12/09/2012

Lessons in Holiday Shoppers



Working retail during the holiday season has reminded me of the worst and the best of the holiday shoppers, that being all of you!  Oh, I have seen it all, from the best of the best to the extreme worst. 

There was the woman that threw a fit because a door buster for $9.99 would make her 25% off coupon exempt.   It stated it on the ad and on the coupon but she was smoking hot. Forget the fact it normally retails for $25.00 and she was getting it for 60% off.  She wanted a manager to personally explain why and until so, she did not want to budge from the counter and let another person be rung out..  Give me a break lady. I was about ready to pull out my wallet and pay the extra $2.50 just to get her to quit blocking up the line! I told my associate to give her the discount and even that displeased her; she still wanted an explanation. I told her to go to the service desk for one. I was only authorized to give her the 25% because she was so unhappy.   Oh brother! 

Then there is the other extreme, the kind gentleman who sees someone short on money and offers to pay the difference for someone in front of him. Or the woman who has a list from a teenager on an angel tree. Never having had children of her own, she not only buys everything on the list but adds a few things to the list for the girl.   Her additions are simple things she asks me to help her pick out.  The extra added list included  a winter coat, leather jacket, prom dress,  2 pair of jeans, coordinating legging outfits and 3 extra tops with matching pants in addition to the items she was suppose to choose from!  She said it was important the girl be happy on Christmas since she had no parents and would feel alone like she did with no children.  This, she said, was her best gift for Christmas to herself. Why is the world not full of more people like this? Does this not epitomize unselfish love and giving a gift without any personal recognition either?  

I love the guy who yelled at my worker when she pulled out her calculator to double check her math. Our calculator was missing one day and the dresses were not ringing up right so we had to mentally calculate the costs and readjust them on our register. She wanted to make certain she had the cost figure right.  When she pulled it out, the man yelled at her assuming she was placing a call with some profanity thrown in there.  When she explained what she was doing, no apology was given.  He did not even react as if he heard her. Of course he didn't for then he would have to admit he was being a jerk.   Some people show their true side when on the other side of the counter, when being serviced instead of servicing others. I duly noted other customers did apologize, for him!  Those others have a conscious and have compassion.  They will certainly get to heaven in the express lane.  He will be stuck in the car wash for his dirty mouth.  

Let us not forget the rude customer service folks behind the counter either.  The one that is snappy with the customers.  They wait for the customer to bring up coupon savings without mentioning it in order to drive up their sales dollars.  If the customer doesn't ask about any deals, the service personnel doesn't either so they drive the sales up.   Most are paid either based on commission or based on sales goals, e.g. sales dollars rung up per hour.  Isn't good service trying to provide customers with savings? I find doing so will net return customers. In fact, they will spend more if I present savings, not less.   Wake up people, be helpful to others and mindful of providing savings to all.   Selfishness is so unattractive and will come around in the end to bit you you-know-where.   Ouch!  Also, how disturbing to have conversations going on among employees when you are there trying to get service. I, as a consumer, hate that, and as an employee, I hate to hear or see that.   Extremely rude! 

The shoppers that are sheer joy are the ones with the faces of love of Christmas and full of the spirit of giving and of the season!  They come in the store full of bounce and zip ready to find gifts for others and, along the way, buy gifts for themselves too. They laugh, smile and speak of their plans. They greet others with smiles, help others with decisions and wish others Happy Holidays with no hesitation.   They appear carefree, full of the light of the light of the season.   They emulate Christmas.   They are why I am here this season; they are contagious to be around.  

It will take a very long time to forget the little boy from hell that came skipping into the department two nights ago.  He was dragging every article of clothing he could reach right along his way, a tornado with a cute little face with moppy blond hair in his face, leaving a massive path of destruction behind him everywhere he wandered. At one point, he wandered away from my department and with him, his parents left also. Yeah!

But that was premature thinking. His mother quickly came flying back towards me, quicker than his feet flew through our entire area,  all the while frantically half yelling for me to help her. She said he was missing.  I called our Security Department immediately.   When I began to describe him, I was met with, “We know who this boy is.  Is this the same boy that was banging his head in the mirror behind you, tearing the bags out behind the register and running in and out of the changing rooms and being a holy terror over there?”   Needless to say, they had not lost sight of him from the minute he walked in the store.  Once he was safely back to his parents arms, he was brought back to my department for a joyful reunion to me. In his exuberance to see me, he proudly stomped his foot on mine as hard as he could, while I was ringing out another customer.   Ah, the love of a cute 4 year old, aka Dennis the Menace.   I wonder if he would recognize what coal is.

The stories I have heard make me feel like I have a better understanding of what bar tenders must hear. It is so wonderful to hear about other people’s lives.  When you are a stranger, and are brought into people’s lives in these rare moments in time around the holiday season, people are so much more sentimental and open.  I have heard such moving stories and learned of such giving hearts. 

Several women have brought their teen age daughters to shop with them and landed up buying them extra things for gifts.  Their unknowing daughters are trying on items in the dressing room and their moms sneak back out front to the registers asking me to put something on hold or an associate I work with so the gift will be a total surprise all the while telling their daughter “no, we are not buying one more thing.”  I wonder what it's like to feel as if not getting a shirt is the end of the world.   When you age, you miss that kind of stress somewhat. As we get bigger, so does our problems, our stressors.    We need to practice what we teach our kids, don’t sweat the small stuff, the name brand sweater is awesome but at the end of the day, how you feel about you matters the most. 

Though the experience is eye opening and a thrilling ride in many ways, nothing can replace the joy outside my working life. If I need reminded, last weekend I got it.  Standing at the register amongst a throng of customers, answering questions, getting pulled this way and that, I thought I detected a familiar voice.  At first I ignored it, but then it came louder and I made out the word, “Grandma.” I knew in an instant it was my grand-daughter Ava.   She was dressed all girly from head to toe and out on a shopping trip with her mommy and came by to say hi.  I was so proud to show her off.   I scooped her up, as soon as I had a chance, to give her a big hug and tell her I loved her.  There is nothing in the store that is as priceless to me as that baby girl or the time I can spend with her.   Christmas is only one day, the time we spend preparing is something we should do all year long. Something to think about, aye?

11/18/2012

The Gift of an Autistic Adult Son

It was a long Saturday night at work.  I needed a break and headed over to the coffee stand to get a chai tea.  As I waited for my drink, a woman caught my eye. She was sitting nearby on a bench with her arm around a young man. He was good looking, appeared very shy and had headphones on. Something about him struck me as very different, for starters, he kept his hand downward and seemed to smile a great deal, something I seldom see young people his age do.  

His mother, I presumed, had her arm over his shoulder was lightly rubbing his shoulders with her hands and occasionally bending over whispering something in his ears.   As I glanced over and caught her eye, we exchanged smiles.  Once I got my drink, I went over and asked her about the headphones as they looked quite different to me, larger than normal I thought. It was then she told me that they were a special pair, to reduce sound because her son is autistic and has issues with auditory stimulation. Too much noise over stimulates him so they put those on when in public to cut the noise level down to decrease the incidence of outbursts.  

I told her I had young grandchildren that were autistic and found them to be extremely loving children. She began to tell me the story of her son.  He was her second child. She had been a kindergarten teacher when he was born four years after his brother.   He seemed to be behind early on but she assumed he would catch on and catch up eventually. Once he started in school, he was considered more of a problem child as he was given to fits and being somewhat violent out of frustration and diagnosed with autism at that point. He was removed from public schools as she quickly learned they were not the best equipped, in her opinion, to deal with her son’s needs.   She quit her job and devoted much of her time to getting him into special therapy and classes for autistic children.  

He is now 22 years old, operates at about the age of a three year old and is the one of the biggest joys of their family’s lives.   He is extremely affectionate and asks for nothing in return.   He speaks but is limited in his vocabulary.  The most important thing to a mother and father he can say though, communicate his basic needs.    He has his  odd idiosyncrasies but that is what helps make him special and unique.   For example, he enjoys picking up trash so while we were talking, off he went in a circle picking up some trash some loiters had left on the carpet around us.   His mother watched him all the while with a smile on her face and said she has learned to find his little tasks like this endearing.  There is no use in telling him that the cleanup crews will clean up the pieces of paper he is picking off the carpet.  He derives so much happiness in doing so that to interrupt him would only cause him anxiety and sadness.   If they don’t watch him at home, he enjoys talking all of the toilet paper off of the rolls and the paper towel rolls as well!  These types of things are part of the humor and joy of living with autism.

He cannot tie his shoes but he can wave at people when they address him, and at times, he does. His mother said she was not sure how he would react to me but I could try to say hello to him.   He kept looking my way and smiling so I slowly looked at him and made eye contact a few times. Then I knelt down being careful not to get too close and lightly put my hand on his back right by his mother’s hand, smiled and said hello.  He stared down at the floor, smiled real big and said hello back.  For an autistic person, this is wonderful, this is a welcome, and I was so pleased he accepted me. I told him it was a pleasure to meet him and meant it!  That exchange meant my day,  he was just a sweet young man.

His mother’s story did not end with her son.   This Thanksgiving season has more in store for her family. As she sat there on that bench, so peaceful and full of joy, beneath the surface, she is praying reverently for a miracle.    I hope those of you reading this will too.  You see, as she sat there, hanging on to her son closely, as if the two of them were the only two people in the world, her world could get quite a bit smaller indeed.
Her husband and her only other son, 26 years old has both been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She went on to elaborate and tell me the prognosis is not good and everyone at the church is praying for some sort of miracle. She knows in her heart they will be healed.  However, she is not sure it will be done on earth, as it is looking more likely it will be healing in heaven.  She is accepting God’s plan with the grace she accepted her autistic son twenty two years ago.  They were only at the mall today because both men were having a good day and wanted to get out.  She sat there telling me that she was so grateful that she had her son because one day he may be all she has and she would need him as much as he needs her. 

I told her I would share her story.  Thus, I am.   I believe her faith is beautiful and shows the light of God.   I believe that is partially why her son’s smile is so bright.   I told her of my young grandsons and she offered words of wisdom.  I hope you, that are reading this, will find the time to reach out to this stranger in prayer.  

There is no way I could hear this story and not reflect on my two grandsons, Ty and Jake.  Her son was so good looking and really looked like any other twenty two year old. For some reason, I sensed he was autistic but yet there was nothing about him to clue me into it directly. The woman told me that once you have been around autism you seem to have a keener sense of those that possibly have it than others do.   I believe I met her for a reason.   She was truly inspirational and she loved hearing about our family’s Jake and Ty. 

I also believe, if you think of this woman’s story this Thanksgiving, you will realize you too have a lot to be thankful for and to be smiling about. The image of her, the loving mother,  on that bench with her devoted innocent son sitting next to her wanting nothing but his mother’s unconditional love was precious.  In a world full of unsatisfied wants and needs that seem to be endless, it is refreshing to see quiet acceptance and embracing of what some see as a difficult situation.  Who would imagine  themselves in this situation and sitting anywhere happy and at peace?

May we stop for a moment in our tracks and reflect on what we truly do have. May we rejoice in those gifts.  And last, but certainly not least, bless you for what you bring to God’s kingdom, your uniqueness and the light you shine.  May it continue to shine on earth till our true King calls you home.  

Updated video on Ty Ryan & Jake James Glasmeier Below :

11/03/2012

Teresa Marie - You Did It On Your Own!




Sometimes real people are as inspiring as super heroes. It depends on what they do with their life, with their special skills, with their blessings.   There are those that do nothing with them. There are those that make riches, quite literally.  There are those that weave a web of fame or power.  And then there are those that create history, working hard for mankind.   Then there are those that inspire others simply by their human frailty, by their humbleness.   Those special folks that are not looking for accolades from anyone for what they do, they simply give out of the pure goodness of their heart because they love and care about others and believe God’s word says we are to love unselfishly and be there for each other, even when others forsake us.

I remember years ago meeting such a little girl. I was only about 4.  She was beautiful, and had a gorgeous white veil on and a dress that made her look like a mini bride to me. She was singing songs and dancing outside of a Catholic church around a serene image, a concrete statue of Mary that was adorned with flowers.   She was the type of child you knew,  with a glance,  would one day make Mary proud. She would certainly grow up to be  a loving kind happy mother.  She had that look in her eyes that showed a maturity beyond her years.   There was always an intensity about her, a deep passion and yet a need to care for others.  

It took many years before she actually did conceive a daughter.  She did not complain, during all those years in between,  as she had her son. A  second child seemed like something that would never happen in her lifetime. Getting pregnant was not easy anymore.   And the thought of a daughter, not in the cards.  What did she even know of mother - daughter relationships anyways?  Her life had been void of a real stable mother figure anyways how who would be the role model for her? She would have to totally wing it on her own.

One day, the news came that she was indeed pregnant. Not long afterward, I learned that the baby was indeed a girl, a
precious daughter for the little girl with a veil with flowers stuck in her hair and a bride dress on at age six,  with no mommy.   She was now going to be her own little’s girl’s mother.  God wanted her to have a chance to see what she missed. Now she would capture the joy of the experiences from the other side of the relationship she never had!   Her eyes lit up and her heart began to sing, just like they did when she six and went round and around the statue of Mary, singing her songs of praise……
                            

10/28/2012

TABOO - Is Breast Cancer a Dirty Word?


It has been a long time since I have curled up on my bed and thought long and hard about what is was like to be there suffering through chemo. Last night I did just that.  I came home, after being asked to leave work early and laid in my bed in the dark just reflecting on that period of my life. Sometimes it seems like eons ago. Other times, it seems like yesterday. It reality, it was five years ago.

I was told at work last night, after less than a week of working at a high end women’s fashion store that being a breast cancer survivor is something I am not to share with anyone. Being a survivor is something other women see as very sad, depressing and is not pretty.  A customer I assisted this week had a pink survivor bracelet on and I congratulated her on her recovery.  She told me she was a two year survivor and had just had her reconstruction completed from her double mastectomy.   The manager did not care to hear any of that; she said any talk of breast cancer is totally unacceptable. No one cares whether I had cancer or not and there is to be no talk of breast cancer in the store.  Breast cancer is sad, depressing and does not make anyone feel pretty. We are in the business of making people feel happy and pretty. If people don’t feel that way, they won’t spend money.  I want sales in my store and for that to happen, women need to be happy.” 

She made it quite clear I am not to mention to anyone ever again that I am a breast cancer survivor.  This discussion took place in the back stock room right after I got to work. All the other employees in the area were quickly told to leave the room as it was obvious I was going to be talked to in private by the big boss.   There were two other items on her agenda discussed but this was the item that really took my breath away.  Quite honestly, I was shocked.

I was told that the effect of me mentioning breast cancer to her business was that it would create a negative spiral and cause no one to want to shop in the store if they knew a survivor worked there.   I am to only talk about the clothes in the store.  She spoke as if I stand around and talk about breast cancer on the job for hours.   No one there knows anything about my battle, not the type I had, where I had treatment, where I lived when I was diagnosed, etc…because I have never discussed a single aspect of it with anyone, including a customer.  

She went on to warn me that my hours will be cut if I am heard bringing up this subject again.  Eventually she would have to let me go, as in lose my employment.  Breast cancer is an ugly thing.   Women will walk past her store and not come in.     She continued to educate me on how she feels the other half of women see breast cancer, seeing women like me as sad and feeling more like what she described as pitiful than compassion towards a survivor.  Customers will then, according to her, not feel beautiful being in the store or want to buy clothing there and will leave not spending money.    She will not stand for me affecting her sales.  Cancer is ugly.    It doesn’t seem to matter that there are signs all over the store about her corporation sponsoring hope for breast cancer, even selling Hope T shirts benefiting breast cancer.    Or that this store is for women, a disease that affects women.

This was repeated to me countless times.   I suppose she thought I had a severe case of chemo brain and wanted to be sure I heard it all correctly and it stayed etched in my brain. I have never, in five years, been made to feel so unclean and ugly as I was last night about the fact that I had breast cancer.   No one has ever looked me straight in the eye and actually said to me that nobody cared that I had breast cancer. Though I know that is not true as I have a wonderful support system, the sting of her words burns in my memory and heart. I find tears stinging my eyes even now when I think of my friends that have died and those that have fought to survive this dreaded disease being cast in this ugly group with me. 

I pride myself on having a positive attitude.  I can’t believe women would discriminate against other women simply because of a disease no one asks for.  But yet, it does exist, in a high end women’s clothing store in mainstream America.  Odd too that it would occur in the South where the disease is even more prevalent.   I had a conversation with only one other customer at this store about breast cancer.   This woman was in the store trying to buy a Hope T shirt in the size large as she could not find it at the other store location.  I asked her if she knew anyone that was affected by breast cancer.  She responded with who she knew.  I told her I was a survivor also and thanked her for her support.  I asked her if she was walking the Komen Walk and when she responded no I simply said thank you for wearing the shirt to show your support.  

However, during this exchange, a young twenty-five year old employee and another employee close to my age were standing idly by as it was slow that evening,  apparently ease-dropping on the conversation.  They must have heard something they found offensive and reported it back to the manager that I had indeed admitted to a customer that I was a breast cancer survivor.  That preempted the need for me to be reprimanded even though this woman was in the store for no other reason but to purchase the shirt for breast cancer.

I think what  I found the most upsetting was her general attitude about breast cancer. It was a reoccurring theme of it being ugly. Yes cancer is ugly,  but to imply that the women who survive it  are somehow perceived as ugly individuals and would somehow discourage other women from wanting to be around them  as it would interfere with their ability to feel beautiful is short sighted and unfair.  Furthermore,  to elaborate and state that women would actually avoid shopping at a clothing store to avoid being near a cancer survivor employee is just plain outrageous.   That mentality went out  years ago; cancer is not contagious.   Her concern is dollars in her store, nothing else. And for this conversation to take place in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the whole country is focused on awareness of one of the top medical issues we are faced with, how hypocritical.  She does not want to know if her customers are survivors, she just wants them spending money. Where is the heart and soul of the business model here towards the true inner beauty of a woman? How can you make a woman beautiful if you are unwilling to unleash her inner beauty also?

Today, I simply retreated, much as I did when I was in treatment.  My objective today was to digest how the world views me, a breast cancer survivor. I am not happy I had cancer, I did not want it, I am sad I had it.  But I am glad, in particular, I put the survivor at east, earlier this week,  in spite of the pain it caused me later in the week.  I am glad because her recent surgery was indeed painful, emotionally more so than physically. She needed to hear, from someone who had been there, right then, at that time, while trying on clothes, she was indeed beautiful. I suppose, in some ironic twist of fate, God put me there. And how twisted it is  that Saturday night I am sitting at the same store, in the back stock room.   Essentially I was being told for the same reason, because I am a breast cancer survivor and revealed it,  I am a deterrent, somewhat ugly, for anyone wanting to shop there.   I am blessed I told a woman the complete opposite earlier in the week on the other side of the wall.  

Earlier in the week, when this one customer told me she was a two year survivor, with that hopeful look that I would understand, I simply said five years for me. We shared that knowing look that says, ‘been there, done that.’ I told her what every women wants to know that has been to hell and back, “You look beautiful.”     I congratulated her and told her she looked awesome.   And we hugged.  

As the customer, a survivor,  stepped back in to the changing room, I was waved up out of the changing area by the assistant manager quickly.  She pulled me over to the side and said urgently, “Do not get close to the customers at all.” I explained to her, the assistant manager, that the customer had whispered to me she just got her final surgery complete on her reconstruction work.   She was a breast cancer survivor.  It didn't matter to her what the customer was going through, she did not want me talking about anything like this.  It is this mentality that this topic if foreign to them and not pleasant. 

It was apparent this assistant manager was upset by her demeanor.   Maybe when you have not walked the road of cancer, you cannot relate to how life changing it can be.  Or maybe you don’t understand how easily survivors naturally bond.  Having a support system when you are out there, trying on new clothes with a new body was wonderful Godsent for this lady. She had her new breasts in place and I was there for her, to stand by silently and give an honest opinion.  She knew I had been where she was just a few years before, without us exchanging a word.  She bought a multitude of clothes that , over $750.00.  

Incidentally, when the customer went to pay for her purchase, the assistant manager would not allow me to ring out her sale at the register. It was my customer and we are paid commission.  The assistant manager took the entire sale as her own. I suppose she was punishing for the exchange about breast cancer. 

Sales numbers and dollars are the only figures my supervisor, soon to be promoted to the district sales manager is concerned about. Here are some real hard numbers to look at also.   2.9 million and 18 million. The first number is how many  cancer survivors there are as of June 2012 in the United States according to the American Cancer Society and the second figure is the approximate number there will be in 2022. Among female cancers, breast cancer is the most prevalent with 41% getting breast cancer. The national norm is 1 out of 8 women get diagnosed.  The single largest group of cancer survivors is breast cancer survivors, making up 54% of all cancer survivors. That is a sizable percent of the buying population. If this manager, soon to be district manager of a female clothing store is correct in her assumptions, this organization is surely in for some rough times ahead!

I suppose I should caution other breast cancer survivors out there to not share their success with others in the work place or run the risk of being reprimanded. But, I leave that up to you to decide.  I will never open my mouth again without hesitating.   The look in her eyes, of total lack of compassion, was unfathomable to me. I had just come from walking the Susan  Komen walk.   I always knew I was prettier before cancer and here someone was pointing it out to me loud and clear. 

Sometimes, as a survivor, you think you are invincible, on top of the world. Then something happens and you feel knocked back down. Usually it is another cancer scare.  I never dreamed it would be a callous comment that would send me reeling.   Last night, I felt hit by a boulder that left me taking a critical look at myself.   At least at first it did.  Now not as much so. 

I hope other women that haven’t had breast cancer don’t look at breast cancer survivors like these three women do.   I pray they don’t.   I wonder, if this attitude is reflective of their company as a whole or just the individuals?   Actually I pray breast cancer survivors are not thought of as ugly, sad pathetic individuals who are bad for business and bring sales down for women’s clothes.  Fighting cancer is hard, is it fair we should also have to fight misconceptions after the fact that are groundless?  Please don’t prejudge us. 

It is hurtful and unfair to be judged based on a diagnosis for anyone, no matter what the diagnosis is and not for who you are as an individual.  Breast cancer does NOT define the person; it is a disease, treated and they hopefully conquered. 

I am strong.    I am a survivor. I will not be silenced.  If I was meant to be, God would have taken me. And yet, I am still here, still standing strong.  

10/14/2012

The Good Ole Cheek


Something happened yesterday that reminded me of my grandpa. I was at lunch with my grand-daughter and she kept reaching over and pinching my cheeks with her hands.  In her excitement to see me, she could not contain herself, nor find a way to express it other than just busting out this tight huge smile and squeezing just as hard as she could.  Yep, she had some of the Italian blood in her. I knew then and there, my Grandpa was smiling with joy at his great-great grand-daughter!

When I was a little girl, every time we were met at the door to walk into Grandma Gliatt’s house, Grandpa was always right there behind her all smiles.  The next thing to come was the dreaded cheek pinching.  It was Grandpa’s way of being endearing and no one had the heart to tell him it hurt like hell.   We loved him just the same. His face always had the kindest smile on it with a twinkle in his eye but when he grabbed your cheek and shook it, you prayed the minute went quickly.  When Ava did that yesterday, if I closed my eyes, I could have swore it was Grandpa again coming back to cheek on me again!

 It makes me reflect on just how much time has truly gone by since he passed away, both of my grandparents. They were from Italy and when they died, a rich history went with them.  The stories they would tell us of their life, when we could understand their dialect, which could be a challenge, were fascinating.  I wish I had more time with them to hear more stories.   It helps me understand where I came from, part of who I am today.

An integral part of growing up should be listening to older generations tell stories of days gone by.  These are the best history lessons of life.   Children need exposure to many role models and thrive on adult attention from more than just their parents.  I remember one older senior citizen named Louise that lived next to one of my grandparents.  She was an invalid with no legs.   I use to go over and visit her every time we saw those particular grandparents. She would weave on her big loom and also tell me elaborate stories of her years where she was courted and attending galas and enjoying life to the fullest.  These visits were treasured by both her and me.  It gave Louise an opportunity to share a glimpse back over the wonderful life that she had led.  This mutual time gave me a chance to peak into a world I would never know existed.  

I sometimes wonder, if in this world of modern media, technology and competitive sports for children of all ages is there time or an effort to have children be told stories?  Are they encouraged to bond with elders anymore?  The richness of history can really be found much more in the spirit and stories of those that have lived it.  Young people need to find the time to spend with those that have those experiences while they are here. 

My neighbor in Kettering, Ohio baked apple pies and told me about her children, husband and her years as a school teacher.  I was in grade school but she wanted me to know what life held for me in my future.  She died while we still lived in that house but I knew what kind of woman she was and I admired her.  I aspired to have the kind of heart she had and have the depth of love she had for her kids and her husband.( She was also a great baker! )  

I write my blogs for many reasons.  One of the motivations though is as a legacy. I want the opportunity to leave stories about me behind. I remember so many older people that cared enough about me, as a child, to sit and tell me their thoughts.   They shared their lives with me and I feel I am a better person because of it, their selfless sharing, and their openness.   

We live in a different reality.  There is a fear in society about talking to strangers. In my neighborhood, most of the folks don’t even know each other’s names much less talk to each other.  It is hard to even talk to a child unless the parents are friends for safety reasons these days.   Hence, never would a child come knocking on a door just to talk.

Society also tends to be quite a bit more judgmental.  I think more people are afraid to express these feelings due to the tendency to be categorized as this or that.   I understand that concern, however, I suppose I am a risk taker of sorts.   These women taught me that life is about risk taking.   Leaving my stories and reflections behind is like the old lady who weaved on the loom and sat alone in the retirement home.  If she never talked to anyone, her stories would have died with her.   Silence is not always welcome.  Blessed are those that share and more blessed are those that listen.   Please know, as you read this, I am squeezing your cheek…ever so slightly…      Grandpa Tell Me Bout The Good Old Days by the Judds
                                       YouTube Video Link Above

10/08/2012

UG-LY


As I was checking the SPAM comments of my blog page, I took time to view several unpublished comments. I routinely check these incase any reside there in error.   I feel, out of consideration for any potential reader that vests energy into writing feedback, I need to be forthright in checking that folder.

In my searching and scanning for anything of substance, I found the usual comments alright. Most of them, needless to say, listed under SPAM are not, shall we say, suitable for print.  Oh there was everything from the usual "Sex sells" agenda to the personal proposition by someone I have never heard of whom, apparently, has no shame.  I suppose anyone that has a blog is just like anyone that has an email, free rein for unwanted emails and comments.   Geez, reader, if you wanted even a remote chance of a hook up to a blogger, read on.  I would strongly suggest you read the blog and at least attempt to comment on it! There is my dating tip for the day, free of charge.
  
What amazed me, this time, about the comments under SPAM was the sheer volume of comments about one topic,  Uggs.  Let me repeat that incase you think you read it wrong, as I thought I had, Uggs, the boots. I put it in Google it to see what I was missing as there were comments from so many different sources about these boots.   What I learned was that Uggs are quite popular and made from sheepskin. They originated in Australia or New Zealand, apparently depending on which country you ask.  What is in agreement is that they date back as far as the 1950's. What other fashion dating that far back is considered trendy?   

This particular style of boot was worn during both World War I and II by aviators. The styling of the boots makes them functionally comfortable and the added insulation was a nice bonus for the pilots in the small cockpits. This type of boot was worn in the same time period by China and in the Arctic areas also due to the easy availability of sheep shearers, the main product component of the boots.  
  

How funny it is that the name came from a slang term from a woman calling these boots ugly, thus the term 'uggs."   The inside is fleece so they’re super warm and comfy with the outside made of leather (though sometimes synthetic).  In the country of origin they were constructed and worn for practical purposes, warmth and comfort period. They also used this type of construction and brand for slippers.   These slippers began to be popularized in the surfing industry and made their way internationally.  This caught the eye of the United States.  Uggs were work by the US team in 1994 Winter Olympics, Lillehammer garnishing even more notoriety.   


The Uggs are apparently popular and considered quite fashionable by some but deemed by others unattractive. I am told they are extremely comfortable and some women that claim to be, in their own minds anyways, fashion icons, say they are extremely cute. Each individual on my page had personal comments about Uggs about what their individual comments and thoughts were about Uggs as if I had written a blog about the darn boots. Some loved them, others hating them.  That is fashion for you, one person says these are simply to die for and the other person saying this item is a total waste of money, and  I would die before being caught wearing this with a cute outfit! 



Well, what is the average woman to do?  I reflected on the string of comments that had not got published due to being in my SPAM folder and not having one thing to do with my blog.  Oh brother!  Someone raved about what colors looked best, some poor soul without a life actually lamented about how lousy they held up in the rain (as if I care?), there were comments about what not to wear them with, what price to pay, where to buy your first pair of Uggs, what they go best with, and on and on.   It was like reading a monologue that never ends until I just said aloud “Enough!”  I quit reading and just hit delete all, that is SPAM comments with the word Uggs in it!

And yet, it was too late. It was gone from my computer screen, but not gone from my head. All that talk of Uggs was running back and forth in my brain.  It was like they forced me to write a blog about those darn boots. I felt I was somehow possessed by their madness towards these stupid iconic boots. I knew I would not get a moments peace from their idiotic rants they left on my page I read and somehow absorbed.   Here I am, writing about those darn Uggs, just as if they are commenting on my blog that I didn't write, prior to me writing it,  as if I wrote it. Did you follow that? If not, don’t worry, it has to do with their crazy ranting not mine.   

I should have wrote down the emails too.  I could have jotted off a few emails to those women.  They need to know those boots are not to die for.  They are not life altering.  There is a political campaign going on here.  Perhaps putting some of that passion towards our political process might be better spent.   Perhaps following public policy issues verses public fashion might take precedence at this time?  

Oh well, you touch some people’s lives with your blog and then there are those others. More importantly than the telling of a story, is hearing yours, the reader.   When someone opens up to me, ah, that is the real reward.  Shared caring, going full circle is the magic.  

So, I suppose it is with some degree of sadness I read those SPAM messages hoping beyond hope that one day a comment will be something worthy of my time.  But I am not altogether disappointed this time.  Due to this SPAM folder, I learned a great deal. Who knew there was so much to learn about Uggs?  And, if you can’t go through a day and learn something new about anything, a day is wasted.   And I may have just come up with another idea for my birthday list in November, to boot!

9/28/2012

Captured Innocence



When I was a child, I am not sure if taking photographs was frowned on, considered vain, poor etiquette or just not done like it is these days.   In any event, I can say there are relatively few pictures in existence of me when I was under the age of five or six.  Unfortunately, the ones beyond that age should be used to start a big bonfire.  To say I was a goofy looking child would be putting it mildly.   Maybe that was my goal, to make folks laugh.   I think Ugly Betty and I would have been best friends.   And my fashion sense, well that is another topic all in itself!

Maybe, for that reason, I have always gone slightly overboard on taking photographs of my own two children. I wanted to be sure they always had images of their younger years.  I felt it would be interesting to look back, when they had babies, to see if there was a resemblance.  Those old baby books I kept, with the infant and preschool photos inside are priceless, to my adult children and to me.  Now that they have children, I find about the only thing they care to look at in the book are the photos. They could care less what their first word was, their first solid food, etc.   

I was one of those mothers who dragged the kids and the husband to Olan Mills Studio for all three pictures sittings when offered this deal over the phone.  You remember the deal?  That is, after the 5th call to my house and three weeks of no sleeping at night, they finally wore me down and I said yes.  When I got to the studio and saw my baby’s pictures,  I broke down and bought the entire package.  How could I possibly say no when it was such an adorable picture of him smiling? Never mind that he probably just passed gas, in my mind, he was a happy baby full of joy.   

Oh and the next photo shoot, this sitting was the screaming photo. I am guessing this is a standard for all new moms.  This one his face almost matched the cute red corduroy pants his grandmother bought him for Christmas.  Even his bald little head was red.  She was going to be so touched I used them in these pictures.  This one he was not cooperative at all, I suppose colic kicked in. I really am not sure the lady believed me because all she seemed eager to do was get me and my son out of her studio and on our way.  That is, until we came back in to view the pictures, then she thought he was precious, even with his mouth wide home and tears streaming down his face.  I valued those pictures, at the time.  

By the time I was done with Olan Mills Photo Studio, all 3 sittings for their “fantastic deal” for new moms, my expense that year was equivalent to a house payment.  Good-bye Olan Mills Photo Studio, hello K-Mart special deal in the middle of the Blue Light special by the ironing boards.  Ironic too that a few years later, I found pictures lying around in a box.  I realized these were extras of those old Olan Mills picture days. Wow, what was I thinking; especially that second one. The only thing cute in the photo was the red pants!  I did the right thing, I burned them!   

When my grand-kids came long, my passion did not lessen any towards taking pictures. It only intensified. Facebook hasn't helped any either.  My adult children are very good-natured about it now. Much more accommodating than when they were the subjects of my photographs.

However, my grand-kids are quickly learning to pick up their parents’  attitude towards
Grandma’s camera. I am seeing a pattern begin with the older two.  Often, one of them will either start to run for cover or turn up a lower lip making a naughty shot that says pouting is what you are getting on film.  Or Ava, my only grand-daughter, is fond of simply turning her head down so I have a nice shot of the top of her head.  At least her mom puts pretty bows up there so I have a shot of a gorgeous bow for her in years to come.   Lately, though, I have found if I keep clicking my camera away, laughing all the while, eventually she will look up. And then, I get the perfect picture of her smile! Boy, what we Grandmas have to do to get a good picture.  Delete ten bad ones to get one good one. 

This year, prior to the  Autism Walk in Nashville, I asked my friend, Carole Robinson, reporter/photographer for the Williamson Herald for a favor.  She agreed to take photographs for me at this event of the kids. It is hard to be interactive with the children and, at the same time, be a shutter bug with the camera catching them in action. And the action shots are always my favorite, I hate the posed shots.  I wanted someone to be able to capture the special moments for me so that I could just be there, loving my grand-kids and be a part of their special day.

The Saturday the event was held was a perfect setting for pictures because it was made for children like my grandsons. Both boys are autistic, one is two and one is three.  Ty and Jake were two of the stars, our heroes.  And the field was wide open giving the kids full rein to run around and be free, something both boys so enjoy doing at will.   It was a beautiful sight  to see them in their wide eyed innocence, happy and laughing.   My niece, expecting her first born child child, watched with a twinkle in her eye wondering if her upcoming baby might one day be just as boundless in energy.


Our walking team was there to also show our support for the boys best supporters of all, their immediate family.   Every day my son, my daughter-in-law and their big sister Ava live with autism, the work and challenges that go into life with autism, never complaining, never questioning, just loving and accepting the challenges and moving forward.   They are the face of an American family dealing with a life altering diagnosis that is forever changing the landscape of their life.  In reality, it is affecting all of our communities, it is just some citizens have their heads turned downward,  like Ava occasionally does.  Eventually, just like I tell Ava, everyone in the communities will have to lift their heads up, look around and see....it is there.  You can't keep your head down forever. 


Captured images speak louder than words.  Perhaps this is where the blog should end and the video should begin…..    (click on the link below)   
Where's Jake?
                                                        ***VIDEO LINK***                                             







9/21/2012

Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Solitary Confinement's Devastating Toll

Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Solitary Confinement's Devastating Toll

(Click on Link Above)


This topic is something many Americans do not want to discuss, the plight of prisoners in the American prison system.  So many people, not a part of that system, feel the answer to issues involving right and wrong is simply to throw an unlawful person behind bars and toss away the key.   If a prisoner is treated poorly, so be it.  Perhaps inmates should have thought more cautiously prior to their offense.  For some reason, in society's mind, once they commit a crime, they lose their rights and  give up their right for human dignity.

How easily the general population forgets one day they may be back out on the street and even more angry than before they were pulled out of their home/life and put in a cage/prison cell.  What do they suppose the inmates will do with all that pent up anger if they are caged and treated horribly and find themselves finally free with a chance to let it all out?   What of the inmate who has a family at home hurting because their son, their spouse, their mother or their father is incarcerated because of poor choices; do they, the inmate deserve to be kept safe while in the state's custody serving time?  Does being incarcerated mean they are eligible for poor treatment, no dignity?  Isn't that system suppose to attempt to punish them and yet also give them time to reflect and come out a better person?   How can that happen if they are tortured?  What if they are falsely accused and, while awaiting trial they are put in isolation and are awaiting a second trial and at the first one are charged?  Your attitude changes dramatically on this topic when it becomes personal!

These are tough questions and I tip my hat to Senator Durbin for sticking his neck out there and delving into this topic.   He is showing compassion for a topic that is less than favorably in so many people's eyes. I believe that anyone who has an interest in this issue should let any member  serving on the Senate Judicial Committee know.

I can honestly say, until it touched me personally, I would have been hesitant to watch the clip, would have reservations about writing a congressmen and would not have taken the issue to heart.  Now I have learned more and I am astounded with the fact. Inmates are being placed in solitary confinement that are non-violent. It is not reserved for serial killers, rapists, ax saw murderers, repeat offenders. It is at the jail's discretion.   You, as an outside, never really know what is going on inside because all communication is screened going in and coming out.  Some people get put in isolation and the key is, metaphorically, thrown away.  23 hours a day  in a small cell by yourself day in and day out when you are not a menace to the prison population and are not given a chance to get counseling and yet the prison will claim you are evaluated and are fine.   Ask health care professionals in the mental health field  who would be fine under those circumstances.  These inmates have no bonding with anyone, they are alone, scared and feel lifeless   Essentially they lose their minds.   Thus, suicide abounds.   Some don't even wait for their  trial dates in court to check out.  They give up before they even get a conviction if they are kept in solitary too long.  The silence in a cell can be deafening.

Anthony Graves was a quiet man. He had to be for years.   He served 18 years in prison in the state of Texas on Death Row for killing a woman and several of her children. Now he is making noise; positive noise.   I hope people are listening to what he is saying and people care about his message.  Wrongly convicted, Mr. Graves spent much of his time in solitaire.  In 2010 his conviction was overturned  when the real killer stepped forward. In Graves words "Solitary confinement dehumanizes us all." He is now speaking out about his experience  in prison , testifying infront of Congress's congressional hearing looking into this Prison system of solitary confinement's precedence in our country's prisons and its effect. He also is  speaking all over America about the effects of this type of torture going on in our prison and his personal experience.

Isolation, solitary confinement as it is called, is not the beginning of rehabilitation, it is the end.   The beginning of the end.  It messes with the mind; it drives  even a sane person insane.  It is not humane treatment and it is being used at alarmingly high rates in prisons nowadays..  Inmates are creating self inflicting wounds or killing themselves because of this torture.  It cannot go on unchecked.   We have more people incarcerated in isolation than any other democratic state in the world. This has to stop.

For Dan, my step son, solitary confinement was the end of his world. When he was placed in jail, he began in solitary confinement. It was the beginning of December 2011.  Four months later, with no break from the isolation,  he decided not to wait for his trial date to come.   I suppose he thought the key to his cell was lost and that the prison guards had given up looking for it.  I think he thought the world had forgotten his existence and went on without him.   On March 19, 2012, he went out of that cell the only way he thought he could leave.  

Please care about this issue.  These men and women are not just statistics.


9/15/2012

A Lesson Learned




My husband and I were talking the other day while walking through the neighborhood. It was dark and the night was still. Perhaps the somber mood was appropriate as it matched my mood. Earlier in the day, I was recalling a previous memory of someone near and dear who has since left us.

For someone never short on words, I found myself rather tongue tied. How does one express such a loss that can’t be filled?  There is a hollow place in my heart that will always remain and yet I know my husband’s hole is far greater than mine. His sense of loss from the passing of his son, his only son, is an impassable pain that far exceeds mine.  And yet, I am still brought to tears if I recall some of my fondest memories of him. I never dreamed those would be the memories that would have to last a lifetime.  I only wished for one last hug, one last phone call, one last conversation, one last anything. Now I have to settle for prayers. 

I often wonder is there a good way to let go of someone before they leave your world, watch them die slowly so  thereby having a chance to say the long good bye or a passing where there is no chance to do so it is over quickly.  Maybe it is just plain self serving to even consider such a thing.  It would be too easy to be influenced by what is easier for you, the one left living verses the one that is dying. And besides, this is all God’s call, He controls destiny. 

Each moment is truly precious.   It is so easy to forget that and not treat it as such. In the blink of an eye,  we or someone we love dearly could be gone.  I had no idea, the last call would be the very last call ever from Dan. Who thinks that of a step son at age thirty two? Had I known the last message on the recorder would be the last one, I think I would have left it on our machine for years.   I don’t want to forget the sound of his voice.  No one sounds like Dan and I miss his sound. 


Gone are the days of Dan coming over and eating every last Reese cup in our house.   No more will the phone ring and we hear his voice on the other end with updates on his live and be overjoyed when something good is happening.  His children will miss his smiles.  No one to send Happy Birthday cards to when his birthday rolls around anymore even though he was too young to die. That trip we planned one day to take him to Disney World in Orlando, well it is never going to happen.  He won’t be walking his daughter down the aisle or kissing a future daughter in law who marries his son.  He won’t be there for either of his parents when they age and he won’t be there to hold our hands when we just want to be with him to let him know we love and miss him. 

I am not so naive to think we have the market on death or loss. I have attended far too many funerals for cancer victims over the last five years.  I also know everyone experiences death many times in their lifetime.  Many have felt just as cruel a loss as we have.  Mothers, fathers, children, wives.  It is never easy.   Going through this experience, though, has been different than another other death for me.    This is far different than losing a grandparent, a great aunt,  a casual friend.  This person was part of the heart of us.  This is someone we were certain would be a part of our future in some capacity, someone we were eager to see what his future held for him and his children! 

Death can be cruel to those  of us left on earth.  We celebrate the joy our loved ones created in our lives. We celebrate their legacy and their endless peace now in eternity.   We rejoice in it and that gives us comfort, most days.  But yet we still grief, to varying degrees. We often times have trouble carrying on. Some more so than others.   

Unfortunately, even those that move on well with life, have stormy days that come out of nowhere when the pain grips the soul.   Those days,  when it hits me, I miss Dan so much that it feels like a fragment of my heart breaks off.  The finality of not seeing or talking to him ever again is recalled like it is the first time I have ever faced it all over again.    

I had to write a paper in college on if I could spend one day with someone deceased who would it be and what would I say. At the time, I picked my Grandma Gliatti. I loved her passionately and had such fond memories. I think now I would have to change it and pick Dan.  Yeah, I most certainly would pick Dan Bronold.  I think some of what I would say is below.

“Dan, you always had a good heart inside.   Everyone that knew you well could feel that. When you died, your father, mother and I received countless cards, letters, emails and phone calls from friends that loved and missed you. Each one had stories to tell of what a wonderful support system you were and a great friend. 

Those stories made us laugh. Some made us laugh so hard we cried. The pictures your dad got, oh if you had seen his face you would have died laughing! They were pictures of you clowning around and he was so proud of your ability to make your friends enjoy life and be happy to be around you.  

Your mom held together well Dan but was so distraught inside that you were gone.  You meant the world to her so please keep a close eye on her from heaven.  You are needed by her and by us even from that place up there.   You thought you needed us but we need you too. 

Love, to me, is not just a word, but an intense feeling, something I do not say lightly or take for granted. I genuinely feel love in my heart for you and appreciate your ability to find love in your heart for me over the years and allow me into your life.  

Your parents may not have been perfect but everything they did they did out of love.  Your father may have seemed very hard on you Dan but he was so saddened that you did not believe in yourself and kept giving up on yourself. He tried everything to get you to believe in yourself and love yourself and you just didn’t.  Don’t mistake that disappointment for a lack of love because that deep profound love was always there Dan, it still is.   

I am glad you have seen and felt the Hand of God and his everlasting love. I am happy you have found peace.  I am saddened that you were the one person I waited one more time to say all the things I wanted to say and then never got the chance.  Know we will meet again and until then, know we hold you alive in our hearts in deep everlasting love Dan and we will miss you horribly until we are together again. “

didn't see this coming.  I didn't get to say any  of this to him. Now he is gone.  For someone who prides herself on being open and honest and never holding back words, with Dan I did.  The silence between calls became longer and it became easier to just keep silent rather than say what was in my heart when things in his life were on a downward spiral.  Maybe that is when he needed to hear them the most?   Things were left unsaid, always on the hope for a brighter tomorrow and then I would say them to Dan.  That day is never going to come.

                                                            Regrets can be painful lessons.   

9/10/2012

Can We Talk


Charley, I am not one to complain. Well, maybe not much. Well, maybe on some days not much anyways. But when I do, can I just say I really appreciate you listening and not judging me for voicing my opinion. You seem to always know it is important to hear me out and let me say my peace. I love how you have the sensitivity to let me set it up with the proper lead in without rushing me through so I can really cathartically relive it and get over it and move on.   What would I do without my four legged friend?

It reminds me a good work buddy of my husband’s Jason.   All his wise cracking and practical jokes on everyone.  He could get everyone laughing at him at the drop of a hat. But boy, his dog Jackson, he could make Jason laugh like nobody. He would come into work and tell Jackson stories and have himself in stitches just recanting the adventures of Jackson. Perhaps the funniest image left of the dog with us was when he entered his little pug in a costume contest. In his mind, I am sure it was a beauty contest. Anyone familiar with pugs knows, there is no way they are in the category of beautiful!   Well, the picture of Jackson in the local paper showed him in complete leather motorcycle garb looking tough.  Ah, except for one little thing, he was quite obviously not paying attention to the announcer because he was too preoccupied  sniffing another dog’s butt.  All I can say, on the bright side is it was not Jason’s. 

Charley is always eager to see me, unlike my adult kids. My daughter travels in from out of town and feels as if it is penance to stay with me. On the flip side, her Rottie Belle thinks Grandma is the bomb.   Belle had been living with us for  6 months.  I was followed everywhere by her. I could literally not get up in the middle of the night and walk out of the bedroom without tripping on her. She was right under my feet to ensure I did not leave without taking her.   Funny how your own kids want to run away from you and your dog wants to never leave your side and if you try to run away they want to run with you.   This dog wasn’t even mine and still would not leave my side.   What a sweetie!  My daughter must not have talked to her about me is all I can figure.

When I walk Charley up the street at night, I can hold my head high. There is no real drama with him other than he has this dramatic flair for pooping in other people’s yard.  Why is our yard not good enough anyways? Then we have to  clean up his ‘do’ and carry it home like a new bought toy in plastic bags.   A few moments of holding your breath and collecting the specimen as quickly as you can and we are on your way.  

With family or friends, the poop that flies is not nearly as easy to scoop up in a plastic Wal-Mart bag and yet it’s just as toxic.   It is the kind of stuff where someone says something about someone else and as it goes around, it gets inflated and creates havoc.   In families, it can create scenarios where someone can become the scape goat whereby one person becomes the cause of every bad; the root of all evil and no one cares anymore.   This is like a board game that ends with the pieces and the board getting thrown up in the air except its real life.   Dogs sometimes have it easier, aye?  

Speaking of aggressive tongues, well they say it often times comes from insecurity. Many people mask that by being mean. I wonder if the same is true of dogs also. If so, my sister has a very highly insecure pup then. Her dog Jake, when cornered by my husband Jim, simply trying to get him home safely to his owner from our house, became possessed by a She Devil.  With next to little warning, he lurched forward and bit my husband. With a history of large dogs, my husband had never been bitten in his own home, and now this small dog comes along and scares the heck out of him snapping at him.  He will forever be known to us as simply “Jake the Biter.”  

When it comes to fashion, Charley loves whatever I have on. Infact so much so that he rubs up against it to basically love on it. Too bad his hair has a way of falling off and depositing itself on my articles of clothing! We have actually now placed lint rollers, or should I say “Charley hair rollers” at key locations throughout all of our entrances to our house and in all of our motor vehicles except our lawn mower. My husband says it is irrelevant to have dog hair on clothing when mowing the lawn.  The one and only time you can walk out the door and not have to spend 15 to 30 minutes swatting every area of your body with a roller! In the country, clothing on mowers is optional.   Heck, dogs luck out in this area of life, never having to wear any.  Having a dog is like having a close friend that is not into fashion at all, unlike some people I know who shall remember nameless!

  My sister’s dog Pinkie is as cute as they come.  She never hurts a sole but yet, someone in her house still felt compelled to make her look more like her namesake. Did she complain?  Nope, not a word. It didn't matter to her she was the talk of the town.  Dogs everywhere in Springboro were probably howling back and forth about her for weeks. I mean how ridiculous it looks to have a mild mannered female dog with a pink Mohawk on its head? When my sister rolled my hair in rags years ago, my hair looked about as cool as Pinkie’s and I whined about it for days. Not Pinkie, she took it in stride. Just makes my case even stronger, dogs allow you to pick on them and are good sports.   We need more dogs in the world and less friends.


Charley is a pretty good sport in this area too. Around the holidays, I attempt to put that ridiculous Christmas collar on him. You know, the one with the wide red Santa velvet look to it and the big ole bells that jingle every time he moves.  How wonderful that must be for him to when the sound is so terribly close to his ears.   I bet he just loves that!   And then when I try to compliment the look with the accessory of the season, a Santa cap, well does he look jolly. I must admit, he does scramble abit over that but I can manage to get a photo or two off before he manages to get it taken off.  But hey, no one else in my circle of friends or family would dare wear it or one of those Christmas sweaters loaded down with Christmas tidings of joy hung all over them. But Charley will wear anything I put on him, at least for a few minutes, before he can get it off and chew it up!

I love how no matter how long I am gone; Charley is just as excited to see me. I can simply go outside and get the mail and it is as I was gone for days. Charley is wagging his tail, smiling and eager to see me walk through the door again.   Not too many people in your life are that eager to see you. I think my friends Bonni and Gary would agree as their dog Roxie goes positively nuts when you come over, even strangers!  What is even more precious is every day, when Gary comes home; Roxie arrives at the door to greet him and has held on to her little gift, her daily dump. Yep, how many of us would be willing to actually hold on to something we need to do and fight the urge just so we could wait and save it for our best buddy?  You just have to love Roxie’s loyalty to Gary!  I know Gary just treasures his girl.

Friends come and go in your lifetime, unfortunately too many times. Even with family, far too often anymore, it feels as if they are not there when you need them. In my circle, I sometimes feel used more than aided.   That is, with the exception of Charley. He, as long as he is kept on a lead, is always within a leash length to help me.   I do mean that literally. When I need him to be there for me he is. Unfortunately, his only major deterrent from this is his pesky persistence in trying to jump our fence.  Even an electric fence won’t work with Charley either so we are the only family I know that walks a dog on a leash in a fenced in yard.  But, if that is the price I have to pay to have a loyal friend and companion, and keep him somewhat captive, I will. Everyone has to have friends. So maybe I have to cohere mine a bit.   We all do what we have to.

My daughter in law, her dog, Bruiser, he thinks every dog wants to mate with him. Bruiser should be nicknamed, Boner.  I really don’t think any further explanation is needed is it?   We simply stare in amazement when he is at our house to see a small beagle boxer mix humping the side of a sleeping 112 lb. lab.  I think Bruiser has read too much doggie porn!

But again, Rebekah has had Bruiser for a very long time and he is a loyal dog and a wonderful companion. We all need that. When times were tough, Bruiser was there.   Just like Charley.   That is what counts.

So yeah, dogs can be weird.  So are you sometimes.  We dog owners can put up with their idiosyncrasies.   But heck, they put up with all of ours and never ever spill their guts and tell a sole about any of ours, they are totally trustworthy.  Come on, where do you find friends like that?   Who never laughs at you even when you are stupid?   Who sits with you even when you are stinky?  Who loves you, baby, all the time?   One place only will you find that..... in the doggie kingdom.  Adopt a dog, not a family member or a friend!  You just might live longer!