Family, Mother's Day, Uncategorized

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Uncategorized

Happy Easter 2017


Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

 

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Family, Friendship, Uncategorized

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.

Family, Friendship, Uncategorized

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

Domestic Abuse, Free Writing, President Donald J. Trump, Super Bowl Sunday, Uncategorized

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!

 

 

Family, Uncategorized

In Memory of My Father On His Birthday In Heaven…


IMG_0572THE 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

Strolling in Memories Gardens

  WALTER W. PERKINS

Mr. Sandpiper, 1998

 

Born an identical twin on December 19, 1914, Walter W. Perkins will soon celebrate his 84th birthday and he is the only surviving family member left of his generation.  His identical twin brother was named Lewis.  The Perkins Family included a total of six siblings, three boys, and three girls.  Growing up as twins (Lewis and Walter) shared more than most siblings and they were inseparable — virtually impossible to tell apart.   Known as The Perkins Twins, they sang harmonically in church choirs while preaching the gospel.  They traveled to many cities, touring as The Perkins Twins and found this to be their calling in life; however, their future together, billed as The Perkins Twins, was short-lived.  Lewis became ill at the age of 26 and died suddenly.

 

Because he loves meeting people and does it so well, Dad chose the hotel industry for his profession while pursuing his dream as a writer and poet.  In the early 1960’s he wrote a poem titled, Living Words, based somewhat on Sir Winston Churchill.  Living Words was published and today is on display at the Winston Churchill Museum.  At the age of 65, Dad retired from the Rodeway Inn, Atlanta, GA.  He is divorced and the father of four daughters.  Before becoming ill, he lived at the Canterbury House in downtown Charleston and took daily strolls for relaxation.

 

Dad is a tall and proud man and he can recite poetry like a Shakespearean actor.  He is a lover of words and can paint a magnificent poetic picture while he recites the historical stories and events of times past.  An avid sports buff, he knows almost every popular football or baseball star by name, position and statistic and he can tell many interesting stories about sports, especially baseball.  If you do not care for sports, you will learn to find it an interesting fascination, just by listening to the stories Dad shares.

 

Dad has always loved the magic of words, and as a young man, he wished to make the family tradition of journal writing part of his daily activities.  He has an impressive collection of family diaries and his daily ritual includes writing the days events in his personal diary.  He started this ritual many years ago and has quite an invaluable collection of diaries.  He has researched our family genealogy, dating us back to the early 1600’s.  One impressive member of our family (distant but still very special) is the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Our heritage dates back to the Spencer Family.

 

Today, Dad still believes in rituals and he records special things in his journal of diaries.  From historical moments, to births, deaths, marriages, and yes, even the sad times, are recorded as part of the Perkins History.  Significant events are recorded in “Strolling in Memories Gardens.”

 

As a father, he instilled many beliefs in me and I am proud to call him Dad!  He taught me to look inside of a person, to see the inner beauty and not just the face or the smile.  He encouraged me to believe in myself and to always “make it a good day!”  He has lived a wonderful and proud life and I have never been more proud of him than I have during this year.  Walter W. Perkins is truly my bright and shining star, my beautiful aromatic rose, and he is the most loyal and dedicated father, family and friend I have ever known!

 

 

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

December 19, 1998

 

Introduction

by

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

 

 

As a child, I could not understand the passion my dad, Walter W. Perkins, held for the study of genealogy.  I recall thinking and saying, who cares what happened in 1492 when Columbus discovered the ocean of blue…I wasn’t here!  How innocent and non-chalant I was!  Now, as a grown woman with a life, family and history of my own, I have grown to realize how cherished our family ancestry and heritage is.  After all, without the archives of those precious lives and the history contained within, we could not begin to understand what we are, or who we are.  Without our heritage, along with the records of our ancestors, we could not begin to grow or develop ourselves into the people that we are today.  We have much to thank our ancestors and mothers, fathers and siblings for; and I am proud of them and all the stories they lived.  As I continue to dig through the mounds of paperwork and history I am sifting through, I am amazed at the stories of these people.  I thank my father, Walter W. Perkins, for collecting all this material; and I compile it with warmth in my heart, knowing that on his 84th birthday, he will know how proud I am to compile this information in an enjoyable read for the future Perkins Family Tree.  Most of all, he will finally be able to understand how proud I am to be a descendant of the Perkins Family, along with his second born daughter!

 

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

November 30, 1998

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

Weight Watchers… Building A Bridge To A New Adventure


Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS I DO FOR ME!

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

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

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Election Day, Free Writing, On My Soapbox!, Uncategorized

Social Media Regrets…


Dearest Readers:

Yesterday, after quickly surfing on Facebook, I made a decision to leave social media for a while.

‘Why?’ Friends and readers ask.

Simple. I’m so tired of the racism, bigotry, and hatred discovered while reading some of the posts. I discovered the hatred and racism during the Presidential campaign of 2016. I hoped the hatred would disappear once the election was over. It hasn’t. If anything — it has intensified.

As all of you in America know, Donald J. Trump is our President Elect. Yes, he is a hot head. Yes, he has a toxic mouth, spitting cruelties out before he realizes what he has said or implied. Did I vote for him?

I will not reveal who I voted for; however, I will say, I considered WHO was the lesser of the two evils. Hillary Clinton vs. Donald J. Trump, or is it — Donald J. Trump vs. Hillary Clinton?

I have not missed any election since I was allowed to vote at the age of 18. I am proud to vote. I take the election seriously. All elections. I review. I research and I make a pro and con list for every election. When I walk into the polls to vote, I have my homework done, and I vote. No, I do not allow others to influence me. My vote is MY decision. No one else can change my mind.

Years ago, my husband and I talked about politics. During one election [sorry, I cannot recall which one] we had a heated dispute in a restaurant. My husband did his best to intimidate me, to make me change my mind, but on Election Day, I voted – for the person of my choice, not the party. After that election, we decided it was not a good idea for a husband and wife to discuss politics. This year, we did not discuss who the best candidate was. Why? Simple. Neither candidate was ‘the best.’

I will go on record to say I think the time is now for a woman to be President; however, after all of the lies, and most especially, how Hillary Clinton broke the law by not keeping government e-mails “confidential” I lost complete respect for her. Years ago, during her husband’s presidency, women wanted her to divorce Bill Clinton. I remember saying “Hillary Clinton will not divorce Bill. She has a mission planned.”

And what a mission she planned, only to lose the election. Reportedly, on Facebook and other Internet sites, there are many reasons she lost the election. Other sites had her winning the election. In fact, there is so much material flying across the Internet; I will not even attempt to list any of these sites. To quote Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

I listened to the Benghazi hearings. When I heard her infamous statement, I turned the television off, remembering how frightened I was during my husband’s Tour of Duty in Vietnam. If I were one of the family members, her cold, uncalculated statement meant a lot. Lives were lost. Had the USA reacted, those words, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” were some of the most profound words spoken. How would Hillary Clinton feel IF those words or a similar story affected her daughter? http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/09/11/what-benghazi-attack-taught-me-about-hillary-clinton.html

After this discovery, additional lies and deceptions continued, especially how Hillary did not follow through with keeping her confidential e-mails ‘confidential.’ I will assume those of us who do live and vote in America, know about these stories. There are just too many to discuss here in this post. Hillary Clinton would not take responsibility for her actions, and that is why I did not think she is strong enough to admit her mistakes, or to serve our country as the next President Elect.

“Well, what about Trump?” You are asking.

I am aware of those accusations happening over 20 or 30 years ago. My question to all of those women who came forward is this – “Why has it taken you so long to come forward?” Isn’t it strange how those accusations occurred during the election debates? Because I respect myself, if any man said those words to me, it would not take me 20 – 30 years to come forward.

I was so tempted to write in a candidate for President. Mickey Mouse was sounding better every day.

Undoubtedly, the Election of 2016 was one of the dirtiest smear campaigns ever. It is so sad that this election happened during the time when a woman candidate attempted to make history and break the ‘glass ceiling.’ Now, with the election over I read disgusting stories and that is why I’ve decided to be quiet on Facebook for a while.

The media still reports about the protests after the Election 2016. There are over 28,000,400 sites on the Internet discussing the election. If you would like to read them, simply type ‘protests after the election 2016’ on Google. Yes, the news media is having a field day reporting the information. Now, I must ask, just how true are these sites?

The anger is horrifying. Yesterday, while reading Facebook, I read comments from someone [I shall not reveal the name – after all, “What difference at this point does it make?”] The words were chilling. Yes, the person was a ‘friend’ on Facebook, not anymore. I’ve unfriended this person, and earlier, when I checked the site, the person’s name is not listed with Facebook now. I do not know why; however, it might be related to the post listing about children will get raped now with Donald Trump as president(???) and the hatred this person felt after the election. There were so many of these types of posts it made me ashamed to be on Facebook, and to be active on social media sites.

This is America. We are proud of our country, and we are grateful and protective of our children. It is my hope and prayer that Facebook and other social media sites will get their act together to screen some of the posts listed by members who join Facebook. Hatred does not need additional feeding sites on social media sites. We can step out in America to see hatred everywhere. America was not based on hatred, although now, it appears that hatred is the fuel these people have to promote more bigotry, racism and hatred.

Some might argue – if this is done it is censorship. I think not. Facebook is a social media site. Just because you might read destructive things on this site does not mean the posts are true. They are opinions. While I do not know for certain, I imagine some of the listings on Facebook and other social media sites could be to seduce someone to click on to read, only to have a hacker inside the computer. I want to protect myself and my computer, and that is why for a while, I might jump on to Facebook, but the only way you will see my actions are when I post on my blog. For me, I am taking a sabbatical from social media…to rest…regroup, and recognize I need to find inspiration and motivation to write again!

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caregiving, Uncategorized

Dearest Caregiver…Becoming the Parent to A Parent…


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

Reflections At Christmas Time


Christmas   Is…

 Dearest Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s consider Christmas:

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

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

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

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

SSalvation.

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

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

AAdoration. Appreciation.

S – Simplicity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little things mean a lot, especially at Christmas.