White Trash in a Mink Coat/Blog By: Patty Collins-King
Baby Jessica Comes to the Rescue September 13, 2017
I use to love this time of year, and then I use to hate this time of year, and now I am starting to love this time of year again! I know it’s only September, but right after momma was killed in October, September seemed like a month that would whisper ‘It’s Coming!’ The dreaded anniversary of October 18th. Then later, ‘It’s Coming!’ the dreaded anniversary of your can-sur diagnosis. It took years until I could find all of the beauty in the fall again after momma, but I’m happy to say that I bounced back easier after my October news, refusing to let the bad in life take so much of the good. Yes! I did that—BUT it has not been easy!
Before momma was killed on Sunday the 18, 1987, there was a tragedy happening in Texas that our family followed closely on the news and I remember praying very hard every time there was an update. (I should have been praying more but with a 5 month and 22 month old I didn’t know if I was coming or going half of the time.) I do however distinctly remember fretting something awful over Baby Jessica! She had fallen down the well on Wednesday the 14th, and even though she was rescued on Friday the 16th, with everyone being extremely excited by this news, the ‘could haves’ about her rescue really got to me. And then… Sunday morning would unfortunately come with our dreaded family news!
The following Wednesday a black limo comes to retrieve us to take the drive to Churchville. We are going to lay momma to rest before the church service in Harrisonburg. To my knowledge, and according to my grandmothers’ comments, we are the only ones in our generation since the 1900’s that have had NO open casket and had the burial before the funeral. Tongues were waggin’ you can be sure of that, but we only heard bits and pieces since we got it second hand, so we let it go. The National Guard are lining our driveway because the murderer is still at large and I am amazed that they would take on this responsibility. I am also afraid for them but secretly wish that some of them were going to follow us on the 40 minute drive to the country that will take longer because of our slow speed. And I know that speed is somehow linked to disrespect, but I long for the ride to be over, and I press hard on the floorboard of the limo with my high heel to try and make some headway. I did NOT however, need to worry about the National Guard following us because the FBI peeps were at the cemetery undercover. Gulp!
Walking down the isle at the church service while hanging onto my husbands’ arm a quick thought flashes thru my mind of me walking down the same isle hanging onto daddy’s arm three years prior on our wedding day. It’s hard for me to get my breath and the preacher’s voice seems as though he is miles away. I am hearing him tell us that today the devil is winning but, that God has the last say, and I know that it is true but I cannot form the timeline in my head. I stare at the red carpet and the gold organ pipes and I contrast that the bright and shiny objects on a happy wedding day take on the feel of a gigantic tomb on the day of a funeral.
Everyone is invited back to our home after the funeral for food. People trickle out and once the house is emptied, except for us—our broken family—the news comes on and low and behold there is a timeline and an in-depth story on Baby Jessica! It was not only a good news-prayers answered story; it was a glimmer of hope even though bad things and good things were all swirling around at the same time. We stared at the TV. And I think we probably had more questions than answers but it didn’t matter…we were mesmerized by Baby Jessica and her will to survive! This was written on Baby Jessica Biography.com
In the meantime, rescue workers pumped oxygen into the well and attempted to maintain constant communication with Baby Jessica, who moaned, wailed and for a while even sang nursery rhymes to pass the time. “After listening to her for so long, I could tell her moods,” a detective on the scene recalled. “At one point she was singing. At another point, when a jackhammer started up, she didn’t say any words but used kind of a huffy little voice. You could tell it was an angry voice. I would say 80 percent of the time she was either crying or making some kind of noise we could hear. When we weren’t calling words of encouragement, we’d tell her to sing for us. I’ll never forget her singing ‘Winnie the Pooh.'”
So I say thank you and SING on Baby Jessica!!! You were a glimmer of hope when so many of us felt that we had none.
Dream Big, Smile Often,