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.

Chattahoochee Child, Family, Uncategorized

Chattahoochee Child – Excerpt


Over the years, the expression “Blood is thicker than water,” gave me a new understanding about that fictitious statement. If the blood within my family circle as a child was thicker than water, I recognized our biological blood never existed.

            Savannah, my disabled sister, was always described as the least attractive and illiterate family member. When she was born, she was diagnosed with Symbrachydactyly, a condition referred to as webbed fingers. As she grew older, she found ways to use the condition to her advantage. Her right thumb refused to grow. Kids at school laughed at her and I was reminded not to hit her, or mistreat her because she was the damaged baby of our home. She would not reach the growth stature of other family members, and she would always suffer due to her disability. Violence wasn’t in my nature, so I never hit or shoved Savannah. On the other hand, Savannah learned to push, slap and shove me, simply because she was damaged goods, and she knew she could get away with any misbehavior, even though she was the oldest, not the baby.

            When she was a teenager, she excused her cruel, violent behaviors due to her not liking me and her little, undeveloped thumb.

            “You always think you’re prettier and better than me,” she spat.

            Smug inside myself, I laughed. “That’s where you’re mistaken, Savannah.”

            Pausing, I waited for her attack. “I don’t think I’m prettier than you, or better than you. I KNOW I’m both. I’m more popular than you with the boys and I have more friends. My grades in school are much better than your grades. So, dear sister – you are dead wrong about me!”

            Yes, I could’ve lowered my standards to her level and reminded her she was a bit ‘afflicted’ due to her ‘disabilities’ but I chose not to be the damaged goods falling from the apple tree.

            Now, as an adult, Savannah practiced violence constantly. When I visited, she looked at me, smug and ugly. “You still think you’re so much better than me. Look at you. Dressed in high heels and fine clothes. Just who the Hell do you think you are?”

            Choosing to ignore her, I walked away. She rushed after me, hitting me with a ruler on my back. I spun around.

            “I could do some real damage to you, Savannah, with my high heels. You do realize high heels are a good weapon. If you hit me again, I’ll call the police. I’ll have you arrested. I’ll not lower my standards to violence even though we grew up in a violent home. Obviously, you chose to walk in your mother’s shoes.”

            “Bitch. I can do whatever I want. I’m your sister.”

            “Blood only,” I spat. “You’re nothing to me.”

            Our mother met us at the door. “Just why did you come home to start fighting with your sister?” She asked.

            “I came home to make peace, not argue with her, or with you. She started this attack, not me. Obviously we can never make peace. Every time I see Savannah all she wants to do is to fight with me. I am nothing like either of you. I chose to break the mold.”

            I spun on my heels and headed to the door. Savannah rushed ahead of me.

            “Bitch. You’re not leaving until I’m done with you.” Her hand brushed my face hard, stinging like a fire or a bee sting. She shoved me, knocking me down.

            Gracefully, I stood up, brushing the dust and filth from my clothing. I smiled. “I’m leaving now. If you hit me again, I’ll call the cops.”

            “Bitch. You ain’t calling no body.”

            I pushed her away, rushing out the door.

My mother rushed to me. “I guess you’re leaving now.”

Curling my lips with a self-assured smile, I whispered. “I am leaving. I’m done with all of you. You’ll never hear from me again.”

            “Before you leave, could you give me some money? I need to buy some groceries.”

            I shook my head. “Mother, you are absolutely an unbelievable human being. I’ll not give you anything ever again. Goodbye.”

            I rushed to my car. Driving away I refused to look back, or to wave bye to the biological family I refused to become.

Chattahoochee Child, Domestic Abuse, Family, Uncategorized

Domestic Abuse — “A Family Matter”


Dearest Readers:

Below is an excerpt from “Chattahoochee Child.”

A FAMILY MATTER…

Domestic Violence…Domestic Abuse… Regardless what it is called, it is truly a vicious monster. A wild, destructive monster that roars with such anger and turbulence I vowed never to allow it to knock at my door as a grown up. There were times I felt domestic violence knocking at my door, especially whenever Garrett felt threatened by his green eyed monster of jealousy. At times I was horrified of my husband, especially on one occasion when we were fighting most of the day. He was in one of his PTSD rages, shouting at me, raising his fist, threatening, and when his anger got the best of him, he thrust his fist through the doorway of the hall. I jumped back.

“Was that directed at me?” I asked him, rubbing my face.

He smirked. “No. I’d never hit you.”

I raised a manicured finger at him. “If you ever hit me, our marriage will end. IMMEDIATELY. Domestic violence is something I will never forgive.”

Garrett rubbed his fist. “Whatever,” he said, walking away.

In my marriage I was blind sighted to domestic violence. I made excuses. He didn’t mean to swing at me. He didn’t mean to squeeze my arm so tightly, he left a bruise. I smiled at the wrong person. Garrett just doesn’t understand. I LOVE getting attention. He will never hurt me. It’s because he loves me so much… Always forgiving Garrett’s jealous rages, I tolerated his verbal abuse. Excusing his quick, hot temper as another rage from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I apologized for making him angry. Whenever men looked my way, I quickly glanced away. I did not want Garrett to lose his temper, or shout at me. I closed myself inside my home, afraid that if he called and I wasn’t home, he would retaliate with another shouting match.

Domestic violence I knew much about as a child, although at the time it did not have the title of domestic abuse or violence. It was labeled a “family matter…” It’s just the way marriage is… Shunned…Never mentioned. Ignored! As a married woman, never did I consider that my husband might become violent, and on the day that he thrust his fist through the door, I felt the fear that a victim of domestic violence fears and I promised myself that I would not become the next victim.

At the age of five-years-old, I saw domestic violence for the first time. My mother was outside, gossiping with neighborhood women at Joel Chandler Harris Homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I was inside our apartment playing with my doll babies when I heard my daddy shouting, calling in a harsh voice for my mother. I screamed at him, “Daddy, she’s outside talking to the neighbors.”

“Go get her.” My daddy demanded.

I rushed outside. “Mommy. Daddy wants you inside.”

My mother laughed. “He can come get me,” she said. One of the five women she was gossiping with snickered. “Guess you better get inside. Gotta keep the ruler of the house happy!” All of the women roared in unison.

Living in a housing project, the women were not exactly the Donna Reed style of women, dressed in fine clothing and high heels. My mother wore bed room slippers and a dirty housecoat. No makeup or lipstick. Two of the women were dressed in raggedy jeans and T-shirts. Their hair was messy and they smelled like dirty ashtrays. I decided on that date that I would always do my best to look my best – to groom myself like a woman and wear makeup and have my hair styled. Never did I want to be ‘frumpy’ or a plain Jane.

“Mommy,” I said, my voice rising a bit. “Daddy’s gonna get angry.”

The back door closed. My daddy rushed outside, waving his fist, shouting.

“Sa-rah!” He roared. “You get in here now.”

My mother did not move. Daddy rushed to her, grabbing her arm. She pushed away from him and he shoved her, knocking her to the ground where she hit her forehead on the concrete curb. The metal trash cans by her fell over. I saw blood on my mother’s forehead. Daddy grabbed her arm. “You get up…Now.” He barked.

My mother struggled to get up. I reached to help her. I touched her forehead. “Are you, Ok, Mommy?”

I stood between my parents, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, daring my daddy to reach for her again. “Daddy, don’t you ever do that again!”

My mother glared at me. “Hush, child.”

Daddy stomped back inside. Never did he show any concern for my mother. Mommy followed. The women standing nearby snickered amongst themselves and I realized I was the only one who came to my mother’s rescue. No one cared. Domestic violence was a family matter at that time. Everyone looked away, with exception of me.

One of the women turned to move away, whispering something about a family matter while exhaling smoke from her mouth. I didn’t understand her words, but I did know I didn’t like any of these shabbily dressed women, and I hoped that woman would choke on her cigarette smoke. I wanted to shout at them, asking why they didn’t help my mama. After all, I was a small child. Too young to help, too young to have any rights or say-so. I decided these women were nothing but trouble! ‘Poor white trash,’ I thought to myself…’Nothing but white trash!’ I followed the blood trail from my mother’s forehead back to our apartment.

After Mommy got inside, I got her a cold washcloth, placing it on her forehead.

She rested on the tattered sofa of our apartment, blood still pouring from her forehead. I brought her another washcloth.

“Get me a butter knife,” my mama screamed. I rushed to the kitchen. She placed the cold blade of the butter knife on her forehead.

“Don’t cut yourself, Mama. Please. You’re still bleeding.”

“The butter knife will make the swelling go down.”

That night when I said my nightly prayers, I prayed that my mama would be all right, and I ask God to make my daddy stop hitting and knocking my mother around. After my prayers, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow any man to ever hit me, or knock me down, like my daddy knocked my mother down. At the age of five-years-old, I became the referee to my parents.

Ten years later, I served as the referee for the final time… Arriving home from Russell High School in Atlanta, I rushed inside; anxious to tell my parents I had the lead in a play at school. I knocked on my parent’s door. No answer. I rushed to my room. A voice inside my head encouraged me to go back to my parent’s door. I knocked again. I heard the shuffling of feet, and a slap. I opened the door. My mother was standing hunched over, blue in the face, gasping for breath. A handprint was on the side of her face.

“What’s going on in here?” I asked. My mother was getting weaker. I rushed to her side. My dad stood by the bed, cursing and throwing mail at me.

“She’s made all these damned bills. They’re garnishing my wages. I can’t afford this. To Hell with her.”

Moving my mother to a chair, I sat her down and moved closer to my dad. “Don’t you ever hit her again? Do you hear me, Daddy? I’ve watched you over and over again hitting my mother, and I’ve watched her hitting you, but this has got to stop! One of you needs to leave this house and marriage. One of you needs to leave before someone gets killed.”

The next day, I rushed home from school, horrified I would find my parents fighting again. My mother was sitting on the couch with tissues in her hand.

“Is everything all right?” I asked.

My mother threw a tattered pillow in my direction.

“I hope to hell you’re happy now,” she shouted. “Because of you your daddy left me today. It’s all your fault. He’s divorcing me. I hope you’re really proud of yourself, you stupid girl.”

“How is it my fault? Yesterday, he was beating you. You said you hated him. You called him words a child should not say. All I did was make him stop beating you.”

“That ain’t all you said. You told him to leave, and he did. He came home this morning. Packed up his things and moved out. It’s all your fault. You ain’t never to say his name inside this house again. Do you hear me, child? Never! Your daddy is dead. DEAD. Dead. DEAD! It’s all because of you. We’re moving from Atlanta, and I never want to see that bastard again. NEVER!”

“Where are we going, Mama?” I cried, tears rushing down my face.

“We’re moving to Columbus, to the mill village. We’re gonna live with your grandparents now. I hope you’re happy.”

I was heartbroken. I would not get to be in the play, or have the lead. I would not sing on stage. All of my hopes and dreams were vanishing.

Years later, I became an advocate for domestic violence. I was thankful when laws against domestic violence became a crime and I was thankful that I did not have to be the referee between my parents anymore. In their later years, I became their caregiver, serving as a parent to my abusive, cruel parents.

After their divorce, my dad became a new man. Kinder. Happier. Religious and gentle. I received birthday gifts on birthdays and Dad and I bonded as a father and daughter. Never did we discuss domestic abuse. We focused on happy times. The birth of my child. The home Garrett and I bought in South Carolina. Our strong, happy relationship as father and daughter. Before his death in 1999, we were closer than ever. Dad was fun to be around. Never did he show any anger or hostility at my mother. Reborn inside the body and mind of my father was a man easy to love. So different. So kind. So caring.

My mother? Slowly, she became outraged. Violent. Bi-polar. She died a questionable death after suffering a stroke. The one concern from my youngest sister on the day after her death was, and I quote, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

My youngest sister spent the night at the hospital with our mother on the night of her death. Suppose I’ll let this story decide if an autopsy was necessary, although I suspect an autopsy should’ve been completed – to discover the true reason our mother happened to die on the one and only night my youngest sister chose to spend the night at the hospital. Interesting?

And so – now I am developing the poignant story of “Chattahoochee Child.”

Family Matters…Oh how they matter!

Domestic Abuse, Free Writing, President Donald J. Trump, Super Bowl Sunday, Uncategorized

Super Bowl Sunday – Let’s Go, Atlanta Falcons!


Dearest Readers:

After all of the hatred and the refusal of so many people to accept our new President, Donald J. Trump, I have decided to leave social media sites for a while. Yes, I will probably ‘stalk’ Facebook, just to scroll down to read posts from friends; however, I do not plan to post things. This post will arrive on Facebook, after I publish it. Nothing says I have to check to see if people are reading it.

I have noticed my website is getting more traffic since the New Year. For that, I am pleased. This week has been another week of disappointment for me. While I do not watch the Today Show anymore, I do listen to GMA. I quit watching Today after the ‘reorganization’ of Today, when Ann Curry was terminated. Now, they have lost another great personality and talent – Tamron Hall. She resigned on Wednesday, I believe. I suppose Today needed more space for Megyn Kelly. Since I don’t watch Today, I do not know the politics of Today, nor do I care! Let’s face it, Corporate America does not care about its employees. Maybe Corporate America never cared. “Just work hard and don’t talk back,” is what Corporate America believes.

When I worked in Corporate America, ‘reorganizing’ was a yearly practice. Those who worked hard were released. In a ‘Right to Work’  state, I was told Corporate America can terminate employees without a reason. And, if someone stood up to voice their concerns on ‘reorganization’ issues, they were shunned. Every year those of us who worked in this environment would wonder just when will my number be up?

I am happy I no longer work in such environments. Working as a writer is so much nicer.

So much for Corporate America!

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. I plan to make homemade chili for dinner, and I will grill pimento cheese sandwiches to compliment the chili. I made my first batch of pimento cheese a few days ago, so the Super Bowl will be a time for Phil and I to watch silly boys chasing a deflated, or maybe it’s actually an inflated football being chased, grabbed and scored while these football boys pat each other on the butts, and maybe other places. Can’t help wondering just how many of these players actually prefer being so close. I pray no one gets injured. I find football a violent sport, and men (and lots of women) actually get a bit too involved with this silly game. Domestic abuse increases during Super Bowl. And why wouldn’t it? Tickets for the game are an outrageous price, and I imagine alcohol and beer sales will escalate. The game will take probably half of the afternoon and late night activities on TV during Super Bowl Day. Personally, I’d rather watch a Hallmark movie!

Who cares? It’s a game. I can only imagine the amount of money spent on football lotteries. Think I’d put my money on the Atlanta Falcons this year, but I’m not someone who bets.

Reportedly, the Atlanta Falcons will wear the initials of fallen heroes on their helmets this year. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/blog/article-1/Falcons-Paying-Tribute-to-Fallen-Heroes/70b5dff6-3d5c-48f1-8465-101df268c1e5

Isn’t it about time? These fallen heroes gave their lives for their country, so these football players could play a silly game on Super Bowl Sunday.

To strengthen the connection between the players and these families, the Falcons will be delivering special tributes throughout the week.

According to the website, “The Falcons will be hosting the families of these fallen heroes at the team’s walk-through on Saturday. Furthering their commitment to the military, the organization has also provided flag football equipment to each of the military bases in Georgia.”

As you can see, I’m really not a fan of football. I might be sitting in my chair watching it, with a stack of magazines set aside so I can read while the steroids of football kick in for these football players. Personally, I’ll be glad when Super Bowl Sunday is over. Maybe we’ll not hear anything else about football until August, 2017. Something tells me football stories will continue while the players chase the silly ball – over and over again.

When I started this freewriting episode, I had no idea what I would write. Looks like Super Bowl Sunday won the prize. At least I’ll be in the kitchen while the stories begin. Yes, the TV will be blaring, but I’ll just turn my music up and sing!

I suppose you will watch the Super Bowl too. I hope the Atlanta Falcons win. Why? Simple. I am a native of Georgia, so I must root for the State, while those silly boys chase that silly ball. Let’s not even discuss how much money they make as Super Bowl jocks.

Have a great weekend. Stay tuned. I’ll have more — next week!

 

 

Domestic Abuse, Election Day, Family, President Donald J. Trump, Uncategorized

Hatred…Negative Thoughts…Enough Of This…


Dearest Readers:

Have any of you noticed all of the hatred on your social media sites lately? Apparently, Facebook is filled with it now. Let’s don’t even discuss Twitter, etc. I’m simply not interested. I have a Twitter account, but I do not do all of the #######.??

Years ago, I was the Type A Personality. Always anxious, competitive and just a bit impatient, I strived to take over a room whenever I walked in. Yes, I still have the personality of someone who enjoys attention and loves to be noticed; however, after watching my father battle esophageal cancer during 1997-1999, I learned to appreciate life — regardless what it throws my way.

Although I still LOVE to be on stage, and to be noticed, it doesn’t matter to me if others decide they do not like me, nor do they want to be friends with me.

My philosophy now is simple. If you don’t like me, or want to be around me — as a LOYAL friend, I consider it your loss, not mine. A bit presumptuous, but – this is my life. I know who I am, and what I am. It doesn’t matter to me if you choose to look the other way or socialize with me. I’m not a game player, nor am I a gossip.

If you are reading this, you probably are familiar with the current events, along with the hatred spilling out of so many people’s mouths. Discussions of President Donald J. Trump. Discussions of wanting Obama back??? Really??? Sorry. America needs to move forward, not backwards! We MUST make America Great again!

Personally, I like President Trump’s style. He does things His Way!

There are many hateful discussions about immigration, and dare I say it, illegal immigrants? A few weeks ago, my nail technician stated he did not have a green card. My question to him was – how do you work here — a corporate discount store — and earn money when you do not have a green card?

He smiled, refusing to answer. Maybe I don’t want to know how he does this!

I suppose I’m just a bit too honest. I’ve never been known to lie with a straight face. My eyes reveal EVERYTHING about me, so I could not be ‘illegal.’ I believe that all of us in America were once immigrants. Our heritage reveals this. My heritage traces back to the 1600’s in England. My family has lived in America for generations, so being illegal isn’t something I truly understand.

Please understand. I am not saying those who have crossed over the border are not legal, but there are many, many illegals running around our country, and I fully believe they need to walk the walk…talk the talk that most Americans do. I do not believe in working without paying your share of taxes — just like we do, nor do I believe in getting a free lunch, or free life. I’ve known many who have abused the privilege to live in America. That is a shame.

I am proud to be an American citizen, and I’m proud to be considered middle class. How I would love to be rich, but that isn’t in my heritage, and so my husband and I continue to work to take care of ourselves. No one has ever given us a free lunch, or a free lifestyle. Everything we have and everything we’ve earned has been from working hard and being responsible.

I’ve decided to take a break again from social media sites, especially Facebook. Yes, this post will be on my Facebook page. If you don’t want to read, simply move on!

There appears to be such hatred now on these sites. People disagreeing…writing in CAPS, as if they are shouting. People who think their opinions are the only opinions we should agree with. PLEASE. Grow up! Negative thoughts equal negativity. I’m not a negative person. Honest? Yes. Opinionated? Yes. At times!

So for now, to those who follow me, I will be posting more on my website/blog. I will be writing on my book, and I will be taking a much-needed break from negativity to enjoy life. I pray for our new President, Donald J. Trump. I must say, when he revealed he would run for President, I laughed, thinking he was just a bit eccentric and arrogant. I remember saying to my friends I would never vote for him.

Never say Never!

Just from my perspective, I think he’s doing a great job. Yes, some people find him arrogant, and at times, he is; nevertheless, I admire him and his tenacity. We must step back and see what all he accomplishes within his ‘first 100 days.’

I must say, the more I learn about Melania Trump, the more I believe she is a true and classy lady. She knows how to move, how to speak and how to make an impression. Yes, she’s made a few mistakes along the way. Haven’t we all? I certainly have! The beauty of making mistakes is if you do not learn from your mistakes, then there’s a problem.

I imagine I’ll get a bit of a backlash from many readers, just like a recent question I asked on Facebook created a few ugly comments. Someone called me negative? Imagine that! All he wanted to do is fight on Facebook. I basically told him to get a life and move on!

No, I’m not a negative person. I am intense. A bit opinionated, but willing to open my eyes and heart to hear the comments of others. I am a positive person. Willing and able to reach out to others. In a disagreement, I am the first to apologize — unless, I truly believe in the issues of the disagreement. Then, I stand my ground! I believe in Civil Rights. I believe in Women’s Rights, and no, I was not one of those wearing those, shall I say, interesting(??) ugly pink costumes around their necks and bodies during the Women’s Rights Walks. I found that offensive! Somethings in life should be kept private! I was a feminist. Not certain I am now, since I do not advertise on my body!

I debated if I wanted to walk in the Charleston walk, but something kept me back. I was busy on that day, and after seeing a few of the photos, I was happy to remain at home. Still, I am an advocate for women’s rights, animal rights, children’s rights, and I will stand tall and speak up, and sometimes stop a domestic dispute between women and men. I do not believe, nor do I promote violence of any type. If someone uses the “F” bomb around me, I interrupt – nicely, letting them know I find their language offensive.

I’ve been called a prude. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a prude is:  “a person who is excessively or priggishly attentive to propriety or decorum; especially : a woman who shows or affects extreme modesty.” Yes, I am a bit modest, at times, but I certainly enjoy being a woman, and acting/behaving like a lady, and I can dress up or glam up with the best of them!

I’ve been described as Pollyanna: Merriam Webster describes Pollyanna as: “Someone who thinks good things will always happen and finds something good in everything.”

Nope. A Pollyanna I shall never become. I do look on the positive side of life, and I do not like to argue; nevertheless, I do not always find ‘something good in everything.’ Life can be a challenge sometimes. It is how we cope and move forward that makes us good humans. Good citizens. Good neighbors, friends and extended family members.

Also, I’ve been called a snob. Imagine that! And here we go again. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a snob is: “Someone who tends to criticize, reject, or ignore people who come from a lower social class, and may have less education.” Oh please. Believe me, I am not a snob. Growing up in the projects, and in the mill towns, who was, or am I, to criticize others? I do not criticize others, or reject those from a lower class. When in a social setting, I sit back, watching others, and do not think I do not see them looking at me, then cupping their hands to the other women sitting around. Sometimes, from their actions, I know they are talking about me because I do not sit with them. I do not participate in their “Chatty” “Gossipy” ways. I enjoy being a Lady! Simple put, I know who are my friends, and I certainly know who isn’t a friend. And so I keep my distance. Let them talk. They’ve just lost the best friend they would’ve had.

I do not hate. I do not feed negative thoughts. I live my life — MY WAY!

 

 

 

 

 

On My Soapbox!, Uncategorized

Wishing Much Success to Our 45th President — Donald J. Trump


Dearest Readers:

This will be a brief post. Today, like many Americans, I watched Donald J. Trump become the 45th President for the United States of America.

IF ONLY WE WERE UNITED!

Watching him and his classic, elegant (not to mention gorgeous) wife, dressed in baby blue, he and Melania make an elegant couple. I was so proud to watch this historical moment.

Later, I heard about the protesters. I am hopeful they meant the protest to be peaceful, but it wasn’t. Many of the angry rioters were dressed in black with hoodies. Their faces covered in black scarves or bandanas. They thrust their weight, and anything they could find into store windows. Bellowing out something about “Donald Trump has got to go…”

Is this the United States of America? Reportedly, at least 200 protesters were arrested. Many more should be in jail – they were destroying limousines, businesses, absolutely anything in their way. A few police officers were injured. And this is America???

Hardly. We are divided. I suppose we can thank the division to those who refused to give Donald Trump a chance. Alas, what about the 70 Democratic lawmakers who boycotted the inaugural address? Believe me, I would never vote for any of them ever again. Our lawmakers have the opportunities most of us in America are not privileged to have — being a part of the Presidential Inauguration. They should take a step forward to show us an example of what it is like to live in a country where we are free to elect our President. Instead, they make a negative statement. Perhaps they added friction to the rioters.

Speaking as a writer and a proud American, I am willing to give President Donald J. Trump a chance — just like I did when Barack Obama stepped in to those presidential shoes. We need to give our President a chance, and we need to stop having all of the riots. Sorry, when a protest turns to violence, I consider them riots.

To President Donald J. Trump, I say “Welcome, Mr. President. May you guide our country into the UNITED States of America.” We need to unite….not fight!

I have high hopes for you, and America. Let’s MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

 

 

Happy New Year, On My Soapbox!, Uncategorized

Happy New Year, 2017


Dearest Readers:

Today is December 31, 2016. The last day of 2016. I would like to say Good Riddance to 2016. A year of much controversy in the USA, a dreadful year for politics, and a great year for a ‘shocking Presidential election.’ It appeared everyone was ‘shocked’ when Donald J. Trump was elected the new President. Hillary Clinton was devastated. Oh. Pooh!

Hillary Clinton lost. End of discussion! I admit, I was ready to vote for Hillary, or should I say “Billary” in 2008, until Obama was selected, and I did not vote for him. America has tolerated eight years of a close ‘dictatorship.’ Let us sweep the Obama’s out of the office and allow them to fade into the distance. After Hillary did so many illegal actions to jeopardize the USA via her e-mails…the lies she shouted and continued to feed about her actions as Secretary of State…etc…etc…ETC… I was almost ashamed that she was a woman in a powerful office. To say the least, she was an embarrassment.

But…today is the last day of 2016. Enough about politics! For this household, 2016 was a year of too much stress. After Phil had his surgery on his shoulder and recovered ever so slowly, I worried. My daily life consumed me. I went to my doctor for a check-up, only to be told my blood pressure was much too high. My doctor wanted to know exactly what I was doing to have such high blood pressure. After telling him how stressed I was, he told me IF I did not get my blood pressure under control, I could have a heart attack or a stroke.

I decided it was time to take back my life. Yes, I eat healthy, and I’m losing weight. I do Weight Watchers. Researching how to lower my blood pressure, and taking a daily medication for my blood pressure, I starting exercising again, eating healthier by including more fish, and I meditated. Three months later, my blood pressure is lower. Thank you, God.

Now, on New Years Eve, I am reflecting on 2016 and how I can tolerate the stress of 2017. Let’s just say, I am having numerous talks with God, just like Dolly Parton shared in her movie, “Circle of Love,” and “Coat of Many Colors.” Yes, I go to a window, looking up to the sky and I ask God to listen to me again – probably for the millionth time! My wonderful grandmother taught me how to pray, and I must say, praying soothes away the stress. At least for a time. This week, when my blood pressure rose again, I had another talk with God. This time, I prayed He would help me to be calmer, and not to scream when I feel life is about to knock me down again.

Last night while at karaoke, I certainly had my stress level tested and I’m happy to report, I passed with flying colors. Thank you, God.

Allow me to share the scenario. Our friends and I were sitting at our regular table before karaoke started. I was looking at the ‘only karaoke book’ to find a few new songs to sing. A few minutes later, I closed the book. An obnoxious female, a rather large woman who wears extremely short dresses, fish net stockings and heels, approached the table.

“Oh. It’s you who has the f—— book,” she said, slurring her words. The only word she could express well was the “f” bomb.

“Would you please not say that word?”

“What? F——? It’s in the f—— dictionary.”

“Only you would know that,” I smiled. “Please just take the book and leave!”

She sat down at the table, continuing to fire out the ‘f’ bomb.

“Please…just take the book and leave,” I said, motioning with my hands for her to leave our table.

She rose from the table, song book in her hand. Of course, when she left she continued saying the only word she knows in her vocabulary. Some women simply should not be considered a woman!

She struggled to walk back to her friends. A few minutes later, sitting at the bar, she knocked over several drinks. Before her friends left the bar, they gave our table four shots — one for each of us. I declined the shot since I never drink shots, and I do not accept drinks from people I do not know. By now, some people are leaving the bar, including her ‘friends.’ A couple who enjoyed hearing me sing left too, stating something about ‘too many drunks in here!’ Without a doubt, this was not a good night for some of us enjoying the evening.

The obese woman sang only one song, complete with a dialogue of ‘f’ bombs, instead of the real lyrics. I’m certain she was hoping I would approach her again about her vulgarity. I chose to kill her with kindness, by ignoring her. The disc jockey made a comment about the language, requesting singers NOT to use profanity. Ha. Ha. Sometimes it pays to be a ‘steel magnolia!’

Later, the bartenders helped her outside. I believe they called her a cab. It’s a good thing she didn’t drive. There was a safety check on the highway, stopping every car, checking to make certain people were not intoxicated. When they checked us, I was driving. I had only one drink the entire night, about two hours earlier, so I was certain I would not be asked to ‘get out of the car.’ The rest of my drinks consisted of several refills of arthur-ravenel-jr-bridgewater. The nice police officer checked my ID, license and registration and allowed us to go home. Just think — IF the rather obese woman with the short…much too short dress was driving, she would spend the night — not in her bed.

Isn’t it a shame when people allow their drinks to reveal exactly what their personality is, and isn’t it a shame how some people cannot handle alcohol. I must say, I would hate to be walking in that female’s shoes. She must have one heck of a hangover now.

No doubt, she will return to karaoke. She’s been there many times, and each time when she walks into the bar, she stumbles around. Last night, she could not handle her drinks, knocking them over while the only word she knows pours like liquor from her lips. Such a pity that a female would behave in such a manner. Even worse, such a pity that she obviously infuriated her friends who left her alone at the bar.

Did she make it home? Who knows!

Here is my wish for all of us as New Year, 2017 approaches. May we all live with respect and dignity, and may we not allow our brains to only know one word in our vocabulary — the ‘f’ bomb. We certainly hear it enough while at the movies!

Happy New Year, 2017. I’m praying for a wonderful year of good health, happiness, and dignity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Uncategorized

Making Appointments At The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


Dearest Readers:

If you are a veteran, or if you’ve ever heard a veteran complain about VA Benefits…the process…the scheduling…the nightmares of GETTING BENEFITS, read on. You will understand and maybe be able to relate to the issues at any VA hospital. The process, to be totally honest, is like a process to get Congress to make a decision…and we all know how slow Congress is, don’t we! They move at a snail’s pace!

To those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you might remember an informative blog I wrote years ago, resulting in quite a few ‘changes’ at ER at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Let’s just say, on that occasion, I was about ready to ‘kill with kindness in ER.’ One of the nurses and I had a few words, resulting in her saying, and I quote: “He can always go somewhere else…” Thank goodness I had enough diplomacy to write in my blog, instead of having a ‘cat fight.’

Today, I’ve spent over 45 minutes attempting to get answers to “simple” questions at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. To the lady assisting me on the telephone, having to place me on hold numerous times, I thank you for your excellent customer service skills. You appeared to listen to me and to understand. Also, when I stated just how does a Veteran not give up when the ‘process to get an appointment is so complicated,’ you listened without becoming defensive. Each time you placed me on hold, you apologized and you followed up with me. Thank you. Unfortunately, I totally forgot to get your name; nevertheless, your customer service skills on the telephone was much appreciated. How I pray someone can locate you and tell you your customer service was 1,000% on target!

Allow me a few minutes to explain:

Tuesday of this week, December 27, 2016, to be exact, was a day spent at MUSC Orthopedics in Mt. Pleasant. My husband broke his left ankle in June. For almost three months, he wore a boot, issued from the VA Hospital. He’s had numerous appointments with the orthopedic surgeon (sorry, I’m at a loss for his name) and the decision was made that he needs surgery on his left ankle. Realizing he needed a specialist, his orthopedic surgeon at the VA Hospital suggested an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at MUSC, Mt. Pleasant. That was in September. His appointment took three months to schedule? Tuesday, a thorough examination was performed. X-rays done, and now he needs a CT scan at the VA Hospital.

“Oh no…” I thought, and then I verbalized to the staff, “You do realize it takes an act of Congress almost to get an appointment at the VA Hospital.” When the decision was made for Phil to see an orthopedic doctor in Mt. Pleasant, somehow the wires got crossed and it took THREE MONTHS to get to see the doctor in Mt. Pleasant.

Readers, are you still with me? This gets more interesting!

Understanding how complicated it is to get information and scheduling at the VA Hospital, Charleston, SC [Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center], I suggested to my husband that maybe I should phone them to get the scheduling process active. My husband has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. He doesn’t take the ‘run-around process’ well at all, and when he doesn’t get his way — well, let’s just say — he isn’t diplomatic. No. Not at all!

Anticipating another run-around process, or the expectation of – “You need to have your husband schedule this,” — today, I actually got an understanding person on the phone. I’m describing her as a customer service rep, although, I’m certain her title is not correct. Her customer service skills = A+!

After holding on the line while she checked, and after she confirmed the information of the correct ####; address, phone, etc. she was most kind and helpful to me. Thank you! When she spoke to me again, I was told:

“Your husband has to get an order from his primary care doctor for this CT scan. Then, the order needs to go to his orthopedic doctor so he can place the order. Are you still with me, readers? It gets complicated. The VA Hospital has to write an order for the CT scan to be scheduled, even though I have an order from MUSC, signed by the orthopedic surgeon???”

“But….But…as I’ve stated, we have an order from MUSC Orthopedics to schedule the CT scan…”

“Yes, Ma’am…that is the process for the VA.”

“It is no wonder Veterans get so perplexed with the VA,” I said. “It’s always either a hurry up and wait….or…. Whatever!”

By now, this customer service professional was beginning to understand how frustrated I was becoming. I was placed on HOLD once again.

In a matter of minutes, a male voice picked up, confirming who I was. I do believe it was the orthopedic surgeon at the VA Hospital. His voice was familiar. Believe me, many of those professionals have met me. I suppose they know I have been described as “Intense…BoldRefusing to take no for an answer.”

Yes. That is who I am. There are two B’s in my name!

Placed on Hold once again, I decided I needed to meditate. Inhale for four seconds. Hold breath for seven seconds, then — breathe out ever so slowly. I did not want to get frustrated, or to come across as rude. I simply wanted to get the CT scan scheduled for my husband. His left ankle hurts!

About ten minutes later, my phone beeped. I was horrified I would lose connection with Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, so I chose not to answer via call waiting.

Minutes later, my husband phoned. I answered, while praying the other line did not disconnect. Getting back in contact with the same party at the VA Hospital is another nightmare!

Speaking with my husband, he thanked me for phoning them.

“Make this quick,” I said. “I’m on hold with them.”

“And that’s why I called you,” he replied. “The CT scan is scheduled for later this afternoon. She was afraid you might’ve been disconnected, so she phoned me.”

“No run around?” I asked.

“Nope. Whatever you said got them to work through the channels to get the appointment scheduled.”

Sometimes it pays to have two B’s in my name!

Diplomacy pays when dealing with government officials. To the lady who worked through the process to get the order…and the scheduling done, I cannot thank you enough. Normally, the process is not this simple. I was expecting a three month waiting ordeal! I suppose I was ready for the ‘intense’ demeanor I have to kick in! I am known for not taking ‘NO’ for an answer!

Sometimes conducting yourself in a calm, but persuasive voice works. Today is a new day!

Thank you, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.