Chattahoochee Child, Uncategorized

Special Words and Goals for 2016


Dearest Readers:

The new year of 2016 is here, and here with this new year, I am somewhat behind. Behind??? Yes, definitely. As an active blogger and writer, I like to be on ‘top of things…’ ‘Ahead of the game.’ And I do not like to procrastinate. Here it is — Friday, January 8, and I am finally writing and wishing all “Happy New Year.” So sorry to be ‘behind the times.’

For this year, I have decided not to set a goal for 2016 — I am starting the year off with one seven-letter-word. BELIEVE! While I was at lunch today with two of my dearest friends locally, I shared my word, after Tammy shared her word for this year. “Simplicity,” she said. I snickered saying, “Funny, we are a lot alike. I’ve decided not to establish ‘goals’ for this year, but to fulfill 2016 with one word — “Believe…” Or perhaps, I should say — BELIEF — in myself. In my abilities to express myself and to share my stories with the world.

I have the tendency  not to believe in my writing skills or talents. I have received several writing awards for screenwriting, novel writing, non-fiction and photography awards plastered on my wall across from my desk. I was hopeful those awards would encourage me. Alas…They haven’t.

For too many years, I’ve had a story dancing inside my head. A beautiful little Pollyanna ballet dancer is eager to share this story with the world, only — every time I attempt to allow my fingers to dance across the keyboard and write more of this story, I hear words of cruelty – not dancing but pounding inside my brain, laughing at me, screaming, shouting abusive language saying “You stupid child. What makes you think you can write?”

Reluctantly, each time, I walk away from the keyboard. Sometimes to sing since music, dancing and singing are my therapies. Other times, I rush to my bedroom, closing the door, escaping to a place I know just a bit too much. I slide on the bed, curling myself into a fetal position, and there, while all alone, the demons of depression captivate me once again.

Years ago, when I thought of this story, I thought of the title first, only to realize while I might have a ‘catchy’ title, I did not have the plot, characterization and timing down. Reluctantly, I placed the title, story outline and ‘compost files’ inside my computer, inside of files, stashed inside notebooks. Those of you who are writers probably are nodding saying to yourself, ‘Oh Honey…I know just how you feel!’

My readers probably are nodding too — thinking — just what is your problem, Barbie — don’t you know you CAN write?

At times. And then, there are other times — when the monsters dance inside my head, laughing at me — almost hysterically — saying — “What makes you think YOU can write???” I’ve allowed the poisons of my mother’s words to torment me for much too long. Now, in the year of 2016, I recognize, it is time for me to stop allowing the torments of the past to continue poisoning me now.  I must toss the past away, allowing all of these mental aches and pains  to float into the air, or into the darkness of fog, or maybe into the oceans, just to wash them away for the final time in my lifetime. May they never return. I must be accountable and now, I must reach for my stars.

And so, I start this New Year fresher than the ending of 2015. One word which will teach me to bury the past and BELIEVE! I must BELIEVE. I can write this story…and this year, I will!

BELIEVE — According to Dictionary.com, Believe is:

“to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so:

Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.
verb (used with object), believed, believing.
2.

to have confidence or faith in the truth of (a positive assertion, story, etc.); give credence to.”
Yes, it is time for me to BELIEVE. To write with passion. To allow my fingers to dance across the keyboard…To open those forgotten files I found last week while searching for something else. This file contains the documents I have been searching for so I can get the story written! I was ecstatic when I found this file! BELIEVE! Not just a coincidence, but a belief!
Yes, a seven-letter-word is my word for 2016. I simply Must BELIEVE!
Josh Groban sings a song titled BELIEVE. My favorite lyrics of this song are:
“Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that’s playing
There’s no time to waste
There’s so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe.”
Perhaps this song will be my belief for this year — “You have everything you need IF You just BELIEVE!
Chattahoochee Child, Family, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving 2015


THANKSGIVING, 2015: Three Pennies From Heaven

by

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

               The morning of Thanksgiving, 2015 began like most mornings for me. Awakening at 6:45 a.m., I stumbled out of bed, my body felt exhausted, as if a 25 lb. weight clung to my legs. The Cuisinart Grind and Brew groaned while brewing the delicious hot caffeine that would get this day going. Opening the fridge, I grabbed the turkey, celery, three onions, garlic, carrots and other vegetables I needed to cut and prep for the infamous dinner. I turned the oven on, placed the turkey in the roasting pan and sat down to enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee.

Thanksgiving, 2015 was here. This Thanksgiving will be so special since I have company coming – family! Sitting at the kitchen table, I glanced out the window, thanking God for this special day. Today, I have family sharing this special day with us. I am so blessed. Thank you, God.

               My oldest sister Dolores, her daughter Vada, Vada’s husband Shon, their daughter Chelsea, her fiancé Cody, their baby girl, Kinsleigh, and Vada and Shon’s son, Timothy, were here. Soon everyone would awaken and come to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving 2015 will be one of the most precious holidays for me in at least 16 years. Today, Dad would not sit at our table since he died on July 6, 1999. Every Thanksgiving after his death, I stared at the empty chair where he always sat while I choked back tears. Thanksgiving Day for three was not a factor for us today. I reminisced, retrieving the sound of his voice. His theatrical laughter and fun we shared as a daughter and father, and I was so thankful that during the holidays of 1997, I was able to reconnect with Dolores and her family after locating their phone number again, only to share the sad news that our father was terminally ill. The holidays of 1997 were not shared with family, nor Dad. He remained in the hospital, fighting desperately to live. Esophageal cancer was slowly causing his body to melt away. Thanksgiving Day 1997 was a faint memory as I watched my beloved father slowly melting away from me.

Today is a new day, a new day of Thanksgiving. Please God, let it be a great day. After the death of Dad, I learned to let go of the past…to move forward with life…today was no exception.

I’ve always been told that our loved ones who have passed leave us signs when they are nearby again. Tuesday afternoon while vacuuming the rugs, I discovered three shiny pennies lying on the carpet in the guest bedroom where dad slept when visiting us. That’s strange. Just where did these pennies come from? I picked them up, placed them on a table, turning the vacuum on again. Pennies from Heaven. I laughed. God is giving me another sign. Three Pennies from Heaven – one representing our father. Another representing my sister and our reconnection, and the third penny – representing me. Although I cannot see my dad, I can feel his presence. Thank you, God. A coincidence? Perhaps. I fully believe the shiny pennies were a visual sign telling me Dad is still here with me, and he was so proud that Dolores and I were close, reconnected – like family should be connected.

While preparing dinner, I remembered the shiny pennies, although I did not mention them to anyone. All of my life I have had visions – signs to guide me along my path in life. After losing my grandmother to breast cancer, the signs increased. The night I met my husband a voice told me to go to the dance. Something special will happen to you tonight. Do not miss this dance. Reluctantly, I went to the dance, meeting my husband on the dance floor. A coincidence? I think not.

While my husband was in Vietnam, I had visions, only these were nightmares. In one nightmare, I was in Vietnam, walking in the muddy fields of Vietnam during Monsoon season, struggling to get closer to my husband, only to have something grab me, pulling me back from the fields of war. I forced myself to awaken, grabbed my calendar, circling the date. I turned the lamp by the bed on, and wrote a letter to him, telling him I knew he was in danger, but I was confident God would protect him. I mailed the letter the next day. Three weeks later, I got a reply from him, telling me my dream was real, although he could not elaborate with details. I knew the Tet Offensive was ‘hot and heavy’ now in Vietnam. I suspected I was becoming a witch!

I glanced at the shiny pennies again, thanking God for giving me a sign. Dad was here, and he knew that two of the four daughters he and my mother created were embracing life and each other again. I felt confident he was proud of us. If only the remaining estranged sisters would do their best to rebuild their lives again. Several attempts were made, only to have another disappointment and verbal attacks of jealousy slammed in our faces. Although I believe in ‘forgiving those who have offended or mistreated us,’ I refused to allow them to hurt me again. There comes a time in our life where we must move forward. We must stand tall and not let others destroy what we’ve built.

               At Thanksgiving dinner time, all nine of us sat at our dining room table. No cell phones sat on the table. This was a special time for family to sit together…eating the bounties of Thanksgiving dinner…and to chat with one another…the small talk of families enjoying such cherished times and laughter while we watched little Kinsleigh make silly faces like children do while growing into adulthood. Christmas dinnerware, silverware, and dinner napkins were anxiously awaiting all of us to gobble down the traditional meal of turkey with dressing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and more. Our plates were filled. I reached for Phil’s hand, and asked Cody, Chelsea’s future husband and the father of little Kinsleigh, to say grace. At first I thought I saw a bit of fear in his eyes since I had probably put him on the spot. He swallowed, reached for Chelsea’s hand, and said a most special prayer. Today, Thanksgiving 2015, new traditions were created. I’m certain our father is proud of us, especially on Thanksgiving. Although this tradition might not occur every Thanksgiving, I shall cherish the memories we built on this most special day. Maybe I will get those three pennies from the table and place them in a special place to remember the signs our dad shared. He is still here. Watching over us, occasionally leaving a sign as if he is saying, “Well done.”

 

 

 

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.”

ARTICLES, Fostering

The Adventures of Cletus Cleet, Cleet Runs Away


The Adventures of Cletus
Cleet, Cleet Runs Away
By
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Copyright ©2012 Barbie Perkins-Cooper, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 8, 2012, was a bitter day, with an early and cold winter’s chill, the first for the fall in Charleston, South Carolina. The morning sunshine could not warm the grounds of the coastal area where Cletus rested. He sniffed the coldness under his belly. Shivering, he was so tired, weak and getting thinner every day.

How long has it been since he ran away? Although he struggled to remember, his brain was tired from so many nights of little sleep. He dug deeper under the house. He heard the noise of a motor. Someone’s coming. I need to hide. She might see me again and this time, she might catch me.

With his docked tail tucked between his legs, he rushed away. The dark skinned lady with white hair knew where he hid at night. She tried without luck to catch him, but he always managed to move quicker than her crimpled body would permit. Her arthritic legs would not bend so she could stoop down to get him. Cletus knew how to outsmart humans. Yes, they were taller than he was. Bigger, and humans had long arms that stretched out with fingers that felt more like shovels than something warm to touch him. His sandy blonde and cream colored fur usually kept him warm, but this morning it was cold in Mt. Pleasant.

Cletus looked back as he moved. Why can’t I run like I did when I ran away? Why is every step feeling like I will fall and never get up?

Cletus crept down under the bushes. She could not see him here. “Here little puppy. Come here to me. I got some food for you. You look so skinny. I just want to feed you little puppy.” The lady walked with a cane, dragging it behind her as she shook the food bowl. For three early mornings, Cletus ate the food, warm with runny looking yellow grains of corn, oats, bread, egg, and other ingredients. Cletus didn’t care what it was. He ate every bite, wanting more.

Cletus heard the softness of a human voice before, at the house where he escaped. The woman living there was blonde, with big green eyes, colorful red fingernails and a sweet sounding voice, and a great smile. Every time Cletus looked at her, she smiled at him. Yes, her voice was a nicer tone than before…in the puppy mill. When Cletus lived there all he ever heard was a harsh shouting of Move…get on over there…do your work boy…now get! Cletus knew what to do, and he rushed away before the bald headed man with a belly that jiggled every time he moved, turned the water hose on again. He didn’t want to get wet again. The waters stung him every time they hit his tiny body. The waters made him feel like he was drowning. He didn’t want to drown. He hated when the man picked up the shovel, grabbed him, throwing him into the next kennel where a frightened girl dog shook next to him. He wanted to hear the soft voice again…the gentle voice and the sweet words, “Cleet…Cleet…Come on Little Buddy. It’s OK. No one will hurt you here.”

Cleetus curled into a ball to get warm. His tired eyes closed. Cleet. Cleet. He dreamed. The soft, musical voice of a woman soothed his tired, emaciated body. Cleet….Cleet…Hi, Little Buddy. It’s ok. No one will ever hurt you here. Your sadness ends, starting today.

Isn’t that what the blonde headed human said when she met him? The day he left Maddy, his little black schnauzer friend, and the vet’s office? Yes, she called me Cleet…Cleet. I didn’t know what it meant, so I jumped out of her arms. Humans hurt. I was afraid she might hurt me while smiling at me. If only I could find my way back to the place. The red brick house with a gold car in the front and a white ornament next to it. There were trees in the yard. Sweet Jasmine. A magnolia tree. Dogs…Dogs barked at me. Dogs played with me. Dogs told me I would be happy here. One dog, a salt and pepper color talked to me, telling me I would be happy here, but he said I had to learn the rules. Try not to poop on the floor. If you have to poop, do it on the doggie papers, or wait until you’re outside. Cletus didn’t like the outside. He didn’t like rules. He wanted to make his decisions. He was scared.

The world outside is a cold, cruel world. Cars are on the road. Kids rush around and on bikes. Bells rang during the day from a big brick building with lots of children. When they’re on bikes, they play games, trying to run over me. Just like today. A boy in a gray hoodie and jeans rode on a bike. When he saw me on the sidewalk, he darted over to me. “Get out of the way you stupid dog.” The bike tires caught up to Cletus, but he ran, not as fast as before; he managed to scatter away from the bike, bumping into a fence. The gate was open. Cletus rushed to the corner of the fence, waiting for the boy to come after him. The boy stopped the bike. “Stupid dog. You’re nothing but a scaredy cat! You know I can’t go back there. Stupid…stupid dog!”

Cletus took a deep breath. He fell fast asleep. If only he could find his way back to the red brick house.

Dreaming again, he thought of the place he left. If only he hadn’t been so curious. Walking around the fence, he found a loose piece of wood. His feet scratched at it. The soil was soft. Before he knew it, the hole was big enough for him to slide through. He looked back, at the door. The blonde headed lady with a sweet voice wasn’t there. Cletus wasn’t certain he should leave, but something inside of him said Run. Go on. Set yourself free…where humans can’t hurt you. Go…Run!

The dogs told him he was in a safe house. Shakespeare, the alpha dog, teased him, but he could tell that Shakespeare, Sandy Bear, and Shadow were happy in the red house. Shakespeare didn’t know what a cruel world it was. Sandy Bear knew. Sandy Bear was the same color of Cletus. He told Cletus he might want to give these humans a chance. Sandy Bear barked, “If you give her a chance, you’ll love her. She pets you. She rubs your belly, and at night, she lets you snuggle up close to her. Sometimes she sings to us. We watch TV together. Sometimes we watch doggie shows, and she laughs, telling us Doggies on TV. And if you’re scared when storms happen, she’ll hold you close and sing to you. Such a soft and sweet voice, you’ll feel safe and warm. She doesn’t raise her hands to hit you, and she’ll give you treats and make sure you eat well. There’s no violence here. Ever.”

Shakespeare jumped. “Violence?” He barked. “What’s violence?”

“Oh get real,” Shadow interrupted. “Don’t you know what violence is? I forgot – you came to this house when you were a puppy. No one’s ever been mean to you.” Shadow was midnight black, a giant schnauzer that loved to jump high in the air. Tall with wiry fur that shined in the sun, Shadow pranced around with grace. “Violence is when humans throw their hands up and hit you. Sometimes they’ll kick you with their big feet with hard shoes. And sometimes they’ll get a shovel, and poke it at you. Sometimes the shovel cuts. It hurts. Humans don’t give you food. And if you tear up things, they’ll take you for a ride and drop you off somewhere. You’ll end up sleeping outside in the dark of night. Alone. You’ll have to find your own food. Maybe that’s why I love to catch squirrels. Humans are mean. But Mommy and Daddy, well, they’re from a different world. The sweet lady I call Mommy has a pretty smile. They drove all the way to Georgia to rescue me. They let me sleep on a soft and warm blanket in the back seat and drove a long ways to bring me here. I met Shakespeare and Sandy Bear when we arrived. They told me to let these humans love me, but Shakespeare said, he was first…the most important and alpha dog. He gets the most attention. At least he thinks he does. Never have I seen these humans hit any of us. They sit with us on the floor when feeding us. I’ve never seen a human do that. And the lady? She walks us, but she won’t allow us to chase squirrels. I guess that’s the only bad thing I can say. She wants us to behave and prance around with grace. She combs us. Heck, she even sings to us. This house is a good and happy place to live. You’ll learn to find out what love is.”

“Love?” Cletus barked. “What’s love?”

“Oh silly. Hush,” Sandy Bear spoke. “Love is something that makes you feel warm and toasty inside. Just like you feel after eating a good meal. I fell in love with Mommy when she looked into my eyes after rescuing me. She rubbed my floppy ears, smiled and kissed my forehead. She told me I was going to a new home with her and some more doggies who would play with me. She said I’d have a warm, fluffy bed and a soft blanket to sleep on. Mommy gives us all attention. If she feeds one, she feeds us all. She even sits in the floor with us, to make certain we all eat and no one steals the food. This family will give you a good life, Cletus. You might be sorry if you escape.”

Cletus turned to look at all of them. “Don’t you want to go with me, guys? I can dig a deeper hole, Shadow.”

Barking in unison, they sang, “No. Don’t go, Cletus. Don’t go!”

Cletus rushed away. Shakespeare poked his head out, watching him as he ran away. “You’ll be sorry!”

Sandy Bear rushed to the back door, barking a high pitch. “Mommy. Help!” Mommy!”
Sandy Bear jumped by the window. Mommy wasn’t there. “But she’s always here,” he barked. “She sits there and has her hands working across some silly board with a big picture screen on a shelf.”

“Computer, stupid,” Shakespeare grumbled. “Mommy’s always at the computer.”

“Not now,” Sandy Bear barked.

“I hear her,” Shadow shouted. “See. She had to get some coffee.”

“Mommy!” Sandy Bear screamed. “Help Cletus!”

The door opened. The dogs rushed inside. “What’s all that barking for? Where’s Cletus?” Mommy said. “Cleet…Cleet…Here Cleet Cleet. Here Little Buddy…”

Cletus was gone. Escaping into the sidewalks, woods, bushes, roads, and shrubs of the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Mommy rushed around the back yard, looking, sighing, singing, “Cletus…Here Cleet…Cleet. Come here, Cleet…Cleet…Mommy won’t hurt you.”

Cletus heard her sobs but he kept running. No one will ever mistreat me again, He cried.

Later, as Cletus frolicked along the sidewalks, he chased squirrels. He drank from a stream. He heard sounds from a school. Children on bicycles. His eyes widened. Quickly he dove into the shrubs. The ground was warm. For the first time in his sad life, Cletus felt safe. He curled his body into a tightly woven frame and slept, the first real sleep he felt in much too long. When he awoke, it was dark. He listened. Only the sounds of night were around. An owl on a tree. A cat meowed a frightening sound. A fog horn hummed along the coast. Cletus heard a growl recognizing it was his stomach.

I should’ve caught that squirrel. I could’ve had a nice meal with him. I’m hungry. Maybe I should go back. He stood, rushing away from the shrubs. Which way do I go? Oh no. I’m lost. Help me. Shadow. Shakespeare, Sandy Bear — where are you?

The next morning, Cletus awoke lost and frightened. He heard a familiar voice.

“Cleet…Cleet…Here Cleet…Cleet.”

He ignored it. He sniffed the familiar scents of Shakespeare and Shadow, choosing not to respond.

I’ll be all right. The world is a big place. I don’t need humans to take care of me. No one will mistreat me again. Ever! I am free. Tears rushed down his face.

“Here Cleet Cleet…Little buddy…”

Cletus lifted his head. She’s here. He lifted his tired body, praying she would not hear his growling stomach. He sniffed. That smells like her.

Moving closer, he heard the school bells ringing. Cletus dropped to the ground.

“Come here, little Buddy. I’ve got you some food. Aren’t you hungry?” She shook a brown bag dropping it. Cletus sniffed. Food!

Shivering, Cletus did not move. If he moved or made a sound, she could grab him. He was tired of people thrashing their long, extended arms to him, only to hit him or push him around. The lady seemed nice, but he was still afraid what she might do. He let out a gentle sigh falling into an exhausted sleep as the lady turned and walked away.

The next morning, Cletus sniffed the bag, finding kernels of dog food. He tore the bag open, eating every bite, hoping she would return soon.

-30-

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.

Free Writing

Freewriting With the Demands of Life, Interruptions and PTSD


Dearest Readers:

Freewriting today, so here goes. Freewriting has been described as a time for writers to sit and write about anything that comes to the mind. It is now 3:52. I am supposed to write for five to ten minutes. Just write. No editing.

What is on my mind? It is Monday, my scheduled day to clean and catch up on things at the house. Moments ago, my husband walked in – asking me IF I read a card that was addressed to him. “No,” I reply. I do not read your mail.” He got just a bit touchy then. I suppose it is another PTSD day!

What is PTSD? If you have to ask that question, you’ve never been around anyone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When my husband walked in, I could see that he has dealt with a bit of stress today, although he denies it. Silly guy. Doesn’t he know I can see those eyes and I know I must walk on eggshells once again?
My husband is a Vietnam Veteran. How I wish I could pull those memories of war out of his head, but I cannot. Nor can I get him to calm down from his actions. Sometimes, I simply feel like running away – FOREVER! But, what good would that do? It would simply make him angrier. When he attacks me verbally with his PTSD, I walk away and give him space.

In my next life, I want a happy life. A life filled with someone who appreciates me and treats me kind. Yes, there are days when my husband is kind – it seems the PTSD outweighs the good days. He is a generous man. But kindness – well on his good days!

So be it. Enough about my husband’s attack when he walked in the door. He will not ruin my mood. Today has been a good day, and I am actually sitting here writing again – even IF it is freewriting.

In case you, my readers are interested, I am writing again, but it is so difficult. Years ago, a professor of an English class I was enrolled in asked our class if anyone loves to write. Silly me! I raised my hand. The professor was tall and thin, he had a slight beard and his facial expressions reminded me of George Carlin. He moved quickly to be by my desk. Pointing his finger at me, he shouted – “Then YOU are not a writer! Writers HATE to write.”

I’ve thought about that professor many times, and now I suppose I am a writer because there are times I actually detest writing. I don’t like to say the word ‘hate’ – especially since that dreadful word opens up a can of worms to many people. I try not to ‘hate’ anything.

My computer is telling me it is now 4:07 pm. Time to go start dinner and feed the dogs. Will I cook tonight? Not if my husband’s demeanor doesn’t change! For now, I think I will glue myself to my chair and write. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll repeat this exercise of the brain – writing! Later, Readers! Enjoy your day!

Losing Weight, Weight Watchers

“WEIGHT GAIN IS NOT A PERMANENT CONDITION!’


Dearest Readers:

Today is my day to face the music…stop beating myself up…and move on with life! Why? Simple. Today is my weigh-in day at Weight Watchers. Early this morning, I felt nervous. Embarrassed…All of those negative feelings we all feel whenever we gain weight.

I confess – I have used my ‘get out of jail free’ card several times lately at Weight Watchers. You know the card – if you are a member of Weight Watchers. The infamous “No Weigh In” card. Effective today, I am not using it; after all, it isn’t helping me.

Today, when I walked into the meeting, I dreaded facing the music. After the weigh-in, the wonderful receptionist who always shares encouragement with all of us said to me — It’s OK. “Weight gain is NOT a permanent condition.”

How true! She reminded me of the weight I have lost, along with all of the inches that appear to be falling off from my body and I smiled.

“You’re so right,” I smiled. “That’s a wonderful quote you’ve shared and I shall use it wisely, reminding me that my joining Weight Watchers was a lifetime, and lifestyle, change for me.

Last weekend I was bad. Very BAD! At a graduation, I reminded myself to eat wisely and carefully — and then — I committed the ultimate Weight Watchers sin. I ate cake. I could not resist it. I requested a large piece of cake. I ate every bite. Later, I went back for a second piece. I did not work out. I did not climb my friends upstairs stairs like I promised myself I would. I did not work out at all before going to bed. As I stated, I was bad.

On the way home, you guessed it — we stopped at fast food restaurants – and I was bad again. That night after arriving home, my husband and I went out for pizza. I ate every bite. I realized my life was spinning out of control. I watched an episode of “My 600 Pound Life,” http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/my-600-lb-life/ recognizing  I would never allow myself to become one of those reality show participants. At first, I wanted to write ‘reality show freaks’ – but I am trying to be positive here. I am trying to be happy and stop beating myself up.

Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up?

My actions got me thinking… If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know my life as a child was filled with unhappiness. When I graduated from high school, my parents were divorced – sitting as far away from each other as they possibly could. When my name was called – no one cheered. After the graduation ceremony, I came home with my diploma. My mother never said she was proud of me. There wasn’t a celebration. No cake. No gifts – with the exception of a few relatives who gave me graduation gifts. While watching the pride and love in my friend’s eyes when she spoke of her daughter at graduation and at the graduation party, my mind rushed back to my childhood and how different I wish it was.

So today is a wake-up call for me. A day for me to graduate from my childhood and to move forward with my life. Today is a new day. A great day to strive for happiness, instead of sadness. After all, negative thoughts only feed negativity. Positive thoughts teach us happiness, renewal, and motivation. Today is my day to move forward — to STOP beating myself up and to track all of my food intake – just like Weight Watchers teaches us.

And now, I must take that first step to have a good day. Thank you, Weight Watchers. Today is a new day. “Weight gain is NOT a permanent condition!”

 

 

Chattahoochee Child, Family, Free Writing

Chattahoochee Child – Walking Into the Fears of Cancer…


Dearest Readers:

Periodically, I post a few stories from the book, “Chattahoochee Child” — my latest work-in-progress. Hope you enjoy!

 

The morning my father and I learned to forgive each other started like most mornings in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Resting motionless in bed, he reminded me of a frail injured bird with crippled wings. His body was thin. His skin the color of mustard. Peach fuzz of a cotton soft beard kissed his face. My heart broke for him. My arms ached to reach inside his weakened body to pull the cells of cancer away.

Dad was rebelling after the diagnosis, stating in a firm voice that he would not shave his face UNTIL he was given the freedom and luxury of eating food. Meanwhile, the beard continued growing.

Although it was the holiday season of 1997, I could find no happiness or excitement in decking the halls or decorating a Christmas tree. The patriarch of my family tree was terminally ill, destroying my belief in the humanity and meaning of life. Why was it always the good people who suffer the most? Life just wasn’t fair.

During that Christmas holiday spent inside four cold walls of a hospital room, I remember staring outside, watching cars speeding by, ignoring traffic lights. I glanced at Christmas lights blinking off and on, counting the precious moments of life we, as adults, get locked into believing will be forever.

“How much longer do we have?” Suddenly, I shared an unspoken conversation with God as I looked up into the skyline asking why this had to be.

On that particular morning, Dad’s forehead was hot to the touch. I took his temperature. 103.  Sighing, I reached for the phone near his bed. “I’ll get the nurse to check your temp,” I said.

He watched every move I made. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. “I love you.”

I stopped dialing the phone. “I love you too,” I said, realizing he had never expressed those words before. His generation did not believe in showing affections and I was moved to the point of tears.

“Barbara,” he said his voice only a whisper. “I’m sorry for everything.”

I bathed his forehead with a cooling wash cloth, “No need to be sorry for the past,” I said. “You were the parent. I was the bratty, rebellious teenager.”

Dad’s facial muscles struggled to smile. “You always were stubborn and persnickety,” he said as he coughed.

“Just like my father,” I teased. “You rest. We can talk later when you’re stronger.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I can always count on you, even when things are difficult.”

“All of that’s in the past,” I said, brushing a blonde strand of hair from my face with an apricot manicured nail. “The past is history. The future a mystery. This moment is a gift, and that’s why we call it the present.”

Dad’s eyes fluttered. “I’m tired and sleepy.” He said.

“You close your eyes and sleep. I’ll be here when you awaken.”

November, 1997 until July,1999, were years of change, heartache and indescribable fear as I slowly watched my dad melting away from me from the effects of esophageal cancer, the Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy [PEG tube], commonly referred to as a feeding tube and chemotherapy radiation. I watched his tall, sturdy frame slowly bending into an emaciated body that could no longer fight or walk without assistance. It was truly the most painful time of my life.

After the week of Thanksgiving, 1997 my dad phoned, telling me he was a bit nauseated and thought he had cancer. I snickered. My dad did not have cancer. He was the picture of health. He took care of himself, walking daily, eating healthy foods and he lived a good life. Never drinking or smoking. No, Dad doesn’t have cancer. Not my Dad.

The next morning I took Dad to the Emergency Room at Roper Hospital in Charleston. For over eight hours, we sat while medical professionals took blood samples, x-rays and scratched their heads. Deciding to refer Dad to a gastroenterologist, we left the hospital, got a bit of dinner and I drove him back to his apartment. During dinner, he struggled to swallow his food. He apologized for taking so long to eat. When finished, over half of his meal remained on his plate. He did not request a take-out box. I suppose I knew something was wrong, I just did not want to admit that my dad was getting older and weaker each day.

In early December, Dad and I met with the gastroenterologist. An endoscopy was scheduled for the next morning. I phoned my boss letting her know I would not be at the office the next morning. I detected a bit of disappointment with her but remained firm. After all, my dad needed a test. All of my interviews and presentations could wait. Corporate America simply had to understand. My family was important to me.

The next morning, feeling confident Dad’s tests would be negative, I sat alone in the waiting room of the hospital, watching people passing by in a rush, reading newspapers and magazines, and sitting. How I wish I had remembered to pack a book or magazine. I watched the clock tick away. One hour. Two hours. My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything and it was almost lunch time. My cell phone rang, but I couldn’t answer it since the hospital did not permit them to be used while waiting. And so I waited and waited.

Moments seemed like hours. I glanced up at the clock again, stopping to notice my dad’s doctor was approaching. His eyes did not look at me. He held his head down. He sat down by me.

“We found the problem.”

“Oh. He’s just not eating properly? Isn’t that his problem?”

“No. Your dad has cancer. Cancer of the esophagus. Terminal cancer. I’m sorry to say it, but he probably has less than six months to live. He needs a PEG tube so we can get nourishment into him again.”

I sat motionless. Nothing was fazing me. My mouth flew open and I felt dizzy.

“Are you all right?”

“My dad has cancer. You’re saying my dad is dying? My Dad? This can’t be. He’s taken such good care of himself. You must be mistaken.”

“Have you noticed how thin he is?”

“Yes, I suppose. I did notice he didn’t eat much at Thanksgiving. I’ve been so busy at work. I guess I just didn’t pay enough attention.”

I knew my speech wasn’t making sense. People were passing by me, and all I could think of was the dreaded word – cancer.

I thanked the doctor. When he left, I turned my phone on and called my husband.

“Can you…can you please come to the hospital? Please?”

Garrett knew me well. When he arrived at the hospital, I fell limp in his arms. The tears I refused to cry suddenly poured out of me and I screamed. People stared at me, but I didn’t care. My dad was dying. Cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

The next few days were a blur to me. I returned to work, although my heart wasn’t there. All I could think about was my dad and the approaching Christmas holiday season. How could I possibly celebrate Christmas while knowing my dad is battling cancer? What if he chose not to fight cancer?

My prayers were answered one afternoon after a stressful day at work. I walked into my dad’s hospital room. He was resting while watching TV. An intravenous solution was attached to his arm. I touched his cold, resting arm while watching the IV solution of chemotherapy slowly dripping into his body. An amber colored bag covered the solution as it dripped…dripped…dripped ever so slowly into the veins of my father.

His eyes opened slowly. “Chemotherapy,” he said. “The doctors think it might help me live longer.”

My hand squeezed his and I felt his icy cold skin. “Are you warm enough?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. You stop worrying about me.”

I squeezed his hand again. Tears were dancing in my eyes and I turned away. I did not want my father to see me crying. On that day, I recognized a new closeness and bonding between us. Gone was the angry, bitter-tongued father of my youth, replaced by a kinder and caring man who trusted me.

“We’ll fight this together, Dad.” I said, looking deeply into his eyes. “Together. I will be here for you every day. I love you, Dad. Together we will fight.”

Dad squeezed my hand. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. A tear fell down his face. “Will you wipe my eyes with a tissue. They’re watering.”

Still the tower of strength emotionally, Dad would not admit he was crying. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead. “I love you, Dad. Together we will beat this monster of cancer.”

During the holidays of 1997, I watched my dad battle chemotherapy radiation with courage and faith. I visited him daily and with each visit, we bonded. Before leaving at night, I would bend over to kiss his forehead. He whispered, “I love you.” Something he never did before cancer knocked on his door.

Cancer changes people. Suddenly life appears to fall into place. The little things in life become important again. No rushing around. No deadlines to battle. No appointments to break, or arguments to tolerate. All that is important is that one special, precious moment of life. Even when Dad had a rough day, we made the best of it. We strove to see the sunshine and sunrise. Life appeared to be simpler, with one exception. Daily I prayed for God to give Dad and me just one more day. One more day to touch his hand, one more day to kiss his forehead and to whisper three simple, caring words that gave me strength. “I love you.” Eight precious letters of the alphabet that guided me in the mornings, during the unexpected stress of each day, and covered me with a blanket of warmth at night. “I love you.” We expressed those words daily. Every day and moment we shared was precious.

After three chemotherapy treatments Dad was so weak, his blood counts so low, the doctors decided his body did not have the strength necessary to receive additional chemotherapy or radiation treatments. His throat was extremely sore, creating more difficulty with swallowing. The medical terminology I was learning educated me about esophageal cancer and other words I hadn’t learned before cancer knocked at our doors. Dysphagia, the inability to swallow. Skilled medical care – meaning 24-hour medical care and, of course, the detested PEG tube. What Dad and I described as an umbilical cord. Since he had a PEG tube, we decided it was necessary for him to reside at a convalescent center. He made friends at the nursing home and adjusted well. I visited him daily, praying for a miracle.

Our miracle granted him additional time with us although his quality of life weakened. He could not swallow food without regurgitating it, so the PEG tube was used, against his wishes. Slowly every quality of his life ended. The ability to enjoy food. The strength to take daily strolls without the assistance of a walker. The independence to live alone, without the assistance of skilled medical care. Father Time was slowly ticking his life away. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock, until he was almost a vegetable lying in his hospital bed.

On July 6, 1999, I arrived at the nursing home thrilled that I had his checkbook in my handbag. Dad kept close tabs on his checkbook and always asked about it. I was pleased that I had balanced his checkbook, and paid the nursing home for another month of nursing care. I was confident he would be pleased that he did not have to ask for his checkbook this month. I was prepared. Approaching his room, I turned my head, acknowledging a nurse. She was pushing a portable oxygen machine. “Oh, that isn’t a good sign,” I said to her. She did not acknowledge me, but followed next to me. Placing our hands on the door of my father’s room, I exhaled. The nurse suggested I wait outside. I was told I could not enter. I knew the time had arrived, and although I had prepared for this moment, his loss tore into my heart and soul. A woman I had never seen before took my hand, moving me to a chair. I was hysterical. She sat next to me, holding my hand until my husband arrived. I have no idea how he knew that Dad was dying. Someone had called him. Much to my surprise, that someone was me, although I do not remember making a phone call. All I can retrieve from that ‘moment’ was the strange, kind woman holding my hand, whispering words of encouragement to me.

The next morning, I drove to the beach, before sunrise. Standing along the shore, I knew Dad was at peace, and in time, I would be thankful that he had the final say. Walking along the shore, I noticed a sandpiper, appearing to follow me. Was this a sign? I would like to believe it was. The tiny sandpiper running next to me was a symbol that Dad and his spirit were now united with his twin brother and his family. Truly, it was a beautiful sunrise on that morning, July 7, 1999. The first morning of my new life as an orphan.Never would my dad and I harmonize a gospel song. Never would we spell vocabulary words, or whisper ‘I Love You.’  A fresh new morning of life for me, although inside, I felt nothing except a deep, debilitating grief.

 

 

Domestic Abuse, Family, Motherhood

Reflections — On Mother’s Day…


 

Dearest Readers:

Perhaps this essay will be another chapter in “CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD.” [My latest work-in-progress]:

Mama wore her best house dresses when she was in a good mood, which wasn’t often enough. Those days, it felt as if the sunshine from the window kissed the living room with colors of the rainbow, at least for me.

Mama would smile at me and say, “Honey, can you curl my hair?”

After I shampooed her hair, I curled it with jumbo rollers. My fingers shook as I rolled her hair. If the curl was too tight, she’d get a headache.  She screamed in pain while her hands slapped my face. If it was too loose, the curl would flop and she’d remind me I had no talent to style hair, or do anything right. Her actions spoke volumes about her lack of love for me.

Sometimes, she smiled into the mirror, nodding with delight when finished. During those special moments with her, I took the time to make my Mama up with makeup. Her skin was olive, as smooth as a baby’s behind. No wrinkles or age spots. When I lined her eyes with black velvet eyeliner, she could equal the beauty of Cleopatra or Elizabeth Taylor. I never understood why Mama failed to make skin care and make up part of her daily routine.

Mama never believed in routines. She lived her life only for the moment and the next handout from someone else.

“It don’t matter to me or to your daddy if I fix myself up,” she said. “He doesn’t care about me. Why should I?”

Never did Mama hug or kiss me with her acceptance. I dare not ask if she liked her hair or makeup. I knew better. The sting of her palm on my face told me when I was not meeting her approval. I prayed she wouldn’t notice my anxiety, or my trembling hands. When I asked how she wanted her hair styled this time, she looked in the mirror, scratched her head, pulling the gray strands out.

“Stupid girl, you should know how I like my hair styled! Cover the gray roots,” she said. “Tease it high. Don’t let nobody see how gray I’m getting. I don’t care how it looks, as long as the gray roots ain’t showing.”

She refused to get her hair colored, afraid the chemicals would do something to her brain. She said, “Cancer runs in our family. We can’t take a chance to get that disease ‘cause it kills. My great grandmother had head cancer. She had such bad headaches her mind was gone. Don’t you put no chemicals in my hair. I don’t want my brain, or my head fried with cancer. You listen to me, Rebecca Sue. Don’t let nothing fry my head.”

 

May, 2002 was the last Mother’s Day I shared with my mother. Reportedly, she suffered a fall at Savannah’s apartment in early April. Savannah shouted at her, shoving her down the stairs. She was in a hurry, and she was tired of taking care of her ‘old lady,’ so she chose to leave our mother suffering on the floor. That afternoon a home health nurse came to check on our mother, discovering her lying face down, her clothing soiled from body fluids and feces. Her face was pulled down to the left side, left lip bruised and battered. When she struggled to move, she could not. The nurse documented her condition, diagnosing a possible stroke.

The home health nurse phoned me. “I suspect your mother has suffered a stroke. She’s at E-R now.”

“I’ll make arrangements and leave later this afternoon. It will take at least eight hours before I can be there,” I said. “Where’s Savannah?”

The nurse hesitated, suggesting I should speak to the doctor on call when I arrived.

I knew something was questionable. This was not the first time my mother had injuries while under Savannah’s care.

On Mother’s Day, Mom was still in the hospital. On that morning, I arrived early, placing a pale blue gift bag on her bed. Her eyes opened. She glanced at the bag, struggling to speak.

“B-Blue skies,” she muttered. Her right arm moved to touch the bag. I reached inside the bag, removing a blue gift box. I opened the box slowly. Mom’s eyes blinked as she struggled to smile, admiring the cultured pearl earrings inside the box.

A few minutes later, I placed the pierced earrings in her ears. Mom sighed, touching the right ear with her right hand. She slurred ‘thank you’ and fell back to sleep.

I stayed with my mother all of that Mother’s Day, feeding her and making her comfortable. That Mother’s Day was the last Mother’s Day we shared.

On September 11, 2002, my mother died under ‘questionable circumstances.’ Savannah spent that night with her at the hospital. When Savannah phoned me in the late evening of September 12, she appeared intoxicated. Her last slurring words to me were, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

 

Two years after her death Garrett and I drove to Columbus. We dropped by the cemetery to see my mother’s grave. The years of mental and physical abuse from my mother were buried with her. I placed a bouquet of red roses on her headstone, kissed it and whispered, “I know we were never close, but I hope you’ve found peace now. May you rest in peace, Mom. I loved you.”

Thinking about my childhood, the physical and mental abuse, I found it strange that Savannah was repeating the vicious cycle of physical abuse while I found peace, refusing to allow violence or abuse of any kind within my family.

 

On Mother’s Day, 2015 I reflect on my mother, our estranged history together and the questionable circumstances of her death. Savannah buried her in a closed casket. Due to another bout of acute bronchial asthma, I was unable to get to the funeral. Perhaps there was a reason for an autopsy to be performed, but now, my mother rests in peace. I hope and pray she died peacefully. Mother’s Day is always a day of reflection, sadness and curiosity and I pray that all mothers will have a wonderful day enjoying motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who truly know the definition and love affiliated with motherhood. May your day be filled with the love and best wishes of family on Mother’s Day.

 

###

 

Free Writing, Weight Watchers

Welcome Back — To Weight Watchers!!!


Dearest Readers:

To quote my words from last night, when I was able to sing — and HOLD the notes as long as I am known for — I AM BACK! Last night at Karaoke I was fearful I could not carry and hold the notes of “I Who Have Nothing,” — one of my signature songs. Much to my surprise, I held most of the notes without interruption without another coughing attack. Gosh, it was great to finally sing again!

When I finished, after the applause, I said, “Hooray…I’m Back!”

So great to finally be living again! This morning was my first Weight Watchers meeting in exactly one month to the date! After removing my boots, a white jacket, and other things I could take off, I got on the scale with much anticipation. My leader weighed me…I waited…Inhaled…Exhaled, in anticipation of this weigh-in. My leader wrote 3.4 on my card. “What did I do?” I asked. She smiled, but she always does that, even when we gain. “3.4,” she repeated. Now, she’s teasing me….The anticipation continued until I finally said. “I’ve gained 3.4?”

“NO,” she laughed again. Her laughter is delightful. Melodic…a laughter that is welcoming and familiar. “You lost 3.4 pounds while you were sick!”

I squealed like a child. My voice is doing that sound a lot lately since I am still recuperating! So happy I’m back on track after this illness. Today is a new day!

BREAKING NEWS:

So much for the new day! After Weight Watchers we have a group joining us for lunch. On my way, I listen to music, singing again! Oh how wonderful it is to have a voice again! I glance in my rear view mirror. A black car is just a bit too close. Thinking to myself, I am praying she backs off. She doesn’t…There is nothing like driving on Hwy, 17, Mt Pleasant, SC with someone just a bit too close. When I slowed down to stop, the vehicle behind me gets a bit too close…THEN…BAM! Yes, I was in a slight fender bender today…No injuries to either of us. As for the cars — well they both need a rear end lift (mine) and hers — needs a major face lift. Thank you, God…we are safe…No injuries, and to the lady(???) perhaps I should just say — the female in the black car that had to switch lanes due to the accident – while I am on the phone with the police department…You should be ashamed for using that middle finger. It wasn’t very lady like for you to do that. Incidentally, the Police department told me not to move our cars until the police officer arrived.

Now that I am home I am calmer, so thankful that neither of us were injured. We have no witnesses to this little accident since both of us were driving in our cars – alone. When the officer arrived, he was very nice. I shared my ‘side of the story’ with him. He listened and approached the other driver. A young girl. She doesn’t get out of her car, and when I asked her if she was OK, she was in tears. No reason to cry. It’s an accident. Cars can be repaired. And that is exactly what the officer tells her as I am walking around since we have moved both cars out of the area into a parking lot. I didn’t want to sit in my car, so I walked, just to ease the stress. I’ve been ‘rear-ended’ before, so I’m accustomed to this in Charleston. Believe me, drivers in Charleston, SC LOVE to navigate almost on the bumper of the car ahead of them. What caused this accident? Traffic stopped, so I stopped. I had plenty of room to stop. Word of warning to anyone driving in Charleston, SC – please drive carefully and don’t get too close to the vehicle ahead of you. PLEASE!

REGARDLESS, IT IS A GOOD DAY…

Although my day started with a fender bender, it is a good day. I believe in focusing on the positive in life…allowing the negative to slip through my fingers. After all, my baby steps are working. I am definitely on the road to getting over acute bronchial asthma, I am losing weight once again. The pollen is flying around outside since Father Wind is gusting the world outside with fresh pollen and oxygen. Even if it is a cloudy day, my life is moving forward. I imagine there will be fog drifting down soon, covering the lawns and trees with the magical gray blanket so welcoming, and I can listen to the melodic sound so familiar and beloved by me — Fog Horns. How I love them! This morning I heard them while getting dressed.

Baby Steps, and now I’m off to rest, while I continue to improve! My cough is only an occasional raspy sound.

Yes. Baby steps while the beauty of spring time arrives as I continue my journey with Weight Watchers and Life!

BABY STEPS!