Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Detour In Her Journey

Our journey takes us down many different types of roads. Some smooth and level, others twisting or rocky. Up hills, down steep grades. Wide and narrow. At times we will come across detours we had not expected or planned for and our course will be changed forever. This is such a tale; a detour that lead to a rough, near impassable path or perhaps the path was so difficult because the detour signs were misread or just ignored. As I am unsure I will let you, the reader, decide and hopefully give me your insight.

If just one word is allowed to describe her I would choose “sunshine”. She has an abundance of bright copper curls, deep horizon blue eyes, and fair skin. For good measure the angels dusted her nose and cheeks with a fine sprinkle of golden freckles. The shape and structure of her face would have inspired Raphael and Vermeer to start grinding and mixing colors, with the hopes of not only capturing her image, but also the essence of who she is, for sunshine not only fits her physical appearance but also her spirit. She is sentimental and caring, lighthearted and quick to laugh, tender-hearted and loving so is easily brought to tears as well. I love her dearly and unconditionally so this is a painful endeavor but one I have needed to do for quite sometime. I will try my best to be unbiased and honest in this telling.

Little sunshine girl grew up in our small town. Like way too many children in today’s world she was raised for the most part by a single mom. Her father, who will be referred to as the “jerk” did a disappearing act when she was six months old and did not rear his head again until she was graduating from high-school. She treated him with kindness, no retribution, but did not embrace nor extend the opportunity for him to become a part of her life. Her mom is a responsible lady that worked hard and did well at making a life for her and her child.

The first dark period of their lives occurred when Sunshine was around five. That’s when mom met the ” charming snake”. He was a relative of long time friends and was really charming. He wooed with aplomb and soon won moms heart. After marriage the honeymoon was short-lived. It is a familiar story, first comes the degrading of her confidence, the manipulation of emotions and thought , the physiological abuse of both mom and daughter. Then the physical abuse started. It was a two-year nightmare for them, but with the help of family and friends and her own strength mom broke free. The Snake went to prison (not long enough for the harm he had done) and Sunshine and mom began their healing with therapy and lots of love and support.

Life became normal, and  Sunshine appeared to be that happy laughing child we all knew once again. She enjoyed school, played softball in the summer, learned to cook and do chores around the house. There were lots of giggling little girls bouncing around the house and pets of course. She could be stubborn so had her share of grounding and time outs, but was over all a good kid.

When Sunshine was on the cusp of becoming a teen-ager they caught a break and “good-guy” came into their lives. As would be expected Sunshine was less than enthused with mom seriously dating. Good guy was patient and understanding so before long her resentment evolved into acceptance and then into fondness. In an act of   courage good guy married this strong, independent woman with a thirteen year old daughter. Mom and good guy had a baby boy two years later so Sunshine became a big sister. She was delighted! She was given the choice and eagerly accepted being officially adopted by good guy, voicing that now she had a “real Dad”.

Through high-school Sunshine also worked part-time at a local fast food eatery. She paid for her first car and the insurance and kept up with above average grades. This was a requirement of her parents if she wanted to keep her job. She wasn’t always an angel, broke curfew, sometimes argued about rules, didn’t keep her room clean enough for mom, the typical teen-ager stuff.

By her senior year she had decided on a career path and took nurses assistance classes along with her regular classes. Her plan was to get her CNA licence and work while going to school to become a RN. All sounds great, right? Here is where I will struggle not to sound bais. For she was about to derail big time.

The year before Sunshine had met “slick” , wait maybe that’s not quite fair,umm you decide. O.k. at first. he was just a young man who was a little to taken with himself. But soon a pattern began to develop. they would argue , break-up, tears and misery on Sunshine part, then they’d get back together. He was a user, she “loaned” him money regularly, paid for dates because he had car payment, insurance, helped his mom, etc.etc. He was a cheater. And she was in misery most of the time. Her friends were all telling her to get rid of him, mom and dad were telling her the same, and finally forbid her to see him. But love or what passes for love to the tender heart of a young girl, trumps all. So she ignored the advice and disobeyed the rule and continued to see him on the sly.

Two weeks before her graduation her grandfather, who she called Papa became very ill. Between finial classes and shifts at work she spent all her spare moments at the hospital putting what she had learned in her CNA classes to use comforting and helping to care for her Papa. Four days before her grad ceremony he passed away, this man who had always been there for her. He had been her harbor through many storms in her life. She was devastated and didn’t want to attend the grad but we all encouraged her to not miss it, so the night before her Papas’ memorial service Sunshine attached a picture of him to the top of her mortar board put on her robe and a smile and marched with the rest of her class to receive her diploma on a warm evening in May.

In the fall she enrolled at our local community college and continued at the fast food job while waiting for her NA certification to come through. Slick had moved to the city but was still in her life. In February she had her nineteenth birthday. Slick made a date to take her to dinner and a movie. She lied to her parents and said she was going with some friends. He arrived with another young man she had never met and was not happy about having a third wheel on their date but acquiesce to slick as usual. And oh by the way says slick, they have a baggie of pot and does she know anyone who might buy it because he has etc., etc….he needs money for. Now here is were poor little sunshine becomes poor pitiful stupid. She talks to guy friend who likes weed and yup he’d purchase but has no money so she is persuaded by slick and buyer to loan friend the money. I can’t answer the obvious question of why she didn’t just loan slick the money and not get involved with the drug business. So after visiting the ATM the deal is made and they go to dinner but during the movie she begins to worry about her expenses and says they have to undo the deal because she needs her money back. After a call to the buyer they drive to his house to get the pot. She goes in while slick and other guy wait in the car. When they weigh the baggie they say it’s not all there and still parked in front of house call the friend and start arguing about it. Again I can’t answer why they don’t just take money from Sunshine to cover the small amount that’s missing but…..that is when it became a nightmare that shattered dozens of lives.

The argument escalates on the phone. The unknown young man produces a gun and fires out the window, emptying the clip in the direction of the house.  Sunshines’ four friends in the house dive for cover but not before one young man receives a fatal wound. A couple of hours later she and slick are arrested at her home and the shooter who has gone back to the city is picked up there.

The family of the murdered boy are the most shattered, their hearts are forever broken for nothing can undo that lose. I can not imagine their pain and can only weep and pray for them. The victim was a nice young man I had met several times and a good friend of Sunshines’. His story may need to be told but I do not know it well enough to say more.

The wheels of justice move exceedingly slow. There are multiple hearings spaced weeks apart. Her charges are changed three times , after two grand juries. Her parents and I visit weekly, as she awaits her fate in the county jail. That fate lays in the hands of God and lawyers. I don’t want to belabor about the legal process, it is what it is. After fourteen months we come to the day when a plea on her final amended charges will be entered. In the now familiar courtroom I watch as my five-foot four, hundred and fifteen pound grand-daughter, in an orange jumpsuit with shackles around her wrists and ankles connected by chains to a thick leather belt around her waist, stands trembling before the judges’ bench and pleads guilty, making no excuses, owning her part in the tragedy. She listens to the victim statements from her friends family and to the character testimony from her parents, employer, and friends. And then at last comes the sentence, her fate, her near future at last becomes known. She does not collapse but continues to tremble , as it is read. Eight years flat time with two more years parole when released. So thus begins the next phase.

We continue to visit. It’s a two-hour drive to the women state prison. Over time we have split our visits so she has someone almost every week but we don’t each have to go every week. She looks about the same. Styles her coppers curls in different ways, though always pulled back as the rules require. Still quick to laugh, still softhearted and loving. Mourns for her dead friend and is sorrowful for what she has put her family through. She has taken college course when available because her parents are willing and able to pay for them. She has worked a wide range of jobs, landscaping, laundry, warehouse, telephone for MVD, just to list a few. She was so excited to show us her licence to operate a fork lift. Fourteen more months to go. She’s excited and fearful. I am excited and fearful for her. We will never know who she would have become if this all had not happened. What lays ahead is up to her, but think about the eight years between your nineteenth birthday and the year you became twenty-seven. Over whelming! So this is the story so far of my “sunshine” girl. Hope this isn’t too long, Don’t know how to shorten it. All comments welcome, good or bad.

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More Small Town Living

The street I live on is a short dead-end, so more than ten or so cars passing by in a day would constitute a traffic jam. I described in my earlier small town post the scene one encounters when traveling to the corner and preceding down Main St.  Most often when walking my hound I go the opposite direction. The street terminates at an irrigation ditch. irrigations ditches are common in the south-west desert areas of the U.S. There is evidence of such watering systems being built by early native cultures to supply water to their cultivated crops because of our scanty rain fall. The ditch at the end of my streets draws water from the river that runs through our little town and carries it to areas that at one time were all small farms but is now partly more populated with homes.

There is a sturdy walk bridge across the ten foot wide ditch and a path that leads to an open field. I’m not good a estimating the size of a tract of land but this public space is quite large. The field is unobstructed to the north and ends at a high earthen dam along the rivers’ edge . The dam was built for flood control, oh yes, in spite of our arid climate there are times when nature dumps a years worth of rain in thirty-six hours, then our lazy little river becomes a raging beast that escapes its’ banks and wreaks havoc.

Hound loves this place. There are so many smells to track, so with nose to the ground she picks up our pace. I let her follow what ever scent appeals to her for I respect that she was born to this activity. So we pretend to be on the trail of some mighty creature before returning to the path. We stroll a short distance before reaching the fenced in community garden . It is available for all to use, with rules posted on the gates. Here are neat plots of turned earth, growing beds built up with railroad ties and round planters . We often encounter a few intrepid folk working in the veggie patches and stop to speak with them ( allowing for hound to bask in their admiration). Next our trek brings us to the dog park. Here we make another stop as hound watches the other canines with tentative interest. I don’t take her inside the fenced area because she is timid with other dogs and I really feel she prefers to observe from a distance.

Beyond the dog park is a complex of baseball fields, four in all , where all spring and summer the kids of the community play Little League . I can hear the crack of the balls against aluminum bats and the cheers of the crowds floating on the warm air from my porch during these seasons. Remembering it now makes me think of lemonade and marigolds.

We cross the parking lot and then a side street to the soccer field and the skate board park, where we pause to marvel at the talent and courage of the young kids on their boards when there are any enjoying this activity. Beyond this is a larger park with playground equipment, cabana covered picnic tables and sandy volleyball courts. Families use the park for childrens’ birthday parties. Young mothers bring pre-schoolers here for playdates. In nice weather church groups put on picnics to feed anyone in need. On week day mornings it is usually being put to limited use but never completely empty. The area as a whole has a peaceful, safe feel. A step back in time, Norman Rockwell type ambiance. One more reason I love small town living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mondays Can Be Great

Mondays are greatly maligned, and often rightly so. I have had my share of them that fit the  stereotype that cause them to be the most dreaded day of our weeks. However there are Mondays like today, a bright golden bit of pure perfection. I hope your Monday was at least o.k., if not I hope my little story can bring a smile or two.

I tend my ten-year old grandson when his parents are working. I started this labor of love when he was six months old. At that time I had two part-time jobs which I was very willing to abandon. What a marvelous adventure it has proved to be. I call him Super G-son.

Super-Gs’ parent divorced a few years ago. They share custody, so he’s one week at moms’ , next at dads’. My ex son-in-law and I remained friends so I have continued my nanny duties at both homes. Works well for all.

Super-Gs’ dad works for a broadcasting company that has several radio stations in the central region of our state. His company is very involved in community service in all the small towns they reach. Today was the turkey drive for the up-coming Thanksgiving holiday. So dad was at one of the several locations doing remote cast to encourage donations, which meant he got home several hours later than usual.

I picked Super-G up from school at 3:00 and we went to dads’. We had a free afternoon ahead of us, as football season is over and his basketball team hasn’t started having practices yet. This is an unusual treat for both of us. He is a very busy kid, sports,chess and computer club and various other activities keep us on the go. Nice to have some unstructured time.

First surprise was his excited reaction to a sewing kit I had bought for he and his dad. They live in a  typical  men only household and it has been an ongoing routine if they lose a button or have a small tear in a garment to ask me to bring my sewing basket next time I come over. So when I saw the little travel sewing kits on a bargain table I got one for them. First thing Super-G  asked if he could cut a hole in his shirt so he could mend it. With a gasp I made it very clear that he was not to do that. So he searched through his closet until he found a shirt with a small seam rip and was quite pleased with fixing it. Next he informed me that dad had given him permission to fix dinner for me. First came homework and some video game time. Then he got busy in the kitchen. They had chicken breast already stuffed with cheese and breaded in the fridge. He started getting other ingredients out as well as pots and pans. I was fluttering around, intending to supervise and well, maybe help a little. But Super-G most politely ordered me out of the kitchen. I nervously listened from the next room to the clank of spoons against pots, water being turned on and off, the fridge and oven doors opening and closing. Have to confess I peeked around the doorway a few times. And ala, about sixty minutes later I was served angel hair pasta with garden veggie sauce and parmesan chicken and a glass of Dr. Pepper. It was delicious! So that was my Monday. When I left for home, dad was eating a late dinner of leftovers and Super-G was mending a pair of dads’ old jeans that had a torn pocket. Perfect!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Searching for Answers

My husband really enjoyed cold beer. He would usually have one or two every evening before dinner. I have never cared for the taste of it  but didn’t mind if he downed a few. But on occasion we could have a slight difference of opinion on his inflexibility.

One evening when we had dinner plans with friends, hubby comes home and as usual goes straight to the fridge and pops the top on a can before planting a hello kiss on my cheek. I’m o.k. with this. I’m really pretty easy-going and low maintenance (most of the time). We chat about our day and I remind him of the dinner plans. He finishes his beer , then heads for the fridge. I say,

“Uh, we are suppose to meet them at seven.”

He sits the unopened can on the counter, picks up his empty and peers into the hole in the top. Then giving me a boyish grin, opens the fresh beer and sits down at the kitchen table once more.

“What’s that about?” I ask with a frown on my face and in my voice.

He gives me the grin again,and says,

“Just looking for the answer. Wasn’t in the bottom of that one.” and tips the new can to his lips.

“You’re an idiot” I exclaim,feeling really irritated as I glance at the wall clock.

“But when I find the answer then I won’t be an idiot any more” he chuckles and winks.

I state the obvious, ” It’s six o;clock”.

His grin grows bigger, as if to say wow you’ve found the answer, then another wink.

Darn, I’m done in by his charm. But two can play this game! I flutter my lashes and perch on his knee. Snuggling against his face I whisper,

” I thought I was your answer.”

He stares into my eyes for a heart beat , then we both start to laugh. I scoot off his lap , he hands me the half finished beer,  slaps my bottom and heads for the shower.

If you read my first post you know I was married to this man forty-five years. Did we disagree and argue at times? Sure. Did they always resolve themselves this easily? Course not. But most did, so we where able to come through the harder times because we both knew we could laugh away the little stuff and that the bigger things didn’t have to be the end of our world if we refused to let them be. I think it came down to our friendship, faith, and love for one another. He continued to peek into empty beer cans but I know he had ” the answer” all along.

 

 

 

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Sweet Dreams

I’ve read much on the subject of dreams . The theories of Sigmond and the like, which usually focus on disturbing conjecture about parent and child relationships. They don’t address those of us who have no issues of that type and yet dream . Then there are the interpretive manuals. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to get what they are trying to explain, for I find most of these to be confusing and sometimes contradicting. So being one who dreams frequently and whose dreams cover the gambit from scary nightmares, silly nonsense, pure entertainment ( like watching some inner DVD as there is no one I know in them), classic (like flying), happy ones that I hate waking from, sad ones when I wake with a damp pillow. I’ve even had some that I’ve thought, umm that was pointless and boring.

With some dreams it is clear what caused it , where it came from. Others not so much. If these are very riviting I may wrestle with trying to find a deeper meaning behind them. However as of late I have come to think of my dreams as a not fully conscience artist endeavor. They are the impressionist paintings of my reality, and can be enjoyed (maybe not the scary ones) without dissecting each brush stroke. I do not have to know how Degas captured the movement of the ballerinas or that special light on a young rounded cheek to know the paintings are beautiful enough to make me weep with wonder. So I dream of having a dozen or so kittens that I must keep safe and under control; of a charming Irishman that asks me to dance and when I hesitate tells me I must because it’s on my bucket list, (bucket list comes up quite often in my dreams, I just may complete it the lazy way while napping ) walking paths through a jungle with strangers, or watching my husband and mom sort out trophies and award plaques while telling me they are to busy to talk to me just now, and I know the meaning of “sweet dreams”.

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Rabbit Cats and Dogs

Continuing on the subject of my love of animals. We also had a white rabbit at one time. It  arrived unexpectedly on our door step one Easter morn as a gift for my daughter, who was 3 at the time. A surprise from a so called friend (don’t ever, ever do this type of thing to the parents of a young child unless you have no fear of spells and curses). Said daughter instantly fell in love with the little bit of white fluff, as did our poodle, Phoebe. I felt betrayed by the dog because I hoped she would be my way out of the fix, not by eating the bunny, but as an excuse not to keep it if she was ‘unhappy’. So Sneezy ( so named for the obvious reason) settled in as the newest member of the family. He was fairly easy to care for except for a problem with his teeth that required dental visits to the vet; I kid you not.

I have had a few cats and find them to be quite agreeable with their independent airs, but my heart is very taken with dogs. They are loyal, loving and completely accepting of our crazy human ways as long as they are treated with kindness and affection. I prefer not to examine my need to have a dog to nurture and love, after all I have 3 children and 2 grandchildren and have provided babysitting service to numerous other kiddos over the years. So one would think that my mothering instinct should be fulfilled. Maybe therapy is in order. (shrug).

I’ve had purebreds and mutts, large and small, smart and not so much so, each special in his or her own way. To tell the tale of each would take to long for this format, suffice to say they are all missed. Yet another reason to question the balance of my mind, we outlive our pets, so many good-byes (sigh). However here I am at 70 with my current canine kid. She is a red-bone hound ,beautiful auburn coat,long velvet ears and goofy personality. She makes me laugh….

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Duck Pony Snails and a Goat, Oh My!

O.K. I’ve never considered myself to be the brightest crayon in the box and there are some decisions that make me call my sanity into question. I’ve always been an animal lover. Not a bad thing you say, but wait til you hear my tale before you pass judgement. I’ve had many pets. A variety of members of the rodent family (this belongs in the insanity column) several types of birds, including a chicken and a duck, fish, turtles and when my kids were young a horse and a pony were part of our family. Most recently I had a group ( gaggle, herd, pride or whatever) of snails. Plain old garden variety, in fact my 10 year old grandson caught them in the garden. An amazing fact about snails is the amount of food they consume. Three small snails ate a medium dinner salad each day, they also grow quickly and were soon three very large snails. Another most definant listing for the insanity column was when I agreed to give a home to an unwanted goat. Soon learned why she was unwanted. She not only  taxed my patience but almost pushed my love of animals over a cliff. However since she generated hatred in everyone in my close circle of family and friends I felt duty bound to develop a lukewarm , begrudging like for her and tended to her needs. I was giddy with joy, when some months later someone took her off my hands and amazed I didn’t have to pay them booty. They say with age comes wisdom and from my meager supply comes this advice, never adopt a goat and if in a moment of complete mental shut down you do, don’t transport them in the back of your suv. Goat urine smells super nasty and is really, really hard to get rid of.

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