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!!

post

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hurricane

It took me several months to write this book, and when I did, I never imagined that a REAL hurricane would threaten the U.S. the same day the book was released!!!  I almost felt guilty about the coincidence, but I promise, I did NOT predict Dorian!!!

Hurricane is a novel about a Category 5 storm named Hurricane Phillipe that has its sights set on the Southeast coast of Florida and Lake Okeechobee.

Some of the characters in the novel get trapped on the coastal island where the hurricane is predicted to make landfall, quickly turning their beach vacation into a fight for survival.

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hurricane is available in E-book and paperback, sold exclusively by Amazon.  Here’s the link for those of you interested.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1689033916

Thanks for reading, and for your continued support!!!

Until next time, take care and God bless!!

Glenda

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I Opted for Non-Traditional Publishing

Writing stories isn’t something that I recently decided to do.  I’ve been doing it ever since I could hold a pencil!  In fact, when my kids were younger, I used to write short stories for them for the sole purpose of entertainment.  I even wrote a novelette for Courtney called “Courtney’s Dinosaur Adventure,” in which I interjected her into the story because of her great love for dinosaurs.

During those years, I didn’t pursue writing as aggressively as some writers do, because I worked a full time job in which I commuted 80 miles a day and by the time I got home and cooked supper, washed the dishes, got the kids bathed and put to bed, I was exhausted, barely devoting more than an hour a night for writing.  However, even through all that, I managed to get a short story published, as well as multiple poems and newspaper articles.  Only in the past several years, since I no longer work outside the home, did I press forward in my devotion, and aggressiveness, for writing.

But it is NOT easy!

No publisher will accept an unsolicited manuscript.  Meaning, if you have no agent, don’t waste your time.  So, here’s how it REALLY works.  And when I’m finished explaining, you’ll see why I opted to go with non-traditional publishing.

Every year I buy the most recent copy of the Writer’s Market.  Inside that book are listings for publishers, literary agents, contests, etc.  While there are literally hundreds of agents listed, there may only be a handful that accepts manuscripts for the genre in which one writes.  I go straight to the agents section of the book, make a list of prospects, then begin my submissions.  But here’s the kicker.  Unless an agent specifically states in their guidelines that they accept simultaneous submissions (manuscripts sent to multiple prospects at a time), then you can NOT submit a manuscript to another agent until you’ve received a response from the one the manuscript was sent to, which could takes months, and sometimes, no response at all.  Basically, it’s a waiting game with a hit or miss result.  Which led me to begin researching other publishing options.

I looked into companies who specialize in self-publication but wasn’t too pleased with the results.  Not only would that have cost thousands of dollars up front, but the writer also has to sell their own books because it doesn’t come with a marketing plan.  That option was quickly tossed out the window.

That’s when I came upon the information about publishing solely with Amazon, and the more I read about it, the more I liked it.  Like any other publisher, the manuscripts are first reviewed to make sure they’re in compliance with their publishing regulations, and if they are, then they provide their rules and requirements for publishing with them.  If that agreement is acceptable, then comes the contract for publishing the manuscript in E-book format, paperback, or both.  I chose both because while I know a lot of people enjoy reading on their Kindles or tablets, there are still those who enjoy the feel of a book in their hands and the smell of the paper while turning pages.

Like any other publisher, yes, Amazon does get a portion of the proceeds, and they should.  But let me show you the difference…

Traditional publishing would first require an agent.  The agent’s job is to find a publisher.  The publisher will then assign the manuscript to a proofreader, then an editor, all of whom would get a percentage of the profits from the sell of the book(s).  Going this route may not entitle me to keep all of my rights to my book, and that is not okay with me.  Afterall, I’m the one that worked for months to write, edit, hone it and get it ready.  Why shouldn’t I be able to retain all rights?

Non-traditional publishing, in my case, Amazon, provides all of those services without sub-contracting the manuscript out to various personnel to perform the duties that I listed above.  I receive royalties from the sell of all formats, Amazon subtracts their fees, and I retain ALL rights to my books.  Additionally, Amazon also markets the books in various ways and makes the books available worldwide if the writer chooses to do so.  In a nutshell, I have complete and total control over the say of my work and they also provide me with charts on sales rank and author rank that are updated hourly.  They provide me with reports on my private author page on the sales and royalties earned so that I can check it any time I want, or need, to.  Some writers may not consider this to be their choice in publication, but for me, it was the perfect choice and I have no regrets.  Not having to worry about marketing and agent submissions only leaves me more time to do what I love – writing!

I believe that as more and more writers learn of all these various options, they may very well choose to take the road that I did because of the very reasons that I listed.  They become frustrated and impatient having to wait for an answer from an agent, and nothing will provide a worse gut punch than receiving a rejection letter after months and months of waiting.

My advice?  Cut out the middle man/woman, take control of your own manuscripts and be in charge of all actions!

I’m certainly glad I did because it gave me the opportunity that I may have never gotten had I continued down the path of attempting traditional publishing.

Until next time….

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I’m A Published Author!!!

On July 1, 2018, I was able to share some excellent news with my family and friends so that they could celebrate my dream come true with me.  After many years of submissions and rejections, I have finally achieved my goal of becoming a published author, and it is a wonderful feeling to know that all of my hard work was finally noticed, and accepted, for publication.

Many times I have been on the verge of completely giving up, because let’s face it, no writer likes getting turned down over and over again.  Actually, I was standing on that ledge again when this opportunity arose, and I grasped it with elated joy!

Both of my novels, Seeing and Animus, are available on Amazon as an E-book and in paperback.  Here are the individual links for both:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077743181/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=glenda+norwood+petz&qid=1562198943&s=gateway&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077735723/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=glenda+norwood+petz&qid=1562198976&s=gateway&sr=8-4

Nothing makes a writer happier than hearing praise and positive comments about their work, but any writer knows that NO writer worth their weight in salt can please every single reader every single time, so I always write what I am led to write and hope that it pleases someone somewhere along the way.

I have never relished the thought of being rich and famous, but I did always long to be successful in my writing, and I am so happy and proud to be able to say that I achieved that goal!!!

Additionally, no writer would be a writer without an audience of readers, so to those of you who have shown me support and encouragement along the way, I tip my hat to you and say thanks with a grateful heart!!!

To my fellow writers out there, don’t EVER give up on your dream.  Strive until you achieve it.

Until next time….

Take care and God Bless!!

Glenda

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Coping with Anxiety and/or Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety or a feeling of anxiousness can be a good thing, such as that rush of adrenaline you feel in the pit of your stomach when receiving a passionate kiss, or the excitement of meeting your favorite celebrity, or even those butterflies you get when on a roller coaster and it’s making its first climb up the hill before plunging you down into what feels like a free fall.

But anxiety can also be a horrible feeling when experiencing it during an anxiety or panic attack.  Anyone who has ever fallen victim to this debilitating condition knows firsthand that these types of adrenaline rushes are anything but pleasant.  Imagine, if you will, that feeling in your gut when you’re overly excited about something or someone and that adrenaline rush speeds up your heartbeat and your pulse quickens.  Or an event or thing that absolutely terrifies you, scaring you to the point that you have to cover your eyes to prevent seeing it.

Now, imagine that exact same feeling never going away, but remaining there in the pit of your stomach, taunting and terrorizing you, an endless supply of unneeded and unwanted adrenaline!  That’s what an anxiety attack is.

What is anxiety?  According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear.  For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.  The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work and relationships.”  While these facts are quite true, there is much, much more to being stricken with an anxiety disorder.  Some of the other symptoms/problems related can include:

  • Bouts of uncontrollable crying
  • Irrational fear (What if? What could?)
  • Unnatural thoughts (Am I dying? Am I crazy?)
  • Feelings of doom and gloom (Irrational and overwhelming feeling of dread)
  • Fear of dying (Or obsession with thoughts of death)
  • Feeling certain that there is an underlying, possibly fatal, disease that hasn’t been detected
  • Feeling that “you’re losing your mind” and wondering if you need to see a Psychiatrist
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Lack of sleep or being unable to stay asleep
  • Nervousness and/or pacing
  • Wringing of hands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Rapid heartbeat / heart palpitations

No two people are the same; therefore, the symptoms may vary from person to person.  Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body.  It is sometimes called the “happy chemical,” because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness.  The scientific name is 5-Hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT and is mainly found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets.  Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body and is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.  In short, if the body is experiencing a shortage of Serotonin, this leads to depression and anxiety disorders.  The goal is to get the Serotonin at proper and functioning levels again and restore a sufferer’s wellbeing and treat the anxiety and depression.  I liken it to the function of defragmenting a computer where fragments of your hard drive get scattered and the purpose of the defragmentation is to gather the scattered pieces and put them back where they belong.

Every single symptom that I listed above are ones that I personally experienced during my own battle.  Please allow me to tell you my story.

Mine started in mid-2003, but it didn’t begin as anxiety.  I found myself experiencing bouts of uncontrollable crying, pacing the floor and constantly wringing my hands.  I attributed it all to a series of sad and heartbreaking events that had occurred in my life within a matter of months and told myself that I needed to get a grip on things and pull myself together.  No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t, and things began to take a turn for the worst from that point forward.   It was then that I learned that even the strongest of people have a breaking point.

In the beginning, I had no idea what was happening to me because I had never experienced anything even remotely close to what I was going through.  Sure, I’d cried before over various things, but I always knew why I was crying.  But all of this was new to me – and extremely terrifying.

I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment in West Palm Beach when I was suddenly overcome with an intense feeling of dread, like something bad was about to happen or that I was on the brink of death.  I turned around and drove back to my sister’s house with the intention of trying to calm myself down, but instead, the symptoms only got worse.  My heart was beating so fast that I could feel it pounding in my temples, my hands began to shake, my body felt like gelatin and I began weeping uncontrollably.  Brenda rushed me to the emergency room in Belle Glade and they called me right back because I, and they, thought I was having a heart attack.  My heart rate was sky high, as was my blood pressure, and I had to be sedated for fear that I might experience a stroke.  As bad as this experience was, they only continued to get worse, resulting in multiple trips to the ER and having to be sedated because my blood pressure and heart rate reached extremely dangerous territory (220/190 BP and 157 Heart Rate)!  I experienced many more of those episodes before finally being diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder and put on medication to control the depression and the panic attacks.

Prior to my experience, I had never known anyone who had suffered through anything such as this.  I felt completely and utterly alone, with no one to talk to and tell my troubles to that would understand exactly how I felt.  And I certainly didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems, so other than my husband, no body really knows the pain I suffered or how bad my episodes of anxiety truly were because he was the one by my side each and every time.  He is the one who held me in his arms and comforted me while I cried and trembled.  He is the one who drove me multiple times to the ER while I was in the throes of a devastating panic attack.

Attempting to cope with a debilitating anxiety disorder is not an easy task.  Sudden outbursts of crying will leave you completely and totally incapacitated, to the point that you don’t want to be around anyone, you don’t want to eat, you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.  In my case, I became withdrawn, a shell of the woman that I was prior to the onset of my illness.  I found solace by bundling myself up in a quilt that my sister, Linda, made for me, curling up in my recliner and watching television.  Even if I couldn’t completely focus on what was on, it was something to keep my mind occupied so that I didn’t dwell on what was going on with me.  I missed a lot of work because of panic attacks and mine got so bad that I couldn’t even walk into a store by myself for fear of “what could” happen while I was in there alone.

Anxiety can, and will, destroy you, if you let it.  It robs you of your joy, your happiness, your well-being and who you are as a total person.  Personally speaking, I experienced bouts of feelings of worthlessness, shame, embarrassment, self-pity, suicidal thoughts and even disgust.  I hated the person that I became and could barely stand to even look at myself in the mirror.

People who suffer from this soul-robbing illness have a tendency to associate certain places, events and even people with the onset of a panic attack and will do everything within their power to avoid them at all costs.

After nearly two years of suffering and finally being prescribed the proper medications, I began to heal, to get better, and eventually, to put it all behind me.  It is a time in my life that I don’t like to think about although I will never forget it.  I don’t need to be reminded about the hell I went through to get where I am today.

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about in admitting you are now or have ever been a sufferer of anxiety/panic.  Like I said, even the strongest of people have a breaking point – but you don’t have to remain broken.  There is hope.  There is help.  Trust me, I know that for a fact.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) work wonders and definitely do the job that they’re made to do.  However, I did have to take Xanax temporarily to stave off the panic attacks until the Zoloft could get into my system and begin the healing process.  Within 1-2 weeks of taking medication, I felt like a different person and finally felt like the old Glenda was making a comeback.

When a person is suffering from an illness such as an anxiety disorder, don’t EVER tell them to “snap out of it!”  Don’t you think for one second that if there was an on/off switch it would have never been allowed to be activated in the first place?  If I could have simply snapped out of it, I most certainly wouldn’t have suffered as long as I did because it was undoubtedly one of the darkest, saddest, most horrible things I’ve ever experienced in my life.  With that said, I will further say this…I would rather die than to ever have to go through it again.

I’m most definitely not a doctor, but I can offer some good advice to sufferers and/or caretakers of sufferers.  Some do’s and don’ts, if you will.

  • DO listen, hear what they have to say even if you don’t have an answer. Sometimes, all a sufferer needs to know is that someone is listening and that they care.
  • DO be patient. A sufferer of an anxiety disorder is not going to get overnight or instantaneous relief.  Instead, do what you can to help them through their hardest times.  Dopamine is a wonderful thing and is produced by skin-to-skin contact – massaging their head, holding their hand, rubbing their back.  It’s also very comforting.
  • DO try to help them find something to keep their minds and hands busy. It is next to impossible to think beyond the illness but keeping them busy can help to distract them.  I recommend puzzle and coloring books, jigsaws, reading to them, etc.  The sound of a caring voice is also very comforting.
  • DON’T try to force them to do anything they’re not comfortable with, such as going to a particular place or participating in events they’re not ready for. Be patient while they’re healing.
  • DO offer moral support. There are times when a sufferer doesn’t feel like engaging in conversation yet knowing that someone is there with them and that they’re not alone is a wonderful feeling.
  • DON’T be mean to them. If you can’t treat them with kindness and understanding, the best solution is to STAY AWAY FROM THEM.  They’re already suffering enough and don’t need added pressure.

Anxiety disorders can be triggered by any number of contributing factors with the most common being stress or a traumatic event.  Don’t waste time trying to figure out how or when it all began.  Instead, focus on the available treatment and work towards getting better.  In the end, that’s all that really matters.

It is common for anxiety disorder sufferers to think irrational thoughts or see themselves as broken, crazy, or just plain dysfunctional.  They will feel, say and act in ways that are not normal and totally out of character for them.  These are all traits associated with an anxiety disorder.  The bad news is that although temporary, they are horrible to experience and a person can fall so deeply into that black abyss that they feel they’ll never get out of it.  That’s what depression and anxiety do – they take a strong, whole person and shatter them into a million tiny pieces.  But the good news is that all of these things ARE only temporary.  Every bad thought, every bad feeling, the sadness and depression will all begin to dissipate with the proper medication and will eventually disappear altogether.  With that healing comes a proper sleeping pattern, a normal appetite, and hopefully, a strong sex drive.  The road to recovery is long and bumpy, the ride unpleasant, but what glory it is to finally arrive at the destination of normalcy once more.

Do you have a story you’d like to share, perhaps your own experience or that of a loved one?  Something that could perhaps help another sufferer learn to cope and get through their dark time?  If so, share your story and how you deal with it, such as coping mechanisms, relaxation techniques, etc.  I would love to hear from you.

To all you sufferers out there, please know that you are NOT alone and that there are others like you who suffer and who care.  Anxiety is a debilitating condition and left untreated, can result in suicidal thoughts and even suicide.  If you’re a sufferer, you don’t have to face it alone.  Surround yourself with people who know and understand about your condition, people who are or have been sufferers.  There will be many who will offer advice but NO ONE can understand what you’re suffering through unless or until they experience it for themselves.

National Suicide Prevention Center – 1-800-273-8255

https://www.thebridgetorecovery.com/resources/articles/understanding-anxiety-depression?gclid=Cj0KCQjwtr_mBRDeARIsALfBZA5ITqxai9LAZPX6gc5w6Re7BdZcSfv0TRZxPiWi1FDB748kEejCZrkaAh9fEALw_wcB

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

Until next time…take care and God Bless!!

Glenda

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

God Is Crying

My heart is heavy, weighted down by sadness and grief over what we, the human race, have allowed ourselves to become.  And I can’t help but wonder if the damage is irreparable, or if it is capable of mending, how long will it take to completely recover?  Months?  Years?  Generations?

The latest mass shooting in New Zealand has really ripped at my heart because of the degree of pure hatred in which the attack was driven.  I simply cannot understand hating a person or a race simply because of the color of their skin or the religion they choose to practice, and to the extreme that it took to take 50 innocent lives without regards to gender, age or color.  An act so violent isn’t simply motivated by hatred, but also by an intense form of pure, unadulterated evil.

We now live in a society where tensions amongst us seem to be at the highest level that I’ve personally ever seen them.  Express your opinion and you’ll probably get cussed out or called names.  Offer facts in a debate and get told that facts don’t matter over beliefs.  Make a stand against gun violence and be told “you ain’t takin’ my guns!”  Disagree with someone’s stance on abortion and be called a baby killer.  It never ends.  Someone, somewhere is always unhappy or disgruntled about something – or offended by it.  When did we, as adults, lose our level of maturity and return to adolescent, snot-nosed brats?  Children often get into tiffs and name-calling on the playground or at school and that’s okay because we expect it from children.  But when it’s adults doing it, I find it quite disgusting, reprehensible and extremely childish.

Whatever happened to the good old days when two people could have a civilized conversation and/or debate and talk out their differences without sinking into the mire of debasing one’s character or slinging filthy names at them?  Why can’t we, as a society, return to a more civilized way of addressing each other, whether it’s face to face or on social media?

How can we ever expect our nation and our people to heal when, on any given day, I can read news threads, comments and group forums that do nothing but promote hate and division?  Why do people engage in this type of activity and behavior?  I don’t get it.

It’s one thing to stand up for what you believe in, because I always have and I always will, but it’s a whole different ballgame when others expect me to respect their beliefs and opinions while kicking sand in my face and belittling me because I have a different point of view.  It’s okay to disagree and have differences, as long as it’s done diplomatically and with tact.  No one likes being talked down to, or made fun of, or called stupid.

God is crying!  He is weeping for us, His children, because of our words, our behavior, our constant bickering and dislike for others who are different from us, regardless of whether it’s their skin color, their sexual preferences, their religion, their disabilities, the color of their hair, the amount of makeup they wear, how much money they make, how expensive their homes and cars are.  The list goes on and on.  Can’t we all just get along and accept each other for who we are, lift each other up and help each other to move forward in a positive light instead of throwing each other down into the dark sewers of destruction?

I’ll do my part.  Will you?

Until next time…..

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

After Midnight (short story)

Dave Rainier clocked in for his evening shift, placed his time card back in the allotted slot, then made his way down the long corridor towards the security desk where he would be stationed for the night, the clicking of his heels against the tile echoing off the acoustical walls in the basement of the county building.

“Evening, Mac,” he said, greeting the elderly gentleman who had worked the prior shift.  “How’s it going?”

“Quiet,” Mac replied with a slight grin.

“I certainly hope so,” Dave said, taking delivery of the keyring that Mac unclipped from his belt.  “Let’s pray it stays that way.”

“Have a good one,” Mac waved as he turned the corner, heading for the exit.

It wasn’t a bad job and there was certainly no danger involved like there would be if he were a police officer or firefighter.  The hours were satisfactory and the pay was comparable to that of any daytime position, maybe even slightly higher when the shift differential was factored in.

There had been a few times that he’d gotten spooked being alone in such a large, quiet building.  And on the rare occasions that he’d allowed himself to dwell on where he was, he forced himself to think happy thoughts, reminding himself that he was safe behind locked doors, and if the need arose where help was required, it was only a phone call away.

Not that he was complaining because God knows he needed the job, but sometimes he wondered why security was needed there at all.  It wasn’t like any of his charges were going anywhere, and the only time anyone came calling in the wee hours of the night or early morning was to make a delivery.  It could be said with certainty that not everyone was cut out to do his job, and it definitely wasn’t for the faint-hearted.  Nor was his job the type of security seen in places like banks and malls.  He didn’t carry a gun, and the only items on his belt that could be considered weapons were his night stick and flashlight, either of which could cause great harm to a person if he struck them hard enough.  So far, he’d never been in a situation where he’d had to use either, not as a defense, anyway.  He considered his position more of a night watchman, someone to keep an eye on things and answer the phone and the door.  Most nights, he was able to get in a couple of cat naps when sleepiness took over because it wasn’t easy staying awake all night long with nothing to do except sit.

Dave turned on the small black and white portable television that sat on the corner of his desk, adjusted the antenna until a clear picture came into view, and leaned back in the chair, propping his feet up on the desk as he glanced through a muscle car magazine, fantasizing about the day he’d be the owner of one of the beauties.  His daydreaming was promptly interrupted when the telephone rang.

“County Morgue, Dave speaking.”

The loud crackling and sizzling noises emitting through the handset were so fierce that the sound forced Dave to pull the receiver away and hold it at a distance.  When he no longer heard the static, he slowly returned the handset to his ear.  “Hello?  This is Dave, is anyone there?”

Several moments of silence, then a man’s voice.  “Tick tock, watch the clock.”

“Excuse me?  Who is this?”

No answer.  The only sound that could be heard was the constant buzzing of the dial tone.

“Damn kids,” he said, hanging up the phone.

Dave glanced up at the corner security mirror, positioned in a way that allowed him to see down the hallway and into the area of the holding and autopsy rooms, but saw no movement or shadows that would indicate that anyone else was inside the building.

The large clock on the wall behind his desk read eleven-fifteen p.m.

When the phone rang again several minutes later, he was hesitant to answer, staring at the phone as the shrillness of the rings filled the room.

“County Morgue, Dave speaking.”

When midnight has fallen, the dead will come calling.”  It was the same voice as before but he had no idea who it was.  It didn’t sound familiar to him at all.

“Who the hell is this?” Dave shouted.  “Carl, is this you and your idea of a practical joke?  If so, it’s not funny!”

Dead silence.

Dave slammed the phone down, glanced up at the mirror again, then headed in the direction of the examining rooms to inspect the area and make sure that everything was as it should be.  He considered the possibility that a co-worker might be hiding inside one of the rooms or a closet and was using their cell phone to place the prank calls.  Dave quickly dismissed the notion because if someone else had been there, surely Mac would have alerted him.  Unless he was in on the joke, too, and was also hiding somewhere laughing his ass off.

Both autopsy tables were unoccupied and all the storage freezer doors were closed in the autopsy room.  There was no way in hell he was going to open any of them to inspect the inside, because if he slid one of the steel holding beds out and a body happened to sit up or fall off the slab, he’d drop dead of a heart attack for sure!  In the holding room where bodies were stored until autopsies could be performed, there were three gurneys with sheet-covered bodies, their toe tags exposed.  Other than that, nothing else appeared to be out of the ordinary.

It wasn’t often that the need arose for him to have to enter either of the rooms, but every time he’d had to, the experience had been quite unsettling.  This time seemed eerier than usual, most likely because of the phone calls he’d received.  Eager to leave the area, he hurried down the corridor and back to his desk, nervously glancing over his shoulder the entire way.

“Get a grip, man,” he said aloud, his voice sounding deep and hollow inside the small reception area.  “It’s nothing but a prank, dumbass kids thinking they’re being funny.”

The second hands of the wall clock ticked away the time, keeping rhythm with the beat of his pounding heart.

Eleven forty-five.

Tick tock, watch the clock.

When midnight has fallen, the dead will come calling.

Only fifteen minutes left until the stroke of midnight.  What was going to happen when the clock struck twelve?  “Nothing, that’s what,” he said, refusing to let his imagination run wild inside of a morgue because there was no telling what his mind would dream up if he did.  “Stop being so paranoid.”

The buzzer at the back door sounded, startling Dave and causing him to jump.  Paramedics were the only ones who used that entrance, and only did so whenever they were delivering a body to the morgue.

“Shit!” he breathed, glancing first at the clock then the mirror before disappearing down the opposite hallway to answer the door.

“Got a present for you,” the EMT said as he wheeled in a stretcher carrying a black body bag.  “Adult male.  Drug overdose.  Sign here, please,” he said, passing Dave a clipboard.

“You know where to put him,” Dave said, forgoing a courtesy escort to the holding room.

“You okay, Buddy?”

“Yes, why?”

“You look a little spooked, kind of pale.”

“I’m fine,” he said, his nervous tone telling a different story.

Dave watched as the EMT wheeled the stretcher away, turning right at the end of the hallway into the holding room.  Within minutes, he reemerged with an empty bed, closing the door behind him.

“Have a good one,” the EMT said as he exited, leaving Dave all alone in the vault of death.

Eleven fifty-five and no other phone calls had come through.  Dave shook his head, disappointed for allowing himself to be so alarmed over a situation that was nothing more than a practical joke.  Probably some kid who found it hilarious to call a morgue and scare the living daylights out of whoever happened to be working.  If he found out it was his friend Carl, he’d give him a good tongue lashing the next time he saw him.

Dave looked up at the clock when the phone rang at midnight.  With a feeling somewhere between fear and trepidation, he snatched the receiver from the cradle.  “Look here, you little punk,” he shouted.  “I’ve had about enough of your games and if you don’t stop calling, I’m phoning the police!”

Go take a look, they’re all awake.  It’s your soul they’re going to take.”  Those words, followed by the evilest laugh he’d ever heard, sent chills down Dave’s spine, reigniting his angst.

From the corner of his eye, he thought he saw the movement of a dark shadow in the hallway near the autopsy room, yet when he snapped his head around to look, no one was there.

He swallowed the golf ball sized lump that’d risen in his throat, removed the night stick from its loop, and slowly began making his way down the corridor, tip-toeing as quietly as he could so as not to alert whoever might be hiding in one of the rooms.

Gently turning the knob of the holding room door, he cracked it slightly open and put his ear up to the crack and froze in horror when he was greeted by the distinct sound of a zipper being unfastened.

In one swift move, he threw the door open and flipped on the light, gasping when he discovered that all of the gurneys were now empty, the sheets once covering dead bodies lying in heaps on the floor.  The zipper fly on the black body bag was halfway down and as Dave watched in shock, an ashen-colored hand poked through the opening while the zipper continued to descend.

From inside the autopsy room, he heard the sound of shuffling, grunts and moaning, and the unmistakable clinking sound of metal against metal, like dropping a bullet onto a tin platter.

His heart was now a jackhammer inside his chest, his legs shaky and as heavy as lead.  He wanted to run away, but his feet were glued to the floor with an invisible adhesive that prevented him from being able to make a dash for the exit.

The doors to the holding and autopsy rooms both opened simultaneously, and as Dave stood frozen in place by the force and depth of a fear he’d never experienced before, he gaped in horror at the naked woman holding the door, a Y-shaped, black-stitched incision running the entire length of her abdomen.  From behind, both of Dave’s arms were gripped tightly and pinned to his sides as he was forcefully shoved towards the autopsy room.  He did not need to see who his captor was.  He knew.

Freezer doors that had been closed before now stood open and empty, their former occupants encircling the silver examination table that now had a rubber headrest at one end that wasn’t there previously.

Dave opened his mouth to scream but produced nothing more than the pitiful mewl of a newborn kitten.  Even if he could’ve screamed, there was no one there to hear him, no one to help him.

He was all alone in a basement filled with bodies of the dead.

He struggled against the multitude of hands grasping at him, stripping off his clothes and forcing him onto the table, holding him down by his arms and legs so that he couldn’t move.

When he saw the shiny silver blade of the scalpel poised above his chest, the scream that had been trapped inside his throat finally found its way out.

At the security desk, the ringing telephone went unanswered.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments