The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
By MORRIS STEPHENSON -
My heart was broken Friday morning, Dec. 28, when I learned Cherokee Storm (Stormy) Davis died the day before at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital.
I'll never forget writing the first story for the News-Post about her pressing need for a live kidney donor. She had been living without a kidney for several years after her body had rejected the first one.
Of course, her parents, Matt and Julie, had her name on about every donor list possible. Her story was published hoping that a possible donor would again step forward as had been the case with a young Franklin County boy, who is now living a normal life.
Kidney disease seems to be on the rise from what I have experienced in the last 10 years or so. I recall writing another story about a local young man who donated one of his kidneys to his brother. The operation was successful for a couple of years. But I learned some time ago that the kidney has since been rejected.
Then there was the story of Emily Johnson, who was also in search of a kidney donor. Sadly, she passed away before someone could be found.
In my heart, when I wrote Stormy's plea for a kidney I hoped that one would be found. For whatever reason, I had a good feeling about this beautiful, cheerful and strong young girl, who always seemed to have a smile on her face and a bright outlook about her future.
And this was a child who spent every night connected for 8-9 hours to a dialysis machine in her bedroom, which was also filled with medical supplies. In fact, one wall of the narrow hallway the family's small mobile home was filled to the ceiling with boxes of needed medication to last for a month.
Stormy had the reputation of not being one to complain and lived with the cards life had dealt her. Every day, she looked forward to being with her friends and to each new adventure in her life. She lived as normal a life as she could, enjoying field trips with classmates at the Callaway Elementary School and later at Benjamin Franklin Middle School. She had a many of friends. That fact was evident during the visitation period at Flora Funeral Home on Sunday, Dec. 30.
Stacy Hairston took up where I left off after I retired from the paper. Just over a week before Stormy's passing, Stacy wrote another story in hopes a miracle might come from her follow-up story.
Sunday evening, I left my home in Ferrum to arrive at the funeral home about the time the visitation started. Even before 6 p.m., the parking lot was filled to overflowing. I managed to squeeze "Goldie" into a place not designed to park, but I slipped the 4-Runner into the slot anyway.
When I walked in, the line waiting to express their condolences to the family had filled one room and people snaked their way out of that room into the one set aside for the Davis family. When I stepped inside the door, I was in line immediately. It wasn't long before many folks of all ages continued to enter, extending the line faster than it was moving forward. That was understandable.
I glanced at my cell phone and it was 6:03 p.m. A conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Lampkin helped pass time as the line inched forward. (The couple's first names now escape me.) I finally I entered the parlor and got my first look at the beautiful casket with its corner pieces containing crosses. Family members were not visible because of those who came to express their sorrow and support.
It was then that many memories began to flash back to the first day I went to the Davis home to talk with and take photos of Stormy. I was impressed by the family's love for one another that I saw and experienced. I watched as her dog "CoCo" almost danced around her feet waiting for its master to sit down. As soon as she did, the little dog was nestled in Stormy's lap, not to be moved until the young girl was on her feet again.
Stormy was charming, to say the least. It was easy to see why her family, relatives and classmates adored her. She radiated love at first sight. It did not take long for her to relax with the newest stranger in her life.
She told me of the life she was forced to lead due to her health issues. She was proud to take me to her bedroom to shown me the machine that kept her alive and how it operated. Her favorite stuffed animals were pointed out along with other things important to her.
It was after stepping out of her bedroom that she showed me the row of boxes of meds she would use during the coming month.
Later, when talking with her parents, I learned Matthew drove a school bus and worked for Phoebe Needles' summer program when on his summer break. Julie did all of her work at the home as a caring mother, not only to Stormy but to her older brother, Jason.
The bulk of the family's income was from Stormy's SSI monthly assistance. Part of it was used to buy a dependable car for Stormy's regular visit and often emergency visits to the UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville.
Once the family's story was made public, young campers and adult leaders at Phoebe Needles undertook a project to repair and restore their mobile home. Contributions also were received.
Now that Stormy has left us, the SSI check has stopped and the family is in dire need of financial assistance. Unpaid medical bills continue to pile up. Regular monthly living expenses continue without the SSI check. Pure and simple, the family needs help getting back on their feet.
Donations or contributions will be greatly appreciated. The Davis family's mailing address is P.O. Box 5, Callaway, Va. 24067.
Stormy will be remembered for years to come. Her friends will see to that! Her hard-fought battle with a kidney disease also will not be forgotten. It seems to me that childhood kidney problems, as well as juvenile diabetes, are on the increase.
I know I will never forget Stormy's young full face filled with beautiful eyes and an amazing smile! Despite failing health, her radiant personality was an inspiration to everyone she knew or who had read about the struggles she carried on her young shoulders!
More Books Arrive - Finally, I received the third shipment of "A Night of Makin' Likker" Friday after two weeks of delays due to holiday book-printing and delivery schedule.
I have to say I was amazed the way the books sold so quickly. And I apologize to all those who called or came by the office on North Main Street in search of books. It seems many had the book on their list of Christmas gifts to buy.
As of this writing, another shipment is in the process of being ordered in hopes of maybe catching up with the demand. Writing and then getting books printed was a totally new learning experience for me. I appreciate your patience!
For the record, I'm preparing some manuscripts to be sent to national publishing houses in hopes they will be interested in buying and distributing the books.
I also apologize for many of you not receiving Bobby Radford's outstanding CD of moonshine songs. My longtime friend volunteered to provide the CDs that were included as long as the supply lasted. He did so to help me sell books, as well as to get his songs and music heard outside the county.
I'm going to sit down with Bobby in the next few days to see if there is something we can work out to get CDs into the hands of those who didn't receive one when the books were first distributed.
The CD was recorded by Bobby at a studio in his home in Ferrum and produced by our friend Barry Altice, who lives in the Burnt Chimney area. The music and the singer's voice are crisp and clear. And it was a good picture of a small "black-pot" still that was added on the front of the CD. I've received many favorable comments on the songs. It was a job well done by both men!
Cecil Love on the mend - My good friend Cecil Love, who is the subject of the the last chapter in my book, was hospitalized a week ago Wednesday afternoon after suffering a fall down the basement steps. He was going to load some more firewood in his wood-burner about 5 p.m.
It turns out he had delayed taking his inner ear, blood pressure meds and the combination of the two problems were blamed for the fall. He suffered a cut on the left side of his head requiring nine stitches to close.
Once everything was under control, he was discharged from CFMH on Friday afternoon and is recovering at home.
I sure have missed our daily (M-F) breakfast meetings at the DQ on Route 40 West. Those get-togethers have been going on since June or July 2011, or when he was caught while attempting to make what sounded like some mighty fine corn whiskey, along with apple brandy.
The only problem was he was caught before he actually got into production and I did not had a chance to sample either one of the "cough medicines." Oh well, that's life!