In Search of Nell
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Born into a world beyond her understanding, Mercy is confused by her childhood experiences of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. She stubbornly questions the cultural expectations and gender inequality for women during the 1960s. Although she struggles with insecurities, she learns to bravely navigate her own destiny and persists in overcoming insurmountable odds. Despite her rigid upbringing, Mercy dreams of a life beyond her beloved Appalachian Mountains, as well as a life-long commitment to locate her birth mother.



Publié par
Date de parution 31 juillet 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781950895700
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0020€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


In Search of Nell
B.G. Musick
Published July 2017
Little Creek Books
Imprint of Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc
All rights reserved

Copyright © 2017 by B.G. Musick
Cover photograph by April Tarjick

This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, in any matter
whatsoever without written permission, with the exception of brief
quotations within book reviews or articles.

EISBN: 9781950895700
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017951025

You may contact the publisher:
Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc
PO Box 701
Johnson City, TN 37605

This book is dedicated to victims of domestic violence.

This book is a work of creative nonfiction. It is the true story of my life growing up in a small town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Through the genre of creative nonfiction, I was able to utilize my memories, my personal experiences and observations, my subjective perceptions, and my personal points of view. Although there may be others whose perceptions do not parallel mine, these are my memories to share. Some names have been altered to protect the privacy of certain individuals.

Steve Chase —Although I owe many thanks to my dear friends and family members for encouraging me to finish this book, I would especially like to thank my husband, Steve, who helped me in more ways than he realized. Writing is cathartic…and it was difficult during the early years of writing about my personal journey. Thank you for supporting my endeavors during the tough chapters. In Connie May Fowler’s words, you “helped me face my ghosts.”
Peggy Cheney —Thank you, Peggy, for your patience and assistance in the editing of this book.
Dr. Amy Clark —Many thanks to you, Amy, for agreeing to critique my early chapters and encouraging me to publish my story. Dr. Clark is the co-author of Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community.
Reatha Linkenhoker —Thank you, Aunt Reatha, for your encouraging words and help during the writing process.
Vanessa Murphy —Many thanks to my daughter, Vanessa, for believing in me throughout this process. It was your love of the old stories that inspired me to put them down in writing. All my love to our sweet Jared and Jayce.
Helen Owens —Many thanks to you, Helen, for the hours of long distance phone calls to help me edit the book; I could not have done it without you. Our week together in “The Sinks” will be forever implanted in my mind as a special time. Helen is a friend and a former coworker from Honaker High School, as well as my former high school English teacher at Cleveland High School. She is the author of a historical novel, Stand and Face the Morning.
Vern Powers —Much thanks and appreciation for allowing me to use your home in “The Sinks” to edit this book.
Devon Price— Many thanks to my son, Devon, for his patience in waiting for this book to be finished. All my love to our sweet Kaela and Kyle.

This story is engraved into Mercy’s heart. She can quote it by rote—chapter and verse. As far back as she can remember, the voices have echoed in her ears. She would sit quietly in the shadows of the room or on the edge of the porch with her legs dangling down ready to flee if the adults realized she was present. She listened (while pretending not to do so) to them re-tell the story of her birth.
In the tattered front seat of his Uncle Taze’s old 1940 pickup truck, R.C. dawdled cautiously around the meandering, horseshoe-shaped curves on Cleveland Mountain. He had already traveled five miles from his home in Back Valley and passed through the small town of Cleveland, VA. He listened to each groan and click of the truck’s engine as he shifted gears, climbing toward the crest of the hill. He was well aware the town of Lebanon, VA was still seven miles away, that it was well past midnight, and that his wife, Nell, was in the latter stages of giving birth to their third child. R.C. was unable to afford his own vehicle, so the truck was on loan for this unexpected trip. As he turned the bend near the crest of the mountain, he was certain he could not make it on time to Lebanon General Hospital.
Nell had already lost control of her bowels. There was no other choice, no time for modesty. Blood seeped bit by bit onto the seat, permeating the cracks and seams and onto the floorboard.
She screamed, “Git on with it, I can’t wait! I can’t wait!” And she proceeded to give birth, right there in Uncle Taze’s old pickup truck.
Unable to halt the contractions and the natural order of things, Nell positioned her weary body against the door, pushed with all her strength and brought forth new life. In its eagerness to be born, the baby simply gushed forth and followed the trail of blood. With the umbilical cord still wrapped dangerously around its neck, the newborn plopped with a dull thud onto the floorboard.
“Oh m’ God, Oh m’ God, git it up! Git it up!” R.C. yelled as he reached toward the baby. The muscles of his right arm tightened. Determined his baby wouldn’t die on the floorboard of a truck before he reached the hospital, he nudged Nell into a forward position and helped her gather up their newborn. Coming back to the task at hand, his neck and hand wrenched to the left. Like a night bird navigating unfamiliar territory, his eyes squinted, his pupils dilated and a sense of purpose propelled him forward into the cold October night at breakneck speed—toward the hospital and toward help.
The baby mewled… then again, and again. Nell stretched forward, untangled the umbilical cord and lifted the newborn into her arms. It was a girl, their first, and she didn’t appear to be concerned about the dramatic events of her birth.
R.C. heard the cry.
I ain’t got no time to look. No time to check the toes and fingers. Sounds jist like the other kids when they was born.
With each high-pitched cry, R.C. was thankful his first daughter had survived, at least for now.
She’s a tuff’n, she’ll be a survivor, I jist know it, but how’s Uncle Taze gonna feel about his truck bein’ such a mess? I reckon the baby don’t seem to mind though. Lissen’, she’s jist a-wailin’ away!
Reinforcing his hands on the steering wheel, R.C. resumed his concentration on the mountain road, on his newborn baby, and on his wife, Nell.
As if in a catatonic stupor, Nell sat silently. No comment. She stared at the new baby and silently counted the fingers and toes.
They’re all there. No birthmark. Thas good but jist look at this other lil’ mouth to feed. What am I gonna do?
By the time they reached Slab Town, R. C. and Nell were hearing whimpers only every now and then. Their greatest fear was that the baby wouldn’t survive. They hadn’t cut the cord. So with mother and baby still attached, the old truck picked up speed and lurched forward through the town square, past the Confederate Monument, the funeral home and the Methodist Church, and into the empty parking lot.
Leaping from the truck, R.C. yelled, “Help me! Help me! My wife’s had a baby!” Hovering outside the truck, he could provide no further help. He felt helpless.
Well, I reckon I done the best I could . Oh, Lord, please let ’em both live .
From the open door, a nurse yelled, “Well, bring her on in! Quick!”
“No, you don’t understan, she’s already had it!” R. C. fumed, unable to conceal the frustration and fear in his voice. “Couldn’t somebody jist please hurry!”
Nurses swarmed to the parked truck and affirmed mother and baby were still attached. Helping them both onto a stretcher, they rushed them inside and cut the umbilical cord.
Mercella Gail snuggled into her mother’s arms and suckled her mother’s breast for the first time. She would be called Mercy.
The year was 1952 and her life’s journey was just beginning. Her birth was like an omen that, as time passed, would return to haunt her again and again.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Send forth your heart’s desire, and work and wait;
The opportunities of life are brought
To our own doors, not by capricious fate,
But by the strong compelling force of thought.

Later, while lying in the hospital bed, Nell thought about her life and why she’d let herself become pregnant—again.
I jist can’t figger it out! I’m jist nineteen, this bein’ my third child and all, I can’t let this happen again! Besides, we can’t afford ‘nother mouth to feed with the two boys already. R. C. with no job and everythin’, hit’s a hard row to hoe. I’ll jist have to be more careful the next time R. C. comes home a-drinkin’.
Yet somehow, she felt blessed. Her first child, Darrell, had been born at the Musick family home when she was just 16. R. C.’s mother, a midwife, helped to birth the baby. Her second child, Gary Wayne, had also been born at home.
“It sure feels good to be in this here hospital,” she mumbled as her eyes closed. Waves of delicate pink clouds enveloped her as sleep took over her weary body. Visions of newborn babies haunted her dreams th

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