Rather than preach to the reader about the virtues of valuing education and stable two-parent homes or the harm of psychological abuse or the bad decisions that many of the poor make, I relate a story. The tradition of using illustrative stories is an ancient one, a way of educating that Jesus himself adopted—most of us are more likely to understand forgiveness through hearing The Prodigal Son than by being preached to about our shortcomings. A central lesson of creative writing instruction is, "Show. Don’t tell." In this essay, I depict people and events that shaped me during my formative years in rural North Carolina.