caregiving, Chattahoochee Child, Family, Father's Day, Uncategorized

On Father’s Day, 2017…


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Angel Oak Tree, a gorgeous tree embracing Johns Island, SC

Dearest Readers:

Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s in the United States of America. Today is a special day, to give thanks and celebrate our fathers. From the moment we were born, most of us had a father. Maybe you have precious memories of your father, and perhaps there are some, like me, who have — shall I say — interesting, sometimes traumatic memories.

As a little girl, I looked up to my father, sometimes squealing for him to scoop me into his arms. However, at five-years-old, I saw a different side of my father, and I must say, he scared me. At the time, we were living in the projects in Atlanta, Georgia. I hated the projects! My mother loved to go outside and gossip with all of the nasty, ugly, snide women who lived in the projects. On one crisp Saturday morning, my mother was outside. Sitting by the curb, legs spread wide open, wearing a dress. I couldn’t understand why my mother always told me to keep my knees together when I sat, wearing a dress, when she didn’t practice what she preached, but I listened and I didn’t dare open my legs wide in a dress. On this morning, Mom was laughing with the women, talking about the neighbors, the fighting and the ugly gossip always shared when wicked women get together.

I was sitting on the back porch playing with my dolly when Daddy opened the back door, screaming for my mama. She ignored his call. I looked at my daddy, seeing an evil look in his eyes. He pointed his finger at me, shaking it furiously he said: “You go get your mother and tell her I want to speak with her.” He paused, and then he screamed at me, “NOW!”

“Yes Sir,” I said, placing my doll on the floor of the porch.

I ran as fast as my little legs could move. “Mama, Daddy wants you. He’s been calling for you.”

She laughed, scratched her inner thigh and looked at me. “Well, girls I guess I better jump and go to him. You all know how these men in the projects get if the little woman doesn’t obey.”

They laughed. As Mama rose, Daddy met her. He shook her shoulders. Words were expressed, but I can’t remember exactly what he said. She laughed, then thrust her arms at him. He pushed her, knocking her down on to the concrete next to the metal trash cans. Mama hit her head on the trash can and when she fell she bruised her knees.

The gossipy, wicked women rushed away.

I struggled to help my mama up. I looked at my daddy, standing tall. Anger seeping from his eyes. I put my hands on his legs and said, “Daddy move away. Mama’s coming. Don’t push her anymore. That was a mean thing to do.”

I suppose one could say, on that day, I became the referee for our family. I was the middle child, but I refused to tolerate abuse and every time I was around, watching my daddy and my mother fight so dreadfully, I remember squeezing into the middle of the fight, placing my arms out to make them move away. I would always say, “Daddy. Mama. Stop this fighting. If you want to beat someone, beat me!”

When I was fifteen, I stopped the final fight. I arrived home from school. Excited to share that I had a lead in a musical! I was so happy and proud of myself on that beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Walking inside the house, I heard shouting and I knew, another round of fights was on. I listened to the shouts, cursing and the horror. I knocked on the door, then I pushed it open. Mama was bending down, gasping for breath. Her face was blue. Daddy stood, watching her, holding a stack of mail.

“You two need to stop this,” I screamed. “Look at her. She’s having difficulty breathing. You need to stop this fighting before one of you kills the other. One of you needs to leave.”

Daddy threw the mail in my direction. “Look at this. Just look at what she did. She bought a diamond ring and didn’t tell me. Now they’re going to garnish my wages. We’ll have to file for bankruptcy. Just look at what she’s done.”

I glanced at one envelope stamped with an orange Past Due notice.

“The fighting needs to stop before one of you goes to prison,” I said.

Little did I know how things would change.

The next day, I walked home from school, trying to work things out in my head. I knew domestic abuse wasn’t healthy in a family situation. I felt helpless. I had no one to talk to. None of my relatives would understand and I was certain if I said anything to anyone, I would become the trouble maker of our family. I remember hearing people saying fighting in a marriage was “normal”… “A Family Matter…”

Opening the door to the house, my mama was sitting on the couch in tears.  She rushed at me. “This is all your fault. I hope you’re happy now. Your daddy left us today. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. I never want to hear his name again in this house and you are never allowed to talk to him, or mention his name again!”

The following Saturday, Mama moved us to Columbus, Georgia. Four children. One adult, living in a two bedroom mill village with our grandparents. To say we were crowded for space is an understatement.

I had to follow the rules:

Church on Sunday.

Wednesday night prayer meetings at church

No makeup (I broke that rule)

No rock n’ roll music, only Christian music

Go to school

Nothing more.

I hated this new life and rebelled. No, I never did drugs. Never tried alcohol. I rebelled by staying alone, taking walks, retreating to the Chattahoochee River. At school, I became a wallflower, refusing to try out for plays, musicals, or anything interesting. I wrote to my dad, letting him know I loved him.

Never do I really remember celebrating Father’s Day for my dad as a child. As a grown up, married with a child of my own, I chose to make Father’s Day special. I bought cards for my dad. When he visited us, he was different. I actually heard him laugh, and I watched him playing with my son. Gone from his demeanor was the anger, hatred, and abuse. Never did I hear my dad say anything ugly about our mother after their divorce. He was truly a changed man. No violence. No shouting. Just a kind, and loving man filled with Laughter and Happiness within himself.

In December, 1997, my beloved father became ill with esophageal cancer. Serving as his caregiver until his death on July 6, 1999, I truly saw a beautiful person within his demeanor. On one occasion, he thanked me for what I said on the last day before my parents separated. He admired my strength to serve as the referee. To my knowledge, no one within our family circle knew about the domestic “family matters” of our family.

As a writer, I’ve written many articles about domestic abuse. How it changes a family. How it paints a vivid, horrifying picture about marriage and I vowed to myself that no one would ever abuse me. I suppose I overlooked another side of domestic abuse – the verbal abuse, and for years, my husband who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] from Vietnam, would get into rages, shouting at me. Once, he shoved me and when he did, I fought back, standing firm to him, letting him know he had to stop his rage, or I would end the marriage.

I’m proud to say, we worked those issues out, and now, we do not scream, shout or verbally fight. Our home is a happy home. Father’s Day is always special. I give thanks to God for guiding me and giving me strength.

And so, on Father’s Day, 2017, I give thanks to God for all He has given me and my family. It is my wish for all of you reading this, to please take a moment to give your father a bit of special care and love on this Father’s Day. Although I am still sick with bronchial asthma, I will find the energy to make this a most special Father’s Day, to my dad in Heaven, and to my husband while he sleeps.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the fathers!

caregiving, Chattahoochee Child, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Uncategorized

Thinking of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Yes. I know, I’ve been a bit negligent with writing in my blog. If you recall, on March 7, 2017, I lost one of the loves of my life. My little Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. My life appeared to stop after losing him. I cried. Oh…How I cried. The tears were an endless, rushing ocean of tears I referred to as a tsunami.

My friends didn’t understand. Heck. I wasn’t certain I understood. I kept telling myself that I had to move on. After all, after the death of a loved one, life continues. The sun still shines. The rains pour. Bills are due. Life continues. But how? How could I learn to live without little Shake n Bake?

I do not have an answer to that question. I still called his name. I looked for him outside, resting on the corner of our lot, where he always rested to get his sunshine. He loved sunshine. I clapped my hands three times, so he would hear me and realize he needed to come inside, only he wasn’t there. I prayed for God to guide me and to ease my grief. I needed a sign and one morning, a fly flew into my coffee cup. Shakespeare knew me well enough to realize I wasn’t a bit of good to anyone without my second cup of coffee. On that morning, I picked up the coffee cup, ready to sip the second cup, only to find a fly floating in the cup of hot, fresh coffee.

I laughed! “Shakespeare,” I screamed! “You sent me a sign. Thank you. Thank you.” Tears rushed down my face again. Another torrential endless waterfall of fresh tears I could not stop.

I must explain. The water bowls for my dogs are strategically placed in the kitchen, bedroom and where I write. If Shakespeare was thirsty and something was in the water bowl, he refused to drink. He would place his paw in the bowl, attempting to remove a dead fly, or a bit of dirt. If that didn’t work, he would kick the bowl over, to let me know he wanted CLEAN water, not a dirty bowl!

So Shakespeare!

In four days, Shakespeare will be tucked safely inside my heart for three months. Yes. The tears are flowing again, and even though I am blessed with other dogs, I cannot stop these tears at times.

This week I’ve been super busy caring for my husband. He awoke on Wednesday with chills and fever. Knowing enough about medicine and health to understand that when one has chills there is normally an infection inside the body. I mentioned this to my husband. Of course, he grumbled, called in to work and stayed in bed. I decided it was best to ignore him. After all, I had planted the seed that he probably had an infection, or maybe…  he had pneumonia.

About 15 minutes later, he walked into where I was sitting at the computer. “I think I should go to ER.”

“That’s probably a good idea.”

Shutting my computer down, I changed clothes. Off we go to the infamous Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital, ER. No doubt, this day will not be productive for a writer.

We arrived at ER about 8:30, maybe a bit later. Checked in to ER and waited. Moments later, someone calls his name and we enter ER. Those of you who know what it is like to go to a VA hospital will understand just how long it takes to see doctors. That didn’t happen for us. The doctors arrived, checked him over, ordered tests, chest x-rays, blood work, etc…Etc! At lunch time (1 o’clock or so) Phil mentions he is hungry. The nurse (a wonderful, caring male nurse) mentioned he would order him some lunch. Phil suggests that I go to the cafeteria and get some lunch since I haven’t eaten either.

“Oh, no.” I said. “I remember how disastrous their salads were the last time we were here. I’ll be OK.”

When the lunch arrives, it is much to my surprise, lunch for two. I seem to recall that when Phil and I were chatting earlier about my going to the cafeteria, I mentioned they would bring him lunch, but the wives, or caregivers who were with the veteran were treated as second-class citizens. “They do not consider how we might feel or we might be hungry and hesitant to leave the area since our veteran is sick.”

Oops. Looks like my voice must’ve been heard I say quietly as I open the box to a hamburger steak, lightly covered with gravy. Well done, limpy vegetables and cold egg noodles, but what the heck. I’m hungry! Believe me, I’ll not complain. It was a most considerate thought for the nurse to order two lunches!

About 2pm, the doctor returns. The diagnosis, “a bit of pneumonia.” When he shares the diagnosis, I think to myself  — Is that like a little bit pregnant?  I remain quiet. Listening…

Today, Phil is resting still. Earlier, when I checked on him, he was coughing. How I pray this ‘bit of pnuemonia’ leaves him soon, and I pray I do not get it. I’ve had pneumonia three times as an adult and when I get it, I am sick for weeks.

And, so today, while at the computer, I attempt to write again. Something I haven’t done much lately. At times, I don’t feel like a writer anymore. I suppose I’ve allowed myself to be lazy about writing. I must change that behavior and get myself back to the busy-ness of writing.

For now, I must go make my infamous homemade waffles for Phil and I to share for breakfast, or maybe an early brunch.

I’ve made a promise to myself this week. A promise to write more on my blog and a promise to get the story of “Chattahoochee Child,” completed.

I simply must WRITE again! Maybe in memory of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway who always rested curled at my feet when I wrote. I still find my left foot moving ever so slowly next to his curled little warm body so I can rub him while writing. Only now…that precious little boy isn’t there. Will this grief ever leave? What can I do to make it leave me? I don’t have any answers, but my heart is so full of his love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Mother's Day, Uncategorized

Busy Lives…and Mother’s Day…


Dearest Readers:

Sunday, May 14, 2017 was Mother’s Day for the United States of America. Reportedly, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. I admit, my husband spoils me rotten every Mother’s Day. How I wish I could say my son does the same…but…he doesn’t. Apparently, he is ‘always busy’ and he ‘forgets it is Mother’s Day.’ My response when he calls me late in the early evening is a pleasant ‘thank you for remembering me,’ while inside I am curious IF he does the same to his wife, the mother of his teenage child.

One thing I’ve learned about grown-up children is how they choose to live and treat others when they are grown is NOT a reflection of how they were reared in their parent’s home.

Enough about that and about my son.

Since it was Mother’s Day, I requested dinner at Olive Garden Restaurant. I wanted to try their new manicotti entrée. Arriving at Olive Garden, we were told there was an hour to an hour-and-a-half wait. While I realize restaurants are swamped on Mother’s Day, I smiled pleasantly at the hostess, hoping it would not take us an hour just to get a table.

Sitting in the lobby, I watched people going in and going out. It seemed everyone had a Mother with them. Children. Grown children. Some were pushing walkers. Strollers. Rushing to get inside to a table to have a festive dinner at Olive Garden. How thankful I am that I can walk and move like I do without the assistance of a walker.

Sipping a glass of wine, I played with my phone, after punching one hour in to the timer. I was curious IF our wait would take that long. It did not.

Twenty-five minutes later, our name was called. We followed the hostess to the back of the restaurant. It was packed. Our server was a pretty woman with streaks of silver in her hair. She was serving about 20 tables. Many of the tables contained eight people or more. Across from us, I noticed an older woman. Her hair was short, kissed with snow. Her face, strained. No smile. Her eyes puffy. No reaction to anyone that looked her way. She appeared to be sitting alone. Two wine glasses were on the table. I waited a few minutes, still looking at her discreetly. I hoped someone would join her. No one did. Her entrée was served. She unfolded her napkin, placed her utensils in their proper setting. Forks on the left. Knife on the right. She picked up the fork closest to her and started eating. Still sitting alone. My heart broke. Why was this woman sitting all alone eating dinner?

After we ordered, our server returned with salad for Phil, Zuppa Toscana soup for me. My eyes glanced at the woman again. Still alone. No one to have a conversation with. No one to share Mother’s Day with. I kept wondering. If something happens to Phil in the future, will that lady be me sitting at a restaurant, all alone on Mother’s Day?

Probably! I tried to remember the last time my son and I had dinner together. Let’s just say, it was last year. His wife was not present. He and our grandson were eating at Red Lobster, and it wasn’t on Mother’s Day.

Our server returned to refresh our drinks – iced tea and water with lemon. Lots of lemon! I motioned for her to come closer.

“That table with the lady sitting alone, is she your table?”

“Yes.”

“Looking all over this area, she is the only woman sitting by herself on Mother’s Day. So sad.”

Phil looked at me, knowing me so well he could tell something was brewing inside my mind.

“Phil. Please don’t look now, but the woman is all alone. I think we should do something. We should pick up her tab.”

I was curious. Maybe she had family, and maybe her family lived away…or, maybe her family was ‘too busy’ like my son. Some people are so selfish.

Phil glanced at the woman. He approached her table, wishing her Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked him. A moment later, she wiped her eyes. What a sad Mother’s Day.

Our server rushed around the dining room, caring for her guests. I held up my finger. She approached us. “Since that lady is all alone, we want to pick up her tab. Can you arrange that?”

“Certainly.”

Our entrees arrived. I ordered the Olive Garden Tuscan Three Meat Manicotti. Phil, of course, being a creature of habit, ordered Fettucine Alfredo with shrimp. We chatted while eating, enjoying our dinners and our time together.

A few minutes later the lady sitting alone requested her check. The server told her the dinner was complimentary. She pointed in our direction.

She gathered her things, including a doggie bag and approached us.

“Thank you,” she said. Her voice trembled. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“It’s Mother’s Day. We wanted you to feel special.”

“I have family…” Her voice broke. Quickly, she walked away. I didn’t look back at her, but I could tell from her actions, she was about to break down.

I’ve always been a considerate, generous person, especially after marrying so young and building my life as an independent woman. Fortunately, Phil usually agrees with me that we should always “pay it forward.”

Mother’s Day was no different. Regardless what or where things happen within our lives, we believe we should always do something nice every day of our lives.

After dinner, we drove home. Arriving home as a voice mail was in the recording stage on our landline. The voice sounded familiar. Rushing to let the screaming dogs outside, I heard Phil chatting on the phone. Our son was talking to his dad and he wanted to speak with me.

Mother’s Day was coming to an end. When I took the phone, I heard my son and our grandson saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” Just as I predicted!

I thanked them both for thinking of me, chatted a few minutes and hung up. Yes, their lives were ‘busy’ and so are our lives. Heck. All lives lead busy lives. We must take a moment to appreciate life and to be kind to others. Happy Mother’s Day!

As for the lady sitting alone having her Mother’s Day dinner at Olive Garden, she remained in my thoughts all evening. I ached for her, but I felt proud that we ‘paid it forward’ on Mother’s Day. After all, no mother should be alone on Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Mother's Day, Uncategorized

Happy Mother’s Day, 2017


Dearest Readers:

Today is Sunday, May 14, 2017. A beautiful sunshiny day in Charleston, SC. Yesterday it rained torrential rains in the city. Today, the scent of fresh air, gardenias, Carolina Jasmine and other aromatic smells are everywhere. How I love the fresh crispness of a new day after a rain storm.

I would like to wish all the mother’s around the USA a joyous and Happy Mother’s Day. I hope your family will treat you with love and respect today while showering you with gratitude.

I have no idea if I will hear from my son on this day. Sometimes he phones…most times, he does not. If he calls, it will probably be later in the day, actually in the evening. Perhaps a voice mail will be left. Regardless, I have plans for today, so I will not sit by the phone. You are probably thinking he must live long distance. Actually, he lives in North Charleston. Less than 20 miles away. He will use the excuse of forgetting, or ‘he was busy’ – who knows…

So, mother’s of children, four-legged friends and family, may your Mother’s Day be wonderful. Wishing you all the best. I shall enjoy the frumpy, frolicking of my precious four-legged family members. No doubt Sir Hank, Prince Midnight Shadow, Sir Sandy Bear Sebastian, and little Toby will shower me with little kisses, toys for us to play with and lots of cuddle time. Sir Shakespeare Hemingway and precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus  shall be close, and missed buddies I will miss today on Mother’s Day!

How I miss those precious boys and I still burst into tears wishing I could hold them close — just one more time!

Family, Uncategorized

Happy Easter 2017


Dearest Readers:

April 16, 2017 – Easter. Today is a beautiful, sunshiny day in Charleston, SC. A glorious day to give thanks, and to share religions around the world.

As a little girl, my family would go to church with our grandparents at Beallwood Assembly of God Church, Columbus, GA. Sitting in the church, listening to the sermon and singing, everyone compared their ‘Easter outfits.’ My grandparents always made certain we (the four girls in the family) had new clothing and sparkling new shoes. My Gramma insisted, even though she did not buy a new dress for herself. Gramma worked at the Bibb Mill, so money was always tight. She was her happiest looking at us, all looking our ‘Sunday Best,’ for church and the Easter dinner after church. As a little girl, I insisted to my grandmother. ‘My shoes must have a heel.’ Gramma bought me beautiful French pumps. Oh, how I loved them. On Easter Sunday, I pranced around in those shining white shoes with a pretty white bow and French pumps, and my new dress, parading around like a pageant queen so everybody in church would notice me. I would spin around and around. My hair was styled in a French twist and a bow, matching my shoes. Oh…yes…I was something fancy in my Easter Sunday Best! Easter was a special time to enjoy the holiday and the fun of getting new clothes and the beginning of my lifetime passion of high heels!

But…Easter is MORE than a holiday. MORE than new shoes and clothing. So Much More!

For me, Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. A time to give thanks and start life anew. According to the website: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-easter-700772 “Christians believe, according to Scripture,  Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.”

I no longer get a new, fancy dress or heels for Easter. Nor do I get in the social aspect of who is wearing the prettiest shoes, the highest heels, or, the fanciest ‘bonnet.’ I give thanks that Easter is a time to be thankful that Jesus came back to life three days after his death. Every year at Easter I take time to appreciate the religion and faith my grandmother taught me, especially her belief that God listens to us and He is always there for us. Gramma had the gift of visions. When she passed, I am convinced she shared that gift with me. Some of my friends probably think I am weird since I have visions, but for me, I am thankful! Gramma is still inside of my heart and I give thanks to God for knowing such a devoted grandmother.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina now, I went back to Columbus, GA a few years ago, driving by the church, Beallwood Assembly of God. When I drove by, I did not recognize the church. Abandoned, needing many repairs, no longer named Beallwood Assembly of God, I realized some things never stay the same. Suddenly I felt an emptiness I didn’t anticipate.

As a young girl, my family placed our roots in that church. Footprints. Tears. Memories. All gone.

Today, I like to give thanks for the foundation for religion and faith I discovered at Beallwood. Even as a rebellious teenager, angry that my parents were divorcing, I found a bit of new life and thankfulness at that church. I listened to the minister, recognizing that some of his sermons were directed right at me. Just how did he know I needed his sermons? Was God talking to him…telling Brother Bacon I was a bad girl who was angry and perplexed that my life was falling apart simply because my parents were divorcing?

I suppose I will never know. My parents are gone now. My mother and I rarely spoke before she died of a stroke, and a few other questionable situations. My father and I were extremely close and I give thanks every day that I survived my childhood.

Easter is a special time, even if I honor and celebrate it for different reasons now. I still have a strong faith and I know God listens to me and He loves me. I do not rush out to buy an ‘Easter outfit,’ nor do I purchase a fancy Easter bonnet. I cook a nice Easter dinner. This year, I am baking a ham. Mashed potatoes. Fresh sautéed green beans and a pineapple casserole. Dessert is a home baked triple chocolate cake.

It is sad my son and his family will not be with us. There is a long story there, not to be published here on my blog. I will wish them “Happy Easter,” and I will pray that one day their eyes will open to recognize nothing is more important than family.

So, dearest Readers, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Easter. May you enjoy this beautiful day and please remember to thank God for your life…your family…and your health.

Happy Easter!

 

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Uncategorized

Happy 14th Birthday, My Love…


Dearest Readers:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway would be 14-years-old. Unfortunately, we had to make a decision to let him go on March 7, 2017. Truly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I ache for him. I cry…and cry…and CRY! I am so lost without him, even though I have four dogs to care for and to love now.

Shakespeare was a most loving, interesting and funny dog. In my heart, he wasn’t a dog, but a family member. A close friend. He watched me and he knew my actions. When he wanted to take a walk, he would slap at the leashes hanging nearby. When he wanted Clean Water, he would take his right paw and scratch at the water bowl — just to let me know he was not drinking dirty water. If the floor in the kitchen was sandy, or a bit soiled, he refused to eat his food until I cleaned the area.

Now that he is gone, I check the water bowls daily, just to make certain they are clean and not empty.

The other day while I rested, I felt something tap my hip three times. I looked over – to rub Shakespeare, only I could not find him. Yes, he is here in spirit. If only I could see him one more time.

A few weeks after he left us, I noticed a few flies in my writing area. I poured another cup of coffee, curious as to why I had so many flies flying around my home. I wrote an email, reaching for my coffee cup. Much to my surprise, there was a fly floating in my coffee.

I thought of Shakespeare, remembering other times when he was younger when he refused to drink from his water bowl simply because there was a fly in it. Shakespeare nudged my leg. That was his way of letting me know something needed attention. I remember speaking to him, asking him what he wanted. When he moved towards the water bowl, he glanced at it, and stared at me, as if to say, “Would you please clean my water bowl? I do not like dirty water, or anything floating in my water bowl.”

For weeks, I prayed God would give me a sign that Shakespeare was in Heaven. Recognizing the symbolism of a fly in my coffee cup was absolutely perfect. Only Shakespeare would know the significance of the fly in my coffee cup. Shakespeare communicated to me telling me he was all right and he understands why he had to leave us. One month and six days after he passed, I still cry. I still wish to hold him close. To take him for a walk…and to make certain he was nearby.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate his 14th birthday in memory of him. My way of letting him know how special he was to me. Now and forever, I will always love you, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

Happy 14th birthday, my precious.

038

Family, Friendship, Uncategorized

My Dearest Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Today is Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Exactly three weeks ago today, my husband and I made the decision to let our precious almost 14-year-old mini schnauzer leave us to go home to Heaven. How I miss that precious little boy. He was my friend. My dearest and most trusting friend.

Shakespeare joined our family in May 2003. He was six weeks old when we brought him home. I remember him resting in my arms, crawling up to rest on my chest. One of his favorite places to rest was either on a pillow, or my chest. How I wish I could cradle him in my arms just one more time.

I cannot stop crying. The tsunami of grief overtakes me as a rush of fresh tears pour from my eyes. Every morning, I still feel his presence in the bed. He loved to sleep next to my right hip. During the day, he followed me every where I went. When I rehearsed a new song, Shakespeare would sit up, listening to me, and when I sat down next to him, he touched me with his left leg. Then, he would crawl into my legs, crossed on the floor and rest as I petted him.

I am a bit surprised at how depressed and alone I feel after letting him go. Almost five years ago, we had to make the same decision for Prince Marmaduke Shamus. After that tsunami of grief, I told myself I would not permit myself to grieve in such a desperate way again, but here I am — crying until my heart breaks over and over again.

My other boys just heard me bursting into another throbbing heartbreak. Prince Midnight Shadow rushed to my side, whining, not understanding. Sandy Bear Sebastian is curled on the right side of my foot, next to the pillow Shakespeare loved. After Shakespeare died, Sandy Bear kept looking all over the house, rushing to look behind his dad’s chair. No. Shakespeare isn’t here. Maybe he’s on the pillow. No. No Shakespeare.

He is still looking for him. After he died, Sandy Bear became depressed and when he heard me crying, he wanted more attention. He didn’t understand. Funny. Neither do I. I’ve talked to Sandy Bear letting him know Shakespeare is not visual in our house, but he is still here in spirit.

Isn’t that how the loss of a loved one is? One minute, you are with them, maybe laughing or crying, and in the next minute — POOF! The person is gone – forever.

I suppose I do not understand death, nor do I understand why animals cannot live longer. They come into our lives, steal our hearts and souls and in their later years, we realize they are preparing to leave us…just like Shakespeare was.

He was not eating regularly. How I wish I had documented the days he did not eat, but I didn’t. On an average, probably two days each week he refused any food, including treats.

At his biggest, Shakespeare weighed 34 pounds. The vet suggested giving him green beans and cutting his food back a bit. It worked. Shakespeare loved green beans and his weight decreased to a healthy 26 pounds. At Christmas of 2016, I noticed he was easier to lift. He did not like us to pick him up. He was extremely independent and wanted only to be picked up on his terms. He was getting skinny. In February, I could feel his ribs.

I planned to take him to the vet, but I was horrified my vet would say, “if he was my dog, I’d let him go.”

I wasn’t ready. Selfish and horrified over losing him, I could not let him go. Not during the holidays.

Three weeks ago, I faced the reality that he was not getting better, only weaker with each day. He was telling me it was time to leave since he was lethargic, not eating, and only moving around when I touched him to go outside. His spirit was gone. Energy – non – existent. I kept telling myself tomorrow he would be better. He only got weaker.

Today, I am still crying an ocean of tears. My body shakes and my heart feels empty. Just how do I learn to let go and walk thru this grief. I miss my little Shake n Bake so much. No, I will not get another animal. I still have four who need me.

Meanwhile, I must make peace with myself. In memory of my precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I wish I could feel at peace over the decision we had to make. I suppose I do not understand how we can make those decisions for animals, but not humans.

A few days ago, after praying for a sign that Shakespeare was at peace, a fly flew into my cup of coffee. I noticed a few flies flying around my windows inside, but I didn’t think anything about them with exception they are such pests. When I discovered a fly floating in my coffee, I realized it was a sign from him. Shakespeare watched me every morning, recognizing one of my first morning rituals was to get a cup of coffee and sit at my writing desk with it. He knew coffee would get me moving, and he knew I would recognize his message, especially after he let me know he would not drink his water IF it was dirty, or had a fly. Over the years, he pawed at his water bowl many times. His actions told me he only wanted clean water. Shakespeare was great at communicating without saying anything. His actions said so much. The flies inside my house are now gone. Weird? Perhaps! A sign from Shakespeare – most definitely!

I am a bit relieved that he sent me a message. If only I could scoop him up in my arms and sing to him again. My little precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, I will love you always. I will never forget you, and I know one day, we will be reunited.

Uncategorized

Communicating With Shakespeare


Dearest Readers:

I suppose some of you will think I’ve lost my mind. As my closest friends know, I have visions and a strong belief in God. My grandmother had the gift of visions. After she passed away, that gift found me. I had visions of men dressed all in black, attacking planes – two days before 9-11. The early morning hours of July 6, 1999, [3:45 am] I dreamed my dad was dying at the nursing home. He passed away on that date at 5:45 pm. When my husband was in Vietnam, I dreamed visions of him in a fight with the VC. Two days before my grandfather passed away, I dreamed of his death. All of these visions were true.
Since losing Sir Shakespeare Hemingway two weeks ago, I’ve been praying for a sign. A sign or vision that he understood and that he knew his time with us was over since he was so terribly sick. A sign from him for love and acceptance.
When Shakespeare was healthy and he needed water in the bowl, if the bowl was empty, he would scratch at it, letting me know he needed water in the bowl. Another silly, picky thing he would do with his water bowl is — if the bowl was a bit soiled, or If there was a fly resting inside the bowl, he refused to drink the water. He would paw at the bowl, pushing it into view. This was his way of letting me know he wanted fresh water.
Occasionally, we have flies in the house. This morning (and it is the first morning EVER that this has happened), I have my coffee cup on my desk. When I went to drink it, I saw a fly in my coffee cup!
Strange? Perhaps. Shakespeare is communicating with me! Thank you, Shakespeare. I love you and miss you more than words can ever say.
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Family, Friendship, Uncategorized

Learning To Walk Through Grief


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Dearest Readers:

Exactly two weeks ago today, I had to say goodbye to sweet, precious almost 14-year-old Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. While writing this, tears gush from my eyes. How I miss that precious little mini-schnauzer, my best friend who loved for me to rub his ears.

If you’ve never had to make the decision to say goodbye to your precious four-legged friends, you might not understand the tsunami of tears I’ve shed, along with the aching break of my heart.

People say I’m too sensitive. Tender hearted. He’s just a dog. Get over it. To them, I say – you are not my friend. You do not understand. Shakespeare was truly a member of my family. We took walks together, until Prince Marmaduke Shamus passed away in 2012. I continued walking Shakespeare after losing Shamey-Pooh…just not on a regular basis.

That was my mistake. Selfish and painful. Each time I attempted to walk after his loss, I missed Shamus so much. Now that I’ve lost Shakespeare I still have four-legged friends. I will take them for walks, in memory of sweet Shakespeare Hemingway, my little “Shake n Bake,” and I will move on. I haven’t a clue when the tsunami of tears will leave. I still feel Shakespeare’s presence. The other night, I heard a sigh. His spirit was here.

Earlier today, I felt something touch my leg, just like Shakespeare would do. Another tsunami of tears, and I struggled to breathe. At home, I’m finding myself a bit short of breath, so today, I forced myself to go away for a bit. I went shopping, or maybe I should say window shopping. I dropped by Petco, bursting into tears again. I rushed back home. Lately, I’m a hermit, lounging all day in pajamas. Truly not the person I desire to be.

I know I must walk through the grief, just like I did with Shamey-Pooh. Now, the question is how to walk through the grief.

As a writer, I should know how to handle myself during grief. I’ve lost many loved ones, including my dad in 1999 after a terminal illness. Losing Shakespeare is different. He depended on me and he loved me unconditionally. We shared 13 beautiful years together. I am so thankful for that and for how he always greeted me when I came home from trips or work. Rushing to be first, he leaped towards me, barking with excitement and happiness. The last few months of his life, he didn’t respond unless I clapped my hands three times. There were many times he refused to eat for an entire day. In 2015, he weighed 27.5 pounds. On the day he left, his weight was 17.6, losing 10 pounds in less than two years.

Yes, I will ache. My heart will burst with this indescribable pain, and the tsunami of tears will gush from my eyes. Tomorrow, I must attempt to take steps to walk through this grief. I have a new leash to use for Shadow, my giant schnauzer. Perhaps tomorrow will be a good day to walk – In Memory of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I love you and miss you!

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Family, Rescuing Schnauzers, Uncategorized

In Memory Of – Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


Dearest Readers:

This week has been such a dreadful, sad week for me. Why? Most of you who read my blog regularly will know what an advocate I am for animals. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, our family had to say goodbye to precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

035Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, April 11, 2003 – March 7, 2017

Oh how I remember the day he was born, April 11, 2003. We received a phone call letting us know we could drop by at our convenience to select the puppy we wanted. Shakespeare was nicknamed at birth as Piglet, since he was the largest puppy. That evening, Phil and I drove to the home to look at the new puppies. I touched each pup, rubbing ears, and whispering gently to each. When I touched Shakespeare (Piglet) and rubbed his ear, he responded with a moan! I knew Piglet would be our puppy. I smiled, hugged him a bit and said, “This is our pup. Hello Shakespeare Hemingway.”

Everyone laughed. “His name is a big as he is,” their young daughter said. “In six weeks you can take him home.”

I was so excited. I counted down the weeks, recording them in my calendar. On May 23, 2003, Shakespeare came home with us. He curled his little body on my chest and went to sleep as I rubbed his ears.

Whenever he got upset, felt badly or just wanted a bit of affection, he would come to me wanting me to rub his ears. He became close friends with our oldest giant schnauzer, Prince Marmaduke Shamus. They romped and played outside, enjoyed boat rides and walks. Shakespeare LOVED walking. Whenever he passed by the area where the leashes hung, he would jump up and hit a leash, as if to say, “Hey Mom. It’s time for us to take a walk.”

Walking continued until we lost Shamus on May 2, 2012. Shakespeare loved being leader of the pack. He rushed ahead every time we walked. Over the years, Shakespeare loved to cuddle on my hip in bed. If I asked him to move so I could sleep, he groaned and when I fell back to sleep, he attached to me again.

Growing into a husky, mini-schnauzer size, Shakespeare loved to eat. At dinner time, he would stand under our kitchen table, knowing we would not allow him to beg for food, but he was nearby IF we gave him a bite. He grew to be 30 pounds. Once, while at his wellness check-up, our veterinarian suggested we cut back on his food a bit and give him green beans.

“Oh…He loves green beans!”

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Our giant – Prince Marmaduke Shamus, lived with us from June 11,. 2001 – May 2, 2012

and Shakespeare, enjoying a walk

Every day with Shakespeare was a new experience. He would jump up to play, run around to play chase, and at Christmas time, he sniffed all the gifts until he found the gift wrapped doggie cookies. When he found it, he tore the gift wrap and chewed down, eating all of the cookies. When it was empty, he carried the empty container to me, as if to say, “May I have some more!” Every crumb was gone!

A few years ago, maybe in 2008, I started singing again. One morning, I was so wrapped up with a song, I didn’t notice Shakespeare until he tapped me with his paw. He was sitting up, listening to me singing, as if I was only singing to him. So, I sat down next to him and sang. When my husband came into the room, he watched us and said, “See, Shakespeare loves to hear you sing.”

Every time I sang after that day, I made certain to sing to Shakespeare.

We were bonded as one. Wherever I would go, Shakespeare wanted to go. When I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and work on my tan, Shakespeare followed. He would lie next to me on the ground, or he would jump on my chest. Silly boy!

He was independent. Charming. Trusting. Affectionate, and so funny! Shakespeare loved to spend time at home; however, when we left him in the breakfast room with the other dogs, if we failed to leave a light on and we arrived home in the dark, we could hear Shakespeare chewing us out as soon as we got out of the car. He would yelp at his highest pitch, as if he was saying to us: “How dare you to leave me in the dark. You know I don’t like the dark, and even if I am resting with the other dogs, I do not feel safe in the dark. DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE DARK AGAIN!”

I found a small vanity lamp, placing it in the breakfast room. Shakespeare would not be left in the dark again!

Approaching his senior years, he began losing weight, even though he was eating. The vets said he was OK. In 2015, his wellness check-up revealed he had lost a bit of weight. Even though he was husky, he was healthy. In September, 2016, after he was groomed, I noticed he was getting thin. In November, he would not eat occasionally. He didn’t want treats, nor did he want to play with Prince Midnight Shadow.

We cuddled a lot. His favorite spot was to be cuddled in a ball, next to my feet while I wrote. Often, I would touch him and rub him with my foot, and he moaned.

Two weeks ago, I noticed when he went outside to pee, he squatted. He could not lift his rear legs and when I picked him up, sometimes he would yelp. Shakespeare was quickly fading away.

I remembered when Shamus got so ill in May 2012. His wellness check-up was in February. He got a good report. All was fine. Everything changed in May. He would lie on the floor, his breathing was a bit too rapid and he flopped down on the ground after being outside. His stomach was puffy. I called the vet. That afternoon, I was totally unprepared for what we needed to do. I thought Shamus had another stomach blockage, only this time, it was much worse. He was bleeding internally. The vet suspected a tumor on his spleen but the x-rays could not reveal what was so wrong since there was so much blood. The vet looked at me. “I think it’s time to let him go,” she said. “If I do a blood transfusion and surgery, he will probably bleed out.”

How could I make that decision?  I phoned my husband. He rushed to my side, and we agreed that since he was terminal, letting him go would be the only humane thing to do. And so we said our goodbyes. Before the first injection, I sang to him. Choking and almost hysterical, my voice trembled. “I love you, Shamus. I love you so much my precious Shamey-Pooh.” I did not stay with him for the final injection. How I wish I did.

Since November, I’ve debated a thousand times to myself about making that same decision for Shakespeare, my little “Shake n Bake.” I watched him losing more weight. Not eating at times, and walking around only when he had to. Occasionally, he would play with Shadow, the giant we rescued six weeks after losing Shamey-Pooh. I told myself IF he goes without food for two days, it was time.

I knew Shakespeare needed to go to the vet, but I was horrified that I would hear again those horrifying words, “I think it’s time to let him go.”

I wasn’t ready! How could I make that decision again? If it was time to say goodbye to Shakespeare, I did not want to make that decision. In November, I made lists of the pros and cons for Shakespeare. Yes, he occasionally played with Shadow. Yes, he ate – just not every day. I realized he was getting thinner. And thinner.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, I could feel all of his ribs and his backbone. He would not eat. He didn’t eat on Monday either. It had been two days since he ate anything.

I made another list:

Is Shakespeare eating? Not on a regular basis.

Was he drinking water? Although I watched him, he didn’t appear to walk towards the water bowl.

Is he walking?  Did he get up to go outside? Only IF I coaxed him to go. He wasn’t interested in walking, even if I shook the leashes.

He was a bit hard of hearing and when he went outside, he would not come inside unless he heard me clapping my hands. When he did, he would slowly get up from his corner of the fence and come inside. Sometimes, he flopped down and I would get him. Although he did not like to be picked up, I realized I was carrying him more than he was walking.

Is he playing?  No. He would not play with me, or with Shadow. All he wanted to do was to flop down and sleep.

Was he enjoying anything? No. Not even a treat.

Did he stand at the gate by the kitchen watching me cook? No. Not now.

Tuesday morning, I came to the reality it was time — time to let Shakespeare go home.

“But he is at home,” I argued with myself.

The truth was he was shutting down. He was letting go. He was in pain and he was miserable.

I spoke with him, brushing his fur back so I could see his eyes. His eyes were glassy and lifeless.

I called the vet, telling them we thought it was time to let Shakespeare go, but I wanted to see the vet, have him check him over and let me know what he would do, if this was his family member.

My vet has a wonderful demeanor with animals. He greeted Shakespeare and checked him over. A few minutes later he said he suspected Shakespeare was in kidney failure. He wasn’t eating properly and was almost anorexic. He was basically lifeless. Probably lingering on because of us.

Then the vet shocked me, telling me that he had to make the same decision in February and allow his mutt to die with dignity.

Although I realized we were making the same decision, my heart is so broken I cannot stop the tears. A tsunami of tears rushes at me and I cannot fight back. I feel such emptiness. I’ve only slept a few hours every night since we lost Shakespeare. I feel guilt, and I have doubts that we made the right decision. While I rested yesterday morning, I felt something touch my hip. I placed my hand there to rub Shakespeare, only to realize he wasn’t there. Maybe his spirit was connecting with me.

Sudden thoughts entered my mind. Shakespeare was communicating with me. He told me he appreciated the loving home we gave him, and he appreciated that we were letting him go with dignity. He reminded me that he will always be with us in spirit, just like Shamus. He said he could move easier now, but he did miss us. He wanted to know if we could welcome him as a spirit. I patted my hip, talking to him, letting him know we still loved him and we missed him, but we were happy he wanted to return in spirit form. Yesterday afternoon, I heard Shakespeare barking. This morning, I imagined him snoring, and I moved my leg to touch him, only he wasn’t there.

Yes, I miss him, and while writing this another tsunami of tears attack me once again. Deep inside, I know I must go on. Now we have four dogs as family members. I am certain one day, I will probably adopt a rescue, but for now, I will focus on the needs of Shadow, Hank, Sandy Bear and Toby. Believe me, they expect a lot of attention.

Rest in peace my dear, precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Run and play with Prince Marmaduke Shamus and please remain the spirit I so desperately need. You are resting on our mantle, next to Shamus. I love you and will always love you, my silly, Adorable Shake n Bake!

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Shakespeare, as a puppy, playing with his favorite toy.