Friday, April 30, 2010


With April my heart is stirred with memories of remembered sounds. Stiff, itchy, nylon crinkling; tots being quietly hustled; serious adults directing the backstage bustle; tiny, nervous, giddy girls giggling; restrained, backstage, muffled tapping; lithe, solemn girls' delicate swooshing; and finally, enthusiatic applause still echo in my heart.

From the time our little girl was three, we were immersed in the annual dance recital ritual. Nerves weren't a problem for our little girl. In her first recital, she stole the show. Dancing in her little mouse costume, her blond curls glistening in the stage lights, she pranced around the stage with her classmates. As she left the stage, she stopped and signed "I Love You" to her Nana, and of course her parents. This unrehearsed act brought the house down. Well, honestly, how couldn't it? She smiled that winning smile and then pranced off the stage. Although the recital continued for the next couple of hours, the star had already performed.

Each year the dances became more complicated, the costumes more mature, the parents more involved and the talent more appreciated. What didn't change from that very first dance recital, was Nana sitting as close to the stage as possible. In her eyes, our daughter's dancing was the best, her talent the brightest and her beauty the purest.

To this day, we all hold the dance recitals as sweetest memories. Traditions were established that still are remembered. We were driving together the other day and our daughter caught sight of a familiar place, "I remember when Nana would take me to Dairy Queen for a banana split after recitals."

Although our little girl is now a mom herself, she is still Nana's little mouse who signed, "I love you" and brought down the house, so very long ago.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BENTLEY'S TOYS: Not found at Pestsmart

To update the readers who are interested in Bentley's adjustment to our family, the pictures above are representing Bentley's new "toys." Let's be clear, he does have store bought; inherited from Cubby; and toys given to him from his rescue shelter. Those ropey, chewy, floppy toys are enjoyed with gusto, but quite frequently Bentley seeks out other amusements. When he's quiet, I know that I have to rescue some forbidden object. Luckily, Crocs are durable and since I rescue them quickly, teeth marks have been slight.

On the other hand, the baby's blocks have "magically" appeared in the front yard and teeth marks have been left as proof of enjoyment. Since the Grandlove only has four little stubs of porcelain perfection, then the only logical suspect can be Bentley. His waggling tail expressed his delight as my husband hunted the yard for brightly colored blocks. Only two have been found, so far, but we'll see if other have been buried.

The other night, I prepared potatoes and when I returned to the kitchen to check on the boiling progress a whole potato had been retrieved from the bin and left on the floor for me. I guess Bentley thought the kettle wasn't full enough. Shaking my head and laughing I replaced the potato to the bin. No other time does Bentley get into the bin, except on the nights when I cook mashed potatoes. Funny little guy. I know that I have said this before, but I swear Cubby must be "channeling" his love for potatoes to Bentley and he's acting on this energy.

So, until next time, that's a little bit of Bentley's world. He is a charming, black streak of lightning who is still bringing joy to our world. We are grateful and healing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


There really is no good reason for this blog, except that dumb people keep doing dumb things and I am afraid that they are multiplying. The pictures above are people proving how totally stupid they are.

It is clear to me the Crossroad area can't claim all the dumb people, but let's all be sure to wear our boots in Victoria, Texas. It's pretty deep in the Crossroads area and I don't mean that we're up to eyeballs in gold and other riches.

I have included the picture of the little blue pills, here, since the expert (Kenneth) swears by this medicine when applied. Let's see if my blog is enhanced.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

WEEK ONE: Laughter brings our breath back

Time has past quickly in this week of adjustments. We have adjusted to having a different little life's companion and he has taken control of this family's heart quiet nicely, thank you. We went to our vet for a check up and a kind lady in the waiting room blessed us for rescuing a dog and my heartfelt reply to her was, "Thank you, Ma'am, but actually he rescued us from the despair of losing a loved one." She understood as did all the kind people at the vet's office.

One look at Bentley's trusting face and a quick pet to his thick fur and he owns every one's hearts. When our dear vet was examining Bentley, I remarked, "You know he's not like Cubby at all." Travis smiled and said, "Yeah, I know, but he'll find a place in your heart soon enough." I have to admit that Bentley has already given us much more in this week than we could have even hoped to receive.

My husband shared that the enormous weight on his chest has eased to the point that he can finally breath again. Once again, his sparkling blue eyes light up when he calls Bentley to go for a walk, leave some paper product alone or snuggle with him.

Adjusting to a new dog's needs and quirks has taken a bit of time, but it was soon clear that Bentley choosing to sleep next to the pillow of his master with nose tucked under the adjoining pillow. Potty training continues and we are learning the subtle signs for opening the door. Barking isn't one of Bentley ways of communicating, yet, so we must be very Zen with his needs. It's a learning time for all of us, that's for sure.

An area of concern was the fact that we were in charge of the Grandlove from Thursday until Sunday morning. We loaded Bentley up for the two hour car ride to "The Kids." It seems that Bentley's bladder and mine are about the same capacity, so the stopping schedule didn't have to be adjusted on the journey. Sitting on my lap with a pillow under him seem to make him more nervous; riding in the back of the car actually calmed him down.

Car seat in the middle of the back, me next to said car seat and Bentley on my lap entertaining the baby was the comical way we made the return trip. Luckily the baby has a deep love for animals, so he was relaxed with the tickling of the black fuzz ball in the backseat. Once we got in, we didn't know how a new dog, a crawling baby and all the toys would work out, but we soon found out.

If the baby had a toy, Bentley needed to investigate and taste it; all baby snacks were fair game if left within muzzle reach; dog toys were more interesting, to the baby, than anything Fisher Price had made; plastic spoons for kettle beating were stolen; and stacking cups tasted really yummy.

One time I couldn't find the little black fuzz ball, until I spotted his pink, lolling tongue. Bentley was under the jeep walker and the baby was giving him a massage with his chubby bare toes. I know that the baby was enjoying the soft "rug" under his feet because I swear both my "boys" were grinning.

All our worries about the combination of baby and dog were for naught and the days with our Grandlove passed too quickly. When we were packing up the mountain of baby equipment and my husband began to load it into the car, he came back into the house for me. It seems that Bentley took his job of baby care quite seriously, for he had retrieved one of the baby bottles from the side pocket of the diaper bag and carried it to the gate. No nibble marks or anything, just a little "Mother's Helper."

Our journey with Bentley will continue for a long while and it will be all new and uniquely his experience. We are looking forward to the future with very dear, cherished memories of our past with Cubby.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day Three: Learning Daily Obligations

Today started off with a quick, wet nose snuggling next to my neck (that would be Bentley's nose, not hubby's.) Throughout the morning, our little companion closely followed our movements throughout the house. After hubby went to work, there were a couple of times that I brushed Bentley's coat, while teaching him the command, "Brush." Soon, I am sure that he will come to receive the delightful back scratching of the brush. It will take patience and time, but who can resist the scratching of the out of the way places?

"Load Up" is still a new command that will take repetitive practice, so we gave it a shot today. A quick, short walk before attempting entering the car prepared him for a boost into the towel cushioned seat. I could tell that he was scared, nervous and unsure of the outcome of the car trip. Soothing, sweet, encouraging words accompanied soft, reassuring fingers touching his soft fur. Shivering a bit and looking at me with pleading eyes couldn't persuade me to unloop his leash from the handle.

We arrived at my husband's work and another hurdle was refused. Bentley refused to walk into the building; fright caused him to flatten. Scooping him up and cooing sounds of reassurance relaxed him. All the "girls" of the office are true animal lovers and understand that time is necessary when greeting an anxious pet. It only took a few minutes on my lap to ease Bentley's anxiety. Soon he was greeting the "girls" and enjoying their warm greetings. We all relaxed and he enjoyed the added attention.

Soon the door opened, which turned Bentley's tail into a wagging machine. In walked his "daddy" and it was clear that seeing him lit up Bentley's world. Arriving from a friend's funeral was a sad man, who couldn't help but be delighted with the obvious adoration of Bentley.

After the smile-producing journey to town, we loaded up and headed home. The ride home wasn't as frightening, so Bentley relaxed and slept. Good sign that he will learn that car trips are to be enjoyed and not feared. We are overwriting scary with good travel experiences.

Once home, we had dinner to prepare and mashed potatoes were on the menu. I was used to having curiosity under my feet as I cooked. He watched my peeling, cutting and plopping potato pieces into the kettle. Leaving the kettle on the stove to do its thing, I retired to the living room. Caught up on my email, while the potatoes cooked and Bentley snacked (or so I thought.) When I decided that enough time had passed to produced cooked potatoes, I went to the kitchen, where I discovered what Bentley had been busy doing. Lined up on the floor, forming a nice little potato parade were three undamaged potatoes marching from the potato bin towards the living room. I guess Bentley decided that maybe we were hungrier than I planned for and we needed more potatoes in the pot. Laughing from my heart I replaced the potatoes to a higher location and gave Bentley an appreciative pat on his head.

After all, potatoes were Cubby's favorite vegetable. He would stand on his hind legs and watch as potatoes were peeled and cut, knowing that he would receive a few chunks of raw potatoes. So when Bentley found the potato bin and participated in the process, it gave me a new memory that softened the loss of Cubby.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DAY TWO: He's already helping us to heal

Many will walk in and out of your life, but only a true friend will leave paw prints on your heart.


We have spent twenty-four hours with our new family member and he's already leaving his footprints on our desolate hearts.

Throughout the day, his inquisitive mind let him begin to explore the yard, the stretchability of his "bird toy" while he kept coming by to make sure that I was still part of his world. A quick scratch, silly words or reassurance helped him relax and accept this as his family.

At the end of the day, I introduced him to the nightly tradition of waiting on the front porch and then running to the gate to greet his "daddy." After a quick rewind of his memories of the morning, our little Bentley arrived at the gate with a wiggly, prancing, "Hello, welcome home." Smiling and a little playing on the floor began to ease the oppressive sorrow from my husband's shoulders.

Stay tuned, because we are new in this healing and I know we aren't alone.

Thank you for all the reads, posts and good wishes.

Warmly, Ferret

Monday, April 19, 2010

DAY ONE: Our new adventure begins

We picked up our new baby today at the animal rescue shelter. Since the last time we brought home a dog it was to bury him, I wanted to make sure that my husband met me there. He walked Bentley to the truck with the usual orders, "Load Up." A boost up and a looped leash to the handle secured Bentley to the passenger side. A wide smile took over the sorrowful face of my husband. Following him out of the parking lot, I saw him releasing the leash and allowing his new copilot to relax in his lap. Once we got home, he said that Bentley was a bit nervous and being in his lap relaxed him. Training for the driver will continue.

Took these quick photos of our new little guy. He comes to us without any known history, so we are making it up as we go along. It's easy to see that even though he's little, he is full of love, energy and adventure craving genes. Quick adjustments to the gate into the backyard, because his curious nature helped him squeeze past the post.

Even though his first year of life must have been anything but "puppy friendly" he'll learn to play, trust and love. Toys are new to him, but our family is patient and playing can be taught. In fact, I just heard a tentative squeak from a toy behind my chair. We left one of Cubby's toys out and he became interested in this duck earlier today. A couple of new toys, a brush and lots of attention have entertained him today.

I must say that tears are just below the surface, still and yet when I hold this needy little guy I find that I have plenty of left over love to give Bentley.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Our precious boy will always be this way in our hearts and memories. Eager to play; eager to cuddle; eager to test patience with trash scrounging; eager to have a leash attached and begin an adventure. With his loss our hearts have to be reminded to beat and our breath is forced out of our lungs by sheer willpower. We are so incredibly saddened. Relying on each other for strength is the only way we can put one foot in front of another this past couple of weeks.

My husband actually apologized for being so depressed this week. He revealed that he has never felt as bad as he has because of our loss. Cubby wasn't just a dog; he was an integral member of our family.

Come Monday, when we bring home our new family member, the energy level in the household will be ratcheted up a bit. Having just gone through his neutering process, our little guy will welcome sharing my recliner. We will wait on the porch for my husband to come home from work and greet him. Seeing a smile on my husband's face at the end of a long, stressful day will help my heart to relax and begin to heal. Teaching our new guy to "load up" into the truck for rides will be a skill that is sure to lighten his new master's heart. The enormous weight resting on our chests will lessen the more that our new little guy adjusts to our family. He wouldn't be able to find a family more in need of his warm licks, soft fur and wiggly tail than us.

We do realize that no matter if we found a dog exactly the same color, same breed, etc. there will never be the same dog as the one we lost this week. We can only hope and pray that our hearts will begin beating soon, with the power of unconditional love that only a four legged member of the family can give.

My husband did say that he will continue the search to find the exact same dog as the one we buried, yesterday. He and I both know that it would be impossible to duplicate our sweet boy, but as fresh as the pain is, he is allowed his fantasy. Whatever it takes to get through the days and nights right now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


There are minor miracles everyday and I am asking for one, now. The report from the vet this morning is that the vomitting continued all night. When I asked what he could be still vomitting, I was told it must be from the IV, which he needs to survive.

After a quick shower, I am going to see him and hold him. If my tears were medicinal, he would be so strong and well. It's breaking my heart, knowing what decision is facing us soon.

I can't write anymore.

Just send your leftover miracles to him and help him to be well.

thanks. ferret

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Since our little guy has been at the vet's there's a different energy in our home. I catch myself waiting for him to come in and wake me in the morning (a regular event.) My husband and he are usually up much sooner than me and at a precise time the two fuzzy headed boys come in my bed for a quick snuggle. It takes the two of them and the promise of a hot cup of coffee to get my day off to a great start. I still am awaken by my hubby and the coffee, but the joy of rising is missing. No one can show such excitement over daily routines as much as my little four-legged furry friend.

Ever alert, the crinkle of a food wrapper can cause him to suddenly appear, his black shoe button eyes tracking your every move. Peel a banana, cut up fresh vegetables or even uncap the toothpaste tube and you would have a little companion.(Needless to say, from now on No Human Food will ever cross his smiling lips, again. That pact has already been signed, sealed and delivered by both my soft-touch hubby and myself.)

So, obviously, this week, all of our daily tasks haven't had the attention of our little shadow and he is so dearly missed. We are anxiously awaiting the latest report from the doctor's office, tomorrow. Hopefully, by mid-week, we should have him home. We don't want to even consider the alternative.

Keep the good thoughts and well wishes sending his way and I will keep you all updated.

Friday, April 9, 2010


When I look at these pictures of my dog relaxing at home, I can hardly keep my heart beating because I feel so guilty. At this time he is fighting a fierce battle to stay alive. On Tuesday I was cooking and gave him the ham bone and with that simple act our whole world turned upside down. Even though I was keeping an eye on him, he managed to get the gristle stuck in his throat. My fingers were almost behind the piece of pork in his throat when his jaws' pressure caused me to flinch. He managed to swallow the pork; I called the vet and quickly got him into town.

Trying to remain calm and reassuring at the same time made the twenty minute journey seem endless. Once at the vet's office, the girls reassured me that it would be okay, but still my tears flowed.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot, my husband arrived and I filled in the details left out of the previous quick call to meet me there. He accompanied me back into the office and the vet came out and explained that we'd be surprised in what dogs were able to ingest and still expel. Still I felt guilty, because I had willingly handed him the bone. Travis (our friend and vet) smiled and said, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I once almost killed my daughter because I gave her a whole grape." Strangely, somehow that story did relieve me of some guilt.

Each day we waited for "and this too shall pass". Unfortunately, yesterday surgery was deemed necessary as no food could be consumed and kept down. Post surgery report was mixed. The gristle wasn't that large, but it was removed. More importantly was the irritation of the gut. It seems that our precious pooch is now having to recover from Pancreatitis; which in itself can be lethal. Report this morning is that our pooch can't hold down anything yet, but he is on IVs for nourishment. He's alert and responsive. It truly is a "touch and go" situation at this point. He is our little guy and I hurt, because he's struggling to get better.

For those of you who don't understand that a pet is more than a companion who eats, sleeps and lives with you; I can't explain the bond we have. He is ornery, gets in the trash, snuggles on his own schedule and pouts when denied car rides. On the other hand, when our Grandlove is here, he is attentive, kind and patient. When I had surgery, he was gentle and quiet with his presence. At the end of a long, stressful business day, he is ready for a stare down as you enter his domain. His belly and underarms are always ready for a gentle scratch. Brushing and trimming his long hair is soothing to him as well as the person lucky enough to be holding the brush. His grunts of approval are his payments when you've found the right spot with the brush after his weekly bath. Deep, black pools of black shine with love as he looks to you for attention.

He is more than a pet; he is the owner of our love and devotion.

Monday, April 5, 2010


While we were taking a long road trip to spend some precious time with great friends, nature illustrated our path with rolling fields of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and coordinating blooms. Traveling over the winding hills, it became evident why "Texas Hill Country" has earned its reputation of THE PLACE to live or at least visit. It didn't matter how rocky, cactus-laden, or isolated the land, quilts of red, blue, yellow and white flowers covered the craggy hills. What a wonderful addition to our trip these flowery blankets provided.

Our journey took us to our friends' beautiful home, which has a scenic walkway to get us closer to the waterfall in the nearby creek. Sitting on the deck, we talked about pets, children, grandchildren, work, retirement, nature and many other wonderful topics. What didn't deserve much conversation was the reality of the merciless tentacles of cancer which has begun its final strangling hold. Cancer has been fought back for a few years and yet this time the relentless hold has been ruthless and relentless. Cancer markers are indicating that this might be the final treatment cycle.

When I looked at our friends, I saw the everlasting love between the two and the desperation that is barely under the surface. During lunch, quick, tender touches were unconsciously exchanged. Our friend's energy was non-existent and yet she insisted that she was up for company. Lunch for her was quiet and consisted of a couple bites of soup. She didn't want to be a drag on our visit, but yet we could tell that pushing through the visit was draining on her.

After lunch, we drove around the hills and marveled at the architectural marvels clinging to the sides of the cliffs. Returning to their home, the two guys went for a walk around their land and had a discussion concerning the obvious near future. Tough talk for two guys who have centers of love, compassion and loyalty. While they were gone, we enjoyed the soft breezes; discussed family matters, chemo treatments; cancer markers ("mine haven't been too good lately"); and brave fronts of those we love. Never did we discuss what will happen when the monster's hold can't be fought back any longer. I fear that it won't be much longer and I am angry that such a wonderful, humorous, intelligent, kind, giving person should have been turned into a frail, weak, pale, stubble-headed, dull-eyed ghost of her former self.

Hugs and promises of quick returns sent us off down the hills. We hadn't made it to the main road before tears of sorrow crept out from under my sunglasses. My heart was heavy as my husband and I discussed our roles in helping our friends journey through this part of life.

Questions ricocheted throughout the car concerning God turning a deaf ear on the prayers sent for healing. Why would God not heal this remarkable woman and ease this family's pain? If God is all powerful, why won't God bring this fantastic woman back from the precipice of death?

All questions for which we had no answers, so we just know that when we are needed, we will be there at our friends' beck and call.


One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it's expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

My stepdad's mom died when he was a baby and his father literally farmed him out to people to help with the farm chores. Formal education was considered too time
consuming after third grade, therefore my step father was made to work full time. Can you imagine a nine year old made to work rather than go to school? He was provided the barest of necessities in the way of food and clothing. Boots or shoes were too expensive and weren't provided for this motherless waif.

He slept in the barn with the animals and in order to keep his feet from freezing, he would walk behind the cows in the pastures and warm his feet in warm puddles of cow urine. Ohio had bitterly cold winters and not having proper outdoor clothing was just the life given to my stepdad. Never enough to eat, lack of warm clothes and most importantly no one to comfort him shaped his view of the world.

When he was of age, my stepdad joined the Army and was quickly trained to operate a flamethrower. His job was to approach the caves where enemy soldiers had hidden and ignite the flames of death. His memories of the smell of scorched flesh never lessened or did the underlying soldier's guilt for carrying out orders that caused the horrible end to his sworn enemies.

Because the back part of a troop's landing boat (I don't know the formal word for this boat) didn't release, he had to crawl over the top. Perched on the top of the landing platform getting ready to jump to the beach, an enemy sniper shot him in the knee. Blowing out his knee brought him stateside and doctors removed his knee which put his leg in a permanent full extension. He was a young man, who had little formal education and now he would be physically disabled.

Some people would take this disability and give up, but not him. After further corrective surgery, he married my mom, started up an air conditioning business, moved us clear across the country for warmer weather and worked in many physically demanding careers throughout his life. He was a welder who helped build many steel structures in our town; the most complicated blue prints were easily read by him; he could repair what no one else could; he could make his grandchildren laugh; he valued education and made sure that his granddaughter completed her daily assignments before the television was watched. Hard work was valued by him and he helped our family when my husband couldn't find employment. My husband was grateful to have work and he earned every dollar working with my stepdad. My stepdad didn't suffer fools and he was a hard task master, but knowing his history how could he be any other way?

Work and you can survive.

Comfort? Don't expect any and appreciate what you find, where ever you find it.

I will say that it wasn't easy growing up in a household run by my stepdad. He didn't talk about his past and I don't really know if it would have made a difference to a young girl. He numbed his horrific memories with alcohol and that made life uncertain for me.

As a parent, I do understand what was done to him was horrible and the only thing that matters now is that he was a fantastic Papa to my daughter. When he felt safe that I would love him back, without judgement, he began to express his affection. I think that he was afraid he was unlovable and when he began to feel uncomplicated love then he began to respond in kind.

I am so glad that he was in my life for so long. He is missed and appreciated every day by my family.

Rest well and know that you were loved by us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A BULLY'S STORY: You can't make this stuff up

As I was researching bullying and how it felt to be a bully, I came across this blog and it blew me away. It's gritty, honest and heartfelt. I do have the link and I will warn you that some of her language in her other blogs is very "colorful."

Love, Shame, and the Human Pecking Order
January 18th, 2007.
I have often been criticized for portraying myself as ‘too perfect’ on this website despite my constant assurances that I’m anything but. This morning it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps people were having a hard time suspending their disbelief because I have very rarely discussed my mistakes in this medium. So today, we are going to talk about my mistakes.

During my sophomore year of high school, I elected to be a library aid. I have always been an avid reader and hanging out in the library as opposed to study hall seemed vastly more entertaining.

Library aids in my school were generally chosen in pairs and my partner in crime was an upperclassman named John. After a few months of carefully whispered conversations as we meandered through the rows of shelves putting away books, John developed a little crush on me.

John was a tall, skinny guy with the pasty white skin. His pants were always a bit too short and his hair was always a bit too long. He donned a pair of the thickest eyeglasses I had ever seen which made him appear faintly owlish. His voice was a little on the nasally side and he sometimes hiccupped when he laughed. In other words, John was a textbook geek.

Back in high school, I had no problems befriending a geek. However, I was not particularly interested in them sexually. Obnoxious class clowns or quiet introspective artist types were more to my liking back then. To say that I did not consider John to be boyfriend material would have been an understatement.

Still, I did not discourage his crush.

I wish I could explain to men the reasons why women lead them on. The philosophies and rationalizations make perfect sense in my head, but I have a hard time articulating them in type. I guess all I can say is that if a magic fairy swooped down in front of any high school girl and offered to make every single boy in the school fall in love with her, she would likely feel like she had died and gone to heaven. Keep in mind that said girl is likely only interested in one particular the boy. But the idea that all boys might worship her? All boys might constantly shower her with attention? Boys might become like little chocolates that she can choose and consume at will? Well, my friends, that is a scenario that very few women could resist. Generally, women are greedy when it comes to attention and they simultaneously intensely fear rejection.

But, back to John and me.

I continued to laugh at all of John’s jokes and I would periodically punch him playfully in the arm thinking that nothing harmful would ever come of it. Unfortunately, John interpreted all of my signals correctly and began pursuing me more aggressively. Cue the flowers and the poems and the invites for movies which I had to frantically make up excuses not to attend. Cue the sexual innuendos and the arm casually draped over my shoulder. Cue the rumors that John and I were dating.

I had lost complete control of the situation.

Realizing finally that I had gotten in over my head, I awkwardly tried to let John down easy. I refused his gifts. I gave him the ‘lets just be friends’ speech. I made positive comments about other men and would discuss my latest crush loudly and within his earshot. I even outright started avoiding him. But, by this point, John was a runaway train and nothing I did was deterring him.

My friends, vicious harpies that they were, started teasing me. Jokes about when I was going to take the poor boys virginity amidst cackling evil laughter became the norm. After awhile, I started to blame John for all of these problems. I mean, why didn’t he realize that I was totally out of his league?

Did you feel a little dirty reading that last sentence? Well, I felt dirty typing it. But I must warn you, it only gets uglier.

One day, John presented me with a gift that cost him a fair chunk of change for a high school kid. It was a heart shaped pendant, encrusted with diamonds, on a gold chain. When he gave it to me, he smiled his big goofy smile and told me that he had been saving for a few months now to buy it for me. It was at this precise instant that I. Just. Snapped.

I tossed the necklace aside and angrily informed John that I didn’t want it. I told him that I hated him and if we were the last two people on the planet, I would never date him. I called him a loser, a wimp, and a social retard. His face crumpled as I viciously emasculated him, but I couldn’t stop myself. I was fueled by anger and resentment and guilt and embarrassment. Finally, John weakly tried to defend himself and he whispered hoarsely that I was a bitch. Furious, I called him a dork and stormed out of the library, my cheeks hot with rage.

Oh, we’re not done here yet! Stick with me; it’s going to get uglier!

I sought out my friends and recounted, with sudden remorse, how I broke John’s spirit. I thought that they would be disgusted by my cruelty, but they only laughed and egged me on. They thought my parting insult, DORK, was the epitome of comedy and humor. From that point on, whenever we saw John in the halls, we’d scream at him and taunt him and oh so nastily remind him that he was a DORK. This went on for weeks.

Whenever I look back on all of this, I remember John’s face. I remember the look of dread that reflected in his eyes when he turned the corner and realized that we were there. I remember the way my own voice sounded, merciless and cruel, and I remember how our mocking laughter echoed in the halls. Most of all, I remember how I couldn’t resist myself and how I gleefully let something nasty and hateful in me take over simply because I couldn’t face my own mistakes and inadequacies.

In the midst of this, John wrote me a letter. In it, he told me he once thought I was beautiful and smart. He said that he was initially attracted to my sweetness and my sense of humor. He said that now that he’s gotten to know me better, he could plainly see that he had made a mistake. He said that my behavior made me ugly and he wanted nothing to do with me ever again. He asked that I please leave him alone.

During lunch, I read the letter to my friends. We all laughed and chortled and picked on all of his spelling mistakes and grammar errors. My friends asked me how it felt to have my very first stalker and I made some silly little joke about sleeping with a baseball bat from now on.

But inside? Inside, I felt the deepest shame.

That boy thought I was beautiful, so I emasculated him. That boy thought I was smart, so I degraded him. That boy thought I was sweet and funny and kind, so I humiliated him in front of large groups of people. That boy’s only mistake was that he was kind to me and I responded by making him regret it.

Me, who always prided herself on being an individual and doing the right thing, succumbed to vicious pack mentality and outright cruelty. I wondered to myself, what is it about humans where we always feel the need to establish a pecking order? What right did I have to determine that John was out of my league in the first place? What was missing in me that caused me to feel better about myself by degrading someone else? What kind of person was I that I could reward someone’s kindness by spitting in his face? I felt that if my father were alive to see what I had done, he would have turned his back on me.

I look around the world today and it hasn’t changed much. Even on the Internet, there is this intellectual snobbery prevalent that makes me wonder if our species will ever progress. Just the other day, I was reading a website were the webmaster had received letter from a fan. The kid in the letter had nothing but good things to say about the website and he complimented the writing and the author profusely. The webmaster posted this letter on his message board and all the little jackals that posted there promptly commenced with the abuse. They very publicly tore that letter apart making fun of everything from his name to where he chose to insert his commas. Obviously, they felt that they were far superior to that kid. And maybe they were. But does superiority give someone the right to be hateful to those who try to be kind?

I’m afraid I don’t know all the answers.

But what I do know is that while I write this, John’s letter to me is sitting a few inches from my keyboard. I have kept it all of these years. I did not keep it because I wanted to continue to mock him or show it to more of my harpy friends.

I kept it because it hurt me to read it. I keep it as a reminder that someone out there once thought I was smart and beautiful, but my behavior changed his mind. When I’m feeling really low about the direction of my life, I read it and I think to myself that it took a boy that I abused to reveal to me my innate character flaws. When I put it down, I make a silent vow to show kindness to those who show me kindness. Sometimes I fail others and in doing so, I fail myself. I suspect that throughout my life, there will be many more failures. But I keep John’s letter in the hope that that incident in my life will remain my deepest shame and that I will never stoop any lower.

My greatest fear is that John’s dry observations about my character still holds true today.


How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

~ George Washington Carver

In the headlines/news lately there seems to be a new wave of kids committing suicide as an answer to the bullying treatment they have been enduring. Suicide is so shocking and devastating to those left behind. Families sometimes never truly recover from the loss of a loved one through this frantic solution. What is even more shocking is that sometimes after the death of a young person, peers are texting each other with congratulatory "Job well done" messages. How sick are some people?

Growing up as a child with "issues at home" I was an easy target for the mean, hateful talk delivered by the popular girls. Fortunately, this was before cell phones, texting, email and all the other quick communication devices. It was bad enough to endure the looks, sneers, giggles behind hands and the occasional passed note in class.

What did I do to deserve the wrath of the bullies, you might wonder? Well, I didn't have the latest clothes; my last name was different from my mom's; and my mom cleaned their families homes. So, essentially, there was nothing I could change in order to not be a target. I did find that as long as I had a few close friends and I didn't allow the taunts to register on my face, the girls would eventually ignore me. Not existing in their sphere of popular girls was much better than ever being in their vicious spotlight.

Graduating from high school and going away to college was the solution for the small town, inbred, hoity-toity girls who tried to make my life miserable. Amazingly, some of those mean, popular girls are now on their second marriages. Wonder how they felt when their children were teased because the last names in the family didn't match? Of course, in this day and time, last names not matching in the family is almost expected.

So, when I read of a child who has been bullied to death and then comments that say to fight back or this is a nation of wussiness I realize that our society truly hasn't come very far, after all. There will always be the weaker (by society's standards) but that doesn't give anyone the right to pick, pick, pick until the bully feels superior.

Kindness is the only way that we can change this mindset from destructive into constructive. How difficult is it to teach children to be kind? Maybe we should start with commentors on The Victoria Advocate who pick, attack, retreat, repeat, etc.

Friday, April 2, 2010


There were many things that I learned to appreciate from my mom. She was generous with herself; a hard worker; dedicated to her family; adventurous; and loyal to her friends. I not only admired these qualities, but I tried to make them my own. On the other hand there were a few areas of my mom that I never could quite grasp.

My mom was always very conservative when it came to spending money, as most of the people who survived the Great Depression are. With that in mind, or maybe because of that period of never having enough there were quirky things my mom did. She always washed and reused plastic bags, both the Ziploc and grocery kinds. Below her kitchen sink was an assortment of cleaned glass jars that she might "need" someday. She never met a store-package container that she couldn't reuse for some other purpose. Nothing was wasted with her when it came to food, clothing, or containers. This was just the way she was; waste not, want not.

Understanding how frugal she was might lead to a surprise if you saw her around Bingo Halls or Casinos. I went to play Bingo with her one time and found the whole experience confusing, frustrating and too challenging to keep up with all the scattered numbers. Finally, I slide her over my cards to finish the rest of the games and sat back to watch her in her element. It was amazing that at the close of the games she didn't even care that she hadn't won, she'd had a great time. She loved the challenge of keeping up with the caller and the cards in front of her. That woman's face would light up and a new energy enveloped her being.

We were taking a long road trip one time and her energy was waning, until we stopped at a casino to take a break. Before I could exit the car and help my "feeble" mom out of the backseat, she was nearly at the casino door. My husband and I could barely keep up with her. Putting the quarters in and pulling the handle melted the worries and age right off her. This was when I realized the simple joy my mom found in those one-armed bandits.

Right now, I am smiling remembering how I would pull up before dawn to her apartment and she would be waiting dressed in her "lucky" shirt with pockets to hold her playing money, fanny pack, sun hat, and a cooler packed with our traveling food. When you traveled with my mom, you were packed and prepared for anything and everything. Cold sodas, water (in those saved glass bottles), pretzels, sandwiches, homemade cookies, and other travel comfort foods were loaded and dispensed at whatever time we wanted them.

My mom and I took many trips to the casinos, so that she could stay up all night, play the slots, grab a couple hours of sleep, and give it another try on her "lucky machine" the next day.

During our trips home, she would entertain me with details of how close she had come to the big jackpot, how the person next to her had done, or on a rare occasion how she would spend her winnings once we got home. My huge jackpot was being able to spend time with her away from the everyday tedious duties and troubles.

Another thing that my mom loved, but sadly I didn't ever acquire a taste for was a seasonal treat. PEEPS intrigued me and my mom said she loved their texture, taste and colors. Every year I would try them and be disappointed. The gritty texture and overly sweetness were not to my liking. Peeps would remain an area that my mom and I had could never come to agreement. She loved them and could devour an entire pack in one sitting, while I would hand her over the ones in my Easter basket. She didn't seem to mind, at all.

I have come to the realization that I could adore my mom forever, while at the same time not adore all that made her smile. As long as I live, I won't be able to see a bingo card, slot machine or a simple PEEPS treat without thinking of my mom. Nice, sweet memories of a great lady.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Some Easter memories are as fresh as if they happend last year, instead of over fifty years ago.

Our family would leave out carrots for the Easter Bunny (it never occurred to me why we always had cooked carrots with our Easter dinner.) After eating the feast of carrots, the Easter Bunny would hide our baskets some place in the house. Easter morning we would scurry around looking for the baskets overflowing with Peeps, dyed chicken eggs, a chocolate (mine was white) bunny and a stuffed animal. Before our candy would be eaten, we would get dressed for church, pose for the Brownie camera picture and go to church.

Where we lived, Easter was usually a cold day, tinged with the tease of Springtime weather. You can tell by looking at the pictures of my family all dressed up and stiffly posed that I am cold, even dressed in a fancy dress, matching coat and frilly hat. My bare legs are wrapped around each other for warmth and in some pictures my pose resembles one of a stork, with one leg tucked up close to my coat for warmth.

I remember the smell that greeted me upon entering the church. Hot candle wax mingled with the strong smell of Easter Lilies welcomed me and the other well-groomed families on Easter morning. Rustling of petticoats; squirmy boys in pressed pants, starched shirts and hand-tied bow ties; creaking wooden pews; clearing of throats; soft crackling of spearmint gum papers; and gentle shushing of attentive parents served as the warm-up for the choir's robust songs of the Season. Restlessness was eased by the Message of Hope that was delivered and received by the adults. Children were too busy mentally ravaging the waiting treats in their baskets at home to pay much attention to the sermon.

After church we would join other family members for the feast of all feast. Ham, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, peas, baked carrots, and the other many side dishes were devoured while enjoying the company of cousins, aunts and uncles. We always had many for dinner, which meant plenty of playmates for after dinner.

To this day, the smell of Easter Lillies remind me of Easter and all of its promises. I suppose that is why at funerals, the smell of Easter Lillies is comforting, since they reassure me of the promise of eternal life. Some people don't like Easter Lillies, because they associate them with funerals, but I suppose it's a matter of perspective. I am reminded that someday I will be reunited with all who have gone before me and my Heavenly Father. What a sweet fragrance that can give me so much peace and hope.