My name is Leslie Drake and I am a single mom to a wonderful son, Kane. In order to tell our story I have to go back a bit. On November 21, 2010, my dad, Tommy Drake aka Paw Paw, died suddenly. He was a truly remarkable man, unselfish in every way, and an absolute example of who a father and husband should be. In the midst of an already heartbreaking time, his death was especially devastating. He was the only real father figure Kane had ever known and they were very close. Even though we were usually hundreds of miles apart, my dad called Kane weekly and when we visited, they were two peas in a pod. Fast forward to a year later and the grief was still fresh. My mom, crippled with losing her best friend and husband of 35 years and still recuperating from battling colon cancer, was losing the home she had shared with my dad for 30 years. Desperate to be close to my family, I made the impulse decision to move to Florida where my mother and sister lived. On the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, we packed up and left behind the tiny coastal town in North Carolina we had called home for 10 years and headed to Florida.
When we arrived in Florida I had big plans. I would paint my heart out while looking for employment and try to sell my paintings in galleries and online. Problem was I couldn’t find a job and I was utterly frozen in fear at the thought of showing my artwork. Can’t exactly make my way as an artist if I’m afraid to even show it! I became so depressed I stopped painting entirely. Kane missed his friends, had a very hard time adjusting to his new school, and desperately wished to return home to North Carolina. His grades fell rapidly and for a moment there was a fear he’d have to repeat the 8th grade. He was miserable, I was miserable and I knew I had made a colossal mistake in moving my son 700 miles away from his friends and all that he knew after already losing his Paw Paw and after experiencing several other heartbreaks. I finally found a part-time job but didn’t even earn enough to cover our monthly rent. What money we had quickly ran out. With a heavy heart, we were forced to pack up and move to Georgia where we are currently staying with a family member.
While trying to figure out some way to get us out of this mess, I came across this site. For the first time I felt an inkling of hope. Maybe, just maybe, this is my chance to right my wrongs. Doing this doesn’t come easily. I am a very private person, a bit of a loner, and have suffered from anxiety for most of my adult life. My anxiety has stopped me from fully living my life in many aspects, most especially in following my dreams. This is the first time I’ve truly shown my artwork to the world and my heart races at just the thought. I guess it’s like revealing little bits of my soul. But for the sake of my son, it’s time to push my anxiety away, face the crushing fear that’s held me for far too long, and with a hope and a prayer, chase my dreams. If this works or at least inches us closer to returning home to NC, it will all be worth it.