There's not a lot that I remember about my childhood. I had a brain injury when I was 10 years old, and almost everything before that is kind of a blur. Except for one distinct occasion that stands out in my mind: the day I was almost eaten by a crocigator.
I'm sure you're probably now scratching your head. Well, let me explain. A crocigator is half crocodile and half alligator. It has the head of each, one on one end of its body and one on the other end. And wowza is it ever a mean creature. Seeing as how it has two heads and no back end, it has to no way to use the bathroom; therefore, it is a terror to encounter. The threat of a crocigator attack was always summoned when I was misbehaving as a child. Now granted, you probably didn't need a mythical creature to ensure your good behavior, but I was, and still am, a handful.
So, back to the day I came close to being eaten by the crocigator. I was probably about seven years old the day it happened. My daddy was cutting hay in one of our pastures and my sister and I had been tasked with picking sticks up out of the pasture so that they didn't dull the blade on the hay cutter. We were busy little bees for the first, maybe five minutes. But then, I noticed the flowers in the pasture. Oh, they were so pretty. And lo, my daddy was going to cut them all down. Obviously, I could not let them be destroyed so I began picking them for a bouquet. My mother noticed that I was not picking up sticks and admonished me to get back to work. I returned to my appointed task for perhaps a minute or two, then I was right back to picking wildflowers. I'm not sure how long I was picking flowers when I heard a loud shout from my Great Uncle R , "hey, watch out, the crocigator is about to get you!!" Thankfully, with his warning I was able to take off running at a breakneck speed and get away from the crocigator. I was so close to being eaten that day but my Great Uncle R saved me!
Until the day that cancer had so riddled my Great Uncle R's body that his memory was basically gone, he reminded me of the day he saved me from the crocigator. But honestly, that's not the only time he rescued me. He was quite a character. He was a combination of smart and mean that made lots of people not like him. But he picked me as his special project. He was not going to let me settle for mediocrity. He was going to make sure I succeeded. He reviewed every test that I took. If I got a 90, he wanted to know why it wasn't a 100. If I made a 100, he wanted to know why it wasn't higher than a 100 (as if I could conjure extra points). He reviewed every report card that I brought home. A report card with all A's earned me $20, in high school it was bumped up to $100. If there was a single B, there was no reward. My sister, bless her, got the short end of the stick on almost every report card. As high school drew to an end, despite the fact that my parents could have never afforded to pay for me to go to college, there was never a question of if, or where, I would attend. Great Uncle R had decided when I was a child that I would go to Auburn, his alma mater, and he started putting money away for my tuition. We graduated from Auburn forty years apart, to the day.
Had I not been able to attend college, I would probably still be trapped in the same small town that so many of my classmates couldn't escape. Now granted, I have friends who still live there because they want to, but small Southern towns have a way of holding their people back. I was able to escape because my college degree opened me up to options that I would have never had without it. I owe a lot to my Great Uncle R. More than I could ever repay really. But I will try at least. He didn't save me from the crocigator for nothing!