S2: Episode 42 - Judy

Episode Information

Hunger & Resilience – Episode 42 – Judy

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 42, Judy.

Judy:  I started working when I was 17. I had a passion for taking care of the elderly. I loved working with them and helping them. I remember Ruby, she is about four foot tall little ball of fire. She was, when she’d get her allowance, we’d have to keep her away from the candy machine because her blood sugar had shoot up again, but I loved Ruby. I started losing full use of my right side, my leg. I was starting to drag it, and then when they’d done the X-rays, it showed the tumor on my spinal cord and it was wrapped around my sciatic nerve. I couldn’t work no more then. It was about three months after my surgery that I lost my home and went through my savings. I had always worked and provided and took care of my home and my kids and just kept persevering and it just left me completely in shambles because I didn’t know what to do.

My two children just kept asking me what was going on, why we didn’t have a home no more, where they could eat and do as they wanted. It seemed like I was just going down more and I didn’t see no way out. To walking in an abandoned house is really frightening and scary because you don’t know who else is in ’em. You don’t know if an animal got up in there or if somebody else that’s up in there that can hurt you. We had our blankets and I’d spread that out and we’d all huddle together and that way I’d keep my kid warm and stuff.

I no hunger because I’ve been countless nights laying with nothing in my stomach because I’ve tried to feed my kids first. I drink water to keep my stomach filled up and want something so bad that you couldn’t begin to imagine how your stomach being knots and your head hurt and just out in the dark no light , and just to hear ’em ask for something else to eat and have to tell ’em we ain’t got it. There ain’t nothing else. It’s the most agonizing and heartfelt sickness a mother can go through. I started writing checks at the store to get food and also I wrote checks to a couple of motels. That way we could have a warm bed to sleep in one night and be able to shower and put clean clothes on and stuff. I know I’d done wrong, but my love for my kids was so great.

We were homeless for about a year. Then my past come up to hit me because I got arrested for writing the hot checks that I’d done in the past and they sent me to prison for six months. The day before I went to prison, I got to see both my children and tell ’em I loved them and missed them, and they wrote me and sent me pictures and I missed them with every ounce of being in my soul. There was so many nights that I just wanted to smell ’em, hold them, and look at ’em and cuddle them, and all I could do was, you know, lay there on my bunk and cry and look at their pictures. The night that I made it home on the bus, it was about 1130 at night and the first thing that I saw was my babies sitting on the tailgate of the truck waiting and they run to me and all I could do was hold them.

[Outro Music]

Host:  It takes time to listen and it takes time to tell a story. There’s an intensity in listening and also a privilege. Judy’s presence is visible. Her voice is a boomerang. Circling and holding memories. Stories are our gravity. Without them, we might float and drift away. We are thankful for Judy’s humility, her courageous voice and presence. May something in her story. Stay with yo. Next week episode 44 and 45 will be the last episodes in season two About Hunger and Resilience. Season three, Fine Line, Mental Health, Mental Illness will begin the following week. These are stories that confront misconceptions and reveal the courage and fragility of those living with mental illnesses. These stories are about understanding every person, every voice will invite you to listen. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you so much for listening.