A writer’s life is a life filled with intrigue, creativity, influence, and curiosity. Writers are famous for being temperamental and are typecast as being extremely difficult to live with, especially when the virus of writer’s block threatens the train of thought. Some writers are college graduates; some are simply graduates of the hard roads of life, or the school of hard knocks.

To qualify for this invigorating, somewhat excruciating lifestyle, a person needs to have the will and determination to accept rejections, the perseverance to try again, and the strength to survive whenever the chips are down.

The writer must be able to express him or herself in a manner that is confident and easily understood. A writer is a communicator. He needs to feel comfortable sharing human experiences. He must be expressive and able to let others share his pain, or his joy. Knowledge of the English language, sentence structures, composition, and how to organize thoughts in a comprehensive order is imperative. The writer must pay close attention to details, characterizations, and life. He has the ability to express what others can only feel, with a passion and sensitivity that can touch hearts and change lives.

Many writers share a knowledge and intense hunger for deep feelings and an endless curiosity about the world and the people that surround it. Writers are creative, dramatic, and resourceful. They understand words and the power behind those words. Writers have a never-ending hunger for life.

Overall, the writer is a person who is determined to explore and create. He is most happy when the words flow without a struggle. He is committed and establishes goals for himself. Some of those goals seem impossible to reach, but when they are reached, the rewards are worth the struggles and pain of rejection.




The Saga of Freewriting — Ten Minutes and Counting!

Freewriting again today. What is the subject? Truly the first thing coming into my mind.

For just a few years, I’ve worked on a manuscript, “Chattahoochee Child.” At first, there wasn’t a plot. Only characters. Now, I have the plot although I keep procrastinating about it. Here goes.

The story is placed along the coast of South Carolina, and the rivers of the Chattahoochee River, Columbus, GA.

Basing much of the story on characters I knew. For example, the protagonist is named Rebecca. All of her life she hungers for the love of her mother. The older she became, the worse the relationship with her mother developed. When Rebecca marries at 18, she moves away from her mother’s home, only to be told by her cruel mother that ‘she cannot take anything that belongs to her when she leaves, with exception of her clothes.’

Packing up her clothing, she asked her mother if she can take some of her childhood photos and her senior year picture.

“No. You ain’t taking nothing like that. I’m gonna burn all your pictures.”

Devastated at her mother’s cruelty, Rebecca leaves the mill village of Bibb City, refusing to look back. When her mother finds her, she realizes the relationship needs repairing.

Going back to her mother’s house, Rebecca is alone. Her framed senior picture is gone. When she asked her mother what happened to her pictures, her mother laughs a wicked laughter. “I told you I was gonna burn ’em and I did. Just a few weeks ago. There ain’t no pictures of you inside the house.”

Rebecca rushes outside. Tears pour down her face. She rushes to her car and leaves.

The soldier she married is fighting a war. Rebecca realizes it is time to bury the past and move on; however, when she sees her mother again, she is slapped, belittled and told she will never amount to nothing. Her mother claims she wrote a letter to her husband overseas, telling him Rebecca is sleeping around with every man in town.

“I hope he never speaks to you again. You ain’t never gonna keep a man happy.”

“Just like you, Mom. Right? You don’t want me to have any happiness. I suppose you want me to walk in your shoes, but I refuse to do that. I will have a life You will never destroy me!”

Leaving her mother’s home again, Rebecca decides that some people are not blessed to have a good mother. She vows to enter into a new journey while waiting for her husband to return home from war.

When he does, Rebecca discovers the man she married and waited for is a changed, tormented man. He loses his temper quickly, jumping almost out of his skin whenever a car backfires, or fireworks happen. At night, while sleeping, he straddles Rebecca, choking her while saying ‘Charlie is coming…’

Rebecca discovers her life is still not under her control.

This freewriting for 10 minutes is hard, but it is something I am forcing myself to do in hopes I will regain the confidence I once had in writing.

Life this summer was so demanding and unpredictable. My husband had surgery in late May. He is still struggling to regain his strength. The summer of 2016 was like a roaring, twirling tornado to me. All the plans for a summer of fun were changed, due to the demands of caring for my husband while struggling to keep the house and finances under control. Normally, during the summer I go to the beach on a weekly basis. My first visit to the beach this year was in September. Isn’t it strange how life is sometimes out of control.

Oops. Ten minutes is gone. That’s it for today.


FREEWRITING — T Minus 10 Minutes

And counting. My writing assignment for today is to freewrite. What is freewriting? Simple. You get either your computer or a paper and pen and write. Whatever comes to your mind. You are not supposed to edit or correct. JUST WRITE.

Easier said than done. When I type a mistake, I always go back and correct it – just like now. What to write today?

Heck if I know. I’m simply allowing my fingers to dance across the keyboard. I’ve written 80 words so far.


Freewriting. I suppose I’ll write about goals since that is the topic that is dancing inside my head. My goal is to complete the story I started way too many years ago. Did I say it was a story? More like a title without plot. Yes, I had characters, but did not understand what the real story was until my mother died.

My mother died suddenly on 9-11… That is, a year after 9-11. She died on September 11, 2002. The day after she died, I received a phone call from my estranged sister. Her son told me “Granny is gone.”

His next statement horrified me. Apparently my mother died with some concerns from his lips, and my estranged sister’s lips. Both wanted to know IF I thought there would be an autopsy.

You must understand. I was home in bed with acute bronchial asthma. I was taking Prednisone. Prednisone doesn’t do to me what it does to others. Prednisone does not make me want to eat everything within my reach, nor does it have other side effects. There are two side effects I experience with Prednisone and they are cognitive abilities and the ability not to sleep. Every time I take Prednisone, I cannot communicate or think with an articulate brain, nor do I sleep.

My sisters comments “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy,” left me wondering. At the time, I failed to answer their question, but I must say — that cold, uncalculated question left me horrified.

Oops. Ten minutes are up. I suppose I will write again tomorrow, since I have a challenge this week to write freestyle 10 minutes daily.

Did I catch your attention? More later! My freewriting time is up – for today!


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.”


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!


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.


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

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…!

My Thoughts On Friendship

Dearest Readers:

Normally if I write in my blog on Thursday’s I write about my weekly accomplishments with Weight Watchers. Today’s discussion will be about the touchy, sometimes controversial subject of friendship. While at Weight Watchers today, the subject of friendship entered my mind. Why? Simple. I do not have many “friends.”

Did you notice I placed the seven letter words of friends in quotes? Perhaps. Why? Simple — friendship is a complicated subject open for discussion.

As a child, I grew up in many locations. None that I referred to as home, with exception of my grandparents home in a mill village. My parents moved us around like gypsies on the road. Roots never existed for our family. Each time I hear someone describe how they ‘love to go home again,’ I cringe. Envious. During high school (remember those years — only four years until adulthood?) Well, during those four years, I went to six high schools. In one year, I changed high school three times. My Freshman year – the year where I had difficulty passing English? It was a torrential time in my life. My parents fought like maniac cats and dogs — barking…growling…huffing…puffing…cursing…threatening, then — beating each other. When I was 15, on a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, I pulled them apart again – this time for the last time! That Saturday my mother moved us again — this time, back to our maternal grandparent’s home. At their tiny brick mill house, there were two bedrooms. One bathroom. Four girls. Our mother, and our grandparents. Privacy did not exist.

For weeks, I rebelled. Refusing to go to school, refusing to talk…refusing life. I took walks by myself. I discovered an isolated route leading to the shores of the Chattahoochee River, and there, hovered down, staring at the shoreline, angry and hurt that my parents were divorcing and my mother forced us to live in such a crowded home, I cried. Angry because my mother wanted me to cut the cords with my ‘no good b——Daddy. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Don’t ever say his name around me again!”

Unbeknownst to her, I kept in touch with my dad.

I recall thinking about my roots, only I didn’t have any. Thrust in a small mill village where everyone knew everything, I refused to make friends. I hid the secrets of my childhood in the red clay riverbanks of the Chattahoochee River. During another battle with my mother, she shouted to me, demanding that I go to school so I could graduate. She pointed her finger in my face, demanding that IF I did not enroll in high school, she would see me working at the Bibb Mill. Remember, I was only 15! I did not want to work in the mill, nor did I want to live in Bibb City.

Deciding the only decision I could make was to return to school, I enrolled, went to class, but I did not make friends. I sat in the back of the classroom, refusing to socialize with other students. I was ashamed. A mill kid with only the clothes on her back. Nothing more. One of my cousins cleaned out her closet, giving me her ‘hand-me-down clothes.’ When she saw me wearing them, she laughed, shouting something about I was so poor the only decent clothes I had were her ‘hand-me-downs.’ I wanted to hit her, but I walked away, deciding to remain — ALONE.

During my final high school days, my grades improved. All I did was force my eyes into books at the library and at school. In Atlanta, I was a singer for a rock band. In Columbus, the music stopped, with exception of the church and school choirs. I made only a few friends, never inviting them to our home. Why? We had no privacy. If I brought a friend home, I couldn’t play music because ‘rock n’ roll music was a sin,’ according to my grandfather. He didn’t believe we should play with the school kids, but only the kids in the mill village. I rebelled.

Today, at Weight Watchers I listened to the new program learning how I could be more successful with my weight loss journey. Afterwards, I had lunch with two of my dearest friends from Weight Watchers. After lunch, Tammy invited me to go shopping with her, so off we went, driving around the area while getting to know each other better. I must say, I really enjoy this new friendship with Tammy and Sara. I am blessed! Now that I am home, I started thinking about friendship.

Friendship is defined as “the state of being friends: the relationship between friends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. I confess, I have a limited amount of friends. I consider friendship as a relationship between people who trust and love each other. A friend is someone you can count on. Trust. Appreciate. A person who you can spill your heart to while knowing that the trust will not be broken. A friend is someone who will NOT pretend to be your friend, just to go and share your heartfelt feelings to others.

Today, while riding with Tammy I feel a new bonding with her. A connection. No, I will not share our conversations, after all, isn’t that what true friends do — listen. Talk. Relate, while not going behind your back to as I describe, “stab you in the back.” When a friend talks with me, I do not share those conversations to others. I believe in the bond of trust.

Backstabbers are not friends. I have met many. Two that I really thought were my friends, only to discover behind my back they were whispering — starting ugly gossip. Have I shared that I detest gossip? I refer these people as ‘acquaintances,’ not “friends!”

I suppose I am from the old school — where friendship is to be cherished. I suppose my husband is my greatest friend. For years I thought husbands and wives could not be classified as friends since intimacy was combined within the relationship; nevertheless, now I say my husband is probably my dearest friend. He has seen me walk through the darkness of my childhood when I shared the years of abuse with him. He is the only one who held me tight when I fell apart emotionally. On that horrific night of my life, he listened without fighting with me. He knows my darkest secrets, and to my knowledge he hasn’t discussed those issues with anyone else. He guided me to find the strength to break away and to rise above and build a new life with him. Yes, we’ve had moments where I didn’t know if we would survive — many times when I stood my ground with him – refusing to allow him to rule me — however, he is my strength. My foundation. My Rock!

Friendship is truly something all of us need in our lives. A friend will listen. A friend comforts. A friend guides and understands — even when we think we cannot get through another day.

To my closest friends, I say thank you. To Gina, Tammy, and my high school “lifetime best friend,” — Charlotte, I say thank you. Without all of you by my side, I would not be the person I am today, while I journey to find strength and joy within my heart and soul. Due to your encouragement I discovered it is important to love ourselves, so we can be the best friend to our friends.

To those people who say “I don’t need friends…” I must remind you, if you do not have friends, you must live a lonely, isolated unhappy life.

I salute and toast my friends. I would not be the woman I am today without you. The good. The bad…The indifferent…The opinionated…The glitzy, gregarious “drama queen who loves her bling” and mostly the kind, happy woman I smile at in the mirror. The woman who permitted the music to return so she could sing again! I hope my reflections of friendship will encourage all of my readers to take a step to make friends.

Thank you! Happy Friendship!

Friday Reflections — Enough Said!

Dearest Readers:

Late autumn always depresses me when the sun sets so early and darkness blankets the skies, much…much too early. I enjoy evenings where I enjoy the sun setting later. Tomorrow evening is the Elks show in Murrells Inlet, SC. Since the show started traveling “on the road” with our talents, I have always attended. This show is different because I am not going. It was my decision to remain at home. Many reasons that others do not understand. Quite simply – my budget at this time of year is not one I want to stretch to the limits. Allow me to explain. Many of the casts are driving up tomorrow afternoon. After the show, they are going back to Charleston. Yes, it is true. I could go. And I could drive home late at night, but I don’t think so. Driving after 10:00 at night is just a bit testy, considering all of the drivers under the influence, and of course, the deer roaming around the highways. Then, I must consider, I would need to arrange a pet sitter to come to my house two, if not three times daily while I am gone — at the expense of $20.00 each visit. I do not believe in boarding my animals. They are most comfortable within their atmosphere of HOME. After all, my four-legged friends are rescue animals – four of them tolerated much abuse previously, and now, within our home, they are happy. LOVED. SPOILED. Considering all of the expenses of ‘going on the road’ for the Elks Lodge show, the amount of money it would cost us was just not worth it. While it is true, I could get a cheaper rate for a hotel, I think I made the right decision. I am the type of household finance manager who does not believe in tapping into the budget, squeezing it too tightly. After all, the holidays are approaching! I do wish the entire cast of the show to have a good time. I understand I was ridiculed when I said “Break a leg” to the cast. I got the distinct impression a few of them were thinking I was wishing them to ‘break a leg’ physically. Now honestly…Those of us who have been on stage, or a thespian truly understand the definition of “Break a leg.” Those who do not — well…let’s just say, while I am the type of personality defined as “Julia Sugarbaker,” never do I wish anything bad on anyone. SO, cast members, I still say, “Break a Leg!”

Next week is our show at the Elks Lodge in Charleston, and I still wish everyone to “Break a leg.” Enough said!

This week at Weight Watchers, my weigh-in showed another small gain. This time, .06 of a pound. RATS! After weigh-in, I turned to look at the magic mirror. Have you ever seen one of these? They instantly give you a 10-pound reduction. I want one for my home! Maybe I’ll tell Santa. Perhaps if I sit on his lap, maybe — just maybe — I can convince him I will make this generosity worthy of my talents! Looking in that mirror, I do see a difference. Heck…My body is shrinking, even IF that disagreeable scale says otherwise. I think I’m looking pretty good! I’ll say it again — RATS! I want that stupid scale to stop dictating who I am. Age is just a number, and so is a Weight Watchers scale! Enough said!

Looks like this epistle should be titled “Enough Said.” After all, I am free writing, and I have no idea what my fingers will pour from my soul as I write this. I am sitting at my desk. My little love bugs, Hanks the Tank, and Sandy Bear are resting next to me, curled on the pillows, probably getting warm. The weather is changing drastically…almost momentarily…The present temp is 42.8 degrees…OK…let’s round it up to 43! I am wearing a short black lace skirt with black leggings. Black boots! The temperature inside the house is only 69 degrees, but the house is warm, so I refuse to cut the heat on until later. Yes, I will turn on the electric blanket before going to bed. I simply love curling into a warm bed!

See…I told you, I am free writing. This week has been a better week than last. During that time, for three days, PTSD was dictating the behaviors of my husband. If you’ve never lived, or been around, someone with PTSD consider yourself blessed. Simple eye contact…body language…ANYTHING can ignite strange behaviors and when it happens in this house, I simply close myself away. I do not like to argue, or to be mistreated, so I am thankful this is a Friday Reflections where I can say, this has been a better week. Thank you, God.

On Friday’s, I like to give thanks to God for all that I have endured, experienced, or learned this week. When my dad was alive, and all of us lived at home, I recall him asking me, “What did you learn today?” And when he asked, I shared my lessons learned. How I miss that man. Holidays just are not the same without my dad here with us. After his death in 1999, Thanksgiving was the hardest holiday ever. I cooked the meal, set the table with linens and china, only to notice my dad’s chair was empty. The emptiness I felt was almost unbearable. This year, I feel his loss still — even though it is 15 years later. I’ve asked God, “How long does one grieve?” Funny. I’ve never heard an answer. I believe the grief process last for eternity; however, we who grieve, must learn to walk through the grief and — as my dad would tell me — Move On. That is truly a hard lesson learned.

Now that I am finally writing again, I must give thanks and be proud that the words are flowing — a bit. I still have people ask me — ‘are you EVER gonna finish your story?’

My answer — “Yes…writing takes time.” It isn’t a process where you can just sit and write. NOT ALWAYS!

And so, tonight – while it is still Friday, I am reflecting on life…gratitude…and my personal reflections for this week. My thoughts just strayed a bit while listening to the TV. Honey Boo Boo’s Mom was speaking on the network. Sorry I do not know her name…All I do know is she has two, if not three chins! Oh…my goodness…she is undoubtedly the most non-photographic woman I have ever seen. Just how she became a household name is beyond me. Not a good mother…and certainly not someone photogenic or pretty, or someone I wish to reflect on… Make up doesn’t help her at all! And most women really are glamorous with makeup. So, I suppose I shall keep the remainder of my opinion about that woman — to myself. Is that a first? Perhaps!

To those of you in Murrells Inlet at the Elks Lodge, I hope you all enjoy the show, and to the performers, I still shall say, “Break a Leg!”

Until next week…

Give Me Wings to Fly…

Today appeared to be a good day. After paying the monthly bills, I settled down, thankful that life was going my way – finally. I looked up to the blue skies, whispering a silent prayer to God, thankful that I could pay the monthly bills and still have a bit left over, just in the event some emergency occurred. The sun was shining bright now. Glittering colors of sky blue, radiant shadows from the sunlight kissed the trees. I sighed, so thankful for the beauty of earth. No more thick black clouds of self-doubt…Pain…Hurt…Depression. This will be a good day, I whispered. That is, until I opened the laundry room door. Sorting the clothing, I stashed the first load of colorfast in the washer, placing other stacks in the hamper so I could accomplish the laundry. I punched the button of the Kenmore front loading machine. No power. Nothing. Checking the fuse box, I flipped switches. Nothing. I phoned Garrett, feeling totally helpless – again. Depending on others is something extremely hard for me. Garrett listened to me and when I started to cry, he reassured me he would get the washer to work.

“Don’t worry, babe. It’s nothing to cry about.”

How could I expect him to understand? Garrett was an uncompromising, capricious demeanor of a man. A Vietnam Veteran who saw the scars, pain, blood and agony of war. He knew the smell of death, decaying bodies lying along the roads. Vultures flying overhead, landing on the fading, deteriorating bodies, attacking, probing and eating away at the decomposing bodies while the sounds of mortars rang overhead. “It don’t mean nothing,” Garrett said repeatedly, reminding him that war is hell and nothing can change it. “It don’t MEAN NOTHING!’ Rarely did something affect him. When his father died, never did he shed a tear. When our son cried, Garrett scolded him. “Real men don’t cry,” he said. Perhaps his attitude was due to his military and combat training. Crying for Garrett was a weakness. Every time I cried around him he rolled his eyes upward, shaking his head, whispering, “It don’t mean nothing!”

Hot tears spilled down my face. I inhaled. Exhaled. Why am I so teary eyed today? What is wrong with me? Opening my appointment calendar I realized in less than ten days would be the anniversary of the loss of my dad.

Dad died July 6, 1999. “The grief should be gone,” I said, tapping my face to wipe the tears away. The memory of his passing was rooted forever inside my brain. I shouldn’t need him so much, but I do. I should be adjusted to his loss. I miss my dad. I miss his laughter and harmonizing gospel songs with him. I missed his hugs, and his reassuring voice. “Make it a good day,” his voice chimed rhythmically when I was nearby. His smile was contagious. I rubbed my neck. Inhaled. Exhaled. My dad made his life completely different after my parents’ divorce. Peaceful. No hostility. No temper tantrums. No one who knew him before his illness could imagine that once he was physically cruel to my mother, knocking her to the ground during a fight. I was amazed at his change, and so proud to call him, Dad.
There was much to do around the house. Depression left me so exhausted, when I made the attempt to clean the house; I forgot to wash the baseboards and the corners of the floors. That can wait until later, I thought. I’m too tired today.

Glancing at the corners of the bathroom floors I promised myself I would scrub them later. After all, no one sees the house, with exception of the dogs.

As hard as I tried to understand my depression, I couldn’t, until I glanced at the calendar. In exactly ten days I would reminisce about the death of my dad. Still, it seemed like yesterday. How long does one grieve, I asked myself, wiping fresh tears from my face.

Gathering my mop and cleaning materials, I scrubbed the corners of the bathroom floors and the base boards. I suddenly realized I wasn’t cleaning the dirt away. I was struggling to scrub away depression. Grief. Sadness. Heart-breaking wretchedness.

Just how long does one grieve over such a loss? I had no answers, but today was a day I could not fight it, so I gave in to it while cleaning and scrubbing the floors.

Grief was introduced to me as a young, innocent girl. During my junior year of high school, I received a nice letter from someone named Benjamin. I read his letter with interest. He seemed to be so charming. Intelligent. Funny. His letter made me laugh. He was stationed in California, in the Navy. My cousin, Donald, was his best buddy. One night while drinking, Donald showed Benjamin my photograph, giving him my address. Donald knew I loved to write letters, so he thought we could become pen pals. Benjamin’s letter was filled with compliments about me, leaving me to be ever so curious about his sincerity. I wrote him a letter, mailing it the next morning on my way to school, hopeful he would write again. What began as an innocent pen pal relationship developed quickly. That summer, Benjamin flew to Columbus to meet me. My heart danced inside my chest, in anticipation of meeting Benjamin. Doubts gnawed inside my stomach. What would happen if he didn’t like me, or think I was pretty? Was I deserving? A young, unsophisticated girl from a textile mill village, without any future plans? All I possessed were the dreams I cherished inside my heart. Dreams about singing and acting and becoming famous. I wrote about these dreams in my journals. When my mother found them underneath my mattress, she read them and laughed, telling me I’d never amount to anything.

My fears subsided when he arrived. I recognized him immediately and rushed into his arms. He lifted me tightly, spinning me around like I was a feather and I laughed with delight. Then, his lips met mine in our first kiss. The warmth of his mouth searching and probing inside of my mouth tasted delicious. This was Love. Finally, I had found someone to love me. Finally I could tell my mother she was mistaken. I was a lovable person. I was more than my mother’s piece of trash. I was someone warm, exciting and deserving of love.

During my senior year of high school, I was filled with happiness. Letters from Benjamin arrived almost daily. Every Sunday evening we talked on the phone. We were engaged, planning for our future together as husband and wife. My new life, filled with love and happiness, was about to begin.
I met Benjamin’s parents at Christmastime. His mother embraced me with love and acceptance. We discussed our wedding and marriage. That Christmas in New England was the most commemorative holiday I had ever experienced in my young lifetime. We were scheduled to ring in the New Year together in New England. Early one morning, my mother changed our plans and we left, without an explanation. My mother was in one of her moods. When I inquired as to why we were leaving now, she balled a fist at me. Her demeanor was malicious. She belittled Benjamin and his family, telling me I did not belong with them. I kissed Benjamin goodbye, praying that my mother’s behavior would not influence our future. Leaving New England, I cried on the plane, and when I arrived home, I cried into my pillows. Something was different. Something was missing, so I cried…and cried…and cried…just like I was crying now – over grief. One month later, I received a letter from Benjamin, ending our relationship. The distance between us was a deciding factor, he wrote. I read the letter over and over again, realizing my mother’s words of my not deserving of Benjamin’s love were so true. We were from different worlds – a naïve mill kid and a sophisticated, handsome military guy did not mix. Like oil and water, we could not make a life together.

Funny. I hadn’t really thought about Benjamin in years. Life had a way of keeping me so busy I didn’t have the time to allow emotions to crawl and brew inside of me, but today was different. Tears were pouring down my face, like an endless waterfall.

Once I had loved Benjamin so much I thought I could not breathe without him. Yet, after we broke up, I realized life still existed. Every morning, I awoke to a new day, only this was another day without my future – Benjamin. My mother laughed at me, telling me I was such a fool for loving a man. “No one should give her heart to a man like you did. It’s no wonder he stomped all over you and broke your heart. You’re such a foolish, insecure and stupid girl. Stupid girls don’t deserve love, and you are one STUPID GIRL,” she shouted, laughing from the depth of her obese stomach at me.

I struggled to stop the tears, but they rushed inside of me, deep from my heart and soul. “I hate crying. Please God, let me stop crying.” The tears continued to spill down my face as I realized my mother was correct. I was a stupid girl who never deserved love. I missed several days of school because my eyes were swollen and red. I was ashamed for anyone to see me.

Much to my surprise, during this time, Benjamin’s mother phoned me. Faith wanted to know how I was feeling. How was I coping? She wanted me to keep in touch with Benjamin, so he would awaken and realize he loved me.

I listened to her, wanting to scream. “Benjamin doesn’t love me. He broke my heart. No one loves me. I’m not worthy of love.”

Faith listened to me, encouraging me to continue the fight, if I really loved Benjamin.

Just how is it someone can grieve so painfully when grief was for the lost…those who have died and we will never see again? I asked myself that question over and over again, wishing to find the answer while the grief rushed over me.

Returning to school, I thrust myself into plans for graduation and my future. When friends asked me about the wedding plans with Benjamin, I pushed them away. I could not talk about the pain I felt. All I could do was burst into another sea of endless tears.

After graduation, I found love again in the arms of another military man, Garrett. He was stationed at Fort Benning, in preparation for his deployment to Vietnam. Charming and handsome, Garrett and I married a bit too quickly. Three months later, he went to Vietnam.

During Christmas of that year, I received a package in the mail. I opened it, discovering a card from Faith, along with a beautiful pair of slippers. She signed the card in her handwriting, wishing me a loving and happy journey in my new life as a married woman. She wrote about lost love and how new love would take me along the trials and tribulations of life. She was confident that I would take on this challenge with the new slippers. The colorful satin slippers would carry me along the paths of life, to areas I had never dreamed about. She wished me well, telling me that she would miss me along the way, but she was hopeful that I would keep in touch with her. Faith gave me new inspiration and hope.
Faith and I kept in touch over the years. During Christmas holidays, we spoke on the phone, catching up like two close friends would do, laughing and crying over life, the birth of children, aging, disappointments and dreams we shared. She consoled me when I cut the cords with my mother. And when I asked her why couldn’t I cry, after my mother passed, she soothed me with her words, reminding me I cut the cords earlier in my life to become a better person since my mother was a bitter woman who was unable and afraid to love. In 2010, I lost contact with Faith. Her phone was disconnected and I knew something was wrong with her. Researching on the computer I discovered Faith had passed away. And so, I cried.

Benjamin was my foundation, teaching me about love. Faith was my inspiration. She believed in me when no one else would. Garrett was my bridge, accepting and loving me for who I was. But — would he still love me as I grew older, stronger from the wisdom and character I planned to develop with self-growth and self-worth.

My brain continued to race with grief. Although I felt grief when my mother died, never did I cry. Those tears were disbursed in 1988, when we said our final goodbyes after an emotional war. She threatened to slap me if I didn’t give her some money. I stood my ground, refusing to allow her manipulative intimidations to weaken me. Garrett was playing golf when we fought. When he arrived at my mother’s house, he looked into my eyes, noticing my vacant stare along with my shaking hands. He saw the suitcases sitting by the doorway.

Garrett nodded for me to go outside on the porch. I opened the tattered doorway, closing it tightly. “What’s the matter? Are you two fighting again?”

“We’re leaving,” I said, glancing down at my chipped manicured nails.

“What happened?” Garrett insisted, his voice firm. He placed his arm on my shoulder and I flinched. “Why are your fingernails chipped?”

Garrett knew me a bit too well at times.

“Let’s go. Let’s get the suitcases and leave. Now!” I whispered, picking at my fingernails.

Garrett opened the door.

My mother stood by the suitcases. “You’re not leaving!” Her arms were crossed. She stood by the suitcases, ready for a battle.

Garrett stood his ground. “You need to move.”

My mother placed her hands on the suitcases.

“If you don’t allow us to take our belongings, I will call the cops,” I said. “We’re leaving and there isn’t anything you can do to keep us here!”

“I want money.”

“I don’t have any money,” I said.

My mother smirked. “You lying bitch! You got cash in your wallet. I seen it. I want it!”

I rolled my eyes at her, reached down and grabbed the suitcases.

“Goodbye Mother,” I said.

I cried all the way home. Garrett touched my hand while he drove. His actions told me I would be OK. Garrett never liked seeing me cry. His demeanor was one of strength. “It don’t mean nothing,” he would say, during and after a fight. “It don’t mean nothing,” and then, he would walk away.

I was the weakling in our family, at least, according to Garrett. In 1992, after another emotional war where Garrett’s jealousy raged into me, shouting accusations that were not true, thrusting his finger at me while he belittled me, I fell completely apart. Sitting on the corner of the couch, I cried. And cried. And cried. Garrett kept pushing me, wanting to know why I was crying. As hard as I tried to turn the water works off, I could not. Watching the cruel, snappish actions of Garrett, he reminded me of my mother and I cringed. Why wasn’t I worthy of love?

That night was a turning point for me as I opened my mouth to share a horrific childhood story with Garrett. “I’d like to tell you something I’ve never shared with anyone before. You must promise to listen to me and not say anything until I finish. Promise?”

Garrett nodded. Glancing at my fingernails, I pulled at the cuticles and my nail polish, a nervous habit I always performed when threatened. I inhaled. Exhaled and said a silent prayer for God to give me strength. I licked my lips and began, unable to stop as I described my mother’s probing hands. Wrinkled, leathered hands that touched me in forbidden places, searching, rushing hands that left me feeling cheap. Garrett listened, occasionally wiping the flood of tears rushing down my face. One hour later, in the darkness of midnight, Garrett held me tight.

“Now, I understand why you apologize so much. Why your beat yourself in the head at times and always say you are not worthy of love. Now I know why your body jumps when you are sleeping and it is lightning outside. Your mother was wrong to touch you.”

“But…she was my mother…She only wanted to protect me.”

Garrett kissed my forehead. “You deserve happiness and love, just the way I love you. Let me love you. Maybe now I can understand why you always hurt yourself, and why you fight me so much when I want to shelter you.”

“Don’t you see, Garrett? I don’t need sheltering. I’m independent. I’ve always liked doing things on my own. All I’ve ever wanted from you is for you to give me wings to fly.”

Our relationship began a new journey on that night.