PARENT TO PARENT…CARE GIVING IN AMERICA


IMG_0620_editedHolidays of 1997

During the holidays of 1997, my life was extremely busy until a shocking reality forced me to readjust my schedule, to make time for a new, unsuspecting emergency when my father needed me the most, during his illness.  I was stepping into a new chapter of my life, green and naive of the responsibilities I would endure.  The roles of life were reversing, and before the Christmas holidays of 1997 ended, I learned about new duties while serving as the primary caregiver to my beloved, headstrong, and courageous father, Walter W. Perkins.
On December 9, I sat alone at the hospital waiting for the results of an endoscopy, feeling confident my dad would be okay.  I flipped the pages of a magazine while waiting for the test results.  When his doctor approached, I realized from his body language and the look in his eyes he did not have good news to report.  When he whispered esophageal cancer, I screamed. Standing in the corridor of Roper Hospital, my entire body shook. This cannot be true. It must be a mistake. My dad is a tower of strength. Nothing gets him down. Nothing!
Later, I regained my composure, while the hurtful words of cancer echoed in my head.  How could this be?  I pondered the diagnosis.  Dad would need chemotherapy and radiation.  I did not know if he would agree to the treatments, realizing that if he found the courage to fight such a dreadful cancer, he would become dreadfully sick.  According to the doctors, chemotherapy could help, or because it was so toxic and potent, it could kill him.
The prognosis was not a positive forecast.  The oncologist estimated that he could live possibly six months; nevertheless, he was not able to retain food now and was malnourished.  He needed a feeding tube, to pump nutrition into his stomach.  If he did not respond and maintain food soon, he would probably be dead within two weeks from malnourishment.

My heart palpitated as I realized my role model, mentor and advisor of life was terminally ill with a dreadful disease, and I was helpless to stop it.  My father was my guiding light of life, always strong and healthy.  Now, he would fight the battle of his life, and I did not doubt that I would be by his side for the duration of his illness.  Our roles in life were reversing, only this time, I would become the caregiver to my devoted, charming, and loving 82-year old father.

I was not sure I was ready for this challenge, but I knew I would not allow him to fight the disease without me.  Although I failed to understand the correct definition of a primary caregiver, I would learn, and change my lifestyle schedule to be by his side.  Realizing the nightmarish roller coaster ride I was on was a wake-up call I hope never to experience again.

I was a proud, energetic, fulfilled woman of the baby boomer generation, the generation designated to babies born during the years of 1946-1964.  I was involved in a demanding career, relieved that my son was grown and living on his own, planning to get married soon.  Now, it was time for me to do what I wanted to do until I realized my father would need me now, more than he needed anyone in his lifetime.  I was the parent to my parent.

LIFE WAS SPINNING, OUT OF CONTROL
I accepted the challenge, never understanding how the cycles of life were spinning uncontrollably while I slowly stepped into the dreadful middle age years, stepping into a new chapter of my life as a caregiver.
Americans of the baby boomer generation are aging.  Approximately one of four American households are involved in some form of caregiving.  The number of primary care providers is diminishing because many family members live far away or cannot become involved. They work. They have careers. Demands. No time is left for cancer and caregiving.  Where does this leave the elderly?  Who will feed them, dress them, and provide for their needs and companionship?  Who will see that their medical, financial, and personal needs are met?

In America, hospital and long-term care is skyrocketing.  Medicare will not cover the needs sufficiently.  Only a small amount of American families can afford private nursing home care or long-term medical care.  Approximately 36% of primary caregivers are over the age of 65.  As the baby boomers reach senior citizen status, the elderly population is projected to increase significantly and will require physical, emotional, assisted living and special needs.  Although the majority of caregivers are usually women, many of these women must juggle a full-time job and children still living at home, while managing the care of an elderly parent.  These demands can lead to physical ailments, including depression or burn out.
I was under the impression that Medicare would take care of the medical needs of my father, along with the elderly.  I was sadly mistaken.  Medicare would not pay for his prescriptions unless he was hospitalized; and if he needed long-term care, Medicare would only cover twenty days.  Fighting for his life, Dad worried about the bills, along with how he would afford the expense of cancer.  He was encouraged to file for Medicaid.
While the toxic brown bag of chemotherapy dripped into my father’s thinning veins, I realized I had to take charge of his life, at least for now.  Although I did not feel emotionally strong enough to endure the horrors of filing for Medicaid, I knew I had to become his voice, his nurse, and advocate.

I made an appointment to file for Medicaid. The process to file is a three-hour process where the social worker asks questions dating back to my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents. Since my parents were divorced, I had to find the divorce papers and other documents proving that my father was not a wealthy man.

 

LIFE WAS SPINNING LIKE A WHIRLPOOL
I adjusted my schedule, missing weeks of work, along with months of sleep.  When I visited him, I smiled while struggling to camouflage my emotions.  Dad was so weak and nauseated from the chemotherapy, he failed to notice, and I was thankful.  I wore myself out physically, almost to the point of exhaustion.  My emotional life was spinning out of control, trapped in a whirlpool I could not escape.

Returning to work after a nine-day absence, I had a meeting. During the meeting, I fell asleep, so exhausted I could not find the strength to work. I prayed for God to give me strength to survive.

To my surprise, I found an inner strength within myself, focusing on my father’s medical, financial, and physical needs.  We developed a closer relationship, and although we never discussed how it felt for him to suffer a terminal disease, I still remember his poignant words to me during one hospital visit.  He reached for my hand, whispering, he said, “You know, Barbara, cancer is not contagious.”
Tears filled my eyes as I turned my head away so he could not see me crying.  “I know, Dad.”  I kissed him on the lips, telling him I loved him.  I was proud to be his caregiver, and I was thankful he had confidence in me.

Emotions were pouring out of me so I rushed to the arboretum at Roper Hospital. Opening the door, I discovered no one was around. I sat down, wiping the gushing ocean of tears from my face. I rushed to the balcony. Opening the doorway, I closed it and started screaming. At first, just a whimper of screams. Listening to the traffic along Calhoun Street, I realized no one could hear me, so I let the fears, tears, and heartache of Dad’s illness escape. Afterwards, I realized I felt better.

PRIMARY CAREGIVER SUGGESTIONS
If you serve as a primary caregiver, be good to yourself.  Find time to be alone, while juggling the demands of caregiving, even if it means you must close the door for a bit of privacy for only a few minutes.  Make the most of your days, especially while caring for your loved one.  Take charge of your life.  Do not feed the doubts, or listen to the negative aspects of your new lifestyle change.  Repeat to yourself that you are taking life one day at a time, and make the most of every day, even if it is a dark and dreary day.  Be thankful for your blessings and the days that you and your loved are sharing.
Learn to speak up and fight for your rights, and the rights of the terminally ill, or elderly person you are caring for.  Watch for signs of depression, in yourself and your loved one.  Some of the symptoms of depression include: inability to sleep, inability to concentrate, and a mind that constantly races, especially at night, sometimes referred to as circular thinking, lack of appetite, irrational behavior, crying, or irritability.  I was in denial of my emotions, unable to see the warning signs.

DYING WITH DIGNITY
While serving as a primary caregiver, encourage your loved one to be strong, to fight for life, and to be courageous.  Let the person you care for make some of the decisions.  Most of all, open your heart, your mind, and share your love.  Never leave your loved one without a touch of affection and the simple words I love you, because you may not have tomorrow to express those affections.  Discover the rights of the elderly.  And when the time comes, allow your loved one to die with dignity, if that is his or her wish.
Search on the Internet for caregiving issues, publications, and become an advocate about elderly care.  I found numerous websites, and I read them passionately late at night, when I could not sleep.  Stand up for your rights, trust your instincts, and support your loved one’s wishes.  Make the most of every day, without making excuses for mistakes you make, appointments you must cancel, or demands you can no longer meet.  Become familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act, and do not allow others, especially co-workers or a boss, to intimidate you.

After I missed so many days of work, my boss met with me, wanting to know why I wasn’t dedicating myself to work anymore. Suddenly it seemed I was not efficient at my job and I appeared not to be dedicated to working so many hours, including weekends. I cannot give my all right now, I said. My priorities are my family, not my job.

One month later, I resigned, taking another job with ‘flexible’ hours and compassion for my situation.
Walter W. Perkins died on July 6, 1999, and although I am no longer a caregiver, I still consider myself an advocate for elderly care, especially where the rights of residents of nursing homes are concerned.

During the many nights I failed to sleep, I wrote CONDITION OF LIMBO,” a memoir based on the stressful experience of serving as a caregiver, and the lack of assistance for terminal illnesses. Published in 2001, the book discusses many of the issues my father and I experienced while he desired to die with dignity.

NO ISN’T AN OPTION

During Dad’s illness, I never took no for an answer, and I learned everything I could about Medicare, Medicaid and the rights of the elderly.  I wanted to be the voice my father could not be because he was so gravely ill and frail.  I have no regrets, and I am proud to say my father was my top priority in life, during his illness, and residency in a nursing home.  Although he died while I was walking into his room for my daily visit, I know that he knew I loved him, and I was devoted to him.  He was my life, and now he is my shining star.  A few days before he died, he reminded me to make the most of every day of my life, and I still strive to live life to its fullest, remembering his wisdom, his love, along with the passions he held for others.

LIFE AS A CAREGIVER

You, as a caregiver, or a baby boomer, could be the next family member to walk into a nursing home or a hospital, while your loved one is dying.  Live for the moment, hoping to see the sunrise and sunset of a new tomorrow.  Never forget to share your love and special times with the terminally ill or elderly.

After the death of my father, I fell apart.  As I dug my way out of the darkness of despair, I realized I was lost in a world of depression, unable to confront my emotional well being.  It was my darkest moment.  I managed to join a grief therapy session, while I learned to accept his death.

WAKE-UP CALL

Watching my father battle the debilitating disease of esophageal cancer, as he struggled to maintain his dignity, gave me a wake-up call I will never forget.  Now, I make the time to search for flowers, rainbows, birds and butterflies  and I enjoy the little things in life while enjoying life’s effervescent sunrises and sunsets.

PROUD TO SERVE

Be proud to be a caregiver, while serving as a parent to your parent, and never look back!  Life is too short to be trapped into a spider web of despair and regrets.  We must remember to make the best out of a problematic situation, feeding the decisive moments, while forgetting the negative and hopeless feelings we as caregivers experience.  We must educate ourselves about caregiving.  We must trust our instincts, and know that what we are doing is not a sacrifice, but an act of unconditional love while we learn to adjust and place our needs aside.  We are sharing and teaching, and growing into the citizens and family members that we need and desire to be.  We must stand up, not only for our rights but also for the rights of those who we love during their hour of need.  With the support of our families, friends and other caregivers, we are building memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.
May God bless caregivers, the family members, and loved ones we care for; and may we as caregivers continue to find ways to improve the lives of the ones we love and want to remember — one day at a time!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Condition-Limbo-Barbie-Perkins-Cooper/dp/1588511774

 

Chattahoochee Child – Excerpt


Dearest Readers:

Posting a bit of the story I’ve had dancing inside my heart and soul for many years. Too many years to mention. Yesterday, I realized I have to let go and write this. I hope you enjoy.

 

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the theatre to see “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE.” Based on the song, “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE,” recorded by Mercy Me in 1999, I remembered when I first heard this song and how the lyrics affected me. My dad passed away in July, 1999. I was in such a severe depression after losing him, I prayed to die, realizing I was being selfish. I still had life to live. People to care for and love. Visiting with my doctor, she asked if I was suicidal. I laughed, realizing she knew me better than I knew myself.
How can a song affect someone so passionately? Writing this question out, I recognized I failed to have an answer. Kneeling at my special window, I looked up into the Heavens and prayed, only this time, my prayer was different. I asked God to help me live and to learn to forgive.
My mother and I were alienated since 1988. After my high school class reunion, I discovered my mother told our little boy his mother was a whore and a drunk. The morning after the reunion, little Michael David rushed to me asking me what was a whore. “I know what a drunk is since Grandpa in Charleston is a drunk, but I’ve never heard the word whore. What is it, Mommy?”

I scooped his tiny body into my arms and bear hugged him. “Mommy is not a whore. A whore is someone who goes out with other men and sleeps in the bed with them. I’m not a whore, Michael David.”

“Granny called you a whore. But you only sleep in the bed with my daddy, Mommy.”

“It’s not a nice name and it’s a word you should not speak again, at least until you’re grown.”

“Why would she call you that word?”

“Granny doesn’t love Mommy the way you and Daddy love me. That’s a good question, and I will ask her in a minute. You go back to sleep.” I kissed Michael on the cheek, tucking him in with his father. I slipped on my robe, walking toward my mother’s room.

I knocked three times. She opened her eyes. “Why did you call me a whore?” I shouted.

“I did no such a thing.”

“Yes, you did.” Michael stood next to me. “You said my mommy was a whore and a drunk.”

The argument continued for an hour. Garrett awoke to the shouting. Recognizing this conversation would be an eternal shouting match of two stubborn women who butted heads all the time, he said we were leaving. I grabbed our luggage and stormed out of the house, refusing to look back.

I cried an endless ocean of tears from Columbus, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. Michael David apologized for starting the argument. I responded that he was not the problem. My life as a child of the Chattahoochee, the daughter of a woman who could not show love at all, was the problem. The only solution was to build my life with my family, Garrett, and Michael.

In 1988, I realized home is where the heart is. My heart was in Charleston, not Bibb City, or the Chattahoochee. My life in Charleston was filled with suburban roots, and a solid brick foundation, not a detour route of housing projects, mill villages, shouting matches and nothing to refer to as home. The windows to my world reflected love, pride, and ambition. I pinched myself to bring myself back to reality. I did not wish to remember the annoying disconnections I shared with my mother, nor did I want to walk in her footsteps.

I lost my mother on September 11, 2002. She died a ‘questionable death,’ after battling to survive a stroke. Since that time, I’ve discovered she choked to death by inhaling nuts. My mother was allergic to nuts. Her body was paralyzed on the right side. How she was able to inhale nuts and choke to death is a question I need answering. When my sister phoned me telling me of her passing, the one question she repeated to me was: Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?

Interesting question I failed to understand since I was ill with acute bronchial asthma at the time and failed to comprehend what my sister was asking.

Do you think they’ll do an autopsy? Interesting question…

I can only imagine!DSC_0061
 

Weight Watchers Is Not a Diet – It’s A Community of People…


Dearest Readers:

This will probably be a short posting about something we learned at the Weight Watchers meeting Thursday, March 8, 2017. Two of my closest friends in Charleston are Tammy and Sara. Neither were at the meeting on Thursday…Just me, my shadow and other friends I’ve met thru Weight Watchers. Tammy moved to Florida a few months ago. How I miss her. Sara is out of town. We are keeping in touch and I need to send Tammy a text – something we do lately on Thursdays.

On Thursday, I lost .06 pounds. I’ll take it, I said – finally happy to be losing again. I hit plateaus that seem to last FOREVER. My goal was to lose 15 pounds by my class reunion in May. Since I lose so slowly, I do not believe I’ll achieve that goal, so now, I’m saying I’d love to lose five pounds by May. I’m hopeful the dress I bought two years ago will fit. I’ll let you know about that goal IF I wear it to the reunion. More on that – Later!

Looking around our meeting room at Weight Watchers I realized I joined this amazing group of ladies, and a few men, seven years ago. Back then, I wanted to achieve my ‘goal weight’ that year. Believe me, I’m still struggling to achieve that goal weight — WHATEVER the goal weight is for me. No one has mentioned I should weigh this ___, or I should weigh that ___! I realized it is up to me, and maybe my doctor, to select my goal weight; nevertheless, If (and WHEN) I reach that number, I will weigh less than I weighed in high school. I confess, during the four years of high school, I attended six high schools!  No, I wasn’t the kind of student to be kicked out of school. Changing high schools so many times was simply because my parents moved us as a family, and when I was 15, my parents separated and divorced, so we moved to Columbus, GA – to a mill village.

Needless to say, my teenage life was a life filled with stress, the inability to make friends, and many unpredictable situations I’ve written about on this blog. Fortunately, I graduated from high school and now, I’m happy to have a fulfilled life in Charleston, SC.

As mentioned, losing weight is not an easy task for me. Now, I’m back to working out and using the Freestyle of Weight Watchers.

During our meeting on Thursday, someone mentioned that Weight Watchers IS NOT A DIET…IT’S A COMMUNITY! How interesting and true that statement is. We have ladies (and a few men) wanting to lose weight. One special lady has been ‘lifetime since she was 17!’ She’s had many setbacks, but to look at her now, she is beautiful, slim and such an inspiration, especially to me. Other women have fought and struggled many times. Just like ME! Nevertheless, all of these Weight Watchers admitted they could not lose weight alone. They had to attend meetings! They had to face the scale once weekly, and they had to keep attending meetings. So like me! A beautiful lady sitting next to me stated she had her son’s wedding coming up so she understood my goal of ‘knocking ’em dead.’

I must confess, in high school I was a wallflower. My parents were divorcing. We lived with our maternal grandparents in a two-bedroom mill village house – with one bathroom. No washer, or dryer. No air conditioning. Simply a TINY house of brick and mortar. I did not make many friends in high school, nor did I date high school guys! Why would I? If I did, we as a family would pack up and move again. We lived like gypsies. Never having a home that would build me into the woman I am today. When I go back to my ‘home town’ I do not have any roots to remember. NOTHING. I thank God I survived and didn’t end up as a child with many problems. I credit that reality to my stubbornness, determination and independence and attending church regularly!

The one indiscretion I did have, and still have is the hunger for food. My grandmother made the most fluffy and delicious homemade biscuits ever. They seemed to just melt in my mouth and each time she made them, I ate my share. After my husband’s heart surgery in 1998, I changed the way I cooked, learning to cook healthier. Fortunately, I never learned to make Grandma’s homemade biscuits. Each time I tried, my husband called them hockey pucks. I do believe his description is correct!

My friends still ask me, “Are you STILL doing Weight Watchers?”

Yes. I’m still doing Weight Watchers and when I reach Lifetime, I will continue attending the meetings on each Thursday. I remind myself: This I do for ME! Nothing interrupts my Thursday meetings. I will miss my meeting when we go to my class reunion, but the next week I’ll get back on that scale again, still seeking “Lifetime!”

After all – for me, Weight Watchers IS A COMMUNITY. A community of encouraging women (and a few men) — haven’t I said that before? Even if we, as a community, have only five, 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 pounds to lose, together we can do this. I have anchors I use to remind me to continue. One of my anchors is a poem I repeat daily:

“It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit,” and I say: “This too shall pass,” whenever I gain. I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I am not successful, and I keep reminding myself that Weight Watchers is what I do for me. No one else. No, I’m not working out daily and doing my best to lose weight for my husband, family, or shame. I am doing this for me. I look in the mirror daily. I wear makeup – DAILY. I style my hair – DAILY and now, I do my best to be accountable and to accept whenever I gain, or lose only “.06 of a pound.” A loss is a loss, I tell myself. Together, as a community WE can do this!

After all, Weight Watchers IS my life now! Next Thursday, I’ll be at the meetings. And the next….and the NEXT….continuing my journey to lose my weight, and to look the best that I can look at the class reunion and beyond!

Yes, I’m vain. I want to look the best I can look – for eternity and ‘beyond!’DSC_0061

 

THE ROLE OF A WRITER


 

A writer’s life is a life filled with intrigue, creativity, influence, and curiosity. Writers are famous for being temperamental and are typecast as being extremely difficult to live with, especially when the virus of writer’s block threatens the train of thought. Some writers are college graduates; some are simply graduates of the hard roads of life, or the school of hard knocks.

To qualify for this invigorating, somewhat excruciating lifestyle, a person needs to have the will and determination to accept rejections, the perseverance to try again, and the strength to survive whenever the chips are down.

The writer must be able to express him or herself in a manner that is confident and easily understood. A writer is a communicator. He needs to feel comfortable sharing human experiences. He must be expressive and able to let others share his pain, or his joy. Knowledge of the English language, sentence structures, composition, and how to organize thoughts in a comprehensive order is imperative. The writer must pay close attention to details, characterizations, and life. He has the ability to express what others can only feel, with a passion and sensitivity that can touch hearts and change lives.

Many writers share a knowledge and intense hunger for deep feelings and an endless curiosity about the world and the people that surround it. Writers are creative, dramatic, and resourceful. They understand words and the power behind those words. Writers have a never-ending hunger for life.

Overall, the writer is a person who is determined to explore and create. He is most happy when the words flow without a struggle. He is committed and establishes goals for himself. Some of those goals seem impossible to reach, but when they are reached, the rewards are worth the struggles and pain of rejection.

 

 

***

Merry Christmas, 2017


Dearest Readers:

Today, December 24, 2017 is Christmas Eve. Today is also the anniversary of two of our dearest Friends, Joan and Jim Adams. May your anniversary be as special to them as they are to us.

If you are out and about in the middle of the insane Christmas rush, please DO NOT TAILGATE. I had too many careless drivers almost attached to the bumper of my car this week. So close, I could not see their headlights. Of course, if I had to stop suddenly all of you know what would happen. I simply do not understand drivers who love to drive that close.

Please, if you are driving, do not text and drive. Do not mess with your phone if you are driving. One never knows what can happen in the blink of an eye, or taking your eyes off of your driving.

May all of you have a safe and happy Christmas season. Yes, I say Christmas because Christmas is the holiday. The birth of the Christ child.  The ONLY reason for the season.

Enjoy your time with family and friends and please make every day special. We never know how long we will be here, so please do not take careless and foolish chances with your life or someone else’s life. Life is too short to rush it away.

May all of you have a wonderful Happy Christmas. I am hopeful 2018 will be a calmer, happier year for this household. Less drama. The years of 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been so stressful to me I have to remind myself to INHALE…EXHALE…BREATHE. INHALE…HOLD FOR EIGHT SECONDS…EXHALE…HOLD FOR EIGHT SECONDS…BREATHE.

At times, practicing the art of relaxation works. Other times, I want to scream. I simply must learn to relax again. After all, life is too short.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and Happy 2018. Another year is quickly ticking away.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Walter Perkins – My Dad


Dearest Readers:

On December 19, 1914, two identical twins were born in Michigan. Lewis Eugene and Walter W. Perkins. Never did I have the honor to know Uncle Lewis. He died at 26-years-of-age from Bright’s Disease. I believe it is an inflammation of the kidneys. After his death, my father reportedly changed to a sad, miserable man. He and his identical twin were inseparable until Uncle Lewis died.

I lost my dad to esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999. I confess, a part of my heart died on that day. My dad and I were bonded. During his terminal illness, I visited him daily at the convalescent center and hospital, unless I was sick with my episodes of bronchial asthma.

Today, I would like to wish my dad and Uncle Lewis an early happy birthday in Heaven. No doubt, tomorrow will be a sad day for me; nevertheless, I will focus on the memories we made. Singing together. Teaching me to harmonize. Sharing my poems and other stories with him, and hearing him say on WCSC Channel 5 during an interview, “No. I’m not the writer. My daughter, Barbara, now she’s the writer!” My heart melted when I heard him say that. Finally, he was proud of me!

Our life together during my childhood wasn’t a good one. From the age of five-years-old, until I was 15, I served as the referee between my mother and my dad. Their marriage was a volatile marriage, filled with “I hate you…How I wish you were dead…I wish to God I’d never married you… You’re nothing but a bastard!” From both parties the hatred poured from their lips like steaming hot volcano ashes rolling vibrantly onto the grounds. Poisons. Poisons from lips without love or any form of happiness. During my childhood, I believe their angers, hatreds and tumultuous physical battles were protected within our home. I do not believe my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends of the family knew about the dreadful, dangerous domestic battles my parents fought. Secrets. Protected, never to be shared, until now. I knew not to say anything. If I did, my mother would come after me, slapping, knocking and pulling my hair out. If I wanted to live, my lips must remain closed.

Finally, at fifteen, I stood between them for the last time, telling them one of you needs to leave this marriage and this house. You’ve always hated each other… The next day, my father packed up and left. My mother spat at me telling me she hoped I was happy now. Their marriage was over and it was all my fault.

I rushed into my room. Never confronting her. Never calling my dad. I pondered my heartache inside while praying I would see my dad once again, and I would sing with him again. He visited us after the divorce. He rushed to hug me, something he never did until the bitter divorce. Gone were the shouting and fighting matches. My father had finally found out he was a ‘better man,’ as for my mother — her poisonous tongue spilled hatred to me every time she could. Shouting matches. Slapping my face. Pulling my hair until clumps of my hair fell into her hands. Never did I share these shattered, horrifying days with anyone.  I was taught to be seen, but not heard. How I detested whenever we visited family members. I was told to “say hello. Give a hug and keep your damned mouth shut.”

And so, I did!

To escape the misery of my teenage years, I married at 17. After moving to Charleston, Dad and I became much closer. When he was 68, in 1982, we moved him to Charleston to be closer to a family member. I delighted in caring for him and visiting him in his apartment until 1988 when I had to find a job to save my home and family. My job was demanding, working 40 hours plus, including weekends.

In 1997, during the holidays, Dad became ill. In December, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He chose to battle the debilitating cancer until his death in July, 1999. During that time, we made wonderful memories. I changed jobs, so I could spend more time with Dad. I watched the wonderful, happy man he became and I loved him even more than he, or anyone, could imagine.

The week before his death, he sat in his room at the nursing home, reading his Bible, praying for God to ‘take me home.’ He was spiteful with me. Almost cruel, according to his roommate, Mr. Dudley. Dad would move his hands, telling me to leave his room. Although it hurt, I swallowed my pride and listened to him doing his best to detach from me. He did not want me around when he died.

On July 6, 1999, as I walked towards his room, I met a nurse, pushing an oxygen tank. “Oh no,” I managed to say, “that isn’t a good sign.” She nodded and when she and I placed our hands on the door of Dad’s room, I knew the moment of his passing had arrived.

I screamed. Cried. Hysterically, I sat in a chair, across from Dad’s room and I listened. The nurse wanted to know if I wanted them to ‘bring him back.’ I said No. He’s a DNR. Please do not resuscitate him. Let him go. He was praying to die soon.

Nineteen years ago, according to birthdays, my father celebrated his birthday now as an identical twin. No doubt, he and Uncle Lewis have caught up and replenished their lost years. I can picture them singing in the Heavenly choirs, inseparable and happy together.

Today, I would like to celebrate Walter and Lewis Perkins, better known as the Perkins Twins a wonderful Happy Birthday. Now, 103 years-of-age December 19 will be a joyous celebration in Heaven. I can hear my dad singing harmony with Uncle Lewis, probably singing Amazing Grace together while celebrating their reunion and Christmas.

As for me, I will be busy wrapping Christmas packages and maybe going out to get more Christmas goodies for our pups and for Phil. I always keep myself extra busy on December 19. While I am happy for my father to be reunited with Uncle Lewis and with God, I miss him.

IMG_6059
Angel Oak Tree, a gorgeous tree embracing Johns Island, SC

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to the Perkins Twins. Oh, Dad — how I miss you!

In memory of:

THE PERKINS TWINS

Lewis and Walter – Identical Twins

Separated by death at age 26;

Reunited with God’s love at 84.

Holding the gates to Heaven’s Door.

 Missing and Loving you both —

Walter’s Daughter – Barbara

 

 

Surviving Hurricanes


Dearest Readers:

We survived the wrath of a potential Hurricane Irma. I say potential since she dropped down to a tropical storm when she visited Charleston, SC.

We watched The Weather Channel. I must compliment them on their coverage and I am so thankful we survived. We lost power for less than two hours. Amazing. I would like to thank South Carolina Electric & Gas [SCEIMG_5582G] for that!

My sister and her family who live in a rural, beautiful country area miles from Atlanta, Georgia lost their power and did not get it back until 6:30 last night! I sent them a text congratulating them on joining civilization again! There’s nothing like flipping the light switch and seeing a light come on instantly! Of course, there’s nothing more comforting and cooling than air conditioning! And, who likes cold baths? I do. I learned to like them after 14 days without power after Hurricane Hugo.

Originally, we planned to leave Charleston on Monday morning since the hurricane wasn’t anticipated until Tuesday. I booked a hotel reservation for Monday – Wednesday in Georgia. Only miles from the home of my family. Was I ever thankful we cancelled that reservation on Saturday! The silly Irma did more damage there with electricity than she did here. Whoever thought hurricanes would hit the inlands? I did. I remember Hurricane Hugo and how she tore into Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. Hurricanes aren’t just for the coastal areas after all!

Today, I was able to return to my Weight Watchers meeting. “I’m checking in,” I said. “But I’m not weighing in today!”

The leader of our meeting, Kathy, simply laughed and shook her head. She probably knew I was only one of the members who would not weigh in today.

Why?

I have no excuse, with exception of a hurricane…fast food – when it was available…junk food… I asked my husband to go to the grocery store once, to get us something to eat. Rule number two of a hurricane [I’ll let you imagine what rule number one is]. Do not send your husband to a grocery store for hurricane foods.

What did he bring home?

Here’s only a brief list:

Blueberry muffins

Bread (we had two loaves sitting on the counter)

Boars Head meats

Cheese

Ice cream

Aren’t we under a hurricane warning? Just what do we do when the power goes out?

“Eat melted ice cream,” I said.

So much for Weight Watchers.

Today, I’ve promised to get myself back on track. Much to my surprise, when I checked e-tools on my iPhone, I discovered I have been super negligent with tracking! Checking back to December, 2016, I discovered I haven’t tracked much at all. I must improve that! Just how can a girl lose weight IF she is negligent?

Today is a new day. The sun is shining beautifully. It is warm, but not too humid. Tomorrow I will work in the yard, picking up the debris of sticks, tree and shrub branches and I shall rake everything into one pile.

Since my dogs LOVE to play with sticks, maybe I can get them to help me collect my debris and place it in my utility cart.

On second thought – maybe not! They love to jump into the piles and chew sticks. I don’t imagine that would be a good idea for their digestive system.

At least tomorrow I’ll get LOTS of exercise tracking with my Fitbit.

Tomorrow is a new day. I’m so thankful we survived!

And now, IF I can find my motivation. Track what I eat, and exercise!