To All Concerned About Hurricane Irma


Dearest Readers:

In a few minutes, I will tuck my animals to bed and I will slip into my bed to rest after a fitful night of tossing and turning last night.

I found it difficult to sleep. Worrying about strangers desperate to get out of Florida and the traffic congestion created due to a hurricane. I have friends in Florida. One friend I’ve known for many years, now in a wheel chair. Another friend from high school. Relatives. Funny, although we haven’t seen one another in too many years, we keep in touch via Facebook. Now, I have no idea where these friends are, but I know in a few days I will hear from at least one of them. Then, I can take a fresh breath of air, thankful all is OK.

I have faith. I believe…and I pray. Daily. And nightly.

If you are reading this curious as to where your friends are, I ask you to pray. Believe. Keep the faith.

Earlier today, I cancelled our hotel reservations for Monday. Since it appears that Hurricane Irma will only kiss the coast of South Carolina with tropical storms, we decided it would be safer for us to remain here in our home. Besides, someone from Florida might need that room.  Our home is brick. It survived Hurricane Hugo, a Category Four hurricane when it arrived on the Charleston Harbor. Our home survived Hurricane Matthew last year. What it didn’t survive was the torrential ‘100 Year Rains,’ in October 2015. Our roof leaked due to wind and hail. Actually, it poured from the damage of two sky lights. When State Farm Insurance declined our claim of wind and hail damage, we chose to shop elsewhere for homeowner’s and wind and hail insurance. Let’s just say, State Farm lost a good customer and I tell all of my friends to shop around.

South Carolina insurance is so antiquated and restricted I suggest all who even think about moving to South Carolina to ‘do your homework. This state is a bit behind the times in many ways.’

But, tonight, I am writing to wish everyone affected with the threat of Hurricane Irma to have faith. Pray. Hug your family tightly while knowing God is there with you.

And when the electricity is gone for a few days or weeks, just remember, the horror of the storm is over. Be thankful. How I remember after Hurricane Hugo how thankful I was. Even though our home was damaged, at that time, our homeowner’s insurance covered almost everything. We were blessed back then. Unfortunately, after Hugo, that insurance company filed for bankruptcy. Now, I’m not so certain about ‘the new regulations pertaining to insurance in South Carolina,’ but when and if the winds and tropical storms of Hurricane Irma arrive, I will cuddle my pups closely to comfort them, and I will hug my husband tightly. I’m thankful and I’m hopeful IF we have damage the insurance company will cover it. One thing I do not wish to ever hear again from any insurance company are the words from the lips of the State Farm adjuster. “You’re not covered!”

How can that be? We’ve spent thousands of dollars, only to hear ‘you’re not covered?’

Let’s just say, I cancelled them!

God is here with us, and with all of you. We must believe and have faith.

And now, I wish all of you a peaceful night of rest, until the morning arrives.

Tomorrow is a new day. Hurricane Irma is not supposed to arrive around here until Monday or so. I haven’t listened to the latest reports. After listening to them all day, I’m a bit burned out. Regardless when she arrives, for this household, it will be a new day. The sun will eventually peak out behind the gray clouds and a new chapter in my life will begin.

And then, I will breathe. I will inhale. Breathe. Exhale. And give thanks. Then, I will whisper, Good riddance, Irma. So glad you are leaving us behind.

Until tomorrow!cropped-cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge.jpg

 

My Dearest Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Today is Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Exactly three weeks ago today, my husband and I made the decision to let our precious almost 14-year-old mini schnauzer leave us to go home to Heaven. How I miss that precious little boy. He was my friend. My dearest and most trusting friend.

Shakespeare joined our family in May 2003. He was six weeks old when we brought him home. I remember him resting in my arms, crawling up to rest on my chest. One of his favorite places to rest was either on a pillow, or my chest. How I wish I could cradle him in my arms just one more time.

I cannot stop crying. The tsunami of grief overtakes me as a rush of fresh tears pour from my eyes. Every morning, I still feel his presence in the bed. He loved to sleep next to my right hip. During the day, he followed me every where I went. When I rehearsed a new song, Shakespeare would sit up, listening to me, and when I sat down next to him, he touched me with his left leg. Then, he would crawl into my legs, crossed on the floor and rest as I petted him.

I am a bit surprised at how depressed and alone I feel after letting him go. Almost five years ago, we had to make the same decision for Prince Marmaduke Shamus. After that tsunami of grief, I told myself I would not permit myself to grieve in such a desperate way again, but here I am — crying until my heart breaks over and over again.

My other boys just heard me bursting into another throbbing heartbreak. Prince Midnight Shadow rushed to my side, whining, not understanding. Sandy Bear Sebastian is curled on the right side of my foot, next to the pillow Shakespeare loved. After Shakespeare died, Sandy Bear kept looking all over the house, rushing to look behind his dad’s chair. No. Shakespeare isn’t here. Maybe he’s on the pillow. No. No Shakespeare.

He is still looking for him. After he died, Sandy Bear became depressed and when he heard me crying, he wanted more attention. He didn’t understand. Funny. Neither do I. I’ve talked to Sandy Bear letting him know Shakespeare is not visual in our house, but he is still here in spirit.

Isn’t that how the loss of a loved one is? One minute, you are with them, maybe laughing or crying, and in the next minute — POOF! The person is gone – forever.

I suppose I do not understand death, nor do I understand why animals cannot live longer. They come into our lives, steal our hearts and souls and in their later years, we realize they are preparing to leave us…just like Shakespeare was.

He was not eating regularly. How I wish I had documented the days he did not eat, but I didn’t. On an average, probably two days each week he refused any food, including treats.

At his biggest, Shakespeare weighed 34 pounds. The vet suggested giving him green beans and cutting his food back a bit. It worked. Shakespeare loved green beans and his weight decreased to a healthy 26 pounds. At Christmas of 2016, I noticed he was easier to lift. He did not like us to pick him up. He was extremely independent and wanted only to be picked up on his terms. He was getting skinny. In February, I could feel his ribs.

I planned to take him to the vet, but I was horrified my vet would say, “if he was my dog, I’d let him go.”

I wasn’t ready. Selfish and horrified over losing him, I could not let him go. Not during the holidays.

Three weeks ago, I faced the reality that he was not getting better, only weaker with each day. He was telling me it was time to leave since he was lethargic, not eating, and only moving around when I touched him to go outside. His spirit was gone. Energy – non – existent. I kept telling myself tomorrow he would be better. He only got weaker.

Today, I am still crying an ocean of tears. My body shakes and my heart feels empty. Just how do I learn to let go and walk thru this grief. I miss my little Shake n Bake so much. No, I will not get another animal. I still have four who need me.

Meanwhile, I must make peace with myself. In memory of my precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I wish I could feel at peace over the decision we had to make. I suppose I do not understand how we can make those decisions for animals, but not humans.

A few days ago, after praying for a sign that Shakespeare was at peace, a fly flew into my cup of coffee. I noticed a few flies flying around my windows inside, but I didn’t think anything about them with exception they are such pests. When I discovered a fly floating in my coffee, I realized it was a sign from him. Shakespeare watched me every morning, recognizing one of my first morning rituals was to get a cup of coffee and sit at my writing desk with it. He knew coffee would get me moving, and he knew I would recognize his message, especially after he let me know he would not drink his water IF it was dirty, or had a fly. Over the years, he pawed at his water bowl many times. His actions told me he only wanted clean water. Shakespeare was great at communicating without saying anything. His actions said so much. The flies inside my house are now gone. Weird? Perhaps! A sign from Shakespeare – most definitely!

I am a bit relieved that he sent me a message. If only I could scoop him up in my arms and sing to him again. My little precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, I will love you always. I will never forget you, and I know one day, we will be reunited.

Learning To Walk Through Grief


038

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!

047

Welcome Home — Vietnam Veterans Day


Dearest Readers:

Did you know March 29, 2015 was Vietnam Veterans Day??? What?!??? You did not know? Why didn’t the news media share this information? Good question which I do not have the answer!

I confess, I have a special place, bonded tightly within my heart for Vietnam Veterans; after all, my husband is a Vietnam Veteran. I am extremely proud of him. Well, on most days. Returning home from Vietnam, I noticed his temperament was intense. His jealousy grew. There were times when he noticed a man looking at me and he glared, then asking in a most arrogant mannerism, “What the Hell are you looking at?” During those times, I wanted to crawl into the floor and hide. I recognized the gentle, caring man I married and waited on while he was in Vietnam, was not the man I was married to now. That man was still in Vietnam.

Looking at my husband, I saw a man with emptiness in his eyes. While visiting his parents, we knocked on the door of their trailer. His mother opened the door, managing to say, “Oh…You’re here.” We entered the trailer, awaiting hugs and kisses. His mother sat down at the kitchen table, lighting another cigarette. Never did she or his father show any emotion of gratitude for his homecoming. No special meal. No reunion…NOTHING! Strange. When I asked my husband if his parents always reacted with such a frigid demeanor his reply was a simple, “It don’t mean nothing.” The phrase “It don’t mean nothing,” now rang inside my head constantly.

I suppose emotions such as those awaited many Vietnam Veterans. Over the years, I grew afraid of my husband, especially when his jealous rages exploded. I withdrew. Rarely made friends. And if I was away from our home, my husband would phone everyone he knew, including retail stores I shopped at, until — he found me. I was quickly becoming a prisoner inside my own home.

In 2001, my husband played golf with a Vietnam Veteran. I do not know what happened on the golf course, but when he got home, he made a comment I never expected. “Some of the guys think I have PTSD,” he said.

“Think?” I responded…”I KNOW you have PTSD.”

“What makes you think that?” He asked, moving closer to me. My body flinched.

“Your temperament. Impatience. Anger. Jealousy. The rages you get and how you treat me. You’re not nice when that monster gets in your eyes.”

My husband simply walked away. No discussion. No communication.

I knew the warning signs of PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After all, I was living with a man who brought it home from Vietnam.

Vietnam Veterans Deserve…

I find it interesting and extremely sad that the media does not share stories about Vietnam Veterans Day. Listening to the news yesterday, I expected to hear something about it, but did not. My husband and I know many Vietnam Veterans. When I greet them, I always say, “Thank you for your service and Welcome Home.” I’ve seen these veterans choke up at times. I suppose they are getting a bit of relief now about how America treated these Veterans when they returned. One of my neighbors, no longer a part of our neighborhood since she moved, actually told our son that, and I quote, “Your daddy is a baby killer.” Then, she spat in my son’s face. He rushed home. Tears streaming down his face. When I hugged him he told me what he experienced from this neighbor.

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “You stay here.” No doubt my seven-year-old9th Inf Div, Commo Platoon_Aug_2007 son knew where I was going. Knocking on her door, she refused to answer. My knock grew harder. “I’m not leaving until you open this door,” I shouted. The door opened.

“How could you,” I said in a calm voice. “You called my husband a baby killer to my son.”

“That’s what he is,” she said. Her hair was long and stringy. She wore a loose caftan, reminding me of a hippy.

“How dare you to be so cruel. My husband fought in a war for your freedom. It’s a shame that you have the ability to express what others say. It’s a shame you were not fighting a war. But maybe you are…with your drugs, alcohol and fast life. Don’t think the neighborhood doesn’t know about you. You neglect your child and you are always strung out from something you shouldn’t be doing. Your house smells of marijuana. Maybe that’s the style of life you choose…and you can only do it here, alone in your home. You should be thanking the Veterans for your freedom, not wasting it away…”

I spun on my heel and walked away. Never did I see her again.

Yesterday, March 29, 2015, I would like to wish all of our Vietnam Veterans a profound Welcome Home, and Thank you for your service. While it isn’t easy to live a life with a Veteran, I am still very proud that my husband and I weathered the storms in our marriage, and we chose to work through the difficult times…and there were many. Nights of fitful sleep. Nightmares. Days and nights of reassuring him that I loved him and wanted to work through the difficulties. While in therapy, I told my husband and the therapist that the reason I had the strength to place things in perspective and to ‘work it out’ because I still remembered how difficult and alone I was while he was in Vietnam. Newly married, three months later, he flew away to Vietnam, on Thanksgiving Day. Our First Thanksgiving Day. A day I could not give thanks!

Here’s to You — The Vietnam Veterans

Perhaps it has become easier for both of us to become closer again after we reunited with my husband’s platoon. Every fall the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon, have a reunion with the guys and their wives/loves/significant others…I must say, within this group is some of the kindest, most caring, loving people I have ever met. Never do I hear of anyone ridiculing the others, nor do they gossip and criticize others. Isn’t that amazing? We’ve attended just a few of these reunions. My husband is not retired. He finds himself happiest while at work, so there are many times when we cannot travel. Nevertheless, we still hear from all of these ‘bands of brothers’. I appreciate each and everyone of them.

So, to you, the Vietnam Veterans, I do hope your Vietnam Veterans Day was a happy one. I salute all of you, and I thank you for your service. Welcome Home Soldiers. You deserve the best.

http://wtop.com/tag/welcome-home-vietnam-veterans-day/ According to this site, ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Vietnam veterans are getting some long-delayed appreciation in Maryland. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is signing a bill Monday making March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Perhaps soon all of the leadership in America will recognize our Vietnam Veterans.

WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!

Remodeling 101 — A New Kitchen


Dearest Readers:

Below is a story written in 2007 when our household decided to remodel our kitchen. Enjoy!

TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2007

Remodeling 101 –

KITCHEN FACELIFT
The Saga of Remodeling a Kitchen, and a Marriage

For many years I’ve dreamed of a modern kitchen, filled with contemporary, custom-made cabinets with plenty of storage space, a place for the microwave and the clutter that was swallowing my work area. I dreamed of granite counter tops, traditional customized cabinets that opened easily and were convenient for storage. I wanted pretty wood instead of drab, cheapened boards containing too many coats of monotonous paint and drawers that refused to open easily. Recognizing it was time to sale our home or remodel, my husband and I decided to take on the task of a kitchen facelift. Knowing life is ALWAYS filled with unexpected surprises, we decided it was in our best interest to hire a contractor, a master of remodeling, instead of another Do It Yourself project that would undoubtedly take my husband years to complete. He has the tendency to start a project and finish it when he ‘gets around to it,’ and when he takes on a project, I serve as his helper which leads to many heated disputes.

After meeting with kitchen designers, we finalize the plans, pay for the project, including the expense of custom-made cabinets, new sink, granite countertops, faucet, a new stove and a convection/microwave oven. Our original budget was $10,000. After discussions with the kitchen designers, we decided to increase the budget. After all, we want the kitchen remodeled the right way, without cutting corners.

Next step for the renovation – packing up the kitchen and moving forward with the gutting process. The custom-made cabinets are scheduled for delivery March 22, so now, it is onward and upward! Every night after dinner, I empty a cabinet or two, package the dishes, cookware and ingredients into boxes so the facelift may begin.

Day One

February 26 – with cabinets and the pantry empty, and a portable kitchen area set up on the breakfast room table – microwave, coffee pot, and other incidentals that a family must have just to survive – we are ready to move forward with the first phase – demolition. I inform my husband that for the next few weeks, until the kitchen facelift is complete, we will be connoisseurs of microwave foods, nothing more. No gourmet dinners until. Our dining experience will include Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choice, sandwiches, and paper plates. Bon Appetit!

Thank goodness I do not have a headache today, and if I survive this date without a migraine, it will be a miracle! The contractor arrived early at 8:00 sharp. Before 9 am, the cabinets by the sink are gone. That’s where we run into the first surprise, and I am one who doesn’t like surprises.

Our old cabinets were built over a soffett, a construction term used to describe the installation process of the existing cabinets. When the top of the cabinets are removed, we discover exposed beams leading to the roofing. Apparently when the first remodeling was done in the early 1970’s, the couple who owned the house chose to cut corners and not box in this area. The cabinets they installed were built overhead, leaving the ceiling exposed. Thank goodness we chose not to cut corners and do this renovation the correct way.

Later, when the enclosed pantry is ripped out, we run into a brick wall – literally, figuratively and physically. My husband and I wondered why the pantry was such an odd and non-user-friendly pantry, designed with angles and corners leading to wasted space. I do not question it anymore. When exposed, the contractor discovers the pantry is attached to an exterior brick wall, which was built at a 45º angle. Now we will need to have the custom-made cabinets re-made. By this discovery, my husband is on a business trip and I am stuck at home to take care of all of the incidentals of this mess. Several phone calls later, I am relieved, but furious that I rarely have a husband who will take care of such things. Sometimes I wonder what the convenience of marriage is; nevertheless, I can certainly understand why marriage is referred to as an institution, and I agree with this description. My friends laugh when they hear me grumble about the business of marriage. If only they walked in my shoes. After phoning my husband, I reassure him I have taken care of the matter and everything will be worked out.

“Good,” he replies. “I’ll try to get home early.”

Knowing him as I do, I understand he feels a bit guilty for not being home now, and he should. My one request just last week was for him to be home, but Corporate America dictates his schedule, so I take this in my stride, thankful that I can write even when the hammering and banging sounds like a wild eyed monster is loose in my gutted kitchen.

Sometimes it is a good thing that I cannot crawl through the telephone lines because if I could, I would probably want to do something not too nice. Perhaps now he understands why I insisted on hiring someone to remove the cabinets. Our marriage would never survive if he took on these projects. I suppose it is good that opposites attract – since I am the partner in our marriage who is gifted with multi-tasking, and he is good at directing, controlling, and walking off when things do not go as expected. Since today is only Day One of things to go wrong when remodeling, it is the perfect day for his business trip and my stress level to be tested.
In the afternoon, the construction crew leaves and I have the luxury of quiet again. I decide to turn the stereo on and when the music fails to relax my mood, I leave the house to get a manicure. Sometimes a woman needs a bit of pampering! Tomorrow will be another day of hammering, sawing, the constant ringing of the telephone, and more unexpected surprises. Calgon, please take me away!

Three Weeks Later – March 22, 2007

D Day arrives – Delivery Day! Last week I received a call from Kraft Maid. The cabinets are on track, scheduled for delivery March 22. There is a three-hour window of opportunity set for delivery, between the hours of 12:00pm – 3:00pm. At 11:40, the truck arrives with seventeen boxes. Last week I was told, we would need 337 cubic feet of room – whatever that means. I do not claim to be a mathematician! Now, I am living in a sea of boxes – everywhere! Even the front door is backed up with boxes, especially one lengthy box exactly 94 inches in length so large it cannot turn the corner to go into the kitchen. Since we are blessed with a kitchen located in the front of the house, we have no option left. We must place this monstrous box next to the front door! The question at hand is – when the cabinet is removed from this coffin sized box, will it turn the corner into the kitchen for installation? Let us hope we do not have a fire in the house. We only have one exit/entrance now. I created a Caution Under Construction sign, taped it on the front door, in the event someone rings the doorbell, and does not understand why we cannot open the front door.

I confess, I did everything humanly possible to prepare the house for this arrival, feeling as if I was giving birth to these cabinets and this project. Why is it a woman MUST DO EVERYTHING in a marriage???

This morning, I rushed around in anticipation of an early delivery since my husband had something to do this morning and wasn’t around! I had labor pains, excruciating pains from muscles stretching to move so I can lift awkward pieces of furniture. The coffee table bit me when I moved it, leaving a nice scratch and bruise on my leg. Labor pains! I moved living room furniture around, making way – only to discover due to the tall pantry we ordered, we cannot open the front door. If I survive this disaster, it will be a miracle! My husband is receiving the cold shoulder treatment from me – well deserved. This is my way of dealing with his abstinence!
When Phil arrives home, he asks if I have contacted Home Depot to let them know the cabinets are here. My reply, “I’m working on a deadline. Why don’t you call them?” He grumbles, requesting the phone number.

Later we have a slight discussion. Phil reminds me he has done his part to prepare for this project. He was the one who rented the machine to strip and remove the wooden kitchen floor. He was the one who sanded the concrete smooth. He reminds me he worked on this labor pain for two days while I was out of town.

“Oops,” I reply, conveniently forgetting that I was out of town for four days during this process.
“Oops,” I apologize. “I’m so sorry.”

I move closer to him, managing to give him that stupid, innocent grin that usually works to make this stubborn, persnickety man respond to me and forgive me. Then, I kiss his lips. He pulls me close for a moment. Grins. We’ve never been the type of couple to remain angry for long, so the moment of silence and cold shoulder is gone. Anger never resolves issues. Never.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The representative from Home Depot arrives a bit late, due to traffic in Charleston. No surprise there. Traffic is ALWAYS a problem in this holy city. After a couple of hours of opening boxes and investigating what is inside, it appears we have one or two damaged cabinet doors. I must say, the cabinets are beautiful. Later, while basking in the sun, the phone rings. I ignore it since I am outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather we’ve been blessed with. My cell phone rings and I’m surprised to hear that the scheduled installation is set for Monday, March 26, 9:30 am.

“I had no idea,” I shriek, excited that soon I might be able to do my spring cleaning, instead of having a sea of boxes and kitchen clutter everywhere in the house. The dining room table is covered with items we might need during this process, and there is not a corner left to place anything else. At least for now, I’ve recognized that I can sort mail and put it away, instead of allowing it to clutter the kitchen and dining room tables. I make a mental note to self – Never allow mail to be left on the tables. Put it away.

This sea of brown boxes is confusing our pups, The Three Stooges, Shamus, Shakespeare, and Shasta. Shakespeare continues sniffing at the boxes, as if he cannot wait to find the perfect spot to lift his leg and claim his territory. When I scold him, he rushes away, as if to say, “I was just testing you to see if I could do it.” Our pups do not like change and this clutter is mystifying to them.

Shamus likes things clean and tidy, with everything in its proper spot. He prances quickly through the rooms, as if to say, I gotta get out of here. This mess is driving me nuts.

Shasta, our princess of a Maltese, the smallest of our troop of rescue animals, doesn’t like change – in any way, shape, or form. She is the ditzy little blonde in our household and each time I open the door to let her outside, she scatters back to her little bed, her private territory. Her tail is tucked between her legs, and she looks back at me as if to say, I’m so confused. I may never survive this change.

Tomorrow at 1:30, Phil and I are scheduled to go to Home Depot to learn how to paint a textured wall. Since the walls in the kitchen are plaster and quite defective – fifty years of age has not been graceful to them – I made the suggestion to texture the walls with a textured paint, and use stencils with a nautical theme. I found some cool looking dolphin and nautical stencils at a craft store and I’m hopeful they’ll give me the look and creativity I desire.

Home Depot was swamped on Saturday so I suggested we could play with the paint technique at home. If this textured effect works well, I have a master bathroom to do, using the nautical theme, or maybe I’ll get more creative and do a lighthouse on the wall. Wouldn’t that be cool!

Monday, March 26:

Today is the day. Installation of cabinets. Let us hope it goes well. The installers are named Scott and Kyle. Not your typical construction workers, they are tall, lean, and hard working. They arrive on time and go straight to the task at hand. I am impressed with the quality of work they do. With saws grinding a painful tune into the wood, I am reminded of dental visits, and I clench my teeth, thankful it is not me on the cutting board. I am so grateful I do not have a headache today.

Phil arrives home at lunchtime, no doubt to stupervise. Yes, I said stupervise!

He walks through the kitchen, looking at things, especially looking for things that can go wrong. He questions a few things, makes comments and suggestions. Again – stupervising!

After a few minutes of his getting in the way, I remind him the kitchen is long and narrow, only having so much room. He looks at me, turns his head, continues to ask questions. Always in charge! Think I’ve decided if we remodel again, I am running away for a while!

Happy Birthday to the Perkins Twins


Dearest Readers:

Today is a special, melancholic day for me. On this date — 100 years ago – December 19, 1914 – my dad and his identical twin brother, Lewis, were born. Before Uncle Lewis’ death in September, 1941 from Bright’s disease, they were known withini
the State of Alabama as The Perkins Twins. Together they sang, harmonizing, sharing their belief in God and their sermons to all who would listen. It is unfortunate for my Dad, Walter Perkins, that the music stopped for him in September 1941. Never did I have the pleasure to meet Uncle Lewis. Reportedly, he and my dad were inseparable. When he died, according to relatives and stories my dad shared, his death broke my dad’s heart so much that he never was the same. Gone was his spirit and passion to sing and preach the gospel.

Happy 100th Birthday to The Perkins Twins – in Heaven!

Unfortunately, I lost my dad to esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999. Today, I have regrets – regrets for not documenting the stories Dad occasionally shared about his life as an identical twin. Like most children, I listened a bit to his stories, but never wrote them down. Reportedly, The Perkins Twins were so identical people could not determine just who Lewis was and who was Walter. Their handwriting was the same. When one spoke, the other finished the statement. As a child, I found this strange – now, as an adult, I wish to know more. Uncle Lewis never married, but according to my dad, “He loved beautiful women…and…they Loved him!”

In Dad’s diaries I cannot find his deepest feelings about what it was like to lose his twin brother. The only comment listed during September 1941 related to Uncle Lewis and his illness was a passage that ‘Lewis was rushed to the hospital and Uncle Vera, their sister, donated blood for a blood transfusion.’ I cannot find anything else about his condition or death. It is difficult to read his diaries still. Although my family had a tradition of writing in their diaries, many of life’s important and dreadfully sad moments were not recorded.

I suppose I should find an archive to donate all of these diaries to, just to record more about the Perkins Family. Perhaps one day I will but for today, I want to remember The Perkins Twins.

My parents were married in the 1940’s. If my memory is correct, I believe it was 1943. Their marriage was not a happy one…more like a torrential storm of events. When I was a teenager, I listened to their toxic fights – always shouting, cursing and spitting violent poisons of hatred to each other. As hard as I try, I cannot remember them hugging or kissing – EVER! After their divorce, my dad changed all for the better.

Gone was the hatred, replaced by a peaceful, calm and happy man who actually said that he loved me. When I first heard “I love you,” from his lips, I stepped back, recognizing this was a new man. I was so proud of him. Over the years, Dad and I became closer. When I graduated from high school, he stood in the audience, applauding me. When my only child was born, a son, Dad sent me a hydrangea plant, with a card signed with his love.

When we moved Dad to Charleston to be closer to us after his retirement, the bonding between us grew tighter. When cancer knocked on his door in 1997, I became his caregiver. Suddenly I became the parent to my parent and it broke my heart to watch him slowly fading away from me.

Now that he is gone, I still miss him. Today is an extremely sad day for me because it is his 100th birthday. How I wish I could sing Happy Birthday to him. How I wish I could hug him, just one more time.

I suppose all of us who have lost our parents have the same emotions and thoughts in our minds on their birthdays. For me, this day is extremely difficult. I walk through my house; glancing over at the dining room table, looking at “Dad’s chair.” The chair he always sat at during our many Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. After his death, I found myself placing a plate, glassware and silverware by his chair, recognizing moments later that his chair would be empty. I don’t set his place now, but I still look to see my dad sitting there. I can almost hear his laughter and the prayer he always expressed so eloquently during the holidays.

Now, it is his time to be with his identical twin brother. This is their day to celebrate their short life together. Today, I wish the Perkins Twins a happy, glorious 100th birthday. To say I miss my dad is an understatement. I still grieve. I suppose we always grieve over losing someone so important in our lives.

Once Dad described me to others as ‘his shining star.’ During a television interview during his illness, the reporter mentioned that Dad was a poet and a writer. Quickly, Dad interrupted him, stating – “No, I’m not a writer…My daughter…Now – She’s the writer!”

I can still hear his melodic voice ringing in my ears. How I miss hearing the expression, “You are my shining star!”

Tonight during our date night, I will sing “Dance With My Father Again,” in remembrance of my dad.
Happy 100th Birthday, Dad…Uncle Lewis. Happy 100th Birthday to The Perkins Twins! Words cannot express how deeply you are missed.

My Thoughts On Friendship


Dearest Readers:

Normally if I write in my blog on Thursday’s I write about my weekly accomplishments with Weight Watchers. Today’s discussion will be about the touchy, sometimes controversial subject of friendship. While at Weight Watchers today, the subject of friendship entered my mind. Why? Simple. I do not have many “friends.”

Did you notice I placed the seven letter words of friends in quotes? Perhaps. Why? Simple — friendship is a complicated subject open for discussion.

As a child, I grew up in many locations. None that I referred to as home, with exception of my grandparents home in a mill village. My parents moved us around like gypsies on the road. Roots never existed for our family. Each time I hear someone describe how they ‘love to go home again,’ I cringe. Envious. During high school (remember those years — only four years until adulthood?) Well, during those four years, I went to six high schools. In one year, I changed high school three times. My Freshman year – the year where I had difficulty passing English? It was a torrential time in my life. My parents fought like maniac cats and dogs — barking…growling…huffing…puffing…cursing…threatening, then — beating each other. When I was 15, on a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, I pulled them apart again – this time for the last time! That Saturday my mother moved us again — this time, back to our maternal grandparent’s home. At their tiny brick mill house, there were two bedrooms. One bathroom. Four girls. Our mother, and our grandparents. Privacy did not exist.

For weeks, I rebelled. Refusing to go to school, refusing to talk…refusing life. I took walks by myself. I discovered an isolated route leading to the shores of the Chattahoochee River, and there, hovered down, staring at the shoreline, angry and hurt that my parents were divorcing and my mother forced us to live in such a crowded home, I cried. Angry because my mother wanted me to cut the cords with my ‘no good b——Daddy. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Don’t ever say his name around me again!”

Unbeknownst to her, I kept in touch with my dad.

I recall thinking about my roots, only I didn’t have any. Thrust in a small mill village where everyone knew everything, I refused to make friends. I hid the secrets of my childhood in the red clay riverbanks of the Chattahoochee River. During another battle with my mother, she shouted to me, demanding that I go to school so I could graduate. She pointed her finger in my face, demanding that IF I did not enroll in high school, she would see me working at the Bibb Mill. Remember, I was only 15! I did not want to work in the mill, nor did I want to live in Bibb City.

Deciding the only decision I could make was to return to school, I enrolled, went to class, but I did not make friends. I sat in the back of the classroom, refusing to socialize with other students. I was ashamed. A mill kid with only the clothes on her back. Nothing more. One of my cousins cleaned out her closet, giving me her ‘hand-me-down clothes.’ When she saw me wearing them, she laughed, shouting something about I was so poor the only decent clothes I had were her ‘hand-me-downs.’ I wanted to hit her, but I walked away, deciding to remain — ALONE.

During my final high school days, my grades improved. All I did was force my eyes into books at the library and at school. In Atlanta, I was a singer for a rock band. In Columbus, the music stopped, with exception of the church and school choirs. I made only a few friends, never inviting them to our home. Why? We had no privacy. If I brought a friend home, I couldn’t play music because ‘rock n’ roll music was a sin,’ according to my grandfather. He didn’t believe we should play with the school kids, but only the kids in the mill village. I rebelled.

Today, at Weight Watchers I listened to the new program learning how I could be more successful with my weight loss journey. Afterwards, I had lunch with two of my dearest friends from Weight Watchers. After lunch, Tammy invited me to go shopping with her, so off we went, driving around the area while getting to know each other better. I must say, I really enjoy this new friendship with Tammy and Sara. I am blessed! Now that I am home, I started thinking about friendship.

Friendship is defined as “the state of being friends: the relationship between friends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. I confess, I have a limited amount of friends. I consider friendship as a relationship between people who trust and love each other. A friend is someone you can count on. Trust. Appreciate. A person who you can spill your heart to while knowing that the trust will not be broken. A friend is someone who will NOT pretend to be your friend, just to go and share your heartfelt feelings to others.

Today, while riding with Tammy I feel a new bonding with her. A connection. No, I will not share our conversations, after all, isn’t that what true friends do — listen. Talk. Relate, while not going behind your back to as I describe, “stab you in the back.” When a friend talks with me, I do not share those conversations to others. I believe in the bond of trust.

Backstabbers are not friends. I have met many. Two that I really thought were my friends, only to discover behind my back they were whispering — starting ugly gossip. Have I shared that I detest gossip? I refer these people as ‘acquaintances,’ not “friends!”

I suppose I am from the old school — where friendship is to be cherished. I suppose my husband is my greatest friend. For years I thought husbands and wives could not be classified as friends since intimacy was combined within the relationship; nevertheless, now I say my husband is probably my dearest friend. He has seen me walk through the darkness of my childhood when I shared the years of abuse with him. He is the only one who held me tight when I fell apart emotionally. On that horrific night of my life, he listened without fighting with me. He knows my darkest secrets, and to my knowledge he hasn’t discussed those issues with anyone else. He guided me to find the strength to break away and to rise above and build a new life with him. Yes, we’ve had moments where I didn’t know if we would survive — many times when I stood my ground with him – refusing to allow him to rule me — however, he is my strength. My foundation. My Rock!

Friendship is truly something all of us need in our lives. A friend will listen. A friend comforts. A friend guides and understands — even when we think we cannot get through another day.

To my closest friends, I say thank you. To Gina, Tammy, and my high school “lifetime best friend,” — Charlotte, I say thank you. Without all of you by my side, I would not be the person I am today, while I journey to find strength and joy within my heart and soul. Due to your encouragement I discovered it is important to love ourselves, so we can be the best friend to our friends.

To those people who say “I don’t need friends…” I must remind you, if you do not have friends, you must live a lonely, isolated unhappy life.

I salute and toast my friends. I would not be the woman I am today without you. The good. The bad…The indifferent…The opinionated…The glitzy, gregarious “drama queen who loves her bling” and mostly the kind, happy woman I smile at in the mirror. The woman who permitted the music to return so she could sing again! I hope my reflections of friendship will encourage all of my readers to take a step to make friends.

Thank you! Happy Friendship!