The phone rang early the morning of July 21, 2013. It was a call from my brother-in-law telling me the news of my mother's death. The news came as no surprise. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May of 2013, and her death had been expected. I had been trying to prepare myself for this day ever since I had heard the diagnosis.
Once I awoke, I packed and started the journey home from State University, where I had been staying with friends while attending a business seminar. I had spent three years at State University and had made this drive home often. This time, however, everything seemed different. All the trees seemed brighter, more colorful, and more full of life. Maybe when one thing has died, it adds life to something else. Could this be the natural order of things? In just those few moments, I felt my life change. I suddenly realized that I could no longer be a child.
Not more than twenty minutes into my drive, I found myself suddenly overcome by reality, and grief became my driving companion. There was a song on the radio that stirred all my emotions into nervous gumbo. I felt everything from anger to happiness, from betrayal to fortunate. As I continued, I started to see my life unfold in front of me in a thousand different ways. This was a pivotal point in my life, and what I did now would affect the rest of my life. Could I even have a life after this? The questions I asked my God and myself that day are too many to count. This was pure emotional trauma, and at the age of twenty-one, I was not ready to handle this life on my own.
The drive took me through the home of my youth. As I arrived in McCormick, I saw all the familiar sights. My mind started to drift back to when everything was ideal. I was the high school football star, dated all the right young women, and had life by the throat. I had no responsibilities, and my options for my future were all great. I could take over the family business, or I could hang out in college until I was twenty-five and get some sort of degree. The money flowed like water, and there was a party every night. My life was perfect.
My mother, Marianne Luckey, had adopted me at birth. She was forty years my elder and a single parent. She was five feet eight inches tall, weighed over two hundred pounds, and had hair the color of coal. She was the owner of several nursing homes in the Augusta area and was very successful. I was always proud of her because she was a woman who had competed and succeeded in a time when the business world was dominated by men.
It had been on my birthday, April 30, 2003, when they first suspected she was ill. Total confusion was the first symptom she showed. Without much delay the doctors discovered the root of the problem. She had liver cancer, and it had progressed too far to save her. It shocked our entire family.
When I arrived home, all of my relatives were there; they had come for the funeral. It reminded me of...