ARTICLES, health, Uncategorized

Hello Four Walls – I’ve Been Kidnapped ByThe Noro Virus Kidnapped Me


Dearest Readers:

I planned to share this story about three or four days ago; however, this noro virus had other ideas.

Saturday, April 16, 2016 began as a beautiful, sunshiny day. One of the beauties of living in South Carolina I appreciate the scenes, beaches, scents and flowers, especially at spring time. I rushed around the house in anticipation of a shopping trip with new friends. While riding in the back seat of their spacious truck, I commented about what a beautiful day it was to spend time with new friends. Little did I know how quickly things can change.

Walking around the shopping center, I walked into a shoe store. Phil found a gorgeous pair of sandals for me. He wanted me to try them on, I declined. My forehead was dripping with beats of sweat, or as I like to say, “my glitter is showing.”

“I feel strange,” I whispered to him. “I think I’ll go outside and sit down at one of those benches.”

Ever so slowly I made my way and sat down. Now, my entire face was covered with sweat, along with my neck. Phil commented while touching my forehead. I tried to laugh, mentioning something about maybe I’m having those ‘hot flashes’ now that all my friends complain about.

I’ve never had a hot flash. My friends describe them as a quick, burning flash of heat that rises from your toenails to your head. The only place I was hot was my forehead, covered with beads of perspiration, or as I like to say, ‘I do not sweat, I glisten with sparkles.’ Today, I could not joke or make silliness about how ‘strange’ I felt. The beads of ‘sparkles’ continued to soak my forehead. My hair was soaked, along with my neckline. My fingers were shivering. One moment – my body felt as if I was standing in a sauna. The next moment, I was standing inside an igloo. Just what was this feeling? I was sitting on a bench in the bright sunshine. Temperatures outside were warm but not hot enough to make me dripping with my little sparkles.

Our friends saw me sitting at the bench with Phil. They suggested we might find a restaurant, eat an early lunch and I would probably feel better. I agreed.

Sitting down at the restaurant, my body was shivering now. I read the menu, ordered coffee and a salad and waited to feel better; nevertheless, the strange sensation overwhelmed me.

Moments later, my stomach regurgitated. I projectile vomited everything that was inside of my stomach. At least I thought. Phil wiped my blouse, placed a napkin on my forehead and I attempted to stand up, to get to the restroom. Fortunately, I made it to the restroom before my entire stomach exploded. I breathed deeply…Inhaled…Breathed again…

What is wrong with me? My hands were shaking. My legs felt like spaghetti. This was not going to be a good day for me.

I flushed my face with cold water, noticing how pale and deathly I looked. I sat down in a chair at the ladies restroom and waited for the color to return, or to see if I was swimming in a sea of nausea again.

Returning to the table, my stomach regurgitated once again. I was mortified. In my entire life I have never thrown up in public. Deciding that I was much too weak to shop, I suggested going to the car and resting while everyone shopped. How I wanted to slip under the table and crawl under the floor so nobody could see me. Phil got our friend’s car key and walked with me. The walk to the car, usually an easy and short journey for me appeared to be miles away.

“I can’t make it to the car. Find me a wheelchair, please.” Phil sat me down at a bench. Moments later, he returned with a wheelchair. A $10.00 fee at the shopping center, even with an emergency. I fell into the wheelchair and off we went. Riding in the wheelchair reminded me of my ride in a pace car at Bristol race track. G-force of nausea captured me again, although this time, I kept everything down. I had a nasty taste of stale coffee in my mouth. Phil offered me a mint. I sucked on it, hoping to feel better.

Slipping into the truck, Phil rolled the windows down so I would feel a breeze. I was shivering still. He took the key, locked the car and off he went. My stomach gurgled, so I opened the door to the truck. The burglar alarm screamed. Now, if I did regurgitate in the parking area, everyone would see. Phil returned, wanting to know why I opened the door.

“If I throw up again, I do not want to do it all over his new, beautiful vehicle.”

Phil apologized, leaving the key with me! Thank goodness. If I had to make a spectacle of myself, I wanted it to be when EMS came to get me, in the event I needed to go to the hospital. Today was not the day I wanted to enter a place and be remembered. I simply wanted to crawl through the woodwork and die, if today was the day I left this earth.

What was to be a splendid day of shopping was one of the sickest days of my entire life. I thought it was related to a migraine headache, but this was much worse.

Cutting our plans short, we got home before dark. I apologized to our friends, hoping they would understand I was really sick and not faking this dreadful illness. I remember bathing and crawling my way to bed. About 8:45 pm, stomach cramps and a gurgling stomach awoke me. I rushed to the bathroom, only this time I was not nauseated. I was suffering from some of the worst diarrhea a human could endure. The constant waves of diarrhea reminded me of a riptide, washing over me keeping me awake all night long. I battled with this manic stomach illness until 8:15 the next morning, a total of 12 long, painful and weak hours. The riptide of diarrhea forced me to take three additional baths before the sickness eased. I kept asking my body how it could explode with such illness when nothing was inside of my stomach.

Today is Friday, April 22. Still, I feel incredibly weak. Phil got sick on Tuesday at work, arriving home before lunchtime. Every morning I told myself I could do the laundry…Or, I could cook a meal…If I tried, I could vacuum. Once, I attempted to get the vacuum cleaner, only to decide I was much too weak – still. I managed to wash the clothes that I wore when I was so sick on Saturday, washing them twice just to make certain the fabrics were clean and sanitized.

No, I haven’t exactly tracked my food intake since I’m a member of Weight Watchers. This week I’ve eaten only small bites of food, or a small can of soup. Our Friday night date – let’s just say, it was postponed! Every doctor’s appointment had to be postponed, along with my weekly weigh-in at Weight Watchers. I was contagious. I would not share this illness with anyone!

When Phil arrived home on Tuesday, I noticed how white his face was. Neither of us wanted food or liquids. We placed our pups in the breakfast room and away we went, to separate bedrooms to ease the illness. For two days, both of us camped out in the den, moving only when Mother Nature called. I suppose we were quite a silly pair together. Neither of us feeling strong enough to care for the other.

My head continues to spin and hurt from this virus. The noro virus whips all of the strength a body has. No appetite. No strength to walk or care for yourself. I Googled stomach virus, discovering norovirus.

The symptoms of Norovirus include:

Nausea & Vomiting – my vomiting felt like I was projectile vomiting my entire stomach.

 

Fever & Chills – one moment my head is covered with sweat. The next moment, I shivered.

 Migraines – Daily I’ve awoken with a bad headache.

 Stomach Cramps – reminding me of the severe cramps I suffered before menopause.

 Sore Muscles – my husband suffered with sore muscles. The only sore muscles I have are in my throat and stomach.

 Urine Changes – surprisingly, my urine was a bright yellow. Normally, clear, that is how I knew I was dehydrated.

 Dry, Parched Mouth – I still have chapped lips and a dry mouth. To resolve this, I am drinking more Gator Ade.

 Increased Heart Rate – I didn’t notice this. What I have felt is the inability to walk well. I have clung to the walls in my home whenever I feel “strange” again. Suddenly the lyrics of “Hello Walls” are changing and my weakened body is saying: “Hello walls. Thank God you’re here today…Just to hold me and keep my feet from falling from all this pain….”

 Several of my friends suggested I should get to the doctor immediately. Just how does one get to a doctor’s office when she is so ill? Friends suggested they would take me. I declined. I did not want to contaminate anyone! No doubt this norovirus could result in someone losing friendships. I cherish my friends, so I refused to let them do anything for me.

 Today I do feel better and I am hopeful I can style my hair and wear makeup today. To those who know me, they realize I am never seen in public without makeup. Not so this week. I haven’t left my house at all, until Friday. My face is naked now, but I feel confident after writing this, I will smile again and attempt makeup. Who knows If I will succeed. I suppose you will just have to wait to read my next post – that is WHEN I am well. This virus kidnapped me, only no one would pay the ransom. Another side effect I’ve had – a lack of cognitive abilities. Attempting to answer a question on the phone, or to discuss how I really feel…let’s just say – I’ve struggled to speak with intelligence. Let’s don’t even discuss my keyboarding skills now. I keep telling myself this too shall pass.

 UPDATE: Sunday, April 24, 2016, I wore makeup yesterday and today. Happy Days are here again…I have no idea when I will be able to sing again!

 Yes…This Too Shall Pass…I’ll be so happy when I can be well and strong enough to get myself to the beach. Weather forecast say it has been a beautiful, picture perfect beach week, but don’t ask me. All I’ve seen is people walking by the side of the road and four walls. Lots of walls! I did manage to clip roses from my rose bush. They are helping me to see that life is out there and soon, I will be strong again. I hope!

 This

Too

Shall

Pass!

 

Free Writing

So Much For Valentine’s Day…


Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

“What did the doctor say?” I asked.

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

BINGO!

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

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

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

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

ACUTE BRONCHIAL ASTHMA

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO DO

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Steps…!

Chattahoochee Child, Friday Reflections

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.

Rescuing Schnauzers

A Tribute to William Lloyd Garrison and My Precious “Shamey-Pooh”


Dearest Readers:
If you follow the page, “Following Atticus,” on a regular basis, you know that precious, Sweet William Lloyd Garrison, aka “Will” left this world yesterday, October 25, 2014 at approximately 3:30pm. Will, as you probably know, is the lost, angry oldster that Tom Ryan rescued from death’s door in May, 2012. Sweet Will, as I describe, was a beautiful white, curly haired schnauzer with one of the sweetest faces and the most beautiful, expressive eyes that one can imagine. Each time I saw a picture of him with his long eye lashes and amazing face, I melted. I asked how anyone could ever neglect or abandon such a precious life. Each time I watched him prancing and dancing around in a video, I laughed, enjoying those special moments. Although he was considered a senior dog, he certainly did not behave in such a manner.

May 2012 is so significant to me. Perhaps I failed to connect the significance of that sad month until reading about Sweet Will yesterday. May 2, 2012 is the day I lost a special part of my heart and soul when Prince Marmaduke Shamus left us due to a terminal illness. I do not remember the exact date where I discovered the Facebook page, “Following Atticus,” but I am certain it was right after the loss of precious Shamey-Pooh.

When Shamey-Pooh left, my heart felt completely empty. For weeks all I could do was cry – sometimes exploding into an ocean of tears. While it is true, I have suffered great losses prior to the loss of Shamus, I must say, never have I cried like I did with his loss. One night in a dream, Shamus spoke to me, telling me I needed to open my heart to another rescue, and so the exploration began – to find a lost animal to help ease the pain. Shakespeare Hemingway, the boss of our home, gave me great comfort after losing Shamus, but nothing could ease the pain. I searched online, checking the Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas website, in hopes of rescuing another giant schnauzer. No, I was not replacing Shamus, because I fully believe each of our animals, like children and loved ones, cannot be replaced; nevertheless, we can find a place inside our hearts to allow new love to enter. I checked other sites, failing to find ‘giant schnauzers.’

I found numerous sites to purchase a giant schnauzer, but I knew I had to find a rescue. Still, each time I looked at a picture of Shamus, my heart told me to wait and rescue. Early one morning, I opened Facebook, discovering a photograph of a solid black giant schnauzer needing a home. He was a stray that arrived at an animal shelter in Athens, GA. He was beautiful, with sad black eyes. I phoned the shelter. If I applied for him, I was told I would be the ‘fourth in line for him.’ Quickly, I filled out the application and faxed it to them, phoning to confirm receipt. The next morning, I was told he was still available and if I truly wanted to adopt him, I would need to be at the shelter the next morning at 10 o’clock. I was hopeful no one else would arrive before my husband and I did. That afternoon, I received a phone call from the shelter, letting me know that if I wanted “Schultz” I could adopt him!

Within 24 hours, I would meet “Schultz” arrange his neutering surgery and take him home. I was ecstatic!

My new guardian angel, Prince Marmaduke Shamus, helped me to find another animal needing a good and happy home. After meeting “Schultz” at the animal shelter, we fell in love. We were told he loves to jump, and he can jump extremely high, but that would not be an issue. “We accept and love our animals and I am certain we can teach him a few things in our home.”

Today, Prince Midnight Shadow is a different boy. He still loves to jump and tries to jump into trees to capture squirrels; however, he hasn’t managed to catch any, and there are a few squirrels that appear to tease him when they stop at tree level, as if to say, “Ha. Ha…You can’t catch me!” Shadow continues jumping in air, wishing and hoping that one day, he will catch a squirrel. He is quite comical with his behaviors and he loves to walk and chase balls. Shadow is the perfect friend to help with the loss of Shamus.

While writing this, my heart is still breaking over the loss of Sweet Will yesterday. If you do not know the story of Tom Ryan and his love and acceptance for animals, allow me to explain. In May 2012, Tom heard about a lost and neglected senior schnauzer that was dropped off at a kill shelter. He decided to rescue Will. Arriving at Tom’s home, Will was angry, short tempered and fearful. He bit Tom many times. Tom Ryan is a patient and gentle man, never lashing out at Will, simply remaining calm. He discovered Will’s spirit was broken, and Will was almost blind. He had the ability to see shapes, and he loved music and flowers. Tom wrote about Will. Reading his stories helped me to see how broken Shamus’ spirit was until we adopted him. Losing Shamus left me with such emptiness, but the words of Tom Ryan and his stories of “Following Atticus,” and the additional of “Will” helped ease my pain.
I still have days where losing Shamey-Pooh torment me. The emptiness I feel during those times is impossible to describe. When Shadow hears my sniffles or sees my tears, he rushes over to place a paw on me and to lick my tears away. This week, Shadow has heard me cry many, many times while reading the deterioration of Sweet Will, his inability to stand for long and the weakness in his body. As for his heart and soul, Sweet Will never lost it. If anything, he grew into a younger, feistier little fellow with expressive eyes, opened wide, ready to melt the heart of anyone he met. Yes, the body aged and was quickly giving out, but his spirit kept fighting.

Reading the compelling, touching words of Tom Ryan and his love for Sweet Will forced me to think about Shamus all over again, only this time, I recognized the guilt I had from allowing Shamey-Pooh to die with dignity while we held him was the right and dignified way to allow him to go. I did not want Shamus to ‘die on a table while bleeding out,’ nor did I wish him to suffer like my dad suffered a few weeks before his death. I wanted to sing to Shamus since he always loved to hear me singing.
One thing I have learned about the dying process is those who live deserve to die with dignity. While it is true, we allow animals to be euthanized when their life is almost over; we do not do the same with people. I believe we should. For two years, I watched my dad daily battling esophageal cancer. Gone was the privilege for him to walk, without a walker…Gone was his ability to eat, without regurgitating his food…Gone was his independence. At first, he was determined to continue living; however, the longer he fought, the angrier he became. At one point while visiting him in the nursing home, he shouted to me, “Just let me go. Go on. Get out of here…Leave me be!”

I visited my dad daily, unless I was sick. I did not want him to die alone. I refused to give up on him; however, on July 6, 1999 as he was dying, I remained strong when the nurses said they could bring him back. “Let him go,” I whispered through tears. “He wants to die with dignity.”

Today my heart aches for Tom Ryan and Atticus, while recognizing Sweet Will was allowed to leave on his own terms, just like my dad and my precious Shamus. Although he could not speak to Tom Ryan, Will’s tired, aching body was telling him that his life would end soon, and so this week, although he struggled to get up, he braced his legs and pranced around until collapsing. He was determined to smell the scent of the endless supply of aromatic flowers his fans sent to him. Sweet Will found happiness amongst scented flowers and music and when he left this world, he was surrounded by the therapeutic vibrations of music and flowers. We should all be so blessed when our life escapes us. Rest in peace, Sweet Will. May you and Shamey-Pooh prance around, making new friendships in the life beyond.

To read the inspiring, touching stories of “Following Atticus,” and “Will,” click the following link: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.com/

Short Stories

THE WAKE UP CALL


First North American Rights Only
Total Word Count –1491 words
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
E-mail: barbiepc@bellsouth.net

Arriving in Greensboro, North Carolina, I met Joan at Friendly Shopping Center. I parked the car in the first available spot and headed towards Hecht’s Department Store. Rushing across the parking lot, I waved to Joan. Stopping for only a moment, I admired the Christmas decorations. Early morning bargain hunters were anxious for the doors to open, pushing, and shoving to get to the entrance. Joan and I stepped aside letting an elderly woman in a wheel chair take our spot. Holiday sales meant nothing to me. I’d experienced the worst year in my life, watching my father melting away from the toxic poisons of esophageal cancer and chemo-radiation therapy.

“Crowds bother me,” I said to Joan. “Will I ever laugh again?”

Joan nodded. I turned my back to the street, noticing the trees decorated with bright lights. I’d almost forgotten Christmas was less than a month away.

“How are you doing?” Joan asked.

“Okay. The trees are beautiful this year.”

“Just okay, huh,” Joan said. “It’s been six months. If you need to talk, I’m here.”

Grief is an emotional I do not tolerate well. Normally a boisterous woman, full of laughter and fun, especially at the holidays, my present demeanor was a weakened shell of a woman, bursting into tears at the slightest gesture, especially when someone struggled to move in a wheel chair, or a walker. Too many memories surfaced and I crumbled like a child. I missed my dad more than words could express. My actions revealed how despondent I was, and I truly hated myself for being such a weakling.

When the doors opened, I looked over my shoulder. Something caught my eye. An object was lying in the road. Someone probably dropped a jacket I thought as I moved closer.

“Joan,” I said. “I’ll meet you in ladies wear.”

I didn’t hear Joan answer me. By now, there were hundreds of shoppers pushing and shoving into Hecht’s.
Striding towards the road, I recognized the item by the curb wasn’t a jacket, but an elderly gentleman.
“He must be drunk,” I mumbled, moving closer to him. What if he’s dead? I dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.

My mind rewound, stopping at the memories and heartache of July, 1999. That humid Tuesday evening in South Carolina, I was late arriving at Sandpiper Convalescent Center. When I placed my hand on the door of my father’s room, a nurse intercepted me. Nurses were rushing around Dad’s bed.

“Can you get a pulse?” I heard someone say.

“His daughter is here. What should we do?”

Nurse Angie joined me at the doorway. Her eyes locked into mine.

“No, “I screamed. “No! Please God, No!”

Nurse Angie sat me down. She didn’t need to tell me what was going on. I knew the day had arrived, and although Dr. Williams told me I needed to prepare myself, I wasn’t ready to let Dad go. I still needed him in my life. For two years he’d fought and survived. For two years, we’d buried the past, building a newfound respect, love and forgiveness. He couldn’t leave me now.

Nurse Angie whispered. “He’s a DNR. Do you want us to do anything?”

The acronym for do not resuscitate rang in my ears. “I can’t override his decision. Not even if it means—.” I couldn’t finish the words. Since childhood, Dad was my helping hand. Always ready to cheer me up. He and my grandmother taught me about God and prayer. Dad was the provider who encouraged me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind. Dad was the one who glowed with pride when I sang in the choir. Dad was the one who encouraged me to reach for the stars.

“Dear God, give me strength,” I prayed. “Take care of my dad. Let him know I love him.”

A screaming horn brought me back to reality. I stared into the eyes of a driver. “Get the hell out-of-the-way,” the burgundy haired woman shrieked. “I need to turn.”

I walked over to her. She had body piercings in her eyebrow and nose. “I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” I said. “There’s a gentleman unconscious in the road. I’m not moving him until EMS gets here.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she mouthed. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Aren’t we all?”

I kneeled down, touching the elderly gentleman’s forehead, feeling beads of cold sweat. His hair was thin, salt and pepper gray. His face was weathered, hands wrinkled from years of the roadblocks and detours of life. “Dear God please. Don’t let him die. Not today.”

His hands felt like ice. His body was thin. A gray beard covered his face. He wore a gold wedding band.

Inquisitive shoppers moved closer. Removing my coat, I covered him. A young man with spiked hair removed his leather coat, bundled it into a ball, lifting the gentleman’s head.

“Does he have a pulse?” He asked.

“I didn’t check.” My lips quivered.

“It’s okay. I’m a medical student.” He checked for a pulse, nodding yes.

The gentleman coughed.

“Sir, can you tell me what day it is?”

“Saturday. And if you ask me who the President is, I’m gonna scream.”

The medical student laughed. “You’ve heard these questions a lot, huh?”

“Doctors think I’m out of my mind, but I’m not. I’ve been in the hospital a lot. I got weak crossing the road. I must’ve blacked out. Bernice wanted to get here early for the sale.”

“Where’s your wife?” I said.

“Parking the car. I had chemo this week.”

I warmed his freezing hands with mine. “Chemo,” I muttered, understanding his weakness.

Joan joined me, touching my shoulder. “You okay?”

I nodded.

“Cancer,” I said. “You go shopping. I’ll stay with him.”

“Sirens,” someone said. “They’re coming.”

The man squeezed my hand. “Don’t leave me,” he said.

“I’ll be here until we find Bernice.”

“She’s buying me some fishing tackle.”

“You must like to fish,” I said, hoping he’d remain alert. “Is there someone else we can call?”

“My grandson, Hank. His number’s in my wallet.”

The medical student found his wallet, dialed the number.

When EMS arrived, a pretty older woman joined us. She smiled at me and thanked me. “I’m Bernice. His wife. Thanks for helping him,” she said.

While sitting inside Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch, I found myself able to talk. A sudden burst of adrenalin had me chatting non-stop about Dad’s terminal illness, forgiveness and death.

“When I was little, I was hit by a car. My Grammy said I was spared for a reason,” I said to Joan, sipping a steaming French vanilla coffee. “Until today, I never understood what she meant. I couldn’t leave that man in the road.”

“You really have a way with old people,” she said.

I laughed. “Thanks to cancer. I’ve never told you this, but my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. Until Dad got sick, I couldn’t forgive them.”

I looked around the crowded restaurant. “Life is so short. So unfair. I’ve always taken life a bit too seriously… Now, I try to find the rainbows… I’ve started praying every night. That’s something I didn’t do for many years. I was racing on an endless spinning wheel.” I paused.

“Dad’s illness was a wake up call. His faith taught me to step out of that rat race and reach out to others. Two days before he died, I visited him like I always did. I didn’t want him to die without me there. On July 4th he was sitting in his rocking chair, reading the Bible. When he saw me arrive, he raised his voice, asking me what I was doing there. I thought he was angry, so I only stayed a few minutes. I didn’t visit the next day. Now that he’s gone, I realized he was detaching. He knew his days on earth were numbered. Maybe God spoke to him.”

“You were remarkable,” Joan said. The daily visits, the letters you wrote to his family and friends every month. The care you gave him. He was blessed.”

“I was blessed. People come into our lives for a purpose, and God brought Dad back into my life, forcing me to wake up. Rebuilding that relationship gave me the courage I need to live the rest of my life and to make a few changes. Just when we think the door has closed, God opens a window. What more can I ask for?”

My cell phone rang. The medical student shared an updated report about the gentleman in the road. He was stable. Bernice was by his side.

The experience of stopping to help a total stranger during that holiday season opened my eyes and heart to our purpose in life. Each life has a reason for existence. My grandmother always told me to look for rainbows when life gives us detours. As a child, I didn’t understand her wisdom. Now, older and much wiser, I appreciated her words.

When life brings rain, look for the rainbow. Grammy’s wisdom about God, along with my dad’s, was instilled forever inside my heart.

-30-

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a talented, award-winning writer of screenplays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, and numerous articles for regional and trade publications. She began her writing career as a child, publishing a science fiction story during third grade in Atlanta, Georgia. Her areas of writing expertise include fiction, non-fiction, articles, plays and screenplays. In 2001, she published a complex memoir based on her father’s battle with esophageal cancer. The non-fiction memoir is titled, “Condition of Limbo.”

As a writer of accomplishment, she works diligently to achieve her goals as a professional screenwriter and playwright. She was selected as a finalist in the teleplay category with her screenplay, the Commish…The Signature Rapist. Additional screenplays were selected as finalist for the Chesterfield Writers’ Film Project and the Goldie Film Awards, Fade In competition, The Writers Network, and America’s Best, The Writers Foundation. In February 2004, she was awarded the Grand Goldie Film Award for her screenplay, Not My Papa.

Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a member of The Society of Professional Journalists and North Carolina Writers Network. SIn her spare time, she likes to kick off her shoes, and relax on the beaches of South Carolina. Writing is her passion.

Free Writing

TODAY IS — HEART DAY…


Dearest Readers:

Today, according to my headline is “Heart Day.” Perhaps you are a bit curious as to why I say today is Heart Day. Allow me to explain. The morning of February 4, 1998 I awoke, dreading the day. My dad was at Roper Hospital on the 5th floor, fighting desperately and oh so weakly, for his life. Esophageal cancer was trying to take his life. On February 2, of the same year, my husband was rushed to Roper Hospital with suspected heart problems. After a cardiac catheterization procedure, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-catheterization/basics/definition/prc-20023050 the cardiologist recommended heart surgery since four of Phil’s arteries were blocked. If my memory is correct, two of the blockages were at 90% or higher. I have to admit, my memory is a bit lacking where the statistics and medical diagnosis during this stressful time. Two of the most significant men in my life were now fighting for their lives.

On the morning of February 4, I remember driving to the hospital, arriving extremely early so I could kiss my dad good morning, and be with my husband during the prepping time for his surgery. What I did…who I was with…discussions…etc…etc… are a cloud of fog inside my brain, but I do remember praying, and I do remember going to the chapel — alone — so I could talk with God…say a prayer and light a candle.

All throughout the day I had friends drop by to see how I was doing. When they wheeled Phil to surgery, I remember walking along the gurney, holding his hand. I forced myself to be strong. “Don’t you dare cry…” I kept saying quietly to myself. “You have to be strong!” I did not have my immediate family with me. My son was out-of-town. Additional family members lived in Georgia, so I could not expect them to be with me. Besides, everything happened so fast. On February 2, I got a phone call at work, from ‘Karen at the doctor’s office.’ Funny, I thought. Why is Karen phoning me when Dad is in the hospital now. When I answered the phone, I discovered Karen was my husband’s doctor’s nurse. She was calling to tell me Phil was rushed to Roper Hospital. “This can’t be happening,” I whispered. “Both of my guys are at the same hospital. This must be a nightmare.”

There was a black cloud hanging over me!

On the date of February 4, as I kissed Phil bye, I wiped a tear from his face. I confess…I’ve never seen this man cry, until that day. I entered the cardiac waiting area. I asked someone where I could get a cup of coffee, recognizing I needed additional caffeine to get me thru this date. I was told we could not bring coffee, drinks of any kind, or snacks into the waiting area. Yes, it was a new, beautiful waiting room, but I ask — have you EVER sat in a waiting room, alone at the moment, without caffeine???

A few minutes passed. A friend joined me. Later, there were more friends…many…so many that if I listed all of them, I am certain I would leave someone out, and I would never want to seem ungrateful.

As the hours ticked away, I continued closing my eyes for a moment, to silently pray. I do remember one prayer. “Please God…I have two of the dearest men in my life fighting for their lives now. Please…God…give us all more time to be together. Please.”

I made a promise to myself. I had total faith that Phil would survive this day, and I intended to make this day — the Fourth of February, a special day for us to remember…February 4 will be our Heart Day.

For many years, I kept that promise, but like all things in life, the demands of life have a way of making us forget. This morning when I awoke I found myself contemplating — February 4…What is it about February 4 that continues to echo in my mind. I stopped for one brief moment, remembering that we lost our precious little Maltese on the 4th of January. Could that be the reason February 4 keeps ringing in my ears and brain?

On the way to get my nails done, the date of February 4 finally clicked! Today is Heart Day! I confess, its been years since I’ve bought a card, or wished Phil a Happy Heart Day, but today was a new day and I promised myself that this date would not slip by without a card, or some silly memento of the occasion. After all, not everyone gets a Heart Day!

Yes, Readers, you might call me silly, or a romantic…or someone who is so unpredictable that she would strive to make the most of something, especially a special day. I confess, I am definitely — silly, romantic, and unpredictable! Today is the 16th anniversary of my husband’s heart surgery. SIXTEEN YEARS! Still, his heart is going…even when he gets in his PTSD rages and I have doubts that he DOES HAVE A HEART. Nevertheless, today is Phil’s Heart Day.

Sitting on top of his computer in a bag is a silly little stuffed animal with a heart and “You Fill My Heart” inscribed. Yes, it’s silly, but what the heck. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Shouldn’t we all take the time to stop…for just one moment to cherish those important moments in our lives? Phil and I did not have a wedding, so getting married wasn’t exactly a precious moment. We’ve lived together for such a long time now that it is hard to remember exactly how L-O-N-G we’ve been married. I say I’ve been married ALL OF MY LIFE because in many ways it is true. I married three months after high school graduation. In all reality, I never had a life until I got married…so it’s no wonder I say, “I’ve been married ALL OF MY LIFE!”

So, for those most significant moments in our lives, we must cherish and strive to appreciate these precious moments, such as ‘Phil’s Heart Day.’

After his heart surgery, I was happy to know that Phil does have a heart. You have to get to know Phil to understand why I say that! Let’s just say, someone who has been to a war zone and saw the horrid things that happen in a combat zone, only helps to almost destroy the person who has seen the emotional scars of war. Phil suffers with PTSD. Yes, he has good days and bad days…but today is Phil’s Heart Day!

Sixteen years of heart surgery…Let’s continue hoping and praying for the best!

Happy Heart Day!

Family, Fostering, Losing Weight

To a New Year, New Beginnings, Goals and Promises – Learning to Move On


Dearest Readers:

My last post, Saturday, January 4, 2014 was written with a broken heart after we lost our precious Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. To say it has been a stressful, depressing and an almost unbearable week is an understatement. I have caught myself bursting into tears as the sea of grief rushes over me once again. Nevertheless, after losing many loved ones, friends, and family members, I recognize that life continues. Just because we have lost someone so special does not cause our lives to stop. We awaken in the morning. Demands of life still need attention. We still must pick up the pieces and “Move On!”

I must say, I am a bit proud of myself and how I have dealt with the grief and emptiness that Little Miss Shasta Daisy left. Shasta lost the remainder of her eye sight last year. I am convinced she counted the steps to where the water bowls were, along with the pillow she loved to rest on. This pillow is located next to my desk. Daily, she curled her tiny body by the pillow, and when she was thirsty, never did she whine for me to carry her to the water bowl. She was a feisty and most independent little girl. She loved doing things her way! Today, her pillow and blankie rest by my desk. I haven’t found the courage to wash her pillow or the blankie. Our newest little boy, a Maltese, named Toby Keith has adopted the spot, pillow and blankie as his comfort zone. Funny. Never did he claim this territory as his until Monday of this week. We were blessed to be the foster parent of Toby in early December after Shasta became weaker and weaker. As I’ve written before, Shasta’s seizures became more violent in December. Christmas Day was her worst. The amazing thing about Shasta is after a seizure, after Phil and I decided we should consult with our vet once again about her, Shasta chose to prove to us that she was still our little energizer bunny. Mornings after she suffered a seizure, she would go outside to potty and to walk around the back yard, as if to say, “See…I’m OK!”

We did not call the vet. I am convinced that little Miss Shasta Daisy chose to leave us on her terms — after she was certain we would be ok. Maybe she and Toby communicated, and maybe Toby convinced her that all would be OK. I am convinced animals communicate, to us, and to each other.

So, while it is a New Year and we had to build new goals, promises and beginnings, I am learning to move on. Yes, I miss Shasta, and I certainly miss my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus; although, our home is filled with the love of our precious four-legged children. Together, we strive to make each day a new and good day. Yes, at times, I am sad, but I am learning to work through the grief. After all, life continues.

Today was my first day back at Weight Watchers after the holidays. Let’s just say, during the holidays I was a most naughty girl. Just before Christmas, I broke the plateau and I was so proud to accomplish that goal. Attending parties, I found myself craving Christmas cookies. I asked Phil to get us a few Christmas cookies and when he brought them home, I continued to eat and eat those blasted temptations until I was furious with myself. Then, I decided to do a bit of Christmas baking. My mistake! Going back to Weight Watchers, I hopped on the scales — gaining four pounds. I missed the next meeting — intentionally, and I continued to binge. No matter what I said to myself, I could not stop eating desserts.

“It’s the holidays,” people said. “Enjoy yourself.”

Thanks so much for your encouragement! Then I realized, I was the one out of control. After all, no one was forcing these delicacies on me, but myself! Naughty…NAUGHTY — OH SO NAUGHTY GIRL!

Now, my scales were reading a 10 pound gain. I was ready to jump off the bridge I was so angry with myself. I had a serious talk with myself and hopped back on the treadmill. After all, if my life was spinning out of control and I was gaining weight, shouldn’t I jump on a treadmill to stop this craziness?

Today was a good day. I am proud to say, the scales showed a loss of two pounds. Yes, even when life is spinning out of control and I am depressed from watching my precious friend Shasta fading away…even when I felt my life was losing its balance, I am happy to say, I have rejuvenated myself…after many tears and discussions at my special window. Today, I am moving on with life, goals, dreams and promises made to myself. Today is a new day. A new beginning. I have started the new year with a two pound loss! Thank you, Weight Watchers! This holiday season taught me something special. I have always been described as a strong, independent and opinionated woman. Yep. That is me. However, when a craving enters my brain, I become weak. Because of the weight gain, I have discovered that I must get back in control. I have lost 36 pounds, thanks to Weight Watchers. How many inches have I lost? I haven’t a clue, but my body is changing, along with my attitude about food. I must remember to be strong, independent and eat healthy. Yes, there will be times when I am tempted. At parties…dances…and other special events… Now, I must remember, I hold the key. I have the strength. I have the courage. After all, no one is spoon feeding me. When temptations occur, I will think twice! And then, I will think again…and AGAIN!

Rest in peace, Little Miss Shasta Daisy Shampagne. You were such a blessing to rescue and to become such an amazing loving part of our family. Watching you and the determination you had taught me that life must go on and with each day, we must continue to make the most of each day…Just like you did, precious Shasta!

Losing Weight

No More Christmas Cookies for This Chick At Christmas Time…No…no…NO!!!


Dearest Readers:

Yesterday was my D-day. D=DREADED! Yesterday, after missing three weeks from my Weight Watchers meeting, I dressed and told myself it was time to face the music. No, I wasn’t singing. The music I had to face was the dreaded, almost morbid type of organ sound…Dum…Dum…Dum Dum. You can probably imagine the tune. Definitely not a happy one.

“Just how many times have you eaten those stupid Christmas cookies, Barbie?” I asked myself. And — “Why didn’t you just say NO!” Duh. I had no idea. Yes, I kept hearing, “But it’s Christmas. You really should try these cookies. It’s the holidays!”

And so, I suppose you KNOW what I did. I confess. I ate the cookies. “Only one,” I said. Laugh. LAUGH. L A U G H! I kept going back. I simply could not say no, nor could I stop. The cookies were so beautiful. They tasted so moist and delicious. I remembered the years I baked cookies for Christmas and I was proud that I did not bake them this year, nor did I do my infamous chocolate pretzels. Why? Simple. I knew I did not have the willpower to ‘just say No!’

Arriving at Weight Watchers, I stripped my shoes off. I considered removing a Christmas vest, but kept it on. It was time. Time. TIME to FACE the music, the dreaded and sad organ type that shouts, DUM. DUM. DUM. DUM. Hopping on the scales I confessed, I knew I had gained weight. I was bad. A totally bad girl. I didn’t say no. I simply kept eating those beautiful, addictive Christmas cookies.

“How much?” I asked the leader. She wouldn’t say. Somehow I knew it was bad. According to my scales last week, I had gained seven pounds. This week, I had dropped about three, or so I thought.

The leader handed my weight card back to me. I glanced at it. “Four pounds. It’s just four pounds. I thought it was more.”

Furious with myself, I strolled back to my seat and shared the news. “Four pounds. I am so mad at myself.”

“It’s ok. It’s the holidays.”

I sat down, gulping down a large sip of coffee. “Thank God I am back,” I said, to myself. “If I quit, I know what will happen to me. One week it will be four pounds. The next week, three pounds, and on and on until I cannot fit into my clothes. Thank God I gave those old clothes to Goodwill, and thank God I found the courage to come back to Weight Watchers. I will never procrastinate about my meetings again and when I feel the urge to eat a cookie, I will recognize that there are times I am addicted to food too. I must also recognize that when people encourage to ‘eat just a bite…it won’t hurt you…’ they are pushing foods and TEMPTATIONS to me.

I must be strong. I must have the courage to say NO!

I will not have another Weight Watchers meeting until January 2, 2014. Keep reading, my readers, friends, family and fans. I will be happy to report a weight loss on that date. You just wait!

Meanwhile, to all of you, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I am sad to report my husband lost an uncle a few days ago, so added to our busy schedule is to attend his funeral and to visit with his family. The holidays are such a sad time when a death occurs, but one thing this teaches all of us is that life is precious, and just because the holidays are upon us, it doesn’t mean that there will not be death, sadness, divorce, pain, illness and so many disappointments as we live life. This reality teaches me how precious life is. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. If he was still with us, he would be 99-years-old. I lost my dad on July 6, 1999. Words cannot express how much I miss him. However, I feel his presence inside of me every day and I can still hear his precious, encouraging words he shared with me as he battled esophageal cancer. He would walk me to the door of his room at the nursing home, when he could. He planted a kiss on my cheek and said, “Make it a good day. Live for the moment, and move forward with life, don’t look back!”

My dad was a wise man who looked for the good in life. When life gave him difficulties, he still smiled and strived to find the good in life, not the bad. Merry Christmas to everyone.

If you read my blog regularly, stay tuned for a report on January 2, 2014. I keep telling myself, “I can do this…!” There will be a weight loss! You just stay tuned. I will not reach for another Christmas cookie. I will run from the Cookie Monster!

Holidays

What is Christmas?


Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Free Writing, Holidays

Reflections At Christmas Time


Christmas   Is…

 Dearest Readers:

Yes, it is the Christmas season. A time to give thanks and be appreciative for all that we are, and all that we have. A time to celebrate the birth of CHRIST…a time to recognize that IF we did not have the ‘birth of Christ’ as the reason for the season, we would not be celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons for this editorial. I cannot tell you how many times I hear good wishes, such as “Happy Holidays.” My response is a quick, “Merry Christmas to you too.” On one occasion while shopping, the employee look stunned at me when I said, “Merry Christmas.”

“We can’t say that,” she replied. “We can only say Happy Holidays.”

“But…this is America. The land of the free. We can express anything here in America.”

She looked down at the floor. “We can only say “Happy Holidays.”

I recall when I worked in the retail sales industry and we were told it was better to say “Happy Holidays,” than to express “Merry Christmas,” after all, we did not want to offend anyone. The philosophy at the department store was that Happy Holidays covered all of the holidays. Still, I expressed, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” covering both. I didn’t care that I might offend someone. If they were shopping for the holidays, then I wished them a Merry Christmas.

I remembered my grandmother and how furious she got when she read “Merry Xmas.” “That isn’t Christmas,” she expressed. “They’re leaving Christ out of Christmas.” As a child I didn’t fully understand what she was saying. Now older and wiser, I do understand and I make certain I write Christmas, not Xmas. I will not leave Christ out of Christmas.

I do not believe that I am the most religious person in the world, but I do believe in Christ and I believe I am a Christian. I do my best to be a good person, and to treat others as I wish to be treated. Of course, I am human, and at times, I am just a bit opinionated, as you will read in this epistle! Yes, I am a feminist and an advocate against domestic abuse of all types. I look for the good in everyone and I believe that everyone in life has a purpose; however, I believe that when we make mistakes, we must admit them, apologize and rise above the controversy or pain we caused to others. Everyone deserves a second chance. We must make the most of every day and live life to its fullest. I attempt to treat everyone as an equal and I do not understand that IF America is the land of the free, where we can express our words freely, then we should be able to keep Christ in Christmas, and by saying Merry Christmas, there should not be any offense to anyone.

Let’s consider Christmas:

C Christmas, a time to Celebrate and to share our love with others. Most of all, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. A time for change and growth within our lives.

HHope. Something our entire world needs now more than ever. Hope for the future. Hope for peace.

R Reflection. A time to reflect on who we are, where we are going, and what we are doing in our daily lives.

IIntegrity. Everyone needs to strive to have more integrity for ourselves, and for others.

SSalvation.

TTime. We need to share more of our time, especially quality time with our loved ones. We need to make time to shut down the technology and to share quality time without interruptions.

M – Making the most of each day while recognizing that life is short and we should appreciate those who are important in our lives.

AAdoration. Appreciation.

S – Simplicity.

Last year, during the Christmas holidays, I was sick. Dreadfully ill with acute bronchitis. My body lacked energy. Every breath was a struggle. My oxygen level was ‘less than 85,’ and I was told to get plenty of rest. Resting was not a problem. Throughout the day, I rested in bed, watching Lifetime and Hallmark channel Christmas movies until I could almost recite the dialogue of each movie. When the phone rang, I ignored it. I told my friends to simply let me rest. I suppose it is easy to say I basically shut the world away as I drank coffee, took my pills, coughed my head off, struggled to breathe and to rest. I was miserable. My precious schnauzers could not understand why they were tucked inside the gated community of the breakfast room while I sauntered ever so slowly towards the bedroom. Housework was ignored. My stove actually got so dusty I could write my initials on it. My Christmas holidays were a time of reflection. For weeks I wondered IF I would ever get well. What did I learn during this time?

Life is precious. It is to be cherished with those we love and we should make the most of every day we live. After all, we never know when the wheels of life may turn and we never know when Father Time may start ticking away. Last Christmas, I didn’t shop, at all! My life and health was in a fog, so I learned that Christmas should not be a time to rush around. It is a time to reflect and to appreciate.

Christmas time is a great time to change our lives. To celebrate and appreciate our loved ones, freedom and the belief and faith we have.

So many of us get wrapped up in the hustle, bustle of the holiday season. We rush to get to the next social event. We rush to get our families prepared for the holidays, and we rush to complete our shopping. Maybe we should slow down and appreciate life.

How many times have you seen the actions of someone during the Christmas season? The rushing in traffic. The rudeness of others? Yesterday, a driver that was behind me in a torrential rain storm decided I wasn’t going fast enough in the center lane. He drove so close to me that If I had to slam on my brakes, he would’ve rear ended me. I tapped my breaks lightly, to give him the message to back off. Instead, he swiftly changed lanes, cut me off, then tapped his break. Yes, he sent me a message and I hope wherever he was headed in the rain storm, I do hope and pray he made it without causing an accident.

It is my perception that we should slow down and appreciate life, especially during the Christmas rush season. Perhaps while shopping, we could stop and smile at someone. How many times have you noticed someone with a frown on their face? Maybe if you said hello to that person it might change their perspective. Have you ever visited a nursing home at the holidays? There are so many people there who never have a visitor and during the Christmas season they do not receive mail, phone calls, or visits. These residents deserve to have a happy holiday season. I have added a few to my Christmas letter list and I enclose a Christmas card with the letter. My hope is to put a smile on someone’s face during the holidays. After all, Christmas is the reason for the season.

My Christmas wish for all of you reading this is one of simplicity. May you appreciate your family and friends while taking the time to realize Christmas is a time to share your love to others and to man kind. May you never get so busy with the demands of your life that you forget to smile and say hello. May you not over indulge with the spirits of the season, the foods, and the gift giving that you forget the true meaning of Christmas. May you stop for a moment, inhale, exhale and say, “Merry Christmas” with a smile on your face.

Merry Christmas to all, and may God bless us – EVERYONE!

Little things mean a lot, especially at Christmas.