|Posted on April 23, 2017 at 11:20 PM||comments (0)|
Ben held his girl’s hands tightly as they took the long walk down the aisle towards the coffin that held their mother’s body. Angela, Ben’s ex-wife had known for a while that she had an aggressive form of cancer, but chose to live instead of fight with treatments that would make life not worth living at all. Angela unselfishly used holistic treatments to make her illness bearable while she taught her daughter, Shane and Elsie, all that she could about being proper, independent, educated young women. She took them to Bible study to help ensure they would have a relationship with God and aside from their trust funds, she spent every dime she had to travel with them, exploring new lacing, and sharing adventures. If anyone could have squeezed a lifetime into two years, Angela proved that she was the one to do it. Lastly, she met with Gretchen, asked her to please love her babies as if they were her own and felt grateful when her ex-husbands new wife assured her that she would.
The day after Angela’s services, Ben and Gretchen worked with the kids to pack up all of their belongings so that they could move into their new home. Ben was especially supportive and comforting. He’d always played an important and active role in the girls lives. After he married Gretchen, she’d tried to get close to the girls, but couldn’t deny that she’d found them annoying and needy. She felt that eight-year-old Shane was mouthy and five-year-old Elsie was a pathetic mute. The child only spoke when absolutely necessary and it was always in whispers. To her, Elsie was a brainless waste. Angela had every intention of letting the girls mourn for two more days, but Monday would be a new day and they would conform to her rules. If they refused, there would be consequences, very painful consequences.
Three weeks had passed since Shane and Elsie moved. With their father traveling four days a week for business, that left them alone with Gretchen more often than not. So far they’d been sent to bed with nothing to eat at least three times and spanked almost daily for one infraction or another. Because of a promise they’d made to their mother to give Gretchen a fair chance, they hadn’t said anything to their dad about her abusive behavior. But then Gretchen got angry with Elsie for spilling orange juice on her white pants.
“You ignorant little mute, look what you did,” Gretchen screamed as she raised her hand to hit Elsie. When Elsie raised her teddy bear to block the hit, Gretchen tried to snatch the bear. Elsie screamed bloody murder and Shane quickly ran to her defense.
“My mom gave her that and you can’t take it. Now leave her alone,” Shane yelled as she wrapped her protective arms around her sister. That show of love enraged Gretchen. She grabbed Shane by the hair and slammed her to the floor while Elsie stood crying with her bear covering her face.
To their surprise, Ben walked through the door. When he saw Shane on the floor, he dropped everything and rushed to swoop her up. “What happened here? Why is she on the floor and both of them crying?” When Gretchen didn’t respond, he barked harshly, “Answer me, damn it!”
“They were running through the house playing when she tripped over Elsie and fell,” Gretchen lied.
“No Daddy,” Elsie said boldly, shocking everyone in the room. “She’s did it, she hurt Shane. She hurts us a lot.” Elsie then unzipped her bear and pulled out a small camera. Her mother had placed it there and told Elsie to press the bear’s back whenever she was scared. She’d followed instructions well.
When Ben hooked the little camera up to his laptop, he saw all of the evils that Gretchen had done to his girls. While Gretchen tried to explain, cry and beg her way out of the situation, Ben dialed 911. They watched as the cops handcuffed and hauled a kicking, screaming mad woman out of the house. When all the dust settled, Ben told his girls that he was accepting a new job that would allow him to be home with them and assured them that no one would ever hurt them again.
|Posted on October 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
Last week I went to Rockdale Medical in Conyers for my mammogram as I do every year. And like past years, they squeezed my boobs until those little puppies cried for mercy. Afterwards I dressed and continued with my day as always. I knew that my little letter would come in the mail letting me know that everything was good. Thankfully that’s the letter I’d always gotten. However, the next day I was floored when Bunny from Rockdale Radiology called and said that they found a spot on my left breast that needed further examination. My heart dropped. I was immediately gripped by fear. I wanted the additional tests to take place that day, but the earliest they could get me in was the end of next week. I didn’t know how I would get through those eight long days without falling apart.
Two years ago my best friend, Cassandra Smith, passed away after a hard fought battle with breast cancer. I remembered when she told me that she’d found a lump in her breast. I remembered placing my hand on her breast to see if I could feel it too. It was so evident, so obvious that there was a lump. I took off to my bathroom, stripped and started a self-exam. I didn’t immediately feel anything. I made deeper circular motions and there it was, a small area on the left side of my left breast. But it didn’t feel like Cassandra’s, it wasn’t as pronounced. Was I really feeling a lump or was my fear playing mind games with me? I put my shirt back on just as confused as I was when I took it off.
By the time my family got home, I’d pulled myself together and showed no concern for the call I’d received. I very nonchalantly told my husband and son over the dinner table about the call I’d gotten earlier. Now fear was written across their faces, but I assured them that it was nothing. “For all we know there was a dust bunny on the mammogram machine,” I said. My dismissive behavior worked it’s magic, they relaxed and took a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Little did they know that my emotions were still raging, still all over the place. I didn’t speak of my fear until a few days later when I had lunch with a friend. As I told her about the need for additional testing the tears began to roll. She comforted me, told me everything was going to be okay.
As I waited for Thursday to finally arrive, I prayed, I laid hands on myself, and I prayed some more. Then my mind wondered to what if it’s cancer. I’ve already got sickle cell disease, could my body take on a cancer battle? With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was suddenly inundated with everything cancer related. With hearing it all, my mind then went to planning who would get my treasured belongings, planning my services, giving my husband permission to quickly move on. You have to understand that I’ve seen this battle up close with Cassandra, with another friend, Alecia, who’s still in the fight for her life. Cancer is merciless, it’s a savage and on top of sickle cell, I didn’t know how I’d be able to fight it. To cast out those thoughts, I again began to pray.
Those horrible thoughts, the incredible fear was a lot to bear. This is the fear, the thoughts that my friends faced. For as much as I was there for Cassandra, all I could think of was how I wished I’d done more. I wished I’d been able to provide more comfort. Thursday came and my friend from lunch showed up to the hospital to hold my hand. Thank you Dawn! I had the additional tests and afterwards me and Dawn praised God and gave thanks that the spot was just my normal breast tissue that had grown slightly larger. Tears of joy and words of praise filled the atmosphere. I wished Cassandra and Alecia had been able to walk away cancer free as well. That brief walk in their shoes gave me a whole new level of respect for those that have been and are in the fight. Because I walked away unscathed, I must do more to help raise awareness. We all must do more to help raise awareness so that more of us can walk away unscathed. They deserve our love, support, and dollars. They deserve a cure.
|Posted on September 20, 2016 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
Growing up I always despised the smell of alcohol. I had an uncle who used to over indulge and always smelled like a brewery. Periodically my father would try to hang with my uncle, but after one beer he was down for the count. Witnessing and smelling this made me wonder why anyone would dare put beer or liquor to their lips. But then I went off to college and my perspective changed.
The thing that I hated and swore would never be a part of my life became a very good friend of mine. At first I would drink very watered down or super fruity drinks. As time rolled on, the drinks became stronger and I would partake a lot more often. Every party, every cook out or gathering of two or more friends involved alcohol. Fuzzy Navels, Sex on the Beach, Seven and Seven, Hennessy, and tequila shots were all good with me. I went from drinking just enough to feel mellow, to enough to feel tipsy, then all that was left was an ambition to get drunk. But I was young, on my own, and having fun. I was not an alcoholic and there were even rules to my groups drinking. No one drank alone and no one was allowed to drink during difficult times. Our drinking was never intended to numb the pain of life experiences. So I was all good.
Fast forward to my late twenties and health issues started to pop up. No, none that were related to drinking, sickle cell was to blame. But I was lucky and my issues weren’t nearly as severe as other sickle cell patients. So while I no longer drank like a fish, I did still indulge in an occasional cocktail or glass of wine. I knew that I could no longer suck down drink after drink and I had no desire to. However, I saw nothing wrong with sharing a bottle of wine with my girls.
As my life progressed so did my illness, but my desire for alcohol dropped more and more. I was more focused on staying out of the hospital as opposed to turning up with my girls. The amount of medication I was required to take increased. Then I was blessed with a baby that I was told I could never have. Naturally during pregnancy the thought of a drink never crossed my mind. And once my Josh arrived, I didn’t want him to grow up with any memories of seeing his mom drinking anything that contained alcohol. I didn’t want to be a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of parent.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with other people drinking casually. Come to my home and you’ll find a great wine selection. During the holidays, family and friends come over and all of them drink responsibly. I still go out with my girls and we have a ball! They get their drinks and I get my signature, Shirley Temple, in a pretty glass please. Oh, and don’t forget the cherries. It’s a running joke, but I love and appreciate my friends for respecting me enough to not try and encourage me to drink (not that it would work anyway).
At the age of forty-nine, alcohol is a long forgotten friend. Scheduled blood exchanges, proper medication, healthy diet, prayer, and living a long life are my main concentrations now. These are the things that will keep my sickle-cell in check and me here with my family and friends. So let’s toast it up, a round of Shirley Temples on me. And don’t forget the cherries.
|Posted on September 4, 2016 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
Isabel ran around her small apartment making sure that everything was neat and clean. She’d strategically placed twenty candles throughout the confined space. Realizing that she only had twenty minutes before Jacob’s arrival, Isabel trotted to the bathroom for a quick shower. She’d bathed, lotioned, and dressed in record time. Young and fit, she couldn't help but take a moment to admire her reflection in the full length mirror. The sheer negligee hugged her curves and the six inch stilettos were the perfect finish to her outfit. Expecting a knock at the door any minute, she went around the apartment lighting each candle. The doorbell rang just as she flicked the lighter that set fire to final wick. Isabel posed herself in front of the door and swung it open with a seductive grin on her face.
“Not exactly who you were expecting, huh?” Asked the stranger standing in the doorway.
The unexpected visitor was a woman of avaerage height, round body with a gorgeous face, and a head full of beautiful, bouncy curls. Isabel didn’t know who she was and had no desire to find out what she wanted. Frustrated, she tried to close the door, but the woman placed her foot just inside the apartment before Isabel could shut her out.
“Isabel, your phone is about to ring and it’ll be my husband telling you that he’s running late. But since I’m here now, may I please come in for a moment and speak with you?”
“How do you know my name and what do you mean your husband? I don’t know your husband, crazy lady!”
“You’re dressed like that for someone and unless I’m mistaken, it’s my husband, Jacob Bailey.” The woman could see a wave of shock as it cascaded over Isabel’s face. “Let’s not do this in the hallway. I’m sure you don’t want all of your neighbors knowing your business. May I please come in?”
Isabel stepped to the side and allowed the woman to enter. “Have a seat,” she offered as she stepped away and wrapped herself in a bath robe. Isabel returned to the living room and took a seat on the opposite end of the couch. “What do you want, lady?”
“Ava, my name is Ava and I want you to stop seeing my husband. I don’t know what your motivation is for dating a married man or where you think this fling of yours is going, but he’s not leaving me. He’s not leaving our family.”
“Look, I don’t know how you found out that he was coming here, but if your little family was so intact, you wouldn’t be begging me to leave Jacob alone and he certainly wouldn’t be chasing me like a dog in heat. Maybe if you had been the wife you should’ve been, none of this would be happening. But Jacob is a great catch and this is my chance to grab a bit of paradise.”
Ava stood to her feet and with fire in her eyes she looked down on Isabel. “You sad little girl. Don’t you know that paradise is a lie? You think that this man is going to leave me, leave our children for a young girl that is barely getting by. You’re struggling financially, living like a pauper, and naïve enough to think that another woman’s husband is going to be your saving grace. Get a grip! You’re nothing more than a new piece of ass to him. We’ve been together for fifteen years, we are emotionally and financially tied to one another. My name is on every account, I know about every dime that he spends. So while you’re looking for your magical paradise, I’m living the reality of raising kids with Jacob. Helping him climb the corporate ladder, caring for him when he’s sick. I’m the one he shares his hopes and dreams with and I assure you that you’re nothing more than a jump off. If that’s what you want for yourself, if that’s the best that you can do, then you go on and sleep with him. But don’t say I didn’t warn you when you wake up alone and still broke in the morning.”
Isabel dropped her head and covered her face with her hands. She felt incredibly stupid and embarrassed. She didn’t want Ava to see the tears that filled her eyes. Through muffled hands she confessed, “He told me you all were separated. He said that you had left with the kids and he didn’t think you were coming back.” As she began to wipe her tears, the phone rang. “Hello.”
“Babe, sorry I’m running late, but I’m only two minutes away,” Jacob advised.
Isabel hung up the phone and grabbed a napkin to try and clean her face. “Jacob is on his way up and he’ll prove one of us wrong. He’ll either leave with you or stay and give me paradise.”
Within seconds there was a knock. Isabel threw off her robe and opened the door. “Jacob, I’m so glad to see you. Please come and in tell her that you don’t want her anymore.”
Jacob stepped into the apartment, saw his wife and immediately wanted to run for the hills. “Ava, what are you doing here?”
“Giving you the opportunity to save your marriage or stay here and lose everything.”
Without hesitation, Jacob turned to Isabel and apologized. “I never should’ve led you on, but I cannot walk away from my family. My wife and kids are everything to me and this is a mistake that I’ll never make again.”
Isabel was devastated.The couple was almost out the door when Ava turned to face her. “Remember what I told you, paradise is a lie. This is real life and I hope that you’ll learn to love yourself enough to not accept the false promises of another woman’s husband.
|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 10:20 AM||comments (0)|
There are so many life lessons wrapped up in this suspenseful tale of love and betrayal. Vince Harper loved his wife, Rozalla, from the first moment he saw her. They were young, but secure in their love. The family that they built meant the world to Vince. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to provide and secure happiness for his wife and two daughters. In his eyes everything in their world was perfect, that is until Rozalla met Heather.
In their twenty-three years of marriage, Vince has never denied Rozalla the freedom of friendship with whomever she wanted in her circle. But when Heather worms her way into Rozalla’s life, Vince is left with an uneasy feeling. Something about her raises red flags for him. It doesn’t take long for him to start seeing the negative impact that she’s having on his wife. Suddenly everything that he provides isn’t good enough. The love that they make is no longer good enough. And most hurtful is the way that Rozalla now speaks to him. Her words and tone are those of irritation and dislike. Nothing like the respectful way they’ve always communicated.
Question 1: How much weight should someone give to their spouse’s opinion about who they choose as friends?
Question 2: Does Vince’s desire to try and please Rozalla despite her ugliness make him any less of a man or does it make him more appealing as a devoted husband?
There are so many things that transpire in this book and unfortunately, not much of it is for Vince’s good. He learns that words cut deeply, but sometimes they kill.
|Posted on September 2, 2016 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
When Love Ain’t Enough is a story that was birthed from seeing the regret of so many people that didn’t appreciate their water until their wells ran dry. Watching others throw away beautiful relationships because they thought that the grass was greener on the other side. It was also influenced by those that allowed “friends” to influence them, to persuade them into trading their lives in for a lesser version of it.
In this novel, Rozalla Harper is a prime example of everything that was previously stated. She has enjoyed a beautiful twenty-three year marriage. She and her husband, Vince, married right out of high school and wasted no time expanding their family. With two beautiful daughters and successful careers, they should be enjoying life to the fullest. Instead, Rozalla allows herself to fall under the influence of her new, single friend, Heather Ramos.
Problem number 1: what forty-three year old woman caves to peer pressure? Unfortunately, far more than we would think. Instead of Rozalla rejecting Heather’s negative comments about her marriage, Rozalla absorbed them. She forgot about the love and support Vince given her through the years. She became dissatisfied with the lifestyle he’d provided. Under the influence of her friend, she decided that she deserved more.
Problem number 2: why would a married woman take advice from a single woman about marriage? Though Heather has never been married, Rozalla decided to take her friend’s advice about what her husband is really supposed to do and what her marriage should really look like.
Under this negative influence, Rozalla completely turns on Vince. But when she wishes him dead, her whole world changes and she soon comes to realize that what you wish for others may come true for you.
|Posted on August 31, 2016 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
I’ve had a lifelong relationship with an amazingly loving woman who has shared many stories and life lessons with me. Of everything she’s ever shared, the most fascinating has to be the inner workings of her twenty-seven year marriage. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call this pillar of strength Lizzie.
According to Lizzie, she married her first love right out of high school. A couple of months after the wedding she discovered that she was pregnant. It was during this first pregnancy that Lizzie learned of her husband’s first affair. It’s not like he tried to hide it from her, he had his mistress/whore (that may have been harsh… no it wasn’t) pick him up at their home. I personally couldn’t imagine not trying to kill him, but they argued, he left, and eventually they moved on. As the years rolled by, Lizzie ended up with the six children that she says she’d prayed for since she was a child. But the years also brought her more and more heartache as infidelity after infidelity revealed itself. There was the longtime affair that garnered her husband two children that were the same ages as Lizzie’s second and third born. Lizzie explains that his behavior brought her many sleepless nights and more tears than she cared to remember. So naturally my question was “Why did you stay?”
Lizzie looked at me and said “I had no choice.” She explained that back in the day she did what women were expected to do. She raised the kids and took care of home while her husband built his business and was the kind of provider that a man was supposed to be. She went on to say that as her children got older, her parents got sicker. She was an only child and had no one to share the responsibility of her parents with. So now she had six kids, aging parents, and a good provider who wouldn’t even pretend to be faithful. I wanted to know how she could stand to even look at this man. It was then that Lizzie told me about a talk she had with God. She said that one night when she was at the end of her rope, her heart ached, and her tears refused to stop flowing she began to pray. She asked God to please take the pain away from her. She prayed for Him to fix it so that whatever her husband did it wouldn’t cause her the kind of pain that she was feeling then. She wanted the pain gone. Lizzie said that God answered her prayer. She still loved her husband, but the pain she’d felt all those years over his infidelity she no longer felt. There were no more tears and pleas for him to be a faithful husband.
Despite all of his wrong, as the end of his life neared it was Lizzie that spent every waking minute at the hospital, still faithfully by his side. When he realized his time of death was nearing, Lizzie witnessed him apologize and make amends with everyone he’d ever wronged, but he never once apologized to her. After he was gone, Lizzie learned of not only two additional children with yet another female, but she was devastated by the fact that he’d been married before and had never bothered to divorce. Her twenty-seven year marriage was all a lie.
These days Lizzie is living a comfortable life surrounded by her children. But she shares pearls of wisdom with any young woman who will stand still long enough to listen. She still believes in the sanctity of marriage and that loving, faithful relationships are possible. But she believes more in a woman’s responsibility to care for herself first. Loving, protecting and providing for one's self should always be the priority. Once that is accomplished then a healthy relationship with someone who acknowledges and honors our worth will be all the sweeter.