I Love My Fresh … Happy Toes!


I Love My Fresh…  Happy Toes!

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

A quick, silly doodle to show ‘my happy toes‘!  By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

Okay… now, I’m going to tell you something I just love to do during… after my shower.  I can imagine the images this creates in your mind.  Stop it!  I don’t write things to be … ugly, or dirty.  Any ‘bad’ words I use … aren’t really ‘bad’… at all.  :)))

 

You all know that this girl loves her wonderful showers.  Oh my!  I love the warm water… but, what I love best is the… warm, sudsy water!  The wonderful scent of special soaps, body washes I use.

 

You might say I’m in a … ‘perfumed heaven’.  I close my eyes, and just smell the beautiful scent… I think of what I want to write next.  I think of wonderful things I’d love to see happen to us… to everyone… you.  I think of our precious Pups.  This is good thinking time.

 

Okay… I’m going to tell you what I ‘pure love’ to do.  Skip likes to tease me, say I have a fetish.  Not true at all… it is what helps to make me feel so clean, fresh all day.  Just the feeling of doing it… is ‘pure’ wonderful!

 

I love to take my nail brush to scrub each toe…. have each very sudsy!  Then, rinse all my toes off in the water as it falls from the shower head.  That feels so good!  Now… this isn’t all of it!  This is just the… beginning.

 

I know now, you are thinking… what else is there left to do?  Well, it’s the most important part to me.  I love to take each foot, prop it on the side of the tub… take my fluffy, fresh towel… and…………..

 

Close my eyes, and dry each toe off… then, all my toes at one time!  I can’t tell you how fresh, clean… it feels to know my toes are so … wonderful clean, dry!  When I wiggle each toe, all my toes… they are so… happy!  Oh!  Such a wonderful feeling!

 

This is what I ‘pure love’ to do… during, after my showers to wake me up, feel fresh all day!

 

I love my fresh …  happy toes!

 

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The Invisible Weight I Carry On My Shoulders…


 
The Invisible Weight I Carry On My Shoulders…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

 

Yesterday morning I got up thinking I’m going to feel good.  I fed our Pups, and went to my wonderful shower …you all know my love for warm, soapy water!  Bubbles from my perfumed soaps, the beautiful scents….

 

I took my shower using the bar of Dial soap my husband gave to me over a week ago.  For some reason I’ve been using that bar of soap every day since he gave it to me.  Normally, I would use my perfumed soaps.  I keep trying to hold onto a memory from my childhood… ‘why’?  I just don’t really know.

 

Once the Dial soap is wet, the scent instantly takes me back to when I was a little girl.  It takes me always to the home of my cousins who lived next door to my Grandma Alma and George’s.

 

The big, sparkling white bathroom… lots of little kids running around squealing with happiness.  Some of them getting into that big porcelain bathtub of nice, warm water to take their baths… some of them getting out.  There were a lot of soapy washcloths hanging on the side of the tub, in the tub.

 

I can see little drops of water dripping from washcloths onto the sparkling, white tile floor.  The window was open, a breeze blowing the curtain…  I can see the sun shining… all of these things making that moment a wonderful memory in my mind.

 

How as a little girl I wished to be in that wonderful, warm tub of soapy water… before I was thrown to hell… I knew how it felt to play in my own tub with warm, soapy water.

 

Remember … I couldn’t take nice baths like that once I had to come to Grandma Alma and George’s to live.  I would go into the bathroom on their back porch in fear of something jumping on me, something getting on me.  It was scary.

 

I would stand at their white porcelain tub, and wish to bathe in warm, soapy water.  I would turn the handle to make the water come on… I never understood ‘why’ it was always cold.  Not knowing any better, I would try sometimes to get into the cold water to take a warm bath… always coming out of it, freezing to death.

 

As a little girl, I just didn’t know how to make that water warm.  I didn’t know that Grandma Alma and George only had cold water.  If I had known that, I still wouldn’t have known ‘why’, I was too young to understand.

 

My whole world changed to a life I didn’t know, wasn’t used to.  No longer was there someone to cook, clean the home I lived in, to care for me, dress me.  I was having to do this for myself at the age of nine.

 

George, who was blind, would tell me what to do…. Grandma Alma would tell me to come to her, she would take her one good hand to try and help me to dress each day.  As time went by there, all of my beautiful school dresses, shoes changed to clothes I wasn’t used to wearing.  I know I must have looked like a little orphan back then… I was an orphan,

 

I was a thrown-away child.  Sometimes, I was wanted only to be thrown away again.  My mother couldn’t maintain a stable life for herself, much less having a child to care for.

 

Grandma Alma and George didn’t have money to buy me things, much less to buy their food, pay their bills, and pay the milkman (how well I remember the milk there… that’s ‘why’ I don’t ‘see’ milk today… no one was allowed to drink the milk… it was for my Grandma Alma.  She was paralyzed, sick… needed it.  I learned to never see it in the refrigerator.  I ‘can’t see’ milk today in our refrigerator.

 

My Grandma Alma and George… I can’t tell you how much I loved them.  I loved seeing their smiles, hearing them laugh.  I can see in my mind’s eye… George sitting there with a light in his sightless eyes, his round belly shaking as he laughed… sometimes he’d slap his knee when he was really tickled.

 

My Grandma Alma’s smile was something else… it made one feel so ‘loved’.  Her eyes would soften when she looked at me, or at any of her grandchildren.  She was like a fierce lioness where her grandchildren were concerned… even paralyzed she’d ‘fight’ from that chair that held her hostage for over twenty years… to protect her grandchildren.  She threw ‘many a glass of water’ from that chair… it was her ‘ammunition’.

 

How sad… how funny it was to a little, frightened girl who would be crouched behind Grandma Alma’s rocking recliner chair… Grandma Alma would dare someone ‘to touch that child’… if they even made an advance to come closer… my beautiful Grandma Alma would throw that water in their face!  My Grandma Alma loved me with her heart.

 

The sunshine would shine in that ‘house that was the portal to hell’ when my Grandma Alma and George would smile.  It just never lasted long enough…. it was as if that house wouldn’t let happiness dwell there long.  Hell-raising would break out constantly there… life was pure hell there.  For a little innocent child that was ‘thrown to the lions’, it was truly a nightmare.

 

I learned that ‘I didn’t smell good anymore’ from some of my classmates.  How does a child know these things?  I learned the hard way so much in my life.  How so innocent I was… how ‘so unknowing I was as a little girl’.  I still feel ’embarrassed’ in today’s time as an older woman…

 

Grandma Alma and George did the very best they could… she was paralyzed, he was blind.

 

The positive about all the negative, painful life I had was/is that once I learned, I never forgot.  Think of getting a powerful shock from high voltage every time you learn something… the life lessons I learned almost …always hurt ‘that bad’.  If you don’t want to feel pain… don’t do it again.

 

You better learn as fast as you can because ‘it’s going to hurt, hurt bad’… if you don’t!  I really always tried to learn ‘once I became aware of ‘what it was’ that I needed to learn.  I hurt… a lot.

 

For a moment I stop to think, try to ‘see a little closer’ into that time… I wonder ‘who’ brushed my hair, or if it was brushed, then?

 

I have to step back in my mind… it really hurts when I try to ‘go close’, my stomach gets a strange feeling.  Many things in my life make me feel like that… I have alot that ‘I can’t remember’ for the pain it causes me.

 

Once I begin thinking ‘beyond’ the wonderful memory of my cousins bathing in the Dial soap ‘back then’… I begin to feel that sick sensation inside.  I just wanted to remember the memory of the ‘happy’ time.

 

I showered, dressed and left to go to Walmart to pick up chews for Mr. Kissy, and Chadwick.  Kissy has to have his chew every night so, he can relax and settle down to sleep.  A chew is his pacifier. He is a big, spoiled Rottie puppy.

 

Some days are very hard for me, today seemed to be one of them.  Not only did my body hurt… my ‘mind’ hurt, too.

 

As the morning progressed, the more ‘weight’ I felt sitting on my shoulders.  I began to feel disoriented, so weak from carrying such a load. I really didn’t feel like talking, smiling… I was proud that I did, though.

 

That’s how I can fool people into thinking I am just fine… that way no one will look closely at me… I can go on my way until I make it home to… just ‘simply be’.

 

I just wanted to get home, out of sight from everyone before they noticed that I wasn’t walking tall… my shoulders were being pressed down by the weight on them.

 

I laid down on the bed, Kissy and Chadwick jumped up to lay beside me.  They knew it was unusual for me to lay down, I don’t usually give up so easily.  They loved the opportunity to be lay close to me, and sleep.  How they comfort me, I let my hand, my foot touch both of them as I slept to get away from the pain in my mind, body.

 

I wonder ‘if’ anyone can ever ‘see’ the huge, heavy weight I carry?  For a moment, I will find humor here… not the extra weight that I am working at losing… :)))

 

I’m talking about the invisible weight that sometimes threatens to crush me into the ground… I’m very strong because I carry it each day.  Some days it isn’t as ‘heavy’.  Yesterday, it was almost more than I could carry.

 

Grief… that’s what the weight is… pure, pure grief.  Sometimes it can get the best of me.  Sometimes I think I can talk about Tommy and think how well I did… when I get alone, something happens inside me.

 

It did this morning.  I was happy I could speak about Tommy, it was one of those times I didn’t feel like I would cry.  I spoke to two people I knew, about Tommy.

 

I told them a little about his ‘last’ trip to the ocean, how I worried about him and his family getting there safely that Memorial Day weekend…… how I relaxed and was so glad.  How… I got ‘that phone call’ from a stranger……… after that I stopped, I couldn’t talk about it anymore.

 

How nice they were, they both hugged me not knowing how that touched my heart, how that meant alot to me at that moment.  I told them that I write, that normally I don’t talk about things and ‘why I chose to at that moment’… I just didn’t know.

 

When I left there, the weight I felt pressing on my shoulders became ‘heavier’…. I felt my heart begin to hurt, the tears begin to make my eyes burn, the pain in my throat began… all I wanted to do was to get home.

 

Grief, something so invisible, something you can’t hold in your hand, has the power to cause such physical pain.  No one can see you being hurt by it, being attacked by it…. they stand there not knowing you are ‘being torn apart, devoured by it’.

 

‘If all of a sudden’ they could see ‘grief’ as it really was, they would see a person being shred to pieces in front of their eyes.  But.. they can’t see the gaping wounds, scars left from each time … grief strikes.

 

The strange thing is that a person, ‘me’… can stand there and smile… no one the wiser… as I’m being ‘cut to pieces, shredded’ by the grief that follows my every step.

 

Picture in your mind standing still while wild animals were ripping your flesh… to keep anyone from knowing the pain you were experiencing… you just smile, pretend everything is alright… while you are ‘bleeding to death’…. and the pain… oh my God, the pain.

 

When I finally got home, came inside… I walked to the bedroom, debated with myself about ‘giving up’ and just going to bed.  This time… I had to give up, I fluffed my pillows to lay my head on… as I laid down on the comforter I was pulling the quilt up to my chin to ‘comfort me’… like my mama used to do to me each night as a little girl…. before ‘I went to hell’.

 

I was so thankful to be to myself, where no one could see me as I laid down beneath the weight of my … grief.  Pure, pure grief.  I felt I could no longer hold it up… I had to lay down to rest from it.

 

I felt tears on my eyelashes as I closed my eyes… tears of relief that I could finally just be in the darkness for a little while… the kind of darkness that was comforting to me now…. sleep.

 

It’s strange … when we see something heavy trying to crush a person… everyone runs to rescue them.  It’s strange because when something heavy is crushing someone that can’t be seen… how can anyone run to rescue them?  The weight is just as great.

 

Grief…. the weight one carries inside, on their shoulders that can’t be seen.  I suffer in silence as it hurts me, crushes me… with a smile on my face while I let you know that I am fine, all is well, my tears and red eyes are from allergies I suffer… I stand there with such a heavy weight on my shoulders, no one can help me… they can’t see it.

 

I have tried once again to ‘put grief into words’… you can’t see how heavy it is, you may sometimes see my shoulders looking stooped from the weight.  I try to hold them high, straight… if I’m not careful, the weight will pull them down again.

 

Tommy… I just miss my son.  I miss his sunshine smile, the sound of his voice, his laughing eyes, his funny jokes, hearing his cowardly lion laugh, even when he liked to take his big hand (he was so much taller than I)… and put it on top of my head and mess my hair up!  He would say ‘mama, you have hair all over your head’!  I didn’t like him to mess my hair up… but, I’d be so glad for him to mess it up now.

 

This is ‘why’ I carry that invisible weight on my shoulders, that pain.  Only I am aware of it, because I ‘feel’ it… I can’t see it, either.  But, it’s there… always there.  Can you see the weight I carry on my shoulders?

 

 

Rambling On About… ‘Everything’…


 

Rambling On About … ‘Everything’…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

The man walked alone, head down.  His clothes were tattered, torn.  I saw that his shoulders carried an invisible load… they were stooped low.  Whatever it was… it was heavy.  I couldn’t see it, but, knew it was almost more than he could bear.

 

We drove by him twice, then… once more.  We were sitting in luxury… we were in a new Kenworth tractor-trailer.  We had everything to make our trip nice.  Not only that, I had colors in our sleeper that affected our mood. We had the nicest …of everything.  It meant so much….

 

I made our bed with the prettiest comforter, pillows, bed covers… all matching in the softest, most wonderful colors.  On the floor were matching, soft rugs to put our feet on when we got ready to go to bed, or to get up.  The inside was like a motor home

 

We had a beautiful color tv with weather button; our cellphones, refrigerator.  Our closets, shelves were filled with our clothes, toiletries; food.  We didn’t have a shower … that would have made all perfect.  We had plenty of water, though.

 

We always carried soft, fluffy, colorful towels, bath clothes to use… if we needed to wash our face.  We took our showers daily at modern truck stops.

 

Truck stops with every convenience… safe haven; home away from home.  I know many truck stops… I can still see them in my mind when I think of my favorite ones.

 

One appreciates a shower so much when they wait for one… once you get into the private shower room… it becomes … Heaven.  Oh, I love my showers… I love the beautiful scents of soap, lotion, powder, and my perfume!  I love to be around shower rooms… the wonderful scents in the air!

 

I love to be clean; I love to have clean, shiny hair… and I love to put perfume in it.  When the wind blows… I love to close my eyes, breathe in the beautiful scent!  Sunshine, wind on my perfumed hair… I love it!  Heavenly, when on just showered skin; hair…. ‘clean’ is the best feeling in the world.

 

When I was a little girl, bath time was wonderful.  It was normal, happy… I can remember seeing photos of my little brother, and I… in the bathtub.  Sitting there with little innocents smiles on our faces… playing in the wonderful, warm water.  Heaven… I guess the photos of us as little children… died, too.  I never saw them, ever again.  I wonder where they were buried?

 

No one thought to tell me that I would never know another warm, comforting bath in a ‘normal’ bathtub… when they threw me into Hell.  I was nine years old… I looked for the warm water in Grandma Alma and George’s old, dirty, porcelain ‘claw-foot’ bathtub.

 

How could I know… it wasn’t any there.  No matter how many times, how much I would fill that old bathtub up… warm water never came.

 

I remember filling the old, porcelain tub up… the water stayed ‘cold’.  Not only that… I couldn’t understand ‘why’ there was dirt, bugs in it.

 

The first part of my life didn’t have dirt, scary things to jump, bite, or fall on me.  I never saw dirty things.  My bathtub ‘at home’ was spotless… the bathroom warm, inviting.  I didn’t know what little nine year old girls …know today.

 

The first part of my life until I was nine years old… I ‘was’ a little princess.  I wore beautiful clothes, shoes… my dresses were the best.  When I became nine, I never understood ‘what was happening to me’… while my clothes changed, my shoes changed to shoes that had ‘little nails’ sticking up in them… to eat my heels until my shoes always had blood in them.

 

My shoes would smell like blood… do you know any children who wear… bloody shoes, today?  I don’t.  I don’t think they use those ‘nails’ in shoes, ‘now’.  I lived in town… walked home from school in those shoes.  I learned to keep my tears to myself… inside.

 

I think maybe little nine year old girls ‘today’ are more mature.  Parents raise children to know ‘everything’ now… ‘back then’… in my situation… children were ignored until, they became a pest.  They were ‘slapped off’….

 

Today, a nine year old child probably knows better to handle such things… to get help… to think ‘how to get out of such’… I’m betting a nine year old ‘now’… would figure out ‘why there wasn’t any hot water’…

 

 

 

No one gave children ‘back then,’ credit for knowing anything… nor did they try to teach them (in my situation).  A child’s mind is like a sponge… oh my… the knowledge they can absorb at such a young age.

 

I look back at the ‘waste’… the waste of ‘my little girl mind’, a mind that was hungry to ‘learn everything’… I feel anger, even now.

 

Shame on people who waste a child’s mind, when they want to learn; they are capable of learning many wonderful things.

 

When I was a child… the older people loved to tell a child that they were meant to be seen… not heard.  They knew children couldn’t possibly have anything … important to say.

 

Some of my most interesting conversations ‘today’ are… with a young child.  I sit in amazement, awe at what comes out of their mouths… I could listen all day!

 

I was so… innocent; so… unknowing anything.  No one bothered to explain the ‘whys’ of the bad things that began to happen in my life.

 

I have wandered on to tell you the ‘whys’ of loving my showers, appreciating them with my heart;  I was taught the hard way as a little girl… to learn on my own… about them.  I never… forgot.

 

I never wanted to be dirty… I loved my clean, nice clothes.  I was just too innocent to know ‘why things weren’t like always’… I just didn’t know, wasn’t aware of ‘what had changed, nor had the knowledge to make it all better’.

 

In school, I learned from other little girls… classmates… that they had begun to ‘look down’ on me.  Do you have any idea how embarrassing, hurtful… that is? When at one time… you were ‘just as good’ as they was?

 

How it feels to stand there while 4-5 little girls stand around you, giving you gifts of soap, wash cloth, little comb and brush?  Even as a little child…. I felt my face get red, I found that I couldn’t ever look ‘them’ in the eye… anymore.  They told me I was dirty, I smelled.  Can you imagine being told that as a little girl?

 

Thank-God they did… thank-God I was ‘me’… I always seemed to try to learn as quickly as possible to do things… I always had to learn the hard way.  Sadly… the damage was done… I could never be friends with those little girls again.

 

Even now… when I see them, I… don’t like them.  It’s all I can do … to smile at them.  They hurt me deeply; yet, if they hadn’t… how would I have learned one of my most important ‘Life’s Lesson’?

 

I have them to be grateful, thankful to… I am.  I still don’t like them… isn’t that awful?  I see in their eyes today… they still think ‘they are better than me’… yet, I ‘know’ they aren’t.  :)))

 

I am big enough to say ‘Thank-you’, though.  I still don’t like them…. no matter what… I still don’t like them.  I just ‘tried to’… in my mind.  Nope… I still don’t.  I still see them as ‘those little do-gooder girls’… yet, they helped to make an important difference in my life.  How long would it have taken for me to learn… if they hadn’t?

 

Skip and I sat in that big, pretty Kenworth tractor-trailer… the air-conditioner cooling our skin.  We had stopped to get fast food; our bags were full of ‘good stuff’… we also, had the biggest cups full of our favorite drink.  Life was good… we had everything.  We had plenty of food, money, and we were comfortable.

 

We have always been people-watchers… sometimes, someone will get our attention.  We feel the need inside… to do something good for them.  We will… if we can figure out how to do it in a ‘good’ way; a way to not embarrass, hurt someone.  At one time or other in our lives… we’ve known how it feels to want, to need… wish for things.

 

The man was still walking, as we circled the block.  We were in Yuma, Arizona.  We knew he was a homeless man, a man down on his luck.  He was very thin, his clothes hung on his body.

 

Whatever I couldn’t see with my naked eye… on his shoulders; was weighing him down.  It was heavy; very heavy.

 

This time, I told Skip to stop just ‘in front’ of him.  I took things from Skip’s bag, put it with ‘stuff’ in my bag.  I grabbed one of the big drinks, sat all on the floor until I stepped out onto the top step.  I took all, and walked back toward the man.  I smiled so, he wouldn’t be alarmed.

 

I asked him if he was hungry; he was very hungry, he said.  I asked him if he minded if we shared our food with him… that we really had ‘too’ much.  The man smiled, how warm his eyes were… how pretty his eyes were!

 

Sunshine… special light came from them to touch my soul… yes, I was doing the right thing.  I didn’t want to embarrass, hurt him.  Thank-God!  We all ‘know’ when things are … okay.  This was!

 

I handed him the bag of sandwiches, french fries, pie… and as I handed him the big drink, I told him we hadn’t drunk from it.  He didn’t care… he was happy to have it.

 

Just before I turned to go… there was something folded small in my hand… I pressed it into the palm of his hand… between it and the cup of drink he, held.  I told him, “Take care”!

 

I looked back into his eyes, I smiled again… I felt the warmth of his smile again.  Why… it was like being near a heater with a glass door… seeing the soft flames burning… feeling the warmth all the way to my …bones.  I hugged him gently…

 

I walked quickly to the tractor-trailer, I heard him yell, “Thank-you”!  I smiled… I was so thankful to give him something to enjoy eating… too.  We went our way… the man had something to eat, and for a time… he could still eat.  Hopefully, someone else would ‘come along’… to help him until one day… he could do better.

 

I looked into the huge rear-view mirror, hoping to see him as we drove away… somehow, it seemed his shoulders ‘had lifted’… maybe, it was my imagination.

 

Can you see now… why I would write about homeless people I became aware of, in our travels?  I never got to be as close to them as I wished; or if I was… there was ‘never enough time’… I sat many times, on a bench, in the tractor-trailer… or at a place where I could watch them.

 

I was fascinated, saddened all at the same time.  I wanted to go, felt the pull… to go to them; explore their world.  Thankfully, Skip was there to stop me.  I was so naive… innocent of the dangerous world they live, sleep, wake up in, every day of their life.

 

Skip is my hero; he has saved me from many situations through time.  I have a curiosity; not only that… I am distracted by colors, drawn to be closer to be near them.  Colors are ‘dangerous’, sometimes…

 

I don’t know ‘everything’ about homeless people; their secret world.  I’ve only seen the ‘surface’… but, somehow… I ‘know’… I don’t know how, but… I just know…  I, also, know ‘if I really knew what I suspected’… it would be almost unbearable for me to know.

 

What do I mean by that statement?  I mean, if I knew how truly bad their conditions, treatment from the stronger homeless people; people from the ‘outside’ who use the ‘weakest’… I wouldn’t be able to stand the pain I’d feel in my heart.

 

Just like… I ‘know’ thousands of innocent animals are abused, mistreated, killed every day.  Killed by ignorant, cruel, terrible people… sometimes, by well-meaning people.  Same way with children… innocent, trusting souls, not understanding… never getting the chance to understand.

 

I have to look away from things, try not to see all I can’t change.  I know I can’t save the world… I really used to think I could.  I just knew I was going to make a positive difference… I didn’t.

 

People, animals, children still live, die in awful ways… by mean, cruel people… from their hands.  Hands that should gently touch another living soul to reassure, to comfort… to give the message that everything’s going to be …okay.

 

Thank-God, I am writing.  Writing to get the sorrowful feelings inside me… out.  I don’t only feel grief for the loss of Tommy; I feel grief for so much… like dogs being thrown together, forced to fight until one dies… someone making money if their dog kills the other.

 

I feel grief when people take two homeless men, promising them food, beer, wine… if they will fight each other while being filmed.  All that blood… the sounds, screams of pain… I can’t bear it.

 

I grew up hearing such awful pain, the sounds of flesh being beaten, the moans, and cries … oh, the blood… the blood.  Sometimes… I saw … my own blood.

 

A vision comes into my mind at this very moment… as a little girl… seeing all that blood on an old hardwood floor… the sounds of someone being beaten.  Can you imagine a little nine-year old child witnessing such?

 

Hearing someone struggling to breathe as they are being choked, trying to breathe while their nose is pouring blood… teeth on the floor; no longer in a mouth where they belonged.

 

Always women ‘fighting like hell’ to be ‘Queen of the hill’… to show someone who is ‘boss’… always in the Arena… the room Grandma Alma, George sat in.

 

They always had a ‘show’ to watch, listen to… they never wanted it… it came to them, anyway… uninvited.  At any time, their world would ‘go to hell’… it was ‘hell-raising’ time… no matter, they only wanted peace, quiet.  No matter that little children were present, scared to death, trembling from fear.

 

Seeing, hearing someone beating a young woman… my mother. The sounds… the blood… I can’t bear it.  The pain…. the crying, begging.

 

As a little girl, I witnessed, and was ‘victim’ at times… I would be sent to school to act as if everything was ‘alright’… only to be mistreated there, looked down on, made fun of; bullied.

 

I remember a boy to this day who bullied me almost to suicide when I was forced to ride the school bus for a time… we lived in town.  He would inflict physical pain on me… I was his scapegoat for a time on that bus.

 

His name was Dallas… I still see him, now.  I don’t like him; nor do I smile, speak to him.  I’ve told you many times, I’m not perfect… though, I try to be as good as possible.  I still have negative feelings toward ‘some’ people… he is one of them.  The ‘do-gooder girls’… though, they did me a big favor.

 

Dallas was a very unusually cruel boy to be so, young.  He would hurt me on the bus… when I’d get to Hell (home at Grandma Alma, George’s) …. something would happen, a fight or someone would become angry… I’d be hurt physically… again.  I had just been physically, verbally abused by him.

 

The white, hot anger burned inside me… but, so did my heart; my heart was full of … love.  I cared.  Suppose I hadn’t had the heart I did/do?  I grew up to be a good person… I learned to forgive… but, it didn’t happen overnight.  I was twenty-eight years old when I began learning ‘real’ forgiving, letting go in my life.

 

Writing my scary books… my hero, Victoria Fairchild… is my way of having someone who will ‘take care’ of people who are truly ‘bad to the core’.  People who harm, abuse, mistreat weaker people, animals.  Since it’s fiction… and scary… I can make anything happen… and… it will.

 

Sometimes… the world needs a ‘good-bad’ person to make all better… sometimes, it takes ‘bad’ to make …good happen.  Victoria Fairchild is… that person.  She is a ‘good-scary’ character… there’s nothing she… won’t do, to protect someone, or an animal.

 

 

Victoria Fairchild is my main character.  She will do anything it takes to help her ‘homeless people’; anybody who is helpless, weak, at the mercy of mean people.  She will do what it takes to help abused, mistreated animals…

 

Victoria Fairchild … doesn’t play games; she takes care of business.  When she’s good, she’s good… but, when she’s bad… she’s very, very bad.

 

The only thing is… she has met up with ‘more than her match’… how it’ll end… no one knows; not even I know.  As I write, the story just ‘begins writing itself’…  :)))

 

Book 2… The Saga Of Victoria Fairchild… will be longer than the first book.  The first book was just an introductory to her… I hope you like my main character; my hero… Victoria Fairchild.

She’s really a very good person… very, very good…. and hopefully, no one will find out how…. very, very bad… Victoria Fairchild can be.

 

Today… I’ve been writing, talking to you just like I would… if we were sitting outside at the patio table, kicked back with our big, old glasses of ice-tea with lemon slices.  Sometimes, I’d let you talk… then, I would talk.

 

We would talk about ‘everything’… it’s no fun to talk about any ‘one thing’… we might begin a conversation on one subject… come back to that subject… after talking about many other things… in between.  :)))

 

The sun would touch our skin with warm, not hot… kisses.  The wind would gently blow our hair as the sun made it shine, glisten in the sunlight.  We would smell the scent of honeysuckles floating on each breeze that came by.  I know I’d be enjoying having my shoes off, my toes playing with the sand beneath them.

 

Sometimes, while we are sitting there… deep in thought we won’t need words.  Words aren’t needed at that time… birds singing, the soft motor of an airplane… the sound of music from a radio in the distance, dogs barking far off … all are ‘just the right sound’… We might would close our eyes at that time… we are really just ‘kicked back’… being ourselves.

 

What a wonderful time I had listening to you… I hope you enjoyed listening to me ‘ramble on about everything’…..

 

 

I’m Just An Old, Little Girl Who Had Some Fun!


Funny Faces... Me 001

This Old, Little Girl… Granny Gee!!!  :))))

I’m Just An Old, Little Girl Who Had Some Fun!…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

Today, I decided to take a bubble bath… with lots of bubbles! Millions of bubbles!

The tub was sparkling white; underneath the water flowing out of the faucet was a mound of bubble bath powder….. purple bubble bath powder.

Bubbles were beginning to form… I wanted more bubbles! I wanted to hide in mounds of bubbles, peep out over the top of them, blow them with my breath!

I didn’t have enough bubbles! I needed more! I didn’t have anymore bubble bath powder…. my eyes spotted something sitting on the tub. Oh yes! I needed that!

I reached for the big bottle of Caress Body Wash… it was half full. I was sure I would get a lot of bubbles from that!

I began squeezing all the thick,pink, nice-smelling body wash under the very warm water… the bubbles began coming… millions of them!

Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles! Oh, so many wonderful bubbles! What a wonderful, delicious scent in the air!

I jumped into the tub, well… not really jumped (remember, I’m ‘old’ :)))!!! I was just thinking… am I too old to enjoy my bubbles? Just because I’m ‘older’… doesn’t mean my life is over…. I’m just a ‘old, little girl’!

I laid in the tub with the bubbles hiding me… if one looked into my bathroom… all they would have seen is a white tub of bubbles.

As the bubbles foamed all around me, I blew to my heart’s content… millions of bubbles, trying to make a… bubble mountain! That may have looked strange if someone was looking in… bubbles forming a big, fluffy mountain as they grew higher, and higher. Sometimes, it would look like ‘puffs’ of white clouds as they flew by in the air!

When it came time to come back to reality… I realized I had a lot of bubbles to wash out of the tub. Not only that, I was very soapy! So, I turned the shower on… took a wonderful, refreshing shower. When I finished, I turned the warm water to cold water…. let the shower finish washing the bubbles down the drain.

All the while as I dressed… I kept thinking ‘this old, little girl had fun’!!!

One Way Or Other … Something Was Going To Give


One Way Or Other… Something Was Going To Give

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

She walked out of the doorway with a dread, she knew she would face obstacles in her path on her way home to eat lunch. Her name was Gloria, she was fifteen. She walked home to eat lunch her mother prepared for her each school day.

Gloria had come to her mother’s home to live. She called one day out of desperation for her mother to come get her. She’d been living with her father, stepmother, two half-sisters.

Her father, stepmother, two half-sisters had done the ultimate to her. She couldn’t believe it all began with a lie… her two half-sisters whom she got into trouble for, took the blame for… had lied on her.

She loved her sisters, she thought they loved her. She learned they only used her as teenage girls will do… to keep from getting into trouble. She became the scapegoat… her sisters knew she would take the blame, she was the oldest… she would protect her sisters.

One of her sisters used their father’s razor … taken it from his bathroom. Not only had it been used… it’d been put back ‘dirty.’

Gloria had never walked into her father’s bathroom… she was afraid of him, respected him so much… she’d never stepped across the invisible lines he put between them.

The sister who used the razor put it back, unclean… in his bathroom. Gloria never knew when it happened …. until her stepmother grabbed her by her arm, forcing her into the bathroom in hers, her sisters’ bedroom.

She began screaming at Gloria! Did you use your father’s razor, put it back in his bathroom dirty?!!! Gloria stood there in shock, not understanding why her stepmother was screaming at her… shocked numb.

“No, no, I didn’t use his razor. I never go in his bathroom,” she told her stepmother. “You damn liar, you!” the stepmother screamed at her. “No, I didn’t use it, I promise you I didn’t use it!”

Gloria stood there, blinded by pain… tears in her eyes. She had just been beaten by her stepmother. She almost fainted, she didn’t see it coming, her stepmother struck so fast.

“Honest, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!” The stepmother slapped her in the face again, blood splattered everywhere. “You are going to clean that up!” the stepmother screamed. “You are nothing but a damn liar!”

Gloria stood there, dazed and confused. In her mind, the words “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything, why… God?” She heard a new voice….

“You damn little bitch! You are nothing but, a liar! You are just like your mother!” Gloria went into a deeper shock, numb to almost falling to the floor. Her father never spoke to her… now, she was hearing him scream at her, screaming bad things at her!

She looked into his face, a face so much like hers. Her eyes begged him to believe her. His eyes held pure hatred in them for her, they blazed with hot fire. His hand shot out, slapped her so hard she fell against the sink. Her father’s hand hit her for the first… last time.

She fell to the floor as they walked out of her bathroom. The stepmother saying “Bobby, that’s enough!” She weeped, no one came to comfort her. She was too ashamed to walk out of the bathroom, she knew everyone hated her now. It was out in the open.

She walked into the bedroom where her two half-sisters sat on their beds. They’d heard, seen all that transpired. One of them had used their father’s razor… let this happen to her. Gloria looked at them through swollen eyes, blood on her face, her clothes… they wouldn’t look up at her.

The guilty party didn’t come forward… she sat there on her bed, looking down at the floor. Gloria looked at her, thinking how many times she’d gotten into trouble for her, took the blame. This time, was the last time ever she’d take the blame for her.

Gloria knew she couldn’t continue to live there. It was a wonderful home, wonderful people… but, they hated her because she was her father’s first child by another woman. Gloria knew there was a lot of jealousy, anger at her… she tried to do all she could to help in the house, do her schoolwork, talk softly, not bother anyone. Nothing made the difference….

This was it…. Gloria went to school. For the first time, she shared with a friend what really went on in her life. This friend thought she was perfect, with a perfect family, a perfect home, life.

How shocked she was to learn what happened… saying she’d help her get away. Gloria decided between two options to leave, she’d either do it by suicide, or by… running away. She chose running away, this time.

She’d heard her stepmother tell her two half-sisters to ‘keep an eye on Gloria Faye, tell me if she tries to use a phone, watch her in the halls at school.’ Gloria wanted to use the coin phone in the hall for students… she needed her friend to watch out for her.

Her friend, Barbara, watched for her as she called her mother to please come get her. That’s all she had to say to her mama… her mama, Aunt Ruby, were there by the time she got home from school.

Gloria’s heart was in her throat, she was very afraid. At the same time she knew her mama would whip her stepmother’s ass for beating her …. one could look at Gloria, see on her pretty face, that she’d been slapped around, beaten. Not only that… her very soul was bruised.

All they had to do was look into her eyes, on her skin… there were bruises, scratches. Some places still had traces of blood that wouldn’t wash off no matter how she scrubbed her face.

When the school bus stopped at the end of the long driveway, Gloria looked up to the huge house they lived in. She loved the house, and…. there was a strange car in the driveway, two women standing outside the car. Oh, mama!!! Tears came in her eyes, her throat choked up… my mama is here to get me!

Gloria’s thoughts began to flutter like birds inside a cage. Some beat against the bars of her mind’s cage… she was scared. She knew who the other woman was with her mama. It was her Aunt Ruby… her mama and aunt meant business.

Gloria knew she was going to get to leave with her mama, now. Her stepmother was very hot-tempered, scary when she was mad…. but, she wasn’t a match for Gloria’s mama, much-less her mama, and her aunt together.

Gloria, her two half-sisters walked in silence up the driveway. One could hear angry voices….

Not so long after Gloria walked up to her mama, aunt…. she was on her way back to live with her mother. Gloria learned a lot more about her stepmother during the short exchange of angry, vicious words… she learned that her stepmother …. lied, also.

Her stepmother kept two things that weren’t hers to keep, when she took them forcefully from Gloria, it was on pretense of taking care of them for her…. ‘so you won’t lose them.’

Her stepmother took them, placed them in a mosaic box that held things she wanted to make earrings from… for her own two daughters.

She said Gloria’s ear lobes were ‘too big’ to have pierced ears…… (Gloria didn’t have big ear lobes, and she was just as tiny as her half-sisters, and the prettiest…. she never knew this at that time… she never knew she’d lost all her baby fat, had a beautiful figure…. it took months for her eyes to open, for her to realize it… she’d lived in fear for so long.)

When Gloria asked for her mama’s St. Christopher necklace, her Grandma Alma’s ring before leaving, her stepmother said these very words to her, throwing her into another shock: “Don’t you remember, you lost them?” The expression in her stepmother’s eyes was… a mixture of smiling, satisfaction… she’d gotten the best of Gloria Faye…….

Shocked that her stepmother was lying, keeping her mother’s St. Christopher necklace… and her Grandma Alma’s antique engagement ring…. numbed Gloria. She was weakened from pure shock that her stepmother wasn’t going to give those precious things back to her.

This affected Gloria for many months to come… especially when her Grandma Alma cried when learning about her beautiful antique diamond engagement ring.

Guilt ate at Gloria, it still bothers her as an older woman. Her mind goes back to the moment her stepmother picked them up…. taking them quickly to put them in that box of hers, to ‘protect them for Gloria.’

Gloria had too much respect, fear… to say anything to her stepmother, except softly saying, “I won’t lose them, I treasure them.” It hurt her deeply when her stepmother wouldn’t give them back to her… she never heard her.

Now, more obstacles were in her path… she’d come back to live with her mother. She began school at the time it began desegregating… black, white students at the same school. There was a lot of tension… bad things were happening in, out of school in that area.

Gloria stood in the doorway looking down the steps, to the sidewalk. On the left-hand side, a group of black students were standing there, laughing and talking.

This was her obstacle each day now, to walk home to eat lunch at her mother’s. They made life bad for her… they would step out in front of her, blocking her her path. They would say ugly things to her… thinking she was too small to fight back, say anything.

The strange thing was …. they mistakened silence for weakness. Gloria wasn’t weak, she’d had to fight all of her fifteen years to be there, at that moment. Silence, a soft smile…. was her only way to avoid confrontation. They didn’t accept it, they made her life hell each day as she had to pass by them.

We all know that when you boil water in a kettle… and leave the top on…. it’s going to let off steam one way, or other. Gloria had become a little water kettle… the steam kept building, she kept trying to avoid confrontation until one day…

“I will fight everyone of you here! You may kill me, I don’t care, I’m tired of all this bullshit! I will fight a bear, now!” Gloria blew up, nice no longer.

She was ready to fight, die… whatever it took now… to knock this out of her path. She’d waited too long … but, there were so many students against her… there were about ten students, all bigger than her.

A big, black girl looked at Gloria, walked up to her… looked down at her with a strange expression. “You’ll fight all of…. she looked around as she spoke… all of us?”

Gloria felt such fear, but… to see her eyes, the black girl knew Gloria meant for something to happen ‘now’…. no matter if she didn’t come out as the winner.

Gloria nodded her head, said “yes! I will fight a bear if need be!” She was afraid, but.. she looked each student in the eye, and said, “I mean it!”

She heard laughter, knew that she was going to die here, right now. They were going to gang up on her, kill her. She just knew that when one passed that first lick… she’d turn into a fighter… fight to the death… even if it was her …own death.

The big, black girl looked down at her, her eyes had softened. Gloria looked back up into her eyes, confused. The big, black girl told her to go on, they didn’t have any fight with her.

Tears were in Gloria’s eyes, she was a mixture of pent-up anger, fear, in fight or flight mode… for a moment she didn’t know what she was supposed to do.

Gloria’s eyes began to really see each black student… when she really looked at each one of them… she began to see…. kind expressions. Those kind expressions were directed at her! She didn’t see hatred! She couldn’t believe it.

She stood there shaking, she smiled back at each one of them…. walked off in disbelief that… she was still in one piece. They could have killed her, or hurt her badly…. she wondered ‘why?’ they didn’t gang up on her.

Already before, black and white students were fighting, hurting each other… wonder ‘why?’ they didn’t get her? She’d been easy for them all to … attack.

She walked home to her mother’s house, ate little hush puppies and navy beans, drank ice tea… that her mother had prepared for her. Gloria never forgot to this day, what her lunch was that day. She ate it while experiencing many emotions at once…. feeling such peace inside knowing the black students didn’t want to hurt her.

There after for the time Gloria attended that school, the black students treated her good. They became her friends… in this one instance… Gloria found peace of mind in her tumultuous life… it became one less obstacle in her path. Not only that, she can look back through the years to that moment in time… feel good about it inside.

She meant to knock that obstacle out of her path… one way or other…. even if it meant dying. One way or other… something was going to give….

 

Who Is That Knocking On My Door?


Who Is That Knocking On My Door?

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

I was standing in my shower with my eyes closed… instant sunshine, vision of walking in a lush, green meadow of wildflowers… lavender, yellow, red flowers of all kinds, green grasses, leaves.  The breeze blowing my skirt making it flare out, I felt coolness on my legs, my feet… my arms, my face…….. my hair blowing away from my face… I’m running ever so slowly in my daydream, shaking my hair slowly from side to side, my hands constantly fluffing it out… my hands touch my cheeks to… find a happy smile on my… lips!

Bam!  Bam!  Bam!  I’m shocked completely out of my daydream!  What is that loud noise!?  I stand there, my heart has begun to beat …fast!  I’m ready to fight… to run the opposite way (but, where to?  I’m in the shower, I can’t go down the drain!).  Bam!  Bam!  Bam!  Bam!  Bam!

Someone is hitting the bathroom door!  How can that be?  The house is locked up… I’m alone, with the exception of our Pups!  I don’t hear them barking….

Bam!  Bam!  Bam!  I grab my big, fluffy, yellow towel… step out onto the plush, lavender rug in front of the shower/tub… I ease to the door when I’m startled backwards from the sound of ‘bam!’ once again.  This time I feel like I want to know what that sound is…. I have a feeling I ‘know’……

I opened the door to see…. Kissy Fairchild looking up at me with his teddy bear face… ‘Kissy!  It’s you who is knocking on my door!’  I begin to talk ‘baby talk; to him…. ‘Kissy, why are you knocking on my door?’

He becomes happy because the bathroom door is no longer closed… he just nonchalantly ‘plops’ down in front of the opened door.  It was Kissy!  He was ‘knocking on the door’… he doesn’t like closed doors!

Normally, I leave the bathroom door open… I wasn’t thinking when I closed it.  Kissy will not let anyone have a closed door around him… he has to know what is behind it… or maybe he worries if he can’t see us… :)))

Kissy Fairchild does… not… like closed doors!

Possum In The Shower… Rock On The Table


Male Rottweiler, 1½ years old

Possum In The Shower… Rock On The Table

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

This morning I heard the clinking of something against glass… that was strange because Skip was in his bathroom.  This sound was in the living room… I couldn’t imagine ‘what in the world’ it was.

I was sitting at my computer when I heard that sound…. the sound was like something clinking against glass, then… it dropped onto wood.  I got up to investigate, I couldn’t believe my eyes….

Kissy, our Rottweiler was standing at the end table sitting a rock down on it beside the coaster… hence the ‘clinking’ sound!  He put it beside where Skip sits his iced tea when he relaxes in his recliner to watch tv.

I wonder what was Kissy thinking when he did that?  I really wish I knew.  I thought it was sort of like …leaving a gift for Skip.  Skip and I thanked him, praised him for leaving a wonderful rock there as a gift!  Of course, Kissy loved that, ate that special attention up!  He and Chadwick are so precious!

Later, this morning I was in my shower with my eyes closed, enjoying the warmth of the spray when I heard Kissy walk through the door.  I didn’t think anything of it, he always comes in to see what I’m doing.  He’ll move the shower curtain back with his nose to see what’s going on.

I felt something on my foot, opened my eyes to look down… and lo and behold.. there was a possum sitting on it!  Oh… not a ‘real’ possum…. just Kissy Fairchild’s possum!  He carries it around all the time, he and Sweet Chadwick play tug of war with it, one will get it away from the other… then one will chase the the other to get it back.

Kissy walked out of the bathroom once he deposited the raccoon in the shower with me.  Now… that left me wondering ‘why’ for the second time would he be doing these things.  Whatever is that spoiled, rascally-rascal puppy thinking?  :)))

I began to think maybe he wanted me to give his possum a shower so, I proceeded to squeeze shampoo on it.  I got it soapy, rinsed it… squeezed the water out.  I called Kissy to come there, he did… I handed it to him from the shower.  He took it with him as he left the bathroom.  He didn’t come back… so, I must have done a good job!

I told Skip that we’ve had four Rottweilers in our lifetime… each one loved to bring a rock into the pet door from time to time.  I told him that it’s strange … I don’t think ‘Rott’ weilers know how to spell.  They seem to think they are ‘Rock’ weilers… they all love to carry rocks around.  Sometimes… very ‘big’ rocks!  So, besides being a ‘Starbutts’… Kissy is a ‘Rock’ weiler, too!

 

I PURE LOVED THAT SMELL!


Bathtub

Bathtub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I PURE LOVED THAT SMELL! BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES/aka GRANNY GEE Soapy suds, white bubbly bubbles! The scent that comes from the suds are magic… they can transport me in time! This always comes to my mind when I use Dial soap… truthfully, it’s rare that I do. I used Dial soap this morning in my wonderful shower! When I use Dial soap it is to remember… I prefer my bars of perfumed soap. Skip bought a package of Dial soap and gave me several bars… now, I can go back into time to remember these things whenever I want to. The warm water from the shower ran over me as I stood there mesmerized by the bubbles, little ones… big ones. Wonderful soapy bubbles that smell so…. so familiar. Dial soap bubbles… I close my eyes, hold the bath cloth close to my face… my bath cloth is as sudsy as a bath cloth can possibly be. As the water from the shower flows over me, I am taken instantly back into time while smelling the bath cloth. I smile as I go back………… Little children who were innocent of their little naked bodies were running around, squealing with delight. Some were in the old-fashioned porcelain bathtub that was filled with lots of warm, soapy water. The bathroom was very spacious, everything was white, sparkling clean… I loved that bathroom. The children bathing in the bathtub were all lathered up, smelling of wonderful Dial soap. Bubbles were everywhere… it smelled wonderful. I was on the outside looking in…. I was the extra child who lived in the house next door at Grandma Alma and George’s. I had come to play, only all the kids (there were six children) were bathing. They were going to go somewhere! Their mama and daddy were going to take them in the car … take them to the drive-in movie. There was no mama and daddy to take me anywhere. Grandma Alma couldn’t go anywhere, she couldn’t walk…. George was blind. I felt a sick feeling in my stomach… I wanted to go so badly. I was afraid to ask… someone might ‘get that expression’ that meant they wished I hadn’t asked. Sometimes though, I’d get lucky… when everyone was in the car driving out of the driveway…. they’d happened to see me standing there watching them… a little girl whom everyone looked through… looked past most of the time. I was a ‘thrown-away’ child… Grandma Alma and George’s house was the ‘catch-all’ for the kids who weren’t wanted. ‘Come on, Faye, you can go’! Sometimes, someone would call to me to come on, and I would feel instantly excited, happy. I could go and play on the playground, watch the movie while outdoors at the same time! I might could get a wonderful hotdog, french fries, and a wonderful cold, icy drink! Looking back, I must have looked a pitiful sight… a little, unkempt girl no one wanted… who always was in the way. I never got such at Grandma Alma and George’s. If they could have afforded it, they would have gotten that for me I’m sure. Grandma Alma and George were poor… I was poor. Looking back to ‘then’… I smile inside thinking to how my heart would break seeing a little child on the outside of everything… how I would want to do things to make he/she happier. Life is already very hard for a child like that. I look back to ‘then’… I can ‘see now’ that once in a while they …. felt sorry for me… once in a while. I close my eyes, I see a big, airy bathroom full of laughing, squealing children running to get into the warm, sudsy water. Each child was taking turns lathering the bar of Dial soap… the scent was ‘everywhere’… clean, happy, wonderful. I could see that warm water full of … beautiful bubbles. I loved bubbles, I used to get bubble baths, get to play in the bathtub… but, not anymore… George and Grandma Alma’s bathtub held only very cold water… I was too little to know how to make it warm. Life was so different at Grandma Alma’s, it was so hard. This was a life I didn’t know … I was just thrusted into that life with no warning, no anything. I had to learn survival skills… learn them, I did. I have the scars inside to prove it… no one can see them… I promise you they are there. I feel them to this day… I never forgot. Dial soap makes me think about ‘happy as well as sad’. Truthfully… I don’t remember a happy time without … a sad time to go along with it. ‘Happy/sad’…. it seemed always that ‘I had to pay for a happy time by something sad happening’…. Strange, but…. true. It was like when I described to you all…. the time I wanted to go on a trip to see my mother…. I was told I had to wash the car in freezing cold weather by hand if I wanted to go. I wanted to see my mama bad enough that while everyone sat inside in the warmth, I washed that car. I was just a young girl, newly married, two hundred miles away from everything I knew. As I think about the happy scent of Dial soap… I mentally ‘push away’ the ‘sad’… so, that I can focus on just the ‘happy’. I loved that sound of my little cousins running, squealing with happiness, getting their baths in that big, airy bathroom. Seeing them getting in and out of the porcelain tub to get their bath, to get a towel to dry off. I loved that wonderful scent that wafted through the whole house from many bath cloths being soaped up to bathe many little children! I take a deep breathe now, with my eyes closed…. I ‘pure love that smell’!