A Girl Named Hope

A while back, one of my readers said he would like to hear about some of my calls when I was running EMS.  We discussed our calls among ourselves, even though we were bound by those pesky HIPPA laws but if the Mayor was transported after a drunk driving accident, it wasn’t like we all didn’t know.

There were calls that bothered me, calls that annoyed me and calls that pissed me off.  I remember them all but I decided to write about one that was incredibly memorable and sad.

In EMS, we have patients we run on regularly and they become known as “frequent flyers.”  We get to know them well and form a sort of bond with them.

This is the story of Hope.

My partner and I got a call for “respiratory distress.”  We got on scene and were led to a back bedroom.  That was the first time I saw Hope.  She was a twenty-six year old girl who weighed 852 pounds.  My partner and I each weighed about a buck fifteen.

Because of her weight, she was bed bound and frequently had difficulty breathing.  She kept apologizing for the “trouble.”  I told her it was no trouble and we were there to help.  I could see the embarrassment in her eyes when she took my hand and said “I’m sorry I’m so fat.”

I don’t know if I ever ran across a patient who had a sweeter disposition than Hope.  Even while she was struggling to breathe, she said “you are so kind and you have such beautiful hair.”

I asked her parents how long she had been having trouble breathing.  They said it had just started and then asked me if they could feed her before we left.  They seemed to be more concerned about her getting to eat than being able to breathe.

Her mama was less than five feet tall and couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds.  Her daddy wasn’t much taller and looked like a toothpick.  Hope was their only child.
Her mama took me aside and said they didn’t want Hope to be hungry.  I told her that the hospital would give her something to eat but we needed to get her there before she got worse.

I knew that we were going to need help getting her to the hospital so I called dispatch and asked for any available crews to come assist.  I also asked them to send the fire department.  I knew she would never fit on our stretcher so I requested that one of the crews bring “Chitty.”

Chitty was our critical care ambulance.  The cab was the size of an eighteen wheeler and the “trailer” was as large by half.  The fire department had a “whale carrier.”  Since it was a coastal city, large marine life would sometimes get stranded and the carrier was how they moved them.  It was the only way we could get Hope out to the ambulance.  We had to remove the standard stretcher mounts and slide her onto the floor.

She was naked, so I used my sense of humor to distract her from the indignity of being eyed and handled while she was being loaded and made sure that she was covered to prevent gawking neighbors from seeing anything.

After we got her loaded, she started crying and said “I don’t want to die.”  I told her she wasn’t going to die on my watch.  She said she had tried to lose weight and wanted to have gastric by-pass surgery but she weighed too much and then started apologizing again.  I told her she had nothing to apologize for.

This was the routine for several months.  I got to know her well and she was such a sweet child.  She was the same age as my youngest daughter.  We talked about music and movies and as soon as I would get her to the hospital, she would always say the same thing.  “I don’t want to die.”

As soon as we got her in the bed, her parents wanted to know when she was going to be fed and again said “we don’t want her to be hungry.”

It was so heartbreaking when her parents talked about wanting her to not be hungry.  Every time she was hospitalized, her parents would sneak buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken into her room.  The nurses finally had to threaten them with loss of visitation rights if they continued.

I was on shift on Christmas Eve and had just dropped off a patient.  I stopped at the nurses’ station to get some paperwork signed and one of them asked if I had heard about Hope.  I said “of course.  I’ve brought her here many times.”
The nurse shook her head and said “no.  Hope died.  She went into cardiac arrest about an hour ago and we couldn’t bring her back.”

She was down the hall in a room but I couldn’t bring myself to go see her.  The nurses said her parents had asked for a few minutes alone with her, which of course, they granted.

When they went in to disconnect the machinery, one of them noticed something trickling from Hopes’ mouth.

While her parents were alone with her, they stuffed her mouth full of candy.  They didn’t want her to be hungry while she was alive and they didn’t want her to be hungry after she died.

 

The World Of Bobby Jo

Bobby Jo loved to spend summers at her grandma and grandpas’ house.  The long, steamy days and nights didn’t bother her nor, at the tender age of ten, did the smell of cow manure, mixed with wild honeysuckle. There were acres of land to be explored and she wanted to explore them all.

Bobby Jo was a prankster.  Once she took the bell off of Bessie the cow.  She sneaked up to the house and started ringing the bell.  Through the window, she could see grandma clasp her hands together and say “el, I wished I’m a die.  Bessie’s got loose and is traipsing around all over the place.”

Bobby Jo giggled as she quickly hid when grandma came outside.  It didn’t take long for grandma to know what Bobby Jo had done but she didn’t get mad.  She just laughed and said “you little scamp, you.  Go put that bell back on Bessie.”

Sometimes when grandma was cooking and got the milk out, Bobby Jo would wait until she turned around and put the milk back in the icebox.  Grandma would say “I could have sworn I got that milk out.”  After she used it, she would put it back in the icebox and Bobby Joe would take it back out and sit it back on the table.  This would go on and on until grandma finally caught on.

Grandma had a good sense of humor and she enjoyed Bobby Jo’s playfulness.

A family bought the old Simpson farm just down the road. Bobby Jo heard they had a little girl, so she wandered down the hill toward the house.  Sure enough, she saw a little girl.  Bobby Jo and never been shy so she just walked up and introduced herself.

The little girls’ name was Carla Jean.  After Bobby Jo met her parents, she asked if Carla Jean could come up the hill to her house.  Carla Jeans’ parents said “sure, as long as you’re back before dark.”

Bobby Jo and Carla Jean skipped, hand in hand, up the hill.  When they got to the house, Bobby Jo took Carla Jean in to meet her grandma.  Grandma was pleased to meet her and promised a homemade blueberry pie, after they got settled in a little more.

Grandma was busy washing clothes.  She still used a washboard and a big tin bucket.  She said “now, you girls go on out and play.  I have to finish washing up these clothes and get dinner started before grandpa gets home.”

Bobby Jo looked at Carla Jean, rolled her eyes and said “okay, grandma.”  As they were walking out, grandma said “now, stay away from that old shed.  You don’t want grandpa to have to get after you.”

Bobby Jo again looked at Carla Jean and said “don’t pay her no never-mind.  My mama says she’s a little touched in the head.”

Carla Jean said “what do you mean?”  Bobby Jo said “well, before I was born, grandpa went fishin’ down to the lake and he ain’t never come back.”  Carla Jean asked what happened.

Bobby Jo said “all I know is, my mama said they ain’t never found a hide nor a hair.  Sometimes late at night, I hear grandma talking to him, just like he was in the room.”  Carla Jean said “are you scared?”  Bobby Jo said “nah.  She talks to him all the time.”

Bobby Jo asked Carla Jean if she wanted to go look at the old shed.  Carla Jean said “but your grandma told us not to go in there.”  Bobby Jo said “I know, but I go in there all the time…and you know what?  Sometimes, the floors are wet and it smells like fish.  Come on…let’s go in.”  Carla Jean said she didn’t want to.  “Come on, fraidy cat,” Bobby Jo teased but Carla Jean wouldn’t go in.

It wasn’t going to be long before dark, so Bobby Jo and Carla Jean started heading back to the house.  Grandma came out and said “grandpa must be running late.  He should have been back by now.”  Carla Jean looked at Bobby Jo and Bobby Jo said “remember, don’t pay her no mind.”

Right after grandma went back into the house, Bobby Jo and Carla Jean saw a dark figure coming toward them.  He was carrying fishin’ poles and a bucket.  Bobby Jo said “it can’t be!  It can’t be!”

Carla Jean turned as white as a sheet and started running down the hill as fast as her little legs would carry her.

Bobby Jo was giggling as watched her.  Then she ran up and said “hey, grandpa.  Did you catch anything?”

 

The End.

 

Blogger Recognition Award

blogger_recognition_award
A big thank you to Stephanie at makingtimeforme for the nomination.  Stephanie is a wonderful blogger who is supportive and encouraging.  She’s quick to promote anothers’ work and delves into the lives of those we may tend to discount…like teenagers.  She posts about her own life, divorce, remarriage and her struggles with being a step-mom. She is gracious with those of us who don’t understand how to do something.  She is always more than willing to help. If  you don’t already follow her, give her a read.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Rules:

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2.  Write a post and display the award.

3.  Give a brief story on how your blog started.

4.  Give a piece of advice to new bloggers.

5.  Select up to 15 other bloggers you want to give the award to.

6.  Comment on each blog and let them know you nominated them.


How My Blog Started:

I am not sure exactly how my blog started.  The only thing I knew about blogs and WordPress came from my dear friend, who died from a brain tumor and blogged about his fight to survive….and a brave fight it was.  I revisit his blog from time to time, although it is painful.  I still remember this wonderful, intelligent, strong, strapping man who was a true friend.  He would have been the one I turned to for advice on “how to blog”, had he lived.

I think my youngest daughter, probably in an attempt to help ease my grief, suggested that “we” write a blog.  So…I decided to write about the journey of my life….the struggles, the disappointments, the losses and what seems to be a losing battle of recovery.

Advice To New Bloggers:

The one thing I wish I had been more knowledgeable about was how to “tag.”  If you are a new blogger and are as computer illiterate as I was (am), it helps.  As far as content, there are so many bloggers out there with entirely different kinds of posts and they are all wonderful reads.  I would say to write what you want to write.

Follow other bloggers and be supportive.  Comment on their work.  Let them know you read their posts and appreciate them.  You will make some wonderful friends here.  They will become your family…your “band of bloggies.”

Don’t get discouraged if you only have a few followers in the beginning.  Keep writing, if only for yourself.  It can be cathartic.  It can be healing.  It can be the reason you get off of your sofa.

My Nominees:

1.  Tosha Michelle

2.  myworldshattered

3.  A@moylomenterprises

4.  euphoriciraqisinglemom

5.  chloe88blog

6.  Blue Sky

7.  creativerational

8.  shavingshards

9.  RobertGoldstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Leibster Award

liebsterlogo pink

A big thank you to innerramblingsblvd for the nomination!  They are a couple of ghost writers whose work ranges from musical to erotica.  They post lots of videos and the writing is always so meaningful.  They are staunch supporters of their followers and never fail to comment with heartfelt and encouraging responses.  If you don’t already follow them, give them a look.

These are their questions for me:

1.  What was the scariest moment in your life?
I would have to say when I had to meet with a drug dealer in the middle of the woods because the Loser puppet told me to get his computer back and he didn’t care how I did it.  (My son sold it.)

2.  What or who inspires your writing?
My life.

3.  How have you overcome writers’ block?
I just don’t write for a while.

4.  Are you published?  Would you like to be published?
No.  Maybe.

5.  What do you think is your best poem or poetry?
Maybe “A Short Story” but I don’t consider anything I write as being very good.

6.  What is your favorite novel?
I don’t have one.

7.  If you could meet an author, who would you meet?
I’ve met Robert Penn Warren but only because he was one of the Loser puppets’ favorite authors.  Not being a reader, I don’t have an answer.

8.  If you were trapped on an island, what three items would you have?
Water, a compass and a raft.

9.  What is one thing in the world you’d like to change?
Injustice.

10. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been blogging almost a year.

The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.

Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.

Display the award on your blog post.

Provide 10 random facts about yourself.

Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you feel deserve the award and notify them that they have been nominated.

Ask them to answer ten questions.

Ten Random Facts About Me:

1.  I always wear a gold St. Jude (the patron saint of lost causes) pendant around my neck.

2.  I have no discernible wrinkles on my forehead…a trait I got from my mama.  At eighty, she didn’t
have a single wrinkle on her forehead.

3.  I can raise both of my eyebrows (ala Scarlett O’Hara) alternately.  I used to entertain my
children and they would try and try to do it but none of them have ever been able to.  I have never
met anybody else who could do it either.

4.  When I give up something, I give it up.  I used to drink 3 or 4 pots of coffee every day.  About ten years ago, I decided to stop.  I used to drink 8 or 9 gallons of milk a week.  Three years ago, I decided I was going to stop.  I have never even had a sip since.  I never miss what I give up.  I never have any kind of withdrawal.  It’s another quality that people “admire” and also think makes me “crazy.”  (“Nobody says I’m quitting something and just does it.  That’s crazy.”)

5.  I can tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue.

6.  I know a pressure point that can disable or kill you using only my thumb.  (Learned in EMS and no, I will not tell you.)

7.  I despise cooking, although I used to be a pretty good one.  I find the idea right on up there with sticking forks in my eyes.

8.  If I had a choice of a sunny day or a rainy day, I would pick the latter.  I have always loved rainy days.

9.  I have a younger sister who I have only seen five times in the last 61 years.

10. I once worked for the telephone company as an information operator.  Back then, we literally used a phone book to look up numbers.

My questions are the same questions that were asked of me.

Since so many bloggers are award free, I tend to nominate the few who still accept awards.  Also, the Leibster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers.  I have surpassed that number (many thanks to my followers) and some of my nominees have, I’m sure but not all have the number posted.

My nominees are:

1.  survivednarc

2.  angelicakidd

3.  creativerational

4.  socialworkerangela

6.  learningtolivelikewater

7.  myworldshattered

8.  painkills2

9.  samlobos

10.  simplyEttad

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Seven

Ted finished reading Pattys’ dairy.  If anybody heard him screaming in the middle of the night, they never said a word.

After a seemingly endless night, he decided to once again, seek help from Sister Mary.  When he met with her, the first thing he said was “Sister Mary…I did a horrible….I did a horrible thing.”  Sister Mary took Teds’ hand and asked him if he wanted to tell her.  He said “no but I need to ask for Pattys’ forgiveness.”

Sister Mary said “you must ask for Gods’ forgiveness.”  Ted said “I need to talk to her.  I need to tell her how sorry I am.”  Sister Mary told Ted that would be impossible.  “It’s too late, Teddy.”
He said “if there’s even a thimbleful of hope, I can’t give up.  Please, Sister Mary.  Tell me there’s still hope.”  Sister Mary said “there is no hope, Teddy.  You need to go now.”

As Ted sat with his head in his hands. Sister Mary said “I don’t know what horrible thing you did but we all have our crosses to bear.  Sometimes, our crosses make us stronger but sometimes, they are too heavy.  Ask God to help you carry yours. ”  She handed Ted an envelope and said “this is for you.  Go now.”

Ted walked slowly toward his car, clutching the envelope to his chest.  When he got in, he took out his phone and pulled up his contact list.  There she was.  As his finger hovered over her name, a tear fell and landed on the face of his phone.

He looked at the envelope Sister Mary had given him.  He knew what was in it but he didn’t want to see it.  As he read the contents, the screams from the night before were silent but once again, fighting to get out.  Her whole life had been reduced to but two lines.

Diagnosis:  Complete Psychotic Break
Prognosis for recovery:  None

His finger hovered over her name.  With one swipe, she would be gone forever.  As he looked at it, he knew that there was only one thing to do.

Patty
c/o Broken Wing Asylum
Phoenix, Arizona

Delete.

A Short Story – Chapter Six

Ted wasn’t prepared to read what had been written on those pages.

 Monday, July 10th.

This morning, Dr. Mowry called and told me that I am pregnant.  It was hard for me not to call Ted and tell him but I’m going to wait until tonight when he gets home from work.  It was even harder for me not to shout it from the nearest rooftop!
I am so excited.  I made his favorite dish…pot roast.  I have a romantic dinner planned.  I know he’ll be surprised but I am hoping that he will be happy and not mad.

Tuesday, July 11th.

When Ted got home last night, he brushed by me.  He didn’t even say hello so I didn’t tell him about the baby.  He must have had a really bad day at work yesterday so I decided to tell him this morning.  When I told him, he hit the wall with his open hand and said “are you kidding me?  I told you I didn’t want to have to deal with any fucking kids.”
I knew he was angry but I told him that once my belly started growing, and he could actually listen to the babys’ heartbeat and put his hand on my stomach and feel it move, he would fall in love with it.
He said “I have to go to work.  We’ll talk about this later.”
I know he’ll come around.  He’s gruff but he knows how much I want a baby.

Wednesday, July 12th.

We didn’t talk about the baby last night because Ted got home late and I had already gone to bed.  We didn’t talk about it before he went to work but he called me and told me he was going to come pick me up at noon.  He told me to dress casually.  I thought maybe the shock had worn off and we were going to go to the park and eat fast food while we talked.
He picked me up and when I asked him where we were going he didn’t answer. 

I was putting on my bangle bracelets and he asked why I was wearing all that jewelry.  I told him I always wore my jewelry when we went out.  He said “I told you to dress casually.”
He pulled over to the side of the road and parked.   He turned off the ignition and said “we’re here.”  I got out of the car and waited for him to come over to my side.  When I turned around, it was clear that we weren’t going to have lunch when I saw the sign that said…ABORTION CLINIC.
We walked up and he opened the door like a gentleman.  We walked in and sat down.  He had already made all the arrangements.  When they called my name, he leaned over, patted me on the leg and said “I have to get back to work.  Ask them to call a cab to take you home.”
I remember watching him walk out the door.  I remember being told to take off my clothes.  I remember laying on a cold table with my legs in stirrups.
I came home and went to bed.  Ted came home, late and smelling like beer.  He leaned over me to see if I was awake.  When I opened my eyes, he said “how’d it go?”

It took every ounce of strength Ted had to keep reading.  He slowly ran his fingers across the last page and even though it was still legible, he could tell that it had been stained with tears.

July 13th. 

In the middle of the night, I woke up and realized that I was covered with blood.  I was hemorrhaging.  I went into the bathroom and started running a hot bath.
I woke up Ted and told him something was wrong.  He didn’t even get out of bed.  He just went back to sleep.  The entire side of my mattress was saturated with blood.  I sat in the bathtub for several hours, crying.
The next morning, all Ted said was “I guess we’re going to have to buy a new fucking mattress.”
How could he feel nothing?  Did he wonder if my child screamed when it was being ripped from my body?
I will never forgive him for this.  I hate him.  I hate him.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Five

Ted had always treated Patty as if she was his “managing editor” because she took care of all the things he couldn’t be bothered with.  When she left, at first it was unclear if he was distraught over the loss of his “right hand man” or his wife.

He had retreated from the circle for the most part.  He declined invitations and ignored phone calls.  He still went to work but when he came home, he sat on his back porch and drank beer.
Rick and Paul tried to be supportive but Ted didn’t share much with them.  They couldn’t offer a lot in the way of comfort other than just being there if he needed to talk.

When Patty first left, Paul asked Ted if he had any indication.  Ted said “not a clue,” then looked at Paul and said “did you?”  Paul shook his head and said “Lisa told me she had stopped playing cards with them but I didn’t read anything into it.”

Every few days, Ted would ask Lisa and Julie the same questions.  “Have you seen her?  Have you talked to her?”  Their answer was always the same.  “No.”
Ted begged them to let him know if they did.  Lisa quipped “why?”  He said “because I miss her.”

Lisa couldn’t hide her anger when she said “you didn’t pay any attention to her when she was here and now that she’s gone, you suddenly miss her?  Maybe you should have taken better care of her when she was still here.”  She was surprised when she thought what she saw was true anguish in Teds’ face but she had no sympathy for him.

One night Ted called Charlotte.  When she answered the phone, he said “I guess you’ve heard.”  Charlotte said “yes.” He asked her if she had talked to her.  Charlotte said “what makes you think I have talked to her, Ted?”
He said “I don’t know.  I guess maybe I was hoping.  Charlotte, she’s the love of my life.”

Charlotte said “she’s the love of your life?  When did you discover that…after she left?”  He said “I’ve always loved her.”  Charlotte responded with a snide “right.  I know all about your love.”  Ted said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Charlotte angrily said “I know what you did.”  Ted was silent for a few seconds and then stammered when he asked “what do you mean?”  Charlotte said “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID!  Do you have any idea what that did to her?  Did you ever talk to her about it?  Did you ever even think about it?
After a long pause, he said “no.”
“No!  Of course you didn’t because all you have ever thought about was yourself” yelled Charlotte.  She said “Ted, it’s three o’clock in the morning here.  I have to go.  Please don’t call me again” and hung up without saying goodbye.

Ted had been raised a Catholic but had long ago abandoned his faith.  Out of desperation, he called Father O’Brien and asked if he could see him.  Father O’Brien said “do you wish to make a confession, my son?”  Ted said “no. I just want to talk.”

He met with Father O’Brien and asked him to pray with him.  He asked him to pray for Patty.
“I need you to pray that she’ll come back to me” said Ted.

Father O’Brien took Teds’ hand and said “it is true that God answers all of our prayers but sometimes, the answer is no.  She is not coming back to you, my son.  You have to let her go and move on.”
Ted couldn’t control his tears when he said “I just can’t Father.  I just can’t.”  Father O’Brien said “you have to.”

A few weeks later, Ted decided to implore Sister Mary to act on his behalf.  He had known her his entire life.  She still called him “Teddy.”  She listened to his pleas but her response was no different from that of Father O’Briens.’
She said “I can see your pain Teddy but you have to let her go.  She’s not coming back to you.  God will help you through this but you have to let her go.”

Ted went back home and found himself sitting on Pattys’ side of the bed.  For some reason, he opened the drawer of her nightstand.  Inside, he saw her diary.  He picked it up and held it for a minute.

In the before time, he would have never invaded her privacy, nor would she have invaded his.

He didn’t think it really mattered now though, so he opened it and began to read.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Four

Patty had escaped the prison of her mundane existence.  Her whole being had been defined as nothing more than Teds’ wife.
With Michael, she found her true identity.  With Michael, she would learn to laugh again.  She would find true joy and happiness.
She had been trying to fly with broken wings until Michael mended them.  Now, she was soaring above the sorrow and disappointments of her past.

She was experiencing feelings that she had never felt before.  It was almost as if she had been reborn and she had been reborn with Michael.

The warmth of his body, the gentle touch of his hands and the passion in his kisses, all left her hungry for more.  She felt as though she could get lost in his eyes and if she did, she never wanted to be found.  She wanted to inhale him and fill her lungs with his essence.

She had been married to a mercurial man who had left her starving for attention and screaming for affection.  She had settled for numbness.  Poise and perfection had disguised her loneliness.  Ted had given her everything that money could buy but he had never given her the two things she wanted the most…a child and to be loved.

With Michael, she even started to dream that maybe a child would be in her future.  Women were having children later in life now so maybe it could be a possibility for her.

She could give Michael a son.  A son to carry on his name and ensure the survival of his bloodline.  A son who she would cherish as much as she cherished Michael.

They would talk about things that mattered, not about grocery lists or golf games.  They would plan their future together and it would be about them, not just him.  He wouldn’t tell her what they were going to do.  He would ask her what she wanted to do.

When he put his arm around her in public, it wouldn’t be a pretentious gesture.  It would be real.  When he looked at her, he would really look at her, not around her or over her.

This beautiful man had come into her life like a bolt of lightning, searing her soul and welding it to his.

She thought about the times she had and would in the future, lay next to him in bed, watching him sleep.  She knew how it felt to lay next to a man she couldn’t stand to touch.  Now she was going to be laying next to a man she couldn’t touch enough.
His name was the first word she said when she woke up and was the last word she whispered before she went to sleep.

She wanted to know every inch of his body and she wanted him to know hers.  She wanted to bathe in him and have his smell all over her.

When he put his arms around her, she wouldn’t be afraid nor would she be repulsed.  She would beg him to hold her for just a few more moments.
She would listen to the soft cadence of his heartbeat and know that it now belonged to her.  She would treasure it and protect it, for she knew how it felt to have a broken heart.
Her heart would learn how to sing again and she would want everybody to hear the song.

Their lives would be gloriously full and rich with love.  There would be no looking back.  There would be no regrets.  There would only be them and soon they would become one.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Three

Michael was the topic of conversation during the next several weeks but interest in him was waning.   Speculation about him had been rampant for a while.  Patty only listened as Lisa and Julie gave their opinions.  Lisa said “I bet he’s a nuclear scientist who works for NASA.”  Julie said “I bet he’s an eccentric millionaire who covers his walls with hundred-dollar bills.”
Julie noticed that Patty was being quiet so she asked her what she thought.  Patty smiled and said “I think he’s just a man and we all know men.”  Julie and Lisa in unison said “boy.  Do we ever” but they did agree that Michael was the most beautiful man they had ever seen.

Lisa and Julie started to notice subtle changes in Patty.  She seemed to be distancing herself from the circle.

Patty started begging off the card games, citing necessary errands or a meeting.  She also seemed to sometimes “forget” to wear her four-and-a-half carat diamond wedding ring.  Her excuse was that the stone was a little loose and it needed to be fixed.

Lisa and Julie knew the story behind that ring.  It was Patty and Teds’ tenth wedding anniversary.  Patty had always wanted to go to France and talked about it often.  That year, Ted hadn’t talked much about their anniversary but he always gave her wonderful gifts.  Since he had been somewhat evasive, Patty was sure he was going to surprise her with a trip to Paris.  She hadn’t gone as far as actually packing her suitcase but she was tempted.

About mid-day, Ted called her from work.  He said “look.  Some shit has hit the fan and I’m probably going to be stuck here for the rest of the day.”  Patty thought he was joking and that the next thing she would hear was “I’m on my way home.”
But then Ted said “why don’t you and your buddies go out for lunch and then go to Vans’ Jewelers.”  That was where he always bought her jewelry.
He said “pick out a nice piece and buy it for yourself.”  Patty hid her disappointment and said “sure.”  Ted said “well, I need to shove but let me know what you got.”  That behavior would become a theme in their lives and Patty would become accustomed to it.

At the last cook-out before they were retired for the winter, Lisa asked Ted if everything was alright.  He asked her what she meant and she said “Patty just seems to be a little detached.”  Ted said “how so?”  Lisa asked “did you know that she rarely comes over to play cards anymore?”  Ted didn’t even look puzzled when he said “no.  She didn’t mention anything about it to me.”
Lisa walked away as she mumbled under her breath “would you have heard her if she had?”

The holidays were coming up and everybody knew that Christmas was Pattys’ favorite time of year.  She started decorating earlier than most and it was nearing the end of October, which was when Patty started.  Lisa and Julie couldn’t wait to see how she decorated, as it was a different theme in every room, every year.

Julie asked Patty if she was chomping at the bit to start hauling out her decorations and Patty surprised her when she said “I haven’t even thought about it.”  Lisa said “quick!  Somebody call a doctor!”
Ted turned and said “hey, it doesn’t bother me.  That only means that I don’t have to walk sideways through the house.”
Lisa came over and said “you better get on it, girl.  You know how we all love to come over and see your house.”  Patty smiled and said she knew.

Patty didn’t tell Lisa that decorating for the holidays wasn’t on her mind.  Michael was and he had been ever since that first day she saw him.

Lisa and Julie didn’t know but the affair had already begun.  It started out innocently enough at first…a glance that perhaps lasted a few seconds longer than it should have…or a discreet touch that went unnoticed.
Patty had always been faithful to Ted but she wasn’t sure she could say the same for him.  Having an affair went against everything she had ever held dear…her morality…her faith…her honor…but for once she wanted to taste real love.

Every night, after Ted had gone to sleep, Patty would go into the living room and look at her growing collection of tiny birds.  Michael gave her one after every “rendezvous.”  She wasn’t worried that Ted would notice.  “Why would he notice” she thought.  “He doesn’t even notice me.”

As the holidays approached, Patty let everybody know that she was “taking this year off” as far as decorating and hosting any parties.  Lisa and Julie were concerned but said they understood when Patty said that it was just too much trouble.  “Every year, I have to do everything.  Ted never offers any help putting anything up and he never offers any help taking anything down.  I’m just tired and I need a break.”

Julie said “you will come to our house for dinner, though, won’t you?”  Patty said “of course.  What can I bring?”  Julie said “just bring yourself…with or without Ted.”  Before Patty could react, Julie said “we’re not blind.”

It was Christmas day and for the first time in twenty years, Patty hadn’t gotten any gifts for Ted nor had she gotten any gifts for anybody else.  She had only gotten a gift for herself.

For years, she had felt like a flightless bird but now she was ready to spread her wings and fly.  The gift she had gotten for herself was a ticket to freedom.

She was leaving Ted.

 

To be continued_________

 

 

Carol

I have spent so many hours, days, weeks and months….thinking about the loss of my children and I have my regular pity parties, thinking about how things have turned out.

I think about my mama and how she lost her only two boys.  One was dead and the other never had a chance to really live…by any true definition of the word.

In the midst of one of my selfish episodes, I remembered a girl I knew in the late seventies.
Her story has very graphic details, so be warned.

We had just returned to ***** ******** from ****** and I had gone to work for a large insurance company.  I worked in the Assigned Risk department.  That’s where I met and worked with Mary, Carmen and Carol.

This story is about Carol.

Carol was a slight, medium-height girl with long black hair and dark eyes.  She was surprisingly intelligent.  She and her husband of not more than two years lived modestly, even though Carols’ family had money.
She was pregnant with their first child.  She just glowed when she talked about her baby and would giggle and say “Oh, y’all.  I just can’t wait.”
We had formed a bond from the very first day I walked in.  She was constantly begging me to start a business…and always followed it with “you have to get incorporated.”

We all knew that Carol was going to have to have a cesarean section because she had Herpes.  I was clueless about that….then.  Carol didn’t seem to mind that we all knew.  I didn’t know the particulars nor did I ever ask.

Carols’ husband, Paul was a blue-collar worker and his brother, Pete was in training to join the police force.  They were a close family and Pete was at their house all the time.  Sometimes, they would both come to the office to see Carol.  Pete would wear his uniform and we would all swoon because he was very easy on the eyes.

When the time came, Carol had a little girl.  She had secretly wanted and hoped for a little girl all along.  We all sent congratulations and gifts and couldn’t wait for her to bring the baby to the office.

Until she returned to work, we would call her at home almost daily to chat and catch up.  The excitement in her voice said it all.  We were so happy for her.
I knew how precious little girls were.  I had two of my own.

When the baby was a week old, she brought her to see us.  We all took turns holding this beautiful little girl with a head of dark hair and Carols’ dark eyes.

One week later, Loser and I…as usual…had to spend our entire week-end off at his fucking mama and daddys’ house.  When we got back home late Sunday night, I was walking into the house and the phone was ringing.  It was my friend, Lynn.

She said “have you heard about Carol?”  I was confused for a minute and said “what do you mean?”  All I remember Lynn saying was “her baby’s dead.”

I went to work the next day and the mood was solemn.  We had a meeting and the general consensus was that, should Carol return to work, we would just “be there for her.”  If she wanted to talk, we would listen but if she didn’t, we would leave her alone.
Mary and Carmen were crying and could hardly do their jobs.  A young man who worked in a different department (who, for some reason, always found an excuse to come talk to me) wandered over.  He said he was surprised that I wasn’t crying.  He said “I figured you would be falling apart.”  I found his statement curious.

Nobody really had any information.  We just knew that Carols’ baby was dead at two weeks old.

An older woman we called “mama Bert” came over and talked to us.  We all adored her.  She was our “mother figure” which is why we all called her mama.  We talked for a minute when she popped into my office.  I will never forget her words.  She said “you never know.  Something terrible might have been waiting for that little girl down the line and God just decided to take her now.”  She nor I had a clue what happened.  I think maybe silently, we were all thinking SIDS.

Several days later, we found out.  Pete had completed his training and was officially a member of the police department.  He had come over to show off his newly issued 44 Magnum.  He had it out, loading and unloading it.  While he was flaunting his newly acquired expertise, the gun went off.

The rest of the story was told to me by Carol.

She had just fed the baby and was putting her in her crib.  She said, suddenly she felt all this “debris” flying around all over the place.  She looked down and half of her babys’ head was missing.  She said she remembered screaming and Pete came into the room, grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around her little head.
Pieces of her babys’ skull and tissue were all over Carols’ face and the walls.  Carol said “why do I remember that?  Why do I remember that the walls were covered with blood?”

The bullet had gone all the way through a wall, bounced off the window sill and into the crib.  It barely missed Carol.

They took the baby to the hospital but there was nothing they could do.  We all went to the funeral and like before, Mary and Carmen were almost inconsolable.  Carol never cried.
Just the two of us were talking after and she said “you know, I think I could deal with this if I hadn’t seen it but I don’t think I will ever get that image out of my head.”

Within months, Carol and Paul split up and were getting divorced.  Paul stopped talking to his brother.  I’m sure there were accusations of blame, whether spoken or not.

Carol moved in with her parents and never returned to work.

I don’t know if Pete was ever formally charged with anything or if it was considered just a tragic accident.
Before I found out, I had been called into the main office and asked the question “does your husband work for the newspaper?”

Now and then, when I’m mentally wallowing on the floor, I try to just stop and think.  I try to be grateful that my children are still here.

I try to remember Carol, whose life at such a young and tender age…in a split second…was changed forever.