Lightning…Thunder…and The Roar Of Chattahoochee Child…


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Dearest Readers:
It is early on a beautiful Sunday morning in Charleston, SC. The weather forecast for today is H-O-T — AGAIN! Reportedly, it is supposed to get to 85. No doubt, it will be another steamy hot day. Stepping outside in the heat of the day is like stepping into a sauna. Yesterday, we had a late storm brewing after we went to bed. I suppose I slept through it, which is something I do not normally do.
Whenever I see lightning, I jump out of my skin, almost. My husband says even when sleeping, I will hear the thunder and lightning and jump or tremble. I do not remember doing it. Just a few days ago, we had a summer storm in the afternoon. I was in route to get my doggies from the groomer. Every time I saw the lightning flash, I jumped, while driving. It isn’t a pretty sight. Just how can a grown woman be so frightened by lightning?
I suppose I should share my story here. If you follow my blog and read a bit of the “Chattahoochee Child” stories I’ve posted, you will understand. During my childhood, I was always the child with an opinion. In my dad’s diary, he wrote, and I quote since he is deceased now: “Barbara is really a child with opinions. She likes to get noticed, and even though she is only five-years-old, she does vocalize her thoughts, rather well.”
Humph! I cannot imagine what he was referring to, but after high school graduation, I have learned to ‘vocalize my thoughts and opinions…’ AND — I DO question authority. I suppose it is the journalist deep inside me. I suppose you could say, during high school I was quiet. I confess I went to six high schools during eighth grade thru graduation. What? Might you say? Most people only go to one high school. It is simple. My family and I moved a lot — like gypsies. So, just when I got comfortable in one high school, off we go to another, so no one really got a chance to get to know me until we moved to Columbus, Georgia. Finally, I was able to attend only one high school for two-and-a-half years until graduation. Figure that out, if you can! Let’s just say, during high school I was considered shy and a wallflower. Heck. I was afraid to get to know anyone and forget the high school boys. All they wanted to get to know was —! Never did I date high school boys. They always had ‘rushing hands,’ and I did not want to have a battle with them. Their libido and testosterone were quite active, so I decided I would not date them.
Since I’m free writing, it is back to my fears of thunder and lightning.
When I was a child, my mother disciplined me constantly. “You ask too many questions,” she said. “Just do what I tell you to do and stop being so opinionated… “You stupid girl. One day I hope you’re struck by lightning…just so you’ll know you shouldn’t say so much or ask so much.”
My mother loved to call me her ‘stupid girl.’ How I hate that description!
I suppose it is easy to say, as a child, I probably had too many opinions, but when lightning occurred, I remember my mother saying, “I hope you get struck by lightning soon.”
Each time I saw lightning, I cringed, sometimes rushing to hide in the closet of my bedroom so I would not see the lightning. When thunder roared, I screamed. Still, to this day, when we have storms I do my best to hide under covers, close the blinds, or stay in a room where I will not notice the roaring sounds and sights of thunder and lightning.
I still hear my mother’s cruel words. If my memory is correct, and I do believe it is when she would say, “Girl, I hope that lightning strikes you down,” I felt as if she had no love within her body for me. The other girls in the family never heard those words, only me. All of my three sisters did whatever our mother ask them to do. As for me, you guessed it. I placed my hands on my hips and I would say, “Why must I do that? Why is it only me that cooks and cleans?”
My mother’s reply: “Stupid girl. Just shut your mouth and do it before I get a switch.”
One of my sisters could not even boil water when she married. The other two, expected the men to do everything. I suppose they got a real ‘wake-up call’ in marriage, and maybe that’s why their marriages did not work out. I haven’t a clue. I do not pry into their lives. Marriage is truly a work-in-progress, every day!
I do know one of my sisters had a brutal marriage. Her husband loved to hit on her, leaving bruises and scratches she attempted to cover up with makeup. In 2002 we drove to Michigan to rescue her and her son from a safe house.
It is easy to observe I was the Cinderella of our family, or maybe I was the ugly stepchild. Regardless, I was the one who did the cleaning, cooking, and housework. My mother continued her verbal and physical abuse after my parent’s divorce. As for me, I could not wait to leave the family. Growing up where abuse is shared like daily activities, I vowed to myself I would break the mold and never behave in such a manner. My children would not grow up afraid of lightning and thunder.
Last night, I woke myself up listening to a voice speaking. Recognizing this was my ‘sleeping voice,’ I heard myself saying:
“Your mama is a whore and a drunk. Just look at that dress she wore tonight to her reunion. A long black dress with a plunging neckline and a low back. Only a whore would wear that.”
My son was seven-years-old when he heard his grandmother describing me. Just like me, he was opinionated. Reportedly, he did not appreciate what his grandmother was saying about me, so he chose to speak up and defend me.
“My mommy is not a whore and she only drinks wine. She is not a drunk. I’ve never seen my mommy drunk. Don’t say those things about her.”
My mother was caring for my son on that night. She promised him they would have a good time. I should’ve known she would pull some of her stunts, but I was hoping I could give her a second chance.
Awakening from the Nightmare, I sat up in bed, remembering the scenario like it was yesterday. I remember when we arrived to pick him up, he was sound asleep. The next morning, a bit early after a night of partying at a high school reunion, my son rushed to me. “Mommy,” he said. “Granny said you were a whore and a drunk. You’re not a whore and a drunk, are you Mommy?”
“No,” I said, scooping him up in my arms. “Mommy is not a whore or a drunk. Please don’t say the word whore.”
“It’s a bad word?” He asked.
“Yes. Whore is a bad word. A very bad word.”
He looked into my eyes.
“Whore is a woman who sleeps with lots of men, and that is not your mommy. I sleep with your daddy only. And I am not a drunk.”
Later, we drove to my mother’s house to confront her and say goodbye. When we arrived, my mother was still in bed. I knocked on her door, then I opened it and let the words fly. I warned my husband to let me handle the situation.
“How could you call me a whore and a drunk?” I asked. “Especially in front of my son. Your grandchild. Just what kind of grandmother are you?”
My mother opened her eyes and struggled to sit up. “I did no such of a thing.”
My son burst into the room. “Yes, you did,” he said, tears falling down his face. “You called my mommy a whore and a drunk. Sorry for saying that word, Mommy, but she did say it!”
I rushed him out of the room. I knew this scenario was getting ugly.
After a verbal battle, I knew I was defeated. My mother would never admit she said those words, nor would she apologize. My husband knocked on the door.
“We’re leaving,” I said. “I cannot tolerate this abuse anymore. It’s bad enough I tolerated her abuse all of my childhood, but to say those things in front of my child is something I will never tolerate. How could you, Mom? How could you be so cruel to him?”
On that morning, as we drove home to Charleston, I decided I would not see my mother again. Arriving home, I had several messages on the answering machine from my mother. I erased them all, not wanting to listen to her cruelties anymore. There comes a time in life when we must cut the cords of abuse. My time was now. I had to protect my child.
Motherhood is never easy. We all have regrets of things we would change, if only we could. We would be more patient and kind. We would not shout, nor would we lose our temper. One rule I kept is the rule of if I am angry, I will walk away. I certainly had times when I saw my mother inside me, and when that occurred, I would go to a window and pray. Just like my maternal grandmother taught me.
As for my mother and I? Rarely did I go back to Columbus, Georgia. I attempted another reunion, stopping by to see my mother. A surprise visit. We stayed for a few minutes and left. We had hotel reservations and another reunion to attend. Neither of us felt welcomed. My mother did not rush to hug me, like other mothers do, nor did she show any affections. Her health was deteriorating and she limped when she walked. Four years later, I phoned her telling her I was coming to Columbus to attempt to ‘bury the hatchet.’
On that visit, we had another shouting match, so I left, in tears. My mother always had a way of getting to me, bringing me down. Making me feel worthless and unlovable. Was I really such a horrible person? After a bit of soul-searching while driving, I recognized I was a good person. My mother refusing to love me was her problem, but as a child and a grown woman, I still craved a mother’s love.
How I wanted and prayed my mother would change, but she did not. In 2000, she suffered a stroke. Her left side was virtually paralyzed. I drove to see her on Mother’s Day, bringing her a gift wrapped box of pearl earrings. She attempted to speak, but only slurred her words. When I opened the box of pearl earrings, she gasped and touched her right ear. I placed the earrings in her ears, and she attempted to smile, her face wrinkling with a scrunched lip and new wrinkles I did not remember.
I never saw her again. She lived in a nursing home for the remainder of her days. I sent letters to her, gifts and when her dentures got broken, I paid for a new set of dentures. On September 11, 2002, she died. A questionable death, to say the least. When my sister phoned in the late afternoon of September 12, her question to me was: “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
Dreadfully ill with bronchial asthma, I did not attend the funeral. The question of “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?” played in my mind. I made a few phone calls, including a phone call to the coroner’s office, and the nursing home. Never were those calls returned. I suspect the reason for my question was a simple my mother died under questionable circumstances.
Did I want to stir the pot and get these answers? Since I was so ill and weak, I chose to take care of myself since my husband was away on business in Italy. I needed to rest and get well.
Those years and those nightmares of my mother still play in my mind as the dreams did last night. Although my mother was a difficult woman and not exactly mother of the year, she was my mother. I did not hate her. I lost respect for her over the years, and I worked diligently to improve our relationship, but it wasn’t meant to be; nevertheless, the way she died is questionable and I suspect my sister knows the real story. She will not share it. I’ve done enough research to complete my story, “Chattahoochee Child.” I pray my mother is at peace.
I pray I will not have any more nightmares about my mother. They always leave me shaken and heartbroken but today is a new day. Maybe last night’s nightmare was a result of the lightning and thunder? The sun is shining today. Clouds are overcast, but it is another beautiful day and I am certain it will be another steamy day of perspiration (or is it glitter that women release in the heat) while I attempt another day of yard work.
My husband and I plan to work in the back yard of our home today, moving the debris of weeds, tree branches and dead limbs he worked on yesterday. I must say, I’m not looking forward to being in the heat, but once I am outside, I will work hard to get everything thrown away, and if a storm brews, or if I hear lightning, just watch me run to the back door to get to safety. I cannot get over my fear of lightning, regardless what I do or tell myself. After all, it is only lightning. It hasn’t struck me down — YET!

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

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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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 – 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.

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!

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!