Sexual Assault/Molestation – My Story #MeToo


Dearest Readers:

Today I am writing about a topic close to my heart. A secret. Well, not after today’s post.

Listening to many current events, I am finding the courage to come forward about a subject, once closed. Another of those topics considered “a family matter.” Maybe I am finally finding the courage to share these experiences now since the issue is in the news. If you follow current events, I’m certain you’ve heard the accusations regarding Harvey Weinstein. Allegations of molestation…Rape…Sexual assault. And on…and on.

Many of these stories I haven’t read thoroughly. I get angry, and then, I have dreams, actually nightmares. Nightmares I want to toss into the trash, or delete from a keyboard. It is a bit difficult to delete these tragic events from one’s mind, so for many, many years I kept quiet. Never mentioning my sexual assaults.

Last night, I awoke, talking in my sleep. While I do not recall the entire “nightmare” I heard my voice saying “Stop it! Don’t touch me. Let me go! Stop it. STOP IT!”

When I was fifteen-years-old, I was sexually molested. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My parents were in the middle of a bitter, volatile divorce. My mother would tell me to “Never trust a man. They only want you for one reason, and when they’re through with you, they’ll toss you away like yesterday’s trash. That’s just what your daddy is doing to me. Throwing me away. I hate him, and I hate you. See what you’ve done. Your daddy wouldn’t divorce me now if you left us alone. I hate you and Him!”

Yes. It’s true. I caused my parents to divorce, after separating both of them while in a tumultuous fight. Arriving home from school, I heard shouting. My bedroom was across from their room. Leaving my bedroom door open, I listened to them shouting words of hatred to each other. The fight continued for a while, then – silence. I knocked on their door. No one responded, so I opened the door.

My mother was gasping for breath. Her face was blue. My father had his back turned, then he threw a pile of mail at my mother.

“What’s going on?” I said. “I heard the fighting.”

It wasn’t the first time my parents fought. I had served as their referee since I was five-years-old. My mother stumbled to a chair.

I picked up the mail, noticing “Past Due and Final Request” stamped on some of the bills.

“She’s gone and spent money again. Money I don’t have. There’s a letter from an attorney. If I don’t pay these bills, my wages will be garnished.”

I wasn’t surprised. My mother could not handle finances and when she wanted something, she purchased rings, and other items on credit cards.

Suddenly my mother rose from the chair, heading in his direction. She balled her fist, shaking it while cursing him. Dad rushed to her, hitting her. She fell. I rushed to her aid, shouting at my father, telling him he needed to stop hitting her. If he wanted to hit someone, he could hit me. I’ve seen my father’s anger many times, but today was the worst.

I stood between them, hands extended like a referee. “Don’t touch my mother again. If you keep doing this, one of you will kill the other one. Then, you’ll be in jail. One of you needs to leave.”

The next afternoon, I came home from school excited to share I had the lead in a musical. When I walked inside the house, my mother was scantily dressed in a torn, thin gown. Her hair was messy and her eyes were filled with hatred and rage.

She jumped towards me.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she shouted. “You stupid girl. Your daddy’s left and it’s all your fault. He’s divorcing me. You can consider him dead now!”

Three days later, we moved in with our grandparents in Bibb City, the mill village of Columbus, Georgia.

One of my great uncles took a liking to me, always telling me I was pretty and sweet. He invited me to ride with him on his dry cleaning deliveries. He said we’d have a ‘good time.’

Little did I know what his definition of ‘a good time’ really meant.

It was early springtime when I rode with him. He packed a variety of Tom’s snacks and Nehi orange soda for us to enjoy on this warm Saturday. Driving along, he talked about Papa and fishing and music. He knew I loved music. He played musical instruments so he invited me to sing with him at his house.

“You’ll love the music we play,” he said. “Good ole gospel music.”

“I like jazz,” I said, sipping my drink.

Carefully, I watched the directions of his driving. I’ve always been one to look for landmarks on the road. Little did I know how smart this little game of landmarks would become. We rode around to Smith’s Station, Alabama. According to roadmaps, Smith’s Station was exactly ten miles from Columbus, Georgia.

My uncle made a right turn on a dirt road. I glanced around, looking for homes, or maybe a farm. All I saw were dusty, red clay fields and another dirt road. He made another right onto another dirt road. I glanced behind me, noticing the dust from the roads created a thick, red fog.

“There aren’t any homes around here. Where are we going?”

My uncle smiled a devious smile. He reached his right arm over to me. “Come here,” He said. “You need to sit closer to me.”

I did not move. He thrust his arm my way, pulling me to him. My body tightened.

The interior of his truck was dusty. Freshly cleaned clothing hung on one side of the truck, covered with plastic and delivery orders attached. Still, I could see the red fog, now so thick I wasn’t certain anyone could see us.

“Where are we going?”

My uncle grinned. “Just relax. We’re going to pick blackberries.”

All I could see was a dirt road. The fields were freshly planted. I doubted blackberries were ready to pick. Something frightened me.

My uncle turned right again, pulling into a thick pile of brush and leaves. Tall pine trees grew in a line, so tall I felt I could reach the clouds if I climbed them. I wasn’t a tree climber. My uncle parked the truck, turning the motor off.

He laughed a horrifying, wicked laughter I did not like to hear. He pulled me closer to him.

“Stop it,” I said. I don’t want to get close to you.”

“Don’t you miss your daddy?” He asked. “Your mama said you cry for him. Come closer to me. I can be your daddy.”

“No,” I shouted, knowing no one would ever hear me. We were in the middle of a deserted field of red clay and pine trees.

“I want to get to know you better.”

“There are no blackberries around here. You lied to me.”

I remember crying. I was so horrified. Just what was my great uncle planning to do with me?

“I wanna go home,” I said, wiping my tears.

“And I want to know you better. You’re such a pretty girl. Your mama knows how pretty you are. She said I should be closer to you since your daddy left.”

His hands gripped my legs hard, moving up my thigh. He moved his right hand to my chest. I pushed away, but he was strong. Now, he was moving his entire body towards me, getting on top of me.

I screamed again, only I knew no one would hear. If I had any chance to get away from this monster great uncle, I had to fight for myself.

Since I was only 15-years-old and did not have any brothers, I had no idea how to fight, but I did all I could. My mother had never discussed sex with me, or what a girl could do to fight back. My arms were hard to move since he was on top of me. I heard the sound of a zipper, realizing my shorts were loser now. His hands rushed all over my body, moving into my genitals. I bit his arm. He pulled away for only a moment. My right arm was free now, so I moved my hands in the direction of his crotch. I had no idea what I should do, but I remember grabbing his crotch and I squeezed as hard as I could.

He screamed in pain. His body went limp. I pushed him away and I grabbed the door. Rushing outside, I ran as hard as I could. I knew the way home. I could walk. Smith Station and Columbus were only ten miles away. I was suddenly thankful I had strong legs and could walk the distance. The dirt road was almost an open field, so I could not find a place to hide. In the distance, I heard his truck. He was coming after me.

Raised in the Assembly of God Church, my grandmother had taught me to pray. Tears streaming down my face, I ran. When I saw his truck, I darted into a dry field with trees. Just maybe he could not drive his truck into the trees.

“Please, God. Help me. I don’t know what he wants to do with me, but I don’t like it. Please, God. HELP ME!”

My uncle saw me. He stopped the truck, opened the driver’s door and got out.

“You need to come back. We’ve got to pick blackberries.”

“You’re a liar,” I shouted. “I’m not getting back in the truck.”

He laughed. “Just how do you plan to get back home?”

“Walking,” I shouted as loud as I could scream. “I know the way.”

He rushed towards me. I noticed he was moving slower. Just maybe I had hurt him a little bit. Good. He deserves to hurt.

He moved closer to me, and when he did, I kicked him as hard as I could, right between his legs. He fell to the ground. I ran.

“Please God, guide me home. And please don’t let him catch me.”

A bit later, I heard the truck. My uncle gunned the engine, catching me. I looked behind me. The truck was getting so close I panicked, remembering when I was hit by a car at nine-years-old. I stepped to the side of the road. My uncle stopped the truck.

He was holding one of his hands by his crotch, and he moaned as if he was in pain.

“You get in this truck. I’ll take you home.”

“I’m walking,” I said.

My uncle jumped out of the car, picked me up and opened the passenger door. Kicking and screaming, I remember fighting as hard as I could to get free. He threw me in the seat.

“Don’t you move!” He said. “I’m taking you home.”

“I don’t want to be with you. I don’t like you anymore.”

“You just sit still. We’ll be back to your house before you know it.” He drove off, driving as fast as he could.

“If you tell one person I touched you, you’ll be sorry.” He said. “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Tears were pouring down my face, and I tried to speak but my words were only garbled. Inhaling, exhaling, and slowly breathing, I calmed myself down, managing to speak.

“If you move one finger over here towards me, you’ll be sorry,” I said. “I know what to do now, and I’ll do it again if I have to. After today, don’t you even speak to me again. I hate you!”

Arriving home, I rushed to my bedroom. My mother asked why I was home so early. I ignored her.

I gathered some clothes and I rushed to the bathroom. I wanted to get the red dust off of myself. Scrubbing my body hard with Ivory soap, I cried and cried until there were no more tears left.

My great uncle came to the house a few days later. When I saw his truck, I rushed away.

Still, to this day, I can still hear his words, “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Maybe now, someone will. I was victim at fifteen-years-old. Never did I report his sexual molestations of me. Why? Simple. Back in those days, who would believe a fifteen-year-old? They would say, You were asking for it. You wore shorts and T-shirt and you have a nice chest. You were just asking for it.

No, I wasn’t. In the dark of night while sleeping I still hear his words echoing to me.

“I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

When he died, my mother phoned me, encouraging me to come to his funeral. I remember saying to her, “He can rot in Hell for all I care. He molested me.” That was the first time I shared his attack with anyone.

Regardless who or what a man is, there is no excuse for anyone to molest, rape or sexually assault any child or woman. Even if he is – a deacon in the church.

Now, people are under the impression a woman should always come forward; however, unless you are a victim, you cannot understand why it is so difficult and painful to “come forward.” It takes courage.

Victims are made to feel dirty, cheap, with a lack of self-esteem. I’ll not share how many years it was before I came forward and shared my story about my great uncle. When I did, I was told he had a history of ‘liking young girls.’

Looks like he got away with what he did, at least with me, after all – He was a deacon in the church.DSC_0032_edited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I A “Racist???


Yesterday, I received a news alert about Melania Trump being a ‘racist’ from a librarian. Seems Melania Trump is a racist for donating Dr. Seuss’ books???

Duh? Am I missing something?

Dr. Seuss books are racist???
Let’s look up the definition for racist:
“a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”

Aren’t we hearing “racist” just a bit too much these days?

NFL players say we are racist so they kneel to protest when the National Anthem is played at the beginning of their games. All they are illustrating is their lack of respect for the United States of America.

Every time I’ve seen those images, all I’ve seen are black football players. Oops. Suppose I’ll be called a racist now.

Understand – I AM NOT A RACIST! Years ago, when the South refused to accept people OF ALL COLORS, I broke the unpublished rule at the Armed Services YMCA.

What did I do?

I was a member of the Girls Auxiliary. The YMCA held dances for the soldiers to attend. Soldiers had to pay a cover charge to come inside to the dance.  On one occasion, I danced with a black soldier.

OOOOOHHH! All I did was dance with the soldier, and it wasn’t a “Dirty Dance.” We did not groove, or grind with our bodies. He held me gracefully and we talked. That is all!

A few minutes later, the President of the Armed Services YMCA tapped me on the shoulder, asking me to ‘meet him in his office.’

Several girls noticed, along with many of the soldiers.  I admit it. I was a popular girl at the YMCA.

Entering the President’s office, he asked me to sit down. He thanked me for joining the YMCA as a girl’s auxiliary member. Then, he said: “We have standards and rules here. You broke one of the rules tonight.”

Flabbergasted, I asked: “What did I do?”

He sighed, then he dropped a bomb. “You danced with a black guy. We don’t allow that here.”

“What?” I said. “I broke the rule and danced with a black soldier? Let me get this straight. Didn’t the black soldier have to pay a cover charge to come inside tonight? You allowed him to enter, but as a girl’s auxiliary member I cannot dance with him?”

“We don’t consider it a cover charge. He, along with all soldiers, has to pay a fee to come to the dance.”

“But,” I interrupted, shaking and a bit angry. “You do not permit black girls to join the auxiliary. I was told that a few weeks ago when I inquired. Yet…You allow a soldier, a gentleman who fights for freedom, to come inside to the dance. BUT… Because of his color, he cannot dance with me and I’m supposed to say No when he asks me to dance. Is that what you’re saying?”

“We don’t think of it like that. This is the South. We do things different here.”

“But he’s a soldier. He was respectful and kind to me, and we danced. I don’t understand.”

I jumped from my chair and left his office. By the time I got to the front door, I was in tears. Several soldiers could see I was upset and they knew me, so they followed me out the door.

“What’s going on?” One of the soldiers asked. I noticed the black soldier standing with the group.

“Nothing,” I cried. “I’m okay. I’m leaving.”

The black soldier approached me. “They told you not to dance with a black soldier. Right?”

“Not exactly and I don’t wish to lie. What he said is I danced with a ‘black guy.’ I don’t think he considers you a soldier, just because you’re black.”

A few minutes later, I left, crying all the way home. I could not understand why the color of skin mattered so much to so many people. All I saw was a nice guy with a crooked smile and a pleasant manner. He was a soldier. He wanted to dance. Nothing more.

Two days later, I got a phone call from the President of the Armed Services YMCA. He apologized and wanted me to come back to the dances.

I suppose my popularity with the soldiers made an impression. Little did I know that after I left the dance that night, six soldiers demanded to meet with the President. Apparently they let him know how displeased they were and they also mentioned he was wrong to degrade me for dancing with ‘a black guy.’

I returned to the YMCA a few times after that experience and I still danced with ‘black soldiers.’

What a disgrace? HARDLY!

Since those years, I’ve stood up many times and fought back when I hear people being ‘racist.’ Let’s don’t even discuss some of the words they use, but I stand tall and let them know — color is only skin deep. What lies beneath the skin is a beautiful person with love inside. Beauty and color is only skin deep!

Now, I admit it. I detest football. I’ve seen men get so angry over a football game that they become violent. Did you know domestic violence increases during football season, especially during the Super Bowl. While I might listen to the Super Bowl since my husband likes to watch it, I have a stack of reading material ready so I can read.

This morning while I checked Facebook ever so quickly, I saw a post related to the NFL. A toll-free phone number for Anheuser Busch was posted. 1-800-342-5283, so we could share our thoughts about the infamous NFL athletes. Personally, I think all of those athletes should lose their contracts so they will recognize every act has a repercussion! Just how would they feel after losing all of the money they earn while showing their testosterone levels! As you can see, I have no respect!

It is a disgrace that our soldiers can battle wars and earn very little money, and IF they need veterans benefits after their battles, they must fight tooth and nail just to get what they deserve. Meanwhile, some testosterone overloaded guy shows how great he is at chasing and fighting over an inflated, or deflated, football, earning him millions of dollars.

Oops. But — you might call me a racist now. Believe me. I’m not a racist. I simply believe in the freedoms we have earned simply because soldiers went to Gulf Shores, AL 2008 082war zones to fight for our freedoms. Some of those soldiers did not return alive. Others, are still over there fighting to forget the wars while battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My husband is only one of them!

But – that’s another subject for another time. I am not a racist. I am an American, and I am proud to share the freedoms while standing to honor our United States flag and the National Anthem. I respect our soldiers, regardless of the color of their skin, or their gender. And whenever I see a soldier, I thank him, or her, for their service! Sometimes, I even give them a hug to welcome them home!

Here’s to the United States of America!

Why not call Anheuser Busch 1-800-342-5283 today!

 

Happy Anniversary to My Husband


Dearest Readers:

Good morning, Everyone. I hope your day is splendid. I am posting something today, not to get personal wishes. Today, I am posting just to wish my husband, Phil Cooper, Happy Anniversary. We started our marriage off with many road blocks and detours. Three months after our marriage, I watched him board a plane from Charleston to Fort Dix and then to Viet Nam. Over the years, we’ve had other storms and battles, but we have always walked tall and survived. Today, is our anniversary. I will not share how many years. Just know, I was a teenage bride. Everyone in my family said our marriage would not last. They said I must be pregnant.  His family said I married him for his money? Were both families wrong! If I was pregnant at the time of our marriage, I do believe it was the longest pregnancy in history — three years, to be exact.

Isn’t it strange how cruel and vindictive some families can be! Instead of wishing us well, they criticized. Instead of taking the time to really get to know me as a wife, his mother said I ‘stole her son.’ Stole her son??? Excuse me. IF anyone stole her son, it was the United States Army!

As you know, I am a singer. My dream in life was to become a professional singer, but I lacked the confidence that I could REALLY sing, until we started going to karaoke. Repeatedly, I have people tell me I have an amazing voice and stage presence. Many times, I blink my eyes, almost in disbelief. If only I had that confidence and encouragement in my younger years.

There is a song I sing occasionally, especially when my lady friends request it. This song holds a piece of my heart. What is the song title, you say? ‘YOU DON’T OWN ME!’

“You don’t own me. Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me. Don’t tie my down cause I’ll never stay…”

So symbolic to me! Why? I got married at a time where many women automatically took the name of their husband, and so I became: Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. ?? I remember asking myself why I must address myself as Mrs. PRC. Didn’t I STILL have a name? Whatever happened to me and my maiden name? I did not like to address myself as “Mrs. Cooper.” I wanted to have my name. My independence. Just because I got married does not mean I stopped existing! All of the letters Phil wrote to me in Viet Nam were addressed to Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. Gee. I thought I STILL had a name!

So much for my existence! Now, I address myself as Barbie Perkins-Cooper. It tickles me when others address Phil as “Mr. Perkins-Cooper!”

Maybe now he can understand how I feel! I like having my independence. Just because I married does not mean I must toss away who I am!

Today, I wish Phil and I a great anniversary. Over the years, we’ve had our share of issues. I admit, I am a most independent woman and I do not like being told what to do. What woman does? I admit, when we were newlyweds, I allowed him to dictate what to do, how to do it…How to dress…How to wear my hair…etc. ETC! In the 1980’s I finally stood up and spoke and when I did — I truly became the woman I’ve wanted to be. So

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Cypress Gardens

today, I will reminisce about our relationship, thankful we have worked so hard to keep our marriage intact. Tonight, we will celebrate at karaoke. I always say to others, “Marriage is truly a work-in-progress!’ And so, I will continue working. Happy Anniversary to Phil. I’ll not say how many years, but I will say — “We’ve been married forever!”

Your question to me on this night when I sing could be — “Will you sing “You Don’t Own Me.”

Maybe I will. And if I do, I probably have my stage performance ready! Just wait and see.

“You don’t own me….Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me…Don’t tie me down cause I’ll never stay…”

Happy Anniversary, Phil. Thank you for all you’ve done over the years to show me I am worthy and deserving of love, and thank you for sticking it out with me, especially when I fought to rediscover my independence.

Here’s To Beautiful Mornings and Sunshine…


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Dearest Readers:

At the moment, it is a beautiful morning in Charleston, SC. Believe me, the weather can change in this historical, holy city in only the blink of an eye. Take last night, for example. The roaring thunders and the flashing, horrific lightning frightened me all night long. Reportedly, forecasters predict more storms for today. How I pray the storms arrive during the day and not in the heat of the night.

Why? If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recognize how the lightning and thunder horrifies me. I give my mother the credit for those fears.

Last nights storms were no different, except they arrive in the middle of the night. My husband tells me I should wake him up when I am so frightened, but I do not. I keep telling myself this is only a storm – in the middle of the night. The lightning is not coming for you, like my mother said. It is just a storm. The rain will water the yard, my flowers and the grass. This is only a storm. This too shall pass.

I toss and turn during the storms. Last night we had three storms. I heard one, and I saw the flashing lightning at about 1:30am. The next round of lightning I heard crashing, lighting up my dark bedroom after 3:00am. The final round was about 5:15am, or so. With each storm, I tried to cover my eyes with a sleeping mask. I placed another sleeping mask over the first one. When I close my eyes, I can still see light, so I must wear these masks; nevertheless, last night, with two masks covering my eyes, I could still see the lightning. My body jumped. I gasped with fear, and then I whispered to myself: This is only a storm. Just close your eyes, turn away from the windows and go back to sleep. Throwing the covers back, I got up, walked around the house, checked on my precious pups, and saw another flash of lightning. I jumped. Never did sleep happen. According to my Fitbit, my body got four hours of sleep last night. It’s no wonder why I feel so exhausted.

When I say my nightly prayers, I suppose I should pray for God to give me strength so I can release my fear of lightning.  Yes, I pray nightly, although I still have difficulty knowing how to pray. I do not pray like I’ve heard other people pray. I call my prayers my intimate conversations with God. I feel cleansed whenever I pray…like God hears my prayers and He eases my pain. How I wish He could ease the pain of my fears of lightning. Maybe I’ll add that comment to my prayer list!

Looking out my window while writing this, I see darkness ahead. Rain is supposed to return at about 11:10am today, according to the Weather Channel app alert. How I pray we have our storms today while I vacuum and clean the house. At least during the day it is easier to cope with these torrential thunder storms.

How about you, readers? Do you have a fear about lightning? Looks like the rain is here now, at 11:03am. I hear thunder. Think I’ll turn the vacuum cleaner on and get busy, after I shut this computer down.

Below, I am posting a photograph of beautiful Angel Oaks, Johns Island, SC. When my husband left for Vietnam, I visited this tree several times before I moved back to Columbus, GA. I remember sitting on the grass, having some deep thoughts and prayers that God would bring my husband home safely to me from Vietnam. Funny thing about it, my husband returned from Vietnam, but the soldier I married is still over there. I suppose I was a bit silly to think someone could go to war and come home as the same person. That did not happen. Vietnam changed things…but that is a subject I will wait to write later, in my freewriting challenge. Looks like a storm is brewing outside, so I must shut this computer down, while praying if we have lightning I can cope better today while working in the house.

 

Angel Oaks, a historical and breathtaking tree located on Johns Island, SC. A place for inspiration and the appreciation of nature with all of her beauty!DSC_0013

On Father’s Day, 2017…


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

Dearest Readers:

Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s in the United States of America. Today is a special day, to give thanks and celebrate our fathers. From the moment we were born, most of us had a father. Maybe you have precious memories of your father, and perhaps there are some, like me, who have — shall I say — interesting, sometimes traumatic memories.

As a little girl, I looked up to my father, sometimes squealing for him to scoop me into his arms. However, at five-years-old, I saw a different side of my father, and I must say, he scared me. At the time, we were living in the projects in Atlanta, Georgia. I hated the projects! My mother loved to go outside and gossip with all of the nasty, ugly, snide women who lived in the projects. On one crisp Saturday morning, my mother was outside. Sitting by the curb, legs spread wide open, wearing a dress. I couldn’t understand why my mother always told me to keep my knees together when I sat, wearing a dress, when she didn’t practice what she preached, but I listened and I didn’t dare open my legs wide in a dress. On this morning, Mom was laughing with the women, talking about the neighbors, the fighting and the ugly gossip always shared when wicked women get together.

I was sitting on the back porch playing with my dolly when Daddy opened the back door, screaming for my mama. She ignored his call. I looked at my daddy, seeing an evil look in his eyes. He pointed his finger at me, shaking it furiously he said: “You go get your mother and tell her I want to speak with her.” He paused, and then he screamed at me, “NOW!”

“Yes Sir,” I said, placing my doll on the floor of the porch.

I ran as fast as my little legs could move. “Mama, Daddy wants you. He’s been calling for you.”

She laughed, scratched her inner thigh and looked at me. “Well, girls I guess I better jump and go to him. You all know how these men in the projects get if the little woman doesn’t obey.”

They laughed. As Mama rose, Daddy met her. He shook her shoulders. Words were expressed, but I can’t remember exactly what he said. She laughed, then thrust her arms at him. He pushed her, knocking her down on to the concrete next to the metal trash cans. Mama hit her head on the trash can and when she fell she bruised her knees.

The gossipy, wicked women rushed away.

I struggled to help my mama up. I looked at my daddy, standing tall. Anger seeping from his eyes. I put my hands on his legs and said, “Daddy move away. Mama’s coming. Don’t push her anymore. That was a mean thing to do.”

I suppose one could say, on that day, I became the referee for our family. I was the middle child, but I refused to tolerate abuse and every time I was around, watching my daddy and my mother fight so dreadfully, I remember squeezing into the middle of the fight, placing my arms out to make them move away. I would always say, “Daddy. Mama. Stop this fighting. If you want to beat someone, beat me!”

When I was fifteen, I stopped the final fight. I arrived home from school. Excited to share that I had a lead in a musical! I was so happy and proud of myself on that beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Walking inside the house, I heard shouting and I knew, another round of fights was on. I listened to the shouts, cursing and the horror. I knocked on the door, then I pushed it open. Mama was bending down, gasping for breath. Her face was blue. Daddy stood, watching her, holding a stack of mail.

“You two need to stop this,” I screamed. “Look at her. She’s having difficulty breathing. You need to stop this fighting before one of you kills the other. One of you needs to leave.”

Daddy threw the mail in my direction. “Look at this. Just look at what she did. She bought a diamond ring and didn’t tell me. Now they’re going to garnish my wages. We’ll have to file for bankruptcy. Just look at what she’s done.”

I glanced at one envelope stamped with an orange Past Due notice.

“The fighting needs to stop before one of you goes to prison,” I said.

Little did I know how things would change.

The next day, I walked home from school, trying to work things out in my head. I knew domestic abuse wasn’t healthy in a family situation. I felt helpless. I had no one to talk to. None of my relatives would understand and I was certain if I said anything to anyone, I would become the trouble maker of our family. I remember hearing people saying fighting in a marriage was “normal”… “A Family Matter…”

Opening the door to the house, my mama was sitting on the couch in tears.  She rushed at me. “This is all your fault. I hope you’re happy now. Your daddy left us today. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. I never want to hear his name again in this house and you are never allowed to talk to him, or mention his name again!”

The following Saturday, Mama moved us to Columbus, Georgia. Four children. One adult, living in a two bedroom mill village with our grandparents. To say we were crowded for space is an understatement.

I had to follow the rules:

Church on Sunday.

Wednesday night prayer meetings at church

No makeup (I broke that rule)

No rock n’ roll music, only Christian music

Go to school

Nothing more.

I hated this new life and rebelled. No, I never did drugs. Never tried alcohol. I rebelled by staying alone, taking walks, retreating to the Chattahoochee River. At school, I became a wallflower, refusing to try out for plays, musicals, or anything interesting. I wrote to my dad, letting him know I loved him.

Never do I really remember celebrating Father’s Day for my dad as a child. As a grown up, married with a child of my own, I chose to make Father’s Day special. I bought cards for my dad. When he visited us, he was different. I actually heard him laugh, and I watched him playing with my son. Gone from his demeanor was the anger, hatred, and abuse. Never did I hear my dad say anything ugly about our mother after their divorce. He was truly a changed man. No violence. No shouting. Just a kind, and loving man filled with Laughter and Happiness within himself.

In December, 1997, my beloved father became ill with esophageal cancer. Serving as his caregiver until his death on July 6, 1999, I truly saw a beautiful person within his demeanor. On one occasion, he thanked me for what I said on the last day before my parents separated. He admired my strength to serve as the referee. To my knowledge, no one within our family circle knew about the domestic “family matters” of our family.

As a writer, I’ve written many articles about domestic abuse. How it changes a family. How it paints a vivid, horrifying picture about marriage and I vowed to myself that no one would ever abuse me. I suppose I overlooked another side of domestic abuse – the verbal abuse, and for years, my husband who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] from Vietnam, would get into rages, shouting at me. Once, he shoved me and when he did, I fought back, standing firm to him, letting him know he had to stop his rage, or I would end the marriage.

I’m proud to say, we worked those issues out, and now, we do not scream, shout or verbally fight. Our home is a happy home. Father’s Day is always special. I give thanks to God for guiding me and giving me strength.

And so, on Father’s Day, 2017, I give thanks to God for all He has given me and my family. It is my wish for all of you reading this, to please take a moment to give your father a bit of special care and love on this Father’s Day. Although I am still sick with bronchial asthma, I will find the energy to make this a most special Father’s Day, to my dad in Heaven, and to my husband while he sleeps.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the fathers!

Busy Lives…and Mother’s Day…


Dearest Readers:

Sunday, May 14, 2017 was Mother’s Day for the United States of America. Reportedly, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. I admit, my husband spoils me rotten every Mother’s Day. How I wish I could say my son does the same…but…he doesn’t. Apparently, he is ‘always busy’ and he ‘forgets it is Mother’s Day.’ My response when he calls me late in the early evening is a pleasant ‘thank you for remembering me,’ while inside I am curious IF he does the same to his wife, the mother of his teenage child.

One thing I’ve learned about grown-up children is how they choose to live and treat others when they are grown is NOT a reflection of how they were reared in their parent’s home.

Enough about that and about my son.

Since it was Mother’s Day, I requested dinner at Olive Garden Restaurant. I wanted to try their new manicotti entrée. Arriving at Olive Garden, we were told there was an hour to an hour-and-a-half wait. While I realize restaurants are swamped on Mother’s Day, I smiled pleasantly at the hostess, hoping it would not take us an hour just to get a table.

Sitting in the lobby, I watched people going in and going out. It seemed everyone had a Mother with them. Children. Grown children. Some were pushing walkers. Strollers. Rushing to get inside to a table to have a festive dinner at Olive Garden. How thankful I am that I can walk and move like I do without the assistance of a walker.

Sipping a glass of wine, I played with my phone, after punching one hour in to the timer. I was curious IF our wait would take that long. It did not.

Twenty-five minutes later, our name was called. We followed the hostess to the back of the restaurant. It was packed. Our server was a pretty woman with streaks of silver in her hair. She was serving about 20 tables. Many of the tables contained eight people or more. Across from us, I noticed an older woman. Her hair was short, kissed with snow. Her face, strained. No smile. Her eyes puffy. No reaction to anyone that looked her way. She appeared to be sitting alone. Two wine glasses were on the table. I waited a few minutes, still looking at her discreetly. I hoped someone would join her. No one did. Her entrée was served. She unfolded her napkin, placed her utensils in their proper setting. Forks on the left. Knife on the right. She picked up the fork closest to her and started eating. Still sitting alone. My heart broke. Why was this woman sitting all alone eating dinner?

After we ordered, our server returned with salad for Phil, Zuppa Toscana soup for me. My eyes glanced at the woman again. Still alone. No one to have a conversation with. No one to share Mother’s Day with. I kept wondering. If something happens to Phil in the future, will that lady be me sitting at a restaurant, all alone on Mother’s Day?

Probably! I tried to remember the last time my son and I had dinner together. Let’s just say, it was last year. His wife was not present. He and our grandson were eating at Red Lobster, and it wasn’t on Mother’s Day.

Our server returned to refresh our drinks – iced tea and water with lemon. Lots of lemon! I motioned for her to come closer.

“That table with the lady sitting alone, is she your table?”

“Yes.”

“Looking all over this area, she is the only woman sitting by herself on Mother’s Day. So sad.”

Phil looked at me, knowing me so well he could tell something was brewing inside my mind.

“Phil. Please don’t look now, but the woman is all alone. I think we should do something. We should pick up her tab.”

I was curious. Maybe she had family, and maybe her family lived away…or, maybe her family was ‘too busy’ like my son. Some people are so selfish.

Phil glanced at the woman. He approached her table, wishing her Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked him. A moment later, she wiped her eyes. What a sad Mother’s Day.

Our server rushed around the dining room, caring for her guests. I held up my finger. She approached us. “Since that lady is all alone, we want to pick up her tab. Can you arrange that?”

“Certainly.”

Our entrees arrived. I ordered the Olive Garden Tuscan Three Meat Manicotti. Phil, of course, being a creature of habit, ordered Fettucine Alfredo with shrimp. We chatted while eating, enjoying our dinners and our time together.

A few minutes later the lady sitting alone requested her check. The server told her the dinner was complimentary. She pointed in our direction.

She gathered her things, including a doggie bag and approached us.

“Thank you,” she said. Her voice trembled. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“It’s Mother’s Day. We wanted you to feel special.”

“I have family…” Her voice broke. Quickly, she walked away. I didn’t look back at her, but I could tell from her actions, she was about to break down.

I’ve always been a considerate, generous person, especially after marrying so young and building my life as an independent woman. Fortunately, Phil usually agrees with me that we should always “pay it forward.”

Mother’s Day was no different. Regardless what or where things happen within our lives, we believe we should always do something nice every day of our lives.

After dinner, we drove home. Arriving home as a voice mail was in the recording stage on our landline. The voice sounded familiar. Rushing to let the screaming dogs outside, I heard Phil chatting on the phone. Our son was talking to his dad and he wanted to speak with me.

Mother’s Day was coming to an end. When I took the phone, I heard my son and our grandson saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” Just as I predicted!

I thanked them both for thinking of me, chatted a few minutes and hung up. Yes, their lives were ‘busy’ and so are our lives. Heck. All lives lead busy lives. We must take a moment to appreciate life and to be kind to others. Happy Mother’s Day!

As for the lady sitting alone having her Mother’s Day dinner at Olive Garden, she remained in my thoughts all evening. I ached for her, but I felt proud that we ‘paid it forward’ on Mother’s Day. After all, no mother should be alone on Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter 2017


Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

 

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My Dearest Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning To Walk Through Grief


038

Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

047

Super Bowl Sunday – Let’s Go, Atlanta Falcons!


Dearest Readers:

After all of the hatred and the refusal of so many people to accept our new President, Donald J. Trump, I have decided to leave social media sites for a while. Yes, I will probably ‘stalk’ Facebook, just to scroll down to read posts from friends; however, I do not plan to post things. This post will arrive on Facebook, after I publish it. Nothing says I have to check to see if people are reading it.

I have noticed my website is getting more traffic since the New Year. For that, I am pleased. This week has been another week of disappointment for me. While I do not watch the Today Show anymore, I do listen to GMA. I quit watching Today after the ‘reorganization’ of Today, when Ann Curry was terminated. Now, they have lost another great personality and talent – Tamron Hall. She resigned on Wednesday, I believe. I suppose Today needed more space for Megyn Kelly. Since I don’t watch Today, I do not know the politics of Today, nor do I care! Let’s face it, Corporate America does not care about its employees. Maybe Corporate America never cared. “Just work hard and don’t talk back,” is what Corporate America believes.

When I worked in Corporate America, ‘reorganizing’ was a yearly practice. Those who worked hard were released. In a ‘Right to Work’  state, I was told Corporate America can terminate employees without a reason. And, if someone stood up to voice their concerns on ‘reorganization’ issues, they were shunned. Every year those of us who worked in this environment would wonder just when will my number be up?

I am happy I no longer work in such environments. Working as a writer is so much nicer.

So much for Corporate America!

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. I plan to make homemade chili for dinner, and I will grill pimento cheese sandwiches to compliment the chili. I made my first batch of pimento cheese a few days ago, so the Super Bowl will be a time for Phil and I to watch silly boys chasing a deflated, or maybe it’s actually an inflated football being chased, grabbed and scored while these football boys pat each other on the butts, and maybe other places. Can’t help wondering just how many of these players actually prefer being so close. I pray no one gets injured. I find football a violent sport, and men (and lots of women) actually get a bit too involved with this silly game. Domestic abuse increases during Super Bowl. And why wouldn’t it? Tickets for the game are an outrageous price, and I imagine alcohol and beer sales will escalate. The game will take probably half of the afternoon and late night activities on TV during Super Bowl Day. Personally, I’d rather watch a Hallmark movie!

Who cares? It’s a game. I can only imagine the amount of money spent on football lotteries. Think I’d put my money on the Atlanta Falcons this year, but I’m not someone who bets.

Reportedly, the Atlanta Falcons will wear the initials of fallen heroes on their helmets this year. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/blog/article-1/Falcons-Paying-Tribute-to-Fallen-Heroes/70b5dff6-3d5c-48f1-8465-101df268c1e5

Isn’t it about time? These fallen heroes gave their lives for their country, so these football players could play a silly game on Super Bowl Sunday.

To strengthen the connection between the players and these families, the Falcons will be delivering special tributes throughout the week.

According to the website, “The Falcons will be hosting the families of these fallen heroes at the team’s walk-through on Saturday. Furthering their commitment to the military, the organization has also provided flag football equipment to each of the military bases in Georgia.”

As you can see, I’m really not a fan of football. I might be sitting in my chair watching it, with a stack of magazines set aside so I can read while the steroids of football kick in for these football players. Personally, I’ll be glad when Super Bowl Sunday is over. Maybe we’ll not hear anything else about football until August, 2017. Something tells me football stories will continue while the players chase the silly ball – over and over again.

When I started this freewriting episode, I had no idea what I would write. Looks like Super Bowl Sunday won the prize. At least I’ll be in the kitchen while the stories begin. Yes, the TV will be blaring, but I’ll just turn my music up and sing!

I suppose you will watch the Super Bowl too. I hope the Atlanta Falcons win. Why? Simple. I am a native of Georgia, so I must root for the State, while those silly boys chase that silly ball. Let’s not even discuss how much money they make as Super Bowl jocks.

Have a great weekend. Stay tuned. I’ll have more — next week!