Merry Christmas, 2017


Dearest Readers:

Today, December 24, 2017 is Christmas Eve. Today is also the anniversary of two of our dearest Friends, Joan and Jim Adams. May your anniversary be as special to them as they are to us.

If you are out and about in the middle of the insane Christmas rush, please DO NOT TAILGATE. I had too many careless drivers almost attached to the bumper of my car this week. So close, I could not see their headlights. Of course, if I had to stop suddenly all of you know what would happen. I simply do not understand drivers who love to drive that close.

Please, if you are driving, do not text and drive. Do not mess with your phone if you are driving. One never knows what can happen in the blink of an eye, or taking your eyes off of your driving.

May all of you have a safe and happy Christmas season. Yes, I say Christmas because Christmas is the holiday. The birth of the Christ child.  The ONLY reason for the season.

Enjoy your time with family and friends and please make every day special. We never know how long we will be here, so please do not take careless and foolish chances with your life or someone else’s life. Life is too short to rush it away.

May all of you have a wonderful Happy Christmas. I am hopeful 2018 will be a calmer, happier year for this household. Less drama. The years of 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been so stressful to me I have to remind myself to INHALE…EXHALE…BREATHE. INHALE…HOLD FOR EIGHT SECONDS…EXHALE…HOLD FOR EIGHT SECONDS…BREATHE.

At times, practicing the art of relaxation works. Other times, I want to scream. I simply must learn to relax again. After all, life is too short.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and Happy 2018. Another year is quickly ticking away.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Walter Perkins – My Dad


Dearest Readers:

On December 19, 1914, two identical twins were born in Michigan. Lewis Eugene and Walter W. Perkins. Never did I have the honor to know Uncle Lewis. He died at 26-years-of-age from Bright’s Disease. I believe it is an inflammation of the kidneys. After his death, my father reportedly changed to a sad, miserable man. He and his identical twin were inseparable until Uncle Lewis died.

I lost my dad to esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999. I confess, a part of my heart died on that day. My dad and I were bonded. During his terminal illness, I visited him daily at the convalescent center and hospital, unless I was sick with my episodes of bronchial asthma.

Today, I would like to wish my dad and Uncle Lewis an early happy birthday in Heaven. No doubt, tomorrow will be a sad day for me; nevertheless, I will focus on the memories we made. Singing together. Teaching me to harmonize. Sharing my poems and other stories with him, and hearing him say on WCSC Channel 5 during an interview, “No. I’m not the writer. My daughter, Barbara, now she’s the writer!” My heart melted when I heard him say that. Finally, he was proud of me!

Our life together during my childhood wasn’t a good one. From the age of five-years-old, until I was 15, I served as the referee between my mother and my dad. Their marriage was a volatile marriage, filled with “I hate you…How I wish you were dead…I wish to God I’d never married you… You’re nothing but a bastard!” From both parties the hatred poured from their lips like steaming hot volcano ashes rolling vibrantly onto the grounds. Poisons. Poisons from lips without love or any form of happiness. During my childhood, I believe their angers, hatreds and tumultuous physical battles were protected within our home. I do not believe my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends of the family knew about the dreadful, dangerous domestic battles my parents fought. Secrets. Protected, never to be shared, until now. I knew not to say anything. If I did, my mother would come after me, slapping, knocking and pulling my hair out. If I wanted to live, my lips must remain closed.

Finally, at fifteen, I stood between them for the last time, telling them one of you needs to leave this marriage and this house. You’ve always hated each other… The next day, my father packed up and left. My mother spat at me telling me she hoped I was happy now. Their marriage was over and it was all my fault.

I rushed into my room. Never confronting her. Never calling my dad. I pondered my heartache inside while praying I would see my dad once again, and I would sing with him again. He visited us after the divorce. He rushed to hug me, something he never did until the bitter divorce. Gone were the shouting and fighting matches. My father had finally found out he was a ‘better man,’ as for my mother — her poisonous tongue spilled hatred to me every time she could. Shouting matches. Slapping my face. Pulling my hair until clumps of my hair fell into her hands. Never did I share these shattered, horrifying days with anyone.  I was taught to be seen, but not heard. How I detested whenever we visited family members. I was told to “say hello. Give a hug and keep your damned mouth shut.”

And so, I did!

To escape the misery of my teenage years, I married at 17. After moving to Charleston, Dad and I became much closer. When he was 68, in 1982, we moved him to Charleston to be closer to a family member. I delighted in caring for him and visiting him in his apartment until 1988 when I had to find a job to save my home and family. My job was demanding, working 40 hours plus, including weekends.

In 1997, during the holidays, Dad became ill. In December, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He chose to battle the debilitating cancer until his death in July, 1999. During that time, we made wonderful memories. I changed jobs, so I could spend more time with Dad. I watched the wonderful, happy man he became and I loved him even more than he, or anyone, could imagine.

The week before his death, he sat in his room at the nursing home, reading his Bible, praying for God to ‘take me home.’ He was spiteful with me. Almost cruel, according to his roommate, Mr. Dudley. Dad would move his hands, telling me to leave his room. Although it hurt, I swallowed my pride and listened to him doing his best to detach from me. He did not want me around when he died.

On July 6, 1999, as I walked towards his room, I met a nurse, pushing an oxygen tank. “Oh no,” I managed to say, “that isn’t a good sign.” She nodded and when she and I placed our hands on the door of Dad’s room, I knew the moment of his passing had arrived.

I screamed. Cried. Hysterically, I sat in a chair, across from Dad’s room and I listened. The nurse wanted to know if I wanted them to ‘bring him back.’ I said No. He’s a DNR. Please do not resuscitate him. Let him go. He was praying to die soon.

Nineteen years ago, according to birthdays, my father celebrated his birthday now as an identical twin. No doubt, he and Uncle Lewis have caught up and replenished their lost years. I can picture them singing in the Heavenly choirs, inseparable and happy together.

Today, I would like to celebrate Walter and Lewis Perkins, better known as the Perkins Twins a wonderful Happy Birthday. Now, 103 years-of-age December 19 will be a joyous celebration in Heaven. I can hear my dad singing harmony with Uncle Lewis, probably singing Amazing Grace together while celebrating their reunion and Christmas.

As for me, I will be busy wrapping Christmas packages and maybe going out to get more Christmas goodies for our pups and for Phil. I always keep myself extra busy on December 19. While I am happy for my father to be reunited with Uncle Lewis and with God, I miss him.

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

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to the Perkins Twins. Oh, Dad — how I miss you!

In memory of:

THE PERKINS TWINS

Lewis and Walter – Identical Twins

Separated by death at age 26;

Reunited with God’s love at 84.

Holding the gates to Heaven’s Door.

 Missing and Loving you both —

Walter’s Daughter – Barbara

 

 

Sexual Assault/Molestation – My Story #MeToo


Dearest Readers:

Today I am writing about a topic close to my heart. A secret. Well, not after today’s post.

Listening to many current events, I am finding the courage to come forward about a subject, once closed. Another of those topics considered “a family matter.” Maybe I am finally finding the courage to share these experiences now since the issue is in the news. If you follow current events, I’m certain you’ve heard the accusations regarding Harvey Weinstein. Allegations of molestation…Rape…Sexual assault. And on…and on.

Many of these stories I haven’t read thoroughly. I get angry, and then, I have dreams, actually nightmares. Nightmares I want to toss into the trash, or delete from a keyboard. It is a bit difficult to delete these tragic events from one’s mind, so for many, many years I kept quiet. Never mentioning my sexual assaults.

Last night, I awoke, talking in my sleep. While I do not recall the entire “nightmare” I heard my voice saying “Stop it! Don’t touch me. Let me go! Stop it. STOP IT!”

When I was fifteen-years-old, I was sexually molested. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My parents were in the middle of a bitter, volatile divorce. My mother would tell me to “Never trust a man. They only want you for one reason, and when they’re through with you, they’ll toss you away like yesterday’s trash. That’s just what your daddy is doing to me. Throwing me away. I hate him, and I hate you. See what you’ve done. Your daddy wouldn’t divorce me now if you left us alone. I hate you and Him!”

Yes. It’s true. I caused my parents to divorce, after separating both of them while in a tumultuous fight. Arriving home from school, I heard shouting. My bedroom was across from their room. Leaving my bedroom door open, I listened to them shouting words of hatred to each other. The fight continued for a while, then – silence. I knocked on their door. No one responded, so I opened the door.

My mother was gasping for breath. Her face was blue. My father had his back turned, then he threw a pile of mail at my mother.

“What’s going on?” I said. “I heard the fighting.”

It wasn’t the first time my parents fought. I had served as their referee since I was five-years-old. My mother stumbled to a chair.

I picked up the mail, noticing “Past Due and Final Request” stamped on some of the bills.

“She’s gone and spent money again. Money I don’t have. There’s a letter from an attorney. If I don’t pay these bills, my wages will be garnished.”

I wasn’t surprised. My mother could not handle finances and when she wanted something, she purchased rings, and other items on credit cards.

Suddenly my mother rose from the chair, heading in his direction. She balled her fist, shaking it while cursing him. Dad rushed to her, hitting her. She fell. I rushed to her aid, shouting at my father, telling him he needed to stop hitting her. If he wanted to hit someone, he could hit me. I’ve seen my father’s anger many times, but today was the worst.

I stood between them, hands extended like a referee. “Don’t touch my mother again. If you keep doing this, one of you will kill the other one. Then, you’ll be in jail. One of you needs to leave.”

The next afternoon, I came home from school excited to share I had the lead in a musical. When I walked inside the house, my mother was scantily dressed in a torn, thin gown. Her hair was messy and her eyes were filled with hatred and rage.

She jumped towards me.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she shouted. “You stupid girl. Your daddy’s left and it’s all your fault. He’s divorcing me. You can consider him dead now!”

Three days later, we moved in with our grandparents in Bibb City, the mill village of Columbus, Georgia.

One of my great uncles took a liking to me, always telling me I was pretty and sweet. He invited me to ride with him on his dry cleaning deliveries. He said we’d have a ‘good time.’

Little did I know what his definition of ‘a good time’ really meant.

It was early springtime when I rode with him. He packed a variety of Tom’s snacks and Nehi orange soda for us to enjoy on this warm Saturday. Driving along, he talked about Papa and fishing and music. He knew I loved music. He played musical instruments so he invited me to sing with him at his house.

“You’ll love the music we play,” he said. “Good ole gospel music.”

“I like jazz,” I said, sipping my drink.

Carefully, I watched the directions of his driving. I’ve always been one to look for landmarks on the road. Little did I know how smart this little game of landmarks would become. We rode around to Smith’s Station, Alabama. According to roadmaps, Smith’s Station was exactly ten miles from Columbus, Georgia.

My uncle made a right turn on a dirt road. I glanced around, looking for homes, or maybe a farm. All I saw were dusty, red clay fields and another dirt road. He made another right onto another dirt road. I glanced behind me, noticing the dust from the roads created a thick, red fog.

“There aren’t any homes around here. Where are we going?”

My uncle smiled a devious smile. He reached his right arm over to me. “Come here,” He said. “You need to sit closer to me.”

I did not move. He thrust his arm my way, pulling me to him. My body tightened.

The interior of his truck was dusty. Freshly cleaned clothing hung on one side of the truck, covered with plastic and delivery orders attached. Still, I could see the red fog, now so thick I wasn’t certain anyone could see us.

“Where are we going?”

My uncle grinned. “Just relax. We’re going to pick blackberries.”

All I could see was a dirt road. The fields were freshly planted. I doubted blackberries were ready to pick. Something frightened me.

My uncle turned right again, pulling into a thick pile of brush and leaves. Tall pine trees grew in a line, so tall I felt I could reach the clouds if I climbed them. I wasn’t a tree climber. My uncle parked the truck, turning the motor off.

He laughed a horrifying, wicked laughter I did not like to hear. He pulled me closer to him.

“Stop it,” I said. I don’t want to get close to you.”

“Don’t you miss your daddy?” He asked. “Your mama said you cry for him. Come closer to me. I can be your daddy.”

“No,” I shouted, knowing no one would ever hear me. We were in the middle of a deserted field of red clay and pine trees.

“I want to get to know you better.”

“There are no blackberries around here. You lied to me.”

I remember crying. I was so horrified. Just what was my great uncle planning to do with me?

“I wanna go home,” I said, wiping my tears.

“And I want to know you better. You’re such a pretty girl. Your mama knows how pretty you are. She said I should be closer to you since your daddy left.”

His hands gripped my legs hard, moving up my thigh. He moved his right hand to my chest. I pushed away, but he was strong. Now, he was moving his entire body towards me, getting on top of me.

I screamed again, only I knew no one would hear. If I had any chance to get away from this monster great uncle, I had to fight for myself.

Since I was only 15-years-old and did not have any brothers, I had no idea how to fight, but I did all I could. My mother had never discussed sex with me, or what a girl could do to fight back. My arms were hard to move since he was on top of me. I heard the sound of a zipper, realizing my shorts were loser now. His hands rushed all over my body, moving into my genitals. I bit his arm. He pulled away for only a moment. My right arm was free now, so I moved my hands in the direction of his crotch. I had no idea what I should do, but I remember grabbing his crotch and I squeezed as hard as I could.

He screamed in pain. His body went limp. I pushed him away and I grabbed the door. Rushing outside, I ran as hard as I could. I knew the way home. I could walk. Smith Station and Columbus were only ten miles away. I was suddenly thankful I had strong legs and could walk the distance. The dirt road was almost an open field, so I could not find a place to hide. In the distance, I heard his truck. He was coming after me.

Raised in the Assembly of God Church, my grandmother had taught me to pray. Tears streaming down my face, I ran. When I saw his truck, I darted into a dry field with trees. Just maybe he could not drive his truck into the trees.

“Please, God. Help me. I don’t know what he wants to do with me, but I don’t like it. Please, God. HELP ME!”

My uncle saw me. He stopped the truck, opened the driver’s door and got out.

“You need to come back. We’ve got to pick blackberries.”

“You’re a liar,” I shouted. “I’m not getting back in the truck.”

He laughed. “Just how do you plan to get back home?”

“Walking,” I shouted as loud as I could scream. “I know the way.”

He rushed towards me. I noticed he was moving slower. Just maybe I had hurt him a little bit. Good. He deserves to hurt.

He moved closer to me, and when he did, I kicked him as hard as I could, right between his legs. He fell to the ground. I ran.

“Please God, guide me home. And please don’t let him catch me.”

A bit later, I heard the truck. My uncle gunned the engine, catching me. I looked behind me. The truck was getting so close I panicked, remembering when I was hit by a car at nine-years-old. I stepped to the side of the road. My uncle stopped the truck.

He was holding one of his hands by his crotch, and he moaned as if he was in pain.

“You get in this truck. I’ll take you home.”

“I’m walking,” I said.

My uncle jumped out of the car, picked me up and opened the passenger door. Kicking and screaming, I remember fighting as hard as I could to get free. He threw me in the seat.

“Don’t you move!” He said. “I’m taking you home.”

“I don’t want to be with you. I don’t like you anymore.”

“You just sit still. We’ll be back to your house before you know it.” He drove off, driving as fast as he could.

“If you tell one person I touched you, you’ll be sorry.” He said. “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Tears were pouring down my face, and I tried to speak but my words were only garbled. Inhaling, exhaling, and slowly breathing, I calmed myself down, managing to speak.

“If you move one finger over here towards me, you’ll be sorry,” I said. “I know what to do now, and I’ll do it again if I have to. After today, don’t you even speak to me again. I hate you!”

Arriving home, I rushed to my bedroom. My mother asked why I was home so early. I ignored her.

I gathered some clothes and I rushed to the bathroom. I wanted to get the red dust off of myself. Scrubbing my body hard with Ivory soap, I cried and cried until there were no more tears left.

My great uncle came to the house a few days later. When I saw his truck, I rushed away.

Still, to this day, I can still hear his words, “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Maybe now, someone will. I was victim at fifteen-years-old. Never did I report his sexual molestations of me. Why? Simple. Back in those days, who would believe a fifteen-year-old? They would say, You were asking for it. You wore shorts and T-shirt and you have a nice chest. You were just asking for it.

No, I wasn’t. In the dark of night while sleeping I still hear his words echoing to me.

“I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

When he died, my mother phoned me, encouraging me to come to his funeral. I remember saying to her, “He can rot in Hell for all I care. He molested me.” That was the first time I shared his attack with anyone.

Regardless who or what a man is, there is no excuse for anyone to molest, rape or sexually assault any child or woman. Even if he is – a deacon in the church.

Now, people are under the impression a woman should always come forward; however, unless you are a victim, you cannot understand why it is so difficult and painful to “come forward.” It takes courage.

Victims are made to feel dirty, cheap, with a lack of self-esteem. I’ll not share how many years it was before I came forward and shared my story about my great uncle. When I did, I was told he had a history of ‘liking young girls.’

Looks like he got away with what he did, at least with me, after all – He was a deacon in the church.DSC_0032_edited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Chef Shane Whiddon


Good morning to all. If you follow my posts on Facebook and my blog, you will know yesterday was another tragic day in the Holy City of Charleston, SC.

Yesterday, a disgruntled, former employee walked into Virginia’s on King Restaurant with a sick mission on his mind. He reportedly has mental health issues.

Holding a weapon, he told everyone inside the restaurant to get on the floor and exit the building. One woman stated he pointed the weapon on her stomach. He did not shoot her.

Since I write about food and hospitality, I know quite a few chefs within the Lowcountry of Charleston, I researched Virginia’s on King Street Restaurant. At that time, I was able to click on to the website and read. I did not research the chef at that time.

Later, after reports of one person killed and the shooter in critical condition, I rushed back to the website, hoping to discover who the chef was. When I clicked on the site, I discovered it was temporarily unavailable. I realized there was probably only one reason the site was down. Perhaps the chef was the victim killed. Listening to the news reports, the interviews with Sheriff Al Cannon, and the Mayor of Charleston, John Tecklenburg, no one would share the name of the deceased victim or the name of the shooter.

While reports continued, a reputable friend sent me the name of Chef Shane Whiddon. Although he looked familiar to me, I do not recall ever having the privilege to interview him for a story. It is unfortunate that I’ve never eaten at Virginia’s on King Street.

Chef Anthony Shane Whiddon was 37-years-old, leaving a wife and two children.

http://abcnews4.com/news/crime-news/shane-whiddon-chef-at-virginias-on-king-dies-after-shooting-at-charleston-restaurant

I have no details about the shooter with exception that he was a ‘disgruntled former employee’ and he is in critical condition now.

My heart breaks for the family of Chef Shane Whiddon, Shannon, his wife, and their two lovely children. A neighbor of the family has established a Go Fund Me page, hopeful to raise $10,000 to go to the family.

https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/Eat/archives/2017/08/25/gofundme-campaign-created-to-support-the-family-of-chef-shane-whiddon-virginias-restaurant-homicide-victim

I’ve lived in the Holy City of Charleston for many years. I recall working as an intern at one of the local TV stations when I was in college. One of my responsibilities was to contact all police departments to see if anything was happening so we could be first with the “if it bleeds it leads,” stories. During my internship, the only report I discovered was a fire. No shootings. Killings. Rapes. Robberies. Drug busts…Nothing newsworthy.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure to know many successful chefs as students when I worked at Johnson & Wales University. Many of them are internationally famous, earning many awards for the amazing and tantalizing foods created by their talents, and many of these chefs chose to remain in Charleston. I suppose you could say, I have been blessed. Yes, indeed!

Now, almost daily there is a shooting. Drug busts and robberies. I ask myself: What has happened to the Holy City of Charleston?

Yes. This beautiful city has grown. Reportedly, we have lots of hopeful new residents moving into the lowcountry daily. I suppose with growth comes crimes. Now, we have crimes on a daily basis. I have been told by a number of people about how easy it is to get a weapon in South Carolina. I suppose I’m from the old school and don’t believe in weapons, but — this is South Carolina and in the Holy City, apparently it is rather easy to get a weapon. So sad. And now, another innocent victim is gone, all because a ‘disgruntled former employee walked into a restaurant and killed the chef.’

Since I am active within the hospitality industry, knowing many of the leaders of food and beverage and hospitality, I pray everyone will come together to assist the family of Chef Shane Whiddon. Now, his wife will be a single mom, raising two children who probably will never understand why their daddy was taken away by someone shooting and killing him. Just how do you explain that to a child? Yesterday morning, Chef left his family to go to work, creating delicious Southern foods for the guests at Virginia’s on King Street. He never came home.

Just what do you say when the children ask: “Where’s my daddy? Why can’t he come home to me? I miss my daddy.”

Chef Shane Whiddon was a family man. He had a generous heart and soul. I checked the Go Fund Me site only a moment ago. Contributions raised in only nine hours: $5,280.

No doubt the Holy City of Charleston feels the pain and loss, and so do I.

Such a sad day today. We are expecting more storms this afternoon probably like the torrential storms pouring down while the police officers rushed around to protect our city.  I must say, they did an amazing job yesterday. Makes me proud of our Holy City.

To the family and friends of Chef Shane Whiddon, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray God will guide all of you and give you strength during this traumatic time of grief.

If you would like to contribute to the Go Fund Me page for Chef Shane Whiddon, visit:

https://www.gofundme.com/helping-the-whiddon-family

cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge

 

Happy Anniversary to My Husband


Dearest Readers:

Good morning, Everyone. I hope your day is splendid. I am posting something today, not to get personal wishes. Today, I am posting just to wish my husband, Phil Cooper, Happy Anniversary. We started our marriage off with many road blocks and detours. Three months after our marriage, I watched him board a plane from Charleston to Fort Dix and then to Viet Nam. Over the years, we’ve had other storms and battles, but we have always walked tall and survived. Today, is our anniversary. I will not share how many years. Just know, I was a teenage bride. Everyone in my family said our marriage would not last. They said I must be pregnant.  His family said I married him for his money? Were both families wrong! If I was pregnant at the time of our marriage, I do believe it was the longest pregnancy in history — three years, to be exact.

Isn’t it strange how cruel and vindictive some families can be! Instead of wishing us well, they criticized. Instead of taking the time to really get to know me as a wife, his mother said I ‘stole her son.’ Stole her son??? Excuse me. IF anyone stole her son, it was the United States Army!

As you know, I am a singer. My dream in life was to become a professional singer, but I lacked the confidence that I could REALLY sing, until we started going to karaoke. Repeatedly, I have people tell me I have an amazing voice and stage presence. Many times, I blink my eyes, almost in disbelief. If only I had that confidence and encouragement in my younger years.

There is a song I sing occasionally, especially when my lady friends request it. This song holds a piece of my heart. What is the song title, you say? ‘YOU DON’T OWN ME!’

“You don’t own me. Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me. Don’t tie my down cause I’ll never stay…”

So symbolic to me! Why? I got married at a time where many women automatically took the name of their husband, and so I became: Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. ?? I remember asking myself why I must address myself as Mrs. PRC. Didn’t I STILL have a name? Whatever happened to me and my maiden name? I did not like to address myself as “Mrs. Cooper.” I wanted to have my name. My independence. Just because I got married does not mean I stopped existing! All of the letters Phil wrote to me in Viet Nam were addressed to Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. Gee. I thought I STILL had a name!

So much for my existence! Now, I address myself as Barbie Perkins-Cooper. It tickles me when others address Phil as “Mr. Perkins-Cooper!”

Maybe now he can understand how I feel! I like having my independence. Just because I married does not mean I must toss away who I am!

Today, I wish Phil and I a great anniversary. Over the years, we’ve had our share of issues. I admit, I am a most independent woman and I do not like being told what to do. What woman does? I admit, when we were newlyweds, I allowed him to dictate what to do, how to do it…How to dress…How to wear my hair…etc. ETC! In the 1980’s I finally stood up and spoke and when I did — I truly became the woman I’ve wanted to be. So

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Cypress Gardens

today, I will reminisce about our relationship, thankful we have worked so hard to keep our marriage intact. Tonight, we will celebrate at karaoke. I always say to others, “Marriage is truly a work-in-progress!’ And so, I will continue working. Happy Anniversary to Phil. I’ll not say how many years, but I will say — “We’ve been married forever!”

Your question to me on this night when I sing could be — “Will you sing “You Don’t Own Me.”

Maybe I will. And if I do, I probably have my stage performance ready! Just wait and see.

“You don’t own me….Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me…Don’t tie me down cause I’ll never stay…”

Happy Anniversary, Phil. Thank you for all you’ve done over the years to show me I am worthy and deserving of love, and thank you for sticking it out with me, especially when I fought to rediscover my independence.

When the Lightning From Storms Frighten Me


Dearest Readers:

Although someone might say it isn’t early morning, for me it is since I slept fairly well last night. Crawling out of bed just before 9:00 am, I yawned, stretched and was thankful for a bit of sleep.

Today Phil and I will go shopping. Seems he wants to go to Tanger Outlet. So, I suppose I’ll drink another cup of coffee, just to get me going!

Last night, we had another band of those dreadful storms we’ve been having lately. Driving in my car, every time I saw the lightning flash, my body jumped.

Why am I so frightened of lightning, you might ask? Allow me to explain. When I was a child, I recall my mother telling me if I did not behave…IF I wasn’t a “good girl,” God would send the lightning after me. I remember her saying, and I quote: “If you don’t behave God is gonna strike you dead with that lightning.”

Every time there was a storm with lightning, I would jump. Mama would laugh at me and say: “You’re such a stupid girl. God don’t love ugly and that’s why He sends the lightning to you. He wants the lightning to hit you. God don’t love ugly and you are one ugly thing. I hope God strikes you dead!”

I was the middle child. One of my sisters was quiet. Timid. She never questioned authority. The other two – I’m still not certain. Let’s just say, our childhood was not the typical childhood of four daughters.

As for me, I was boisterous. When I entered a room, I made an impression. Good or bad…I’m still not certain. I loved to hop on stage and let the world know I was around!

Once, while walking home from the library in Atlanta, Georgia, a summer storm horrified me. I saw the lightning flashing. I remember rushing. Running. I had to get home to get inside my closet so the lightning could not find me. I was horrified!

Arriving home, I grabbed a towel to dry my hair and face and I rushed into my closet, shutting the door tightly.

Stopping at a red light last night, Phil saw me jumping when the lightning flashed. He asked me why I was so afraid.

“Haven’t I told you what my mother did to me as a child and as a teenager?”

“What?” He asked, turning the radio down so he could hear me.

“When I was a child, my mother told me I must always be a ‘good girl.’ She said IF I wasn’t a good girl, God would send the lightning down to strike me dead.”

“Did she do that to your sisters?”

“I don’t know. We never discussed it.”

Although I have three sisters, I do not recall if we ever discussed the cruelties of our mother’s poisoned, venomous tongue.

I suppose even though I am now grown and smart enough to know her words were cruel, I should also know God isn’t a mean power. He is my strength. My faith. He is the power who made me what I am today.

God would never want anyone to be struck by lightning. Storms are simply storms, filled with energy, rain and power — but of a different kind.

How I wish I could get over my fear of lightning, but I suppose I will never accomplish that. All of my childhood, I was frantic. When friends would say they love to see the flash of lightning, I cringed. My body shook. My hands and legs trembled. I gasped. Sometimes I screamed. Lightning is bad. It’s gonna strike you dead!

As a newlywed, and years later, each time the lightning flashed at night, it would awaken me and scare me half to death. I wear a sleep mask now, to help keep the lightning away. Sometimes, I wear two sleeping masks, just to keep me safe. Yes. I know. It’s silly. After all, the lightning is only lightning. It reminds me of a mad, vicious animal, growling, searching for its next prey — ME!

Once I asked my mother why she said such cruel things to me about the lightning. She laughed, a cruel, vindictive laughter. I left the room. I knew she would never explain.

Today, more storms are forecast. If they occur, I will close my eyes and try to tell myself: this is only a storm. It will not hurt me. I will be fine.

Looking out the window, while writing this, the skies are thick with a blanket of gray. Treetops are moving, dancing the breath of an approaching storm. I do not hear thunder, nor do I see lightning. I’m hopeful we will have a rain storm. Nothing more.

Although I will see more lightning when these torrential storms arrive, I will remind myself that the approaching storms are not to harm me. The rains water our gardens. The breezing winds give us a bit of coolness after we’ve had such a hot summer, filled with sauna like temperatures. As for the lightning, for me, all it creates is a VIOLENT  energy. Sometimes a wicked energy. I can still hear my mother’s sharp tongue. Her cruel words. “You’re such a bad girl, and God don’t love bad girls. He’ll send the lightning to get you. You better be a good girl.”

Maybe I should’ve asked my mother: Just what do you think a good girl is? I’m a good girl. I obey you. I do as I am told. I don’t do drugs. I go to church and in school, I get good grades and I behave. Why can’t you see I am a GOOD GIRL! I’ve never gotten into any trouble – EVER! I’m a GOOD GIRL!!!

The winds are blowing harder now. My mimosa trees are dancing a soft ballet of motion, swaying ever so elegantly to the left and right. The grass is so tall it needs cutting again, and we cut earlier this week. No doubt there will be another storm today. I suppose I shall pray once again: Dear God. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead like my mother wished when I was a child. Please keep me safe.

Glancing out the window again, the breeze is still. The mimosa trees are hardly moving. The skies still thick with the blanket of storms anticipated. Another day of ‘the calm BEFORE the storms.’

Dear God. It’s me again. Barbie. Please. When the storms arrive, and the lightning flashes, please remind me that you will keep me safe. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead.

 

 

We Are Family…


Dearest Readers:
I suppose one could say this week has been an eventful week. A week of highs. Lows. Events. Thankfulness and most of all, Gratitude.
Early Tuesday, I left Charleston, driving to Georgia to visit with my sister and her family. My sister’s name shall remain anonymous. I believe in protecting privacy. We had a nice visit and dinner, planning the next day at the hospital. My sister was scheduled for a heart Cather. Her blood pressure has been rising, and she has been a bit tired. I suppose she should be tired since she is still working and on her feet a lot, and she chases after a darling little two-year-old great grand.
Early Wednesday morning, her family picks me up and off we drive thru the heart of Atlanta, GA traffic. I’m accustomed to traffic jams since we have so many as a daily routine now in Charleston. Arriving at the hospital, my sister checked in. We were told to remain in the waiting area. “Someone will come to get you later.”
My sister’s procedure was scheduled for 2:00 pm. It was about 10:00 am now. Because I am a coffee connoisseur, I smelled the freshly brewed coffee. I ask the attendant at the front desk where I could get some of that delicious aroma. He guided me to where it was. The coffee machine wasn’t a Keurig, although it worked on the same premise. I do not own a Keurig but a grind and brew machine, so I had ‘no clue’ how to operate it. Back to the attendant, I go. Yes, it was a blonde moment!
“Excuse me,” I say, using my flirty personality. “Just how does one operate this machine to get a cup of coffee?”
He smiled. A nice, young guy, dressed in pale blue, denim scrubs. He showed me how to operate the machine and within a few minutes, I had a hot cup of coffee! Most of you who read my blog will know, I’m not worth anything, nor can I function until I’ve had coffee in the morning! With my sister away getting prepped for her procedure, I enjoyed the coffee, not wanting to drink any coffee around her. That would be selfish and I am not considered to be a selfish person.
Tick Tock. The clock continued passing the time away as we sat. And SAT. AND SAT! Finally, we were called back to see my sister. She rested in a bed. IV solution hooked up, along with all the machinery. Ready and waiting for the infamous 2:00 hour. She appeared to be in good spirits. Tick. Tock.
I suppose I should report here I was lacking major sleep. Although it was Wednesday, my average sleep for this week was about four to five hours nightly. So exhausted I wanted to scream or cry, just like I do when I am fighting to sleep during stressful weeks, I kept reminding myself I was not stressful. I had prayed, and prayed, for God to keep my sister safe and for her not to require open heart surgery. How I remember open heart surgery since my husband had a quadruple bypass in 1998. I remember touching his skin after his surgery. His skin was clammy and freezing to the touch. He was connected to a ventilator and other machinery. He did not respond to my voice or my touch. The nurse caring for him was named Kevin. “He is highly sedated, so he cannot respond to you, but he is all right.” Easy for him to say since he was the attending nurse, and I, the wife of the recovering patient, had never seen my husband in this condition. Feeling a bit faint, I inhaled. Exhaled. And walked out, rushing quickly to the waiting area, spending late hours at the waiting area. Waiting. No doubt this would be a late night.
About midnight, I sent word to Kevin that I was going home. I left my cell and landline phone numbers with him, in the event he needed to contact me.
Now, here I sit with my niece, awaiting the hour to start my sister’s procedure. At 2:03 pm, she was wheeled back to the operating room. We met with the doctor prior to the procedure. He mentioned he would do a heart Cather, looking for the leaks and or blockages. If a blockage was found, he would do a stint. He had a soft, kind patient and family mannerism and I liked him. He took the time to answer our questions, reassuring us she would be fine.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we were becoming a bit tired from sitting and not knowing anything. I approached the kind attendant at the desk. He reassured me he would check to get a status report. A few minutes later, we were called back. My sister’s procedure was complete and the doctor would see us in a few minutes. My sister was removed from recovery. We stood next to her bed. Her color was great. No paleness and no ‘deathly white’ like my husband was after his heart surgery.
According to the doctor (sorry, I cannot remember his name), my sister had “about an 80% blockage, so he performed a stint. She has a few small blockages that I believe we can care for with medications and getting her cholesterol lower. She will spend the night here and should go home tomorrow.”
I breathed a sigh of relief! My sister was going to be AOK! Thank you, God!
After spending most of the day at the hospital, my niece and I were exhausted. I was hoping I would sleep that night. I suppose although I felt I was not ‘that worried’ – Obviously, I was and that is why I failed to relax and sleep.
Now, home in Charleston again, I am happy to report last night I got at least eight hours of sleep. I awoke after 8:30 am. Normally, I am awake and moving around by 7:30. Yes, I needed rest. After a week of speaking to God like He was my closest friend, I am thankful my sister phoned me to let me know about her procedure. And I am thankful I was able to make the plans necessary to get to her and her family prior to the procedure, and I am grateful for a caring, loving sister who considers me a part of her family.
“What?” You might be asking. “Of course you are family.”
Only those with a close family would ask such a question.
My sister and I have worked for years to repair the damage of our childhoods, and now, we are family.
As the song says:
“We are Family. I’ve got my sisters with me.”
For me, I will say:
“We are Family. I’ve got one sister with me…”
Yes, I am thankful for the one sister I am blessed to bond with and to share life with. Most of all, I am thankful she came through her heart Cather without any problems.
No doubt, God was holding her hand during the procedure.
Thank you, God, for all you do for those who believe!
Yes. We are Family…!

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