In Memory of My Father


Dearest Readers:

Below is an essay written before my father’s death – July 6, 1999

WALTER W. PERKINS

Mr. Sandpiper, 1998

Born an identical twin on December 19, 1914, Walter W. Perkins will soon celebrate his 84th birthday and he is the only surviving family member left of his generation.  His identical twin brother was named Lewis.  The Perkins Family included a total of six siblings, three boys, and three girls.  Growing up as twins (Lewis and Walter) shared more than most siblings and they were inseparable — virtually impossible to tell apart.   Known as The Perkins Twins, they sang harmonically in church choirs while preaching the gospel.  They traveled to many cities, touring as The Perkins Twins and found this to be their calling in life; however, their future together, billed as The Perkins Twins, was short-lived.  Lewis became ill at the age of 26 and died suddenly.

Because he loves meeting people and does it so well, Dad chose the hotel industry for his profession while pursuing his dream as a writer and poet.  In the early 1960’s he wrote a poem titled, Living Words, based somewhat on Sir Winston Churchill.  Living Words was published and today is on display at the Winston Churchill Museum.  At the age of 65, Dad retired from the Rodeway Inn, Atlanta, GA.  He is divorced and the father of four daughters.  Before becoming ill, he lived at the Canterbury House in downtown Charleston and took daily strolls for relaxation.

Dad is a tall and proud man and he can recite poetry like a Shakespearean actor.  He is a lover of words and can paint a magnificent poetic picture while he recites the historical stories and events of times past.  An avid sports buff, he knows almost every popular football or baseball star by name, position and statistic and he can tell many interesting stories about sports, especially baseball.  If you do not care for sports, you will learn to find it an interesting fascination, just by listening to the stories Dad shares.

Dad has always loved the magic of words, and as a young man, he wished to make the family tradition of journal writing part of his daily activities.  He has an impressive collection of family diaries and his daily ritual includes writing the days events in his personal diary.  He started this ritual many years ago and has quite an invaluable collection of diaries.  He has researched our family genealogy, dating us back to the early 1600’s.  One impressive member of our family (distant but still very special) is the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Our heritage dates back to the Spencer Family.

Today, Dad still believes in rituals and he records special things in his journal of diaries.  From historical moments, to births, deaths, marriages, and yes, even the sad times, are recorded as part of the Perkins History.  Significant events are recorded in “Strolling in Memories Gardens.”

As a father, he instilled many beliefs in me and I am proud to call him Dad!  He taught me to look inside of a person, to see the inner beauty and not just the face or the smile.  He encouraged me to believe in myself and to always “make it a good day!”  He has lived a wonderful and proud life and I have never been more proud of him than I have during this year.  Walter W. Perkins is truly my bright and shining star, my beautiful aromatic rose, and he is the most loyal and dedicated father, family and friend I have ever known!

Sun Sets in Hawaii
Dad spoke of sunsets and sunrises, sharing with me that he was in the sunset of his life. Maybe that is why I have such passion for sunsets. Rest in peace, my precious father. How I miss you!

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

December 19, 1998

Grief – Just When Does It End?


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Dearest Readers:

July 6 is always a day of remembrance for me. Truly a day to spend the entire day in tears, or a day to give thanks. Why? Allow me to explain. During the stressful days of my dad’s terminal illness with esophageal cancer during December 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999, I have felt such a loss.

Dad kept telling me he was in the sunset of his life. I wasn’t ready to see the sunset. I did not want him to leave me.

I’ve had people tell me I need to move on. “Get over it. Life goes on…” Etc. ETC! It isn’t easy! Today is July 6, 2018 –19 years since the death of my dad. I remember the day, as if it was yesterday. After a demanding day at work, I rushed to visit him, like I did every day. I spoke to the nursing home earlier in the day. “Dad was doing fine,” they replied. “Fine!?!” If he’s in a nursing home he isn’t fine. Yes, he was as well as could be expected; nevertheless, over the last six months of his life, I watched his body slowly shutting down. First it was the weakness from esophageal cancer. His inability to retain his food. His legs grew weaker and he fell – LOTS. Each time the nursing home reported the falls to me, like they are required. And each time, I prayed a sigh of relief. Just one more day. Please God, give us one more day.

In March, his heart grew weaker, and I realized the end was near. I stopped praying for a miracle. In my nightly prayers I prayed for God to find a special place for my dad, to use his talents, his voice, and yes – even his temper. Dad could be a tenacious man when he wanted to be!

During my daily visits after March, I noticed Dad no longer walked me to the door, to kiss me goodbye. He simply waved his hand as he closed his Holy Bible. No longer were the visits welcoming or fun. He appeared to be angry at me, always waving me away after about 10 minutes of our time together. His roommate told me Dad was mean to me. “You deserve better,” Dudley said. “He is so mean. He should appreciate you.”

I smiled at Dudley. “Don’t you understand,” I cried. “Dad is dying. He’s angry at life.”

Sometimes when I arrived after a long, hard day at work, Dad would grow arrogant. “Just get out of here,” he shouted. “You know you don’t want to be here. Just Go!”

I admit it. At times, his anger got to me. I would leave the nursing home in tears. I did not understand his anger towards me. After all, I visited every day. Just what is the matter with him, I asked God while tears rushed down my face. Doesn’t he know I love him?

Dad and Dudley were the odd couple of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. They teased and complained, always trying to compete with each other. For a while, Dad had the upper hand since Dudley’s body no longer moved and he remained in the bed, or a special wheelchair. Dudley had difficulty with speech too, but after visiting Dad so often, Dudley and I were able to communicate without a problem. After March, Dudley had the upper hand as we watched Dad sit on his bed, or remain in his bed most of the time. Gone were his daily strolls with his walker.

I suppose I was counting the days down, knowing my dad and I would not share another holiday together. No more birthday parties. No more Christmas trees, Thanksgiving and holiday dinners together. Tick. Tock…How I wish I could make this clock stop and save my dad.

On the moment of his death, I was walking in the corridor of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. A nurse I recognized approached, pushing an oxygen tank. I remember speaking with her, saying Uh, oh. That isn’t a welcoming sign for someone. She nodded, never saying a word to me.

I placed my hand on the door of Dudley and Dad’s room and so did the nurse. Quickly, she nodded, telling me not to come inside.

I screamed.

“Oh, Dear God, No. Please…please….Please God, NO!” I cried.

Someone grabbed me, walking me to a chair and I sat down. I knew. The clock was stopping. My dad was dying.

I heard a voice say, Barbie. We can bring him back.

“No,” I cried. “He’s a DNR. I must honor his wishes.”

Moments seemed like hours. At 6:15 a nurse approached me. “I’m so sorry. Do you want to say goodbye?”

Yes, I nodded.

I waited a few minutes for my husband to arrive and together, we walked in to Dad’s room. Dudley was eating dinner. I could not speak to him. I touched my Dad – his body as cold as ice. His skin clammy. His eyes closed. I kissed him. Told him I loved him and I would never forget him. “You’re still here, inside my heart,” I cried.

I have no idea what happened next. I was numb. Dumbfounded. How would I live without my Dad?

After his funeral, I joined a grief therapy session and learned to move forward. Still, as the day of July 6 of each year approaches, I feel an incredible emptiness. Grief. Heartache. I ask myself, will this pain ever leave?

I think not. Today is July 6, 2018. Nineteen years today… Just how can it be 19 years? These years have flown by — just like someone opened a window, tossing these years without Dad outside. I must keep myself busy, remembering my Dad, Walter W. Perkins, and the goodness inside of him. Yes, he had moments of temperamental ups and downs, but he was my dad. As a child, I always looked up to him. I held his hand. We sang. He taught me how to harmonize and he always reminded me to “Make this a good day.”

I ask you how? How do I make each day a good day without my dad?

When do we stop grieving over those we’ve loved and lost? When does the heartache end?

After my dad died, I felt like an orphan. I have learned to move on and to recognize that each day is a gift. I plan to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion with my dad today while drinking my morning coffee. I will lift my head high, looking into the Heavens and speak softly to my Dad. Yes, I will probably cry, but now, the tears are good, cleansing tears because I have learned to move forward. To make the most of every day. July 6, 2018DSC_0230-001 is another day without my dad, but I am so thankful that I was there for him daily while he battled cancer. Yes, I miss you, Dad. I was blessed to share one more day. Thank you, God for giving us one more day!

Fitbit Wrist Bands – So Defective!


Dearest Readers:

I suppose today is a good day to complain about Fitbit. Why? Simple. Their wrist bands and other items to hold or wear the activity trackers do not hold up! The quality of the bands is cheap – to say the least, and when I phoned Fitbit to complain, I spoke to a customer service rep living in Hungary???

Yes, their customer service is good, that is – IF one likes to speak to a rep living in another country and definitely not aware of the USA. Fitbit is just about to annoy me to the highest!

For example, I had a Fitbit One years ago. I tucked it into the plastic case provided, wearing it, like most women, in my bra. I clipped it onto the bra, expecting it to hold up.  Well…Let’s just say, the case did not survive. I admit it, I do have a bosom. Sometimes that little case would move and work itself out. Once, it did so at Wal-Mart. I phoned them to report it, and of course, if someone found it, it was not reported. So, I contacted Fitbit. Surprisingly, they sent me another Fitbit One. The case it was in failed to hold up too. I think I must’ve lost the case and Fitbit One somewhere in my back yard while gardening and cutting the lawn. Maybe my lawnmower ate it?

After the loss of the Fitbit One, I chose to purchase the Fitbit Alta. The Alta came with a wrist band. Perhaps this will work better. It did not. Only a few months of wear and tear, the wristband popped loose at Cracker Barrel in Charlotte, NC. Fortunately, while paying, another customer noticed it, picked it up, handing it to the cashier. I glanced down at my wrist. Eureka! My wrist band fell off of my wrist, onto the floor and I didn’t even notice it!

“That’s my wrist band and Fitbit,” I thanked the cashier, while putting my wrist band Fitbit Alta back on my wrist I said: Don’t ever buy a Fitbit product. They work well, until the Kmart quality wrist band breaks, and we all know what’s happening with Kmart!

Later, I went to Fitbit’s website exclaiming to them that I was divorcing myself from Fitbit. Much to my surprise, they contacted me weeks later – after I found another activity tracker, sending me another wrist band AFTER I sent them a photograph of the “defective” wrist band. Hey Fitbit… Guess what? ALL OF YOUR WRIST BANDS ARE DEFECTIVE!

I got the new wrist band from Fitbit and I wore it UNTIL IT FELL APART!

Enough of this! I retired my Fitbit Alta!

I bought another tracker – only this time – NOT a Fitbit. I purchased a Garmin Vivofit 2. I wear it daily. I’ve had the Garmin over a year, replacing the battery in March, 2018. Much to my surprise, the wrist band is holding up! Can you believe it? Another company actually provides a quality activity tracker with a QUALITY wrist band that doesn’t fall apart???

I confess, I do like the Fitbit products, and I was wearing the Fitbit Charge 2 until Friday evening. While eating dinner at Longhorn’s Steak House, my Fitbit Charge 2 wrist band fell off. Not again! Just what is wrong with Fitbit? They use the CHEAPEST wrist bands ever!

Incidentally, I still wear the Garmin Vivofit 2, and when I have a Fitbit wrist band that WORKS, I wear it too! Weird, isn’t it? Well, you have to know me to understand me!

Presently, the Fitbit Charge 2 sits on my dresser. I am not attempting to wear it until I get a new wrist band. I phoned Fitbit Friday evening, speaking with the customer service rep in “Hungary!”

She wanted me to take a picture of the wrist band. I suppose to prove it was broken? Heck, it is not BROKEN…IT IS DEFECTIVE…JUST LIKE ALL THE WRIST BANDS MARKETED BY FITBIT! Maybe we have a failure to communicate! I refused to take a photograph and send it to her. I wanted a decision made now. Not a few days from now, after someone with a bit of authority decided my wrist band was indeed — B-R-O-K-E-N! After a few minutes discussion, she actually asked me how much I wear the Fitbit. Maybe I was wearing it too much and that made it ‘defective???’

Ok. I understand I am blonde, and maybe I do not have a degree in technology, but — AREN’T ACTIVITY TRACKERS DESIGNED FOR YOU TO WEAR CONSTANTLY — TO TRACK YOUR ACTIVITY?

I might be blonde, but I’m not stupid!

She placed me on HOLD – several times, then she returned letting me know:

  1. You do not need to take a photograph
  2. We will send you another wrist band.

Big deal! I will get another wrist band, identical to the one that came with the Fitbit Charge 2. No doubt, it will become defective – just like all of the other wrist bands marketed by Fitbit. Just WHEN will they learn – their wrist bands are defective!

Meanwhile, I managed to find a metallic wrist band online at Wal-Mart. I purchased it. I will not wear the Fitbit Charge 2 until I get the metallic band.

Now, I’m curious. What country manufactures Fitbit? According to Wikipedia – the USA. Funny. I assumed it was made in China, like so many items the USA provides.

So now, my Fitbit Charge 2 will rest on my dresser until I get the wrist band from Wal-Mart. Will it last? Probably longer than the ones that come with Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Alta, and others.

Isn’t it a shame? We pay so much money for activity trackers such as Fitbit.

I’ve had the Garmin Vivofit 2 for almost two years. The only time I have to charge it is when I take it to Batteries Plus Bulbs to get a new battery, and I haven’t had any problems with their wrist bands.  https://www.batteriesplus.com/service

If only Fitbit would do a bit of marketing research and discover they MUST improve the cheapened wrist bands they provide! I do prefer the Fitbit activity trackers. If only they would IMPROVE their disgusting wrist bands.

Perhaps this is the marketing strategy of Fitbit — to provide a quality activity tracker with a defective wrist band, so customers will have to purchase wrist bands over and over again.

Hey, Fitbit. Here’s an eye opener for you – what part of S-T-U-P-I-D and D-E-F-E-C-T-I-V-E do you not understand?

And now, I must get off my soap box and enjoy this Sunday afternoon!