It was a community block party, and she is 13, she was hanging out with friends, probably eating a hamburger when the shot rang out. It was said that she was simply an innocent victim of a gang member’s stray bullet, but telling that to her mother offers no consolation.  Keoshia Ford was shot Saturday night in Chattanooga; she is now in critical condition in Erlanger with a bullet lodge in her brain. Keoshia is a member of our church, she is friends with my daughter, her little sister is in my Wednesday night club, and they both the same brilliant smile.

The small town feeling suddenly left the area; I feel it as I drive into work.

Maybe it is because I live in a small town.  Maybe it there were too many years in a court setting and I’ve grown blind to the violence. Maybe it is just that I read the stories in other places, but dismiss tragedy from actually knocking on my community’s front door.  In that instance of heartbreak there is little comfort, only questions.

My mind wanders to the shooter; he’s only 17, so in many ways two mothers have to deal with the possibility of losing their children. I have no sympathy for his actions, I fully support the system to punish him for the crime, but yet I find myself whispering: “what a waste of a life”.

I watch my children as we sit and watch TV together at night, and wonder where they would be had I made different decisions in my life. How that would have affected them. I look into my son’s eyes and wonder if he has the capability of taking another person’s life.  I stare at my daughter wondering how I would react if it were her laying there.

The heaviness lifts a little every day, not because I am forgetting what happened, but because I am strengthened by this amazing little girl who is in the fight of her life and is winning small battles to stay alive. She’s a warrior. She is opening her eyes, making small movements with her hands and legs, and while the battle is far from over, she’s shown she will not go quietly into the night.

Too often I watch the world through the window pane of my car, not touching them, not willing to truly connect.  This week, we’ve connected.

As you wake up and take a breath and remember that in and of itself is a blessing. Hug your kids, tell someone you love them, put a quarter in a parking meter for someone just because, call your mom, write a letter, and hold fast the thought that today waits for no one.


I have been a total Grinch so far this holiday season. I was mad at CBS’s coverage of the Macys Thanksgiving Parade because they showed too many interviews, fussy with my kids over silly things all Thursday morning and did not have any desire to put up the tree when Friday when Abbie asked me to (it’s still NOT up either).  I believe it is in part because I have not done anything to start off the season with a bang. I did not even cook Thanksgiving dinner, and I usually cook so much we have leftovers for 4 days. I simply didn’t feel in the Christmas spirit.  I believe it is not any of that, however, but rather because my attitude has been the exact opposite of how it should be for this time of year.

Today, as I sit in the coffee shop and listen to people chatter on about how much they have gotten for so and so, and grandma asking “how much did you save today” or the mom and dad pushing the screaming baby, I see the season through their eyes and sit here chastising myself as I realize I was falling into the trap of commercialization and had forgotten who I am, and what this season means to me.

 So what is this season about? It is about giving, celebrating, loving, saying THANK YOU, charity, gratitude, taking cookies to a neighbor, holding the door for someone in the store, paying for the persons coffee behind you in line, smiling at strangers, waving at toddlers in their strollers, plugging in someone’s laptop at the coffee shop, hugging someone you care about, and telling them you love them. Going past that extra mile to show someone that you care – THAT is what this season is about.

The challenge this year, for me, is how to give back when I have so little to give (or so I think). I have fallen into a perpetual pity party because my situation has been extended longer than I’d wanted. This shouldn’t be the case; I should find the joy in this time of my life too!  So I began to think, what can I give?

Because I am NOT employed, I have time, I can make phone calls to shut-ins, or sending flyers for local toy drives, I can do simple things like retweeting for charities or other events, I can go to the local shelters and fold clothes or serve meals, go to the teen pregnancy home and offer to babysit for the moms. I can go running with my daughter when she asks, play a duet at church with my son on the piano as he plays the trumpet. I can use my time for someone other than myself.

I love to bake, so why not make some yummies for others? I can sing, why don’t I go caroling at the senior center? I play piano, again, would someone be touched because I took the time to play for them?  I can so many things that I discount as small and meaningless, I’m bilingual, perhaps someone needs help in that area. I can clean, does someone need their home cleaned?  Give, no matter how big or small, to someone other than myself, which is what I need to focus on.

            When the pronouns are taken out of a sentence, it is nothing of me and all about others. It allows a perspective to be introduced that is not self centered and Grinchy, but loving and caring and wanting to see this Season for what it is, a time for selflessness, giving and love.

            The goal is, as we wrap up this year, is to find a way to put myself into a package and give it away. To give so much of myself to others that there is nothing left to be selfish with, and see if my outlook, not only on Christmas, but on life changes, to make life not about me but all about others.  I may fall short, but in trying, I hope to prove that:

 “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. “ ~Melody Beattie

     What is a dork, exactly? It’s between a nerd and a geek, not a genius by any means, but not a techno geek either.  So basically, my definition of a dork is: an individual who is keenly interested everything from politics to books to everyday occurrences, fairly intelligent while at the same time being loveable and very personable. Urban dictionary says this: “Dorks are typically more noted for their quirky personality and behavior rather than their interests or IQ which may or may not be on level with traditional geeks or nerds.”

Confession: In high school I was a total ugly duckling, permed frizzy hair, pegged pants and double socks, and a lot of charmed pins and vests for some reason… Yes, I tried desperately to fit in.  I never felt like I belonged in my own skin till I was in my 30’s.  High school was intimidating, not just in the halls, but in the classroom, math was never my friend — in fact I was SO good at it, I took Algebra I two years in a rowJ.  I excelled at English and History however… just do not ask me to balance your checkbook.

Confession: Yesterday, I related Klout to the popular table in high school, the cool table that I was never invited to sit at.  I remember staring across at that table, at the football captain…the hunk of the school; yeah he never knew my name. Likewise, Klout intimidates me like that. I’m not popular, I don’t influence people, I am the girl that sits on the steps of the lunch room with my peanut butter sandwich and Snapple and trying to melt into the background.  Who wants to listen to an eternal dork….

Confession: I read Gone with the Wind over a weekend.  Two days, I couldn’t put it down. I inhaled it.

Confession: I love love LOVE the smell of post it notes. I like to flip them and inhale the post-it goodness…Oh and when the Post-it note people tweeted me on twitter, I nearly died of a smile attack, I was so excited.

Confession: I watch at least one hour of news every day… and sometimes… I sneak on for more mid day…sshhhh

Confession: I trip — often. It seems the floor jumps up at me, or the walls try to attack me. This usually happens more when I am very tired.   It’s not bad except I bruise easy and always look like someone abused me.

Confession:  I willingly and excitedly went to college for the first time in November of 2010. It makes me happy to log in every day, and doing homework makes me smile. Don’t get me started on taking notes.

Confession: Lord of the Rings –Fellowship of the Rings is my favoritist movie, I cried at the end of August Rush and I know all the words to the songs in Lion King, Little Mermaid and every other Disney Movie ever made.

Confession:  I currently have a 99.16% in my English Lit class – it is making me crazy that it’s not a 100%…

Confession: I love Destination Truth and Ghost Hunters… but I’m scared of my own shadow and make the dog sit with me if I watch it by myself when no one is home.

So, now you know, my name is Corey, and I have been dork for 13,086 days, and plan on being completely adorkable until the day I die, at which time I want a large celebration to take place….. and please, no flowers, send pizza.

 I open my eyes amidst a deep unsettled sleep, and find myself back in the farm house. I’m standing alone, in a long nightgown, in the living room.  Next to me is the worn couch with the crocheted blanket draped across. Across the room is the cabinet in the corner, it holds a lifetime of glasses, quietly reflecting the dim light. Its storming outside. The wind blowing stronger, branches tapping on the window panes.

My hand runs over the wooden buffet, pictures lay scattered across the top, the smell of Pledge drifts through the air. I kneel, and draw my finger across the key hole, recalling the cold odd shaped metal key that fit perfectly there.

 I’m drawn to the stairs, peer up, the lights are on but it all seems grey. My foot hesitantly presses on the first step, it creaks under the weight.  I see the hooks on the wall, holding coats from years past, I continue up the stairs, each step taking me closer, finally I reach the slight curve at the top, and then my foot touches the landing.

 The windows are open, the wind blows in, the rain falling heavily on the tin roof. The lights are faded, the picture in black and white.  The bedroom door to the left is almost closed; I walk past but do not go in.  The door on the right is open, the room is dark. My heart begins to race, my mind saying don’t go in, but my body moving ahead with no hesitation. The darkness encases me. Heavy, it lays across my shoulder as a burden. I see the outline of the bed where I’d slept all those summer nights. The stale smell of dust and history fills my nose. The ghost stories of yesterday fill my mind. The clock chimes midnight, the man hangs limp from the rope tied tightly to the board on the ceiling. A little girl, blankets over her head, willing the clock to move.

 The shadows move, I pause, my head begins to spin, I blink the images back, but the refuse to leave. The window, a glisten of light catches my eye. I walk towards it, lightening flashes across the sky… thunder rumbles loudly in the darkness.  The storm is closer.

My heart catches in my throat as I stand before the window. I can see the shop building across the lane. The stone building sits cold and unsettling in the night air. A light flickers in the upper room.  My eyes fix on the window. The image of a man appears, he face cold and uncaring, eyes, seemingly dead, stare across at me, looking beyond my eyes and into my soul.  He knows me. Sweat beads on my forehead, the beating of my heart fills my ears. Panic grips my heart. I cannot move. I blink, lightening flashes, he’s gone.

Suddenly, the closet door creaks open behind me.  Footsteps.  Thunder claps. Lightening lights up the room. A hand touches my shoulder. I scream and suddenly I am awake. The smell of rain fills the room as lay there trying to forget.

It is always the same, week after week. The same dream, the same fear, the same panic. I know the face, but cannot place it. The eyes, the smells, all so well known, but the fog of the dream clouds my memory.  It frustrates me, that at 35, I cannot get past this dream.  I don’t know how to stop make it stop, the question looming do I know who the man is? What I do know is that waking up terrified has become a habit. I wonder when it will end, when I’ll sleep through the night without seeing his face. I wonder if he dreams of me too.

“When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep. “ ~William Butler Yeats

In the early 1900’s a young German man boarded a ship bound for the Americas, he sought a better life, a bigger life than what he left behind him.  A long journey was only the beginning of the adventures life would bring him. Soon he was greeted by the feet of Lady Liberty, and he passed through Ellis Island and embraced a new country as his own. He began a trek some 500 miles inland to a plot of dirt perfect for farming, and a new start.  His bride, a young Swiss, worked tirelessly by his side, finally bearing a son in 1918, Charles, and later a daughter.  The barns were raised, a house was built and a life began in the small town of Oak Harbor, Ohio.

 The Fastinger Farm grew from a few crops and animals, to 600+ head of the best hogs in Ohio, and land of 200 acres. People would come from hundreds of miles to buy one of their hogs.  Charles learned his trade well, loved the land and grew into a fine young man, finally marrying Ruth and going on to have six children. When fire claimed the barn, they rebuilt from the ashes, bigger and stronger,   when drought threatened the crops, they worked harder to make it through till next season.

This is my heritage, my history, my family, my grandpa Charles.


Just down the stone path from the two story farm house sits a pump house. It is quite simply a stone building that houses the well for the main farm house and summer kitchen.  On the outside of the pump house, was a spigot where cool well water flowed on hot days and next to that spigot an old metal cup. The cup was forged in the shop by my great grandfather, it was simple, nothing fancy, welded together to serve a purpose, but it was a steady fixture on the old pump house, and when drink was required, everyone used that cup to satisfy their thirst. If a stranger happened onto the land, the cup offered refreshment, if there was work to be done, the cup replenished strength.  The cup hung there, year after year, always welcoming the tired weary soul.

Growing up many summer days were spent on the farm, at the crack of dawn, off I’d go, traipsing behind my Grandpa in oversized rubber boots, old jeans and a tee shirt, my white blonde hair pulled up in a pony tail, doing my darndest to keep up with him.

Chores were always first in the morning, feeding the pigs, he’d let me scoop feed into the buckets and help me pour them into the feeders, we’d scrap pens together, count the new babies, ride on the tractor, or combine, he’d teach me things about the ground, and the hogs. Then, when the hard work was done, and sweat beaded over our upper lips, he’d motion to me, and hand in hand we would make our way to the pump house for a drink. He always offered the cup to me first, and with large gulps I’d hastily drink in the cool water. He was patient, and though thirsty, he never rushed me. He’d smile, and tell me that I’d “drank half the well”, and then he would drink his fill, toss whatever remained, and hang the cup back on the hook by the spigot.   I was his sweetheart, and he was my champion.

It was a cold December day when Grandpa Charles died. A sudden heart attack on the strongest heart I’d ever known. As I watched this man walk into the hospital on his own, I was hopeful, but he never came back out. He lies resting just a quarter of a mile from the farm.

 Summers were never quite the same after he left, and slowly I stopped drinking from the cup, leaving it to hang on the hook as a timeless reminder of the drinks that were shared there.   There are days I sit in utter disbelief that he’s been gone some 25 years now.  There are days I wish he were here to meet his great grandchildren and teach them about sweet corn and soybeans, eat donuts and coffee with, or give them a baby pig to care for.  I take them to his graveside, to introduce them to Grandpa Charles, and tell stories, and talk to him… and remind him quietly that I miss him so.

Last month, I went home to my parents house, and briefly went by the farm, and passed by the pumphouse. It is barely a glimmer of what it used to be, the walls are now grown up with weeds, the summer kitchen is falling down, the stone path brittle and broken, but the cup still hung by the spigot and memories flooded like cool water into my soul.

“Grams”, I said… “I have a sort of odd question for you…. Does anyone use the cup on the pumphouse anymore??”

“No”, she replied, “I don’t guess they do.”

“Well, can I have it?” I asked hesitantly. 

She looked at me oddly, processing my request but not sure why I’d made it. My heart caught in my throat as I waited in anticipation.

“Ooooh, wellllll, I don’t see why not…. Sure..” Grams said.

A smile gripped my lips, as silly as it sounds, I expected a “no”.  I could have the cup! Happiness exploded in my heart.

I didn’t wait for her to change her mind, or ask my uncles or my aunts… It was mine…I grabbed up the old cup, dodged a few dozen wasps that had taken up residency in it, raced to the kitchen and cleaned it out.  I plopped it in my purse and wondered how I’d explain the cup to airport security but didn’t care. The cup, the precious memory was mine and mine alone.

I summoned the help of my dad to pick out the perfect board from the old family barn next to his house, and once I have that in my possession, the board will become a shelf on which will sit my picture of the farm and the cup. It will be my forever memory and small shrine to my best friend of my brief 11 years that was stolen from me all too soon.  You may look at it and see a piece of bent welded metal, I look at it and see love spilling onto the ground, kindness overflowing the rim, and a flood of strength exuberated by my childhood hero.

And old tin cup. Weathered by time, crafted with love, filled with water, shared by many, a memory to be cherished and passed down to future generations of how it came to be.

This is my heritage, my history, my family, my grandpa Charles.

My mother could make anybody feel guilty — she used to get letters of apology from people she didn’t even know.” -Joan Rivers

I remember the exact moment it happened. It was a Thursday, mid spring, about three years ago, it was about 5:30 in the evening… I was telling one of the kids to do something and the phrase came out of my mouth “Don’t you TAKE that tone with me young man” to Josh, then 11. I glanced to my left and caught a glimpse of myself in the bedroom mirror, and suddenly, in that moment I flash backwards some 25 years, and saw my mother with that exact look! The metamorphosis was complete, I was now my mother.

As a teenager growing up, I told myself I was going to be my own person, swore it would never happen that I was going to be different than her, cooler, more in touch with my kids, not so many rules, more freedom, ahhh yes, perfect children, perfect mother. Then they were born and that theory went out the window as I faced the terrible twos, threes, fives, sevens, eights, twelves and fourteens… I don’t have terrible children, honestly, I have to admit that for whatever reason they are usually well behaved and generally respectful (something that still makes me scratch my head).

I turn into my mother at the oddest of times, through a laugh, a comment, a sigh. For years, I fought against turning into her, but now, I see that there is no better person to turn into…she’s my hero, and best friend, she’s the one I call for advice and know I’m going to get it even when I don’t ask for it, and usually, well it’s pretty darn good advice, I think she may know what she’s talking about after all.

Of course there are always those moments in life that make me understand why some species eat their young. When I am asked “why is she (Abbie)  acting that way?”, all too often, I simply have to respond “because she’s twelve”, what else can you say when you honestly don’t have any idea why asking her to make the bed caused her to break down in tears. Or asking Josh to take the dog out and he zones me out four times, until I have to raise my voice and all because the T.V. is on and man has no attention span when that box is speaking to them (that’s another post all together).

There is a reason Joshua was born first.. God knew had Abbie been the firstborn poor Josh wouldn’t have ever had a chance to be born. Josh was the easy baby, the good toddler, the breezy easy child, and so far the calm collected adolescent. Now, he still has a chance to go insane and become the rebel teenager, but he hasn’t ever waivered in his almost 15 years, so the odds are in my favor.

Then there is Abigail.

Abbie is the drama child, the one that I know if I make it through her teenage years, I DO deserve a medal. The day the training bra got strapped on, it was as if a poltergeist took over her body, her sweet face contorts now, the eyes roll, the sighs sigh, the arms fly up in disgust… The clothes don’t match, the shoes aren’t the right color, her hair isn’t fixed just right, and “everyone else gets a boyfriend why can’t I have one?” (Yes I did say because ‘if everyone jumped off a bridge…” ). Then in an instant, she’s giggling with me about the other girls her class, the anger of the previous moment gone and she’s happy and content, telling me I’m beautiful. It makes me dizzy.

But, I am only at the mid way point, and there are many more years of teenage angst and growth to meander through, new attitudes to adjust to, new fights… boyfriends, breakups, pimples, SAT’s and well, life…

Would I trade any of it to avoid becoming my mom? No, because through the hormones, attitudes, colicky baby, constant feedings, dating, drivers permits, diapers and sippy cups and soon, college applications, I have seen my transformation from a girl to a woman, from weakness to strength, from fear to courage.

Ask my children grow, so do I, as they walk through adolescences, I am there reliving my youth not in deed but in memory. Looking into my children’s eyes, I wonder sometimes what I put my mom through, and often feel I should send a card and a gift to apologize to her, or a perhaps simple thank you note for allowing me to become someone so great.

Or both… yeah, definitely both

Forever:  Time it takes to brew the first pot of coffee in the morning. -Author Unknown

Ask anyone that knows me, or reads my tweets, and coffee will be mentioned at some point throughout the day.

I simply adore my coffee, and I cannot ever seem to get enough.

I am, however, a bit of a coffee snob. I will not go into just anywhere and satisfy my longing for a hot steamy delicious rendezvous in a cup. I have a burr grinder. I buy whole beans. I will not set my timer on my coffee maker because I like to grind the beans within minutes of brewing. I will not drink coffee that is over 2 hours old. I do not drink instant unless it is to not offend someone I am with. And I still am on the fence as to whether iced coffee is an offense against coffee or not.

 Yes, I have a love affair with coffee.

I savor the taste, the smell, the feel as it touches my lips. I love it hot, so hot that it almost burns as I bring it longingly to my lips. I love the feel of the liquid against my tongue.  I crave it, desire it, want it, just to hold it in my hands, wrap my fingers tight around the mug and hug it close… like a dying man begs for water or air, I yearn for coffee… it is for all accounts an addiction, but one I do not  intend to willingly give up any time soon.

Coffee is soothing balm, it is a memory, and it is a part of my history and most assuredly, my future.

Coffee reminds me of my grandpa Charles, I can see him sitting in his chair at the white long dining room table that still sits in the farm house. He has his donut broken in half, and he is dunking it, slurping it up and smiling as I giggle over the noise he is making and he smiles back at me.

Coffee reminds me of my grandma Ruth and her group of seniors she served for years, as they huddled around the pot and talked about their aches and pains, and invite me into their circle.

Coffee tickles my memory as I fuss at Grandma Theo about microwaving yesterday’s coffee, and making her a fresh pot as she laughs and presses “start”.

Coffee is a good friend pouring her heart out about her dying father in law, and sobbing as her heart is broken and she feels lost. It is the bridge that helps me hold her hand and get her thru the funeral.

Coffee is the special time with my daughter as she tells me the 6th grade gossip over a ‘café mocha’ smiling as she sips it, loving this time with me.

Coffee is the connection to so many memories, and so many things to come.

When strength is needed, an espresso is there to shoulder the burden, to comfort, a latté is ready to be soft and loving, homebrew is a memory of what grandma made, instant is a reminder that not everyone has what you have, and whole beans are a smile in a cup

Coffee connects people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, ethnic groups, socio-economical status.  It bridges gaps, opens doors, helps business meetings, makes friends out of strangers, helps students study, keeps mamas awake after long nights, comforts after death, and greets you every morning.

So perhaps I’m a tad extreme, maybe I’ve over thinking this whole post, but the power in that cup, the ability of what it can do, the memories that is has for me, and the promise of more to come, are as enticing  as the smell of a fresh opened bag of dark roasted coffee beans.

Oh look, the pot is brewed, it is time for another cup… join me… make a memory with me… and yes, if you had to ask, there is always plenty.

Sometimes it’s better to put love into hugs than to put it into words.  ~Author Unknown

Josh was born a cuddler. He loved to snuggle tight against me and sleep, the intense baby smell would fill my nostrils and my heart would sore at the bliss of holding this amazing, loving child.  14.8 years later, he still loves to hug me…he is a “mama’s boy” – not in that he is a small wimpy pushover child (he towers over my 5’9 frame) but in that he absolutely and totally LOVES his mother and will do anything for me, always wanting to take care of me…often to the point that I have to tell him to relax and just be a kid!   

One of the funniest moments with Josh was after watching the movie the “Blind Side” he came up to me, a few days later and demanded a “proper hug”  — to which I burst out in laughter as this amused me… it has been nothing less than a proper hug from this point forward.

Now, Abbie is NOT a hugger by nature. She was the “please lay me in my bed and back away slowly” child when she was small, but now, in her awkward tween years, she wants to be tucked in every night but more than that she loves to be hugged…now, even in front of her friends she will lean against me to be wrapped up in my arms. This makes me hope that maybe I am not yet the enemy or “uncool” in her eyes and, well, I am more than willing to comply with her requests until she no longer seeks my arms out.

I love a good hug. LOVE it…the wrapped up in your arms-loving-tight-sweet hug…there is nothing in the world that beats it. There are times I CRAVE a hug… needing one so very badly that I simply cannot stand it. Other times I want to hold tight to someone and be the hugger (equal opportunity hugger that I am)… there is just something to be said about that shared moment.  Whether it is lovers that have been long separated, a mother and child hugging to say goodbye… grandparents embracing in remembrance of yesteryear or friends saying hello over lunch…a hug is just something special.  Good hugs, real ones, are hard to come by, and sought after by many…the art of hugging gets lost in the hustle and bustle of  a fast pace life. No one has time to just cuddle into someones arms and be hugged.

A hug can calm anger, try fighting when you are cuddled up in each other’s arms.  A hug can remind you of how quickly days turn to years and make you wish for the sleepless nights of infancy only to hold your baby once more.   Hugs dry tears that accompany skinned knees and broken hearts, they whisper I love you, I like you, I need you, I miss you, I want you, I’m sorry, and so much more.  They melt the coldest heart, and make grown men weak in the knees… Hugs make your insides get all squishy and remind you of innocence and love.

I leave you with this thought:

“Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural.  There are no batteries to replace; it’s inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments.  It’s non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable.”  ~Author Unknown

So, go on, get out there and hug and be hugged—- till your insides feel all squishy…..

What is the good of being a genius if you cannot use it as an excuse for being unemployed?  ~Gerald Barzan

I have never lacked words; writing has always come naturally to me as an outlet for the lack of verbal ability. I cannot verbally speak well unless presented a topic that I feel confident about; feelings are not one of those topics. Writing is where I feel at ease, alive, functional, and confident. Not being able to convey what is in my head has left me feeling frustrated, not with the situation but with myself.

Week one of being unemployed is behind me. I have made it through the first seven days, with minimal scrapes and bruises; those are mostly to my ego. I hadn’t thought this crazy, intense ride would end with such emotional drainage to my very soul, but I have been lacking words, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Finally, after a week of mourning, with the dog sleeping soundly on my lap, I sit here to pen the words that have for weeks escaped me.

I knew on September 21, 2010 I was going to lose my job. The moment David and Jerry were no longer court administrator and judge, I knew I was next. I also knew that I was only being kept on the payroll because the new Judge needed my credentials to keep the probation office operational until a new one could be approved. He thought me naïve, thought he was getting something by me, but I knew… oh yes I knew.  Being used for someone else’s devious plans did not do well on my psyche, stress levels increased, and I know, even though they never said anything,  my family felt I was barely tolerable.  Moody and detached, fussy, cranky – yeah, well, I didn’t like me either. I played the part well, kept working hard, kept my staff and office running, maintained morale, and planned to work to the very end and go out with my head held high.

The final blow came, not as the knockout punch I’d anticipated, but as a blessing in disguise instead.  A hot water pipe burst on the 2nd floor of the office, and after a huge flood, and following a week office displacement we were  told we were moving back to the unsuitable, mold infested, haggard building they called the city court-house.  Yeah I had to be the loud mouth that brought up the fact this was unacceptable. So loud was my response that I called in the Calvary, and the media ate it up like hot peach cobbler.  Justice was served in a small victory in that the remaining staff would not have to remain in that awful building, but were being relocated; oddly the same week as I was losing my job, they were getting a new start. The peace I felt from knowing I’d at least accomplished that was refreshing, for all that I was losing something good had come of it.

After all was said and done, I was accused, fussed at, ignored, and cast aside,  and finally,  the inevitable, terminated. We were officially outsourced, and had 5 days to get the office packed and ready to go.  Integrity in tack, we delivered a perfectly organized set of files, marked, noted and ready to go. My staff is amazing.

I turned the lights off in my office at 5:16pm Monday, February 28, 2011.  I looked around at this lovely creation that was my baby and that I had been watching grow and evolve for six years as it was sitting in boxes ready to be shipped off to them, the anti-probation office that is sure to destroy my baby. My heart dropped as I said goodbye to this part of my life. I felt as though a part of me was staying in this office, it was an odd feeling.

The quiet of every day lately has been welcomed, sorting out my thoughts, doing yoga to clear my head and strengthen my body and most of planning for my next step. Tomorrow is up to me and no one else. No one will determine what I do or do not do except me. I have to decide what I want, then go in that direction.

 In the last two weeks, I have been told by four different people, that I should write. “Become a writer”, at which point I giggle.  You see, I have often said I am not a writer, I ramble, but a writer – no that’s reserved for other people, not ME.  However, the intense emotions of sheer joy that overwhelms me when I sit down to jot a few thoughts out, has been enough to make me at least consider the possibility.  It intimidates me beyond all possible limits. That thought mocks me when I read a line only to see error after error. But most of all, it intrigues me and gives me that giddy butterflyie feeling of expectations and excitement.

I do not know what tomorrow has in store, but I do know as I sit here waiting for its revelation, I will be careful to take notes, for today’s lessons may just be tomorrow’s best seller.

Home is the place that goes where you go, yet it welcomes you upon your return. Like a dog overjoyed at the door. We’ve missed you is what you hear, no matter how long you’ve been gone. ~Michael J. Rosen, Home

Christmas has come and gone, and this post should have been written weeks ago, and while the lingering thought of home has been relentlessly on my mind , this post wouldn’t quite come together.  Today however, as I sit in the solitude of my office, and stare at a picture on my computer, I think of home, and smile a warm smile, and think today is the day to write.

Going home this past Christmas was bittersweet, on one hand I hadn’t been to my mother and fathers house in almost 2 years, and not for Christmas in almost 10 years. However, deep inside, I knew it could be my last to see my grandmothers, these ladies I love and cherish. The circle of life is soon to be complete for these dear women and someday soon I know I’ll have to say a final goodbye.  

Driving up to see my parents is always exciting, no matter how old I get, I get butterflies and excited as I pass the familiar markings and landmarks. Big Betsy (my childhood name for Davis Bessie the nuclear power plant) is in sight, the cloud-maker, huffing and puffing in the evening sky… the leg of my grandmothers farm atop the barn roof (an elevator leg for drying grain and corn) and then.. my mom and dads house comes into full view and relief sweeps over me. I’m home. Now, this isn’t my childhood home, I have no emotional attachment to the building, but what lies inside and all around it is so overwhelming to me, tears fill my eyes, and a smile grips my lips as I hug my parents necks and kiss them.

We only have four days in Ohio, in a small town call Oak Harbor, it is charmingly decorated for Christmas, and there is light snow on the ground.  There is so much to do, and so little time.

I rush to see my Grandma Ruth, hug her, kiss her wrinkled cheek, and tell her I love her. We talk about this and that, loudly, as, at 84 years old, her hearing is failing, and she falls into a conversation about cinnamon bread and as the hours pass I am reminded of so many things, we talk about the trips to Woolworths where we ate at the cafeteria and I thought I was so important, and riding with her on her Meals on Wheels delivery routes.  She smiles and laughs, and remembers. These are the times that I’ll never forget~ imprinted on my heart.

Christmas day is nothing less than fantastic, the kids running down the stairs, giddy with excitement, presents to open, lunch to cook (a feast for 20 no less). Relatives, my brother, aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, all join around a table, and share a long overdue meal. Memories made. 

Then, finally, on to Grandma Theo’s house and anticipation grips me as we drive to see her. I open the door and loudly proclaim “HI HONEY I’M HOME” but the face that greets me has aged more than I think my heart was ready for, she’s 86 now, and the body, once so strong, is frail and she shuffles when she walks. But as we embrace and she tells me, “You always smell so good” and kisses my cheek, and I fall against her softly, all that fades away and all I hear is her sweet voice whispering in my ear, “I’ve missed you”. We spend the evening chatting and playing dominos, eating fried fudge and talking. But all too soon, the evening is over and its time to go. Tears well up in my eyes as I hug her tightly and tell her I love her. I hug her again, I never just hug once to say goodbye, and she once again pulls me close and in my ear says, “please, don’t stay away so long this time, come home soon”.

The drive to my parent’s house was long that night; tears filled my eyes as I thought about these ladies, both so important to me in their own way. Memories pound my mind all night, sleep is forgotten, and as I lie there awake, all I see are pictures of my youth, and fight the tears away.

Going home, being welcomed as if you never left, remembering, making new memories, saying goodbye all too soon. All of this has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, but now, only now, as I’ve grown up, do I see the importance of making every moment count, and never taking anyone for granted, telling someone you love them TODAY and not waiting, making today the day you live and die for.

“Please, don’t stay away so long this time, come home soon…..”

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