Attacked

Julie was her usual effervescent self, giggling at something her friend Hanna texted as she opened her laptop.  She pulled up Face Book ready to catch up with all the news of the day.  Her face morphed from its customary smile to a look that resembled the pain she felt.  As she stared at the screen she felt as if she had been punched everywhere at once.  She could not believe what she was seeing.  One after another the messages were filled with epithets, vile suggestions, and charges that she was a whore, pure filth, worse than a dog, and on and on.  She was warned not to show her face in school the next day if she knew what was good for her.

The devastation eclipsed her heart and her soul.  Her depression was such that she could not eat or sleep or even pray.  She would not come down to dinner, she skipped youth group at church and skipped school the next day.  Julie felt totally alone lost, who could she go to?  The things on Face Book that were now coming on her E-mail were even worse than at first.  Boys started to write her describing unspeakable things they would do to her because she “wanted it.”

She finally dragged herself down Friday night after her father threatened to break down her door if she didn’t open it and join the family.  The sorrow and brokenness she felt was evident in her dull, tangled copper hair, her pasty complexion, lowered eyes, and down turned mouth.  She sat at the table, a broken child.  She would not look at anyone and they had to put the food on her plate.  Mom had made her favorite, spaghetti.  She did try to sip some water.  She desperately needed the water, her lips were chapped and cracked.

Julie just sat there, her heart and spirit breaking.  How could she tell anyone such horrid things?  Now she was getting phone calls that told her she was a waste and the world would be a better place without her.  Why didn’t she just die.  Messages came across her computer; DIE, JULIE DIE!

“Julie, honey, won’t you try to eat just a little?  You must be so hungry.”  Mom coaxed.

Julie’s downcast head barely nodded and she picked up her fork and tried to take a small amount of the pasta.  She choked and gagged.  Mom jumped up.

She started to sob at the table, Chris, her older brother, left unnoticed, and went up to her room.  He opened her computer and as he read what she had been subjected to, his anger exploded.

“Dad!  Dad!  Come up here, quick!”  Chris called, fury in his voice

As her dad read the messages on Face Book and then on her email, then they listed to the voice mail on her phone and the text messages everything became clear.

They called the police and their pastor. They would go to the school the next day.
Pastor looked everything over and sat down in a corner of the living room with the broken girl.
“Is this why you skipped Youth Group Wednesday night, Julie?” he asked gently
“Uh-huh.” She sobbed.
“Julie, do you know that you are none of the things that those children wrote?
“I-I guess,” a dejected and dispirited  Julie hiccupped “Some of them must be true, so many people said them.”
“Julie, look at me,” Pastor said. He waited until he held her gaze. “You are none of those things. Satan has targeted you to hurt you. Are you going to let him win?”
At that her head snapped up.  Julie was not one to turn down a challenge, or to accept defeat when it was thrown in her face.  That indomitable spirit was still inside her and it reared up.   “This is from Satan?” she asked incredulously.
“You are the very opposite of those words. I do believe that this is a demonic attack; you have been on fire for God and it has been catching. I think Satan was very anxious to quench that fire in your soul.” Pastor responded.
“Do I have to go back to that school? After what they wrote?”    She dreaded the thought of seeing those kids again.  If they would  write such awful things what would they do to her face.  Fear swirled in her belly.
“You know, God talked about that. In Proverbs He called such people fools. In Romans 12: 19-21 it says not to take revenge but to do kindness to them. You will heap burning coals on their heads and they will be convicted. They will be made the fools and you will store up crowns in heaven. You let your heavenly Father take care of these kids, Julie. You are blameless. You can return to school when you are comfortable and hold your head high.”
Pastor continued.
“Would you like to do something right now that will help you heal from this attack?”
Julie nodded enthusiastically. The sooner she could begin to put this behind her the better. She was taken aback at his next words.
“Let’s pray for them.”
“Pastor, you want me to pray for the people who said these horrible things?”
“What did Jesus do after they had beaten Him and nailed Him to the cross?”
“He asked His Father to forgive them.” Julie said quietly.
“So He set the example for us, don’t you think?” Pastor asked?
They bowed their heads and began to pray. Julie started praying and those prayers were led by the Holy Spirit. When they had finished Julie’s heart was lighter, the joy she had had was sneaking back.
“Mom, can I have some of that ginger ale you mentioned?” Julie asked. “Come to think of it, I am starved, can I have some spaghetti?”
It was a couple of weeks before Julie returned to school, but she returned with a stronger conviction of her faith and maintained her joyful effervescent demeanor. She had given a horrible situation to God and He had healed her.

Her parents finished the police reports and contacted Face Book.   The next day they were down at the school and had a meeting with the principal, Assistant Principal, and Guidance Counselor.  Students were pulled out of class, and the steady hand of justice prevailed.

Julie did see a psychologist with regard to her experience, but she found her greatest help was with God.

Parents:  This is a fictional story.  Usually things do not turn out this well, this quickly.  All too many precious young people have been driven to suicide because of the vicious words and actions of their peers or others.  Monitor your child’s cell phone and computer.  You will not be popular for doing it but it is for their own safety in more ways than one.    Protect your child, your teenager.  Remember, Privacy is a teen’s enemy.

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Shaadi’s Change

It was a glorious morning  and Shaadi was on her knees offering the Salaat.

“Allah is Greatest.  Praise my Lord the Great.   Praise my Lord the Most High.  I bear witness that there is no God other than God.  Praise be to God who has never begotten a son, nor does He have a partner in His kingship, nor does He need an ally out of weakness Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.”

Her prayer finished, she rose to her feet, walked to the window, and pondered the heaviness in her heart.  Morning Salaat should bring joy to her heart but instead she felt a heaviness and anything but a joyous spirit.  She turned and pulled a Bible out of her nightstand and opened to a favorite part: Psalm 16

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;  apart from you I have no good thing…”

“Shaadi!”  Her ten year old sister, Nayyer burst in.

“Nayyer!  “Haven’t I asked you not to burst into my room like that?” scolded Shaadi.

“You’re reading it again, aren’t you!  Read some to me!”  Nayyer begged.

Shaadi closed the bedroom door quickly.  “I will if you promise to keep it a secret.  Papa must never know!

Nayyer nodded her promise.  The idea of a forbidden book was too exciting for words.

“This is my favorite part, it makes my heart soar, Shaadi told her sister; her voice barely above a whisper and finished reading Psalm 16.  When she finished her eyes were shining with joy, the heaviness she had felt after her Salaat was long forgotten.

“Nayyer, you see why I love these words……..” Shaadi’s eyes grew wide with shock and not a little fear when she saw her father standing in the doorway.

In a soft voice that hid the fury raging inside him he commanded.  “Shaadi, give me that book of lies.”  His hand was held out and his eyes were steel.  A sob caught in Shaadi’s throat as she walked toward her father with downcast eyes and placed her greatest treasure in her father’s hand.

“Nayyer, you will leave this room.  Shaadi, you will remain.  I suggest you offer prayers of confession to Allah and hope you can be forgiven for this sin.”

The door shut and Shaadi heard the lock turn.  She was locked in her room!  A prisoner in her own home!  She did pray, as her father suggested, but not to his god, Allah.  She prayed to the God of the Bible.   She prayed for mercy, safety, rescue.

“Why would He listen to me?” she thought.  “I am not even a Christian and a female at that.”  She had forgotten one of the biggest lessons her friend, Moriah had taught her.  Jesus loved her just as much, as anyone else, she would be a bridesmaid to Jesus once she came to a saving knowledge of and belief in Him.

Sometime later her door opened.  Her mother and father were both standing there.  Her mother’s eyes were downcast. Tear tracks streaked her face. She carried a tray of water, dates, grapes, bread and cheese and carefully placed the food on Shaadi’s desk.  Her father, Farookh, addressed her formally.

Shaadi Yasmin Tavannah, you have sinned against Allah and your family.  After much prayer and conference with Imam Yosef it has been determined that you will marry.  Your sin has been forgiven as we believe you have been left to your own devices for too long.  With a husband to care for, you will not have time to be curious about forbidden things.  Your husband has been chosen for you and you will be introduced to him tonight.  You will be wed in two weeks.  Your future husband’s name is Sargon Zamani.    After your wedding it is Sargon’s wish the two of you return to Iran.   You will lack for nothing as he is most successful.  You will live like a princess and should consider yourself very fortunate; Allah has looked upon you with great mercy.”

Shaadi’s mother took a step toward her, arms outstretched but Farookh stopped her.  She ran from the room sobbing.

Farookh continued  “My child, I love you; but your actions cannot be overlooked.  I do this to save you.”

Shaadi fell to her knees, eyes on the ground tears splashing all about.   Farookh closed her door softly.  His heart was heavy but he had done all he could to protect Shaadi.  He walked into his den and in curiosity, he picked up the Bible and turned to the Psalm she had been reading.  He felt his heart soar in his chest.  He turned to the New Testament and began to read the Gospel of Matthew.  He marveled at what he read and his heart told him the words were true.  On the inside of the cover there was a name and phone number.  He dialed the number.  “Hello, Pastor Flynn?  I am Shaadi’s father and I have some questions for you about what is in this Bible.  I found Shaadi reading it earlier today….Yes, yes.  About 9:30 would be excellent.  I will see you then.  …..   okay, yes.  Thank you, Pastor.  Good Bye.”

Shaadi rose and moved to her window praying: “Almighty God, Allah.  I do not wish to sin or give offense, but in my heart and in my mind I am confused.  There can be but one Almighty God.  Allah, you say you love me, your daughter, but say in the next heartbeat I have not the value of a man.  God the Father, You say you love me and sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that I might spend eternity in heaven.  My heart breaks, I am to be wed to a man I do not know and taken to a country I fear.  What am I to believe?  Give me peace.  Please, show me the way.”  She crumpled to the floor in a flood of tears and eventually fell asleep in that very spot.

Later in the day her cell phone rang.  It was her friend Moriah from the Christian church around the corner.  They had met in school and Shaadi had challenged Moriah’s faith.  Moriah had a gift of sharing God’s Word and had, over time, brought Shaadi to an understanding of the Bible.  Moriah’s pastor had also talked with Shaadi and showed her the truths of Christ’s true identify from her own Q’ran.  Shaadi had devoured the message of the Bible with a hungry heart.  She had kept her move prized possession, her Bible, hidden away for almost six months before her father discovered her reading it.

“Shaadi!  You missed the party!  We thought you were coming, what happened?”

“Moriah!  My life is done, it is over!  My father found me reading my Bible to Nayyer and took it from me!  I have been locked in my room and am to wed a man I have never met a week from Saturday and leave this country for Iran!  I shall surely die!”

“Oh no, Shaadi!  What can I do, how can I help?”

“There is nothing to be done, my friend.  I am confined to my room.  I meet my future husband to be this very night.  I will spend my life in a Berkah with my heart belonging to your Jesus!  My life if over!”  Shaadi broke down, sobbing again.

That night, wearing plain clothes with all but her eyes covered by her niqab veil, Shaadi met her future husband.  Her father loosed her niqab to allow Sargon a view of her face.

“Farookh, you have a very beautiful daughter and I believe she will be a fine wife.” Sargon address Shaadi’s father but ignored her.  She was left to replace her niqab and go to the kitchen.  Sargon was a very conservative Muslim and followed the stricter interpretations of the Q’ran.  Her role at dinner was simple, serve, do not speak, return to the kitchen.  When she served, she stole glances at this man who was to be her husband and had to admit, he was very handsome, but as she listened to his conversation she learned how conservative he was and she knew her life with him would be anything but free and she would be little more than a slave.

He did not acknowledge her for the rest of the meal.  Once dinner was ended and she was able to return to the solitude of her room she took off the extra clothes that had been required as well as the niqab.  She again prayed, but this time her confusion was gone.  “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and do not deserve your love or forgiveness.  I know I can do no good thing but through you.  I humbly ask if you will forgive my sins, cover them with the blood you shed on the cross.  I ask you to come into my heart and soul and be my savior.  If it is Your will I am wed to this man, Sargon, and live as his wife in Iran, I will follow Your Will.  I beg you to save me from this fated, if you are willing.  I wish to live openly loving You and worshiping you.  Please save me.”

Once her prayer was done she looked up, sensing a presence.  There, once again, her father stood.  This time there were tears in his eyes.  “My child.  May Allah forgive me, but I cannot allow you to be in such misery.  What is it that would draw you away from Allah?  Without fear of punishment, please tell me.”

Shaadi pulled out her Q’ran and turned to the passages Moriah’s pastor had shown her.  Haltingly, in a whisper, she read them with her father and they talked.  She shared the truths she had learned and the way the praises in the Bible made her heart sing with a joy she had never known praying to Allah.  The doorbell rang and Farookh got up quickly.

“Thank you, Shaadi, for sharing with me.  You have given me much to ponder. I must go.  ”  Farookh told his daughter.  He kissed her on the forehead.  “Sleep well, my beautiful Shaadi.  Have no fear of tomorrow.”

His words comforted her and she fell asleep before he had even finished closing the door.

In the morning, as the sun burst through her window she got up and automatically began to offer the Salaat and caught herself.  She dropped to her knees and gave praise to her new God, Jesus Christ.  Just as she was finishing up, Farookh knocked on her door.  “Shaadi, will you please come downstairs with me?”

Speechless, Shaadi followed her father down to the living room not knowing what to expect.  To her utter shock, there sat Moriah’s pastor.  He looked tired and drawn but happy.

“Shaadi, this man, Pastor Flynn, has been discussing and debating with your mother and I throughout the night.  He has talked to us through the Quran.  I became angry several times and threatened…..well, I was wrong.  I hoped you would join your mother and I in praying a new prayer, one to Jesus who our own Quran shows is divine.”

Speechless, Shaadi sank into a chair and then onto her knees.  Pastor Flynn prayed the sinner’s prayer while Shaadi and her parents repeated his words.  A small voice seemed to echo the words of the prayer and when they had finished, Nayyer, crept out.  In a voice barely audible she said, “I have been going to that church on Wednesday and listening in Awana.  I asked Jesus into my heart when you prayed Papa.  Can I be a Christian too?”

Farookh held his arms out to his second daughter and held her tight. “ It seems this family is about to make some changes!  Allah, oh, forgive, God is Good, He is so so Good and I praise Him for His gift to us.”

“Papa,” Shaadi said, “What about the wedding?  What about Sargon?  He will take this as a great insult.”

“I will deal with Sargon, my child.  It is nothing for you to be concerned with.  You will not be married to him, rest assured.”

Shaadi turned back to Pastor Flynn, “ May we please pray and thank our Lord Jesus Christ for He has answered my prayer in ways I never would have guessed.  He has not only given my my life but has returned my family to me!  He is truly the God of Truth!”

Lost Dog

angel lost dogFrom the time she had been little, so little she could not get up the steps without help, she had been with her people.  At first they had taken lots of time with her, always playing and cuddling her, taking her out to teach her about outside.  As she had grown older her people seemed to be angry with her, she often did not know what she had done wrong, but it seemed … she didn’t know, what had she done wrong?  Her tail, once held high sank lower and lower.  She had found a spot in a corner that seemed to work.  No one pushed or shoved her away when she stayed there.  She wished there was something there to make the spot softer, but knowing her people were not upset with her was enough.

She would watch them with her huge lonely brown eyes.  They seemed to get along, laughing, playing, joking around.  Somethings her tail would thump on the floor in hopes that they would notice her.

Often times, now, her tummy would growl with hunger.  The family had such good smells coming from the food area, but her bowl rarely had anything in it.  She would get so thirsty.  One day one of her people caught her drinking from the toilet, she had just been so thirsty.  He had hollered, hit her, she had run with a frightened cry, back to her corner, fearful to come out again.

One day her people loaded her into their car.  She used to love to ride in the car.  But they had stopped taking her places with them.

When she had been little, she was so cute, so easy to handle, but as she had grown into her now 40 pound self no one had wanted to take the time to teacher her what was expected, They never showed her what they wanted her to do so when they would go out she made mistakes, pulling on her leash, chasing cats, birds, jumping on other people.  They just seemed to have lost interest.  She wanted to tell them to just show her.  She loved them, would die for them, but they never listened.  She wanted to try, wanted to make them happy with her again.  She tried to tell them with her whines, her hopeful tail thumps, but she was the outcast of her people pack.

She enjoyed the drive, her longish white fur waved in the wind and she took such pleasure in feeling the rushing wind on her face.  Little Mandy reached over to give her a hug and gasped.  “Daddy, I can feel Dotty’s bones in her chest.  Is she okay?”

“Tom, have you been feeding the dog?”  Dad asked Mandy’s older brother.

“Well, sort of, I think I put something down for her a few days ago.” Tom replied guiltily.

“I take it she has had no water either, then.”  Dad remarked.

“Uh, yeah, I guess.  Dad, I’m sorry, I forgot, she looks just fine.”  Tom tried to cover his mistake.

“It’s a good thing we are doing this then.  You obviously don’t care about the dog.  Remember when you saw her, how you promised you wouldn’t miss a day playing with her or feeding her?  Now you are letting her starve.”  Dad tongue lashed his son.

“Are we taking Dotty to a farm?”  Mandy asked, wondering if she would get to see cows and ducks and chickens.

“There are farms all around and I am sure she will find herself a good home, Mandy, but we are going to give Dotty her freedom so she can pick which is the best home for her.”

Dad stopped the car and parked it and got Dotty’s leash.  “Come on, girl, out of the van.”

Dotty jumped down, anxious to please, tail wagging.  Finally, a family outing; she could play with everyone and things would be better.  Maybe they would give her some food to stop the craving in her tummy.

Dad walked her into the woods about fifty feet and took off her collar and leash.  He told her to sit and stay and walked away.  This was a strange game and she cocked her head at him, curious, a little confused.

“Stay, Dotty, Stay;  now that’s a good girl.  You stay, girl.”  Dad called, He walked back to the van and got in.  Then she heard it start and drive away.  Still she remained true to her Alpha’s last command; “stay.”

Finally she began to suspect but was sure they would come back, they just forgot.  She would stay near by so that when they returned she would be right there, ready to go home.  Hours went by as she sat by that dirt road, watching and listening for the van.  The sun went down and as evening came a rain storm rolled in with it.  The awful, frightening truth began to occur to her.  Her people, her pack had abandoned her.  The reality of it broke her heart.  She laid down right there but the side of the road, in the pouring rain and would have been happy to die.

The might passed miserably.  When the sun arose she raised up and began to trudge along on shaky legs.  She was wet, half-starved, covered in mud.  Her heart was broken and she had no idea what would happen to her.  Another day and night went by, she had found some food thrown away and ate it ravenously.  It took the edge off, but she found herself throwing it up.  She had gone without for so long that eating it so quickly was something her stomach could not tolerate.  It was getting colder out and her fur, although on the longer side, was not a real source of warmth.

There was another rain storm that night, then temperatures dropped, Dotty found herself leaning alongside a building and just dropped to the ground, too weak to even find shelter from the rain.  The cold of the night sent a chill deep into her bones.  She laid there and waited for her inevitable death.  Still she wondered what had she done?  She would have tried harder if she had only known what to do.  Her eyes closed and she sank into oblivion.

The next morning a young boy was walking past the barn and spied a lump of dirt that had not been there before.  He went over to poke at it and his eyes widened in surprise and concern.

“Uncle Clay!  Come here!  There’s a dead dog by the barn!”

“What’re you carrying on about, boy!”  an older man walked out of an older ramshackle house.

“Come on, Uncle Clay, come see!”  the boy pulled his uncle by the hand.

“Well, I’ll be….” Remarked Uncle Clay as he stared at the form of the dog.  We went to clean the dirt off the dog and both of them heard a whimper.  “RJ, I think this dog may not be dead.”

“Can we keep it then, Uncle Clay, please?  You know how I’ve been wanting a dog since  Max got hit by a car.  Please?  You know I’ll tend it ‘n all.”

“Now boy, I ain’t say’n yes and I ain’t say’n no.  First we have to see how bad off it is, then we have to get Aunt Ruth to give her bless’n.”

Uncle Clay lifted Dotty up, she was light as a feather.  Her whimpers grew a little louder, but she did not fight those hands, she was too weak.

“Ruth!  Ruth!  Got us a situation here!  Need your good word on it.”  Clay called to his wife.  Ruth came out onto the porch wiping her hands on a dish towel.  Her spare body dressed in an old pair of jeans and one of her church T-Shirts.  Her once golden hair had strands of white running through it.   Her eyes were crinkled at the outside corners but gentle and kind.  Ruth was a practical woman, with a heart for the less fortunate.  She was forever giving her time at the local soup kitchen, checking to be sure some of the widows in town had food, transportation.  She would bring baskets to some of the poorer families to help them through rough spots.  She saw the skeletal dog in her husband arms.

“Well, good grief, Clay, what is that poor thing you have there?”

“RJ found it by the barn.  Seems alive, but I don’t know how far gone  this poor thing is.  I’m thinking some family dumped their dog out in the woods.  No tell’n when it last ate.  Spent the night in the mud next to the barn.  More dead than alive I’m a think’n.  But RJ want to try in bring it back.  What are your thoughts?”

“Well bring it on up into the house,  I can’t tell anything until I see it better.”

Clay brought Dotty in and laid her on the kitchen rug.  Ruth ran a warm pot of water and dipped her rag in it and began to wash some of the mud off Dotty.  Once the dirt was gone, Ruth got a cry towel and rubbed her down.  She got some milk and dabbed her fingers in it and rubbed the mild on Dotty’s nose.    Dotty licked half-heartedly, several times, then with warmth back in her body, she fell asleep.

She woke up an hour or so latter and RJ was right there.  He brought her some more warm milk, but this time there was an egg in it as well.  Dotty licked the bowl clean and her tail thumped in gratitude.  She looked at this boy and wondered if this was a dream or not.  He seemed so kind, so patient.  She lowered her head onto his knee and looked up at him hoping not to be pushed away.

“Well look there, Ruth, seems the boy has him a new dog.”  Clay said.

“She’s a good looker, that’s for sure.  Gonna take a ton of time keeping that long coat from getting tangled and matted.  But you are right, husband.  She seems pretty set on him.”

RJ, what are you going to name her?”  Uncle Clay asked.

“I don’t know, Uncle Clay.  Aunt Ruth, do you have any ideas?”

“I was think’n.  She kind of looks like an angel, all that white fur.  Why not angel?”

RJ grinned.  “Perfect. “ He pet her head.  “Hey Angel.  Do you want to live with us?”

Maybe there was something to live for.  Angel thumped her tail and reached up to lick RJ’s face.  She had found a home.angel the lost dogangel lost dog

Memories of an Indefatigable Toddler

My darling baby boy

 

Blue eyes twinkled as he sat impatiently in his chair.  His body squirmed and wriggled in impatience to begin moving again.  Fruit Loops decorated the table along with small droplets of milk.  A smile filled his entire face as he watched his mother move about the kitchen.

“Outside!  Mamma Outside!”

“Would you like some bacon and eggs?  You didn’t eat the cereal?”

“Noooo!  Outside, Mamma!”

Mamma stood and shook her head at this most darling child.  Her little ball of energy and laughter stole her heart anew every day.  His belly laughs came from way deep inside and his cuddles, beyond description.   “Breakfast first, son, you know that!”

“Toaster Fruit!  Her little package of pure action decided.

“Well, it’s not the healthiest, but that is why you get vitamins.  Open up for the squirt!”

His face screwed up at the flavor and it made her laugh.   Okay, let me get you some clothes while the toaster pastry heats up then when you are done you can go outside.    He clapped and banged the table and she moved into the bedroom to grab a pair of short, a top, socks and shoes.  She had just finished working the graveyard shift at the local hospital.  It had been a quiet night, but she was ready to close her eyes.

“CRASH!”

“Owwwww!”  She ran back out to the kitchen to find him on the floor next to the toaster.

“You were supposed to be in your chair, why did you get up.  Oh my poor baby!  Where did it hit you?  Are you hurt?”  She saw a welt coming up on his forehead and grabbed a cloth and some ice to put on it.  “Oh, my poor darling; come sit with Mamma and we will make that bump go away.”  She blamed herself for what happened; she knew better.

She  settled into her rocker and held the compress to his pale forehead and rocked absently while she hummed tunelessly and stroked his soft brown hair.  This was the one time she could keep him quiet.  He loved the rocking motion and listening to her heart beat.  But at eight o’clock in the morning he could not sit for very long.  Soon he was wriggling again.  He slipped his little hand up to her face.

“Mamma?  I all better now.  Outside?”

“Oh, alright, but let’s get some clothes on you first.  Do you need to potty again?”

A firm shake of his head sent started them on the process of stripping off his bedclothes and getting the shorts and shirt into place.  He wiggled and wriggled so much it took twice as long.  Finally he was dressed and charged to the door.  She grabbed some drinks from the refrigerator and   followed him outside.  As he ran into the huge world known as “Backyard”, she settled into the chaise on the porch with some cold orange juice.

In a bit it would be “Inside” time, when it just got too hot and he would get a bath, more clean clothes and play pen time.   For now, she enjoyed the morning cool  and watched her little man toddle from one part of the yard to another.  Pretty soon he settled at his dirt pit where all his trucks and bulldozers were.  He would push them around  as long as his short attention span would allow.  Then he was off to find more action.

The soft breeze and morning coolness lulled Mamma to sleep.  She did not hear when he got up and ran across the yard.  He stopped just short of the porch and stared at something poking out from between the screen and the metal frame.  He reached for it tentatively and Mamma did not say anything so he became bolder.

Mamma awoke to her wonderful,  very mischievous son poking her.   “Mamma!   Look, I fix!”  There stood a very proud  toddler holding the spline that held the screens in the metal porch frames.  All screens of all the bottom frames lay on the ground as son proudly held the spline that had held them in place.

The fogginess of sleep cleared, and she realized her son had  truly found  mischief.  Her utter exhaustion and frustration with herself and her tireless toddler began to explode.  She jumped up looking with disbelief at the unscreened back porch.  She closed her eyes and hands opened and closed as she prayed for understanding and to calm the anger that boiled up in her.

She suddenly bent down and lifted him up into her arms and buried her head into his shoulder.
“Matthew, Matthew, Matthew!   God grant me the patience to be all that you need.  Yes, Mamma sees.  It is getting hot, inside time.  Let’s go have a nice bubble bath and get the dirt and sweat off you, then we can put your movie on.”

She ran the bubble bath and while he  played ,  she  dialed her husband and explained what happened.  They talked about the porch, her job, what was for dinner.  Her second call was to the hospital.  She let them know she would not be coming in that night or any night thereafter.    Once off the phone, she looked down at her precious son.  He was splashing tirelessly.   She pulled out a towel and lifted him from the tub, carried him into his room, and dropped him carefully onto the bed.  He loved this part.  She put her hands on either side of him and bounced him up and down.  That belly laugh she so loved rumbled from deep down in his tummy.  She so loved to watch him as his joyous embrace of life and living.  He was her pride and joy.

Birthday Memories (critiques encouraged)

It was my eleventh birthday so I got to pick what was for dinner. As always, I wanted roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, and birthday cake! Mom would make it so well, just the right amount of seasoning. The blood running out would say it was rare to medium rare … perfect. Mom’s mashed potatoes were what we would call ‘smashed’ potatoes today. They were just the best, a little lumpy so you knew they were real, with salt, pepper, milk, butter. She used a smasher, never a mixer. When you added the gravy she would make from the pan drippings it was sheer heaven. When everything was ready, Mom would ring the dinner bell and Fred, my brother, and I would come running.

To get to the dining room from the stairs, you would walk through the living room. In December there was a fire in the fireplace; our dog, Buttons, part boxer part everything else, would be curled up in front of it along with our cat Cindy. When Buttons would see us, her curled tail would thump, but the fire was too comfortable to get up.

Mom always outdid herself on birthday night. She used our best tablecloth, special cloth napkins, even flowers and candles adorned the table. Bowls and platters were placed just so with the various foods, the wonderful scents wafted through the house, Daddy sat in his chair, sharpening the carving knife waiting for everyone to arrive. Mitch Miller would be playing on the stereo.

I had the privilege of saying blessing and took that responsibility very seriously. I beamed when Daddy said; “Very good job, Kathleen.”

While Daddy carved the roast, Mom handed a shot glass filled with blood from the roast to Fred and I. It was a tradition that beef was roasted, some of the “juice” would be syphoned off for each of the children. It was thought the blood would help to grow strong bones. Both of us liked the flavor and were pleased to get it.

The meat was always, tender, juicy, and filled with flavor. Oh, so good. The juice from the meat would fill our mouths and run down our throats, It was like my mouth was in epicurean heaven. I would beg for seconds and thirds.

Once dinner was finished, I helped Mom clear the table and put the dishes in the sink to soak. While I scrapped the dishes, Mom put on a fresh pot of coffee and poured milk for me and Fred. Although I was not allowed to have coffee, I loved that rich scent. She pulled the magnificent cake out of the refrigerator. The white icing was spread so thick with all those wonderful swirls and tips. She got the Neapolitan ice cream out of the freezer and handed it and the scoop to me to bring to the table. She followed with dessert dishes, cups and saucers. I sat down and she went back to retrieve the cake. It took her a bit longer as she set up the birthday candles and lit them. Daddy lifted his camera to get the first picture of the birthday cake.

Everyone sang, I blew the candles trying to get every single one. I usually missed one which caused Fred to start teasing, so he helped. If Daddy missed the shot, we had to pose for another. Candles would be relit and we would blow them out together after the required pushing and shoving. Finally, I made the first slice and the obligatory wish.

There was something silver on the cake, it looked like a ballerina. “What’s this, Mom? It’s so tiny. Is it a new Monopoly piece?”

“No, it’s a reminder that this is a charm cake. Each one of you will find a charm in your slice and you will get a prize based on what charm you get.”

Mom cut and passed out cake with scoops of ice cream. She warned us to be careful; it would not do if we choked or bit the charm in half. As we masticated the cake, we got to better enjoy the flavor and texture of Mom’s baking expertise. Once discovered, charms were wiped off and identified. Always prepared to make a special time better, Mom had grab bag prizes. They were simple dime store items, but fun.

My parents had a way of making my birthdays special; I remember those birthday dinners, the love and family spirit.

Follow up to Moving Furniture

IMAG0038[1]Oh what was intended as a time killer and a poor attempt at humor has changed to something so much more serious.  As my husband has had a turn in his health and ability to get around, moving furniture has now become something closer to making the house safer .  The big dining room table with the glass top must be sold and the tiny two person dinette table will sit in the dining room in it’s place.  The recliner in what I called my “Mom’s den”  will come back into the “guest bedroom” as the treadmill now fills that area.  Better he get his strength back there than having to step down into the garage, deal with boxes and the clutter that comes with a garage that is not as well as the heat and stuffiness of no air conditioning.

Things have taken a far more serious turn as I listen to him breathe, make sure he is breathing.  Afraid to go to bed, afraid he will wake up and decide to get up and fall yet again.  The first fall meant an ambulance and a trip to the hospital that turned into a nightmarish odyssey into a world of  understaffing with a never ending torrent of patients with all manner of needs streaming through door to the point there was no where to even stand and not be in the way.   He was kind of shoved into the corner of a one patient room while the second patient who was dying of lung cancer had a panic stricken episode of being unable to breathe which brought on a heart attack.    After hours and hours of working with that poor man, the nurses were able to move him to ICU, but forgot to give my husband food or water or start his IV (his fall was the result of severe dehydration).  He became so weak he was unable to pull himself up in the bed or turn on one side.

The following day, as his body began to recover from a lack of fluids his reason for dehydration kicked in, IBS.  Well, that was messy.  A well meaning CNA gave him one of those rolling thrones, giving him the feeling he could get out of bed, in his cramped corner while he was hooked to leads for heart, blood pressure, pulse, IV, just a web of tubes and lines.  He had his second fall and this time laid open his forehead and damaged his neck and shoulder.  He would up with 17 stitches, two black eyes, a bruised cheek and a lot of pain.  He was transferred to two more room on two different floors and was sent home Sunday.  Monday he fell again, I was asleep.  At least it was on carpet with carpet over it, good and soft.

So now it is no longer how to move the hutch,which is moved and looks so good, or move the desk, which is in it’s new location so I can be away and still hear everything his does, every breath he takes, it is about keeping him safe.

You know, you never know what life will hand you next.  I had so loved that glass table, now I see it as a threat.  The oversized coffee table that opened up to store the grands toys, another impediment to his safety.  Both go, neither to be missed.

I have to get some sleep, but will he fall yet again?  Will he aspirate his gatorade as he did earlier?

The lesson is be ready.  Life gives us wonderful things and we need to enjoy them, it can also hand us challenges, we must take them all in stride.  I am not doing the in stride part too well right now.