Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Life of Tragedies and Perseverance

My Amazing Husband

This is an entry all about Sam and his life.  He was born in 1967 in Bay St Louis, MS.  His mom was 40 and his dad was 50 when he was born.  In 1969 Hurricane Camille hit and took his family home so they were forced to move to NC and stayed there for 3 years until they could move back to Bay St. Louis and purchase a new home.  Unfortunately I have no early pictures to post for this entry as we lost all pictures in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

In 1973 Sam's dad died.  Sam was 6 years old and was riding in the truck with him.  They stopped at a friend's house when his dad told him to wait in the truck.  "Red" got out of the truck and Sam never saw him make it to the front door.  After a few minutes Sam and his brother jumped out of the truck only to find his father lying dead in the ditch next to the drivers side door.  That was the first tragedy, in a string of many, my husband has endured.  His father was diabetic and had heart failure and I think he knew it was going to happen and stopped so his sons would not be injured  Unfortunately Sam and his brother were the ones to find their daddy's body first. 

So Miss Melba, Sam's mom, was now left alone to raise 4 children by herself.  Two of which were from her first marriage, and almost adults.  The other two were 6 and 7 years old.  Sam was the baby.  Working as a bank teller in 1973 didn't pay the bills, but somehow this amazing woman made it work.  She put the 2 boys through Catholic school with the help of the church and raised 2 amazing sons alone.  In 1980 she was diagnosed with cancer.  Sam learned at a very young age how to clean, cook, and care for his mom.  Miss Melba had one diagnosis after another of cancer until she passed away in 2000.  For 20 years my husband cared for his mother and made sure she was never alone.  His 3 older siblings had all moved away and gone on with their lives.  I am not faulting them for that at all, but just pointing out that Sam chose to stay there to care for his mom. 

In 1984, I met this amazing man.  He was a senior in high school and I was a freshman.  We were friends.  I admired him and thought he was a really great guy.  We didn't know we were in love until about 5 months later, it really did happen that fast.  For 5 years we tried to stay together, but my dad was completely against it from day one.  Sam was too old for me and my dad would not allow us to date.  So we had to sneak around.  We just could not be apart.  After Sam graduated he enrolled in a local community college, so he stayed in town, near his mom to help care for her.  We continued to sneak around and see each other as well.  He was 18 now.  My father would not allow it and had him arrested in October 1985 after we had too much to drink one night before a high school football game.  "Contributing to the delinquency of a minor" was the charge.  Miss Melba was now very upset with me and didn't want us together anymore either.  We were fighting an uphill battle.  But survived.  In January 1986 Sam cheated on me.  All of the pressure to stay apart by our parents had taken its toll, and maybe the fact that I wanted to wait until we were married to have sex.  Anyway, he found some trashy girl and had his way.  It about killed me inside.  I broke up with him.  He begged me to forgive him.  But I was determined to make him suffer.  For Valentines Day 1986 he bought me a dozen roses, a bottle of Giorgio perfume (haha) and a "promise ring".  It had a diamond chip in it and had the message that he was mine and I was his forever.  How could I possibly NOT forgive him?  But I didn't.  He sat outside my friends window professing his love and bearing gifts.  I threw the roses at him, but kept the ring and perfume (geez).  I knew I would forgive him soon, but wanted to make him suffer a little longer.  Less than 2 weeks later Sam faced his next big blow. 

February 20 something ... I was still in the process of punishing Sam for his "infidelity" and was on a date with another boy.  Sam was at a beach party in the Bay and I was at a beach party in the Pass, just over the bridge.  Something inside of me exploded.  I felt an urgency to leave that party and go home even though we had only been there under an hour.  There were about 6 of us that rode together at that party.  I begged to leave.  We finally all got in the van and started back over the bridge home.  Almost across the bridge I could see all the commotion.  There were police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and lights everywhere!  I screamed "Oh my gosh go there!  I think there was a fight".  I am not sure why I thought EVERY police car in town and all the emergency vehicles were needed for a teenage brawl, but that is what popped into my head.  I jumped out of the van and ran to a group of friends asking what happened.  They were all crying and the place was chaotic.  I saw a car with the windshield shattered.  One of my friends, grabbed me hugging me and crying screaming "he's going to be OK, Tina he will be OK!"  I was dazed and confused and had no idea what she was talking about.  Another friend, yelled "shut up she doesn't know she doesn't know!"  I was starting to panic and saw my very best friend, Devin, and ran to her.  I asked her what was going on and she told me Sam was hit by a drunk driver and rushed to the hospital.  I later found out a group of them were standing off the shoulder of the road at the beach and someone had left a local bar, swerved off the the road.  Someone saw him going towards Sam and screamed "Look out Sam!"  Sam turned, just as the car hit him and his face hit the windshield and threw him flying about 30 yards away, leaving his shoes right where he was standing.  A friend ran to him and gave him CPR and got him breathing again until the ambulance got there.  Our local hospital was a little band aid station and they had to airlift him to a bigger hospital in Biloxi.  I didn't know if he was dead or alive.  For 3 days or more he was in a coma state and I never went to the hospital.   I was afraid and didn't know what to do.  Sam had a tracheotomy and all of his teeth knocked out of his mouth.  Every single bone in his face was broken along with dozens more in his body.  I got a call from his mother.  She said, "Tina, please come up to the hospital, Sam is asking for you and I honestly don't think he is going to make it if you don't come up here."  That was all I needed.  I rushed to the hospital with my best friend.  Care Bear and card in hand with a diamond chip promise ring on my left index finger.  When I saw the boy I loved laying in that bed my knees buckled under me and I thought I was going to die.  His head was swollen as big as a pumpkin.  I had to leave the room to compose myself.  I walked back in and sat by his side.  He couldn't speak but he wrote "Thank you"  and "I love you forever and always".  He grabbed my hand and rubbed that promise ring and had tears streaming down his face.  For almost three months he lived in that bed.  I knew then I would always love Sam.  Forever and always. 

Things were not smooth after that.  He had to leave school.  It was a very long recovery.  After about a year he seemed to be partying a lot more.  Without me.  We broke up and got back together many times.  In 1988, I graduated high school and left for Ole Miss.  After a few months things fell apart and we broke up.  The summer after my freshman year I was in MN working for my dad and met a boy.  We had too much to drink one night and I got pregnant.  I left MN to go back to school, 7 days later I found out I was pregnant.  Sam and I had already started talking and were trying to work things out.  Once I found out I was pregnant though I cut off all contact.  He basically "stalked" me.  Driving by the house and calling all hours, but I avoided him.  I transferred to USA and enrolled in school there.  After I left, he found out the reason and confronted me when I came home for Mardi Gras.  It was ugly.  We both went out separate ways. 

I ended up marrying the boy that got me pregnant and I was miserable.  I moved to MN where he was from.  Our marriage lasted 16 months.  I was talking to Sam the entire time.  I took a trip to Bay St Louis, MS in 1992 for Mardi Gras.  I saw Sam and I knew I still loved him.  We spent the week together and I knew he was the one for me.  My ex husband would not allow me to take our daughter out of state.  I was once again unable to be with the man I loved.  I flew back to MN after only one week.  We spoke often on the phone but things started to fall apart.  We were 1500 miles apart with no chance of a future together.  A few months later he will suffer again. 

In June 1992 Sam was helping a friend build a house.  There was an accident.  A nail backfired and went into his eye.  He was rushed to the hospital.  He grabbed the nail and pulled it out, had he left it there, they may have been able to save it.  But he didn't.  For almost 2 years he could not go out in the daylight.  Thank God his mother was in remission and able to care for him.  She drove him back and forth to Mobile for dozens of surgeries and doctor visits.  In the end, they were not able to save his eye.  He was going stir crazy and told the doctor to just take it out.  He wanted his old life back.  He wanted to go back to work.  So now he has a prosthetic eye.  He jokes that he is Mr. Potato Head.  My husband always the class clown.  :) 

After being couped up for so long he went a little crazy when he was able to go back out into the real world.  He met a woman and got her pregnant.  In July 1994 they had a son, Chance.  They never married but lived together for awhile.  After that I heard very little from him and met someone myself in MN.  We went on with our separate lives.  I had 2 more children.  A daughter in 1995 and a son in 1997.  Right after my son was born I left their father, or rather I kicked him out.  It was my house I bought before we got together.  It was a very hard relationship with many problems.  I wont go into that because this is all about Sam and his life.  But Sam was devoted to his son and I lost contact with him for many years.  The relationship with the son's mom did not work out but he stayed to be with his son. 

In 2000 I flew back to MS to go to a friend's wedding.  I don't want to say I stalked Sam, but I did try to find him.  I had heard he moved out and was no longer living with his son's mom.  I didn't find him right away.  Partly out of fear of rejection, I suppose.  But a couple days later someone told me Sam's mom had passed away.  I went to the store, bought a sympathy card and sought Sam out.  I went to his mother's house that Sam had built for her in 1992.  I found his older brother there with his wife and family.  He said, "Sam isn't here right now, but I will let him know you came by.  I know he would love to see you".  I left the card.  I came back by a couple hours later and saw Sam for the first time in many years.  I felt an overwhelming love for him, but held it in.  The next day I went to the funeral.  Stayed for a couple minutes and left.  We talked a few times after that, but I flew back to MN to resume my life of work, 3 kids and single motherhood. 

I got a call in January 2003 from a friend in MS.  She told me that Sam's son had died in a house fire at the boy's mother's home.  Panic struck me like it has never struck me before.  I could not leave my children but I had to find Sam.  I stayed up all night trying to locate a phone number to reach him, but I was unsuccessful.  I paid $70 and joined some online search site.  I could not get a working phone number but did find an address.  I then did a reverse address search and located his next door neighbor!  I called his neighbors after midnight and begged this man I have never met to please leave a note on Sam's windshield to call me immediately.  He left the note and I got a call from Sam the next day.  What do you say to someone who has lost his child, his world, his everything? 

We kept in touch sporadically over the next two and a half years.  I dated a little.  He drank a lot.  In May 2005 I called him and asked him if I could come down to visit.  I wanted to see about moving my business to MS and come back home.  My oldest daughter was now 15 and I could legally take her out of state if she wanted to go.  I decided if after a 3 week trip that my business would thrive there then I was planning to sell my house and move back home to Bay St Louis, MS. 

He said "Yes, I have 3 bedrooms and an extra car.  Come on down."  I told him, "This is business, I am not looking to start a relationship."   He said he understood.  So I booked a 3 week trip down and my kids stayed with my parents.  After 3 weeks, I knew what needed to be done.  I went home, painted my house, spruced things up.  Put it on the market and sold it 30 minutes into my first open house.  July 1, 2005 I was packed up and on the road to MS and back to the love of my life.  I found a house one town over, 5 houses off the beach.  It was perfect.  I registered my children for school.  Mid July I flew them down.  We had settled in and the kids started school.  Sam was known to them only as a friend from high school and I really wanted to keep it that way for awhile.  The kids needed to feel secure and settled. 

August 29, 2005 changed everything. 

I don't need to go into great detail.  Everyone knows about Hurricane Katrina.  I lost my house.  It was a slab.  Sam had 6 feet of water in his and lost everything inside to water damage.  I had nothing left.  No where to go.  I brought my kids back to MN and enrolled them in their old schools and moved in with my parents.  All we had were the clothes on our backs and about 3 changes of clothing each.  I was miserable and went into a deep depression.  Five weeks later I was able to fly into Gulfport MS.  I went straight to Sam.  He said. "I cant lose you again, please marry me"  YES! YES! YES!!!  We gutted out his house fixed it up in record time and got married February 25, 2006. 

I lost my business in Katrina but was able to slowly get a few clients here and there.  But never enough to make a real living.  Sam was great and never complained.  We found out right after Christmas (before the wedding) that I was going to have a baby!!  Sam was not thrilled.  He had decided after the loss of his son he didn't want to ever feel that pain again.  I told him I was getting old and we needed to have a baby right away.  I won.  :) 

July 27, 2006 we had a beautiful baby girl.  She was not actually due until August 10th or so.  Sam's son's birthday was July 26th.  He said in early July, "I think she will be born on Chance's birthday."  I said, "No, that's too early."  I was school shopping on July 26th when my water broke!!  I could not believe it!  I was about an hour from the hospital.  I called Sam and told him I was on my way home and that I thought my water had broke.  I wasnt 100% sure because of my weak bladder, but still wanted to make sure.   We got to the hospital and found out the baby was coming.  I really did not want our daughter to share the same birthday with his son.  Thankfully she held off until after midnight and we had a beautiful healthy baby girl on July 27!  Sam cried.  He looked at me and said "Thank you so much.  I cant believe I ever thought I didn't wanted another child again".  She is his world.  His baby princess. 

On April 26, 2007 we left to go watch our son play baseball.  About 20 minutes later we got a phone call from my 16 year old daughter.  "Mom!!!  The house is on fire!!!"  I was stunned.  I said "WHAT?!"  all I could picture was a little stove fire or maybe a little fire in the microwave caused by metal.  That's what I really thought it was.  Then she repeated it and was crying.  A woman got on the phone and said, "Tina, I came by to pick up Taylor and she is safe here with me.  There is a fire above your garage and the fire department is on its way.  Everyone is safe and we got the dog out too." 

I looked at Sam.  He was watching Joe play baseball.  I couldn't believe my ears.  The first thing I thought of was "OMG my baby."  Taylor, 16 at the time, was home alone.  I knew she was safe, but I was still freaking out.  And immediately my next thought,  "This is going to kill Sam.  He can't handle this.  Not after losing Chance to a fire.  How am I going to tell him?"  I didn't have to.  His phone rang right then.  The expression on his face said it all.  We handed the baby over to a friend.  Left the other 2 kids and ran to our cars.  In a small town where everyone looks out for all the children, we knew they would be fine!   We were less than 2 miles away.  We got home and the fire trucks had just gotten there but were not able to get the water working.  We were freaking out to say the least.  The fire looked contained over the garage.  The fireman got the water running and were spraying the neighbors house.  I was screaming "Wrong house,  wrong house!!  OMG save my house!"  I was crying and Sam was having a nervous breakdown.  The neighbors brought us liquor and we watched our home burn to the ground.  Within 20 minutes the whole house was engulfed in flames.

You could see the smoke for miles and hundreds of people came by to watch. 

Like I said in a previous post today, we were in the process of building an addition and had not raised the insurance to adequately rebuild the house because we wanted to finish the addition first.  We were under insured by at least $85,000. 

The addition survived.  The rest of the house had to be bulldozed down. 

We eventually rebuilt.  It took 2 years.  We had to rent a house during that time and since Katrina had taken 85% of the houses in this area so the pickings were slim.  We ended up having to pay $2000 a month to rent while rebuilding.  That ate into our rebuilding funds.  We had a lot of volunteers in the area and a friend of ours is a pastor at a local church. (the same boy I was on my first date with the night Sam was hit by the drunk driver!)  He arranged for volunteers to help us as much as possible.  It was slow going.  But our only option.  They were a God send!! 

They framed, sided and roofed our new home! 

Things were looking up.  But we ran out of funds and were not able to complete the house.  We had no choice but to move back in uncompleted.  We moved in August 2009.  It's a work in progress.  We have the floors put in now!  What a blessing!  We still have to finish and tile the bathrooms and kitchen, but it will happen one day.  We have no cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, but I have faith one day those will be installed as well.  We are home and together and that's all that matters! 

Look at those beautiful floors! I negotiated with Lumber Liquidators and got an amazing price!!  Much improved over the concrete floors we lived with for 8 months!!  Notice the concrete floors below.  Thank goodness for rugs!  We still need doors for all the closets and a couple rooms.  Two more bathrooms are framed up and will be completed one day. 

He works so hard outside in the heat day after day and I want to show him how grateful I am for everything he does. This is him below one day after working outside in 100 degrees for over 8 hours. He deserves a break! :)

Now we are at present time. I have given you a glimpse into some of the trials and tribulations my husband has had to endure. I wanted you to see why it's so important to me to try to find a way to get the money to take him on a honeymoon/vacation alone. He is an amazing man that has had a very hard life. He has an unshakable faith and strength that has kept him not only going, but enjoying life and smiling. I love this man with all of my heart.  Please take a moment to share how your blog has helped you make money and ideas on how I could make mine work too!  Thank you for reading!


  1. Lovely, Tina. You and Sam are so lucky to have each other. I hope you get that vacation you deserve!!



  2. You guys so deserve the vacation. :) He is a lucky man to have you in his life.

    Looking forward to see the progress!