Some Days Are Better Left Unsaid


Dearest Readers:

Some days are better left unsaid, or forgotten. Such was the case yesterday, November 9, 2015. The morning started with a discovery that the tarp protecting our roof from further damage after the catastrophic rains of October 2 – October 5 in Charleston, SC was missing in certain areas. Waking my husband up, I rushed around the house, covering furniture, sopping up the puddles of rainwater, covering the furnishings with plastic – still waiting for my husband to crawl out of bed. When we awoke, he looked at the living room, noticing the tents of plastic covering the sofas.

“What happened?” He groaned.

“I suppose the gusting winds we had yesterday and this morning blew the tarp loose, and now it is pouring outside once again. Will this rain NEVER stop? What a dreadful way to begin the early morning.”

Our insurance adjuster was scheduled to come to the house that afternoon to review the damage and determine IF we had wind and hail damage. Meanwhile, the house was a mess due to the plastic tents pitched in several places, and the wet ceilings. I wanted to run away.

My husband phoned work, taking the day off to get the tarp covered again. About 9:00 the phone rang. The insurance adjuster needed to reschedule due to the heavy rains. Another day shot, I thought.

Deciding Monday was not a day to worry about cleaning the house like I normally do on Monday’s, I rested. My body is so exhausted from these torrential rains and a home not exactly in the condition I desire it to be. During the rains of October, my ability to sleep was almost non-existent. Just how much stress can one tolerate?

Later that afternoon, the roof was covered again. The rain was only a light mist now. We ate dinner in the den, settling in for the night to watch “Dancing With the Stars,” and to relax to the point I could finally sleep.

About 9:30, I walked to the door of the back of the house to let the dogs inside. Surprise! They were nowhere in sight. I glanced towards the gate — opened. My heart did flip-flops. Rushing outside, standing on the dark street filled with a thick gray blanket of fog, I called for them. No response. I listened to the darkness of night. I heard a clicking noise – the sound dog collars with tags make when the dog runs. Moments later, Hanks rushes to me. Next was Toby, and finally Shakespeare. I gathered them up, let them in the house and wanted to choke my husband for leaving the gate open.

Why was the gate open?

Earlier that evening my husband unlocked the back gate, leaving it open so he could get something from his car. He failed to close the gate, so when I let the dogs out, I did not check to make certain the gate was closed. Trust me, I will from this day forward!

I screamed for my husband to come help me find the dogs. Of course, he was clueless, unable to hear my screams. Rushing back inside with three of the dogs, I screamed once again. This time, my husband who is ALWAYS glued to the TV, heard me.

“What the Hell is wrong with you?” He shouted.

“You left the d— gate open. Now I’ve got to find the rest of the dogs.” How I wanted to jump on him for becoming so forgetful once again. Instead, I grabbed my bag and car keys. Rushing outside, dressed in my PJ’s and slippers, I drove off. I rolled all the windows down screaming for my remaining dogs – missing. I wanted them to hear me, and I listened carefully to see IF I could hear them.

“Just where do I go?” I spoke aloud, hoping God could hear me.

A voice spoke to me, so I drove on Simmons Street, shouting their names. “Here, Shadow. Here Sandy Bear…Here boys.”

I prayed I would not see a blonde or a solid black dog laying on the roads. I saw a boy walking along the streets, so I asked him if he’d seen a black or a blonde dog.

“No. I ain’t seen nothing,” he responded.

I thanked him and continued my search. I prayed for God to guide me.

“Drive in the direction you always walk them.” God spoke to me. I turned the car, heading in the directions the dogs were accustomed to walking with me.

By now, I’m certain my neighbors must think I’ve completely lost my mind. All of them know to bring animals to me if something happens to one. There have been many times someone rang my doorbell asking me if I knew who the lost animal belonged to. Each time, I’ve managed to find the owners. Sometimes it pays to be active with the Neighborhood Crime Watch.

As I am shouting for Sandy Bear and Shadow, I hear sirens. Please God, don’t let them be coming after me, or rushing to a car accident with animals involved.

Or, could it be someone has reported a woman driving an unfamiliar car around and around while shouting out the car windows? “Please God, don’t let them be coming to arrest me.”

Cars are behind me now, so I pull over, almost dropping my right wheel in a ditch. Moaning a few more expletives, I’m certain I’ve already reached my weekly allowance of ‘dirty words’ on this night. Always wishing to be in control of my temper and character, when something goes wrong I have the tendency to ‘lose my dignity with my off-color language’ when I am angry at my husband and his forgetfulness. Tonight was no exception.

“Heavenly Father,” I prayed, tears rolling down my cheeks. “Please help me find Shadow and Sandy Bear soon. Sandy Bear doesn’t like the dark of night, and he doesn’t like to walk far from the house. Please, dear God, guide me to where they are.”

Again, I shout for Shadow and Sandy Bear. At the end of the road by the stop sign, I imagine something dark on the road. “It can’t be…”

I inhaled. Exhaled. “Shadow…Here Boy.”

I hear a bark. The image in the road rushes closer to me, running at a fast pace. I place the car in Park. Open the drivers’ door, forgetting to remove my seat belt. As the door opens, Shadow jumps inside!

Tears rush down my face. “Thank you, God. Thank you so much!”

Shadow hops into the passenger seat. Jumping around with excitement, or could he be overjoyed with gratitude, I hug him tight, noticing his fur is soaked and muddy, and he has a nasty smelling odor. I was curious as to what he thought while running around the neighborhood. Did he recall the sad memories of abandonment when he was left in the dark of night at an animal shelter in Georgia? If only I could dig deeper into his mind, just to communicate his thoughts.

“Just where have you been, boy?” Shadow licks my face. Driving, I pet his head. “Was Sandy Bear with you, boy? Do you know where he is?”

We drive around the block. My husband is walking around with a flashlight. “I found Shadow,” I scream at him, letting him know what street he was found. Turning in the direction of the area where Sandy Bear and I walk, I remember how skittish he gets while walking. I’m convinced he must be nearby. The night is dark with a thick, blanket of fog. It is difficult to make out images nearby, but I’m determined. I will not lose my animals again like I did when our little buddy Cletus escaped.

While driving and screaming Sandy Bear’s name, I think of what I must do in the event I do not find him tonight. I’ll make a poster, include his picture and I’ll put it on Facebook. Tomorrow morning, I’ll post flyers all over the neighborhood. Please God, let me find Sandy Bear. It is so damp out here. He must be horrified and cold.

I drive around the block once again, still screaming Sandy Bear’s name. The fog is so thick now; one could cut it with a knife. I hear a familiar sound, hoping it is Sandy Bear barking this time and not a neighbor’s dog. “Sandy Bear,” I scream. “Is that you barking?”

I glance at the stop sign I am approaching. I see a shadow. Blonde. Small, shaped like Sandy Bear, and I squint my eyes, hoping to make out the image. I hear a familiar bark.

“Sandy Bear,” I squeal! He rushes towards me. This time, I jump out of the car, closing the door hoping Shadow will not jump out. Looking back at Shadow, I see he is not moving! His black fur is curled up on the seat, probably hoping he will soon be safe at home.

I scoop Sandy Bear into my arms. He is soaked, with mud and a musty smell. Just WHERE have you been? I hold him close, placing him next to Shadow. I see my husband walking in the middle of the road.

“I found them,” I shout to him. He rushes to the car. As soon as he gets inside, he apologizes. I do believe this is a first for him. Vietnam Veterans with PTSD have difficulty with apologies. Although I wanted to scream at him, to beat his chest with my fists, I do not. “Apology accepted,” I smile – that devious smile I give him that says so much without uttering a word.

“What is that smell?” He asks.

“They’ve been somewhere they shouldn’t be. I’ll bathe them when we get home.”

Rushing into the house, I prepare both dogs for a bath, removing my smelly night shirt.

At bedtime, both dogs smell delicious. As soon as they jump up on the bed, they fall asleep. Early this morning, all of my precious family sleeps together, in the same positions and locations where they fell asleep. “Welcome Home, Boys. Do you want to go potty?” None of them respond. They must be exhausted. I laugh, so thankful to have them safe at home. I kiss each one of them good morning while I walk to the kitchen for coffee.

I glance out the garden window in the kitchen. “Thank you, God for a new day, a special day of thanksgiving with my precious family, and for my husband! Now — If only you could do something about his forgetful ways!”

Belated Happy Father’s Day From the Holy City, Charleston, SC


Dearest Readers:

I do apologize for not writing a post about Father’s Day yesterday. If you read my posts on a regular basis, you will note, I live in the Holy City, Charleston, SC. Last week was truly a week of grief and shock for us, and when I heard about the church shootings early Thursday morning, I was truly in shock. I ask – “How? How does this happen in a Holy City.

Since the nine murders, I have worked on the events for a news publication and I have prayed…and PRAYED…and PRAYED. Some people believe that prayers do not help us, but I beg to differ. Prayer has always gotten me through the tough, shocking times in life.

Today, I do hope those who celebrated Father’s Day (and I am one of them) shared words of love, and gratitude for fathers. My father died in 1999; nevertheless, I still grieve for him and miss him. I can hear his melodious voice and I laugh when I hear it. Words cannot express how much I miss him. I am thankful that he and I were able to work through difficult times and not look back and on Father’s Day, we spent time together, appreciating and loving the bonding we shared.

So, to all of you who are Fathers, today I would like to say thank you. Thank you for being who you are and thank you for moving through the difficult times while remembering it is the little things in life that make a difference. Little things – like seeing a child born. Not exactly a little thing, but the precious gift of birth is something significant that changes our lives. Little things like awakening in the morning to see a new day…a bright sunshine…the gift of life and love.

I plan to write more in my blog about Charleston – at a later date – after I can decipher my notes and research. For now, I am proud that our Holy City is rising higher than the tallest church steeple to embrace what happened while teaching the world that we are a proud city – not filled with hatred…anger…and such bigotry. We will stand tall and survive.

Belated Father’s Day wishes to all of our precious fathers. Thank you for helping our city to move forward with pride…acceptance…love…and compassion.

If you would like to help the Holy City heal, USA TODAY shared this information:

“People can help in these ways:

• Donate to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund at any Wells Fargo branch across the USA.

• Send a check to Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, c/o City of Charleston, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, S.C. 29402.

• Text ‘prayforcharleston’ to 843-606-5995 or go to http://www.bidr.co/prayforcharleston to donate by credit card.

• Send a check to Lowcountry Ministries, a South Carolina nonprofit that also has established a fund to help Emanuel and support projects for youth and vulnerable populations, at Lowcountry Ministries — the Rev. Pinckney Fund, c/o The Palmetto Project, 6296 Rivers Ave. #100, North Charleston, S.C. 29406.

• Donate to the Pinckney Fund online at palmettoproject.org via major credit card or PayPal.

• Give directly to Emanuel AME Church. You can donate online via major credit card or PayPal.

Donations to both Lowcountry Ministries and Emanuel AME Church are tax deductible.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/18/charleston-church-shooting-donations/28959731/

Barney and the Bibb Mill


Dearest Readers:

Another portion of “Chattahoochee Child…”

The thermostat hanging on the porch read 100 degrees that Wednesday afternoon. I wiped beads of perspiration from my forehead. If only Grammy had given me permission to go to the swimming pool. The only way I kept cool was by wrapping ice cubes in a wash cloth, placing them on my head. I fanned myself with the morning newspaper. Papa and Grammy read it before going to the mill. I was alone, sitting on the porch when I heard sirens screaming in the distance.

Someone must’ve gotten too hot at the mill. The sirens were getting closer now. I peered over the porch, anxious to see if I could see them. The mill was only a block away from my Grammy and Papa’s wooden house. The sirens sounded as if they were approaching my direction. I stepped onto the sidewalk. A crowd of people blocked my view, so I moved closer, hoping no one would tell Grammy and Papa I was off the porch.

“What’s going on?” I heard a woman dressed in Bibb overalls say.

“It’s Barney. It’s bad,” a wrinkled man with a bald head answered.

I moved closer, reaching the man, I tugged at his overalls.

He glanced down at me, surprised to see a ten-year-old being so inquisitive.

“What happened to Barney? He’s my Papa’s best friend.”

“Ain’t you Jesse’s granddaughter?”

I nodded yes. The sirens screamed in my ears now. A Bibb City police car. An ambulance. Another siren screamed behind the two cars that had just passed. The coroner.

Someone gasped. I heard a woman say, “Oh. No. Here comes the coroner.”

I couldn’t help wondering what a coroner was. We hadn’t had that word on vocabulary test in school. Whatever a coroner was, I knew it meant something bad was happening, just from watching the movements and sighs of the curious crowds of Bibb City.

Barney lived two blocks away from Papa’s house. I could walk to it. I looked around for the wrinkled man who knew me as Jesse’s granddaughter. I hoped he wouldn’t see me crossing the street. I knew if I got caught crossing the street, Grammy would give me another tongue lashing and more restrictions. I lived on restrictions at Grammy’s house.

I jumped down to the curb, looked both ways, deciding to cross the road. The sirens were quiet now. I couldn’t see Barney’s house for the swarm of people standing around it. People were talking saying the coroner’s inside.

     “What happened?”

“Did Barney have another heart attack?”

I knew from all the whispering that my Papa’s friend was in some kind of trouble.

The wrinkled, bald headed man who knew me spoke up, “Barney got canned today. They sent him home. I saw him after it happened. He probably ended it.”

“Ended what?” I asked, the curiosity of a child visualizing a collection of thoughts inside my head. None of the thoughts were healthy. Somehow I knew, ‘ended it’ was not good news.

The coroner stepped outside, lighting a cigarette on the porch. A Bibb City police officer joined him. A few minutes later, two men carrying a stretcher left the house. One of the men tugged at the black cloth covering the stretcher. Something was under the black cloth. Please God, don’t let it be Barney.

A lady rushed from the house. I recognized her as Miss Evelyn, Barney’s wife. She was crying, ringing her hands, screaming at the stretcher. “Please don’t take him to the morgue…Just take him to the hospital. He’ll be fine…”

I made a mental note to look up the words coroner and morgue in my Webster’s Dictionary. The people standing around were being so careful, whispering softly into each other’s ears. I heard mumbles of ‘sh-hhh-hh…children are around. Don’t say nothing.’

The two men placed the stretcher inside the ambulance, closing the door when Miss Evelyn met them. One of the men attempted to stop her. She jerked her arm free.

“Just leave me alone,” she screamed. “I want to be with Barney.” She touched the ambulance door, and turned towards the crowd.

“Barney wouldn’t listen. I told him not to do it. I begged him to be quiet,” She cried. “He wouldn’t listen to me. He never listens to me, or anyone else. I told him…”

The lady dressed in Bibb overalls reached out to her. “It’s okay. Everything will be all right. The mill takes care of us. You’ll be fine. Let’s go inside.”

“The mill,” Miss Evelyn said. “They’re the ones who did this. The Bibb destroyed him. They killed my husband. To Hell with the Bibb.” She spat on the ground. “I hate that mill. Don’t let the Bibb kill all of you.”

About a crowd of 20 or more mill workers heard Miss Evelyn’s angry words. They mumbled something about her being sick.

“A nervous breakdown.” A woman’s voice said. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”

I turned away from the house, anxious to get back to Grammy and Papa’s house. I crossed the street, meeting Papa on the other side.

“What are you doing here, Missy?” He said.

“I-I-, uh, I heard sirens. I wanted to know what happened.”

“You’re always such a nosey kid. Go on. Get on home.”

“Yes, sir.” I said. “Papa, they’re saying bad things about Barney.”

“Barney’s dead,” Papa said. “It don’t matter what they say now. He was trying to do something, and now he’s gone.”

“Miss Evelyn said the mill did it. She said the mill killed Barney. Will they kill you, Papa?”

“Missy, I said go home. Now!” He shouted at me.

When Papa shouted, I dare not ask again. He used switches on my bottom when I misbehaved his commands. Sometimes those switches cut my skin, leaving whelps and deep scratches, hurting me so badly I hated to sit down.

“Yes, sir.” I said. I was worried about my Papa. His face was clenched. His forehead wrinkled. His lips tight. I didn’t like seeing that side of my Papa’s temper.

19 Kids, and Counting…The Disgraceful Duggars!


Dearest Readers:

I confess…I WAS a recent semi-fan of the TLC program, 19 KIDS, AND COUNTING… Surfing on the TV one night, I discovered the program, 19 KIDS, AND COUNTING, so I watched it. I noticed how all of the girls wore long skirts with slightly below-the-knee hemlines. When I watched one of the programs where they went to the Georgia Aquarium, and they swam in Lake Lanier, GA, I was curious IF Mom and Pop Duggar would permit the girls to wear swimsuits or shorts. They did not.

Why I Started Watching 19 KIDS AND COUNTING

This program brought back my childhood, strict with all of the rules we had to live with. Attending church, which I enjoyed until I heard the ‘speaking in tongues’ ceremonies. I sang in the church choir. I practiced the golden rule; nevertheless, I still chose to wear my shorts – against my fundamentalist grandfather’s approval. Watching 19 KIDS AND COUNTING. I was curious IF any of these 19 children EVER disobeyed their parents. On the episodes I watched, never did I hear any child rebel, disobey, or mutter anything their parents would not approve. I realized, with cameras rolling, they obviously edited anything where the children did not follow the ‘holier than thou’ mentality of their parents.

This isn’t normal, I thought. Children on this program never dispute, shout, or fight with their siblings. Just what is wrong here? Obviously, I was on to something.

Many of the episodes of 19 KIDS AND COUNTING brought back memories to me. Memories of my childhood and how I dressed. As a little girl, my grandparents did not ‘approve’ when I wore shorts. Young girls were never to cut their hair, since it was a sign of glory and holiness, according to my grandfather…and young girls were NEVER to show their skin. He wanted us dressed in high necklines, preferably in white. Virginal and pure. At 13, when I had cleavage, I disgraced them by wearing a V-neck T-shirt and shorts. Disgraceful! I must say, I did not wear the Daisy Duke shorts and when I bent over, you could see absolutely nothing with the exception of tanned, firm, athletic legs. At 15, I wore shorts and T-shirts and my grandfather alluded that I was ‘cheap…’ Actually, he described me as a w—-. When I confronted him with ‘how can a virgin be a wh—;’ he refused to speak with me.

Attending high school, I wore clothes that revealed – NOTHING! Necklines were high, usually turtle neck. If I wore a blouse, it was buttoned all the way. No skin revealed. Skirts were long and cumbersome to wear. When I committed the most cardinal of sins by wearing makeup, my grandfather gave me a new name. The Scarlett Woman. The Tramp…and of course again – The Wh—! I continued wearing makeup! After all, if the pastor’s wife at the church could wear makeup, why couldn’t I?

Child Molestation Charges

Yesterday, May 22, 2015, the news was hot with a topic about 19 KIDS AND COUNTING. Apparently, Josh Duggar committed a dreadful sin as a 14-year-old – seems he molested five girls. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/us/josh-duggar-child-molestation-allegations/index.html
When I read these reports, I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Now, Josh Duggar has apologized and he has resigned his impressive, political position in Washington D.C. with the Family Research Council. Reportedly, his wife, Anna, knew of his ‘sins’ before she married him and she was impressed that he confessed these behaviors before their marriage.

Josh and Anna have three children now. The oldest is a girl, Mackynzie. Two boys – Michael and Marcus and she is pregnant with their fourth child – a girl. Sometimes I cannot help being curious as to why this family reproduces like rabbits. What about the quality of time with children?

The reports are endless about the Duggar Family. I will not elaborate more, but I would suggest – IF you read these Internet postings, keep in mind, many are simply chat areas.

Duggar Disgrace

Yes, the recent news is a disgrace, and what makes it even more disgraceful is the fact that Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar chose to keep the molestation quiet. Their program, 19 Kids, and Counting did not air until 2008 after the molestation charges were swept under the Duggar Family rug. Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful!

I Was a Victim of Child Molestation

As a young girl and teenager, I was a victim of child molestation. One of my uncles touched me. We were riding in his delivery truck. He chose to turn onto a dirt road. No houses were around. He suggested we should ‘pick blackberries.’ I was 15-years-old at the time. Yes, I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Scandalous, aren’t I! I was 100% naïve. Trusting, especially of my elders.

My uncle moved closer to me – touching my legs, his hands probing and searching, rushing towards my chest. I grabbed his hands, pushing him away. I reached for the door handle, got the door open and jumped outside. I ran as fast as I could. On that date, I failed to bring my inhaler, so the dust on the dirt road reacted with my asthma and I had difficulty breathing. Wheezing and coughing, I stopped, hearing my uncle’s delivery truck moving close to me. I ran the other way. Laughing, he pulled ahead of me, demanding that I get in the truck.
I screamed. No one heard me.

My uncle forced me inside the truck. I slapped his face – HARD. I screamed and I cried.
Hysterical and horrified that I would be raped, my uncle said he would drive me home.

“I don’t believe you. All you want to do is to touch me. I want to go home.”
I opened the door again. Still wheezing, I walked as fast as I could. My uncle said he would take me home.
“I can walk.”

“We are at least 10 miles away and you’re going to walk? That’s a long way.”

“I walk home from school – a 10-mile journey. I can walk home.”

My uncle was shaking. I suppose he was fearful I would tell someone what he did. In my childhood I knew no one would listen or care.

“If you tell any body I touched you, no one will believe you. I’m a deacon in the church. Who’d believe you? You’re a teenager. You’re wearing shorts. You tempted me by how pretty you are. I’m a deacon, “ he repeated. “ You’ve got beautiful legs I wanted to touch…”

Recognizing he was afraid, along with the fact that absolutely no one in my family would believe me, I slid into the passenger seat of the truck.

“If you move one hand off of that steering wheel, I will get out and I will tell somebody,” I said. “You are not raping me or touching me again.”

Later, after arriving home, I rushed to take a shower. Scrubbing my body hard with the hottest water we had, I cried in the shower. As hard as I scrubbed, I could not get the feeling of his probing hands off of my body.

Years later, when my uncle died, my mother phoned me. “You need to come home,” she said. “Your uncle just died.”

Inhaling and exhaling, I bit my lip, and then I spoke, more of an enraged shout than my normal voice.
“May he rot in Hell,” I said, tears stinging my face, as I relived his probing hands.

My mother was annoyed. “Why do you feel that way about him?”

“Because the bastard tried to rape me!”

Our discussion continued while she confessed that he had been charged with rape twice, but never convicted. She wasn’t surprised by my confessions.

Now that I read the reports about Josh Duggar, I feel compassion for him – just a bit. Apparently, he received a bit of ‘help’ when his parents sent him away to a ‘retreat, to work on construction jobs.’ [???]
I am hopeful he did make amends and ask God for His forgiveness; nevertheless, reportedly there are five young girls who will never forget his probing hands touching their bodies in private places. Unforgiveable!
Yes, I am hopeful the five girls who have not been revealed were able to move forward after these events. Child molestation is something a victim never forgets. After my experience, I prayed, but never confessed what happened to anyone within my family. Never did I speak to my uncle again, and when I saw him in church, I turned away, never giving him a chance to speak to me. As for blackberries – for me – they are truly the ‘forbidden fruit.’

For the Duggar Family, I pray that the entire family learned a valuable lesson from this experience, and I pray that they will finally realize that no family is perfect; nevertheless, I suppose I was a bit wiser just by watching them. I recognized how hypocritical they are. Jim Bob always comes across as Mr. Lovey Dovey, especially with his wife, Michelle; however, if you watched her closely, you recognized she was a bit reserved. Sometimes pulling her head away when he kissed her in front of the children, after preaching to all of them that the girls must ‘court with a purpose.’ A courtship that leads to engagement and then – marriage. No kisses and only side hugs – until marriage. In one of the last episodes I watched, Jim Bob confesses that he and Michelle kissed LOTS before marriage??? Hypocrites’!

I hope and pray the five girls involved with the incidents with Josh Duggar are able to move forward like I did. Never did I share the child molestation incident with anyone, with the exception of my husband in 1982. On that night, my husband was able to understand exactly why and how I responded to certain touches. After therapy, I am happy to say, I no longer fear probing hands. Yes, as my father taught me, I was able to move forward with life, and not look back.

I hope the five girls involved with this Duggar Disgrace will be able to do the same. As for Josh Duggar, I hope he and his immediate family will remain close, and I pray he does not repeat his previous history with his children.

Will I continue to watch a reality show? I doubt it. After all, those reality shows are edited, revealing only the good times, — not the reality of bad times. At least the Duggars were not bleeped like a lot of those idiotic reality shows! I pray Jim Bob, Josh and Michelle are praying for forgiveness, and I pray the five girls will learn that not all men are monsters on the prowl. Shame on you, 19 Kids and Counting! You are a disgrace to religious families! You allowed this dirt to be swept under the rug and remain there while you pretended to be a close, almost perfect family. Shame on you, TLC! Shame On You…19 Kids and Counting!

Chattahoochee Child – Walking Into the Fears of Cancer…


Dearest Readers:

Periodically, I post a few stories from the book, “Chattahoochee Child” — my latest work-in-progress. Hope you enjoy!

 

The morning my father and I learned to forgive each other started like most mornings in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Resting motionless in bed, he reminded me of a frail injured bird with crippled wings. His body was thin. His skin the color of mustard. Peach fuzz of a cotton soft beard kissed his face. My heart broke for him. My arms ached to reach inside his weakened body to pull the cells of cancer away.

Dad was rebelling after the diagnosis, stating in a firm voice that he would not shave his face UNTIL he was given the freedom and luxury of eating food. Meanwhile, the beard continued growing.

Although it was the holiday season of 1997, I could find no happiness or excitement in decking the halls or decorating a Christmas tree. The patriarch of my family tree was terminally ill, destroying my belief in the humanity and meaning of life. Why was it always the good people who suffer the most? Life just wasn’t fair.

During that Christmas holiday spent inside four cold walls of a hospital room, I remember staring outside, watching cars speeding by, ignoring traffic lights. I glanced at Christmas lights blinking off and on, counting the precious moments of life we, as adults, get locked into believing will be forever.

“How much longer do we have?” Suddenly, I shared an unspoken conversation with God as I looked up into the skyline asking why this had to be.

On that particular morning, Dad’s forehead was hot to the touch. I took his temperature. 103.  Sighing, I reached for the phone near his bed. “I’ll get the nurse to check your temp,” I said.

He watched every move I made. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. “I love you.”

I stopped dialing the phone. “I love you too,” I said, realizing he had never expressed those words before. His generation did not believe in showing affections and I was moved to the point of tears.

“Barbara,” he said his voice only a whisper. “I’m sorry for everything.”

I bathed his forehead with a cooling wash cloth, “No need to be sorry for the past,” I said. “You were the parent. I was the bratty, rebellious teenager.”

Dad’s facial muscles struggled to smile. “You always were stubborn and persnickety,” he said as he coughed.

“Just like my father,” I teased. “You rest. We can talk later when you’re stronger.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I can always count on you, even when things are difficult.”

“All of that’s in the past,” I said, brushing a blonde strand of hair from my face with an apricot manicured nail. “The past is history. The future a mystery. This moment is a gift, and that’s why we call it the present.”

Dad’s eyes fluttered. “I’m tired and sleepy.” He said.

“You close your eyes and sleep. I’ll be here when you awaken.”

November, 1997 until July,1999, were years of change, heartache and indescribable fear as I slowly watched my dad melting away from me from the effects of esophageal cancer, the Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy [PEG tube], commonly referred to as a feeding tube and chemotherapy radiation. I watched his tall, sturdy frame slowly bending into an emaciated body that could no longer fight or walk without assistance. It was truly the most painful time of my life.

After the week of Thanksgiving, 1997 my dad phoned, telling me he was a bit nauseated and thought he had cancer. I snickered. My dad did not have cancer. He was the picture of health. He took care of himself, walking daily, eating healthy foods and he lived a good life. Never drinking or smoking. No, Dad doesn’t have cancer. Not my Dad.

The next morning I took Dad to the Emergency Room at Roper Hospital in Charleston. For over eight hours, we sat while medical professionals took blood samples, x-rays and scratched their heads. Deciding to refer Dad to a gastroenterologist, we left the hospital, got a bit of dinner and I drove him back to his apartment. During dinner, he struggled to swallow his food. He apologized for taking so long to eat. When finished, over half of his meal remained on his plate. He did not request a take-out box. I suppose I knew something was wrong, I just did not want to admit that my dad was getting older and weaker each day.

In early December, Dad and I met with the gastroenterologist. An endoscopy was scheduled for the next morning. I phoned my boss letting her know I would not be at the office the next morning. I detected a bit of disappointment with her but remained firm. After all, my dad needed a test. All of my interviews and presentations could wait. Corporate America simply had to understand. My family was important to me.

The next morning, feeling confident Dad’s tests would be negative, I sat alone in the waiting room of the hospital, watching people passing by in a rush, reading newspapers and magazines, and sitting. How I wish I had remembered to pack a book or magazine. I watched the clock tick away. One hour. Two hours. My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything and it was almost lunch time. My cell phone rang, but I couldn’t answer it since the hospital did not permit them to be used while waiting. And so I waited and waited.

Moments seemed like hours. I glanced up at the clock again, stopping to notice my dad’s doctor was approaching. His eyes did not look at me. He held his head down. He sat down by me.

“We found the problem.”

“Oh. He’s just not eating properly? Isn’t that his problem?”

“No. Your dad has cancer. Cancer of the esophagus. Terminal cancer. I’m sorry to say it, but he probably has less than six months to live. He needs a PEG tube so we can get nourishment into him again.”

I sat motionless. Nothing was fazing me. My mouth flew open and I felt dizzy.

“Are you all right?”

“My dad has cancer. You’re saying my dad is dying? My Dad? This can’t be. He’s taken such good care of himself. You must be mistaken.”

“Have you noticed how thin he is?”

“Yes, I suppose. I did notice he didn’t eat much at Thanksgiving. I’ve been so busy at work. I guess I just didn’t pay enough attention.”

I knew my speech wasn’t making sense. People were passing by me, and all I could think of was the dreaded word – cancer.

I thanked the doctor. When he left, I turned my phone on and called my husband.

“Can you…can you please come to the hospital? Please?”

Garrett knew me well. When he arrived at the hospital, I fell limp in his arms. The tears I refused to cry suddenly poured out of me and I screamed. People stared at me, but I didn’t care. My dad was dying. Cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

The next few days were a blur to me. I returned to work, although my heart wasn’t there. All I could think about was my dad and the approaching Christmas holiday season. How could I possibly celebrate Christmas while knowing my dad is battling cancer? What if he chose not to fight cancer?

My prayers were answered one afternoon after a stressful day at work. I walked into my dad’s hospital room. He was resting while watching TV. An intravenous solution was attached to his arm. I touched his cold, resting arm while watching the IV solution of chemotherapy slowly dripping into his body. An amber colored bag covered the solution as it dripped…dripped…dripped ever so slowly into the veins of my father.

His eyes opened slowly. “Chemotherapy,” he said. “The doctors think it might help me live longer.”

My hand squeezed his and I felt his icy cold skin. “Are you warm enough?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. You stop worrying about me.”

I squeezed his hand again. Tears were dancing in my eyes and I turned away. I did not want my father to see me crying. On that day, I recognized a new closeness and bonding between us. Gone was the angry, bitter-tongued father of my youth, replaced by a kinder and caring man who trusted me.

“We’ll fight this together, Dad.” I said, looking deeply into his eyes. “Together. I will be here for you every day. I love you, Dad. Together we will fight.”

Dad squeezed my hand. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. A tear fell down his face. “Will you wipe my eyes with a tissue. They’re watering.”

Still the tower of strength emotionally, Dad would not admit he was crying. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead. “I love you, Dad. Together we will beat this monster of cancer.”

During the holidays of 1997, I watched my dad battle chemotherapy radiation with courage and faith. I visited him daily and with each visit, we bonded. Before leaving at night, I would bend over to kiss his forehead. He whispered, “I love you.” Something he never did before cancer knocked on his door.

Cancer changes people. Suddenly life appears to fall into place. The little things in life become important again. No rushing around. No deadlines to battle. No appointments to break, or arguments to tolerate. All that is important is that one special, precious moment of life. Even when Dad had a rough day, we made the best of it. We strove to see the sunshine and sunrise. Life appeared to be simpler, with one exception. Daily I prayed for God to give Dad and me just one more day. One more day to touch his hand, one more day to kiss his forehead and to whisper three simple, caring words that gave me strength. “I love you.” Eight precious letters of the alphabet that guided me in the mornings, during the unexpected stress of each day, and covered me with a blanket of warmth at night. “I love you.” We expressed those words daily. Every day and moment we shared was precious.

After three chemotherapy treatments Dad was so weak, his blood counts so low, the doctors decided his body did not have the strength necessary to receive additional chemotherapy or radiation treatments. His throat was extremely sore, creating more difficulty with swallowing. The medical terminology I was learning educated me about esophageal cancer and other words I hadn’t learned before cancer knocked at our doors. Dysphagia, the inability to swallow. Skilled medical care – meaning 24-hour medical care and, of course, the detested PEG tube. What Dad and I described as an umbilical cord. Since he had a PEG tube, we decided it was necessary for him to reside at a convalescent center. He made friends at the nursing home and adjusted well. I visited him daily, praying for a miracle.

Our miracle granted him additional time with us although his quality of life weakened. He could not swallow food without regurgitating it, so the PEG tube was used, against his wishes. Slowly every quality of his life ended. The ability to enjoy food. The strength to take daily strolls without the assistance of a walker. The independence to live alone, without the assistance of skilled medical care. Father Time was slowly ticking his life away. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock, until he was almost a vegetable lying in his hospital bed.

On July 6, 1999, I arrived at the nursing home thrilled that I had his checkbook in my handbag. Dad kept close tabs on his checkbook and always asked about it. I was pleased that I had balanced his checkbook, and paid the nursing home for another month of nursing care. I was confident he would be pleased that he did not have to ask for his checkbook this month. I was prepared. Approaching his room, I turned my head, acknowledging a nurse. She was pushing a portable oxygen machine. “Oh, that isn’t a good sign,” I said to her. She did not acknowledge me, but followed next to me. Placing our hands on the door of my father’s room, I exhaled. The nurse suggested I wait outside. I was told I could not enter. I knew the time had arrived, and although I had prepared for this moment, his loss tore into my heart and soul. A woman I had never seen before took my hand, moving me to a chair. I was hysterical. She sat next to me, holding my hand until my husband arrived. I have no idea how he knew that Dad was dying. Someone had called him. Much to my surprise, that someone was me, although I do not remember making a phone call. All I can retrieve from that ‘moment’ was the strange, kind woman holding my hand, whispering words of encouragement to me.

The next morning, I drove to the beach, before sunrise. Standing along the shore, I knew Dad was at peace, and in time, I would be thankful that he had the final say. Walking along the shore, I noticed a sandpiper, appearing to follow me. Was this a sign? I would like to believe it was. The tiny sandpiper running next to me was a symbol that Dad and his spirit were now united with his twin brother and his family. Truly, it was a beautiful sunrise on that morning, July 7, 1999. The first morning of my new life as an orphan.Never would my dad and I harmonize a gospel song. Never would we spell vocabulary words, or whisper ‘I Love You.’  A fresh new morning of life for me, although inside, I felt nothing except a deep, debilitating grief.

 

 

Reflections — On Mother’s Day…


 

Dearest Readers:

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 skin care and make up 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 me or to your daddy if I fix myself up,” she said. “He doesn’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 while 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 to all of you who truly know the definition and love affiliated with motherhood. May your day be filled with the love and best wishes of family on Mother’s Day.

 

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Let The Rehearsals Begin…


Dearest Readers:

Good morning, World. Another beautiful sunshiny day! After two cups of coffee and my morning yogurt parfait, I decided to rehearse the tentative songs for the show scheduled for late May — May 30, to be exact! All of my pups, with exception of grouchy little Hanks, were outside while I popped the CDG’s in the stereo. Turning the microphone on, I recognized it is not working. “Rats!”

“Unchained Melody,” starting playing, so I belted out the notes, moving and dancing around, I glanced at the carpet. Hanks the Tank sat motionless — something extremely out of character for him. His eyes stared at me, still motionless while listening to me sing.

I patted his head to thank him for his attention. The first notes of “At Last,” began, so I belted those long notes out. Hank is still mesmerized while listening to me singing.

The last song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” is a duet I will sing with another singer. He has a great voice and I am honored to sing with him at rehearsals. As I sing the female notes, Hanks is still sitting about three feet from where I am dancing around. His eyes are still glued to me!

When I finish, Hanks approaches me…grumbling…as if to tell me he is enjoying listening to me. Funny. I’ve never noticed him listening to me while I sing. For me, this is the ultimate compliment. My energetic, grouchy, once terribly abused and unloved mini-schnauzer, Hanks the Tank, is letting me know how much he enjoys hearing me sing!

If all goes well, I will sing one song, and a duet at the show. I suppose I’ll share more details later. Now, I must decide what dress to wear. Those decisions are for a later date…after all, we still have rehearsals for all of us. We have a great bunch of singers for this variety show. No doubt it will be fun for all.

I cannot wait to get up on that stage and sing. Of course, you, my readers, know that — don’t you! This girl simply comes alive on stage! Yes, I was born to sing — and that is why I do it!

Today is a beautiful day. Think I’ll go work on my tan! Have a great weekend readers, and keep listening for more songs. Hanks is rubbing my leg now as if to say, “Sing…Sing…SING!”  Silly boy! Some people believe dogs do not enjoy music. I say — oh, yes — dogs LOVE music!

Maybe one day I will record a CD to share and to play — for my little Hanks! More details — LATER!