January 28, Debbie Hallstead

A Bed of My Own

Being the oldest of six siblings in the 1950s and living in an old farmhouse in rural Franklin County, Virginia, I never really thought at the time about how meager our lifestyle was. A vivid memory comes to mind…six siblings sharing one full-size bed with three sleeping oriented toward the headboard and the other three sleeping with heads at the footboard.

I don’t know why that memory stands out in my mind, but perhaps it has to do with how far I feel I’ve come since those childhood days.

Living at an orphanage from ages 10 to 18 wasn’t so bad. I was scared, but I also remember feeling relieved to be there. I was thankful for indoor plumbing, three meals a day, more than one pair of shoes and two dresses, and – best of all –  I was happy to have a bed all to myself. That seemed like such a luxury.

I am thankful for the director of the orphanage who, at that time, cared for and managed over 200 children. At age 16, he heard that I had a job as a lifeguard at a local public pool within walking distance of the home. He encouraged me to open a checking account in my name with the money I earned.

To this day, I will always be grateful for that advice because I learned early on how to manage a checking account, budget my spending, and make financial plans. I actually used the money I saved from working those summers as spending money during each year of college. Although it was hard, I always managed to make that money last and was proud that I actually accomplished my goal.

I am grateful for many things in life. Faith is number one, but after that, I am most grateful for my college degree. This has been the foundation for the great jobs I’ve been lucky enough to acquire – including the best one ever, my current staff position here at Wake Forest University. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would make the journey from Franklin County to Wake Forest.

The contrast between where I started and where I have arrived is great. You might say that is why I feel so blessed to go home at the end of the day and sleep in a king-size bed, a bed all my own.

–Debbie Hallstead

Winston-Salem, North Carolina


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