A Tale from Cattail Alley

Ratzo is an orphan…at least that’s my best guess.IMG_6358

I remember the night.  I heard screeching battle cries in the valley below our house, a house perched on the banks overlooking Conneaut Creek.  And then silence.  I sat up in bed, sleepily mumbled, “Something just got et…way of the wild.” and fell back asleep.

“We’ve got a visitor!” I heard Len say the next morning.

“Blossom the possum’s in the garden?” I inquire.

“Nope.  It’s your fondest dream come true, that’s what.”

Well, that got my attention so I hurried to check out the garden.  Yep.  There it was: a small ball of black fur, a lonely mewing kitten about two months old.  I’d been wanting a new kitten and here it was.  My dream came true!

Not that we don’t have any cats.  We do.  Oops! I have to say “I’ do” ’cause Len refuses even a “hint” of cat ownership.  I’ve got plenty of ’em starting with Button in the spring of 2013. Button?  I haven’t told you about Button?  I’ll catch you up…it won’t take long.  Then I’ll get back to Ratzo.

I just couldn’t shake my sadness after Chockie passed in July of 2012.  I picked Chockie out of a litter of four Siamese kittens for my 51st birthday.  He stole my heart with his stubby, Fuller brush- like  tail.  I made up the KitKat song for him with a lot of silly verses like this one:

I’ve got a kitkat, he’s my kitkat…I love to hear him purr

I’ve got a kitkat, he’s my kitkat…When I pet his fur!

But he got old…almost nineteen years old.  He stopped eating, then drinking and quietly passed away.

A steady stream of feral cats traveled along the bluff behind our house.  I knew that and dubbed it Cattail Alley.  Why not? I thought.  Why not befriend a ferail cat?  So…I did.  I picked out a smallish black cat with white paws.  To the left of his mouth he had a round patch of white fur that looked just like a button.  How could I name him anything else?

It wasn’t long before Button’s belly began to bulge.  Uh oh, guess I lost that gender bet!  When Button didn’t show up for breakfast,lunch or dinner one day,  I guessed he…oops!…she was busy giving birth.  I’ll save the stories of Button’s kits for a later date.  Suffice it to say, Button delivered two litters before she was spayed.  Now…back to Ratzo.

Poor little guy! (Here I go again laying odds for a male cat!)  All alone…no mom, no sibs.  There are lots of safe nooks and crannies on the property for a little ball of fur to hide. I would see him peek out, nibble at the dry cat food I put out, then duck out of sight if he sensed danger.  He tried hanging out  on the deck with the Swamp Kitty Gang:  Wheezie, PurrBaby and Pippi, sibs from Button’s second litter. They, too, have a snappy song I sing to them.  My favorite verse is:

Swamp kitty, swamp kitty, What did you do last night?:

Swamp kitty says “I preyed with all my might!”

The Swamp Kitty Gang members are  savvy indoor/outdoor survivors come hell or high water and, believe me,  there are times when PurrBaby comes home drenched, dirty and smelly from a night’s adventure in the swamp valley.  We’ve seen Wheezy prancing with pride on the other side of the creek and discovered he, adventurer that he is, has made his own discoveries.  The swift river current recently took down a tree, which  landed across the river affording a convenient bridge to the other side.  Wheezie travels the Tree Bridge regularly and sometimes returns home smelly  with slugs on his underside.

The Swamp Kitty Gang isn’t too thrilled with the new kid in town.  Pippi, probably because she’s a she, is a bit more genteel than the guys.  She roams the neighborhood, not the valley swamps. If she weren’t spayed, for sure she’d have “hot mama” “reputation. However, given half a chance, she’s quite the vixen and gives Ratzo a hiss and a quick one, two, three with her claws when he tries to get close enough to nurse.

The boys are more tolerant of Ratzo and his playful attacks.  Boys will be boys as they say.  Both PurrBaby and Wheezie enjoy a good chase around the house ending in an all out, no-holds-barred wrestling match.  I keep telling Ratzo he ain’t gonna win, but hey, boys will be boys, and he never listens.  By the way, I caught sight of Ratzo’s fuzzy balls during a recent tussle so this time, I win the bet!

There’s no way Ratzo will ever  join the Swamp Kitty Gang.  He seldom strays farther than the deck or garden during the day and prefers spending nights indoors.  He’s definitely a lap kitty, which is OK with me. Guess I’ll have to make up a new song just for Ratzo!

Blogging 101….. Why I blog and what my blog is about…

While I was touring New Zealand and Australia for five months as a workawayer, I decided to start a bog when I returned to the States.  My objective(s)/purpose for the blog were (and still are) kind of vague, but here are some thoughts I entertained:  I wanted to know what I learned from the experience.  I wanted to know “how” the experience changed me.  I wanted to understand the “why” of the personality conflicts I encountered with my partner.  I kept a daily journal of events and feelings about these events and planned to use this as a starting point.  My format for presentation was unplanned.

My ginablueblog now has 10 posts titled,   “It Happened in New Zealand…or Was It Australia…” I choose to make my posts public because I want/need an audience for my writing.  Audience feedback hones/improves my writing and, more importantly, it keeps me focused and inspires me to keep on writing. I recently completed Writing 101.  Connecting with fellow bloggers gave me the opportunity to develop an audience.  Not only that.  I discovered reading/responding to the writing of my  fellow bloggers opened my mind to fresh, creative ideas of my own!  I was amazed!

I’m still working with format ideas.  My first 8 posts were without pictures.  Instead , the audience had to create their own pictures.  First I wrote straight narrative with dialogue included.  Then I tried my hand at setting up acts/scenes as if I were writing a play, and then I tried setting up scenes as if I were shooting a movie.  Now I’m including pictures and my format is taking another shift.  Again, an audience is important.  Audience feedback tells me what format works and what format doesn’t.

Writing 101 Day 20 The Future…

Until writing 101…

I was stuck. in the doldrums…I mean really stuck !  What happened was,  the daily writing assignments, combined with the interaction with my fellow classmates, I was on fire! And I loved it!  Now that the four  week program is over, the flames are dying out, but the embers…the embers are still glowing brightly…

In retrospect…

I liked the thought of waking up and thinking, What will my writing assignment be today…I wonder… or sometimes, if I peeked at the assignment he night before I went to bed, I would think about/dream about  my writing possibilities for the next morning. It was comforting…comfortable.

I never panicked…not once.  I let the idea come to me.  When I sat down at my computer ready to write #9 An Open Letter, my thoughts were organized and ready to go, but my approach to the topic just didn’t flow.  No problem.  I saved my writing as a draft and went on to write An Open Letter to the Biker I Pissed Off.   When I got to #17 Mining Your Own Material, I actually opened up that draft and completed it (Way of the Wild)!

Planning the approach to #18 A Map as Your Muse took the longest to congeal.  But no worries here!  One of the things Writing 101 encourages me to do is: think outside the box.  First of all, I have not mastered including images along with my text (Hopefully I will soon be getting a hearty laugh out of that line!), so I entitled my composition “Picture This…) Then it occurred to me I “mapped” a game plan when I played Bananagrams.  Smooth sailing from that point on!

I chose to write a 50 word story simply because I didn’t think I could do it!  (Word Count #12)  As it turned out, it was easy as pie!  I used to write editorials, which challenged me to make every word count.  My writing became very “tight.”  Without knowing it, I acquired a skill for writing very short stories!

The most fun writing assignment was #10 “If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you…”  What a great strategy/way to “move” right into my style of writing!

For me the most exciting assignment was collaborating with another blogger!  Here I was (just little ol’ me!) exchanging emails with Yvonne in the Netherlands and Ruth in the UK!  I, the non-gamer, agreed to be interviewed by Yvonne, the gamer. It turned out to be an excellent post! and I even learned a few things about myself!  Ruth and I agreed on a Halloween theme, so I wrote about Halloween as it is typically celebrated in the US.  Both ladies were kind enough to feature me on their  blog sites.  What fun!!  Thanks again, ladies!

The future?

Herein lies my challenge!  I do well with a structured setting, which Writing 101 supplied for me.  Now it’s my turn.  I’m a retired teacher (and have been for the past three years), so there’s plenty of time available for structure, but so far (except for my five months on-the-go adventuring in NZ and AU ) I have not been successful at it.  As I said, herein lies my challenge…I must fan the embers!

Writing 101 Day 18 A Map as Your Muse

Picture This…

I love to play Bananagrams! And surprise of surprises…(I never would’ve guessed it in at thousand years)…my 93 year old mother is my  most awesome, formidable  opponent!   We both love words.  Big words…little words…it doesn’t matter.  In the past we’ve both tried our hand at playing Scrabble.  I guess we both agree we lost interest because there was a time lapse (not always though) waiting for our opponent to make their play.  Bor-ing!  Another reason it didn’t work for me was sometimes I ended up playing upside down and…well…other than doing somersaults and standing on my head, I’ve never been good at deciphering anything upside down.

Bananagrams is an off shoot of Scrabble.  Like Scrabble, it’s about building a crossword puzzle using randomly  picked tiles.  Unlike Scrabble, each player builds her own crossword puzzle.  No waiting between moves.  Each player builds her puzzle at her own speed.  When the initial 21 tiles have been played, she announces “peel,” which means each player takes one more tile from the pile.  If either my mom or I get stuck and cannot use all 21 tiles, we have the option of saying “dump,” which means the player who “dumps,” throws in one tile and takes out three.   The game continues until all tiles are used.  These rules are standard.  What is discretionary is what  words are acceptable for use and what words are not,  even though they may be included in Webster’s.  For instance, Mom and I have agreed that expressions like “hi, hey, yuk,ugh” and so on, are not acceptable.  Rules, however,  may be amended.  Just last week we did exactly that and agreed either “ok” or “okay” were acceptable words.

So what is the point of this narrative?  Just this:  Just as we “map out”  how to get from one place to another, I, for one, “map out” my game plan.  My mom says I’m better at it than she, but…who’s to know?  I have a number of strategies that help me get from “split” (this word signals “go!”) to “bananas” (which signals “I win!”).

It’s important to keep the “U” tile available just in case the “Q” turns up.  I usually build my puzzle going up from left to right so what I do is branch off to the left with the “U”  This way I don’t have to tear my puzzle apart when a “Q” arrives.

I keep my vowels available by building words like “tan.”  If I need an “a” to build another word,  I take it out and replace it with an “e,” “i,” or “o” !  Another strategy is to build words by changing the consonant  in front of a root such as “ake.”  No less than 10 additional words are at your finger tips!  And that’s the tip of the iceberg!

If my initial start-up puzzle isn’t building upwards and I’m feeling stuck, I scratch my puzzle and begin again.  The second start stands a better chance of success because I have more letters to work with.  There have been a few games in which I have started over three times.  And we all know “the third time is the charm”!  Admittedly, as the game progresses and there are fewer and fewer tiles to pick from meaning the game will be ending soon, it’s risky to start over.  But not only have I done it , I’ve done it and won the game!  It’s worth the risk!

My last strategy is to mentally keep track of simple changes I can make.  For instance, where can I easily add or remove a “Y” (tiny – tin) or an “s” (hot – shot) or an “a” (ajar – jar)?

Oops!  Here’s one more important strategy, one which my mother forgets and doesn’t like to remember:  Small words count just as much towards winning as do long word’s  It’s an effective strategy that allows me  to use up my tiles to “get there,” to win, and, after all, that  is the plan, isn’t it??

Writing 101 Day 17 Mining My Material

 Way of the Wild…

CatTail Alley runs along the bluff right behind our house overlooking  a valley and Conneaut Creek.  I dubbed it that because of all the feral  cats that travel this path every day going from meal to meal I suppose.   I didn’t give it more thought until I lost  my faithful  Siamese cat,  Chockie.  Why not?  I thought.  Why not befriend a feral cat?

I picked out  what looked  like a young cat, maybe six or seven months old.  He had smooth black fur with white paws.  His face was black too, and just to the left of his mouth was a patch of white fur which looked like a button.  I named him Button.

Button has remained feral over the years.  She stops by for a meal, but won’t let me touch her.  She?  Oh did I forget to mention I lost the 50/50 bet? He is a she!  She has had two  litters now and all, including Button, have been spayed and neutered.

Button and her kittens have taught me a lot about animal behavior, the Way of the Wild.  Button was in the process of weaning her kits when she began to hiss and spat at her children.  That was her way of saying, “You’re on your own now.  I’ve given you a safe haven, a source of food.  The rest is up to you to survive.”  Button  knew she would be soon be in the family way  again and needed time to prepare her body.

Wheezer, a kit from  Button’s second litter, just couldn’t keep up with his sibs.  He was smaller in size and would experience  lengthy  wheezing  jags as if he was coughing up a hairball.  He tried but wasn’t able to play with his sibs.  Lung or respiratory problem?  I don’t know.  Chronic or acute.  I don’t know.  I made a decision. No vet. Wheezie would either live or die.  The Way of the Wild!   Miraculously one day the wheezing stopped…just like that!!  He’s a year and a half now and has had only  two short relapses.  He is strong and healthy.  He is an adventurer and sometimes absent from home two days at a time.  He, for sure, is my favorite !

During the night, we occasionally hear a row in the valley, a screeching , a yelping of animals in battle for their lives.  Then silence.  The Way of the Wild!  One lives and one dies.  About two months ago there was such  night.  I remember sitting up in bed thinking, Well, something just got et.  The Way of the Wild.!  I  laid down and continued my sleep.  In the morning,  I heard soft mewing in the garden.    There it was…a small black ball  of  fur, a kitten about two months old.  Not difficult to put two and two together…An orphan!  I thought.  His name is Ratzo.

The Way of the Wild:   Unpredictable. Scary.  Fierce.  Brutal. Honorable!

Writing 101 Day 16 Stats…Ideas for Future Posts?

If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you…

I haven’t the foggiest idea of how to handle this assignment.  But before I go there, I just have to tell you about my crazy morning.  Well, actually it all started last night.  I am collaborating with two other bloggers  (I’m really excited about that!!) and need to stay in touch through emails.  For some inexplicable reason  (which even if some Geek explained it to me I would not understand…I have a very simple brain…perhaps too simple…but I like it!),  I can no longer send emails through Yahoo.  Well, that was a sudden stop!!  wasn’t it?  I discovered by accident (of course…accidental progress is my lifestyle, not by choice you understand…that’s just the way it is…goddamit!) I do have a g-mail account so I’m using it to continue our collaboration.  The good news is I have successfully sent off my Halloween story to my fellow blogger.  And now back to assignment #16…

If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you…I didn’t know where to begin so I just went back and forth between my sites, reading stuff and thinking about the stuff I just read.  After reviewing “top posts,” I noted that “If we were having morning coffee” garnered the most viewers so that’s why I’m using that format for this assignment. That makes sense, doesn’t it?  I also noted that when I clicked on a specific day, stats told me “Home Page” garnered the most views with “Writing Assignments” in second place.  When I viewed day-by-day stats, I noted the number of “Home Page” viewers kept dramatically dropping, whereas the number of “Writing Assignment”  viewers (although there was a gradual drop)  began to stabilize.  So what does this mean to me?  I guess “Home Page” is the “hook.”  Bloggers are exploring the net seeking not only an interesting blog, but one that meets/challenges their personal interests.  My Home Page needs a pep talk so I’m thinking about how the conversation will go…  The fact that the number of “Writing Assignment” viewers has stabilized is a good thing.  I can build from there.  Viewers also liked my “50 word stories” so that’s another format I can feature.

If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you...a little bit more of what I have learned.  Viewer countries??  #1 US, #2 UK although at some points the two reverse.  #3 either Canada or Netherlands.  I’ll just store that away.  I have much to learn.  I don’t know much about “search terms” unless it’s the same as “tags”??  “Referrers” and “Clicks” mean nothing to me at this point.  I’m not sure how sophisticated this ol’ girl will ever be…but…for darn sure, I’m having scads of FUN!

If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you...what I would write about (in 50 words) if I found out that over night I gained 50.000 bloggers…read on…

Fifty thousand new bloggers over night? An impossible, improbable achievement is mine! What  could top that?  Just like when I lived in  New Zealand and Australia for five months.   A dream come true!  What could top that?  Death must be near I thought,  but  It didn’t happen.  Maybe this time?

If we were having morning coffee, I would tell you...thanks for stopping by, hanging in there with me,  and reading it to the bitter end.  Since I quit the prison three years ago, I don’t swear very much, but I see a “goddamit” did creep into the narrative.  Please excuse!

Writing 101 Day 6 My Space to Write

Now that I’ve returned home and am blogging about my NZ/AU adventures, I have developed some writing habits.  Here in the living area, my computer sits on a portable desk near the sliding door leading to the deck.  Here I can look out over the wooded valley  for inspiration and also be present when members of my cat family show up for food or pets.

I’m always up and down.  When I have a break in thought while writing, I get up and head for the kitchen, which is located conveniently right  behind me.  I’m usually in the process of concocting or preparing something.  Today it’s hot cross buns.  When a line pops into my head, I stop what I’m doing and return to my writing.  And so it goes.  It’s a fun process!  The result:  a post and dinner…or at least an item on the dinner menu!

My physical surroundings also include other things like my travel journals from 2013 and 2014-2015.  If I’m reading a book for reference, it’s here too.  And not to forget my unabridged dictionary along with my magnifying glass to read the fine print.  I just purchased an OTC pair of +200 reading glasses…we’ll see how that works! Of course pens and hi-liters are scattered about.  I’ve never mastered a high degree of organization even though I keep trying.  One more very important item is my blue exercise  ball. I use that to stretch out/relax my back .  I take a few minutes to close my eyes and gently roll around to the left and then to the right, up and down and bounce a bit.  Ahhh…very relaxing!  Then…back to writing mode.

Oh, yes…lighting.  Now that I have a larger monitor lighting is not so much of an issue.  On my left II have daylight from the SE and a lamp lighting my computer.  Overhead there’s a light fixture sending light over my right shoulder.  Day or night, my light seems adequate.

Well, that about sums it up!

Writing 101 Day 15 Cue from my readers…

Feel the Music

My favorite piece of music for all time…in my whole life…is:  The Lion Sleeps Tonight, recorded by The Tokens in 1961.

That year I was a freshman at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Because the university ran out of dorm space, six of us were housed off campus at the Corner Cottage.  Our House Mother was Lani Tagashi, a Hawaiian native who loved to tell us stories of Pele, the Goddess of Fire, and always returned from semester break  with tons of macadamia nuts. I loved her.

Lani had a radio.  I think it was the only one in the house.  One day I heard this amazing music coming from her room…the sounds I heard mesmerized me and drew me closer…I never heard anything like it before:   the staccato beat…the falsetto lead…the wailing soprano in the background…all coming together…a cataclysm…a rogue wave pounding the break wall…again!…and again!

It took me many years to understand my affinity for this song.  I know now this music excites/activates my sacral chakra, my orange chakra.  My body fills with pleasure akin to a sexual orgasm.  I experience a similar internal pleasure when I hear a drum cadence/riff or when  jet engines rev up getting ready for take off. I can feel the energy of the drums and engines as I can with music.

Hearing…feelingThe Lion Sleeps Tonight magically lifts me out of this world and into the realm of timeless space.  I love it there!

Writing 101 Day 14 Recreate 10 minutes or less

The family wakes up to a shiny day…

Ehhhh…I lift my groggy head from the pillow…the digital clock on the wall reads…squint…squint…uhhh…7:47…I think….think?…no, no,no! toosoontothink…can’t be sure…my peepers are just squeakin’ in light

and it’s…uhh…bit foggy…a bit?  hell, it’s like lookin’ thru translucent sandpaper…all those scratchycrazydots…there must be a picture-in-there

somewhere ….another try…I’llI give it another try…open sesame’!….yeah…7:48!…it’s time…uhhh…time to roll out ‘n’…uhhh…oh, yeah…feed the family.

Ally oop! I sit up…eyes a’blinkin’ ‘n’ tossin’ out the sand….I throw my legs over the side of the bed ‘n’ my feet, my very savvy feet slidey-shuffle into their

Chakos…Upsidaisy…UP! we go…shuffle down the hall…What?  No reception committee?shuffle past the bathroom…Where’s that little black

Ratso?? Oh yeah, the stairs… the railing…I’m clickin’ now…thunk, thunk...8 more thunks to get to the bottom of the stairs…the light…the light…follow the

light…OkeyDokey, guys…I’m a’comin’...shuffle…shuffle...I’m a’comin’…the room’s gettin’ lighter…shuffle…shuffleRatso?

Where are you, Ratso?..shuffle...oops! whoa!...two golden eyes blink me to a stop!…OMG, didn’t even see you, Ratso…you’re all

black…just like the room…light…please god, give me more light!…step…step…step…step...I reach…step…step…step...the deck  door…step, step… push the lock, and rumble the door to

the left…ahhh…brisk air smacks my face ‘n I see …what do I see??…SUN!…over there…across the valley…sunny sun …gonna be a…whish…shiny…whish...day!

My ankles…whish... are swamped by soft furry cattails…1…2…3….4…all accounted for…ok, guys…line up for chow.!

Writing 101 Day 13 Vignettes of the Heart

Business of the Heart

It was just another day, another visit to Edgewood Cemetery where most of my paternal relatives are planted, but this time with a twist!

Mom and I were leaving said cemetery when one of us…or both…I don’t recollect exactly…noted the door to the mausoleum was, of all things, OPEN! I had never been in a mausoleum before, let alone one in our family cemetery.  We looked at one another with a cocky-let’s-do- it! smile and the next thing I know we’re peeking around the door.  No one in sight!  To the left there were some handyman  buckets and brushes and brooms, but no one to order us OUT.  We began to explore and read the epitaphs.

The Kahne family are there…I’m reading…Marie A. Kahne…MARIE A. KAHNE?…Miss Kahne?  She was my high school Home Room teacher in 29B!  I hated her,  and what’s more, she hated me!!  I can’t say why exactly.  Everyone in school knew she was a gargantuan, ugly, frustrated old maid with one hellava chip on her authoritative shoulders!  I may have been diminutive and cute, but I could match her in spades with my hellava chip on my sarcastic shoulders!  Actually we had a lot in common, but back then I just didn’t see it that way.  Suffice it to say, Miss kahne and I had many cryptic encounters in 29B.

My heart softened.  It was time to make amends and this was my moment of opportunity.  I borrowed a handyman broom and swept away the cobwebs, killed a few spiders while I was at it, then continued to sweep away accumulated dust and dirt covering the floor beneath her plaque.  Looking better!  A vase…i needed a vase.  Nearby was an empty one so…well…I “borrowed” it.  Flowers?  Well, I “borrowed” a few of those from nearby graves, gave thanks and scrammed.  I placed the vase of flowers below her plaque and spoke a few sentences of apology.  It was a moving moment, even now as I write.  I have not returned…


I have only attended one high school reunion and then only briefly at a scheduled social event.  But I do think about some of my classmates from time to time.  In 2011, Sue a friend from 1st to 12th grades, sent me a print out of my “still living” classmates.  I noted that two of them…a girl who rode my bus and a boy who sat next to me in Home Room (Not Miss  Kahne’s)…were living in Conneaut where I live.  What fun…I thought…to look them up and say “Hi”.  Two years later, I finally get around to it.  By that time, Tom has passed on, but Delores is still around.

After several unanswered calls, she finally answers her phone.  Yes, she remembers me.  She lives in North Conneaut.  I have done a lot of bike riding in that neighborhood.  It’s pleasant area where the homes are interesting and well kept.

Funny, I thought she would be living in subsidized housing.  As a kid she lived in a disheveled pink house, had a shady reputation and was called “Doll.”

She says she travels a lot between the Cleveland Clinic and Conneaut and is pretty exhausted most of the time.  Her husband is in Stage 4 of some kind of cancer.  She talks about the fun times she and he have had and wishes there was more time to do things they have talked about.

“There’s something I want to tell you,” I change the subject.  “Do you remember when you asked me to submit your application to join Rainbow Girls?”  It was a long time ago, but, yes, she remembered.  “You were black balled.”

I knew she would be when I turned in her request.  I remember vividly the very long meeting when a list of girls’ names was presented for membership.  The first round is generic and includes all names.  If a black ball is found in the box, the membership then votes one-girl-at-a-time to find out which one is not wanted…no questions asked.  This was one of those nights.  Delores was not wanted…by someone or several someones…who’s to know?

“I want you to know I thought it was wrong to do that…to black ball you.  I felt bad for you.  I also want you to know… that was one of the two reasons I quit the organization.  I don’t believe in elitism.  When I was 17, I wasn’t able to speak up for what I believed, but now, as an adult, I can.  And I wanted to tell you how I felt.”  Delores sort of mumbled it was something that happened a long time ago, not very important in the broad scope of things. What could she say?…We chatted a bit more, then said goodbye.

I may or may not see or talk to Delores again.  It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is:  one heartfelt call.


In 2011, the father of my children passed away.  I was riding my bike when my phone went off and I got the news.  He had been failing for some time so the news was expected.  What wasn’t expected was my reaction.  All my anger came welling  up inside.  I briefly remember, as I pedaled along, thinking that my three kids would be ok, they had each other to lean on at this emotional time.

What I know now, but didn’t know then was…I just gave myself permission to go on a pity party!

I began an internal monologue.  I ranted and raved and relived  those miserable years when he was out drugging, out scoring at the pool table and apparently with some of what I called his “Sub Culture” floozies.  I remember well the night when the clock was approaching 4 am.  He’s dead!  I thought. He’s finally dead!  Then shortly after 4am I heard the door open.  Damn!

My pity party was still in high gear when the backlash began.  Jamie wrote me a scathing letter, but was willing to forgive me if I apologized . Apologize for what, for pete’s sake??  Steve wasn’t talking to me.  Why??  I wondered.  Karen was neutral and seemed to understand what I didn’t understand and wasn’t angry about anything.

It took me a whole year to “see”/understand the situation from my kids’ point of view.  “You didn’t  even send us a condolence card, Mom!”  That’s Jamie talking.  “I just lost my dad and now it seemed I lost my mother too.”  That’s Steven talking.  “I understand.”  That’s Karen talking.  I had much to think about.

I knew what I had to do and goddamn it, I didn’t want to do it!  I opened my heart and wrote an open letter of apology to my three children, the most difficult letter I’ve ever written.  No excuses were allowed…I knew that wouldn’t fly.  No.  I had to come out and say, “I was wrong.  I wasn’t there for you.  I never called you.  I never sent a card of sympathy.  I am so sorry that I hurt you so deeply.  I love you!  Please forgive me.”

And.. .Bless their forgiving hearts…we’re all friends today!