Welcome to Day 7 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @Maurabeth2014 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

Maura Beth Brennan

CHRISTMAS WITH AUNT ALICE AND THE PINEAPPLE

You could say the trajectory to that strange Christmas Eve began on the Saturday before, when Mother and Father took us to Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. There were five of us, counting my two little brothers and me, and we were there on our yearly trek to see the renowned Wanamaker’s Christmas tree and hear Christmas music played by a live orchestra.  

After the concert, we wandered around the store, admiring the decorations. Mother was especially taken by the centerpiece on one of the tables in the furniture department. There, a pineapple, resplendent in a coating of golden spray paint, nestled on a platter filled with fresh pine boughs and sparkling ornaments.

“Oh, isn’t that lovely,” exclaimed Mother.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Father. Father was usually a cheerful person, full of jokes and funny stories, but that day he was grumpy, facing the prospect of having to eat lunch in Wanamaker’s Mezzanine Restaurant, where, as he put it, “They only have lady food.” 

Mother rolled her eyes at me like she did sometimes, now that I was thirteen, and apparently had been admitted into the Sisterhood of Aren’t Men Silly. I rolled my eyes back at her, straightened my shoulders, and stood straight and proud. 

Mother worked feverishly all that week to prepare for the holiday and finally, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we all decorated the tree. In those days in our house, the tree was brought into the house on Christmas Eve and not a day before. Father would spend hours groaning, shouting, and trying not to curse as he secured the tree to the walls. You read that correctly. Father was sure that the tree would escape its confines when left to its own devices, wreaking havoc, and so would place it in a corner and tether it to each wall with nails and the thickest string he could find. Only then could our tree, safely restrained, be adorned. 

The tradition was that we would listen to Christmas carols as we all performed our assigned decorating duties. Finally, Father would finish with gobs of silver tinsel and, with a flourish, turn on the lights. After the “oohs” and “aahs” died down, we would head to the dining room for Christmas Eve dinner.

That’s how things usually went. On this particular Christmas Eve, though, as we were filing into the dining room, a loud shriek emanated from the direction of the kitchen. 

“Oh, SSSSSHIP!” 

Mother shot Father a look. “Aunt Alice.” she said.

I should have mentioned that my Great Aunt Alice was visiting. She was extremely old and, on holidays, came to stay with us. We kids loved Aunt Alice. She was funny, though not always intentionally so, told us fabulous stories which she made up herself, and she loved to curse. This was a great learning experience as I saw it. However, my parents had recently had a discussion with Aunt Alice about this behavior. I listened in, rooting for Aunt Alice, and it went like this:

Father said, “There are children here, Aunt Alice. Think of the children.”

“But you curse, and you’re my favorite nephew,” Aunt Alice replied.

Father countered with, “Look, Aunt Alice, that’s different. I’m a man, and I was in the Navy during the War.”

Aunt Alice, voice rising, shot back, “Oh, come on. What a crock of—”

“Stop!” yelled Father.

“POOP,” Aunt Alice screamed. “I was going to say POOP.”

Mother chimed in, “That was better, Alice. Crude, but better.” Then she swooped in for the finish.  “Alice, Dear, you are so creative! Why, all those stories you tell, I’m sure you will have no trouble coming up with interesting things to say when you’re upset. If you want to keep coming here to be with us and the children, that is. It’s completely up to you.”

“Dag blig it,” said Aunt Alice.

So on that night, hearing that strange cry, Father rushed in the direction of the sound and we all followed. I, for one, hoped it meant a ship was visible from our kitchen window, though we lived nowhere near a body of water. That would have been a treat.

But there was Aunt Alice in the kitchen, crawling along one of the counters and opening and closing the cabinets, a fairly tricky situation. Father caught her just as she was tumbling from the counter, having been pushed off by the cabinet door she was trying to open.

“Aunt Alice, what are you doing?” Father shouted. “You could have broken your hip.” 

“Forget my bleeping hip,” Aunt Alice shouted back. “Where did you people hide my flipping glasses?”

Father pointed to the glasses dangling from the ribbon around her neck.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, it’s about frogging time.” 

Finally at the table, all proceeded well, although Mother seemed distracted. She cleared the dishes and started toward the table with our desert, at which point Aunt Alice laid her head on the table and moaned, “Oh, why won’t they let me have a beer?”

“You know why, Aunt Alice,” Father said. “You’re on that new heart medication and the doctor said you can’t drink.”

“But you’re drinking,” she said, pointing to Father’s glass of wine.

“Now, look Aunt Alice,” Father began, but Mother interrupted him.

“Don’t worry, dear, I’ll get you something,” she said, patting Aunt Alice on the shoulder,  and winking at Father. She signaled to me to follow her into the kitchen.

“She’s been so good, with the non-cursing,” Mother said. “I better come up with something. Do you think we could fool her with some grape juice?” 

I was honored to be included in this weighty decision and offered my solution. “Let’s add vinegar,” I said. That will make it taste like wine, I bet.”

“Hmmm,” said Mother. “Well, I don’t drink, because I think it tastes terrible, so I’m not sure . . .”

She filled a crystal goblet with grape juice and topped it off with a splash of white vinegar. She handed the glass to me. “How does it taste?” she asked.

I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “Yuck!” I said. “It tastes terrible.”

“Well then, that should do,” said Mother.

She took the glass to the dining room and handed it to Aunt Alice, who brightened up and took a sip.

“Ah,” she said. “Now that’s more like it.”

After we settled again, I noticed that Mother still seemed distracted, which I attributed to all the work she had been doing the past week. But suddenly, after desert, she threw her hands to her face and cried out, “Oh, no! I forgot to spray a pineapple!”

Father sat back, threw his napkin on the table, and burst into hearty guffaws. “Oh, Mary,” he said, “now that’s a good one. A pineapple! Heh, heh, heh, like that silly thing we saw last week?” He shook his head. “Mary, I have to say, every once and a while you come out with a good one.” He wiped his eyes and grinned in Mother’s direction, then stopped cold when he saw her face. “You were kidding, Mary, right? Kidding about that funny pineapple thing? Mary? Sweetheart?”

But Mother rushed from the room and we could hear the sounds of things being thrown around in our pantry closet—pots clanging, wrappers rustling, cans and boxes colliding. Before long, Mother emerged, a look of relief on her face, displaying the elusive fruit—one glorious pineapple. We all applauded, and Father sprang from his chair to escort her back into the room. But Mother glared at him. “I have things to do,” she said.

Father looked like he wanted to go after her, but Aunt Alice tugged on his sleeve. “Can I have more of this wine?” she asked. “It’s delicious.”

I washed and dried the dishes, and soon it was time for my brothers and me to go to bed. I heard Father call to Mother once, asking if he could help, but she shouted back, “You just leave me a-lone.” I imagine after that he kept what is known as a low profile.

On Christmas morning everyone jumped out of bed, eyes shining, faces bright with smiles, even Mother. 

And what a beautiful sight lay before us. The Christmas tree glimmered in the darkened living room, surrounded by gaily wrapped gifts. And visible through the archway was the dining room table, draped with a golden cloth and graced with an arrangement of fragrant pine boughs and glittering gold Christmas ornaments. Nestled in the greenery sat the singular, spectacular, gilded pineapple.

“Oh, Mary,” said Father. His face flushed and his eyes looked a little watery. “It looks beautiful.”

“Well, I’ll be a son of a—,” began Aunt Alice, but Mother grabbed her elbow.

“Don’t even think it,” she whispered. Then she smiled her lovely smile and said, “Let’s all just wish each other” and we all chimed in—

“Merry Christmas!”

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting Maura Beth Brennan along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, please visit her Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links, if she’s turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Maura Beth Brennan’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 6 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @healthmn1 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

Unleashing the Advocacy Warrior

By Harriet Hodgson

My husband and I live in a retirement community that has a continuum of care. He is paraplegic and I have been his caregiver since 2013. Several months ago, my husband was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. A bone scan showed the cancer had spread to many parts of his body. As my husband became weaker, I realized I needed help to care for him. 

Now my husband is in a rehabilitation unit. Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevents me from seeing him. I live on the 18th floor of the high-rise and my husband lives on the third floor. We are near each other, yet so far away. Being apart from each other made us feel stressed, frustrated, and down. 

Then I received a notice in my mailbox. A new program was starting. Family members could make appointments to see their loved ones. Only two family members could visit at once and they had to follow strict rules. My daughter called the contact number and was given an appointment date and time. We were super excited. 

Before my daughter arrived, I talked with my husband’s physical therapist. It was difficult to understand him because of his mask. He had difficulty understanding me because of my mask. I felt like we were going to do charades at any minute. Still, meeting the therapist gave me a chance to ask questions. Every question yielded the same answer: “That’s not in my pay grade.” What the heck did that mean?

A nurse came into the room and greeted my husband with, “Hi Handsome!” She seemed proud of her greeting. In fact, she turned to my husband and asked, “Every time I walk into your room, I say that, don’t I?” My husband answered “yes” in a flat, discouraged voice. The nurse didn’t pick up on his voice inflection and seemed validated by my husband’s reply. 

My daughter and I stayed for two and a half hours and my husband coughed most of the time. As we left the rehab floor, we met the director of nursing. Of course, we grabbed the opportunity to talk with her. We made sure there were six feet between us. The director was patient, attentive, sympathetic, took notes, and said she would give the matter her attention. 

Did I have the power to change anything? This question rattled around in my mind for hours. That evening, I sat down at the computer and wrote a heartfelt email to the director of nursing and carbon copied the director of the retirement community. This is the letter. I modified the wording to maintain confidentiality. 

Dear ______________,

Thank you for meeting with me and my daughter this afternoon. I am aware that my husband may have declined physically and mentally. I am also aware that he doesn’t feel well, hasn’t slept well since he was admitted to the rehab unit, and feels isolated and depressed.

My husband has been coughing for three weeks. He feels so badly I don’t know how he could endure physical therapy, let alone benefit from it. He feels so badly he would just as soon die. Before we make a final decision on Supportive Living, I would like him to get some sleep and for his cough to subside.

I have gotten confusing information from nurses. Yes, my husband has pneumonia. No, he doesn’t have pneumonia. Communication is my business and the communication from staff on the unit has been poor.

The physicians who founded the clinic believed the needs of the patient come first. After I talked with the physical therapist I was confused and sad. I asked him several questions and his answer was always the same: “That’s not in my pay grade.” This is not the answer I expected from a clinic employee or physical therapist. I was also upset by the attitude a couple of nurses exhibited. They treated my husband like a foolish old man in a wheelchair. Like every patient, my husband deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

I share these thoughts with you out of concern and love. My husband and I have been married for 63 years. We went together for four years before we married. This is a difficult time of life. At a time when we are most vulnerable, life demands the most from us. I am my husband’s wife and advocate and will not fail him as his life draws to a close.

The next day I received a call from the director of nursing. Since I had been tested for COVID-19 twice and the tests were negative, administration did not think I was a health risk and could visit my husband daily. I was astonished.  “I’m going to cry,” I admitted to the nurse. 

My story is not unique. There is an advocacy warrior inside you—a person ready to stand for love, quality care, and human dignity. But we must assume this role thoughtfully. Note important dates, such as hospitalization, on the calendar. File important documents in a safe place. Keep a log if you think it is necessary. Follow the chain of command. Speak in a calm voice and be civil. Remember, there is a difference between being persistent and being pushy.

You and I do not know our strength until we are tested. We are stronger than we realize. Most importantly, our loved ones need us. As my husband asked, “What happens to people who don’t have an advocate?” The famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss, explained advocacy better than I. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” 

Advocacy takes many forms—better healthcare, better transportation, better education, better architecture, better laws, a welcoming community, and more. One person can make a difference. Maybe the time has come to unleash the advocacy warrior in you.

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting Harriet Hodgson along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, please visit her Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links, if she’s turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Harriet Hodgson’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 5 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @hmkindt @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The Insect Incident

By: Heather Kindt

            “Good morning, class.” Josie smiled, but her heart beat out of her chest. “Today, we’re going to learn about insects.” 

            Twenty first graders erupted into a volcano of chatter, sitting crisscross on the floor in front of her. 

            Mrs. Randall, the principal, sat primly in the rear of the classroom, scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Had Josie done something wrong or was her boss acknowledging her use of a learning target?

            While she normally allowed her students to express their excitement, this was Josie’s first formal observation, and she wanted to make a good impression. 

            She held her hands above the students. “Shhh… I know you all want to see the insects, but we need to learn a couple of things about them first.” 

            Josie had spent five hours of her Saturday setting up the butterfly enclosures, carefully attaching the chrysalis pods to the top of the netting. Her teammate, Ms. Barker, had been teaching for twenty-five years. She warned Josie about Mrs. Randall’s ability to put first-year teachers through boot camp. Many had left the profession in tears.

            Taking in a deep breath, Josie uncovered the poster she created on the floor of her apartment the week before. It detailed the life cycle of a butterfly—a perfect circle on the poster board. She had bought a new package of markers to create the masterpiece. 

            The students resumed their chatter when they realized they’d be learning about butterflies. Josie glanced at the clock and back at Mrs. Randall. Her pen moved quickly across the paper on the clipboard.

            “Right.” Josie smiled at her students. “I need your attention up here. A butterfly is a magnificent creature. It goes from an egg, to a caterpillar, to a chrysalis…”

            “Miss Jackson! Miss Jackson! What’s a cri—so—lis?” Hunter waved his hand in the air, sitting up on his knees. He was prone to asking questions without being called on.

            “Great question, Hunter.” She paused, looking back at the principal. “Please remember to wait until you’re called on next time. A chrysalis is the place in the butterfly’s life cycle where the magic happens.”

            There were a bunch of oohs and aahs from the students.

            Josie crouched down to their level and used a quiet voice, as if she were telling them the mysteries of the universe. “Within the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.”

            “How?” Hunter piped in again.

            “It’s God, dummy.” Elizabeth glared at Hunter. “My mommy told me that’s how babies are born, too.”

            Josie stood back up. She expected to see a horrified look on Mrs. Randall’s face, but instead there was a smirk. The old devil wanted to see how the newbie was going to talk herself out of this situation.

            Straightening her back, hands on her hips, Josie drew in another deep breath. “It’s a miracle of nature, Hunter. And so are babies, Elizabeth.” To divert any further questions, she hurried over to the counter to the enclosures. “We are going to care for our butterflies until they are ready to be free.” Josie lifted one of the habitats and carried it to the front of the class. She removed the covering. Two butterflies, that hadn’t been there on Saturday, clung to the apple slices she’d placed on the bottom.

            Josie pointed out the chrysalis attached to the top of the enclosure. “A butterfly is still growing and changing inside.”

            “One of the chrysalises died!” Rachel pointed to a chrysalis on the floor of the cage.

            Josie bit into her lip. What was she supposed to do? Ms. Barker had said they needed to be attached to the top to form correctly. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix it.”

            Inside one of her cabinets, Josie found a hot glue gun. She plugged it in to let it heat while the students observed the butterflies. If she fixed the chrysalis, she was sure to get high scores on her observations. But what if she took the students outside to set one of the live insects free? That was sure to put an exclamation point on a perfect lesson.

            She tapped her fingernail on the counter, waiting for the gun to heat. The children crowded around the butterflies, pushing and shoving, trying to get a better look. Josie unplugged the gun and crossed the room to crouch beside the enclosure. 

            “Move back, I’ve got a hot glue gun.” She stuck her hands through the netting, careful not to release the two butterflies. Applying a dot of glue to the top of the cage, she reached down and pinched the chrysalis between her fingers then held the tip of it in the glue. 

            Twenty pairs of eyes watched in awe and it was quiet at last.

            In the hushed atmosphere of her first-grade classroom, Josie dared to speak. “Do you think we should release one of the butterflies?” 

            “Yes!” the students called out in union. 

            Josie glanced back at Mrs. Randall feeling elated with her performance, expecting to see joy on the principal’s face. Instead, the woman hid all emotion, her lips set in a straight line. Josie would show her. This was going to be her magnum opus—her masterpiece.

            Skipping and jumping, the students herded out the side door to the playground. It was a beautiful fall day and Ms. Barker’s class was out for recess. The more the merrier, thought Josie. She was elated to show, not only the principal, but her teammate what she was capable of—providing the students with learning, joy, and excitement.

            Seeing Josie carrying the enclosure, many of the first graders stopped what they were doing to witness the culminating moment of her lesson.

            “This butterfly will continue its life, by finding a mate, laying eggs, and starting the circle again.” She had to speak loudly over one of the lunch bells. 

            Mrs. Randall sat at one of the picnic tables; her pen never seemed to stop. 

            “What shall we call her, class?” 

            Many hands shot up.

            “Betsy—Rosie—Bumblebee—Dora—Emily—Kate.” The list went on and on. 

            “I think we should name our butterfly, Ann.” Josie put on a huge smile and looked directly at Mrs. Randall. “After our principal.”

            The children cheered. What a perfect ending.

            Josie reached into the enclosure, coaxing one of the butterflies to the opening. It flitted to the outside of the netting then took flight above us. Tears threatened to fill Josie’s eyes with the beauty of the apex of her lesson.

            But just when she was ready to take a bow, a bird swooped down from above and swallowed the butterfly whole. The wretched creature flew off with her A+ lesson in its mouth.

            Students were reduced to tears around her. Ann was dead.

            Knowing the perfect lesson was reduced to a pile of bird poop, Josie managed to calm the students down. She gave Mrs. Randall a half-smile and said, “Tomorrow, we’ll learn about insect adaptations.”

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting Heather Kindt along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, please visit her Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links, if she’s turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Heather Kindt’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 4 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @LinneaTanner @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The King’s Champion

by Linnea Tanner

At dawn tomorrow, I compete with every reputed warrior in our kingdom to become the King’s Champion. Defeating my opponents is almost an impossible feat for any man, much less a woman. Even so, I will triumph and win my father’s respect.

As the king’s eldest daughter, I vow to protect him and everyone in his kingdom. I stand ready to defend my father in mortal combat against any challenger vying for his crown. A true champion emblazons courage, loyalty, and sacred love for her king and family. But first, I must tell you my tale that seeded my desire to combat every warrior in the kingdom and stand by my father as his champion.

 When I was barely five winters old, my mother and I gathered with villagers to greet my father, astride his coal-black stallion. Returning from war, he was like a god towering over his worshippers as he rode through their midst. They welcomed him with chants and cheers. Snowflakes danced around him, also celebrating his return.

Shivering, I covered my mouth with both hands, suddenly ashamed about my appearance. Boys had earlier taunted me, “You have a donkey’s jaw and bray like one, too.”

 My nursemaid, a woman with ample bosoms spilling out of her low-cut dress, shooed the boys away and told me, “Don’t listen to them. You have an overbite, that is all. They’re jealous of you. You can beat anyone of those whelps.”

Her words didn’t make me feel better, though, as I studied the reflection of my face on a polished metal mirror. My upper jaw hung over my bottom lip. My upper front teeth protruded outward, making it hard for me to eat and speak clearly. Hence, I remained quiet most of the time.

When my father approached us on his horse, I drew out of my muse and swallowed hard with anticipation of speaking to him.

“What do I say to him?” I muttered to my mother.

“Only speak when he tells you to do so,” my mother instructed.

Fiddling with my plaid cloak, I recalled waving good-bye to my father in a season of blooming wildflowers before he left for war. My mother told me then, “He sails across the narrow sea to fight for a foreign army. By winter, he’ll return home.” 

During the summer and fall seasons, I never gave my mother’s words consideration about my father’s return. He was out of sight and ceased to exist in my mind.

My little sister’s soft touch on my hand grabbed my attention. She looked at me with pathetic-looking eyes. The day before, she had fallen into the hearth and caught on fire. The queen’s guard—my only true adult friend—pulled her out of the flames.

After my father dismounted onto the soggy ground, he no longer appeared a giant. He didn’t look like other men in the village with a clean-shaven face and cropped wheat-golden hair. He also didn’t resemble me one bit. My hair was dark like my mother, and my acorn-brown eyes were the same color as the warrior who saved my sister.

Father embraced my mother, then pulled away and stared at her bulging belly. “Gods above, how did you get so big?”

Mother’s burning scowl made my father whither like a green sprout under a hot sun. At that moment, I didn’t like my father for his cruel comment. He must have seen the displeasure on my face because he apologized, “Forgive me, my love. Battle hardens a man’s words.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, my mother turned to me and said, “Vala, greet your father.”

I felt like a fish gulping for air as my father bent over and squeezed my chin with his fingers. “Hmm, you look as strong as an ox,” he said amiably, but the disappointment on his face shouted, You’re as ugly as a donkey!

Conflicting emotions grappled with me. I only wanted Mother in my life, not Father. I  burst into tears—a sign of weakness.

Father gave my mother a contorted, baffled look. “What did I do to make her cry?”

Mother’s eyebrows arched in a warning for me to stop my bawling. I bit my lower lip and fought back sobs.

He shifted his ice-cold blue eyes to my little sister. “What happened to Morgana? She looks like she was in a dogfight and got the worse of it.”

My sister’s wails spurred mine. Neither of us could stop crying despite my mother’s glower. The nursemaid’s hefty bosoms smacked against my face as she grabbed my hand and reached for my sister’s arm. She dragged us both away from the people’s peals of laughter to the silence of the Great Hall. Halting near the central hearth, where my sister had fallen, she thumped my forehead with her fingertips. “Shame on you. Why did you make such a fuss in front of the king? I learned you better than that!”

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I didn’t do anything wrong,” but snapped my mouth shut when I saw her eyebrows rise like a storm. She would answer my protest with a swat on my rear end.

The nursemaid marched us through the high-vaulted, feasting hall into the adjoining living quarters where she corralled us like cattle in our bedchamber. “You get nothing to eat,” she bellowed and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

My sister covered her face with both hands and wept. Sitting on our straw-mattress bed we shared, I cuddled her like a baby in my arms to calm her.

“Shh … shush. No cry.”

She nestled her head against my shoulder and whimpered, “Vala, my Vala,” like a mantra until we both fell asleep in each other’s arms.

*****

Later, the bang of a closing door awoke me. I wiped the drowsiness from my eyes and found Mother sitting on our bed.

“Why did you cry when your father greeted you?” she asked.

“He … he’s so mean!”

Mother frowned. “He never said an unkind word to you.”

“He thinks I’m ugly!” I declared.

“That is how you see yourself,” she said, stroking the top of my head. “Your father only sees goodness in your heart.”

I looked down at my chest in bewilderment. “Father sees my heart? Can he also see the babies in your tummy?”

Mother sighed. “No. He knows”—she touched her belly—“they are in here. That is why he has returned. To make sure I’m safe. It’s hard bringing two babies into the world.”

“When will they come?” I asked, recalling how bloody a calf looks after being squirted out of its mother’s rear end.

“Too soon, I fear.”

I could see the angst in my mother’s eyes as her gaze drifted to the closed door.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“You must always obey and love your father,” her voice cracked. “I may not always be with you.”

My stomach dropped into what felt like a tidal wave. “Where are you going?”

“I want to stay here with you, my dear. But we don’t always get our wish.” She sighed as if trying to lift the worries of the world off her chest. “Your father is outside. He wants to give you something.”

“A gift,” I squealed with excitement.

Mother turned her gaze to the door and called out, “My king, you can come in now.”

When my father poked his head through, his face burst into a big grin. “Good aft, my precious daughters. Look what I’ve brought you from my travels.” He bound into the room like a frolicking fox and held out two carved, alabaster horse heads in the palm of his hand. He offered each one of them to my sister and me. 

I took the horse head and fingered the attached leather strap. “An amulet?”

“Yes. Let me tie it around your neck,” my father suggested with a smile. “The horse is our family’s sigil—an animal guide that protects you.”

After he placed the amulet around my neck, I beamed with pride and clasped the carved horse head against my heart.

My father’s leathery face softened. “Vala, you must promise to watch over your little sister and the babies in Mummy’s belly once they are born. Can you do that for me? Will you protect them with your life and be the King’s Champion?”

A sense of pride swelled inside me with the honor he had bestowed upon me. “I am the King’s Champion.”

“Truly, you are,” he said, embracing me.

“I promise to protect my sisters,” I vowed, hoping the babies were girls.And from that moment on, I aspired to be my father’s champion, embracing the strength to protect the weak and the oppressed.  

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting Linnea Tanner along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, please visit her Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links, if she’s turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Linnea Tanner’s RWISA Author Profile

I’m excited to announce a virtual Writer’s Conference for you! #RRBC #Writers’ #Conference & #Book #Expo – #WCBE20! @RRBC_Org

Wow! It’s almost time for this fabulous Writers’ Conference to kickoff and it promises to be one for the books! Literally! 

What better way to enhance your writing skills, interact with other authors, find new books to read, play games, win prizes and all from the comfort of your home!! 

Five years ago, when Nonnie Jules, created this conference. there were few, if any, virtual conferences taking place. We were all still enjoying getting out and attending physical events. But now, in the midst of this pandemic, virtual conferences are the new normal. I say this just to demonstrate the innovative thinking of our fearless leader! 

The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is an international book club dedicated to reading and giving honest reviews. But it is SO much more. It is a community of writers who develop friendships, encourage each other, uplift each other, and support each other in so many ways. 

This conference is one of the highlights of the year for this community! 

Take a Peek at our 2020 Sessions and Workshops! 

  1. Amazon Author Central:  What It Is and How It Can Help You Sell More Books
  2. Anatomy of an (Almost) Perfect Book Review
  3. Anatomy of a Blog Post / Your Content Is King 
  4. Are You Failing As an Author?  The Reasons Why and How To Start Soaring
  5. Book Marketing Without A Plan: ‘Know Where’ You’re Going Before You End Up ‘Nowhere’
  6. Creating A Writer’s Platform That Will Get You Noticed
  7. How To Blog an Entire Book in 30 Days
  8. How To Build An Audience and Sell More Books
  9. How To Turn Your Blog Into A Hot Spot!  Keep Readers Coming Back For More
  10. STOP Marketing Your Books! How To Get Others To Do It For You
  11. The Basics of Spelling & Grammar: What You May Have Slept Through In School That’s Now Hurting Your Writing
  12. The Easiest Way To Format Your Paperback via Word Doc
  13. The Elements of a Short Story
  14. Powerful Keywords and How They Can Increase Your Blog’s Traffic
  15. The Simplification of “SHOW DON’T TELL”
  16. The Skinny on Social Media – Using It The Right Way So You’re Not Just Spinning Your Wheels
  17. TRELLO – A Step-by-Step Guide to Using it Effectively to Organize and Write Your Next Book
  18. What It Takes To Become A More Productive Writer
  19. Writing Dialog That Feels Like Realistic Conversation
  20. YOU the Reviewer Are Ruining YOU the Writer. Why Your Book Reviews Are Turning Off Potential Readers and How You Can Turn It Around
  21. FREE BONUS SESSION
  22. Filter Words and How To Avoid Them In Your Writing
  23. What RWISA-Ready Looks Like

Want to know the benefits of attending this conference? I can’t say it any better than Nonnie. 

You’re a writer.  You realize that there is a lot for you to learn to become a great writer…heck, even a good writer.  You’ve heard about writers’ conferences but you’ve no time to attend, you’ve no money to spare, and most of them are just too darned far.  You’ve heard that they are wonderful, though, and you’d really like to see what they’re all about, so, what do you do?

Well, there is such a thing as a virtual writing conference, and below I’m going to share with you some of the benefits of attending an RRBC writers’ conference & book expo.

*A virtual conference allows you to attend from the comfort of any place of your choosing (living room, bedroom, bathroom, your car trunk, Starbucks, etc…).  Writers’ conferences and book expos come a dime a dozen as we say down South.  I mean…just like churches and liquor stores, there’s practically one on every corner.  But, with the busy lives that we lead, we often find it difficult to get away to visit or participate in one, so the next best thing is to find one online.  No need to worry about the cost of travel fare (car, bus or plane), no need to worry about hotel accommodations (you get to sleep at home), or, the cost of eating away from home…you get all that you need, when you need it, right where you are. #BENEFIT

*Resources you will use forever.  When you attend a virtual writers’ conference, you have the ability to revisit much of the information that is shared because it is all online.  The sessions and workshops presented at an RRBC writers’ conference, are all created with the purpose of educating attendees.   Our sessions and workshops are on carefully selected topics that we know authors need in order to grow in their writing careers.  The handouts that you receive (virtually), are invaluable along your journey as a writer.  No matter the format utilized to present these sessions, attendees leave our sessions and workshops enlightened and with a renewed sense of having learned something that will make them a better writer and stronger marketer for their books. #BENEFIT

*Payment Plans.  Have you priced writers’ conferences and book expos lately?  Well, I have and who can afford them without skipping a mortgage payment?  Geez!  There again lies the beauty of a virtual conference (at least an RRBC one).  Not only are the prices lower than any others we’ve found, but, we also have payment plans to make it easier to afford an author booth to promote your books, a vendor booth to introduce and sell your wares, and all the sessions and workshops your amazing brain can handle! #BENEFIT

*Community.  The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB popped onto the scene over 7 years ago and has offered to writers something never heard of before:  a community of support that truly cares about the success of its members, and a community of like-minded individuals who care about the success of their fellow members just as much as they care about their own.  There’s no competition here.  We’re all trying to get to the same place, and we’re gladly sharing the load so that we all get there quicker!   This community (or family as we like to call it), is there through the good times and the bad;  there to lift you up when you’re feeling low and need the encouragement to write another page; there with advice on how to handle certain situations involving your writing, tips on how you should write, what literary services you should utilize, and so much more.  We purchase, read and review each other’s books, we give our honest opinions on those books, we promote one another via our blogs and social media forums, and during the conference, we all get to commune to further our careers and friendships even more. #BENEFIT

*Friendships.  Many RRBC members are surprised at the bonds of friendship they form once they immerse themselves within the club.  The World Wide Web is known to be a cesspool of ‘crazies’, stalkers and any other negative label that you can attach to someone who you should be wary of on the net.  But, not so in RRBC.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some that I’m sure you should be leery of, but, I can assure you they are not within the realm of our core members…the professionals who work hard to protect and maintain their reputations as authors.  We are a global organization with members around the world, which means, when you find those to call ‘friend’, you’re never without a place to rest your head along your travels. #BENEFIT

*Find great new books.  Since the inception of RRBC, we hear on a daily basis how readers were introduced to amazing books they might never have found had it not been for RRBC.  The traditionally published have their work plastered all over the place, and sometimes, our Indie awesomeness is a little hidden…you have to dig deep to find it.  That’s not the case within RRBC.  We have amazing talent in our midst and their books speak for them.  If you’re looking for great reads, look no further than our catalog.  The conference & expo is THE place for our members to introduce their latest work and you don’t want to miss out on any of it! #BENEFIT

***

So, there you have it…  the most important benefits of attending a virtual writers’ conference & book expo hosted by RRBC.  What you will walk away with will far outweigh the pennies you will spend to take part in it.  And, because 2020 is our year of being judged on the skill with which we write, we hope that all our members care enough about their writing and their reputations as writers, to take part in this awesome event, which can only serve to further their writing growth.

Last year’s event was amazing and it was our 4th year putting it on.  With the past few years under our belt, can you imagine the things that we’re going to do this year?  I don’t think you can!

Everything about this event is geared towards your success.  If you haven’t registered yet, we invite you to do so today.  Don’t be the lone wolf standing on the sidelines of this wonderful event, wishing after the fact that you had been part of it.  Jump right on board our rocket to the stars.   We certainly have enough room for ya!

See you at the conference!

*JOIN RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

There you have it! There’s still time to jump in and participate in any of the workshops that interest you! 

Welcome to Day 12 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 12 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! Today is the final day and author, Nonnie Jules, has written a thought-provoking piece showing the other side of the Coronavirus scare. Be aware that people are hurting in many ways, and be vigilant and kind. Share hope that this, too, shall pass.

by Nonnie Jules

By Friday, I doubted that I would even be part of this event.  I’m sure many of you noticed that I kept moving others ahead of me and ahead of me, until I ran out of members to move – as I struggled with finding the time in my schedule to write something.  As of this morning, I had finally decided that I just wasn’t going to be able to participate, as again, I saw no opening in my schedule that would allow it. 

Then, I got a phone call at 7:37 this evening from a friend, sharing that her relative had just attempted suicide due to his personal struggles since the arrival of COVID19.  He had lost his job, had received an eviction notice, and saw no clear path to anything remotely close to “better” while the Coronavirus lingered.  That conversation forced me to sit down at my desk just as soon as I hung up the phone.  What you will find below may not be that great, but it’s what my heart rolled out in the final hour. 

***

And So, I Believed

We are living through what is possibly the most trying time in many of our lives.  We are a world on lock-down, and though there are those of us who are living a bit more comfortably than others during this pandemic, many in the world are suffering.

Some of us are not concerned with how our mortgages and car notes will get paid.  Some of us aren’t concerned with where our next meal will come from, or, if we’ll have to suffer through another night filled with tears streaming down the faces of our hungry children, along with our own tears of helplessness.

For those who suffer with mental illness, their situations are creating a new wave of crisis, as many who see no way out, are, out of fear and desperation, turning to suicide.

My heart breaks for these innocents in this war.

***

It’s quiet. 
I’m afraid​. ​
I’ve been locked up inside for so long, I don’t know my nights from my days.

It’s lonely.  
I’m scared.
There’s no place to hide, ​and ​no other place to go​, ​because it’s everywhere.

I need to make a run
​…​just out to the store
…but, I’m not even sure
…it’s safe to open my door.

It’s in the air ​we breathe​
​…​on everything that we touch
I never realized ​until now​
​…​I needed people so much​. ​

I’ve no medical insurance
…so, I mustn’t get sick​. ​
My stomach is growling​​​ 
​…​but, it will soon quit​. ​

I’ll just stay inside for now.

I do need my meds 
…to kill the voices in my head.
They’ve never been this loud before.
A little knock at the door 
…would really help right now.

It’s ​too ​quiet.
I’m ​so ​afraid.
I open my wallet and remember…
I haven’t even gotten paid.

What will I do?
​How will I survive?
I don’t even know if it’s worth staying alive.
And, what will I eat?
What about the heat?

I know that it’s summer
…and it’s supposed to be hot
…but​, ​this thing has me terrified
…all tied up in knots.
​So, I strangely shiver as if it is cold.
While parts of the world move, my life is on hold. ​

Under the covers
…the only place I feel safe.
Oh, how I wish
…to feel the sun on my face.

How will I ​cover​
…the rent that is due?
My landlord’s expecting 
…to be paid at two.

Some understand 
…but others not
My luck ran out
…with the landlord I got.

“I’ve got a family to feed – you’ve only got you.” 
He does not ​see​ that only me has to eat, too.

I don’t have the rent, dear Lord. 
What will I do?
Where will I go?
I need a sign
…because I just don’t know.

How long will this crisis last?
No one knows for sure.
I’m afraid​ of my thoughts​.
How much more can I endure?

I just don’t know.

My mind is racing
…it just won’t stop.
Please slow it down, Lord
…these thoughts are just not – to your liking.

I cover my mouth
A cough escapes.
​I d​rift over to the window
…and pull back the drapes.
Unlocking the locks
…one by one
I can hear the calling ​
​…​not a voice​, ​but a gun.

​No, too noisy, I think.

And what if I miss?  
I’m already afraid to even consider this.

Now, it’s a voice – louder – more clear  
Almost a shout – deep in my ear.
“Come closer to me. 
Look, I’m down here.” 

Five stories below me
Cars rush​ing​ by
​I hear the voice again​
“​C’mon, you can fly.”

I look back over my shoulder
As my landlord knocks
Then I glance at the wall
…it’s straight two o’clock.

“Why are you hesitant? There’s only pain here for you.
There’s nobody to help, so, what will you do?
The world is on lockdown, but you can be free.
Do not wait another second; come and join me!
You see, I am free – down here. 
And don’t forget, you can fly.”

And so, I believed.

***

To everyone reading this who might be struggling with thoughts in their head, that under normal circumstances wouldn’t make sense, yet, they seem to make sense in the moment, what you should always remember is that the devil is alive and well, and sometimes looks and sounds just like you and me. {And of course, he wants you to join him…in hell.} 

Fight those voices that encourage you to harm yourself and others. 

If you were not born a bird or created in the likeness of some type of aircraft, listen to ME – you cannot fly.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to Day 11 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 11 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Changed Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Peggy Hattendorf, who shares what it means to be a mother, and has a few surprise remarks from people very special to her.

Peggy Hattendorf

“Mother is the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind.” Kahlil Gibran

We define, mother or mom, as the female parent, whose responsibilities center around the physical and emotional care of a child, who may or may not be her own biological offspring. In certain circumstances, childcare commitments may be handled by the grandmother, stepmother, foster mother, godmother, or mother-in-law.  All categories of “mothers” who have a hand in nurturing, teaching, and fostering the development of a child, deserve respect and admiration.

The American terms, mother, or mom, adopted from the British English names, mummy or mum, sound remarkably similar or are spelled the same, in many languages around the world. 

Whether we say,  

  • Mother or Mom – American English
  • Mummy or Mum – British English
  • Mother or Mom – Canadian English or Maman – French-speaking province of Quebec
  • Madre – Spanish
  • La Mere – French
  • Moeder – Afrikaans
  • Ma – Hindi (India)
  • Moeder – Dutch
  • Madre or Mamma – Italian
  • Mama – Romanian
  • Matka – Polish
  • Mor or Mamma – Norwegian
  • Mum – Australian English
  • Mum – New Zealand English
  • Mueter – Swiss German
  • Mamma – Swedish
  • Mutter – German
  • Me – Vietnamese

the meaning and the identity of the person referenced is the same – the female parent of a child.

The initial love and affection, devotion, and care, given by our mothers, cultivated our early introduction to life and the universe around us. It provided the initial foundation and perceptionsof the world as a happy, gentle, and kind place or a world to be viewed as hostile, brutal and unkind.  

Without the support, training, guidance, and discipline set by our mothers, we would not have grown into social beings, in the image of God. Mothers help prepare us with knowledge, skills, and abilities to mature and become independent. In so doing, our mothers sacrificed many of their desires and needs for our necessities and demands.

If the virtuous governing principles of life are learned by teaching and examples bestowed by our mothers, then a “world without mothers” would be:

  • A world with significantly less women
  • A world devoid of selflessness and unconditional love
  • A world less disciplined and restrained
  • A world less organized and efficient
  • A world less righteous, decent, and understanding
  • A world less emotional, demonstrative, and affectionate
  • A world with less compassion and empathy
  • A world less patient, kind, and gentle
  • A world with less encouragement and motivation
  • A world less balanced and controlled
  • A world less polite and respectful
  • A world less thoughtful, tender, and considerate
  • A world less merciful and forgiving

Mothers play an indispensable role which is hard to duplicate.  As infants nearly all of our physical needs are attended by our mothers. That physical care prevailed as we started to crawl and then walk, babble, and then talk, and shed our diapers when toilet trained. Our safety, protection and physical well-being remained paramount to our mothers even as we matured and entered adulthood.

For many of us, the emotional care given by our biological mothers originated before we were born. After birth, we were embraced with love and affection. That unconditional love stands as the cornerstone of the mother and child relationship. As our mothers motivated and inspired, encouraged, and supported, they provided the strength necessary for us to grow and mature. As our first instructors, they taught us about love, and hope, faith and spirituality, acceptance and tolerance, courage, and bravery, confidence, and determination, giving, and charity.

And they raised us to let us go and assume independence; all-the-while, we remain in our mothers’ hearts and souls forever. Mothers change the world with every child they raise.

Women are not handed an “instruction kit” as they assume the role of motherhood. No guidebooks, training manuals, or college courses prepare them for the most challenging, yet most fulfilling experience of their lives.

It is hard to envision a world without our best supporter, best listener, and best friend forever. Mothers are the ones who are always happy to hear from us, no matter what we are calling about, or when we are calling. They are the ones that will drive us crazy – but we know will always be there.  And no matter our age, we always need our mothers.  My mother has been gone for twenty-one years, but there is not a day, I do not wish I could pick up the telephone and speak with her.

Below, my grandchildren and daughter have shared their perspectives on what life would be like without mothers.

From my 16-year old granddaughter Anabella:

“I can’t imagine a world without moms, as my mom is my biggest supporter and sometimes my biggest critic. My mom has always been there to laugh at me when I fall, but to also pick me up and wipe my tears. I love my mom; she is always there to help me. She is my best friend. I can come to her with all my problems and she is always there with a witty comment and some friendship knowledge.”

From my 15-year old granddaughter Skylar:

“A world without moms would be dark and unforgiving. There would be no one to love you unconditionally, no one to bring you back up when you are sad and feeling down. You would not have your biggest cheerleader and fiercest defender by your side. You would not have that unconditional love that a mother gives to her child. And you wouldn’t have anyone who utterly understands you like your mother.”

From my 10-year old grandson Erik:

“What a world without moms? No, that cannot be, because it means everything in the world to me to have a mom. She takes care of me when I am sick.”

From my daughter Rebecca, the mother of Anabella and Erik:

“Strong women raise strong girls and you are the strongest woman I know. I can’t imagine the world without you and all the other strong wonderful moms.”

It would be a decisively different and fragmented world without the love, hugs, and the comforting touches of mothers.

In a world without moms, we would lose our navigational compass, our emotional barometer, and our positioning in the world-order. We would be set adrift in an ocean of ever-changing conditions and unknown dangers. Thankfully, we have mothers and live on a planet fondly called “Mother Nature” or “Mother Earth” from the Greco-Roman personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it, in the form of a mother.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to Day 10 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 10 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Maura Beth Brennan, who shares a moving story about her quirky Mom.

Maura Beth Brennan

MEMORIES OF MOM by Maura Beth Brennan

I miss my Mom’s quirks. Her superstitions, for instance.

“Don’t you dare put your shoes on that table,” she would say. She wasn’t talking about putting shoe-clad feet on the coffee table. She didn’t want anyone putting a shoebox containing new shoes on a table—any table. Such an action could have dire consequences. That box must be placed on the floor. Period.

No one in our house would have dared leave a wet umbrella open to dry inside the house. That would have, according to Mom, invited disaster. And if you left the house by the front door, you had better return that way. If not, who knew what tragedy might befall you?

Now, when I walk my dog through the woods and take a shortcut home, I double around the house to reenter through the same door. I can still hear her voice, warning me. I leave that dripping umbrella on the porch. I place that shoebox on the floor. Because my mother—she’s a deep, tenacious part of me.

I miss so many things about her—her funny remarks, her kindnesses, her soft voice. I say things to my daughter and think, there is my mother talking. She blurted the funniest things sometimes, and Dad, my brothers, and I sometimes teased her about it. One source of our amusement was her habit of mixing up common clichés. “Sit down, let’s chew the breeze,” my mom would say. Or, “It’s six of one, a dozen of the other.” When we’d laugh, she’d look confused until she realized what she had said. Then, she’d laugh along. She was the inspiration for the mother in two of my short stories, where the mother’s sayings always came out wrong.

I miss having Mom to lean on. One difficult year, I had to take a leave of absence from work. A new house, a demanding job, a young daughter, night school to earn a degree—it was suddenly all too much for me, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying. One morning, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a knock at my door. There was Mom, smiling, bearing homemade muffins for us to share. She settled me at the kitchen table. “Now, don’t you cry anymore,” she said. “It will all work out.” She made me a cup of tea and brought it to me. “This is nice,” she said. “Isn’t it? Just us girls.”

What I would give to have a cup of tea with her now. To let her know how much that meant to me.

Mom was a shy and quiet woman, but she had courage and a steely spine when it came to her family. Her courage showed when, during World War II, she packed a suitcase and took her baby daughter (me) three-thousand miles across the country, by train and bus, to be with my father while he was stationed on the west coast. She stayed there, making a home for us until the war was over.

She showed that courage when she won her first battle with cancer. She never told either of my recently married brothers how ill she was, not wanting to worry them. She told them she had “a little procedure.” When her health returned, it was as if it never happened. She never spoke of it.

But cancer struck again, a different one this time, more deadly.

And this is the memory that breaks my heart. She was in the hospital after exploratory surgery and a terrible prognosis. I went to visit, pulling my chair close to her bed to hear her quiet voice. Her eyes stretched wide and she grasped my hand in hers. 

“I’m so scared,” she said.

She died nine months later. That January, the doctors had “given” her three months to live. But she was determined to live until her fortieth wedding anniversary on September 20th.

The afternoon she died, my father, my brothers and I were gathered around her bedside. She asked my father, “Bud, is today our anniversary?” She was suffering and my father couldn’t bear to watch it go on. It was September 19th, a day too early.

He pulled her close and embraced her for the last time. He knew what he had to do.

“Yes, sweetheart,” he said. “It is.”

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to Day 9 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 9 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Heather Kindt.

Heather Kindt

LOSING MOM

By: Heather Kindt

Have you ever lost someone? The pain is unimaginable, ripping through you like an express train. But what if you lost that person again and again? The agony of the loss knocks you off your feet until you’re numb. That’s what it’s like when you lose someone to dementia.

My mom was my best friend.

She was my shoulder to cry on, and I told her everything. On summer mornings, she’d lie in bed thinking, so I’d hop in next to her and we’d talk about everything or nothing at all. She was there to hold me when I lost my first love and to celebrate with me when I found my last. We spent an entire summer planning my wedding and finding ways to keep the costs within my measly teacher salary. Rummaging through bargain bins at the Christmas Tree Shop, we found the perfect, gold-trimmed ribbon to don the pews at the church.

After I was married, I moved to Colorado and being two thousand miles apart put a dent in both of our souls. But, she was there when my babies were born, helping me figure out the tasks of new mother for the few weeks she was able to be away from home. She was always there, even if it had to be over the telephone wires.

Until she wasn’t.

It started off slowly—spoiled milk in the refrigerator, aluminum foil in the microwave, and accusing my uncle of leaving tiny, recording devices under her couch. She’s getting forgetful with age…paranoid. That’s what I told myself.

But then things weren’t so small. When my mom and dad finally moved to Colorado, she and my brother took separate cars to church one night. Matt followed my mom back to their house but instead of turning down their road, my mom went straight. I received the phone call from Matt frantic, explaining the situation.

“Why didn’t you follow her?” I thought it was a reasonable question.

“I don’t know?”

I lived an hour and a half away, and it was eight o’clock at night. Pulling on my coat, I waited by the phone. There was no way I’d be able to find my mom in a city at night, though I’d search all night if I had to. Before leaving out the door, I called Matt one last time. Why wasn’t he searching?

A pair of headlights turned up our driveway. Impossible. We lived in a housing development in the country littered with dirt roads and deer. I rushed down the stairs to greet my mother. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her whole body shook as she melted into my arms.

“He left me,” she sobbed. “I found a road that I recognized that went to your house, and I kept going.”

I wrapped her in a blanket and lay next to her on the bed in the spare room, her body heaving as she fell asleep.

As time went on, the incidents became more frequent. My parents moved back to New Hampshire because Dad couldn’t handle the altitude. My sister insisted they live in a retirement community. My mom didn’t like the price tag, so six months later she found an apartment in the town I grew up in. I was their telephone caregiver, calling every day on my way to work.

That summer when we visited, it was becoming more and more apparent that Mom couldn’t care for Dad, who was eighteen years her senior. He fell a couple of times, and she called the ambulance because she couldn’t lift him. Being there, I learned it was because he was malnourished and dehydrated. A local independent living facility provided them with at least two meals a day, and they could make friends. It worked for a while. Mom accused the maids of stealing her things, but it was her paranoia setting in again.

But then Dad got sick.

My mom insisted on coming to live with us. It was always how I imagined things would be. When Dad passed away, Mom would come live with us and help me with my children. But Dad wasn’t gone yet.

She insisted.

We moved her out to Colorado, and she lived with us. Frequent plane trips to New Hampshire drained my bank account. She missed him and in less than a year she wanted to move back. Things were different now. We hid her car keys, we arranged for her to go to a local senior center while we were at work, and she became severely combative.

For three years, my mother lived with us as I lost her day after day. At times, it felt like she ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I lashed out at her in my own frustration one day when she helped me clean out a closet. I missed our conversations, our comradeship and the love we’d always shared. It was as if someone reached down to Earth, snatched my mother and replaced her with a stranger. After three years, my husband and I made the decision to place her in a nursing home on a memory care unit.

I lost her again.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I had to do it for her safety. Mom would get angry with me for no reason at all and storm out of the house. My husband followed her in the car until he could coax her inside. Her leaving also saved our marriage. The strain and stress it put on us those three years isn’t something I would want anyone to go through.

Have you ever lost someone? I lose my mom everyday, but it’s not as painful now. When you lose someone to dementia, at least for me, it’s like you’re going through the pain of losing someone suddenly again and again over many years. At some point, the pain numbs because it has to, or the stress will eat you alive. I love my mother, but the disease has stolen precious years of her life. It’s in the small glimmers of her spirit—a smile, an mischievous eye aimed at my husband, a hug from recognition—that I find hope that someday we can be together fully again.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Welcome to Day 8 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Welcome to Day 8 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! Today’s author is a teacher, a friend, and the author of a wonderful Teen/YA Paranormal Fantasy series I have read and loved! A different author will be featured each day of this tour, with a piece they’ve written that focuses on one of these themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me. Help me welcome today’s author, Yvette Calleiro.

Yvette Calleiro

SIGHTS by Yvette M. Calleiro

What if,
In our hustle and bustle,
In our go go go,
We made it a point
To slow down and meditate –
Tune in to the now,
The beauty of each moment?

If only we had slowed our lives down
To enjoy the present moment,
We’d have less people living with anxiety,
Fewer suicides and more survivors,
More productivity in our workplace
With fewer hours at the job.

What if we chose
To care about the foods we eat,
To focus on nutrients from our earth
Without pesticides or genetic modifications?

If only we had stayed away
From GMO-products and processed foods,
We’d have fewer loved ones suffering
From obesity and digestive issues
And autoimmune disorders.

What if we cared
About our fellow man and woman and child
Enough to help them find shelter
And food
And employment?

If only we had cared more about
The community as one
Instead of individualism,
We would have risen up
To find solutions for homelessness,
To help rehabilitate the hopelessness
And leave no human hungry.

What if mothers and fathers
Could spend quality time with their children,
Laughing and playing,
Nurturing and comforting,
Molding them into loving human beings?

If only we had valued the family unit,
There would be fewer broken families,
Children would grow into
Caring and confident adults,
Valuing love and laughter.

What if we chose
To heal the mind, body, and spirit
As one,
With natural remedies,
Focused on healing and curing
Instead of masking and prolonging?

If only we had focused on healing
Instead of profiting on illness,
Our immune systems would be strong,
Able to fight harder against viruses and diseases,
Our minds would be calm and serene,
Our spirit would be at peace and
In harmony with the world.

What if we cared about our planet,
Sharing the earth with
Its other living inhabitants,
Making small sacrifices
So our planet can grow and prosper
Alongside us?

If only we had not been so selfish in our ways
And had made the necessary changes
To allow our planet to heal,
Our forests would flourish
And shelter our animals,
Our oceans would provide life and enjoyment,
And our air would be clear and breathable.

What if we changed our ways?

If only we could do something
To stop this downward spiral of catastrophes
That we have created.

We can.
We should.
We must.

When RWISA asked its members to consider the new world we are now living in, they wanted us to consider what we would have done differently to better the situation we are currently in. This led me to think about foresight and hindsight. We all have the ability to pause and wonder what the world could be if we choose to make the hard choices and work toward a better world. Similarly, once the catastrophe has happened, we can look back and realize what we did wrong.

So, I created this poem. Choose to read it line by line or read the left side in its entirety and then go back and read the right side. Either way works! 😊

So often, our leaders look back and say, “Oops!” and then just keep trudging along without righting their wrongs. We, as citizens, do the same. We have become quite comfortable in our spoiled lives. We, as a society, focus on individualism instead of community. We live in a bubble that is only concerned with how enjoyable our own little world is, forgetting that we do not live in isolation. We ignore the pleas of others to help the planet/hungry/homeless/poor because that would mean putting effort or perhaps making sacrifices, and who wants to give up the luxuries that they have become accustomed to?

And so it goes. Our current path is not sustainable. If we are to survive and thrive, we must put the planet and all who encompass it as our priority. We need to make changes/sacrifices to flourish. Just look at what the past month or two of stay-at-home orders has done for our planet. Endangered turtles are being born and surviving. The peaks of the Himalayan mountains can be seen in India for the first time in decades. Pollution levels have shown a decrease in nitrogen dioxide over China. The waterways in Venice are crystal-clear and fish can be seen swimming in the canals. The signs are everywhere.

Can anyone still doubt that humans and our ways have hurt our environment and will continue to hurt our planet unless we make serious changes to our ways of life? How many businesses are realizing that their workers can actually do their jobs from home? That one change can cut back on car emissions, stress, and other pollutions. I don’t have all the solutions, but maybe it’s time that we, as a society, start to use our foresight to change our world for the better.