Tears and Laughter: School is starting, time to think and be kind 

She says she likes where I live because it’s green and country and different. She says she thinks she wants to live in Florida one day when she is older. She likes palm trees and sunsets and she thinks she remembers being happy there once when she was younger. It was the last time she remembers seeing her dad. And she thinks her mama might have been happy there too…for a little while. 

She has a natural ear for tone and can change pitch effortlessly with her voice. She was singing with my youngest daughter in the backseat of my car. They are both 13, both are about to enter the eighth grade, and they know every song on Sirius. 

She likes to talk about Broadway shows I know nothing about, so I just listen. She does a Donald Trump impersonation about “the wall” and will start an impromptu slogan and commercial over any sign that catches her attention. I told her she should study broadcasting after she graduates. She laughed. She doesn’t take compliments well.  

She is ambitious and expressive and prettier than she can allow herself to accept right now. Prettier than she has been told. She has bright eyes and clear skin – barring a couple of childhood freckles fading fast across the bridge of her nose.  

She makes too many self-deprecating comments. Old words seem to play like a tape in her mind, ruminating. They interrupt her sometimes, even when she is miles away and smiling. She is tenderhearted and will stand-up for others quicker than she will defend herself. 

Our route out of the city took us by her school. It is a magnet school. She starts back in a few days. I asked her if there was anything she needed to do in order to get ready. She said it wasn’t anything you could prepare for. It is just something you have to make yourself do.  

She said she wishes she never ever had to go back. “Not because of the work,” she quickly added. “I can do the work. It’s just the people.” She offered no further explanation.  

We passed a church with a sign out front that read “Black lives matter here” beside a small rainbow flag. “Look at that,” she said. I guess it is okay for anybody to go to church there. I like that. Everybody ought to be able to worship don’t you think?”  

I nodded, although I really hadn’t given it much thought. I was still just listening. We were at a crawl in traffic. There was an accident ahead of us on the Interstate. We were two miles out from our exit. 

“You know my mom has been staying at the women’s shelter, right?” 

I nodded. I did know. 

“Well I hear she has started going to church some too and I figure that can’t hurt, do you?” 

She waited for an answer. A nod wouldn’t do.  

I told her not to worry, that one of the greatest mysteries in life is how God can take the most complicated of problems, even the ones people can’t see any solution to, and working them out for the good. 

Content with my response, she settled back, and they started singing again.  

For her sake…I just pray I’m right.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: If your town is not painting rocks, your community is missing out on the fun 

Often times in downtown Camden, there is no one out. The sidewalks are empty and so are the streets, except for the occasional car passing through.

Of course there are other times when it is busy. Early in the day when people are out running errands and working, and especially at the first of the month. On parade days the sidewalks will be crowded, and again when Santa rolls in on a firetruck during the annual Christmas in Camden festival.

And sometimes the courthouse square looks like a farmer’s market with people milling around. You can’t pick up a bushel of purple hull peas and a couple pounds of shrimp fresh from the gulf for supper when you bail out of most courthouses. But in Wilcox, you can get tomatoes and local honey too. Camden is protective of its farmers. Anyone visiting, or anyone who is lost and finds themselves at the junction of Claiborne Street and Highway 265, is encouraged to stop and thump the watermelons. But often there are just vacant parking spaces and silence under the shade of the old pecan tree.

That was until these last few days when things have started to change. I parked on Claiborne Street beside the Veteran’s Monument Park Friday and immediately a truck pulled in and parallel parked behind me. A young girl jumped out of the passenger side door. She was grinning and started running. I watched her grab a painted rock like it was a baton in a relay race. All in one movement she swooped up the rock and headed back to the truck.

Her mom was smiling as she pulled away, and in seeing them happy I noticed that I was smiling too. I was clutching three painted rocks and had intentionally waited for them to drive away before I got out of the car so as to not give away the locations. I was about to hide one at the Veteran’s Monument and the others across Broad Street at the courthouse and library.

I had seen different articles and news features about the Kindness Rocks Project. I know Andalusia is rocking and Prattville is participating as well as Monroeville. Several towns are, but I thought little of it really…because I live in Camden.

Specifically, I live about eight miles out from Camden in Canton Bend – which adheres to the Alabama River and connects to Possum Bend on one end and Millers Ferry on the other – but we all have Camden addresses.

The creative rock project initially began in Memphis, Tennessee. While the process of painting the rocks as well as finding the rocks can be an introspective process, the goal was simply to inspire others – both through the art on the rock and through the random act of kindness. Anyone who finds a rock is encouraged to share a picture on Facebook, then keep it or hide it again.

The local Alabama Camden Rocks page started on July 5. Within days sidewalks were filled with those young and young at heart. I’ve never witnessed anything so simple and positive bring a community together so quickly.

Neighbors have gathered kids together to paint rocks, along with church youth groups. Even during summer break a crowd of students got together to paint and hide rocks. Creative adults – some hesitant at first thinking they were too old to play – have joined in on the fun too. Toddlers, guided by their mothers and grandmothers holding their chubby hand, have in the other their own creation to hide in exchange for a find.

There have been painted turtles and puppies and lady bugs. There have been signs, scriptures and emojis along with messages and symbols of hope. Several posts of found rocks say, “This made my day!” Or, “I needed to see this today.”

Kindness, it turns out, is contagious. And it can bring joy to the emptiest of places.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: More highs and lows of the healthcare roller coaster 

I seldom bother to toss in my opinion concerning healthcare. I haven’t been to the doctor since Obamacare passed, but of course my family has, especially my husband who is well-documented in the system. It was determined years ago at the emergency room that he has high blood pressure. There was a question as to whether he had actual high blood pressure or if it was high because he had just had his finger squished. But after a couple of weeks of monitoring, it was clear he needed to be on some form of blood pressure medication.

And to begin with, he was like an uncle I had, God rest his soul. He was a fine Christian man. He was respected in the community. He was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, as long as he took his medicine. Otherwise, he was crazy as hell. Now the whole family knew this as well as he did, but every once in a while he would get it in his head that the Lord had healed him and he didn’t need to take his pills anymore.

He was wrong. And that is how Justin was about blood pressure medicine. He thought if he lost weight and ate healthy and exercised more that he wouldn’t need it. It took him time to accept that he wasn’t overweight or out of shape, but he still had high blood pressure.

So after a couple of misses with different types of blood pressure pills one was found that didn’t turn him beet red or make him pass out. He had been on Azor for years since without any issue until recently when it was placed on the non-preferred list of medications covered by our insurance company – despite the doctor’s recommendation – and the mail order pharmacy service slid in a generic. And these jewels are bad. They are not working properly for him and I think they are going to give me a heart attack, because when his pressure drops and he tells me he is not feeling well, that means he is about to pass out.

I cannot support his weight, and this pressure dropping has become fairly routine. I understand the issue is being looked into, and the emergency room has coached me about how to put pillows under his knees and try and get him awake enough to drink sweet tea. I have to go into a mode of trying to keep him opening his eyes and will constantly be checking his pressure. I’m no nurse, but I know when that bottom number is below 50 it is a problem. Every time, I have to decide whether and at what point to call 911. There was one night when I’m certain I would have before he came to, but he was in the Jacuzzi and I had to hold him up to keep from sliding down into the water. I couldn’t reach a phone. All I could do was pray. He finally opened his eyes and sipped the tea. And no, the water wasn’t overly hot.

I am worried this will happen when he is out alone working and no one will be there to help him. He could fall. There are the elements, like fire ants and heat. I am afraid of it happening in front of the kids. It will scare them. I’m terrified that one of these times I’m not going to be able to keep him coming back awake.

I don’t know if the healthcare plan needs to be fixed, repealed, or replaced, but my husband’s current generic blood pressure medicine – sent to him by the insurance company via their mail order prescription service – is not working. I tend to doubt he is alone in riding this healthcare roller coaster.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Know what you love, and be willing to run to it

I have written before about teaching writing class and how one of the initial exercises is to have the students write a short, simple essay about their own self.

Five paragraphs.

It is supposed to be easy and serve as a transition into writing about others in second person, but there are always those who seem to draw a bank. They stare into space like they have been asked to describe a stranger.

This is sad to me. One of the many responsibilities we are charged with as parents – and teachers too to some extent – is to help our children to know who they are as individuals.

This is not the same as teaching them. You can’t teach them who they are the same way you can teach concepts. You might be able to teach them who you are, and in that you can influence what they accept or believe, but as for who they are as God naturally made them, it is something they have to discover and allow to develop.

It is why we introduce them to a myriad of books and activities. It is why we take them on trips and encourage them to play sports and take art classes, music classes, and dance.

It is why we let them have hamsters, take them to reptile farms, and start stamp collections we know they will never continue. We do it so they can learn what they like and equally important, what they don’t.

Knowing what they like helps them know what to choose, it helps them know what they want, what suits them, how they tick, how they learn, what they are attracted to and why it is the are drawn to it.

It is how they identify their strengths and weaknesses. Talents, skills, and boundaries. It is how they grow into their purpose, just through knowing who they are and what they like. And writing five paragraphs about it should not draw such a void.

And it is not just children. There are grown people who take six months to pick out a paint color or what dress to wear to the next low country boil because they don’t know what they like. They are too worried about what other people might think or what color their mother would have preferred rather than just walking straight in and saying this it, this is me.

I met a little girl this week who I don’t think is going to have any trouble with the personal essay one day. I say I met her. I never caught her name. She fluttered through our day like a butterfly.

I had taken my youngest daughter to the Tickled Pink Petting Zoo that was visiting Thomasville. She was waiting to hold a python. She is 13. She is shy and creative, smart, and intuitive. She has a heart for animals, all of them, and most small children.

She did not pull away when a little redheaded girl sporting a hot pink tutu ran up to her after recognizing her favorite characters on her shirt. She leaned in, pointing to each with one hand and calling them by name, while holding McKenzie’s long hair out of her way with the other.

She ran back to her mother as quickly as she had appeared, but she left me thinking maybe we should all try and be more like her. Know what you love, and when you see it, run to it.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: The Purse Policy

If there’s anything I sometimes try to be…it’s agreeable. And currently, I’m trying.

It is a personal choice for a woman, the purse she carries. And a girl just knows her bag when she sees it. It is kind of like picking out a pet. There has to be a connection…a certain style or something that looks good being carried and yet still looks good riding shotgun beside us.

There are as many shapes and sizes of purses as there are women. I prefer mine to be, like my car and shoes, black. And maybe women who only want to carry lip gloss and a debit card can manage with the cutest of tiny purses. Something like you would take to a casino where all you need is an ID and a ticket. But usually, women of a certain age need a big-ass purse, and I am one of these people.

It is all very organized and necessary. I know because, as I mentioned, I am trying to be agreeable. I just dumped it all out on my bed and tried to edit it down to fit into something someone in middle school might carry. I stuffed it all in and it was so tight I couldn’t fit anything more in or search for what was already there.

I have bragged before about how Camden is blessed with four dollar stores. If you live here and raise a family here, you may order all of your clothes and shoes and exclusive bedding online and you can buy most everything else out of town when you are on your way home from the doctor or headed to buy lottery tickets, but you will still find yourself frequently shopping in the local dollar stores.

I’m sure the cashier felt obligated to tell regular customers about the new purse policy. She told me she was trying to tell everyone with “big bags” because she was about to hang a sign on the door banning them.

She apologized and seemed to search for an explanation before saying the store’s inventory had been audited and they were within $150 in losses away from every employee being fired.

I told her I understood her position. And I do. But the purse policy causes another set of circumstances for women. Just taking in a wallet causes a problem with break-ins being common. Leaving purses in cars is not recommended, if you intend to keep the purse and your back windshield.

A wallet is easy to grab, and more difficult to keep an eye on than a purse. You can’t sling it over your shoulder and have both hands free to shop with. You either juggle it, or leave it in your shopping cart and gamble with it being stolen when you look away.

It is not just a problem at this one store in Camden. It is a problem plaguing retailers nationwide.

Across the parking lot another store has been remodeled. A customer commented to a cashier there about how the new layout would make it easier to see down the aisles and maybe would deter shoplifters. The cashier quietly replied, “I don’t think there is anything that can stop that.”

Shoplifting overburdens police and weighs down courts. It costs communities the taxes lost, and it costs the store both in retail loss and security expenses, which inevitably costs customers more. And while I am trying to be agreeable, I can’t help but feel as if the thieves are winning.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Two men in the Black Belt, 2017 

The focal point of my backyard is a ten acre pond. Before it was a pond, it was a cotton field. You can’t tell it just by looking anymore, but through the woods is an antebellum home that once oversaw it. It still stands silent and majestic. Its walls don’t talk at all.

We could ride over to the river. We could be there within five minutes and from a secluded cliff we could look down at the sparkling Alabama that once brought people in and carried away bales of Black Belt cotton. But the proof of it now lies beneath a watery grave and can only be seen in black and white pictures.

It was the black fertile soil that invited in agriculture and helped fuel it. This region was once the wealthiest in the nation. It was home to affluent men and accomplished women. They wore the finest of dresses and slept on the best of linens and furnished their homes with elaborately handsome furniture.

None of this remains. Only in fragments and pieces. In busted-up sets of dishes forgotten about in old china cabinets. What wealth remains in Wilcox County has more to do with pine trees and paper than the cotton plant.

The one way in, one way out road I live on is named after the son of a slave. Perry Johnson is said to have fathered 23 children, though a set of twins passed away at birth. Most of my neighbors, practically without exception are the sons, daughters, and extended relatives of his children.

There is calm here now. You can feel it in the evening shade. Even the spirit in the air seems to whisper peace. But I’m glad the ground can’t talk. I know what was witnessed here and mirrored everywhere. You just would never know by the terrain.

Growing up I didn’t expect that I would ever live on a farm. I was not a member of the FFA. And maybe in retrospect, I should have been. It’s no secret that I have a fair amount of “Green Acres” in me. Usually my responsibility when it comes to farming is to stay out of the way. I’m too sensitive for some parts of it, and other parts can be tedious and unavoidably dangerous.

Such was the case this past Saturday morning, as it became clear that a first time mother cow needed help delivering. She had become panicked and unpredictable. It was more than one man could safely handle.

A neighbor came over and helped. These two men have helped one another many times over the past 25 years. They have prepped gardens that fed their families and other families. They have shared pears, pecans, Catawba worms and catfish. There has been an exchange of a couple of pet kittens and puppies along the way.

After storms they have worked together with other neighbors to cut fallen trees from the one way in, one way out road we all live on. If time allows, they will help one another again, both as neighbors and as friends.

They reminded each other of this assurance as they shook hands Saturday morning.

I don’t think they have ever noticed their hands aren’t the same color. It’s just not something that matters to men in the Black Belt.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Get yourself ready girls, it’s time to let your inner redneck shine 

Prepare yourselves ladies, auditions will be held August 5 at the Elks Lodge in Huntsville for a new reality show, “Redneck Housewives of Alabama.” Seldom have I been more excited or overqualified.

The casting call is open to women over 21 who are housewives in Alabama. It is acceptable to have a part time job or “somewhat” of a career.

It is in your favor, it seems, if your social circle includes other housewives who enjoy gossiping, backstabbing, and overreacting. Who go to church twice a week and know how to cuss well. It also helps apparently if you are full-on crazy, openly dysfunctional, and drink too much both publicly and privately.

Not that the show will be all fun and games and thrift shops. According to the website, redneckhousewivesofalabama.com, “if you or your friends are battling with suicide, divorce, broken relationships, bankruptcy, infidelity, family feuding, alcoholism, deadbeat dads, and foreclosures and you are a true southerner then this may be the show for you.

I don’t want to be picky, but redneck women prefer the word Southerner to always be capitalized. It just allows a wink of respect toward the Southland and looks better on paper. Besides, it’s not unusual for the average redneck housewife to be juggling a handful of issues on that list at any given time and nobody will ever know anything about any of it. She’ll just keep right on bouncing the baby and planning a beach trip without ever skipping a beat because that’s what strong Southern women do.

Women interested in applying for the show should make a video and upload it to Youtube. Include the link to your video in the online application, along with your resume, photo, and a paragraph explaining what makes you more of a redneck than your neighbor lady with all the cats, or the woman down the road that is fond of raising chickens and making her own beer.

In the video, you should look the way you want to appear during filming. Wear the clothes, make-up, and hairstyle that you would wear if you were to be chosen to be a part of the show. Clothing needs to be “appropriate,” so you will want to make sure and have the proper balance between eye liner and cleavage.

As for serious competitors, I would suggest taking it a step further. If you own your own bass boat, hunt hogs on a regular basis, carry a pistol in your purse, or have a coon hound as a house dog, don’t be shy about it.

Cast members will be paid and the pay will vary based upon roles. Filming is scheduled to begin in September and will run through October, falling right in the heart of college football season.

The Huntsville based producer of the series, Helen Evans LLC, has not yet secured a network deal for the show, but hopes one will follow once the series is filmed.

Many television viewers have questioned what show, if any, could fill the vacancy left in prime time ratings since the exit of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News. I think we may have just found the answer.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: What your mom wants this Mother’s Day 

This is the week for mothers. Those of us still fortunate enough to have our mothers will search for just the right gift to show her how much we love and appreciate her.

We will try and find perfectly worded cards that tell her how very much she means to us. We will send fresh cut flowers, make calls, and visit.

Those without their mothers anymore will spend the week missing them while wishing they could shop for a gift. They would say the words the card would say, and take the time to personally deliver the flowers.

But this year don’t knock yourself out trying to find the illusive perfect Mother’s Day gift. Your mom wouldn’t want you to worry over it, and besides, it is true what they say. Whatever you give her will make her happy. It doesn’t even have to be a gift. All you have to do to make your mom happy is be you.

Let your mother see you enjoying your life. Follow your passions, find your purpose. Go seek your destiny. That is what she wants. Because she knows life is fleeting and temporary, yet so full of mystery, wonder, and meaning.

My first two daughters were delivered at Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa. My son and third daughter were born at Baptist South in Montgomery. With each I remember thinking this physical life could offer no greater gift or happiness. Women share the stories between themselves for a lifetime, these memories of meeting new little lives entering the world.  Motherhood is a heartstring that connects us.

It’s like a baptism in a sense. When a woman emerges from a hospital with a newborn in her arms she is not the same person she was before. She is equipped with a new strength no one can see, and she will hurt you over that baby.

This protective motherly love does not end when they make it out of the crib either. If you doubt this, go to any little league game in the state and watch the mamas. We defend our children, be they right or wrong, as long as we have breath within us.

I guess that’s just how God made mothers. It is the weakness that balances the strength. If they hurt, we hurt. If they experience loss, we experience loss. Our joy is contingent upon theirs.

I first realized I wanted to be a mother when the absence of a child felt like a ghost around me. It was as if a space had appeared in my life that needed to be filled.

Being a mother can be spiritually healing. It restored my faith in many ways. Prior, I might have confessed that I believed, but my heart had questions. The love I felt for my children changed that uncertainty in me.

Other mothers might describe their experiences differently, but most would likely agree that God would not allow such a powerful bond to exist in this life that doesn’t expand and continue on into the next.

And that is the gift.

You were the gift.

To your mother…you still are.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Let’s not mess with Alabama swamp people

At some point this attraction, or jealousy, The Daily Show has toward the state of Alabama is necessarily going to have to be addressed. I don’t know if it’s healthy anymore.

I think they want to be more like us. We seem to know how to have more fun than they do. We are happy and content and comfortable with Jesus while they are stuck up in New York City polishing their big apples and wishing they were down in Dixieland.

Like most Alabamians, I don’t typically watch The Daily Show. The fact that Alabamians don’t watch the show is what made them to decide to produce this whole “Alabama Week” series in the first place. They claim they want to get to know us better, but that’s not it. They were just put off because we would rather watch sharp dressed men squawking for ducks on Duck Dynasty than The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Maybe Trevor Noah should host the show from a duck blind. It might help ratings. Then again, people in Alabama tend to value their 10 o’clock time slot, so it would need to be seriously entertaining to compete.

I have followed the first two nights of the “Alabama Week” series and have been neither impressed nor repelled. It is difficult for correspondents unfamiliar with Alabama to accurately portray our culture, the issues we find important, or who we are as people. It’s as if they are coming in wanting to dislike us, but once here they are realizing they don’t hate us after all.

At the end of the first or the four-part series, correspondent Desi Lydic offered a half-ass prayer asking God to help her with her struggle to believe in Alabama. She admitted she had held a lot of preconceived notions about people here. She thought we were all real “swamp people.”

I take it that correlation refers back again to the ratings between Duck Dynasty and The Daily Show, but what’s wrong with swamp people? Come to Alabama. Conduct your interviews. As far as politics go, hey – there are no holds barred. It’s pretty much the same with religion, because we know God has got us. But…don’t make light of Alabama swamp people. They are some of the best of us.

Those overpriced, ridiculous jeans at Nordstrom’s designed to look muddy are probably trying to emulate swamp people. If things turn stormy, if the situation suddenly shifts and reality gets really real – if the power goes and cell batteries die and no one can post prayer requests on Facebook. If destruction surrounds and strength and perseverance are required to start again, it will be swamp people who rise like a phoenix out of the wetlands. Swamp people are survivors. They know how to live off the land and water, and most of them tell better stories than The Daily Show.

The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta consists of almost 260,000 acres of swampland making it second in size only to the Mississippi River Delta. The Daily Show crew should go have supper with some of these characters of the swamp. Catch a sunset. Listen to the hush between day surrendering to night. Chirping birds and daytime buzzing subside to silence before a cadence of frogs and crickets play against a damp breeze, drowning out all but nature.

Alabama has its problems. Our swamp people aren’t one of them.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Why Governor Ivey still calls Camden home

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (Alabama.Gov)

Within minutes of Kay Ivey’s being sworn-in as Governor last week, there were requests for comments out of Wilcox County.

Ivey was raised in Camden. She graduated from Camden High School before attending Auburn and launching herself into a life that has included many successes. She was a high school teacher, bank officer, and state treasurer before becoming the first Republican woman in Alabama history to hold the office of Lieutenant Governor. She won re-election in 2014.

She is only the second woman to serve as Governor of Alabama, and the first to rise through the political ranks on her own. Yet no matter when or where along her life’s path, Kay Ivey has never been shy about calling Camden home.

She knows Wilcox County is not without its challenges. It competes back and forth with Sumter on being the poorest county in the state. Wilcox has always held the highest unemployment rate in the state. And the public school system has a record of graduating too many students who are not prepared for even entry-level position with the lowest of skill requirements.

Few counties more thoroughly represent the natural beauty Alabama has to offer. Wilcox’s agricultural roots gravitated out from the majestic Alabama River, but not everything here is beautiful. Headlines out of Wilcox are often critical and riddled with crime and corruption. The crime is usually domestic related. The corruption is so common it is easily ignored.

Being a quiet, rural community has not made Wilcox immune to societal issues. Substance abuse is a problem, as are broken homes, poverty, and hopelessness. They seem to progressively connect and have become a subculture present in the shadows.

Outsiders have long questioned why even the smallest of populations choose to stay in a place haunted by its past, while forgotten by time. But if you are of here or from here, you feel a connection to land and place. It is a lot like loving a person. You begin to understand why the weaknesses exist, you learn to accept aspects you can’t understand, and you value what remains. The energy that holds people here, is the same spirit that compels visitors to stay, and convinces those whose life’s work has taken them away to forever call it home.

Kay Ivey knows there are rare flowers still blooming in lonely yards along Broad Street. She knows garden spots where there are no longer gardens. She remembers people’s pets by name, and can practically recite the menu at both GainesRidge Dinner Club and Larry’s Drive In.

The kind of governor she becomes will be determined in time. We will leave that for the historians and critic to debate at a later date. They can one day word it however they will, and Wilcox County will still be proud of Kay Ivey. We appreciate that when we hear her speak publically, we can recognize snippets and syllables spoken in our own distinct dialect.

It reminds us. And it reassures our children that even with the challenges rural Alabama communities face, there is no bounds holding anyone back at the county line.

I guess it is fairly simple for everyone to understand why the residents of Wilcox County are proud of Governor Ivey. What may be more remarkable is how she continues to be so proud of us.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist