Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Believe

With the holiday season upon us I want to express something. I choose to put this in a note rather than a status because it is a little lengthy. I often times have people say things about my beliefs and have even been told "if you believe that's okay you can't be a Christian". Well let me say this. There is a difference between being a spiritual person and a religious person. Just because I am not in a church every time the doors are open doesn't mean I don't have strong spiritual beliefs. It just means I don't care for organized religion. I don't go to church simply to count heads, see who is wearing what, who puts what in a collection plate, who knows what, etc. I make the world my church. I communicate with my Higher Power anytime and anywhere, whether there is a roof over my head, a steeple on the building, or whether it is in the middle of a beautiful field surrounded by glorious hues of orange, yellow, green, and red. These are things I BELIEVE:

I believe there is a Higher Power that we all will answer to at the end of our time on this material earth. That Higher Power may go by different names to different people but it is there. It knows no gender, no color or nationality.

I believe when our loved ones cross the veil of the world of the living and the eternal living, they still remain with us as long as we have love in our hearts for them. They communicate with us through dreams and simple ways like a breeze at just the right moment, a drop of rain on a chokingly dry day, a dragonfly on the shoulder. They are with us.

I believe in angels who walk beside us unseen every step of every day.

I believe that despite the atrocities of this world there is STILL goodness in mankind regardless of who they pray to whether it be God, Allah, Jehovah, the Virgin Mary, or other gods and goddesses.

I believe a word of kindness and a simple smile can save a life.

I believe we all deserve love and understanding regardless of socio-economic status, race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or nationality.

I believe it is not my place to judge or wish harm on anyone else because I believe that what we send out in the world comes back on us times three, and it is not my place to pass judgement because I don't know that person's circumstances and I am not perfect so how can I be in a position to judge someone else?

I believe that to harbor hate against anyone will only destroy my own soul and well-being so I move forward leaving the negativity behind.

I say "Merry Christmas" to those who say it to me, and to others I say "Happy Holidays". After all this is the holiday season so I wish for joy for them all not just one day. When I say "I will keep you in my thoughts" rather than "I'll pray for you", that is what I mean--you remain in my thoughts throughout the day and night and I hope for positive things for you.

If my being a good person who would give the shirt off my back, the last penny I had, open my home up to the homeless and fight for the rights of ALL not a few isn't enough for someone simply because I don't profess to be a specific denomination then am I really the one with the problem?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Excerpt from Rag Doll: Delilah's Story

Delilah lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling with Annie in her arms. “It’s just us Annie, just like always.”  She closed her eyes and dozed off without realizing it.

            “Daddy’s home!”  Daddy’s booming voice bounced off the walls of their home as he came through the door.  Delilah, having learned to walk only a month earlier ran awkwardly into his outstretched arms.  “Dadda”.  Daddy twirled his little girl around and laughed.  “Daddy has something for his angel.”  He reached just outside the door and brought a bag in.  He pulled a rag doll with red hair and blue and white dress out of the bag.  “Here is my angel her very own Raggedy Ann doll”.  Delilah’s chubby baby hands reached for the pretty doll and hugged her tight.  “Baby, baby” she sang.          Quickly the time changes and Delilah, now four years old is sitting in the floor of her room holding her Annie tight trying to shut out the sounds of her parents screaming.  “It’s okay Annie, Daddy will take care of us.”

            “GET OUT!  Just get the hell out” her mother screamed.  “I don’t need you any way.”

            “Look, you need some help.  That’s all I’m saying.  You’re a drunk and god only knows what else you do when I’m gone.  And don’t you think I’ve seen the bruises on Delilah.”

            “Delilah!  that’s all you worry about is that stupid baby.  Well, I’m the one here with her whiny ass all the time.  Why do you think I drink?  You said you’d get us away from this hell hole but you didn’t!”  The sound of glass shattering only caused Delilah to hold tighter to her Annie.  “That’s right, walk out.  That’s all a man is good for any way.”

            Daddy came into Delilah’s room and held her close.  “Daddy has to go on a trip now angel girl but I’ll be back soon to get you okay.  I love you so much.”

            Delilah watched through the grease smeared window of the kitchen as her Daddy got in his car.  Tears ran down her chubby cheeks.  She looked at her mother who was opening another bottle of stinky drink.  “Daddy?” 

            “Shut the hell up.  Your precious daddy is gone and I hope he never comes back.  Shut up that sniveling.  I could have been gone long before now if it hadn’t been for you.  I said shut up!”  Delilah reeled backwards from the backhand her mother delivered across her little face.  Quickly she got up, grabbed Annie and ran to her room.  Her mother didn’t usually stop with just one mean hand.  She got as close to the wall as she could and held on to Annie when she saw her mother in the doorway.  She had the stinky drink in one hand and the stinky smokey stick in the other.  “You know what happens to little girls who don’t shut up like they are supposed to don’t you?  They get punished.  You didn’t shut up so now you have to be punished.”  She walked slowly to Delilah and held the stinky stick out.  Delilah buried her head on top of Annie’s stuffed head.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Little Corner

I crawl up in the corner where it is dark.  Pull my knees up and put my head down.  Can you see me?  I don’t want you to.  I want to hide from the world.  In my little corner no one talks to me, no one wants anything from me.  It is just me and the darkness.  Solitude.  I close my eyes and it is just me in my little piece of the world.  All me. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Banning and My Thoughts on the Subject.

Below are some books that have been banned in various locations.  The descriptions and comments come from an article that ran in the Huffington Post.  I am following these with my own comments and thoughts in parenthesis.  Here we go!
1. THE DICTIONARY: Both the Merriam Webster and the American Heritage Dictionaries have been banned in various schools. The Merriam Webster was banned in a California elementary school in January 2010 for its definition of oral sex. "It's just not age appropriate," a district representative said.
 (Yes people the dictionary.  I mean really now?  The fact that an educator would follow through with the banning of the dictionary is just in and of itself absolutely moronic.  There are a lot of words in the dictionary that aren't age appropriate for various ages but do they realize that by banning a DICTIONARY, they are banning knowledge?  Do they not think in this day and time a kid can't google the words "oral sex" and get a heck of a lot more than a definition as a result?).
2.John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath: An immediate and huge bestseller, the classic depicting poverty and the struggles of migrant workers was and often still is banned for obscenity and for the negative light in which the country was painted.
 (I am pretty sure we know why they don't want this read.  The same things are still taking place today--poverty and struggles of both migrant workers and natural born citizens, obscenity??  Give me a break--put your television on even basic channels like NBC, CBS, and ABC these days and hear all kinds of words but Heaven forbid you read one in a book!  The negative light in which a country is painted?  Good grief look at our government and country today!  We are on our way to hell in a handbasket, banning a book that speaks on such subject matter isn't going to speed up the process for crying out loud!)
3. William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble: The Illinois Police Association, along with 11 other states, tried to get libraries to remove this book in 1977 because it portrays policemen as pigs.
(It is a children's story and children respond to character's that are animals.  Richard Scarry also portrayed different professions using animals as well.  SO WHAT???  I mean do we really think a chicken walked around screaming the sky is falling?  Of course not so are children really going to think of police as pigs?  A book isn't the only place they will hear that reference.  If their parents are educating them about history and various counter culture movements they'll see it there as well.  What are we going to do ban any reference to the Hippie movement, civil rights movement, and protests? Heck I probably just gave some idiot an idea!)
4/5. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye AND Beloved: The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature has had her books banned for obscene language and gratuitous violence in many parts of the country. The battle isn't over.
(Okay I happen to absolutely love both of these books and many others by Toni Morrison.  She is a literary genius.  She writes from the perspective often times of an African-American woman in the south, in poverty, in REALITY.  She uses language that is said--not sugarcoated.  Again, put a television on any channel, watch a video game, you will see and hear the same things.  What do you want the world in a bubble?  She has won the Nobel Prize in Literature for crying out loud and they are going to ban her writing?  Keep on fighting Toni!)
6. Bill Martin, Jr's Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? :This beloved children's book was banned in January 2010 by the Texas Board of Education because the author has the same name as an obscure Marxist theorist, and no one bothered to check if they were actually the same person.
(Okay if the explanation itself is not enough to show the pure ignorance that comes with book banning I don't know what does!  Just because of the author's name??? And what is Marxist theory that which shall not be spoken in Texas school systems?  The fact that a STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION did this without bothering to even do a google search and hit up old Wikipedia makes me really sad for the state of Texas and the children subjected to that ignorance in their school systems.  Those poor children.)
7/8. Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach and The Witches: "James" was banned for obscenity and violence, while "The Witches" was banned for sexism and devaluing the life of a child.
(James and the Giant Peach can't be read as a book, but can be viewed by millions of children as an animated full feature film????  Wonder how many of the schools that don't have it on the bookshelves of their library have allowed it to be shown on VHS or DVD in the classroom?  What is even more depressing is that children who see the movie are probably not even aware it was adapted from a book!)
9. Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl:Anne Frank's diary has been banned on multiple occasions. The most recent was in January 2010 when the book was pulled from a Virginia school for "sexually explicit" and "homosexual" themes.
(Yes let's pull a book that grips a reader's heart and hopefully teaches them to have empathy for fellow man as a young girl describes her ordeal as she tries to survive the Holacaust because we can't have anything sexual or homosexual related in our schools.  Granted this shouldn't be read by first or second graders, but by the time children get to middle and high school they are learning about the Holacaust--I would hope--and I'm sure they know what homosexuality is--whether they agree with it or not, so they are mature enough to handle this book.  Banning books like this and keeping those types of horrifying events from the hands of the future will only lead to something like it happening again.)
10. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women: Not easy to figure out why this one was banned, but it may have been that the strongest woman character marries a boring and much older man--counter to feminism.
(Little Women?  A threat?  To what?????  As someone who considers myself a feminist I would never support taking this book--or any book in case you haven't figured it out yet---from the shelves.  If anything you can use books such as this to help teach young women they don't have to depend on a man for survival, they can do anything and be anything they want by their own efforts.  Banning this book just baffles my mind).
11/12. Ernest Hemingway's A Farewll to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls: How times have changed. "A Farewell to Arms" was banned for sexual content and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" because it was seen as pro-communist.
(Oh good grief!  Again, I've read both of these books and these books are so mild when compared to just what happens around us and on the news.  When books like these are banned I have to think the person challenging them hasn't even read them!)
 13. Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic: Banned in 1993 at an elementary school in Florida because it "promotes disrespect, horror, and violence," soon became one of the most banned books of the 1990s.
(I admit I've not read this one, but I can promise you it is on my to buy list now!  A book does not promote disrespect, horror or violence--a homelife will, lack of parenting will, sitting a child in front of a television playing graphic video games full of zombies and demons will--reading a book won't).
14. Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time: Because it's a tale of the battle of good and evil, many were concerned it was making a religious argument they didn't want their children exposed to.
(Wait isn't the Bible full of stories about a battle between good and evil?  Do we not teach our children from the time they are babies about good vs. evil and we want to be good people and prevail on the good side?  I mean help me out here--would this not be a great and valuable tool to oh I don't know use to actually engage in a conversation with our children?  Am I just expecting too much from parents these days?)

So as you can tell I do not believe in book banning or censorship.  I may not always agree with the subject matter and I may not like what it says however I do not believe in one person or a group of people having the right to determine for me whether or not it should be available for myself or my child(ren).  Instead of removing the books from bookshelves use them to engage in conversation over why we don't find the subject matter appropriate and educate ourselves and our children.  Yes, this requires parents to actually "man up" and PARENT and take an active, participatory role in their child and the development of that child's education, ideals, morals, and view on the world.  I think maybe that is the problem--too many parents want to shirk the responsibility to someone else and let them determine what is right and wrong for their child.  Not me buddy.  I want my child to know there is a huge world out there full of differences and we should make ourselves aware of those differences.  To make one's self aware does not mean to embrace, it just means you are not ignorant to the world around you and despite the saying--ignorance is NOT bliss.  Ignorance is compliance and I will not comply or conform to someone else's ideals and philosophies just because someone says I should.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I was in a slightly melancholy mood this morning when I woke up and these first couple of lines came to me.  I haven't written a poem in quite some time, a couple of years I'd even venture to say.  But this is what I came up with today.  Enjoy.

My world of darkness
Soundless screams struggle
Against the muted mouth
Helpless hands fight
Against the restraints
Being pushed underneath
Drowning gasping for air
The blackness takes over
No more screams
No more struggle
It is over now
--copyright 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Honor of My Daughter's Birthday

       I  remember the day I found out you were on your way. That was the day that changed my life forever. It was the day I stopped putting me first and knew that a great thing would grace this world. Then you were here. The most beautiful thing I ever laid my eyes upon, a head of gorgeous black hair, the most beautiful, bright eyes, and fat rolls everywhere! The cutest smile to every shine on the earth. I held you in my arms and knew you were special.

As you grew you reinforced every thought I had the day you were born. As impossible as it sounds, the most beautiful baby became more beautiful. That precious smile was ever present. The smallest and most simple things made you happy. You never fussed and you never cried. You were mama's little helper.

Not only were you smart, but talented as well. You danced your way into the hearts of everyone you came into contact with. You are a shining star.

Now my baby is growing up and turning into a beautiful, smart, talented, determined young lady. It's more fun to hang out with friends than it is with Mama now. Just remember you are always going to be my baby and I will always love you more than life itself.

You once said as we passed a movie theater marquee "One day my name will be on that board. I'm gonna be a star and everyone will know my name". You are already a star in my eyes and one day soon the whole world will know your name.

I love you.


I hope that every wish you make comes true and know that Daddy and I will always support you and have your back in everything you do. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

You Can't Fix Stupid

It is a sad state of affairs when you come to the realization that as a whole, it seems the population is dumbing down. Stupid comes in various shapes, sizes, and forms. I will give children a pass since children learn from their parent's example, and well they just aren't old enough to know better in most cases. However if you are over the age of 18 you don't get a free stupid pass from me.

Stupidity is never more evident than on the highway, in Wal-Mart and sadly on a college campus.

Let's examine this more closely. First if you are on the highway, hell any road for that matter, and there is a car beside you and you look and SEE this car beside you, that is clue number one you don't just change lanes right then. Your second clue you shouldn't have done it is me laying on my horn and giving you the finger. Oh and don't think I won't follow you either and stop when you stop to tell you off. That is clue number three. Also, you know 9 times out of 10 you can turn right on red when the traffic is clear so TURN when the traffic is clear. And another thing. If you are in a turning lane and there is a green light and no traffic coming from the opposite direction, you can go! You don't have to wait for the little green arrow to tell you, you can. The green circle will do just fine. And, don't blow your horn for a car to go as soon as the light turns green. You know there are mechanics involved to getting a car to move forward-it doesn't do it automatically at a green light.

Now the stupidity you find in Wal-Mart. You can find it easier than anything else in Wal-Mart that's for sure! All one has to do is enter the parking lot. After you dodge about four or five toddlers roaming freely in the parking lot with a mother screaming over her shoulder at them to hurry up-WITHOUT TAKING THEM BY THE HAND IN A VERY BUSY PARKING LOT WITH MOVING VEHICLES-you know you have entered the land of the stupid. Then you have the actual store. Don't ask a greeter anything-I mean anything. They look at you like you have sprouted a second head or something. Then you have little Johnny screaming for a toy across the store and his mother screaming even louder at him to shut up because everyone can hear him. Yeah, Ma, everyone can hear you too. But this is the biggie. You are in a checkout line. You know that payment is expected at the conclusion of your check-out. Therefore it would make sense to have your wallet/checkbook/credit card in hand BEFORE the cashier finishes ringing up your items, loading them into the buggy for you, and telling you your total. I would think so. But noooo. You decide to wait until all of that is done before putting your purse (which is usually ugly anyway) on the counter, pulling out everything you own, digging around to find whatever source you will use to pay for your items, and then finally paying. Then everyone has to wait for you to put all five thousand items back into your ugly purse before you will take the receipt and get the heck out of the way! And this is usually in the Express lane too!

Now stupid is also evident in a college classroom. When someone doesn't know who Condellezza Rice, the state governor, hell  who the University Chancellor is--you do not belong in a college classroom. You are taking a seat that someone with more than two brain cells could actually use. Secondly if you think there are more than one species of humans, you don't need to be in a college classroom. If the biggest thing in your life is how drunk you are going to get tonight and hot that fraternity guy across the aisle from you is, you don't need to be in a college classroom. And finally if you are 19-20 years old and think it is cute to sit and twirl you hair, talk as loud as you can, and constantly have to discuss the deep significance and relevance of Orlando Bloom's "hotness" while smacking your bubblicious-you don't need to be in a college classroom, at least not with me if you don't want your feelings hurt.

So, in conclusion, "no you cannot fix stupid". However you can SHOOT them and hopefully get em all!  (That last part is a total joke by the way!).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Meet Roxie

Roxie, with the long black hair and the flashing eyes. 
     She has always marched to the beat of her own drum and became the outcast in the process.  Preferring haunting goth music over the Billboard Top 40 she was ridiculed and called names by those around her, including her own mother.  Roxie isn’t your stereotypical “goth girl” however.  She has an infectious laugh, a beautiful smile, a loving and kind nature.  She channels the negative energy thrown her way into her creations—designing and sewing her own clothing, accessories, and her dolls. 

     Yet Roxie hides a secret beneath her long sleeve shirts and ankle length skirts.  Each harsh word and ugly name she has been called has left physical scars on her body.  Sent to Sentience by her mother in an attempt to “make her normal”, Roxie finds herself in a group with other girls who like her struggle to survive in a world that breaks them down at every opportunity. 

     Very different, but a common thread among them, they form a bond.  But is it enough? 

Broken Dolls: The Dead Doll—Roxie’s Story is the second in the Broken Dolls series

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Broken Dolls Teaser

“You know when I drop a plate and it breaks I tend to throw it in the trash.  Can’t do that with folks though.  They break and we try our best to fix ‘em.  Some folks is easier to fix than others.  And when you start fixing ‘em you have to remember they have cracks still and that makes ‘em just a little bit more fragile and you can’t be as rough as before with them.”

            “I guess.”  Delilah wasn’t exactly sure what Susie was talking about.

            “Take you girls.  Each one of you is like a little doll.  Dolls get rips, tears, and if they are glass ones they can crack.  You can sew them up or glue them back together but they are just a little weaker in those places.  They can still be strong and tough but you still have to love them and be gentle with them."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Random Musings on Tennyson's "Lady of Shallot"

     Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott is a poem that can be read a couple of different ways.  It can be seen as a view of what happens when one doesn’t look at reality regularly and then when they do, they are faced with a reality they cannot handle.  For so long, the Lady has viewed the world through the mirror giving her a skewed sense of reality.  When she finally sees the world as it truly is, she faces death.  Does she die because of a “curse” or is it simply she cannot handle reality?  As the reader, it is up to us to decide.  There is no right or wrong answer.

            One can also look at this from the feminist standpoint; something Tennyson later wrote other poems about and seemed to encourage women’s rights.  In the time period of this poem when a woman tried to assert herself, went against the norm, was not content to be the “angel of the house” she was often deemed as “mad”.  The result was confinement, separation from society.  Is this what the Lady has done?  Did she dare to defy society’s norm for women of the time and as a result she has been locked away in the tower.  The fact that society does not look upon her, rather they hear her singing can be seen as a support to this theory.  It is a story legends are made of; the crazy lady in the tower no one can see but can hear her song.  It is similar to the old haunted house tales when children are little and there is a rickety, run down house on the street.  When she finally leaves the confinement and inscribes her name on the boat as “Lady of Shalott”, it just proves she has lost her true identity and become what society has made her.  She has become dehumanized; she has lost all sense of who she once was.

            Is this the correct theory, the correct reading of the poem?  One cannot be sure.  Only Tennyson can say what his true intentions were when writing this great piece of literature and he is not here to tell us.  We must make of it what we will and come to our own conclusions.  That is one of the great things about literature; so much of it is left up to the reader’s interpretation and dissection.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Excerpt from Broken Dolls: Delilah's Story (chapter one)

The mid-day sun was shining bright on the lake. The red, orange, and yellow leaves of the trees looked like a forest fire reflected in the calm waters. A doe and her fawn peeked through the autumn foliage and eased their way to the cool waters for a drink. The sounds of the frogs croaking could be heard in the main room of the lodge. Occasionally the gentle sounds of the lake kissing the shore could be heard over the din of dishes rattling in the dining area.

Delilah sat in front of the large picture window, her knees pulled up and her feet on the large, plush sofa. She never saw the doe and fawn, nor did she hear the sounds of the frogs or lake. Instead she only saw the bright, white sterile gauze wrapped around each wrist attached to the clasped hands around her knees. The only sound she heard was the voice of her brother in her head telling her how stupid she was.

Just a little teaser for you guys.  Working tonight on more--so far I've gotten two more chapters in this particular book written as well as just some random stuff floating around in my brain.  I read a great quote today "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia". ~E.L. Doctorow.  If that doesn't explain what it is like inside my head all the time with the different characters, ideas, voices tellings stories, etc then I don't know what does!  Hope everyone has a great weekend and as always happy writing!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meet Delilah

Delilah knows what it is like to be alone. She has been alone since she was a young child. After the tragic death of her father and the incarceration of her mother she was placed in the care of grandparents who blame Delilah for her mother's incarceration and her late father for everything else. A victim of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse in her own home she has learned to shut the world out. Ridiculed and shunned at school, her only confidant is her rag doll, Annie.
After a failed suicide attempt, Delilah finds herself in a very specialized residential treatment facility for teens with severe emotional and mental problems with three other teen girls facing their own demons. Can she learn to trust? Can she let her guard down and allow people to care about her and allow herself to care for them?

Rag Doll: Delilah's Story is the first in the Broken Dolls series chronicaling the pain, heartbreak, and struggle to survive of four teenagers who, while from very different backgrounds and all with very different problems, find out they have more in common than originally thought

Friday, July 8, 2011

Short Story In the Works

Currently working on a short story based off a one act play I wrote a couple of years ago.  Hopefully will have it posted by tomorrow.  Been reading various habits of some of the most successful authors, and seriously considering a few.  Stephen King always writes ten pages a day, even on holidays.  Sounds like a good idea especially when one considers he has had over 300 pieces in print!  Now we know how he is able to always have a book on store shelves.  You go Stephen King (I love him by the way one of my favorite authors). 

Well back to work.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A New Age in Writing

I am an old fogey.  I love to read books, not a little electronic tablet that I touch and a new page appears but actual books with paper and binding glue and a jacket with a picture on the front and an author photo and bio on the back.  I love going into a bookstore and spending hours just walking around in all the different sections running my hands over the books, pulling interesting looking ones off the shelves, sitting in the floor in front of the tall shelves and just reading. 

I also love to write.  Sometimes what I write is just silly blurbs or rants on today's society but I love it.  My two passions merge with reading and writing when I work on my own pieces.  But I have noticed a trend lately, fewer and fewer people in the bookstores.  Are bookstores on their way to becoming a thing of the past thanks to the kindle, nook, facebook, blogs, and ebooks?  What does that mean for people like me who don't understand how to market myself in the techno world?

Will I soon have to put "Like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter" after every thing I write?  How does one market themselves that way?  As an author have I become a business?  I just don't get it.

Welcome to a new age in writing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome to My Mind

Welcome to my blog or my "mind".  I decided to start this to post various writings of mine of all styles: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, random ramblings and maddening musings.  I have long dreamed of writing pieces that are read by people other than myself and in this age of technology what better way to reach people than through an internet blog, right?

Please share this site with friends and family.  You never know, if you know me personally you might find yourself in a story or know the memory I am writing about :0)

Enjoy this journey through my mind and remember to buckle up and keep hands inside the ride at all times!  Let the fun begin!

She Recognized Me

This piece was originally written in early 2009 prior to my grandmother's passing.

She recognized me today.

            It has been about three weeks since she recognized anyone; since she has responded in any way other than to cry out with each exhaling breath when she’s awake.  We went in one day and she knew each of us, knew how many children she had, knew how many grandchildren she had, great-grandchildren, brothers, sisters.  She was somewhat hard to understand but she could talk and sometimes make sense.  The next day her face was a blank stare.  Her right eye was drooping and barely opened.  The right side of her mouth was hanging and drawn.   She responded to nothing, not our voices, not the chicken she loved at lunch.  Nothing.

            When I was little, Nanny babysat me while Mama worked.  She lived in an apartment house on Main Street in Brundidge next door to Mrs. Kelly and the Post Office.  The first thing we did each day was pull a chair to the stove and she let me scramble eggs for our breakfast, with her help.  Then around 10:30 we would walk to Mr. Belcher’s store on the corner at the only traffic light in Brundidge.  Mr. Belcher would slice bologna and wrap it in the white paper for customers while I watched.  He had coca-colas in little six ounce glass bottles and had the bottle opener for them mounted to the counter where the cash register was.  Nanny always bought me a glass bottle coke, a pack of cheese crackers (the kind with the little red stick you used to spread the cheese on the cracker), and a box of macaroni and cheese. Once a week we walked on down the street to Bill’s Dollar Store and she bought me a Little Golden book.  I had the best collection; The Pokey Little Puppy, The Little Engine that Could, Richard Scarry’s Best Little Word Book Ever, The Little Red Hen, Scuffy the Tug Boat, and Tootie.  I had them all.  I still do.  

            After our trip downtown, we came back home and I waited to hear the whistle blow.  Each week day in Brundidge the whistle would blow at exactly twelve o’clock.  I don’t know where the whistle came from but you could hear it all over Brundidge.  When I heard the whistle I knew it was time to make the macaroni.  At the first sounds of the whistle blowing I could hear the chair scraping across the tile floor.  Nanny was pulling it back to the stove so I could stand there with her and make our macaroni and cheese.  Sometimes she let me put the butter in; sometimes she did it because I would eat more butter than I would put in the macaroni.  After our macaroni was done, we’d eat and then decide what we would do for the afternoon.  Sometimes we would watch television, Mr. Rodgers and Sesame Street.  Sometimes we’d listen to the radio, Elvis and George Jones.  Sometimes we’d take a nap. 

            Sometimes Billy would be in town and we would go on trips.  Billy Holmes was one of Nanny’s boyfriends and I really loved him.  He let me sit in the front seat between him and Nanny and I always got to decide where we went.  I got the map out of the glove compartment and we went down the blue roads, the red roads, and the yellow roads.  Sometimes I let Nanny pick which color our road would be but she usually let me do it anyway.  She said that was my special treat.  I don’t know where we went but I can’t seem to find those blue, red, or yellow roads on the maps anymore.  They became harder to find after he died and especially after she got sick.

            I got older and started kindergarten but I still stayed with Nanny sometimes after school.  She came to most of my school events like awards days, class days, and of course graduation.  I was the first of her children and grand-children to graduate from high school, and she said she was so proud of me for graduating and with honors.

            Although I had graduated we continued with our Christmas tradition that had begun when I was in about the seventh or eighth grade. The weekend after Thanksgiving I spent the weekend with Nanny and we put up her Christmas tree and decorations, just me and her.  None of my other cousins, none of her other children even though two still lived with her.  After we got the decorations up, we would make all sorts of candies; divinity, peanut butter balls, chocolate covered cookies, chocolate covered peppermints; and cakes-chocolate, peanut butter, and red velvet.  The last Christmas we did that at her house was in 2004.  She had her first major stroke right after that and we spent Christmas with her in the hospital in Dothan.  She hasn’t been home for Christmas since then.

            She lived with Mama for a little while after she came home from the hospital in January, we thought it would just be temporary while she had therapy, but she could do very little for herself and Mama was not in the greatest of health at the time.  I tried to help as much as I could but it was still hard for the two of us when we both had families to look after in addition to her, and I also had school because I had started back to TROY, and my job at the dance studio.  Around Easter time Mama had to have surgery. We had no other choice but to put her in Troy Health and Rehab.  It was a rough adjustment for all three of us.  I was going out there every day to see her and it was so hard for me to leave her, she cried and so did I.  She just wanted to go home but my uncles wouldn’t help with her.  They had left her by herself before. 

            We went to her house to pack things up.  I said if Nanny wasn’t going to be there, none of the things she had paid for would be either to be ruined or uncared for.  It hit me when packing her things up that she really was at the nursing home for good.  Even with therapy, she would never be able to live on her own or care for herself again.  I would never sit at the kitchen table with her again making Christmas candies and cakes.  I’d never put the tree up in her house again.  When we were putting her stuff in storage I kept out the ornaments she had made herself and I put them on my Christmas tree each year now. 

            She eventually adjusted to the nursing home.  Occasionally she would still cry and ask to come home but I would talk to her and she would be laughing when I left.  About three years ago she had a bowel rupture and was in critical condition.  The doctors said she probably wouldn’t survive the surgery and if she did, she wouldn’t make it through the night.  But, she did.  Then two years ago she had double pneumonia and suffered a heart attack at the same time.  The same doctor said he doubted she’d make it through the night.  Yet, she proved him wrong again.  She was awake and talking, although it was mostly garbled because of the speech difficulty from the stroke in 2004, but she was alive.

            Even after the stroke she always knew who people were when they went to visit her, regardless of how long it had been since she had seen them.  She would remember that Chandra was coming to see her on the weekends when she worked her shifts as an LPN at Troy Health and Rehab, and she knew Chandra would bring her some chicken for lunch. She still had use of her hands, even though she was confined to her wheelchair since the bowel rupture and heart attack.  Her mobility just deteriorated after that.  But she knew who I was.

            But three weeks ago, Chandra called from work.  She was upset.  Nanny didn’t know who she was and she wouldn’t talk to her.  I called Mama and we went to the nursing home.  Nanny just cried out, nothing in particular, just cried out.  She gave no response when we talked to her.  She didn’t answer yes or no like she had done before, she didn’t look at us.  She wouldn’t take the chicken we tried to feed her.  It got worse after that.  She would be asleep every time we went to see her and we couldn’t wake her up.  We shook her, called her name over and over and she wouldn’t wake up.  Her face looked swollen.

            Chandra called this morning and said Nanny was sick, they’d taken her to the ER but the hospital sent her back to the nursing home.  She had a very severe urinary tract infection, she was clammy, had labored breathing, and her color was not good.  Chandra was scared.  When we got there, Nanny was asleep.  I shook her and called her name and she opened her eyes.  She turned her head and looked at me.  I put my face close to hers and asked if she recognized me and she said yes.  I saw the light of recognition in her eyes.  Then it was gone.  The blank stare was back.  She tried to go back to sleep but I kept talking.  I wanted her to come back to me.  I talked about the house I was moving into, one she had lived in several years ago.  I asked if she remembered the house, and again the light of recognition and she said yes again.  But, all too soon it was gone again.  I kept talking.  The gnarled, claw that had become her hand slowly came out from under the blanket and she rubbed my cheek with it.  She knew me.  I know she did.  She closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

            When she went back to sleep Chandra started talking about how much better she looked now, how she was responding so much better.  She talked about being scared and she thinks Nanny is ready to go home.  I wasn’t thinking right apparently because I asked how she thought Nanny would take care of herself at home, which was dumb.  I was the dumb one.  That isn’t the home Chandra meant.  I didn’t want to hear it or for her to say it.  Nanny was asleep and could hear her.  She’s not ready to go “home”.  I’m not ready for her to go.  Call me selfish I don’t care. She is the only Nanny I have, my only living grandparent.  I’m not ready for her to go, she can’t.  It’s not time.  She stroked my cheek.  She responded to me.

            She recognized me today.