Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Peaceful Photos - They bring memories that make me smile.

John C. Campbell Folk School - a peaceful place to write and enjoy the view
A Sand Crane? I found this fellow in Palmetto Florida across the road from where I was staying.

One of my favorite places on earth - Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. I think I would love to live there, at least in the summer.
From the Marriott Resort where we stayed in Hawaii - another of my favorite places. I will add more Hawaii photos this fall.
My deck garden. I can sit inside and enjoy my flowers
Silhouette of cows at the pond at sunset on the farm in SW Georgia, taken by my nephew, brings back memories of all the years I lived there with the cows, horses, and family.
A golden field in Clay County in early summer. Peaceful and quiet. 

Sunset over the mountains with all the pinks filling the sky as the sun disappears and my favorite time of day begins. What do you call that time of day between daylight and dark?

Monday, August 7, 2017


I recently read an article on compassion in the workplace. That made me think of compassion in any area of our lives. It seems to me that our culture has changed in the past few decades. I think the twentieth century was more compassionate than the twenty-first. Or, maybe it just seemed that way. 

It has become popular to step on those who are already down. Homeless people are considered to all be drug users or just lazy. We are quick to judge others when we have not a clue what is happening in their lives.

Women who feel they can't carry and birth a baby for whatever reason, are practically stoned and thrown out of the tribe on social media and by some people I know who attend Christian churches. There seems to be no compassion for a family where another mouth to feed means such a financial threat that the parents fear losing their home or one parent having to quit work and cutting the basic budget so much they can't pay the mortgage or buy groceries or medicine for other family members. The majority of abortions are for married women. 

I hear from wealthy people who never had to wonder if they could pay for the next meal, that there are jobs available, but people are just too lazy to work.
What about those women, usually, who have to quit work, move in with their parents to care for them? Care-giving is a huge responsibility. Many of them give up their own lives to make sure their mothers and fathers don't suffer, don't go without food, and that they get the proper daily care. Older people on a fixed income of social security, even if they have a small pension cannot afford to hire someone to come every day to take care of them.

I delivered Meals On Wheels for a while here in my county. 
I felt such compassion for the elderly, many who lived alone in a mobile home, who did not drive and never saw anyone but the person who delivered their free meal. In one of the richest countries in the world, it seems such a shame to see sick people with so little help.

At the time, I was healthy and strong, but imagined myself in the same situation one day. Now, much older, I wonder if I could end up the same way. As our necessities grow more and more expensive, and our income doesn't grow at all, many of us could be in the same boat. 

Also, people with invisible illnesses are often criticized as being lazy and living off the government. Where is the compassion for those people? Mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and other illnesses can prevent the patient from holding a full-time job. If they have to quit work and take disability, they are scorned because they don't look sick. They are afraid to take a part-time offer or do anything where they get paid because they could lose the disability which they desperately need. Our laws force some people not to work. 

We can't always judge by looks. I have diabetes, fibromyalgia, and MCS, none of which can be seen when looking at me. All of these cause extreme fatigue, and I use a handicap parking place when I can't manage the long walk from the parking lot. I ride the mobile cart in the grocery store. Invisible issues make us sick but don't always send us to bed. We trudge on as best we can. I wish people were not so quick to judge. That is God's work, not ours.

We as a people seem to have lost compassion for others. 
We openly criticize and hurt feelings. Shaming has become a way to hurt others. Remarks about looks, weight, clothing, and any way to find fault is used to make a person feel ashamed. If someone is different from us, we dislike or hate them. We hear so much now about the cruelty to children. If they dress differently from us, we accuse them of horrible things even when they were born here in the good old USA and are as American as apple pie. 

Social media has given a platform for mean-spirited people to spew out their ugliness without consequences. Name calling has become a huge problem. Even the president during the campaign called his opponents hurtful names for no reason. He got away with it, and I think that has brought out even more lack of compassion in our country. I have heard people defend him by saying, "Oh, that is just the way people in New York talk." I hope that is not true. I have friends from New York and they are not cruel to others. If they were, they would not be my friends.

The lack of compassion from people at the top is the worst. That is why I am a fan of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. They use their wealth for the good of the downtrodden, to fix major problems in the world. That is why Jimmy Carter is my hero. This man, and his wife, Rosalynn, show their compassion and empathy. He has even stood up to the Southern Baptist Convention because he feels they don't give women the same rights in the church as the men. The Carters have spent their lives doing for others, giving voice for those who have no voice in this world. Most recently he has been a voice for women who are abducted and used as sex slaves. 

Here is my example of the difference between people with compassion and those who have no compassion. A social worker complained about some who try to obtain government help when she feels they don't deserve it. She thinks the programs to help the poor should be discontinued. She voted for Mr. Trump because she thought he would cut out aide for the people who can't make enough money to feed and house their families. 

Another person thinks, this program helps so many people who need it, I think we must improve it and keep it even if some take advantage. This person has compassion for others. 

A man on the street is begging. He holds a sign, will work for food. If I give him a few dollars will he use it to buy food? I don't know. But he is probably hungry and I would rather give him a little money than wonder all day if I denied him nourishment. I have compassion for anyone who is homeless or has to resort to begging. I am not overly religious, but I remember from my years in church what Jesus did. He had compassion for those who were in need. I don't remember reading where he made people prove they were in need before he helped. 

Some say they have more compassion for dogs and cats than for people. They have contempt for the common man. I wonder what caused such distrust in humanity. But I know that just because a man is poor financially doesn't mean he is poor in character. How many times have we seen a person from a poverty- stricken home become a highly respected person as an adult, and many times it was because of the hard times lived through. He likely faced shame, humiliation and wondered if he ever would make it. When we give a hand to those in need, we often make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.

Perhaps if more people stopped to think, there but for the Grace of God go I, kindness and compassion would become the norm in our country. I like the TV show about the boss who disguises himself and goes to work in his stores or factories to see what the people do and think about the company. He walks in the shoes of those who do the menial tasks. He learns his shortcomings and how he can help those who are loyal even though they are barely hanging in there financially. The boss learns compassion, I think, by talking to his employees who do not know who he is, and he hears their personal problems.
Homeless Shelters
Most of the people in homeless shelters go to work every day. So it is not that people are not working. The problem is they can't make a living wage. They can't save up enough money to pay two months rent up front on a place to live. I recently overheard a clerk in a retail store say that she worked three part-time jobs. "I have to find a full-time job," she said. "I can't keep on like this working day and night."  

If you have not looked at the cost to rent a decent apartment in your town, why not check it out? The renter has to pay a deposit and then a first and last month rent before he can sign a lease. With most people in our country only having about six months emergency fund in the bank, you can imagine if one of the parents loses a job, how quickly a family can become homeless.

Homeless children are the saddest of all to me. My compassion level rises up and up when children have no place to call home and often don't know where they will sleep each night. It takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem and their trust of people in general. Sometimes they never get over it.

I have been on my soap box today and I hope you forgive my long-winded post. I hope you show compassion for those who are hurting, who are lonely, and who are in need. We might not be able to give money, but we can call or write a letter or share something we have. We can all give love and caring. That costs us nothing. 

What do you think? Is the world suffering from lack of compassion? If one shows compassion, does that imply weakness? 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Written on Thursday, August 3, in honor of Kay Byer

This week I am honoring my friend, Kathryn Stripling Byer, who died on June 5, by posting some of the photos I've made over the years and some from her blog.

Her family is honoring her at The Community Table in Sylva, NC on Saturday, August 5, 3:00 p.m. Her husband, Jim Byer has selected some of her poems to be read and her favorite music to be played.

I am sure the place will be filled. Kathryn was absolutely loved and admired by, not only writers and poets, but everyone who knew her. 

On her Facebook page, her admirers have poured out their heart-felt sadness at her passing, and they have told stories of her generosity. I and others were often surprised when she brought us gifts from her travels around the country. She was thoughtful of others even when they were not present. 

She had a heart way bigger than almost anyone I know. When I told her of a person in serious need, she promptly sent a check to help out. But it was her caring and giving of herself that I will always remember. It has been evident in the past couple of years that she was an advocate for those less fortunate and those who did not have a voice. She spoke out for the underdog and demanded her government representatives speak out as well. 

You can find a number of videos of her reading her poetry and talking about poetry on You Tube.  Just search for Kathryn Stripling Byer.

As Poet Laureate of North Carolina, she broke the glass ceiling. No woman had ever held that title before Kathryn. She visited schools, traveled and read poetry and talked to groups from Murphy to Manteo, NC.

Kathryn had a special blog for her laureateship. And she wrote a monthly column as well.

This is one of her columns.
Roots and Bedrock 

By Kathryn Stripling Byer 

Labels can corral us and keep us from thinking outside that enclosure. Most Southerners,

for example, pride themselves on being conservative, yet few seem to remember the root

of the word itself. When people speak of “conservative values,” they are using a catch

phrase that refers hardly at all to what the word really means. When I remember how my

grandmother saved every button, every recipe, every morsel of food left on the table, or

how my grandfather cherished and cared for every square inch of his farm, I know that

this is where real conservative values begin. (read the rest of the article here.)
Here Where I Am is a great place to  learn about poetry, about how to  write poetry and what poetry meant to Kay Byer.
In Voice Lessons Craft Tip and Prompt she praises Diane Lockwood's book, The Crafty Poet. When the latest edition of it came out, Kay sent me a copy. Just another example of her generous nature. She loved promoting other writers and poets on her blogs or Facebook or wherever she could.  

Kathryn Byer made a difference in the lives of many writers whether poets or novelists, beginning writers who needed encouragement, older writers who needed help with modern publishing, or those of us who needed to reach a writer in North Carolina but didn't know him or her. Kay was my  go-to person for all things literary in our state or in the country. I miss her.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pelham Lady Goes to Her Reward - My Grandmother

As I was going through stacks of papers in my office, trying to separate writing from genealogy and personal information, I came across a copy of my grandmother's obituary in the Pelham Journal. She died in 1930. I believe this was copied by my cousin Peggy Ann Whitley when she and her mother, my aunt Mildred, went to Pelham and surrounding area researching our family many years ago.

If you are a family historian or if you are interested in genealogy as I am, finding an obituary can be very helpful for your records. I learned several things from this one.

Pelham Lady Goes to Her Reward

Mrs. Lula Robison, wife of W.H. Robison died suddenly at her home in East Pelham Saturday morning at ten o’clock.

Funeral services were held at the Hand Memorial Methodist Church Sunday afternoon at four o’clock with Rev. Guyton Fisher and Rev. C.C. Kiser in charge. Interment followed in Pelham cemetery. Mrs. Robison was widely known and loved throughout this section and surrounding county.

Her passing was a source of much sorrow.

She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Jones of Grady County and was borned on September 18, 1870.

She was married to William Robison of Cairo in 1887. Into this union were borned eight children. The oldest being H.A. Robison of Blakely, Ga., Mrs. J.M. Blitch of Cairo, Mrs. A.S. Blitch of Pelham, Ga., Mrs. A. G. Green of Clearwater Fla., D.L. Robison of Albany, Ga., W.R. Robison of Americus, Ga., Mrs. C.L. Council of Pelham, Ga., Mrs.  J.L. Whitle,(Whitley) of Pelham, Ga. She is mourned by a number of grandchildren, also five sisters and three brothers.

Card of Thanks
We wish to acknowledge with grateful appreciation the many expressions of sympathy and kindness shown us during the recent death of our darling wife and mother. Also the beautiful floral offerings.
May God bless each of you is our prayer.
W.H. Robison and Family

The above was copied from the Pelham Journal dated November 6, 1930

I copied the words just as they are on the page so borned is what was written. Although my mother had told me that Lula, her mother, died of a heart attack while sitting at the breakfast table, I did not know what day of the week it was. I did not know how widely known and loved she was by the community. I did not know that H.A. Robison, my uncle Avon, was living in Blakely GA at the time, nor did I know that Uncle Rudolph, W.R. Robison, lived in Americus, GA. When I knew these uncles they lived in Albany, GA where I lived. 

My cousin, Rob Robison, shared his genealogy records, which included this obit, with me when he came in May. I am so glad to have this in my records now. Thanks to Peggy Ann and to Rob I now have this writing about my grandmother who I was named for but never met. 

Mother told me about her father holding her hand and walking to church at Hand Memorial Methodist when she was a child. He was a Methodist and there was no other Methodist church in Pelham. In East Pelham, where she lived, there was a Baptist church which she attended often with her friend, Mary Ella Brock. Hand Memorial is named for J.L. Hand, the wealthy man from up north who came down south and built himself a town. The entire center of the town was a huge building, Hand Trading Company, which my father said carried everything anyone would need, from the cradle to the grave. My grandfather, William Henry Robison, was maintenance  man for all of Mr. Hands buildings including the houses where the workers at his cotton mill resided. Mother said her daddy was the best chimney builder anyone could find. That was a talent very much in demand back in those days. 

All of the Robison children moved away from Pelham once they married. The two Blitch families moved to Miami, Florida, the Green family moved to Clearwater, Florida.The others ended up in Albany, Georgia where I was born.  

Have you ever found some document about your family that you had never seen before?
Do you know much about your family history?

Monday, July 24, 2017

If you have written and published a book you know how  difficult it is to get word out to readers. 

Tara Lynne is extremely knowledgeable about marketing online and she will have many tips to offer you. In this class you will learn how to use newsletters to promote yourself and your book. It isn't as easy as just sending out an email. There is more to learn about this.

I look forward to this class because I know how important it is to have a good contact list and I want to learn the best way to use it to promote my writing.

Visit my website:  and read more about this class and the terrific instructor, Tara Lynne Groth.   You can pay the fee of $45 by check or by PayPal. Don't wait.
We only have this week to register and space is limited. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Because I have been too busy to keep up my blogs, I will write a short post tonight.

Today I had lunch with a former student, Barbara Gabriel, and her husband, Brian. Two of the nicest people I know. Barbara was one of my first students when I opened my studio after Barry died. She was the perfect student. It was obvious she was already a writer, but she had not written, she said, in years.

Today she said, "I consider you my mentor. You brought me back to writing and changed my life."

Well, that touched me deeply. When someone says I changed their life and they are writing again and enjoying it, I feel very blessed.

Someone did that for me way back in 1995, so I understand perfectly. Also, she mentioned that she promotes other writers as I do. That really made me proud. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of my students and my followers online. Barbara has many who follow her on Facebook and she is in writing groups online. I am happy for her that her writing is such an important part of her life, and she has a supportive husband.

I am teaching a two hour memoir class each week and have a class of adults who have great stories to tell. It is hard for beginning writers to accept feedback at first and often they don't realize that they will get emotional when they read their work out loud. It is hard for those who have been writing to see how much more they can learn about the craft. At first they might feel defeated, but I try to encourage them to stay with it, to persevere even when it might be more work than they had thought it would be. 

C. Hope Clark said in her newsletter today that most people don't have a clue how hard it is to write well, to get published by reputable publishers and in good magazines and journals. Her father calls and asks if he is interrupting her. She says she is working. He says are you working or just writing?

People don't often respect the time and effort we put forth because they have never done this work. It is hard for writers to tell their family, "Don't bother me for the next two hours. I am working." I think it is harder for women to do this. Most men will take the time and write even if it is late at night after work or early in the morning. Women do that, too, but so many times children and spouses feel that they can interrupt the mother/wife because she isn't doing anything important.

Although I have worked for the past two hours on a talk I will give tomorrow, I am still writing and I am behind with my deadlines. Never a dull moment around here what with Lexie wanting to play, the telephone ringing, and email to answer.

What do you do that keeps you busy? What do you feel you never have enough time for?

Remember it is easy to leave a comment. Just write as anonymous if you don't have a gmail account or email me. I love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

I have spent this hot weekend indoors with three precious dogs. Yes, I am baby-sitting for Gay and Stu who are attending a wedding.

Dogs have different personalities. Sunny, the Maltese mix, is cute as can be, but she lets everyone know she is Alpha Dog. If Smokie, the sweet little miniature Schnauzer, comes near where she is sleeping, Sunny growls like she is going to have Smokie for lunch. 

Sweet Smokie
Alpha Dog, Sunny

Now throw Lexie in the mix. Lexie is not afraid of Sunny and challenges her for Alpha status. But Lexie is younger and is more interested in playing than in fighting to be top dog. While I sit at my computer they all sleep in their respective places. Lexie loves her crate and sleeps curled up in a ball. Sunny usually sleeps on a pink blanket on the floor of the dining room where I am working, but today she has taken over Smokie's bed just to my right. 

Smokie, who challenges no one for authority, sits on a mat and looks at me as if to say, "Can't you make her give me my bed?" 

I try to encourage Smokie to come past Sunny and take the pink blanket, but as soon as Smokie gets close to Sunny, the boss leaps up in her face and growls like a lion in a cage. So the schnauzer goes back to the mat and finally curls up there and sleeps. 

Last night as I was preparing for bed and getting ready to let all three of them stay with me, I heard the fiercest of battles begin behind me. I turned and Sunny and Lexie were on the bed going at each other. I yelled at them, but they did not stop. I then tried to reach and pull Sunny toward me so Lexie could jump off the bed, but no, Lexie had decided that no one was going to take her place on my bed next to me. I think it was all a bit of jealousy, but they really frightened me. Even after I held Sunny away from Lexie, my little one would not stop attacking Sunny. 

I never had a problem with my dogs and Gay's and Stu's dogs, but in the past I always had a male. My male dogs never challenged their female dogs for their food or attention. Rocky let Smokie chew on his legs and his neck when she was a puppy and he never even growled - not once. I think it is jealousy that upsets the apple cart with these girls. 

Rocky licked Smokie to show her how much he loved her

Lexie is used to having all my attention and not sharing me with anyone. Sunny is used to being the top dog and doesn't plan to give that position up anytime soon. Sweet Smokie just sits and looks at me with those pitiful eyes, and I feel guilty that I don't take her in my lap and hold her. I know her mom would do that. But I have been at my computer and cannot type and hold a pup.

Well it is time to feed them. They are good about eating together, but I have to watch Sunny. She will take Smokie's food if she gets a chance. And I will be sure she doesn't try to sneak any of Lexie's. I don't want another dog fight tonight.
Lexie likes to be near me even if she is  on the chair beside me. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The end of a great weekend

My nephew Jon Beall and his son, Bryant, came to visit me on Saturday and right away asked, "What can I do for you while I'm here."

I quickly gave them a list: Take the rocking chairs on the deck to the garage. Take the Gazelle to the garage. Take this and take that. Now my deck is not cluttered and I can see my deck garden from my chair.

I made some lunch and then Jon wanted to know what else he could do for me. He has always been the most caring and kind person. He reminds me of Barry with his easy going nature and he never seems to get angry. His six-foot-three son, at seventeen, said very little but seemed willing to help. He removed the little twigs and leaves hanging on my gutter over my front door.

Before they put their boat in Lake Chatuge Saturday afternoon, they had cleaned out and organized my garage and taken two loads to the garbage transfer station. Now I can see what is in there and decide what I need to keep and what can go. Jon told me to sit and he brought boxes over for me to go through. What a huge relief! 

Jon and his sister, Paige, spent lots of time with Barry and me when they were little. We loved having them. I was Paige's first baby sitter when she was a tiny little thing. Often at Easter, they and their mother spent the day with my family on the farm. They hunted eggs with the kids on the front lawn.

Jon calls me fairly often and we keep in touch. He is married to a fine person and has a daughter, also. I am sharing one of the last photos made with Barry in 2008. Jon was almost named for Barry. His mother wanted to name him Jon Barry, but I objected. I wanted to name my first son after Barry. How silly and young I was then. 
Barry, sitting, Jon behind him with arm around Bryant.
I am touched deep in my heart by the kindness of Jon and Bryant. I just wish I could have made the fish bite for them. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Marcia Barnes, Georgia Author of the Year

I want to send out a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Marcia Barnes, member of NCWN West.

On June 3rd, Marcia's children's book, Tobijah, was named winner in the children's book category, and Marcia was awarded Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Childrens' Book Category by the Georgia Writers' Association at a banquet held at Kennesaw State University.
Winner: Marcia Hawley Barnes, Tobijah   

I can say from first hand knowledge, it is one of the most beautiful books for children that I have seen in a  long time. If you have kids or grandchildren, order this book for the little ones.

Marcia  also published a family recipe book that I recommend. The Little Book of Secret Family Recipes. A heritage cookbook, the collection contains favorite recipes found in the archives of her family.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Daddy, a complex man, honest and fair

Coy Lee Council in early 1920s
Father’s Day was always a day of consternation for my sister, Gay, and me. We had no idea what to give Daddy, and many times what we chose, he didn’t want. He did not take gifts generously. He didn’t know how to receive.

I remember that Gay and Stu gave him a seat with wheels for use in the garden. He said take it back because he would never use it. He was not trying to hurt their feelings. He was simply being honest. Most of us know that if we receive a gift we don’t want, we can take it back ourselves not hand it back to the person who took the time to find something they thought would be perfect.

Tact was not Daddy’s long suite. Neither is it one of my brother’s best traits. Some people don’t come into this world with filters, I believe. But you would think they would learn, wouldn’t you?

One Father’s Day I decided not to purchase a gift for Daddy. I wrote a poem for him. I handed him the poem and then tried to  give him a hug. But he stood like a tree, tall and strong, his arms down by his sides. Mother said he liked the poem, but he never said a word about it to me. 

He was afraid to show his emotions. Maybe it was generational or maybe the way he was brought up without a father. He learned to be tough and hide his feelings when he was ten years old and had to go to work for mean uncaring men who were quick to punish the kids they supervised.

My father was a complex man. His sense of responsibility and his  honesty made him a highly respected man by those who knew him. He believed in fairness, and sometimes that did not set well with society or those who lived on farms nearby.

One example of that was when a neighbor let his hogs roam over on our farm after my father had plowed and planted his crop. When the neighbor did not come and get his hogs, my father shut  them in our barn. The neighbor came over after a few days to get his hogs.

My father said, “Not until you pay me for feeding them the past week.”

The neighbor went to see the sheriff who came out and told my father he had to give up the hogs. Although Daddy felt he was doing the fair thing, the law said he could not hold the hogs. The neighbor did not pay for feeding them, either. But the neighbor learned a lesson. He never again let his hogs ruin my Daddy’s planting.  

I have written a story, The Day My Father was a Hero. My father was the only man on the jury who believed the defendants were guilty. They left a woman alone way out in the country with no clothes or anything to cover her. It was the coldest night of the year. She died curled up on the ground.

At the time, in the fifties, no women were allowed to serve on a jury in Dougherty County. The other men on the jury said the woman who died was no good, and they did not want to ruin the lives of these young men by finding them guilty.

But my father stood his ground even though he was berated by the others. He could not change anyone’s mind, so the judge declared a mistrial. Daddy’s sense of fairness and justice would not let him excuse these men who did not have any compassion for another human being. They left her there to die.
Daddy's first car

If Daddy was still with us, I would find a Hallmark card for him, one that was not mushy or embarrassing. I would sign it, Love, Glenda.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

FLAG DAY - JUNE 14 -Special to me

This national holiday is also the day I  married Hugh Barry Beall from Rockmart, Georgia. As I have said before on this blog, we met on July 4, 1963. So these summer holidays have a special meaning for me.
Dressed in my going away  suit

Barry never forgot our anniversary and always brought me a card that he carefully hand-picked so it said what he wanted to say. In the early days of our marriage we made a big deal of  our anniversary, going out to dinner and pledging our love again. But as the years passed, our celebrations became simpler and quieter. However, he never forgot and always gave me that special card. I wish I could say I never forgot, but I had a couple of times I did. 

I used to tease him and say, "You have never written me a love letter. Why don't you write me a love letter?"
His answer was, "I don't write. You write. I don't write."

But he had little ways of showing  his love. When we were together, he never let me cross the  street without taking my hand, and he often held my hand while we walked on the street. When we were in a crowd, he always knew where I was.

Gay Council, Glenda Council Beall, Barry Beall, Richard Beall

Nobody in my  family ever publicly showed their affection for each other. That was just not done. Mother was a loving person and showed her love in various ways like cooking our favorite dessert for  our birthdays. And she was a hugger.

I never saw my brothers kiss their wives or show any special affection. But Barry was never ashamed to kiss me in front of my family. He came from an affectionate family where his mother and father were outwardly loving to their children, kissing their sons and hugging them. I was enthralled with that type of behavior. He did not shy away from the word LOVE which I never heard in our house when I was growing up. 

Of course, today I think it is bandied around so much and so often it has lost its meaning. I think it sounds fake when people use it all the time to everybody they know. Some people say "I love you" to friends as they drive away and then turn around and speak of them in a manner that says otherwise. Friends who enjoy being together and have fun together talk about loving each other, but I don't think it is the  kind of love that is deep and meaningful.

I  am not afraid to tell those close to me that I love them. And I have learned in my Third Act what love really means. I suppose that wisdom comes to us as we draw closer to the time when we might lose them or they might lose us. I am happy that I finally broke that unwritten rule in our home and I was able to tell my siblings that I loved them. 

Why is it hard to tell our siblings how much they mean to us? One of  my brothers called me and told me he had been diagnosed with cancer. His voice was shaking and I'm sure mine was, too. Before he hung up, he said I love you and I said the same to him. What a huge step in sharing his emotions. He had bottled up his feelings most of his life. 

I'll never forget one of my  brothers kneeling beside my older sister just a short time before she died. He knew he might not see her again as  he lived many miles away. He poured out his heart to her, telling her all she had  meant to him in his life and telling her he loved her.

I was in tears as I  knew that was a milestone in his life and hers. I just hope that anyone reading this  post will not procrastinate, putting off  speaking to someone they love. We never know when that person might be gone and we will not have the opportunity to see them again. 

Nothing is worth holding a grudge for life. When I hear of people who don't speak to  their sisters or brothers or parents, I know there is anger and hurt that won't be resolved until they talk. And both parties suffer. Even when I  knew one of them was in the wrong, I did not stop loving my brother. 

But I have strayed from writing about my anniversary. Today we would have been married 53 years. We didn't have that 50th big party, but on our 40th anniversary, my sweet sister and brother-in-law took us on a wonderful weekend where we stayed at the Opryland Hotel and were treated to two days of great fun with two of  our favorite people. 

Barry taught me so much about loving someone and showing that love in my everyday life. I'll always be grateful for that.
Barry's greatest act of  love for me was bringing me to the mountains in 1995. We had some wonderful years here.

Are you holding a grudge against a family member? Do you want to let it go?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dark Days Brightened by My Students

The past week has been extremely hard for me. 

Just getting over some malady that kept me in bed a week and then being diagnosed with a light case of shingles, I pushed to get myself ready to teach a Creative Writing class beginning June 6. 

The days leading up to June 6 were dark. I could not focus on anything but the health of Kathryn Byer, who was in the hospital, first in ICU, then on the oncology floor and finally I was told she was in a Hospice Situation as cancer raised its ugly head, and she was too weak to win the battle.

I don't know if the fact that Kay had Lymphoma made it harder for me. Barry had that kind of cancer. He was told by the local oncologist, "If you have to have cancer, this is the best one to have. We can manage it with chemotherapy but you can enjoy your life."

Our Poet Laureate Emerita, Kathryn, was told the same thing. When she told me that a few months back, my heart sank. Those words frightened me more than you can imagine. I wanted to say, "Go to Duke where they have done new and outstanding research on Lymphoma. Don't do what we did."

But I didn't want to frighten her or over-react to her diagnosis. After all, I was not there when she spoke to her doctor.  After Kay's passing I saw where her sister-in-law posted on FB that the family was reeling with the shock of her death so suddenly when they had been told just what Barry and I were told. No one was prepared for her passing this quickly and with no warning.

As much as I hate cancer, I hate the way some oncologists make patients feel that they can fix everything with the same basic protocol used on everyone. I remember one of Barry's doctors, not an oncologist,  saying to us when we expressed that we felt we were rushed into chemo before we knew the options we had, "That is his job. That is how he earns his living, by giving chemo." 

Just as Kathryn's family says on Facebook, I say don't be passive about your care and your treatments. Ask for a Pet-Scan to see the progress being made or not made during your treatments. Don't rely on the doctor's word that you are doing OK. 

Barry had a Pet Scan after he finished his round of chemo and the doctor said the tumor was very small now and he was 98 percent cancer free. So they would not do any more chemo at this time. Barry was dismissed for three months and during those three months the cancer grew so rapidly that it killed him. I wish we had insisted on tests each one of those three months. I wish we had gone where research was being done on his kind of cancer, and I wish we had checked more carefully the local doctors. 

As patients we learn but seems the doctors never learn. They do the same things over and over again. 

Tuesday was a brighter day for me. My class is delightful and filled with writers who are motivated. Some of them are in the midst of writing books. I was told by a new person to my classes that I was a good teacher and the class was very interesting. I needed that. I felt I was only half a teacher as the other half of me was just not here. 

Today I see many wonderful tributes in newspapers and on Writers Digest online for Kathryn Stripling Byer. Such an outpouring of love everywhere you look makes me smile for her. It somehow lets in the light - just a little bit.