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.”

Backstabbing Friends — What It Is And How To Cope…


Dearest Readers:

All of my life I have experienced situations with — and I USE the term loosely — “Friends.” I consider friendships something to be cherished — the chosen few — the friend we stand by through thick and thin. If you read my blog regularly you will know I have written about friendships many times; nevertheless, never have I discussed backstabbing friends. Not until now. I suppose recent assignments have got me thinking.

Have you ever experienced backstabbing friends? You know the type — in front of a crowd, they hug and kiss and pretend to be such good friends…Turn your back and you can almost feel the knife twisting inside of you. I have always thought backstabbing friends are filled with insecurities. When they criticize you with hurt and discontent, yes, it does hurt — but only for a while. My theory has always been when I am your friend, I am loyal to you. I trust you. I believe we are friends because God has a purpose for us. However, if you become vicious, let’s just say — I have no use for this type of friendship.

I’ve been wrong many times, and now, I am skeptical of friendship relationships. I keep to myself most of the time, simply because I do not need backstabbing friendships — AT ALL! Good friends — we all need good friends, just not the poisonous back stabbers!

You might be curious as to the definition of backstabbing friends. Who they are. What they are…and Why? In a nutshell — backstabbing friends are indeed insecure. Ridiculing you — behind YOUR back makes them feel equal. Powerful — in all reality — they are powerless. Perhaps they do not understand how vindictive, deceitful, conniving and UGLY they really are. They have loose tongues…and when they see you coming…suddenly, they retreat. Yes, they will whisper…Yes, they will pretend and when you turn your back — the game is on.

Backstabbing friends are users. They will pretend to have the upper hand, hoping you will share your secrets with them…and if you do share — trust me — those secrets are spread like a California wildfire!

I’ve dealt with backstabbing friendships in the Corporate World too, finding them the most destructive.

Today, I am proud to say, I do have many friends; nevertheless, only a few close ‘best friends.’ My best friends know who they are so I will not reveal their identity here. Never have I shared secrets with anyone — not even my husband. I suppose I am from the old school – ethics and morals taught to me by my amazing grandmother. She always said I should be pretty on the outside — but beautiful and Godly on the inside. “Never reveal secrets to anyone,” she said…and “NEVER break those secrets shared. Be kind to others and never do unto others what you wouldn’t have done to you.”

My grandmother was an incredible, soft-spoken woman. Living in a mill village, she was the therapist lots of people would come to — to vent — to cry…and sometimes, just to scream. Highly religious, she taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School in the Pentecostal churches, and she practiced her beliefs and faith in her daily life. She never turned anyone away and when I asked her why the people came to her she always smiled and said, “She has a burden we needed to lift.” No explanation of what was stewing, just words of wisdom. Many times I was curious as to how nice, caring and angelic my maternal grandmother was, compared to my mother. Now that I am just a bit wiser, I realize my mother chose to be more like my maternal grandfather — backstabbing friends — only these were blood relatives. It is a bit difficult to turn away from them!

Dealing With Backstabbers

How do I deal with backstabbing friends? Normally, I kill them with kindness, and then — I STEP AWAY!  The highest compliment is to prove by your actions and your diplomacy how kind and diplomatic you can be — even when the enemy is nearby. Suppose I forgot to mention — backstabbing friends are enemies…and you’ve probably heard the cliche about enemies… “Keep your friends close — YOUR ENEMIES closer.” And that is how I deal with them. I might speak. I might laugh, and I might compliment — while watching them with a careful eye. Getting close again — not on your life!

I refuse to resort to the destructive tactics of backstabbers. I am cool…calm…and collected… If these backstabbers invite me to an outing, my calendar is always full…after all, I have stories to write, important things to do.

I prefer to keep my private life – PRIVATE! Once betrayed by a backstabber, never do I trust them again.

I simply do not need passive-aggressive, backstabbing people in my inner circle of friends; after all, I lived with a mother who was passive-aggressive, almost bi-polar and meaner than the most vicious snake one could ever meet.

Backstabbers cut like a knife, and I imagine they are extremely lonely people. After all, living well, being happy and complete within yourself — well — to me it is priceless!

Think I’ll continue being a fair weather friend. After all, I am horrified of thunder and lightning. I don’t need all of that drama from untrusting, cruel people.

Backstabber friends — just stay away! I have bridges to cross…journeys to take…and much life to live!

 

http://www.lifescript.com/well-being/articles/b/backstabbing_friends_and_co-workers.aspx

 

 

Chattahoochee Child — Saga Continues…


Chattahoochee Child
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Copyright 2014

Walking around the flower displays at the exhibit hall of the Coastal Carolina Fair, I inhaled the aromatic smells of pale orange roses. Garrett touched a rose petal. I tapped his hand.

“You aren’t supposed to touch them,” I scolded. He laughed, stepping back.

“Coral roses are my favorites,” I whispered, my mind rushing back to the first time I received roses. Garrett was in Vietnam. We were celebrating our first anniversary alone while he fought the war. The roses were delivered in a long white box. One dozen beautiful, aromatic coral roses that I would cherish for as long as they lived. I was touched by his thoughtfulness in a war zone, so far from home and so alone.

Our marriage started with everything against us. My family made bets that we would be divorced within six months. We proved them all wrong. Although some family members considered us separated when he left for war, I refused to consider us apart. I wrote letters to him every day, sent monthly care packages and lived only for him. The gesture of one dozen roses on our anniversary meant the world to me. I was stepping into a new journey in my life as a young, married woman and I was determined to make this journey a positive one. Although I was only 18-years-old, I had lived a sad, abusive life. I wanted to close the door and never look back. I prayed God would open a window for me and my marriage when I closed the door of abuse.

Admiring the artistry of the displays of flowers, a familiar song played in the background. I listened, singing the chorus while my mind drifted back in time.

I was about five-years-old when I heard the song, “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” playing on the radio while my mother drove Papa’s fishing car, a 1958 pink and white rambler four door sedan. At our house mom marched around, barking orders, screaming at me, demanding me to hurry up. I was the only child home that morning, so I rushed around, grabbing my activity bag in hopes my mother’s mood would change.

Sitting in the front seat of the car, I turned on the radio. We were driving to my paternal grandmother’s house for a visit. Mom appeared a bit agitated that morning, sharp-tongued and impatient. I turned the volume up, listening to the music. Mom sang the lyrics softly. “I’ll be loving you always. With a love that’s true. Always. When the things you’ve planned need a helping hand, I will understand, Always…”

I looked at my mom as she sang. Never have I heard her singing before. I smiled, enjoying this special moment.

Mom glanced over at me. “What are you looking at?” She asked.

“I’m listening to you singing. I’ve never heard you sing before.”

“Stupid child. It’s just a song.”

“It’s a song you like. I can tell, just by watching you.”

“I like the song,” I said… “And when I grow up, I’ll sing it to you and Daddy when I become a singer.”
Mom laughed, a snickering laughter that made me uncomfortable.

“You’re such a silly, foolish child. Don’t you know that love don’t last. That song is stupid.”

Stupid was my mother’s favorite word.

“I believe in love,” I said, lifting my head to look at the gorgeous sunshine beaming into the car. “When I grow up, I’ll fall in love and I’ll sing that song. You just wait.”

“For a five-year-old you sure have some stupid dreams. You ain’t never gonna be a singer. You’re gonna be just like me…Married to a man who beats you, and having babies again.”

My mother was pregnant again, and not happy about it.

“I’ll get married, and I’ll have a baby, but I’ll never let a man hit me. Never.”

Walking around the displays of flowers at the fair, I listened to the song, wiping a tear from my eyes. This was the first time in many years that I cried over the loss of my mother. I sat on a bench, buried my head in my hands so I could wipe my face. Garrett joined me.

“Why are you crying?” He reached for my hand.

“That song. It brought back memories of my childhood and my mother, on one of her good days. That was her favorite song.”

Garrett wiped a tear from my face.

“She was singing that song in the car as she drove to my paternal grandmother’s house. I was only five-years-old, but I remember her saying she was having another baby again. It was one of her good days. That song changed her demeanor. She actually smiled.”

Later that night, I grabbed Garrett, hugging him tightly, thanking him for having a fun day with me. Our marriage was slowly improving for the better. I sang the song “Always,” over and over in my mind until I fell asleep. The next morning, the song replayed in my mind. I went to the special window in my home, the wide open window next to my desk. The window I sat by listening to fog horns in the distance. The window that beams sunshine on me. I looked up to the sky, curious if my mother was attempting to communicate to me from the grave.

“Are you there, Mom?” Tears fell from my eyes while the lyrics of “Always” continued playing.

There’s a reason for this memory to be replaying again and again, but I don’t know what it could be. Could it be my mother making the attempt to apologize and say that she loved me? Was it just a coincidence that we walked into the flower exhibits as that song started to play? I’d like to believe this happened for a reason. In 1978, I cut the chords between my mother and me, after another verbal dispute where she told my son I was a whore, nothing more. Leaving her filthy home, I chose only to speak to her when there was a funeral or family tragedy.

During her illness, I was caring for my terminally ill father. When my mother died in 2002, I was dreadfully ill and could not attend her funeral.

“I’ll be loving you, always.
Days may not be fair Always.
That’s when I’ll be there, Always.
Not for just an hour.
Not for just a day.
Not for just a year,
But Always.”

The lyrics of “Always” touched me more than I anticipated. It had been over twenty years since I cried over the estrangement and loss of my mother, and today, the tears rushed down my face like an endless waterfall. I’ve always believed that those we have lost can communicate with us again. Today was that day. My psychic abilities were a gift from my maternal grandmother who could predict good and bad things happening to us and others. Repeatedly, I have had dreams about someone dying, only to realize the death had happened. Two days before Benjamin broke our engagement, I dreamed that he was breaking up with me. When the letter arrived, I was not surprised. When Garrett was in Vietnam, I awoke in the middle of the night fearful for his life. I circled the date and time on my calendar, staying awake the rest of the night to write him a letter. Twenty days later, a letter from him arrived confirming that he was involved in a battle where he was in the jungle fighting while struggling to keep the communication lines working. In my dream, I visualized him in a thick jungle going deeper and deeper into battle. The more I strove to get closer to him, the thicker the jungle became and I knew just from this visual dream that he was in trouble. I compared the date of his letter and the date circled on my calendar. They matched perfectly. Another vision was a reality.

Early July 6, 1999, at 3:45 in the morning, I dreamed my dad was dying. I phoned the nursing home to have them check on him, telling them I’d had another dream of his death. By now, the nursing home was accustomed to these phone calls. They reassured me he was fine. That afternoon, at 5:45 pm, I approached the doorway of my dad’s room, only to meet a nurse who was entering with an oxygen tank. “Oh, God no,” I cried. At 6:00, my dad died.

On September 9, 2001, I dreamed about several men dressed in long trench coats, dark-skinned with thick black beards, entering two planes. The planes crashed killing every one on board. Another group of men, armed with weapons, wearing trench coats approached beach crowds, shooting the families and beach bums relaxing on the beach. Two days later, I awoke to the tragedies of 9-11-01. Coincidence? Visions? Perhaps.

Visions were part of my life. Each time I had them, I recognized the psychic abilities I possessed were a reflection and a gift of who I was in life. No doubt, I was a witch.

Yes, my mother was communicating to me. Perhaps she was apologizing and the lyrics of the song, “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” were her way of letting me know that in death she recognized her cruel behaviors were due to the unhappiness she had in her life. Perhaps through the compelling lyrics expressing her love, “Always” she was communicating her love to me. Sitting at my desk, I found the song on YouTube, playing it over and over.

Today was a new day. A day to believe that now, in death, my mother loved me, Always.

No One to Blame But Me — At Weight Watchers


Dearest Readers:

I confess, today is my weigh in day at Weight Watchers, only I am not going today. I’ve decided it is in my best interest to remain at home today — moping…groaning…arguing with myself…I’m certain you get the picture, especially IF you are working hard to lose weight. This week hasn’t been a user-friendly week for me, and I’ve managed to eat foods I shouldn’t have, along with birthday cake. Yes, I know, I have no one to blame but myself! I am the one who lifted the fork into my mouth and ate those foods, and I am truly (almost physically except it hurts to do this) beating my head against a brick wall for being such a weakling! According to my scales, I’ve gained four pounds this week — since Tuesday of this week.

Allow me to explain…This week, combined with the latter part of last week, have been the weeks from Hell for me. Too much stress…too many disappointments… If you recall from my postings in June and earlier this month, I posted the details of the lack of appropriate customer service from the scheduling department of Sears. The week of June 26 was an extremely demanding and busy week for me and when I finally found the time to do laundry, I loaded the colored clothing, placed the detergents and fabric softeners in the appropriate slots, only to discover my front loading Kenmore washer would not power up. I checked the fuse box, other areas that I knew to check, and phoned Sears. To make a long, pressurized story short, the earliest they could get a technician out was July 8. I was furious! I was told, and I quote, “we are overbooked due to the holidays.” Duh???!!!??? Did I HEAR the voice correctly? I ask you, just WHO plans for the scheduling of a repair due to the holidays? The first party I spoke with had one of those accents from India, or somewhere similar. Seems she offered to ‘walk me through some diagnostic testing?”

Are you not listening, India? The washer will not power up. I do have common sense and my common sense tells me that IF the machine is not powering up, a diagnostic test cannot be completed! Do I need an engineering degree just to operate a Kenmore front loading washer? ‘I don’t think so!’

Sears must think I’m stupid! I’m not. Julia Sugarbaker reborn? Perhaps!

After the incident with Sears I went online, finding the Blue Team at Sears where I could send an e-mail. Ha. Ha! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

Yes, I sent an e-mail. I am not certain of the contents, but let us just say, my Julia Sugarbaker style kicked in — BIG TIME. A customer service rep from Sears phoned me, assuring me that when an earlier opening arrived, a service technician would phone me, and he did. I think he came to the house on July 1. I recognized him since he was the technician that repaired this same washer a few years back. Apparently the problem is the computer panel. As you all must know — EVERYTHING is computerized now so what once was a simple repair job is now a complete rehaul of the repair. A new computer panel was ordered. It arrived this Monday, July 7. The technician is scheduled to repair the washer tomorrow, July 11. It has been three weeks since I’ve been blessed to do laundry at home. I’m getting into the groove of going to the laundromat now. Fortunately, the laundromats in my neighborhood have been upgraded, so the characters I saw the last time I had the joy of visiting a laundromat no longer exist. Thank you, God!

Last week simply wasn’t my week. After Weight Watchers, I had lunch with friends and decided to complete birthday shopping for my husband. We were having storms and one thing retail outlets can count on is when it is raining like it does in Charleston, SC, people LOVE TO SHOP! Customers were coming out of the woodwork! After leaving Towne Centre, I started home, noticing a car so close behind me I could not see the headlights of the vehicle. Of course you can imagine what happened. When I stopped, so did she — right into my bumper. Fortunately, it was a minor fender bender; however, my bumper has a few deep scratches, so we called the police. I reported the accident to the insurance company and now I await their phone calls. I suppose I could continue listing the events of this week too, but it isn’t necessary. Just know, I need a break, and so today, after fighting with myself and shedding a tear or two, I decided to miss my meeting.

I forgot to mention yesterday. I went to a friend’s house to rehearse our songs for our show this weekend. After our fun rehearsal, we went to the pool and swam and soaked up a few rays. I was wearing my Fitbit One. It isn’t waterproof! I slipped (by accident) into the pool and ruined my Fitbit One. I have it drying out in a bowl of rice, but so far — nothing. Dead. What a week!

Repeatedly I have reminded myself that no one placed the food in my mouth. No one force fed me at all. My husband wanted to have his birthday dinner at P. F. Chang’s — one of my favorite places to dine. After looking up their entrees on Weight Watchers etools, I realized I should not eat one bite, but I did. Add to that, the birthday cake, and I recognize I am headed for self-destruction.

Nevertheless, today is a new day. Yes, the scale tipped upward of four pounds, but my new treadmill (Nordic Track) is laughing at me as I write this, so I must gather my thoughts to close this, turn on “Designing Women” and get moving!

I am so hopeful next week will be the beginning of a new and better, happier, less stressful week. And now, I am hopping on Nordy! Have a great week!

Reminiscing on July 6 of Each Year…


Dearest Readers:

July 6 is always a day to remember for me. Why? Allow me to explain. During the stressful days of my dad’s terminal illness with esophageal cancer during December 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999, I have felt such a loss.

I’ve had people tell me I need to move on. “Get over it. Life goes on…” Etc. ETC! It isn’t easy! Tomorrow is July 6, 2014 – exactly 15 years since the death of my dad. I remember the day, as if it was yesterday. After a demanding day at work, I rushed to visit him, like I did every day. I spoke to the nursing home earlier in the day. “Dad was doing fine,” they replied. “Fine!?!” If he’s in a nursing home he isn’t fine. Yes, he was as well as could be expected; nevertheless, over the last six months of his life, I watched his body slowly shutting down. First it was the weakness from esophageal cancer. His inability to retain his food. His legs grew weaker and he fell – LOTS. Each time the nursing home reported the falls to me, like they are required. And each time, I prayed a sigh of relief. Just one more day. Please God, give us one more day.

In March, his heart grew weaker, and I realized the end was near. I stopped praying for a miracle. In my nightly prayers I prayed for God to find a special place for my dad, to use his talents, his voice, and yes – even his temper. Dad could be a tenacious man when he wanted to be!

During my daily visits after March, I noticed Dad no longer walked me to the door, to kiss me goodbye. He simply waved his hand as he closed his Holy Bible. No longer were the visits welcoming or fun. He appeared to be angry at me, always waving me away after about 10 minutes of our time together. His roommate told me Dad was mean to me. “You deserve better,” Dudley said. “He is so mean. He should appreciate you.”

I smiled at Dudley. “Don’t you understand,” I cried. “Dad is dying. He’s angry at life.”
Dad and Dudley were the odd couple of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. They teased and complained, always trying to compete with each other. For a while, Dad had the upper hand since Dudley’s body no longer moved and he remained in the bed, or a special wheelchair. Dudley had difficulty with speech too, but after visiting Dad so often, Dudley and I were able to communicate without a problem. After March, Dudley had the upper hand as we watched Dad sit on his bed, or remain in his bed most of the time. Gone were his daily strolls with his walker.

I suppose I was counting the days down, knowing my dad and I would not share another holiday together. No more birthday parties. No more Christmas trees, Thanksgiving and holiday dinners together. Tick. Tock…How I wish I could make this clock stop and save my dad.

On the moment of his death, I was walking in the corridor of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. A nurse I recognized approached, pushing an oxygen tank. I remember speaking with her, saying Uh, oh. That isn’t a welcoming sign for someone. She nodded, never saying a word to me.

I placed my hand on the door of Dudley and Dad’s room and so did the nurse. Quickly, she nodded, telling me not to come inside.

I screamed.

“Oh, Dear God, No. Please…please….Please God, NO!” I cried.

Someone grabbed me, walking me to a chair and I sat down. I knew. The clock was stopping. My dad way dying.

I heard a voice say, Barbie. We can bring him back.

“No,” I cried. “He’s a DNR. I must honor his wishes.”

Moments seemed like hours. At 6:15 a nurse approached me. “I’m so sorry. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Yes, I nodded.

I waited a few minutes for my husband to arrive and together, we walked in to Dad’s room. Dudley was eating dinner. I could not speak to him. I touched my Dad – his body as cold as ice. His skin clammy. His eyes closed. I kissed him. Told him I loved him and I would never forget him. “You’re still here, inside my heart,” I cried.

I have no idea what happened next. I was numb. Dumbfounded. How would I live without my Dad?
After his funeral, I joined a grief therapy session and learned to move forward. Still, as the day of July 6 of each year approaches, I feel an incredible emptiness. Grief. Heartache. I ask myself, will this pain ever leave?

I think not. July 6, 2014 is only hours away. I must keep myself busy, remembering my Dad, Walter W. Perkins, and the goodness inside of him. Yes, he had moments of temperamental ups and downs, but he was my dad. As a child, I always looked up to him. I held his hand. We sang. He taught me how to harmonize and he always reminded me to “Make this a good day.”

I ask you how? How do I make each day a good day without my dad?

When do we stop grieving over those we’ve loved and lost? When does the heartache end?

After my dad died, I felt like an orphan. I have learned to move on and to recognize that each day is a gift. I plan to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion with my dad in the morning while drinking my morning coffee. I will lift my head high, looking into the Heavens and speak softly to my Dad. Yes, I will probably cry, but now, the tears are good, cleansing tears because I have learned to move forward. To make the most of every day. July 6, 2014 is another day without my dad, but I am so thankful that I was there for him daily while he battled cancer. Yes, I miss you, Dad. I was blessed to share one more day.

Thank you, God for giving us one more day!

Animals Communicate to Us…


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awaken to another gray day in Charleston. Now, it is raining outside. Raindrops tap, tap, tap, on the windows and I’m thankful I called my four-legged family members inside only moments ago. They are so funny when it rains. When the back door opens, they rush inside, only to stop as the back door closes. They lift their little heads up. Their eyes stare at me, as if to say, “Where’s my towel? I don’t like being wet!”

Drying them is a funny site. First, Sir Shakespeare rushes to the front of the line, to get dried. Sometimes, Sandy Bear is second. He loves to feel the soft, fluffy towel rubbing his fur. Many times, he will moan, as if to say, “Um-mmm. That feels so good.”

Hankster the Prankster is usually third in line to get dried. He doesn’t really care to be touched, but he does allow the soft towel to rub his fur, while he growls, and growls and growls. I continue rubbing him until he backs away. He is such a funny and grouchy little character. Saved from a kill shelter, only to live for a bit with people who did not understand him, this precious, confused little mini-schnauzer communicates his needs to me. After he left our foster home, he communicated to me in three different dreams that he wanted to come back to us. One dream said he wasn’t happy and the people did not understand him. Later, in another dream, I awoke early one morning, in the early gray darkness of an extremely early morning, to hear whining and a familiar bark. In my dream, I slumbered towards the front door. Opening it, I discovered a cold and wet Hankster. He lifted his face towards me as if to say, “May I please come in? I ran away and I’m tired. Hungry and cold. Please, Mom.”

If you, my readers, read my blog at all, you will remember I have visions. Sometimes these visions are so strong that I know, deep inside, that this vision will come true. My last vision about Hankster was the strongest one. In this dream, I was driving along the Interstate. Traffic was bumper to bumper. I was curious as to why the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. I didn’t see any emergency vehicles. No sign at all of an emergency; however, as my car crawled along, horns were blowing. People were shouting. I looked to the right of the road. In the emergency lane, there stood a small little dog, hovering down. Afraid. The animal advocate in me kicked in and I pulled over. Carefully getting out of the car, I prayed, “Dear God. Keep me safe and please let me capture this scared little fellow.” I moved slowly, making soft noises so the tiny dog would not be afraid of me. He crawled towards me, and when I was able to touch his fur, he howled. Carefully, I picked him up, thinking, wishing and hoping that he was Hankster.

Placing the frightened animal in the back seat, I covered him with a blanket and buckled him. I lifted his collar. “Hank,” I read.

My eyes opened. I looked into the darkened room, hopped out of bed and turned the light on. This dream was so visual…vivid…almost as if Hank was communicating with me. I kissed the pups sleeping soundly in their beds and I rushed to my computer. Downloading e-mail, I discovered an e-mail titled “Hank isn’t working out,” in the subject line. I opened the e-mail. Tears rushed down my face as I realized those dreams were now a reality that Hank needed me.

Two days later I was informed that Hank was coming back to the rescue center. He would be placed in a kennel and re-entered into the foster and adoption program for the rescue center. As silly as my dreams sounded, I notified the director that I needed to be the one to rescue and foster Hank. I mentioned my dreams. Much to my surprise, when I got a reply, the director understood my dreams. She thought our family would be perfect to assist Hankster.

That weekend, we rescued Hankster again. At first, he barked. I allowed him to smell my scent and scooped him in my arms, placing him in the back seat. On the drive home, Hank was fine. He curled himself into a little ball and slept the entire two-hour drive. Arriving home, he rushed inside to the water bowl, then to the toy box. He remembered our home and our four-legged-family.

Some people say that animals cannot communicate simply because they cannot speak our language. I correct those people, letting them know that animals do communicate their needs by their actions, and sometimes, in their dreams. I am convinced that Hankster was communicating to me for weeks and that is why I kept dreaming about him.

Today, Hankster is happy. We adopted him and slowly he took baby steps to improve his attitude and disposition. For a few weeks, he bit my husband’s hand and he chased after his feet, especially whenever my husband moved closer to me. It was obvious that Hank did not like men, nor did he appreciate Phil giving me a hug. His story is one of abuse. After he lost his first home due to death, the family members took him to a kill shelter. Fortunately, Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas stepped in to save him. He went to a foster home, then to our home for us to foster him. A few months later, a family adopted him but Hank wasn’t happy, so we re-fostered him, only to fall in love with him and adopt him. Today, Hankster the Prankster is curled at my feet while I write this. Yes, he growls at my husband, but when he realizes he has no reason to growl or be ugly to Phil, he rushes up to him, as if to say, “Hi Daddy. Pet me please.” Hankster has truly grown into a little guy capable but skeptical of trust. Yes, he is still protective with me, and I imagine he always will be my little protector, but he does know how to love and how to accept love. Baby steps. Hankster has finally found the road to happiness.

This morning as the rain pours from the heavens, I give thanks for this precious little bundle that could’ve been put to sleep alone, without anyone to care for him. People ask me why we foster animals. I think Hankster tells the story better than I, or anyone, could by his actions. I will let you, my readers, decide. As for me, I feel blessed to love Hankster and to be the one he rushes to whenever he is wet from raindrops, cold, hungry, or just needing a little pat on his head while he growls. What is his growl saying to me? One word. One syllable. “Thanks…!”

Yes, animals communicate. All we need to do is open our hearts, and our minds, to listen to and welcome them!

What is Christmas?


Dearest Readers:

Christmas is more than gifts, socializing, drinking, partying and  simply having fun. Christmas is the season where we appreciate Christ and all that He represents. To those who are atheists, I say, it is a fact that I believe in Christ and Christmas and I strive to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. I do not write “Happy Xmas” on packages or on Christmas cards. I write Merry Christmas. I believe in leaving Christ in Christmas.

While you are busy shopping for just the perfect gift for your loved ones have you ever caught yourself singing aloud some of the Christmas songs you hear? I confess, I could be one of those people singing the lyrics while shopping.  I simply adore singing. I know most of the Christmas songs by heart, especially those related to the reason for the season. “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and so many more. Those songs touch me, filling me with the spirit for the holiday season.

But, I ask you — What Is Christmas? Is it simply a time to shop for everyone you know, in hopes they will exchange a gift with you? Is it a time to bake Christmas cookies, cakes and other delicious and too tempting foods? Is Christmas a time to open your home to others, in hopes they will be envious of your beautiful home? Is Christmas the time to brag to others about extreme holiday vacations and gifts? Or, is Christmas the time to celebrate and give thanks for religion, freedom, family, friends, and the birth of Christ on that first Christmas Day?

For me, Christmas is a time to remember holidays past. I remember my grandparents and how they instilled to four granddaughters that Christmas time was a time to attend church, to pray, to sing and to give to others, without expecting a gift in return. Christmas is a time to say thank you and to be appreciative for  every gift, even IF it is a fruit cake or something handmade. I remember receiving chocolate covered cherries, fruitcake and cookies. I smiled and said thank you. Our Christmas time was a time where we did not recycle these gifts to others. We kept them.

One of my most commemorative gifts was when I was about 15. A family friend who was more of an uncle than a friend, built handmade jewelry boxes for all of us. When I opened it, I noticed how shiny and beautiful it was. I had nothing to put in it, but I still have that special handmade jewelry box sitting on my dresser. I store my collection of pearls in it and I still cherish it. I do not have other gifts I can remember like this precious, special jewelry box. Isn’t it funny how something handmade still is cherished!

After last Christmas I learned something valuable due to illness. I was much too ill to rush around like a maniac, or to drive in such a rush, and I was much too weak to bake Christmas goodies. I suppose in all of the hustle bustle of the materialistic, commercialized season, I learned that Christmas is indeed a special time.  I caught myself going to a special window more, folding my hands in prayer, just like my grandmother did. When Christmas morning arrived, I didn’t rush to see what was under the Christmas tree. I rushed to give my husband a hug, but not a kiss, since I was so ill. I think I learned to appreciate the little things of Christmas last year, and when we went to dinner at one of our friend’s house, I don’t think I hugged anyone, for fear of spreading my germs. There is little I remember about Christmas Day 2012, due to illness, but I was  thankful for friends, family and the true reason for the season.

I made a promise to myself during Christmas 2012, a promise of not getting so wrapped up in the season that I would forget the true meaning of Christmas. Now that I am able to write again, I will attempt to write my beliefs for Christmas, and I hope you, my readers, will share your comments and traditions with me. Many of my traditions have changed over the years, but I still strive to share the memories made during my childhood. The traditions of church and singing in the choir. Still, I am searching for a church within my community and when I find it, I will retrieve the traditions I shared as a child.

Christmas is a season to refresh, give thanks and make time to find the little things that are so special in life. We, as a family, donate to local charities during Christmas, and I always contribute to St. Jude and other non-profits. Of course, I always reach to donate to the Salvation Army bell ringers, Meals on Wheels and others. My contributions are small, but they always warm my heart, just to share a bit of generosity and love to those who need help during the Christmas season.

To all of my readers, I wish you a joyous Christmas season. May you take the time to appreciate life, and not get bogged down within the Christmas rush. Take the time to say Merry Christmas to a complete stranger, and smile! Have a Merry, Merry Christmas!