Uncategorized

Cletus Comes Home


The Day Cletus Came Home
By
Barbie Perkins-Cooper

The crisp coolness of November felt good on my skin as I raked leaves in the backyard. For weeks, I sat around the house feeling guilty over the loss of Cletus. As a foster mom for animals, I took pride in how I cared for them. Never had I lost one until Cletus ran away.

After his escape, my husband and I placed flyers all over the neighborhood hoping someone would read them and recognize Cletus. Several people phoned to say they saw him, chased after him, only to have him run away. A teenager new to the area said he was a fast little guy.

“He’s skittish. Horrified someone might hurt him. That’s why he runs. He’s afraid everyone will brutalize him like the puppy mill owners did before he was rescued. Please, if you see him again, call me. Don’t scare him.”

The boy’s voice cracked. “I’m sorry I scared him.”

“He scares so easily. Maybe we will find him soon.” I thanked the boy, hung up, realizing I did not get his name. How selfish of me.

Later that afternoon, I leashed Shakespeare and Sandy Bear, hoping a brisk walk might refresh my depression and exercise these boys. I carried a brown paper bag of dog food and treats, placing them by St. Andrews Episcopal Church parking lot. When I spoke with an animal communicator a few weeks ago, she suggested leaving food in areas he might be hiding in, so every time I walked, I carried the foods Cletus knew so well. Here, Cleet…Cleet…Little Buddy…Your food is right over here… Here Cleet…Cleet…

I was hopeful he might be nearby and hear me.

Arriving home, I rushed to the front door, placed more dog food in the bowl and refreshed the water bowl. No doubt something was coming by late at night to eat the food. Last night, after another night of insomnia, I checked the front porch at 11:00. The bowl was untouched. At 1:00 the bowl contained a little bit of food. At 3:00 a.m., the bowl was empty. “Please God; let it be Cletus eating the food. Please help me find him.”

I sat in the den, surfing channels on the television watching the sun rise. Shakespeare patted his paw at my foot. So like him to follow me. Never has he cared to be alone in the dark of night. I scooped him up, fluffing the afghan around both of us. “It’s OK, little buddy. Mommy’s all right.”

Moments later, I listened to the roar of Shakespeare snoring in my left ear. In the early dawn of morning, I brewed coffee, turning the light on the front porch on; I prayed Cletus would be asleep there.

Opening the refrigerator, I noticed the calendar. Three weeks ago Cletus ran away. “I probably should post more flyers today, and I’ll phone all of the animal shelters again. Maybe I’ll update them. I doubt we’ll ever find him. He’s probably starved to death by now, unless…” The phone interrupted my thoughts.

Phil wanted to know how I felt. “I’m OK,” I said, tears spilling down my face.

“Let’s do an early movie today. I think you need to get out for a bit.”

After Cletus ran away, I got sick again with acute bronchial asthma. Every day was difficult, without energy, so all I did was rest with the exception of raking the leaves and walking the dogs. My breathing was so short; it took me an hour just to walk the dogs. How I found the energy to do all that I was doing with my body so ill was a question everyone wanted to know.

“I’m a stubborn woman,” I said. “Regardless how I feel, I care for others before caring for myself. All of my life, I’ve cared for others, especially animals and my precious dad. When he died in July 1999, I fell apart. Therapy helped me to realize I must take care of myself first. Easier said than done.

That afternoon, Phil came home early. The wrinkles on his face showed me how worried he was about me. “I’m not taking my phone,” I said, my voice raspier than normally.

“Good,” he said. “You need to stop worrying and relax.”

“Relax? I will relax when I find Cletus. I know he’s out there somewhere, and I cannot find him no matter what I do. It just isn’t fair. I promised to be a responsible foster. Instead, I let him down, so he ran away.”

“He didn’t run away from you. He wanted his freedom, just like the animal communicator said. He wanted to see the world.”

“I know…It’s just easier for me to take the blame.”

Phil gathered his keys, locked the door and off we went to enjoy an early movie. I cannot remember what movie we saw, or what we had for dinner. My thoughts were with Cletus – wherever he was. Arriving home, my neighbor rushed to the car.

“Did you get my message?” She squealed. “Cletus was found. We have him on our porch.”

I burst into tears. “Are you kidding me?”

“No,” she said. “Come with me.”

Neighbors stood around the front porch. “He’s growling. He won’t let anyone touch him.”

I opened the gate of the crate, placing my hands slowly inside while whispering, “Cleet…Cleet…Hey, Little Buddy.”

Cletus moved his paw to touch my hand. I smiled, moving my hand closer to him.

“Look at that,” my neighbor said. “He let you touch him. Every time I tried, he acted like he wanted to bite me.”

“He doesn’t bite…He’s frightened.” I curled my arms around his body, moving him from the crate. He snuggled closer to me, staring at me – as if to say, I’m home.

Carrying him tightly in my arms, we walked inside the house. Sandy Bear rushed to greet us. “Look who’s back.” I said. “Cleet…Cleet…Our Little Buddy is home.”

I placed Cletus on the floor. “Welcome Home, little Buddy,” I whispered. Cletus walked away, dropping his exhausted body on the pillow he slept in before he ran away. At feeding time, he sniffed his bowl, turned away, only to rush back, eating every bite.

“Welcome Home, Little Buddy,” I said, rubbing his ears. “You’re home and safe now. “ Welcome Home.”

Charleston, rain, sunshine

Rainy Days…Rainy Nights…Will Charleston, SC EVER See Sunshine Again?


Dearest Readers:

As I glance outside at the window by my desk, I see gray skies…Raindrops are dripping slowly to the ground. Trees are covered with so much moisture, they almost lose their color. The mimosa trees drip with a grayish color as if to say they are sick and tired of this rain and don’t want to see or feel anymore! Pine trees are leaning over a bit. These pine trees are the seeds I planted after Hurricane Hugo, so the two that grew are just a bit special for me. My husband gripes about them always saying he plans to cut them down. Pine trees are reminiscent to me, reminding me of my childhood in Georgia. How frightened I would become while laying on the grass, noting their height and strength. I always feared those pine trees might pop and fall on top of me. Nevertheless, pine trees are prevalent in Georgia. I remind my grumpy husband that we lost five trees in our yard after Hurricane Hugo. Again, he grunts knowing that IF he cuts those trees down, he will have to deal with me – an unhappy woman sad that her little children of trees are gone due to his selfishness. We have three mimosa trees in the back yard now – planted from seeds from the hands of Mother Nature. How I love those mimosa trees, although today the branches are leaning down. Perhaps they weigh a bit too much now from all of this monsoon rain. Perhaps later, I will slide my rain boots on and walk outside, just to touch the tree branches I’ve watched growing from a tiny seedling to the height of 20′ – maybe a bit less. I’m much too short to measure them! I want those precious trees soaked and probably curious from the hands and moisture of Mother Sunshine to understand I still love them, and I want them to flourish. All in time. I am hopeful this monsoon rain will end soon…and just when I think I might see a bit of relief, I glance outside again to see sheets of rain. My yards are so wet I would not dare to walk outside in my stiletto or pump high heels. No doubt if I made the attempt, my feet would stick in the sandy moisture and pull me downwards. I don’t want to get soaked or dirty. I have a thing about dirt under my nails, but enough about that.

Last week, the rains began – at least I think it was last week. On Wednesday, Tammy, Sara, Chris and I walked the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. It was a humid, gray morning with only a slight breath of wind. Walking up the first incline, I struggled with my breath, stopping several times to use my inhaler. I encouraged the girls to go ahead.
My asthma is leaving me a bit short-winded today. Go ahead, I’ll be fine.”

I stopped several times, just to catch my breath. I counted the lamp posts, telling myself that If I made it to the last lamppost at the first twin towers, I would rest, and I did. Still, I pushed myself, anticipating the approaching rains. I am proud to say, I accomplished my walk – but it appeared to take me forever. Thank you so much, silly asthma. How I wish I did not have asthma, although it is something I have battled all of my life.

For me, there is something magical I feel while walking the bridge. DSC_0033

While walking — sometimes it appears I am crawling, up the first incline, I feel as if God is pushing me, guiding me, telling me – take just one more step. You can do this! And so I do. I believe it doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that does matter is I am taking baby steps to my health. I am accomplishing something I’ve always said I would do “One Day,” after the bridge opened in 2005. I see walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and I’ve seen a few walkers walking dogs (you do realize dogs are not permitted on the bridge – don’t you?) On one morning, a dog left a calling card. I missed stepping on it by just a few baby steps. Honestly, some people love to break the rules, don’t they!

I suppose you could say I believe in breaking rules – sometimes; however, I am considerate of others. I do not take my dogs on my walk. Accomplishing that bridge walk is something I take extremely seriously. I don’t want interruptions. Now that we have about three to five women walking with us, we all move at our pace. We don’t compete. We encourage, and If one of us gets behind like “slow poke Barbie” a nickname I’ve given myself — we text to make certain all is ok. These women are the greatest! Did I mention one of them is a high school friend from — let’s say — a few years ago in another town? Her name is Melanie. In high school, we were not close friends, and that is all my fault. When I was in high school, the only thing I wanted was to graduate and leave my childhood home. I failed to make close friends, only wanting to get out of Bibb City and the traumas of my youth.

Now, a different place. A different time. A different woman. I am proud of the woman I have grown into in my adult life. Gone is the wallflower. Gone is the child afraid to speak up. Replaced by someone who speaks her mind, believes in herself and is proud for the small accomplishments I have achieved. Finally, I can smile, look in the mirror and say, “Hey woman…You’ve got this! You is smart. You is determined, and you Is a better person for breaking that mold!” Thank you, God!

So today, I suppose is a day to reminisce…to ease the gloominess of all of this rain. A day to erase all of the past, or should I say — a day to WASH the past away!

Glancing out my window again, the rain has stopped. I am confident it will start again. I’ve lost count as to how much rain we’ve had, but I imagine it is close to 15 inches, possibly more.

I imagine the mosquitoes will be increasing now, along with the disgusting mold, mildew and ragweed. Wouldn’t it be nice IF the ragweed was washed away. I think I’m looking forward to a day where I awaken to the sunshine peeping thru the windows. I am so sick of all of this rain.

It is time for all of us to smell the flowers…inhale the scent of fresh rain…and to move on with our lives.

Uncategorized

In Remembrance – 9-11-01


http://www.911memorial.org/

Dearest Readers:

Fourteen years ago on this date, I awoke, deciding not to listen to the morning news. I suppose I was tired of ‘shootings…crimes…rapes…murders…’ all of the ‘if it bleeds, it leads,’ stories. Sipping a fresh cup of coffee, I turned my computer on to write. The screaming phone broke the silence.

My husband asked, “I know you always watch the news, so I wanted you to know we are all OK here.”

“I decided to ignore the news this morning. Whatever are you talking about?”

“Turn on the TV. A jet just crashed into the World Trade Center.”

My heart skipped a beat. Sporadic news reports were pouring in from people sharing cell phone reports, voice mails, and horrors.

“Oh my God,” I remember saying aloud in my home. “This isn’t just an airplane crashing. This is an act of war.”

Never did I realize how true my words were.

Every year on this date of remembrance, I am sad for two reasons. On 9-11-01, the world stopped moving due to the shock of the terrorist attacks in America. On 9-11-02, my mother died – unexpectedly, under questionable circumstances. When I received news of her death, a cold, uncalculated family member said, “She died on 9-11.”

“NOT THE 9-11,” I said.

The morning sun shined brightly on 9-11 in Charleston, SC. While watching the news, I watched the beautiful skyline of New York City turn from a beautiful sky blue, dissolving to a faded gray. Plumes of gray smoke covered the area from a day of beauty to a day of darkness.

Watching the TV, somehow I knew this was not an accidental crash but a premeditated attempt at terrorism. Just how could a jet crash into a historical skyscraper? How?

Reports continued pouring in as another jet hit the other tower. Additional reports included not only the Twin Towers, but a third plane attacked the Pentagon in Washington, D.C, a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I thought of Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t alive during the Pearl Harbor attacks. I remembered reading about them in history books, writing projects in school and learning all that I could about Pearl Harbor. I’ve met several World War II veterans, and my husband is a Vietnam Veteran, so the military holds a significant portion of my heart. These attacks seemed to be happening all over the United States. I asked myself, “Is Charleston next?”

I phoned my husband, just to make certain he was safe. He has a government job. No doubt his safety was a great concern. Only two weeks prior to 9-11 he was in a meeting at the Pentagon.

How did I feel on 9-11? Angry. Shocked. Fearful. Just what was happening to our world? I had family members who worked at some of these venues. I prayed they were safe while feeling as if I was a bit selfish. How could I pray for safety when Washington, DC, New York City and an area in Pennsylvania was not safe?

9-11 is an unfortunate, perfect example of how quickly life can change. Thinking back to that date, I imagine someone on the top floors of The World Trade Center. Perhaps an administrative assistant sitting at her desk, reviewing the schedule of events for that date, only to glance up to look out at the view of this amazing structure just in time to see something coming a bit too close. “What is that? No. It can’t be. Planes don’t fly this close…”

Were those her or his last words? We shall never know. Everything happened so quickly. In the blink of an eye, our world changed. We, the stunned viewers of the news could not believe what was happening. I heard people saying, “Oh, this is someone overtaking the media…maybe a computer virus…this cannot be going on in America.”

But – it was…and it did happen to America. For days, we prayed. We joined together to pray for the victims while praying in hopes another victim would be found alive, trapped under the debris.

Days after the terrorist’s attacks began like other days. We planned to go to work, to church, our children would go to school. Although our nation was in mourning, we had to continue living. Truly a hard reality pill to swallow daily. There was a thick air of gloominess in our communities. How could this happen to the United States of America? Why? Just why did our world stop turning?

For days, I was glued to the television. My entire life seemed to revolve on the news. I saw news reports of people jumping out of the buildings. One report mentioned a pregnant woman jumping from one of the buildings, knowing she nor her unborn child would survive.

New York City was covered in a blanket of gray ash and debris. People were running down the streets and bridges in fear for their lives. Airplane flights were canceled IMG_0572and all airlines were forced to land by the federal government. Not only were we in mourning, America was crippled.

Today, 9-11-15, I still grieve for those who died from these dreadful terrorist attacks, and I grieve for my mother. Never did we become close as a mother and daughter, although I tried to resolve the issues of our relationship. On the day of her death, I was extremely ill with Acute Bronchial Asthma. My doctor prescribed Prednisone, resulting in a dangerous reaction that left me a zombie. My husband was in Italy at the time of her death so I could not get to the funeral.

Losing a loved one, including a distant loved one, is unbearable. After my mother died, I felt an emptiness I cannot describe; nevertheless, I learned that we must walk through the grief so we can continue living. Fourteen years after 9-11, America still grieves. Perhaps we are more observant about questionable events. Maybe we are more cautious. Speaking only for myself, I do have the tendency to look carefully and cautiously whenever I am out in the public view. I look behind me. I carry my car keys pointing the tip out, in the event someone attacks me. I suppose I am now more pro-active and prepared while remembering how quickly life can change. Yes, in the blink of an eye our world can change — not necessarily for the better. May God protect us — Everyone.

On 9-11, I burn a candle and pray.

Charleston, Friendship

If It Wasn’t For Weight Watchers….


Dearest Readers:

As you probably know, I am a Weight Watcher. As a ‘weight watcher,’ I lose slowly — EVER SO SLOWLY! I have weekly weigh-ins where I cheer, and I have many weeks at weigh-in where I want to scream…beat myself up…run into a brick wall…or — QUIT! But — I cannot do this. Beating myself up – like I did as a child — is not healthy for me. Getting depressed and quitting – just isn’t who I am now. Years ago, I quit things that challenged me. Now, as an adult — at least I think I am — I like a challenge, and for me, Weight Watchers is a challenge.

Today, thanks to a beautiful, encouraging friend I am back to a wonderful, intimidating and fun challenge — walking the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge!

A few years ago, I briefly discussed the bridge:
To those of you who do not know, “The bicycle and pedestrian lane is 2.7 miles long (14,400 feet), measuring from Patriots Point Road to East Bay Street. Measuring only the part that is on the bridge structure, the walkway is 2.4 miles long (12,750 feet). Most of the bridge is limited to a 4.1% maximum slope. On the Charleston side of the
main span, the long approach is a 1.8% slope. On the Mount Pleasant side, there is a section three-tenths of a mile long that has a 5.6% slope.” http://www.cooperriverbridge.org/bike.shtml

When plans for the bridge were in the discussion stages, a high school group got involved, suggesting adding a pedestrian, bicycle lane. I am so happy those plans were included in the bridge plans. Now, the Arthur Ravenel Bridge is one of the favorite spots for active walkers, runners and bicyclists to work out. Speaking only for myself, I find it invigorating just to walk on it. You must remember, I am asthmatic. Exercise, stress, and illness activate my asthma. Today, I forgot to pack my inhaler – in the event I had an attack. On Monday of this week, I had an attack – thanks to my mini-schnauzer, the oldest of our pets. He chose to ignore the command of ‘stay’, darting out to the road. I rushed after him, and he ran faster. The little brat! A police officer drove by, stopping to get Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. On the way to the house, my asthma kicked in, so I must be careful. Nevertheless, I refuse to allow asthma to stop me. As a child, I was told I could not run or play or dance, like the other kids because I had asthma. I listened. Grinned, and danced my way outside. Stubborn? Independent?? Opinionated??? Wanting to do things MY WAY????? You betcha!

I’ve always believed in breaking the rules. After I had accomplished my first adventure on the Ravenel Bridge, I walked it two to three times weekly. For those of you who have Fitbits, the incline records the steps, floors, miles and active minutes. Today, I paid attention to these records when I got home. I moved on 16 floors today. Walked for 50 active minutes, for a total of 3.66 miles, and I had over 7,000 steps recorded before 10:00 am. Today, I will surpass my goals to walk for 10,000 steps, 30 minutes active. I cannot wait to share this information at Weight Watchers tomorrow.

When you walk the bridge, you feel like it will be an easy journey. For those who haven’t walked it, or those who are not accustomed to walking, it might be a bit difficult; however, since I am a walker, and I walk the treadmill, today’s journey was not as difficult as it has been. My friend, Melanie did fine too. You must remember, as you begin the journey up the bridge, it continues to incline. Remember – Charleston, SC does not have any mountains, so we in the Lowcountry are accustomed to walking the ‘Lowcountry!’ The bridge has a 4.1% incline. Many people who have walked the bridge say it bothers their legs, but it didn’t for me, and Melanie tolerated it well too. I think she and I will be good walking buddies!

Now, that I am home, I feel inspired. There is something so special about getting outside to walk. The sun beams down onto your skin. The breeze kisses your face, and the walk gets your entire body moving. Arms are swinging. Legs are moving to the beat. Your heart is beating while the breeze conditions your body to keep moving. I didn’t mention the view, and it is spectacular. You look down to see the view of the Charleston Harbor. Perhaps you see a ship or a cargo ship floating by while the breeze refreshes your face. This is Charleston, SC. A Holy City where we do our best to enjoy this life we are given. God has given us a beautiful, historical city to enjoy the lifestyle we so enjoy and new friendships to cherish.

IMG_0572

ARTICLES, Family, Motherhood, On My Soapbox!

19 Kids, and Counting…The Disgraceful Duggars!


Dearest Readers:

I confess…I WAS a recent semi-fan of the TLC program, 19 KIDS, AND COUNTING… Surfing on the TV one night, I discovered the program, 19 KIDS, AND COUNTING, so I watched it. I noticed how all of the girls wore long skirts with slightly below-the-knee hemlines. When I watched one of the programs where they went to the Georgia Aquarium, and they swam in Lake Lanier, GA, I was curious IF Mom and Pop Duggar would permit the girls to wear swimsuits or shorts. They did not.

Why I Started Watching 19 KIDS AND COUNTING

This program brought back my childhood, strict with all of the rules we had to live with. Attending church, which I enjoyed until I heard the ‘speaking in tongues’ ceremonies. I sang in the church choir. I practiced the golden rule; nevertheless, I still chose to wear my shorts – against my fundamentalist grandfather’s approval. Watching 19 KIDS AND COUNTING. I was curious IF any of these 19 children EVER disobeyed their parents. On the episodes I watched, never did I hear any child rebel, disobey, or mutter anything their parents would not approve. I realized, with cameras rolling, they obviously edited anything where the children did not follow the ‘holier than thou’ mentality of their parents.

This isn’t normal, I thought. Children on this program never dispute, shout, or fight with their siblings. Just what is wrong here? Obviously, I was on to something.

Many of the episodes of 19 KIDS AND COUNTING brought back memories to me. Memories of my childhood and how I dressed. As a little girl, my grandparents did not ‘approve’ when I wore shorts. Young girls were never to cut their hair, since it was a sign of glory and holiness, according to my grandfather…and young girls were NEVER to show their skin. He wanted us dressed in high necklines, preferably in white. Virginal and pure. At 13, when I had cleavage, I disgraced them by wearing a V-neck T-shirt and shorts. Disgraceful! I must say, I did not wear the Daisy Duke shorts and when I bent over, you could see absolutely nothing with the exception of tanned, firm, athletic legs. At 15, I wore shorts and T-shirts and my grandfather alluded that I was ‘cheap…’ Actually, he described me as a w—-. When I confronted him with ‘how can a virgin be a wh—;’ he refused to speak with me.

Attending high school, I wore clothes that revealed – NOTHING! Necklines were high, usually turtle neck. If I wore a blouse, it was buttoned all the way. No skin revealed. Skirts were long and cumbersome to wear. When I committed the most cardinal of sins by wearing makeup, my grandfather gave me a new name. The Scarlett Woman. The Tramp…and of course again – The Wh—! I continued wearing makeup! After all, if the pastor’s wife at the church could wear makeup, why couldn’t I?

Child Molestation Charges

Yesterday, May 22, 2015, the news was hot with a topic about 19 KIDS AND COUNTING. Apparently, Josh Duggar committed a dreadful sin as a 14-year-old – seems he molested five girls. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/us/josh-duggar-child-molestation-allegations/index.html
When I read these reports, I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Now, Josh Duggar has apologized and he has resigned his impressive, political position in Washington D.C. with the Family Research Council. Reportedly, his wife, Anna, knew of his ‘sins’ before she married him and she was impressed that he confessed these behaviors before their marriage.

Josh and Anna have three children now. The oldest is a girl, Mackynzie. Two boys – Michael and Marcus and she is pregnant with their fourth child – a girl. Sometimes I cannot help being curious as to why this family reproduces like rabbits. What about the quality of time with children?

The reports are endless about the Duggar Family. I will not elaborate more, but I would suggest – IF you read these Internet postings, keep in mind, many are simply chat areas.

Duggar Disgrace

Yes, the recent news is a disgrace, and what makes it even more disgraceful is the fact that Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar chose to keep the molestation quiet. Their program, 19 Kids, and Counting did not air until 2008 after the molestation charges were swept under the Duggar Family rug. Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful!

I Was a Victim of Child Molestation

As a young girl and teenager, I was a victim of child molestation. One of my uncles touched me. We were riding in his delivery truck. He chose to turn onto a dirt road. No houses were around. He suggested we should ‘pick blackberries.’ I was 15-years-old at the time. Yes, I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Scandalous, aren’t I! I was 100% naïve. Trusting, especially of my elders.

My uncle moved closer to me – touching my legs, his hands probing and searching, rushing towards my chest. I grabbed his hands, pushing him away. I reached for the door handle, got the door open and jumped outside. I ran as fast as I could. On that date, I failed to bring my inhaler, so the dust on the dirt road reacted with my asthma and I had difficulty breathing. Wheezing and coughing, I stopped, hearing my uncle’s delivery truck moving close to me. I ran the other way. Laughing, he pulled ahead of me, demanding that I get in the truck.
I screamed. No one heard me.

My uncle forced me inside the truck. I slapped his face – HARD. I screamed and I cried.
Hysterical and horrified that I would be raped, my uncle said he would drive me home.

“I don’t believe you. All you want to do is to touch me. I want to go home.”
I opened the door again. Still wheezing, I walked as fast as I could. My uncle said he would take me home.
“I can walk.”

“We are at least 10 miles away and you’re going to walk? That’s a long way.”

“I walk home from school – a 10-mile journey. I can walk home.”

My uncle was shaking. I suppose he was fearful I would tell someone what he did. In my childhood I knew no one would listen or care.

“If you tell any body I touched you, no one will believe you. I’m a deacon in the church. Who’d believe you? You’re a teenager. You’re wearing shorts. You tempted me by how pretty you are. I’m a deacon, “ he repeated. “ You’ve got beautiful legs I wanted to touch…”

Recognizing he was afraid, along with the fact that absolutely no one in my family would believe me, I slid into the passenger seat of the truck.

“If you move one hand off of that steering wheel, I will get out and I will tell somebody,” I said. “You are not raping me or touching me again.”

Later, after arriving home, I rushed to take a shower. Scrubbing my body hard with the hottest water we had, I cried in the shower. As hard as I scrubbed, I could not get the feeling of his probing hands off of my body.

Years later, when my uncle died, my mother phoned me. “You need to come home,” she said. “Your uncle just died.”

Inhaling and exhaling, I bit my lip, and then I spoke, more of an enraged shout than my normal voice.
“May he rot in Hell,” I said, tears stinging my face, as I relived his probing hands.

My mother was annoyed. “Why do you feel that way about him?”

“Because the bastard tried to rape me!”

Our discussion continued while she confessed that he had been charged with rape twice, but never convicted. She wasn’t surprised by my confessions.

Now that I read the reports about Josh Duggar, I feel compassion for him – just a bit. Apparently, he received a bit of ‘help’ when his parents sent him away to a ‘retreat, to work on construction jobs.’ [???]
I am hopeful he did make amends and ask God for His forgiveness; nevertheless, reportedly there are five young girls who will never forget his probing hands touching their bodies in private places. Unforgiveable!
Yes, I am hopeful the five girls who have not been revealed were able to move forward after these events. Child molestation is something a victim never forgets. After my experience, I prayed, but never confessed what happened to anyone within my family. Never did I speak to my uncle again, and when I saw him in church, I turned away, never giving him a chance to speak to me. As for blackberries – for me – they are truly the ‘forbidden fruit.’

For the Duggar Family, I pray that the entire family learned a valuable lesson from this experience, and I pray that they will finally realize that no family is perfect; nevertheless, I suppose I was a bit wiser just by watching them. I recognized how hypocritical they are. Jim Bob always comes across as Mr. Lovey Dovey, especially with his wife, Michelle; however, if you watched her closely, you recognized she was a bit reserved. Sometimes pulling her head away when he kissed her in front of the children, after preaching to all of them that the girls must ‘court with a purpose.’ A courtship that leads to engagement and then – marriage. No kisses and only side hugs – until marriage. In one of the last episodes I watched, Jim Bob confesses that he and Michelle kissed LOTS before marriage??? Hypocrites’!

I hope and pray the five girls involved with the incidents with Josh Duggar are able to move forward like I did. Never did I share the child molestation incident with anyone, with the exception of my husband in 1982. On that night, my husband was able to understand exactly why and how I responded to certain touches. After therapy, I am happy to say, I no longer fear probing hands. Yes, as my father taught me, I was able to move forward with life, and not look back.

I hope the five girls involved with this Duggar Disgrace will be able to do the same. As for Josh Duggar, I hope he and his immediate family will remain close, and I pray he does not repeat his previous history with his children.

Will I continue to watch a reality show? I doubt it. After all, those reality shows are edited, revealing only the good times, — not the reality of bad times. At least the Duggars were not bleeped like a lot of those idiotic reality shows! I pray Jim Bob, Josh and Michelle are praying for forgiveness, and I pray the five girls will learn that not all men are monsters on the prowl. Shame on you, 19 Kids and Counting! You are a disgrace to religious families! You allowed this dirt to be swept under the rug and remain there while you pretended to be a close, almost perfect family. Shame on you, TLC! Shame On You…19 Kids and Counting!

Free Writing

So Much For Valentine’s Day…


Dearest Readers:

Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed writing. Please allow me to explain.

Most of you who read my blog understand that I am a writer, photographer and singer. Since February 14 — Yes, Valentine’s Day — I have been extremely quiet. My quietness started on February 12, when my husband acquired a ‘respiratory infection.’ He called in to work. When he got up, he sounded horrible. Understand I am not a doctor – although I know what ‘respiratory infection’ sounds like since I’ve had many. I backed away from a morning hug, telling him to go to the doctor now. “You seem to have a ‘respiratory infection.’

Hours later, he returns home with a gigantic bottle of cough/congestion medications and antibiotics.

“What did the doctor say?” I asked.

Phil glanced away, mumbling “an upper respiratory infection.”

BINGO!

I cared for my husband. Attempting not to get near his germs, but on Friday morning, I was coughing. Saturday morning, I felt like death!

Tuesday afternoon, feeling like I was stepping a few feet into my grave, I asked my husband to take me to Nason Medical since I did not feel like waiting a few days for an appointment at my doctor’s office. Monday night although I struggled to sleep, each time I fell asleep a horrid, raspy roaring wheezing awoke me. “What is that noise?” I listened again, setting up while struggling to inhale a breath of air. I fought to breathe recognizing the horrid, raspy roaring wheezing noise was me!

When the doctor saw me, she listened to my lungs. “You really are wheezing,” she said.

I wanted to scream “No joke” but my voice, nor my bronchial tubes would not permit me to speak. My voice was not only raspy, but a small, little voice sounding more like a small child, or someone inhaling helium…and I never do anything such as that!

ACUTE BRONCHIAL ASTHMA

By Tuesday, my husband was almost well and back to work. As for me, I was deathly ill…unable to breathe without gasping for air…and…coughing…COUGHING…Coughing…until my body ached. The doctor diagnosed acute bronchial asthma, gave me a breathing treatment and 10 minutes later, with prescriptions in my hand, we left. I could not wait to get home — to crawl back in to bed. No, not for extracurricular activities — for rest and sleep.

Now, it is four weeks later. For four weeks, I’ve been inactive. Unable to work out on the treadmill, and unable to do upper body workouts. It takes a lot of air to exercise. Air that I do not have! I’ve missed my weekly Weight Watchers meetings. Heck. I’ve missed LIVING!

Since I’ve been so ill, I haven’t written, with exception of publishing a few press releases sent to me. Last night we attended the Committees Dinner at the Elks Lodge. I found a seat, and sat. No socializing for me. When friends came to say hello, I put my hands up, letting them know I am still sick. I really doubt if I am contagious. To get acute bronchial asthma, one must be asthmatic…nevertheless, I do not want someone to get sick and blame me!

After the dinner, I did not make the rounds of hugs and kisses and goodbyes, sending virtual hugs to my friends, I struggled to walk to the car to go home. Today, I am still sick; however, today is the first day, I have not heard the little monster of wheezing inside my chest. I am thrilled that he has left me — finally. Still, it is a bit difficult to breathe, but I am now taking “Baby Steps” to health — FINALLY! Some of my friends tell me they are worried about me. “I need to go back to the doctor and get more drugs to get well…”

Give me a break! I’ve fought Acute Bronchial Asthma since childhood. I know what to do.

WHAT TO DO

*Get my nebulizer – AND USE IT — every four to six hours
*Use the inhaler
*Take cough medicine
*Rest
*REST
***REST MORE…

I’m sick of resting. AND I REFUSE to take Prednisone — the infamous ‘wonder drug’ for Bronchial Asthma!

The last time I took Prednisone, I drove my car off the road! I could not sleep! Reportedly, Prednisone increases appetite; however, when I am sick, I do not eat! I am a total zombie…bimbo…or ditzy blonde when I take Prednisone. Let’s just say — this illness does something to my brain! I cannot focus. I struggle to find the correct words to communicate and I am not a nice person…so Prednisone makes me a monster.

Have I lost weight with this illness? Beats the heck out of me, but when I am well enough to return to Weight Watchers I pray I have lost a pound, or maybe two!

Today, I am taking more ‘baby steps’ to get well. Since today is the first day I’ve written on my blog in a month or longer, just maybe I am getting better. Today, I did not awaken with another headache and the awful gasping sound of coughing. Just maybe….

Baby Steps…!

Losing Weight

Walking At An Advanced Level While Working Thru My Fears – Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge


Today, I tackled the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge once again. My goal for each week is to walk it three times weekly. To those of you who do not know, “The bicycle and pedestrian lane is 2.7 miles long (14,400 feet), measuring from
Patriots Point Road to East Bay Street. Measuring only the part that is on the bridge structure, the walkway is 2.4 miles long (12,750 feet). Most of the bridge is limited to a 4.1% maximum slope. On the Charleston side of the
main span, the long approach is a 1.8% slope. On the Mount Pleasant side, there is a section three tenths of a mile long that has a 5.6% slope.” http://www.cooperriverbridge.org/bike.shtml

The bridge opened in 2005. Almost every time I have driven across this bridge I have always said to myself, “One day, I’m going to walk that bridge…” Thanks to Weight Watchers and the new goals I have established, I am achieving that goal. I must say, as I approach the beginning of the bridge, I look ahead, noticing the steep incline. “Focus,” I tell myself. “You can do this.” There is an inner-voice inside of me saying, “Don’t you hear the traffic. Don’t you remember how frightened you are of busy roads, cars rushing by and so much traffic.” I struggle to push that inner-voice aside…not to listen to her…to be stronger…more determined…and before I know it, I continue the walk. My first goal is the first tower from Patriots Point. Accomplishing that goal, I rest…breathing in…breathing out…remembering how I must breathe so I do not have an asthma attack.

I am proud of myself for accomplishing the bridge walk. As a child, resting inside an oxygen tent, fighting another episode of asthma in the hospital, I never thought I could accomplish this task. Doctors had said that I would never be active like other children, simply because asthma had left me weak. The steep incline intimidated me at first, but I wanted to prove to myself that I can do this. Maybe I cannot run like the joggers who pass by me, but I can achieve my goals, and I have.

Today, while walking up the first incline, I noticed a woman struggling. She stopped. As I passed by her, I turned back. “Are you Okay?” Her breathing was raspy. She held on to the rail, looking down.

“I’m afraid of heights… I can’t do this. I told my daughter I couldn’t and I’m scared.”

“Where’s your daughter?”

“Up there ahead of us.”

I touched her. “It’s okay. I have a fear of traffic. I was hit by a car when I was nine-years-old. I’m horrified that a car may jump the ramp and hit me…but I can’t focus on that. I have to believe in the power of positive thinking, and I must have faith that I can do this walk.”

The woman gave me a puzzled look. “When you were hit, were you injured?”

“Definitely. The driver was a hit and run. He was a teenager. He was drunk, but when he noticed someone was writing notes about the accident, he pulled over. I guess he knew he would be caught, so he stopped then. I had a severe concussion and my brain was swollen. The doctors and police officers said I should’ve been killed…but look at me now…Here I am walking the bridge. If I can do this with my fears, so can you.”

The woman released her clutched hand from the rail. “Ok,” she said. “How do you know I can do this…that I can work past my fears…?”

“I have faith…God will guide you.”

“You don’t know me…”

“I have faith.”

I started my approach again. The woman followed me. When I topped the second tower, I saw her again, walking with her daughter. She stopped to hug me.

“Thank you,” she said. “I did it! I wouldn’t have done it without you.”

Her daughter smiled, said thank you and together, they turned to walk down the bridge.

Funny. Today was my day just to walk the bridge, only today was a new day for me to smile at someone, share a bit of courage, and a lot of faith. Every day of my life, I attempt to share a bit of kindness to others. Never did I think I would do that on the towers of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge.

Walking down the bridge, I felt a bit wiser…a bit stronger…a bit happier with who I am. I smile at people as I pass them on the bridge. Most of them are preoccupied with cell phones, Ipods and a blank look on their faces. Today, I am thankful that although my Blackberry is inside my pocket, my Ipod is at home and I am focused on the challenge of walking the bridge…building a bridge to my health, happiness and weight loss. Much of that I give credit to Weight Watchers, but today, I give credit to the kindness of a stranger who was struggling to work past her fear…and she did it…along with me!