Monday, June 4, 2018

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy

*****************Warning************************* This story contains explicit details about the way we killed our animals for meat and put them in the smoke house. It is not for those of you that have never grown up on a farm or had to hunt for your survival. Please don't read this if you are upset about hunting and preparing animals for eating and the freezer.
It was hog killing day for our family and all were expected to help in some way. It usually happened in the cooler weather to keep us from sweating to death and to keep the meat fresh as it was hanging in the Smoke House.
Mama had a big old cast iron cauldron that was heated over a bunch of dried hard wood so that it would heat quickly and sustain the heat for as long as we would need the water to boil. It was banked so that the cauldron was leaning on its side for easier access to put the pig in. I know that there may be some that are confused by now if you have never scalded a pig, but for those of you in the know, you understand completely what I mean.
Daddy would bring the hog up and put a slit in its throat so that it would bleed out and not spoil the meat. I know some of you may be game hunters and say that it is not necessary to split the throat on an animal and that is partially true. If the heart is beating then it is necessary. If the heart has stopped and the animal is dead, then no blood is circulating and you don't need to slit the throat. But our Daddy always slit the throat and let the animal bleed out so keep the meat good. That was just his way and was probably the way his Daddy and his Daddy before him, did it too.
When the pig was dead, he would dip the animals in the cauldron as far as he could to soften the skin so he could use his knife and scrape the hair off the meat. Daddy liked the skin as soft as a baby's bottom and no hair on it, so that when he cooked it up, it would get brown and toasty as it baked or fried.
Daddy ate the fat right along with the meat which is probably why he stroked badly with high blood pressure when he was 62.
It was the way of so many back in those days and to tell the truth, I love the fat too. I almost never trim my chops or Corned beef. I just love the fat and no, I don't eat it like that often. I haven't had pork chops in well over a year and corned beef once this year.. So there, as Miss Earline says. LOL
The hog was dipped and pulled out of the pot and scraped. There was always a cover on the ground so that sand or dirt did not get on the pig although daddy washed it off when it was hanging too. He was very careful about making sure the meat was clean for us and for him. I think Daddy ate some kind of meat every day of his life. Maybe not in the later years but we all sure put away some animals when I was growing up. There was 6 hungry mouths to feed and I can't say as a child that I ever went without. Daddy made sure of that.
After the hair was scraped off, Daddy made a slit on the back hooves right between the tendons so that he could put the pig up on this butchering type thing he had made. It had two pieces of wood sticking out from the back of the smoke house and it was whittled narrow on the ends so that you could thread the slit he made onto the wooden spikes up off the ground and then he would tie it into place so it wouldn't slip off while he was butchering the animal. He had a pot underneath it to gather up all the guts and stuff as he slit the belly open and these were taken deep into the woods for the wild animals. He kept the intestines to make chitlins and cleaned off every other part that we could eat too. Daddy lived by a "waste not, want not", type mentality and we used every part of all of the animals that we hunted.
If it was an animal that we skinned, we kept the hide and the boys, Lee, Clifton and Ernest Lee would take them and stretch them on the sides of the barn to keep or use in belts or hat bands, such as when we got a rattler. There was always an assortment of hides drying on the barn walls and at any given time you might see Coon, Possum, Rabbit or Squirrel Hide drying, depending on how lucky we had been that week.
I know it may sound callous to some as I recount this memory but it never was. We did not take food for granted and the blessings were said before we ate a bite. We were grateful for our food and that Daddy and the boys had provided it for us.
I was not a hunter but I was one that could skin the animal and fix it up for every body. I could never kill an animal but after it was dead, I switched into taking care of it for the family. I knew how to skin a squirrel, rabbit, coon, or possum.
Daddy always had us slit all the way around the stomach and pull the hide down around the feet and head. then we pulled the hide as close to the claws as we could and cut off the feet. We carefully peeled the hide over the squirrel head, because we were going to eat the head so we did not want any fur in our food. After cleaning the squirrel, cutting off the claws and getting the eyeballs off the head, we would wash it, salt it, meal and/or flour it and fry it up.
All the kids would fight to have the head. I know that sounds gross to some but this was our way. We like the brains. They were so good and all of us kids wanted the head. If there weren't enough for all of us, the older kids got first and Donna and I would share one but usually there was enough for anyone that wanted it.
We were blessed in that way that our brothers and
Daddy were good shots. Ernest, Clif and Leeroy were always out hunting when I was little as I recall and we always had a deer and plenty of meat to fill the freezer each year. We put up everything we hunted, grew or bought so that in lean months, we had plenty of food.
When the Hog was sufficiently cleaned, Daddy would begin the butchering process. The Hips for nice Hams for the smoke house, the Pork Butt or shoulder, the ribs, the pork chops and loins. Daddy would save the bits to grind into sausage or to makes gravies. Like I said before, every part that could be used, was used for something.
Daddy would take the big hams and salt them down good then open the door to the Smoke House. It had hanging wood beams so that you could hang your ham over it tied with a piece of rope and then it had a place in there to have the fire that you would use to smoke the wood. It was a long process to prepare the ham and I can't believe to this day that daddy had time to work, grow a huge garden and smoke his own meat, but he did it, every year without complaint.
We would use Oak, Hickory or Pecan wood to smoke the meat if we wanted flavors and daddy was real good about keeping the fire smoking instead of burning. He would draw water from the well in its trough and put it in a bucket outside the smoke house, then check on his meat and pour water over the fire several times a day to keep the meat from over cooking.
While Daddy was doing his part on the pig, Mama was busy making lye soap by rendering down the fat from the pig bits that daddy would give her in the cast iron cauldron that we had used to get the hair off the pig. She cleaned it well, put fresh water in and rendered the fat. When the fat was ready, she would do the rest of the process. I would watch but not be allowed to help because it would be dangerous if I got any of the caustic substance on myself. Of course I did not know that at the time but my Mama wore heavy work gloves and had a long broom handle stick to stir it with as it was cooking. She was careful so I knew that it could burn me or hurt me in some way. Mama would stay busy and in the end we would have lye soap to wash our clothes in the wringer machine and the washtubs and to clean ourselves in.
It smelled clean. I can't describe it any other way. I liked the squeaky clean feeling I had when we bathed in the wash tubs and used her soap. Of course I only remember this happening a time or two growing up as Mama wasn't at home for all the killing but I still remember her doing it real good this one time. I can see her still in my memory with her apron up, her hair up out of the way of cooking and her dress. I sat to the side and watched her stir and stir that soap until it was ready. It is a good memory for me. My mother was protective of me this time and one other so that is a good reason to believe that she did love me, even if she never said it.
We would have some good eatin when the Ham was ready and afterwards it was ice cream making time in the summer months. Daddy made really good ice cream. Often it was Vanilla but sometimes it was Peach which was my favorite. Daddy would put the eggs, Milk, Vanilla , Ice cream mix in a bowl to mix well by hand and then pour it into the middle metal section of the ice Cream maker. Ours wasn't electric so that was all hand cranked which took some time.
When the mix was in the middle, Daddy would layer the Ice and rock salt all around the edges to keep it good and cold. Then he would put the top on and take it outside on the back porch for us to sit in chairs as he cranked the ice cream. We would start off with the lightest child on the maker to hold it down while daddy cranked. The harder the ice cream got, the bigger the child got that was sitting on it. Daddy liked his ice cream hard so he would crank it until it moved all the way around while we sat on it. It was like a bucking bronco at times. LOL
When it was done to his satisfaction, we all got bowls and daddy gave us all some ice cream. The best I have ever tasted in my life. After ice cream was finished and bowls were licked and dishes done, we would all settle back on the back or front porch.
Daddy usually went to the front cause he could sit in the swing and watch cars go by. Clif and Ernest were often on the back porch playing cards with match sticks or money if they had worked in the fields that week. Daddy would sit out front and hope that one of us kids was dumb enough to challenge him to a game of checkers. We would do that a few times until it proved futile.
Daddy was an excellent Checkers player and it was poetry to watch a new victim fall into his trap. He would be jumping and Kinging his while you were sitting there scratching your head and saying, what just happened. LOL. I think he took some pride in his checkers skill , even though we were taught that pride was sinful, Daddy would smile when he lighted up his old pipe with his belly full and his ego stroked like a cheshire cat. Good memories of a job well done.
Kids fed, garden weeded, meat smoked, dessert made and ate and a game won for one more day......
Love to you Daddy as Fathers day approaches. You taught me so much without saying a word and you were a good man. I am so glad that you stopped drinking when you did and gave us years of you being you, which was a decent hard working man. I Love you. Always, you lil ole gal, Glorann...
(google image for the ice cream maker and cauldron. Ours was real big)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Happy Birthday Mama

Mama.. That word conjures up all kinds of warm memories for many but that is not my experience. My Mama wasn't home much when I was growing up. She came and went, came and went and did not show me much affection.

It left me with a strange feeling when she died, 40 years ago this year. I did not cry. I didn't know who she was. I had some memories of her coming home to stay a few days and making sugar cookies or bread pudding. Of her gathering herbs and poke salad to make with eggs but so much of that time is just lost to me. I did not have her affection and so I shut down inside. I remember trying really hard when she would come home. I would fix her hair, tell her how pretty she was but It did not garner me any closeness from her.

I think I will always feel that loss but a friend of mine told me that she did the best she could considering the strain and disconnect she endured in her own life, and I finally got that when I grew up.

It is the reason though, that I revere Moms. The reason why I wanted to be a good one and I did half way succeed in that, which is a miracle ,considering I had no role model and the magazines I read, "True Detective and True Romance" weren't real Mommy material.

Today would have been her 94th Birthday had she lived. She was so young when she died at 53 and her Mama before at 51 . She never really had time with her Mama either. She was 30 when her Mama died and I was 25. She had been married since she was 16 and I had been married since I was 17. She had 14 years with her Mom and I had much less than half that with her. I always wonder how much those that went before influenced the way our lives are set up to be.

I know that we have free will but some of that is just innate. You see it with twins separated at birth and when they find each other, they have married similar people, have the same car or home and the same job. Some of it is burrowed deep in our psyche and it comes out years later whether we realize it or not.

It is funny that although she did not show me that she loved me, I am sure that she did. I understand her motives better now and forgive any slight I may have felt growing up. I see what a hard life she had as a girl of 13 being given to a man of 25. They "dated" for 3 years before they married, but that is an old man for a young girl of 16 to be married too. She never had a childhood, so how could she know that I would need one?

One day when this life is o'er I will be there with you both and there will be no pain as we see each other in true love, for the first time.

Happy Birthday Mama. I know that your life is heaven is far better than the one you were dealt on Earth. I know that you and Daddy are together still, because I have seen it. I know that you did the best you could and I know that, because I did the best that I could.

I love you Mama and Daddy... You lil ole gal, Glorann....

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Lake Years. Final Part

The Lake Years Final part.
I finally was free of the spell he had on my life. I felt free of him and his contempt of my illness and fluctuating weight. I knew that I would gain and lose depending on what meds and what kind of movement I could do. I was not well and I wasn't going to be.
I was always going to have an autoimmune disorder and that was not going away. He could not take being alone and went on dating sites.I stayed strong and would not admit him back into my life but it wasn't easy. He was charming and he was manipulative. I was always used to obeying men. That started with my father but I had ended that now.
He told me of his conquest when he would try and come visit me, instead of our child. He finally landed a 28 year old woman overseas and he went to visit her. He left her pregnant and he came back to the states. She gave birth in 2009 and he died in 2011, never having seen his newborn son. God keep them and God saved them because that is the best thing that could have ever happened in their young lives was not to have him in it, but I think of them often.
It took them some months to notify us when he died. He was homeless, living in a storage locker and working in construction or surveying. I am not sure what but they told us that he died working in a hotel room and wasn't discovered until the end of the day. When my daughter phoned to tell me, I cried for him and felt guilt. Thinking that if I had only stayed with him and made sure he had his blood pressure medicine, he may have lived. I would always love him, whether it was a toxic love or not. I just loved him.
I missed the company of men and felt that I was well enough to begin dating so I joined a dating site. Now this was a whole new game. I had not dated in so many years that I did not realize that dating had changed and what I felt was dating was not. I had married anyone that i felt like being intimate with, but today's world did not care if you were married or not. It was and we are a hedonistic society. Instant gratification and I was a fish out of water so I talked a lot. lol No surprise there. I talked to people for sometimes 3 or 4 weeks before I said, ok, we can meet. Bear in mind that all of these next dates were real and not doctored up to be funny. It was real life. lol
I knew enough to meet a man at a public place but I had to learn all of the other signs. The first guy I talked with and thought I was meet was a writer, in the medical field and was older than I was. So we met and since I am observant as a Nurse, I noticed a tan line where a wedding ring would go and after a few minutes, I plainly asked him if he was married and to his credit he told me the truth , that he was. That was when I knew that online dating was not going to be easy. I told him goodbye and went back to talking.
I spoke with my daughter about all the younger men that wanted
to date me and she said, "they may not be looking for anything but a one time get together." and I realized that she meant a Mrs Robinson experience. Oh lord, I was out of my element but thought I would try again.
My next choice was a guy that I agreed to have dinner with. We arrived at the place to eat about the same time and I ordered my favorite, which is chicken and in a few moments I was gagging over my food. This guy was doing things to his chicken that no one should be privy too. Guys, it is not sexy to lick chicken in front of a date. It was embarrassing and no, it did not make me feel amorous toward you. I call this guy, "chicken licker". Needless to say that date ended quickly.
I spoke with my daughter again and she said, "well, maybe someone older." So we sat down together and picked out an older man for me. I thought someone older would not be playing the online games or so I hoped. We agreed to meet at a local flea market as we both liked old things. This is where I will share that people that put photos on their online profiles ain't necessarily using a recent picture. This guy was off by ten years. I was 55. His profile said he was 65 and he was closer to pushing 80. I arrived early so I could see who was arriving for me and I tell you, I thought this guy was going to need mouth to mouth to make it across the parking lot. He was older, out of breath and needed Oxygen before he took a few steps toward me. But I had been taught that you respected your elders and thought if this guy passes out before he could get his walker across the lot, I would slip into Nurse mode and save him if I could. LOL
The dates continued. They were too young. They were too old, They lied. They wanted something I was unable to give them. I was not saving people anymore. I was taking care of myself. I talked to so many interesting people but did not meet many of them.
I dated a total of 13 men over a 6 month period. I learned so much about dating. I learned to let someone know where you are and have them call you in one hour. That way you have an out if you want to leave. You meet in a public place for coffee only, no meals on a first date. You take your own vehicle. I went during the day time so as not to be out in the dark in a place I may not have been too before.
I met some interesting men over that time. I receive 4 proposals because people were looking for love and I was looking for conversation. I just wanted to talk and I was in the wrong place for that so after 6 months I gave up on dating and decided that I did not need anyone in my life anymore. I had been married almost all of my life and now I wanted time for me, my children and grandchildren.
My vagabond years began then as my daughters neighbors reported me to the county for living in an RV full time and I had to move out of my little bungalow. I could only stay in it 3 months out of the year and just that fast, the dream home that my daughter had built by the lake for the sole purpose of making sure I had a place to live ended. She stayed there long enough for her brother to graduate and then she gave up her new home after 3 years and moved into a rental.
We went with her and I tried to walk again. God showed me so many lessons during this time. I was growing and learning and seeing what he was trying to tell me. I stayed there until I started thinking of going home to visit my sister in 2010. I was considering moving back to the town I had left 40 years ago and was excited by the prospect. I was still involved in an appeal for my disability. It had been denied 3 times and I was told that 3 times was the kiss of death and you will not get it, but I was praying and they contacted me to tell me mine was going to be reviewed one more time. I had hired a lawyer and I needed the disability I paid in so desperately.
The Social Security Department is not there to give you any money you may have paid in while working all your life. if you per chance become too ill to work, don't count on that money you pay in for disability to be there when you need it. I was denied 3 times and each year that went by, diminished what I would get if it was approved.
By some miracle, I found out that I was entitled to Widowers benefits and I applied for them and in no time, I had 500 dollars a month. More than I had had for 5 years of not working but not enough to have my own place. I still had to rely on others to care for me and some of them let me know it. It was demeaning and hurtful but there was no place for me.
I kept moving around. Eight times in as many years. A few months here. A few months there. I applied for food stamps. I was hungry at times before food stamps and had a wonderful friend send me money and buy things from me. Thank God for her, I was able to eat. I finally moved into an apt after having to leave yet another place. and kept selling while my son finished trade school.
That was fun to have a place to call my own again. You never realize how much you might miss having a place to call your own, until you don't have it. I was so grateful to all those that helped me over those years. I kept seeking God's guidance for where I belonged. I worked in the home when I lived with people and sold things to provide some money so that I did not feel like a free loader. I faced homelessness twice and was terrified. I considered trying to go back to work but was told if I did anything I would have to start the disability process all over again. i was stuck in a nightmare of sickness, without treatment and no place to call my own.
I finally called my daughter and daughter in law and asked if I could come live with them. It took a little bit for them to say ok. It was a huge thing to consider. They were newly married and who wants their mother in law to move in? LOL. But they said yes and then my life changed. It became stable for the first time in 8 years.
I got my disability in 2014 and got a tiny back pay. With that we were able to look for a home so they could quit renting and I could have a place to live. I had been given a death sentence in 2014 of a couple of years but I am still here, still fighting, still loving life.
I just had my labs done recently and they were the best they have ever been. I think because my girls take such good care of me.
I have two rooms, am surrounded my the things I love and can isolate when I am in a flare and can see people when I am not. My illness progressed to where I can not walk well for very far. I used a walker for two years but can now walk short distances, Thank God.
It has been a journey. For 4 1/2 years I have had my needs met and most of my wants met. I am giving it back when I can because so many people reached out to let me stay a few months with them out of the goodness of their hearts.
I hope that I was not a burden. I hope that I gave and was gracious in your gift to me. I ask forgiveness if my pain overwhelmed me and It affected my life or yours.
It has been 13 years now since I became ill. My children are grown and doing well. If the Lord calls me home now, I could go with a smile. My job is done and all is well.
I did tell my daughter in law that instead of the two years I was expected to live, my labs and lungs were so good that I may live to be a hundred. She just groaned and hugged me. God love her.
I have left instructions that I am to be cremated and my ashes spread on water. I told my daughter in law that the toilet does not count. We laughed together. I may not be with them all my life but I am grateful that they don't mind how long I stay.
God love my family and friends for walking with me and helping me be better than I would have ever been without all of you. Thank you all for reaching out to me. Thank you for listening to me ramble. Thank you for all the love you send to me everyday.
Always, Kimmee
( my Amber doesn't panic anymore when I pick up a box because we have been in one place for so long that she feels like home)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Lake Years

This continues the Dirt Road Year and what Happened Next.
The Lake Years
I don't think it was a week after our one year lease was up that we were packing up our truck and moving over to my daughters property by the lake. Her new home was finished but the electricity and things were not hooked up yet. We paid for that to be done and she bought us a Fema Trailer to live in. I think it was 22 feet long. I bought a 12x12 outbuilding to house our things and we put all of my beloved things in storage or outside.
Karl was working off and on and I was starting to feel some better by 2007. Enough so that I thought I would try Nursing again. I thought Home Health would be the easiest because I could set my own hours so when Karl walked out in March of 2007 and it was either work or starve, off to work I went. He did that fairly often during our 20 year marriage so I had experience at being left at the worst possible time and I always pulled my boot straps up and did what I had to do, to feed my children. Of course when I became a Nurse all of that changed. I have a steady income and he could come and go without totally devastating our socioeconomic system.
After a couple of months of Karl trying to make it on his on, he came crawling back to his safety net and like a fool, I let him come back. It is no wonder that my children did not believe in me. I kept letting him come and go and it kept disrupting any kind of stability that we knew while he was gone.
He quickly settled into his pattern of drinking, smoking and his crazy weapons and ammo all over the house. I was so tired of having him point a weapon at me with the red sight shot on my chest and I knew that a breaking point had to come and it did in July. He came home from his work and said, "I want to buy a new motorcycle but you have to sign because my credit isn't good." I told him, "no, I am not signing anything with you. You keep walking out and I am not going to be left with a motorcycle payment."
He was so angry at me that I thought in that moment he might hit me. I had experience with that too. The time I tried to keep him from driving out our driveway in Ny drunk as can be. So drunk he staggered to get into the car. I tried to keep the door closed and he put me in a choke hold and lifted me off the ground. I Looked in horror as my 9 year old was watching this scene from the porch. He finally released me and I walked back to the house while he got in the car to get more beer.
My daughter was terrified and crying and I felt like such a heel for exposing her to the life we had. I did the best I could but it wasn't good enough. He left again up for about half a year and the family was good but he always begged his way back and because I did not want another marriage to fail, I kept letting him come back. What I failed to realize is that our marriage starting out failing and had kept failing ever since. I loved him with all my heart but he was a Narcissistic Sociopath and incapable of loving anything or anyone but himself.
With Karl gone and my divorce final, I could then contemplate my future. I had joined a Daily Strength Break ups and Divorce site in March and was reading about others men and women devastated by relationships built on betrayal, anger and abuse. I just read from March to December and then I met my buddy Rick. I then started to branch out, wrote a journal and made some friends.
My days of working only last 4 months. Long enough to mess us a disability claim. You have to start over once you do that it took away 3 years of back pay. I was squeaking by a living, selling anything and every thing I had to buy groceries as Karl was contributing 150 dollars a month. I ate on 45 of it and gave the rest of it to my kid for food. I sold things for anything else we would need.
In Jan of 08, I said I have got to do something to feel better in my spirit and for the first time in my life, I started exploring why I made such poor choices for my life. Why did I pick alcoholics, serial cheaters and the bigger question. Why did I stay with them when I knew that they did these things to me?
That is the greatest misunderstanding of all time to someone that has never experienced abuse. You don't just leave for the most part until something triggers you too and that could be the first time or that could be the tenth time. You have to fix you, before you can make better decisions, so I decided that it was time to fix me.
I joined Al-Anon, an organization for friends and family of alcoholics. I was the adult child of two alcoholics and it affected my decision making. I had a familiar and when it came to relationships, I picked what I knew and understood. It took some time for me to learn that in order to change your life, you have to change your familiar.
It was such a long process to learn to love me. To learn that I deserved better than what I had. To learn compassion for myself instead of every one else. To not be an over helper. To not ignore glaring red flags, but I began the work. I did not get here overnight and I wasn't going to get out of it overnight.
DS became my daily nourishment. Others had walked my path and I did not feel so alone. Others had been in abusive relationships and they went back or took them back so there was no judgement about my decisions. It felt great to be in an atmosphere of acceptance.
I wrote a journal of the things I was learning at the lake. I will never forget the first time I just smiled at life. I was walking back from my morning meditation and prayer and it just happened. I felt good in my spirit. I started walking and that is when the real lesson began. God would show me something and give me the message.. One day I was walking and 5 deer of different sizes crossed the road right in front of me. I stopped dead in my tracks like I had been hit by a thunderbolt. The first deer was my health followed by my job, My house, The contents and finally my husband. The deer and the problems in my life kept getting smaller and I managed each one as it came to me. God was telling me I would survive and not only would I survive, I would be a thing of beauty running free some day.
I continued my walks and one night I went over to my daughters home. She has just installed a 55 gallon fish tank recently and last night it was finally ready to add the fish. She bought a few and wanted me to come over and see them and admire. I was watching the fish going up to that mirror on the back of the tank and I was fascinated by the way they seemed to think there was another fish on the other side. They looked to be preening themselves for the beautiful fish they could see. They did not understand that it was really themselves that they were looking at. They just thought there was some "hottt" fish on the other side.. It got me to thinking how many of us look in a mirror and go Ewww and think about all of the bad things we see everyday? I said to myself, " I want to be the fish in the mirror."
But how did I accomplish this? I thought well, I will look at myself in the mirror and say something good about myself. I had to stay there long enough for something to come to mind. The first day, I thought I would die from trying to look at myself in the mirror for 10 minutes and nothing came to mind. I did not see myself as others saw me. I saw and heard his voice inside my head and he had used that to tear me down for almost 20 years.
The second day as I stared hard at myself in the mirror I said, " Well I guess my hair is alright." That was the best I could do but I kept at it determined to make myself see what others saw when they looked at me. Anytime a negative thought about myself came into my mind, I said, "Stop." And replaced it with something kind. It took 10 days before I truly saw my incredible Native American eyes and when I finally saw them, it was with tears silently streaming down my cheeks. I saw myself and I was worthy. It took much more work in group, in my Al-Anon meetings and at the lake to heal my spirit. Someone told me that it takes a month for every year you are married for you to begin to shed the Stocks they put you in. To rid yourself of the control they have in your mind even after they are gone and it took me longer than that. I had an entire lifetime to process. I had moved from relationship to relationship trying to find someone to love me. When I needed was just love myself and that came one day at the lake.
Someone on DS asked me if I had found love and I said, "Sort of."
It was early in the morning and I was praying and I felt that I should walk down to the waters edge and look in. When I did that, I saw myself reflected there in the water. I had found someone to love, myself, and that was the true beginning of healing for me. I had to exorcise everything he had put in my mind over the last years. I had to understand that his behavior was not ok and that I deserved better.
A friend told me that I was happy with crumbs because that is all he ever gave me but that I should want the whole piece of bread or the whole loaf. That I should be valued that much by anyone in my life but I had been happy with the barest crumbs for so long that it would take another journey for me to want more.
As I lost weight Karl came sniffing around. He came over to deliver child support of 150 dollars and to see Will but they had a very strained relationship and I understood that he was back on the track to win me back. I looked good again after losing the prednisone weight and he pursued me relentlessly, using every bit of charm he could muster. I went to the movies with him riding on the back of his motorcycle and held onto him. It was familiar and it terrified me. It was the only time I went anywhere with him and I told him I can't do this again. He came inside my little sanctuary and asked why I won't give him another try. It has been 20 years, he said. Why can't we try. And I told him because he was not capable of loving anyone but himself. The outward charm left him when I said this and the anger rose and I saw that he was himself but I had changed. I saw him differently than I did. He was no longer the handsome guy that charmed his way into my heart. He was a user looking for a giver again, but I wasn't buying what he was dishing.
My kids were terrified that I would fall for it again and they told me that they were holding their breath during this time, hoping against hope that I would not go back and would keep walking forward.
It was the first time that I was able to see red flags and I was so thankful for my DS group and Al-Anon. My eyes were clearing after wearing a hood most of my life.
I will continue this story in Part Two. The Dating Scene.
Love to all, Kimmee
(The pictures of my illness and transformation )

The Dirt Road Year

****Warning Long*****
The Dirt Road Year
The summer of 2005 was one of much change for me and my family. I had become ill with a mysterious malady the December before and was unable to work as a nurse. I was the sole provider for my family, so it necessitated a big change. My husband at the time would not try and find work because he felt that most work was demeaning, even though he had never had any kind of job but blue collar his entire life.
I am one that does not feel work is demeaning in any form. I learned a lot about this philosophy living on Okinawa from 1977-80. I would see the elderly Ryukyuan People approach every job as an important one. I was at the beach one day and saw several elders of the community picking up sand on the beach and I watched to see what they were finding. I discovered that they were sifting the sand for it to be clean! They smiled and went about their work as if they had just found a cure for polio and I observed and learned that all things are worth doing well.
My dad always said if you do something do it well enough to put your name on it. I was 25 and it became clear to me what he meant by that statement. These proud women were putting their name on the job they were doing. It humbled me and excited me all at the same time. I was becoming who I am today and this helped in defining for me how to approach anything that I do in my life.
Here is a link to Wikipedia to read more about the lovely people I encountered there and how they changed my life. In a later story I will share more of my three years there among them and how much I loved them all.
Please excuse the ramblings of my mind this AM. I was caught up in the beautiful memories of the island and the people.
When I became sick it required that many things change. I was sole support and had been for most of my marriage. I had an 13 year old daughter at home who had depended upon me her entire life to provide home, food, and shelter. Now I was so weak that I could barely drag myself out of bed and sell my lovely things on eBay, but drag myself out of bed I did, for six months. I sold and sold and sold and then would collapse into bed forgetting to eat, forgetting to shower, forgetting to live.
When I received a call from UPS that there were 25 boxes of stuff addressed to my husband there and would he please come pick them up, I was shocked into consciousness as I asked him where they came from. He knew that he was caught as there was not any income coming in except my eBay sales. As he tried to weasel out of this one, I asked him what the boxes contained. He told me motorcycle leathers, knife making materials such as silver coins, buffalo horn, exotic woods, and I in my dumbfounded state inquired as to where the money had come from. Since he knew that I was aware he proceeded to tell me that in May, (this was now June) his grandmother's estate had sent him 12,000 dollars. I could see his mouth moving to tell me this but I remember it being unreal. I knew that we were struggling to make it each month with my selling and I knew that I had to keep the house, electricity, and food for us during this awful time of my extreme illness.
The audacity that it takes to do such a thing overwhelmed me and my husband of almost 19 years saw that he had committed a fatal error and he started to cry. Manipulate is the word I use but I was not buying it at that point. Something cleared through the fog of the past 20 years of knowing him and I knew with certainty that I had to leave him to survive and that I could not get to the safety of my family without his help. I told him he had made a fatal error and that I would never forgive him this. I forgave him so many things over the years. His drunkenness, his mental and physical abuse, his almost burning our house down, his inability to keep a job, and so much more than I will ever talk about was rearing to an arch that I was at the top of and I could see clearly for the first time in so many years.
I equate this new found clarity to my Prednisone use which is a steroid and it cleared up some of the brain fog that comes with an autoimmune disorder like I was suffering from and undiagnosed from for many years.
The plan came to a head and I sold, had yard sales, and sent to auction enough of my beloved things to move to Florida to be closer to my older children from a previous marriage. My oldest is a nurse, as I am, and I needed to be near her.
We needed a place to move to quickly, as I did not have the energy to keep selling, and made our way south. My husband insisted on bringing his 21 ft sail boat over my 1956 Buick so I sold my Buick, swallowed the pain and loss and drove south pulling his Harley behind my car.
My oldest daughter knew that I needed a place quickly and it had to be cheap, so she found a rental trailer from a realtor with a year lease, thinking that would insure that I was in a pretty good neighborhood, but she was wrong.
The trip south took five days because I could not drive long and my concentration was feeble, but we made it into the neighborhood two days before my daughters birthday, July 27th 2005. I noted right away that the yard had barbed wire all the way around the property but did not think anything of that because I am a farm girl. We used barbed wire all over, but this barbed wire was not to keep things or animals in, but to keep things out. We were in peril almost from the moment we arrived. It was one of the few times in my life that I was glad that I brought my husband with me, even when we both knew that it was temporary until he could move out and until I could get well enough to work as a nurse again. He was and is a big biker dude and he created fear in others just by his presence. I thought all along that it was him that protected us that year but now I know that it was the grace of God and my ability to bake that saved us.
We had moved into a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood. The drive in was terrible with the moving truck and all our things because the roads were dirt and they had foot wide potholes everywhere in the entire length of the road. I think the suspension on my car lasted a year or less. Even if you slowed to 10 MPH and crawled your way in, it was tantamount to being bounced along on a trampoline as you went down the road. The streets were not improved in any way and there were no sidewalks or street lamps to light your way.
The first couple of months I observed the neighborhood, got my daughter registered for school and tried to ascertain the comings and goings of the many people that came into the community but did not live there. The locals were civil to us but worried about us. They were as unfamiliar with someone like me as I was unfamiliar to someone like them. I am a people person, outgoing, smile at everyone no matter who it is, and I give love to anyone I meet. I know, how 60's of me, but that is who I am. I am all about the love of humanity, no matter what vessel it emanates from.
I observed strange happenings in the neighborhood, like your everyday ice cream truck that played its music at midnight. It was odd the first couple of times that it happened because I was puzzled by it all. My mind does not go right to illegal activities and it took talking to my daughter about it and she informed me that it was for drugs not frozen treats.
I watched as drug deals happened in front of my eyes at all times of the day and night. I heard the gun shots booming through the neighborhood and I heard my daughter talk about “kill a white day” when she came home from school. That put the fear in me as nothing had in some time, as there were only two white families in the neighborhood when we moved in, and we brought it to three.
It was fairly safe for my daughter to get on and off the bus at the stop that was further from our trailer but unsafe to get on and off at the one that was nearest because at any given time it was frequented by gangs. You could see their colors as they stood guard over their stop and it terrified me when my daughter got off there instead of the other one. I never knew which one to go to as the route would change based on which kids were on the bus. It was a guessing game each day as the school day ended to know if my daughter was going to get home safely or be preyed upon by the gangs.
On the only “kill a white day” that we were privy to, the teenager two trailers down was stabbed by one of the gang members and he and his family moved out of the neighborhood shortly after that. He did not die from the wound but it was not from lack of trying by the gang members. My fear and panic increased for my daughter and our family. I knew that I had to come up with a plan and God gave me one just that quick.
I loved to cook, and must admit that I am a pretty fair baker and maker of desserts, or so my family tells me, and my waistline can attest too. I used the skill I had, and that was baking.
I started to bake and take it around to all the people in the neighborhood. I made homemade brownies, (no, not the special kind) frosted them with homemade vanilla frosting and topped them with half of a walnut . I put them on paper plates in groups of six or a dozen depending on how large the family was, and I walked all over the neighborhood taking my treats to them. I did not know how they would receive me. Some of them had pit bulls that terrified me as I walked up to their fences and I did not speak the language well but I would call out, “Hello, I made something and wondered if I could give you some.”
I can not describe here the look on their faces. It is comical to think of it now. Astonishment, wariness, kindness, all were emotions that betook the people. I left the baked goodies at all the trailers that were on our street. As I walked home I could feel their stares as they questioned, “Who, or what, is that?”
There was an interesting mix of people in the neighborhood. Directly across the street was an elderly gentlemen that I came to call Grandpa. He had an extended family that consisted of children, grandchildren, cousins, and other assorted people that would visit him several times during the day. I would go over there a few times a week to talk with him, and I say talk loosely because I did not speak the language. He spoke only a little English, but we communicated none the less. I learned he was a widower of seven years and that he was lonely. He loved to have the company, and I could see him watching me as I hung out clothes and did other chores around the trailer. One day he said to me that I reminded him of his wife, and I took that as the compliment that it was.
Grandpa's son was in charge of the neighborhood, and if anything happened, he was aware of it. Of course I did not know all this when I first met him or his wife, but I learned by observation his impact on our safety and his control of the drug traffic around me. His wife was wary of me in the beginning but her heart melted one day as we were in the middle of the street and she admired a copper bracelet that I had on my wrist. It was a good quality bangle bracelet and she asked me about it. I told her that I wore it to help with my arthritis and then she shared with me her sufferings with the same thing. I removed the bracelet from my wrist and placed it upon hers without any forethought and she looked at me with a question in her eyes. I told her to keep it and wear it as I had because it might help her as it had me. She hugged me and called me Mamasita and turned away back to her home fingering the bracelet on her wrist.
It became a routine for me each week, usually on Wednesday, to bake something and take it around. I made cakes, homemade pies, sugar cookies, brownies, peanut butter goodies, fingerlings, and our traditional Christmas delights of Ohrly, Schenkley, Swiss Fudge. For the Christmas goodies I put some of all that I had made on wooden platters, many of them vintage that I had in my collection, wrapped them with saran wrap and bows, and delivered them to the families telling them to keep the platter after, as a gift from our family to theirs. Once I was talking to Grandpa and mentioned banana pudding, which they had never had. I made one for them using the antique depression amber glassed dish my mother had always used and took it over to them. They looked at the dish and held it as if it were gold. I left the entire dish with them and it was gone in a few moments. They washed the dish, made me a meal and delivered it back to us the next day.
They began to believe in me, called me Mamasita, and they started to bring food to our home. If you have never tasted traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, you have missed out. They brought empanadas, chicken and rice, or arroz con pollo, plantains, and a potato type thing that grew in the yard and was out of this world delicious.
One of the trailers close to me had a Mexican family. The elderly woman, who did not speak much, would bring us homemade tamales, all the while saying that their food was better than the Puerto Rican food that was being delivered to us. I would tell her that it was the best food I have ever tasted. I would tell the Puerto Rican families that their food was the best I had ever tasted and I was sincere on both counts. There were few days that I had to cook if I did not want to, and they put out the word in the neighborhood that we were not to be bothered.
I could see it in the safety of my daughter walking to and from the bus stop everyday. It was half a mile or more each day and I walked her to and fro. They watched me do that too and said they had never seen a mother like me, but it was the safety of my child that was uppermost in my mind.
I had seen a black truck trolling the neighborhood, watching the bus stops. I had gone online to see if any predators of the human kind lived in the neighborhood, and they did. One was across the street and another was two streets over. This is the place where the man that drove the black truck lived. His eyes met mine once and chilled me to my bones. Such emptiness, the antithesis of what I was, a total lack of concern and caring for anything that drew breath. I watched him everyday and one day I talked to the next door neighbor's cousin about him. He never came back to the street again after that and I was glad that I did not have to see him, but I prayed that no harm came to him because of me.
I worry about my daughter probably more than a body should, but some people on this planet hate things they don' t understand and I worry for her safety, so that is why at age 14, I walked her to the bus stop and she is so awesome that she didn't mind. She knows where my actions come from and accepts me for who I am as I accept her.
The next part of this is hard for me because I think that my words impacted a decision that I would never have made.
I was walking my daughter to the bus stop one morning. I always carried a big stick to ward off any stray dogs as there were always a few around and it was early morning, still dusk, when I noticed a man crouching in the bushes wearing a black hoodie so that I could not see him well. He watched as my daughter and I walked up the road. I noted this person in the woods and I whispered to my daughter, “Go to the other side of the road. Don't say anything, and if I say to do anything, do it immediately.”
I was so afraid. I was breathing fast, my pulse raced, my breathing increased as I laid out a plan of how I was going to fight or die protecting my child. She was 14 with life ahead and I was older and sick. I would have sacrificed my life for her in that moment. I was high on adrenaline and the “fight or flight” response had been initiated.
He just watched us and I tried to watch him in case he made a move, but he did not. I walked my daughter on to the bus stop and had to walk back alone with the man in the bushes watching me. It was in better light so I could see him out of the corner of my eye. I did not hurry past him, kept my pace and tapped my stick on the ground as I walked until I got about 30 feet from home and then I ran as fast as my swollen legs could carry me. I ran into the gate and into the house, locked the doors, and collapsed into tears of fear and frustration. I had never encountered anything like this in my life and I did not know what to do about it, but the next door neighbor saw me later in the day and after hugging me, he noticed I was quiet and asked if I was okay. I then told him about the hooded man watching us and he just nodded.
Two days later I was sitting outside and I noticed that there were several men next door detailing a car. The seats were on the ground, and the people were using a hose and bleach to clean the car from the inside. I knew a few days later when I never saw the hooded man again, that they had taken care of the neighborhood's problem. Grandpa's son never said anything to me and I never asked. My brain would not wrap itself around that concept. I felt diffused with guilt and prayed.
I don't know that anything happened to anyone, but I don't know that it did not either. It is a hard thing to live with knowing that people value you so much that they would defend you in such a manner and it made me retreat into isolation for a few years.
Things seemed to go smoothly in the neighborhood and I had lulled myself into a routine, a survival routine. I baked, the people in the neighborhood reciprocated by cooking for us, and on most days I felt safe, until early one morning an explosion rocked the neighborhood. It was still dark, but it was almost time for me to walk my daughter to the bus stop. I looked out, but could not see anything, so I got my things together and we walked down the road to the stop. It was not until my daughter had gotten home from school that I was told what had happened that morning. A meth lab had blown up two blocks over and it reminded me of where I lived and the need to leave as soon as a way could be found.
Not everyone will have an opportunity to live in a neighborhood as we did, but it taught me some things about human nature and it taught me some things about me. I understood with certainty that Grandpa's son had kept us safe that year. I was grateful to him and his family for watching over us as they did. We would have surely been robbed or attacked in some way if not for him.
I am so thankful that I ventured out and gave them the only thing I had, my love. If I had stayed tucked away safely in my cocoon, the outcome may have been different and I might have missed an occasion to mirror what I believe deep in my heart, that love will cover a multitude of sins. Love to all, Kimmee
(google images of dirt roads similar to the one we traversed)