Martin native tells all in new memoir

Martin native tells all in new memoir
By BRAD GASKINS
News Editor
Cynthia White was a long way from her family’s 200-acre farm in rural Northwest Tennessee.
It was Sept. 9, 1978, and the then-28 year old Martin native was living the high life in Aspen, Colo., rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, teaching ski lessons and modeling.
Earlier in the day, she’d posed for portfolio photos on top of a private Cessna airplane.
“A few hours later … on a dark, winding Rocky Mountain road, my Porsche flipped and skidded to a halt — as did the life I once knew,” White writes in the introduction of her new book “Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity.”
The book has two parts — a memoir and self-help section.
“I want the disabled, the families of professionals and caregivers to have this info that I’ve gleaned from all these years living this,” White said Tuesday in a phone interview from her home in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
White said the wreck left her with “an incomplete cervical injury level C9678. In other words, she has been in a wheelchair for 35 years.
Cynthia White was born Cynthia Vincent in August 1948, the daughter of the late Mary Sue and Bill “Cactus” Vincent. She graduated from Martin High School in 1966 and from Ole Miss in 1971 with a degree in speech and language pathology.
In a chapter titled “That Was Then,” White describes her dad as a “modern-day Daniel Boone.”
“He hunted everything, in-and-out of season. Several times he was asked to be a state game warden,” White writes. “He declined because he said he had broken every hunting law in the book and didn’t have the conscience to arrest others for doing what he had done, although he did agree to instruct hunter safety classes.”
In the memoir section of the book, she recalls her comrades in misadventure growing up in Martin and rural northwest Tennessee. She remembers her naïve reasoning that led to poor choices and her spunky journey of self-discovery after the crash that changed her life. The section is sprinkled with humorous personal anecdotes and tongue-and-cheek advice.
In one chapter, she talks about her first husband, who was once arrested by Columbian authorities during a drug run to the South American country.
The self-help section is an informative, how-to resource for living triumphantly with a disability. It includes resources for handy, practical products, equipment and assistive aides. It’s an overview for friends, family, caregivers and professionals about the ins-and-outs of disability.
Chapter titles in the self-help section include “Household Hints,” “Wonder Woman,” “A Kellogg’s Morning” and “Meals on Wheels,” among others.
For White, the book is just another step in life’s long, winding journey.
“In our 20s we don’t know anything,” she said in the phone interview. “In your 30s you will begin to put the pieces together. In your 40s you don’t care what anybody thinks, because you know what’s right for you.
“Then in your 50s, Wow, it’s like Star Wars — the projection through the universe.”
White started writing the book, along with four others, in her early 60s. She said the toughest part of the project was getting it published.
“It does take discipline to write and it does take patience and it does take a vision, but that’s my gift,” she said. “I have those things.”
It took several years to get the book published.
“My hope is that this book will serve you as a type of CliffsNotes for this course in your life,” White writes in the prologue, “not only for instruction on your way, but also to help heal the broken places and to inspire you to be your best you — happy, contended and fulfilled.”
Paperback and ebook editions are available through her website conversationswithcindy.com.
Brad Gaskins may be contacted by email at wcpeditor@frontiernet.net.
Published in The WCP 11.1.12

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