Category: Background


Those Life Lessons

During my early years as a parɘnt I was infused with the thrill of being a role model and instructor. I would teach my children how to be kind, generous, honest, patient, responsible and trustworthy. I only asked that through it all I would retain my humor and ability to have fun. Well, nearly 35 years later, I realize most of those lessons I wanted to teach my children were actually lessons for me.

Their dependence on me for everything has taught me to be responsible and trustworthy. The years of constant demands have taught me patience and generosity. Loving and nurturing them has taught me kindness. But the loss of my child has taught me far more than I ever imagined.

I learned that when you love someone, they never ‘die’. They continuɘ to live in your heart, in your mind and in your memory. The only thing separating me from my Benjamin is my breath.

I learned that it only takes a moment for your whole life to change forever. My life changed forever in the moments it took for the words, “He didn’t make it” to registɘr in my mind.

My intuition deepened and my awareness of the intangible aspects of life increased. Some may call it imagination. I call it awareness. I realized it was always there, but I had only made contact with the fringes of it. For example, last night I had a short, but encouraging conversation with Ben’s brother. After hanging up I went into the kitchen to finish dinner. As I lifted a pot to put it into the sink my shoulder became weak and I nearly dropped the pot. I felt it ‘twinge’ for about 5 minutes. I believe Ben was there, looking over my shoulder watching me prepare his ‘macaroni pie’. Another time I’ve felt that ‘twinge’ was a couple years ago, while driving his ŧruck. At that time I was daydreaming while driving and it was the nudge I needed to get my attention back on the road. I am sure there are other little things I miss, but I don’t want to miss a single one. They are unbelievably comforting.

I learned my God is a tower of strength and a fountain of mercy. And He gave Benjamin to me. When that realization hit me, I was bowed by the blessed gifŧ I’d been given.

But probably the biggest gift Ben has given me is the fact that I am no longer afraid of ‘dying’. I will only be moving into the next realm. And Benjie will be there to welcome me.  That thought makes me smile.

December 18

It is his birthday! He would be thirty-one. I wonder if he would be married. I wonder if he would have any children. I try to picture them in my head, but all I see are his laughing brown eyes, his cheeky grin and his sun-streaked hair. I remember his sturdy, little sun-tanned body. He was always on the go. He hopped, skipped or ran, everywhere he went.

Only when he entered his teens did he slow down a bit. I remember him once breaking away from his cluster of buddies and ambling towards me. I remember him throwing his arm across my shoulders as we turned and walked towards our car. I’m sorry I didn’t tell him how much that meant to me. Maybe he knew, but he probably didn’t think about it again.

Chocolatɘ cake was his favorite and I baked him one every year. I still do. I will bake him one today with love and longing and a lot of sweet memories. Memories that no one can take from me. And somehow, I feel he’ll be sharing it with the rest of us and hearing our rousing round of Happy Birthday.

Because when you share your body with another and give them life, there is a link between those two people that death cannot touch. That tie is stronger than death. It is love. It is unconditional love. It is not broken by death. Because of that link, I do not consider Ben as dead. He isn’t. He is alive, but in another realm.

I’ll explain more about what his passing on has taught me tomorrow. Today I celebrate his birth and his life. I celebrate his indomitable spirit, his generous heart, his bɘautiful being…..

This song was on his iPʘd. It is one of my favorites.

 

One Life One Love

My muse isn’t happy with me. I didn’t make a post yesterday. I promised I would make two today.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. On December 15, 2002, Ben’s uncle passed away. Ben turned twenty-one on the 18th of December. Unlike most, his 21st birthday was spent at his uncle’s funeral.  Ben hadn’t thought he would spend this milestone day in this way. There were a lot of thoughts about the future and eternity going through his head that day.

Being from out-of-town, and not knowing anyone else at the wake, he took his plate of food and sat down in the corner by himself. A few minutes later he was joined by a friendly lady who was also from out-of-town. She had no qualms about sitting down with the young man, looking so out of place in the very conservative group with his long hair tied back in a pony-tail, and an earring in one ear. While they ate, their conversation ranged from politics to the after-life. She has never forgotten their conversation and declared later, “That is one young man who is saved eternally.”

Later that year, Ben moved to Dallas and shared an apartment with his sister. He took a job with a construction company and ended up working on the interior of the new terminal at the airport. Most days he hung sheetrock in Terminal D at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Most of his weekends were spent at Mozier Valley dirt track racing and hanging out with the crowd there. The number of tall, gangly trophies in his collection increased.

The following year, he began to realize he wasn’t happy living in Dallas. He was only really happy living in Barbados. The little rock where he was born, called to him like nothing else. He asked his Mom what he should do. She knew it was where his heart was. So even though she was living in Dallas herself by then, and knew she would miss having him nearby, she didn’t discourage his thoughts of returning to his homeland. So he turned over his F150 to his sister, sold his dirt bikes and most of his stuff, and headed back to his island in the sun.

It was exciting to be back, to visit his old haunts, to hang out with his old friends, to share the responsibility of an apartment with his brother and get back into the life that had called to him for years. But he didn’t have a bike to ride. Every day at work, he saw a 650 propped against the building next door. One day he met the owner of it and asked him about it. The owner told him it wasn’t working, but if Ben could get it working, he could have it. Ben told him no, he wouldn’t keep the bike, but would it would be cool if he could just borrow it once in a while.  So he sent away for the parts it needed to get it working.

December 2006 rolled around. He had just been to Texas. He shared Thanksgiving with his family. He took a road trip and met up with a lot of his old buddies. On the 15th of December Ben and his brother planned a party for their employees. He was baking the ham and had to call his Mom and ask her how to do it. It was a rousing success, with everyone playing dominos, eating ham cutters and drinking rum.

Around 8 o’clock Friday night of the 15th, his Mom answered the phone. It was Ben’s brother. With his voice breaking, he described her worse nightmare. Ben had been hit head-on while riding the 650 by a young man passing out a line of cars. As he lay on the ground with his life blood soaking into the ground, the driver of the truck behind him, knelt beside him, telling him he was going to be okay. But Ben’s right arm had been severed completely. It lay several feet away. Ben tried to sit up and then fell back. The night became still and silent. Benjamin’s spirit left the physical body it was bound to, because it was no more.

Oh my son, my love, I didn’t know. I didn’t know this is the way it would end. I didn’t know when I gave you your name, this is what God had in mind for you. You are bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and it is blood of my blood pouring out on the ground. How can I go on living now………

Growing Up

My muse is shaking her head at me. I have about one hour to finish this if it is going to be posted today.

The fire burned a hole in Benjie’s leg and took the skin off his chest and back, but remarkably it didn’t touch his face. He suffered the pain with a stoic acceptance, knowing he had brought it upon himself. While he healed he built kites. His siblings and friends collected the palm stems for him, then kept him company while he sat at the table and glued them together.

As Ben grew older his passion for kites was replaced by motorcycles. He would salvage an old rusty frame from somewhere and tinker with it, adding parts he’d accumulate from who knows where. The first couple of bikes he worked on, he never could get running, but it didn’t dampen his ardor for them.

When he was eighteen, he moved to Texas with his Mom and started riding dirt bikes. He worked at several different jobs and became the proud owner of a 125 and 250. He collected all the gear; boots, helmet, overalls, pads, and goggles. Every Saturday morning, he’d throw everything into his truck, strap his bikes in the back and take off for the track. The tracks were all over southern Texas, from Houston, to San Antonio and the Hill Country. His Mom just made sure he had something to eat and drink. A few times she was able to watch him race. It was exhilarating, but also scary. It surprised her to realize how much stamina and effort went into competing on a dirt bike track. And Ben was very competitive. He didn’t like to lose and started collecting tall gangly trophies. Every time he brought home another one, he proudly showed it to his Mom and let her ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over it.

When he was twenty Benjie went to Nebraska to help his Aunt and her family. His uncle was terminally ill with cancer and she needed help on their farm. But disaster struck. His Mom got a call at 2:30 one night. It was from a Doctor in a medical center in North Platte. He was calling to say Ben had run into a high tensile steel wire fence while riding his motorcycle and had been thrown off his bike. He’d hit the ground with such force, it had dislocated the ball in his right shoulder and shattered it into four pieces. Ben had been wearing all his gear, but he was a couple miles from the house and all by himself. He somehow managed to get himself back to the house. It seemed like 100 miles away, but was actually only about half a mile. There a neighbor found him sprawled on the floor going into shock. The Doctor was calling his Mom to tell her he had begun to operate and after seeing the extent of the damage, he stitched him back up and sent him to Omaha. So Ben had a not so smooth 6-hour ride in the back of an ambulance with his shoulder encased in ice.

Ben’s Mom flew to Omaha the next day and was able to talk to the surgeon for a few minutes before he started the surgery. He told her at first he thought he’d have to put in a prosthetic joint, but after taking into consideration Ben’s age, overall health and well-being, he decided to try and repair the ball and socket. Ben wasn’t happy to see his Mom. He told her she shouldn’t have come all that way and put herself to so much expense. He told her he was going to be fine. His Mom just held his face in her hands, looked into his angry brown eyes, smiled and told him he was being silly.

The surgeon did an excellent job. He made the right decision. There was a lot of scar tissue, but Ben slowly regained almost full range of motion. Three months later, standing beside his motorcycle, Ben told his Mom he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to ride it again. She felt like telling him he should get rid of it and not even think of getting on another motorcycle. But instead, she said, “You’ll know when the time comes whether you will, or not.”  Six months later, he was waving to his Mom as she watched him once again pull out of the driveway with his bike in the back of his truck. She noticed a new sticker on the back of his truck. It said “No Fear”.

Later Ben went back to Nebraska. He had a job to finish. The day, Ben turned 21, he attended his uncle’s funeral.

To be continued…..

There is always a beginning

This week my muse is telling me I should post every day for the next 7 days. She has been telling me this for the last 2 days, but I’ve been stalling. I’ve been trying to talk her out of this.

Every day?!?!?

“Yes,” she says with a soft smile, while firmly nodding her head.

It is not an easy thing to consider. There’s a lot going on (as usual). I’m traveling (again). I have a job interview on Monday, and if it goes well, I’ll be looking for a place to live and organizing another move.

Please listen to the audio as you read this first installment of my mini-marathon.

So once upon a time….

Thirty-one years ago a little boy was born. He had light brown hair, dark brown eyes, a squished up face and he cried a lot. Poor little guy. His Mom wasn’t ready for her 4th baby. She was only 23 and her first born wasn’t yet four.

She named him Benjamin. She said, Continue reading

Surprising Revelation

Quite often when working on Three Sisters Exclusive, my emotions become involved with the character I’m writing about. I am left feeling the same as the character who has just gone through a terrifying situation, been hurt in some way, or been treated unfairly. As this is my first novel, I never knew this would happen before I began this adventure. These emotions range from joy and thankfulness, to anger and utter despair. So sometimes the going gets pretty rough and I emerge from my writing feeling like a soggy pumpkin, all lopsided and spongy in places. Or I’d shut my computer with a huff and fling myself out of the room like Captain Hook going after Peter Pan.

I realized I needed to control my emotions or I was going to be a basket case long before Three Sisters Exclusive was finished. I didn’t want to be controlled by my emotions. I wanted to able to control them. I found it exhausting and it was affecting my writing.

So I did some research and found  Continue reading

As I prepared for this family holiday, I thought of other Thanksgivings.

I remembered my Mother bustling around in the kitchen, while I waited impatiently for the first forkful of turkey and stuffing doused in tasty gravy, with a dollop of cranberries on top. I’d help her put the steaming bowls of food on the table. We’d all sit down in our respective places, bow our heads and my Dad would give thanks for the food and the blessing of partaking of it. There would be a round of ‘Amen’ and Mom would give us the go ahead to start. That meant reaching for the nearest bowl, helping ourselves to a portion, and then passing it to the person on the right.

Then, I had my own house, and each year our Thanksgiving meal became a little more chaotic and a little less structured. The children wondered in and out, helping themselves to whatever took their fancy. The organization became more challenging as the number at table increased. And I had to be more resourceful as the budget decreased.

More recently, I’ve noticed the dishes becoming less traditional and more creative. There was still turkey with stuffing, but the stuffing has in raisins, apples, and celery, along with the chopped onions and giblets. The cranberries turned into a mold with raspberries and sour cream. I grew tired of the traditional green bean casserole and replaced it with broccoli or a vegie stir-fry. And instead of the pumpkin pie covered in whipping cream, I served peach kuchen or berries over meringue.

In the last mad scramble I’d usually end up spilling something all over the floor, drawing blood when one of my fingers got in the way of a sharp knife, or completely forgetting one of the menu items, only remembering it when clearing off the desert dishes.

This year was no exception. Both my pointing fingers are now swathed like mummies. I almost forgot the jello mold in the fridge. And the oven caught fire! Our roasted vegetables had to finish under the broiler.  The oven now has an inch-thick layer of crusty blackness to be cleaned off the bottom. Oh yes, and the turkey fell apart when I was taking it out of the roasting pan. It just broke right in half. I’d never had that happen before. There was no way it could be presented on the lovely white platter, so it was carved up in the kitchen. We still used the platter, but somehow it just didn’t look the same.

And our thanks came from around the table, instead of just at the head, as we each took a turn voicing what was on our heart.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope this year added to each of your collections of fond memories. And if there are any you’d like to share, please do so by clicking on the ‘leave a comment’ at the top of this post.

While working on the About page of my new company’s website I started thinking about the different ‘hats’ I’ve worn. How many different hats have you worn? Not just the hats related to your careers, or work, but those you’ve donned in your personal lives, as well. Thinking about it, I came up with 25-30 different hats I’ve worn. I realized the hats we wear in our working lives are generally our choices, while our personal hats we assume automatically. For example, our daughter, sister, wife, mother, auntie, and grandma hats we wear compulsorily, albeit gladly (generally). I’m using the feminine, but it is equally applicable to the masculine.

My most recent personal addition to my family of hats is the Grandma Hat. For me, this is a wide-brimmed sun-hat. It portrays relaxed, sunny days, walks in the park, swimming expeditions, playgrounds, and picnics. All things I’ve enjoyed with my grandchildren. Before this there was my Mom Hat. This one is a very versatile, but fully functional, beanie or scarf. It covered more than just a bad hair day. It could change shape and direction at a moment’s notice. Continue reading

B – Brethren

Who are the brethren? Where do they come from? What do they believe?

The brethren history began in the early 1800’s among radical evangelicals, who broke from the Church of England. They were generally dissatisfied with the church officials and were looking for a pure spiritual renewal.  The Brethren have continued to be a ‘movement’, because although there are several assemblies with similar tendencies and beliefs, they have generally resisted taking an official name or denominational headquarters, and do not have to do with each other. You can read more about it here.

The brethren’s beliefs is founded on the principle of Dispensationaliam. This is the belief the history of Christians and God is divided into eras, or dispensations. God offers humanity a path for eternal salvation by following his calling. Each dispensation has ended with humanity failing  Continue reading

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