My Thoughts For Today


Dearest Readers:

I’ve heard enough of FoxNews for the day.

The world is sick in a horrifying way.

I think I’ll keep on the telly for background noise, while today, I shall find the pups toys.

There’s lots to do inside this new home, but I must bow to a deadly throne of Corona Virus while praying for all who have it, and for me not to get it.

This world’s gone crazy now. We must stay six-feet-away. Can’t hug or shake hands, even with our friends.

No beach. No dining. We are told to stay inside

Just how much Cabin Fever does it take to stay alive?

Meanwhile, nurses and doctors and let’s not forget the CNA’s, wear PPE clothing, masks and gloves as patients strive just to breathe.

This Corona Virus is a deadly one, although the younger generation believes they are immune.

Why? Because they’re so young.

I pray for our country, the US of A

For our world to win this deadly battle of a virus running wild just to end our days.

Listen to your doctors. Nurses, and don’t forget the CNA’s.

Wash your hands. Practice good hygiene. Most important, don’t forget to pray.

Let’s win this battle, our newest war – Corona Virus, please just fade away.

Coronavirus Updates


Dearest Readers:

Do you find yourself constantly watching social media for the latest information regarding the Coronavirus?

If so, maybe you should train your brain to think of something else. Although I am a participant on social media (Facebook) I do not participate on Twitter or other devices. Understand, I am not criticizing any of these sites; nevertheless, I have spoken to acquaintances who were convinced, and I quote: “I read it on Facebook, so it’s got to be true.”

Wrong answer!

Do yourselves a favor. Focus your attention on the best sites regarding Coronavirus. For example, the CDC, Center for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/

or

WHO, the World Health Organization — https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Other sites I am familiar with and research their links are:

Mayo Clinic — https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963

WebMD — https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200310/know-the-symptoms-of-covid19

President Trump is conducting daily press conferences regarding the Coronavirus. Perhaps you should listen to his information too.

Nevertheless, we all should stay informed – not freaking out to the point we rush to the grocery store, WalMart, Target, or other retail stores – just to stockpile toilet tissue, paper towels, tissues, handwipes, antiseptic wipes — and on and on.

I understand some people may have several people (or families) living within their home, and some might be older or fragile. They could use these items. Some of us, including our family, do not need to stockpile. The only item we are missing within this household is antiseptic wipes. I confess, Saturday night at WalMart, antiseptic handwipes were out of stock, so I marched over to the baby aisles. There, I found Huggies handwipes. I bought one for each of our three bathrooms, leaving the remainder for other people to purchase. None of us had babies. Yes, I asked, please, if any of you have little infants, you need these handwipes more than we do.

“No, we decided to follow you over and get whatever we could find. No babies within our homes.”

These are frightening times, and the news media is really jumping on the bandwagon, after all, they believe “If it bleeds, it leads!”

I want to stay abreast of the latest facts and information due to the fact that Coronavirus appears to be a virus that includes the respiratory system. I have asthma. A couple of weeks ago, I stayed inside my home due to a slight wheezing. I used my nebulizer. Now, I’m fine. I did not have a temp, nor did I feel ill, I simply did not want to share my coughing germs with others. I try to be considerate!

As a writer, I prefer to check my research, resources, and confirm all of the information before I publish. I’m definitely NOT a fake journalist or media!

Please, during this Coronavirus epidemic, if you are sick, stay at home. If you have fever, you might consider contacting your doctor. If you have a cough or sneeze, PLEASE cover your mouth, nose, etc. and stay home. Yes, germs are everywhere, so we must be proactive!

Maybe we should all visit an online bookstore, or watch TV, after all, DirecTV has movies available 24/7. Entertain yourselves and your family by remaining isolated if you are sick. Meanwhile, enjoy your life. Get to know your family members and let us all remain healthy!

Remember:

Wash your hands frequently!

If coughing – cough into your elbow. If you sneeze, use a tissue. Discard!

If you have a temp – stay home and call your doctor.

May we all remain healthy. We have the methods to practice to keep us healthy. God bless us, Everyone!

Hello Four Walls – I’ve Been Kidnapped ByThe Noro Virus Kidnapped Me


Dearest Readers:

I planned to share this story about three or four days ago; however, this noro virus had other ideas.

Saturday, April 16, 2016 began as a beautiful, sunshiny day. One of the beauties of living in South Carolina I appreciate the scenes, beaches, scents and flowers, especially at spring time. I rushed around the house in anticipation of a shopping trip with new friends. While riding in the back seat of their spacious truck, I commented about what a beautiful day it was to spend time with new friends. Little did I know how quickly things can change.

Walking around the shopping center, I walked into a shoe store. Phil found a gorgeous pair of sandals for me. He wanted me to try them on, I declined. My forehead was dripping with beats of sweat, or as I like to say, “my glitter is showing.”

“I feel strange,” I whispered to him. “I think I’ll go outside and sit down at one of those benches.”

Ever so slowly I made my way and sat down. Now, my entire face was covered with sweat, along with my neck. Phil commented while touching my forehead. I tried to laugh, mentioning something about maybe I’m having those ‘hot flashes’ now that all my friends complain about.

I’ve never had a hot flash. My friends describe them as a quick, burning flash of heat that rises from your toenails to your head. The only place I was hot was my forehead, covered with beads of perspiration, or as I like to say, ‘I do not sweat, I glisten with sparkles.’ Today, I could not joke or make silliness about how ‘strange’ I felt. The beads of ‘sparkles’ continued to soak my forehead. My hair was soaked, along with my neckline. My fingers were shivering. One moment – my body felt as if I was standing in a sauna. The next moment, I was standing inside an igloo. Just what was this feeling? I was sitting on a bench in the bright sunshine. Temperatures outside were warm but not hot enough to make me dripping with my little sparkles.

Our friends saw me sitting at the bench with Phil. They suggested we might find a restaurant, eat an early lunch and I would probably feel better. I agreed.

Sitting down at the restaurant, my body was shivering now. I read the menu, ordered coffee and a salad and waited to feel better; nevertheless, the strange sensation overwhelmed me.

Moments later, my stomach regurgitated. I projectile vomited everything that was inside of my stomach. At least I thought. Phil wiped my blouse, placed a napkin on my forehead and I attempted to stand up, to get to the restroom. Fortunately, I made it to the restroom before my entire stomach exploded. I breathed deeply…Inhaled…Breathed again…

What is wrong with me? My hands were shaking. My legs felt like spaghetti. This was not going to be a good day for me.

I flushed my face with cold water, noticing how pale and deathly I looked. I sat down in a chair at the ladies restroom and waited for the color to return, or to see if I was swimming in a sea of nausea again.

Returning to the table, my stomach regurgitated once again. I was mortified. In my entire life I have never thrown up in public. Deciding that I was much too weak to shop, I suggested going to the car and resting while everyone shopped. How I wanted to slip under the table and crawl under the floor so nobody could see me. Phil got our friend’s car key and walked with me. The walk to the car, usually an easy and short journey for me appeared to be miles away.

“I can’t make it to the car. Find me a wheelchair, please.” Phil sat me down at a bench. Moments later, he returned with a wheelchair. A $10.00 fee at the shopping center, even with an emergency. I fell into the wheelchair and off we went. Riding in the wheelchair reminded me of my ride in a pace car at Bristol race track. G-force of nausea captured me again, although this time, I kept everything down. I had a nasty taste of stale coffee in my mouth. Phil offered me a mint. I sucked on it, hoping to feel better.

Slipping into the truck, Phil rolled the windows down so I would feel a breeze. I was shivering still. He took the key, locked the car and off he went. My stomach gurgled, so I opened the door to the truck. The burglar alarm screamed. Now, if I did regurgitate in the parking area, everyone would see. Phil returned, wanting to know why I opened the door.

“If I throw up again, I do not want to do it all over his new, beautiful vehicle.”

Phil apologized, leaving the key with me! Thank goodness. If I had to make a spectacle of myself, I wanted it to be when EMS came to get me, in the event I needed to go to the hospital. Today was not the day I wanted to enter a place and be remembered. I simply wanted to crawl through the woodwork and die, if today was the day I left this earth.

What was to be a splendid day of shopping was one of the sickest days of my entire life. I thought it was related to a migraine headache, but this was much worse.

Cutting our plans short, we got home before dark. I apologized to our friends, hoping they would understand I was really sick and not faking this dreadful illness. I remember bathing and crawling my way to bed. About 8:45 pm, stomach cramps and a gurgling stomach awoke me. I rushed to the bathroom, only this time I was not nauseated. I was suffering from some of the worst diarrhea a human could endure. The constant waves of diarrhea reminded me of a riptide, washing over me keeping me awake all night long. I battled with this manic stomach illness until 8:15 the next morning, a total of 12 long, painful and weak hours. The riptide of diarrhea forced me to take three additional baths before the sickness eased. I kept asking my body how it could explode with such illness when nothing was inside of my stomach.

Today is Friday, April 22. Still, I feel incredibly weak. Phil got sick on Tuesday at work, arriving home before lunchtime. Every morning I told myself I could do the laundry…Or, I could cook a meal…If I tried, I could vacuum. Once, I attempted to get the vacuum cleaner, only to decide I was much too weak – still. I managed to wash the clothes that I wore when I was so sick on Saturday, washing them twice just to make certain the fabrics were clean and sanitized.

No, I haven’t exactly tracked my food intake since I’m a member of Weight Watchers. This week I’ve eaten only small bites of food, or a small can of soup. Our Friday night date – let’s just say, it was postponed! Every doctor’s appointment had to be postponed, along with my weekly weigh-in at Weight Watchers. I was contagious. I would not share this illness with anyone!

When Phil arrived home on Tuesday, I noticed how white his face was. Neither of us wanted food or liquids. We placed our pups in the breakfast room and away we went, to separate bedrooms to ease the illness. For two days, both of us camped out in the den, moving only when Mother Nature called. I suppose we were quite a silly pair together. Neither of us feeling strong enough to care for the other.

My head continues to spin and hurt from this virus. The noro virus whips all of the strength a body has. No appetite. No strength to walk or care for yourself. I Googled stomach virus, discovering norovirus.

The symptoms of Norovirus include:

Nausea & Vomiting – my vomiting felt like I was projectile vomiting my entire stomach.

 

Fever & Chills – one moment my head is covered with sweat. The next moment, I shivered.

 Migraines – Daily I’ve awoken with a bad headache.

 Stomach Cramps – reminding me of the severe cramps I suffered before menopause.

 Sore Muscles – my husband suffered with sore muscles. The only sore muscles I have are in my throat and stomach.

 Urine Changes – surprisingly, my urine was a bright yellow. Normally, clear, that is how I knew I was dehydrated.

 Dry, Parched Mouth – I still have chapped lips and a dry mouth. To resolve this, I am drinking more Gator Ade.

 Increased Heart Rate – I didn’t notice this. What I have felt is the inability to walk well. I have clung to the walls in my home whenever I feel “strange” again. Suddenly the lyrics of “Hello Walls” are changing and my weakened body is saying: “Hello walls. Thank God you’re here today…Just to hold me and keep my feet from falling from all this pain….”

 Several of my friends suggested I should get to the doctor immediately. Just how does one get to a doctor’s office when she is so ill? Friends suggested they would take me. I declined. I did not want to contaminate anyone! No doubt this norovirus could result in someone losing friendships. I cherish my friends, so I refused to let them do anything for me.

 Today I do feel better and I am hopeful I can style my hair and wear makeup today. To those who know me, they realize I am never seen in public without makeup. Not so this week. I haven’t left my house at all, until Friday. My face is naked now, but I feel confident after writing this, I will smile again and attempt makeup. Who knows If I will succeed. I suppose you will just have to wait to read my next post – that is WHEN I am well. This virus kidnapped me, only no one would pay the ransom. Another side effect I’ve had – a lack of cognitive abilities. Attempting to answer a question on the phone, or to discuss how I really feel…let’s just say – I’ve struggled to speak with intelligence. Let’s don’t even discuss my keyboarding skills now. I keep telling myself this too shall pass.

 UPDATE: Sunday, April 24, 2016, I wore makeup yesterday and today. Happy Days are here again…I have no idea when I will be able to sing again!

 Yes…This Too Shall Pass…I’ll be so happy when I can be well and strong enough to get myself to the beach. Weather forecast say it has been a beautiful, picture perfect beach week, but don’t ask me. All I’ve seen is people walking by the side of the road and four walls. Lots of walls! I did manage to clip roses from my rose bush. They are helping me to see that life is out there and soon, I will be strong again. I hope!

 This

Too

Shall

Pass!

 

So Much For Valentine’s Day…


Dearest Readers:

Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed writing. Please allow me to explain.

Most of you who read my blog understand that I am a writer, photographer and singer. Since February 14 — Yes, Valentine’s Day — I have been extremely quiet. My quietness started on February 12, when my husband acquired a ‘respiratory infection.’ He called in to work. When he got up, he sounded horrible. Understand I am not a doctor – although I know what ‘respiratory infection’ sounds like since I’ve had many. I backed away from a morning hug, telling him to go to the doctor now. “You seem to have a ‘respiratory infection.’

Hours later, he returns home with a gigantic bottle of cough/congestion medications and antibiotics.

“What did the doctor say?” I asked.

Phil glanced away, mumbling “an upper respiratory infection.”

BINGO!

I cared for my husband. Attempting not to get near his germs, but on Friday morning, I was coughing. Saturday morning, I felt like death!

Tuesday afternoon, feeling like I was stepping a few feet into my grave, I asked my husband to take me to Nason Medical since I did not feel like waiting a few days for an appointment at my doctor’s office. Monday night although I struggled to sleep, each time I fell asleep a horrid, raspy roaring wheezing awoke me. “What is that noise?” I listened again, setting up while struggling to inhale a breath of air. I fought to breathe recognizing the horrid, raspy roaring wheezing noise was me!

When the doctor saw me, she listened to my lungs. “You really are wheezing,” she said.

I wanted to scream “No joke” but my voice, nor my bronchial tubes would not permit me to speak. My voice was not only raspy, but a small, little voice sounding more like a small child, or someone inhaling helium…and I never do anything such as that!

ACUTE BRONCHIAL ASTHMA

By Tuesday, my husband was almost well and back to work. As for me, I was deathly ill…unable to breathe without gasping for air…and…coughing…COUGHING…Coughing…until my body ached. The doctor diagnosed acute bronchial asthma, gave me a breathing treatment and 10 minutes later, with prescriptions in my hand, we left. I could not wait to get home — to crawl back in to bed. No, not for extracurricular activities — for rest and sleep.

Now, it is four weeks later. For four weeks, I’ve been inactive. Unable to work out on the treadmill, and unable to do upper body workouts. It takes a lot of air to exercise. Air that I do not have! I’ve missed my weekly Weight Watchers meetings. Heck. I’ve missed LIVING!

Since I’ve been so ill, I haven’t written, with exception of publishing a few press releases sent to me. Last night we attended the Committees Dinner at the Elks Lodge. I found a seat, and sat. No socializing for me. When friends came to say hello, I put my hands up, letting them know I am still sick. I really doubt if I am contagious. To get acute bronchial asthma, one must be asthmatic…nevertheless, I do not want someone to get sick and blame me!

After the dinner, I did not make the rounds of hugs and kisses and goodbyes, sending virtual hugs to my friends, I struggled to walk to the car to go home. Today, I am still sick; however, today is the first day, I have not heard the little monster of wheezing inside my chest. I am thrilled that he has left me — finally. Still, it is a bit difficult to breathe, but I am now taking “Baby Steps” to health — FINALLY! Some of my friends tell me they are worried about me. “I need to go back to the doctor and get more drugs to get well…”

Give me a break! I’ve fought Acute Bronchial Asthma since childhood. I know what to do.

WHAT TO DO

*Get my nebulizer – AND USE IT — every four to six hours
*Use the inhaler
*Take cough medicine
*Rest
*REST
***REST MORE…

I’m sick of resting. AND I REFUSE to take Prednisone — the infamous ‘wonder drug’ for Bronchial Asthma!

The last time I took Prednisone, I drove my car off the road! I could not sleep! Reportedly, Prednisone increases appetite; however, when I am sick, I do not eat! I am a total zombie…bimbo…or ditzy blonde when I take Prednisone. Let’s just say — this illness does something to my brain! I cannot focus. I struggle to find the correct words to communicate and I am not a nice person…so Prednisone makes me a monster.

Have I lost weight with this illness? Beats the heck out of me, but when I am well enough to return to Weight Watchers I pray I have lost a pound, or maybe two!

Today, I am taking more ‘baby steps’ to get well. Since today is the first day I’ve written on my blog in a month or longer, just maybe I am getting better. Today, I did not awaken with another headache and the awful gasping sound of coughing. Just maybe….

Baby Steps…!

Happy Birthday to the Perkins Twins


Dearest Readers:

Today is a special, melancholic day for me. On this date — 100 years ago – December 19, 1914 – my dad and his identical twin brother, Lewis, were born. Before Uncle Lewis’ death in September, 1941 from Bright’s disease, they were known withini
the State of Alabama as The Perkins Twins. Together they sang, harmonizing, sharing their belief in God and their sermons to all who would listen. It is unfortunate for my Dad, Walter Perkins, that the music stopped for him in September 1941. Never did I have the pleasure to meet Uncle Lewis. Reportedly, he and my dad were inseparable. When he died, according to relatives and stories my dad shared, his death broke my dad’s heart so much that he never was the same. Gone was his spirit and passion to sing and preach the gospel.

Happy 100th Birthday to The Perkins Twins – in Heaven!

Unfortunately, I lost my dad to esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999. Today, I have regrets – regrets for not documenting the stories Dad occasionally shared about his life as an identical twin. Like most children, I listened a bit to his stories, but never wrote them down. Reportedly, The Perkins Twins were so identical people could not determine just who Lewis was and who was Walter. Their handwriting was the same. When one spoke, the other finished the statement. As a child, I found this strange – now, as an adult, I wish to know more. Uncle Lewis never married, but according to my dad, “He loved beautiful women…and…they Loved him!”

In Dad’s diaries I cannot find his deepest feelings about what it was like to lose his twin brother. The only comment listed during September 1941 related to Uncle Lewis and his illness was a passage that ‘Lewis was rushed to the hospital and Uncle Vera, their sister, donated blood for a blood transfusion.’ I cannot find anything else about his condition or death. It is difficult to read his diaries still. Although my family had a tradition of writing in their diaries, many of life’s important and dreadfully sad moments were not recorded.

I suppose I should find an archive to donate all of these diaries to, just to record more about the Perkins Family. Perhaps one day I will but for today, I want to remember The Perkins Twins.

My parents were married in the 1940’s. If my memory is correct, I believe it was 1943. Their marriage was not a happy one…more like a torrential storm of events. When I was a teenager, I listened to their toxic fights – always shouting, cursing and spitting violent poisons of hatred to each other. As hard as I try, I cannot remember them hugging or kissing – EVER! After their divorce, my dad changed all for the better.

Gone was the hatred, replaced by a peaceful, calm and happy man who actually said that he loved me. When I first heard “I love you,” from his lips, I stepped back, recognizing this was a new man. I was so proud of him. Over the years, Dad and I became closer. When I graduated from high school, he stood in the audience, applauding me. When my only child was born, a son, Dad sent me a hydrangea plant, with a card signed with his love.

When we moved Dad to Charleston to be closer to us after his retirement, the bonding between us grew tighter. When cancer knocked on his door in 1997, I became his caregiver. Suddenly I became the parent to my parent and it broke my heart to watch him slowly fading away from me.

Now that he is gone, I still miss him. Today is an extremely sad day for me because it is his 100th birthday. How I wish I could sing Happy Birthday to him. How I wish I could hug him, just one more time.

I suppose all of us who have lost our parents have the same emotions and thoughts in our minds on their birthdays. For me, this day is extremely difficult. I walk through my house; glancing over at the dining room table, looking at “Dad’s chair.” The chair he always sat at during our many Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. After his death, I found myself placing a plate, glassware and silverware by his chair, recognizing moments later that his chair would be empty. I don’t set his place now, but I still look to see my dad sitting there. I can almost hear his laughter and the prayer he always expressed so eloquently during the holidays.

Now, it is his time to be with his identical twin brother. This is their day to celebrate their short life together. Today, I wish the Perkins Twins a happy, glorious 100th birthday. To say I miss my dad is an understatement. I still grieve. I suppose we always grieve over losing someone so important in our lives.

Once Dad described me to others as ‘his shining star.’ During a television interview during his illness, the reporter mentioned that Dad was a poet and a writer. Quickly, Dad interrupted him, stating – “No, I’m not a writer…My daughter…Now – She’s the writer!”

I can still hear his melodic voice ringing in my ears. How I miss hearing the expression, “You are my shining star!”

Tonight during our date night, I will sing “Dance With My Father Again,” in remembrance of my dad.
Happy 100th Birthday, Dad…Uncle Lewis. Happy 100th Birthday to The Perkins Twins! Words cannot express how deeply you are missed.

A Tribute to William Lloyd Garrison and My Precious “Shamey-Pooh”


Dearest Readers:
If you follow the page, “Following Atticus,” on a regular basis, you know that precious, Sweet William Lloyd Garrison, aka “Will” left this world yesterday, October 25, 2014 at approximately 3:30pm. Will, as you probably know, is the lost, angry oldster that Tom Ryan rescued from death’s door in May, 2012. Sweet Will, as I describe, was a beautiful white, curly haired schnauzer with one of the sweetest faces and the most beautiful, expressive eyes that one can imagine. Each time I saw a picture of him with his long eye lashes and amazing face, I melted. I asked how anyone could ever neglect or abandon such a precious life. Each time I watched him prancing and dancing around in a video, I laughed, enjoying those special moments. Although he was considered a senior dog, he certainly did not behave in such a manner.

May 2012 is so significant to me. Perhaps I failed to connect the significance of that sad month until reading about Sweet Will yesterday. May 2, 2012 is the day I lost a special part of my heart and soul when Prince Marmaduke Shamus left us due to a terminal illness. I do not remember the exact date where I discovered the Facebook page, “Following Atticus,” but I am certain it was right after the loss of precious Shamey-Pooh.

When Shamey-Pooh left, my heart felt completely empty. For weeks all I could do was cry – sometimes exploding into an ocean of tears. While it is true, I have suffered great losses prior to the loss of Shamus, I must say, never have I cried like I did with his loss. One night in a dream, Shamus spoke to me, telling me I needed to open my heart to another rescue, and so the exploration began – to find a lost animal to help ease the pain. Shakespeare Hemingway, the boss of our home, gave me great comfort after losing Shamus, but nothing could ease the pain. I searched online, checking the Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas website, in hopes of rescuing another giant schnauzer. No, I was not replacing Shamus, because I fully believe each of our animals, like children and loved ones, cannot be replaced; nevertheless, we can find a place inside our hearts to allow new love to enter. I checked other sites, failing to find ‘giant schnauzers.’

I found numerous sites to purchase a giant schnauzer, but I knew I had to find a rescue. Still, each time I looked at a picture of Shamus, my heart told me to wait and rescue. Early one morning, I opened Facebook, discovering a photograph of a solid black giant schnauzer needing a home. He was a stray that arrived at an animal shelter in Athens, GA. He was beautiful, with sad black eyes. I phoned the shelter. If I applied for him, I was told I would be the ‘fourth in line for him.’ Quickly, I filled out the application and faxed it to them, phoning to confirm receipt. The next morning, I was told he was still available and if I truly wanted to adopt him, I would need to be at the shelter the next morning at 10 o’clock. I was hopeful no one else would arrive before my husband and I did. That afternoon, I received a phone call from the shelter, letting me know that if I wanted “Schultz” I could adopt him!

Within 24 hours, I would meet “Schultz” arrange his neutering surgery and take him home. I was ecstatic!

My new guardian angel, Prince Marmaduke Shamus, helped me to find another animal needing a good and happy home. After meeting “Schultz” at the animal shelter, we fell in love. We were told he loves to jump, and he can jump extremely high, but that would not be an issue. “We accept and love our animals and I am certain we can teach him a few things in our home.”

Today, Prince Midnight Shadow is a different boy. He still loves to jump and tries to jump into trees to capture squirrels; however, he hasn’t managed to catch any, and there are a few squirrels that appear to tease him when they stop at tree level, as if to say, “Ha. Ha…You can’t catch me!” Shadow continues jumping in air, wishing and hoping that one day, he will catch a squirrel. He is quite comical with his behaviors and he loves to walk and chase balls. Shadow is the perfect friend to help with the loss of Shamus.

While writing this, my heart is still breaking over the loss of Sweet Will yesterday. If you do not know the story of Tom Ryan and his love and acceptance for animals, allow me to explain. In May 2012, Tom heard about a lost and neglected senior schnauzer that was dropped off at a kill shelter. He decided to rescue Will. Arriving at Tom’s home, Will was angry, short tempered and fearful. He bit Tom many times. Tom Ryan is a patient and gentle man, never lashing out at Will, simply remaining calm. He discovered Will’s spirit was broken, and Will was almost blind. He had the ability to see shapes, and he loved music and flowers. Tom wrote about Will. Reading his stories helped me to see how broken Shamus’ spirit was until we adopted him. Losing Shamus left me with such emptiness, but the words of Tom Ryan and his stories of “Following Atticus,” and the additional of “Will” helped ease my pain.
I still have days where losing Shamey-Pooh torment me. The emptiness I feel during those times is impossible to describe. When Shadow hears my sniffles or sees my tears, he rushes over to place a paw on me and to lick my tears away. This week, Shadow has heard me cry many, many times while reading the deterioration of Sweet Will, his inability to stand for long and the weakness in his body. As for his heart and soul, Sweet Will never lost it. If anything, he grew into a younger, feistier little fellow with expressive eyes, opened wide, ready to melt the heart of anyone he met. Yes, the body aged and was quickly giving out, but his spirit kept fighting.

Reading the compelling, touching words of Tom Ryan and his love for Sweet Will forced me to think about Shamus all over again, only this time, I recognized the guilt I had from allowing Shamey-Pooh to die with dignity while we held him was the right and dignified way to allow him to go. I did not want Shamus to ‘die on a table while bleeding out,’ nor did I wish him to suffer like my dad suffered a few weeks before his death. I wanted to sing to Shamus since he always loved to hear me singing.
One thing I have learned about the dying process is those who live deserve to die with dignity. While it is true, we allow animals to be euthanized when their life is almost over; we do not do the same with people. I believe we should. For two years, I watched my dad daily battling esophageal cancer. Gone was the privilege for him to walk, without a walker…Gone was his ability to eat, without regurgitating his food…Gone was his independence. At first, he was determined to continue living; however, the longer he fought, the angrier he became. At one point while visiting him in the nursing home, he shouted to me, “Just let me go. Go on. Get out of here…Leave me be!”

I visited my dad daily, unless I was sick. I did not want him to die alone. I refused to give up on him; however, on July 6, 1999 as he was dying, I remained strong when the nurses said they could bring him back. “Let him go,” I whispered through tears. “He wants to die with dignity.”

Today my heart aches for Tom Ryan and Atticus, while recognizing Sweet Will was allowed to leave on his own terms, just like my dad and my precious Shamus. Although he could not speak to Tom Ryan, Will’s tired, aching body was telling him that his life would end soon, and so this week, although he struggled to get up, he braced his legs and pranced around until collapsing. He was determined to smell the scent of the endless supply of aromatic flowers his fans sent to him. Sweet Will found happiness amongst scented flowers and music and when he left this world, he was surrounded by the therapeutic vibrations of music and flowers. We should all be so blessed when our life escapes us. Rest in peace, Sweet Will. May you and Shamey-Pooh prance around, making new friendships in the life beyond.

To read the inspiring, touching stories of “Following Atticus,” and “Will,” click the following link: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.com/

THE WAKE UP CALL


First North American Rights Only
Total Word Count –1491 words
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
E-mail: barbiepc@bellsouth.net

Arriving in Greensboro, North Carolina, I met Joan at Friendly Shopping Center. I parked the car in the first available spot and headed towards Hecht’s Department Store. Rushing across the parking lot, I waved to Joan. Stopping for only a moment, I admired the Christmas decorations. Early morning bargain hunters were anxious for the doors to open, pushing, and shoving to get to the entrance. Joan and I stepped aside letting an elderly woman in a wheel chair take our spot. Holiday sales 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 to Joan. “Will I ever laugh again?”

Joan nodded. I turned my back to the street, noticing the trees decorated with bright lights. I’d almost forgotten Christmas was less than a month away.

“How are you doing?” Joan asked.

“Okay. The trees are beautiful this year.”

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

Grief is an emotional I do not tolerate well. Normally a boisterous woman, full of laughter and fun, especially at the holidays, my present demeanor was a weakened shell of a woman, bursting into tears at the slightest gesture, especially when someone struggled to move in a wheel chair, or a walker. Too many memories surfaced and I crumbled like a child. I missed my dad more than words could express. My actions revealed how despondent I was, and I truly hated myself for being such a weakling.

When the doors opened, I looked over my shoulder. Something caught my eye. An object was lying in the road. Someone probably dropped a jacket I thought as I moved closer.

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

I didn’t hear Joan answer me. By now, there were hundreds of shoppers pushing and shoving into Hecht’s.
Striding towards the road, 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 dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.

My mind rewound, stopping at the memories and heartache of July, 1999. That humid Tuesday evening in South Carolina, 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 Dr. Williams told me I needed to prepare myself, I wasn’t ready to let Dad go. I still needed him in my life. For two years he’d fought and survived. For two years, we’d buried the past, building a newfound respect, love and forgiveness. He couldn’t leave me now.

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

The acronym for do not resuscitate rang in my ears. “I can’t override his decision. Not even if it means—.” I couldn’t finish the words. Since childhood, Dad was my helping hand. Always ready to cheer me up. He and my grandmother taught me about God and prayer. Dad was the provider who encouraged me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind. Dad was the one who glowed with pride when I sang in the choir. Dad was the one who encouraged me to reach for the stars.

“Dear God, give me strength,” I prayed. “Take care of my dad. 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 from years of the roadblocks and detours of life. “Dear God please. Don’t let him die. Not today.”

His hands felt like ice. His body was thin. A gray beard covered his face. He wore a gold wedding band.

Inquisitive shoppers moved closer. Removing my coat, I covered him. 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.” My lips quivered.

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

The gentleman coughed.

“Sir, can you tell me what day it is?”

“Saturday. And if you ask me who the President is, I’m gonna scream.”

The medical student laughed. “You’ve heard these questions a lot, huh?”

“Doctors think I’m out of my mind, but I’m not. I’ve been in the hospital a lot. I got weak crossing the road. I must’ve blacked out. Bernice wanted to get here early for the sale.”

“Where’s your wife?” I said.

“Parking the car. I had chemo this week.”

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

Joan joined 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.

“I’ll be here until we find Bernice.”

“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, Hank. His number’s in my wallet.”

The medical student found his wallet, dialed the number.

When EMS arrived, a pretty older woman joined us. She smiled at me and thanked me. “I’m Bernice. His wife. Thanks for helping him,” she said.

While sitting inside Ruby Tuesday’s for 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 French vanilla coffee. “Until today, I never understood what she meant. I couldn’t leave that man in the road.”

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

I laughed. “Thanks to cancer. I’ve never told you this, but my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. Until Dad got sick, I couldn’t forgive them.”

I looked around the crowded restaurant. “Life is so short. So unfair. I’ve always taken life a bit too seriously… Now, I try to find the rainbows… I’ve started praying every night. That’s something I didn’t do for many years. I was racing on an endless spinning wheel.” I paused.

“Dad’s illness was a wake up call. His faith taught me to step out of that rat race and reach out to others. Two days before he died, I visited him like I always did. I didn’t want him to die without me there. On July 4th he was sitting in his rocking chair, reading the Bible. When he saw me arrive, he raised his voice, asking me what I was doing there. I thought he was angry, so I only stayed a few minutes. I didn’t visit the next day. Now that he’s gone, I realized he was detaching. He knew his days on earth were numbered. Maybe God spoke to him.”

“You were remarkable,” Joan said. The daily visits, the letters you wrote to his family and friends every month. The care you gave him. He was blessed.”

“I was blessed. People come into our lives for a purpose, and God brought Dad back into my life, forcing me to wake up. Rebuilding that relationship gave me the courage I need to live the rest of my life and to make a few changes. Just when we think the door has closed, God opens a window. What more can I ask for?”

My cell phone rang. The medical student shared an updated report about the gentleman in the road. He was stable. Bernice was by his side.

The experience of stopping to help a total stranger during that holiday season opened my eyes and heart to our purpose in life. Each life has a reason for existence. My grandmother always told me to look for rainbows when life gives us detours. As a child, I didn’t understand her wisdom. Now, older and much wiser, I appreciated her words.

When life brings rain, look for the rainbow. Grammy’s wisdom about God, along with my dad’s, was instilled forever inside my heart.

-30-

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a talented, award-winning writer of screenplays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, and numerous articles for regional and trade publications. She began her writing career as a child, publishing a science fiction story during third grade in Atlanta, Georgia. Her areas of writing expertise include fiction, non-fiction, articles, plays and screenplays. In 2001, she published a complex memoir based on her father’s battle with esophageal cancer. The non-fiction memoir is titled, “Condition of Limbo.”

As a writer of accomplishment, she works diligently to achieve her goals as a professional screenwriter and playwright. She was selected as a finalist in the teleplay category with her screenplay, the Commish…The Signature Rapist. Additional screenplays were selected as finalist for the Chesterfield Writers’ Film Project and the Goldie Film Awards, Fade In competition, The Writers Network, and America’s Best, The Writers Foundation. In February 2004, she was awarded the Grand Goldie Film Award for her screenplay, Not My Papa.

Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a member of The Society of Professional Journalists and North Carolina Writers Network. SIn her spare time, she likes to kick off her shoes, and relax on the beaches of South Carolina. Writing is her passion.