Have You Ever Had An — ENDOSCOPY???

Dearest Readers:

Today, I would like to share a medical procedure I had just after New Year’s Day. January 19, 2016 – to be exact.

A few years ago, I started having a bit of difficulty when swallowing. Suddenly, my throat would tighten; I could feel a bit of a spasm. I slowed down the eating process, hoping my husband would not notice. He did.

One afternoon while we were eating at a restaurant, the spasm returned. I attempted swallowing a bit. I could not. I got the hiccups – something I never get. I cleared my throat only to realize I needed to rush to the ladies room. I covered my mouth with my hands in hopes nothing regurgitated. I’m pleased to report; I made it to the ladies room. About ten minutes later, I returned to the table, requesting a ‘doggie bag’ for my salad.

My mind drifted to my father. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December 1997. I lost him from that dreadful, debilitating disease on July 6, 1999. I knew the symptoms of this cancer well:

  • Inability to swallow without regurgitating
  • Coughing
  • Hiccups
  • Weight loss, due to the inability to eat food
  • Reflux
  • Pain or burning in the throat
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Choking while eating

Of these symptoms, I experienced five. I procrastinated, hoping and praying that I was simply overreacting, or maybe my mind was imagining them because I was still grieving over the loss of my father. I kept telling myself that “this too shall pass,” and I refused to go to the doctor.

Since I’ve increased my exercise routines, power walking and the treadmill, I noticed at times I would get an upset stomach, resulting in a quick rush to the restrooms during my exercise. This was quite embarrassing to me. Later, I would taste a strange bitterness in my mouth and throat. Researching, as I always do, I discovered I was suffering with some ‘GI issues.’ I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist, Dr. Jeffrey R. Joyner, http://www.lowcountrygi.com/ since he is such a respected gastroenterologist; I had to wait two months to see him even though he was the doctor performing another procedure a few years ago. When I visited his office, I shared what was happening inside of my body. He made a few suggestions, and I am happy to say, his suggestions worked. I needed to take a daily dosage of Fiber Con, and I needed to make certain I ate something before exercising.

Since I was at the office, I cleared my throat and whispered, “I am having a problem with swallowing sometimes.” I paused. “Let me explain. I lost my dad in 1999 due to esophageal cancer. I think I might have it.”

I really thought I was under control with these grief emotions, especially after 16 years, but I wasn’t. Tears rushed down my face. I apologized. Dr. Joyner handed me a tissue.

“You have no reason to apologize. Grief is a difficult emotion. Incidentally, I do not believe you have esophageal cancer.”

“But – I have the same symptoms.”

“Let’s not worry about that now. I am almost positive you do not have esophageal cancer, but I would like to schedule an endoscopy.” He asked me additional questions.

My response to each was a soft, emotional “No.”

I wiped tears, cleared my throat and attempted to smile.

The endoscopy was scheduled. I was sad that it couldn’t be done before the holidays and then I remembered the holidays of 1997 – early July 1999. Maybe I didn’t want to go through the holidays knowing something was wrong.

Arriving home, I researched endoscopy again. According to the Mayo Clinic, “upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. A specialist in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist) uses an endoscopy to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum). http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/endoscopy/basics/definition/PRC-20020363


So, during the Christmas holidays of 2015, I kept myself busy. My sister and other family members were coming for Thanksgiving this year. I was certain I could manage a smile while knowing and appreciating the little things in life. I didn’t mention how frightened I was. I did not want sympathy or pity from anyone.

Nevertheless, when I was alone, I found myself worrying. While eating tilapia and yellow rice, I choked and then I remembered, almost every time I ate rice, I would choke. No more rice for me!

Thanksgiving and Christmas slowly passed by. I counted the days until my endoscopy and I prayed. And prayed…AND PRAYED. “Please God. Please don’t let me have esophageal cancer.”

The morning of Tuesday, January 19 arrived. My procedure was scheduled for 8 am. We arrived at 7:20.

By 7:30 I was in the procedure room, ready to get this procedure over. I slid on the bed, curious and anxious to get this morning going. I said another prayer while speculating if God ever got tired from hearing my prayers. Maybe I needed to pray in a different manner. Dr. Joyner came to see me, telling me everything would be fine and for me not to worry. Easier said than done.

Just what would I do IF I did have esophageal cancer? What would I say to my husband? Who would take care of me?

I admit it. I never had these discussions with Phil. I was hopeful he would be my rock – again.

The anesthesiologist welcomed me, telling me I needed to lie on the left side of my body. She told me I would be given the drugs so I could be asleep during the procedure. In a few minutes, she returned. She smiled. “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. This takes maybe 20 seconds. You’ll be asleep soon.”

I remember counting. One…two…three… I don’t remember four!

I was out, almost as quickly as turning a light off.

When I awoke, I heard music. The nurse welcomed me.

“I heard music. Did the song – for the life of me I cannot recall the title – play?”

“You heard it?” The nurse said.

“Yes. I am a music person and a singer.”

“What would you like to drink? Dr. Joyner will be here in a few minutes.”

And that is when I looked at her, asking her the dreaded question “Do I have esophageal cancer?”

“No.” She said. “You are fine.”

Dr. Joyner entered the room. “I understand you were a bit worried,” he said.

“Do I have esophageal cancer?” I repeated. Tears filled my eyes.

“No. You have a hiatal hernia. Nothing more. No cancer and no pre cancer cells. I did a biopsy just to be sure.”

I sighed, wiping my tears.

I looked up at the ceiling. Thank you, God.

Before I had the endoscopy, I knew what to expect from it. I was prepared, or as prepared as one can be, for the dreaded six letter word – cancer.

My husband entered the room. I reached for his hand. “No cancer,” I said.

“Thank God,” he said, kissing my hand. “When you’re dressed we can go home.”

“Good,” I said. “My fresh pot of coffee awaits and you can go to work.”

“Only if you promise to rest the rest of the day.”

I crossed my hands over my chest. “Scouts Honor,” I said.

“Yeah, and you were not a girl scout.”

“I was a den mother for the Cub Scouts. That should count.”

Phil tossed his head back and forth, rolling his eyes at me. His body language says so much! The nurse arrived with a wheelchair.

“Ah..I don’t need that. I can walk.”

“Not today,” she smiled. I hopped into the wheelchair and slid in the car. It was 8:15 am. “In and out surgery, just like drive thru windows for fast food,” I said. The nurse laughed and wished me a good day.

I return to the doctor in March. Since the procedure I haven’t had any symptoms, or difficulty swallowing. I think I have God, my family and friends and the doctor to thank. Looks like 2016 will be a good year.



No More Robo Calls!

Dearest Readers:

If you live in the states where all of these imbecile politicians are fighting to get your vote, I am curious. Have you been bombarded with these robo calls in the past few weeks?

We have. My husband is the type who believes IF the phone rings, one must answer it. I don’t think so! I always check caller ID, but now — these imbecile politicians have gotten smart — in phoning respects! They have caller ID’s that seem familiar. When I do answer, I will say “Hello” if they don’t answer, I hang up.

These robo calls have pushed my final buttons! Earlier this week, I got a phone call, checked caller ID, noticing a local area code. I answered. Here’s the bulk of the conversation after I said “Hello” THREE TIMES!

“Hi. This is _______ [sorry I don’t recall her name, but her husband is Ted Cruz. “I’m calling to thank you for allowing me, my husband Ted Cruz and our children into your home….” I hung up!

Gee…she and the Cruz clan came to our home? News to me. At the moment, my home is still suffering from the effects of the ‘torrential thousand year rains’ South Carolina had in October. The mold is scheduled to be removed soon, after we got our roof replaced only yesterday. Now, I ask you — would you have guests to your home when the home is still under construction? I don’t think so!

I’ve never met the Cruz family. Now, I am convinced this family will say ANYTHING to get the vote.

Sorry,  Mrs. Cruz, you and your family JUST LOST my vote. I am convinced these politicians and their wives will say anything to move into the White House!

Incidentally, I’ve gotten phone calls from not only Cruz (who appears to phone at least three to four times daily). Other phone calls from Bush…Rubio…and so on.

While I realize these are ‘political calls,’ and they are exempt from the Do Not Call list, these politicians/legislators who make these laws must realize, we are busy people. At least Hillary hasn’t phoned. I would give her a piece of my mind since I  believe she should just go away with her sweet, precious Billy Boy.

Tomorrow is the election day for South Carolina. If only I could vote for Mickey Mouse, or someone who really had leadership abilities. I’ve researched these politicians. One is too hot headed with a diarrhea mouth to be trusted, and he certainly needs a new hair cut. The others. Well, I suppose I will let all of you decide. Who will I vote for? Let’s just say it certainly will not be to encourage the first woman President in America, and I am a feminist.

Happy Voting Day, South Carolina. Oops…Excuse me, I must rush to answer the phone. Never mind…these politicians never have anything interesting to say. So, why waste my precious time?!?

If only these politicians would run off into the sunset!


A Toast To The Little Things In Life…

Dearest Readers:

I suppose today is a day to reminisce, in hopes I might convince myself it is time to break away from social media, interruptions, along with the intense doubts I have about the ability to write. Below is another award-winning story I wrote a few months after losing my father. Hope you enjoy!

Arriving in Greensboro, I met Joan at Friendly Shopping Center. I parked the car in the first available spot and headed towards Hecht’s Department Store. I rushed across the congested parking lot waving to Joan standing by the door. The after Thanksgiving sale crowd was anxious for the doors to open, pushing, and shoving to get closer to the entrance. Joan and I moved aside to let an elderly woman in a wheel chair take our spot in line. This year, holiday sales and life in general meant nothing to me. I’d experienced the worst year in my life, watching my father melting away from the toxic poisons of esophageal cancer and chemo-radiation therapy.

“Crowds bother me,” I said. “I hate the rudeness of women when they’re searching for a bargain.” Joan nodded. I turned my back to the street, noticing the trees decorated with bright lights. With exception of today, I’d forgotten Christmas was less than a month away.

“How are you doing now,” Joan asked.

“Okay,” I said, a little too quickly. “The trees are beautiful this year.”

I blinked several times, my eyes glaring at the spruce trees, melting snow on the ground.

“Just okay, huh,” Joan said. “It’s been six months since he died. If you need to talk, I’m here.”

Tears danced in my eyes. I looked away from her stare.

When the doors opened, I looked over my shoulder. Something caught my eye. Perhaps the uniqueness of the moment, the after effects of stress, combined with my desire to disconnect from life, forced me to see things in a different perspective. Something was lying in the road. Someone probably dropped a jacket, I thought, ignoring my discovery.

“Joan,” I said. “I’ll meet you in ladies wear.”

Curiosity of the image in the road captivated me, so I stepped aside.

An inner voice whispered to me. ‘Go check to see what’s in the road.’

I didn’t hear Joan answer me. By now, there were hundreds of shoppers pushing and shoving into Hecht’s.

While shoppers rushed for the early morning bargains, my eyes refused to leave the road. As I moved closer, I recognized the item by the curb wasn’t a jacket, but an elderly gentleman.

“He must be drunk,” I mumbled, moving closer to him. What if he’s dead? I can’t do this. Not again. I dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.

My mind rewound, stopping at the memories and heartache of July, 1999. That Tuesday evening in July I was late arriving at Sandpiper Convalescent Center. When I placed my hand on the door of my father’s room, a nurse intercepted me. Nurses were rushing around Dad’s bed.

“Can you get a pulse?” I heard someone say.

“His daughter is here. What should we do?”

Nurse Angie joined me at the doorway. Her eyes locked into mine.

“No, I screamed. No! Please God, No!”

Nurse Angie sat me down. She didn’t need to tell me what was going on. I knew the day had arrived, and although oncologist specialists told me in 1997 that I needed to prepare myself, I wasn’t ready to let Dad go. I still needed him in my life. He couldn’t leave me now. Not now.

Just how does one prepare for death? When I spoke with medical professionals, asking that question, no one could give me a defiant answer. Financial, I was prepared. Arrangements were made, but emotionally – I would never be prepared to lose my father.

Nurse Angie whispered. “He’s a DNR. Do you want us to do anything?”

I knew the definition of DNR, and I did not want to disobey my Dad’s orders of do not resuscitate. “I- uh – I can’t override his decision. Not even if it means—.” I couldn’t finish the words. Since childhood, Dad was my lifeline. Always ready to cheer me up. Always ready to teach me things. He and my grandmother taught me about God and prayer. Dad was the provider who taught me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind – but gently. Dad was the one who beamed with a golden halo when I sang in the choir. Dad was the one who encouraged me to reach for the stars. Now, my shining star was getting brighter, only at the cost of losing my helping hand. My lifeline.

“Dear God, give me strength,” I prayed. “Take care of my dad. Use his talents. Let him know I love him.”

A screaming horn brought me back to reality. I stared into the eyes of a driver. “Get the hell out of the way,” the burgundy haired woman shrieked. “I need to turn.”

I walked over to her. She had body piercings in her eyebrow and nose. “I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” I said. “There’s a gentleman unconscious in the road. I’m not moving him until EMS gets here.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she mouthed. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Aren’t we all?”

I kneeled down, touching the elderly gentleman’s forehead, feeling beads of cold sweat. His hair was thin, salt and pepper gray. His face was weathered, hands wrinkled but firm. “Dear God please. Don’t let him die. Not today.” My face lifted to the skyline.

His hands felt like ice. His body was thin. A gray beard covered his face. He wore a gold wedding band. By now, curious shoppers were moving closer to us. Removing my coat, I covered him. Although it was freezing cold outside, I could not allow this man to freeze under my watch. A young man with spiked hair removed his leather coat, bundled it into a ball, lifting the gentleman’s head.

“Does he have a pulse?” He asked.

“I didn’t check.”

“It’s okay. I’m a medical student.” He checked for a pulse, nodding yes to me.

The gentleman coughed.

“Sir, what happened?”

“I fell. I’m sick. My wife wanted to be here early for the sale.”

“Where’s your wife?”

“I don’t know. I drove her here. I let her out by the door. I parked the car. I had chemo this week.”

I warmed his freezing hands with mine. “Chemo,” I muttered, understanding his weakness.

Joan stood next to me, touching my shoulder. “You okay?”

I nodded.

“Cancer,” I said. “You go shopping. I’ll stay with him.”

“Sirens,” someone said. “They’re coming.”

The man squeezed my hand. “Don’t leave me,” he said.

“Your wife. Where’s your wife?”

“She wanted to shop. She’s buying me some fishing tackle.”

“You must like to fish,” I said, hoping he’d remain alert. “Is there someone else we can call?”

“My grandson. His number’s in my wallet.”

The medical student found his wallet, dialed the number.

When EMS arrived, the man grabbed my hand. “Bless you for helping me,” he said. Moments later, EMS rushed away. I lifted my head to look at the gray skyline. “Please God, don’t let him die. Not today. Touch him. Keep him safe.”

At lunch, I found myself able to talk. A sudden burst of adrenalin had me chatting non-stop about Dad’s terminal illness, forgiveness and death.

“When I was little, I was hit by a car. My Grammy said I was spared for a reason,” I said to Joan, sipping a steaming cup of coffee. “Until today, I never understood what she meant.”

“You really have a way with old people,” she said.

I laughed. “Not until Dad’s illness. I’ve never told you this, but my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. When they divorced, I was angry. Until Dad got sick, I couldn’t forgive them.”

I looked around the crowded restaurant. “Life is so short. So unfair. I guess I never took life and death seriously until Dad died. Now, I try to make the most of each day. I’ve started praying every night. That’s something I didn’t do for many years. I was living in a spinning wheel headed nowhere, until Dad’s illness.”

Biting my lip, I continued. “I suppose I’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life. Those special moments. Laughter – something I haven’t done in a long time. Smiles. Reading to a child. Listening to music. Watching a classic movie, and reading good books. Funny. Now, I cherish those moments.”

Joan smiled, nodding her head. “When I met you, I thought you were so special and I knew I wanted us to be friends.”

“I remember. You encouraged me while I pulled away. All of my life I’ve had friends I couldn’t trust and I realized I needed a good friend. I’m so thankful we are friends.”

Joan sighed. “I don’t mean this to be critical. You were amazing with that man today. You put your needs aside while you held his hand. You wouldn’t leave him. I watched you.”

“Life is so short,” I said, biting my lip. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t do.”

“Yes, you did. People were rushing by you. You stood your ground, holding that frail man’s hand. You probably saved his life today.”

“No. I did what I had to do.”

“Maybe it’s time you did something for you! Losing your dad changed you. You must move on while remembering your dad and those special moments you shared. He wouldn’t want you to be so depressed, or to shut yourself and your life away. We’re all worried about you.”

Still in denial, I nodded, attempting a smile.

“Do you know Dad came to me one night in a vision? You do know I’ve had visions all of my life, but this one was different. I was tossing and turning in bed. I saw a ghostly white figure at the foot of the bed, and then I heard his voice. He pinched my toe and told me, and I quote, “You need to move on with your life. I’m fine. Stop worrying about me and grieving me. I’m all right!”

I glanced out the window. “As quickly as the vision came, it left, and I knew Dad was telling me I needed to move on. People think I’m crazy when I tell them I have visions, but I do. It’s a gift my grandmother gave to me when she died. I know Dad is all right. It’s just hard to let him go.”

“You have to continue living your life. You were there for him every day of his illness. You were the perfect daughter to him.”

I laughed. “Perfect? Hardly. But when the time came, I was there, and I know I have to live again. I have to make each day a good day while enjoying the sunshine and all of the little things. I think I finally understand. Perhaps this year, my Christmas tree will have a theme of ‘Little Things.”

Joan smiled. “Here’s to the little things in life, and the friendship we cherish.”

Wiping tears from my eyes, I smiled at Joan. “Maybe we should order two glasses of wine – just to celebrate the little things, Christmas and new beginnings.”






Dearest Readers:

Below is an award-winning short story written many years ago. Hope you enjoy!




Barbie Perkins-Cooper

The screaming telephone jolted me out of bed. “Hello,” I groaned rubbing my sleep-filled eyes.

“Were you asleep?” My mother’s crude voice whined.

Rolling my eyes to the ceiling, I whimpered, “Not anymore.”

“Your papa is ill. “ He’s lost his mind, cussing like a drunken sailor, and saying the Lord’s name in vain. The doctors say its old timer’s disease…”

“Alzheimer’s,”‘ I corrected my mother, yawning again. I turned on a light. Rising from the bed, I stretched, while my mother chatters away. I could not visualize Papa swearing. Not my Papa … He’s a member of the Church of God and a deacon. He and Gramma never allowed their grandkids to swear. Once, as a rebellious teenager I said the Lord’s name in vain. Papa rushed me to the bathroom of the tiny mill house we lived in, to wash my mouth out with a bar of Ivory soap.

Listening to my mother, I pictured Papa ‑‑ frail and aging into a skeletal frame I no longer recognized.

Strolling into the kitchen, I sighed, as I poured fresh coffee beans into the grinder.

Three days later, I head towards Columbus, Georgia, thinking about Papa.

As a child, Papa amazed me with his stories, and I picture him tall and slim, chewing Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum and smoking long cigars. He wears overalls covered with cotton lint fibers and old raggedy flannel shirts. A baseball cap protects his thinning hair.

Working at the textile mill of Bibb City, Papa speaks to everyone in the village. He tells me stories ‑‑ like how it was to live during the Great Depression; and how, as a young boy, he grew up on a farm picking cotton and cropping tobacco in the fields.

I love listening to Papa. His eyes always twinkle when he speaks of my grandmother, Miss Winnie. At the age of sixteen, he saw a pretty blue-eyed blond sitting in the church pew and when she smiled at him, Papa fell for her. Fifty two years later, he still speaks of her with a passion I envy. I know Papa misses her, and so do I. Now, she sits up high in the Heavens, watching over us; but to Papa, she is still beside him, holding his hand, smiling.

When I was a small child, Papa took me fishing at the boat club. We got up before dawn to watch the sunrise on the dancing waters of the Chattahoochee River. I remember Papa catching catfish, while I caught eels and turtles.

I tugged at Papa’s overalls and ask, “When will I catch a catfish, Papa?”

Papa smiled at me, patting my head. “Shucks, you gotta be an antique to catch a catfish,” he laughed. “Yes Ma’am,” he chuckled, “An antique like me to catch a catfish. He reached inside his overall pockets, handing me a piece of Juicy Fruit Gum.

“What’s an ann-tique?” I asked.

He laughed, baited my hook, and threw out the fishing line. “Don’t you be fretting…? You’ll be one before you can say scat.”

“Scat,” I said, reaching for the cane pole, hoping to catch my first catfish.

Entering Columbus, Georgia, I make a right turn, heading to Bibb City. I parked my car on Walnut Street, noticing a mixture of colors. Black. White. Mexican. So different from the colors of skin I recognized as a child. The Bibb Mill is closed now, no longer the dictator or Godfather of the village. My mother hobbles outside. I open my arms wide, hoping she will hug me. Her arms are crossed. Still, as a grown woman I am hungering for a mother’s embrace. “It’s about time you came home. The hospital just called. They’re moving him to a nursing home,” she cries. “I can’t take care of him. It’s hard enough taking care of me. Daddy’s old now – an antique. He’s at the nursing home where Mama was, when she died…”

Home is where the heart is, I mutter to myself.

“It’s okay, Mom,” I said, “We’ll work something out.”

My mother seems concerned now, gentle, and caring, so unlike the mother I knew as a child.

A few hours later, at the nursing home my mother wipes her eyes, biter her lips. “He looks so old and weak. You better prepare yourself.”

“I know,” I whisper, “Papa’s an antique. He hasn’t been the same since Gramma died.”

“None of us have,” my mother speaks, the bitterness returning to her voice. “It’s just not the same.”

“Life is filled with change Mom,” I comfort her, giving her a slight hug. She pulls away.

The scent of medicine and stale air hits me in the face. I smelled the same familiar scent that cold October morning when Gramma died. My mother looks at me, never saying a word, but I can tell how hopeless she feels. It’s written all over her face. My lips struggle a smile. An apple shaped nurse with slump-backed shoulders nods.

“Excuse me,” I interrupt, “we’re here to see Mr. Hunter.”

She turns to me, her arms crossed, her face tight with tension. “Room 318 Medicaid Wing.” She snaps to attention, pointing down the hall.

“Thank you,” I smile, “Have a nice day…”

My mother opens the door to Papa’s room. She looks at me again, and for the first time, I notice salt and pepper gray in her hair, lines of age blending into her face. I touch her shoulder. She pulls away from me. Her body stiff. “Mom, it’s okay.”

When I slip into Papa’s room, I’m not prepared for what I see. An ancient, crippled man is strapped into a wheelchair, facing the window. His face is hollow, skin the color of mustard and blotchy, with brown spots. His hair is slightly gray. His eyes are sunken. No twinkles do I see. His head bops up and down, reminding me of a newborn infant. He drools.

“Papa,” I whisper, choking back a tear.

His head lifts for a moment. I see a vacant stare in his eyes as he watches a swallow fly away. “Mama,” he whispers. “Is it you? I wish I could fly away.” Papa kicks his feet angrily, wishing to be set free. “God-damn it … get me out of here.”

I touch his icy cold fingers, noticing the clamminess of weathered skin. “Papa,” I said. “It’s me … Barbara Jean.”

I laugh to myself, surprised I’ve addressed myself as Barbara Jean. As a child, I refused to answer to the name, “Barbara Jean.” I held big dreams. I remember telling Papa I would become a movie star or a singer and see my name in bright lights, not the name “Barbara Jean.”

I touch Papa’s hand, hoping for a response, but he sits in a daydream, without a mind, only a skeleton in life. Again, I whisper, “Papa, it’s me … B-B Barbara Jean…”

“God-damn it,” he speaks, his voice shouting. I look at him again, realizing this frail, crippled person is not the gentle, and kind Papa I remember. Pulling up a wooden chair, I sit down, reaching inside my clutch, I remove a lace hanky. I wipe the drool from his mouth.  Papa’s eyes are a vacant stare.

If  Gramma were alive, she would scold him, reminding him the Lord was her keeper, her shepherd, and her best friend. Then, she would hand him a bar of Ivory Soap to eat, to wash the filthy words away.

“God-damn it,” he mutters again.

I look at him, choking back tears. I can’t let Papa see me this way. I walk over to the window. If only Papa would say hello, Barbara Jean.

I walk over to him once more, kissing his head. He smells different, without the scent of 0ld Spice and Juicy Fruit Gum. I touch his bony shoulders. He doesn’t respond.

“God-damn it,” he says again.

“Papa,” I speak aloud. For a moment, he looks at me, squinting his eyes. “It’s me, Barbara Jean. I caught a catfish last year.”

Papa moans.

“It’s funny,” I say to my mother. “The only word he knows is a word Gramma hated.”

“He’s got no brain,” she shrieks.

“I know,” I cry, tears rushing down my face. I glance over at Papa, looking at the broken man strapped so tightly within. If only he could see who I am. And then I wonder ‑‑ would he be proud of me…Barbara Jean …the grandchild with starry eyes?

Later, I speak to the doctor, listening to every word. I suggest bringing Papa home so he’ll be around familiar surroundings. The doctor shakes his head. “You don’t understand his condition,” he reports. “Your grandfather needs skilled medical care. He gets violent when he doesn’t get his way.”

“Yes,” I know, the vegetable you have strapped to that wheelchair doesn’t exist. My papa was lots of fun! He took me fishing. He told me funny stories, and he Never took the Lord’s name in vain. Gramma would be furious.”

My mother interrupts. “Don’t you see, “she says. “ Jesse isn’t asking to go home to us. He wants to ‑ go home.” She points her finger towards the sky.

A few days later, my mother and I sit on the porch sipping sweet iced tea with lemon, remembering Papa, my childhood and the struggles of life in a mill town. We reminisce, reaching a new understanding.

It seems my mother was envious of me when I was a young girl. She said I was intense, stubborn as a mule and bull headed too, with a persistent independent streak. I had something she wanted but failed to find. Funny, I never knew she saw the real me.

In my eyes, I was a child, starving for attention. Now as we sit, looking at old family albums, it’s easier to dig into the shells of our souls, discovering who we are, and most of all, what we are. Still, I wish to bring back those times to repair the damage. My mother shakes her head no. She doesn’t want to go back. She bites her lip. If only she knew how difficult my life as an artist has been! I touch her hand.

“It’s okay,” I whisper. “I’m grown now.”

“I don’t want to remember how cruel I was. Can you forgive me?”

Nodding my head, I whisper, “Already done.” I wish to hug her, but I hold back knowing she will not return the affection.

The phone rings. “Hello,” I say.

My mother stares at me, listening to a one‑sided conversation.

“It’s Papa. We have to hurry.”

Not a word is spoken as we drive in rush hour traffic, frightened we won’t make it. My mother tightens her seat belt, taps her foot on the floor mat. “Hurry,” she says.

The door to room 318 is closed. I knock while pushing the door. I see an empty wheelchair. The bed is covered with a white sheet. I look at my mother, tears spilling onto her cheeks. “We’re too late,” she cries.

The door to Papa’s room opens again. The apple shaped nurse enters. “He’s gone,” she states coldly. “Mr. Hunter died twenty minutes ago.”

I slump into the wheelchair, screaming from the pain of my grandfather’s death.

“He died peacefully,” the nurse comforts. “He was singing a religious song, mumbling and talking about catfish, and asking for Barbara Jean.”

“Barbara Jean,” I whisper.

The nurse looks my way, “He called me Winnie. He said he was waiting for Barbara Jean. A few minutes later, he started singing about coming home again.”

My mother and I nod, knowing Papa has found peace. We don’t say a word, as tears stream down our faces. Then, she opens her arms to comfort me.




In Memory of My Papa, Jesse V. Hunter

Top 10 Workout Songs for February 2016


The Top 10 Workout Songs for February 2016

Fort Wayne, IN – February 1, 2016 – February’s top picks play more like summer workout mix than a winter one—thanks to a wealth of pop and dance favorites. On the pop side of things, you’ll find the latest from Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo. On the dance side, you’ll find a new solo single from LMFAO’s Redfoo and Robin Schulz’s re-working of Baby Bash’s 2003 hit “Suga Suga.”

While club music might dominate the month’s proceedings, there were a couple of notable exceptions: a crossover hit from the Zac Brown Band and a collaboration between Fall Out Boy and Demi Lovato. As ever, it doesn’t matter with which track you start your workout. It only matters that you start.

When you’re ready, here’s the full list–according to the votes logged on workout music site Run Hundred.

Redfoo – Juicy Wiggle – 128 BPM

Pitbull – Free.k (Sak Noel Remix) – 129 BPM

Disclosure& Sam Smith – Omen (Dillon Francis Remix) – 112 BPM

Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods – 92 BPM

Fall Out Boy & Demi Lovato – Irresistible – 83 BPM

Jason Derulo – Get Ugly – 110 BPM

Dzeko, Torres & Delaney Jane – L’amour Toujours (Tiesto Edit) – 130 BPM

Zac Brown Band – Beautiful Drug – 126 BPM

Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – I Know What You Did Last Summer – 113 BPM

Robin Schulz & Francesco Yates – Sugar – 123 BPM

To find more workout songs, folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.

Chris Lawhorn
Run Hundred
Email: mail@runhundred.com