My Thoughts On Friendship

Dearest Readers:

Normally if I write in my blog on Thursday’s I write about my weekly accomplishments with Weight Watchers. Today’s discussion will be about the touchy, sometimes controversial subject of friendship. While at Weight Watchers today, the subject of friendship entered my mind. Why? Simple. I do not have many “friends.”

Did you notice I placed the seven letter words of friends in quotes? Perhaps. Why? Simple — friendship is a complicated subject open for discussion.

As a child, I grew up in many locations. None that I referred to as home, with exception of my grandparents home in a mill village. My parents moved us around like gypsies on the road. Roots never existed for our family. Each time I hear someone describe how they ‘love to go home again,’ I cringe. Envious. During high school (remember those years — only four years until adulthood?) Well, during those four years, I went to six high schools. In one year, I changed high school three times. My Freshman year – the year where I had difficulty passing English? It was a torrential time in my life. My parents fought like maniac cats and dogs — barking…growling…huffing…puffing…cursing…threatening, then — beating each other. When I was 15, on a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, I pulled them apart again – this time for the last time! That Saturday my mother moved us again — this time, back to our maternal grandparent’s home. At their tiny brick mill house, there were two bedrooms. One bathroom. Four girls. Our mother, and our grandparents. Privacy did not exist.

For weeks, I rebelled. Refusing to go to school, refusing to talk…refusing life. I took walks by myself. I discovered an isolated route leading to the shores of the Chattahoochee River, and there, hovered down, staring at the shoreline, angry and hurt that my parents were divorcing and my mother forced us to live in such a crowded home, I cried. Angry because my mother wanted me to cut the cords with my ‘no good b——Daddy. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Don’t ever say his name around me again!”

Unbeknownst to her, I kept in touch with my dad.

I recall thinking about my roots, only I didn’t have any. Thrust in a small mill village where everyone knew everything, I refused to make friends. I hid the secrets of my childhood in the red clay riverbanks of the Chattahoochee River. During another battle with my mother, she shouted to me, demanding that I go to school so I could graduate. She pointed her finger in my face, demanding that IF I did not enroll in high school, she would see me working at the Bibb Mill. Remember, I was only 15! I did not want to work in the mill, nor did I want to live in Bibb City.

Deciding the only decision I could make was to return to school, I enrolled, went to class, but I did not make friends. I sat in the back of the classroom, refusing to socialize with other students. I was ashamed. A mill kid with only the clothes on her back. Nothing more. One of my cousins cleaned out her closet, giving me her ‘hand-me-down clothes.’ When she saw me wearing them, she laughed, shouting something about I was so poor the only decent clothes I had were her ‘hand-me-downs.’ I wanted to hit her, but I walked away, deciding to remain — ALONE.

During my final high school days, my grades improved. All I did was force my eyes into books at the library and at school. In Atlanta, I was a singer for a rock band. In Columbus, the music stopped, with exception of the church and school choirs. I made only a few friends, never inviting them to our home. Why? We had no privacy. If I brought a friend home, I couldn’t play music because ‘rock n’ roll music was a sin,’ according to my grandfather. He didn’t believe we should play with the school kids, but only the kids in the mill village. I rebelled.

Today, at Weight Watchers I listened to the new program learning how I could be more successful with my weight loss journey. Afterwards, I had lunch with two of my dearest friends from Weight Watchers. After lunch, Tammy invited me to go shopping with her, so off we went, driving around the area while getting to know each other better. I must say, I really enjoy this new friendship with Tammy and Sara. I am blessed! Now that I am home, I started thinking about friendship.

Friendship is defined as “the state of being friends: the relationship between friends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. I confess, I have a limited amount of friends. I consider friendship as a relationship between people who trust and love each other. A friend is someone you can count on. Trust. Appreciate. A person who you can spill your heart to while knowing that the trust will not be broken. A friend is someone who will NOT pretend to be your friend, just to go and share your heartfelt feelings to others.

Today, while riding with Tammy I feel a new bonding with her. A connection. No, I will not share our conversations, after all, isn’t that what true friends do — listen. Talk. Relate, while not going behind your back to as I describe, “stab you in the back.” When a friend talks with me, I do not share those conversations to others. I believe in the bond of trust.

Backstabbers are not friends. I have met many. Two that I really thought were my friends, only to discover behind my back they were whispering — starting ugly gossip. Have I shared that I detest gossip? I refer these people as ‘acquaintances,’ not “friends!”

I suppose I am from the old school — where friendship is to be cherished. I suppose my husband is my greatest friend. For years I thought husbands and wives could not be classified as friends since intimacy was combined within the relationship; nevertheless, now I say my husband is probably my dearest friend. He has seen me walk through the darkness of my childhood when I shared the years of abuse with him. He is the only one who held me tight when I fell apart emotionally. On that horrific night of my life, he listened without fighting with me. He knows my darkest secrets, and to my knowledge he hasn’t discussed those issues with anyone else. He guided me to find the strength to break away and to rise above and build a new life with him. Yes, we’ve had moments where I didn’t know if we would survive — many times when I stood my ground with him – refusing to allow him to rule me — however, he is my strength. My foundation. My Rock!

Friendship is truly something all of us need in our lives. A friend will listen. A friend comforts. A friend guides and understands — even when we think we cannot get through another day.

To my closest friends, I say thank you. To Gina, Tammy, and my high school “lifetime best friend,” — Charlotte, I say thank you. Without all of you by my side, I would not be the person I am today, while I journey to find strength and joy within my heart and soul. Due to your encouragement I discovered it is important to love ourselves, so we can be the best friend to our friends.

To those people who say “I don’t need friends…” I must remind you, if you do not have friends, you must live a lonely, isolated unhappy life.

I salute and toast my friends. I would not be the woman I am today without you. The good. The bad…The indifferent…The opinionated…The glitzy, gregarious “drama queen who loves her bling” and mostly the kind, happy woman I smile at in the mirror. The woman who permitted the music to return so she could sing again! I hope my reflections of friendship will encourage all of my readers to take a step to make friends.

Thank you! Happy Friendship!

To All of My Readers Thank You For Your Interest and Comments

Dearest Readers:

This will be brief, due to an eye infection, I must not be on the computer for any length of time; however, since I’ve had so many readers inquire as to how difficult it is to blog, write…etc…I would like to respond.

Many of you have stated you keep a journal. As a child and a young woman, I did the same. Writing in a diary or journal was a family tradition, until my dad died. After that date, July 6, 1999. I stopped writing in a journal. It simply broke my heart to follow that tradition so I chose to write – on my computer instead. Now, that I blog, I usually write in my blog, sometimes freewriting, other times, using a topic I have chosen. If something ruffles my feathers, you can bet, I will vocalize these incidents in my blog. Just read some of my topics and you will discover.

Is setting up a blog difficult? Many have asked that question. My simple answer is no. I enjoy using; however, I do find adding images or photographs difficult. Perhaps I need to upgrade. Who knows? I am a bit skeptical adding my photographs anyway, because they are my professional images and I do not want others to copy or steal them.

But what do I write, you might ask? Just open a ‘vein and let it bleed.’ If something ruffles your feathers, write about it. If something ticks you off — write about it. A few years ago, after a disturbing incident at Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Hospital, locally in Charleston, I wrote about a rude nurse who told me, and I quote, “If you don’t like our service, you can go elsewhere.” I spun quickly on my heel, and I inhaled…exhaled…and then…I used my Julia Sugarbaker style to let that young, inconsiderate RUDE nurse maybe she could go elsewhere. I came home. Opened my blog, and I wrote about that incident. Yes, it is still here on my blog…Let’s just say, before my letter could get to the appropriate departments at the VA Hospital, I got a phone call. In fact several phone calls.
Apologies…This only proves how quickly the Internet is to vocalize your opinion. However, I caution you to be correct…don’t embellish and make certain you are writing the truth.

I suppose I am from the old school of writing. I research and confirm my facts, I do not embellish, and I encourage others to do the same.

They say to write what you know…and that is what I do here — on my blog. If I can assist you, just leave a comment or e-mail me. I have a web presence, so I am fairly easy to locate.

Thank you, all of you for reading my blog. I hope you will continue. And now, I must close this and rest this silly eye. Funny, just before it got so red, I noticed that I could see better without my contacts. I think God has healed my sight. Isn’t that wonderful!

Goodnight world. I look forward to your comments. Meanwhile, just write. is a great place to share your thoughts. May God bless us everyone!

When Customer Service Makes Your Day

Dearest Readers:

After my last post, maybe I should write an update. Yesterday was a bad day for me…one where I wanted to simply crawl into the woodwork and NEVER come out. Today, I am happy to report is a good day.

At least it has started off better. Yesterday, I had one of my emotional meltdowns, right in front of a complete stranger. All I could do was cry, like a baby, as my husband would say.

Yesterday, when I had my meltdown I was at Gerald’s Tires, attempting to get an estimate on brakes and one more tire. I suppose I wasn’t communicating correctly since I was so stressed, but a kind and gentle guy at Gerald’s suddenly became my guardian angel. While I was struggling to communicate, between sighs and tears, a guy named Greg entered the area. He touched my hand, told me everything was going to be ok and they could get me an estimate on these repairs. Well, you guessed it — I burst into tears.

Why? I don’t know. Somebody turned on the water works and I could not stop.

Today, my car is at Gerald’s, to receive the final new tire and brakes. Now, when I travel alone, I will be safe. No monster will find me broken down, or with a flattened or blown out tire along the road. Thank you, God! Thank you, Gerald’s Tires — most especially, thank you, Greg! You were my knight in shining armor yesterday, and today on the phone. There is something to be said about customer service, and I must say, Gerald’s Tires in Mount Pleasant, SC is doing the right thing with their customer service! No Good Ole Boys — just GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE and they appear to understand the frustrations from a woman’s perspective! Now, I feel better — my writing day can begin!

Mother Nature…Chilling Breezes…and the Good Ole Boys!

Dearest Readers:

Someone on Facebook mentioned a freewriting site that is private, so here I am typing away. I suppose it could be referred to as ‘freewriting,’ the infamous writing tasks that writers do to get the wheels in motion so they can write. I am only one of those writers. At times, I struggle to get the words down. Other times, my fingers cannot dance across the keyboard quickly enough. So be it. We are writers. Thomas Wolfe once said, “Writing is easy…you just open a vein and bleed.” How I can relate!

But, one might ask — what is freewriting, and why should I care? Duh! Freewriting is a form of just getting the words down, and that is what I am doing today — just to see IF this will help me to write regularly. Reportedly, when a writer ‘freewrites,’ he or she doesn’t correct the spelling, doesn’t edit, but simply writes. I have the tendency to correct and edit as I write. Maybe that’s why I find freewriting torture!

As a writer, I now hate the task of writing. Years ago, in college, I did not understand when the professor stated that writers HATE to write. I disagreed with him. Well now, older, wiser, and still rejected at times, — a reality that ALL writers face — I can truly share that my professor was correct. There are times I hate to write.

My readers tell me that I can write and that they ‘love reading my stories.’ How I laugh. While I appreciate the kindness of my reading public, I do not share how stressed I get when I cannot write. An example of that is yesterday. I had the day planned, starting with taking my car to the garage to be serviced. I asked the Dodge garage to check my car thoroughly. When completed, they shared that I needed a new tire and my rear brakes were wearing out. The quote for this was almost $400, so I drove to another site, Gerald’s, to be exact. When I told my husband about the quote, of course, he questioned everything. “We just bought you four new tires,” he screamed.

“Nope. If you recall, we bought three tires.”

He wanted to argue, and this set me off. My husband could easily be the king of the good ole boys club! After hanging up with him, I burst into tears. Never does he believe me and he always has to correct me — convinced that I am wrong; however, this time he is incorrect and I can prove it with the invoices from the tire purchases. I ask you — why do men have to ALWAYS be right? Like all humans, they are not perfect, although my husband totally disagrees. He NEVER MAKES MISTAKES. Oh, please! The tears continue to pour and I am so angry I could scream! An ocean of tears that refused to stop. ‘Why am I crying?’ I asked myself. ‘There’s no need for these tears.’

I inhaled. Exhaled. Meditated. Looked up into the gray skies and had a discussion with God. Finally, the stress lifted and I was able to wipe my tears away. When my husband came home, thank goodness his mood improved. He held me close, suggesting we go out for dinner, so I could relax.

“Just go get us something. I don’t want to do anything tonight.”

Later, I sat on the couch, catching up on the stack of newspapers that I hadn’t had the time to read for five days.

Why is my life so stressful? Why can’t I manage my time better? Maybe I’m spending too much time on Facebook, so effective this morning, I am cutting back on my time on social media, I plan to organize and clean out my e-mail system, and I plan to write more.

Still freewriting here.

Today is a new day. The sun is shining brightly on this bitterly cold spring day. According to Weather Bug, the temperature outside in Charleston, SC is a crisp 36 degrees. Normally by this date, I have a nice tan. Not this year. I haven’t been to the beach at all this spring. It is much too chilly for me, and if I’m not careful, I will get overly chilled and get dreadfully sick. Today, I still need to wear tights, sweaters and coats. I have no idea what is happening with Mother Nature and I am curious — just WHO made her so angry that she decided to extend her winter breezes? Maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of retaliating with the good ole boys! As for me, I would love to embrace Mother Nature and tell her it is time to ‘move forward with life…not look back!’ Yes, Mother Nature — are you listening? We have thick layers of pollen flying around, mixed with the bitterness of your cool breezes. This is Charleston, SC. The number one tourist destination!?! Yes, I know — the city better known as the ‘good ole boys’ club…Well, just maybe it is time for those good ole boys to step down and let Mother Nature do her best, like she always does. We need warm weather here — not chilling winter breezes. Besides, I am sick of dealing with ‘good ole boys!’ They have such a 1950’s attitude about women, and this woman refuses to give in to the good ole boys. Grow up guys, and be a real man!

Still struggling to write the 750 words needed on this site, while I sip another warm cup of freshly brewed coffee. My children are playing outside, barking, wanting to come inside. I suppose they want to be warm. Maybe I’ll stop for now and embrace my children. Maybe it’s time for me to move forward and thank God for another day, even IF it is still cold! Br-rrr! I miss springtime! As for the ‘good ole boys’ I say — who cares! I will let Mother Nature take care of them, and she is definitely a woman no man wants to cross! If you are a good ole boy, please recognize it is time you moved into the Twenty-first Century!!!

Smoking Is So Cool…Just Ask the Younger Generation And In the Future…Welcome to the Zipper Club!

Over the weekend my husband and I went to karaoke at Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, SC. I must say, it was a mistake for me to assume that Myrtle Beach is non-smoking. Not at Broadway at the Beach Karaoke. Entering, I smelled the familiar scent that burns my nostrils and eyes. “Oh No… They smoke in here.” I said. We sat down and I asked the waitress what area was non-smoking.

“None,” she replied.

“Great…this will be a fun night.”

At first, the ventilation fought the disgusting cigarette plumes. Later in the evening, with every person in their 20’s to 30’s appearing to smoke, the cigarette smoke won. Three guys, obviously drunker than any skunk, continued to walk behind my chair…ALWAYS BUMPING ME. Never apologizing, and oh so quick to blow smoke in my direction. I tapped one on the shoulder. “Could you please move downwind, please?”

He was so drunk he could not comprehend what I was saying, or maybe he did not care.

I was under the impression that the younger generation were now educated to understand that smoking is no longer cool. In fact, it is downright dangerous. Second hand smoke is just as dangerous too…but they continued to smoke…and smoke…drink…and smoke…smoke and drink. I suppose you get the picture. No doubt in future years they will learn to regret what smoking does to the lungs and the heart. I hope and pray they comprehend this before it is too late.

In one word, smoking KILLS! Not only does the smoke radiate throughout the area, the scent of tobacco remains in clothing, shoes, hair and everywhere. I was so happy when we decided to leave Broadway at the Beach. Outside, the younger generation was everywhere — smoking. I had to fan smoke away outside. Talk about pollution!

I am married to a former smoker. He refused to ever give up smoking until February 2, 1998, when he was rushed to the hospital for tests, suspecting heart disease.

February 4, 1998 was his last day to smoke. After his admittance to the Cardiac Care area of Roper Hospital in Charleston, he was permitted to smoke, even though the area was non-smoking. A most caring nurse who had the cigarette habit told him “he could crank out the window in his room, to smoke. No one will know,” she said. How considerate of her. I followed her out of the room. “Excuse me, nurse. May I speak with you for a moment…privately?”

She looked into my eyes. Quickly we moved to a closet. She turned the light on. “While it was extremely thoughtful of you to share how you smoke on this floor, you do realize my husband is a heart patient, probably scheduled for heart surgery…What you said to him I did not appreciate. Would you like me to go to H-R and report your behavior, or will you promise me you will never suggest this again?”

Her mouth popped open.

“I will not report this behavior, but don’t you ever do this again to ANY HEART PATIENT. Do you understand?”

She nodded. I think I got my point across.

February 4, 1998 my husband joined the “Zipper Club.” To those of you who do not understand the terminology, it is a special club established for anyone who has had cardiac surgery and has a zipper in the chest.

Thank you cigarettes!

My wish for you in the younger generation who light up every few minutes is to never receive an invitation to the zipper club. It isn’t a nice club to become familiar with. Please, when you smoke, think about what you are doing to your body, and to those around you who tolerate the disgusting smell of cigarettes. Your friends. Children. Wives and Husbands and Loved Ones. Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.

Instead of smoking, play with your cell phones while realizing that life is short and with every cigarette you light up, smoke and inhale, you are cutting your life even shorter!

Thank you for NOT SMOKING!


“The Butler,” Is One Of The Best Movies I Have Seen In A Long Time…

Yesterday, my husband and I went to see “The Butler.”

Forest Whitaker captivated me as Cecil Gaines, “The Butler.” From the poignant opening scene of the movie until the end, I was spellbound, remembering the Civil Rights Movement, how blacks were treated and how angry I got, as a child, recognizing the ‘colored’ signs, the derogatory names and treatments of what it was like to grow up during that setting in America.

I grew up in a mill village in Georgia, where racism existed. When I questioned anything, I was told to “keep quiet. You have no say-so and it doesn’t affect you, so just be a little Southern girl and keep your mouth shut.” Silly me. I refused to listen! “The Butler” brought all of those memories back to me.

Forest Whitaker has always been one of my favorite actors. He truly brings the character of Cecil Gaines to life. I cried and cried…and cried!

No doubt, when the DVD comes out, I will add “The Butler” to my collection of movies. A few of my friends are refusing to see “The Butler,” because Jane Fonda “stars” in it. In all reality, she only has two or three scenes as Nancy Reagan. Although she is in the credits, her performance is one that if you blink your eyes, or run to the restroom, you might miss her performance.

I am hopeful “The Butler” will be nominated for an Academy Award and will win. Definitely a must see movie for 2013! To those of you unfamiliar with the Civil Rights Movement, “The Butler” is an education of what happened and how narrow-minded America was during the 1960’s and Vietnam era. Still, I find it shameful, unforgivable!

“The Butler” is well worth seeing. Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker are fabulous as Cecil and Gloria! And for those who are not familiar with the bigotry of what it was like to grow up during the Civil Rights Movement, “The Butler” is an education of those dreadful times of change. I am so happy that America finally awoke, recognizing that all of us are equal.

Please add “The Butler” to your must see movie list.

George Zimmerman — Not Guilty

Dearest Readers:

I confess to all of you, I did not glue myself to the George Zimmerman trial. After listening to the case of Casey Anthony, I promised myself I would not sit and watch those types of cases again, nor would I listen to another “not guilty” verdict.

When I heard the story about Trayvon Martin, his murder and the story of George Zimmerman, I decided I had a bit too many compassionate thoughts about this case and it was in my best interest NOT to listen to it, especially after I discovered that the jurors were six white females. As a juror on a few cases in Charleston, SC, I could not imagine how the attorneys chose only white females. Didn’t they need a male and one or two jurors of a different color? Please understand, I am not a racist. I am a white female, but that description of me does not make me a racist. Growing up in the deep South during the Civil Rights Movement, I chose not to be a racist. I believed in the goodness of people, not the color of skin. As a mother, I struggled with this case. The life was taken away of a seventeen-year-old young black man, and I do refer to him as a young man because he was. No, I did not Google Trayvon Martin, to see if he had a criminal record, and I did not Google George Zimmerman. There was enough on the news about him to last for his lifetime.

Nevertheless, there was a life taken during the questionable behavior of George Zimmerman. In my neighborhood, I am a Crime Watch volunteer. I feel blessed that I’ve never had to call 911 – yet, and I pray that in my neighborhood that will continue. I have seen kids, the age of Trayvon Martin, roaming the neighborhood at times…these kids were mostly white, and I recognized them, so I told them they needed to go home, not to get into something that could lead to trouble and heartache for their parents. I ask myself, what would I do in that situation? I have an answer. There was an occasion a few years ago where I heard sirens and noise. My dogs were barking, warning me that something was happening within my community. When the sirens got closer, I heard the gate to my back yard slam hard so, I opened the back door. Much to my horror, there was a police officer next to the back gate, grabbing a bag and a ‘suspect’ — a Latino in my yard. I was told to get back inside. For a few minutes, I was horrified, but the police had the suspect, so I prayed that I would be safe. I phoned the police dispatcher. When she realized, I lived at the premises, she shared the story that a Latino suspect had stolen something and the police were arresting him. I locked the back door. Would I have done something differently if the suspect had entered my home? The back door, at the time, was unlocked. It isn’t unlocked now. And, I have asked myself repeatedly just why George Zimmerman pulled a weapon. Was it necessary to take the life of Trayvon Martin? If he had to shoot, to preserve his own life, why couldn’t he shoot him in a different part of the body? I am not an advocate for guns, so maybe I am not the right person to ask that question, but, as a mother — I cannot imagine losing your child.

I understand there was some discussion during the case about child abuse. Perhaps one of the attorneys was playing the ‘child abuse’ card, but this case was NOT about child abuse…it was about murder…

Now, George Zimmerman is a free man. His freedom has come at a price. I doubt he will ever have FREEDOM. His name is probably mentioned in every household in America. I certainly know the case was a discussion every where I went. I stated on several occasions that I did not believe he would be found guilty.

“Why would you say that?”

“I’ve been on several cases within the court systems of South Carolina. I am one of the jurors that takes lots of notes and when we go into deliberation, I am one who truly voices her opinions about the case.”

Fortunately, I do not live in Sanford, Florida. I was blessed not to be on this case. My heart breaks for the Martin family, and I am curious as to how many jurors will become rich, just from their stories. When the books and movies are scheduled, I do not believe I will purchase, read, or watch. I’ve heard the name George Zimmerman enough. He’s a celebrity of sorts. Personally, I would like him to just fade away into the distance now, and live his life quietly, but I truly doubt that will happen. Just the name “George Zimmerman” gets a reaction.

I haven’t listened to the reactions this morning, and I am hopeful that nothing happens due to the ending of the trial and the words, “Not guilty.”

I said he would be found Not Guilty…basing my beliefs similar to the O. J. Simpson case, and we all know he was found “Not guilty…” but inside of my heart, as I think of Trayvon Martin, and I put myself into the life of a young seventeen-year-old, I believe the situation could be handled a different way. Didn’t the dispatcher of 911 tell Zimmerman not to follow him?

As for George Zimmerman, the free man, I cannot help thinking about how he sleeps at night. Will he continue to be a volunteer for crime? I hope not. I do know he has gained a considerable amount of weight during this trial. Perhaps the stress was a bit much…just think of the Martin Family. They lost a son. Was he innocent? Why was he walking in the neighborhood? I’ve heard these questions over and over again. Why was he wearing a hoodie? The answers — he lived in the neighborhood…it was raining… I do not believe he deserved to die.

Was this a racist situation? In my opinion, I haven’t followed the entire story to answer that question, but I do know that even in the Twenty-first century, racism still exists.

I have no comments for the Trayvon Martin family because I do not understand what they must be experiencing now. Grief? As a parent, I try to place myself in their shoes…What it must be like to lose your child, but I cannot relate. I pray they will find closure now, but how — just how does a parent stop grieving over the loss a child?

George Zimmerman –Not Guilty, I do hope he learned a valuable lesson from this trial, and I hope he will sleep at night and not wander around the neighborhood — looking for trouble — but I doubt it.

So…You’ve Got an Opinion — Paula Deen

Dearest Readers:

This has truly been a melancholic week for me, first with the loss of a classmate and friend, Becki Vinson Matthews. Circular thinking has danced inside of my head, remembering how happy, energetic and full of life Becki was at our class reunion in April. Gone too soon, much too soon. I confess, I do have a difficult time with death. One moment we are laughing with a friend, making plans to ‘do lunch or shopping,’ only to awaken to the reality that the friend is no longer with us. Poof. In the blink of an eye…gone too soon.

Yesterday, while listening to the morning news, I hear about Paula Deen. “What’s going on with Paula Deen now?” I ask, clicking on Google to read. By now almost everyone has an opinion about Paula Deen and her dreadful comments. Some of the reports on the Internet expressed that Deen said the N-word in 1986. Of course, I am not a believer of “if it’s on the Internet, it must be true.” Everyone can post things on the Internet, and sometimes they are hurtful and damaging, especially to a celebrity; nevertheless, I believe that IF you are a celebrity, you must conduct yourself in a respectful, moralistic manner. Celebrity status takes a while to achieve, and when reached, there must be a commitment to treat the public with respect and decency, not with disrespect.

If you are one of my regular readers, you understand I grew up in the South, during a time when separation and segregation existed. I recall seeing two water fountains and separate entrances in many locations in the State of Georgia. Once, when I was extremely thirsty, I rushed towards the “colored” fountain. Quickly, my grandmother grabbed my hand, moving me back to the line. “But, I’m thirsty and don’t want to wait in line…”

Grandma was persistent, so I reluctantly went to the other line. Later, I wanted an answer to the question still rushing in my mind. “Grandma, why couldn’t I drink water from the ‘colored’ fountain?”

“You never mind…you just follow the rules and stand in the proper line.”

“Rules are made to be broken,” I whispered, under my breath.

So began my life in a racially separated, but definitely not equal mill town. Bibb City was a lovely little mill village in Columbus, Georgia. A tiny town where everyone knew everything! Many times people shared with my grandfather that I was questioning things. I didn’t understand how the mill workers could hire beautiful black women to clean their homes, but the black men who worked in maintenance could not live in Bibb City with their families, simply because — they were black. Many of the people did not describe them as black, African-American and such. They used the “N” word in a tone and demeanor that left me cringing.

On one occasion I stood firm. I was a little child, but I could still place my hands on hips and share in the belief that I had…that we are all created equal, regardless of our skin color. After all, I believed that God was representative of all of the colors of the rainbow – not white!

During one summer while I stayed with my grandparents in Bibb City, I was ‘caught — playing with that little colored girl — the one who cleans the houses in Bibb City…’ Shameful, wasn’t it! There I was, playing with someone who did not say the “N” word and did not care about the color of skin. We had so much in common, until that afternoon when my papa came home from his shift at the Bibb Mill. He called me into the house and I knew I was in BIG TROUBLE this time. Papa had a switch waiting for me. When I walked inside, he swatted that switch on my bare legs, telling me over and over again that I had shamed him again. “You are not to play with that colored girl again…ever…not while you’re in my house.”

My leg was bleeding. I rushed outside, screaming, crying, refusing to understand what I had done that was so bad. Didn’t Papa want me to have friends…good “Christian” friends?

Flash forward many years later. America has grown to accept that everyone is equal. OK, we still need work on accepting that women are equal, and it is my belief that all men AND WOMEN are CREATED EQUAL, regardless of the color of skin.

We have an African-American President. Women and blacks are in Congress, the Senate, and South Carolina actually elected a woman for Governor — Governor Haley. That was a total surprise to me, and I admit, she appears to be strong-minded and a good governor. Living in South Carolina, and growing up in the South, I still hear people whispering about the color of skin, and how ‘women belong in the home, taking care of the children.’ In many ways, the South is still stuck in 1950! Yes, I hear people in the South say the “N” word. Many times I have stepped up, reminding them that we are all equal, regardless of the color of our skin. We should not judge others, just because their genes or skin colors are different from ours.

I recall on one occasion when I was in high school. I had joined the USO group and was active. The soldiers at Fort Benning in Columbus visited our events on weekends. I was broken-hearted from a recent engagement break up so I decided I could heal my wounds by dancing. My weekends were spent at the dances at the USO. On one occasion, two black soldiers asked me to dance. The GSO would not permit black girls to join, but they were quick to allow soldiers, of all colors, to attend the dances.

I danced a slow dance with both soldiers. Never did we move together bonded tightly as one. Their hands were in their proper places. Never did they make a play for me.

After dancing, the President of the USO tapped me on the shoulder. “Follow me to my office, please,” he said. “I need to speak with you.”

Reluctantly, I followed him. He closed the door. “We do not allow our girls to dance with the black soldiers. Don’t do it again!”

I shook my head. “What?” I shrieked. “You’re telling me that it’s OK for you to take their money, but as a white girl, I cannot dance with them? They can fight our wars in Vietnam, but a white girl and a black soldier who is brave and ready to fight for our country and treats me respectfully — you are forbidding me to dance with them?”

“That’s not the way I would put it, but yes. I forbid you to dance with the black soldiers ever again!”

I burst into tears…so stern and cold, just like my grandfather and mother. I rushed out of the room. Five soldiers were standing near the doorway. I knew every one of them. I suppose they knew that I was in trouble. I rushed by, opened the front door and left. I called my mother at the pay phone.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder, dressed in military uniform. “What happened in there,” Larry asked.


“I can see it on your face. Did they tell you that you cannot dance with a black soldier?”

“How did you know? It’s not right,” I said, wiping my tears. “They can go off to fight our wars and we cannot dance with them. You know they don’t allow black girls to join, but they certainly don’t mind collecting a black soldier’s money.”

My mother arrived and I left.

Days later I had made the decision to resign from the GSO girls. Larry phoned me at home, telling me that he and five of the soldiers had met with the President. “You’ll be getting a phone call from him this week.”

“Why? I don’t want to talk to him.”

“They’ve changed the policy and they are not accepting your resignation.”

Sometimes being an advocate has just rewards, even at the age of seventeen!

Now, it is 2013, and we still hear people being so judgmental and prejudice. One would think our world, along with the citizens, would not be prejudice. No longer do we see ‘colored’ written on water fountains or entrances. No longer are blacks required to ‘move to the back of the bus.’ We have Rosa Parks to thank for her courage to stand alone and be heard.

As for Paula Deen? I lost respect in her when she announced she was Diabetic. She was still cooking with all of that butter, and sugar and such fattening ingredients. I quit watching her show. My belief is we must step forward to be an example, and she was not.

Now, I hear that Food Network has cancelled her contract…not renewing her contract…

Much of this controversy occurred after Paula Deen flew to New York to appear on the Today Show, only to cancel due to ‘exhaustion.’ Please, Paula Deen and her staff, do you actually believe America is naive enough to believe that?

Perhaps Paula Deen has simply forgotten where she came from and how she became a star, all to the credit of the Food Network.

Yes, she made a video with an ‘apology.’ I’m not believing it at all. Last night I unsubscribed from her e-mail newsletters. I suppose I am taking a stand to vocalize that we in America need to stop the segregation we are still living in many ways. We must recognize that while it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to fight bigotry, racism, segregation, and downright hatred.

This week was a reminder to me that life is short. Today, we awaken to life. Let us all pay our life forward, to give back to those who we might have judged, ridiculed or hurt. We must not back away or criticize simply due to the color of skin. I’ve had many friends in my lifetime who are black, Latino, or gay. All different but precious. I still cherish each and every one of them. Life is to be lived in the fullest every day. Let us conduct ourselves in a manner where we can look in the mirror in the morning, smile and look into who we truly are. Don’t let us judge, just because we are different, or our skin color is of a different color.

As for Paula Deen? She has a lot to learn about living her life as a celebrity!