Excuse Me…I Thought HIPAA Protected Us and The Privacy of Medical Records


Dearest Readers:

Have you ever gotten a phone call from an “unavailable” phone number only to take the time to answer it?

Yesterday, I did. Normally, I do not answer the phone when the number is “unavailable;” however, I was waiting for a phone call to let me know the service tech was on his way. When I answered, the voice on the other line had a different accent. You probably know the type — a mixture of accents difficult to understand. This time, the voice was a female voice. “Hello, Bar–ba-ra…How are you today?”

At first, I was poised and polite. I answered her questions, then out of curiosity, I said: “Please allow me to interrupt you for one moment.”

She paused. Inhaled. Exhaled. Now, the Julia Sugarbaker personality and voice inside of me said: “You do know that in America we have our health records protected. At least, I THOUGHT we did. Tell me please…Just HOW do you know about us. And while I’m at it — You do know I do not have back problems, or knee problems, or whatever you are pitching to me. This is America…We have the HIPAA act here. Please tell me why you are calling me about health records when you do not KNOW my health records.”

Silence. Complete total silence on the other line.

“Hello,” I said. “You didn’t answer my question and since you’ve phoned me, I have the right to know just who you are, what you are doing, and why you are calling.”

A moment later, the phone clicked. Yes, she hung up!

So — what is HIPAA?

HIPAA – is The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, established on August 21, 1996, created by President Bill Clinton, when the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law. HIPAA was created to “improve the portability and accountability of health insurance coverage” for employees between jobs. https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&source=hp&ei=ykKFW6iwLcKgswWbo6Yo&q=when+was+hipaa+first+established&oq=when+was+hipaa+es&gs_l=psy-ab.1.1.0j0i22i30k1l3.2890.7365.0.10750.19.18.0.0.0.0.130.1880.1j16.18.0..2..0…1.1.64.psy-ab..1.17.1879.0..0i131k1.82.FXIwFb9ltLk

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html

“Most of us believe that our medical and other health information is private and should be protected, and we want to know who has this information. HIPAA, The Privacy Rule, a Federal law, gives you rights over your health information and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. The Privacy Rule applies to all forms of individuals’ protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral. The Security Rule is a Federal law that requires security for health information in electronic form.”

My question is a simple one — just WHY do these people phone about health issues? Has the information from our health records been released to them — WITHOUT our consent??? If so — HOW? And WHY?

I do know that when the Veterans Administration phones our home, I allow it to ring so they can leave a message. Of course the message is limited to what is revealed. They only say they are “calling for the person born on” (and they share his birthdate). Years ago HIPAA, I answered the phone when they called. Not anymore! Every time I would inquire about what the message was, and they stated they could not ‘release the information to me.’ My reply: I’m his wife. You can share the information with me.

Nope! Nada. NEVER!

I would like to get to the bottom of why these people phone, but every time I answer they start asking:

We understand you have back issues. Not that I know about.

We understand you have heart issues. Nope. I think I still have a heart!

We understand you have Diabetes issues. None of your business!

And then they disconnect. How dare them to interrupt my daily activities with their phone calls about medical issues.

Maybe I should file a complaint with HIPAA; however, these people who phone me do not share their names, or where they are from. Their number is Unavailable!

I suspect they are from either Nigeria, India, or some unforeseen planet no American is familiar with. How about you? Do you get these phone calls?

To say I get irritated is an understatement. I think the next time they phone I will say, in a tearful, dramatic voice:

HELP ME! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.

What would you do?

According to this site: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/filing-a-complaint/index.html, consumers may file a complaint — “If you believe that a HIPAA-covered entity or its business associate violated your (or someone else’s) health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the Privacy, Security, or Breach Notification Rules, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR can investigate complaints against covered entities (health plans, health care clearinghouses, or health care providers that conduct certain transactions electronically) and their business associates.”

If only I had the name of the person, I would pursue reporting them, but for now, I’ll simply ignore UNAVAILABLE phone calls!

 

Tanya Tucker coming to The Carolina Opry Theater January 26


In Memory of My Father


Dearest Readers:

Below is an essay written before my father’s death – July 6, 1999

WALTER W. PERKINS

Mr. Sandpiper, 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun Sets in Hawaii
Dad spoke of sunsets and sunrises, sharing with me that he was in the sunset of his life. Maybe that is why I have such passion for sunsets. Rest in peace, my precious father. How I miss you!

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

December 19, 1998

Grief – Just When Does It End?


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Dearest Readers:

July 6 is always a day of remembrance for me. Truly a day to spend the entire day in tears, or a day to give thanks. Why? Allow me to explain. During the stressful days of my dad’s terminal illness with esophageal cancer during December 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999, I have felt such a loss.

Dad kept telling me he was in the sunset of his life. I wasn’t ready to see the sunset. I did not want him to leave me.

I’ve had people tell me I need to move on. “Get over it. Life goes on…” Etc. ETC! It isn’t easy! Today is July 6, 2018 –19 years since the death of my dad. I remember the day, as if it was yesterday. After a demanding day at work, I rushed to visit him, like I did every day. I spoke to the nursing home earlier in the day. “Dad was doing fine,” they replied. “Fine!?!” If he’s in a nursing home he isn’t fine. Yes, he was as well as could be expected; nevertheless, over the last six months of his life, I watched his body slowly shutting down. First it was the weakness from esophageal cancer. His inability to retain his food. His legs grew weaker and he fell – LOTS. Each time the nursing home reported the falls to me, like they are required. And each time, I prayed a sigh of relief. Just one more day. Please God, give us one more day.

In March, his heart grew weaker, and I realized the end was near. I stopped praying for a miracle. In my nightly prayers I prayed for God to find a special place for my dad, to use his talents, his voice, and yes – even his temper. Dad could be a tenacious man when he wanted to be!

During my daily visits after March, I noticed Dad no longer walked me to the door, to kiss me goodbye. He simply waved his hand as he closed his Holy Bible. No longer were the visits welcoming or fun. He appeared to be angry at me, always waving me away after about 10 minutes of our time together. His roommate told me Dad was mean to me. “You deserve better,” Dudley said. “He is so mean. He should appreciate you.”

I smiled at Dudley. “Don’t you understand,” I cried. “Dad is dying. He’s angry at life.”

Sometimes when I arrived after a long, hard day at work, Dad would grow arrogant. “Just get out of here,” he shouted. “You know you don’t want to be here. Just Go!”

I admit it. At times, his anger got to me. I would leave the nursing home in tears. I did not understand his anger towards me. After all, I visited every day. Just what is the matter with him, I asked God while tears rushed down my face. Doesn’t he know I love him?

Dad and Dudley were the odd couple of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. They teased and complained, always trying to compete with each other. For a while, Dad had the upper hand since Dudley’s body no longer moved and he remained in the bed, or a special wheelchair. Dudley had difficulty with speech too, but after visiting Dad so often, Dudley and I were able to communicate without a problem. After March, Dudley had the upper hand as we watched Dad sit on his bed, or remain in his bed most of the time. Gone were his daily strolls with his walker.

I suppose I was counting the days down, knowing my dad and I would not share another holiday together. No more birthday parties. No more Christmas trees, Thanksgiving and holiday dinners together. Tick. Tock…How I wish I could make this clock stop and save my dad.

On the moment of his death, I was walking in the corridor of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. A nurse I recognized approached, pushing an oxygen tank. I remember speaking with her, saying Uh, oh. That isn’t a welcoming sign for someone. She nodded, never saying a word to me.

I placed my hand on the door of Dudley and Dad’s room and so did the nurse. Quickly, she nodded, telling me not to come inside.

I screamed.

“Oh, Dear God, No. Please…please….Please God, NO!” I cried.

Someone grabbed me, walking me to a chair and I sat down. I knew. The clock was stopping. My dad was dying.

I heard a voice say, Barbie. We can bring him back.

“No,” I cried. “He’s a DNR. I must honor his wishes.”

Moments seemed like hours. At 6:15 a nurse approached me. “I’m so sorry. Do you want to say goodbye?”

Yes, I nodded.

I waited a few minutes for my husband to arrive and together, we walked in to Dad’s room. Dudley was eating dinner. I could not speak to him. I touched my Dad – his body as cold as ice. His skin clammy. His eyes closed. I kissed him. Told him I loved him and I would never forget him. “You’re still here, inside my heart,” I cried.

I have no idea what happened next. I was numb. Dumbfounded. How would I live without my Dad?

After his funeral, I joined a grief therapy session and learned to move forward. Still, as the day of July 6 of each year approaches, I feel an incredible emptiness. Grief. Heartache. I ask myself, will this pain ever leave?

I think not. Today is July 6, 2018. Nineteen years today… Just how can it be 19 years? These years have flown by — just like someone opened a window, tossing these years without Dad outside. I must keep myself busy, remembering my Dad, Walter W. Perkins, and the goodness inside of him. Yes, he had moments of temperamental ups and downs, but he was my dad. As a child, I always looked up to him. I held his hand. We sang. He taught me how to harmonize and he always reminded me to “Make this a good day.”

I ask you how? How do I make each day a good day without my dad?

When do we stop grieving over those we’ve loved and lost? When does the heartache end?

After my dad died, I felt like an orphan. I have learned to move on and to recognize that each day is a gift. I plan to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion with my dad today while drinking my morning coffee. I will lift my head high, looking into the Heavens and speak softly to my Dad. Yes, I will probably cry, but now, the tears are good, cleansing tears because I have learned to move forward. To make the most of every day. July 6, 2018DSC_0230-001 is another day without my dad, but I am so thankful that I was there for him daily while he battled cancer. Yes, I miss you, Dad. I was blessed to share one more day. Thank you, God for giving us one more day!

Fitbit Wrist Bands – So Defective!


Dearest Readers:

I suppose today is a good day to complain about Fitbit. Why? Simple. Their wrist bands and other items to hold or wear the activity trackers do not hold up! The quality of the bands is cheap – to say the least, and when I phoned Fitbit to complain, I spoke to a customer service rep living in Hungary???

Yes, their customer service is good, that is – IF one likes to speak to a rep living in another country and definitely not aware of the USA. Fitbit is just about to annoy me to the highest!

For example, I had a Fitbit One years ago. I tucked it into the plastic case provided, wearing it, like most women, in my bra. I clipped it onto the bra, expecting it to hold up.  Well…Let’s just say, the case did not survive. I admit it, I do have a bosom. Sometimes that little case would move and work itself out. Once, it did so at Wal-Mart. I phoned them to report it, and of course, if someone found it, it was not reported. So, I contacted Fitbit. Surprisingly, they sent me another Fitbit One. The case it was in failed to hold up too. I think I must’ve lost the case and Fitbit One somewhere in my back yard while gardening and cutting the lawn. Maybe my lawnmower ate it?

After the loss of the Fitbit One, I chose to purchase the Fitbit Alta. The Alta came with a wrist band. Perhaps this will work better. It did not. Only a few months of wear and tear, the wristband popped loose at Cracker Barrel in Charlotte, NC. Fortunately, while paying, another customer noticed it, picked it up, handing it to the cashier. I glanced down at my wrist. Eureka! My wrist band fell off of my wrist, onto the floor and I didn’t even notice it!

“That’s my wrist band and Fitbit,” I thanked the cashier, while putting my wrist band Fitbit Alta back on my wrist I said: Don’t ever buy a Fitbit product. They work well, until the Kmart quality wrist band breaks, and we all know what’s happening with Kmart!

Later, I went to Fitbit’s website exclaiming to them that I was divorcing myself from Fitbit. Much to my surprise, they contacted me weeks later – after I found another activity tracker, sending me another wrist band AFTER I sent them a photograph of the “defective” wrist band. Hey Fitbit… Guess what? ALL OF YOUR WRIST BANDS ARE DEFECTIVE!

I got the new wrist band from Fitbit and I wore it UNTIL IT FELL APART!

Enough of this! I retired my Fitbit Alta!

I bought another tracker – only this time – NOT a Fitbit. I purchased a Garmin Vivofit 2. I wear it daily. I’ve had the Garmin over a year, replacing the battery in March, 2018. Much to my surprise, the wrist band is holding up! Can you believe it? Another company actually provides a quality activity tracker with a QUALITY wrist band that doesn’t fall apart???

I confess, I do like the Fitbit products, and I was wearing the Fitbit Charge 2 until Friday evening. While eating dinner at Longhorn’s Steak House, my Fitbit Charge 2 wrist band fell off. Not again! Just what is wrong with Fitbit? They use the CHEAPEST wrist bands ever!

Incidentally, I still wear the Garmin Vivofit 2, and when I have a Fitbit wrist band that WORKS, I wear it too! Weird, isn’t it? Well, you have to know me to understand me!

Presently, the Fitbit Charge 2 sits on my dresser. I am not attempting to wear it until I get a new wrist band. I phoned Fitbit Friday evening, speaking with the customer service rep in “Hungary!”

She wanted me to take a picture of the wrist band. I suppose to prove it was broken? Heck, it is not BROKEN…IT IS DEFECTIVE…JUST LIKE ALL THE WRIST BANDS MARKETED BY FITBIT! Maybe we have a failure to communicate! I refused to take a photograph and send it to her. I wanted a decision made now. Not a few days from now, after someone with a bit of authority decided my wrist band was indeed — B-R-O-K-E-N! After a few minutes discussion, she actually asked me how much I wear the Fitbit. Maybe I was wearing it too much and that made it ‘defective???’

Ok. I understand I am blonde, and maybe I do not have a degree in technology, but — AREN’T ACTIVITY TRACKERS DESIGNED FOR YOU TO WEAR CONSTANTLY — TO TRACK YOUR ACTIVITY?

I might be blonde, but I’m not stupid!

She placed me on HOLD – several times, then she returned letting me know:

  1. You do not need to take a photograph
  2. We will send you another wrist band.

Big deal! I will get another wrist band, identical to the one that came with the Fitbit Charge 2. No doubt, it will become defective – just like all of the other wrist bands marketed by Fitbit. Just WHEN will they learn – their wrist bands are defective!

Meanwhile, I managed to find a metallic wrist band online at Wal-Mart. I purchased it. I will not wear the Fitbit Charge 2 until I get the metallic band.

Now, I’m curious. What country manufactures Fitbit? According to Wikipedia – the USA. Funny. I assumed it was made in China, like so many items the USA provides.

So now, my Fitbit Charge 2 will rest on my dresser until I get the wrist band from Wal-Mart. Will it last? Probably longer than the ones that come with Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Alta, and others.

Isn’t it a shame? We pay so much money for activity trackers such as Fitbit.

I’ve had the Garmin Vivofit 2 for almost two years. The only time I have to charge it is when I take it to Batteries Plus Bulbs to get a new battery, and I haven’t had any problems with their wrist bands.  https://www.batteriesplus.com/service

If only Fitbit would do a bit of marketing research and discover they MUST improve the cheapened wrist bands they provide! I do prefer the Fitbit activity trackers. If only they would IMPROVE their disgusting wrist bands.

Perhaps this is the marketing strategy of Fitbit — to provide a quality activity tracker with a defective wrist band, so customers will have to purchase wrist bands over and over again.

Hey, Fitbit. Here’s an eye opener for you – what part of S-T-U-P-I-D and D-E-F-E-C-T-I-V-E do you not understand?

And now, I must get off my soap box and enjoy this Sunday afternoon!

 

 

 

 

 

Illegal or Legal Immigrants


Dearest Readers:

Immigration. Illegal? Legal? What about the children???

For all of you viewing just a photograph of a child crying — why don’t you read the full story?

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/border-patrol-agent-involved-dramatic-photo-girl-crying-at-border-speaks-out/

The mother was being searched. Both were exhausted. People are assuming the worst. Yes, my heart aches whenever I see a child crying; however, as a writer, I like to read or confirm the “real story.”

I haven’t spoken publicly about this scenario until now. This is the United States of America. Most of us have a history of immigrants; however, Most of them were legal – not illegal. My ancestors came to America from England in the early 1600’s. On my father’s ancestry, we are related to the Spencer family. When my father showed me the documents, I smiled and said “I’m related to Lady Diana? Well, I always knew I was royalty!” My father chuckled! As for the illegal immigrants,  I cannot fathom any mother leaving her children. There is another unrelated story after a father speaks out, saying his wife and one child left to seek a ‘future’ in America. She left her older children. I ask you, how can a mother leave her children? I could not.

As a professional journalist, and a member of SPJ – Society of Professional Journalists, I must follow the SPJ CODE OF ETHICS. I’ve always researched, confirmed and written my stories with information to back what I say. I do not dream up or allow my bylines to practice “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Years ago, while in Los Angeles, my friends and I took a bus tour to Tijuana. I was excited to find some jewelry. I was warned not to speak to the children who would approach us. Well, let’s just say – I have a soft spot for children, and when they approached me with flowers, I smiled, gave them a dollar and told them to keep the flowers. One little boy rushed over to me, after I was out of one dollar bills. When I told him no, he spit — in my face! I mentioned this to the bus driver and he laughed. “I warned you,” he said! When we left, we got the bus driver to give us a brief tour of Tijuana. I was flabbergasted when I saw stacks of cardboard around the area. The cardboard was used to build a cardboard home. I’ve never forgotten those images. I never will. No wonder they want a better life in America. Who can blame them? I wasn’t a professional photographer at the time, so I do not have images to prove what I saw.

My heart breaks for the people so desperate to cross the border illegally. I do not know if most are criminals, drug dealers, etc. I haven’t confirmed those comments many people have stated. If they are ILLEGAL, they are teaching their children one thing – and that is – in America, you can break the law, just to cross the border! I do not believe ALL that is on the Internet. After all, anyone can post fake articles, or stories. Just because you read them or view the images on the Internet does not mean they are true. So, to my fans, I say, let us all be careful. Images can be made into amazing photo-shopped images. Videos can be edited! Remember, “if it bleeds, it leads…” does not mean it is an image to really believe!

How I wish our media would stop being so critical about immigration. This is America! We support LEGAL immigration, not ILLEGAL immigration! DSC_0013My two cents worth on this steaming, scorching day in Charleston, SC.

I will pray for those who are missing their children; however, maybe next time, they need to enter the USA as legal immigrants – NOT Illegal!

Happy Father’s Day


Dearest Readers:

Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s in the United States of America. Today is a special day, to give thanks and celebrate our fathers. From the moment we were born, most of us had a father. Maybe you have precious memories of your father, and perhaps there are some, like me, who have — shall I say — interesting, sometimes traumatic memories.

As a little girl, I looked up to my father, sometimes squealing for him to scoop me into his arms. However, at five-years-old, I saw a different side of my father, and I must say, he scared me. At the time, we were living in the projects in Atlanta, Georgia. I hated the projects! My mother loved to go outside and gossip with all of the nasty, ugly, snide women who lived in the projects. On one crisp Saturday morning, my mother was outside. Sitting by the curb, legs spread wide open, wearing a dress. I couldn’t understand why my mother always told me to keep my knees together when I sat, wearing a dress, when she didn’t practice what she preached, but I listened and I didn’t dare open my legs wide in a dress. On this morning, Mom was laughing with the women, talking about the neighbors, the fighting and the ugly gossip always shared when wicked women get together.

I was sitting on the back porch playing with my dolly when Daddy opened the back door, screaming for my mama. She ignored his call. I looked at my daddy, seeing an evil look in his eyes. He pointed his finger at me, shaking it furiously he said: “You go get your mother and tell her I want to speak with her.” He paused, and then he screamed at me, “NOW!”

“Yes Sir,” I said, placing my doll on the floor of the porch.

I ran as fast as my little legs could move. “Mama, Daddy wants you. He’s been calling for you.”

She laughed, scratched her inner thigh and looked at me. “Well, girls I guess I better jump and go to him. You all know how these men in the projects get if the little woman doesn’t obey.”

They laughed. As Mama rose, Daddy met her. He shook her shoulders. Words were expressed, but I can’t remember exactly what he said. She laughed, then thrust her arms at him. He pushed her, knocking her down on to the concrete next to the metal trash cans. Mama hit her head on the trash can and when she fell she bruised her knees.

The gossipy, wicked women rushed away.

I struggled to help my mama up. I looked at my daddy, standing tall. Anger seeping from his eyes. I put my hands on his legs and said, “Daddy move away. Mama’s coming. Don’t push her anymore. That was a mean thing to do.”

I suppose one could say, on that day, I became the referee for our family. I was the middle child, but I refused to tolerate abuse and every time I was around, watching my daddy and my mother fight so dreadfully, I remember squeezing into the middle of the fight, placing my arms out to make them move away. I would always say, “Daddy. Mama. Stop this fighting. If you want to beat someone, beat me!”

When I was fifteen, I stopped the final fight. I arrived home from school. Excited to share that I had a lead in a musical! I was so happy and proud of myself on that beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Walking inside the house, I heard shouting and I knew, another round of fights was on. I listened to the shouts, cursing and the horror. I knocked on the door, then I pushed it open. Mama was bending down, gasping for breath. Her face was blue. Daddy stood, watching her, holding a stack of mail.

“You two need to stop this,” I screamed. “Look at her. She’s having difficulty breathing. You need to stop this fighting before one of you kills the other. One of you needs to leave.”

Daddy threw the mail in my direction. “Look at this. Just look at what she did. She bought a diamond ring and didn’t tell me. Now they’re going to garnish my wages. We’ll have to file for bankruptcy. Just look at what she’s done.”

I glanced at one envelope stamped with an orange Past Due notice.

“The fighting needs to stop before one of you goes to prison,” I said.

Little did I know how things would change.

The next day, I walked home from school, trying to work things out in my head. I knew domestic abuse wasn’t healthy in a family situation. I felt helpless. I had no one to talk to. None of my relatives would understand and I was certain if I said anything to anyone, I would become the trouble maker of our family. I remember hearing people saying fighting in a marriage was “normal”… “A Family Matter…”

Opening the door to the house, my mama was sitting on the couch in tears.  She rushed at me. “This is all your fault. I hope you’re happy now. Your daddy left us today. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. I never want to hear his name again in this house and you are never allowed to talk to him, or mention his name again!”

The following Saturday, Mama moved us to Columbus, Georgia. Four children. One adult, living in a two bedroom mill village with our grandparents. To say we were crowded for space is an understatement.

I had to follow the rules:

Church on Sunday.

Wednesday night prayer meetings at church

No makeup (I broke that rule)

No rock n’ roll music, only Christian music

Go to school

Nothing more.

I hated this new life and rebelled. No, I never did drugs. Never tried alcohol. I rebelled by staying alone, taking walks, retreating to the Chattahoochee River. At school, I became a wallflower, refusing to try out for plays, musicals, or anything interesting. I wrote to my dad, letting him know I loved him.

Never do I really remember celebrating Father’s Day for my dad as a child. As a grown up, married with a child of my own, I chose to make Father’s Day special. I bought cards for my dad. When he visited us, he was different. I actually heard him laugh, and I watched him playing with my son. Gone from his demeanor was the anger, hatred, and abuse. Never did I hear my dad say anything ugly about our mother after their divorce. He was truly a changed man. No violence. No shouting. Just a kind, and loving man filled with Laughter and Happiness within himself.

In December, 1997, my beloved father became ill with esophageal cancer. Serving as his caregiver until his death on July 6, 1999, I truly saw a beautiful person within his demeanor. On one occasion, he thanked me for what I said on the last day before my parents separated. He admired my strength to serve as the referee. To my knowledge, no one within our family circle knew about the domestic “family matters” of our family.

As a writer, I’ve written many articles about domestic abuse. How it changes a family. How it paints a vivid, horrifying picture about marriage and I vowed to myself that no one would ever abuse me. I suppose I overlooked another side of domestic abuse – the verbal abuse, and for years, my husband who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] from Vietnam, would get into rages, shouting at me. Once, he shoved me and when he did, I fought back, standing firm to him, letting him know he had to stop his rage, or I would end the marriage.

I’m proud to say, we worked those issues out, and now, we do not scream, shout or verbally fight. Our home is a happy home. Father’s Day is always special. I give thanks to God for guiding me and giving me strength.

And so, on Father’s Day, 2018, I give thanks to God for all He has given me and my family. It is my wish for all of you reading this, to please take a moment to give your father a bit of special care and love on this Father’s Day. How I wish I could share Father’s Day with my father, and maybe I can. He is still tucked safely within my heart.

Happy Father’s Day to my husband, and all who are fathers!

 

 

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