The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

Posted: November 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

I miss my childhood Thanksgivings.  So for just a moment I am going to play the part of the ghost of Thanksgiving past and take you back to that place in time.  That special place in my life that I will never be able to get back, yet I can hold onto in my memory.  I know I have cousins who go there, in their memory, every Thanksgiving, too.  They’ve told me. They’ve told me from a different perspective.  They said they would excitedly wait for me and my family to come up.  They had missed me, just as I had missed them.  So here we go, back in time…

It was so early when I the light came on, shining bright in my twelve year old eyes.

“Up and at em,” said Daddy.

I could hear my mom in the background, “Don’t forget your pillows!  I know you.  You’ll want to sleep in the car.”

I grunted as I sat up and looked around the room.  It was clean.  My mom always made us clean the house before we traveled to visit our huge family that lived six hours away.  I asked her one time why I had to clean before we traveled.   She said she didn’t like coming home to a messy house.  That didn’t make any sense to me then, but as an adult, I find myself doing the same thing.  I laugh a bit as I write this.

I climbed out of bed and got dressed.  Once I’m up, I’m up.  I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as the excitement built.  “I can’t wait to see my cousins!” I thought.  I brushed my teeth, grabbed a poptart and climbed in the car.  It was packed and ready to go. I had my pillow with me and my little brother in the backseat.  We fought on and off for six hours, as we always did. Mom’s arm flailed in the air in the backseat as we ducked and prayed she’d miss. Sometimes she got me though.  We would play the alphabet game. That’s where one of you sees the letter ‘a’ on a sign or something and you call it out.  It would get challenging on certain letters like ‘x’ or ‘v’.  That’s when you would pray for other cars to show up on the road so you could look at their license plates in hopes for your letter.  I loved playing that game.

I knew we were getting close when the car started to jostle on the dirt road.  I’d see grandma’s filthy outdoor dog, Sam.  He was a farm dog.  He was a good dog.  He loved being outside. He would chase the car all the way to Gran’s house. I’m not sure when we started calling her Gran but that name held so much love for me.  I loved my Gran so much.  I loved her hugs, her cooking, the quilts she made, her home, the sound of her voice saying my name, even when I was in trouble.  I loved the love her eyes held when she would look at you.  A room full of people, up to eighty one time, and you were all she saw in that moment.  You knew you were loved when you spent time with Gran.

I excitedly looked to see how many cars were there.  How many of my cousins would be there?  Did they miss me, too?  What adventures would we have?  What trouble would we get into?  How many fights would there be and over what?  Most of my cousins were boys and that worked out well for me, as I was a tomboy.  The minute the car stopped I hopped out and headed to the house, only to hear both of my parents call my name and order me back to the car to get my own suitcase.

I grunted, but did as I was told.  Stopping only to scratch Sam behind his ears.  He licked my arm and ran off.  As I walked into the trailer house I could smell the food cooking. Tomorrow would be Thanksgiving and that’s when ALL the family would arrive. Each would bring their best homemade dish.  I saw Gran and ran over to her, receiving the warmest, best hug.  She told me to put my things in my room.  She lived in a trailer that was connected by a small trailer and then another long trailer.  It formed a capital letter ‘L’.  My room was in the very very very back.  The last part of the trailers.  I would walk past a big refrigerator and a big freezer, near a bed.  Then turn down the last part of the ‘L’ and go through a huge closet, then two more small rooms until I found myself in the last room.  She had the bed made up.  The room was so small that the bed was against the wall on three sides.  She kept a little radio in there and there was one small light on a small dresser and a door that led outside.  The little trailer windows were covered in frost.  There was snow on the ground just outside them.  It was freezing in the little room so I turned on the small heater that was plugged into the wall.  I couldn’t wait to climb under the freezing cold sheets and quilts later.  It always took a while, but I would eventually get toasty warm.  I loved the quilts she made.  I still have several, even today.  I treasure them. I miss my Gran.

It wasn’t long before a handful of my cousins that lived nearby would whisk me away on adventures untold.  But the real excitement was the next day.

I woke up in my warm bed in my cold room.  I could smell coffee and bacon.  Gran was always up before all of us and cooking.  I didn’t want to leave my warm bed but then I remembered she was making chocolate gravy!  I hadn’t had that in ages!  I got up right quick with that thought and headed into the kitchen, barefoot and in my pajamas.

“Mornin’ Gran.”

“Mornin’,” she said then smiled.

“Did you make chocolate gravy yet?”

“I’m fixin’ to.  You wanna help?”

I nodded.  She had me get out one cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa, tablespoon of flour and vanilla extract.  I watched her put it all in the saucepan, cover it with water and start stirring with a wooden spoon.  That quickly became my job.  I remember thinking my arm hurt from stirring.  I didn’t realize cooking was so much work.  It gave me a new appreciation for all food that would be presented in a few hours.  She had homemade biscuits but I didn’t like biscuits so she also had white bread for me.  I broke it up and placed it on top of my chocolate gravy.  I loved the taste, the texture and the aroma.  So very good and I missed it!  It was too rich to eat too many bowls of it but I always tried to eat two.  A bit greedy I suppose.

I could hear the cars pull up on the gravel, snow and sludge outside.

My heart raced as I peered out the window.  My cousins!  A couple here and a couple there, finally my main group that I ran with were all assembled.  All boys.  After we ate we would walk across fields and silos until we got the huge house that my uncle built.  We would play outside and have to take our shoes off when we came in.  Sludge and white carpet do not mix.

We would play in the attic bedroom that two of the boys shared.  We could hear the grown ups in the music room downstairs playing gospel music.  We could feel the vibration of the drum beat.  We could hear them singing.  Looking back, I wish I could have appreciated how special it was.  I just never knew how much I would miss it one day.  But back then, we thought it was boring.  We had to hear those songs at church and we were always at church. There was always some function or revival.  Couldn’t they play something modern?  So in our boredom we would find other things to do.  We would listen to Elvis albums and hear my cousin do a spot on Elvis impersonation.  We would play dangerous games that should never be played.  Like, let’s take our aunt and uncles perfume and cologne bottles and turn out the lights.  Now let’s try to find each other and spray each other in the dark.  It was all fun and games until someone got sprayed in the eyes.  He screamed out in pain and we all tried to shush him thinking the tears would wash it out. But the music stopped, as did the crying.  You could hear a pin drop between the thuds of my uncles feet on the stairs as he climbed to the room.  He didn’t even ask questions.  He just lined us up and swatted our asses and said to behave. He took all the perfume bottles and cologne bottles, glared at us one last time and left.  We all rubbed our backsides and glared at the one who cried.  He sheepishly wiped his red eyes and asked if we wanted to go back to Grans for dessert.  We did.  So off we went in the darkness back past the silos, the high school, the park and wait…what was that?  A sewage drain thing.

The boys ran over to it.  It looked like a drain ditch, but it had sewage in it.  I had never seen one of those.  Then the boys decided to dare each other to jump across it.  I couldn’t let them outdo me.  I had to prove that girls could do anything boys could do.  Problem was, they had on normal coats.  I had on a long, girly, dress coat.  They all made it.  I got tangled up in my coat.  As we walked in the door, the grownups who stayed behind instead of going to my uncles for the music, all held their noses and yelled, “What is that smell?” The boys all laughed and pointed to me.  My Gran ran me off to the bathroom.  She took my coat and clothes to wash them and made me take a shower, immediately.  She left me my flannel nightgown. I took my shower.  When I got out, I was freezing,  so I did my favorite thing.  The heat came into the trailer through a vents on the floor.  I put on my nightgown and sat on top of the vent.  I sealed my gown to the ground with my butt and my feet, then my hands on the sides.  The heat came on and my gown filled up like a hot air balloon.  Ahhhhhhhh, the warmth was wonderful.

I heard the boys asking if I was done yet.  I came out and ran to my room.  It was freezing in that place.  I climbed under the quilts and shivered.  The boys all came in and piled on the bed with me.  They helped keep me warm.  I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose but I welcomed it anyway.  We turned on the radio and the country music was gone.  It was Thanksgiving night and that meant the Christmas music started.  We listened to Bing Crosby as we watched out the windows.  It began to snow.  We told ghost stories about great grandpa’s ghost making the rocking chair rock in the next room.  Sometimes it actually would rock.  We didn’t know if it was the older kids playing a trick on us or if it was really Great Grandpa.  Either way it didn’t matter.  We were happy and we were close and we were together.

I miss those times and I miss those loved ones.  But as I sit and reflect, I still feel the warmth.  The warmth of the heater, the warmth of my bed, and the warmth of the love that we shared.

Happy Thanksgiving

 

When You Pray For Me

Posted: November 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

My favorite thing you do, is pray for me.  I appreciate that you let me pray for you first each night.  Because the last thing I want to hear before I fall asleep is the sound of your voice praying for me.

Whether we are happy or whether we are frustrated with each other, we pray for each other at the end of the day.  We pray out loud.  I love that we show each other, even when we aren’t happy with each other, we still love each other.  Love always overshadows disagreements or misunderstandings.

My heart swells when I hear the blessings you hope for me.  I feel so loved when I hear you say all the things about me that you are grateful for.  I am so honored to belong to someone who treasures me the way you do.

I will live today as I live every day.  Enjoying life, helping where I can, loving my family and friends and excited to hear you pray for me just before I drift off to sleep.  Thank you, baby, for loving me this way.  pray-for-me

Irish Slavery

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

I know I haven’t written a blog in a while.  I am ready to get back to blogging.  This one will be a short one, though.   My book, Ireland Calls My Name is finally available in paperback and for the Kindle at Amazon.com.  Here is the link for the USA.  There are also Amazon links for several other countries available, including the UK.  Just look me up on the Amazon most familiar to you.  I am also posting a pic of the banner I will be using for my book signing tables.  My boyfriend, Kyle Hebert, set up my first book signing in Ireland July 8th.  I will also be doing my first panel along with another book signing in August in Hawaii.  I also received my first picture of a reader with my book in hand.  I am so excited for the world to learn the truth about Irish Slavery.  My book also has supernatural elements.  Let’s see how this thing goes.

Here is the link for my book on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010E46QCC?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I am writing about my book.  I have 11k words to go and my god…they are the hardest words to write.  Why, you ask?  You are so close to the end, you say.  Just write them and be done with it already…

Well, guess what?  If you are not a writer and you are a reader you need to know some things.  You may never ever understand them but I will do my best to explain them to you.  Do you know why?  It is because you are my friend.  You are the one I am writing for.  You are special and loved beyond measure.  You are the reason I have not finished this book and put it out there for you.  I know you will read it and fall in love with the characters.  I know you will not be able to but the book down for wanting to know what happens to them.  And you will die a bit when the book comes to an end, even though, yes, there is a sequel.  Your heart will sink and a sadness will envelop you and that breaks my heart.  Do you know why?  It is because I do not know how this book will end or the path it will take.  I dread sitting down to the computer and reading the next words that are inevitable…I dread the end, I dread the next chapter…hell, I dread the next paragraph.  Slaves lived through so many horrifying conditions.  My God, what will they experience next?  Will they escape or die?  OMG  I hate the waiting and writing to find out.

I honesty feel that I am writing the story of my ancestors.  Does that make me crazy or well intuned?  I don’t know and honestly, I don’t care.  I feel what I feel and I write what they tell me.  So one day, you all will read these words and wonder…”Are they truth or are the fiction?”  Guess what?   Odds are, they are someone’s truth.  I think it is my family’s truth but, alas, I will never know for sure.  All I can do is write what I dream and go from there.  I will finish this story, no matter how hard to see the things play out in my head.  I will see the end and I will write the sequel. It will move you and make you think.  And that is all I want.  I want the world to know what happened and I want the world to think about it.  I want YOU to know what my family experienced.  I want YOU to know what happened in 1649 and what Oliver Cromwell did to my people.  I never want my ancestry to be forgotten.

So, yes, I am still writing. And yes, It is coming along slowly.  It is quite burdensome to write about atrocities that my family experienced just so I could exist.  Now there is a thought.  What did my ancestors endure, just so one day, I could exist?

Thank you, forefathers and foremothers, for all of your sacrifices, just so one day, I could exist.  <3

Thank you for reading.  X

My Baby Is a Survivor

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

My youngest, my baby boy turned 22 years old today at 8:20am.  My baby is no longer a baby.  My baby is a man.  When did this happen?  I remember a pregnancy where I was bed ridden for 6 months of it, just to keep him alive.  I remember a delivery where he was in danger and it took three doctors to keep him alive.  I remember bringing him home and how much trouble he had breathing.  How he would cry when I would lay him down.  I remember doing nebulizer treatments every 3 hours, day and night, to keep him alive.  I remember how he had a cold when he was 18 months old and how we propped his baby matress up on one end so he could breathe better.  And how in the middle of the night I was awaken from a deep sleep with a feeling of dread.  I ran to his room and he had found a pacifier I must have left in his crib.  He had put it in his mouth but had a stuffy nose.  My baby was blue and limp.  I took the pacifier out of his little mouth, suctioned his tiny nose and blew air into his little lungs.  He took a deep breath and I cried.

He was and is adventurous, like his Momma.  He climbed the slide on the swing set out back when he was 2 1/2 and instead of sliding down, he jumped over the side, spraining his ankle.  I asked him why he did that and his answer was…’it was the fastest way down’.  He would scale bookcases and kitchen cabinets.  Always into something, always curious, always exploring.  He is much the same even now, just like his Momma.

When my son was 8 years old we went out for pizza.  By that night he had severe vomiting and diarrhea.  I treated him myself for two days and finally took him to the doctor.  They said it was a tummy bug.  I took him back home and slept on the bathroom floor with him for a few more days and nights.  We went back to the doctor and were told to keep treating it and they gave us medications for nausea.  He couldn’t hold them down.  At one point I was in tears when he stood in the bathtum with stuff coming out both ends and he looked up at me and asked, “Momma, am I dying?”  I said, “No baby, not on my watch.”  The next morning he came in the kitchen crying and said, “I looked in the mirror and I don’t know that boy.”  I turned around to see what he was talking about.  His face was so swollen I didn’t recognize my own child.  I rushed him to the doctor and his blood pressure was 180/150.  They couldn’t figure out whey he wasn’t having a stroke and we rushed him to the hospital.  it was touch and go the first 24 hours, as they tried to figure out what was wrong with my child.  His kidneys were failing.  I lay in his bed and hold him, praying for God to take me instead.  30 minutes before they were going to put a shunt in him, he finally peed.  I don’t think I had ever been happier.  His kidneys were working again!  I cried.  After 5 days of treatments and a ton of doctors at a doctor convention weighing in on what might be wrong, they said we could go home.  At 4pm on Sunday they took out his IV and his blood pressure skyrocketed again.  They put in a new IV and after two hours, got it back down.   Finally, at 7 they let us go home.  I went to the school the next day to get all the work he had missed.  His computer teacher never got any of the kids names right, but they loved her so much no one minded.  My son’s name is Raylie.  She saw me in the office and asked how Randy was doing.  lol  I smiled and said he is much better.  She asked me something, “Did something bad happen to him yesterday around 4?”  I asked why she was asking.  She said, “I was cleaning house and felt like I needed to pray for Randy.  So I did until that uneasy feeling left me around 6.”  I had goosebumps.  I told her what happened and she hugged me.

I remember when he was 15 and he took my hand his his and I realized his hand was bigger than mine.  I smiled but teared up.  And now, my son is taking care of me, just until I move to LA in January.  I live in a house he shares with his fiance’, his sister and brother in law.

My son is a crazy intelligent being who loves movies and anime and video games.  He works full time and goes to school full time to become a financial advisor.  He is independent and spirited and has a wonderfully goofy sense of humor.  My baby is no longer a baby.  My baby is a man.  A man I am so proud to call my son.  So many times, life could have taken him away, but I think the universe knew he needed to be here.  He touches lives, he cares for others and is always quick to help.  He is generous to a fault and draws the misfits, the dreamers, the thinkers and the like.  I have said many times in this blog that my son is like his Momma.  Now that he is grown, I strive to be like my son.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week.  X

me and r

My current WIP (work in progress) is about Irish slavery.  It takes place in 1649, beginning with the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland and how Oliver Cromwell sold so many Irish as slaves.  They came over on the same slave ships as the African slaves.  My protagonist, Talisyn O’Reilly meets an African slave named Zxander.  Together they are bought by the same man, each eleven years old.  They grow up together and are forced to breed.  The master wants a unique looking livestock.  The book is about their longing for freedom and attempts at escape, without the creation of a small life in the process.  Here is a scene from my book.  Edited by Brian Bowyer.

Talisyn’s eyes followed the men who appeared to be walking directly toward her.  As she watched them come closer, she was reminded of her childhood. She will never forget that day when, at eleven years old, the men came to Ireland.  The look of panic on her mother’s face as they ripped the young girl from her arms was branded in her memory.  She felt sick as one of the men grabbed her by her hair and pulled her away from the clotheslines.

“What are ye doing?” She clawed at the hand in her thick amber hair. “I’ve done nothing wrong!”

The men dragged her, kicking and fighting, all the way to the barn.  Once inside she saw Master and Zxander.  Zxander kept his eyes to the ground, as if he were ashamed.  There was an old, half-rotten wooden table in the middle of the barn.  She could hear the rain start to hit the roof.

“Tis raining,” she said.  “I need to get the sheets off the lines.”

The master said nothing.  He just pointed his cane towards the table and the men seemed to know what to do.

The four of them lifted Talisyn and slammed her down on the table.  They pinned her down, one man at each limb.  She watched in disbelief.

“What is going on?  What are ye doing?”  She kept her fearful gaze on the master’s.

“You have been here nine years, almost ten.  That is the end of your indentured servitude.  Normally I would just kill you about now.  But I figure I could make more money if I breed you and keep your child.  That child will be my property and I figure if I breed you and Zxander, that child will be self-branded, easy to prove as my property.  I am curious to see if I am correct, mixing an Irish slave with a negro one.”

“No!” she raged.

The master looked at Zxander and pointed at Talisyn with his cane.  Zxander walked over to Talisyn and lifted her dress.

“Please, Zxander. Don’t do this to me.”

Zxander said nothing. He simply climbed up on the table and eased his hard flesh against her untouched opening.  He gently pressed inside her and stared at the ground.  She flinched and whispered, “Zxander, look at me.”

He could not.  He shook his head and continued, trying to be gentle.

“Zxander, please . . .”

He still could not look into her eyes.

“Zxander, please, look at me. It will be more humane.  Am I not your friend?”

He looked at her. Tears welled up in his eyes. “I am sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.  Just keep your eyes on mine.  Zxander, look at me.”

She felt his body tense up and relax.  The men let go of her and grabbed Zxander.  The man with the whip beat his back.  But Master spoke up.

“Stop!  These two are not to be touched.  They are like my prized bull and my strongest heifer.  They will be fed and cared for.  Take them to the house.”

Talisyn sat up and watched three of the men drag Zxander out.

“Why be kind for one child?  You know I am leaving soon,” she reasoned.

“Really?”  Master said. “You would willingly leave your child with me?”  He laughed.

“My ten years will be up while I am pregnant,” she argued.

“I know. And you will have two choices.  I can cut your child out of you and let you die, or you can stay, have your offspring and raise it. But you have to give me more children.”

“You bastard.”

“No, my Irish whore.  The bastards are the babies you will be providing me with.” He laughed again.

Today I am going to write about my favorite moments with each of my kids.  I am loving my life here with them, but I know it will all change next year.  For now, we are all under the same roof.  Next year we will all be moving, no longer living together.  So I am enjoying the hell outta my babies until then.

First, my son’s fiance.  I wake up every morning and see her sitting on the couch, messing around on her computer, usually with school books open and studying.  She sets it aside and visits with me.  That is our time.  The early mornings when no one else in the house is awake.  It’s just she and I.  I absolutely love my mornings with her and miss her so very much when she isn’t around to talk to over coffee.

Second, my son.  He loves to go pick up fast food or energy drinks at midnight.  I love that he always comes to my room and asks me to go with him.  I usually say no and whine about it being late and how tired I am.  He argues that I can come in pajamas and barefoot and how he just wants me to come and talk with him.  So I do.  And I love those midnight car rides with my boy.  The one on one time with him in the car.  He tells me about his day and his dreams for the future.  I absolutely love the midnight runs with my boy.

Third, my daughter.  So one night this week was unusual in that my daughter and I were alone in the house.  So we ended up in the kitchen, experimenting with food.  She prepared the vegetables and I prepared the chicken.  While dinner cooked, we danced in the living room.  After we danced, her dog got jealous and she danced with me as well.  Once dinner was ready, we sat down and watched a movie together while we ate.  It was such a lovely evening.  I absolutely love hanging out with my daughter.

Fourth, my son in law.  I came home early from work one day.  I hadn’t been eating enough and ended up dizzy and sick.  He cooked a meal for me and asked me to come watch our show with him while we ate.  We watch Game of Thrones together each week.  So we got out a computer to watch the show from, but the sound was too low.  So he plugged in his earbuds and he took one, while I took the other and we sat there with your heads close together, each with an ear bud in an ear and huddled around the computer screen.  The show was incredible as always.  And I loved how he took care of me and then spent time with me.  I absolutely love spending time with my son in law.

So there you have it.  My favorite moments for the week with my kids.

On a side note, my boyfriend will be in town this weekend and I was fortunate to be able to take off those four days from work.  I am so excited to spend this time with him.  We haven’t seen each other since December.  We have spoken every day since then but not face to face.  I will write more about the love of my life in a few days.  All you really need to know for now is that we have been friends since we were 15 years old.  It just took us 30 years to realize we belong together.  And now I have the most beautiful relationship I have ever encountered.  I will write more soon.

Thank you for reading and have a great week.  X

 

Aside  —  Posted: June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized