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Archive for December, 2022

Ebook – 99 cents!

A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is still on sale for 99 cents in digital format. It’s the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. Here’s how it begins – on a day when three events presaged some difficult changes in our lives.

2004

Thursday, September 9 – Change

Psalm 55:22 (KJV) Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

There it was–a dump truck, coming straight toward me on a road with no shoulders and no place to go. The Department of Transportation’s motorcycle safety course teaches you to look where you want to go, and the bike will follow your line of vision. That would probably have worked, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the truck. Instead, the world shifted into slow motion, and one thought trailed across my mind: I’m going to die.

Avoiding a collision It should have been easy; to slow a little, push a little bit harder on the right hand grip, and swing back into my lane. Filled as I was with a full rush of adrenaline, nothing was easy, and I leaned hard into the right-hand curve. With a death grip on the throttle, I revved the engine, straightening my trajectory and sending the bike straight into the path of the truck. I heard the right footrest screech against the asphalt, and I felt it give way under the weight of the 700-pound motorcycle. I pulled my left leg up toward my chest, and as rubber crunched metal I heard the crashing sounds asand both the front and back wheels of the truck hit the bike.

I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know if a heavenly hand reached down and plucked me off the bike or if I tucked and rolled, bouncing up at the end like a gymnast after a tumbling run. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by bike parts: a headlight; the footboard, where my left foot had rested; and various, unidentifiable bits of chrome.

The bike was a blue 2002 Harley Heritage Softtail that I called the Blue Angel. She was beautiful, loud, and had chrome in places where most bikes don’t have places. When I rode her, I felt powerful and beautiful and shiny, just like her, and I rode every chance I got. Now, she was lying on the side of the road with a trail of broken bits and pieces behind her.

In a daze, I wandered over and said to no one in particular, “I guess my riding days are over.”

My husband David was leading the ride. Out of sight around the next curve and deafened by the roar of his pipes, he was unaware of what was going on. James and Peggy, our neighbors and riding buddies, were bringing up the rear. James pulled up beside me and made sure I was still breathing before speeding away to catch up with David. 

I watched him until he was out of sight, and then I sat down in the weeds to take inventory. Unlike my Angel, I was bruised and shaken, but not broken. My helmet was scraped, and the visor hung from one snap. There was a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my glasses. My left foot hurt, so I took off my boot to check the damage. I didn’t find anything major, but my instep was swollen and turning blue, so I put my boot back on before my foot outgrew it. My elbows were skinned, and the length of my right thigh stung from road rash. A dull ache on my left hip presaged a huge bruise, and my left instep was swollen and turning blue–but I was alive.

Peggy and the truck driver had just dragged my bike out of the path of oncoming traffic when an Arkansas Highway Patrol car arrived. The next few minutes were a blur of activity. I watched it all from the cocoon of numbness that surrounds you after a traumatic event. I answered questions when they were asked and signed my name when it was required, but mostly I thought about what had just happened.

I had been following David like always. He rides a black 2000 Harley Road King Classic. As we had been winding through the trees and hills on a beautiful two-lane road, I’d felt good, enjoying both the memory of David’s compliments about what a good rider I was becoming and the elegance of his riding style. Even after a couple of decades as a civilian, he still had his military posture, and he looked almost regal in the saddle. He had pulled ahead of me a bit, so I had given the Angel a little more gas–a little too much as it turned out. I had gone into a right-hand curve a little too hot and swung out just over the yellow line.

If I could just hit the rewind button and take that curve one more time.

Once the formalities were done, I watched the shiny, twisted remains of the Angel being towed away on a flatbed trailer. I climbed onto the buddy seat of the Road King, back where my bike-riding days had started, riding two-up behind David. Our shrunken caravan rode off in search of a place to eat dinner and lick our wounds.

Sitting on the back gives you time to think and pray. I thanked God for His mercy, amazed at what I had survived. I also asked why it had happened and if my riding days were really over. The only response I received in those moments of quiet meditation was a sense that I’d know when it was time to ride again. So far, I’m still riding two-up behind David.

The day wasn’t over…

Blessings,

Linda

Buy Link: A Long and Winding Road

Christmas Blessings | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 22, 2022:

In spite of the fact that David and I are retired, there are very few days when we don’t have to get up, get dressed, and go somewhere. Monday morning, David goes by the church to upload Sunday’s sermon, Ladies’ Bible study is Wednesday morning, Sunday activities begin at 9:15 am, and the rest of the weekdays we try to get to the gym fairly early. That’s why I really look forward to those Saturdays when there is nothing on the calendar except drinking coffee in my pajamas and writing or reading. This Saturday wasn’t one of those days.

Nothing was on the calendar until 6:00 pm, but the first thing on my mental to-do list was a brief shopping trip. Brief or not, I’m not much of a shopper, so I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. One of my philosophies of life is to get the hard or unpleasant things out of the way first, so after a quick cup of coffee, I left my computer. I changed into “real” clothes, worked on my hair long enough to get rid of the bed head, and headed out.

At one point in my life I had a different purse for almost every outfit, but those days are long gone. Most of the time I don’t carry a purse, and when I do, I have one all-purpose bag that is neutral enough to go with almost anything in my wardrobe. The one that has held that honor most recently predates David, and we have been married for over 22 years. All things considered, it is in amazing shape with only some scuff marks on the bottom corners. But it is a double-handled tote-bag style, and in the last few months, the leather in both handles has cracked and the white stuffing is showing through. I considered using a black marker to cover up the stuffing, but several of my more fashion-minded friends have purse-shamed me, pointing out that Good Samaritan Thrift Store usually has a great selection of handbags.

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Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 15, 2022:

One of the most common questions I’m asked by readers of my column is where do you get your ideas. It’s a hard question to answer. Mainly it’s having a writer’s perspective on life and seeing each person and each situation as a potential subject. Beyond that, it’s hard to explain why one person sparks my interest and another doesn’t, but it has to do with whether there’s an angle or a hook that pushes the right buttons. If you haven’t already figured it out, what I’m getting at is that this was one of those weeks when no buttons were pushed, no sparks flew, and no ideas came. Fortunately, I have over eight years of “golden oldies” to choose from. Here’s one from 2017 that, even though some of the circumstances are different now, might still push a button or two. Merry Christmas!

***

Many wedding ceremonies include words to the effect that “love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment.” The idea, of course, is that love is not simply the dizzying excitement of a new relationship or the warm, fuzzy feeling of a long established marriage. It’s a commitment to act in a loving manner even when you don’t feel like it. People who rely simply on loving feelings are often disillusioned when the honeymoon is over. The more Christmases I experience, the more I realize that Christmas is a lot like love –those who rely simply on the magical feelings of the season are destined for disappointment.

My husband David is a nostalgia kind of guy, and he often reminisces about the good old days, especially at this time of year. He recently lamented the fact that he can’t seem to recapture the excitement and anticipation he experienced during the Christmas season when he was younger. Unfortunately, some of the magic of those mysterious packages disappears when you know the bills will be waiting for you at the end of the month. And let’s face it, there’s not as much magic in a new sweater or even the latest book by your favorite author as there was in a shiny red bicycle or a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. There’s still lots of magic to be found, though, if you know where to look.

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Levels of Appreciation | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 8, 2022:

Early last week I saw the following Facebook post from a young friend:

These uncaffeinated women at Starbucks in the morning have me laughing ….they really think beating me to the front door is going to make a difference. Lol. Joke’s really on them because I’ve already ordered my drink on my phone

I don’t usually get involved in any kind of social media exchange that could lead to an argument, but I couldn’t resist this one.

I have my coffee at home – less than 30 cents a cup including Italian Sweet Cream, I can drink it in my PJs, and I don’t have to fight anyone for it!

My young friend replied:

House coffee is great but having my coffee crafted by a barista is a whole other level of appreciation.

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Persistence pays off for Dirk Schutter | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 1, 2022:

On November 10 the Leader published a feature article titled “Dirk Schutter, loyal citizen or unlawful presence.” The gist of the story was that Schutter, after having been a lawful resident of the U.S. since 1949 and a naturalized citizen since 1960, had been denied the renewal of his driver’s license. The numbering system on the Certificates of Naturalization had been changed, and his records could not be located in the computer, even though he had a certified copy of his Certificate with him. At the writing of that column, which was submitted on November 5, he was waiting or a response from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or Pat Fallon, U.S. Representative from Texas.

On November 7 he received an email from Fallon’s office indicating that he had an appointment with a Mr. Pierson at the Dallas office of the Immigration Service on November 10. There was no address or contact number for Mr. Pierson, so the Schutter’s set out at 4:00 am that morning, hoping to find the office with the help of GPS. However, they ended up at the Irving office. They were told there was no Mr. Pierson and that there was no record of an appointment at that office. However, Schutter was determined to find some answers, so he talked his way past the officer at the door to an agent who was sitting behind a window with a slot at the bottom similar to those at movie theaters.

At first the agent insisted he could not talk with someone who had no appointment, but Schutter’s insistence was more persistent, and the agent finally did a computer search. He was able to find an “A” number which is the number on the original immigration document. This opened the door to Schutter’s computer records and proved that he was who he claimed to be. The agent gave the number to him and told him that DPS should be able to use it to find him in the computer, verify his status, and issue a renewal driver’s license.

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