S2: Episode 44 - Tia

Episode Information

Hunger & Resilience – Episode 44 – Tia

[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 44, Tia.

Tia:  I see my life right now like a mosaic picture. When you stand up real close, it looks a mess. It’s like squares and pieces. None of ’em fit, but the more I stand back and evaluate and learn and understanding, I see it becoming clear until I’m gonna see the what the picture is. It’s not clear now. It’s still fuzzy, but I can see it taking form now. My name is Tia. I live in Jackson, Mississippi. I have three children, a 9-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old son, and a three-year-old daughter. I’m not sure what I’m destined to do, but I know the fact that I remain teachable, that I remain open-minded, eager. I love to see a smile on somebody’s face and knowing that I did it. You know I did that. What I liked it about my husband, he was very soft-spoken. He was very serious, but he liked to play. If he told you something, that’s what it was. He just got a cough, didn’t think any of it. About a month later, his ankle swollen up. The nurse said, you need to go to the hospital. It might be congestive heart failure. That’s what it was.

I wanted to quit every day after my husband died. I wanted to quit and crawl in a hole. I wanted to quit and lay in the casket beside him. I wanted to do anything that would cause me to not feel the pain and not have to deal with the hurt and not have to see my children’s face. My husband death was two turning points in my life. It was a turning point where I had to realize that I’m the adult and this is what had to be done, and it also made me realize just as easy as it was good, it can be bad. Just that easy. Just that fast. Hunger starts somewhere. You already at hunger before you see it happening. It’s not a choice. Some people can do hunger for two days, two weeks, but if it’s necessary, I can do it longer. I can see it all the way out to the end. Being hungry is, it’s worse than you ever imagined. Hunger is not having food, not having means to get food, having no resources, knowing that there’s not gonna be any food. My children will sometimes ask me things like, are we just eating noodles today? We got enough bread for everybody to have a sandwich. Well, we eating today? But as they saw me getting more and more limited with money, they stopped asking and just started watching. I think a lot of people ended up in hunger outta shame, out of not saying, I need the help.

How do you tell your children to be self, self-confident, and feel worthy? I let them understand that everybody’s an individual and comes the way they are, and life is not fair. Life is not easy. Life is what you make it. If you make every situation bad, it’s gonna be worse, but look, again, you’re not worth how much money you make. You are worth what you give. You are worth what you stand for, what you believe in. That’s what you’re worth. If you can spin on your head, be the best head spinner you can be if that’s what you’re good at. If you can draw circles, you draw the best circles. If that’s what you’re good at, no one knows how or why or when. Just be, be diligent and that’s what I teach to you.

[Outro Music]

Host:  Tia is one of the wisest, smartest individuals I have ever met. She says something remarkable at the beginning. I remain teachable. I remain open-minded, and I remain eager. Her thoughts at the ending of her narrative are also equally powerful. She asks a question, how can I teach my children to be self-confident and to feel worthy? I let them understand that life is not always fair. Life is not always easy. Then Tia says, as an imperative, you’re not worth how much money you make. You’re worth what you give. You’re worth what you stand for, what you believe in. That’s what you’re worth and that’s what I teach my children. Thank you Tia, for what you have given us. Thank you for your presence. May something in Tia’s story stay with you. Season three, Fine Line Mental health Mental Illness will begin next week. Please join us these stories, confront the misconceptions and reveal the courage and fragility of those living with mental illnesses. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you for listening.