Everything is Okay …


Everything is Okay …

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

 

 

I have been under the weather, and now … I feel much better.  I don’t complain whenever I get sick … why?

Because I’m lucky to be here … lucky to be living in the first place.  I do sometimes, cry when I am feeling extra pain.  I’m just not perfect at all.  But, I don’t complain … whine ‘woe is me, why me?’

I am a 16 year survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma … I shouldn’t be here today.  Can you imagine how I felt when the oncologist told me those very words several months ago?  I know I am fortunate to have another chance at life.  I treasure it.

I almost died with congestive heart failure since battling cancer.  I almost died when my son died. Those are just three battles I have come through out of many.  Like the strong redwood tree … I am still standing.

Once in a while I stop writing for a week or so, if I’m not well.  I have a ‘million’ health problems now … but, that’s okay … I’m here 🙂  I begin writing as soon as I’m better.  Just know I will be back as soon as possible … I miss keeping in contact.  I miss you.

Everything is okay …

Note by this author:

Photos/ writing owned by me, Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.

I Believe in the Right to Die With Dignity …


I Believe in the Right to Die With Dignity …

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter

Photo is owned by me.  The friend (Cindy) who made this for us never knew how comforting I found this light in the bottle to be. Even my photo of it … comforts me.  Why?  Because light chases the darkness away.  I’ve been in darkness too much in my life.  Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter

 

 

This is another controversial subject I’m going to write about. I’m going to tell you how I feel about it.

I respect your feelings, your way of thinking on this subject.  I would never think I can tell you what to feel, think.  I will let you respect my feelings, way of thinking … I couldn’t let anyone tell me that my way of thinking is wrong.  How do you know?  How do I know?

So, before I go on … I can see your way of thinking as well as my way of thinking.  It’s just that my way of thinking ‘feels right’ to me inside my Heart.  These are my feelings that are … right for me.

I have been in the position of dying … of knowing I was going to die.  I know what it feels like to … know … there was no need of buying me pretty clothes … Ty Beanie Babies for my collection … no need of doing anything extra for me.

I knew I wouldn’t live to see a future.  I didn’t want money wasted on me when it could be used for more important.  This was my way of thinking when I so sick …

If you’ve never been to this point in life … being sick with a life-threatening illness … so close to death, I can’t expect you to understand.  The only way you will be able to make such a decision as I’m going to talk about … is to go to the doorstep of Death … if you can come back from it … you can make a judgement.

I’ve been there a few times in my life.   I was dying from cancer … non-Hodgkins lymphoma … the suffering, tests, the time it took to find out what was wrong with me before surgeries … took several months.  Only surgery could … save my life.

After the surgery … I was told I could die before I opened my eyes to see who was telling me I had cancer.  I never saw her … I never saw the oncologist that saved my life with the aggressive treatment she used … and others didn’t understand why she chose that.  It worked … it damaged my heart.  It was a trade-off to live.  I’ll take that.

I remember I thought she was a big, tall presence.  Later, months later when I began to be aware of things … I really looked at her, saw that she was tall but … not big.  How did I think she was ‘big’?  Because later I found out she lost a lot of weight.  Strange how I perceived her … I never saw her clearly and was drugged up.

When I heard her booming voice … the nurse, Skip were sitting me up in a chair in the Intensive Care Cardiac Unit … that’s the first I remember.  All I could see were tall letters in my mind when the oncologist’s voice said … C A N C E R … in giant letters.

I’ll have to describe the strange feeling, thoughts that played in my mind when I couldn’t see around me …  because of the drugs given to me, the weakened state I was in.  I kept thinking I could go back on the other side if only … I could go back, not have cancer.

I was dying.  For some reason, I kept ‘thinking I could go back to being all right if …. ‘

I could see an invisible line … if I could just go back to the other side of it.  I lay in that dark world … my mind kept trying to take me back … to the other side of that … invisible straight line.  Strange I know.  I’ll examine that closely one day.  I’ve never taken time … why does it bother me … now?

I know now, I have lived 16 years when I shouldn’t have … not many made it.  The new oncologist told me not long ago, I shouldn’t be here … 98% didn’t make it with what I had, and as sick as I was.  I was at Death’s door the morning I had the first surgery to remove the huge mass off my lung … resting on my heart.

I will have to take time to sometime, think about what if anything I have done of value during the precious sixteen years I was given.  I don’t think I’ve done anything so special.  I should have at least been some kind of hero or something.

Anyway, dying with dignity.  This is how I really feel after making it back from the Cancer Journey in my life.

I feel if I’m at the point of dying … know that I’m not going to live … laying in agony … or becoming a ‘vegetable’ … I should have the option to end my life while I’m aware.  I feel I should be able to say my goodbyes if by that time … I have anyone to say goodbye to.

No one knows it … I had my option to let go of life … if I knew with certainty I was dying, no chance of living.

I knew I wasn’t going to live … I was preparing.  The thing is … strange thing is … something kicked in (I do think it was that infamous fighting spirit I have :).

When it kicked in … I began seeing in my mind … the future.  The future where I could see me doing things once again.  It was like putting a colorful toy just out of reach … to encourage a child to learn to walk.  If he wants it bad enough … well, you know the rest.

When that happened, I began forcing myself to sit up (oh God, I could never tell you the horrible pain I had in my chest … get a thoracotomy … you will always know.  I had two thoracotomies exactly one year apart … I have ‘forever pain’ you wouldn’t believe).

Anyway, no matter the horrible pain … I couldn’t see straight for the powerful medicines I was given … I made my body raise up, stand up, hold onto things to walk.

I could barely walk … and go only a few steps.  Tears ran down my face, I couldn’t breathe for crying … I kept doing this for many months.

I had become determined to live.  I wanted to live … I wasn’t accepting death without one hell of a fight.  When I did these things … I would fall into bed … in agonizing pain.  No matter, I meant to get strong.

No one can ever know the agony I was in … I was alone while Skip was working as a fleet manager in a produce company.  I tried to be strong when he came home so, he could go to work, know I was all right.

Not only that … if he even thought I was suffering … he would become very upset.  So, many times I have to say … I fooled Skip into thinking I was so tough, strong … we have to do what we got to do.

That wasn’t a bad way to fool someone … at least in my situation.  It did make me personally stronger, and I made it.  It gave him comfort … he just knew I was still me … and I could do what I said.

After 3 years of fighting the toughest battle of my life … I made it in time to go with Skip to the doctor, then … oncologist … to be there when he was diagnosed with … colon cancer.

Skip had been caring for me, working his ass off … and he was … dying with colon cancer that had begun coming through his colon.

I’ll never forget what I said to him at the moment he went into shock.  I said, “Skip … that must be the reason I lived … so, you could see that you can make it.  I’ll take care of you just like you did me”.

I will say this … when I became aware of Skip being sick … something wrong … was during the time I was very ill.  I couldn’t make decisions for myself at that time … had to hold onto things to walk.  My body was in bad shape … I was on powerful medicines.

Skip came to me during that time, told me that he’d been bleeding.  When he’d ‘go’ to the bathroom … the commode would be filled with blood.  You know how sick I must have been when I couldn’t jump up from there … make him get to a doctor.  I wanted to … but, the state of mind when one is very ill … you aren’t yourself.

One day, I raised up out of bed after Skip told me he wished I could see all the blood.  I meant to see it … I knew deep down something was wrong.  Skip had been suffering with terrible cramps in his legs.  Ripping cramps up the inside of his legs.  This had been going on for months.

I made Skip help me to go see … my knees buckled under me, he grabbed me.  I began crying … I knew then … Skip had colon cancer.  The damn crazy thing here is … I ‘knew’ … but, being so sick I couldn’t keep it in my mind … I couldn’t make him go to the doctor … I couldn’t help myself.  Months went by …

This is what happened as time went by … I had something in my mind that ‘made me’ know I was going to get well to do.  I meant for Skip to go to a doctor.  I knew … he was very sick.  Skip … like me … is strong … has a fighting spirit that matches mine … maybe stronger.

I know our neighbors heard me crying through the walls of our home at that time.  They just didn’t know that I was beginning to force myself to do things in the house again.  I had a purpose ….

I made myself hold a broom … my hands had forgotten what a broom felt like.  So hard, splintery.  I made myself put clothes in the washer.  I began to mop … sure the area was very small … it was a beginning.  I burned my hands as I stood at the stove staring at the eye on top … it was hot.

Somehow I had forgotten … like a child, I didn’t think about it burning me … isn’t that amazing?  I took something out of the oven … letting my hand touch the top … I learned from that burn … not to touch hot things.  Now … I knew that … but, forgot everything during my illness.  I am amazed when I think back.

I began to do little things … in my mind … I could see me in my future being strong, well again.  I knew I wouldn’t be letting myself die … with dignity.  I knew I was going to live.

You have to know that knowing I could decide what I wanted to do … if … I was going to die … gave me comfort.  I needed that comfort … I didn’t want to live not having quality of life, someone having to care for me.  So, no matter what anyone thinks … that’s the way I felt … still feel.  I won’t argue it with anyone.

A person who has never experienced this … can talk all they want to.  Put their ass in the same situation … see what they do.  It’s funny how things change when the person who talks loudest … experiences pain, agony, near death.  You find out what you are made of.  You find out … that your whole perspective changes on life, death.  You find out … you know nothing.

So … those who run their mouth about this or that … don’t really know anything … maybe they’ll get to know firsthand … then, we can see what they think.

It’s like in my situation being a grieving mother … I lost my only child … having listened to people who ‘knew it all’ about losing a child … find out they don’t know a damn thing … they don’t know how it feels to have their own child … die.  Some people … hadn’t ever had a child … go figure.

Until people can walk on those roads in life … they can only ‘guess’ at what they would do.  I promise you … they won’t do all these things they so loudly say they will do when … tragedy strikes.  I promise you that.  It would be good if they kept their mouths shut … not make an ass of themselves.

They do not know a damn thing.  Admit it … just say I think I would try to do this or that.  Not ‘if my child dies I know I’ll do this, I know I’ll do that’.  Like I said … you don’t know a damn thing.

I don’t even listen anymore to people … like you.  It’s probably best for you to tell someone who has a weaker mind than I do … I don’t want to hear it.

Why … would I listen … to you  …tell me something you’ve never had to deal with in your life?  You’d be like a teacher trying to teach … never having an education … not a foot to stand on.

It’s like someone telling you how to drive … never driving in their life.  It’s a whole different ballgame …

Anyway … unless one knows from experience … it would pay to tread lightly when saying things around people … who have survived trauma, tragedy … bad things in their life.  You don’t want to make these people … teach you a thing or two.  You really don’t have to say a thing excepting … I care, I’m so sorry.

This is some … I never said it’s all I think on the subject of death … of what I think about dying with dignity.  In my case after experiencing what I have with near-death …  it’s for me.  I believe in it.  I believe in hospice … keeping someone from suffering.

I believe in my case, my life … I would want to have a tablet to take when it came time that I knew I couldn’t come back from my illness.  I can’t speak for you … only for myself.

I believe in the right to die with dignity.

 

 

Note by this Author:  Photos/my thoughts on this subject are both owned, written by me … Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter.

 

All She Needed Was A Little Place To Put Herself…


All She Needed Was A Little Place To Put Herself…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee…. at age 3

 

Skin burning on her little arms, legs

She looks down to see blood smeared everywhere

The bones in her little body felt almost… broken

 

Pain made her moan as she lifted herself off the floor

Mama!  Mama!  Mama, please help me, she cried out

Her mama wasn’t coming… no, not any time soon

 

Especially this very moment when someone abused her child

The little girl cried silently… she didn’t scream, cry aloud

She left the room, curses followed her out the door

 

She opened the front door, stepped outside

The sunshine blinded her… she closed her eyes

Her face stung from her own salty tears

 

The cement porch felt cool to her skin

As she sat down on it, her feet hanging off onto the step

She hung her head… nobody loves me, she thought

 

No matter where she went in this world of hers

She seemed to be in someone’s way

Where was her place… her place she could be at peace?

 

She knew where it was… no one ever noticed her there

Back into the house she went… she walked to the couch

The old, red vinyl couch that had a small space at the end

 

A small space in between it, and the old bookcase sitting there

The little girl slipped into it, sat on the floor

This was the only place she could sit, no one yell at her

 

This was the place she was safest at in her world

She reached for a book off the shelf, picked up her pencil

Sat there for the next hour, drawing on the white pages

 

The white pages at the front, back of the book

She dreamed of being a fashion designer

Just a child with big ideas… no one cared

 

This was her favorite spot at her Grandma Alma’s

Where no one bothered her… where she wasn’t in the way

All she needed was a little place to put herself

 

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I Only Have My Grief… To Compare My Grief To…


I Only Have My Grief… To Compare My Grief To…
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

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Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… 2013
Everytime I begin to write today… it seems my words begin to talk about … Tommy. I wonder ‘why’? He would have been 43 years old on November 20th… and this is the third Thanksgiving he isn’t … here.

I know I’m thinking about him… though, my mind is thinking about other things. I’m glad I’m not crying. Do you know …I miss my son. I miss him with my very heart.

I don’t worry that you will tire of me writing about him, when this happens. You have the choice to go on to the next blog… post. This happens ever so often. I write grief, pain… it’s what I know best. Then, I write my colors/my life… my thoughts.

I was thinking today of how Tommy died… I wondered if his eyes were opened long enough to look up at the beautiful, blue sky… see the white sea gulls flying over him. I keep imagining the sea gulls singing to him… ‘Tommy, come home… it’s time to come home’.

I pray that he didn’t feel any pain in his chest… nor feel pain as his body collapsed on the sand. I pray that invisible angel’s hands guided him gently as he fell.

Did his ears hear the waves as they washed ashore close by where he lay? My son died a beautiful death… people say this to me. I can ‘see’ that they are right. Everyone would want to ‘go’ that way. My mind worries for any pain he might have felt… he had two blockages to his heart. The autopsy showed this… I wonder… is it possible he didn’t feel pain?

Imagine the music that the ocean, and sea gulls make as the sounds blend together… soothing, soft… hauntingly beautiful. Doesn’t it touch your heart? I think Tommy heard this special music as his soul … soared to Heaven. Soared to the sea gulls singing, ‘Come home, Tommy… come home’.

For the moment… I’ve went to the place where I don’t usually allow my mind to go… to ‘that moment when my son lay on that sand’. To the moment… he… died. I feel I want to cry… but, I know I won’t for now. I don’t know ‘why’ I won’t… I just ‘know’.

I can see in my mind’s eye… my little 3 year old grandson squatting down to his daddy’s level… asking him to come play with him. He probably put his little hand on his daddy’s shoulder, to shake him to wake up. Tommy was always playing with him… pretending to be asleep, and such… then, surprise his little son with a big grin, and a roar! He didn’t … that time.

Thank-God for the little group of people close by… they were the only people around. They came to Tommy, and Taban… watched over Taban until he was safely with his mother. His mother didn’t know where Tommy and their little son… disappeared to. She, her family were putting luggage up in the hotel room.

I wonder when Tommy grabbed Taban by his little hand… did he feel an urgency to get to the ocean, to play with his little son as he wished to do… as quickly as he could?

He barely made it in time to play for a short time… he left on a journey that was unexpected… one he can’t come back from.

The grief… in my grief, I would almost feel he was going to walk up any moment… appear from around the corner. It felt like ‘almost’ anytime, I was going to see my child. It was like when I was diagnosed with cancer… in that shock… I kept feeling somehow, I could step back ‘through a door’… and everything would… be back the way it was. Everything would be alright.

Some day I will sit, and try to explain that more… it’s a very interesting way of thinking. I’ve never heard anyone describe ‘real grief’… I’ve never had opportunity to be around anyone who has grieved like I have. I understand… no one’s been around me to see me … grieve … like I have. It’s a very private thing.

When someone you love, dies… somehow, in the shock… it feels like you can ‘shift the time’ just a little… and it’s like ‘they can come back’. It doesn’t make sense… I just tried to ‘go back’ for a moment to ‘feel’, so… I could describe it. It sounds strange… maybe sometime, I will examine it more in my mind… and write it, to tell you.

In my mind, I used to wish I could reach out… part the air like opening a curtain… see the steps to Heaven… go up them quietly to the top so, I could peep… hopefully, to see the angels walking by… see Tommy. I would have softly called, “Tommy”! Then, watched for his sunshine smile!

We all wish… we all think… don’t think… feel, cry… sob, weep when we grieve. Sometimes, we do nothing… I grieve quietly, privately… the only way to know I’m grieving is to see it in my writing. I don’t talk about it. Only at a rare moment will Skip see me grieving… I don’t want to upset, worry him. If I’m not alright… he can’t rest. So, I write the pain…

When you look at me… you’ll see my smile, and know everything’s alright. Because… really, I am. I don’t know how others grieve, I know how I do. I only have my grief… to compare my grief to.

 

I Wonder… Am I Getting Old?


I’m Wonder… Am I Getting Old?
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

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Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… 2013

The chill seeped into my bones
As I made myself ready for bed
I feel aches, pains that I never felt before

Am I finally getting old
Is that why my bones are aching
Is that why I find it hard to straighten

Winter weather is surely coming
I feel it ‘in my bones’
Haven’t you heard old-timers say this

We are going to have some winter weather
The temperatures are going crazy
I think it’s going to snow later this week

I’ve either become a weather forecaster
Or… somehow, old age has snuck up on me!
The weather must be going to get rugged

These aches, pains are really acting up
I can hardly stand up for the stiffness
When I sit… it hurts, too!

Come on, old lady… get your ass up
Just because of a few pains, you can’t just sit there
Get up, get up… you can’t get old!

I stand myself up… slowly, thinking the whole time
Mmmm-mmm… for the first time, I’ve never felt such
I think I’m getting old… no, I know I’m getting old

Does this mean that I’ll give up, fall on my face
To never walk again, to lay back and complain
Hell no! No matter what, I’ll keep going

My body is used to pain, hurt it will
Sometimes, more… sometimes … not as much
I’m going to make myself get up and go

I wonder if I’m getting old, you know
Because I move like the walking dead
Tottering this way, that

I moan, groan, and even growl
The pain forces such sounds from me
I wonder am… I’m getting old?

 

Straight To Hell…


Straight To Hell…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

She sat in the cold, hard, vinyl geriatric chair

A nurse‘s aid had come in to get her up from bed

She threw a cold, sterile sheet over the elderly woman

 

Sit there, shut your mouth… you better be good

The elderly woman knew better than to say a word

All she had to do was to look at her arms to see bruises

 

Bruises left there by thoughtless, cold, cruel people

Who were disguised in all white, with smiles of caring angels

When family left, so did the smiles… out came the claws

 

Shut up, shut up… I said!  I’ll slap you if you make a noise

I don’t need none of your mess tonight, I’m tired… sleepy

I didn’t come to work to be bothered by the likes of … you

 

The cold, heartless b____ never saw, felt a thing

As she slammed the wooden door to the room behind her

To go to another room to …do her job

 

She left behind her a frail, frightened elderly woman

A lady who always smiled… now, she always had tears

In her eyes of green… eyes that were frightened as well

 

She could walk, even dance if she wanted to

She hid her abilities, played weak

One day she was going to kick an ass, or two… just watch and see

 

With no one in the room to watch her, she rose from the chair

Threw the cold, white sheet on the floor

Stretched her arms, stretched her legs

 

It’s a good night to take care of business, I’m the one to do it

She walked quickly to the door, quietly opened it, went into the hall

She could hear the b___’s voice verbally abusing another patient

 

Didn’t I tell you to shut your mouth, I’m too tired to mess with you

You aren’t going to give me any problems, mess up my night

Lay there in your s___, I’m not changing you!

 

The nurse’s aid came out of the room, slamming the door

Looked up, saw the frail, elderly woman out in the hall

As she stood there, one hand on the wall to steady herself

 

What the f___!  I told you I wasn’t messing with you tonight

Get your ass back in your room… get in that bed!

Get, you hear?  Get in that bed, and don’t you dare get up!

 

When the elderly woman didn’t move, the nurse’s aid grew angrier

Her eyes had an evil look… her lips pulled back in a cruel smile

She loved to slap around, bang up her patients

 

She began to walk toward the fragile, elderly woman

For a moment, she thought she saw a little smile on her face

A gleam in her eye… she knew that wasn’t possible

 

Until… the elderly lady spoke in a strong, calm voice

Told her… yes, told her!  that she’d better not come closer

Because her ass… yes, ‘her’ ass was going to be kicked

 

The nurse’s aide was ready to beat the old woman down now

She reached out with both hands, she’d break her body into

No sooner than she thought these things, all became a blur

 

Pain, flashes of colors in her eyes, she felt her body being attacked

She’d done messed with the wrong patient, this one got her ass!

When all was said and done… the elderly woman stepped back

 

She spoke in strong, calm voice… you get up off the floor, now!

You are going to work your ass off, tend your patients as you should

If you hurt another soul here tonight… I’m going to send your ass…

 

Straight to Hell

 

 

Someone Else’s Son…


 
Someone Else’s Son…

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

 

 

My Precious Son, Tommy… Born November 20, 1969… Died May 29, 2010

 

 

 

We walked toward the big box store

People were standing in a group to collect

Money to repair a church roof

My eyes were suddenly drawn to one person

 

Tommy!  Oh, Skip, look!

That guy looks so much like… Tommy!

My eyes followed the guy as he talked,

Moved, smiled… my heart began to hurt

 

I couldn’t take my eyes from him

So engrossed I was … I ran into a barrier

In front of the store

 

The pain in my stomach wasn’t anywhere as near

As the pain in my heart as I tried

To tear my eyes away from someone else’s son

 

Sick to my very soul, I followed Skip inside

Skip!  Did you see how much he looked like Tommy?

Did you see… he had glasses, his kind of haircut, too

 

Tommy, for a few moments I watched ‘you’ move

I watched you smile, talk

Today… in someone else’s son

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

Grief is a terrible thing… it strikes like a rattlesnake hidden in the grass.  No matter how beautiful the day, how wonderful all is… it strikes with a vengeance… the pain can bring one to their knees.

 

It can’t be predicted… no more than when lightening will strike something from the sky.  You can’t imagine how bad it hurts to lose your only child… how bad it feels, knowing you have nothing to look forward to in later life… no son, no grandchildren.

 

The only protection is being strong, determined… looking forward, not backwards.  I do this every day, minute… I have to.  It’s like walking a tightrope… I always have to be balanced, so… I … don’t fall. Sometimes, I fall very hard when… I least expect it.  I tell you because when it happens, I promised to.

 

Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

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?

 

 

NAKED… A Limb Snagged It And Tossed It Into The Air!


NAKED…   A LIMB SNAGGED IT AND TOSSED IT INTO THE AIR!
BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES
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My scalp tingled, and felt very strange.  I was feeling fear, my stomach hurt.  I wasn’t feeling well at all.  I’d been through a major surgery, and now… had begun chemotherapy.  I stayed in excruciating pain, now ‘this’ was happening.
I had to hold on to things to walk, my body was very weak and I’d lost all my muscle tone, my mind was in a medicated fog…  always.  Now…  ‘this’ was happening… there was no mistaking what was going to happen.
The oncologist told me that some of the drugs that were in my particular chemotherapy treatments would most likely make me lose all my hair.  She told me that I had the option to take chemotherapy… or be like some of the women who had cancer… opt not to take the chemotherapy treatments.
The oncologist told me that I’d be surprised how many women who were so vain over losing their hair… opted not to take chemotherapy to save their own lives.
I had long curly, beautiful hair.  I didn’t want to lose my hair… it had taken some time to let it grow this long.  Always… I got lots of compliments on my hair.  I asked her did alot of those women die… she said yes, they did.  It didn’t take me but, several minutes to decide to have chemotherapy.
Skip was always by my side..  I never went to tests or to anything medical by myself.  Skip was always there with me.  He asked the oncologist ‘where’ could he buy me the nicest wig that would look like my hair.  She told him, and when we left the office… we went there.
Skip helped me to choose the wig, one that was almost as long as my hair, just as curly.  It was an expensive, human hair wig…  it was beautiful and lightweight.  The lady gave us a box with the wig we wanted.
We got home and I put the pretty box with the wig up… just in case… really when I would need it.  I felt that scared feeling in my stomach.  I didn’t want to lose my hair… but, the oncologist said some of the drugs caused hair loss.  I remember thinking in the past that ‘cancer made one lose their hair’…  that’s untrue.   Certain drugs will cause hair loss.
I decided I would go have my hair cut short… I had the feeling that it ‘was going to begin coming out’.  My scalp felt so tingley, strange….  I’d never felt this feeling before.  Actually…  it felt like when I placed my hand on my hair that ‘my hair hurt’.  The night before I’d felt this same sensation in my scalp, it hurt a lot to just lay my head on my pillows.  I’d never ‘had my hair to hurt’.
I went to the beauty salon, I was so sad as I watched the lady cut my hair off.  I’d taken such pride in my hair, it was long and beautiful, curly.  I felt tears in my eyes, my nose burned inside, I wanted to cry my heart out.
The next morning I was alone, Skip had already left.  I made my way slowly to the bathroom to take my shower.  I got into the warm shower and began washing my hair, my scalp felt painful touching it.  My biggest fear came true…  my hair began coming out in my hands.  I began crying.
My tears were mixed with water from my shower.  I cried as I took my shower.  I reached for my towel and began to dry off.  I finally made myself look into the mirror…  I began crying again.
I began wondering how could I go to bed tonight sleeping in a wig.  I couldn’t imagine letting Skip see my head without hair!  I could hardly bear seeing myself in the mirror.  I had never felt less than a person in my life…  as I did now.  I had no hair, excepting on top I had some curls left.
I put the wig on, my scalp felt awful.  It was tingling and felt so uncomfortable.  I almost felt like I wanted to die… how could I let Skip see my head without hair, just how could I?  I knew that I had to think of something because that was sure to happen.  I couldn’t wear a wig all the time.
That evening skip came home, he didn’t notice that I had a wig on!  It looked so much like my hair.  As the evening progressed, I became more upset…  how could I go to bed without the wig.  I was in too much pain from the surgery to sleep on the couch.  I had a incision that began almost at the top of my shoulder that rounded to almost under my left arm.  The pain was unbearable…  my hair loss only contributed to it.
I began sobbing.  Skip quickly came to see what was wrong.  I told him that I couldn’t just let him see me without hair.  I was so embarrassed, so ashamed.  I felt him put his hand on my shoulder, when he spoke, I listened in amazement.
He told me that this was only temporary, he loved me with his heart and I meant the world to him.  He told me that the loss of my hair didn’t make him love me any less, that it would be growing back.  What was important now…  was to do all possible to get well.
When he said those words, I instantly felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders, I took in a deep breath…  I knew inside that everything was going to be alright.  That night I took the wig off and placed it on its stand.  My scalp felt so ‘naked’… cool from the air.  Now…  I knew ‘why’ men who were bald, wore caps when it was cold!  I was now…  bald-headed…  though I had several curls on top of my head.  Skip nicknamed me his ‘Gerber Baby‘.
I never did get used to wearing the wig, though it was beautiful.  I wanted my own hair back.  I went through many weeks of chemotherapy, finished it.  I began to notice that my hair was growing back!
One day we went to the lake…  there were trees nearby.  We were walking near them and… the unthinkable happened!
I felt my face turn red, I was so embarrassed!  As we walked close to one of the smaller trees…  a limb snagged my wig and took it right off and …  tossed it up in the air!   I felt like my dress had blown up to my waist… instead my wig was gone…  leaving my scalp naked for God, and everyone to see!
I stood there…  deciding whether to cry and melt into the ground from embarrassment… or the thought came to my mind that this was really funny!  I was thinking that if I would begin to find ‘gentle, good humor’ in things…  all would be better.  Guess what I did?
I began laughing as I watched the expression on Skip’s face change to a smile!  I was feeling better as I laughed!  I could see Skip was so glad that I took it this way.  I reached up on that limb and took my wig  back and I…  stuck in on my head!
I asked Skip if I had it on right… he said “no, it looks a little sideways!”  I gradually turned it until it was right…  Skip’s face was my mirror.  I told Skip “I  can’t believe my hair came off!”  We both began to laugh again in a ‘good’ way.  I thought to myself that…  with humor in good taste… everything is going to be alright.  It honestly made everything better.
It seemed laughter in good taste gave me hope, made me know that yes, indeed my rocky path was going to get better, though it took a long time.   I was on at that time in my life, the hardest path I’d ever traveled.
When we began to smile and laugh, things got better.  Even when I had injections it would hurt so  bad, I would smile through my tears, sometimes I reassured the technican or nurse, that it was all right…  I knew it was going to hurt, but, to get well I had to get through this.  Sometimes, I saw tears in their eyes….  for me.  I was amazed.  Truthfully…  I met more ‘angels’ on this path, though rocky, who went out of their way to make things better for me.
That was the only time I ever lost my wig!  It never got caught on anything else to make it come off.  When it became time to put it up, I was so thankful.  I had it shampooed, fixed, rolled it up a certain way to keep the curls ‘just right’… stored it back in the pretty box.  I never thought I’d have to wear that wig the following year…  I did have to once again.  I didn’t stay in remission long.
That wig was a life saver once again…  it made me look normal.  People complimented it…  that made me feel like an imposter.  I felt the need to tell people that it was a wig…  I didn’t want them to think I was something I wasn’t.
The wig is  gone…I think we lost it in the house fire when we lost all of our belongings.  You wouldn’t believe all that happened to us in the past 12 years.  I don’t, when I stop to think about them.  I can’t look long, I have to go forward.  I don’t want to get trapped in the past, I’ve come too far.
I’m glad to think of one good, funny thing concerning that wig…  it really was funny when that limb snagged it like that…  it bounced it up into the air, when it came down… it landed right in that tree!  It created a ‘good’ memory… when it could very well have been a ‘bad’ one.  I’m smiling gently as I ‘look back’. I hope you will, too.  Everything turned out alright!

If She Was Going To Live Now… She Might As Well Get Started


If She Was Going To Live Now… She Might As Well Get Started

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

Artwork by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

 

She sat up slowly, tried to focus her eyes

Closed them, opened them hoping to clear them

Of Death’s glaze that almost sealed them forever

She put her hands over her eyes

 

The pain… pain everywhere, nowhere the most

She looked over to the steps that led up on the porch

Looked to the door… then, to the sky

 

Where it was blue, white clouds before… it was getting dark now

She wanted to be in the house if she couldn’t lay here dead

Afraid of the dark outside, more than the darkness on the inside

She began to push herself up to stand up

 

She trembled, almost fell back down to the ground

Determination pushed her ass to stand up

She stood as she meant to, if she was going to live now

She might as well… get started

 

She put one foot forward, held it firmly to the ground

She wasn’t going to fall down, she had to make it inside

She was afraid of the dark, something might get her

Being alive brings its fears… the darkness was one of them

 

She put one foot in front of the other

Until she got to the steps… if she had to crawl

She was going up them, she didn’t make it this far

For nothing, she’d get herself in that house

 

Lock the door against the night, sleep on the floor

If she must… it didn’t matter now, if she lived

Everything past death a short while ago is a plus

She could … ‘not be’ … doing anything … now

 

Holding onto the hand rail, she pulled herself up

Until she got to the top, stood there, slowly looked around

She didn’t know she’d see all this again

The big oak tree in the yard, the yellow bushes with flowers

 

When she closed her eyes last, she never thought about

Ever seeing again the things she loved

As these thoughts went through her head

Where before… no thoughts were being thought of

 

She reached the storm door, opened it… went inside

Closed the wooden door that was still standing open

How long ago did it get left opened

She couldn’t think past this moment, she locked the door

 

She walked slowly through the living room, down the hall

Turned right, went into the bathroom … turned the faucet on

She propped herself on the counter, put her face down

Splashed cold water onto her face, in her eyes

 

Toothbrush in hand, she put the toothpaste on it

Brushed the taste of death out of her mouth

If she was going to live, her teeth were going to be clean

When she was stronger, she would get into the shower

 

For now, she was going to lay down

Sleep the sleep of life, not death

Either way, she wouldn’t have to feel the pain

That pushed her into Death’s arms

 

When and if… she woke up, she’d decide what to do

For now, it didn’t matter… she couldn’t change a thing

No strength was left in her mind, her body

For now… she couldn’t do a thing

 

Hours later, her eyes opened, her ears heard no sound

She lay there, letting her mind fill with thoughts

She felt anger, pain in her heart… she knew now, what to do

If she was going to live now… she might as well get started.