Dad, I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. It was one of the worst days of my life. Eight years ago today the caller told me you had passed. I fell to my knees and sobbed. We had just talked the day before. We had laughed and joked and I had hung up the phone feeling proud to call you my father. Within twenty-four hours you were taken from me and I kept asking myself why? Continue reading “Memories of a Father Missed”→
Periodically I like to break away from the topics referring to my book, writing tips or reviews and give you a peek into my everyday life. This event happened last week and I’ve not laughed so hard in decades and I just had to share it with you all.
Some of you may have seen the video of this encounter which I posted on social media. If you have, well now you can read the story behind the video.
What to do on a day off?
Rarely do my husband and I have the same day off. When it miraculously happens, we leave our lives and responsibilities in the dust and escape on an adventure. Today the skies were blue, winds were calm and the sun was beaming upon us, telling us it was a great day to take the quad and dirt bike up to the top of Frazier Mountain. We agreed, packed a lunch and headed out the door.
The glorious ride to the top
Living at the base of the mountain and on a dirt road, we’re able to ride from the house on the dirt bike and ATV to the top of the mountain without loading them into the truck. It’s about a twelve-mile trek and took us just under an hour to reach the summit.
The climb up the mountain was rejuvenating. As we climbed higher, I could actually feel the stresses of writing, chores at home and all our responsibilities being left behind. I welcomed the soleness the mountaintop gave us. After turning off the bike and quad, we were mesmerized by the sound of the slight breeze whistling through the pine trees. We watched as they swayed lightly in the wind. A lizard catches our eye as it scurries across a rock. In the other direction, we snatch a glimpse of a bushy tail as a squirrel races up a tree. Up here nothing matters and life is good.
After spending the afternoon, exploring different trails and stopping for lunch it was time to head back home. My husband, Gordon leads the way on his dirt bike and I follow driving the quad. Becuase he likes to ride faster than me, he tends to be a quarter-a-mile-ahead. Taking my time, I make a turn on a sharp bend, only to see my husband standing in the middle of the road, waving his arms above his head. I can tell he is yelling at me, but with the noise of the quad bellowing in my ears and a helmet on my head, I have no idea what he is saying and continue to ride. If I get closer, I’d be able to make out what he is saying. Right?
Gordon continues to wave his arms in a frantic manner and yells whatever it is he is yelling. In an attempt to communicate above the loud motor of the quad, I shake my head with my hand held up to my ear, indicating to him that I can’t hear him. In response, he shakes his head vigorously while rolling his eyes.
Finally, I hear the word “STOP!” blasting from Gordon’s mouth.
That got my attention and I came to an abrupt stop. With the motor still running, I holler back, “WHAT? WHAT’S THE MATTER?”
Gordon yells back, funneling his mouth with his hands, “THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE ROAD!”
“A WHAT?” I scream back.
You’d think by now I’d have the sense to turn off the quad so we could talk civil to each other, but I don’t and my husband has to continue shouting. “A SNAKE! YOU’RE ON A SNAKE!”
As soon as I heard the word snake, I began freaking out. Neither Gordon or I like snakes. In fact, we hate them. I follow his hand signals instructing me to back up, which I do only to hear more screams from Gordon. “OH NO! IT’S IN YOUR QUAD. THE SNAKE WENT INSIDE YOUR QUAD. GET OFF THE QUAD!” he yells in a frantic state.
Understanding what my husband was yelling, I jumped off the quad like it was on fire and ran twenty feet in the other direction. Oh and yes I left the quad running.
Avoiding the quad, Gordon races over to me, still yelling in a state of disbelief. “THERE’S A SNAKE IN YOUR QUAD. YOU STOPPED ON THE SNAKE. IT WAS ATTACKING AND HISSING AT THE TIRE. WHEN YOU BACKED UP, IT WENT INSIDE THE QUAD.”
At that point, we both began to laugh hysterically. Here we were in the middle of nowhere, both afraid of snakes and we have one hiding in my quad. After a meltdown of laughter, I tip-toed over to the ATV and turned it off. Gordon joined me and we began the search for the snake. After twenty minutes we finally found it in the back coiled up next to one of the shocks.
The dreaded task
Now that we had located the snake, our next mission was to figure out how we were going to get it out. I decided to stand back and film the event, while Gordon held his weapons – two sticks and approached the quad with caution. He kneels down and attempts to prod the snake with the sticks. But that only caused them to break. Now with shorter weapons, he tries it again, but not before stating, how much he hates snakes, while I’m laughing hysterically in the background. After twenty-minutes of prodding and banging on the quad, the snake finally uncoils itself and slithers away from the quad. Oozing with relief, we creep over to our unwelcomed guest, see he is a gopher snake and not poisonous, laugh some more and begin the trip home.
This was an adventure that will stay with us for many years and a good story to tell at gatherings. We also have the video to prove it which I’ve posted below. Enjoy.
Is it possible to mourn someone who is still here?
The answer is yes. I’ve been mourning my mother every day since I began losing her almost eight years ago. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her.
Gifted with her charm, her bubbly personality, a zest for life and a smile that lit up every room. I am so proud to call her my mother.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do for me or my older twin sisters. Always putting us first and sacrificing her own needs. Many hours have been spent laughing together, crying on her shoulder and being held in her arms when we needed comforting.
She is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She is my rock and because of her, I’m who I am today. Mum taught me to never give up, follow your dreams and live life on your terms. I listened Mum and I’m doing it.
Then you came along
You made your first appearance about eight years ago. We tried to push you away and fight back. But you made it quite clear you were here to stay. Little by little you began chipping away at our mother. First, you brought confusion into her mind and disorientation. A few months later you returned and began stealing her memory. Robbing her of her short-term memory.
A year later you came back with a vengeance. Showing us you were winning. Because of you, Mum began to hallucinate. Did you enjoy it when you saw the fear in her eyes when she believed her apartment walls were covered in ants and she could no longer stay in her home? Did you get a sense of satisfaction when she was found wandering aimlessly on the city streets at three o’clock in the morning in her bathrobe, alone and afraid?
When is enough, enough?
For the last eight years, you have slowly robbed my sisters and me of our mother. Feeling helpless, I’ve watched you over the years strip her of every characteristic that made her our mother. Her youth, beauty, courage, strength, and dignity. When is enough, enough?
Our mother no longer recognizes any of her three daughters. Any recollection of us has vanished and we live with that pain every day. She now lays in bed unable to walk or talk. She has lost all of her bodily functions. You have consumed her, leaving only a battered shell. The mother we once knew has left us and will never return. Are you happy?
You know who you are
Yes, I’m talking about Vascular Dementia. A horrific disease that has invaded my mother. A heartbreaking slow death with no cure. Because of this illness, I mourn my mother. Six thousand miles away in England, we no longer talk on the phone or skype. She no longer comes for visits.
You took her before she could meet two of her grandsons. Before she could see the house my husband and I built with our own bare hands. A house my mother and I discussed for hours. Sharing in the excitement, dreaming of the day it would be built. She couldn’t wait to come stay in the guest house we had built. A place she never got to see or use. You took her before seeing my debut novel that is about to be published. I miss having my mother in my life.
I am forever grateful to my sister Jane and brother-in-law John. They are close by and take care of your every need and keep me in the loop of your deteriorating state. They send me pictures that break my heart. The thought of walking into your hospital room and seeing nothing but a blank stare, no recognition that I am your youngest daughter tears me apart.
What Dementia can’t take
This disease may have my mother in the grasp of its evil ways but what it doesn’t have and can never take are my memories of her. I will treasure these for the rest of my life. This Mother’s Day I will reflect on those memories and hold them close to my heart and reminisce on the days she was free of you. Days where we laughed, danced and sang together. Days where she told me she loved me and I told her I loved her back. Days where we took a road trip to Colorado to see her other daughter. A daughter she hadn’t seen in ten years.
This Mother’s day, I will hold my grandsons tight and tell them what a wonderful great-grandmother they have. We will share pictures together of the amazing woman they will never get to meet. Dam you dementia!
How many times have we said this to ourselves? Things we know we should do, but constantly put it off. I have lived on Frazier Mountain for over fifteen years. Our elevation is 5,000ft and in the past, we’ve had some pretty harsh winters. There were times when I was snowed in for days. My car, buried in five feet of snow. It’s during these times, I remind myself that I need to stock my car with emergency supplies, in case I find myself stranded. Years later, I still haven’t done this and last week I wish I had. My fears became a reality when I actually found myself stranded and unprepared.
The weather was not a concern
That morning I had plans drive to Pine Mountain Club – another small mountain community, less than nine miles away. I had plans to help a friend get ready for the holidays. The skies were blue, there were no winds but it was rather chilly – fifty degrees. I dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, sweatshirt and leather knee-high dress boots with a low heel. The thought to bring a jacket crossed my mind but that’s as far as it went and I left without one. There was speculation of a light dusting of snow by late afternoon and I planned to be home before then. Continue reading “Finding myself stranded and unprepared”→
If you’ve been following my blog, you’re probably aware that I received my book “Reckless Beginning” back from the editor in September. We are now in December and I honestly can’t believe I’ve been working diligently on my edits for three months. After my normal eight-hour day job, I’ve been spending the rest of my days going through the manuscript in dept. Continue reading “Drowning in editing – A much needed break – dealing with editing blues”→
kayaking solo to replenish the mind. Why I like to kayak solo
My husband and I both enjoy kayaking. We venture out together frequently, discovering new lakes and marinas. But sometimes it’s nice to go solo where I don’t have to engage in conversations or keep up a pace. Kayaking solo is my escape and a way for me to just collect my thoughts.
We all need an outlet in life where we can regroup our thoughts and remove ourselves from the hustle and chaos of everyday life. A place where we can release the stress and just chill out. For me, it has to be away from home. It doesn’t work at home. I’ve tried but the temptations allure me to clean the house, do the laundry, clean the yard, wash the car, walk the dogs or the phone may ring. Or hey why don’t I browse the internet. Continue reading “Kayaking solo to replenish the mind”→
I just reblogged a post I came across regarding the pressure of writing a sequel. I totally relate to this topic. Even though I am going through the excitement of having my first novel “Reckless Beginnings” being published, I am now dealing with anxieties to write the sequel within two years. Yes, I am definitely feeling the pressure to write a sequel.
How am I going to do this?
I ask myself. It took me seven years to write the first book. Before then it mulled around in my head as an idea for fourteen years. I don’t want my work to deteriorate and lack in quality due to pressure from the publisher to get it done. Of course, I don’t want it to take another seven years to complete and I want to stick to my standards and work ethics.
In order to get this done in a reasonable amount of time, I need to have a plan of attack. I need to structure my writing time more aggressively and discipline myself to spend longer hours writing, no matter what temptations allure me. My days will start earlier. Probably before sunrise when the house is quiet and I will make sure I spend at least 3-4 hours a day working on the sequel before I involve myself in other activities throughout the day.
I wrote the first book at my leisure with no pressure. When I felt like writing, I wrote. Having the pressure of being printed with a sequel in the works changes everything. I don’t want my readers to wait too long, I want to please my publisher and yet I don’t want to produce a rushed manuscript and disappoint my readers.
Quality over quantity
Yes, the pressure is defiantly on but I have to remember and keep reminding myself, “This is my book.” This is a reflection of me and I don’t want to destroy the reputation I am trying to build by trying to rush out the sequel. Quality is important over quantity. If it takes a little longer, that is okay. I want the reader to feel that and not be disappointed in the sequel.
If you have any additional advice on how I might deal with this pressure, I am all ears and it would be gladly appreciated.
As I type this the song “Under pressure” is booming in my head. Time to change the tune. Help!