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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Honest Words In Hard Times


   I had said that I wanted to record and tell of things in life and how I felt about those things as they occurred. I am finding that more difficult than I had ever dreamed. When I wrote the book I Will Not Give Up...Not Today....Life Is A Journey, I did not so much write it to tell my own story as to try to share the idea that we can not give up. If we give up today there is so much of tomorrow and the rest of life that we miss. We do not have to be dead to be dead to life. Just because we are alive does not mean we are truly living life. When we loose the ability to find the beauty in life, life can have a dim outlook. When we loose the will to stand up and keep going we fall farther and farther down. If we find what we look for in life it can be something beautiful or it can be dark and increasingly hopeless. I guess that goes to the old saying we need to watch what we look for..... we just might find it.
          When I wrote I Will Not Give Up it was the hardest thing I had ever written but I felt compelled to write it. I wrote about things I had never talked about, and remembered things that for years had been beyond my ability to remember. As I wrote, it was like a flash back and I did not just remember it but relived it. I have heard from so many that the book touched their heart and even helped in their own lives. I could not go back and read my own words. I was unable to risk the feeling of reliving things such as the head-on collision and other times that were so difficult. The pages were not written as an author but emotions straight from the heart.
          Now as I try to keep my word and honestly write about life and how things are going with my writing and surviving, I again find it difficult. I would like to tell you that every day I look on the bright side and am able to see hope and bright and shining things but that would be a lie. I have felt almost overwhelmed. There were times I felt so filled with despair there was no one I could talk to. There was no where I could turn. I turned to prayer. I understand there are many who do not want to hear religious discussions but my beliefs and faith are a part of me. I believed that God was there with me but I do not know his plan. Am I to survive? What are the challenges ahead?
          I was also not alone because of the outpouring of support and well wishes and prayers from all of you online. I have said before how much you have touched my heart and how much it has meant but words really do not describe it.
          Then we lost the internet. My husband has always taken care of our family. He could no longer work. He was lucky to be alive. Everyday he faced challenges trying to survive the damages the brain injury has left him to overcome. We had no income but what the church provided in offerings. We had to go the food banks to have food and work applying any and everywhere we could to get help.
          I had no idea how we would pay for things I feel are necessary in addition to food and utilities or gas to go to doctors. How would I pay for the oxygen that is my lifeline? They showed such compassion and have helped to keep me going.
          Month after month I tried to hold on and not give up. My husband had nearly died in March. My mother and father had been very ill. The end of July we lost my mother. As I stood at her side holding onto her in the physical and emotional sense in those last moments, I felt overwhelmed. I felt a terrible pressure in my chest. I could not breathe even with the oxygen. I went down.
          I thought it was my nerves. I thought it was anxiety. In addition to respiratory problems and the loss of most of my left lung to cancer I have severe hypertension and some heart problems. During those months I felt sure the pressure and stress was showing in an anxiety attack. My family tried to get me to go to the hospital but my mother was dieing,, my father would need me, my husband was so hurt from the skull fracture.... I was so sure it was stress.
          I was wrong. It was my heart. I could not give up. My father needed me. My family needed me. Even the funeral became a nightmare. We could not bury my mother until we came up with money. We thought it was all arranged and there were insurance to cover but it had been cashed in long ago. My father had no idea and the stress was immense. He has mild Alzheimers and it made it more difficult.
          I did my best and she had a beautiful service eventually. I felt so tired. I tried my best to keep going. During that time there were so many who posted comments that helped so much. I thought we were through the worst that life could throw at us but life has a way to surprise you.
          I became so weak I could hardly get up. If I took more than a couple of steps I became dizzy and felt so fragile I began to tremble. We had no choice but to go for help. The good Lord does look after me even as stubborn as I can be. I have felt so bad for so long it is often hard to tell when I am in danger. The went in and found I had an 80 percent block on one side and 70 percent on the other. Four stints later I was doing so much better.
          Since that time I began a rehab program for cardio/pulmonary. It helps so much but how could I be strong enough to do it or have the gas to get there? When my left arm fell down I felt so confused and could not make it work. I just wanted to go home. I thought if I rested I would get stronger and all would be fine. I could do it..... but.... I had had a mild stroke.
          I am still working to get it back and making great progress. I am typing this. I may have to do it over and over and it takes longer but I can do it. During all of this there were times it was hard to look on the bright side. There were times it was hard to find hope and beauty in life. I thought of the things I have been working on combining art and words to help share the message of hope. I sat and looked at my own works to find hope in my own life.
          I was hanging on but barely. I read the words you all posted and they inspired me that I was not alone. There were others who cared. The love of my daughter, grandson and husband kept me going. Friends and family shared their love. I could do it. I could live through all of this and find a way to make life worth while.... I hoped I could but was not as sure as I had once been.
          I am finally back online but feel so tired and weak it is difficult for me to be here. I do everything a little at a time. I really miss my momma. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving thanks to my daughter, grandson and her boyfriend. They worked so hard and made such a wonderful meal. My father was there but he looked so lost and fragile. When he first was there I do believe he was ready to go be with Mom. By the time he left, I saw him smiling and talking about the future.
          The little grandson works magic for all of us. He held my father's hand and told him about how he would have to be there for Christmas. Now Daddy is talking about Christmas and smiles. That is the same little grandson that is my co-author. The book we just got out is one I can not promote but am so happy with. I feel it is not only a good story for children but one that may touch grownups too. I wrote a journal type book as we worked to share how we did this. I did not only want to tell a story but teach my grandson how and what it takes to make a story a book. I wanted him to understand why we wrote it as we did and what we were doing as we developed the story. I hope that helps young and older alike to make their dreams come true with the own writing.
          Before I got so sick I was invited to be the guest speaker for the fourth and fifth grade classes at Green County Tech. It was wonderful. The children were so excited and filled with enthusiasm. I hope one day to be able to do a special event and work with some that are interested in writing. So many times the thing that holds us back is the ability to believe and determination to work and work hard learning as much as we can to accomplish our dreams. There are so many things that I want to do. It has been so long since I could be up and about to do the writers group but I will not give up. We still keep in touch on the phone.
          This last round nearly did me in. I was having problems thinking of the future in anyway other than one filled with pain, and a dismal end to life. I could look outside and see a bright day that I could not be a part of. I thought that maybe it was time for me to say enough. I had tried, but living was really hard. I wanted my grandson to hold the book he had worked so hard to write in his hands. It is here now. It is real and so is the book that shares how we did it.
          We let him open the package it arrived in. At first he had no words. He seemed overwhelmed with emotion. I had my husband take pictures of him. 

In a flash he grabbed up the two copies and held them up with a smile that would light the room. 

          I was sitting beside him. It had been a very difficult day for me and I think it showed but he lunged toward me with the books in his hands and we had a special moment I will never forget and even had the picture of the moment.

          After that I had a really bad day. I had not been feeling well at all. The blood pressure is uncontrolled even with medication. I have tried my best but felt so bad. When I finally gave up and went to the hospital they kept me there. I began to wonder if this would be my last. I had the nurse take a picture so if I did get to come home and write this it would be one more piece of life's puzzle. For a brief moment I thought it might be the last picture of me to be had. It was a sad and fearful feeling. 

          I felt so weak and fragile. They did many tests and all of a sudden we were headed to the heart cath lab. They called in specialists and they were so good. They went into my heart and did what they could and I am alive. I have to find ways to make life special and live it, instead of just being alive. I had pressure that had built up in the heart that could have ended all of that. I still am fighting hour to hour the blood pressure that could do it again but I am alive.
          I came home from the hospital in and ice storm. We live out in the country and often loose our electricity. When we loose ours I loose my oxygen. I have a couple of small tanks, but how long will they last. The ice made it impossible to leave the house. There was no way I could walk on the ice or for us to get our vehicle out to go anywhere.
          The night we got home from the hospital we did loose our electricity for awhile but thanks to those who work in the cold and difficult weather they got us going before I ran our of oxygen. The next day I looked out the window to a world of ice. I usually love the beauty as it sparkles like crystal. All I saw was a shroud. It was a shroud of ice. I looked out the window at the trees the ice storms of the past had broken with their twisted limbs reaching up and more ice on the branches. Was it a world of beautiful crystal or a shroud of ice? I guess it is all how you look at it.

          I looked out and thought of all the messages from those online. I thought of the love of family and friends. I thought the my husband, daughter and grandson and knew I had to find a way to see the beauty. I had to find a way to get tough and get up and live. It is not over until we give up.
          My grandson asked how will anyone ever know about our book. I told him not to worry. We did something special and I believe in the story. It is a tale for young and old alike, sharing the story of two young children and the discoveries they make down the path they take. The choices we make have consequences as the two young children discover. What may seem like an adventure and time of fun can often evolve into something more sinister or frightening. Discovering the right path and surviving to come safely home is something the children almost loose hope of finding. A story of the faith of a child and courage to stand by what they believe.

I told him it is there and it is real. Even if only one person reads it and it touches them we did good.
          I looked out again at the ice on the trees and knowing how cold it is outside. I saw it sparkle in the sunlight. I saw the beauty again. I did not give up. I may have come close but there is more for me to do in this life. I have no idea what the future holds and am working with all my might to hang on and improve. There are so many more things I want to do. Even on the coldest days the love of family and friends here and online make a warm place in my heart.
Before I go I want to share some of the art projects I have been doing with art and words.  I have used my own water color paintings and photos to combine feelings, sight and heart


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Patterns in Life

Patterns in Life

We got ready early in the morning to go to the cardio/pulmonary rehab and it was so cold.
I had had the blues and missed my mother. I missed my grandparents and so many others who have passed from this life. Family and friends are now gone. The holidays are near and my daughter and grandson are trying so hard to make a wonderful and happy time for us all. Her boyfriend makes us feel ever so welcome and they work together trying to make it all so special....yet I had the blues. I know they are missing mom and also worried about us but they work to make happy times to come.
All during these difficulties my daughter came every day. She ran and fetched for us. We had no way to even get groceries or medicines. She gave all she had to give and did all she could to help as well as take care of her family and child.
I am so grateful and it warms my heart seeing all of the love she shares with us. The little grandson makes me smile and the dreariest days seem bright.
But I still had cried off and on for days.
I risk falling when ever I try to go somewhere so even getting out to the vehicle is a challenge. The cold makes the aches and pains worse but the therapy makes them better..... so I was going to do my best.
Albert takes me three times a week and patiently waits without complaint. All of that and I had begun to feel as if it was no use. No matter how hard I work I will never get well. I will never be able to go for a walk or hike in the woods with my grandson seeing all of the beauty there, as I did with my children. I will never be able to go camping and sit peacefully by the campfire.
I could go on listing all of the things I will never be able to do and dreading all of the things yet to come....
When I got in the pickup truck it was so cold the windows were iced over. We would have to wait for a few moments and let the heat from the defroster melt it away while Albert switched out my oxygen bottle.
As these feelings washed over me, the sun broke through the gray cloudy sky. The ice on the windshield sparkled like diamonds. The delicate lacy patterns shimmered on the glass. It was so beautiful. It was icy and it was cold but it was delicate, intricate and sparkling and bright.
Staring at that cold and frozen windshield I began to feel a bit of peace. I thought of the things I write and say and realize there are times I need to read them myself and remember to watch what we look for. If we look for the misery and pain in life, it is not hard to find but is that what do we really want to find? There are those who hurt us and take advantage of us. There are those who are cruel or bully.
There is beauty. There is love and kindness. There are also those who do not forget us. There are those who do all they can to help us and keep us in their thoughts and prayers. There is sunshine behind the clouds and beauty if we look for it even in a frozen windshield. There is hope for tomorrow.
I am not dead yet..... I have so much more life to live and want to do the best that I can. I will not say that I never feel despair, fear, heartbreak, anger, frustration and depression. But I will not let those fleeting feelings dictate to me. I will find a way to see the patterns in life that lead to hope and joy.
Life can be so cold and harsh just as the ice that froze on the glass. Life can also hold untold beauty and surprises for the days ahead. If we give up today we miss all of the tomorrows.
I Will Not Give Up Today....Life is a journey and there is so much more I have to do.

To all who miss loved ones during these holiday seasons, know that love never dies. Love that lives in the heart lives forever. Instead of thinking about all that I have lost I want to think of all that I have. I want to think of ways to make good memories for those I love instead of grieving and stealing the joy of the moment.
I want to look for the patterns in life that give beauty and joy.

I Am Back

I Am Back

These past few months I have been off the internet have seemed like a lifetime. I have heard people say that people on the internet are not real or at least not real friends but I have to differ. There is no way to describe how wonderful so many have been. I started all of this in 2010 and the people I have met then and now are friends. I may have never seen you in person or heard your voice but you have touched my heart. Several of those I have become friends with on the internet have begun to communicate by phone. For sometime now that was the only way you could reach me.
I had said I was going to write about all of this honestly as I went along. It started with me wanting to see at least one of the things I had written as a book that I could hold in my hand. They had told me I had cancer and with all of the other problems we were all very unsure if I would even wake up from the surgery let alone what the future would bring.
I shared honestly and from the heart. I remember the days before the surgery thinking I may never be able to see and be with those I loved in this life again. I felt so many emotions. I felt fear and even some emotions there are no words to describe but I tried.
I got to hold the proof for Life Goes On days before the surgery. When I woke from the surgery there was no thought about books. The pain was unreal. Nothing stopped the pain. Even morphine did not seem to work. I had to survive. That was all I was doing for sometime.
CreateSpace had worked with me doing the first novel. The patience and support they showed was amazing. You have to realize that my oxygen levels were very low. At one point they were not even able to do the surgery that could save my life. They said my lung capacity was so low I would not survive and if I did it would be on life support. I was doing treatments and working as hard as I could but there was no way I could have done the book without all of their help.
I knew so little about computers and the internet I had to learn everything and had no time to do it. Even uploading the files was difficult.
There were times they worked with me on the phone talking me through it and even then we often had to wait and try again later as I became more and more unable to function.
After the surgery for sometime I was simply surviving and living in a haze of pain. I still did not know how long I would have to live and if the cancer would come back. I decided I would not wait in life. If I was alive, I wanted to truly live my life. If there were things that I wanted to do I was driven to do my best to keep going.
I worked to learn as many things as I could. We had no money for me to do books. It was not that I had a minimal budget but I had no way to pay for things I so desperately needed. I had to be the writer, artist for the covers, figure out how to make a painting into a book cover and send it to be published and make it work.
Since I had not even known how to copy and paste there was so much to learn. I had to be my own editor and I do not recommend that but have had no choice. There are so many things we miss when it is our own writing. Reading it closely was difficult since I had not only written it but read it and rewrote and re-read it so many times I often caught myself skimming through but did my best.
There is another thing that make is difficult for me when writing I have never really talked about before. I am dyslexic. When I say I often scramble and turn numbers and letters around that it an understatement. Even writing down a simple phone number is a chore for me.
When I was young they did not really understand that and in schools just thought you were dumb. I did not think I would ever learn to read. Now I love to read and have my own little methods to make things easier. One thing when writing I have learned to love is spell check. It catches every time I scramble letters in words.
As the years have gone by and after the accident I was in, my hands have arthritis and my little finger on the left hand is no longer usable. It is actually drawing up and stiff. Not long ago I had a mild stroke and lost the use of my left hand. I was going to keep trying to type with the right hand but decided I will make it work again.
I have to type and retype but it is working beautifully. I hope to one day have it back like before. I get tired so easily I am also limited on time to do things.
After the cancer surgery and the removal of the lung I worked with a passion to not give up. I wanted to share that thought because no matter how hard things may be there are so many others out there suffering their own problems that are just as bad if not worse. I had so much to learn but there were so many online who helped and were so patiently teaching me. I wanted to share that with others.
I won't say that everything online was wonderful. There were some people who were very mean to others. If they got mean with me I just did not continue to talk to them. I sort of thought of it in a weird way. If this was my last day alive how important would their opinions or words be to me?
I had some so called experts demanding I do promotions and things their way because there were experts. Some of it was great and somethings I just had to do my way. I was learning as I went. I saw so many who were giving up on their dreams because they thought there was no hope for them. Every other author they talked to was a best seller and they did not know what to do or how to go. When I found something that worked I tried to share the information.
Three days a week I have to go to cardio/pulmonary rehab. It is through St. Bernards Hospital here in Jonesboro, Ar. and they have been fantastic. It is a lot of work but so worth it for recovering and maintaining.
When I was in the hospital with the last problem, I got to meet many doctors. They checked me from top to bottom. They were conscientious and caring. I had excellent care from all of the staff. There is only so much they can do.
At one point we all had a nice little talk. I have severe back pain and at times my legs quit working. I have suffered several falls lately. The good news is that I do not have any spinal fractures or ruptures in the vertebrae.
The bad news was that I am worn out. I had to laugh at the young doctor as he so seriously told me that , and replied that may be because I am an old lady.
He remained very serious and tried to make sure I really understood. I have a degenerative bone disease. I understand more than most how serious it is and will become. Years ago when they first told me I cried. I was afraid and began to feel depression set in thinking of the future. I had seen my grandmother go from happy and always doing something to bedfast and in constant pain. She would cook so many wonderful things from scratch and sing songs with me. One day in the nursing home she had to live in as she had become totally a prisoner in her own body she turned her head and it cut the spinal cord when the bones gave way.
I had understood what could be for many years but what they were telling me is that is not something that may be in the future but is now. That is why there is so much pain in the back, knees, shoulders, hands and almost every part of my body.
You would think they could give me some really good pain medicine to help, but if they do, it will reduce the respiratory and that could be very dangerous for me. If the pain is too intense the blood pressure goes way up. I don't think they know what to do for me. I was and sort of am beginning to think I don't know either.
After the lung removal I threw myself into my writing, books and even started a writers group to help others with their projects.
This past 7 or 8 months was almost enough to extinguish the passion and dim the hope.
I nearly lost my husband when he fell onto concrete fracturing his skull and suffering brain bleeds. The damage he sustained destroyed life as he had known it. He has always worked and took care of his family. Now he is unable to work and life as he knew it will never be. He is having to adjust and survive.
My father had blood clots that were life threatening but survived. My mother had health issues so severe you never knew one day to the next what the future would hold.
The end of July we lost my mother. Tomorrow will be the first Thanksgiving in my life without her.
I was with her at the end. In those moments I felt a crushing weight in and on my chest. I could not breath. I went down.
My family tried to get me to go to the hospital but I was so grief stricken I felt sure my problems were anxiety and stress.
I was wrong. It was my heart.
I will skip the details. There is no need to try to find words. I will move on along to when I did finally go for help. They did many tests and found out I had a blockage of 70 percent on one side and 80 on the other. I was lucky I lived. With 4 stints put in I began to do much better.
I went to the rehab as soon as I was strong enough. I could not believe how much better I was doing and what a difference it made.
One day not long ago my hand fell down off the handle of the machine. I felt so confused and as hard as I strained it would not go back up. It was numb. They tried to get me to go to the hospital but I explained that I fell the day before and hurt that shoulder as well as all of the rest of me. I am old enough I do not bounce well. I just wanted to get home and rest. I was sure I would be better if I could only rest a bit.
It was not long before we knew I was not better and something was terribly wrong. As I told before there was more than just a small stroke I will have to deal with and endure.
I know I will have to work but I am not dead yet. I was able to get the two projects I had started with my grandson ready and he is so excited. He little face lights up when we talk about the books. I showed him on the computer what it would look like. I even showed him the Amazon page. That is not like holding the book in your hands. Month after month we worked and planned, discussed and learned.
Yesterday my husband told him it would not be long before the book was here. He just gave him a look and said “really?”
When he realized Albert was serious I can not describe the look on his face. He is so excited. I can hardly wait to see his face when the book arrives. We are going to wait for him to get home from school so he can open it. I just hope I will be able to get a picture of his face when he does.
One day at a time....
When I wrote my own story I called it I Will Not Give Up....Not Today....Life Is A Journey.
I did not give up before....did not give up today and the journey is not over.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A New Day

Life seemed to present so many things through these past months that I have been quite overwhelmed. When the time came, I was unsure if I could go on I realized I did not have time to not be able to do and be what was needed right then. There is only today because we never really know what tomorrow will bring.... or if there will be a tomorrow.

When the phone rang a few months back and I heard that my husband had suffered a fall, my heart nearly stopped. I knew he was working on a roof in construction and a fall from that high was serious. What I did not know right then was that he landed on his back on concrete. At first we did not know if he would live at all. I fully understood what difficulties he might face in the future. I managed to share that in a blog I wrote . As hurt as Albert was, his one request was for me to get the book Danny done. At that time all I could think of was Albert but he did not want to give up on our dream with the books and writing.

We have struggled with him trying his best to recover as much as possible but it has been so difficult for him to realize that so much of the damage is permanent and he is lucky to have lived. He is used to being the one that helps others when they need help and taking care of his family.

My mother has been in poor health for many years but this time we could see that there was little strength left to fight for life. Congestive heart failure, diabetes, and many other problems was only part of the problem. Cancer that had spread was more that she would be able to survive.

Day after day seeing her so helpless yet still fighting to live was heart breaking but seeing my father by her side holding her hand left me without words. When you see a love that has lasted more than 60 years holding fast in the worst times and delightfully living life to the fullest with family and friends in the best days so obvious in that simple moment it left me without words but tears that would not be held back. I still cry but am trying my best to do what my mother would want and find a way to make the best of life for not only myself, Albert, children, and grandchildren, but also to be there for my father.

My father gave me my mother's jewelry box as she had urgently requested and a bag he said was special to her that she had locked with their papers in a safety deposit box. It felt like a bag of beads. I waited until I was alone and looked in the bag to see what kind of beads were so precious to her that she had locked them away and kept special.

Oh what memories did flood my soul. They were beads. They were the beaded necklaces I had made through the years many many years ago.

I remembered as a young child we had gone on vacation and got lost. We got very lost and began to feel fearful not knowing what way to go when we saw a sign that made it clear tourist were not welcome. We had arrived on an Indian reservation but continued and hoped to find directions back to where we were trying to travel. We parked the car and Daddy told us to wait there while he went into the store to ask for help. A very old woman sat on the porch to the store making something. She looked up directly into my eyes and I felt compelled to step out and see what she was doing.

She was weaving the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen. It reminded me of lace. She smiled when I said how beautiful it was and told me I could not buy it but if I never forgot the legend of the necklace she would give me one. She patiently explained......

The Legend of the Necklace

The pathways we travel in our lives take many twists and turns. The necklace is not woven of many strands. It is made of a single strand of many twists and turns. The necklace is not worn hanging down low. It fits about the base of the neck to shield and protect the one who wears it with the tips of each point in the pattern points outward to defend. Any point, when tipped inward, forms a perfect heart. The design is formed to bring luck in love to the one who posses and wears it. We all need love in our lives. From the day we are born until the day that we pass to the next life we need love in many forms. This necklace is a symbol of the wish to protect the heart of the one who wears it that they may always feel loved and love others in return.

She told me that she felt in me a special bond and that I would understand what she was telling me and what was felt. She also told me there would be a time I would choose to make the necklaces and I could do as many as I chose spreading the legend of the beads with it. She smiled and I felt such a connection to her as she continued to explain what she had shared with me was something very special to her and all of her people. If I shared the necklace then be sure to share the meaning of it too.
From the day we are born until the day we pass on, we all need to feel and be loved. May the legend of the necklace bring luck, love, and keep your spirit safe and protected. May it bring you peace and joy” was what she told me.

It is a perfect circle just as life is a circle with many twists and turns.  It is a circle of life and love in every bead.

This is a picture of me wearing the original one.

This is what I found that was so precious to my mother....the simple beads I had made for her so many years before.

Every hour of every day, we did not know if that would be the last time we would have mother with us. When the time arrived …..I will not describe it because it was not an easy passing. It was filled with suffering, pain and her wanting a little longer in this world. My father bravely stood by her side every moment.

I felt a crushing pain in my chest and could not breathe. The moment was so intense I was sure it must be anxiety and stress. I could not be sick. My father and others needed me to be able to handle things. We thought we had the arrangements complete but there was a misunderstanding and when the time came we found out we would be unable to bury my mother.

My father was devastated and I worried I might loose him too. We would have to find a way to raise the money or they would not bury mother. Albert is unable to work and I have been unable to work for many years. We had no way to come up with money. Daddy sat with his head in his hands and softly said, “They won't give your momma back. What are we going to do?”

When he did not see me and sometimes when he did, the tears would not stop. I felt frantic. When times are the darkest if we hold on and do not give up we can find a way. I shared this on the internet and received some donations but so many heartfelt prayers and well wishes that it warmed my heart. I did not know how we would survive this time but no longer felt so alone.

The church worked with me as I arranged a memorial service. Some of my fathers family had driven many miles to be here with him and this would be a special time for not only my mother but also him. Mom was an only child who had 2 children and 2 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. We are not a large family. The church and the people in it were so wonderful preparing us a beautiful meal as well as the service. You felt the warmth of their love and comfort of their care.

We were eventually able to borrow the money. We still have to find a way to survive in many ways but will work one day at a time. I can take a simple breath now and look back to those moments and try to see more than the pain. We had a visitation and service at the graveside. It had been rainy and dreary weather and here in Arkansas it is also hot. The clouds offered a small measure of cooling shade as the rain stopped. We had no idea if it would end or brew up a summer storm. We gathered there in our small little group under the shade of the tent and clouds above for this sad parting to say our last good byes. The service that was done was beautiful and they did all that they could to make it special and as we would want it. At one point the tears were more than I could contain and that feeling in the chest had returned. The last thing I needed to do was have a heart attack right then. I glanced out across the rolling hills and as Amazing Grace started to play the sun shone through the clouds lighting the day in dazzling light. It was so perfectly on cue with the mood and the music it was almost like a sign. I was not the only one to notice. Most of us there, looked out at the beautiful scene before us.

With the sunshine came the sweltering heat and humidity. I drew in a deep breath feeling the strain and the clouds swiftly closed blocking the sun and a gently cool breeze drifted across us. It may be coincidence, but I felt a peace in my heart. I closed my eyes and said good bye to my Momma. I wore the necklace I had made for her so many years ago.

It seems as though life can become a nightmare and if we look at all of the problems that seem to have no answers we miss out on so many little things all around us.

I have had many sleepless nights. As morning neared I wondered if it was still so hot outside so I stepped out on the back deck. I looked over and saw an amazing glow in the trees of bright red. Morning sunrise is normally pastel colors that swiftly turn into the new day and this was blood red.

 Since there are miles of trees around us the thought that red could be something like fire brought a brief feeling of panic as I looked closer realizing it really was the dawn of a new day.

It happened so quickly I would never have caught it if I had not had my phone with me. I take it with me when ever I go outside in case I fall or have a problem and need help.

As quickly as I could take one picture and then another the color changed and the day was before me. It was so very beautiful and I again felt a moment of peace.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Can Do It Continues Part 2

I Can Do It Continues Part 2

It has been quite a challenge to not only work to create a book that truly is written by both my grandson and myself but also the process of teaching writing to a child of this age. I know of others who listen to the ideas and then write the story. That would be the process of writing with a coauthor but I wanted it to be more.

I feel if I hurry to write the story I might miss the opportunity to be a part of an experience in learning that could carry on later in life. I have no idea what Zander wants to do when he grows up, but firmly believe that learning all that we can is never a waste. A friend of mine marvels at his enthusiasm saying it is because he is his grandma's boy and grew up watching me writing, typing, discussing, and shares my passion, feeling a part of it. That is probably true but I believe it is also in his own heart and his own desires no matter where it originates. Helping a child to enjoy learning is like an adventure for me. We have fun.

I think having fun in learning is especially important to the young. As we grow older we know there are assignments or things we need to do and learn and may do it because that is what we need to do. A young child might not feel the need or understand the advantage and their attention might wander to other things they find more fun and appealing. It is exciting to see them want to do and learn because they can not wait to do and learn more. Seeing them filled with pride and confidence in the new things they understand and now can use is only a start. Seeing them with a desire to continue and learn more is more than I can resist.

That is the reason I am working to write a book that will take others through the processes we are doing to learn and write our book. I plan to share things here too but am actually doing this second book in the same manner I use when I teach Zander or speak with school children or any others wanting to learn. It will not be a work book although it will have spelling words, learning definitions, concepts and hopefully a new way to think and see things as we work creating something special.

Zander has a pretty good understanding of many things relating to writing but I am going to try to relate some of them here and in the book. When I have tried to teach him some things especially if they are things he might not run across in everyday conversations with his friends I try to make it either fun or challenging. Often it is like a puzzle if he can figure out how it works.

One of the first things we discussed is what it takes to make a story. I asked him if he knew. He frowned not knowing what answer I was looking for. I explained that it takes a beginning, middle and end. If we tell all about someone and where they are, maybe even what they are doing but that is all, there is no end. “Sam was a big boy with brown hair ran swiftly. He ran in the race and was one of the fastest runners of all in the race.”

He waited for me to continue explaining. “We know that Sam is a big boy and has brown hair. We know he was fast when he ran and that he was running in a race. Did he win? Did something happen? Who else was in the race? What things do we need to know to make it a story instead of just telling me about Sam?”

A big smile came across his face. “Sam was only one of the kids in the race. There were a bunch of kids and one of them was mean and tripped him. When he fell he lost the race.” He laughed and asked it that was the end or did I want to know more?

That was the beginning of understanding for what we were about to begin. I want him to understand how important words are. We use words to write our stories. We use words to communicate with each other. We use words in many ways. We need to understand the words we use and the meanings.

I asked if he knew what a protagonist is and he gave me one of his special looks. He did not know and was not sure he cared but it was a challenge between us. I waited for him to ask what it was and was not disappointed. My momentary silence was soon filled with him wanting me to tell.

We have made such good progress since my last blog but I will try to bring us up to date and get ready for next week.

Spelling Words and definitions

Protagonist : the principal character in a literary work (as a drama or story) The chief character in a play, novel, or story
a leading actor, character, or participant in a literary work or real event

“I guess we could say that the protagonist is who or what the story is about.”

Zander smiled with understanding, “I know now. It is the person the whole story is really about.”
I love to create a bit of a challenge to think a little deeper. “It could be a person, but what if the story is about a talking dog, or a pumpkin that comes to life or even a ghost or an alien? Those are not just people. One reason we have words to have better understanding of what we are trying to say. If I just said the person the story is about that might not be good enough depending on our story. The words protagonist tells us all of that with one word and we know who or what in the story we are talking about.

Antagonist one that opposes another. “Who or what is causing the problem? If we know who the protagonist is and we know what is going on then what is the problem or thing that is happening in the story? What is keeping the protagonist from doing what he is trying to do? He smiled and said, “In the little story, it is the mean boy that tripped Sam.”

I was thrilled. At that moment he had learned two words I have never heard an 8 year old use before, but as we continued to talk and discuss ideas for stories and examples of things involving the protagonist and antagonist I could see him growing more accustomed to hearing and using his new words. I did not want to give him words so that he could learn the definitions and memorize them, but own them by knowing and understanding them in his own discussions and use. We continued to talk of many things but I found ways to use the new words as we did enjoying his responses when he too used the words. At first he seemed hesitant but soon seemed proud.

I mentioned since he knew what a protagonist was then he understood it was about the main character of the story. When we say character it could mean more than one thing. Some words have different meanings depending on how you use them.

We know that just as the protagonist is the main person or character of our story...the character is what? The character is a person or something that is one of the actors or participants in the story. You may have many characters.

The boy who was a fast runner is the protagonist that is the main character. They boy that tripped him is also a character but not the protagonist, or one the story is about. You could have other characters in the story such as “When Sam fell, two other runners stopped to try to help him up and see if he was hurt. All of the other runners ran right by and did not seem to care.” There may be many characters.

He had to think on that one for a bit. A smile came across his face and he was ready for more.

I told him what about this? “Look at that little dog chase his own tail. He runs in circles. He is such a cute little character.”

He looked confused. So I tried a different example. “The little old man could tell such funny stories and made us all laugh. He is such a funny character.”

What was it about the old man that made him such a character? Was it because he did something different or odd compared to others? Was the little dog doing something odd, different or funny? Was the old man doing something different that caught their attention with his stories?

Character an odd or peculiar person
a person in a story, novel, or play

We could also talk about what kind of character a person might have that made them trustworthy and honest. Are they of good character? Would the word character then describe something about a person?
Character can be moral excellence

We went on discussing different ideas for stories using the new words and he seemed to delight in one idea after another using his new words.

Ever so often as we used the words protagonist and antagonist I would spell it. Casually as we talked he was learning new words and how to spell them.

PLOT is another word that can mean more than one thing depending on what we are saying and how we use the word.
Plot and mean the main story (as of a book or movie) I like to use the word and give an example as we talk. You notice I did not say teach, because I am teaching by including him in the conversations or allowing him to crave an understanding, knowing he can figure out the puzzle or answer with it in the end.

“As I read the story it was so interesting I could hardly wait to see how it ends.” You could think of the plot of the story like a guide of how the story goes from beginning to end.

What about other ways to use the same word? If we are talking about a ghost story it would be a paranormal story. That is something that is not normal or out of the ordinary and normal. We could say “I was afraid to go near the plot of the old man who is supposed to haunt the cemetery.” We know the plot is a small piece of ground where the old man is buried.
a small area of ground : <a cemetery plot>

If I told you to be careful because I think some of the characters in the story will plot mean things for the protagonist, what do you think?

Zander laughed and said “That is easy. The main character had better look out because there is some bad stuff ahead.”

“That is right. We might say they have an evil or unlawful scheme of plan that is what they are plotting to do.

We continued talking and using the new words we had learned. I mentioned the original children's story The Pumpkin Field. He had heard it so many times he almost knows it by heart. Through the years he never seems to tired of it as he looks for other meanings for the same phrases. I wrote it hoping it would be something to stimulate thought as well as tell a story. I mentioned if we wanted to write the rest of the story as he had thought we could actually use the words from the first story in the second and develop it into a new story with the other story included.


I got out a copy of the book and he smiled as he read and looked at each page. “You will have to do some pictures for our book too. I know we have mostly words and the story but I still like the pumpkins.....and the witch....and the cat.... Well I like them all.” He remembered watching me as I did each of the original pictures. The pages are full size art works with the words included in the art.  I was amazed when I saw the first book at how exact the print quality was. I could see it just like the ones I have in a folder.

It would be a challenge, but so was creating a story that did not have characters he so loves such as Iron Man or Spider Man. We had to learn to create our own characters from our own imaginations and not use what other people had created. That was a bit of a discussion before he understood and accepted that he could not use any character or story from the television.

It was exciting as day by day we learned new words and worked to develop what the new story would be. He wants it to be for older children. He loves the pictures of the story book I wrote and illustrated but he said there is so much more to this story he wants to tell. He wants it to be one that he and his friends could read.

We began to actually put a story together. He chose the characters and names. We had to work to find solutions to problems early in the story. I loved watching the expressions on his face as he thought and would propose one idea after another until we could find on that might work. Sentence by sentence we made a small beginning. I know it will be written and rewritten many times before we are satisfied but that is part of learning to write a book. I want him to understand and question even his own writing. “Is what I have written easy to understand? Did I describe the characters well enough the reader knows what the look like and what they are like as people? How do they work out their problems? What are their problems? What are they wanting to do? Why?” These were only some of the many things we talked about and tried different things.

After we came up with the first part I typed out what he thought the story should be. We have his ideas, his characters, his story and me putting it together. I asked many questions leading him to analyze the story and develop it as we went along. When I asked a question challenging something the would do or wanted to do he would think and come up with what he thought it should be . This is the first bit we did.........

Beyond The Pumpkin Field

Several years ago, I decided to see if the rumors I had heard about a haunted pumpkin field were true. It was almost Halloween and many whispered about the spooky field down the old gravel road, not too far from my house. It was a night I will never forget. I was afraid to tell others about it, fearing they would never believe what I had seen and heard.
It was the dark of night but the moon shone bright, casting shadows on things below. I was younger then and those shadows looked spooky. I was afraid but did not want the others to know how afraid I really was. I should never have gone without telling my parents, but knew they would say no or think it was silly. We did not think it was silly and I really wanted to know the truth. I had heard many times that there was nothing in the dark that was not there in the daylight, but it sure looked like there might be anything hiding there in the dark.
As the years passed I began to wonder if even in time, we might never know what was the cause and the reason for it all. I just know what I saw, or thought I saw. I know it was true but then again, could it have been a dream? Those were things that I thought about from time to time.
When I think back to that night it was as if some kind of eerie spell had crept in and strange things were all around. The only way for a person to know for sure what was really going on, would be for them to go and see.
In the day it was a field that looked so peaceful with all of the plants the farmer had planted. When I went there before that night in the daylight the field was full of pumpkins the farmer had grown and corn stalks bundled here and there. The scarecrow hung limply on his perch looking old and worn with hay peeking out here and there. His blue shirt was faded with age and his hat hung down low on the head full of hay.
The moon had a silvery light and almost blue in the shadows. I felt a chill in the air and I began to shiver. I remembered the stories I had heard and the rumors of how haunted the place was.
I had also heard about the spell the old witch they told tales about was said to have cast on the land. There were many stories about her too. They say she used to own that land, but the farmer took it away from her. She was so angry she moved far back in the woods, casting spells and haunting anyone she ran across. The other children said a single look from her could turn you to stone or some other equally bad spell she might cast. There were other stories about her too. Each time they were told, the stories became more fearsome.
I have to admit that I was afraid. I was so afraid that night that I could hardly walk. I am still afraid. I have only told a few people about that night but none of them think it was real. Some people think that I just fell asleep because it was late and I had a bad dream. Some told me they thought I was telling lies. Some just laugh and think I am making it all up to scare them. When I think about it, I see no way it could be real. I wonder myself how it could have happened like I remembered. To this day I remember it all.
I walked up to the pumpkin field down a long road lined with big trees and bushes. I expected for one of my friends to jump out and try to scare me any time but it seemed like I was all alone. I could hear the frogs singing their night song not far away in a pond near the field. There were lightening bug or fireflies that flickered in the dark. I had a flashlight but was afraid if I used it, someone might come to see who was there and tell my mom and dad I had been sneaking around in the dark of night. I did not want to get into trouble.
I did not realize that if I got hurt, no one would know I was there. Any bad thing could have happened. It was really not a smart thing to do but here I was thinking about doing it again. Since no one believed my story I began to wonder about it myself. It all seemed so real but I could see no way that it could be real.
Now that I am a teenager you would think I would have figured it out, but I just have more questions. I decided I would have to go back. I might have to go back more than once. No matter what it took, I would have to figure out if it was real or only a dream. I had a plan to take a friend or two this time. I was going to have a witness if there was anything special to see.
This time it would be more than just me that saw things in the dark of night that sent a shiver down your spine. The next day at school we were eating lunch with everyone laughing and talking. I decided to confide in my two closest friends about my plan and hoped they might decide to join in too.
Matt could come and stay with me on the weekend. We would be able to sneak out together and be back home before daylight. I did not like to sneak but that night haunted my memory for all they years after it had happened.
Mary was friends with my older sister. Her name is Amie and she is only a year older than I, but thinks she has the right to always boss me around and treat me like I am only a little kid. The only way I could think of for Mary to be able to come with us, would be for her to stay overnight with my sister. My sister might tell on us and then none of us could go. She also might think it would be a lot of fun or another chance to show how stupid I am. It was a risk I would have to take and hope that Mary could convince her that it would be fun.
When I first began to explain what I had in mind, they both laughed and asked me if I was serious.
“I remember when you first told me all of that and can not believe you are serious. Are you telling me after all this time you still think you saw all those things and that place is haunted with an old wicked witch waiting to catch people?” Matt laughed and I worried others might start to wonder what we were talking about.
“Keep it quiet. You two are the only ones I trust with this. The last thing I need, is for everyone to find out and start telling the whole world. I would be in a lot of trouble if my mom and dad found out. I don't want to listen to some of those bullies teasing me or making fun of me either. I know it sounds crazy but maybe you are just too afraid to come and investigate with me. There are all kinds of groups that investigate things like this that are haunted. They call them paranormal investigators. We would be like them, doing an investigation.” I waited for them to think it over and hoped they would not think it was silly too.
A big smile came across Matt's face. “Have you got a plan on how we can all get there in the middle of the night? The more I think about this the more I think it would be fun. We could be the official Pumpkin Field Ghost Chaser Team.” He broke out in peals of laughter.
“I don't think this is funny. I am serious and hope you will be too. You could come and stay the night with me this weekend and Mary could stay with my sister. They are both in the choir together and I think still friends. Sometimes I wonder how anybody could be friends with my sister as bossy as she is.” I waited to see if I would have company or have to make the investigation on my own.
Matt and Mary both started to smile but it was Mary that spoke first. “You can count me in. I would not miss this for the world. I think we will have to change the name a little. I will go for the Pumpkin Field Ghost Hunters but have to leave the chasing to you guys. If I find a ghost I will be busy runny away.” They all three laughed at her new name for their little expedition.

We have a long way to go and I am considering changing it to third person point of view. For right now we have had fun with him acting as if he was the protagonist and telling his own story. We will wait and see what develops. We have had such a good time and the hours flew by as we talked back and forth about, what if this or what if that? They could have done this but what if that? Questions and answers and before long it is as if we know them.

When I finished typing it he read it allowed and said, “I think we got it Mamaw. This is really going to be cool. I think we have enough ideas we will have to write at least 20 or 30 books. I know we can do it.” I had to laugh. He has told me that several times and his mother and grandpa too. We can do it. We are doing it. What a summer adventure.

We began making a list of things about our story........



Jimmy main character Protagonist

Matt his best friend Character

Mary another friend Character

Amie Sister... 1 year older Character

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Can Do It A Summer Adventure In Writing

It has been an amazing day. My grandson and I plan to write a book together. He has some fantastic ideas and actually complex story lines and characters. I want it to be more. I want this to be our little adventure with writing and learning. I think one of the most important aspects of learning is the ability to learn to think. We can memorize many things. We can read and we can listen. We can learn. We also need to think about all of those things. To be able to use the things we learn, to do something we desire to do or accomplish that something special that has alluded us, is bringing learning into a new light of utilization of acquired skills and knowledge. We need to expand from accepting all we hear, to thinking about what we hear and learning from life.
Much of this day has been discussing. He agrees with me and wants to learn as much as possible and make the book we do together, something special. We can only do that by work. We will have to work to learn many things. We will have to work with ideas and learn to develop them.We will have to think and create.
We discussed his school, teachers, and classes. Whenever I read the little book I wrote called The Pumpkin Field, we always end up talking about many things. We discuss their thoughts, ideas and it goes on from there. Some tell of the their fears such as the fear of darkness and we see how the story helps us to understand those things. We almost always talk about writing. When they ask me about writing the book I see such excitement and enthusiasm. We talked about writing and the last class did a whole class project with them writing their own stories.
As we talk there and at home, one point I ask is about when they learn their spelling words, their definitions of words and what words really are? “You may think that you study your spelling words to get a good grade and that is correct but there is another reason you may not know yet.... you will one day.”
They always ask what it is that they do not know about their own spelling words and at times the teacher looks curious about what I might be getting to in the discussion. “What you learn here in school is wonderful and we all need good grades but there is more. What you learn here is a gift that will last a life time. Your teachers are doing more than teaching you the words, they are helping you how to learn. Teachers give you the gift that lasts all of your lives. The things you learn now will be with you forever.”
We discuss many other things and always have such a good time. Today with my grandson, we reviewed somethings we had already learned and discussed new ideas. We talked about what kind of stories we want to write. We talked about characters and also not using other people's ideas and characters. He does love Iron Man. I even explained copyright about what we write and create including what you see on television. Our story will have to come entirely from our own imagination.
I told him anything worth doing is worth doing well and also worth working as hard as we can. He agreed we will spend this time not only doing a book but learning about books, words and many things we can use to write.
I am not going to go into every detail here but thought about keeping a journal of the study pages, discussions, topics and ideas as we go. I think I will see if I can work it into book form to help other children learn to write or just have a joy and being able to create with words.
I still plan to have a small group of children who are interested in writing with a group of their own. We can have our writers group and the junior group too at different times. I thought about doing a workshop with them if there ever was such an interest. Right now I am excited about what we are doing together, grandson and grandma. He calls me MaMaw.
As I discussed all of this with him he frowned and mentioned it might be nice to have a book so that other kids could make their books too. “Can you teach them and help them with a book?”
“I guess I could, but it would take a lot of work.” He smiled at me as I smiled in return, thinking of how I might be able to do this and him at the same time.
With that big grin on his face he told me we needed a cover for our notebook. It could be the cover for the book to learn to write and then we will have to do our book.
I reviewed some of the vocabulary I wanted him to remember. I asked him if he remembered what a protagonist was. “Sure I do. That’s the one the story is about.”
I then mentioned that the main character would be the protagonist and asked if he remembered how to spell protagonist. He thought for a moment and I could see his little lips move as he silently sounded it out and spelled it perfectly. We did a few other words and definitions including talking about how he could use these things. He asked me why he could just not call them people instead of protagonists. I explained the story might have a main character that was an animal or maybe even an alien. By using the proper term we can more easily understand each other. We lean new things all the time and in school they are always learning new words. Think how limited life would be if we only learned a little and never learned any more. Words can open a whole world and echo through the ages of time.
As I write this blog I am sure now that I will make a book/workbook about writing for young people. Zander is 8 years old and he constantly amazes me. We never know what we can do until we try and then keep trying and learning. As we work to learn and write our story I can also share that experience. It is an exciting time for me and Zander. He has always said that one day he was going to write his own story in his own book with his MaMaw, and the time is right.  We can do it.