Parenting - Begins & Never Ends

A friend and I recently had a long in-depth conversation about being a parent and what it has come to mean to us. We discussed over tea what we have come to learn over time. If I were to elaborate, in writing, on some of our thoughts, it would be something like this:

Being a parent is not a title. It’s not being simply a sperm donor or producing an ovary. It is more than just applying band-aids to boo boos. Paying lip service to needs and wants of children does not qualify as taking care of a child, addressing reality. Being a parent is hard work with limitless rewards that cannot be quantified or qualified if you are fortunate enough to have a child that makes good choices with their life. Let’s face it, all children, all of us are born into this world and given the gift of free will. Even in the best of homes and with wonderful parents, some children go wayward and make bad choices. Some never get back on the right track. Being a parent is, when they do, trying many measures to turn things around. It also means, when a parent makes errors in judgments, seeking help needed to right a wrong, no matter what age a parent is to rectify the issue(s). Parents are not perfect either; God didn’t make them that way. Parents grow and learn much as their children do.

Having children entails an endless list of tasks, especially during those early growing years that seem to pile up with a life of their own. About the time a parent thinks they can’t possibly add one more thing to their weekly schedule, here comes another school project during a crowded week, an extra sports tournament over a holiday weekend they must attend, or a new club they decide to join. They even sometimes pick a brand new sport you are not familiar with and decide to give it a try. And then, lo and behold, they are short coaches, and without you volunteering, the team won’t have a coach! Being a parent is sometimes holding your hand up when it is the last thing you want to do! You then find yourself forced to keep your sense of humor in check and deal with unreasonable parents of children that are convinced you have future Olympians on your team.

Kids get sick requiring time off of work. Parenting is taking those days off of work instead of using those sick days for themselves. Leaving work early not to soak up the sun but to run kids to either soccer practice or for allergy shots. Children forget homework, forget gym clothes and forget lunch money all requiring a trip home from work and to the local school, but this is part of being a parent. And then there is the inopportune time they take suddenly ill and you have your annual review and/or meeting with your boss. Of all days, it would have to fall on this day!

Yes, being a parent is holding a child in your arms when their heart is breaking from school mates picking on them or a broken romance. Being a responsible parent is insisting homework is done, taking an active interest in what they are doing at school and how they are performing verses just assuming they are performing up to par. Supporting the need for a good education is as important as letting a child know they are loved. Maintaining discipline and teaching consequences is an important responsibility of a parent. It is a unique way to show love, though often does not come across to a child as sending that message! It prepares children for a world full of rules and regulations that they are expected to obey and if not taken seriously, they will be punished in one form or another. This lesson is essential for responsible parenting. Will your child or teenager thank you for this lesson? Probably not, but none the less, it is an invaluable one that needs to be taught.

Arguments will ensure over restrictions and punishments probably more than anything else in the home with children and parents. It is a part of being a parent and goes with the responsibility. As children grow older and learn about our founding fathers strive to develop a government built on democracy, children will demand that form of leadership in the home. Being a parent means saying no; explaining rules are made by those in charge. It means days will go by when your child will hate you. They are permitted to but they must do so with respect, and the parent will know this too shall pass. Even when they are adults, this cycle of love and hate could continue, in some relationships. There may be weeks, months or years in the extreme cases, where the communication is nonexistent. Yet some adult children and parents get along splendidly. Favor ability and popularity is not part of the equation for parents. So even when their adult children hate them, being a parent means accepting the silent treatment, the anger and the wall that is up until the adult child remembers the steadfast parent and lets it back down one day.

Parents are there to answer the tough questions; why is the sky blue? Why does God not answer every prayer? Why isn’t my daddy more involved in my life? Why did my mommy give me up? Why do bad things happen to good people? When they can’t come up with a satisfactory answer, moms and dads search for one.

Being a mom or dad is trying to meet the needs of your children if you can, sometimes with overwhelming obstacles. Sometimes it means giving up your pride and asking for help when you can’t and need assistance or searching for that aide. Having a child that may never walk, never talk, has lifelong health issues, may not live till adulthood, and entails a parent be a cheerleader for a cause. It requires a parent be informed, educated constantly to ensure good care and the voice of knowledge for their child and others in the community. These parents are the chosen ones that have a child that is destined to make a difference, truly, in the world by their very nature, their special need. They must raise their child to be stronger than others so that they can rise above and not be a prisoner of their misfortune.

Understanding why kids want name brand clothes and shoes, to fit in with their peers is important as a parent, even if you can’t provide it. Children need parents that will try to understand their world, in spite of the age differences, their voices need to be heard. Communication begins in the home. Kids prefer contacts at a certain age, over glasses, even if you longer do. Teenagers want to be dropped off on the far side of the parking lot, even on a cold day and to pretend they don’t know you in public even though you are proud to be their parent. This is part of the nature of being a parent.

Being a parent is being there, allowing children to grow, and being a stable support system. It means allowing them to make mistakes. It also means allowing yourself to make them as well. It is explaining to children no one is perfect and perfection is not the goal for anyone. This support, as they grow older, should turn more mutual in nature and less one sided. The bond should stay intact if not grow stronger, as the years go by. The memories live on forever and build, one on top of another, overflowing.

Being a parent also means you are the only one that can get a child to stop crying in those first early months on this earth. It means you had the joy of that look of unconditional love when they were an infant. Being a parent is being cooed at in the middle of the night, it means you were the one that double checked they had ten fingers and ten toes. It can mean you were lucky enough to read stories at bedtime, tucked them in and were able to look in on them each night before they went to sleep, and saw them looking like angels snug in their bed. You were the one they ran to each morning to begin a day anew and they were so excited to see you each and every day.

Seeing a child light up on their birthdays is a joy to a parent like no other. Being a parent means experiencing moments like this over and over again. Holding a camera and seeing through the lenses a child’s look of fear as they sit on Santa’s lap or the Easter bunny. A parent gets to smile to themselves with delight knowing these moments are special and will pass all too quickly but are precious times. Being a parent is feeling a loud thumb in your chest when your child walks across the stage to accept an award, a diploma or simply their name is announced for anything at all. It takes little for a parent to feel a sense of pride and yet, a parent gets to experience it like no other. When the marching band takes the field, a parent is the only one that can spot their child in the group or their child on the football team huddle because they alone have a sense of where they are when they are in the midst in the area.

Being a parent is sitting with other parents on sunny warm days and watching your child contribute to the success of team sports or dance recitals or individual talents and knowing you are a strong proponent of who they are. Hearing the thousand times a parent hears I love you from childhood to adulthood is a gift unto itself. Having a collection of handmade keepsakes that show thought that went into artwork is mementos for parenting. And knowing that prayers were answered is the joy of parenting also.

The hope for parents is that their child will become a happy well adjusted adult. Knowing that parents have to make unfavorable decisions that are in the best interests of their children, though hard at times, is a small price to pay for the end result. Even if the child does not understand it, parents have an obligation to try to put their children in the safest surest path in life to lead them to happiness and well being.

When they reach adulthood and begin to make their own decisions, the light switch does not come off; you do not stop becoming a parent. Yes, your children want more independence and truly deserve that. If you have done your job well, they will be fine. But the bond is still there.

When kids reach adulthood, they make their own decisions pretty much exclusively. Parents’ feelings do not dissipate though. These emotions and love are not like light switches, just flipping from the on position to the off position at a certain age. When a parent has put all the work, and love in to developing this adult, the relationship should continue. There very well may be new disagreements during adulthood and differences of opinions but the relationship should remain intact. Throughout childhood, adversity was par for the course so even though adult children and parents of adult kids may have their differences, the beauty of the connection is that it should truly be full circle. It should remain unbroken.

Yes, being a parent is hard to define. Perhaps many parents would have their own individual spin on what it means to them but, overall the commonalities would outnumber the differences. My friend and I shared similar experiences as parents with our children during the growing up years. Our relationships, now as adults with adult children, appear to be, on some fronts, similar and then, in other ways, quite different. Perhaps it is how it is meant to be. But, at the end of the day, we are in agreement, there is no greater blessing.

Ah, perhaps one comes close in comparison though. Sharing a wonderfully warm splice of time with a special friend. What could be better than a warm cup of fennel tea to reminiscence about the past, celebrate the present and anticipate a future full of a friendship continuing to evolve with more precious memories?


Who Can't Sing a Christmas Carol?

My neighbor has a beautiful singing voice. Eileen is from Ireland and sings like a songbird. When I have heard her sing in the church choir, which consists of no more than 4 to 5 women so her voice, is clearly audible, she is always beautiful to listen to. She tells me when she was younger; she was an even better singer.

On a phone call recently, she asked me if I ever sang when I was younger. I told her I had but not all that often. She asked me if I was any good. I said that I was alright but I had a lot of sinus trouble so it caused me to have a lot of difficulties with my voice being consistent so I never really sang that much. She then wanted to know if I was ever in a choir, perhaps to see if she could recruit me into hers at church. I told her I was in middle school. I left out the part about how we were forced to as part of our music class. It was far more impressive to say simply yes. I made sure to utter something about not enjoying it all that much so that she wouldn’t ask me to join hers. Not needed as she never asked me! I also did not mention to her that I tried to lip sync in choir long before that term was coined. Or that I dreaded any instance when I had to sing and be clearly heard. I think it is safe to say I was not born with a singing gene.

But at this time of year, Christmas, being in tune is not where it is at. Having the spirit matters most! Oh yes, the angels they heard on high sang sweetly and were blessed by God with the sweetest sounding voices. But, let’s get real; it would not have been a true blessing if everyone sounded like them. Many of us are not so lucky. We have those voices that sound more like a fog horn and that are only legendary in our minds. They are star quality when the karaoke machine is loud enough to drown us out. We are the last to raise our hand to go up and sing on those nights at karaoke and it requires huge intakes of alcohol to get the nerve and lose all sense of sensibilities.

I love Christmas carols. But tunes like O Holy Night, with lines that go up as high as the pitch that nearly breaks glass, oh really. Who can hit that note and hold it? You almost have to wonder if the person that wrote it had an odd sense of humor and thought they would write this with an ungodly high note, sit back and laugh while everyone tried to hit it. Oh how funny it is to see folks strain their vocal chords with little success all to reach that one note. I do not attempt to reach that high chord; I simply stop singing, prior to that point and just pick up the song afterwards. I refuse to be laughed at trying to hit something I know I can’t achieve. Besides, I have too much fun listening to others try!

Every year the same wonderful tunes are played and sung repeatedly. They are the standards everyone loves and associates with Christmas. And yet, every musical artist feels compelled to capitalize on their popularity and release an album with these songs on their custom CD. They then tout it as their NEW Christmas release. Funny how the songs are still the same and often times, even the arrangements seldom vary. I think it is in good taste for all royalties from Christmas CD’s to go to charity. Why not, tis the season of giving, right?

The other day I was singing along with one of my current favorites, Michael Buble. He has a new CD out but with a voice like Frank Sinatra he is a tad different than many. His good looks are not hurting him either. Anyways, as I approached a light, I thought I was sounding pretty darn good so I turned down the volume to just get a good close earful of my sound. See, I was blessed with an ear for music. I can detect quality of sound extremely well. Maybe, I thought to myself, in my later years my pitch has improved some. I even went so far as to funnel my hand around my mouth so the sound came right to my ear and was not as distorted. Perhaps the sound would have been better distorted. All I can say is the way I sounded, wow, pretty raw. I took a real bite out of White Christmas!

But, when carolers come a knocking, who cares how they sound! Just the joy of seeing a group of folks outside your door, singing in unison for the season is wonderful. Most of the time when we have several folks outside of our door, it is either to sell magazine subscriptions, hand out religious pamphlets or ask for donations for the police/fireman ball. To have someone out there not asking for hand outs is wonderful. I just wish our dog would recognize that they are not holding doggie treats! He reacts like it is the mailman and does not respect them enough to stop barking while they are singing. We are forced to close the front door, go around through the garage door, literally walk outside and stand in the front yard with the carolers. At least we live in the south where in the month of December it is not blistery cold, usually. I think maybe this year, we should just let Charley go with them and ask them to bring him back when they are done. Unless of course someone wants to keep our 125 lb ball of energy under their Christmas tree!

When you hear Christmas tunes, I challenge you, sing, sing loud and hard. Put your passion into them, even if you do not sing well. I think God hears us, even those of us with a bad voice and His sense of humor is lit beyond compare by hearing us sing badly. Plus it truly is in lifting your voices in song that your spirit is lifted also. You do not have to have a heavenly voice to be touched by music or impact others. I love listening to others sing of Christmas tidings, Santa, the birth of Jesus, snowfalls over the holidays, etc… All these tunes remind me of Christmas’s long ago, the joy we are experiencing and what Christmas is all about. Who cares if we are just abit out of tune? The spirit of Christmas is found in the sounds of the season not in the quality of the sounds of the season!


He Has Fun!

Some people truly make the world a better place, just by their very presence.
I can think of no better way than to start and pay tribute to a wonderful man I met several years ago. I walked into a Rotary meeting as a newcomer, feeling slightly out of place. I was greeted, at the close of the meeting, by a man with a smile larger than life and hand shake that felt like he came straight from Bedrock. I thought he must have worked in the quarry with Fred Flintstone with that darn rock hard handshake. And this big man that was slightly intimidating just emulated happiness and joy.

Over a period of time, I began to learn more about him personally. He seemed to take a interest in me which I found flattering. It was as if he took me, somewhat, under his wing. I secretly wished I had met years ago and that he had been a bigger part of my life. He was a good man through and through and I could have learned a lot of life’s lessons from him easier than through the hard knocks way. His life was full of some of the usual, and unusual, twists and turns but through it all, he maintained his love of life and his positive attitude. He could be mischievous and certainly his mantra was fun with life on earth; don’t take yourself, or anyone else, too seriously.

This fellow sees having fun also as serving others, putting smiles on other peoples’ faces, those in need especially. Every year, without fail, he arranges for the Rotarians to cover the weekends being the bell ringers during the holiday season. I think this is one of his greatest joys, taking his turn at it! It is as if he sees this as being Santa, collecting for the needy at a time when others see it as asking for hand outs. He is unique in that way, never letting others define who he is and letting others misjudge what is the right thing to do. This year, even in a weakened state, he will take his turn, ringing the bell, but from a wheel chair. If you see him, give. Not for him, but for those he represents, those hurting, those in need. That is what will give him joy. As long as he has breath in him, he will care for others. How many men are like this, will spend a few hours of their last days on earth collecting donations for others? Will you?

He is a proud American. His face lights up when he sees the American flag, noticeably. He knows what it stands for and if you forget, ask him! He will proudly remind you. Oh, that flag stands for freedom, for the land of opportunity, for men and women fighting for all of us and we should all be proud, unified and serve each other with joy. As he states with conviction, “We are blessed. “ Is there anything sweeter than the taste of freedom? If not, pray for our service men and women please, we owe them at least that!

As the seasons have come and gone, so has his cancer battle. There have been many successes and some major setbacks along the way. It is almost hard to gauge, by the look on his face, which end he is on because his face reveals so much life and love. He has never met a stranger, even when life has been the cruelest to him. And yet, he continues life, one step, one day at a time, all the while knowing and fully believing God will take him to heaven when his time is due. While here, he assures everyone he is blessed, we are blessed and let’s have fun!

I believe our destiny in life is to try to make the world a better place when we leave it than when we were born into it. We should aspire to touch others lives in a good way, even if it is simply by how we live our life. This friend to so many, he has created quite the legacy. He has healed many a discouraged heart or lost souls with his words of wisdom and his liveliness. If that hasn’t work, his quirkiness and unmistakable sense of humor have definitely done the trick!

When I spoke with him today, it was with joy in my voice and a song in my heart. At no point was there sadness in my words. I spoke with total clarity as I knew he is much nearer death than ever before. Time is short for him; I wanted him to hear directly that he has touched me. I was not surprised in the least to learn from him that many folks have said those same words to him. He told me that each time he hears it, it means even more. So many people do not realize to those approaching death, knowing you have left an indelible mark on this earth is spiritually healing. It adds to the serenity they feel towards facing their entrance into heaven. Take the time to let people know they have touched you. They do want to hear this. There is no right time to say this, so just find a moment period. This man, he earned the right to hear this, time and time again. He can enter heaven with pride and joy.

As he prepares his final preparations and waits for the final call, not knowing when it will be, he will enjoy every last moment he is blessed with. Are you enjoying your blessings like this special man? What if this is your last Christmas, are you trying to make this world a better place? At Christmas, what a perfect time to start.

In closing our conversation today, he and I discussed our faith in heaven. We both believe we will see each other again, there, therefore good-byes are really not needed. He asked me to look him up when I get there, to heaven, as soon as I arrive. I asked him, silly as it sounds, to please hold up the flag and wave it, which he said he will. I do think it might look rather preposterous in heaven for him to be waving an American flag. I am not sure how saintly that will look? But then again, he has always had a knack for doing the quirky things to make folks laugh so why not? Those that know him will not find the sight of him doing this with his angel wings on odd at all! He told me to not get there too quickly. I had to remind him I am on God’s plan also, just as he is. None of us pick our check out time. Make good use of your time while you are here…….

I thank God for the lesson of having fun he has taught so many of us that grew to know him! And most of all, I pray God continues to bless him with a smile larger than life and happiness that makes his cup overflow from here to his life everlasting!


Greatest Gifts

When I hear the stories about Black Friday and hear how folks are crowding through the entry ways knocking each other over to get through the doors, I am shocked. The goal of hitting these special sales is to obtain gifts for Christmas, gifts that are to celebrate the birth of Jesus by showing love for others. In the process of obtaining these gifts, people are literally stomping on each other to obtain items to simply save money. I venture to say, if you have to lose your self- respect in the process, maybe the savings is not worth it.

I know that times are tough right now in this downtrodden economy but this is not the only time in the course of American history that this has been the case. In the Depression, money for Christmas gifts was almost non-existent. Folks had to be resourceful or bypass giving during the holiday season all together. But they managed to retain the true joy of Christmas without the splendor of all the gifts, the Christmas cards, the lights and the trimmings. In spite of this, families found the holidays joyous. This must be surprising to all those Black Friday shoppers knocking each other down for the best deals!

Commercialization of Christmas does not make it complete nor better, just different. The spirit of Christmas originates from the heart. Christmas is not from a dollar bill but found when one reflects on a manger in a stable of an inn keeper in Bethlehem. Do not forget that a poor couple with no place to stay was where the first Christmas originated from. Hardly the picture of wealth as we see in today’s world of holiday splendor!

I enjoy the holiday lights, shows and fanfare as much as anyone. I do not intend on giving that up. However, losing sight of the true meaning can make the 25th of December nothing more than a one day holiday and not something to reflect on the entire year. Jesus’s birth was meant to be a starting point for giving, that spirit is meant to continue. That salvation we were given doesn’t end after Christmas.

My immediate family has chosen this Christmas to make ours about our family. We want to focus on what Christmas is really all about, being together. That, to us, is the one of the best gifts of all, the love we have for each other and the love for what the original Christmas is about, the birth of Jesus. Times are tough right now in this financial crunch. It does not make sense to indulge on each other unnecessarily to express our feelings for each other. The size of the gift or the value of the gift cannot equate to how we feel.

I love both of my children, my daughter-in-law and my son-in-law and no gift will do that love justice. They know it is there regardless of a gift. We are all blessed to share this sentiment and would prefer to celebrate that, being a true loving caring family more so than opening gifts with each other.

We are trying it out this year, this concept of no gift giving other than buying for the children, though our family is not large. Who knows, it may become a tradition. It seems odd to many, including us, but I am so proud of our family for doing this. It shows that our hearts are in the right place. It allows us to not worry needlessly over what to get each other, how much to spend and all that unnecessary stress that goes along with gift buying.

My family is dedicated to the spirit of Christmas and it makes us eager for Christmas day to just spend it together. Our morning will be spent sitting back watching the children light up as they open up their gifts and scream with glee seeing what wonderful toys Santa brought them and the gifts we have showered them with.

I am sure we will each, individually reflect on our own moments we had, as children. Somehow, in seeing Christmas though children’s eyes puts us all in touch with the child inside of ourselves as adults. No one can truly forget the wonder of being a child and experiencing Santa’s generosity!

Sitting by the tree, huddled as a family, I know we will no longer feel we need those moments to be lavished with gifts to feel special, to feel loved. We know that the love is all around us when we are all together as a family. around us also, for that is truly what the holiday is about. Christmas signifies God’s love; For God so loved the world that he gave his only son……

May you always remember that the best gifts in life can’t be found in a retail store!


Bad Love

I am not sure I understand,
I am not sure I even know why,
But I know that look in your eyes,
And I can see you trying not to cry.

I heard a car door slam,
I heard a tire screech as a car drove away,
I heard you yell please wait
And then I saw you begging him to stay.

But he looked at you out his car window
With an empty look in his eyes
And I could not help but wonder,
Was the relationship built on a lie.

Sometimes we want things so badly,
That we envision what is not really there,
We over look the problems,
Or assume they will disintegrate in thin air.

Was this what happened,
Were you led astray,
Or was he never really yours,
So reality was he never was going to stay.

Did you want love so badly that
You’d do almost anything to keep him near,
Is that why you always panicked when he got angry,
When he left upset, your face was full of fear.

Didn’t you realize,
The day you put your hands through the glass door,
And were bleeding on the floor,
That desperation was not going to win you his love,
Because he loved himself quite a bit more.

Does it really matter the answer,
Its passe, who cares, it’s no more,
Get off the curb you are standing on,
Some times in life, it is best to close the door.

His loss, one day, you will find, will be your gain,
You do not need all this emotional strain.

Head back to your home,
To the safe haven of the ones who love you for you,
Remember the next time you find yourself a lover,
That to yourself and to your heart, always be true.

Note: I remember, years ago, witnessing a teenage girl upset with her boyfriend doing the unthinkable, putting her hands thru a screen door in anger. As I reflected on this, as an adult, this poem came to mind.


They are My Feelings!

Too many times in life, we think we know how others feel. We experience similar things and assume we know what the other person is thinking. We can be at the same place, at the exact same moment in time and witness the same occurrence and yet, see it completely different.

Psychologists have known this for ages as have investigators. That is partially why, in court cases, many eye witnesses are called to testify. Often times there are real differences in their stories of what they witnessed. In the perspective of the witnesses, they are each telling the truth, as they recall. But recollection is based, frequently, on their own personal filters and biases. This is unavoidable. Thus they vary.

This same factor is true when it comes to relationships. It is not uncommon in arguments with friends, siblings and spouses for one party to play the spokesperson for both parties feelings. This is not healthy. Each of us experience life differently and we each need to be given the opportunity to own our feelings and our reactions to life in an individual way.

In trying to control the reactions of people you care about, it really only serves to distance them from you. Resentment will build and no matter how well intended you may be, it will fall on deaf ears when you attempt to tell others how to feel even if your intent is good, to safeguard them from pain or offset issues. The best lessons in life are self taught often times. Stating unsolicited viewpoints directly such as be less reactive, more caring, less sensitive, more vocal, less competitive, more positive, less negative, etc… can trigger the opposite reaction than what one would expect. Instead of being grateful for your input, you may find your recipient very irate.

Most of want the freedom to react to live on our own terms and the support of our inner circle to do so. When asked opinions about how one should feel, it is completely different to respond as that is not unasked for but even then, a word of caution must be adhered to. Giving out recommendations when you are emotionally connected to others and are not a licensed counselor can be hazardous to your health and theirs. This is especially true if you are not saying what they want to hear and they are holding back internally what they are feeling. The cost of your outspokenness could be a major roadblock in your relationship. Listening is invaluable, mirroring what they say and feel is priceless and allowing their individuality is what builds bridges among friends.

I always find it amazing how children can come from the same home, same family dynamics and yet see the world so differently. I see this very clearly when I look at my three grandchildren. The oldest is just turning four and already they have uniquely different personalities and react to stimuli differently. At times, it is unpredictable too, just like the rest of us. These children cannot be put in a box or labeled as to what they will say, what they will do and cannot be completely controlled. Thus, they are human. They will continue to see their home, their family and their lives through their individual perspectives, each uniquely differently. This is the creativity of God at work.

Why do we kid ourselves and say to others “I understand exactly how you feel?” In reality, unless we have walked the same footsteps in life someone else has, how would we know? No one has walked in someone else’s shoes and seen the world through someone else’s eyes nor been inside their head to read their perceptions. We can never really assume we know truly how someone else feels and tell them that honestly. To assume otherwise and state that is to belittle a human being’s true emotions.

This is especially true in times when someone is going through an event traumatic, such as the death of a loved one or remembering something horrific. To say aloud that you know how they feel is to imply you understand all of the history and dynamics of the relationship over the years or what it felt like to go through a particular event they went through. I ask, how could you, you are not uniquely them? I believe in showing compassion and empathy but I believe in honesty also. Honestly, there is only one of them, and one of you; you can’t know all there is to know about their feelings and reactions. Let them own their emotions and not feel you are trying to control theirs. They have the right, you do not.

It is important to remember that each of us is indeed unique. Allow for that individuality in others you care about so that they can experience the world differently and express it in their own unique way. You may find their journey of self discovery will aid you in yours!


Give to Lift to Project Angel Wings

When my children were little, we started a trend right after the holidays. After seeing the surplus of toys stashed in the bedrooms with literally no place to put them, it seemed like the perfect time to reflect on what the season was all about, the gift of giving.

The time I am referring to was when my children were 5 and . I had been recently divorced. We had plenty of love in the house and enough money to pay the bills but we were short on money for about everything else. However, when the holidays rolled in, the kids capitalized on gifts from two different sides of the family. It was as if everyone on both sides, their father and mine, wanted to compensate for the lack of my kids not having two parents at home anymore thus, overspent on the Christmas gifts. Even the kids commented on the abundance of toys. That is when you know it was excessive!

Well, I knew for years there was an orphanage not far from where we lived. I called them up, on a whim and asked them if they took any donations of toys. I learned they took donations of any kind and that they had elementary aged children in the home. Then and there, we began a tradition. My kids, every year, would go through their toys, after the holiday season and pick out the old toys they no longer played with and pack them up nicely in a box. They knew those toys were going to children they had no parents to spend the holidays with. Quite often they both put in toys that I knew they still really liked but they felt that pull to give to the less fortunate and I felt that surge of pride. There were even times when they gave away new toys, as they understand Christmas is about giving.

One year, my daughter and I were dropping off a load of girls clothes after she had hit a growth spurt. When I ran the bell, they asked me to pull around the back of the orphanage. I had also collected, for this drop off, an excessive amount of girls clothes. For the first time, as normally they did not let us see the children, they let us come in and meet the girls. When my daughter walked in with the clothes, the girls literally swarmed around her at the clothes she had in a huge laundry basket like kids who had just been given their favorite toy. They were screaming, smiling and hugging each other as they grabbed one thing after another and thanking her over and over again. As we drove away, my daughter could not take her eyes away from the home. She looked at me and said, “I made them so happy and all I did was bring them clothes. I wish I could have brought them a mommy and a daddy.”

It takes so little to put a smile on a child’s face.

My friend Karen Koeppe understands that only too well. A year ago she started a project called Project Angel Wings. This endeavor is for Christmas. This is not a giving of toys after the 25th of December but for children to receive new toys and gifts and for teenagers to receive gifts as well for the holiday. Not everyone is blessed with a home that can afford a Santa to fulfill the wish list even partially. This Project is needed to keep kids dreams alive.

Children without money in their homes still need to dream, the still need to wonder about Santa and they still need to have faith in their fellow man. Jesus was born as gift to us, we can give a gift back by helping others in need by simply helping this Project. Examine your heart; details are below.

Karen Koeppe proudly calls her program “a gift gathering celebration to benefit needy children.’ Toys and gifts need to be in the $10-25 range for children and teens and must be submitted unwrapped. Her goal is to see that each and every needy family with children in the Northern Kentucky area has their Christmas morning joy!

Please mail donations to:
The Koeppe Family
c/o Project Angel Wings
1936 MacIntosh Lane
Villa Hills, KY

*Email: kkoeppe@fuse.net with questions

Cash donations are also accepted. This will save some the trouble of packing and shipping. Please consider helping Karen make dreams come true. Her goal is to see their program expand to other areas of the country but she needs success one area at a time to expand. What is Christmas without children smiling?


Our Parents' Clock

It is funny how , when you age, it hits you that your parents are too. It is as if one day, you look up and suddenly realize, yes your parents are elderly. They look like your grandparents did when they were alive. With that realization also comes the fact, your days are going to be limited with them.

Many times, we take for granted that we can always pick up the telephone and on the other end is one of our parents to listen to our lives’ stories be they good, bad or indifferent. Their support is unconditional, at least most of the time. Over time, their opinions are often expressed. We hate to admit too how often they are right. It is so much easier to take their input when they agree with us, with what we want to do and with how we feel. But usually, in the end, sometimes after traveling down the wrong road and getting knocked around a few times, we do realize their wisdom prevails.

The circle of life is a given. One day, the phone will ring and it won’t be them calling. We will reach out, grab our phone and want to place a call but realize they are no longer there. Who can replace a parent? Who can care like a parent can about our lives? I am not sure anyone can. Except, of course, our heavenly Father, God.

Par for the course of aging parents ,unfortunately comes deteriorating health issues for them.. The calls we get and make are quite often filled with doctors’ appointments, diagnoses, updates on medical conditions and signs of aging that are not curable. One cannot help but wonder how many calls are going to be forthcoming, which call will be the last. Do you stand on constant red alert or do you just take it all in stride and take for granted they will be there tomorrow until the good Lord calls them home so you are not worrying unnecessarily. I think most of us simply hope they don’t suffer too much. The agony of seeing your parents live the last part of their life in pain and despair is one of the harder things in life.

Isn’t it ironic that the roles completely reverse. We come into the world being the child, the innocent ones and having our parents care for us. In the end, we become more the caretakers, the ones that are focused on our parents. We spend a lifetime focused on what we want, where we want to be and getting their undying support. Then, the tables suddenly turn and they need our focus to be on them.

I had a conversation just the other day with someone quite close to me. It was about those conversations that are hard to have but oh, so necessary . Finding the time to tell your parents what their presence in your life has meant to you. I think, if nothing else, this gift is priceless. We pray to God for thankfulness for His blessings, for what He has bestowed on us. Don’t our parents deserve this also? Too many times, a parent dies without their children expressing how they feel. There isn’t always the opportunity or perhaps even, in rare cases, the situation doesn’t warrant it. However when it does, take the time. Find the moment.

I have found, in my experience in talking to folks that are dying from cancer, openness and honesty is healing. These conversations bring people peace and lets them know that their legacy is a good one and will live on long after they are gone. They can leave this world proud and knowing they made a worthwhile contribution. Their time on earth was well spent and this sentiment cannot be expressed on some tombstone they will never see or a eulogy that will not hear. Our parents certainly deserve this type of praise and this type of peace as they one day face the inevitable, death. We need to find the strength to express this before their health goes and/or their completely.

When I look in the mirror, I see wrinkles. I see signs of live, of laughter and signs of years of living. I see in my eyes wisdom born of life’s experiences. When I look at my parents eyes, I see much of the same except deeper wrinkles, deeper wisdom and more signs of living and also signs of tiredness that implies much more aging than me. The health issues imply they are much closer to death than even I like to admit. Chances are we will not know when their final day will be. Who can predict when the hands on the clock of life will stop for our parents? We simply must take the time to speak from our hearts to our parents and let them know what they have meant to us.

As I looked up, as my parents walked towards me, approaching, as they always do, with a smile on their faces. I thought I saw someone else. But as they drew nearer, I realized the elderly couple was none other than my parents. And I was proud.


Life Changes Us; Or Does It?

I sometimes find it funny how some things in life never truly do change. The bond we have with some people, even after years and years of being part, remains intact. A high school friend that was one of those special folks you had a connection with and knew you could trust with your innermost secrets, is still someone you can, in adulthood, confide in freely. And, in the same vein, that girl you went to high school with who was so busy trying to convince others of her importance, later in life, is still trying. You can sense it, not so much in what they say and do, but in what they don’t do and don’t say. Somehow it is baffling that life has not changed them.

Some of the negative persona's, the bad seeds in our life, will usually remain so. Perhaps that is why Dr. Phil is fond of saying “Kick a loser in your life to the curb.” He knows history does repeat itself. Unhealthy personalities that take advantage of your goodness and want only for themselves are users for their own gain. These people are not worthy of our graces. These people do not change. Do not put your time and energy into what my cousin’s girlfriend Levaughn calls “People that are two faced.” She is right, they do make you feel as if they need a smack of the backhand, but even that will not change the nature of who they are users of others. Good people, likewise, are true of heart and remain so.

Having come from a divorced family, as there are so many broken homes these days that it is becoming common place, I see all around me signs of broken marriages. Marriages that in spite of being together, they are broken. People going through the rigors of life and in one sense, growing and changing but the bonding between husband and wife, the commitment seems to either be there or, in general, not. Those of us with someone who is committed to us from the start are indeed the lucky ones. That is something that never quite seems to change. Those marriages, those couples find the work they put towards the courtship, towards planning a wedding and a future; they use to forge through issues and continually keep the marriage alive and well. Even with the setbacks, they always come back to each other with the same goal in mind.

Changes in our life seem to never really effect the healthy bonds that we have with the people in our lives that make us better people. This is definitely true with the bond with the siblings that love us unconditionally. My sisters can pick up the phone and call me and we are right back to ten or twenty years ago, sharing all our thoughts and dreams with abandonment knowing the intimacy we share is special and priceless. That will never change, not with age. When I battled cancer and my sister told me she could not imagine life without talking to me, I assured her God would not, could not allow me to be in heaven without our gabbing sessions because those were heaven sent moments to me. Heaven is a place that is euphoria and those talks are simply that; food for my soul and I think for hers also. No matter how our life changes, this bond remains the same.

We change but our faith in God is always there, inside our soul. We wander away from the closeness of this relationship throughout our life as we convince ourselves subconsciously we are fearless, invincible, and need no help. There are even times when we are angry for all we are not, what we do not have, for the things we have lost and the lot we have been handed in life. But in our hour of need, in the wee hours of the morning, when our heart is breaking, when our souls our hurting, we visually or physically reflect on the past, as if we are children saying our faithful prayers to God. We ask in our adult voices for the same thing we asked for as children, for His angels to descend on us and bring us what we need to get through our modern day crisis knowing we need His help, his intervention. We may grow old, we may grow weary, and we may deny God from time to time, but those of us with true faith in Him will always carry Him inside no matter how much we change and will always find ourselves stepping back into prayer along the way.

I have met many people facing cancer. I have met folks with Stage 1 and folks with Stage 4. I have talked with people on their death bed. I find that who they are, when they are entering heaven, is undoubtedly who they came into the world being, someone wide eyed, full of innocence in a sense about the wonderment of heaven and being in the presence of God much as they were as when they were an infant coming into this temporary place. The sense of peace they feel as they approach dying is much like the sense of calm they felt in their mother’s arms as they know they are going back to their Father, the one that truly did create them. All the years we spend on earth, all the roads traveled and yet, here at the end, we land on the very same stepping stone of emotion. It is as if all the years fade into oblivion. Yes, life has been a journey, a passing and yet, at the end, we are still in our infancy entering a new wondrous place…………………..as it was in the Beginning.


Forgiveness for a Mother

The past few weeks have been a blur for me in many ways. The days have seemed to fly by full of new drama and trauma playing out with each and every phone call. The plot seems to constantly
change as my emotions go through a roller coaster ride that is full of more lows than highs. I manage to take one day at a time and realize again, nothing lasts forever. Not even after spending a life time without someone and finally, at age 50 finding them.

My mom and I reconnected almost two years ago. We had not seen each other in over 35 years. I had the chance to hear some I love you’s from a mother I never really knew. I am grateful because two weeks ago, she had a stroke. Life has changed permanently, for her and consequently for me. Now my days have been filled with phone calls with doctors, nurses and family relatives. There are always more questions than answers too.

By the time my sister and I got up to see her in Michigan, she had fallen in to a deep sleep and could not be roused. We were told she might never wake up and they were going to put in a feeding tube through her nose. The doctor suggested we go in first and have a few quiet moments to visit with her prior to the insertion. We went in, my older sister and I, before calling our brothers and other family members with an update. As we chatted over her head, we noticed her begin to twitch and squirm in her sleep. My sister left the room to go down the hall way. Not sure what to do, I laid my face up against her cheek and whispered “I love you Mom.” She began to cough and opened up her eyes. I leaned over in shock and asked her what she wanted. She stared at me and said “Water.” I ran into the hallway screaming for the nurses, I knew it was a miracle, she was not supposed to wake up! My sister and I’s hearts were elated.

Just as quickly, it was replaced with a melancholy feeling. We realized that this was part of our mom before us but also a shadow of who she was. She, Margie, was only half there, half of the time. The other half of the time, she was delusional. Her mind saw things the rest of us did not see, she recalled things that were not real, she created lies that she believed and had the attention span of a small child. I looked at her and wondered where my mother went. She was volatile, self centered, had the worst listening skills imaginable and no one in the room had the floor but her. Her attention span was that of a small child. Reasoning with her was not possible, if you needed to negotiate because she seemed to lack anything that required higher level brain processing. She would try to pop up and out of chairs with a left leg that was completely numb from her stroke with no feeling or ability to sustain her weight.

As we visited with her for several days, we found long visits exhausting. My sister and I took turns breaking down in to tears where there were no words we could say to comfort each other. There were times we would enter the room and she would not recognize us immediately. There were days when she demanded to go home or for us to call an ambulance and take her to the hospital. Thus, we would have to remind her she was already there. If her doctor did not come to her room, she wanted to be taken to the emergency room immediately and be seen there. Her demands were constant and unreasonable. We saw the look on the nurses’ faces that were assigned our mother and detected no one had her on their assignment two days in a row. We were sure that was by design. Whoever was assigned our mom on their shift, we felt a little sorry for because we knew she was a handful. She pretended she was in pain to get pain medicine, she said she was sick when she wanted attention, she tried to stand on her feet so much on aided that frequently she was put on waist restraints. It was the like the worst child in the kindergarten class. Wow, this was not the mom I had seen the last two years! It is like the stroke took away my mother and all that was left is some of the worst traits and exaggerated them.

We tried to explain to our mom she had a stroke, her brain was playing tricks on her. To see that childlike look in her eyes when she asked “You mean it is not real?” was heart wrenching but needed. Many times, it didn’t matter what we said, she was not coming out of the make believe land she was in. She remained delusional. Her left side is numb and so she cannot walk unassisted either. She can only eat thickened liquids due to some aspirations. Her life is not what it was and will never be.

This is not what we expected for a woman so full of energy. She has led a life full of bad choices; there is no doubt about it. But I still hoped her life would end well. Never in a million years did I envision her being in a nursing home at half mast. She doesn’t even know that is where she is going because no one wants to deal with the fit she will throw. All she knows is she is going to rehab. It feels as if we are lying to her by keeping her in the dark but we have no other options. She is not capable any longer of dealing with reality. The amount of tears and heart ache I feel inside is really nothing that can be expressed in words. I am grateful for the endearments she has expressed the last few years we reconnected. And I try to hold fast to those on the down days when the sorrow fills my heart. I missed out on a mother most of my life, my biological mother, found her and now I sit here and lost her again.

I recall sitting bedside and seeing my mom staring at my sister and me during one of her lucid moments. She then began to cry. As we watched her, she said, as she has stated so many times before to us, “I am so sorry that I let you down as a mother and was not there for you to a part of your lives.” I wonder why, even though we have told her countless times before, she does not realize we forgave her a long time ago. Perhaps it is because, even when she is in her sane state, she still has not been able to forgive herself. Forgiveness begins in the soul and comes from the love of God and of His will.

My mom believes in God. My mom, even in this state, must succumb to His will, that of forgiveness, forgiveness of her own sins. Until she does that, she will always feel tormented inside. That is a painful thing to see, as a daughter. Her time is going to be limited. Her moments of sanity are as well. I pray God teaches my mother to learn to live His word in those lucid moments before she passes. If not, may she find that eternal peace she has been so desperately looking for on earth one day. If not on earth, my you find in heaven Mom. All of us are forgiven our sins. All we have to do is ask.

As I turned to say good bye,
All I could do is cry.
One of my biggest fears
Is that the next time I visit, you won’t be here.
Please stay a few more years,
I don’t mind shedding a few more tears,
I want to cradle you like you once cradled me,
I want you to know that I love the life you gave to me.
Mom, I will always love you.


Strides for Life

This week has been a blur for me, in many ways. My mother had a stroke at the beginning of the week. I live out of state from her, actually a few states over to be more precise. Consequently, I have spent a great deal of time on the telephone talking to doctors and nurses to keep abreast of her situation. Then when you throw in the relative calls on her side of the family, there adds a deeper dimension to the week, a more emotional component.

Many of you who have followed my blog know that my mother and I only reconnected a few years ago. Therefore, most members of her family have only came into my life recently, as in the last few months, some in the last few years. Funny though, some I feel I have known for a lifetime, in a good way. This past week was a reminder of how blessed I am to know and be a part of this family. I am amazed at the out pouring of these wonderful people towards my mother, who has made her share of mistakes in life and towards me, someone new to the family picture. It is a humbling experience to know that this extended family, just introduced to me recently, could already feel so connected to me quickly.

Within twenty four hours after the first stroke, my mother suffered a second one that appears to be, if not more devastating than the first, than equally so. The stroke was in the right side of her brain so the left side of her body is affected. I researched the short and long term effects of that side of the brain, after strokes, to better understand her condition. I discovered all the changes my mother is experiencing and will experience, if God continues to give her more time. And yes, I have prayed humbly that the plan for my mom allows for more days. The memories, thus far, have been few. I would like to make a few more good memories with my mother, God willing.

I was proud of myself that most of the week, I kept pretty stoic. On Friday, I let my feelings surface as the reality of losing the opportunity to ever walk somewhere with my mother hit me. To date, she cannot walk unaided. The wonderment of what her future might look like and if she could be happy with it concerns me. My mom lives life to the fullest. That has been part of her problem, part of her weakness. Yet, at times, part of the wonderment of knowing and being around my mother.

Today, I was scheduled to volunteer for an event downtown for the annual Making Strides against Breast Cancer Walk. This event is very heartfelt to me. I first learned of it when I was diagnosed with cancer in Sept. 2007. My mastectomy was scheduled for early in Oct. so I knew walking was out of the question that year. But after I saw the news coverage, post event, I vowed to have a team the following year.

Exactly one year later, while still in chemo treatment, I pushed up my sleeves and formed a team called Make Some Noise with a group of my strong supporters. This was comprised of the folks that were there for me during my long battle to get well and stay on the ‘other side’ of the dreaded disease. I walked that walk with my head held high. I felt tears sting my eyes as I walked across the bridge into the downtown area by LP Field and saw 10,000 people all walking for the same cause, a cure for breast cancer.

Now today, after a week of fielding phone calls and praying my mother would live, I found myself back at the very same place I was at in 2008, just 3 years ago. This time, I am sitting close to two very dear friends that have volunteered with me. One is a breast cancer survivor herself and married to a cancer survivor. The other friend has a mother who just recovered from breast cancer. Both are extremely dear to me and I think understand my pain and turmoil about my mother. I sit and register folks for this walk and watch others do the same. Scores of folks come and go, families, young and old just to take a stand for cancer, just to let it be known they care about life.

I think about my mother a lot during the time I am sitting there. I reflected on my own journey, on how each donor dollar that was given to this event, prior to me being diagnosed, helped fund the drugs that were discovered that cured me. I again feel humbled and blessed. This feels good, unlike many of the emotions I have felt this past week. I watch someone full of life having fun with others there, possibly looking for a new soul mate. Yes, he is full of life and seems void of any sense of the pain and mixed emotions I feel. I am somewhat envious of the new promise he finds in anther's eyes and wonder if the following year they will be here together. But I see others wearing shirts to commemorate their mothers, their wives, their friends that have passed away from breast cancer and I am touched by their dedication. I then feel the warmth of happiness inside my soul that I have found meaning in my life also. It took me getting cancer and surviving it, but after that battle, I found the person that gave me my life, I found my mom.

I walk away from today, from the Making Strides against Breast Cancer, a survivor but a great deal more than that. I walk away a proud daughter of a woman in Michigan fighting to survive a stroke. I walk away as a girl who found her mom. I am also a grandmother who found compassion in her heart to forgive her true mother for not being all the things we have come to expect from a maternal mother in our lives. Yes, I walk away from the event feeling whole and better than before I got there, just like I did in 2008. Funny how this one event, since 2007, has impacted my life so much.

To commemorate this day, I arranged to have my mother, who is finally sitting up, alert, in bed talk to her husband. He, Wade, is a long past stroke victim and fighting Stage 4 cancer himself with a trachea and feeding tube in him from a traumatic surgery months ago. I call my mother's nurse in Michigan and tell her my plan. I then speak to my mother, who is beside herself with worry, heart ache, head pain and missing her husband. I ask Mom if she would like a little surprise. I tell her to hang up the phone and wait a minute and then pick it back up when it rings. I tell her to promise me to pick it up and someone who wants to talk to her will be on the phone. She understands and says she will but it is clear she thinks it is me that is calling back. I let her think that.

I then call Wade and practically yell at him to get a pen quickly. He is hard of hearing and moves slowly. Apparently he has trouble finding one and is telling me so, as I am saying hurriedly, please Wade, go faster! He is probably looking at the receiver thinking I am as demanding as my mother can be! Apparently he locates one and starts writing the numbers down, each one, as I shout each one out to be certain he hears it. We go through this routine several times before he gets it right. In fact, I am not at all sure he has it correct. With his titanium tongue, his speech is extremely difficult to comprehend but it sounded pretty close to the number anyways. He yells back, at one point, asking who's number am I writing? Whoops, I forgot to tell him! I tell him it is his wife, my mom, who is missing him horribly. I know Wade, he loves my mom and is sick with worry. She also was his primary care taker. He starts to choke up and I tell him there is no time for that, “She is waiting for you Wade, you have to call in just a couple minutes.” And I hang up.

I waited about fifteen minutes and called him back to ensure he got through to her. As soon as he picked up the phone, I could tell he was smiling. I could feel it coming off the receiver. I immediately said to him, “You talked to Mom right?” He was laughing when he replied that oh yes he had. He told me she cried. When he said this, he cried. My day ended with a little glimpse of heaven.


Excuse Me

A friend emailed me recently an article on work place bullying. This began a brief correspondence on social etiquette, on how it is sorely lacking in society these days.
It seems to be a lost art form. Could it be people are just too lazy to be courteous or just too insensitive to others feelings?

I am not sure there are any easy answers. For years, psychologists were convinced that the lack of compassion that was created in society was due to playing excessive video games. With the onset of extreme violence in these popular new video games on the market, this seemed the main culprit for explaining the increased incidence of insensitivity in society to others feelings and general meanness. This was becoming prevalent in schools and in our workplaces.

Not to be left in the dark and missing out on the popularity of this movement towards ‘the dark side’, movie producers revved up the violence in movies kicking it up a notch to help get ticket sales up. It worked well and with the onset of higher tickets sales, the new explanation for violence in the streets and the general impoliteness that seemed to be hitting our nation was, of course, explained away as being due, in part, to the movie industry. The answer to address this growing concern was perhaps if we rated movies with censorship we could perhaps dissuade folks from being violent and make them care more about being nice. Did anyone really think that would work?

The sad fact is that these behaviors are learned and practiced from the earliest of ages and long before we even venture out to the movies or play a video game. My grandchildren are barely 4 years old and two of them already say “please” or they do not get what they want. If “thank you” is not audibly heard, there is hell to pay, so to speak. Their parents want their manners intact now, and feel the responsibility intensely to teach and reinforce them.

The changes in society in how we interact with each other, as our society has become so desensitized towards violence, is affecting our interpersonal communication daily. The way we meet and greet strangers on the street, interact with the store clerk waiting on us and yes, the way we talk to a service representative trying to address an issue for us. This should be paramount to who we are, our character, how we communicate with strangers. How we communicate says who we are, the type of person we are, and reflects our belief system.

As adults, we are role models for the younger generation also. We are responsible, all of us, for our day to day interactions. Do we give others,
even in anger, the benefit of the doubt or are we ready to pull out a laundry list of words we should not say in church, much less to a stranger or co worker, in the heat of a moment?

Polite implies good social conduct. It is something that parents are supposed to be teaching early on in the home. This lesson is continued in early childhood to elementary school outside of the home. This mentality should carry over into adulthood easily and naturally. Somewhere something is amiss. And it really needs to be fixed. The result is classic bullying without any sense of consciousness about what is wrong with the behavior and any feeling of accountability. Too many times people just do not feel their comments warrant an apology or a need for behavioral modification.

If someone feels their conduct is acceptable and does not need to change, convincing them otherwise is challenging. Many times they feel their attitude and reactions to others have served them well in the past so they see no reason to make an adjustment. It is always ‘the other person’s problem’, not theirs. And then the cycle continues, a few people being continually rude and inconsiderate making others around them uncomfortable, annoyed and feeling, at times, bullied due to their insensitivity.

Adding to the mix is the social media resources available to us today,face book, twitter and my space. These medias were meant to help people stay connected in a busy world with never enough time. Yet, something that was meant to take technology and move things forward and served to move them back in some ways. People are finding new ways to hurt and harass each other. Cyber bullying. Wow, a new way to be impolite to others. You can now be an even bigger coward by remaining faceless and spreading nasty rude comments about people through tests and anonymous posts on these medias to upset someone. This not only serves no redeeming value to society, it was not the intended purpose whatsoever for the media that was developed.

When I was a kid, getting a mean note from a girlfriend was emotional but at least the rift was confined to me and her. Today, that little spat can be read by literally millions of folks all over the globe if the opposing side is impolite and has no social consciousness. Often times, one never knows until one is in conflict with someone what their true character truly consists of and then it can be too late. This badgering harassment through media will continue to be addressed by lawmakers and continue to cost tax payers money until it can be stopped or monitored in some fashion. Without threats of accountability, some people will stop at nothing to hurt others. It is like a cave man mentality that arises even now in our present day century with microwave ovens! What a shame this alone costs tax payers and Americans thousands of dollars in mental health issues and work performance issues.

One evening, while flipping through Cable channels, I come across some reality program called Charm School. Apparently regular people that had been thrown off other reality dating shows were now given the opportunity to be on this show. The ones that were chosen were picked due to their lack of social graces. They were being taught how to be courtesy, or as the title implies, charming. Given the lack of etiquette many of them had, that was going to take more than one television show with Sharon Osborne to fix their issues. The show I saw that night, the women were loud speaking foul language, obnoxious, and rude. I was amazed they had made it on a television show with such a lack of manners so attributed it to possible mediocre acting on their the part for the show as if they were just rude, aka uncharming.

A few weeks later, while out with some friends, I noticed some of the people seated around us. It is one thing to be loud and having a good time, but it is entirely something else to be rude and obnoxious to your waiter or to others seated within your party or other diners nearby. I began to see that some of what I saw on that Charmed School show on television really does occur in clubs these days. I must have missed it because I am usually too busy having fun with my friends to notice. Plus I feel blessed I have friends that have good manners! I guess if they don’t, they are not on my list of people I prefer to hang out with and I am not on theirs either!

I subscribe to that simple rule I learned in children’s bible class and then again in school, the Golden Rule. “Treat others like you would like to be treated.” What a simple rule, so easy to follow too. If society, as a whole, practiced it more readily, how many children would not be bullied and therefore saved from being ridiculed daily? How many less teens would take their lives? How many folks would not feel disheartened on the job by peers being rude? I agree with my friend, all it takes is just being a little more polite to make a huge difference. You should try it sometime. See for yourself.

Oh and spread the good news. Being polite really does pay dividends, not just for you, but for us all!

When society wins, we all do, immeasurably.


Cancer Could Have.........


It could have spread through my body,
It could have left me hurting and in pain,
It could taken away my believe in God,
and it could left the fight to life in vain.

And yes there were moments,
When I surely wanted to die,
There were days when I lost my faith
And asked God repeatedly “Why?”

But each and every time,
The visual images that helped me get through,
Were the pictures in my head,
and surrounding my bed,
The hopes and dreams of a future,
and little ones I could nurture.

See when I think of precious little flower buds blooming,
On the lowest of days in treatment and death was a fear
I knew that my grandchildren deserved a loving grandmother
Who would forever treasure and hold each of their lives as something dear.

And so as I live now
Each day as if it is my last,
I never keep cancer out of prayers,
Or forget the role it played in my past.

My grandchildren are symbolic,
Of God’s grace of new life He gives to this earth,
For each one He takes from us,
He proceeds by giving us a new birth.

We are meant to live life with humility, faith and passion,
We are meant to die in much the same fashion.

We are indeed blessed people.


Two Special Boys

No matter where you go,
No matter where you land,
Please know my darling grandsons,
I will have an outstretched hand.

I see in you a light that shines,
I see hearts that are so true,
I see the prove of God's existence,
And it awakens my faith anew.

Please know a day never goes by,
Without one of the last things I do,
Is ask the good Lord for his mercy,
To fall like raindrops on both of you!

The bond between brothers is like no other.

Jake & Ty Ryan Glasmeier


Pathway to the Future

History truly does repeat itself, even in the homes of America. More specifically, in my immediate family, a tradition has been started. One that has been carried down and lives on.

When I was in 5th grade, my father sat me down one night, after dinner with some exciting news .He told me that he was taking two years off of his current job at the Air Force Base he worked at to pursue his Doctorate. He felt this was something that he had, for far too long put on hold. He stressed to me the importance of a good education, the virtues and the ability to be a better provider and the personal enrichment of more education. Consequently, we would all have to make some sacrifices. The cost was worth it because of the benefits. I could, even at my young age, see that clearly.

The lesson stayed with me throughout my youth into my young adult hood years. When I found myself pregnant unexpectedly and having to bypass college plans at the traditional age, I was quite taken back. I vowed to one day make that degree, the education my father preached about, a reality. It took several years, but two kids later, and off I would go. I attended part time at first and then switched to full time when my youngest began kindergarten. Even on the heels of a divorce, I was not deterred from continuing my pursuit of the degree. In fact, I was so driven, I carried two majors in college, held down a house, sole custody of two children and worked part time as an assistant editor for a book publishing company while carrying a full course load in college. Friends thought I was crazy. No one told me I was amazing, intelligent or courageous. I think then many thought I was just plain nuts.

Two people thought I was brilliant. The two people on earth that mattered to me most, my motivation for moving forward also, my children, Mike and Christina. I believe parents are strong role models, when they choose to be. My kids sat with me while I studied and did their homework too. When they didn’t have any to do, I did all the normal things mothers do with their kids. After they went to bed, I stayed up till well past midnight studying and started the day all over again, but dreamed during the night of providing them and myself a better life.

I finally did graduate. I could not attend a graduation ceremony. I had no money to get a cap and a gown. I needed the money so my children could get off of free lunch programs and start buying lunch again. We were all sick of Taco Bell’s specials as our only nights out for dinner. I grabbed the first job I was offered even though it was not the dream job. It was one that had a paycheck attached to it and had required a bachelor’s degree and that was good enough for me and for my two children. And better off we were! And we never looked back again.

Just a few months, my daughter completed her Masters degree in Nursing and passed her accreditation to be a Nurse Practitioner. This was done while balancing her career in Nursing working full time at a Children’s Hospital being a mother to a small infant son. She is married so has a strong support system in her husband but none the less, attending school and studying while working full time is not easy. But yet, I think having had a mom that accomplished this , my daughter knows she can do anything she sets her sights on! She did it with flying colors and is now working as a nurse practitioner at a clinic and putting her husband in school so that he has the same opportunity she had. I am proud of her and her grandfather is even prouder!

On the other side of the coin, my son married a woman that fits right in to the family dynamics. He went onto straight from high school to college and then to get his PhD in Dentistry. He then served a few years in the Armed Services and obtained further training and additional credentialing. Him and his wife have three small children. After having left the military, she has decided to pursue her education! With three children and all that entails, being married to a professional man with a full time demanding career, she is managing this. She is realizing her dream amidst a lot of controversy as folks sit on the sidelines thinking she is plain nuts. Even with a nanny, three children is no easy feat. There is a never ending list of to do things at that house and items to juggle on the household calendar. Yet she does it will amazing skill and still gets the best marks possible in her classes. And my son is as supportive as he can possibly me. He knows women deserve educations.

I thank my father for teaching me that the value of an education truly starts in the home. It is taught by one’s parents that it has a priceless value. His talk to me was passed to my children. My children took it to heart and both went further with their studies than I and are living proof the message landed on receptive ears. Both of my children’s spouses are currently enrolled in college, attending full time in spite of the fact both have small children in their households. I am one proud mother in law!

Encourage your families to push for additional education, in any method they can. Learning can come about in many ways, by attending seminars, from watching the learning channels, from reading, from conducting research on line, from staying informed on current affairs. Our youth need to consider higher education more seriously. We cannot overcome our weaknesses as a nation and our lack of overall unity by being ignorant. We all must be educated and teach each other every chance we get. Ignorance breeds contempt and loathing. Be open minded, read, listen to others and teach young people to continue to want to learn. Someone once said the best thing college gives you is a well rounded eduction. The curriculum is designed to do so. A nation of educated peoples will help build a future with promise. Seek education in any form you can get it, with it you gain power and wisdom. Without, you are lost at sea.


Here the Comes Sun

“Here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right” and she sings gleefully as she spins around and around and then races in a circle as if she is a dog chasing her tail. But it is simply little Ava singing her new favorite song from a movie. The movie has not even ended yet but, in anticipation, she is up already from her seat off the couch, dancing and running in circles singing as loud as can be for all the world to hear about the sun coming out and I can’t help but laugh out loud as she sings “Little darling.” To hear this line sung by a little three year old wearing a shirt that says “Thing 1!” Oh, what would Dr. Seuss have to say about that?

I think this song is just a classic because of what it says. No matter what is going on in the world, what tragedies befall us, the sun will eventually break through. Amen for the sun’s ability to do that. Amen for God willing it to be so.

This weekend was a walk for Autism and we were participating for my grandson Ty. Autism is something that will affect my grandson Ty Ry for the rest of his life and our entire family. It has heightened our awareness keenly of the need of family support systems. We need to be there for Ty and for each other as he journeys through life. How appropriate that on this same weekend we have this walk, my nephew would choose to come to Nashville for the first time ever and participate in this walk. What a beautiful thing to show, even in the years of absence he remembers the bond with his cousin, Mike that he began playing with at about the same age Ty is now. It was also a chance for us meet his son Dominic for the first time.

Dominic had begun living with his father in the past year more often than not. However, I am not sure he really knew much about us, the extended family. So I am certain, when he learned of this trip, he was probably quite nervous, excited and apprehensive also as most little 3rd grade boys would be. We were strangers to him. And yet, he came here shy, full of apprehension and left here after three days, full of smiles, laughing and good memories. He left us with quite a few of him also!

Dominic was forewarned about a little boy with autism who would not be able to interact with him at all. And yet, on Sunday before Dominic left, he marched upstairs to the playroom/family room to say good bye to his cousins. The last person he reached was Ty. Being only 2, and small for his age, Dominic had to bend over at the waist to get closer to Ty's level. It is hard also to get Ty's attention as he is known for being unfocused and not having good eye contact. This day, I saw something amazing between these two boys.

Watching, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dominic lean down and address Ty saying "Hi little buddy, hey there. I am going now and going to miss you Ty. " Ty immediately responded to him by listening. Dominic went on to say,"You are a special little guy and I really like you. I really want to hug you so bad. Can I hug you?” Dominic knew better than to try and risk Ty having a fit so he just stood there staring at Ty expecting nothing. What happened next was simply inspiring. My little grandson threw his arms around Dominic's legs to hug him. And then, as Dominic thanked him, Ty looked up at his face and smiled. It was a special moment representing a special unspoken bond, I could see it clearly. I looked over at Dominic and said “I can’t believe what I just saw.” He played it down and just said that it was nothing. "Me and the little guy just hit it off."

A short time later, I watched my sister’s car pull away with my nephew and his son Dominic in the car heading home to another state. I hoped and prayed they would be back sooner rather than later. I felt that these two boys, perhaps, needed each other. There was something divine I had witnessed. It is in the small moments of life that God reveals Himself and His ability to draw folks towards each other. He put these two together at that precise moment in time. How he would use a little boy like Dominic to touch a little boy like Ty is something even I can’t even begin to understand. But I do know that Dominic will never ever forget Ty. My grandson has touched him, I could see it in his eyes.

As I walked back upstairs to Ava, I was met with another chorus of “Here comes the sun, here comes the sun…” and I could not help but wonder if these two boys were possibly the sun for each other. I know for me, I saw something far greater than the sun come out that day.


Solo Time

My doggie lost his privileges. We picked him up from boarding school, better known as doggie camp and the usual report card accompanied him. Unlike past stays when we received a stellar report, this report card one was loaded with comments about his apparent need to dominate members of the opposite sex. In fact, he was indiscriminate in his tastes. I chose to think my dog embraces diversity.

This type of behavior by Charley was strongly dealt with when he was in obedience training years ago when he was just a young pup. Even then, he had this overwhelming urge to let everyone know in the class who was boss. And it most definitely, most evenings was not the person holding the leash. Unless the leash holder was the top trainer leading the class, who whipped the collar with no mercy. She could snap that chain with her wrist and bring our 100 lb lab to his knees screaming, in doggie language, “Uncle!” But as soon as the leash was handed to us, the best we could do was throw Cheerios at him! This was our feeble attempt to get him to listen to our commands of “No humping Charley” followed by “We do not sniff other dogs butts Charley!” No amount of Cheerios in the course of the evening seemed to dissuade him from this beastly behavior and make him act like a boy we could be proud of.

Fast forward to today. We pay extra to have Charley attend Pal Time when we go out of town and board him. We want him to have play time with other dogs so that he does not spend 24/7 in a cage when he is use to having the run of our house. The only other time he gets out of the cage is to urinate if he was not granted play time. Granted we always request the suite for Charley. I mean he is worthy of deluxe accommodations, naturally, because of his large stature. Hence his cage is a mere 8 x 8 foot cage, larger than some prison cells, I dare say, complete with TV in the cell block tuned in and playing to the Animal Channel for his viewing enjoyment during his stay. He even has a doggie bed. Unfortunately, the doggie bed is made for more of a doggie about the size of a cocker spaniel, thus, it only accommodates Charley’s head and possibly his front paw.

In the past, Charley has gotten to enjoy Pal Time every day. We have the bills to proof it! He spends a few hours with a few other dogs his size just playing out in the fenced area wearing himself and the other canines out. This is his social hour and the time for him and the other dogs to network and make connections, and build friendships. Charley has made several along the way. His trainers have been good about keeping us posted on his friendships that have developed during his stays there. We have received comments on the report cards such as , Charley and Peter the Poodle hit it off real well this visit or Charley and the Golden Retriever Lucky had a gay ole time indicating this lab was possibly male also.

Imagine our surprise then, when this week, after four years of visits there, things have permanently changed, and not for the better! He was picked up and the report card that accompanied our dog/child was a bad report. It felt like our son flunked a grade after making straight A’s all the way through. It came with no warning. There was no change in his behavior either,preceding this report to indicate a change was coming. He was not acting moody, depressed,or more barky. But yet, right there on the report, in pen was clearly written, “Charley is no longer allowed to attend Pal Time during his stays here at My Second Home.” Not a word was said when he was picked up to us. We were simply told here is good old Charley and here is your bill and we loved having him. Perhaps they were concerned Charley would be embarrassed if behavior issues were addressed in the lobby with other parents in the area to overhear and other play mates of his But, I would have preferred some advance notice, a parent/trainer conference would have been nice!

Forgo the formalities, the time of subtleties is gone. The verbiage on the report was not left to the imagination at all! It painted a very clear picture. Our dog had routinely, during Pal Time, insisted on trying to mount all his other play mates. This was considered unacceptable behavior. In fact, I think it might possibly be grounds for sexual harassment of the other guests. Forget the fact these are dogs, humping is not allowed. It was stated that our dog could get hurt by humping other dogs. Somehow our 100 lb dog might hurt himself doing what dogs do naturally. Apparently, even with the one on one trainers that are assigned to each dog that boards, restraining Charley from this behavior is too hard to do. On the good side, there was no mention of him trying to mount any 2 legged characters in the camp. God knows how that would have turned out or what would have been stated on his report card had that occurred. Charley could have been banished for life from doggie camp! Imagine his disappointment!

So it is with deep regret that we are faced with yet another setback in our life with Charley, he has been barred from Pal Time at My Second Home now. He is only permitted Solo Time where he can get out and roam the grounds all on his own but with no one to play with. I am disappointed for him because I know he will lonely and will wonder why he is being ostracized like Rudolph at camp. I am disappointed for the other doggies also for their loss because he is a loveable dog that I think other dogs will miss playing with because he is a character. No longer will there be a chance for their report cards to say what probably many have said in the past, “Made a great friend with a lab named Charley this stay.”