Monday, June 24, 2013

Where Have All The People Gone?

While on our daily jaunt around the neighborhood, and since Shadow is the only living creature within earshot, I ask my dog, "where have all the people gone?"  Of course, I don't expect her to answer in words but a mediocre woof would suffice.  In truth I do know where they are, in the house with doors shut and windows shuttered.  After all, it's 87 degrees, and in our neck of the woods, 87 degrees means stifling heat and oppressive humidity.  We could walk for miles and never see anyone on the porch, in the yard, or hanging out the kitchen window.  Being Sunday, the hope of catching a glimpse of the postman or water meter reader is nonexistent. 

I began thinking about the demonic "jailer" who has imprisoned all of us from human interaction during the summer months.  WHOLE HOUSE AIR-CONDITIONING!  Why should anybody step foot outside under such horrid conditions when they are comfortably locked away in the coolness of their homes?  Such a thought is simply ludicrous!

But maybe I can offer a few suggestions as to why venturing out-of-doors on a hot and humid summer day might be beneficial.  Perhaps while sitting on the front porch, a woman and her dog pass by.  She smiles and stops to talk. Whether the brief conversation is merely prattle or of substance is not important. What matters is that both of you have been released from the lonely isolation air-conditioning has imposed.  Who knows, next time you might invite her to come sit awhile and over time become life-long friends.

What if you decided to escape the confines of the constant 72 degrees utopia that air-conditioning has shackled you to and step out into the backyard?  You could bravely plant a small garden of peas, peppers, pumpkins, and any other veggie that begins with the letter "p." Since watering is necessary for the growth of the "p" plants, you would have incentive to leave your prison for an hour each day.  And, just maybe, your neighbor whom you haven't seen or talked with in months is courageous enough to do the same!  The two of you could talk about the progress your respective gardens are making, the techniques each of you are using to grow bigger and more productive plants, and how sharing your harvests would provide your families with more variety on their dinner plates.  This seemingly innocent venture could eventually lead to a farmers market right in your very own backyards.

And lastly, if the fear of leaving your air-conditioned paradise simply paralyzes you, perhaps you can muster enough gumption to open a window.  At first maybe you can only do an inch or two, but with practice you will be able to raise it to full capacity.  Now you might stick your head out and playfully cheer on the kids next door who are attempting to beat the heat with a one-on-one basketball game.  They seem to be having a blast.  On the other hand, you, not so much.  So, be damned with that air-conditioning controller, you whip on a pair of shorts and a tank, tie up your Nikes, open the locked front door, and join in the fun.  After making three hoops, the thought of being hot doesn't even phase you.  Besides sweating cleanses the body of harmful toxins leaving you feeling and looking better than you have in years. 

Trying these simple suggestions could have amazing results.  You will no longer have that jailhouse pallor, and the whole house air-conditioning that enslaved you for years, will no longer have you in a death grip.  You will finally be free!  So go out and enjoy the sun!  Shadow and I can't wait to meet up with you and shoot the bull if only for a minute or two.

Monday, June 17, 2013

But A Father, He's Not!

Yesterday was Father's Day. You'd think I'd be remembering all the wonderful men in my life who are or had been the "best of the best" as fathers go. And I was.  Yet why did I have my 32 year old nephew, Christopher on my mind.  Yes, he's fathered two children, but a father he's not, and in my humble opinion, never will be!

Christopher is incarcerated at the Marienville State Prison in Pennsylvania for the next 10-20 years.
His list of offenses is a mile long, but the most egregious is child endangerment. While under house arrest for parole violations, Chris and his girlfriend got into an argument.  She walked out taking their 2 year old daughter, Liza, with her.  Unfortunately their 10 month old little girl was left with daddy.

As the story goes, my nephew continued to paint the livingroom leaving Lena to crawl around the floor unsupervised.  According to Chris, when he went to use the bathroom, the baby pulled herself up on the rungs of the ladder causing the paint can to come crashing down on her tender skull.  He stated that when he reentered the room, he found his daughter limp and unconscious covered in blue paint.  At first he believed her to be dead, but after a time he noticed she was breathing and dialed 911.

Of course, the police were involved immediately.  They'd followed my nephew's criminal activities
since he was seventeen when high on drugs and alcohol he grabbed an elderly woman's purse, knocked her to the ground and broke her arm. He turned eighteen before trial, making him an adult and eligible for imprisonment in jail for 13 months. After that first offense, Christopher became a regular in county.

Upon further interrogation, my nephew's story changed multiple times until finally the truth was uncovered.  When his girlfriend left, Chris called one of this druggie buddies to pick him up to go searching for the "good stuff."  Since there was no car seat available, he simply put Lena on his lap and continued to enjoy the ride. While speeding through town, the driver had to make a sudden stop, sending the baby into the dashboard so violently her skull was cracked in three places.  No one knows how long it took these two addicts to realize the extent of her injuries, but eventually Chris was dropped off back at the house with his unconscious daughter.  He said it took him awhile to call 911; he was afraid of the possible consequences.

Lena was taken to the hospital and since the swelling of her brain was so dramatic, operating on her had to be postponed for two weeks.  For two weeks, this 10 month old little girl remained in a coma.
Finally a shunt was permanently placed in her brain so that the constant buildup of fluid could be relieved. The shunt will be there for the rest of her natural life.

That was three years ago.  To this very day, if you ask him, Christopher will proudly say he is the father of two beautiful girls.  He will tell you that when he gets out of prison he plans to get full custody since his girlfriend is also an addict and unfit to raise his children.  He believes he can be the same kind of father my brother Dan was.  Of course, by everyone's account, my brother was the "best of the best."  Unfortunately his son didn't follow in his father's footsteps.  Yes, Christopher fathered two beautiful babies, but a father he's not, and never will be! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

"What A Wonderful World!"

I'm watching my grandson, Liam's Kindergarten Memories video for the 100th time.  Tears are streaming down my cheeks for the 100th time, too. I'm certainly not sad, but I really can't say I'm happy either.  I think the word that describes my feelings right now might be overwhelmed. Being totally submerged in the purity of mind, heart, and soul reflected in the eyes of all those beautiful, untainted beings, leaves me breathless.  At no other time in the life of a human is there the awesome potential to be whatever you wish to be as when you are 5 years old and living in the magical kingdom called "kindergarten."

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is softly playing as pictures of children laughing and learning glide across the screen.  Their exuberance for life is obvious.  They believe that anything is possible and they know their personal dreams will come true.  The potential they possess now will never be greater; they merely have to use their God-given power to realize it.  Their unblemished ability to accept and love others for who they are rather than who they might want them to be is mind boggling.
How could ones so young embrace differences without passing judgment or inflicting unspeakable pain?

I now hear "What A Wonderful World!" playing in the background.  Besides being one of my most favorite songs of all time, I think what an appropriate choice for this amazing video.  The lyrics as well as the melody bring great hope for the future to my biased, self-righteous, rigid adulthood.  These children have no preconceptions about life; their intentions are pure.  These children do not think they are always right; their willingness to listen is pure.  These children are not stuck in narrow mindedness; their eagerness for exploration is pure. 

"I hear babies cry; I watch them grow.  They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.  And I think to myself, "What A Wonderful World!"

Monday, June 3, 2013


On June 20, 2012 I fulfilled a lifelong dream. I will celebrate my first anniversary as a children's book author in two weeks and it only took 50+ years to do it! And here's why.

First, I had to complete high school.  I was only a sophomore in 1960 but that is when, due to the most awesome English teacher on the planet, I passionately fell in love with writing. I started with poetry, winning a contest and having my poem showcased in an unknown publication. From that moment on, I was hooked.  But first I had to:

                                        ENTER THE NUNNERY
                                        TEACH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FOR 3 YRS
                                        LEAVE THE NUNNERY AFTER 5 YRS
                                        TEACH JUNIOR HIGH MATH & SCIENCE FOR 3 YRS
                                        GET MARRIED IN 1968 (STILL TOGETHER FOR 45 YRS)
                                        HAVE TWO CHILDREN
                                        BECOME  PTA PRESIDENT
                                        DIRECT CHRISTMAS PLAY
                                        HAVE THIRD CHILD
                                        COMPLETE BACHELOR'S DEGREE
                                        DIRECT  RELIGIOUS ED. PROGRAM 5YRS
                                        BECOME CERTIFIED IN ELEMENTARY/EARLY CHILDHOOD ED.
                                        SUBSTITUTE TEACH FOR 4 YRS
                                        CONTRACT CHRONIC NEUROLOGICAL CONDITION
                                        TEACH KINDERGARTEN FOR 10 YRS
                                        DIRECT PRESCHOOL 4 YRS
                                        EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER 3YRS
                                        LEARNED MY NEPHEW WAS A DRUG ADDICT
                                        RETIRE IN 2000
                                        BURIED MY 92 YEAR OLD MOM
                                        VOLUNTEER FOR CHURCH & COMMUNITY ORGS
                                        WITNESSED THE INCARCERATION OF MY NEPHEW
                                        BURIED MY 67 YEAR OLD BROTHER, DAN
                                        BECOME "GRAMMY" TO 7 TERRIFIC KIDS

These are only some of the highlights of my 68 years that have kept me busy for the past 50+ years.
My life has been both beautiful and sad.  I've learned from every experience and am thankful for the
opportunities given me along the way to grow and prosper. 

Becoming an author after a 50+ years has been well-worth the wait.  I am enjoying every second of
my new career and hope to inspire anyone with a dream to keep reaching.  It's NEVER TOO LATE!