First blog post

I decided to start blogging because sometimes, I get a lot of thoughts in my head and the only way to get rid of them is to write them down.  My blog will consist of my feelings and views on certain subjects and issues, whether it’s personal or something in the news. On occasion, I may even voice my opinion on certain political issues.  Just keep in mind that no matter how I feel or what I say, they are MY feelings and MY sayings.  I will always welcome comments and feedback, and I enjoy conversational exchanges and differences of opinions, as long as the exchanges are civilized.  All I ask is that a level of respect be maintained.  By that, I mean no bashing, no name calling, no extreme profanity, etc.  I will also post excerpts from some of my short stories and books for your reading pleasure (?) and feedback.  I accept constructive criticism very well, so NEVER be ashamed or afraid to say what you feel.  I will NEVER debase you.  I will, however, delete mean and/or hateful comments, whether they’re directed at me or at any or all of my readers.  Let’s just have some fun and some friendly conversations.  Welcome to my little corner of the world!!

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The Life of Andi Jo Baldridge (A Tribute)💖🌹

Family and friends know about my granddaughter, Andi Jo, but what they don’t know is her story.  I’ve been wanting to write about her for a long time now, but out of respect for Courtney, I wouldn’t.  The last thing I wanted to do was pick the scab off a healing wound and cause her to have to live that nightmare over again.  But Courtney has a special man in her life now, one that comforts her when she’s sad, listens to her when she needs to talk, and understands that she suffered a tremendous loss and provides the moral support and love that she so desperately needed.  Hopefully, they will read this together, holding hands or hugging while they do.  I’ve always heard that time heals all pain, but that’s not true.  Time only helps us cope with the loss of a loved one, but the pain will always remain.

Andi Jo Baldridge was born on September 17, 2009, sharing the same date as my wedding anniversary, so we always called her our little anniversary gift.  She was the only one of Courtney’s children that I was present for the birth of.  With Courtney living in Kentucky and me in Florida, it made it tough for me to be there for the others.  Courtney was 7 months pregnant with Andi Jo when we relocated to Indiana and I was elated that I would finally be a part of the birth of one of her children, being able to hold her as an infant, change diapers, feed her, and do whatever I could to help.  It was a great pleasure to be able to do all that, if only for a little while.

For the first year of Andi Jo’s life, she spent a lot of time with her Grandma.  When Courtney got the flu, Andi Jo was only a few months old, but I went to Courtney’s house not only to help her because she was sick, but to help with her other kids because she wasn’t able to do much of anything.  I didn’t even know how to make Andi Jo’s bottles because Courtney used powder formula and I wasn’t sure how much water to mix with the powder.  But I did figure it out, and I held her in my arms, cradling her with a bottle while I tended to the other kids and made sure they were fed and bathed.  They also spent a lot of time coming to visit us, either for family dinners or simply to spend time together.  Me, Candi and Christi would always “fight” over who was going to get to hold Andi Jo first.  My argument that I was the grandmother didn’t work with them, however, and it was usually Candi that got her first.  That’s just the way it was with our family.  We are extremely close, love each other very much, and are involved in each others’ lives, but not to the extent that we intrude or meddle.  That winter when it snowed, I told Courtney to leave Andi Jo with me so that she could go out with everyone and have fun snowboarding and Andi Jo and I would have our own fun.  And we did.  We played with toys, watched the neighbor’s dogs playing in the snow in the backyard, ate a cookie and watched television.  Spending time with her was more valuable to me than giving up an opportunity to snowboard.  The first year of her life was filled with events such as these.

Andi Jo Baldridge and her Grandma.

The last time I saw Andi Jo before her accident, they had been visiting me at our house.  Me, Courtney and Andi Jo were sitting on the living room floor when Courtney said, “Andi Jo, show Grandma what you can do!”  With arms outstretched, she began walking towards me and then fell into my arms, laughing.  She was just learning to walk and was so proud of those steps, and laughed even more when me and Courtney cheered her on and applauded her success.  That is the image that will forever be burned into my mind – that image of her walking to me, arms ready to grab me, that laugh and that smile.  Two days later, all of our lives changed forever.

 

 

October 6, 2010 is a day that will forever remain fresh in my mind, remaining as clear as the actual day itself.  I was sitting at my computer in the living room playing my daily crossword puzzle on Pogo when a knock came at the front door.  Words did not need to be spoken to tell me that something horrible had happened.  The expression on Candi’s face said it all.  Her voice quivering and her lips trembling, she asked, “Mom, have you talked to Courtney?”  “Not today, why?”  “Andi Jo choked on a peanut shell.  They think she’s dead.  I’m on my way to the hospital.”  Bobby was in Florida and I was scheduled to pick him up at the airport within the next couple of hours, so I couldn’t go to the hospital right away.  I called Courtney but she wasn’t able to speak through her trauma.  I told her that me and Bobby would come straight to the hospital from the airport and that we’d be there as soon as we could get there, and then I hung up and immediately called Bobby to let him know what had happened and that we’d be heading to the hospital as soon as I picked him up.  For the next couple of hours, I paced back and forth, wringing my hands, crying and praying, waiting for someone to call me with information.  I needed to know something.  I felt helpless and lost.  The first person that I called was my sister, Brenda, because I knew that she was a prayer warrior.  I could barely get the words out because I was crying so hard, but I said enough that she knew we needed prayer, and she immediately started calling family and friends to begin a prayer chain.

The feeling that I felt when I walked into that hospital room for the first time is indescribable.  Courtney jumped up from her seat, grabbed onto me, and said one word.  “Momma.”  In the middle of the room was a large bed and in the center of that bed was my granddaughter, Andi Jo, unconscious and connected to a multitude of monitors, tubes and machines.  The same little girl that had walked to me with outstretched arms two days before didn’t even know that I was in the room.  Slowly, I walked up to the side of her bed, not sure if I’d be able to handle the sight of her in such horrible condition.  Tears poured from my eyes as I took her tiny little hand in mine and held it as I prayed, begging God to let her wake up and not to let her die.

The outlook was grim.  Due to a prolonged period of lack of oxygen, she suffered damage to the occipital and hippocampus regions of her brain.  Doctors didn’t provide much hope, yet we never gave up on just that.  The only thing they could do from that point on was continued testing, monitoring and hospitalization, where she remained for about a month, and was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility close to Kosair Children’s Hospital.

The first time I got to hold her after her accident.  This was in the rehab center.

The next 6 years would not be easy for Andi Jo and were most definitely a struggle.  Not only for her, but also for Courtney.  Recurrent infections, surgeries, and other illnesses put her in and out of the hospital multiple times.  Courtney provided round the clock care and went to great lengths to care for her invalid child, always keeping her hope alive and never giving up.  When Andi Jo’s last illness required hospitalization in Lexington, a hundred miles from home, and resulted in her having to be permanently placed on a ventilator, we all knew that her time on earth was nearing an end, because she was sent home under the care of hospice.

On August 31, 2016, me, Linda and Brenda went to visit Courtney and Andi Jo, a trip we are all thankful for.  Linda lives in Tennessee and Brenda lives in Texas, and when I called them and told them that Andi Jo’s condition was failing, they both made the trip here to be with family.  Andi Jo was lying in her bed when I walked into her room.  Once again, I took that tiny little hand in mine, held it, kissed it, kissed her on the forehead and told her how much Grandma loved her and that we’d meet again someday.  In my heart, I knew that would be the last time that I got to touch or kiss her.  The following morning I got a call from Tatum Estes, a friend of Courtney’s who was visiting from Texas and there to help Courtney with the kids and show support.  “She’s gone,” were the words she spoke, sending me into a flurry of fresh tears.  Andi Jo had passed away peacefully only 16 days shy of her 7th birthday.  I called Linda and Brenda in their hotel room and delivered the news to them as best as I could through streaming tears, quivering voice and a broken heart.  Having them here with me to help me through such a devastating event was a true blessing.

 

Andi Jo was cremated and her ashes are resting in a green marble urn inside a curio cabinet that I bought for Courtney especially for Andi Jo’s memorabilia.

Free from the tubes and machines that bound her, Andi Jo was finally able to go outside and have the sun shine on her face.  She is at peace.

Andi Jo Baldridge: September 17, 2009 – September 1, 2016

Although she only lived six short years, she brought so much joy to those who loved her.  Her death brought crushing pain, and even though I mourn her death, I also celebrate her life and give thanks that I had the opportunity to know her.

Healing doesn’t always come in physical form.  Through my eyes, Andi Jo was healed.  In Heaven, she can be the little girl that she never could have been in her earthly form.  She is no longer sick, no longer suffering, no longer in pain.  She is whole again.  And I have no doubt in my mind that she is in the company of her Nana, Paw-Paw, and Uncle Wayne Bo, stealing their hearts the same way she did ours.

We did not get through this alone, and I am the kind of person who believes in giving credit and kudos where due, so I’d like to take the time to acknowledge some of the people who showed exceptional concern, love and support:

My sisters, Linda and Brenda, for all the phone calls and visits.  You are both loved and appreciated so much!

Kathy Mack Hunt – You are so much more than just a Facebook friend.  You took the time to start a greeting card chain and then forwarded them to Courtney, uplifting her spirits.  Thank you for that!

Rikki Lynn Snyder – Your exceptional care for Andi Jo and everlasting friendship to my daughter did not go unnoticed.  You are now dubbed my surrogate daughter!

Tatum Estes – You are a true friend to Courtney.  You dropped everything in Texas and drove to Kentucky to be with Courtney during what was the most heart shattering event in her life.  Thank you.

Sherrie Hatton Welch , or Pee Wee to those of us who know and love her, thank you for all of your phone calls to me to check up on Courtney and Andi Jo.  You have no idea what those calls meant to me.

If I’ve missed someone, I sincerely apologize, but please know that you are appreciated.

In closing, I would like to say something to you all, and it is a fact that I personally know to be true.  Life as you know it can change in the blink of an eye and leave you standing in its dust trail.  Don’t let a day go by without telling your loved ones that you love them, don’t miss the opportunity to give and get a hug, tell your friends and family members how you feel while you have a chance, because tomorrow may be too late.

Until next time…

Take care and God Bless!!!

Glenda

 

 

 

 

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Kids Do (And Say) the Darndest Things!

(Above photo courtesy of Colourbox)

Although my three daughters are adults now with children and families of their own, I oftentimes find myself reminiscing about the days when they were small, their antics, the things they said and did, so I decided to compile some of my favorites.  Try not to laugh too hard!

One of my favorites involves my oldest daughter, Courtney.  When my children were small, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning was pack them up and drive to the Palm Beach Mall.  I didn’t have a dime to spend, but it doesn’t cost anything to look.  With the twins in their stroller and Courtney on a harness, I’d walk from one end of the mall to the other.  One of my all-time favorite stores to go in was Wicks & Sticks, a specialty candle shop.  Imagine, if you will, a bowl of multi-colored, various shaped wax pieces that, in the eyes of a 5-year old, looked just like candy.  In fact, if you poured a box of Nerds into the palm of your hand, the likeness would be the same.  After looking around for a bit and smelling all those wonderful scents, we exited the store and I noticed that Courtney was awfully quiet, which was extremely unusual.  When I looked down at her, she had the funniest look on her face like she’d just bitten into a lemon.   I asked her if she was okay, at which time she proceeds to spit out a mouthful of those wax pieces.  I have never let her forget about that…and I never will.  That’s what she gets for trying to be slick and steal a handful of “candy!”

I was sitting on my front porch with my granddaughter, Jayda, discussing the way things were in school when I was a child, how we started our days, the fact that I really did walk to school every day, and other general conversation about me as a child.  Jayda looked up at me, an extremely serious look on her face like she was in deep thought.  “Grandma?” she says.  “Was everything in black and white back then?”  Sure, Jayda, just like we were filming an episode of Leave It To Beaver!

Another one involving Jayda was a discussion about music and how I used to “spin my vinyl,” and dance.  (In fact, I still have 2 record players, 45’s dating all the way back to my childhood, and albums that I still play.)  She didn’t know what the term “vinyl” meant, so I told her, “it’s a record.  Do you know what a record is, Jayda?”  “Yep,” she answered.  “It’s a big, black CD.”  Close enough for me!

If you know anyone who has twins, then I’m sure you’ve heard stories about how close they are, that if one feels pain so does the other.  As the mother of identical twin girls, I can tell you with certainty, those facts are true.  But I’m going to take it a step further and tell you that I have no doubt that they also have a secret language (before they actually start talking) that only they understand, and in the case of my twins, they were masters at conspiring!  On more than one occasion when I had them in their playpen while cooking or cleaning, I could hear them speaking gibberish and laughing.  When I would check in on them, I would watch them for several minutes to see what was up.  What I heard was “goo-goo-ga-ga-blah-blah…laughter)  Translation:  “Hey, will you hand me that toy?”  “This one?” “No, the other one.” “Okay, here you go.” “Thanks!”  I’m telling you, they KNEW what each other was saying.  They were like little aliens speaking in a language that was indecipherable!

My nephew, Shane, contracted encephalitis as an infant, and at 3 months old, underwent major brain surgery to release swelling on his brain.  The outlook was grim and the doctors didn’t give my sister much hope for his recovery.  What they didn’t’ take into account was the fact that Shane belonged to a family of Christians where prayer came as second nature.  Every member in our church was praying, every person in our community was praying, our Pastor came to Miami to visit.  The specialists told my sister not to get her hopes up (don’t EVER tell that to a Christian that serves a mighty God!), and that even if Shane did recover, he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life and would never be able to do the things that “normal” kids his age would do.  So, let me tell you about Michael Shane Peacock.  Not only did he survive, he is not a vegetable, he played baseball, rode a bike and even had a bad accident and busted his face up pretty good, graduated high school, attended School for the Blind (he is legally blind from the illness), learned how to take care of himself and live on his own, is now 37 years old, works two jobs and has a precious wife named Tami.  I tell you all of this so that you can fully appreciate the story I’m about to tell you.

When my niece and nephews were little, there was no place they loved going more than to my house.  They were there practically every day and on the weekends, especially Shane.  He was extremely close with my girls, and him and Courtney are only 2 months apart in age.  Shane loved his PB & J’s, so I had to make sure I always had peanut butter at my house.  But Shane was particular and would only eat Peter Pan.  Well, I wasn’t financially able to afford the finer things, like name brand peanut butter, but I did have an empty Peter Pan jar and filled it up with a cheaper brand.  Sure enough, Shane asked me to fix him a PB & J, so I did, cut it in half, and placed it down in front of him.  “Ummm, what kind of peanut butta you put on it?”  “The kind you like, Shane.  Peter Pan.”  “Nuh-unh, you ain’t got no Peter Pan, Gwenna Kay.”  “Yes, Shane, it’s Peter Pan.” “Show me.”  I did.  He was a happy camper when I showed him the jar and proceeded to eat every bite of that sandwich.  As I said, Shane is now 37 years old, but I don’t think he’s aware of this…I certainly never told him!!

My life is filled with precious memories like this.  These kids, mine and my sisters, are what made my life whole.  I miss those days quite a lot.

Do you have any funny stories to share about your kids or grandkids?  I’d love to hear them!

Until next time…take care and God bless!!

Glenda

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Who’s the REAL Enemy of the People? (Hint: It Isn’t Journalism!)

Over the past two years or so, the terms “fake news” and “enemy of the people” have become prominent in even casual conversations.  There are many people who believe that the news and the journalists that bring us the stories, are biased and one-sided.  In some instances, that might be true.  However, it’s not true as a general principle.  They chose their careers because they were interested in learning and relaying the truth to the general population.  And let’s admit it, without them, how would we know what’s going on in the world around us?

If we want to be honest with ourselves, news outlets such as papers, television stations and talk shows are NOT the real enemy of the people – SOCIAL media is!  You know, those places in cyber-world where faceless, sometimes cowardly entities sit at their computers pounding on their keyboards, posting and sharing memes that aren’t real, pictures that have been photoshopped, and dishing out their judgment upon others that they don’t even know, all in the name of personal, political and religious beliefs?  Something my daughter, Courtney, likes to refer to as “keyboard warriors.”

It will never cease to amaze me at how quickly some are to share items without fact-checking first, all because whatever they’re posting aligns with their own tenets.  Wouldn’t it be much easier to use one of the vast amount of fact-checking sites to verify before sharing?  In my opinion, this is how hatred continues to grow and spread, because while it may please some, it angers others and results in hateful exchanges of words between them.  From personal experience, I have learned (and not so kindly) that some are so preoccupied with shoving their own system of opinions and beliefs down one’s throat that they fail to consider that the other person also has an opinion and their own set of beliefs, they’re simply not interested in hearing it.  Not once has anyone ever asked me why I feel the way I do about certain things or why my opinion differs from theirs, and when I have on rare occasions offered my opinion, the attacks were akin to that of hungry piranhas engaged in a feeding frenzy.  I have made the mistake of commenting on posts because I honestly thought that’s what the poster wanted me to do, only to immediately regret my decision.  While I love, and will engage in, a healthy debate any time, any place, what I will not participate in is name-calling, belittling, debasing, bashing, or anything else that would make another human being feel anything less than human.  When that begins, I take the advice of Snagglepuss, and take an “exit, stage left even!”

Let me give you a couple of examples that I’ve seen as recently as this week.  I may not get all of the words ver batim, but you’ll get the general idea.  One went something like this, “I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and will vote for him again.  Will you?”  Another one I saw was, “Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi both need to be impeached.  Do you agree?  Share if you do?”  My conclusion to something of this nature is that they’re hypothetical questions and don’t really want you to answer.  Unless, of course, you share their opinion.  Take my advice….DON’T answer!!!

Social Media can be, and usually is, a wonderful tool.  It allows us to stay connected with family and friends, view photos of loved ones who live states away from us, use funny face filters to change how we look, resulting in laughter, even at ourselves.  But it can also be, and has been, a weapon, and a lethal one when used in the wrong hands of someone with malfeasant intentions.  School-aged children have been bullied into suicide after mass sharing of hateful vitriol against them on social media platforms, falsehoods and not-so-true stories have also been spread, as well as photoshopped photographs depicting someone in compromising positions, nude when they’re not, or changing the lettering on a T-shirt to make it have a negative impact on the viewer, inciting even more hatred and venomous words and behavior.  This is behavior that, no matter how hard I try, I will never understand.

Facebook is the only social media platform that I use and I do that mainly to play my farming games; however, if it wasn’t for that purpose, I’d most likely give it up altogether.  Not a day goes by that when I log onto Facebook, the thread is filled with posts pertaining to political opinions, hypotheticals like what I mentioned above, disrespectful comments due to differences of opinion.  Once a great place to connect and interact with family and friends, it has become nothing more than a political forum for users to post their own opinions and dare others to comment on them.  I no longer comment on anyone’s posts when it’s about politics or religion, and I scroll past anything that I’m not interested in seeing or reading.  In some cases, I have resorted to unfriending/blocking because I got sick and tired of constantly seeing the hateful things certain people posted.  While I will admit that there are some who don’t mind engaging in a debate, and do it diplomatically, there are twice as many who do not and will not see beyond the tips of their own noses.  That’s when I know it’s wise to keep a safe distance, monitor what they’re saying and posting, then decide whether to rid myself of them.  Honestly, I don’t even want to be associated with anyone who spreads nothing but fear, hatred and bigotry.  I wouldn’t allow anyone like that into my personal life, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s no different by eliminating them from my Facebook friends list.

Unfortunately, until posters learn how to fact-check before sharing certain articles, photographs and memes, the spread of hatefulness isn’t apt to cease any time soon.  In fact, I only see it getting worse as more and more people join these platforms on a daily basis and participate in this type of activity.  And as long as there are social media platforms to use to assist in their mission, those seeking to cause dissension, spread hate, engage in cyber bullying and cyber arguments, the tools are readily available with a click of the mouse and the strokes of a keyboard.

I choose peace and harmony, and posting pictures and videos of precious animals, cute kittens and puppies, and occasionally, a news article that I think others might find interesting.  I refuse to be a part of any type of group or activity that does nothing but tear others down.  We all have opinions about many different types of things, but sometimes, it’s best for everyone involved to keep those opinions to ourselves.

Until next time…

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

 

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Let’s Go Back

Time travel is possible, and anyone can do it.

The only machine you need is a memory, and a willingness to allow yourself to remember.

In fact, I did it just two nights ago when I was driving home from my daughter’s house.  The temperature outside was a cool 40 degrees and I had my windows cracked to allow some fresh air in and my radio station tuned to oldies, and then suddenly…

I was 17 again, on my way home from a softball game, windows down, singing along with the songs playing on the radio while the wind blowing in through the windows air-dried my sweat-soaked jersey.  It felt wonderful to recall such good times and I also believe it enlightens the heart because it feels good to feel young.

While it is true that there are some memories that we’d prefer not to recall because it’s too painful to do so, they are there nonetheless, stored forever on the original data storage chip called the brain, and sometimes they pop up without being summoned, because that’s what memories are.

Many times I have had flashbacks, recalling my youth and the trials and tribulations I’ve encountered in this thing that we call life.  Some were good, some were not, but all were lessons learned.

Personally speaking, I prefer to remember the good things, like being able to go into a five and dime store with a quarter and come out with a bag full of candy, curling up on the couch with a blanket and watching Creature Feature, riding my bike all over town, trick-or-treating with a group of friends, tater tots from Biff Burger, and walking home from school.  I love recalling my “firsts.”  First kiss, first love, first viewing of music videos on MTV, and the birth of my first child and the overwhelming joy I felt getting to hold her for the first time.

While I have suffered a broken heart on more occasions than I care to remember, I never have been one to dwell on the bad or the negative because it’s impossible to grow and move forward when you deny yourself the ability to do so.

How often do you recall memories of your childhood, your adolescence, your teen years or any other era of your life?  Remembering the good with the bad are the essence of what has shaped and formed us into who we are today.

I invite you to take the challenge.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath…..and remember.

Let me know how it goes!

Until next time…

Take care and God Bless!!

 

 

 

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Snow! (from a Southerner’s Perspective)

It snows in South Florida.

Large, black flakes that fly through the air and then land on everything in sight, leaving a black film of ashes everywhere.  On clothes, in hair, on clean laundry hanging on the clothesline.

It happens every time the sugar cane fields are burned.  While I was always mesmerized by the sight of the glowing orange flames and the sound of the sizzling and crackling fire, it can’t hold a candle to the sight of fresh, white snow.

For years I dreamed of seeing snow and even went as far as requesting tourist packages from multiple cities just to see the pictures of the pristine scenes of snow-covered trees, fields and country cabins.

Every year I took my vacation in December so that I could visit Courtney and the grandkids in Kentucky, hoping every year that my dream would finally come true.  But alas, it never did.  In fact, it never failed that the snow would come after I had already returned to Florida, leaving me to wonder if the day would ever come when I would finally see snow with my own eyes and not in magazines.

When the opportunity came for me to leave Florida and relocate to Indiana, I was elated.  I knew I was leaving behind a lifetime of friends and memories, but I was ready for a change, for a fresh new start somewhere different.  I have never regretted my decision, nor have I ever looked back.  I am living my dream.

Now, when snow is in the forecast, I don’t have to worry about missing it because I have to go back home.  I am home.  And if the snow does fall, I am there to see it and take it in with fresh eyes every single time and experience the same feeling that I felt seeing it for the first time.  It truly is a sight to see.

I am always amazed at the silence.  Snow makes no noise when it’s falling.  I love sticking my gloved hand out and letting the flakes fall onto the fabric so I can see the majestic patterns, no two being alike.  When everything is covered, it looks like marshmallow creme, solid white and smooth.  When I know that snow is on the way, I plan my “comfort food” meals, dishes like chili or chicken and dumplings.  There’s something special about eating those foods when it’s cold and snowing, and it makes me feel all comfy inside.  The moon’s reflection on fresh fallen snow lights up the darkness, appearing as though lights are shining.  Flakes shimmer like diamonds in the sunlight.  It crunches under the weight of shoes/boots.  Touching it with a bare hand is the equivalent of sticking your hand to the inside of a freezer.  It is soft…and cold.

If you’ve ever seen snow, touched it and played in it, then you know what I’m talking about.  If you’ve never seen snow, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Here are some of my favorite shots of a winter wonderland.  Hope you enjoy them!

(My neighbor’s garage, our tool shed, me making a snow angel)

(My backyard and patio table, the oak tree in my front yard)

(These are all from our snow on January 11, 2019.  My front yard, Bruce the Spruce, my hand print, a heart I drew in the snow, the front of my house, the oak tree in my front yard)

(These are all from my first time seeing snowfall in Indiana.  Me “battling” the cold and snow, kids and grandkids building a snowman, the road leading into Lapping Park, a snow mound in Lapping Park)

Would I give all this up to go back to Florida?  To the land of endless sunshine, beaches…and hurricanes?  Not on your life!

Until next time…

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

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It’s Me, Glenda…And This Is Who I Am

2017-04-26 15.04.51

 

Whenever I read a story, whether it’s a short one or a novel, I always enjoy finding out as much information as I can about the author.  What kind of person they are, what makes them tick, where they get the ideas for their stories.  With that thought in mind, I wondered if any of the readers of my stories were curious to learn more about me, so I decided I’d write sort of a fact page and fill you in on some things that you may, or may not know, about me.  So, here goes.

 

  • If you’ve read the first chapter of “Seeing,” then you’ve read about the head injury sustained while playing softball.  That’s true.  I really did suffer that injury and it happened while playing softball, and the goose-egg I received as a result truly did grow to the size of an orange.  However, I did not start seeing ghosts as a result of the injury, but I did (and still do) get horrible headaches on occasion.  I continued to play ball, including in a women’s league, and I was a mean third baser, not a right-fielder, and definitely had that strong throwing arm.  But now, I probably couldn’t throw a rock across the street!

 

  • Pahokee is a real place in south Florida. It’s where I was born and raised.  And yes, it is on the map.  Pahokee is mentioned multiple times in my novel “Seeing,” and many of the places listed are also real, although many of them no longer exist.  The Prince Theater was my go-to place on Saturdays.  Fifty cents got me into the movie and bought popcorn, soda and candy.

 

  • The idea for “Animus” came as the result of a recurring nightmare that plagued me for over a year. I will not go into details because I do not like talking about the circumstances.  I simply took the idea and ran with it.

 

  • I got my right big toe cut completely off when I was 4 years old.  My oldest sister, Linda, was towing me on the back of a bicycle and ran over a palm frond, causing my foot to hit the spokes, and VOILA’, no big toe!  I didn’t even feel it and didn’t cry until I saw all the blood – then I screamed bloody murder!  The doctor sewed my toe back on and the scar grew as I did.  On occasion it’s tender, and I can’t wear any type of shoe that sits atop or rubs on the surface of the scar.

 

  • I have no fingernail on my left middle finger, the result of my hand being slammed in a thick wooden door. The injury crushed the nail matrix, preventing further growth.  Although I’ve had 3 surgeries on it, my finger still remains without a fingernail.  At one time, I was completely embarrassed by it and went to great lengths to keep it covered by using a fake nail or a band-aid.  Finally, I said to heck with it, it’s an injury and it’s part of me.  Now, I wear it like a Ninja!!!

 

  • I grew up in a housing project.  One of the biggest misconceptions of project life is that whoever lives in one is trash.  That’s simply not true.  My mother raised three daughters all alone after my dad left us when I was only 5 years old and living in a housing authority was the only rent she could afford, and worked 2 and 3 jobs to do that.  But I’ll tell you this much.  Our house was spotless and the floors so clean and shiny that you could have eaten off of them.  Our clothes were always clean and so were our bodies.  Living in a project doesn’t make you trashy, it just means that one is poor.  I think about the many friends I had back then that accepted me for who I was, not where I lived.  They could have easily ignored me or avoided me, but they didn’t.  And I can honestly say that the parents of those friends always welcomed me into their homes and treated me like one of their own.  So, to all my friends and your parents – thank you!

 

  • From a very young age, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.  My love for animals runs deep and is quite passionate.  I knew that to become a vet, I must do good in school and maintain good grades, so I did.  I graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and golden honors for being in the top ten seniors of my graduating class.  It was also the year that my dream of becoming a veterinarian died.  College tuition was way out of reach for me.  I didn’t receive any scholarships and didn’t qualify for a grant, and there was no such thing as financial aid.  I can still love animals and help them in my own way, which I’ve always done and will continue to do.

 

  • Every year I feared that Santa Claus would overlook me because of our financial status, but somehow, he never did.  One Christmas in particular that will always remain a cherished memory is the year that all I wanted for Christmas was a Mrs. Beasley doll.  That’s all I could think about.  I had never wanted a doll so badly in all my life, but I knew that I wouldn’t get one.  To me, it was nothing more than a dream.  But lo and behold, when Christmas morning came, and I looked under the tree, what did I see?  Yes!  Mrs. Beasley!  Santa Claus truly hadn’t forgotten me!!  It wasn’t until several years later that I learned that it wasn’t Santa at all, but my oldest sister, Linda, who had bought the doll with the money she had earned working at Pahokee Army Store, and instead of spending it on herself, she made sure that my dream came true.  When Linda had her daughter, Stacy, I gave her all my childhood dolls, including Mrs. Beasley…but the story doesn’t end there.  Several years ago, I received another special gift from Linda and guess what it was???  By the way, I still have her!

 

  • I almost died several years ago due to an undetected illness.  Although I went to many doctors and specialists, none of them could figure it out.  I heard everything from “it’s psychological,” to “try biofeedback” to “maybe you should consider talking to a psychiatrist.”  I was ready to give up because I knew my attempts were futile, but my husband refused to let me.  It was recommended that I see an Endocrinologist, so that’s what I did, and doing so saved my life.  Turns out my thyroid gland wasn’t functioning at all and was attempting to shut down my vital organs.  I thank God for Dr. David Mordes every day.  Not only for listening to me, but for taking the time to find, and treat, the problem.  I will be on Synthroid for the rest of my life and will suffer from minor secondary problems as a result, but you know what?  I’m alive, and I’m healthy, and that’s all that matters!

 

  • I’m an excellent cook and baker.  I can bake just about any kind of cookie or cake you want and will do it from scratch, but I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, make a pie crust or biscuits!  Go figure!  I cook with a southern flair, well, because I am from the south…South Florida.

 

  • I hate eggs, except for when they’re in cakes or cookies.  I will not eat them in any way, shape or form, except (see my note above).  They’re gross, stinky and disgusting.  I hate bananas because they make me gag, but I love banana cream pie, banana flavored popsicles and banana moon pies.

 

  • I’ve loved writing since I could hold a pencil.  While I can fabricate a storyline from here to eternity, I do not tell lies in real life and have no use for a liar.  My philosophy is, if you can’t speak the truth, then don’t speak.  When I’m writing, my characters may, on occasion, use foul language because I want them to be believable.  Yet when I speak, I do not use profanity.  I feel I can carry on a conversation without it.  I’ve been published several times in magazines and newspapers, but never pursued it wholeheartedly because it was tough to do that while working a full-time job, raising kids and maintaining a household.  “Animus” is the first novel that I’ve written and completed.  I’m currently attempting to secure an agent.  I’ve got my fingers crossed!

 

  • I chose a career in law enforcement with my first stint being with the USDA.  But the call didn’t really get into my blood until I went to work for the Florida Highway Patrol, and from there, probation/DUI school and juvenile corrections.  I was nominated for Employee of the Year by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice because of a tracking system that I created to monitor allegations of abuse reports.  I didn’t win it, but it was an honor to be nominated.

 

  • I worked at a juvenile correctional facility for 11 1/2 years until the State of Florida closed the facility, resulting in more than 300 people losing their jobs – including me.  It’s a horrible thing to lose a job like that, because you don’t just lose a job, you lose your investments, your insurance, your income, and perhaps even a piece of yourself.  I went from making $40K a year to making less than $300 every two weeks in unemployment, then to a big fat zero when that ran out, never able to secure another job.  When we moved to Indiana, within the first two years I applied for over 300 jobs, got called in for 2 interviews, but didn’t get hired for either.  So, when someone says they’ve lost their job, show compassion and concern, because it truly is a horrible thing to go through.

 

  • There isn’t much that I’m scared of, but big spiders rate #1 on the list, with flying cockroaches, or palmetto bugs, coming in second. Those suckers are like B52 bombers and will fly right into your face and hair!!!!  On more than one occasion, I have nearly beaten myself to death trying to get one off me.  I’ll spare you the gory details of the aftermath when a giant Florida spider jumped right in my face when I sprayed it!!!

 

  • As a kid, I used to catch lizards and keep them in the old tin coffee cans. Sometimes I’d take them out and clip them on my earlobes and wear them as earrings.  Fear not, none were harmed, and I always released them back into the bushes.  To this very day, the smell of an empty coffee can still reminds me of…..lizards!

 

  • I bowled competitively for many years and traveled all over the state of Florida to compete in tournaments. I have won hundreds of awards in the sport and was the second woman in the history of the St. Lucie County Women’s Bowling Association to bowl a 700 series and did it during a county tournament!  Alas, I had to give up the sport when degenerative arthritis prevented me from being able to grip the ball.

 

  • I was a young, single mother of three small children for several years before I met and married my husband. I know the hardships of struggling to make ends meet.  At one time, I received welfare, food stamps and Medicaid because I was unemployed for a year after giving birth to the twins because I couldn’t secure a job that would pay me enough to be able to afford daycare.  That all changed when I was given a job at the Florida Highway Patrol by a man who put his trust in me to do a job.  I will forever be grateful to Lt. Richard Helton for giving me the chance that no one else would.  This job enabled me to be able to have better living arrangements, give up the food stamps and Medicaid.  One of my biggest pet peeves is to read or hear people who criticize those who rely on public assistance to help them in their time of need.  There are times when circumstances are beyond our control and we need help.  Choosing to better oneself is a personal choice, one which I opted for and didn’t give up until I did.

 

  • I’m a clown and I laugh a lot. It’s good for the heart and for the soul.

 

  • I’m a people lover – all kinds, all colors, all religions. I love hearing stories of different cultures and ways of living.  I was taught from a very early age never to judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character.  I live strongly by that rule.  As one of my daughters told me once, “Mom, love don’t come in colors!”  Amen, Candi!

 

  • In our hometown of Pahokee, people who knew us referred to us as “the Enda Sisters.” Linda, Brenda, Glenda.  Wonder what mom would have named a boy had there been one?  Charlenda????

 

  • My favorite color is red / my favorite food is Italian / my favorite movie EVER is Jaws / I love reading anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Patterson and have a huge collection of their books / my eyes are green / I’m right-handed / I love all animals but absolutely adore tigers.

 

 

Do you feel like you know me better now or would you like to know more?  Have any questions or something you’d like me to answer?  Don’t ever be afraid to ask!!!

Until next time….

Take care and God Bless!!!

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SEEING – A NOVEL (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1 – The Accident

The summer of 1977 started out like any other one before it – afternoon matinees at the Prince Theater, where I paid a dollar for admission and could sit there all day long if I chose to and watch the movie (sometimes double features) over and over without getting kicked out.  Try that stunt these days and you’re likely to get booted out of the theater or told that you must buy another admission ticket if you want to watch it again.  Swimming parties at the public pool were always fun, although any amount of extended time in the sun always resulted in the same thing for me – a nasty sunburn due to my fair complexion, followed by peeling and more freckles added to my shoulders and nose.    One of my all-time favorite things to do on a Saturday night was making a pallet on the living room floor where I’d lay on my stomach and watch creature feature monster movies on television.  The blankets of the pallet came in handy if I got scared, because I could cover my head and not look at the gory creature that was about to devour me whole.  When I thought it was safe to uncover my head, I’d always look over my shoulder to make sure there wasn’t a vampire, mummy or werewolf in the room with me.  If I needed to change the channel to watch more movies, I had to get up to do it because our television had no remote control.  Try doing that with monsters in the room watching your every move!

I stayed outside from the time the sun came up until it said goodnight, painting the evening Florida skies with magnificent hues of oranges and pinks.  If I got thirsty while playing, I took a drink from the water hose because there was no running in and out of the house lest you “let the flies in,” and there was no such thing as bottled water back then.  Another thing that I loved about the summertime is because my birthday is in July, and that meant having friends over for cake, ice cream and opening presents.  That summer I was on the cusp of turning fifteen.

I was small for my age, petite and skinny as a twig, also a late bloomer with a chest as flat as a two by four.  However, mom made me wear a training bra, which I never completely understood.  Other than the two peanuts barely poking my shirt, there wasn’t much there to train.  I kept my auburn hair cut short because I hated it constantly getting in my eyes, and I also didn’t want to be bothered with the boring chore of “pretty hair maintenance.”

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I was a tomboy in every sense of the word.  Dresses were out of the question when it came to my attire, and so were socks and black patent leather shoes.  All I ever wore were jeans, shorts, t-shirts and sneakers.  It was a simple and easy style without looking too girlie, and perfectly comfortable for me.

While all these things were fun, and I looked forward to them every summer, what I loved more than anything else was playing softball.  A bunch of us “project kids,” (that’s what we were referred to because we lived in a housing project) would get together in the afternoons to play in the large field behind our houses.  Short, tall, skinny or fat, we didn’t care.  If you could play ball, you would be picked for one of the teams.

Using personal items as makeshift bases – a pair of sneakers for first, a shirt for second and so on – we would pick team captains and make our choices for players, leaving no one out.  If there were more players than needed, they got scattered in the outfield.  If we were short a few players, then that meant that some of the others would have to cover more than one position.

I was a mean right fielder with a strong throwing arm, and I’m not too shy to say so.  You know the old adage that “girls can’t play ball?”  Well, they’d most certainly change their minds about that if they’d ever seen me play.  As I said, I was a hard-core tomboy and I was more than capable of playing with, and better than, most of the boys my age who played.

It was my love for the sport that would make this the summer that would be different, the one that would change everything about me and alter the course of my life forever, the summer that I lost nearly every friend that I had.  Not because of death or anything else tragic, but because they became frightened of me, scared of what I became and what I could do, and not knowing how to handle “the new me,” they chose to stay away because that was the only solution that they knew.

On this particularly scorching hot June afternoon, our first week out of school for the summer, it was the bottom of the sixth inning and I was up to bat.  Bases were loaded, and my team was ahead by one run.  My intention was to get a walk because the worst pitcher out of all our players was on the mound, and I knew from experience that he had a tendency to throw either high or outside balls.  And unless you were a tennis player attempting to return a lob, there was no use taking a swing.

My feet were dug into the ground at home plate, (a piece of cardboard that someone had retrieved from the neighborhood dumpster), an aluminum bat gripped tightly in my hands, knees bent, eyes forward and focused – I was ready.

Like I said, Ricky was notorious for throwing high balls, but apparently our umpire, Chubby, was blind.  “Steeeeee-rike one!” he called.  We assigned him to the position of umpiring because he was asthmatic and unable to run.  Not wanting to omit him from being able to participate, we compromised.

“Are you stupid or something?” I yelled, turning to face him.  “That ball was as high as an airplane!”

“I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em,” he said, grinning and pushing up his black-rimmed glasses, then taking his umpire stance once more.  His curly red hair looked like a fire on top of his head in the bright glow of the afternoon sun, and his face was so red that I couldn’t see a single one of his dozens of freckles through his flushed skin.  Back in position, I waited for the next pitch, which went right of the plate by about three feet.

“Steeeeee-rike two!” Chubby called, holding up two fingers and casting out his arm like the umpires in professional baseball do.

“You seriously might want to consider a new pair of glasses!” I retorted.  “Obviously, the ones you have don’t work.”

Frustrated at his rotten play calling, I dug in even deeper and choked up on the bat, figuring that I might as well go ahead and swing because if I didn’t, Chubby would call it a strike three anyway.

Except that it was a perfect pitch that came straight across the plate.  I swung hard, walloping the ball out past center field.  Jake and Timmy ran for the ball while my team players on second and third bases ran to home plate, scoring runs for our team.

For some reason that only Johnny knew, he made a horrible mistake in his decision.  While I ran past first and second, and then touching third heading toward home plate, he changed his mind about crossing home, and instead, decided to turn around and make his way back to third, running as fast as lightning and looking back over his shoulder, I suppose to make sure he wasn’t going to be tagged out.

With my mind set on making a homerun and him not paying attention, we collided head-on with a forceful impact, his chin striking me on the upper left side of my forehead just over my eye.  The blow sent me flying backwards and to the ground, knocking me unconscious.

I have no idea how long I was out, but when I opened my eyes I was lying in the grass flat on my back with all of the other kids bent over staring down at me.  Johnny held a bloody rag to his lacerated chin, which I later learned took six stitches to close.

“Are you okay?”  “How many fingers am I holding up?”  “Man, look at the size of that knot on her head!”  I had no idea who was saying what, because they all seemed to be talking at once and all I could hear was a cacophony of mumbled noise.

I groaned and tried to get up, but I felt a little nauseous, so I sat there a bit longer, waiting for the queasiness to pass.  When it finally did, I stood up and said, “I think that’s enough ball for today.”

“DeeDee?”  It was Johnny, the boy that I had collided with.  “I’m really sorry,” he said, looking more scared than worried.  “I hope you’re not hurt too bad.”

Touching my head and feeling the lump, I said, “I’m okay, Johnny.  But I need to go show this to my mom.”

To say that the swelling on my forehead was a goose egg would be equivalent to comparing a twenty-carat diamond to a pebble.  It was huge and covered the entire left side of my forehead and getting even bigger by the second.

My mom was sitting on the side of her bed talking to one of her friends on the telephone when I went inside.  Not wanting to disturb her, I stood in the doorway waiting for her to either turn around or hang up, but after a couple of minutes of waiting and she did neither, I quietly said, “Mom?”

In one swift move, she leapt from the bed, dropping the phone to the floor with a loud PING!  “Oh, my word!” she cried.  “What in the world happened to you?”

I was trying to explain when the nausea hit me again, but that time, I knew I was going to throw up.  Although I tried my best to make it to the bathroom, I wasn’t so fortunate.  The vomiting began in her room and I left a trail from there all the way to the toilet.

The next thing I remember is lying on an examining table in the emergency room waiting for a doctor to come in.  Mom stood beside me, a look of concern furrowing her brow.  Never before had I seen such an expression on my mom’s face.  When I asked her how I got to the hospital, she told me that I had passed out in the bathroom and that she carried me to the car and an emergency room nurse had brought me inside on a stretcher.  To this very day, I do not remember any of that.

“How do I look?” I asked quietly.  My mouth felt as dry as a desert and my throat was sore and burning.

“Like you’ve been in a fight with a semi-truck and the truck won!”

Funny thing is, it didn’t even hurt.  It kind of stung, like a bee bite, but there was no real pain.  I reached up to touch it and suddenly understood why my mom looked so worried.  It had grown to the size of an orange and was soft and mushy in the center.

“Don’t touch it, DeeDee,” my mom scolded, gently pushing my hand away.  “How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” I answered.  “A little lightheaded, maybe, but I don’t feel sick anymore.”

The door to my examining room opened and in walked the most handsome man I had ever seen in my life – and I didn’t even like boys.  Tall and tanned, with wavy blonde hair and eyes so piercingly blue that I could almost see right through them.

“I’m Dr. Montgomery,” he said, taking my chart from the clear plastic door pocket.  “Diedre Olsen?” he asked, opening the file.

“DeeDee,” I corrected him as I continued to stare.  I did not like being called by my real name, but hearing him say it somehow made it okay.

“DeeDee, it is,” he said, stepping up to the side of my bed.  “Whoa!  What happened here?” he asked, softly probing my forehead.

“I ran smack into somebody while we were playing softball,” I answered.

“Judging by the look of this bump, I’d say you two collided kind of hard.  Would that be an accurate assumption?”

I nodded.  I was afraid to open my mouth because the nausea was coming back and the last thing I wanted to do was hurl on his white coat.

“Can you tell me exactly how this happened, DeeDee?” he asked.  “And how you felt afterwards?  Did you pass out, get sick, anything unusual?”

I knew Dr. Montgomery was speaking because I could see his lips moving, but his voice sounded muffled and far away.  Whatever he was saying, his words were incoherent, as though he was speaking a foreign language that I didn’t understand.

Then came the flash of bright white light, like looking directly into a flashlight beam, and then the smell of burning sugarcane followed by a horrendous wave of nausea.

When I woke up, I was no longer in the emergency room.  Dr. Montgomery had admitted me to the hospital and I had been taken upstairs to a private room.

Mom was sitting in a green leather chair in the corner of the room, her arms folded across her chest as she stared at me, appearing even more worried than she had before.  When she saw my eyes open, she jumped from her chair and came to my bedside, grabbing onto my hand and crying.

I had no idea what had happened to me that would warrant the presence of two doctors attending to me, but there they were, both wearing their white lab coats with a stethoscope around their necks.  Dr. Montgomery stood directly beside my bed, and standing behind his right shoulder, an elderly gentleman with white hair and a thin white mustache, smiling at me.  He kept his arms folded behind his back, grinning and nodding while Dr. Montgomery spoke, occasionally glancing at me, winking, and then returning his attention to the chart in Dr. Montgomery’s hand.

“Glad to have you back with us,” he said, bending over me and shining a light into my eyes.

“What happened?” I asked, attempting to sit up.

“Take it easy for now,” he said, lightly touching my shoulder and laying me back down onto the pillow.  He then wrote something down in my chart.  “You gave us quite a scare.”

Mom nodded in agreement, as did the older doctor.

“Well?” I asked.  “Will one of you please tell me what happened and why I’m in a hospital room?”

“You suffered a seizure while you were in the emergency room,” Dr. Montgomery explained.  “I admitted you so that I can keep an eye on you.  It’s only for observation, DeeDee, so it’ll probably only be for one night.  But you do have a mild concussion and I believe that’s what caused the seizure.  Not that it will happen again,” he said, patting my leg.  “But if it does, I’d rather you be here close to medical staff instead of at home.  If you do okay during the night, and by that I mean no more seizures, then you can go home tomorrow.”

“It takes two of you to tell me that?” I asked, puzzled.

Dr. Montgomery looked bewildered by my question.  “You mean me and your mom?”

“No,” I said, pointing.  “Him.”

Dr. Montgomery turned around to look behind him.  Slightly cocking his head he asked, “DeeDee, do you see someone else here besides me and your mom?”

“Of course, I do,” I said, shaking my head.  “He’s standing right beside you.  He’s a doctor, too.”

The glances exchanged between mom and him were ones of total confusion.

“Probably double vision,” he said calmly to my mom.  “It’s not uncommon with seizures and head injuries.  I wouldn’t worry too much right now.  I’m sure it’s only temporary.”

That last statement of his would turn out to be one of the biggest falsehoods I have ever been told.

And I wasn’t suffering from double vision either.

I was young, yes, but I knew the difference between an old doctor and a young one.

The physician that had stood at the side of Dr. Montgomery was a totally different person in every way imaginable, and they looked nothing alike.

What I didn’t understand at the time was why mom or Dr. Montgomery didn’t see him, too.  Afterall, he was standing right there beside my bed as plain as day.

However, it wouldn’t be long before I found out why – but not before being put through pure hell first.

Unfortunately, this episode was only the beginning of what was to come.

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