Family, Uncategorized

Happy Easter 2017


Dearest Readers:

April 16, 2017 – Easter. Today is a beautiful, sunshiny day in Charleston, SC. A glorious day to give thanks, and to share religions around the world.

As a little girl, my family would go to church with our grandparents at Beallwood Assembly of God Church, Columbus, GA. Sitting in the church, listening to the sermon and singing, everyone compared their ‘Easter outfits.’ My grandparents always made certain we (the four girls in the family) had new clothing and sparkling new shoes. My Gramma insisted, even though she did not buy a new dress for herself. Gramma worked at the Bibb Mill, so money was always tight. She was her happiest looking at us, all looking our ‘Sunday Best,’ for church and the Easter dinner after church. As a little girl, I insisted to my grandmother. ‘My shoes must have a heel.’ Gramma bought me beautiful French pumps. Oh, how I loved them. On Easter Sunday, I pranced around in those shining white shoes with a pretty white bow and French pumps, and my new dress, parading around like a pageant queen so everybody in church would notice me. I would spin around and around. My hair was styled in a French twist and a bow, matching my shoes. Oh…yes…I was something fancy in my Easter Sunday Best! Easter was a special time to enjoy the holiday and the fun of getting new clothes and the beginning of my lifetime passion of high heels!

But…Easter is MORE than a holiday. MORE than new shoes and clothing. So Much More!

For me, Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. A time to give thanks and start life anew. According to the website: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-easter-700772 “Christians believe, according to Scripture,  Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.”

I no longer get a new, fancy dress or heels for Easter. Nor do I get in the social aspect of who is wearing the prettiest shoes, the highest heels, or, the fanciest ‘bonnet.’ I give thanks that Easter is a time to be thankful that Jesus came back to life three days after his death. Every year at Easter I take time to appreciate the religion and faith my grandmother taught me, especially her belief that God listens to us and He is always there for us. Gramma had the gift of visions. When she passed, I am convinced she shared that gift with me. Some of my friends probably think I am weird since I have visions, but for me, I am thankful! Gramma is still inside of my heart and I give thanks to God for knowing such a devoted grandmother.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina now, I went back to Columbus, GA a few years ago, driving by the church, Beallwood Assembly of God. When I drove by, I did not recognize the church. Abandoned, needing many repairs, no longer named Beallwood Assembly of God, I realized some things never stay the same. Suddenly I felt an emptiness I didn’t anticipate.

As a young girl, my family placed our roots in that church. Footprints. Tears. Memories. All gone.

Today, I like to give thanks for the foundation for religion and faith I discovered at Beallwood. Even as a rebellious teenager, angry that my parents were divorcing, I found a bit of new life and thankfulness at that church. I listened to the minister, recognizing that some of his sermons were directed right at me. Just how did he know I needed his sermons? Was God talking to him…telling Brother Bacon I was a bad girl who was angry and perplexed that my life was falling apart simply because my parents were divorcing?

I suppose I will never know. My parents are gone now. My mother and I rarely spoke before she died of a stroke, and a few other questionable situations. My father and I were extremely close and I give thanks every day that I survived my childhood.

Easter is a special time, even if I honor and celebrate it for different reasons now. I still have a strong faith and I know God listens to me and He loves me. I do not rush out to buy an ‘Easter outfit,’ nor do I purchase a fancy Easter bonnet. I cook a nice Easter dinner. This year, I am baking a ham. Mashed potatoes. Fresh sautéed green beans and a pineapple casserole. Dessert is a home baked triple chocolate cake.

It is sad my son and his family will not be with us. There is a long story there, not to be published here on my blog. I will wish them “Happy Easter,” and I will pray that one day their eyes will open to recognize nothing is more important than family.

So, dearest Readers, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Easter. May you enjoy this beautiful day and please remember to thank God for your life…your family…and your health.

Happy Easter!

 

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Family, Friendship, Uncategorized

Learning To Walk Through Grief


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Dearest Readers:

Exactly two weeks ago today, I had to say goodbye to sweet, precious almost 14-year-old Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. While writing this, tears gush from my eyes. How I miss that precious little mini-schnauzer, my best friend who loved for me to rub his ears.

If you’ve never had to make the decision to say goodbye to your precious four-legged friends, you might not understand the tsunami of tears I’ve shed, along with the aching break of my heart.

People say I’m too sensitive. Tender hearted. He’s just a dog. Get over it. To them, I say – you are not my friend. You do not understand. Shakespeare was truly a member of my family. We took walks together, until Prince Marmaduke Shamus passed away in 2012. I continued walking Shakespeare after losing Shamey-Pooh…just not on a regular basis.

That was my mistake. Selfish and painful. Each time I attempted to walk after his loss, I missed Shamus so much. Now that I’ve lost Shakespeare I still have four-legged friends. I will take them for walks, in memory of sweet Shakespeare Hemingway, my little “Shake n Bake,” and I will move on. I haven’t a clue when the tsunami of tears will leave. I still feel Shakespeare’s presence. The other night, I heard a sigh. His spirit was here.

Earlier today, I felt something touch my leg, just like Shakespeare would do. Another tsunami of tears, and I struggled to breathe. At home, I’m finding myself a bit short of breath, so today, I forced myself to go away for a bit. I went shopping, or maybe I should say window shopping. I dropped by Petco, bursting into tears again. I rushed back home. Lately, I’m a hermit, lounging all day in pajamas. Truly not the person I desire to be.

I know I must walk through the grief, just like I did with Shamey-Pooh. Now, the question is how to walk through the grief.

As a writer, I should know how to handle myself during grief. I’ve lost many loved ones, including my dad in 1999 after a terminal illness. Losing Shakespeare is different. He depended on me and he loved me unconditionally. We shared 13 beautiful years together. I am so thankful for that and for how he always greeted me when I came home from trips or work. Rushing to be first, he leaped towards me, barking with excitement and happiness. The last few months of his life, he didn’t respond unless I clapped my hands three times. There were many times he refused to eat for an entire day. In 2015, he weighed 27.5 pounds. On the day he left, his weight was 17.6, losing 10 pounds in less than two years.

Yes, I will ache. My heart will burst with this indescribable pain, and the tsunami of tears will gush from my eyes. Tomorrow, I must attempt to take steps to walk through this grief. I have a new leash to use for Shadow, my giant schnauzer. Perhaps tomorrow will be a good day to walk – In Memory of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I love you and miss you!

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Family, Rescuing Schnauzers, Uncategorized

In Memory Of – Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


Dearest Readers:

This week has been such a dreadful, sad week for me. Why? Most of you who read my blog regularly will know what an advocate I am for animals. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, our family had to say goodbye to precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

035Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, April 11, 2003 – March 7, 2017

Oh how I remember the day he was born, April 11, 2003. We received a phone call letting us know we could drop by at our convenience to select the puppy we wanted. Shakespeare was nicknamed at birth as Piglet, since he was the largest puppy. That evening, Phil and I drove to the home to look at the new puppies. I touched each pup, rubbing ears, and whispering gently to each. When I touched Shakespeare (Piglet) and rubbed his ear, he responded with a moan! I knew Piglet would be our puppy. I smiled, hugged him a bit and said, “This is our pup. Hello Shakespeare Hemingway.”

Everyone laughed. “His name is a big as he is,” their young daughter said. “In six weeks you can take him home.”

I was so excited. I counted down the weeks, recording them in my calendar. On May 23, 2003, Shakespeare came home with us. He curled his little body on my chest and went to sleep as I rubbed his ears.

Whenever he got upset, felt badly or just wanted a bit of affection, he would come to me wanting me to rub his ears. He became close friends with our oldest giant schnauzer, Prince Marmaduke Shamus. They romped and played outside, enjoyed boat rides and walks. Shakespeare LOVED walking. Whenever he passed by the area where the leashes hung, he would jump up and hit a leash, as if to say, “Hey Mom. It’s time for us to take a walk.”

Walking continued until we lost Shamus on May 2, 2012. Shakespeare loved being leader of the pack. He rushed ahead every time we walked. Over the years, Shakespeare loved to cuddle on my hip in bed. If I asked him to move so I could sleep, he groaned and when I fell back to sleep, he attached to me again.

Growing into a husky, mini-schnauzer size, Shakespeare loved to eat. At dinner time, he would stand under our kitchen table, knowing we would not allow him to beg for food, but he was nearby IF we gave him a bite. He grew to be 30 pounds. Once, while at his wellness check-up, our veterinarian suggested we cut back on his food a bit and give him green beans.

“Oh…He loves green beans!”

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Our giant – Prince Marmaduke Shamus, lived with us from June 11,. 2001 – May 2, 2012

and Shakespeare, enjoying a walk

Every day with Shakespeare was a new experience. He would jump up to play, run around to play chase, and at Christmas time, he sniffed all the gifts until he found the gift wrapped doggie cookies. When he found it, he tore the gift wrap and chewed down, eating all of the cookies. When it was empty, he carried the empty container to me, as if to say, “May I have some more!” Every crumb was gone!

A few years ago, maybe in 2008, I started singing again. One morning, I was so wrapped up with a song, I didn’t notice Shakespeare until he tapped me with his paw. He was sitting up, listening to me singing, as if I was only singing to him. So, I sat down next to him and sang. When my husband came into the room, he watched us and said, “See, Shakespeare loves to hear you sing.”

Every time I sang after that day, I made certain to sing to Shakespeare.

We were bonded as one. Wherever I would go, Shakespeare wanted to go. When I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and work on my tan, Shakespeare followed. He would lie next to me on the ground, or he would jump on my chest. Silly boy!

He was independent. Charming. Trusting. Affectionate, and so funny! Shakespeare loved to spend time at home; however, when we left him in the breakfast room with the other dogs, if we failed to leave a light on and we arrived home in the dark, we could hear Shakespeare chewing us out as soon as we got out of the car. He would yelp at his highest pitch, as if he was saying to us: “How dare you to leave me in the dark. You know I don’t like the dark, and even if I am resting with the other dogs, I do not feel safe in the dark. DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE DARK AGAIN!”

I found a small vanity lamp, placing it in the breakfast room. Shakespeare would not be left in the dark again!

Approaching his senior years, he began losing weight, even though he was eating. The vets said he was OK. In 2015, his wellness check-up revealed he had lost a bit of weight. Even though he was husky, he was healthy. In September, 2016, after he was groomed, I noticed he was getting thin. In November, he would not eat occasionally. He didn’t want treats, nor did he want to play with Prince Midnight Shadow.

We cuddled a lot. His favorite spot was to be cuddled in a ball, next to my feet while I wrote. Often, I would touch him and rub him with my foot, and he moaned.

Two weeks ago, I noticed when he went outside to pee, he squatted. He could not lift his rear legs and when I picked him up, sometimes he would yelp. Shakespeare was quickly fading away.

I remembered when Shamus got so ill in May 2012. His wellness check-up was in February. He got a good report. All was fine. Everything changed in May. He would lie on the floor, his breathing was a bit too rapid and he flopped down on the ground after being outside. His stomach was puffy. I called the vet. That afternoon, I was totally unprepared for what we needed to do. I thought Shamus had another stomach blockage, only this time, it was much worse. He was bleeding internally. The vet suspected a tumor on his spleen but the x-rays could not reveal what was so wrong since there was so much blood. The vet looked at me. “I think it’s time to let him go,” she said. “If I do a blood transfusion and surgery, he will probably bleed out.”

How could I make that decision?  I phoned my husband. He rushed to my side, and we agreed that since he was terminal, letting him go would be the only humane thing to do. And so we said our goodbyes. Before the first injection, I sang to him. Choking and almost hysterical, my voice trembled. “I love you, Shamus. I love you so much my precious Shamey-Pooh.” I did not stay with him for the final injection. How I wish I did.

Since November, I’ve debated a thousand times to myself about making that same decision for Shakespeare, my little “Shake n Bake.” I watched him losing more weight. Not eating at times, and walking around only when he had to. Occasionally, he would play with Shadow, the giant we rescued six weeks after losing Shamey-Pooh. I told myself IF he goes without food for two days, it was time.

I knew Shakespeare needed to go to the vet, but I was horrified that I would hear again those horrifying words, “I think it’s time to let him go.”

I wasn’t ready! How could I make that decision again? If it was time to say goodbye to Shakespeare, I did not want to make that decision. In November, I made lists of the pros and cons for Shakespeare. Yes, he occasionally played with Shadow. Yes, he ate – just not every day. I realized he was getting thinner. And thinner.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, I could feel all of his ribs and his backbone. He would not eat. He didn’t eat on Monday either. It had been two days since he ate anything.

I made another list:

Is Shakespeare eating? Not on a regular basis.

Was he drinking water? Although I watched him, he didn’t appear to walk towards the water bowl.

Is he walking?  Did he get up to go outside? Only IF I coaxed him to go. He wasn’t interested in walking, even if I shook the leashes.

He was a bit hard of hearing and when he went outside, he would not come inside unless he heard me clapping my hands. When he did, he would slowly get up from his corner of the fence and come inside. Sometimes, he flopped down and I would get him. Although he did not like to be picked up, I realized I was carrying him more than he was walking.

Is he playing?  No. He would not play with me, or with Shadow. All he wanted to do was to flop down and sleep.

Was he enjoying anything? No. Not even a treat.

Did he stand at the gate by the kitchen watching me cook? No. Not now.

Tuesday morning, I came to the reality it was time — time to let Shakespeare go home.

“But he is at home,” I argued with myself.

The truth was he was shutting down. He was letting go. He was in pain and he was miserable.

I spoke with him, brushing his fur back so I could see his eyes. His eyes were glassy and lifeless.

I called the vet, telling them we thought it was time to let Shakespeare go, but I wanted to see the vet, have him check him over and let me know what he would do, if this was his family member.

My vet has a wonderful demeanor with animals. He greeted Shakespeare and checked him over. A few minutes later he said he suspected Shakespeare was in kidney failure. He wasn’t eating properly and was almost anorexic. He was basically lifeless. Probably lingering on because of us.

Then the vet shocked me, telling me that he had to make the same decision in February and allow his mutt to die with dignity.

Although I realized we were making the same decision, my heart is so broken I cannot stop the tears. A tsunami of tears rushes at me and I cannot fight back. I feel such emptiness. I’ve only slept a few hours every night since we lost Shakespeare. I feel guilt, and I have doubts that we made the right decision. While I rested yesterday morning, I felt something touch my hip. I placed my hand there to rub Shakespeare, only to realize he wasn’t there. Maybe his spirit was connecting with me.

Sudden thoughts entered my mind. Shakespeare was communicating with me. He told me he appreciated the loving home we gave him, and he appreciated that we were letting him go with dignity. He reminded me that he will always be with us in spirit, just like Shamus. He said he could move easier now, but he did miss us. He wanted to know if we could welcome him as a spirit. I patted my hip, talking to him, letting him know we still loved him and we missed him, but we were happy he wanted to return in spirit form. Yesterday afternoon, I heard Shakespeare barking. This morning, I imagined him snoring, and I moved my leg to touch him, only he wasn’t there.

Yes, I miss him, and while writing this another tsunami of tears attack me once again. Deep inside, I know I must go on. Now we have four dogs as family members. I am certain one day, I will probably adopt a rescue, but for now, I will focus on the needs of Shadow, Hank, Sandy Bear and Toby. Believe me, they expect a lot of attention.

Rest in peace my dear, precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Run and play with Prince Marmaduke Shamus and please remain the spirit I so desperately need. You are resting on our mantle, next to Shamus. I love you and will always love you, my silly, Adorable Shake n Bake!

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Shakespeare, as a puppy, playing with his favorite toy.

On My Soapbox!, Uncategorized

Wishing Much Success to Our 45th President — Donald J. Trump


Dearest Readers:

This will be a brief post. Today, like many Americans, I watched Donald J. Trump become the 45th President for the United States of America.

IF ONLY WE WERE UNITED!

Watching him and his classic, elegant (not to mention gorgeous) wife, dressed in baby blue, he and Melania make an elegant couple. I was so proud to watch this historical moment.

Later, I heard about the protesters. I am hopeful they meant the protest to be peaceful, but it wasn’t. Many of the angry rioters were dressed in black with hoodies. Their faces covered in black scarves or bandanas. They thrust their weight, and anything they could find into store windows. Bellowing out something about “Donald Trump has got to go…”

Is this the United States of America? Reportedly, at least 200 protesters were arrested. Many more should be in jail – they were destroying limousines, businesses, absolutely anything in their way. A few police officers were injured. And this is America???

Hardly. We are divided. I suppose we can thank the division to those who refused to give Donald Trump a chance. Alas, what about the 70 Democratic lawmakers who boycotted the inaugural address? Believe me, I would never vote for any of them ever again. Our lawmakers have the opportunities most of us in America are not privileged to have — being a part of the Presidential Inauguration. They should take a step forward to show us an example of what it is like to live in a country where we are free to elect our President. Instead, they make a negative statement. Perhaps they added friction to the rioters.

Speaking as a writer and a proud American, I am willing to give President Donald J. Trump a chance — just like I did when Barack Obama stepped in to those presidential shoes. We need to give our President a chance, and we need to stop having all of the riots. Sorry, when a protest turns to violence, I consider them riots.

To President Donald J. Trump, I say “Welcome, Mr. President. May you guide our country into the UNITED States of America.” We need to unite….not fight!

I have high hopes for you, and America. Let’s MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

 

 

Friendship, health, Holidays, Losing Weight, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers… Building A Bridge To A New Adventure


Dearest Readers:

Today, I will share a bit of my experience and dedication to Weight Watchers. I joined Weight Watchers in March, 2011. On the day I joined, I was mortified. Afraid. Horrified I would see someone I knew and they would share with the world that “Barbie was in Weight Watchers today…”

I’m certain some of you have acquaintances who love to spread gossip…the wicked and ugly truths some women love to share! Years ago, I referred to these ‘acquaintances’ as friends…I do not anymore! Friends do not spread ugly gossip. Friends accept you for who you are. True friends embrace you with love and acceptance, even when you are down.  I’ve known and lost a few ‘friends’ since in all total honesty — they were only acquaintances. They pretended to be your friend to your face, but turn your back and you almost feel the back-stabbing and the poisonous words they spat, and so — I keep my distance!

At my first meeting at Weight Watchers, I did not know anyone. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was apprehensive about the ‘confidential weigh-ins’ too. Approaching the desk, I did not see any curtains, or a doctor’s scale. You know the type. The weight measurements slide across until balanced, and the person who balanced the scale always leaves it to the latest weight. Everyone can see the weight of the person who weighed previously, and I cringe whenever I get on them. My newest experience with Weight Watchers was a scale sitting on the floor. I was certain others could stretch their snoopy eyes over to see how much a person weighed. That didn’t happen. The scale does not show anything, with exception of the person (a receptionist or leader) standing at the desk. Only she knows what the weight of each individual is, and they do not share the number to anyone! Believe me, the confidential weigh-in does exist!

Maybe this might work this time, I thought to myself as I approached the scales. Just maybe this time I will succeed.

I imagine you are thinking — what? Does she really think Weight Watchers works?

My reply to all of you reading this is a simple, “Yes! Weight Watchers, because it works!”

I recognize it has taken me five years to lose 35 pounds. And, in the past year, I have bounced back and forth, just like a yo-yo. Undoubtedly, 2016 has been one of the most stressful years of my life. In February, we had the roof to our home completely replaced. After that accomplishment, we searched for over two months to hire a general contractor to do the inside repairs on ceilings, walls and other areas due to the torrential rains we had in October 2015. On May 28, 2016, the repairs were completed. My husband had reverse shoulder replacement surgery on May 31. His recovery was a whirlwind of ups-and-downs. The summer of 2016 was so stressful, I found myself slipping away from Weight Watchers and everything I loved. No walking. No exercising. No writing. No dancing…No music or singing…Nothing!

Since the summer, I’ve found myself giving in to weaknesses. After all, it didn’t matter IF I gained weight. I’m happy to report, I did not put those lost 35 pounds back on; however, I have not met goal. I don’t even have a clue what my goal should be!

Today, while sitting at my meeting, I glanced around the room. Like most Weight Watchers meetings during the holidays, we had only a small group, including a 93-year-old woman and two men. Every time I see this precious, sweet and beautiful 93-year-old woman I am inspired. Many people would say, ‘at her age, why should she be so worried at her weight?’ I say, I think she is an inspiration to all of us. Yes, she uses a walker and maybe her shoulders slump a bit, but she is still full of life. To her, her weight is important. Today, she was furious with herself. She was baking cookies with her son this week, and that is why she gained a pound. Sitting in front of me, I tapped her on the shoulders. “Just look at how blessed you are to be baking cookies with your son.”

I’m so envious. During the Christmas holidays I do not see my son, even though he lives less than 30 miles from me. How I would love the opportunity to make Christmas cookies with him again. I suppose a mother can dream.

Every year since joining Weight Watchers, I tell myself the new year will be my year. I will break this plateau and achieve goal. No, I haven’t achieved my goal yet. At least I haven’t gained the weight back!

Not only have I kept the weight off, I have gained in confidence and self-worth, much to the credit of two wonderful friends I’ve made, thanks to Weight Watchers. Since I am a writer, my life is a bit isolated. I find myself spending too much time keeping to myself. Last year, before the torrential rain storms, and the storms brewing inside my home, I kept to myself. I quit walking. Now that I think about it, I realize those walks I took with my friends energized me by encouraging me to continue. Feeling the fresh air on my face, walking the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and enjoying the views, birds, flowers and freedom of walking, I found myself inspired. Refreshed. Now, I realize, I need to take a first step again to walk, to find that inspiration and motivation. Tomorrow morning, I plan to take that first step!

Today, at Weight Watchers, I gained. Big deal! I’ll get those two pounds off again. As for 2017, I will go on record to say, my journey and adventures with Weight Watchers will continue. I will walk. I will fill my body and my mind with new energy while telling myself:

THIS I DO FOR ME!

Although 2017 is only a few days and steps away, I will not fail. After all, You only fail in life when you stop believing…and trying…and moving.

I plan to continue my journeys, along with Weight Watchers! Tomorrow is a new day and I will embrace it!

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caregiving, Uncategorized

Dearest Caregiver…Becoming the Parent to A Parent…


Dearest Caregiver:
My heart breaks for you as you so suddenly see yourself walking in the shoes of a caregiver. Sometimes, these shoes are high heels. You go to work as a professional. You work all day while wondering ‘how is my mother or my father doing today?’ Maybe the shoes you walk in as a caregiver are flats, or comfortable sneakers. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet, your ache is a recurring ache your feet and body do not understand.
You wonder — just HOW did this happen? Maybe you didn’t understand your parent was ill. I didn’t in 1997. Yes, my dad had lost weight. Foolishly, I took it that since he lived on a fixed income, perhaps he could not afford to eat as healthy as he should. At Thanksgiving, I asked him how he was feeling. Mr. Independent, an affectionate description I called him sometimes, was much too independent and proud to ask me for help, and so I took his response of “I’m fine,” as the truth. Three days later, he phoned me after work, telling me he thought he had cancer. He needed to go to the doctor.
We rushed to ER. After seven hours of diagnostic testing, the ER professionals suggested my dad needed to see a gastroenterologist. Two days later, I screamed when the doctors told me my dad had esophageal cancer.
“How can this be?” I asked. “How can my dad be sick?”
My dad lived in an affordable retirement community. He had many friends there. Sitting down to grasp the heartbreaking news, I recognized I was so wrapped up in my professional life, I did not recognize my dad needed me. He was 84-years-old. Living alone, he walked all over the sidewalks and streets of historical Charleston, SC. Never did he ask for money, or anything from me. He excused my busy life. He was proud of me since I worked in the educational field. He understood I didn’t have time for him. He understood that not only did I work ’40-hours weekly’ my weekends were devoted to recruiting students for the university almost every weekend.
I heard myself whispering as I wiped tears from my face. “Dear God, I’ve been such a fool. My dad needs me. He NEEDS ME.”
I took a leave of absence from work. An endoscopy was performed on Dad. He had a tumor on his esophagus. A tumor that was too difficult to remove.
I met with an oncologist. He suggested Dad needed chemo/radiation therapy and a feeding tube. He could not keep food down. He was choking and extremely weak. Dad weighed 130 pounds. Previously, he tipped the scales at 175. The oncologist wanted to know what I wanted them to do. He stressed Dad needed the feeding tube since he was malnourished. If he didn’t get some form of food intake, he would probably die within two weeks. I looked up, tears still gushing down my face and I said, “My dad is an independent man. He needs to make that decision.”
Dad fought to live from December, 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999. During that time, my focus was my dad. When it was suggested that he needed ‘skilled care,’ I inquired as to what the definition of skilled care was. Suddenly, I was learning a lot about serving as a caregiver. I was the “Parent to my Parent.” I made decisions about his care. I found ways to jump through the hoops to get him the care he needed and deserved. I learned a lot about diplomacy, refusing to take “no” as an answer. My dad and I became closer than ever. I visited him daily regardless of where he was. He moved from hospital to nursing home. Back and forth again and again as he weakened and I found ways to save his nursing home room and roommate. Never did I let Dad know the hoops I jumped through, just to get him the care he deserved. I met with nursing staff. I found an Ombudsman, a young and caring medical professional who shared her knowledge with me so I could get my dad the medical care he deserved.
I am hopeful things have improved since 1999. After Dad’s death, I wrote “Condition of Limbo,” describing in detail what it was like to serve as a caregiver in a community that appeared to be ever so negligent where caregiving was concerned, along with the medical care.
Now, I have several friends who are becoming the “parent to a parent,” and they ask me what they should do to make certain their mother or father is cared for properly. After listening to their story, I’ve decided it might be easier to share my experience on my blog:
I continue praying for your family, your mother/father and you, hoping each day will be a better day for all of you. Many times, it isn’t. What I share at that time is for you to fight and pray…to believe that tomorrow will be a better day. Yes, clichés. Clichés helping us to see the sunshine while the pain you are feeling is almost indescribable. It is true you should take care of yourself; nevertheless, right now, you probably are losing sleep. You are too afraid to give in to sleep, in the event ‘something happens to Mom or Dad.’
As I’ve stated previously, I walked in similar shoes when my dad became terminally ill with esophageal cancer. I blinked my eyes as I realized I was now the ‘parent to my parent.’ Suddenly I was making decisions my father was much too ill to make. You wonder – how do I do this? How do I make decisions HE/SHE should be making?
All I can suggest for you is to take each day “one day at a time.” When meeting with medical professionals for “skilled care” — a description they do not identify or describe. Skilled care means 24-hour nursing care…make certain you document the dates/times, names, titles, and most important, document what they say. Save these notes. They might become important at a later date — according to the Medicare and Insurance regulations.
How I wish I could be there with you. While I do not proclaim to be a professional regarding ‘caregiving’ walking in those shoes in 1999 was a wakeup call for me. Please get some rest. Ask if the hospital has an atrium, or a chapel. Step inside and let the tears flow. That is what I did one afternoon at Roper Hospital in Downtown Charleston. Their Atrium was newly built. I found a balcony, and there, I cried. I screamed and I shouted for God to listen to me. No one but God could hear me when the rushing traffic congestion drowned out my heartbreak.
I’m sending virtual hugs to you, and I am praying, repeatedly. God is there. This too shall pass. Praying for your mother or father to become strong enough to get to the rehab center, and I am praying for you to rest and get additional emotional strength.
You might ask yourself: “What do I do if my parent comes home. Is he or she able to care for themselves? Do I hire a nurse, or do I move in?”
In a perfect world, you might ask other family members to help. Unfortunately, I did not have that luxury. I was estranged from family members at the time. Fortunately, I swallowed every ounce of pride I had to find my family and to let them know our father was terminally ill. I am happy to report, I have one sister I stay in contact with now and we are closer than ever.
Walking through life when you become the parent to your parent makes one stronger. I would like to say it is a wakeup call to the importance of family remaining close; however, life does have a way of changing us and at times, the true character of a family member can be revealed. Sometimes good, but most of the time – bad. While my dad battled cancer and grew weaker, I actually had one sister write Dad a letter — stating something to the effect of: “I’m sorry you’re so sick, but I have to work so I can’t come to see you.” Her next statement in the letter was: “So tell me Dad…am I STILL in your Will?”
Thank God she lived eight hours away. I wanted to strangle her.
Watching my dad slowly melting away from life taught me to take each day one day at a time, and to slow down to appreciate the little things in life. I visited him in the nursing home daily, unless my bronchial asthma kicked in. On one occasion, Dad was reading his Holy Bible. When he saw me entering his room he screamed at me. “You get out of here,” he shouted. “I want to read my Bible.”
I felt rejected. How could he speak to me in such a manner? Didn’t he know I loved him and wanted to be with him?
After researching caregiving, I realized my dad was detaching from me. He did not want me to see his pain, or to watch his body slowly fading away. On the day of his death, I had a dream/vision in the early morning. I phoned the nursing home at 3:45am, inquiring how he was doing. They checked on him, reporting he was sleeping soundly. That afternoon, after a stressful day of working later than I planned, I entered the nursing home at 5:45pm. I ran into a nurse pushing an oxygen tank. She looked away from me, moving next to me.
“Ooh…that isn’t a good sign,” I said. She nodded. When she placed her hand on the doorway of my dad’s room, I screamed. I knew what was happening. The nurse pushed my hand away from the door. “You stay here,” she said.
Someone moved me to a couch. I sat down, tears pouring like an endless waterfall from my eyes and I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew the day of dad’s departure from me was here. I also knew I had to let him go.
After his death, my independence kicked in. I managed to plan the funeral. I moved like a zombie, without emotion or pain. I prayed for God to give me strength. Now 17 years after his death, I still miss him. There are days when I feel totally empty of emotions, and I have days where he is tucked safely inside my heart. I do not regret serving as his caregiver and I am proud we became closer and closer as he slowly melted away from me. Today, I am proud to say I was his daughter and I am pleased to share my experience with others who unexpectedly become:
THE PARENT TO A PARENT.
If you walk in similar shoes, I would love to read your experience and I am praying Medicare changed many of the regulations after 1999. If you are a caregiver, may God bless you as you care for a parent who taught you how to walk, how to talk and how to become a strong, independent and proud adult. Once my dad pushed me in a stroller. When he became so ill with cancer, I helped guide him with his walker, and later I pushed him in a wheelchair. But only once! He hated a wheelchair, refusing to sit in it again.
Yep. That was my dad. A proud, tall, striving to be independent 84-years-old man. Never did I see his elderly age. All I saw was — my father…My Dad! How I miss him!
Carnival Ecstasy, Cruising, Family, Uncategorized

Cruising On The Carnival Ecstasy


Dearest Readers:

Now that we are home from the cruise [Carnival Ecstasy –September 3 – September 8, 2016] departing from Charleston, with stops at Half Moon Cay and Nassau, Bahamas, I realize there are times I still have sea legs. Earlier, while pouring a cup of coffee, my body swayed back and forth, just like the ship rocked while we were aboard. I laughed. Silly legs. Just keep moving!

Our cruise was booked about a year ago, perhaps longer. We reportedly won this cruise after listening to a time share pitch. Believe me, this was NOT a free cruise. After upgrading to an ocean view state room, paying the port fees, additional fees, this ‘free cruise’ cost us more than most people pay for cruises. Lessons Learned. Never attend another time share pitch!

Phil and I really needed this cruise. Quality time spent together after a dreadful, frightening summer where Phil had surgery on his left shoulder. Reverse shoulder replacement. Apparently a new procedure. The first surgery was May 31. While recuperating, he awoke one morning and his shoulder popped. We could feel the ball of the shoulder replacement extended out of place. We rushed to ER. After a long visit at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, the shoulder was popped back into place – a mild surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. The following day Phil returned home to recuperate. Recuperation was difficult. He fainted. And fainted…and FAINTED…so many times I’ve lost count. The man I stared at every morning had a face as white as a sheet. He moved in slow motion while he recuperated. The fainting spells continued, along with the visits to ER.

During the month of June, we visited ER seven times. In late June, still fainting at times, he visited the orthopedic surgeon for a post-op check-up. He complained about his left foot hurting. It was swollen. The doctor ordered an x-ray. The results of the x-ray revealed his left foot was fractured in several places. The news wasn’t encouraging for his shoulder either. X-rays revealed the shoulder replacement needed to be repeated – for the third time. On that occasion, we left the VA hospital with Phil’s foot wearing a boot and he was given a wheelchair. Two days later, Phil was admitted to the VA hospital with a surgery scheduled to re-do the reverse shoulder replacement.

To make a long story a bit short, my weakened husband tolerated a horrible experience during his recuperation. Filled with days of fainting and being told ‘he’s dehydrated.’ On the last occasion of his recurring fainting spells, I looked at the nurse and said: “If you tell me he is dehydrated again, I think I will scream. He’s drinking bottles and bottles of water!” She nodded at me. “He’s dehydrated; however, the doctors want to run some tests to see what is causing his dehydration.”

Because I nag Phil to drink water and I give him bottles of water to drink, he should not be dehydrated. A battery of tests was performed on him. All with good results. No heart issues. No brain issues. Apparently all of the medications he consumed [prescribed meds] were fighting with his body. We met with Pharmacology and other doctors. Suggestions were made to stop taking several medications.

About time!

By now, Phil has been away from work for almost three months. Gone were sick leave and vacation dates. We pinched pennies and tightened the family budget so we could survive financially. I am happy to report, Phil is back to work now and he appears to be getting stronger. Since the cruise was non-refundable, we chose to take the cruise and relax a bit. Neither of us cared to do all of the events a cruise ship offers. We wanted and desired some quality time without doctor’s appointments, visits to ER and other headaches we endured during his recovery.

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Begins

And so – on September 3 – September 8, 2016, we cruised on the Carnival Ecstasy. This was our fourth cruise. Twice on Carnival including the Carnival Fantasy and now the Ecstasy. We’ve enjoyed Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruises too, but this cruise was different for us. All I wanted to do was see my husband relax and get stronger. When he had his first surgery we were told he lost four units of blood during the procedure. No wonder he is still pale in the face and so exhausted.

Before we departed the Charleston Harbor I kissed Phil, telling him to relax and have a good time. Occasionally, we ordered drinks, although neither of us could be described as lushes or alcoholics. One thing I can share about cruise ships, they do believe in sharing and encouraging people to drink alcohol. In the mornings…afternoons…and evenings…there is a crew ready and waiting to take your drink orders. While I am not criticizing drinking cocktails or alcohol, beer, and wine, and I do occasionally enjoy a nice glass of wine or an occasional cocktail, early morning cocktails and hangovers are not something I wish to participate in. I confess. I’ve had one hangover in my adult life. I prayed to God that I would survive it, and If I did, I would never get that intoxicated again. I’ve kept that rule!

Curiosity About the Cruise

Since we are home now, I’ve had friends and acquaintances ask me about the cruise ship and if I met Rina Patel. They wanted to know if she was drunk. I have no clue. I did see her in the hallways and on the decks, but for me, it doesn’t matter if she was drinking. I am heartbroken that she either lost her balance or jumped. I still believe she lost her balance and fell. She was on the 11th deck. I cannot criticize someone I do not know. Earlier today someone posted a message for me on Facebook, asking for my personal opinion. “Did she fall, or did she jump?”

I deleted the message. What does matter is she is lost at sea. Three days ago, in the darkness of early morning, something happened to Ms. Patel. My heart breaks for the family. Someone wrote she had a husband, and other family members present on the cruise. In my honest opinion, I have no right to make an opinion. After all, I wasn’t present when she disappeared. When I heard the news at 3:08 am, my heart sank for a moment, wondering what happened. May God give her family strength and guidance during this dreadful time of the unknown.

People ask me what happened. All I know is this, I was sleeping when I heard the broadcast expressing something like this:

At 3:08am, Wednesday, September 7, 2016 – the intercom announced:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve had a report of a passenger going overboard.”

Additional information was shared, but no mention of the identification of the passenger overboard. Hearing this sad news, I threw the covers back and stood by the ocean view window. I prayed for the passenger and the family. I did not know if the passenger was male or female, and I prayed the passenger would be rescued. While looking out into the ocean, I felt the ocean waters churning in reverse. The ship was backing up. I’ve never felt or noticed a ship going in reverse. Truly an experience I never want to feel again. The waters rolled in a backward motion while Carnival Ecstasy shook almost brutally.

Standing at the window, I saw search lights lighting up the dark of night. Another announcement was broadcast: “Rina Patel please contact Guest Services.” I was curious why guest services would make such an announcement while many of the passengers were sleeping. Maybe Rina Patel is the passenger overboard. At 3:27 am, a lifeboat was lowered. Four crew members were in the boat. Another announcement repeated the message again. “Rina Patel please contact Guest Services.”

Just WHO is Rina Patel and why must she contact Guest Services at 3:27 in the early morning.

I can still see the rescue boat in the waters, moving around and around the area near our ocean view window. The ship appears to be anchored now. We are not moving, only shaking. This ship is trembling from the reality of a passenger overboard. Dear God, please let them find the passenger.

Search lights continue lighting the ocean waters. Ocean waters bubble in reverse, reminding me of boiling water in a pot. White foam dances around the ship as the ship continues shaking. I hear a telephone ringing, realizing it is the room next to us. I hear someone whispering into the phone, obviously, upset and I wonder – is the family of the missing passenger next door to us?

At 4:06am, Guest Services request Rina Patel to please contact guest services. The wheels of my brain are curious now. Obviously, this Rina Patel is not responding to Guest Services. But – Who is Rina Patel, and why isn’t she contacting guest services?

Although I want to dress and rush upstairs to where the search is ongoing, I chose to remain in our room. Phil is sleeping soundly throughout this ordeal. I did not want him to awaken and discover me gone, only to be frightened that I might be the missing person. I could leave him a note, but what if he doesn’t find it?

Exhausted, I fall back to sleep in bed, praying for the missing passenger and the family, including Rina Patel. Something tells me she is the missing passenger.

At 9:00, Phil and I go poolside to get breakfast. Walking along the deck, I see a Coast Guard helicopter. Looking nearby at a window, Carnival Ecstasy is moving forward now. An announcement is made that the Coast Guard has released the ship to travel to Charleston. We are one hour behind arrival time now. “Further details about our arrival will be announced later.”

I pause while standing in line for food, praying a silent prayer for the passenger and the family. The mood appears somber and gloomy while standing in line. No party…party…PARTY or fun times this morning.

May God be with the family today and the additional days until the passenger is found. Arriving home at 9:07 am, I turn the TV on. I send a text to two friends to let them know I will not make our Weight Watchers meeting today. I share the news about the passenger overboard. One friend says she heard the news about the passenger this morning. My response was: “Did they share the name of the person overboard?”

“Yes.” She responds. “Rina Patel, 32-years-old.”

Rina Patel? We heard her name mentioned over the intercom so much. Something told me she was the passenger who fell overboard. Someone mentioned she was arguing with her mother, and then – she disappeared overboard. What a horrible tragedy.

Now two days after coming home, the news reports say the Coast Guard has ended the search. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this unexpected time of grief. On Facebook, people post remarks saying “she was married and had beautiful children.”

As for my thoughts, it really doesn’t matter what I think. Did Rina Patel fall? Was she pushed? Did she jump? I do not know. I wasn’t a witness. At 2:45 in the morning, I was sleeping, until the intercom interrupted my sleep. My first reaction was something to the effect of: Oh my God. There must be an emergency. I struggled to remember where we would go IF the ship was in danger. I could not remember. After all, I was still half asleep.

Phil and I have been on four cruises. I suppose I could say, three cruises without any drama. One cruise with too much drama.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Rina Patel. What a tragedy.

 

 

 

 

Cruising, Family, Uncategorized

Sad Experience on the Carnival Ecstasy Cruise


We are HOME now from the cruise. Phil and I had a great time, relaxing and enjoying life. We were on the Ecstasy. If you’ve heard about the Carnival Ecstasy — yes, it is true. In the early morning hours of yesterday morning, a passenger fell overboard. The ship had to stop, backing up to search. Search lights were lighting up the oceans like early morning sunrise, only it was 3:08am. From our ocean view window I watched the crew members lowered into an orange rescue boat. Four members were on board, rushing along the waters — searching…searching and searching for the 32-year-old woman. The captain informed us about the passenger falling at 3:08am. He continued keeping us informed until the U S Coast Guard released the ship to head to Charleston. The rescue boat returned to the ship at about 4:27. Four crew members onboard.

Yesterday, after breakfast, we saw the U S Coast Guard searching the waters. My heart breaks for the family. I have a name although I am not certain she was the guest who fell overboard. Guest services broadcast a ladies name requesting her to call guest services. They broadcast her name three times. I will have more material after I research a bit. I could not get the name confirmed, so when I have more news, I’ll share it.

Just confirmed the passenger’s name. Rina Patel, 32-years-old, from New York. So young. So full of life. So sad. While I still pray for a miracle, the reality is to the best of my knowledge at 2:31pm today, she hasn’t been located. Yes, I believe in miracles, and I pray God will grant one for her and her family.

Yesterday was a gloomy day on the ship. People were sharing stories about the incident. Since I am not a gossip and only share after reputable agencies confirm, I will keep her name private. Reportedly, she and her mother were arguing on the 11th deck. Can you imagine? Arguing with your mother, only to fall over board? One can only imagine how her family must feel. Please say prayers that the family will find closure, or perhaps a miracle. Those were deep, dark seas.

After I recuperate a bit, get laundry caught up and review my notes, I will have another story about our experience on the Carnival Cruise Ecstasy. A great journey began with such a sad, tragic ending.

More later!

Chattahoochee Child, Family, Mother's Day, Motherhood, Uncategorized

On Mother’s Day


On Mother’s Day, I hear so many precious stories about ‘mothers.’ How I wish I could share those precious words written with such love. I never knew ‘unconditional love’ from my mother. She placed price tags or poisonous words on all of her actions. I remember her saying, and I quote, “Actions speak louder than words.” As a young girl, I remember cleaning her house, just to remove my father’s initials, “W W P” scribbled in his penmanship. I suppose he did those ‘actions’ to tell us girls we needed to dust. Once, I wrote it tiny penmanship by W = Why = W – Won’t you P=polish the furniture to remove the dust? Quickly, I sprayed Pledge on his initials, just before he caught me. “Wooo.” I said to myself. “He almost caught me!”
 
On Mother’s Day, I always craved a hug from my mother. I recall holding my arms out to her, just so she and I could embrace with a Mother’s Day hug. She turned away. One Mother’s Day after I started babysitting to earn money, I rushed to a store with $5.00 in my wallet, so ready to find something for Mother’s Day for my mother.
 
Just what could I buy my mother on her special day? Glancing on shelves in a five and dime store, I saw a beautiful  shades of pink bowl with golden edges and four fluted legs. Perfect! The bowl was $4.99. I had just enough money to buy it. I couldn’t wait to wrap it up and give it to my mother for Mother’s Day. I imagined this beautiful bowl would be the perfect bowl to hold her potato salad or banana pudding. While I paid for the bowl, I didn’t have enough money. The cashier looked at me. “5.25,” she said.
“I’ve only got $5.00.”
Reaching inside her pocket, she smiled at me. “I found a quarter this morning, so you’ve got enough. I bet this is for Mother’s Day.”
I nodded, smiling my biggest smile.
Rushing home carefully, so I wouldn’t break the bowl, I rushed to my room to wrap it.
Later that afternoon, I gave the package to my mother. She placed the package on the table.
“Aren’t you gonna open it?” I asked, my voice quivering.
“Nope. Not now.”
“But…It’s Mother’s Day. You can use it for your potato salad.”
“I ain’t making no potato salad today. Maybe I’ll never make it again.”
I stared at the beautiful bowl. Tears danced in my eyes. I turned away. I did not want my mother to see me crying again.
On our next special occasion at home, I looked for the bowl to be placed on the dinner table. I was confident the bowl would be holding mama’s potato salad. I never saw the bowl again.
My mother died under questionable circumstances on September 11, 2002.
After her death, I wanted to have something to remember her. I gave her diamond earrings when I was 16. I asked my sister if I could have the earrings as a token, to remember her.
“You ain’t getting nothing…” She spat at me.
Two years ago, I entered an antique shop near my home. I moved from booth to booth. “Just looking,” I said. I stopped at a booth with depression glass. Since I collect depression glass I walked slowly, glancing at stemware, bowls, plates of all colors.
Resting in the center of a display, my eyes stared at a bowl. Fluted legs. The bowl was oval in shape. Beautiful. I picked it up. The bowl was heavy. Could it be?
Tracing the shape of the bowl with my fingertips, tears danced in my eyes. This was the same bowl. A bowl similar to the bowl I gave my mother so many years ago.
The price tag was $29.95. I carried the bowl to the desk. The manager of the store remembered me.
Retired now, he found his happiness in his antique shop. His hair was silver. His face embraced lines. He smelled a bit like cigarette smoke. No smoking signs were inside the building.
“How much will you take for this bowl?”
He reached for it. “Well, it’s been here a while. One of the legs isn’t even so the bowl wobbles a bit. “How about $15.00.”
I smiled. Paid for the bowl and left. Arriving home, I washed the bowl noticing the wobbling legs.
“This will be perfect for potato salad or green beans,” I said. Remembering my childhood, tears filled my eyes.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” I said, lifting my head to see the sunset. Remembering. Thinking Still craving my mother’s embrace. On special occasions, or family dinners, I use that bowl, filling it with sautéed green beans, or potato salad. Each time I use the bowl, I remember Mother’s Day.
Although I never saw my mother using that bowl, today, I have something significant to look at — just to remember her and Mother’s Day.
Chattahoochee Child, Family, Short Stories, Uncategorized

Chattahoochee Child


PART TWO

The headlines in the newspaper caught my attention. Bibb Manufacturing Company becomes a ghost town. I stared at the caption with a tight bewildered look on my face, reading it again, picturing the desolate hope filled community of Bibb City, Georgia, the destitute textile community of my youth. Bibb City was the small cotton mill town where my footprints were imprinted within the clay riverbeds. Bibb City was the only place I had roots established. Bibb City was Home to me.

The richness of life in a mill town is disappearing now while the little town called Bibb slowly becomes extinct. Bibb Manufacturing Company abandoned the area in 1998, closing the mill, leaving a graveyard of homes, failing businesses, broken families and memories behind. The hunger for better jobs, civil rights, and the race for modern technology prevailed, leaving the Town of Bibb City devastated.

I poured another cup of coffee, reading the article again. The years of working as a reporter filled my mind with curiosities and questions about the dying communities of mill workers. I scribbled notes on a pad. My mind rushed back to my youth, playing a mental continuous loop video of memories from the small town of Bibb City, Georgia.

Why was the little town  called Bibb City distressing me? Years ago, I drove away from the Village without looking back, embarrassed to be associated with people who judged others by the colors of skin, religion, sexual preference, or political choice. Sipping a hot cup of coffee, I realized my perspective about Bibb City was changing.

Reading the article again, my body was shaking. If the mill is no longer in business, what will the residents of this precious mill village do for survival? Bibb Mill provided housing and when the Mill decided to sell those homes to mill workers, many of the hard working employees took their first steps to independence and the American dream — a home — a brick and mortar foundation where roots could remain.  My grandparents became homeowners, buying a tiny brick home on Walnut Street. Grammy  insisted on buying a home so Mom could have a place to live.

After Grammy’s death, Mom had other ideas. She sold the house, wasting away all of the money. What about the historical value of the Bibb Mill? Couldn’t the politicians see the potential for historical recording? Was everything in the corporate world about the potential for a profit? What about the families who lived in the Village?

A whirlpool of mixed emotions churned inside me. As I read the article about the abolishment of the town I knew so well, I discovered childhood feelings resurfacing. I debated my anger for a few moments, realizing I could do nothing to stop the bureaucracy of developers, who had no comprehension of the premise of life in a mill town. The one thing I could do was to write about the rise and fall of Bibb Manufacturing Company. As my grandfather reminded me, “You work for the Mill, you’ll always have a job.” Papa died before the Mill closed.

I called my editor, leaving a voice mail, expressing interest in a story about mill workers. Bibb City would be the focal point. When he returned my call, I pitched the idea.

“We have to do this story,” I said. “It isn’t just about life in a mill town. It’s a story about relationships, civil rights, bigotry, and so much more. It’s a feature, maybe even a series. We’ll start with The Rise and Fall of The Bibb Manufacturing Company.”

I waited for his response.

“Let me think about it.”

“I need a commitment now,” I pushed aggressively. “I’m packing my bags. There’s a story there and I’m going to get it,” I said. “My mother lives there. She’s had a stroke.”

“Sounds like you have some issues,” Garrett groaned.

“A few. If you’re not interested in the story, I’ll find someone else.”

Garrett laughed. “That’s what I like about you, Rebecca. You always push to the limit.”

“I’ll call you later,” Garrett breathed into the phone.

I hung up.