Today Is E-Day — Total Eclipse Day, 2017


Dearest Readers:

This morning, I awoke early since I could not sleep — AGAIN! Turning on the TV, I listened to the early morning news – at 5:00am. Gee, I thought. There must not be any shootings in Charleston, or North Charleston. There must not be any drug busts. Robberies, and did I mention shootings?

The only news reported was a discussion about the total eclipse scheduled to happen today, in Charleston, SC and the USA.

The total eclipse in Charleston is BIG NEWS. Reportedly, we are supposed to have more than two million stargazing, moon struck tourists in the State of South Carolina. Woooh! So glad it isn’t just in Charleston. This “small city” as it is referred to is growing like unwanted weeds. Just look at the traffic jams we fight every day. I can remember when we moved to Charleston, we rarely had traffic congestion. Now, a 15-mile trip to West Ashley from Mt. Pleasant may take one hour, or longer, depending on the flow of traffic. Now, with the eclipse happening this afternoon, I can only imagine the traffic nightmares.

Well, let’s see. I predict:

Drivers pulling over to take pictures, or drivers taking pictures while driving. Hopefully, these scenarios will not create accidents, but people in this city tend to tailgate and not pay attention to the roads while driving.

Downtown will be congested, due to tourists and folks wanting to ‘see the eclipse.’ Let’s hope they wear those gorgeous, oh, so flattering eclipse glasses.

The beaches? I would not even attempt to go to the beach today. Today is my cleaning day, so while the USA goes berserk over the eclipse, I shall stay inside. Occasionally, I’ll look out my windows and/or listen to the eclipse broadcast on the TV. After all, there are no murders, crimes, or newsworthy events during an eclipse.

If you, the readers of my blog, believe that, maybe you should consider moving here. On second thought, maybe not. We have so many people moving into Charleston now that they are building new homes in areas that once were covered with trees. Trees are disappearing now, awaiting more developments. In the area where we live, old homes are being knocked down, or jacked up and moved to another location. On the empty lots, a gigantic home is built. All of this growth is really destroying what we, the long-term residents once enjoyed.

Oh well. That is what happens when a beautiful destination is overgrown.

If you plan to watch the eclipse today, please make certain you wear those gorgeous glasses so you will not burn your retina. It would be a shame to discover you are losing your eyesight simply because you glanced at the sun, using your naked eyes. Please be careful.

As for me, I’ve got cleaning to do. Laundry awaits, and my precious pups are resting. Are they in anticipation of the eclipse? Not. They simply want to play ball. Do their silly back scratch I named the Shakespeare back rub. And, they want me to give them attention. At 4:00pm today, Shadow will remind me that 4:00 in the afternoon is the feeding time for him and his dinner!

It is an overcast day today. The sun is shining just a bit, only to have thick, gray clouds covering it and slight rains. I imagine the tourists who came to Charleston to “see the eclipse” might be a bit disappointed, but that is what happens in Charleston. We have dreadful heat that makes you feel like you are stepping in a sauna when stepping outside during the summertime. With that heat, we get powerful, frightening storms and torrential rains. Yep. Stay a while tourists. Maybe the sun will shine brightly, or maybe it will be overcast. Only Mother Nature knows. At the moment, the sun has disappeared. Maybe the sun is running away from the eclipse after all the hoop-lah!

I hope the eclipse is successful, for all of us.

Oops. Just received a news alert on my phone: “A sinkhole is opening on Bull Street, downtown Charleston.” Not today???

Let’s hope the eclipse is successful, although I have my doubts. The sun has disappeared again. Maybe Ms. Sun is flirting with Mr. Moon… Isn’t that interesting and newsworthy!

Details later!Arthur Ravenel Bridge

 

 

 

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Steroids…Weight Gain…Weight Watchers…


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Dearest Readers:

Have you ever gotten so ill that your doctor prescribed steroids? Years ago, my doctor prescribed Prednisone to me. After taking it, I noticed my cognitive abilities were affected. I could not sleep. During the day, I was wired, and while driving, I drove off the road! Fortunately, no one was nearby!

I shared these side effects with my doctor, telling him I would refuse any prescriptions for Prednisone. What I should’ve told him was I will not take steroids! After my steroid consumption in June, I will let him know the side effects and I will not take ANY STEROIDS again! I mentioned to him how I struggled to communicate a simple sentence while taking Prednisone! Since I am a writer, my cognitive abilities must be sharp! For the life of me now, I cannot recall what the name of the drug was, although I do remember it started with a D. I took this drug faithfully, anticipating I would be better within a few days. I finished the medication and was still so weak, so ill, and coughing so hard, so I phoned my doctor. He refilled the same prescription.

Two weeks later, I was still sick, but getting better. My breathing meter said I was stronger, in the green area of the meter, and I was feeling better, with one exception.

I wanted to eat anything and everything within my home. I actually felt as if I would eat the kitchen cabinets IF they were flavored and edible. During one day, I went to the pantry, finding Ritz crackers. I took a sleeve of the crackers out, eating them in one sitting. Eating like this is NOT something I do. I joined Weight Watchers years ago. Before getting so sick, I had two pounds to lose to hit my first goal. Not the official goal at Weight Watchers to become lifetime, but my official first goal since it would be the number I weighed when I graduated from high school.

What is wrong with me? I am so hungry and I cannot stop this ridiculous eating! 

I phoned my husband. “Ice Cream. Ice Cream. I want ice cream.”

That evening, he brought ice cream home. I was eating everything I should not eat, and I was not tracking anything.

I glanced at my calendar, recognizing I had missed three Weight Watchers meetings. When I returned, I gained almost five pounds. At first, I blamed the gain on the steroids. Believe me when I say they have a serious side effect. Constant hunger and weight gain!

I was furious with myself. I cannot blame the steroid for making me gain weight, after all, I am the one who controls what goes into my mouth. Meanwhile, I’m still eating. Finally I realized I had to get control.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/ART-20045692?pg=2, oral steroids, commonly referred to as Corticosteroids, some of the side effects are:

  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with mood, memory, behavior and other psychological effects
  • Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, face and the back of your neck

My eyes were affected with blurred vision. I did not notice fluid retention in my legs, but I certainly gained weight and I was furious with myself. My blood pressure increased, along with my blood sugars. On several mornings, my blood sugar was over 200.

I was definitely moody. Snapping at my husband over the least little thing, and when the phone rang when I recognized it was another telemarketer telling me I had won another cruise…Would I like to attend a seminar about hearing issues, time shares, how to invest retirement funds, blah…blah…blah. Well, let’s just say I used a bit of colorful language telling them to stop calling this number! I started blocking almost every phone number, including two of my best friends. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to correct these errors. It certainly is quieter in my home now, without the constantly ringing telephone. Maybe we should cancel our landline!

Yep. You guessed it. Steroids were making me a B-I-T-C-H! Funny, the phone isn’t ringing much now! Thank goodness!

August 7 was exactly seven weeks since I took the last of the steroid prescription. When I see my doctor in October, I will tell him I cannot take steroids OF ANY KIND now. For me, it isn’t worth the risk. I find it interesting that medical professionals will tell us when we need to lose weight; nevertheless, when we become ill with an acute illness such as acute bronchial asthma, the professionals will prescribe steroids. The side effect of steroids is weight gain, only I’ve never had this side effect until June when I was so weak and ill.

How I pray I will remain well for a bit. I find it a bit funny that I was scheduled for ‘clinical testing’ to see if my asthma would respond to new medications. When I went for the clinical testing, my breathing was ‘too healthy’ to be considered for the clinical testing.

Suppose I’ll be happy now that I am able to breathe so much better and I can walk and exercise again! Thank you, God!

What did I learn after taking steroids? Simple. I learned that my body cannot accept them or allow them to be taken orally. For me, the side effect of weight gain and being such an arrogant maniac just isn’t worth the risk. I like myself when I am the real me…Not the B-I-T-C-H I become, thanks to steroids. Once, while in California, I saw a bumper sticker on a car. I loved it, wrote it down and practice it. It revealed:

I’m a Bitch.

B = Beautiful

I = Intelligent

T = Talented

C = Charming

H = Honest — in all honesty – the H = horny, but I changed that! There’s no need to advertise when hormones kick in!

Yeah. I suppose I could say I’m a Bitch…but a Nice One!

 

 

 

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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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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Here’s To Beautiful Mornings and Sunshine…


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Dearest Readers:

At the moment, it is a beautiful morning in Charleston, SC. Believe me, the weather can change in this historical, holy city in only the blink of an eye. Take last night, for example. The roaring thunders and the flashing, horrific lightning frightened me all night long. Reportedly, forecasters predict more storms for today. How I pray the storms arrive during the day and not in the heat of the night.

Why? If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recognize how the lightning and thunder horrifies me. I give my mother the credit for those fears.

Last nights storms were no different, except they arrive in the middle of the night. My husband tells me I should wake him up when I am so frightened, but I do not. I keep telling myself this is only a storm – in the middle of the night. The lightning is not coming for you, like my mother said. It is just a storm. The rain will water the yard, my flowers and the grass. This is only a storm. This too shall pass.

I toss and turn during the storms. Last night we had three storms. I heard one, and I saw the flashing lightning at about 1:30am. The next round of lightning I heard crashing, lighting up my dark bedroom after 3:00am. The final round was about 5:15am, or so. With each storm, I tried to cover my eyes with a sleeping mask. I placed another sleeping mask over the first one. When I close my eyes, I can still see light, so I must wear these masks; nevertheless, last night, with two masks covering my eyes, I could still see the lightning. My body jumped. I gasped with fear, and then I whispered to myself: This is only a storm. Just close your eyes, turn away from the windows and go back to sleep. Throwing the covers back, I got up, walked around the house, checked on my precious pups, and saw another flash of lightning. I jumped. Never did sleep happen. According to my Fitbit, my body got four hours of sleep last night. It’s no wonder why I feel so exhausted.

When I say my nightly prayers, I suppose I should pray for God to give me strength so I can release my fear of lightning.  Yes, I pray nightly, although I still have difficulty knowing how to pray. I do not pray like I’ve heard other people pray. I call my prayers my intimate conversations with God. I feel cleansed whenever I pray…like God hears my prayers and He eases my pain. How I wish He could ease the pain of my fears of lightning. Maybe I’ll add that comment to my prayer list!

Looking out my window while writing this, I see darkness ahead. Rain is supposed to return at about 11:10am today, according to the Weather Channel app alert. How I pray we have our storms today while I vacuum and clean the house. At least during the day it is easier to cope with these torrential thunder storms.

How about you, readers? Do you have a fear about lightning? Looks like the rain is here now, at 11:03am. I hear thunder. Think I’ll turn the vacuum cleaner on and get busy, after I shut this computer down.

Below, I am posting a photograph of beautiful Angel Oaks, Johns Island, SC. When my husband left for Vietnam, I visited this tree several times before I moved back to Columbus, GA. I remember sitting on the grass, having some deep thoughts and prayers that God would bring my husband home safely to me from Vietnam. Funny thing about it, my husband returned from Vietnam, but the soldier I married is still over there. I suppose I was a bit silly to think someone could go to war and come home as the same person. That did not happen. Vietnam changed things…but that is a subject I will wait to write later, in my freewriting challenge. Looks like a storm is brewing outside, so I must shut this computer down, while praying if we have lightning I can cope better today while working in the house.

 

Angel Oaks, a historical and breathtaking tree located on Johns Island, SC. A place for inspiration and the appreciation of nature with all of her beauty!DSC_0013

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!

Returning to Weight Watchers — Now — Just Watch Me Roar!


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After almost six weeks of missing my regular Weight Watchers meetings, I returned yesterday. As most of you might know, I’ve been sick. Very sick and weak. Normally, I do not have spells of asthma related illnesses during the summer; however, this summer, my husband had, and I quote the doctor’s diagnosis, ‘a bit of pneumonia.’ I cared for him, washing my hands daily for what seemed like a thousand times. I told him to cover his mouth when coughing or sneezing. I did not wish to get his germs. At times, my husband appears to become a child again. I call him a ‘two-year-old’ and when he is sick, he definitely is like a child. Heck, I would not even give him a morning and evening kiss! After he got well, I awoke with a sore throat. The next morning, I awoke with major congestion in my chest and when I coughed, my chest burned inside. I phoned my doctor, seeing him that afternoon.

After chest x-rays, I was diagnosed with bronchial asthma. Great. And so, I was sick for six weeks!

My doctor prescribed a Z-pack and a steroid. Not prednisone, but another steroid. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but I do know it started with the letter “D.” Steroids do strange things to me, especially regarding my cognitive abilities. I took the meds, hoping within five days I would feel better. I did not. The doctor’s office followed up to see how I was doing. When they heard my voice, they decided to get another prescription for me. With the first steroid, I did not have any side effects. Certainly wish I could say the same about the refill of that steroid.

On the third week of my illness, I weighed, losing three pounds. I was ecstatic! When I am sick, I lose my appetite. After starting the additional steroid (same steroid, just a refill of it) I noticed I was hungry — ALL THE TIME! I would eat my breakfast of yogurt with fruit, or oatmeal with fruit, and I was still hungry. I made a sandwich. Still hungry! No doubt I appeared to be a bottomless pit where food was concerned.

I phoned my husband at work, asking him to bring home potato chips and ice cream. I want Ice Cream, I said. Ice cream. Ice cream — I-SCREAM for ice cream. I had no idea why I wanted ice cream and chips. I certainly wasn’t pregnant!

My cravings for food continued. It seemed no matter what I ate — I wanted to continue to eat. And eat…and EAT!

Craving something crunchy, I opened the pantry. All we had in the pantry was a box of Ritz Crackers. I opened them — eating way too many. The serving size on the package said five crackers. Trust me, I ate more than five.

At Weight Watchers we learn to look at the serving size, along with the ingredients. Big deal. I don’t care what the serving size says. I’m hungry!

Since I was so weak and ill, I decided not to track my foods on Weight Watchers. Monday of this week, I took the final steroid. I was feeling better, but had no idea why I was eating like an elephant, or so it seemed. I got on the scales. Gaining seven pounds, I burst into tears.

What is wrong with me? I’m doing Weight Watchers. I’m sick and I don’t understand why I am craving foods I no longer eat. I’m not eating fruit every day, nor am I eating vegetables. My daily intake of food is Boars Head London Broil, Boars Head turkey, and potato chips. No fruit. No vegetable, and of course – ice cream. Did I mention peanut butter??  Just why am I doing this. Why am I sabotaging my weight loss? If I keep eating like this, I will gain all of my weight back. I made a promise to myself. A promise to NEVER gain it back and I haven’t, until now.

I looked at the empty prescription bottle. I rushed to my computer to look up ‘side effects of oral steroids.’ Among the side effects were:

blurred vision

increased appetite

A variety of side effects were listed, but those two I definitely experienced, especially the increased appetite.

Maybe I should stop beating myself up. Maybe this time, the cravings and eating are truly not my fault. EXCEPT – I am the one opening my mouth and eating these foods. Just maybe the steroid is telling my brain I need food. How I wish this would end. Why can’t I be strong enough to fight this battle?

Sitting at my desk, reading more about this steroid teaches me I have to be strong and I must stop eating the ice cream. Potato chips. (After I started Weight Watchers, I grew to hate the taste of potato chips.) Not this week.

On Tuesday of this week, I decided it was time for me to be accountable and responsible. I grabbed my cell phone and went to the Weight Watchers E-tools site. I tracked my intake. Probably the first time in maybe three to six weeks. Sabotage. SABOTAGE. Today is the day I STOP SABOTAGING MYSELF! I’m not an elephant, or a whale. It’s time to stop this insanity!

And so, yesterday, I walked into my Weight Watchers meeting, ready to admit to myself and my friends at Weight Watchers that I’ve gained weight while sick. Yes, I’m disappointed. I really thought I was stronger than that. How could I allow a drug to influence me? Just how?

Approaching the area where we have our ‘confidential weigh-ins’ I spoke softly to the receptionist. “I’ve missed six weeks due to illness. I do not want to weigh in today. I’ve been on steroids.” 

Lots of members of Weight Watchers are under the impression they MUST weigh in every week. A few years ago, Weight Watchers gave us a ‘No Weigh In’ card. I’ve used mine a few times, but I knew deep inside my heart if I weighed in, seeing about a five-pound-gain, I would be so depressed, I wasn’t certain I could fight, or find strength, or return.

During the meeting, I shared a challenge I experienced just last week. The cravings. Non-stop eating. My illness. How devastated I was when I discovered no matter what I tried, I could not stop stuffing my mouth. Since joining Weight Watchers, I’ve been extremely proud of how strong I’ve been while eating. I no longer eat until I’m full. I stop when I am satisfied, with exception of this illness and those d— steroids!

I actually look in a full-length mirror after dressing now. There is NO WAY I am allowing steroids to dictate my eating habits. No more cravings. No more stuffing my mouth with foods I actually do not like to eat!

This morning, I told myself today is a new day. I must be strong. I must not weaken. If I have a craving, undoubtedly caused due to those steroids still in my system, I will eat fruit, or I will find something else to do! I will lose the three pounds I gained (according to my scales at home), and I pray I will lose them before next weeks weigh-in.

This I do for me. This too shall pass, after all, it’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit!

I’ve found my anchor. WEIGHT WATCHERS!!! Now, just watch me roar!

A Wake Up Call — Missing Weight Watchers Meetings…


Dearest Readers:

To those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, I thank you. Most of you will know, I’ve been sick for over six weeks now with a severe case of bronchial asthma. The germs were germinated to me while I cared for my husband and his ‘bit of pneumonia,’ according to his doctor at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. When they diagnosed his illness, I wanted to ask: “Hey Doc. Is a ‘bit of pneumonia’ like a ‘little bit pregnant?'”

I do not think his doctors would’ve appreciated my humor so I remained quiet — for once.  Trust me. It was so difficult for me to remain quiet. One week later, my husband was well. I woke up with a sore throat on that Monday. By Tuesday morning, there was no question about it. I was definitely congested in my lungs, burning in my chest when I coughed and off to the doctor I went that afternoon. My doctor suspected I might have pneumonia. The chest x-ray revealed a normal chest. My chest normal? NEVER!

Now that I am feeling a bit better, I have chosen to do all I can to write in my blog on a regular basis. Maybe daily??? 

Today’s topic is Weight Watchers, and what I have experienced since I have missed six weekly meetings — IF I miss this week’s meeting on Thursday. Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017. The last meeting I attended was Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Over those weeks, I have fought just to breathe. My husband is not domestic in any definition of the word. The only thing he does when I am ill is make certain I eat. When I’m ill, I usually lose weight, without trying. Simply because I cannot taste food. I have such difficulty breathing that I really do not want anything to get in the way of breathing.

Since my husband is not domesticated, I’ve actually vacuumed the house, almost on a weekly basis, while gasping for breath. He has reprimanded me big time, telling me I ‘should not be vacuuming.’ Once when he was critical of my struggles to vacuum, I attempted to scream at him, telling him he could learn to vacuum.

His reply: “I vacuum a lot.”

Are you kidding? You must be speaking of vacuuming at another place because you cannot even turn the vacuum on in this house. If there’s another woman, you can go to her…Right now!

“I’ve vacuumed a lot.”

Liar…Liar…pants on fire!

Let’s just say, since I’ve been ill, I’ve managed to overlook the lint on the carpets. Dust on the furniture. I’ve eaten sandwiches…potato chips…peanut butter…and ice cream. If you own Mayfield Ice Cream stock, maybe it’s increasing now since we’ve eaten SO MUCH ICE CREAM!

Have I tracked Weight Watchers? NOPE. I suppose one could say, I’ve probably broken the Smart Points tracking like crazy!

This Thursday will be an interesting day. How I pray I maintain and not gain. Yesterday was a wake up call for me. While I vacuumed the house I realized I was hungry. My stomach growled. I grabbed a piece of white bread. The only bread we had in the house. I coated this piece of bread with peanut butter. LOTS of peanut butter! Eating it, I realized I was still hungry. Famished. I wanted food. OK. I MUST be getting well.

I went back to the kitchen. Another piece of bread, lightly coated with Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise. I placed Boars Head London Broil on the bread. A piece of Boars Head turkey. One slice of provolone cheese, or was it two slices? I can’t remember. I’m still sick! I sat down, gobbled the food down and wanted more.

This is not me. This is not who I am. One thing I’ve learned at Weight Watchers is not to stuff my mouth full of food, all day long. 

Now, I actually recognize how addicts must feel when they crave their drug of choice. I do not do drugs, of any kind. I am not an addict. Nor am I a food addict. I rushed to my window, glanced up at the sky and I prayed for God to give me strength. I’m not an addict. Why am I doing this to myself???

After my talk with God, I felt better. Stronger. In control.

After my illness, remaining home and not being active, I’ve learned I really cannot do Weight Watchers alone. I must return to the meetings. Missing so many meetings has not kept me pro-active and accountable for what I’m eating. I must remind myself, today is a new day. I must track every bite I eat, and when I am a bit stronger, I must return to activities.

Today, like every day, I weighed. Looks like I’ve gained three pounds since this illness. I am furious with myself. I’ve been told I  have Type A personality. I want things perfect. Well, life isn’t perfect! I want things in control. Lately, I realize I’ve been OUT OF CONTROL!

Yesterday, after my discussion with God, I realized I have been sabotaging myself. As my husband once said to me while I was ill years ago, “You just give in to illness. You don’t fight it.”

Looks like people who’ve never had asthma just do not understand. Asthma can kill. I’ve stated many times that when my time comes, no doubt my death certificate will say: “Cause of Death — Asthma!” Scary, isn’t it!

Major attacks of asthma completely strip me of any energy. It takes energy to breathe. While fighting asthma, I cannot breathe. Nor am I a pretty site to see when I am ill.

I want my life back! I want to sleep all night. Haven’t done that since childhood! I want to be able to walk…to dance…and to sing. I haven’t tried to sing any song since my illness. Wednesday nights we have a date night at karaoke. Something tells me I still cannot sing, so either we will stay home, or if we go, I will listen to others sing. Gosh. I dare my friend to even attempt to sing any of my songs! Gee. That could start a cat fight. I’m not a cat. Nor do I fight with women, so it looks like another night of watching BLUE BLOODS!

Maybe glaring at Tom Selleck will heal me. Hey! A girl can dream!

I’m almost to the point I will do anything to feel better again.

Oops. Didn’t I say this would be a post about Weight Watchers?

What have I learned about myself since I’ve missed six meetings? Lots.

For example:

I’ve learned I cannot be successful with Weight Watchers alone. No. I do not do Weight Watchers Online. I must go to meetings. I’ve established friendships at my Thursday meetings. I’ve learned to say “NO” whenever I am tempted — that is, I did know how to say NO. Now, I’m not certain and if I go to the meeting this Thursday, I plan to share how emotionally weak I’ve been. I’ve eaten sandwiches. Yes, Weight Watchers can track sandwiches. I’ve fought with cabin fever since I’ve been sick. I’ve rested. I’ve craved foods that are not healthy foods. I’ve done everything wrong! I’ve practically beaten my head against a brick wall! Why? WHY?? OH WHY???????

Today is a new day. A new day for me to be responsible. Accountable. Supportive of myself. At the meeting this week, I will probably grumble a bit if I’ve gained, and I do believe I have. I will admit my faults and move on!

Today is a new Day! I will be thankful that I’m getting better and I will be acceptable that I am human!

Here’s to a New Day!

 

 

 

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!