Monday, June 27, 2016

Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums are synonymous with two and three year olds. If they perceive a slight or a denial, they start by screaming at the top of their lungs. Next, if they don't achieve a desired outcome, they will swing at anyone close to them, fall on the floor and wildly kick their feet. This behavior can go on indefinitely until they get what they want, are relegated to their bedrooms, or fall asleep from total exhaustion. I'm sure all of you who have had kids are shaking your heads about now, trying to erase the horrible images I've so cruelly conjured up. Sorry, but there is a method to my madness, I assure you.

I'm well passed the terrible twos stage of my life, I'm 71. Yet over the weekend I had a huge temper tantrum that would surpass those of any toddler by a good long mile! Without going into details about the 'who' and 'why' of it, I'll describe my irrational behavior. I'm doing this in part to educate you on the fact that losing one's temper can happen at any age, and in part to embarrass myself in order to perhaps refrain from behaving this shamefully again.

When my hubby, who turned 80 last month, asked a much younger and more fit person to help him repair a backyard wall and was denied, he was disappointed to say the least. However, he took it in stride (he always takes the high road), making plausible excuses for the sloucher.

When he told ME about it, I was furious. It wasn't necessarily the refusal that got me, but the words that were chosen to decline.

"I don't do that kind of stuff anymore," came out of this guy's mouth as if to say he was much better than that and if he needed to repair an outside wall, he'd hire somebody.

Well, 'lah-dee-dah-dah'! We could hire somebody, too, but we're old school, and if a job needs done, we're on it! Hell, together we built our first house, insulated the walls and painted them, tiled the basement, dug the trenches for irrigation, and landscaped the grounds. Yes, we were younger then, but so what! The fact is that our family instilled in us a pride in doing hard labor that we still carry with us today.

We did much of the same when we moved into our current residence which we've called home for over 40 years continuing to maintain our property along the way.

Last Saturday hubby and I pruned 10 huge shrubs in 90 degree heat and didn't stop until everything was cleaned up and put away. While doing this work, we noticed the back wall was crumbing in spots. Each block weighs about 75lbs.and is a bit much to take down and replace. I suggested hubby ask a certain person to help since he was planning to visit in a few weeks. Later that evening when talking on the phone, the pending project was brought up. Since you already know the outcome of their conversation, I won't repeat myself.

After the steam came out of my ears, and I stopped hollering about the inconsiderateness of this certain someone, I announced that I thought his visit should be canceled. I wasn't about to open my home to anyone who showed such disrespect to my husband. I tossed and turned all night, and decided I was going to tear this ingrate up one side and down the other.

In the morning I sent the most outrageous email I could come up with. I screamed, punched out obscenities, kicked my feet,and spewed spittle all over my laptop! If that wasn't a first-class temper tantrum, I don't know what you'd call it! After hitting the send icon, I felt strangely relieved. I could care less what the person on the receiving end was feeling!

I didn't hear from him on Sunday, but when opening my mail this morning, lo and behold, his reply was staring me in the face. When I opened it, this is what I saw:



Sorry, son, I vow never to have a temper tantrum again, or at least until I get all the facts first!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Yes Way to No Way!

You'd think after a person retires, he or she would be content to live out their golden years enjoying peaceful days and restful nights! But not this chick, no way, Jose! Instead of joining the local ladies' club or puttering in a garden, I decided to follow my dream and become a writer. Four years ago on June 20, 2012, I became a full-fledged author at the ripe young age of 68! 'No Way To Haircut Day!, the first book in my 'Grammy's Gang' series was published in paperback. I'd dedicated it to my grandson, Kaden, who raised holy hell every time my son or daughter-in-law took him for a haircut. This book was such a hit, I decided to write a special book for each of my other six grandchildren and dedicate one to each of them. "Grammy's Gang" series is seven books strong, and since I've been informed that there will be no more future grandchildren, sad to say that that run is over.

I'd wanted to be a writer since I won a national poetry contest when I was a sophomore in high school. My English teacher, Sister Rose Marie saw something in me, and constantly encouraged me to hone my skills. She was a talented teacher and gifted writer herself, and believed I had what it took to pursue a writing career.

Unfortunately life happened, and being a writer was pushed further and further down on my list of priorities. However, upon retiring, something kept nagging me mostly in my dreams. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, the damn idea wouldn't go away. Then a strange thing happened. My son
-in-law emailed me and asked if I'd review a book he'd written. I was flabbergasted! I had no idea he had any ambitions along those lines, and I certainly didn't know he'd actually gone ahead and wrote a novel. He delves into dark fantasy, and although I had absolutely no interest in that particular genre, I read and reviewed it.

When visiting my daughter and her family, my son-in-law and I started discussing his ventures. When I revealed that I'd always wanted to write children's books, he was flabbergasted! When I told him I had already written four but had no idea how to move forward, he schooled me in how to go about securing an illustrator, an editor, a marketing strategy, and much much more. When it came time to format the manuscript to Amazon specs, my son-in-law did it all. I owe him big time and he knows it!

Once published, my daughter became instrumental in the marketing process. At the time, she was working with a notable author who had joined forces with Amazon to shine a light on  excellent self-published authors, helping to get their works on the map so to speak. In a few months I went from selling 10 copies of 'No Way To Haircut Day! monthly to 400 copies monthly!

Now four years later, thanks to my son-in-law and my daughter, I can handle all of the steps to publishing myself. I must confess though, whenever I get stuck I know I can always count on them to have the answers to my current dilemma.

If you have a dream, no matter how removed you've been from making it a reality, pursue it with passion. By saying 'Yes way to No Way!' my dream came true, albeit 50+ years later. There is no time limit on succeeding in breathing life into your dreams. Trust me, I know!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Strange Series of Occurrences?

You may consider the story I'm about to tell you a strange series of occurrences, at first, I did, too.

Last week while on FB, I received a friend request. Since I recognized the name, I immediately clicked on the person's page to accept. Much to my surprise, the profile photo looking back at me wasn't my friend's face. However, I did accept because this lady looked like someone I'd certainly have befriended had we ever met. If you know me at all, I'm sure you aren't a bit shocked.

Since I hadn't seen or talked to my friend in about three years, pangs of guilt began to peck at my terrible negligence. I wondered if she had a FB page so I typed in her full name and about thirty people bearing the same moniker appeared. Unfortunately she wasn't among them. About to give up at this point, I noticed a profile without a photo but with a high school's name I recognized. I clicked on it and, voila, I'd arrived! From the looks of it, her page wasn't used much, but I sent her a friend request anyhow.

When I didn't get a response after a two day's wait, I decided it was time to give her a call. I dialed but again my efforts were thwarted since that number was no longer in service. Things were getting weird. Immediately I googled my friend's name in the white pages of our phone directory. What I found was confusing to say the least. There were two addresses listed, the newest in a small town in North Carolina I'd never heard of before, and the one I knew.

I've always been a person intrigued by mystery, so I had no intention of quitting this search now. I googled the small town in NC and, lo and behold, when perusing the white pages, my friend's husband's name popped up. I quickly jotted down their number and address and dialed. After four rings a familiar voice informed me that I could leave a message and someone would get back to me soon. I didn't need to explain who I was so I simply asked to receive a call back at her earliest convenience. Two days went by and when I didn't hear from her, I tried again and promised my friend I'd keep calling until she forgave me for me negligence and called back to give me hell!

Finally in the evening of the third day, the phone rang. When I answered, we both started talking at the same time and by the sound of it, we both were very glad we'd connected. What she told me next blew my mind! She'd been in Pittsburgh for the past week attending her brother's funeral. After expressing my heartfelt sympathies, she explained how he died suddenly, and wasn't quite ready to come to terms yet with his death. I totally understood since six years ago I, too, lost my brother under similar circumstances.

We talked for over 90 minutes, and even though we knew we had to end our conversation, I'm sure we could have gone on for at least another ninety.

After hanging up, I thought about everything that had occurred over the last five days. Why did somebody with the same name as that of my friend's FB me now? And why did I decide to check to see if my friend had a FB profile now? And why did I call her after not connecting in over three years now? And why did I continue to search her out when I kept hitting roadblocks now?

Strange series of occurrences? I think not. I believe that when people have a strong connection to one another, when their bond is so tight it will never be severed no matter how much time passes without a word or an encounter, they always remain unconsciously in touch. There is never a moment that their souls aren't aware of each other's existence. Then when something extraordinary happens, their spirits communicate as only spirits can, alerting one or the other that their friend is in need. Their spirits persist until a connection is made.

Strange series of occurrences? Certainly not. I know 'why now' and I'm glad our spirits continued to speak so we, too could talk, and I had the chance to be of some comfort and support.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Remember June 6, 1944!

I wasn't born yet, but I remember June 6, 1944, which came to be known as 'D-Day'. I didn't arrive into this world until September 9, l944, however throughout my childhood, Uncle Tom, my mother's brother, told plenty of stories of that horrific day. Although he, himself, wasn't on the beaches of Normandy (he was stationed in the Philippines at the time), he knew many of the men who were. And whenever he spoke of his buddies, the ones who lived and the ones who died, his eyes stared into space and tears streamed down his cheeks like he was watching a sad movie that only he could see.

European countries were invaded by the Germans and, being their allies, the United States sent troops to curtail the enemies' advances. In the wee hours on June 6, 1944, thousands of young men jumped into the cold waters off the coast of Normandy, France, with rifles and bayonets raised above their heads, prepared to do battle. Unfortunately these soldiers weren't as prepared as they thought. Even before many of them actually departed their U-boats, they were mortally wounded. Hundreds more were killed on Omaha beach by German artillery without ever reaching the shore.

Perhaps General George Patton, who headed up the Allied Forces, praised these selfless soldiers best when he said, "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."  Although their efforts seemed futile in those first few moments, with courage and determination, those who survived continued on to eventually secure the beaches and drive the Germans out of Europe.

I tell you about D-Day because many of you have never heard of it before. This event has been memorialized in history books and cinemas, yet if you ask anybody under the age of forty, they probably would say they have no idea what you're referring to. How sad! In order to not be repeated, the past must be studied, analyzed, and understood. According to Oprah, "when we know better, we do better."

I have six grandsons and one granddaughter. Just thinking about the possibility that any of them would some day lose their lives in a foreign land fighting for a country's freedom brings tears to my eyes. Yet I thank God that these strong-minded youngsters, should they choose to serve in the United States military, would gladly join in the efforts to bring peace to a war-ravaged land.

God bless America! God bless those who have served and who will continue to serve so that freedom will always be ours.

If you don't anything know about D-Day, and don't have an Uncle Tom to tell you stories, make it a point to google it today!