Published in the Community Chronicle December 15, 2019:
Asking a child what he wants to be when he grows up can be very entertaining. I’m sure my son Christian went through the typical hero-worship phase, but the first career ambition I remember was when he began kindergarten. We lived within walking distance of the school, and I was a stay-at-home mom, so we got in some exercise as well as some together time when the weather permitted. We had to cross one major street, and Christian immediately fell in love with the kind man with the bright orange vest and bright red sign who greeted him every day and escorted him safely across the street. Forget the fireman, policeman, and even Spider Man – he wanted to be a crossing guard.
Christian showed great ambition through the years. He wrote his first story as soon as he could hold a pencil, and he created his first book out of samples our paper-salesman neighbor gave him. In the summer he carried lemonade around in his wagon, visiting the neighbors who were working in their yards instead of waiting for them to come to him, and in December he knocked on doors, offering bundles of mistletoe tied with red yarn for 50 cents each. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 13, 2020:
Strong storms covered Rains County with torrential rains accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning Friday night. The winds were not as strong as predicted, but the forecasts had many residents talking about the weather all week. At the Senior Center on Wednesday, I heard a woman at the table behind me ask if anyone had a storm cellar. Only one of her lunch companions had one, but she said that, in the nine years she had lived in her home, she had never been into the dark hole in the ground with its rotting, shutter-style doors. I wasn’t surprised that no one else had a cellar. The shallow Texas bedrock makes the cost of digging prohibitive. But the conversation brought back memories of my very early days in west Texas.
I was born in a tiny town about twenty miles west of Abilene called Merkel. We moved
A picture of Merkel’s downtown we took around 2002.
from there to Snyder, about fifty miles further west, just shy of my fourth birthday, so my memories of Merkel are limited. I’m sure some of them are things I’ve been told rather than things I actually remember. I know that we lived in a rented house behind Miss Johnnie’s house, our landlady, but I don’t remember much about her. I remember eating pinto beans at her house once – they needed salt. I remember learning to brush my teeth with tooth powder. And I remember the storm cellar. (more…)
Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)
Anaiah Press will release Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort, my second memoir, on March 12. Here’s a little bit about the book:
Mom’s good-bye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.
My first memoir, A Long and Winding Road, told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Good-Bye is the rest of the story.
Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final good-bye.
This book is for the millions who have experienced the heartache of witnessing the physical and mental deterioration of a loved family member or a dear friend. Mom’s Long Good-Bye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. By sharing her own struggles, the author assures other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.
The cover will be revealed soon. Watch for it!
Buy at Amazon
Published in the Rains County Leader on October 23, 2018:
According to Google, an overachiever is someone who performs better or achieves more success than expected. The assumption is that this person achieves these results through excessive effort. The definition may be correct, but I know from personal experience that the assumption is not necessarily true.
I made very good grades in school, and some would even say I was an overachiever – but it wasn’t because of excessive effort. I listened and took notes in class – which I realize might be considered excessive effort to some. I also took books home every night, but unless I had written homework to complete, I rarely opened them. The truth is that I had an excellent memory, and I could retain the needed information long enough to ace the test. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 12, 2017:
David and I recently went to a church pot luck at my brother Jim’s church in Conway, AR. As siblings tend to do, especially older siblings, our conversation turned to memories of our shared childhoods. I can’t remember the thread that led to the subject of nicknames, but at some point I mentioned that, if Jim had been in charge, my name would have been Judy instead of Linda.
Jim was four years old when Mom was pregnant with me. Wanting to make him feel a part of the process, she and Dad asked him what he thought my name should be. He doesn’t remember where he had heard the name – maybe a cute little girl in his Sunday School class or someone he met at the park – but he immediately suggested that I be named Judy. I think they had already made their choice, but they played along anyway, asking what he thought my middle name should be. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 5, 2017:
Mom was born on September 3, so she’s always on my mind during this season. Every year I post a picture of her on Facebook that was taken six years ago on her 90th birthday, her last one on earth, and then I spend most of the day thinking about her. Last Sunday, probably because I was also thinking about what to write in my column, I remembered what a city girl she was in spite of the fact that she spent her first nineteen years on various farms in west Texas. (more…)