Carolina Opry – Myrtle Beach, SC…A Must See and Do!!!

Going to Myrtle Beach this year??? If so, plan to attend the Carolina Opry for a grand show of talent galore! This is truly a must see and do while in Myrtle Beach! Don’t miss it!!!

For Immediate Release
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Media Contact:
Jordan Watkins
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LaToya London of American Idol to Join Carolina Opry Cast
LaToya London, American Idol Finalist, to join the cast of The Carolina Opry and Good Vibrations. Featured in this season’s American Idol show as one of “The Three Divas,” LaToya was grouped with the likes of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and R&B powerhouse Fantasia Barrino. LaToya will add a dynamic element to the stage of The Calvin Gilmore Theater for the summer season 2013.
An American Idol finalist and a multiple award winner, London’s undeniable presence and amazing vocals managed to silence the razor-sharp tongue of American Idol’s most infamous judge, Simon Cowell. Following American Idol, London signed with Peak records to release her debut album, Love and Life, which landed in the Billboard top 100 and spawned three successful singles, including the 40 hit, State of My Heart. After touring the talk show circuit on shows such as Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres, London entered the world of live theater in the Oprah Winfrey tour of The Color Purple with fellow Idol and close friend Fantasia Barrino. London later joined the Los Angeles production and was awarded the 2013 Ovation Award for “Best Featured Actress in a Musical.”
London will perform with the award-winning cast of both The Carolina Opry and Good Vibrations June 3 through September 7, 2013. Shows nightly at 7:30 pm at The Calvin Gilmore Theater, closed Sundays. Call for full schedule and to book, 800-843-6779 or visit
More About The Carolina Opry
Gilmore Entertainment has long been the leader of musical variety show entertainment in the Southeast, with the classic Carolina Opry show and their newest hit, Good Vibrations. Gilmore and his Carolina Opry have been featured by USA Today, ABC Nightly News, Southern Living Magazine, Variety, and a host of other newspapers and television shows. It is the only Myrtle Beach show to receive the coveted South Carolina Governor’s Cup, as well as being voted South Carolina’s Most Outstanding Attraction. In recent years, Gilmore has performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and he is designated as South Carolina’s Official Country Music Ambassador.


My Weight Watchers Saga…

I remember the day I made a significant decision to change my life. Thursday, March 3, 2011. The morning began like most. Fresh coffee brewing…letting the dogs outside…checking e-mail…piddling around the house…I’m certain you probably get the picture…waking up sometimes is quite a chore! I turned the TV on, watching the Today Show. Listening to it, but not really caring what the broadcast had to say.

Since the New Year of 2011, I told myself I needed to lose more weight. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in early 2005, I reminded myself that even though I was losing, it still wasn’t enough. Jennifer Hudson sang on the TV. I listened…I simply love her voice. This time, I truly listened when she spoke about Weight Watchers and how she had lost 80 pounds.

“Wow,” I thought. “Maybe I should join Weight Watchers again. My mind drifted back to the first time I joined Weight Watchers…how humiliated I felt when the curtain was drawn so I could be weighed. I was mortified. I did not want to go back to Weight Watchers again, to feel the humiliation of “Oh goodness…did you see how much SHE weighs?”

I decided it was time for change…time to rejoin Weight Watchers, only this time, I would do it online.

“No,” a voice inside spoke. “You don’t do well alone with losing weight. But…I can’t feel that humiliation again…I just can’t.” A tear slipped down my face.

Time to research. I visited the website,, reading all that I could about Weight Watchers and their new Points Plus program. One description echoed in my ears. “Confidential weigh-ins…” But how could that be? The last time I joined Weight Watchers, I remember them closing a beige colored curtain. The scale was on the floor, but still, people could peek through the curtains to discover ‘your little secret…how much you weigh.’

The more I read, the more I decided…If Jennifer Hudson could do this, so could I. After all, she was a world-famous celebrity. Quickly, I dressed, put my makeup on and made the attempt to look as good as I could. The meeting was in Mt. Pleasant at 10:00 am.


At 9:15, I parked the car as far from the entrance as I could, closer to Wal-Mart than the sign of Weight Watchers. My heart was pounding. My eyes watered. I touched my trembling hands. “You can do this,” I whispered. “Remember…confidential weigh-ins…”

Opening the door, I prayed that I would not recognize anyone. My head was low, no eye contact. Normally when I walk into a room I make an entrance. This time, I simply wanted to blend into the woodwork. A wallflower, again. Quickly I filled out the forms. Trembling, I stood in the line in anticipation of the dreadful weight check. I watched as many women got on the scales. No curtain. No privacy. My mind drifted back to the date I joined Weight Watchers, over 20 years ago. Perhaps longer. Just how could this be ‘confidential weigh-ins?’ I listened, never hearing any numbers or weight gains shared. I glanced as a woman stepped on to the small-scale. This scale reminded me of the one I had at home, in the bathroom. Digital, supposedly accurate, I waited while wondering if the weight would blink next to my feet, and if someone else would read how much I weighed.

Stepping on the scales, I looked down. The receptionist standing behind a receptionist area smiled at me, welcoming me to Weight Watchers. I looked down, looking to read the blinking light of the scale, only there wasn’t anything blinking. “Did I break the scale?” I asked. No lights. No digital readout. Nothing.

“No,” she smiled. “I’m the only one who can read it back here. No one else knows… It’s OK. It is confidential! Things have changed and Weight Watchers wants you to feel welcome here.”

She handed me a small booklet. Recorded inside was my weight. No one else knew, or could read it. “Confidential weigh-ins.” I read the number. “Thank You, God,” I whispered. My secret was safe…only the receptionist and I knew the number, and she appeared sympathetic…understanding. I felt as if I could trust her!

I inhaled. Exhaled. I sat down — in the back row. I did not want to connect eye sight with anyone. I did not want anyone to recognize me.

I inhaled and exhaled again. My fingers continued to shake. My heart palpitated. Never did anyone inquire as to what I weighed. No one asked me if I was new. I began to realize that everyone in this crowded room was a “Weight Watcher.”

“It’s OK,” I said to myself. “Everyone here has walked in the same shoes…You’ve made the right decision.”

Moments later, a friendly, attractive woman with beautiful red hair and a pleasant and warm personality walked towards the front of the room. She stopped by me for a moment. “What’s your first name?” She asked.

I wanted to crawl through the woodwork. “Barbie,” I whispered. She wrote my name on a name tag, handing it to me. I placed it on my shirt, still looking at my feet.

She smiled and walked to the front of the room.

Shouting so all could hear, she said. “Welcome to Weight Watchers. My name is Kathy. I’m your leader!”

Two years later, I still fight with losing weight. I have learned to apply positive feedback. Instead of thinking “But I’ve only lost 35 pounds…in two years…” I tell myself, “Hey dummmy…just think of where the scales would tip IF you hadn’t joined Weight Watchers and made a great lifestyle change. Think of the clothes you could not wear…because they were too little…all of those gorgeous cocktail dresses that you had to give away…simply because they were too big! No doubt my Goodwill store appreciates me. Weight Watchers has taught me not to save those ‘big clothes…’ and I donate them to charity, instead.

I hate to even think where those scales would be now, but they would steadily be creeping up, instead of down. Now, on Thursdays, I sit with a great group of women…all who have walked in my shoes…all who have lost only “.02 of a pound weekly…for many weeks…” We encourage each other by reminding ourselves that we are still losing…even when we only lose .02! I’ve called us the “Two tenths club!”

Some of the nicest words I have heard in a long, long time are “Welcome to Weight Watchers,” and Kathy’s affectionate, happy words of ‘HE-LLLL-O,” at every meeting.

Yes, I have joined Weight Watchers…and my journey has been two years long, but during that time I have achieved many accomplishments…not simply weight loss, weight gain…and back and forth… I am able to walk on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge in Charleston — with an extremely painful arthritic knee that doesn’t ache as much after losing 35 pounds! AND — I have accomplished walking on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes daily! Not bad for someone with asthma!

Like the slogan says, “Weight Watchers…because it works!”

I am a believer now. Every Thursday I have a group of encouraging friends at the meetings. No longer do I hold my head down. I smile. Head held high and I share my stories…Weight Watchers…because it WORKS!!!

Goodbye, Wallflower!

Welcome to Greenville and Euphoria!

From September 26-29, 2013 Greenville’s most celebrated chefs will intermix with the following guest chefs:
Dale Talde – TALDE in Brooklyn, NY
Jeff McGinnis – Yardbird in Miami
James Boyce – Cotton Row in Huntsville, AL
Anthony Lamas – Seviche in Louisville
Ryan Smith – Empire State South in Atlanta
Rob Newton – Seersucker in Brooklyn
Mike Lata- FIG
José Gutierrez of River Oaks Restaurant in Memphis
Here’s a highlight of the new events this year:
Swine and Dine: A whole-hog roast in NOMA Square kicks off the euphoria weekend with a combination that is second to none. Craft beer from Sierra Nevada, craft spirits from Six & Twenty Distillery, delectable wines and tasty bites from Roost! It’s a soil to city party that sets the scene for a lively 2013 festival season. And yes, of course there will be live’s euphoria, y’all!

Traffic Jam: A traffic jam you’ll want to get stuck in! Come get gridlocked with us in an evening full of live music, craft beer & spirits, and an array of delicious food truck cuisine from Greenville and Atlanta. Don’t miss the chance to jam out at our first annual Traffic Jam!

Wine Auction/Reserve Tasting at Soby’s: euphoria for sale! Reserve tastings from Schug Winery with host Axel Schug, as well as Justin Vineyards, and an array of large format bottles and one-of-a-kind experiences that a true wine lover won’t want to miss. Enjoy tasty bites from Soby’s Chef, Shaun Garcia, and commemorative Riedel glassware to the first 100 guests.

A Night in Paris at Passerelle Bistro: Say “bonjour” to a progressive dinner with action stations, butler passed food and an evening that is tres magnificent! Featuring Chef Teryi Youngblood and Guest Chef Jose Gutierrez from River Oaks Restaurant in Memphis, TN with perfectly paired wines from Joseph Drouhin.
Musical Talent features:
Kim Carnes
Josh Leo
Adam Craig Band
Mark Rapp
Bob DiPiero
Tim Nichols
You can see the full event schedule at

Taryn Scher
The Sparkle Boss

Class Reunions

CLASS REUNIONS – Budding from a Wallflower to a Rose

Have you ever been to a class reunion and questioned why you bothered to come? Last month, my husband and I returned to my birth town, attending my class reunion. Previously, we’ve attended, only to watch class mates have a good time laughing, dancing, reminiscing while Phil and I sat at the table. Phil could not relate to my history in high school. He did not know me during that time, and perhaps that was a good thing. In high school, I was a wallflower…it didn’t help matters that during four years of high school, I enrolled in six high schools. My family moved lots…then my parents divorced and ever so quickly my mother moved us to our maternal grandparent’s home in Bibb City, the mill village located in Columbus, Georgia. I hated it there…I was rebellious and wanted to get away, but where could I go? I was fifteen-years-old, with a domineering mother who refused to listen to any of my wants or desires. Regretfully, I enrolled in high school with a new determination to graduate and move away from Bibb City. I got involved with the drama club, chorus and other clubs, but in class, I kept to myself.
I had big dreams. My most passionate dream was to move away from Bibb City and become a singer. In high school, I never shared my dreams with anyone. I remained a wallflower…keeping all of my dreams inside my brain.
The class reunions I’ve attended in Columbus were boring, at least for me. Those were the days when my husband dictated my actions. I felt as if he was more of a father to me than a husband…always controlling, dictating and disapproving of me. Many years later, I stood up to him during a fight, letting him know that his days of ruling me were over. After that fight, I slowly developed from a wallflower into a bright, colorful rose, and now, with my newfound courage, no one was going to stop me from doing what I wanted to do!
Many of the pictures I saw of myself from previous reunions revealed my boring actions…sitting at the table…wanting to dance, but too afraid my husband would get angry at me, if I bothered to dance and, as he stated, “make a scene.” This year, the class reunion would be different!
Like all long-term married couples, we’ve battled many difficulties in our marriage. Phil has a jealous streak, and whenever I ‘make a scene’ by getting noticed, or ‘taking over a room,’ let’s just say, he isn’t fun to be around…but the years have passed and I finally told him if he didn’t want to dance, or let me be the person I am today, well…he could stay home. I intended to have some fun. The class reunion this year truly was the best.
Arriving at the reunion, I wore a black and gold evening gown and a gold jacket. I was scheduled to sing, so I wanted to look my best. The dress code was ‘business casual,’ but I wanted to knock everyone’s socks off so they would remember me. I was tired of hearing, “No, I don’t remember you…but it’s nice seeing you again.” Oh please…let’s don’t be pretentious. My response to all of these classmates was, “You might not remember me from high school, but after tonight…you will remember me…You just wait!”
A few months before the reunion a classmate and I discussed the reunion. She heard me sing at a show when she came to Charleston, so she met with the reunion committee, encouraging them to add me to the ‘talent’ list.
My husband is not a dancer, and I love to dance. I have no idea how we fell in love, because we are from different worlds. I love to dance and sing. He’d rather watch a movie. I love to read. He’d rather watch a movie. I love to…well, you probably get the picture. We have little in common! As the band started to play music from the appropriate time of our graduation, I noticed several women going to the dance floor, without partners. I jumped up, ready to dance – with the girls. Before I realized it, I was dancing every dance…all of us girls lined up, dancing the Electric Slide, and other fast tunes. After all, in high school, isn’t that what girls do? We don’t care if the guys don’t dance. They can sit on the sidelines and be bored!
The talent show for the reunion was scheduled between band breaks. I’m pleased to say, I sang four songs at the class reunion. Only scheduled for two, but when other classmates heard me sing, they wanted more. Not willing to disappoint them, my husband queue up the music and I sang. At first, while standing on the stage, my legs felt like spaghetti. My heart fluttered. Emotions from my shattered childhood were rising to the surface. I inhaled. Exhaled. The memories locked away, I focused. Accustomed to singing on stage, I told myself to concentrate…”You can do this,” I repeated, as I belted out “At Last;” “Georgia On My Mind;” “Sweet Nothings;” and “I Who Have Nothing.”
My husband said the crowd roared with delight with each song, but I could not hear them. As a true and professional singer, I was focused on the voice, my movements, the notes and stage presence. I do know the classmates appeared to enjoy my performance. For me, it was so rewarding to sing to them, to realize that bad memories from a shattered childhood were finally leading me to become the woman I am today. My class reunion helped me to bury the past and to realize that one can go home again and enjoy the visit.
No doubt I will return for the next reunion. After all, these people were classmates…we were bonded with memories from the developing years of high school, stepping into the future of the life we dreamed of, some lived it, some passed away, and those of us who are left must cling to each other so we can reminisce and rebuild our relationships – together – as classmates!

Caregiving in America



Barbie Perkins-Cooper

During the holidays of 1997, my life was extremely busy until a shocking reality forced me to readjust my schedule, to make time for a new, unsuspecting emergency when my father needed me the most, during his illness. I was stepping into a new chapter of my life, green and naive of the responsibilities I would endure. The roles of life were reversing, and before the Christmas holidays of 1997 ended, I learned about new responsibilities while serving as the primary caregiver to my beloved, headstrong, and courageous father, Walter W. Perkins.
On December 9, I sat alone at the hospital waiting for the results of an endoscopy, feeling confident my dad would be fine. I flipped the pages of a magazine while waiting for the test results. When his doctor approached, I realized from his body language and the look in his eyes he did not have good news to report. When he whispered esophageal cancer, I screamed.
Later, I regained my composure, while the poisonous words of cancer echoed inside my head. How could this be? I pondered the diagnosis. Dad would need chemotherapy and radiation. I did not know if he would agree to the treatments, realizing that if he found the courage to fight such a dreadful cancer, he would become dreadfully sick. According to the doctors, chemotherapy could help, or because it was so toxic and powerful, it could kill him.
The prognosis was not a positive forecast. The oncologist estimated that he could live possibly six months; nevertheless, he was not able to retain food now and was malnourished. He needed a feeding tube, to pump nutrition into his stomach. If he did not respond and retain food soon, he would probably be dead within two weeks from malnourishment.
My heart palpitated as I realized my role model, mentor and advisor of life was terminally ill with a dreadful disease, and I was helpless to stop it. My father was my guiding light of life, always strong and healthy. Now, he would fight the battle of his life, and I had no doubt that I would be by his side for the duration of his illness. Our roles in life were reversing, only this time, I would become the caregiver to my devoted, charming, and loving 82-year old father.
I was not certain I was ready for this challenge, but I knew I would not allow him to fight the disease without me. Although I failed to understand the true definition of a primary caregiver, I would learn, and change my lifestyle schedule to be by his side. Realizing the nightmarish roller coaster ride I was on was a wake up call I hope to never experience again.
I was a proud, energetic, fulfilled woman of the baby boomer generation, the generation designated to babies born during the years of 1946-1964. I was involved in a demanding career, relieved that my son was grown and living on his own, planning to get married soon. Now, it was time for me to do what I wanted to do, until I realized my father would need me now, more than he needed anyone in his lifetime. I was the parent to my parent.
I accepted the challenge, never understanding how the cycles of life were spinning uncontrollably while I slowly stepped into the dreadful middle age years, stepping into a new chapter of my life as a caregiver.
Americans of the baby boomer generation are aging. Approximately one of four American households is involved in some form of care giving. The number of primary care providers is diminishing because many family members live far away or cannot become involved. Where does this leave the elderly? Who will feed them, dress them, and provide for their needs and companionship? Who will see that their medical, financial, and personal needs are met?
In America, hospital and long-term care is skyrocketing. Medicare will not cover the needs sufficiently. Only a small amount of American families can afford private nursing home care, or long-term medical care. Approximately 36% of primary caregivers are over the age of 65. As the baby boomers reach senior citizen status, the elderly population is projected to increase significantly and will require physical, emotional, assisted living and special needs. Although the majority of caregivers are usually women, many of these women must juggle a full-time job and children still living at home, while managing the care of an elderly parent. These demands can lead to physical ailments, including depression or burn out.
I was under the impression that Medicare would take care of the medical needs of my father, along with the elderly. I was sadly mistaken. Medicare would not pay for his prescriptions, unless he was hospitalized; and if he needed long term care, Medicare would only cover twenty days. Fighting for his life, Dad worried about the bills, along with how he would afford the expense of cancer. He was encouraged to file for Medicaid.
While the toxic brown bag of chemotherapy dripped into my father’s thinning veins, I realized I had to take charge of his life, at least for now. Although I did not feel emotionally strong enough to endure the horrors of filing for Medicaid, I knew I had to become his voice, his nurse, and advocate.
I adjusted my schedule, missing weeks of work, along with months of sleep. When I visited him, I smiled while struggling to camouflage my emotions. Dad was so weak and nauseated from the chemotherapy, he failed to notice, and I was thankful. I wore myself out physically, almost to the point of exhaustion. My emotional life was spinning out of control, trapped in a whirlpool I could not escape.
To my surprise, I found an inner strength within myself, focusing on my father’s medical, financial, and physical needs. We developed a closer relationship, and although we never discussed how it felt for him to suffer a terminal disease, I still remember his poignant words to me during one hospital visit. He reached for my hand, whispering softly, he said, “You know, Barbara, cancer is not contagious.”
Tears filled my eyes as I turned my head away so he could not see me crying. “I know, Dad.” I kissed him on the lips, telling him I loved him. I was proud to be his caregiver, and I was thankful he had confidence in me.
If you serve as a primary caregiver, be good to yourself. Find time to be alone, while juggling the demands of care giving, even if it means you must close the door for a bit of privacy for only a few minutes. Make the most of your days, especially while caring for your loved one. Take charge of your life. Do not feed the doubts, or listen to the negative aspects of your new lifestyle change. Repeat to yourself that you are taking life one day at a time, and make the most of every day, even if it is a dark and dreary day. Be thankful of your blessings and the days that you and your loved are sharing.
Learn to speak up and fight for your rights, and the rights of the terminally ill, or elderly person you are caring for. Watch for signs of depression, in yourself and your loved one. Some of the signs of depression include: inability to sleep, inability to concentrate, and a mind that races constantly, especially at night, sometimes referred to as circular thinking, lack of appetite, irrational behavior, crying, or irritability. I was in denial of my emotions, unable to see the warning signs.
While serving as a primary caregiver, encourage your loved one to be strong, to fight for life, and to be courageous. Let the person you care for make some of the decisions. Most of all, open your heart, your mind, and share your love. Never leave your loved one without a touch of affection and the simple words I love you, because you may not have tomorrow to express those affections. Discover the rights of the elderly. And when the time comes, allow your loved one to die with dignity, if that is his or her wish.
Search on the Internet for care giving issues, publications, and become an advocate about elderly care. I found numerous web sites, and I read them passionately late at night, when I could not sleep. Stand up for your rights, trust your instincts, and support your loved ones wishes. Make the most of every day, without making excuses for mistakes you make, appointments you must cancel, or demands you can no longer meet. Become familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act, and do not allow others, especially co-workers or a boss, to intimidate you.
Walter W. Perkins died on July 6, 1999 and although I am no longer a caregiver, I still consider myself an advocate for elderly care, especially where the rights of residents of nursing homes are concerned.
During Dad’s illness, I never took no for an answer, and I learned everything I could about Medicare, Medicaid and the rights of the elderly. I wanted to be the voice my father could not be, because he was so gravely ill and frail. I have no regrets, and I am proud to say my father was my top priority in life, during his illness, and residency in a nursing home. Although he died while I was walking into his room for my daily visit, I know that he knew I loved him, and I was dedicated to him. He was my life, and now he is my shining star. A few days before he died, he reminded me to make the most of everyday of my life, and I still strive to live life to its fullest, remembering his wisdom, his love, along with the passions he held for others.
You, as a caregiver, or a baby boomer, could be the next family member to walk into a nursing home or a hospital, while your loved one is dying. Live for the moment, hoping to see the sunrise and sunset of a new tomorrow. Never forget to share your love and special times with the terminally ill or elderly.
After the death of my father, I fell apart. As I dug my way out of the darkness of despair, I realized I was lost in a world of depression, unable to confront my emotional well being. It was my darkest moment. I managed to join a grief therapy session, while I learned to accept his death.
Watching my father battle the debilitating disease of esophageal cancer, as he struggled to maintain his dignity, gave me a wake up call I will never forget. Now, I make the time to search for flowers, rainbows and I enjoy the little things in life while enjoying life’s effervescent sunrises and sunsets.
Be proud to be a caregiver, while serving as a parent to your parent, and never look back! Life is too short to be trapped into a spider web of despair and regrets. We must remember to make the best out of a difficult situation, feeding the positive moments, while forgetting the negative and hopeless feelings we as caregivers experience. We must educate ourselves about care giving. We must trust our instincts, and know that what we are doing is not a sacrifice, but an act of unconditional love while we learn to adjust and place our needs aside. We are sharing and teaching, and growing into the citizens and family members that we need and desire to be. We must stand up, not only for our rights, but also for the rights of those who we love during their hour of need. With the support of our families, friends and other caregivers, we are building memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.
May God bless caregivers, the family members, and loved ones we care for; and may we as caregivers continue to find ways to improve the lives of the ones we love and want to remember — one day at a time!

Happy Mother’s Day

Today, I awaken to the sounds of motherhood. My children are in the bed with me, rolling over, wanting attention and a bit of motherly love. Hank groans. Sandy Bear jumps off the bed with a solid thump as his four legs hit the carpeting. Shakespeare lies next to me on his pillow, rolling over, kicking his four legs in unison. I moan realizing morning has begun in this household filled with four-legged children demanding my attention.

Years ago, I was the mother to my son, and I am still the mother to him, although he is married now, with a precious child of his own. I am proud of my son and miss him in my life. He is busy with work, a career that demands his attention and his wife and family. Rarely do I see him, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I am his mother.

Motherhood is more than ‘birthing a child.’ It is a special time to care for the child and to teach the child the values, love and nourishment that all children need to grow up to be responsible, respected adults. I was an extremely young mother, giving birth to my child when I was only twenty-years-old. While I learned the ropes of successful motherhood, I recognized I wasn’t trained or ready to become a mother, and so my precious son taught me by his actions. Together we learned the definition of family and I am proud to be his mother.

To all of the mothers reading this, I would like to say, motherhood doesn’t come with a training manual. While we teach our children to speak, walk and to flutter their wings as we watch them growing up, we are constantly learning from them. When a child has its first ‘boo-boo’ we wipe their tears, while perhaps wiping a tear from our face. I recall a tear slipping down my face when my son went to kindergarten. In first grade, I became a volunteer at his school, only to be told that he wished I would not be at school so much. Perhaps I had raised him to be a bit too independent, so I backed away, recognizing that my son was growing up. While he still needed a mother, he also needed his independence. I did not wish to be a helicopter mom.

Every year at Mother’s Day, I think of my mother, wishing we could’ve become the mother daughter I always wanted. Let’s just say, my mother had issues. She never wanted her children to grow up, so she smothered us with control and manipulations. I broke away at an early age, fighting with every breath to have an independent life. Later in her life, when she was ill, I lived eight hours away from her. When she was moved from my youngest sister’s apartment to a care facility, I kept in touch daily with the nurses. I sent care packages to her, and when she could speak I spoke with her.

I lost my mother on September 11, 2002, and still I do not know the reasons for her death. She was recuperating from a stroke. According to the nurses ‘she was improving.’ I requested them to keep me informed. After her death, no one let me know of her passing until sixteen hours later. My youngest sister’s son phoned me to share the news. The last question he shared with me while on the phone was, “Aunt Barbie, do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

Strange. I didn’t comprehend all that he was saying at the time.

I was on Prednisone and my brain simply was not processing these words. I was home at the time battling an acute attack of severe bronchitis. Her funeral was set for the next morning. I was too sick to drive and my husband was in Italy at the time, so I missed her funeral. Nevertheless, I am at peace with her passing, knowing that I did all that I could to let her know that I had buried our torrential past and was there for her.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I think of her, wishing her well. I hope she found peace before her death and I do hope she knew that I did love her. Regardless of our history together, I fully believe that not all women should become mothers. My mother was one of them who shouldn’t have, but I cannot look back wishing to change things that were out of my control. All I can do is to thank my mother for giving me life. I hope and pray that deep inside her heart she found a small way to be proud of me. Happy Mother’s Day, and may your Mother’s Day be enriched with the love of your family.

Gardening Therapies

First North American Rights Only

Total Word Count – 988 words








Barbie Perkins-Cooper




            New to gardening, I never understood how therapeutic gardening could be until my father became ill. Years prior, I played at gardening, planting a rose bush here…a gardenia there…pulling an occasional weed…never planning, or recognizing how gardening heals a broken heart. When my father was battling cancer, I neglected my rose gardens. After he died, I allowed my rose bushes to mourn his passing with me. I failed to fertilize or care for the roses, letting several get diseases while watching them grow long and spiky. Eventually those rose bushes were so infested with black spot, they died.

The summer of 1999 was the most depressing summer I have lived, until I noticed a cedar tree germinating in the front lawn, after returning home from my father’s funeral. Before summer ended, this tiny tree grew symbolically for me – an image of new life, new ambition, and new dreams. Suddenly gardening was taking on a new significance for me, teaching me how germination and gardening provides creativity, enjoyment, and therapy during times of unbearable sadness.

            During the heat of the summer of 1999, I found myself escaping grief by planting petunias, pulling weeds, and fertilizing the few flowers left. My husband and I built a wilderness area in the front yard where grass refused to grow. I planted Iris bulbs, purple fountain grass, amaryllis, black-eyed Susan, canna lilies, and begonias surrounding the border. When these flowers blossomed with radiant colors, so did I.

Only a gardener understands the passion I feel when gardening. This is the first year I have dedicated myself to the therapy of gardening. Although my husband and I have lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina for over twenty years, we had a mutual agreement that I would care for the house, and he could care for the yards. Now that I have introduced myself to the therapy of gardening, I feel refreshed after planting, weeding, or pruning, especially this year when I see the results of my care with the rose gardens. My rose gardens are a rainbow of colors, from the American beauty, triple delight, blue, yellow, apricot, and white. I nourish the roses with Ironite, Epsom Salt, Rose Pride, and coffee grounds, combined with lots of tender loving care. I am rewarded with beautiful rosebuds that open to pastel shades of brilliance and aroma.

In the back yard, my husband and I landscaped the edges of the yard with concrete retainer walls, building a foundation for a shade garden. Presently, we have the foundation of the retainer wall placed, and we plan to add additional rows of retainer walls over the summer. We are using leaves as the compost for this shade garden area, while I plant hosta, bleeding hearts, and other shade loving species to my new shade garden.

            Last year in memory of my father, I planted an Easter lily by a Palmetto tree. Reading a gardening magazine, I recognized that Easter lilies are toxic to animals, so I moved the Easter lily to the front yard. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it, so I planted lantana. I like to use statues in the garden, so I have placed a statue of a pelican in that flowerbed. Angel bird feeders sit in the shade garden. Additional flowerbeds contain a bench, a statue of a dog, in memory of my best friend, Muffy, a mixed breed terrier with a lot of schnauzer, we lost a few years ago. In memory of her passing I planted a variety of Gerber daisies, lantanas, and another lily assortment, surrounded by an American rose bush in the center. Complimenting this bed is a concrete birdbath and birdhouse. Guardian angel statues are placed in other areas, along with a concrete birdbath, bench, and more guardian angels.

            Over the summer, I hope to finalize my shade garden, although since I became a gardener I realize that gardening is a constant work-in-progress, because gardening ideas are a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration. One of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is the realization that if something does not look or grow well in one area, all it needs is to be transplanted and nurtured in another area of the garden.

I love to express myself in my gardening. Next year I will plant more flowers and transplant some of the mistakes I made as a novice to gardening. Now that I am so passionate about gardening, I am learning how gardening really is a new art form, at least for me. Gardening mistakes made can be corrected by transplanting, moving, or rearranging. Gardening has given me new a new lease on life, providing another outlet of expression; and on days when I am sad, if I work in the garden, my sadness disappears.

My worst gardening mistake was I failed to appreciate the therapeutic value of gardening until later on, after losing a part of myself when my father died. After much grief and soul searching, I discovered life is to be enjoyed by the fruits of our labor, and so, I find new ways to reflect as I dig holes to plant flowers, bulbs, and rose bushes.

After planting a spring garden, flowers bloom with vibrant colors and scents, providing gardeners with newfound appreciation of the beauty of life. Although it took losing someone significant in my life to teach me appreciation of life, I hope you will not make the same mistake. Enjoy gardening, along with the therapeutic rewards of gardening. If you have a bad day, take the hostility away by digging in your garden, or pulling weeds. On one such day, after a stress filled day at work, I came home planting hundreds of gladiola bulbs…They flourished with a rainbow of colors and still provide great joy and comfort. Make gardening therapeutic on a sad day…You will be significantly rewarded.