I am not good at crying. I was never comfortable with it. Growing up, when I cried, I was either told to shut up and take it, to be quiet, that I looked funny doing it, or that it made me look ugly. For the last ten years, the ten years since Mom’s passing, I have rarely cried. Now, as I am my dying husband’s care giver, I cry often…not only for what I will lose, but for all that I have lost. My virginity at age five. My son at age fourteen. My hope at age 21. I cry for a father who helped so many and hurt so few. Those few being us, his own family. I cry for my perfectly imperfect mother…a woman who lived in and past fear. I cry for my brother who forced reality down so far that it had no choice but to come bursting up. I cry for my sister. I just cry for all she believes she has lost. I cry for my husband, my one great love, as I watch him try to stay Army strong and dignified. Illness has no dignity. I know as I have been sick most of my life. Death has dignity. Not the moments leading up to it but the passing itself. I held Granny’s hand as she stroked out, then stared into something that I could not see, smiled, and commented that now, after a lifetime of being a stalwart Christian, now she understood. As they say in the South, a Lady always knows when it’s time to leave. I realized while writing this truth that I am no Lady, but I am a woman…a perfectly flawed and naked to my soul, human. You may not like what I have written. You may be uncomfortable with it. But, I have been one acquainted with the world of untruths for far too long. Mulder had it wrong. The truth is not out there, rather it is in us. And, so is God.
I was aiming to get out the door peacefully, but they flanked me and were off to the races. Actually, they were the races. Stopping at every house with a dog along the way- to start a barking spree, my two dogs were on the run again.
I had a bill to pay or a utility would be cut off. I had to get on the road. The day was cold and rainy. I pulled out all the stops. Yelling their names and clapping. Hollering about promised treats. Bringing out meat that I hoped they were close enough to smell. But, nothing worked, and I had to get going. I locked the door. “Fine,” I thought, “this will teach them a lesson about running off.” They were never gone more than fifteen minutes anyway. My errand shouldn’t take that long. I searched for them the whole way to City Hall. Dashing up and back down the hill of steps wasn’t preferential in a mask when you were pudgy, but bill paid- check. Now, home to the doggies. Except, there were no dogs or even signs of dogs.
I could hear dogs barking at a distance. I had to climb a ski slope of a hill to get to them. Halfway up I came three-quarters down and hurt my leg. So much for that stunt. I hobbled home and one word hit my already queasy with worrying body: FACEBOOK. Surely someone had seen them. I even had good, recent photos.
I jumped on Facebook and posted pictures and where they were last seen. The platform asked me if I wanted to tie it to community help. I did that, too. Nothing. Back and forth on my knees to God. Nothing. Phone calls. Nothing. Yelling for them. Nothing. Bringing out meat. Nothing. I was heartbroken. I knew that they would come back if they could. Someone had them, and, with my list of enemies rivaling Batman’s, I had an idea who but wasn’t sure. I knew I would never see their sweet faces again.
I sat down sobbing and wrote the following letter on Facebook.-
To whom it may concern:
Please, treat them well so well that they forget about me. Join me in prayer for them every night to ensure their good health and hardiness and joy. They both have seizures and nightmares from past owners. Simply place a hand on their back, softly say their names, and tell them it’s okay. They know sit and stay. Little One (the Staffy) almost has lay down and roll over. They will do these for a treat. Please, don’t make them bait dogs; it would kill their beautiful spirits. Honor them and they will honor you. I don’t know why you did this to them or me, but you broke up a family today. Please, tell them that Mommy will see them on the other side of the rainbow bridge. Hold them, let them run, keep them safe, warm, and their bellies full.
Suddenly, it hit me. Maybe they couldn’t hear me and needed some help and encouragement getting home. But, where was the highest flat surface nearby? THE CHURCH! MY CHURCH!! I jumped in the car and was in the church parking lot in less than a minute. I scrambled out. Seeing the countryside was rather daunting and depressing, but I yelled their names as loudly and long as I could and clapped my bat wings to limper noodles. Nothing.
I returned home, and, leaving the door ajar just in case, I slumped onto the loveseat and began a soft cry. I picked up a cigarette, which I rarely do anymore, and lit it. Then, I heard myself say, “Don’t look at me like that it’s been a daunting day.” Wait. What? I was talking to one of the dogs! Where’s your sister? Then, she came rolling in. Hugs and kisses abounded! I announced on Facebook that they were safe and home. For their punishment, they had to watch me enjoy a wonderful Joel O’Steen sermon. I thanked God a gazillion times for bringing my sweeties home.
You know that feeling like someone is watching you-well- because someone is. She had experienced that feeling all day while working at the library. Then, she eyed him, first at the anime collection in juvenile fiction, then from behind the lighthouse in the children’s section, next staring lazily at her from behind a pc in computer arts. The whole ordeal would have been off putting if it wasn’t so funny. He was in his late 30’s to early 40’s. She was a divorced old maid with greying hair and grandchildren. It’s not that the attention wasn’t flattering, but it wasn’t nor was it welcomed. Mom and dad may have been divorced, but they had loved each other at fifteen years old and they loved each other at almost seventy years old. They just couldn’t stand one another.
Mom came home for a late lunch, because she was working that evening. She regaled the story of her admirer to Granny and me until we were all in hysterics. As she went out the door to return to work, Granny commented, “You be careful tonight.”
I later understood the meaning of this warning when Granny explained to me where the man lived. There was a tall, old brick building behind the library that was built to house low income males mainly veterans and the disabled. Now, the housing unit had become a den of thieves filled with ex cons and drunks. “Great,” I thought, “and Mom’s been targeted by one of them.”
That evening at quitting time, Mom answered a call at the library. “I’ve got a little something special planned for us tonight,” he promised and hung up. She turned her computer off, grabbed the buck knife she carried, opened it thinking- I have a little something special for you, too. Turning the lights off, she quickly locked the door and spun around toward her car. A squirrel hurried into the bushes. Damn squirrel! We nearly had vermin for dinner. She refocused and made it into the car okay checking the backseats and locking the doors along the way. Up to her right, she noticed a bright light coming out of a window of the all male building.
Oh, no she thought. Mom couldn’t let him see her satisfy her curiosity of her something special. So, she backed up with her back facing the well lit room. While putting the car into drive, she glanced up with her eyes only to find him in only leopard skin briefest of briefs striking his best Tarzan pose.
Later, when she and I were hooting and hollering over it, she added, “That wasn’t the worst part. He was dripping in some kind of oil, and his biceps weren’t the only things bulging.”
“Tell me a Fat Jenny,” my six year old nephew begged, “pleeeeeeeeeeease!”
In my day, it had been Tell Me a Trudy. How had we progressed, or regressed, to Fat Jennys? Who was Fat Jenny? Fat Jenny was the name my Mom gave a young, soap opera watching during work, semi nice to your face stab you in the back, make your ears burn like red hot pokers from talking about you then bless your heart to your face, coworker. Mom was the Assistant Director of the Library and the Children’s Director. Fat Jenny donned the title Children’s Librarian by using an eye of newt, a magic wand, and some hokum she produced an invisible Library Science diploma.
I plopped a squat at the end of my sister’s bed ready to tell a tale and weave some magic of my own, when I heard a familiar voice beckon, “Where are my people?” My sister was home from work and looking for us.
Jack yelled back, “We’re in here and Aunt Suz is about to tell a Fat Jenny!”
Thea was instantly at the door sliding Jack over. “Well, go on with your rat killin’.” Great. My 47 year old sister was in on it now, too.
Once upon a time there was a horrible horrible who was so fat that her ears had pillows of flesh. She worked-hardly-with Granny Dee at the library and took credit for all of the brilliantly beautiful childrens’ programs Granny Dee whipped up. Her name was (chorus) Fat Jenny.
One day, the director of the library asked everyone to do a bit more leg work at the desk helping the customers. She eyed Fat Jenny as she said this, because she knew Fat Jenny had been watching Jane Austin movies at her desk again during work. Mom’s friend Betsy mainly worked the desk. A man walked up to the desk and began to ask for help. Now, Betsy was free and at the desk center. She turned around to walk over to the man. Before she knew what happened, Fat Jenny had booked it from her desk to the customer service desk. Betsy, a slight woman of 65, bounced into her and richochet onto the floor. If you listen closely, you can still hear the jiggle of Fat Jenny’s belly to this day. Eventually, Betsy got up and walked off a limp.
And, that is how Fat Jenny got out of ever working the front desk again.
“Horrible,” whispered Thea
“Horrible!” exclaimed Jack.
I wasn’t allowed to speak to him or of him for that matter. He was the reason dad drank and stayed home, alone on holidays- supposedly. I bore the brunt, because I had his blue eyes.
The calls started when I was about eleven. Pepaw would ask if I could talk meaning was I alone. I would give the all clear and he would ask if my eyes were still blue. The smartass in me wanted to respond that no, they had turned brown overnight, but the matter seemed extremely important to him as if he were holding onto something an eleven year old couldn’t see by a thread of hope. Then, we would pack. Pepaw and I were time travelers, you see.
We were back on his battleship in Midway. Being the boat’s volleyball champ and mailman was getting him nowhere fast during this battle. Pepaw tried to saw through flooding compartments to release dying sailors only to hold the hands of men taking their final gasping breaths. He aided medics as best he could running from one to another.
Then, he eyed it- a kamikaze headed straight for the bow. His best friend at guns trying to shoot him down. Pepaw watched in horror as his buddy collapsed- shot several times. Those volleyball champ legs had him flying to the post. If the kamikaze was successful, the ship would flounder. He reluctantly threw his pal off of the guns and strapped in. Now, it was just he and his enemy. The shooting commenced. Suddenly, the aircraft barely switched trajectory and, nearly missing, went over the bow of the battleship. Caught up in their own hell, few even noticed. However, as Pepaw turned around, he ran right into a camera and crew filming him. He took one look at the scene around him and decked the cameraman.
Pepaw came home but never truly came home.
Tonight, if for a brief moment, I visited the past and not the dark parts but the light. Mom was and remains my light on a hill shining truth and goodness into my soul with a love so pure and deep no man could break it. Our bond is unique and beyond the white washed grave.
Christmas. She wove Magic and Beauty and Delight with a heavy helping of what the season entailed (a little bit of Jesus) for everyone she encountered. Mom wore her scarf high and her toboggan low to hide her elfin ears…too much of her spectacular might frighten other children. But not her own! We soaked it in drove on drove and begged for more.
But, not her own, we trudge on grief stricken. I have not celebrated Christmas for over fifteen years- since she became riddled with cancer and died. I had an old visitor who I hadn’t seen in nigh a decade- the Christmas Spirit. Startled at first glance, I welcomed my old friend with a warm hug – the good kind where you let them pull away first. This year is looking like a tight Christmas. There will be no perfectly presented packages under my artificial tree. But, I will pull my toboggan low and my scarf high as to not frighten the little ones.
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well has been entering my life over and over again for months, and I couldn’t figure out why. What, besides the obvious things, was this story urging me to figure out? Well, I began thinking about wells in the Bible, and one thing connected them all.
The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well broke major taboos of the time. A man was never to go up to a lone woman, especially one he didn’t know, and speak to her. Plus, animosity, even hatred, brewed between the Samaritans and Jews of that time. The conversation emerged a bit rudely with Jesus asking for water and the woman snipping at Him. Then, He promises her living water that she may never thirst again. She becomes intrigued if not ecstatic. After all, as we learn, she has been married many times and is living with a man; this woman is an outcast who must come in the heat of the day to draw water when no one else is nearby. When she learns Christ’s true identity as the Messiah, she sprints to town, on lookers be damned and becomes a heroine! This is Jesus.
Now, skipping back to the Old Testament, we have Hagar at a well. God promised Abraham that he would become the Father of peoples more numerous than the grains of sand yet he was a very old man and his wife, Sarah, had long been closed at the womb. Sarah, eager to see the prophecy fulfilled, casually donates Hagar, her slave to her husband for childbearing. Can’t you hear it now? Make the beds, have supper ready a bit early, and sleep with my husband tonight to give me the prophesied child. Then, when Hagar is with child, her mistress begins abusing her; Hagar hits the high road, and we are back at a well. However, now, Hagar is joined by God who informs her that she must return to her mistress and obey her. Yet, we see the humanity of Christ as she is promised that her son, also, will bestow a great nation. Hagar, too, sees this humanity when she dubs God “the One who sees me.”
In the South, from which I hale, well and whale are pronounced identically, so, please, excuse my next blunder. Jonah, the very reluctant prophet, was running away from God by getting as far from God’s objective point, Ninevah, as possible. We all know the story of how he hitched a ride on a boat and, out of nowhere, a stormy gale erupted caused by the wrath of God. The sailors discovered that Jonah had cursed them and off the starboard bow he went into the rickety rockety ocean only, as Joel Osteen recounted it, to be picked up by a whale like a cruise liner. I don’t believe that Jonah was exactly poolside with Isaac pouring him wine, but, if he was referring to the ocean liner that was floating above its’ own waste, then, I believe we are on par. So, Jonah rides along in the belly of a whale for three days, is spewed onto dry land, and, with a hop, skip, and jump, books it to Ninevah where he has every person praying for repentance under the possibility of destruction by God. God forgives everyone and can be seen as the Lord of Second Chances.
Thus, we see that all roads…and sea follies…lead to the humanity of Jesus Christ. Where are you on your journey? If you are unsure, I suggest some quiet time with Him. I, for one, would rather have God as the Captain of my vessel than as the Cruise Director.
My new ice ice breakers:
1. Have you ever been brutally raped twice in one week?
2. So, what did you think of the SAFE exam?
3. Did you know that they pull 30 pubic hairs during a rape kit?
Yes, I was raped again. And, this time more barbarically than before. If you are keeping count that’s two rapes in a week and three in a year. This time I didn’t let anyone deter me from the rape kit. I went to a different, larger hospital alone and had it done.
The SAFE exam wasn’t that horrible; it’s nothing like what the police and doctors grimly warn you about. It didn’t take three, long, horrendous hours. The worst part wasn’t the SANE nurse pulling out 30 of your pubics. (Hey! Free Brazilian!!) The worst part was the speculum exam and it lasted maybe two minutes. Just a note: you can say NO to any part of the exam process at any point. I demanded the whole kit, because I want to catch the asses. But, my Mom taught me to be Wonder Woman not to brag but to help others.
If you have been raped, I know the first thing you want to do is shower and try to get the icky off. DON’T. And, don’t brush your teeth or wash your hair or douche. If you have to take off your clothes, put them in a paper bag and take them with you. If you have a good police squad, call them even if he or she said not to. If you have a lousy one, go to the hospital. Did you know that you can talk to the police without having a kit done or have a kit done without calling the police?
My final word of advice is stay safe. There are a number of devices that can be purchased to keep both you and your premises safe. If you don’t have the money to go out and snag them, here are my suggestions: deadbolt or padlock your door or windows, nail loose windows shut, buy a coach’s whistle to wear under your shirt, scream “FIRE” at the top of your lungs. For more ideas message me.
Have fun, but be safe out there.
I am of the mind that a woman or a man, for that matter, should be able to walk down the street naked and everyone else should be able to keep their libido in check. One may get a stiffy or have sugar down her legs, but STAY ON YOUR LAWN! Having said that, I am sure you understand that I have no patience for rape.
A few nights ago, I was raped for the second time in a year by the same ass. His name is unimportant as is he. If I had a soul when it came to rape, I would be heartbroken by the way that the police, both state and local, doctors, and all but one nurse treated me. Again, asses. They actually convinced me not to do a rape kit. I had not showered for the sole purpose of having the SAFE exam. However, broken and downtrodden, I am not! Determined, I am.
My assailant has a very affluent and influential brother in a neighboring town. No doubt he is holding up there. I sleep with all of the lights on and barely sleep at all. I swore I would never allow this monstrosity to occur again yet here we are. I have one main and several under advocates at Ampersand Sexual Assault; they rock the kasbah!
Obviously, I didn’t go into detail about what exactly happened; that was in order to keep the creepers at bay. My message to you is this one: if you have been, or are currently being, sexually or physically abused or have been raped, please, reach out to someone. I know how terrifying it can seem, but, believe me, you ARE worth it. Jesus wasn’t a doormat. He didn’t intend for you to be one either.
So, the pain in my breast has become unbearable. If you haven’t been following me, “they” found “something” during the mammogram. That something turned out to be cancer, and, not just any old cancer, but stage four Big C.
My PCP put me on one dose a day of the weakest strength of the weakest pain medicine, if you want to call it that, available. Let’s just say that I could buy it off the shelf in other Capitalistic countries. It wasn’t doing jack.
I had four telehealth conferences with my PCP yesterday- four because I couldn’t hear him. At first, I thought the auditory problems were my fault. Something has to be wrong with my phone. What am I going to do about my mandatory zoom meeting? All I could hear him say was my office, eight o’clock, tomorrow morning. I soon learned that the auditory situation was one of his own making.
I somehow overslept twice passing two alarms- a very rare occurrence. I had missed my appointment. I called and begged for an appointment. They could squeeze me in at 10:45 but I would have to wait. I got there, got to a room within five minutes, and was being screened by him within another five. He even skipped over another patient waiting before me to get to me- boy, did he get to me.
It’s never a good sign when the doctor brings in a nurse- well, period, but especially when he is already putting gloves on and she is holding fifty more pairs. He went straight for my girls. I had to pull up the old bra and everything. Then, he throws this at me, “You have fibrocystic breast disease. You need a mammogram.”
As I look at my stained glass eyes of red, buff, and white, I marvel at how much I look like her-my shaggy auburn mane adding to the effect. I see Mom staring right back at me. My sister must see the quality, too, because, every time I ask her if I should go back to blonde, I get an emphatic YES AND ALWAYS!
If one were to line up my sister, my brother, and me, one would think that we were just friends talking make that arguing make that fighting. From my sister’s 5’2” stature to my brother at 6’2” and me in the middle, we look nothing like siblings taken as a whole. However, if one were to divide us up into pairs, the resemblance is uncanny- short, medium, or tall.
I remember the snotty photographer at my brother’s wedding. While he pulled off an amazing shot of my brother looking like he was hovering above Granny’s beautiful backyard, he had to do an even trickier photo of the three of us up close without cutting heads off. He nailed it! Of course, all of the things precious to me in the storage units were stolen, so I don’t have the picture.
I miss my brother, but not as much as I miss Mom. The poem, “She Walks in Beauty like the Night,” perfectly describes her- remembering that light and dark are not inherently good or evil; it’s what we do with them that counts. And, she did exceedingly well with both. I love you, Mom. Until we meet again…forever, your youngest.