Rebekah's Love

My son married my daughter in law the day after Thanksgiving and our family changed forever, in a good way. With the onset of one of their children being diagnosed with autism, their lives changed dramatically. Not once have I heard either one of them so much as utter one word of dismay over this, nothing but love, support and encouragement for our grandson’s future. They continue to seek out nothing but the best treatment and therapy for him putting aside every barrier along the way, at a personal sacrifice. I wrote this below as a feeble attempt to pay tribute to my daughter in law for her sacrifice she makes every day for my grand children who would not be nearly as beautiful and as thriving if it were not for a mom that loved them so much and put her life on the line for them.

Words can’t express

How a mother defines success
It shows in her face,
Instilled in her grace.

It is one of those things
That poets try to capture in prose,
It is felt in the hearts of children,
And only a child truly knows.

The effect a mom has on her child,
It is an indelible mark,
They bring light to the lifeless,
They bring a child literally out of the dark.

They sing lullabies,
To the child that cannot sleep,
They hold their child lovingly,
Every single time their child weeps.

When their child’s heart is breaking,
Their heart breaks too,
It is almost as if the color of the day
Changes from gray to blue,
Until their child is happy,
Their day will not begin anew.

The mothers that are courageous,
They have the child with a special need,
God knew that they could be trusted
And thus, were given a special seed.

These children must be fostered,
And handled with special loving care,
They must serve as an example.
And not falter by others ignorant stares.

A mom should be willing,
To put her needs on hold,
To help her children be all that they can be,
And allow them to see what their future might hold.

Some women are stronger,
And give up more than others do,
These are the special chosen ones,
These are, in number, very few.

May you stop, reflect and pray,
For mothers that walk a harder road,
That society, community and loved ones,
Will help them carry their heavy load.

Every child is brought into the world for a reason,
Just like every time the weather changes it brings a new season.
We are here to learn through each other,
That is why none of us are carbon copies of each other.
Embrace those that are different, reach out a hand,
When you see their mothers struggling to raise them, please make a stand!


And They Called It Puppy Love

How much is that doggie in the window?
The cute little puppy with the smile on his face.

Falling in love can be a great deal like bringing a puppy home, so full of fun and falling over you with joy in the beginning. It is only when you get to the hard stuff that reality sinks in, when you have to train the puppy to do things, like not beg for food, not whine at night and not pee in the house. Only then can a new doggie owner see that owning a puppy is hard work.

Have you fallen prey to this? Don’t be fooled by the manipulation of “the look!” Men, and women alike, can pull this on you. As my husband says, “All puppies are cute but none stay puppies for long.” Once reality hits, you will have an animal that does not listen when you say “no”, begs for food when you eat and pees on your newly cleaned floor. Thus begins the classical conditioning of your loved one and you will never quite view it in the same way you did initially. Yes, you will continue to love your pup but the relationship will forever change. You will keep the little fellow around. Nobody divorces their doggie. But, the same cannot be said of your spouse, or should I say soon to be ex spouse.

Young folks that get married find their marriages seldom last. Graduating from high school grants them the privilege to vote for a President that can serve a 4 year term in office (maybe 8 years if they are lucky?) with their one vote being counted among millions. Many feel this qualifies them to know what true loves is, the kind that will last a lifetime, till death. Millions of young people in this country walk down the aisle and say “I do” to God, family and friends for a lifetime to someone they feel is their soul mate.

Adrenaline rush is confused with love. Lust is not enough to make relationships last. It alone does not help the dishwasher get emptied, the trash gets taken out or the bills get paid. This is part of the reality of everyday life being married, or not. Make up sex may be enjoyable and passionate but not if that is the only kind of love- making going on in the marriage. Fights and disagreements without compromises and resolutions will eventually tear a relationship apart. When two young adults are joined and not fully mature but think they are, even with a commitment, the relationship can be a huge uphill battle to stay together. They often do grow apart, not necessarily because anyone or anything is to blame.

Another lifelong decision is a career choice for young people graduating from high school. Consistently, across all sources, the percentage of students changing majors in college these days is 80%! This is a decision that does not involve living, breathing and sharing personal space with a mate and yet the same young person spends more time deliberating about this decision and changing their mind about this choice, often times, than marriage. Is it any wonder that the divorce rates are so high among young people? Coincidentally, students are changing majors at alarmingly high rates. As many as 50% will change 2 to 3 times during their college years adding on an average of two years of school to their four year program for their degree. This may be a good sign as it shows the forethought of thoroughness of thought, not rushing into a decision headstrong. Why then is marriage not approached the same way? It is almost as if a divorce is a Get out Of Jail card that allows them to erase the marriage. It seems it would be simpler to not get married in the first place.

As long as there are young people, there will indeed be young marriages. That is human nature, that cannot be changed. Understanding what happens when this occurs though is important from a sociological standpoint for all of us in society. We all pay, indirectly, or directly for failed marriages. This does affect children and communities. When looking at divorce rates in this country it is important to know the distribution of divorce rates in our country and note that the highest rates are with this demographic, young adults. Those adults married under the age of 28 are double the national average!

In knowing this, perhaps it will make it easier on you, should you find yourself faced in a similar situation, personally or as a parent. Not every one of these marriages ends in divorce, needless to say, but the odds are not in their favor. There is so much growing and changing occurring, it may take both partners in different directions.

The lesson that can be learned here is that growing up is a process. It is not something that can be forced on youth, it must come by naturally. You can only forewarn your children of the pitfalls but they must make their own decisions and decide when they are ready, ready to say “I do” and ready to say “I need to leave” if that day comes. Loving someone means recognizing unions don’t always go as planned. Puppy love can’t last forever; puppies can’t stay puppies for long.


Ode to Shingles

T’was a man they say from Germany,
Who went through the holidays with fanfare,
Never getting caught up in the bah humbugs,
No, his heart was golden full of tender loving care.

Alas the holiday was over,
And to his wife’s dismay,
Her jovial husband awoke,
And the bed was in disarray.

It was not from passionate love making,
He had been uncomfortable all through the night,
And as he woke up with a snarly look on his face,
She knew her German was not quite right.

Oh, what ailed him,
Whatever must be wrong,
Maybe she could deter him from thinking about it,
And put on a sparkly thong!

But just as surely these thoughts, flittered through her head,
He let out a roar with her name on the end of it, and sat up in bed.

She did as he asked,
And looked at his back,
And saw what was clearly shingles,
A perfectly made out track.

She knew not how to break the news,
How to tell her loved one was not going to be fun,
She could always grab her cell phone and then tell him and run!

For shingles is not something with a time stamp,
It does not quickly go away,
It does not lighten up,
When you want to have an active day.

No, just like many things in life,
It slows you down and makes you wait,
And those with no patience,
Are tested, wondering when is the end date.

She need not fear how he would deal with this ailment,
Because her special fellow with his heart of gold,
Will face the nasty shingles just like he fights dragons on horseback,
He will be brave, strong, put on his armor and be oh so bold!

There is a lesson to be learned from my friend’s demise,
If you are paying attention, walk away wise!

May your illnesses be opportunities of chivalry,
And remind you that we are not what we have, but what we overcome!


Teach Me to Drive

I can still remember the day I pulled into my parent’s house in Dayton with my little run down black Chevette. It had worn down orange and red racing stripes like it had been a part of the Bad News Bears Race Crew for Losers. Yeah, it looked like it had finished in last place getting a poor detail job as a booby prize. It had bloody red interior that was the worst color of upholstery in a car I have ever seen in my life! Oh, the only saving grace was the pattern in the center of the bucket seats in the front that looked exactly like a pattern out of the 60’s or 70’s on Larry the Lizard Lounge’s leisure suit. Checkered pattern with gray, black and red, and wow, what a fashion statement that made. Gee, I wonder why that trend never took off.

I had a few lessons in how to drive a stick shift car from my parents in Dayton. These were given with their car in a parking lot of a local high school, prior to the weekend I received the Chevette, compliments of my soon to be ex-husband. He decided, in exchange for me asking for a divorce, it was appropriate he take the nice car with an automatic and I be left with the crummy one with a stick. Forget the fact that I had never driven one, that was just a little technicality, that and the fact the two young children would be riding with me as I had sole custody.

Imagine my surprise when exactly one week to the day after my first lesson on how to drive a stick that lasted 2 hours I awoke to look outside and find, sitting in my driveway, the black mobile. I could hear it laughing at me, and as it did so, I slowly turned around as I also heard an audible gasp behind me and there stood my two innocent children with eyes as big as saucers, faces aghast saying “What are you going to do it?” I promptly replied, “No problem, drive it!” I thought to myself though this car is just waiting for me to roll back out of my hilly driveway and crash into something trying to release its parking gear while I put the darn thing in gear. My poor kids were going to be passengers, guinea pigs as it was, aboard for the ride of their lives as I learned, that is, if they and I survived. Maybe our first attempted drive should be to church to pray!

Well, we got to my parents that day quite easily. Most of the ride was expressway, amen. When we got in the house, I think both of my children’s hair was plastered to the side of their cute little faces. See this was in the heat of summer and this vehicle had no air conditioning either. The windows in the back hardly opened so the kids and I practically smothered to death in the heat riding in it. It was grounds for speeding due to lack of oxygen while in the auto. My parents smiled and asked my kids right off the bat how I was getting along with the stick shift car. The response from my loyalists was to jerk forward and back, simply. Nonverbal as if to imply I was anything but adjusted. Everyone laughed everyone that is but me. I glared at my munchkins as if to say ‘Traders, you shall be hung, or at least be remiss of Twinkies in your lunch this entire week.”

I think the laughter stopped the day my son turned 15 and it became evident that I would indeed be the one teaching him to drive when his drivers training class was ended. Now who was laughing? By that time, we had two cars, and he opted for the automatic saying he would learn the stick later. I think it finally dawned on him that popping a clutch is an easy thing to do for a new driver and it would be hard to razz me if he did it too. Imagine his face when he realized his mom, basically the only one raising him would be the one working with him while he had his temps prior to him taking his driving test. And I was insistent he get that license as soon as possible as we lived pretty far out in the country.

So off we went to learn to drive, or should I say for him to practice and me to practice teaching as I had never done anything like this before. One might easily say I am not the world’s best driver. Though I have an excellent driving record, I am not great at distance perception, and many, shall we say, other areas of driving that are associated with female drivers are equally issues with me. And so, picture this, an inexperienced driver driving sitting next to a woman who is not a very good driver. You have a mathematical equation with a high probability for a crash ratio of 90%. And let’s throw in a dose of emotional response of 80% on the female side in this scenario and a male that is really looking for some strong guidance from someone who is not quite sure they can give it, not in the area of driving detail.

In the end, my son and I shared quite a few laughs. We shared a few yelling matches. And not one single vehicle, fire hydrant or pedestrian was ever hit! (And if they were, I would never ever share this type of information, for it I did, what kind of mother would I be?) My son became an excellent driver but one who preferred to not teach his sister to drive but drove her everywhere until she obtained her license.

When my daughter turned 15, she knew the vehicle she would drive would be a stick shift. She had, as most teens do, no choice in the matter. It was that or nothing, so she opted for wheels. Drivers training got her in touch with the mode of changing gears, thank goodness as I have no idea how to start from scratch teaching someone how to drive a stick; I just know how to do it. I do think her instructor was nicknamed Mario Andretti. She can, to this day, turn corners on a dime, travel at speeds unknown to man and weave in and out of traffic like she is running in the Indy 500! Apparently, when she took her test, she did not demonstrate any of the skills previously mentioned.

I could not help but remember those tender years when I looked out and saw my grandson and grand-daughter driving a child’s electric car together. Note: This toy car was an automatic. Note: Each child took turns driving. Note: The grand kids did ultimately crash into a telephone pole. Funny though that both of their parents never did crash into a pole but did have their own share of mishaps with vehicles. The only one that has hit a telephone pole is their dear sweet Grandma, moi. So perhaps one of those two may be cursed with my lack of driving skills in the future, seeming as how, at the tender age of 4 they have already started their driving legacy with the first crash, the one Grandma will never forget and remember oh so fondly!


A Simple Man-Wade Ketterman

Don’t seem like long ago t’all that I met my mom’s old man. Gee, he had more wrinkles on his face than bees on a honeycomb! Damn near would scare a baby! But he had one heck of a kind smile. You know, one of that there kind that just makes you feel right there at home in a minute.

Wade was his name. I found out real quick he was a simple man with a big ole heart. And boy, did he love my ma. He would have to a heck of a lot to put up with her ways. That woman is on a constant PMS like nobody! And yet, steady ready Wade is always there with a calm presence to even out her high strung ways.

Yep, I met him just a few short years ago but feel like I known that dude forever. We hit it off right there quick as an eye. Me being a city girl, we sure didn’t no nothing in common. It took me no time at all to learn his ways, talking like he does, well it was a whole lot easier than trying to come up with them big words and complicated sentences. And Wade, heck, he was never impressed by silly things like that, heck, he didn’t even understand them. They would be met with “Huh, whatcha say?”

Ya gotta love his simple approach to life. He loved God, country, family and friends. There ain’t no particular order I don’t think cuz he loved them all just as much. I think last on his list was himself. He put all before him. See, he had lived a life, when he was a young fellow and I gather done some things he wasn’t too damn proud of. So, he I suppose made a pact with God, if he promised to be good and be a changed man, he could bide some more time on this green earth. There he was…pure, simple at heart, good man.

I remember my sis talking bout how one time he came down for a visit. Hell, his idea of vacation was cleaning her yard up. She went to work boasting how she had a pool boy at the house, oh, minus the watering hole. That is, until the call came from the cops. Yep, seems ole Wade decided to burn the trash in the backyard . Hey, in the country, his times, why wait on a trash truck to pick up your junk? He found some old tires in the garage and I think maybe an old battery and in the fire it went. Oh, apparently the neighbors got a whiff and boy, they hit the phone lickety split. Hell, I still don’t think the old man knew what the heck he did wrong. Terri got called to hit the road home and take care of matters. When she saw his face, looking like somebody hit him in the beer gut with a baseball, she didn’t have the heart to yeller at him. So she simply told him that no more fires Wade around here. He didn’t like it but he understood. Besides, the garbage was done burned. So, he thought to himself, hell, why would I need to burn anymore fires silly girl!

He had a best friend, somebody else sides his Angel, the dog. This bud was named Floyd, my momma’s brother. I don’t even know when these two became friends but man, could you feel the bond between the two of them. Strong as the wind blows over the plains on a stormy day. Next to my mom, I reckon Wade loved Clyde more than anybody. He was like the brother Wade never had. Clyde stood by Wade’s side when the going got tough and everyone else had something better to do than see a man on his last leg. Not Floyd, he was there. And Wade, with his last breath, never ever took it for granted either. I remember sitting with Wade or talking on the phone with him and him bringing up Clyde’s name many a time. I asked him one day, “You love my Uncle Floyd like a brother don’t ya?’ and he replied, “You know I do.” Yep, I did. I could feel it.

My sis Terri and I went up to see Wade shortly after his doc gave him the crummy news. He had the C word, and boy was that the pits. Our momma acted like she was not sure what the heck was going on. Wow, we wondered what the future would look like for sweet Wade and our momma that dreaded being alone. Yeah, she never been alone before. We tried to tell Wade he had to be concerned about himself now, his body needed him to tend to it, just like he tended to his garden but we think he would let the weeds go as long as his honey was happy and he was with her. We saw that wonderful twinkle in his eyes when he talked about our momma. He’d do just about anything for her.

Almost a year of ups and downs have gone by. There been stays at rehabs where he was just dying to come home even when he was feeling half dead, half baked after radiation. Man, he looked pitiful after chemo, like somebody needed to feed him something, hell anything. When his tongue was taken out, and then replaced with a titanium tongue, I think, if had his way, he would have rathered take it to a pawn shop and have the money to give his old lady to live on after he was gone. Yeah, Wade was just that kind of man. His speech was just about as hard to understand as a kid singing with marbles in their teeny mouth. My chats were mostly limited to asking him yeah and nope questions. He would call me on my cell and if he couldn’t reach me, there’d be that voice mail waiting for me. Simply said, Call me.” I couldn’t even understand it, most times, but didn’t matter anyways, I knew who it was. There, towards the end, last 6 or so months, he just wanted me to talk. I grew to love hearing that old familiar “Yup.” Every time I asked him if he was doing okay I got that same answer. Hell, he could be burning in a fire and I swear he would have said the same thing. See, Wade didn’t want nobody worrying about him, no siree. He was proud even when he was hurting.

Funny, half my life I been a gibber box and friends wondered how to shut me up. Then there is Wade, brought into my life at the end of his, never seemed to get enough of my chatter. Kinda makes you wonder was he half nuts? Oh, and never will I forget how he ended conversation, “I love you, I mean that, I really do.” I think he said it twice incase I couldn’t understand. See, unless you were sitting right there, eyeball to eyeball, man was he hard to understand. If he got a on roll talking to ya, forget it, you were done for. And if you couldn’t get it, he’d get really pissed. We couldn’t ever tell if it was at us or at himself for not being able to talk clear. His eyes would fill with tears though and it would break your heart every time it happened. He had his pride so we’d have to pretend we didn’t see it so he wouldn’t get embarrassed.

One day, his number at one of the rehab centers changed. He called and gave me the new number. He screamed in the phone,”Write down ,” and then screamed slowly numbers at me. Now I could hardly get several of them so I repeated back the entire number. I heard him say yeah so we hung up and I called back. See his cell has very few minutes as he was a poor man, so he’d want me to call on mine. No problem. I called back and damn, if I didn’t wake up some other patient there. I am giving her that because she was grouchy. You’d think she would be glad somebody called her but no, she was yelling at me and she don’t know who I even am. I apologized explaining I had the wrong number. “Who the hell you trying to reach?” she yelled at me. After that nasty tone with spit in her voice, be damned I would give out Wade’s name. So I did what any sensible lady would do, I hung up that phone like real quick.

A few minutes passed and Wade called again. This time he sounded annoyed with me. He was probably thinking I wasn’t going to call. I told him I wrote the number down wrong. We went through the same routine again with him shouting out the numbers and this time, me yelling back each number, one at a time. Some of them I apparently got wrong as he would yell them back multiple times preceded by something that sounded something like a no. But heck, on some of them that there numbers, be honest with ya, I was flat out only guessing. It would have been a whole lot easier if he just let me count 1 to 9 for each darn number and when I got to the right number, he said “Yup!” Same thing happened on this second try of calling him back, I reached another patient. Well betcha know what happened two more times huh? By now, I imagine I done ticked off several patients at that center and the nurses station is getting hollered at about this freakin lady calling rooms and then hanging up. So I decided to call that nurses station myself and fess up. They were kind to me, or tired of patients bitching about my calls and put me straight through to him and made sure, by literally running to his room, that we got connected by phone that instant. Know the first thing that ole man said to me when he got on the phone? “What took you so long?” Ya gotta love it!

He wasn’t afraid to die. He was afraid to leave his old lady. He spent years and years taking care of her like nobody done. He loved her like a lion loves its cub, doing whatever needed to be done with her bad heart or whatever else came her way. It did it without question. He cried when he told me how much she meant to him. He fought as hard as any man I have ever seen. He suffered in silence through unbearable pain and in the end, it wasn’t pretty, nope not at all. He became a broken man physically all for the love of a woman, putting his body through a living hell. Ain't it sure funny how life is? Someone so darn sweet and simple, not hurtin nobody can go from planting seeds, reaping a garden full of vegetables and flowers and helping others to suddenly being all helpless, praying and dying all in the space of just a few fragile years.

In the end, God done a good thing. He took a dear man and gave him good ground to put his feet on. Ground he can cultivate, a voice so that he can sing and spirit free of pain. Wade deserved to die, because he deserved to live. And I am as certain of that as I am of anything dearest Step-Dad, Wade.

My turn Wade, can you hear me up there? I love you, I mean that, I really do.