm came through and we continued to stuff our faces with donuts and sing at the top of our lungs(still to this day that’s a coping mechanism for me so if you see me singing Mind ya business). The sun was coming up and the towns people came together and got to cleaning. There were a few houses that trees came into or trapped a few places. I remember seeing our fire chief directing the towns men on where we should start and work together. Everyone pitched in and the town became home again. I could also go into details when the town flooded in 2013 and it was the first time in my life we have had to evacuate. My brothers house was along the river and was a total loss. Multiple homes were unlivable for some time and it took a while for many to recover. We came together and together we got through it. It’s forever etched into my mind and has influenced me into the kind of person I aim to be.

Aerial photo taken from above London Mills flooding early 2013. My brothers house is the house on the far left middle of the photo. We bent but we didn’t break.

If you’re local to me and you’re reading this, I feel confident you have many other stories you can share about times the community has come together as one. As we currently face the pandemic of the COVID-19, I feel positive we will get through this together if we continue to work together. This isn’t a one person effort but must be a team effort to get us back to where we belong. It’s a terrifying feeling to not know what the future holds but knowing WE can help decide that if we work together is something positive. I work an essential job and a wonderful person brought in masks for those who need them. They were homemade, stitched together with every intention of a good heart. I do not know the person who created them but they thought of the community and the communities best interest. I’m sure most of you social media peeps have seen the Facebook page “Heart Hunters”. It’s a page for people to post pictures of different hearts that have been displayed in windows for others to see. Something so simple yet something to remind us all that we are not alone in this, we can do it together. It gives me hope that I’m raising my daughters in a community that has changed since I was a child yet remained the same, dedicated to helping each other. Everyone’s lives have been effected by this virus somehow. When Nick and I were house hunting(okay truth be told I was house hunting, he was clueless. He was away with the military training with no phone and when he got his phone back I informed him we had bought a house, surprise honey!), I wanted to live in the same school district I went to. I wasn’t a good student to say the least, I think I might hold the record for most missed days in a single school year, yet I passed. I can only imagine how good of a student I would have been if school started at noon. I went to the same school my whole life, so i knew the faculty pretty well. They called me out on my bulls**t, they held me accountable for my actions and while it might have made me upset then I’m incredibly happy they did it. It was a place I want my children to attend because I know they are in good hands that I trust, my daughters will be given the love and care I received and they will be pushed to the best of their ability. Recently they have had to go to online learning due to the COVID-19, every day Gracelyns teacher reaches out with new information, an online video of her reading to the kids or something to keep positive. Her teacher cares about her students and continues to give them the information they need at home to learn. The older students are doing facetime learning and the teachers are doing whatever they can, researching new ways to get the students learning materials, they want the students to succeed. Why have they gone so far to make sure the students are taken care of? Because we are family.

Class of 2010. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated.

One Day At A Time

I’m a social person so social distancing is a struggle for me. I keep telling myself that if I think of 30 more days of distancing it seems like forever away, but if I take it day by day it goes smoother. I’m sure others are also struggling with this, whether it’s the gym, salon(IGNORE MY ROOTS OKAY, MY STYLIST WOULD HUNT ME DOWN IF I USED BOX DYE) or something else, we can get through this. I try my best to stay positive so I have to think something good is coming, after a storm there’s usually a rainbow. Maybe the positive is us coming together to get through this, maybe it’s a lesson for us all to work together. Maybe it’s a lesson to show us how to be kind to others, to help when possible, however possible. One day at a time family, we can do this. I’m proud of my community and “family”.



3 thoughts on “Family.

  1. Anthony March 31, 2020 / 1:39 am

    Even tho I didn’t grow up in London mills I sure was around everyone long enough to claim a lot of families. Your family was a crazy one but your dad and mom excepted me along with joe, Jessica and the rest of the family. Even with Shane and Joanne, Liz, breanne and Nate, I had a lot of people that had my back. Got to hang out with you guys and create memories with everyone had an impact on my life and made me a better person for it. I personally want to thank you for still being a great friend to me for so many many years, pretty much since grade school. Don’t ever change and blossom through life with a smile on your face.
    -dem damned ole valley kids

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Candyce March 31, 2020 / 1:41 am

    Always! We might not be blood but we are family. ♥️


  3. Hooters April 12, 2020 / 1:08 am

    ❤️❤️❤️ I love this more then I will ever be able to explain ❤️❤️❤️ I myself out of just us 5 kids wanted to make it my personal goal to let my kids see where I grew up and tell them all my stories. So much has changed since we all was younger and it scares the hell out of me daily to see where the world will be at when mine are my age. I’m super proud of you lil sista for this and know you will continue to have plenty for us to rest. I can’t wait. 😘


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