Nattie is often told she looks like Kristen Bell (the actress in the picture), but as a caretaker a compliment like that is too uncomfortable so Nattie generally responds by saying, “Yes, people say that I look like I could be her sister.”
Caretaker is not the only role a child might adopt. The “Princess” role is a role a pampered child might take. Princess is the role Nattie’s mother, Ingrid, took. She was the youngest child and only daughter of older parents who had worked hard but were coming into wealth selling parcels of their western Johnson City farm to developers. Ingrid’s parents wanted to give her everything she wanted so as a small child she came to expect just that. School came easy to her, especially reading, so the pattern of getting whatever she wanted continued. A pretty face, lustrous hair, and a slender swim suit model figure insured the pattern continued into adolescence. The pattern of getting whatever she wanted ended in her sophomore year at East Tennessee University where, as an English Literature major her love for reading, her good looks, and seductive charm were not enough. Enter Nathan Johnson, Nattie’s father, a twenty-five year old business supplies salesman whose boyish charm and gift of gab gave him an income well beyond his wildest dreams. Ingrid was a prize he wanted and he was a way out of the difficulties of college and a way back into getting whatever she wanted for her. They married, moved to Indiana, and within a year had Nattie.
Life was good for them. Nathan’s continued success hid his growing abuse of alcohol and Nattie proved to be an easy, non-demanding child for Ingrid. Four years after Nattie was born Kevin joined the family. Kevin, also a healthy non-demanding baby, did not challenge the immaturity of his and Nattie’s parents until pre-school when his curiosity and cleverness required more supervision than his parents were inclined to give. That’s when Nattie’s pattern as a caretaker began. Nathan’s drinking got worse, Ingrid grew more frustrated, and Kevin got harder to control so Nattie took on more and more of the parental responsibility of her family. The caretaker pattern solidified even more when Nattie was eleven when after a tragic traffic accident her father’s functional alcoholism became dysfunctional. At eleven Nattie became Kevin surrogate mother, Nasthan’s mother-confessor, and Ingrid’s confidant. The caretaker role cost her her childhood, but it set the stage for her to become the premier female Private Investigator in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.