Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer


Dearest Readers:

Brace Yourselves, Readers. Yes. I admit it. Barbie Perkins-Cooper is stepping gently on her soap box once again, only this time with compassion, heartache and opinions that all of my regular readers {and those who know me personally} have been curious as to WHEN I would write about the subject at hand. It is true. I’ve been described as “an intense woman…opinionated and head-strong.” Yes, indeed, that is me — only Julia Sugarbaker style! Not a Southern Belle!

I’ve been quiet for a bit too long now due to the circumstances and issues steaming within our country, The United States of America. First, we have the quarantine with the Corona Virus, Covid-19. Now, after staying inside for much too long, tempers are flaring. People are angry. Angrier than I’ve seen them in a long time! Anger brews hatred.

After Memorial Day, 2020, I watched the video of George Floyd of Minnesota and the four police officers. I’m certain you’ve seen it too. Reportedly, the police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Are we certain? Are there videos of the situation during the entire conflict? I saw one video where Floyd was handcuffed – hands behind his back like police officers do during the arresting process. I ask all of you — just WHEN did Mr. Floyd end up on the ground? Were his hands still handcuffed? I don’t believe I’ve seen any video indicating that while the police officer was holding his neck down with his knee Floyd was still handcuffed? When did he hit the ground?

Another question I have is this — why didn’t the three white police officers with the other officer stop this process? They had to know placing a knee on someone’s neck could result in severe injuries, choking or death. I don’t need a medical degree to have common sense.

Here’s another question I have. Yes, I’m full of them and ready to share a few. I will go on record again at this moment to say I am not a racist. Yes, I grew up in the Deep South of Georgia, but I have not, nor shall I ever be – racist.

To those who were recording the videos, I thank you; nevertheless, I cannot understand why someone didn’t approach one of the police officers to ask them not to hurt him, but to arrest him! Believe me, had I been there in Minneapolis, I would’ve walked over to the police officers and ask them to please stop. He’s handcuffed. What harm can he do now?

As a young girl, I lived in a mill village. One Saturday morning while I shopped with my grandmother, I saw two water fountains. One had a sign reading Colored People.

I walked over to it. My grammy called me to come back but I was curious! I wanted to know if the water fountains were different and if it was a colored fountain, why was it the same color as the other one?

Grammy placed her finger on her lips. She whispered, “Sh-hh, child. That’s for colored people. They’re not the same as us.”

“But the woman who cleans the homes in the village is black,” I said. I do not recall ever saying “colored.”

I shook my head. “No, Grammy. God loves all of us. We learn that in church.”

Grammy reached for my hand, turning me away.

I admired Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King. I listened to his speech, “I HAVE A DREAM,” and cried. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her front seat on the bus, I applauded her. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t sit next to me if I met her!

To clarify, I’ve seen racism all of my life, and I’ve stood up to say something, even when I was a little girl. When rumors filled a high school declaring no colored people could attend high school there, I ask why. They deserve and need an education too!

My mother described me as a “trouble maker, too curious for your own good.”

My father said I was “quite the chatty child. She loves to be the center of attention and she’s always asking why!” Humph! Even as a toddler I liked to be remembered!

My husband says “I step into other people’s business and I should keep my opinions to myself.”

I laugh. I proudly say — Isn’t this the United States of America?

Mr. Floyd had a criminal record, serving time for pulling a weapon on a pregnant woman when he and other guys with him broke into her home. There were other police records too, including drugs, etc. He was not the martyr the recent riots and political movements are making him out to be. No one is perfect! We’ve had protests/riots here in Charleston. Downtown Charleston was attacked like a warzone — knocking windows out. Breaking into the Apple Store, restaurants, grocery stores and more looting. The anger and hatred was horrifying for a city known as the Holy City. I believe the protests are peaceful now, protesters chanting: “Say his name…George Floyd…Black Lives Matter, Silence is Violence,” over and over again while they walk along the pedestrian sidewalk of Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, downtown Charleston, North Charleston and other suburbs.

Some of the chanting and demands include the abolishment of the police departments. I pray that WE, THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA, truly have a voice/statement via elections if this does happen. I do not agree that all police officers are good. Some are crooked. Some are probably racists, but I’ve known several police officers. I cannot comprehend how the USA could be a great society if we lost law enforcement. Wouldn’t that be a prime time for terrorists to attack us again?

Yes, I agree the protests are making statements. At first, a statement to spread violence. Hatred. Racism. Now, they appear to be a bit more organized. Less hatred. I do not understand the “Silence is Violence,” signs. I believe when people are silent they do not know a way to communicate what they are feeling. Perhaps they are afraid.

As for me? Afraid to speak up? Never! I’ve ALWAYS vocalized my opinions; however, most of the time I will vocalize with resources to back up what I am saying. I believe “Silence is Fear.” Fear of the unknown.

Racism is not a new emotion/hatred/whatever. Racism is negligence. I’ve always had friends of every color in the world. I’ve always stood up when they needed help of any kind. That is who I am.

I can’t help being a bit curious to this idea I’ve had for a long time. Whenever someone is critically ill and needing a blood transfusion does the family or the patient dare to ask “What color of blood am I getting?”

I’ve given blood before. I’ve never seen the nurse write “white” on the blood. To my knowledge I don’t believe it matters. Blood is blood! Red! It helps keep life going!

According to the Holy Bible: The Bible says “for the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11); for it is the life of all flesh (Leviticus 17:14); …for the blood is the life (Deuteronomy 12:23).”

There are no descriptions regarding the color of blood in the Bible. While I do not claim to be an expert about religion, I believe God loves all of us, regardless of the color of our skins. We should treat others with respect. Love. Dignity. And now since we cannot give hugs (Yes, I’m definitely a HUGGER, and proud of it!) I send virtual hugs to anyone reading my blog.

I pray all of you will open your hearts and minds to help the United States of America end racism. Racism has been occurring since the 1600’s when slaves were brought to America along the landings and ports of Charleston. There is much history to be shared regarding slavery here in the port city. I’ve attended many events and I always ask why? Why did slavery happen? Why was it necessary to sell people simply because the color of their skin. I’m thankful it ended; however, in many ways, the racism of slavery left emotional scars that may never heal.

I pray our country will unite again soon as a country filled with LOVE AND RESPECT FOR HUMANITY!


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Dearest Readers:

Did you hear the storms last night? Did the lightning and thunder keep you
awake? Certainly affected me!  I walked around the house, glancing out the windows, only to discover the lightning and sheets of rain. My body jumped with each horrific lightning crash. All I could do was pray for God to keep me, the Bratty Boys,and my hubby safe.

I rushed back to the covers, covering my eyes with my sleep mask and quilt.
Rubbing Little Benjamin’s fur soothed me. He moved a bit closer. I suppose he
could fear the tension at my fingertips.

I turned the TV on and watched recorded episodes of MY LOTTERY DREAM HOME.
Funny. I always enjoy watching David Bromstad along with his Bubbly
personality. He has such a great demeanor. On this episode (an hour edition) he
was quarantined like the rest of the world due to the Corona Virus, so he discussed his fashions, furs, and bling. Oh, how I can relate!

One hour later, I am still unable to sleep or unwind. Finally, my body relaxed and I slept fitfully.

Now that I’ve mentioned MY LOTTERY DREAM HOME, I confess, I was hesitant to
watch it; however, the first episode I watched hooked me! I’ve had some people
say they would never watch his shows because he is “gay.” I say – so what! Some of my dearest friends are gay, and when I was a teenager, one of the guys I dated was gay — behind closed doors. Sad to say, Charles committed suicide when I was 16. I was devastated. I had no idea he was so lost within himself, he chose to end his life.

I suppose the fears I experienced last night during the storms reminded me how we must open our minds and lives to all journeys of life. Storms. Lightning. Thunder! The fears created.

Storms! Why do storms such as the ones in the middle of the night and at early dawn always torment me? Maybe it’s because I hear the words of my mother during my childhood – haunting me. Laughing at me while I shivered with fear.

“You stupid girl. I hope God lets that lightning strike you dead!” My mother said. Never did I tell my father. I was too ashamed and afraid he might laugh at me.

Years later, while he battled terminal esophageal cancer, I stood by his bedside. His eyes stared at me. He reached to touch my face, wiping the tears. Quickly, I turned away. I did not want him to see me crying. What if he thought I was weak and a crybaby when I cried?

“Don’t turn away,” he said. I moved closer, holding his hand. “Don’t think I didn’t notice how your mother treated you. I noticed how she laughed at you. Made fun of you and always called you a cry baby whenever you cried. She tried to turn everyone against you. Oh. The lies. She said. I knew you were different. I was proud of you. You always made a grand entrance. Yes. I noticed. Your mother bullied you!”

I squeezed his hand. “I didn’t know you heard her. Did you hear her when she said she hoped God would strike me dead with lightning?”

Dad shook his head yes. “I heard. God would never strike you dead. God is always there to protect us. I never said anything to her or you, but I heard every word she said to you.” He coughed, inhaled then said: “I’ve always been proud of you. You are my shining star. Don’t allow others to pull you down. Walk tall! Move forward in life. Don’t look back with pain!”

“I’ve never said this to you, until now, Dad but I’m so glad you divorced her.”

“It was the only thing to do.”

That afternoon, leaving the hospital, I thanked God for the discussion my father and I had on that date. After his death, his words remained with me. How I miss him. Now, whenever storms fire inside of my head, I try to remember the conversations with Dad. I can still hear his voice. His words remain tightly
bound within my heart where no one else can threaten me with storms. Thunder.
And. Lightning!

“Hold your head high. Don’t allow others to bring you down. Move forward with life. Don’t look back with pain!”

I am thankful I had such a wise and caring father. He is still inside of me and always shall remain!

 


“Unlovable.” That’s what my mother described. “She said I was a stupid girl. She said I’d never amount to nothing but a hill of beans. Stupid. Stupid. Just stupid.”

I’ve walked in these shoes even before my mother had a stroke and was released from life while her youngest daughter smothered life from her body. Never was she charged with murder, or any crime. I grew up believing I would NEVER be loved by a man. My mother would send me on a walk – to the grocery store — without any money. Her request/order for me was, and I quote: “I need you to walk to the grocery store. See the manager. He really likes you. Flirt with him and tell him he must let you get some things for supper. A loaf of bread. Pork n’ Beans. I ain’t got no money, so I need you to work it well. I know he’ll allow you to get something good for supper. Don’t tell your daddy I ask you to do this. I asked you cause I know you have a way with men. They like looking at you, when you smile those men melt. Get what you can out of them. Men like you.”


Little did I know my good ole Southern mama was training me. Training me to get men to treat me well. She wasn’t training or teaching me LOVE. She thought I could use my looks, personality, charm and sexuality to get what I wanted in life. She said, “Men like you, Barbara Jean. They always have. Now is the time for payback. I produced a pretty girl. Maybe an actress with Southern charm. They’ll pay you lots, just to get what you want. Don’t you forget that you stupid child, Barbara Jean.”

I was 15-years-old at the time. Mama would give me old clothes and hand-me-downs from one of my cousins. The cousin who never wore the same outfit twice. Mama told me to wear the off-shoulder blouses and shorts. “You got some nice-looking shoulders and legs, Barbara Jean, and you’ve got the right amount of boobs. Men like that!”

Funny, I never realized my mother was encouraging me to become a hooker and I cringe, refusing to respond to anyone who calls me Barbara Jean.

When I was 30, my marriage to Garrett was choking me. Depression left me so unhappy I thought my entire world was crumbling. My therapist, a lovely, tiny woman who always wore her hair in a twisted bun with a sparkling comb, and a bright red rose tucked inside her blazer pocket, wanted to know about my childhood.

Looking at her, my mouth quivered. “My childhood? It was awful. Never did I feel loved.”

“What about your mother? Didn’t she embrace you and tell you she loved you?

“No. All she did was tell me to flirt with men. They liked me. I could get anything I wanted from a man, if I ‘worked it.’ She said if I dressed nice and showed my cleavage, men would follow me to the ends of the earth.”

“Interesting.”

“What’s interesting?” I asked.

“Your mother was encouraging you to become a hooker.”

“No. She wouldn’t do that. Good mothers do not teach their daughters to hook.”

Covering my mouth while choking back tears, I realized something I never thought as a young girl. My hands were shaking. “Oh, my God. You’re right. My mother thought I could become a hooker.”

My therapist scribbled on a pad. “I find it interesting you never think of your mother as abusive, cruel, or a bad mother.”

“She said she wanted the best from me. Only her best was not what I wanted to become.”

“It sounds to me like your mother wanted you to dress like a hooker. I always see you dressed as a lady wearing cultured pearl necklaces and earrings. Your hair and makeup immaculate. You don’t show cleavage. When you sit, you keep your legs together. Like a lady, or royalty.”

Glancing at my posture, I realized she was correct. My legs were together, not exposed. Sitting with my ankles crossed, I realized she was right. I’m sitting like a lady. Funny. I’ve never considered myself a lady.

“Can you share more of what your mother taught you?”

Covering my face momentarily with my hands, I mumbled yes, sharing the stories my mother taught me. Sharing how she wanted me to use my sexuality to get what I wanted from men. “She said men would want to be with me, and she said I would never find love from any man. She said Barbara Jean was unlovable and a stupid girl. Nothing more than yesterday’s trash. Never to be loved. Never!”


Dearest Readers:

I have a funny Friday experience to share. Are you ready? Here goes:

Friday afternoon, our pedal boat arrived. Excited to finally do something on the pond, we hopped in and started riding around our pond. Such fun seeing the turtles watching us as we glided softly around our beautiful pond. I left my phone inside (thank goodness). You must remember I fractured my back on December 23, wore a back brace for three months and chose to take a spin around the pond. It was easy to slide into the boat. Not so easy getting out!

We docked the boat, wrapping a rope around a tree for me to get out easier. Phil was worried I might hurt myself again. Imagine that! Struggling to get out, the boat decided to move while I’m stepping out. I had one foot on the bank. The other in the boat. The boat continues to move while Phil struggles to keep the boat still. Silly boat – it has a mind of its own! I grabbed the tree, holding on to it while the boat continues moving and Barbie is doing an ungraceful split!

This scenario is definitely a Lucy and Ethel moment, with one exception – I am starring as Lucy!

My back is hurting so I move my right foot off the bank and splash! Now I’m in the water with one leg still in the boat. Moving it as quickly as I can, I discover I’ve had my first initiation in our pond. I am soaking wet, struggling to get on shore. Phil doesn’t think I’ll be able to pull myself out due to my back injury.

“You just watch me,” I said. “Nothing stops me!”

Silly guy. He just doesn’t know me when someone says I cannot do something. You just watch me. No. It wasn’t graceful, but ever so slowly I slid my body out of the pond, doing a graceful low crawl I wasn’t aware I could do! The water wasn’t deep. Only to my waist. When I am finally out of the pond, I am covered with mud!

“Excuse me,” I say to Phil. “I must take a bath and get this mud off of me!”

He’s laughing and so am I. As he struggles to get out of the little pedal boat, he slips and gets a bit of his body into the pond!

Finally, both of us are out, safe, headed straight to the back porch. I peel the muddy clothes off, knowing no one will see me! I live on five acres! I glance at my wrist. I’m missing my activity tracker. Oh well. Maybe the turtles will find it and play with it!

So, what did you do on Friday during this “social distancing” quarantine?
I imagine it wasn’t as exciting as our Friday!

Sorry I can’t provide photographs! My phone was inside – charging!

Just another funny moment during the quarantine. If this quarantine doesn’t end soon, I can only imagine what my next scenario will be. Maybe swimming in the pond to find my activity tracker? I doubt it!

Remember – stay safe and healthy. Covid-19 is out there and I pray soon it will disappear – never to return – just like my athletic tracker!


Dearest Readers:

With all that is happening within our communities, nation and the world, I had an experience with our local Walmart that really annoyed me!

My husband and I drove to Walmart to get sanitizing items. I stopped one of the managers, and I describe him as a sorry manager at that! I asked him if they had any sanitizing products. His reply, “No. We sold all we had last night when we got them.”

“Do you have any idea when you will get some more?”

He cast me a smug facial expression. “Well, it’s like this. When we get them, we sell out immediately.”

“I suppose you are not limiting the items?”

“Nope. First come first serve and customers can buy all they want.”

“In other words, you permit them to stockpile or hoard?”

“Lady, we can’t tell the customers they can only buy a few.”

I approached him closer. “Oh, yes you can. I worked in advertising and we limited products all the time.”

“Not at this Walmart.”

“Never did I say I worked at Walmart. And now, maybe I’ll shop elsewhere.”

Moral of this story – stay away from the West Ashley Circle of Walmart, Charleston, SC. They only care about the hoarders. NOT THEIR CUSTOMERS! Management only cares about how much they sell – not customers who need these products too!

Perhaps I’ll shop elsewhere! That manager needs to get another job!


Dearest Readers:

By now, I suppose you’ve heard about the Coronavirus? Believe me, it is a hot topic, especially on social media. Here’s a warning – please do not believe the information/news on social media, or the Internet. Just because a link pulls up for you to read doesn’t mean it is true. Have you heard the expression “Fake News?” Believe me, it does exist! Please check your sources! Visit only reputable sites such as: the Center for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/ or the World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 for the latest information regarding this virus. PLEASE – ALWAYS CHECK REPUTABLE SITES TO GET THE LATEST INFORMATION.

I live in the vicinity of Charleston County, SC. You are probably aware of how so many people are freaking out regarding this virus. Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit concerned since I have asthma; nevertheless, I am following the guidelines from the CDC. I wash my hands constantly. I have toiletries available, including tissue, toilet tissue, and handwashing soaps. I’ve overheard people saying, well that information shouldn’t discourage us. We live in Charleston!

Yes. True. Nevertheless, travel, tourism, culinary, hospitality are all a major part of Charleston. SC! My concern is for those the media chooses to address as the “elderly” and for those who could not get the necessary supplies – in the event the virus arrives. No, I did not rush to stockpile any of these items. They are my basic stock items.

Last week, our Governor announced we had two reported cases of coronavirus in South Carolina. One in Charleston. Now, I discover after reading news alerts that Charleston, SC is allowing the cruise ship, Carnival Sunshine to release 3000 guests to our city. Keep in mind, Charleston is known for tourism and hospitality. This news disturbs me just a bit since we’ve had several people who have the virus within our communities. I suppose $$$$$$$ mean more to the City of Charleston, SC than the safety of our citizens. Isn’t this a shame! For more details, read the article below:https://www.live5news.com/…/thousands-arriving-charleston-…/

According to the State Newspaper, there are more cases in South Carolina now. Every morning there appears to be additional updates as the numbers increase. https://www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article241030266.html

While I am concerned, as a writer, I want to make certain I get the most informative information that isn’t embellished, or — FAKE! People do have the tendency to embellish stories, but not me. I go straight to the sources.

I’m still a bit discouraged that our Ports Authority is permitting the cruise ship to dock here. If I’m correct, Carnival Sunshine does have a home port established here; nevertheless, this contagious disease will decrease tourism and hospitality within our beautiful city. This will impact our economy.

What I found interesting and disappointing in this article is the following comment “City of Charleston officials say they have no say in cruise ship arrivals. The Port of Charleston is a state port and falls under state authority.”

What? The State has the authority? May I ask why?

I suppose I’ll continue following the stories regarding Coronavirus. Stay tuned. To date, I haven’t met anyone who has Coronavirus or an illness, but I’m cautious. As a woman born with asthma, I must be careful. I believe it’s only a matter of time before this outbreak in our beautiful city burns like a wildfire, and that is why I am staying inside. Whenever I get ill with a respiratory illness (acute bronchial asthma) or a severe case of asthma where my oxygen level drops, I stay inside my home using my nebulizer, washing my hands and resting.

I pray this Coronavirus fear will decrease soon, and those who are ill will remain where they should remain — either at a hospital or at home caring for their illness. I pray all of them will survive.

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge – an Amazing Landmark, Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC

Meanwhile, I pray. Let us all remain healthy!

Angel Oak located in Johns Island, SC


Totally forgot to take a photograph of Better Than Sex Cake. Chocolate is just so tempting!

Dearest Readers:

To those of you who do not know, Weight Watchers is now called “WW.” If you are a regular reader of my blog, you must know, I am a Weight Watcher, or “WW.” I’m proud to say that!

Today was my weekly weigh-in. Like everyone, I dreaded it. I knew it was time to face the music…to be accountable…responsible, …and so on!

My goal for this meeting was to lose one more pound. Yes. One. More. Pound. If I accomplished that, I would be able to say “I’ve lost forty pounds.” Ten pounds of sugar, since sugar comes in four-pound bags now, not five! Or, I could say, I’ve lost forty sticks of butter. Eight five-pound bags of potatoes!

Perhaps you get the picture now. Last night was another lack of sleep night for me. Awakening at 10 pm… Midnight 2 am. 4 am. 6 am. Ah to heck with it. I’m getting up I can’t sleep – AGAIN! I’ve watched so many Hallmark Christmas movies; lately I think I’m running out of the good ones!

So, this morning I’ve decided I needed to get to the meeting. No, I did not anticipate a loss. Not. After. Thanksgiving!

On that holiday, I cooked dinner for my husband, Phil. The pups got to eat a bit of turkey. As for me. Yes. I. Ate. TOO MUCH. That is – I ate too much chocolate!

I’m convinced – chocolate IS an aphrodisiac! This Thanksgiving, I served my infamous Better Than Sex Cake. A thin layer of crust. A layer of cream cheese mixed with Cool Whip Light. A beautiful, plump layer of sugar-free chocolate pudding, topped with a thick layer of Cool Whip Light. I will share my recipe below!

On Friday, my husband returned to work. I stayed home with the dogs. Since we are moving soon, I chose not to fight the Black Friday sales. I brewed a fresh pot of coffee, opened the fridge to get my Coffeemate French Vanilla creamer, only to cast my eyes at a dish covered with aluminum foil.

Better Than Sex Cake. Oops. Look Away! Close the fridge. Ah. Go. Ahead. Just one piece won’t kill you or make you gain weight.

I grabbed a bowl and a spoon. Quickly, I scooped up a BIG piece of this delicate. Delicious. Aphrodisiac. To say it was delicious is an understatement, especially for me. I LOVE chocolate!

Throughout the day, that dessert called for me. Each time, I listened and weakened. Before the evening was over, I ate almost all of it while wondering why am I doing this? I’m sabotaging Weight Watchers and my goal to lose one more pound.

Just before bedtime, I finished off the dessert. The next morning, angry with myself for not tracking and eating only what I should, I chewed myself out.

I started tracking again while imagining that dessert one more time. Sure wish I had one more piece of Better than Sex Cake. No…Nothing is better than ___!

This morning, I got on my scales at home, anticipating a significant weight gain.

Dressing to go to Weight Watchers, I decided to weigh all of my clothing. The black tights. My short gray skirt. My black turtleneck and my Christmas vest of high heels, and my black knee boots! I wanted to feel good about myself, even IF I gained a pound or two.

Yes, I LOVE HIGH HEELS. Anyone who knows me recognizes my walk. How I swag. One foot in front of the other. My heels were clicking against the pavement, as if to say, “Barbie’s here!”

Arriving at WW, there was a long line. Slowly we moved, and when I counted only three ladies ahead of me, I started to remove a bit of clothing and boots.

Unzipping the boots, I kicked them off, placing them near my handbag. I removed the Christmas vest, still anticipating a weight gain – all to the credit of my weakness for delectable aphrodisiacs of chocolate dancing in my brain. Still furious with myself while recognizing I had no one else to blame, I was convinced I had gained.

Moving slowly on the scales, I stretched over to see if I could read a loss. Since WW has “confidential weigh-ins,” I could not. Mindi calculated my weight.

Did I lose anything?

“You’ve lost 40.6 pounds now!”

I squealed. All the ladies at our Thursday morning meetings know I’m not shy. They heard me say: “I did it? I LOST 40 POUNDS?!”

So, for me, today was a celebration! When I joined Weight Watchers, I told only myself I wanted to lose 40 pounds. Now accomplishing that goal, I’ve decided to make another goal – lose another five pounds. And another. And another! This I can do for me. Only for me! After all, I am woman. I can eat something delectable and still convince myself I can lose. After all, This I Do For Me!

Here’s the recipe!

Bon Apetit!

BETTER THAN SEX CAKE (SO SIMILAR TO MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE, BUT SUGAR FREE!)

2 cups flour

2 sticks of margarine (room temp)

½ cup chopped pecans

8 ounces of whipped cream cheese (fat free) (room temp)

whipped topping (Cool Whip Lite)

2 large boxes of Sugar Free Instant Chocolate Pudding (Jello Sugar Free works well)

4 cups milk

Hershey Bar (rarely do I use this)

Chopped pecans for garnish

Make a crust from flour, butter and the chopped pecans. Mix well and press into a 9 x 12 inch pan or a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow this to cool.

Mix cream cheese, 1 cup of the whipped topping.

When crust is cool to touch, spread the creamed cheese mixture lightly on the crust.

Prepare sugar free, instant pudding with 4 cups of milk, as directed on carton of box. Layer this on the dessert. Top with more whipped topping and decorate with chocolate curls from the candy bar (if used). I prefer to garnish with chopped pecans. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Submitted by: Barbie Perkins-Cooper


Dearest Readers:

Today is Day Two of Hurricane Dorian anticipation. Are we ready? Of course!

We’ve been on this roller coaster before, and I confess, I do not care for roller coasters! During Hurricane Hugo, I stayed with 60 students at the college where I was employed. Yes. 60 students! Most of them I knew. Believe me, during the hurricane, I got to know many of them! What I discovered is the stronger the students acted, the weaker they were, and the most horrified.

Today, I have the Weather Channel on, listening to when the prediction of Hurricane Dorian is predicted to arrive. Although I haven’t confirmed the news, I’ve been told that Charleston is basically a ghost town. No traffic to fight! Also, reportedly, a few of the Cracker Barrels are closed. It will be interesting to see if and when Waffle House closes. I’m certain you’ve probably seen the signs posted on highways previously saying “Waffle House is open,” on Christmas Day.

Perhaps later today, I’ll hop in the car and drive around, just to see how Mount Pleasant is preparing for Dorian – a feisty female hurricane with a strong breath of wind.

We have water. Food. Fruit. Doggie treats. We’ve been on this roller coaster before. We will survive. Reportedly, Dorian will be a category two when she dances into Charleston. We have been home since Saturday. Today is Tuesday. I think I’m ready to get out of this house and tour Mount Pleasant without traffic.

Perhaps I do need a break. There’s much too MUCH stress in my life now. Perhaps I’ll share a bit of that news when the stress breaks and all decisions are finalized. As for now, I need another cup of coffee, in preparation of Dorian.

Have I said I detested “hurricane season?” Looks like additional storms are brewing in the Atlantic too. Hurricane Juliette is brewing somewhere.

Someone yesterday stated they always name hurricanes after women. I set him straight on Facebook rather quickly, letting him know that during the Feminist movement, which I was a part of, it was decided that hurricanes should rotate the names between men and women. Isn’t it about time? Men are just as unpredictable as women. Hugo is a male name and he pounded into the Charleston Harbor as a Category Four!

As for Dorian, I think she needs to simply fade away! More later, readers!


Dearest Readers:

I suppose most of you are aware Weight Watchers is now called ‘W-W!” A new branding for a wonderful organization. Still, I refer to it as Weight Watchers, and “WW” since my friends and I have referred the lifestyle organization as WW since we joined.

I confess, I believe I joined in 2011. I still remember my first meeting. If I could’ve found a brown grocery bag, I am convinced I would’ve entered the meeting with it over my head. Why? Simple. I have a web presence as a writer, and I still wasn’t convinced the weigh-in meetings were confidential. Still, I remember the meetings I attended for only a short time years ago. A beige curtain covered the scales. These scales were the antiquated scales we still see occasionally in doctor’s offices. I was convinced that every time I weighed someone, probably the next person in line, would see my weight and tell others how much I weighed.

For those of you who’ve never had a weight problem – how blessed you are. For those of us who constantly dread weighing, we simply cannot understand how great it must be to never have to be concerned about weight.

The day I joined Weight Watchers — this time — was when Jennifer Hudson was the spokesperson. She claimed she lost 80 pounds with them, and I must say, she looked gorgeous. So, I checked the Weight Watchers website, hoping to learn new information. I read about “confidential weigh-ins, Confidential weigh-ins, I whispered, Just how confidential is a beige curtain?

I knew I needed to lose weight. After I lost my father, I was so devastated, I gained weight. I detested shopping for new clothes – in a larger size. I despised looking in the mirror. Let’s don’t even discuss posing for a photograph, or wearing a swimsuit. Disgusting! I kept telling myself I would lose weight, but the scales refused to move to a lower number.

Entering the meeting, I completed the necessary forms, staying after the meeting to discuss the program.

Carefully, I ate. The challenge was eating out with my husband and friends. I did not tell anyone I joined Weight Watchers. It was my secret! I was ashamed to share!

Silly, foolish me. The next week, I stepped on the scales, convinced I’d lost at least three pounds. Surprise! I looked at the card the receptionist returned to me, and I screamed — Six-tenths of a pound. Six-tenths of a pound?

On that date, I became the founder of the Six-tenths Club! Today, I lost eight-tenths! Guess what? I’ll take it!

I grabbed my handbag and headed towards the exit. Fortunately, the leader of the meeting came after me. “You know, any loss is a loss. Please don’t get discouraged. Give us a chance, and yourself a chance!”

Almost in tears, I strolled to a chair and sat down. I stayed for this meeting too and discussed what I might’ve done wrong.

I have to consider: 1) I was a Type 2 Diabetic. 2) I kept to myself, not letting my husband or anyone know I joined WW. 3) I failed to believe in myself. 4) As an asthmatic, there are times my doctors prescribe Prednisone – a steroid…Steroids do not like me! Each time I take them, I gain weight! Did you know, after taking steroids, it takes about eight weeks to get them out of your system! It’s no wonder I jump on a roller coaster at these times, and I do not like roller coasters!

Ever. So. Slowly. My weight is dropping. Even when I have gains, I tell myself to get back on the wagon and continue this journey. Don’t. Give. Up!

Now, a few years later, I am devoted to my Thursday morning meetings, and I attend every week, unless I have a doctor’s appointment, have a migraine headache, or simply do not want to face the music, or scales!

What have I learned?

*I’ve learned to like myself.

*I’ve learned to focus on the positive, not the negative. Years ago, I thrived on the negative and it came close to destroying me. I grew up in a family filled with hatred, fights and negative thoughts. I was told not to love myself. Fortunately, I broke away from the toxic family environment and chose to make myself a better person.

*I’ve learned food is not our enemy, but our friend. After all, we all have to eat food to live!

*Another important lesson I’ve learned is – we must be accountable for our actions and behaviors. Weight Watchers, aka ‘WW’ teaches us how to become stronger individuals and we focus on how we can become better people by working towards our goals in life. Whatever those goals might become. Also, we learn to treat ourselves well. Years ago, I would practically beat my head against a brick wall while telling myself what a horrible person I was. I focused on the negative from my childhood. Now, I’m proud to say, I’ve discovered I am a nice person and a great friend. Imagine that!

Just look how far I’ve come! All to the growth, (and the loss) I am living as I adventure into a wonderful life with Weight Watchers…the friends I’ve made, and the life I am living now.

Today, while at the meeting two ladies thanked me for all of the experiences in my life that I share. I am more open-minded now, not dwelling in the clouds of darkness I lived for much of my youth and early adulthood. These two lovely ladies said I inspire them!

Now, when my friends ask me If I am STILL DOING WEIGHT WATCHERS, I correct them, saying: Actually, I am still doing WW, and I will never quit! WW is a part of me. A proud part of me!

I still need to lose about 30 pounds. At least, that is the goal I’ve chosen for myself. Will I achieve it? Of course I will! Since April, I’ve lost six pounds! And so, the story goes, along with my journey. Weight Watchers, aka “WW” — This I do for me!


Sunset Party Key WestIt’s All About the “Good Ole Boys”

Dearest Readers:

Today, I am writing to you to share a few isolated, heartbreaking experiences I’ve endured while standing up for my rights and the rights of all women.

While I will not name the organization specifically I’ve fought with and lost, I will say, this organization is nothing but a group of “Good Ole Boys,” who will do nothing but stand tall for the “good of the order…” Whatever that means! The phrase “for the good of the order,” relates to parliamentary procedures, or “Robert’s Rule of Order.” Even the women who have been ‘allowed’ or should I say, “permitted to join” these organizations as a member do believe in the “good of the order.” In the beginning, these women had to make a lot of noise, including a lawsuit, just to join these organizations. Yes, for the “good of the order!”

But? What is a good ole boy? Simple. Perhaps some of you have never heard the expression, “Oh, he’s a good ole boy!” We hear it lots in the South! When I was a child, I didn’t understand the terminology, until we moved in with our grandparents and I could see, my grandfather was most definitely a “good ole boy!” Papa, as we called him, was extremely protective and supportive of his male friends and relatives. After all, “good ole boys” are birds of a feather, and they flock together. Women aren’t appreciated or respected by the “good ole boys!”

Good ole boys believe that women are ‘second-class.’ Women belong in the home. Having them babies and taking care of the house. We were supposed to cook and clean and be quiet!

Although Papa tried to train me in the belief of the “Good Ole Boys,” I chose to be my own woman! I had big dreams. After all, I’m a feminist and so proud of it! Lots of Southerners still believe in the terminology of “Good Ole Boys.” As for this household, we do not practice “Good Ole Boy” terminology.

I should share, I’ve dealt with “good ole boys” all of my life. When I was 15, a “good ole boy” a maternal Uncle, wanted to get a bit friendly with me. He was a Deacon in the Pentecostal Church. He thought it would be fun to go down a dirt road with me and pick blackberries. This road was deserted. No houses. No farms. No one around. How convenient for my uncle. He stopped his truck, moving his hands all over me. I screamed. I cried. No one heard me. Then, I hit him hard right between his legs. He screamed. Cussed. Is this the behavior of a “good ole boy” or a deacon in the church?”

Suddenly his strength was gone. He grabbed himself and moaned. He was hurting.

Good. If you touch me again. I’ll hurt you again!

I jumped out of his truck and ran down the red clay roads. My asthma got the best of me due to the dust flying in my face as I ran. My uncle caught up with me and pushed me into the truck.

“If you touch me again, I’ll hit you harder, exactly where I did before.”

He kept his hands on the steering wheel.

That day, I suppose you can say, a 15-year-old, innocent girl won! My uncle agreed to drive me home, and he said he would not touch me again.

Before I jumped out of his truck to run into the apartment, he said: “If you tell anybody I touched you, they won’t believe you. After all – I’m a deacon in the church!”

If you ever try to touch me again, I’ll hurt you. I wear high heels to church now and I’ll kick you with my high heels! No one’s ever gonna touch me like that again! One day you’ll be gone. I hope you burn in Hell!

Those were the last words I ever spoke to that uncle. Never did I share with my family what he did to me until the day he died. When he died, my mother phoned me, letting me know he was dead and I should come home.

“Home? I’m already at home. I’m not coming to his funeral. I hope he burns in Hell,” I said to her, “And if you are asking me to send flowers, I’ll send black roses!”

I must say, when a woman is touched or groped in a certain way, she never forgets it.

I’ve remained on guard. Never wanting to make a scene.

 

GOOD. OLE. BOYS?

I must say, these organizations organized and managed by a bunch of men, or shall I say, “good ole Southern boys,” probably know I am a writer, well-seasoned and professional. I speak my mind, and I research passionately to know what I communicate. On three occasions I’ve been asked if I would consider writing and editing their newsletters. I laughed. Shook my head and said: “I will not consider doing it as a volunteer, nor will I join “the good of the order,” to be “permitted to write your newsletter. I will only consider it for $600 — monthly, payable in advance.”

Of course, those “good ole boys” laughed. They’d never pay anyone $600 just to write a newsletter! Such are the actions of these antiquated, good ole boys organizations. A woman writing a newsletter? Scandalous isn’t it!

For eight years I’d written newsletters for “good ole boys” organizations. Those newsletters won many awards. I never received anything, with exception of knowing those publications shared important information, keeping the non-profit ‘good ole boys’ clubs well informed. After one decided to censor my newsletter, I resigned. I saw one of their newsletters recently and I laughed. Only two pages, filled with too many typos and grammatical errors. Yes, they needed me to write for them, but I refused to share my talents for free.

I should mention I am a freelance writer and editor, but the “free” in freelance does not mean I am free! While I guarantee I can improve newsletters, especially grammatically, I would not consider ever writing for free again. Not even as a volunteer.

On one occasion I had an experience where one of the men at this “Good ole boys” fraternity wanted to get just a little too close. He spoke to me while running his hand down my right side, just a little too close for comfort. How I regret not making a scene on that night. What I should’ve done is to push him away from my body, and I should’ve screamed so everyone in attendance could see and hear what he was doing. Regretfully, I did not. I conducted myself as a lady. May I never do this again. The next time some drunken man approaches me to get a little close, I plan to hit him exactly where it hurts! This action will no doubt drop him to the floor! And then, he will never attempt to touch me again.

While I’ve had these incidents happen before, my husband has always jumped up and knocked the guy to the ground. While he might be short, when he is angry and sees me threatened, he becomes The Incredible Hulk. He’s knocked many guys down. After this incident, I asked Phil to let me handle it. How I wish I hadn’t! Deciding to file a grievance – a sexual harassment complaint. The good ole boys were not exactly happy with this complaint. Oh well! What I really regret not doing is calling 911 for the police to arrest the culprit on sexual assault! Then, I could file a lawsuit! Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to conduct myself like Julia Sugarbaker! If this scenario ever happens again – WARNING – I will hit him exactly where it hurts!

Meanwhile, when I was in attendance for different events, each time with my husband, suddenly everyone wanted to know who I was. I smiled, introduced myself to all of those gossipy women and, dare I say it again – “good ole boys,” and I exchanged pleasantries with them. Yes, I noticed people whispering into each other’s ears, and I saw fingers pointed at me. I simply smiled and waved. It was obvious I would get nowhere with my complaint. After all, the “good ole boys” seem to laugh it off and cover their butts. I had nothing to be ashamed of, and I was determined to stand my ground.

Unfortunately, no one would come forward as a witness to what happened. No one wanted to get involved. You probably know the type. My philosophy is – if You see something, you say something, but there are many women who allow their husbands to make those decisions for them. Thank God I am a woman who stands her ground, refusing to allow my husband to make my decisions! My husband supported my complaints 100%, BUT – in the “good ole boys” world, since there were no OTHER witnesses, it is just a He said…She said…and in the ‘good ole boys’ antiquated world, I was treated as second-class!

On another occasion, the same ‘good ole boy’ – drunker and nastier, not to mention obnoxiously LOUD, attempted to humiliate me and a few of my friends. Yes, I filed another complaint!

I was told he would be suspended for a year. He wasn’t. I was told I had to meet with him personally to ‘hash this out.’ I did. All he did was deny. DENY…AND DENY AGAIN! He called me a crybaby.  And he screamed at me so much, verbally abusing me. I crumbled. Yes, I cried. How I wish I hadn’t. I lived with verbal abuse as a child. Anytime someone verbally abuses me, I crumble.

I was told if we did not settle the matter on that night, then I would have to file another complaint with the same committee I filed the ORIGINAL complaint. A vicious cycle! Regretfully, I agreed to disagree.

If I heard it once, I probably heard it about a million times. You are not a member. You do not have the right to file a complaint!

Gee! I was under the impression this was the United States of America.

Not where the “Good ole boys” reside. Yes, the “Good ole boys,” won, only because they are an archaic fraternity who will not step into the 21-First Century. After all, they’re “good ole boys!”

Perhaps I’ll share more about these incidents later, in my blog, or maybe I’ll pitch a few ideas to national women’s magazines! Now, that’s an idea I should consider!

While it is true, I agreed to move forward, I did not agree to stay quiet or to shut my mouth. That is not my style! I shall continue standing up to share my story with others. After all, I am a feminist and a proud woman who will always voice her opinions.

As for the “good ole boys?” Let’s just say; they’re still stuck in the 19th Century!

 

 

 


Late one evening while watching TV with my husband Phil, I reminded him to check his glucose level. His reply was the usual, ‘I’ll do it later.’ Knowing him as I do, I was frustrated. He has the tendency to procrastinate, so I chose a different approach. “Why don’t you check mine and let’s compare.”

Never did I expect my little psychological game to backfire. Pricking my finger, I waited in anticipation. When the meter flashed 468 on the screen, I laughed. “Something’s wrong with your machine. I do not have Diabetes. I do not have any symptoms. I’m fine.”

“You’re always tired,” my husband said.

“Isn’t everyone? If someone else walked in my shoes, they would be tired too.”

While it was true I was always tired, I suffered from insomnia and never felt rested. I worked ten-hour days at work and at home, working as a professional and moonlighting at night pursuing my writing career. My fingers were not numb, I didn’t suffer from increased thirst, and I certainly did not have unexplained weight loss. My mother had Diabetes so it does run in the family. Unexplained weight gain? Could that be a symptom?

The next morning I visited the doctor’s office, confirming the diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. My glucose level at Dr. Knepper’s office was 362. When he opened the door to discuss my condition, I was in tears. How could this happen to me? I ate properly, at least I thought I did. I did not exercise, and fast food was a part of my weekly meals, due to my crazy work schedule. Dr. Knepper reassured me I could recover and he encouraged me to learn all I could about Diabetes.

“I’m a writer,” I said. “I can become an advocate, if needed.”

Soft spoken and kind, Dr. Knepper nodded. “Let’s take it slow for now. We can get this under control. I want you to focus on your food intake, and what you are eating. Watch carbohydrates, increase your water intake and exercise. Check your glucose level at least three times daily and keep a record of it. I want to see you in three months. We’ll do blood work to see what your A1C level is.”

I had a lot to learn about Type II Diabetes. Leaving his office armed with a handful of prescriptions, a meter, booklets, and a fearful look on my face, I chose to learn all I could about Type II Diabetes.

That afternoon, I performed a Google search, typing in the key word of Diabetes. The wealth of information was informative, especially the web site of the American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp. I was able to click on information about Type II Diabetes, condition and treatment, a listing of resources, and so much more. Recognizing it was time for me to make a lifestyle change; I started building a plan of attack.

My New Years resolution for 2005 was to join a gym and lose weight. After the diagnosis of Diabetes, I was motivated and determined to change my life. I stopped visiting fast food joints for lunch, choosing to eat fresh vegetables and healthy snacks, instead of chocolate, or desserts. After work, I drove to the gym, worked out, and learned more about proper nutrition. I attended a nutrition class with a Diabetes nutritionist, asked lots of questions, and changed my diet, discovering the art of portion control.

Much to my surprise, I learned that sugar was not necessarily the enemy for people with Diabetes. Portion control, monitoring glucose levels, and limiting carbohydrates were the keys to success for Diabetes management.

Checking my glucose levels three times daily encouraged my husband to monitor his levels. He was diagnosed with Diabetes in 1992 and he rarely monitored or practiced portion control. My determination to get my Diabetes under control encouraged him; however, when his levels were higher than mine were, he was defiant.

“I don’t understand. You had the same thing for dinner that I did, and your levels are lower. It’s not fair,” he said, shaking his hands.

“Portion control,” I teased. “You had seconds. I never clean my plate. You go back for seconds, and you always snack late at night.”

“Whatever,” he grumbled.

Our competitive game of Diabetes management was underway and this time, I was the winner!

Three months later, my doctor was amazed how quickly my A1C level had dropped from 8.5 to 5.4. His goal was ‘6.5, but that could take a year,’ he said to me in February 2005. ‘Now, you’re my new poster child for Diabetes.’

Pleased with how quickly my eating and Diabetes management habits changed, I was still a bit annoyed that I was not losing weight. Inches were falling off of me. In three months I dropped two inches from my chest, four inches from my waistline, and two inches from my hips. My weight failed to drop at all.

“It’s hard for a Diabetic to lose weight, especially if you have insulin resistance,” Dr. Knepper said. “Don’t get discouraged. Your A1C level is great. I’m amazed how quickly you got it under control.”

“Insulin resistance,” I moaned. “Is that why my glucose level is so much higher in the morning?”

“Probably. Keep doing what you are doing, and don’t get discouraged. I’ll see you in three months.”

In June 2005 my position at the university ended when the campus relocated. With the closing of that door, I chose to open a window to my writing career. Now I had a bit of freedom to do what I wanted to do. I walked my dogs every day, worked out three to five times a week, and my weight decreased. By August 2006, I had lost a total of 26 pounds, and many inches. A1C levels were averaging 5.9, cholesterol levels were decreased to a healthier level, and I had more energy and self-confidence. Dr. Knepper was amazed and so proud of me. He had no idea how proud I was. Meanwhile, Phil’s A1C levels continued on a dangerous roller coaster ride. His doctors prescribed additional prescriptions and insulin injections. His reluctance to change his eating habits with portion control inspired me to continue monitoring my eating habits and glucose levels. Horrified of needles, I was determined not to join him. Each time he reached for his injection, I left the room.

Controlling Diabetes is now a lifetime commitment for me. My daily routine is a personal allegiance to educate myself and the public about the proper steps to Control Diabetes. My doctor is pleased with how quickly I was able to get my Diabetes under control. As for myself, I am proud of my new willpower. Before Diabetes, I procrastinated about life, my health, and my writing career. I made excuses for everything. Now, as a Diabetic, I want to do all I can to educate others, while educating myself. Diabetes is not a death sentence, but a way of life. A condition that can be monitored and managed through exercise, proper eating habits, portion control, and modern medicine. I plan to live my life as a healthy diabetic. So can you.

Daily Rituals to Monitor Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Seek professional care. Follow your doctor’s advice and learn all that you can about Type 2 Diabetes.
  2. Monitor glucose levels. I check my levels every morning, afternoon and evening.
  3. Exercise. Take daily walks. You will learn to appreciate the little things in life again – like hearing a chirping bird, saying hello to neighbors, and enjoying the freshness of morning air.
  4. Change your eating habits. Instead of going back for seconds, do not. Learn to eat slower, while enjoying the taste of food.
  5. Get regular physicalGulf Shores, AL 2008 082s. I confess, I did not, until Type 2 Diabetes knocked on my door. Now, I follow the advice of my doctor, and myself.
  6. Do not get discouraged if you have difficulty losing weight. Keep active and have a daily exercise routine.
  7. Visit the web site http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp and learn all that you can about Diabetes. Knowledge is power.
  8. Diabetes is a lifestyle change, not a restriction of distasteful meals and social restraint.
  9. Think of portion control. Working as a professional photojournalist, there are times when my willpower is put to the test, especially during luncheons or special dinners. When dessert is placed before me, I eat one or two bites and leave the rest. Portion control is the key, not a constraint.
  10. Monitor. Your food intake. Your glucose levels, and your weight. Even a small reduction in weight is better than an increase.

Dearest Readers:

It seems that every time I make time to get some sunshine in my swimsuit, the sun runs away from me! I am not kidding!

Like today, my hubby and I were in the family room debating on what we wanted to do today. He wanted to work in the yard, finishing the garden area, so outside he goes. I tell him that lately, every time I want to get some sun, when I go out, the sun fades away — rather quickly, shall I say!

OOPS…I DID IT AGAIN!

There I was wearing a swimsuit I detest to get a bit of sun. I set the timer on my iPhone for 30 minutes, resting on my stomach. Playing a game on the phone, I looked up. Just where is the sun??? Oops…I did it again! I scared the sun away!

I admit it, the swimsuit I’m wearing I’ve never worn in public at the beach. Heck. I haven’t been to the beach since 2016? Am I scared of the beach? It’s simple. There isn’t a place to park on the beach at Sullivan’s Island anymore, and to park at Isle of Palms it costs me $15.00! Outrageous!

So, I stay away while now I can enjoy the sunshine by the pond on my property; nevertheless, every time I’ve attempted – the sun disappears!

Earlier I felt raindrops while getting a bit of sun. Then thunder. For those who do not know me, I have a horrible fear of lightning, and where there is thunder – there is lightning!

So now I sit in my chair writing this silly blog post while sharing how fearful I am.

If you’re looking for the sunshine today, just drive on over to Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms! Maybe the sun is over there. Just got an alert on my phone from MyRadar. Lightning is detected on my last known location. So, I suppose I’ll just call it a day for my tan. Maybe I’ll just take a nice bubble bath!

Still, I hear thunder, while the ‘thunder rolls, and the lightning flashes…’


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awoke to glance outside to see IF our geese have returned. We haven’t seen them on our property this week in the country. Now I am suspicious. These two geese we named Romeo and Juliet were always here, so close together they were almost attached. Sort of like my hubby, Phil, would like us to be — attached. No thank you, I’ve always said. Don’t smother me. Give me my space.

Romeo and Juliet would arrive early morning, landing quietly in the pond to swim. Then, they would walk along the meadows and eat corn from the deer feeder. I watched Romeo stretch his neck on the feeder, spinning out some corn. Then, sweet little Juliet would join him and side-by-side, they would have breakfast together. During the afternoon, they would do the same.

Now since the murders of 70 geese in the West Ashley Village Green neighborhood, I suspect those two precious geese, Romeo and Juliet, could’ve been at that site. If so, no doubt, they were murdered. Grown geese and ducklings too. Why?

Village Green is a neighborhood I would never consider living in. Why? Simple. They don’t like wildlife. Over 70 geese would swim and rest along the pond. Residents looked for them when they walked around the neighborhood. Now? The geese are gone. The HOA said the geese were a nuisance. That’s just another reason why I don’t believe in the power of HOA’s.

Nuisance? Oh. Please! Fireworks are a nuisance. Speeding cars driving dangerously in a neighborhood where children ride their bikes and play in the roads are a nuisance. And, let’s not forget those nosey neighbors who gossip and get drunk while standing in the roads too! Nuisance???

I admit it. I miss the geese. I was hopeful soon we would see some geese ducklings. Now, I doubt it. We do have ducklings I believe they are mallard ducklings. I’ve counted at least 18 ducks yesterday. They are so comical. When I go outside, they rush away, rushing into a parade of swimming ducklings getting out of my way. They shouldn’t worry at all. I would never harm them. I love watching them swimming around the pond. My Serenity Oasis pond is a blessing for nature, especially the ducklings.

I still look outside, hopeful to see Romeo and Juliet. Reportedly, the geese at Village Green were captured in the night and euthanized, then they were given to a food bank. I suppose I’ll keep my opinion about those dinners to myself!

After I heard about the euthanizing of 70 geese I was furious so I reported the situation to PETA. Will they read my email? Will they respond?

I suppose you, the reader, should read the story about the geese. When Romeo and Juliet resided along our pond, they were welcomed and I believe they felt welcome. Whenever I walked or drove by them, I would say Hello, Romeo and Juliet, enjoy your day.

Now, I can’t do that. I’m angry and ever so sad. Perhaps I’ll walk around the pond area to see if I can find a goose feather. Whatever happened to Romeo and Juliet, and the 70 geese, was wrong. Life is to be cherished, not taken away like a cult group would do. I miss Romeo and Juliet!


Dearest Readers:

On this date 22 years ago, at 5:45 pm I lost my father. Like today, July 6, 2021, it was a Tuesday. How do I remember it so well? Simply put, I think of him daily and when he was dying, I was moving towards his room at the convalescent center. I saw a nurse pushing an oxygen tank. She moved in the same direction as I did. Never did I realize she was going to my dad’s room until she placed her hand on the door.

“Oh no,” I said. “That isn’t a good sign.”

Nurses were inside. I heard them saying his name. “Mr. Perkins, wake up. Come on Mr. Perkins, wake up!”

A nurse left the room, asking me to sit down. “Barbie, we can bring him back. Just tell us.”

My chest ached as I struggled to inhale and exhale. “No. He doesn’t want us to bring him back. He’s a DNR.”

For those who might not know, DNR means Do Not Resuscitate.

“I can’t…I can’t ask you to do that. If he comes back, he’ll be so angry with me. I can’t…”

I sat down, recognizing the moment had arrived for my father, Walter W. Perkins, to pass away and finally be with his identical twin brother, other siblings and his parents. No I cannot ask them to bring him back. For weeks he’s sat in his bed, or the rocking chair, reading his Bible. He’s been praying to die. I’ve heard him pray, ‘our heavenly father, I’m ready. Please take me home. I’m tired. Weak. Ready, I’m so ready to go Home. I’m so tired of this life.’

I visited Sandpiper Convalescent Center daily, with exception of the times I was sick with bronchial asthma. During those times, I phoned, asking the nurse to please let him know I was sick and did not want to spread any germs. From mid-March, 1999, until the date of his death, when I arrived, he would not speak to me. Only nodding his head as he ate his dinner while reading the Bible. His roommate, Dudley, had difficulty speaking due to MS. He watched my dad, saying “He’s mean to you. He’s so mean.”

I smiled, walking over to Dudley’s bed to touch his toes. He laughed such a welcoming laughter I almost cried.

Fifteen minutes later, my husband arrived. “Are you ok?” He asked while hugging me tightly.

“He’s gone. I knew this day was coming. Last night I awoke at 3:45 am from a nightmare about him dying, and now my vision is so real. He’s gone.”

After Phil’s arrival, my memory is a fog of actions, including Phil would drive me home. He would come for Dad’s things later… Before we left I remember a nurse asking if I wanted to see Dad.

She opened the door to his and Dudley’s room. Dudley was watching baseball. Dad was covered in a white sheet. The curtain pulled closed. His food tray was sitting in the corner of the room. Although Dad suffered with terminal esophageal cancer, he insisted on eating his food. “Everything else has been taken away,” he said angrily, before his death. The prediction of him regurgitating his food and choking to death was reality. Now, his body rested lifeless. I pulled the cover to his head back. Lifeless. His skin was a yellowish clay composition. His body was ice cold. Lifeless.

My dad is gone. He’s in Heaven now, with his siblings and family. I hope he is happy.

I kissed his cheek, whispering how much I loved him and how I would miss him. You are no longer sick. I hope you love Heaven and can be with your identical twin brother now. I love you.

Twenty-two years. Still feels like yesterday to me.

Today is a sad, selfish day for me since I cannot visit him. How I miss him. I pray today is a day of rejoice and happiness for him. I shall keep myself busy so I cannot think.

Twenty-two years ago today, in the golden hours of mystical sunsets, I lost my father. I pray he is happy while knowing how much I miss him.

Twenty-two years…


Dearest Readers:

This news really annoyed me today. Bill Cosby to be released from prison today. What? This isn’t justice. How can they do this? Don’t people understand what a victim suffers? The fight. The dignity. The shame. A victim never forgets those hands and the body moving all over her as the culprit has his way with the victim? As a victim of sexual molestation when I was 15, I admired those women who came forward as “ME TOO.” Now, my heart breaks for the women who came forward to tell their stories, hoping he would be prosecuted, convicted — only to be released from prison today. This is not justice.

⁠When someone is sexually molested, she is left to feel dirty. Thoughts of what did I do for him to touch me? Why? Why Me? After my grandpa’s brother molested me I asked these questions to myself for over 20 years. I told no one!

YES. WHY ME?

I still remember my uncle. I will never forget what I experienced as his filthy, wrinkled, dirty and dry hands rushed over my body. I was a virgin. No one in my family had ever discussed sex with me. I was innocent. I had no idea men would do this to a young girl. I imagine some people would say I instigated him, after all, I had really pretty dancer legs and a nice chest. I wore shorts and a T-shirt. Yes, I wore shorts. Bermuda shorts, not the Daisy Duke style that showed my ‘sweet cheeks.’ My T-shirt wasn’t tight. Besides, if I was riding with my uncle in his delivery truck, I was safe!

Or, was I?

During the molestation, I fought back. I balled my fist. I screamed. I looked around, hoping someone would hear me and rescue me. My uncle drove to a red clay dirt road. He parked his delivery truck. He took his hands off the steering wheel, smiling a wicked smile at me. Placing his right hand on my thigh, he motioned for me to move closer.

“What are you doing? I thought you were making deliveries in Smiths Station today. You said I could help you.”

“And you’re going to help me today,” he laughed. He moved both hands higher, crawling up my chest. I grabbed his hands.

He jumped over to my side of the truck. “I want to get to know you better. You’re so pretty. You’ve probably got lots of boyfriends. Let me teach you what a real man can do to you!”

I screamed. Balling my fist, I swung at him, hitting him right where I needed to so he would stop touching me. I grabbed the door of the truck, opened it and I jumped, running as fast as I could to get away from him. I glanced back to see if he was coming after me. The truck was still stopped, so I rushed into a thin forest area of tall pine trees. The dust from the road caused me to have shallow breathing, so I hovered down, hoping he would leave and not find me. Smiths Station was only a ten-mile-walk. My legs would get me home.

Moments later, I heard the truck. I rushed into thicker forest hoping he would not find me before I made it to the busy highway. He gunned the engine of the truck. I burst into tears, horrified he might kill me.

Suddenly his truck moved towards me.

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

“No. I’m not getting in the truck and you are not taking me home.”

He stopped the truck and rushed towards me. His hands grabbed me again. I screamed a chilling sound, hoping someone would hear me.

“Leave me alone. Don’t touch me. Don’t you ever touch me again!”

He pushed me towards his truck, opening the door, telling me to get inside.

“No,” I cried. Tears pouring down my face. “I’m walking home.”

“No, you ain’t. If you walk home, someone might see you. I’m a deacon in the church. If you say something, no one will ever believe you. Besides, all I did was touch you, feel you up a bit, just to see what you had.”

“You’re really a pervert, aren’t you?”

“I’m driving you home. Tell your mama we finished early. Don’t you tell her or anyone. You hear me? Don’t tell anyone I wanted to get to know you better.”

I never spoke to my uncle again. In church, when he looked at me, I turned away. At a family reunion I refused to speak to him or hug him. My mother wanted to know why.

“I have my reasons,” I said. A few minutes later, I left. I did not want to even look his way. When he died, my mother phoned me, wanting me to come to his funeral.

“He can burn in Hell,” I said, “That bastard tried to rape me. If I send flowers, I’ll send black, dead roses. That’s all he deserves! I will not come to the funeral.”

I find it strange, today that I am remembering when my uncle molested me. Believe me when I say, a victim of sexual molestation NEVER FORGETS. At times, it is like a continuous loop video playing over and over, in nightmares or when something triggers the memory, like today when a sexual pervert walks free – just like my grandpa’s brother did.

Bastards!


CHAPTER TWO – ROOTS

Dearest Rebecca:

Sometimes in life, we must write a letter to ourselves for us to heal. Writing the message gets the words down…opening the mind to what happened, how we coped, and, most of all, how we learned to love again. For years, I lived without love. Why? Simple. I thought I was unworthy of love. After all, no one in this world would ever love someone so outspoken, independent, and threatening as I was. At least those were the words I grew up hearing over…and over…and over again! I believed I was a monster. I stood alone; after all, no one loves me! And so today, Dear Rebecca, I address this letter to you, after all – no one knows you better than you know yourself. You are Rebecca!

Sitting here in the early morning light, I reminisce about my childhood, and I am thankful. So thankful I had a strong-willed grandmother teaching me faith. Grateful, I found guidance woven within the fingertips of her hands. I watched her with a critical, curious eye when she folded her hands in prayer. I listened to her. When she whispered ever so softly praying for God to guide her and give her strength to cope with these burdens. I learned so much just by watching her actions — the beliefs and values she taught me are priceless.

My grandmother influenced my life by guiding me as she practiced the values, philosophies, and standards she shared in her actions and prayers. Without her guidance, I would not be the woman I am today.

I am thankful that I got to know and improve my relationship with my father. As a child, I overlooked his indiscretions. When my mother criticized him for his quick temper, I looked to see a different person. In my innocent eyes, I saw a caring man who adored singing with me. He taught me how to harmonize and to sing from the pit of my stomach. He taught me to believe in the power of God’s words, and when he rarely spoke about his identical twin brother who died too young, I saw the pain on my father’s face. I wanted him to love me like he loved his twin brother. I wanted to learn more about their dreams of harmonizing and preaching the gospel to others. When my father lost his temper, beating my mother, I was the five-year-old little girl who ran between them, pushing my hands on their hot bodies to move them apart. I was the one who strove to see the good and not the bad in relationships. I am grateful that I overlooked the sadness of a volatile man who only showed his anger behind the closed doors of our home. Singing and preaching in church, no one knew the secrets of our family. When Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I am grateful that I was the daughter to step up and care for him. Due to his terminal illness, I learned to reach out to other family members while praying they would respond to Dad and me. I am thankful we had a small amount of time to heal childhood wounds while we developed a closer relationship before we said goodbye.

As a woman, I am thankful I found the courage to survive when the storms of life threaten me. I am grateful that I have an inner strength that helps me find the courage to survive.

Reflecting on my childhood, now I recognize how painful it was. Yes, as I look back on my life as a child, I could dwell on the heartache and pain, the many episodes of family abuse, and the hatred that appeared to dance inside our family. However, as my father said to me during his torrential battle with esophageal cancer, I chose to move forward. I do want to move forward, to wash all of the hurt and anger away. While it still dances inside my mind at times, I wish to bid the rage and abuse goodbye permanently.

As a young child, I lived in fear. Fear of my parents and their habitual demeanor of shouting angry, hateful words to each other. Never did I hear my mother or father say, “I love you,” to each other or the children of their marriage. Most households awaken to children laughing with excitement for the events of the day. Morning hugs are shared. I hungered to have just one morning where my mother would hug me before I left the house. Monsters appeared inside our household, inside the cantankerous voice of my mother and the boisterous shouting of my father. My mother taught me to be seen, not heard. Relatives described me as shy. I haven’t addressed our household as a home because it wasn’t home. A home is where a family goes to receive love, attention, and a feeling of belonging. Home is a place to share life’s events and life’s tragedies, a place where children come for comfort and guidance. As a child, I was a stranger trapped within four walls. We moved like drifters, never establishing roots or cherished memories. Never did I feel a sense of belonging, except for school.

Deep inside my heart, I struggled to find positive, happy thoughts, seeing them only in the energy, happiness, and pride I found whenever I sang or wrote. For years, I kept a diary, hiding it underneath my mattress, and that is where I slowly learned to feed positive energy to myself. “A home is where the heart is,” only my heart never felt comfortable within my birth family, except for the wisdom and knowledge I received from my maternal grandmother and my father – on his good days.

Once I heard the quote, “Turn a negative into a positive,” I asked my teacher how someone could do that. She smiled at me, saying, “By applying positive feedback and believing in yourself. Don’t allow others to discourage your dreams.”

My teacher’s encouragement remained with me. I recognized that my home situation was venomous. The toxic words I heard so often felt as poisonous as the stings from a yellow jacket or a snake, burning inside my brain and body. Hurting. Demolishing. I realized that to survive, I had to build myself up by feeding positive brain thoughts. Although I was a child, I could not permit negative thoughts to destroy what I desired in my life. My life was up to me. Slowly, ever so slowly, I applied the newfound knowledge of turning a negative into a positive. Whenever I heard my mother tell me I was a stupid child, I visualized being smart. I read books. I studied. I did everything within my power not to be a foolish child, and before the age of thirteen, I realized I was not stupid. In school, I made all A’s. I sang in the choir, and whenever a project was assigned, I worked hard to make the best grade in the class. Teachers complimented me on my writing and researching talents. The choir director told me I had a lovely voice, and when the words of destruction from my mother’s voice echoed in my head, I fed myself positive thoughts. After all, I wasn’t stupid.

Although I was young, the struggles of my life taught me courage. I was on a journey to find the young girl who would become the woman I am today. Many people have told me that as adults, we are a reflection of our parents. I was determined to break the toxic, backbiting habits of my mother. Yes, I watched her actions, making mental notes to make my life different. Observing her manipulations, I chose to do things in a different style.

 Life is so precious, and we must cherish every breath we take, every moment we live. The only regret I have now is the reality that my mother and I never made peace. Repeatedly, I tried. My mother allowed negativity to feed anger within her. Now, she was in the twilight years of her life, struggling to become stronger after a stroke. Before this, she allowed the many storms of her life to destroy her. Filled with anger and resentment, she rarely shared compliments or encouragement. Instead, she spat back with a toxic attitude, telling me I would never amount to nothing but a hill of beans. I grew to hate her attitude towards me. Perhaps her resentment was a reflection of her innermost desires. Maybe she considered herself a failure, and now, in the twilight years, she realized her life was circumscribed. Mortality was knocking at her door, and there was nothing she could do to fight it.

Or – maybe – my mother was jealous of me and the relationship I developed with my father. I overlooked his temper as a child, and when he sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me, I melted. Just maybe…just maybe I was lovable, after all!

During her struggle to survive, I challenged myself to look at my mother’s life. Although she never shared her childhood stories, or the romance and marriage, I realized there had to be pain intertwined within the core of her persona. The only time I recall her showing any emotion was on the day she and Dad separated. Arriving at home, I found her in tears. When I ask her what was wrong, she replied, “Your damned daddy has left me. It’s all your fault. You’re the one who told him to leave yesterday. I hope you are happy now, you stupid bitch.” Her hand slammed hard on my face, leaving a fiery redness I felt for hours. Rubbing my face, I tugged at her apron strings. “But you said you wanted him to die. Over and over, you said you hoped Daddy would die soon. Don’t you remember saying that to me when I was little?”

“You shut up. Death is different…You have time to mourn. Divorce…Why Divorce is something shameful, especially for a Southern woman.”

Regardless of how cruel she was, I learned to accept her as a lost woman. A woman who never achieved her own goals. A woman angry that the man she married chose to divorce her instead of standing by her. Angry. So enraged at how she could be so hypocritical. Infuriated that her children grew up, refusing to remain by her side. Angry that no one else wanted to be her friend or companion. The red-eyed monster of anger captivated her. She could not see the deceptions she created, blaming him for the thunderstorms in her life, nor could she accept responsibility for her actions.

Still, to this day, I regret how my mother would not allow me to be close, but now that I am older and wiser, I recognize that she behaved in the same hateful, malicious demeanor to others, especially to my dad.

After my mother’s death, I have recognized that our relationship is now a closed matter. We cannot sit down together to attempt another open discussion of why we were so estranged. She is gone.

On the night of her death, I did not receive a phone call from the nursing home or hospital. Later, I found out why.

My alienated sister phoned me 16 hours after her death, letting me know the funeral would be a graveside service. She inhaled and slurred her words. “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

I didn’t answer. Maybe I was in shock, or perhaps I was uncomfortable talking to this woman who was a distant family member I did not know. I hadn’t seen her in years; nevertheless, spoken to her. The last time I saw her was when I visited my mother’s home alone, and this deranged woman known as my sister slapped me three times, leaving bruises.

Later that evening, while sleeping in my bed, I awoke to the words, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy,” rushing through my brain. Nothing I could do or say could bring my mother back. I had to find peace. I needed to come to terms with what happened on the night of her death. Although she was an embittered woman with a poisonous tongue, I loved her. She gave me life. Watching her actions, I learned that I was the one responsible for my character, my values, and my beliefs. My life was up to me to build, and I did not wish to allow others to destroy me. I have realized that I am the woman I am today, thanks to all that I’ve survived. I found strength and purpose inside an unhappy home that should’ve taught me obliteration. Instead of walking in the shadows of my mother, I chose to walk alone. I suppose I have finally found my way home.

Sincerely,

Rebecca


Dearest Readers:

Today is Memorial Day. I’ve written about it, posting it on my blog. Now that hubby and I have spent a quiet day together; I chose to post something here. A few weeks ago, I lost an acquaintance/friend who battled cancer during the Pandemic. Since I was in significant pain from a broken back and I have asthma, I could not visit her. I was still wearing a cumbersome back brace. When she died, I couldn’t attend the funeral since asthma was causing me to cough violently. Another friend and I sent flowers to her funeral. I’m still hoping they were received.

This week, another acquaintance passed away. Well, I believe it was last week. She had a heart attack at the age of 46-years-old. Never did I meet her in person, but I do feel her loss. Occasionally, she would ask me questions about writing since she desired to write. I told her to ‘write from the heart.’ When she posted some of her stories on FB, I enjoyed reading them, along with her fans.

These two losses are talking to me, just like the voice would speak to me after losing my father. After his death, I spent days and nights working diligently to finish the story, CONDITION OF LIMBO. One year later, it was published. 

In 2005, I became a travel writer, targeting the Eastern and Southern states, focusing on hospitality, travel, and food. During this time, in the middle of the night, I thought of a title for a book. CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD. When I mentioned the title in my writer’s group, I discovered the story’s plot was missing. Yes. I had characters I could quickly develop, but what was the story? 

I placed the title in my Works-in-Progress file, keeping it tucked away. After losing two friends, I’ve realized again just how short life is. I’ve found myself saying I don’t want to write, or I’m too tired to write. My writing sucks. I hate writing, and of course, I’ve procrastinated, telling myself I can write tomorrow.

But wait. What if I don’t have a tomorrow, and what if CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD remains as an outline. Nothing more? I feel it must be told, shared with my reading public. I must share this poignant story about the relationships of mothers and daughters who cannot make peace with one another. 

So, tonight while I sit at my computer writing, I am making another commitment to:

  1. Revise and submit the book proposal I began many years ago.
  2. I must stop listening to those dreams I constantly have telling me a) You are not a writer; b) What makes you think you can write? c) If you complete CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD, everyone who reads it will know. d) I told you many times you couldn’t write or sing, and now you see I was right!
  3. I will complete the story of CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD while submitting the book proposal to agents and publishers.

Dearest Readers:

Today in the United States of America we celebrate Memorial Day. Many people will be at the beach, partying, drinking, and just having a grand time. Others may celebrate while shopping or attending cookouts. My husband and I will have a quiet day of rest, while remembering those who have lost loved ones in war zones.

Phil and I are fortunate. While he was in Vietnam, I did not celebrate Memorial Day partying. I spent that day organizing and packing a care package to ship to him, complete with homemade cookies and other goodies he could share with his platoon.

Today, I am thankful he returned home to me, although in many ways, the soldier is still over in the fields of Vietnam. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] changed Phil. I anticipated he would be the same soldier I watched him boarding the airplane headed to Vietnam. Tears filled my eyes and I prayed God would keep him safe. I’m thankful the USA learned lots after Vietnam. To my knowledge, soldiers are not shipped into a warzone alone now. They depart in platoons. Families, especially the wives, are offered orientations and meetings to prepare them for the soldier’s return home. Never did I have any of those meetings offered to me while Phil was in Vietnam. The only thing I attended was a meeting of the Waiting Wives Club. While sitting in a chair, I listened to a woman sharing dates and times we needed to know, as waiting wives. The only ideas I heard were where the happy hours were, and where we, as waiting wives, could party while our loved ones were fighting the war. Letters sent to Phil daily took ten days to arrive, and ten days for a letter to come to me. We did not have computers to zoom, or facetime on our phones. Cell phones, including I-phones did not exist. Twice Phil phoned me from Vietnam and twice I wasn’t home. Silly me, I wrote him a letter apologizing for not being home to answer his call, then I encouraged him to go to a local phone booth and phone me again. Since I didn’t listen to the news about the war, I imagined he lived in barracks. The phone he used was a Mars station. Duh. I didn’t know!

I was at work both times that he called. During the entire one year and five days that he was away, I wrote him daily. Originally, he was scheduled to return home to the USA on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day dragged by. No phone call. No message. Nothing to indicate that he was on his way home. Still I counted the days. On the third day awaiting his return without any communication, I contacted the American Red Cross. When they returned my phone call, I was told (and I quote) “When he is missing for thirty days, contact us again and we will see what we can do to assist you.”

Thirty days?

“I have to wait thirty days? I will be in an insane asylum if I must wait thirty days! Thank you so much, American Red Cross. I donate to you yearly, but after today, I will never donate to your organizations ever again!”

And I haven’t! Only a military wife or husband can imagine how difficult it is just to wait for your loved one to return home. I could not sleep. Every time the home telephone rang, I jumped into action, hoping and praying I would hear his voice. On the fifth day in the early evening, the phone rang. Phil was in the US, in Washington State. His next flight would be to Dallas, Texas and then he would land in Atlanta, GA, arriving in Columbus, GA the next morning.

“I’ll meet you in Atlanta at the airport,” I said, thrilled to hear his voice and to know he was finally coming home. I drove to Atlanta, arriving at the airport at 10:00pm. I found the gate where his flight would arrive and I sat there waiting. And waiting once again! At 2:15am he arrived!

Since that date, we always celebrate Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other holidays together.

So, today, Memorial Day, 2021, I would like to wish all of the United States of America a happy and safe Memorial Day, especially wishing the HHC 3rd Brigade 9th Infantry Division a special and Happy Memorial Day.

May God bless all of our Veterans. Happy Memorial Day, 2021.


Dearest Readers, tomorrow, May 9, 2021, is Mother’s Day. Like every Mother’s Day, I reflect on my mother and the estranged history we shared. I am so envious of those who had such wonderful, caring mothers. Never did I. As much as I tried to make peace, we could not. In 1978, I visited my mother, only to be shunned by her once again. She told my son I was a drunk and a whore. Such a lovely, pleasant fabrication for a grandmother to tell her grandchild. When I approached her, she screamed at me. In 1988, another attempt was made for us to make peace. Arriving at her apartment, I hoped she would hug me like I’ve seen other mothers hug their child. I opened my arms, anxious for her embrace, instead, her toxic tongue started shouting again. She was angry that we arrived in a camper, not staying with her. In all honesty, when I saw how filthy her house was, I knew we could not stay there. During the fall of 1992, I revisited her, finally tracking her down in Warm Springs, Georgia. My youngest sister, Savannah, was staying with her after becoming homeless. Savannah glared at me.

“You think you’re something, don’t you,” she shouted. “Walking in here just like you own the world. Just look at you. You bitch.” Her right hand slapped my face hard, stinging and leaving a bruise.

Mom watched. Never did she reprimand Savannah.

“I think it’s time I left,” I whispered. “I didn’t come here to be mistreated or abused.”

“Oh. That’s right, Rebecca Sue. You go ahead and run away from a fight. I reckon you do think you’re better than us. Ain’t you? Just go. I never want to see you again.” Mama turned away.

Yes. I walked away, refusing to lower my standards to Savannah or my mother. I wanted to make peace. All they wanted was a repeat of the history we shared. The fights. Verbal attacks and intolerance we shared. I chose to stay away, recognizing the reality that some families can never make peace.

Perhaps this essay will be another chapter in “CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD.” [My latest work-in-progress]:
Mama wore her best house dresses when she was in a good mood, which wasn’t often enough. Those days, it felt as if the sunshine from the window kissed the living room with colors of the rainbow, at least for me.
Mama would smile at me and say, “Honey, can you curl my hair?”
After I shampooed her hair, I curled it with jumbo rollers. My fingers shook as I rolled her hair. If the curl was too tight, she’d get a headache. She screamed in pain while her hands slapped my face. If it was too loose, the curl would flop, and she’d remind me I had no talent to style hair or do anything right. Her actions spoke volumes about her lack of love for me.
Sometimes, she smiled into the mirror, nodding with delight when finished. During those special moments with her, I took the time to make my Mama up with makeup. Her skin was olive, as smooth as a baby’s behind—no wrinkles or age spots. When I lined her eyes with black velvet eyeliner, she could equal the beauty of Cleopatra or Elizabeth Taylor. I never understood why Mama failed to make skincare and makeup part of her daily routine.
Mama never believed in routines. She lived her life only for the moment and the next handout from someone else.
“It don’t matter to your daddy or me if I fix myself up,” she said. “He don’t care about me. Why should I?”
Never did Mama hug or kiss me with her acceptance. I dare not ask if she liked her hair or makeup. I knew better. The sting of her palm on my face told me when I was not meeting her approval. I prayed she wouldn’t notice my anxiety or my trembling hands. When I asked how she wanted her hair styled this time, she looked in the mirror, scratched her head, pulling the gray strands out.
“Stupid girl, you should know how I like my hair styled! Cover the gray roots,” she said. “Tease it high. Don’t let nobody see how gray I’m getting. I don’t care how it looks, as long as the gray roots ain’t showing.”
She refused to get her hair colored, afraid the chemicals would do something to her brain. She said, “Cancer runs in our family. We can’t take a chance to get that disease ’cause it kills. My great-grandmother had head cancer. She had such bad headaches her mind was gone. Don’t you put no chemicals in my hair. I don’t want my brain or my head fried with Cancer. You listen to me, Rebecca Sue. Don’t let nothing fry my head.”
May 2002 was the last Mother’s Day I shared with my mother. Reportedly, she suffered a fall at Savannah’s apartment in early April. Savannah shouted at her, shoving her down the stairs. She was in a hurry, and she was tired of taking care of her ‘old lady,’ so she chose to leave our mother suffering on the floor. That afternoon a home health nurse came to check on our mother, discovering her lying face down, her clothing soiled from body fluids and feces. Her face was pulled down to the left side, left lip bruised and battered. When she struggled to move, she could not. The nurse documented her condition, diagnosing a possible stroke.
The home health nurse phoned me. “I suspect your mother has suffered a stroke. She’s at E-R now.”
“I’ll make arrangements and leave later this afternoon. It will take at least eight hours before I can be there,” I said. “Where’s Savannah?”
The nurse hesitated, suggesting I should speak to the doctor on call when I arrived.
I knew something was questionable. This was not the first time my mother had injuries while under Savannah’s care.
On Mother’s Day, Mom was still in the hospital. On that morning, I arrived early, placing a pale blue gift bag on her bed. Her eyes opened. She glanced at the bag, struggling to speak.
“B-Blue skies,” she muttered. Her right arm moved to touch the bag. I reached inside the bag, removing a blue gift box. I opened the box slowly. Mom’s eyes blinked as she struggled to smile, admiring the cultured pearl earrings inside the box.
A few minutes later, I placed the pierced earrings in her ears. Mom sighed, touching the right ear with her right hand. She slurred ‘thank you’ and fell back to sleep.
I stayed with my mother all of that Mother’s Day, feeding her and making her comfortable. That Mother’s Day was the last Mother’s Day we shared.
On September 11, 2002, my mother died under ‘questionable circumstances.’ Savannah spent that night with her at the hospital. When Savannah phoned me in the late evening of September 12, she appeared intoxicated. Her last slurring words to me were, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
Two years after her death, Garrett and I drove to Columbus. We dropped by the cemetery to see my mother’s grave. The years of mental and physical abuse from my mother were buried with her. I placed a bouquet of red roses on her headstone, kissed it, and whispered, “I know we were never close, but I hope you’ve found peace now. May you rest in peace, Mom. I loved you.”
Thinking about my childhood, the physical and mental abuse, I found it strange that Savannah was repeating the vicious cycle of physical abuse. In contrast, I found peace, refusing to allow violence or abuse of any kind within my family.
On Mother’s Day, 2015, I reflect on my mother, our estranged history together, and the questionable circumstances of her death. Savannah buried her in a closed casket. Due to another bout of acute bronchial asthma, I was unable to get to the funeral. Perhaps there was a reason for an autopsy to be performed, but now, my mother rests in peace. I hope and pray she died peacefully. Mother’s Day is always a day of reflection, sadness, and curiosity, and I pray that all mothers will have a wonderful day enjoying motherhood.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


copyright: Barbie Perkins-Cooper

Childhood is a time of great joy and remembrance for most people. The carefree days of laughter, hope, freedom and pride is only a glimpse into what the future holds. Most people can reflect on childhood by looking back at preserved photographs captured during birth, a first haircut, loss of the first tooth, taking that most important first step, birthday parties, and so many innocent events during the journey of life. For me, that is not the case. My childhood snapshots were tossed away by my mother when I left her home.

            I have no idea why she tossed me away, like yesterday’s spoiled, rotten trash. One of my cousins said she grabbed all of my pictures and threw them away in a fit of anger when I left home. She yanked my senior picture off the wall, throwing it into the trash. “I never want to hear her name again in this house. She’s gone – forever,” my mother shouted in a fit of rage. I pictured my mother, rushing about, rummaging through my empty dresser drawers, and closet, while she swept photographs and all memories of me away, like yesterday’s trash. “Out of sight, out of mind,” she said, tossing the images of me into the trash.

            The only picture I salvaged is a tattered black and white 8 x 10 photograph of me as a five-year-old. My hair was long, golden blonde locks of ringlet curls. I wore a lace dress with a ruffled collar. A pink bow was in my hair. My eyes glistened with brightness for what the future held for me. Little did I know this picture, preserved for many years in my father’s scrapbook collection, was the only image illustrating my existence.

            The lukewarm water of the Atlantic Ocean tickles my toes as it rushes to reach high tide. I inhale the scent of ocean air, salt and sea delicacies, crabs, shrimp, sea turtles and the humid dampness of the ocean.

            Later, as the sun is setting, I stroll along the shore, watching the warm salt water cover my toes and I am so thankful to be here, along the shores of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Station 27 oceanfront is the place where I feel home. I have love and acceptance and such pride to be alive and accepted. Although people speak to me while I saunter along the shore, they recognize me as ‘one of the regulars here,’ but they do not know me. Yes, they know my name and they know I live nearby, but they do not know who I am or what I believe in. Nor do they know I came from the shores of the Chattahoochee River and the mill town of Bibb City. They see a reflection of success and envy in me and I must laugh when I hear them whisper my name. She’s a travel writer, they whisper.

            Continuing my stroll, the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse is only a stone’s throw away. Standing over 140 feet tall, in the shape of a triangle, the lighthouse is a signature landmark for the community and was designed by the Coast Guard in 1962. Stopping to gaze at this amazing concrete structure, I recognize this is where my roots are planted. My foundation for home and life are here, along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, I feel safe, bonded in the arms of God along the shores of Sullivan’s Island at the beach at Station 27. The lighthouse stands as a beacon of light to guide me home, and that is when I realize, I have finally found home, here where my heart and soul are one.

            “Home is where the heart is,” my mother said to me as a child and as a newly married woman. “I’ve never had a home,” I spat back at her, realizing I held my love back, protecting it because my life was always filled with ridicule and criticism. No one had really loved me until my husband came into my life.

I said goodbye to my mother in 1988, the morning after my high school class reunion. On that morning, my son interrupted my sleep by asking me what a whore was. I rubbed my eyes, stumbling awake to ask where he had heard the word.

“Granny called you a whore. What’s a whore, Mommy? It’s something bad, isn’t it.”

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

“Why would she call you that word?”

“That’s a good question, and I will ask her in a minute. You go back to sleep.” I kissed Michael on the cheek, tucking him in with his father. I slipped on my robe, and headed to my mother’s room.

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

“I did no such a thing.”

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

The argument continued for an hour. Garrett awoke to the shouting. Recognizing this conversation would be an eternal shouting match of two stubborn women who butted heads all the time, he said we were leaving. I grabbed our luggage and stormed out of the house, refusing to look back. I cried an endless ocean of tears from Columbus, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. Michael apologized for starting the argument. I responded that he was not the problem. My life as a child of the Chattahoochee, the daughter to a woman who could not show love at all, was the problem. The only solution was to build my life with my family, Garrett and Michael.

I made the decision to leave Bibb City after my marriage to Garrett. I never looked back when we drove away. My head remained high, a happy smile on my face, my husband squeezing my hand. 

Although I felt compelled to look back, to wave goodbye to my mother and the city of my childhood, I remained strong. I would not cry. I would not glance back one last time. I was taking one final giant step to freedom and my journey as a woman, laying a corner stone to a new life built with love, strength, and a solid foundation. I did not want to unlock the door to my skeletons, nor did I want the ghosts to follow me. If I weakened, if my face quivered, or if a tear slipped down my cheek, my new world would crumble. I wanted to grasp that new world, to build a solid groundwork to a new and better life. The decisions I made were the right decisions for me. Yes, I was paying a price. My mother would never forgive me for leaving her, and if I allowed her to, she would manipulate me, finding a way to destroy everything good in my new life.

When new friends asked about my mother, I changed the subject, afraid to express the bitterness she demonstrated by her actions. Once at a dinner engagement, a lanky auburn haired woman inquired about my family.

“They’re in Georgia,” I said.

“You never speak of them.”

“Did you cut your hair?” I asked.

“You’re avoiding the question, aren’t you?”

“There are some things in life better left unsaid.” I excused myself and walked away.

I realized home is where the heart is. My heart was in Charleston, not Bibb City, or the Chattahoochee. My life in Charleston was filled with suburban roots, and a solid brick foundation, not a detour route of housing projects, endless moves from one place to another during the school year, mill villages, hatred, physical and sexual abuse, and nothing to refer to as home. The windows to my world reflected love, pride, and ambition. I pinched myself to bring myself back to reality. I did not wish to remember the disturbing disconnections I shared with my mother.


Dear Readers:

Earlier, I posted a review on the BBB web site regarding our nightmares with Blue Raven Solar. You may read it below.

My review of Blue Raven Solar is DO NOT BUY FROM THEM! We signed our documents in August, 2020. November 30 was the first day scheduled to install our solar panels. The office of Blue Raven Solar sent me a text prior to the November 30 scheduled date telling me we needed to reschedule our installation due to the fact Blue Raven had lost one of their teams. The earliest date to install our solar panels would be December 28, 2020. I called them, letting them know this was not acceptable. I wanted the scheduled date of November 30, not December 28. On November 30, the techs arrived. Well, the solar panels were not on the property on that day. The next day two teams showed up; however, The Columbia, SC team was not trained. All they did was SMOKE cigarettes on our property. It has taken November, December, January, and February to get these solar panels in a working stage. Now that they are ready to turn on, we cannot do this until the inspectors finalize the installation.

Believe me when I say:

  1. Blue Raven Solar is anxious to assist you when you apply for service. Afterwards? They could care less!
  2. Blue Raven Solar rarely returns phone calls. I’ve had to call so many times that they know who I am!
  3. Blue Raven Solar makes promises that NEVER happen! EXCUSES? Blue Raven Solar finds all types of excuses. EXCUSES…AND MORE EXCUSES!
  4. I could continue listing all the issues we’ve had. I’ve documented every one! The file I have looks like a manuscript! When someone from their office contacted me last week, he (and MANY other team PLAYERS) assured me they would get to the bottom of this. He apologized for my being so displeased, and he reassured me I would be happy with them soon. THAT IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING I CERTAINLY DO NOT BELIEVE.
  5. What exactly are the issues we’ve endured with Blue Raven Solar??? We failed to receive our 2020 Solar Energy Property Credit since our solar panels are not working yet! Due to the improper installation/scheduling delays — NOT DUE TO OUR ELECTRIC COMPANY — BERKELEY ELECTRIC, but due to the lack of scheduling at Blue Raven Solar! In all honesty, it appears that Blue Raven Solar makes promises to customers; however, they fail to honor those promises!

Please, do your due diligence before you sign a contract with them. Undoubtedly, BLUE RAVEN SOLAR has the worst customer service I’ve ever dealt with. They fail to return phone calls. They fail to answer emails. One email I sent to them requesting updates and service on December 23, 2020, NEVER GOT A REPLY. They blamed the holidays. Excuses. EXCUSES. E-X-C-U-S-E-S! On December 28, I called Blue Raven Solar requesting a response from the email I SENT ON December 23, 2020. I spoke with Melissa. She assured me Jacob would reply. “He wasn’t there…” Imagine that!

Later, we heard from Southstar Electric in response to the electric issues we had. Blue Raven Solar approved the electric issues at their expense but the permit could take two days.

January 8, 2021 — again I phoned Blue Raven Solar since no one returns phone calls, or phones to let the customer know WHEN and IF Blue Raven Solar would schedule the work. Melissa said she would contact the field manager to get this scheduled.

On several dates, we had no knowledge of Blue Raven scheduled to work on our property. They simply SHOWED UP!

Now, it’s February, 2021. Still WAITING!

Earlier this week, Blue Raven Solar phoned me to let me know they had been in contact with our electric company to get this inspection completed. He assured me he would phone me Thursday to let me know the date and time. LAUGH. LAUGH — LAUGH. We never heard from him!

Friday, a tech from Blue Raven Solar arrived. Apparently, the inspection hasn’t been scheduled. With the ethics and customer service lacking in the Blue Raven Solar organization who knows what will happen and IF we will EVER be able to have WORKING solar panels! Yesterday, the tech said our solar panels SHOULD be working no later than NEXT FRIDAY! FEBRUARY 19, 2021. I have my doubts! Meanwhile, our electric bills continue rising. Oh. Blue. Raven. Solar. Your entire corporation needs major customer service skills. Your techs need training. Your management NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND BLUE RAVEN SOLAR NEEDS TO ANSWER EMAILS AND RETURN PHONE CALLS AND THEY NEED TO TRAIN THE CREWS NOT TO SMOKE ON THE CUSTOMERS PROPERTY! I imagine IF I drained my pond, I would find cigarette butts. All to the credit of Blue Raven Solar!

I pray this nightmare will end soon. If ever you speak with Blue Raven Solar about solar panels, DO NOT SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE! If you do, you will have NIGHTMARES! Do YOUR Due Diligence and run away from them!

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