In my book “Telling Hands” I talk about how I grew up playing in the River. We swam and fished and camped on the river. We had family gatherings on the Tennessee. It’s where I learned to swim and was baptized.
You see, Town Creek, Lake Guntersville, and the Tennessee River all come together right down the road and is all the same living water. I call it living because it flows and is not a standing pond. The River has always been a part of my life, hence it has always been a part of me.
I didn’t find out the truth about my dad Wayne’s cancer until the last couple of years. Until after I became a water protector myself by joining the protest with Standing Rock and making a documentary about the historic Native gathering. We are all connected through the waterways.
Maybe that’s just what it took to get it out of him. Wayne worked for Davis Construction decades ago, building a retaining wall in the Anniston area. He said he was building the wall to hold back the rotten waters. He had to stand in it. The water was green and smelled like rotten eggs. He was provided boots to protect his feet. But the boots only went up so far on his calf and didn’t protect his leg. He said the smell made him sick.
Years later, he developed a small knot on his leg, right where the boots provided went up to. Wayne being the Godwin type that he is, self medicated and cut it out a few times with his pocket knife. The knot had stringy, white stuff inside it. He did eventually go to a doctor and found out that it was cancerous. He’s been fighting that fight ever since. I gave him a lawyer’s number to call to see if he could receive financial compensation, but he wouldn’t call.
So here I am, water protector in Alabama with this story that I have to tell.
Through my writing and river-loving music friends, Dick Cooper told me to friend David Whiteside of the Tennessee Riverkeeper organization. I did some time ago and have been following the work they do for a year or two. Whiteside seems to be doing good. I offered my service to him and expect to one day pick up a lot of garbage. lol.
Please be respectful of the water, and of our parks. We all need water. Water is life. Mni Wiconi.
If you’d like to donate to the cause or find out more click here: Tennessee Riverkeeper
Jamie Lynn Godwin