Tuesday, August 2, 2011

excuse me, while i scream....

i was minding my own business.

i had picked out my own little corner of the pool to lay on my raft. and read my new book. my new hardback book. i know that most normal people don't take books into the pool with them. but, i don't consider myself to be normal in any sense of the word. and i am very careful not to let it get wet.

there were quite a few people out this day, both in the pool and laying out on chairs on the deck. daddy was sitting in his chair under the only shady spot at the pool, drying off and taking a cat nap. so his eyes were closed. but, he could still hear all the things going on around him.

let me stop here and explain something. there are many different types of screams. there is the one where you raise your voice a few octaves higher than normal while speaking to someone to try and get your point across that you are right and they are wrong. there is the one where you have reached the end of your rope and just want to kill someone. or strangle them to the point of death. (usually a grumpy husband or a group of kids playing marco polo for hours on end when all you want is peace and quiet.) there is that shrill, whiney one that comes from an outright temper tantrum. there is even one that comes from pure, unadulterated joy. or from seeing someone you haven't seen in years. there is one that comes from watching scary movies and one when you are talking very loudly to someone that can't hear well. there are many, many different kinds of screams. and people can usually differentiate one type from another. you know when someone is screaming because they are mad, or hurt or playing or being annoying, or because they are happy. or scared.

in my family, there is a scream that is totally unique from all other screams. it is known by its sound to every single one of us. it is a scream that tops all others in its shrillness, its intensity, in the building up of the scream. it starts at the toes and spreads upwards through the body at an alarming speed, bursting out of your mouth uncontrollably. much like a menopausal hot flash. it is a scream, without question, that is one of pure terror. and just seconds after hearing it and recognizing it for what it is, it is mostly ignored by the male members of my family. if there are any other female members near the vicinity, it immediately catches on like wildfire and becomes a chorus of ear-splitting screams. it is, of course, "THE ROACH SCREAM." the males are so accustomed to hearing it that they no longer jump up and come running to see if one us might be hurt. or dieing. or being held hostage and tortured by someone who just broke into the house. they no longer think that maybe they should call 911 or that they could maybe perform cpr and save the life of their loved one. they simply hear it, and then go back to whatever it was they were doing before being so rudely interrupted.

so there i was. laying on my raft and reading. like i said, minding my own business. and then...out of nowhere...i felt and i heard the thud of something landing on my stomach. now you know for me to have FELT it, it had to be quite big. not large, like a ball or a frisbee. but not small. like a horsefly or a bee. in one fluid movement, i looked down, i threw my book into the pool, i sat up so that my raft folded up on either side of me, like a sandwich. with me being the meat. and i let out a bloodcurdling ROACH SCREAM!!! only it wasn't a roach that was on me. it was the only other insect that terrifies me as much as a roach, and it has little barbs on its legs that had attached itself to my bathing suit and i was swatting at it the whole time i was screaming and i knew i looked like a crazy idiot. but i didn't care. i wanted that THING off of me!

after what seemed like forever, its legs became unattached from me and it landed in the pool. right beside my new hardback book that was now beginning to sink. i glanced over at daddy and saw that sure enough, he had recognized the scream. and he was just sitting there. observing. everyone else at the pool was looking at me and wondering what in the world was happening and this one man ran over to see if he could help me. i'm sure that for a brief moment he thought i was being attacked by a shark, forgetting that i was in the pool and not the ocean. he was very excited and saying, "can i help you? can i help you?" but the only word that i could get to come out of my mouth was GRASSHOPPER!!!!!! i was pointing towards my book, where the thing was just sitting and the man burst out laughing and took off his shoe and scooped it up and threw it over the wall into the bushes. i apologized to the man. and thanked him. and explained that i was terrified of those things. everybody around me started laughing. and went on with what they had been doing.

daddy went back to his nap. i fished my book out of the water and set it on the side of the pool to dry out. and got back on my raft. and tried to breathe normal again.

i want you to know that this was not one of those little green grasshoppers that you always see hopping around in your back yard. this was a LUBBER GRASSHOPPER. one that is about 2 inches long and is yellow and brown and looks like he is made out of wood. with chompers that look like he wants to eat you alive! in fact, this is a photo i got of one while on a walk at a nature preserve. it was taken with a zoom lens, because i wasn't getting anywhere near him.



when i was a teenager, us kids had to take turns mowing the grass. we lived on the sugar refinery property and there was a lot of grass to cut. there were also a lot of men working at the refinery that could see every little move we made. being a girl that noticed men noticing me, i hated mowing. because stupid things always happened when it was my turn. like having these LUBBER GRASSHOPPERS get on me and me jumping off the riding mower while it was still going. or the lawn mower suddenly just cutting off, for no reason that i could see and daddy calling one of the men over from the refinery to "fix it" only to have it pointed out to me that while i was ducking under the Norfolk Island Pine trees to cut as close as i could, that the plastic gas tank had fallen off. my first husband, James, worked at the refinery, as did my brother-in-law, Glenn. (the middle-aged man who left me for greener pastures also worked there.) shortly after Landon was born, Glenn and his wife Mary, had a baby girl, Natalie. we decided that we would drive up to North FL, my husbands whole family, and go take the babies to see their great grandparents. they lived in Steinhatchee and when i say they lived in the woods, i mean they lived waaaaaaay out in the middle of nothing. our very first day there Glenn said he wanted to show me their fresh water creek. he said the water was ice cold. so, he and James and i went for a walk. down a loooooong dirt road. i kept hearing this loud noise and asked what it was. they both acted like they didn't hear anything. we kept walking. and the noise kept getting louder and louder and louder. so, i knew that they couldn't have possibly NOT heard it and i asked again what it was. Glenn started laughing and very non-chalantly said, "it's MATING SEASON for LUBBER GRASSHOPPERS!"

and the very second he said it, one of those things landed on me and you could hear my scream all over those woods. i took off running and swatting and screaming my head off, and not one person came to see what was going on. if i was hurt or being killed. if they could perhaps be a hero and save my life. i got back to the trailer the great grandparents lived in, and everyone was just rolling laughing. see, they all knew i was terrified of those man-eating critters! and they knew exactly what Glenn had planned for me. and they all thought it was just the funniest thing watching me hoot and holler. that was just plain ol' mean of them.

anyway, i survived it then. and i survived it the other day in the pool. i'm so glad God gave me the ability to laugh at myself. otherwise life would be so boring. i was a drama queen that day at the pool. everybody got a good laugh, at my expense and i didn't care one bit. a few days later i went to pick up my book to see if it had dried out so i could finish reading it. and this is what it looks like now. with the pages all stuck together.


it wasn't really worth reading anyway. so i went and bought a few paperbacks. for the pool. i figure if they get tossed in while i'm here, i will have saved myself some money on the price difference of a hard back. i guess i can consider the whole episode a lesson learned, huh?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

and i wanted to say...

i was sitting in the waiting room at the oral surgeons office, along with about 25 other people. there was a row of chairs facing me and another row that backed up to that one. and on that row was sitting a couple that i would guess to be pretty close to the other side of 79 yrs. old. he was obviously the one that was to be the patient and also, just as obviously, he was a little hard of hearing. so, his wife had the clipboard which held the papers requiring you to fill out your life history, and she was having to stop now and then and read the questions out to him when she was unsure of the answer. and i know from experience that when you live with someone who can't hear all that well, that you tend to speak a little louder than you normally would. it just becomes habit. so, while the rest of us were either reading a book or glancing through a magazine or just sitting there quietly, we were able to hear her voice just a little above the usual noises in a waiting room. SHE: "how much do you weigh, honey?" HE: i didn't say anything." SHE: no, i asked you how much do you weigh?" HE: oh, i don't know, about 175." SHE: "what are you here for today?" HE: i'm here to see the dentist." SHE: i know, dear, but they want to know what trouble you are having. which tooth is hurting?" HE: well, on my right side. on the bottom. i think part of the tooth broke off." she fills out a few questions on her own, and then we hear this. SHE: "do you have trouble urinating?" HE: "no, no i don't have to pee right now. i went before i left the house." SHE: "do you have trouble maintaining an erection?" HE: making what? SHE: never mind, i can answer that one myself." of course, everyone in the room is doing what they can to stifle their laughter. some are holding magazines in front of their faces, some are completely turning around in their chairs and some are looking anywhere but at the person across from them.

and i'm sure we were all wondering the same thing...WHY in the world would an oral surgeon need to know the answer to that question? it bordered on stupidity. even the lady asking her husband the questions finally got tired of the ridiculous questions and stomped off to the front desk with her clipboard, muttering to herself..."i'm not going to sit here and answer these kind of personal questions." this event happened BEFORE i became the caretaker of both of my parents.

Neither of my parents are in the best of health and a few years ago i stopped working so that i could stay home and be available to help them. they were neither one able to drive anymore and my mother was no longer able to keep up with the house of the size they live in. i would go over there in the mornings and clean the house and fix them a big dinner and run their errands for them. and over the years, as their health has worsened, we have begun to spend quite a lot of time at dr. offices. between the both of them. we go to internists and dentists and cardiologists and podiatrists, and urologists and neurologists and pain management drs., and eye, ear and throat specialists, and opthomologists, and dermatologists, just to name a few. daddy has aqua therapy twice a week at the rehabilitation clinic, to help him keep his muscles working and to help ease the pain in his back.

 and mama has to go once a week and have a protime blood test done, because she has atrial fibrillation and has to take a blood thinner, so it's very important to make sure that her blood is neither too thin or too thick. we call Walgreens our second home and the people that work in the pharmacy dept. know us by name.

daddy is diabetic and has macular degeneration, which causes you to lose your eyesight. his vision has deteriorated over the last couple of years to the point that he only has partial vision in one eye, and even in that eye he describes his vision as if seeing through a fog. his hearing has also begun to get worse. i take both of them to all of their dr. appts., and with daddy, because he can't see, i have to do what the lady at the oral surgeon did, and fill out all of the paperwork. and after doing it time after time, i know the answers to most of the questions by heart. but, every now and then one of the office managers will decide to make you start filling out a new form, every single visit. and they have these stupid systems to "rate your level of pain." case in point: daddy and i were at the pain management center where he goes to be treated for spinal stenosis in his back. and this place is always packed full of people and they are always running behind schedule. which means you can sometimes be there all day long. so on this one particular visit, they gave us one of the new forms to fill out. and i have to read the questions out loud to daddy, who, remember, is a little hard of hearing. and by the way, while i mentioned earlier that we who live with someone who is hard of hearing, tend to talk a little louder when speaking to them, they also tend to talk a little louder. i fill out his name, date of birth, address, ss#, and a page of all of his current medications and their dosages and strengths, and then i get to these types of questions. ME: "where, on this little figure of a man, is your pain located. they want you to fill in the areas you have pain with your pen." DADDY: well, lets see. it's in my back, the lower part of my back. and my legs are weak and i can't keep my balance when i walk. " ME: on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain in your life, how would you rate your pain?" DADDY: i don't know, it depends on what i'm doing at a particular time. i guess about an 8." and because i have been to this office many times and know what to expect in terms of waiting to see the dr, I WANT TO ANSWER...WELL, IT DEPENDS.RIGHT THIS MINUTE WHILE HE'S SITTING HERE IT IS MAYBE A 4, BUT, BY THE TIME HE SITS IN THIS HARD CHAIR FOR 3 HOURS, WHILE YOUR STAFF IS BACK IN THE KITCHEN EATING THEIR LUNCH OR DRINKING THEIR COFFEE WHILE DISCUSSING LAST NIGHTS EPISODE OF THE BACHLEOR, AND TALKING ON THEIR CELL PHONE TO THEIR BABY DADDYS MOTHER OR TAKING THEIR 10TH SMOKE BREAK OF THE DAY, AND BY THE TIME THE DR. IS ACTUALLY READING HIS CHART, IT WILL PROBABLY BE AT LEAST A HIGH 10, IF NOT OFF THE CHART COMPLETELY." ME: which best describes your pain...shooting, stabbing, throbbing, burning, itching, tingling or numbing? DADDY: hmmmmm...well again, it differs according to what i'm doing. it's hard to describe, i guess just say throbbing. AND I WANT TO ANSWER...WELL, YOU KNOW, IT STARTED OUT THIS MORNING ITCHING AND TINGLING. AS THE MORNING WORE ON, IT BEGAN TO THROB SOMETHING AWFUL AND IT COULD BEST BE DESCRIBED AS A FEELING OF BEING STABBED IN THE BACK WITH A KNIFE. AND THEN HE CAME HERE AND HE'S BEEN SITTING IN THIS HARD CHAIR FOR SO LONG THAT HIS LEGS AND HIS BACKSIDE ARE BEGINNING TO GO NUMB. AND HIS BACK IS THROBBING AND BURNING REALLY BAD NOW, AND IT'S NOT REALLY A SHOOTING PAIN IN MY BACK, THAT PAIN IS IN HIS DAUGHTERS HEAD AND IT IS SCREAMING OUT THAT SHE IS GOING TO SHOOT SOMEONE IF THEY DON'T GET OFF THEIR BUTTS AND DO THEIR JOB. BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE SITTING OUT HERE ARE IN PAIN! ME: do you have trouble urinating, is their blood in your urine, or does it burn when you urinate? DADDY: no, i take diuretics, so i urinate pretty much all day long. ME: are you constipated? DADDY: well, i'm not constipated right this minute, but yes, i have been constipated before. do they mean have i EVER been constipated? or am i right this minute? ME: i don't know. DADDY: just write off to the side that i've been constipated many times, but i'm not right now. ME: do you have diarrhea? DADDY: a little bit too loud..."well, again...do they mean have i EVER or do i right this minute? because i don't have it right this minute, but i might have it in a little while because of that fried food you cooked for lunch. sometimes fried food gives me diarrhea. just don't answer that one yet, and we'll see if i have it by the time i get in to see the dr.." i'm getting really embarrassed at this point. i notice some people looking our way and a few magazines going up over faces. i plunge ahead. ME: do you suffer from ED? (oh my goodness, i can't believe i am having to ask my father these questions.) DADDY: what is that? ME: never mind, i'm just putting no to these next few questions. DADDY: well, i need to know what they are, you might not know the answer. ME: i know the answers. DADDY: but i want to hear them anyway, just to make sure. you might answer wrong on something that could be very important. ME: ok... are you pregnant? when was your last period? have you had a mammogram in the last year? are you impotent? do you have hemmorrhoids? DADDY: alright, just put no to all of those. AND I SAY... are you sure? there is no chance you MIGHT be pregnant? because if you might be pregnant and they have to do any x-rays it could be dangerous to the baby? DADDY: i'm not pregnant. i march myself up to the front desk with my clipboard, muttering to myself, much like the lady at the oral surgeons office. WHY do they need to know these kind of personal questions to give him a prescription for his back?

i took him in to get a colonoscopy one day. he had to drink a gallon of whatever that stuff is they make you drink, and it cleans you out real good. then i walk with him to the room where he is supposed to remove his clothes and put on a gown. i have to hold his hand when he walks, because his balance is off, and this, for some reason, gives the nurses the impression that i am his wife, instead of his daughter. so i have to let them know that he will need some help and that it's not really appropriate for his daughter to be the one taking his clothes off. i wait out in the hall and they take him back to the procedure room and do their thing. i go out to the waiting room, to wait. and soon a nurse comes and gets me and tells me to go the recovery room, that he will need to stay there for maybe a half hour or so. so i go back and they wheel his bed in there and pull the curtain closed. there are several little rooms in a semi circle, all full of other patients who have just had their own procedure done. and the nurse walks in and proceeds to tell us that before he can be discharged he has to pass gas. a lot of gas. and that she needs to hear it. AND I WANT TO SAY.."WELL, I CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO BE THERE TO HEAR IT...THAT'S NOT MY JOB! but... not only am i forced to sit there for 30 minutes listening to my father pass gas, but i have to hear all of the other patients doing the same thing. WHO wants to go to work everyday and have THAT job?

my mother suffers from back pain too. only she has several things wrong with hers. spinal stenosis, spondylosis, degenerative disc disease. and she takes pain medication, which in turn makes her extremely nauseated to the point where she can't even lift her head. she has to lay in bed most of the time because when she stands up, the pain is agonizing and the nausea becomes so bad that she can't walk. so, she goes to the dr., in a wheelchair, because the pain has now run down into her leg and she can't lift her right leg at all. after the filling out of the stupid questions, she is finally taken to an exam room 1-1/2 hrs. later. and we sit. and we wait. and wait. and wait. and then i get...ummmmm...a little ticked off shall we say. and i go hunting down someone to find out what is taking so long. i go to the front desk and there i am confronted with a young male receptionist, with spikes in his hair, which is jelled to the max and who is holding his hand and running around the office screaming, "owwww...owwwww...oh, My God...ooowwwwww. i think he has cut a finger off or something and someone comes running over to him, asking him what is wrong...and he actually says...i just chipped one of my fingernails. and i just had them done yesterday. AND I WANT TO SAY...OH, GET A LIFE, YOU LITTLE DRAMA QUEEN AND STOP THAT CRYING OR I'LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!! (that's what my parents used to tell us when we were little.) i explained to him that we had been waiting a very long time and my mother was sicker than a dog and she needed to see someone NOW. and he informed me that the nurse practitioner that will be seeing my mother is in with another patient and my mother will be next. i reply that she is so sick that we don't think she can wait much longer. she is in excrutiating pain. she is throwing up into a plastic bag and the receptionist says that he will let her know right away and that it shouldn't be much longer. i go back to the room and we wait. and we wait. and then i can't wait anymore. i'm getting really, really angry. and it takes a lot to get me angry. mama tells me to just wait a little bit longer, because she knows that when i get to the point i was getting to, that somebody is going to feel the wrath. i open the door, because it's stifling in that room and my senses are accosted with the smell of garlic. very strong garlic. and i follow the smell trail and it leads me right into the kitchen/breakroom, where the entire staff is partaking of the nice lunch provided to them by the nice drug rep that came in WAY AFTER we did. now, don't get me wrong, i don't begrudge them eating lunch. they have the right to eat when they work all day. BUT, when they have a waiting room overflowing with people who are in agony and are sitting there for hours on end because they were overbooked to begin with, and the staff is all sitting in the kitchen eating Olive Garden, while the patients are being told that they are running behind schedule due to an emergency...well, that's just WRONG! and the nurse practitioner who was "in with another patient" was right there in the middle of them, with a breadstick in her hand and a mouth full of salad! and i, very politely, ask her exactly how much longer she thinks it will be until she finishes her lunch, because my mother has been waiting for hours, with a plastic bag held to her mouth and i think she might need a fresh one in the next minute or two or somebody is going to be cleaning that exam room floor after eating that nice pasta dish. she comes right then. and she apologizes for the "delay." and she looks at my mother with a smile on her face and says "hello, Mrs. Willis and how are YOU today?" and mama says, "i'm doing okay." AND I WANT TO SAY"...WELL, SHE'S NOT QUITE AS GOOD AS SHE SHOULD BE. SHE HASN'T EATEN ANY PASTA OR BREADSTICKS LATELY, OR, FOR THAT MATTER, ANYTHING ELSE. IN WEEKS. BECAUSE SHE CAN'T KEEP ANYTHING DOWN. SO SHE'S LOST 32 LBS. IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS AND SHE STAYS IN BED 95% OF THE TIME, BECAUSE THE PAIN IS SO BAD THAT SHE HAS TO BE LAYING DOWN TO GET ANY RELIEF AT ALL, AND SHE CAN'T GO OUT ANYWHERE WITHOUT CARRYING A PLASTIC BAG IN HER HAND BECAUSE SHE STAYS NAUSEATED 24 HRS. A DAY. AND RIGHT NOW SHE'S HAVING A LITTLE BIT OF TROUBLE BREATHING BECAUSE THE SMELL OF THE GARLIC FROM YOUR OLIVE GARDEN PASTA AND BREADSTICKS IS OVERWHELMING HER SENSES...BUT, OTHER THAN THAT,...SHE'S ALIVE AND ABOVE GROUND AND THAT BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE, WOULDN'T YOU SAY?" she decides she needs to get an x-ray of her back.

i wheel her back to the x-ray dept., where she is given a choice of two robes to put on...one, a little short paper thing that opens in the front and doesn't come anywhere near to both ends meeting in the middle. OR, a ginormous one that you could wrap yourself up in like a burritto. she opts for the latter. and then they hand her a pair of thin, tiny white shorts with a drawstring, and a tag that reads, "one size fits all." FITS ALL OF WHAT? A TWIG? she handed the shorts back. a very young boy, with half blond/half brown, hair and a nose ring, that looked to be about 15 yrs. old, comes and wheels her in to the x-ray room and puts the locks on the wheelchair wheels and says to her, "ok, sweetie, i need you to walk across the room and climb up on that table, using that box as a step and lay down on your right side." and she just stares at him, dumbfounded. AND I WANT TO SAY..."LOOK HERE, SWEETIE, SEE THAT WHEELCHAIR THAT SHE'S SITTING IN? SHE'S IN IT BECAUSE SHE CAN NOT WALK. AND SHE IS HERE TODAY, TO SEE THE DR. BECAUSE SHE CAN NO LONGER LIFT HER RIGHT LEG! WHICH MEANS THAT SHE WON'T BE WALKING OVER THERE AND CLIMBING UP ON A BOX TO GET ON A TABLE THAT HAS NO RAILS, ALL WHILE HOLDING ON TO HER PLASTIC BAG THAT SHE IS VOMITING IN! SO IT KINDA LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE GOING HAVING TO HAVE TO WORK OUT SOME OTHER KIND OF ARRANGEMENT!" but, mama is a real quiet lady. she won't tell him any of that. she struggles to stand up by herself. and then falls back into the chair. and gets violently sick. and THEN he decides that maybe she needs some help. when the x-rays are done, i wheel her back to the exam room and we wait some more. and FINALLY, the dr. himself comes in.

and he sits on his little stool and leans back and right in front of my mother and myself, begins to ummmm...how do i say this without being crude...scratch himself. in a place that should only be scratched in private. 

all while looking us straight in the eye. and i don't mean just a quick scratch. i'm talking about the kind of scratching that maybe means he has a bad case of chiggers or red bugs. the kind of scratch, that seems endless. and what do you do? where do you look? and he starts asking mama about the pain, but by then, her mind is not even comprehending his question because it's trying to find a place to escape to, to keep from watching him scratch. i'm telling you, it was embarrassing. to us. not to him. she tells him that she thinks the pain meds are what is making her nauseated and he says, ok, then i am going to switch you to the liquid instead of the pill form. and the visit is over. just like that. she gets the new prescription filled and when she goes to take the first dose, she can not swallow it. the taste is horrible. worse than Nyquil horrible. she can not keep it down. the pharmacist suggests she bring it back and he will add cherry flavor to it. still, horrible. my sister tries it. no can do. so, it's back to Dr. Scratch. and hoping that his "problem" has been resolved. she gets in the room and she tells him she can't swallow the stuff and he takes a swig himself! and he is still scratching! AND I WANT TO SAY..."STOP ALL THAT SCRATCHING!!! GO FIND YOURSELF SOME OINTMENT OR SOMETHING TO TAKE CARE OF THAT ITCH AND THEN GO WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER BEFORE YOU COME BACK IN THIS ROOM AND TOUCH ANYTHING!!" but, he just sits there and writes her out a prescription for a different kind of pain pill. and we leave there, again, disgusted.

i am not a mean person. really, i'm not.

but i AM an advocate for my parents healthcare. they have worked hard all their lives and they have paid taxes and social security and they are good people. and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. as do millions of other seniors. many of the dr. offices today are staffed with some of the rudest people i've ever come across. they are there, eight hours a day, not because they care about the people who come to them for help, but because at the end of the week they get a paycheck. and it's sad. and it's wrong.

one of the drs. that my mother went to, after hearing about the agonizing pain and the unrelenting nausea, put his hand on her shoulder and she said, "i feel like i'm dying." and he said "it's not the end of the world. you must decide which you can live with, the pain or the nausea?" AND I WANTED TO ASK HIM..." AND YOU, DR.? IF THIS WAS YOU, WHICH WAY WOULD YOU CHOOSE? TO LIVE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, IN BED, UNABLE TO MOVE BECAUSE THE PAIN THAT RACKS YOUR BODY WHEN YOU DO, IS UNBEARABLE? OR WOULD YOU RATHER LAY FLAT ON YOUR BACK THE REST OF YOUR DAYS SO NAUSEATED THAT YOU CAN NEITHER EAT OR DRINK AND JUST WASTE AWAY?


Monday, March 28, 2011

How do you know?

after reading my previous post, someone asked me, "how do you hear God? how do you know when it's Him?" so, i decided to answer her here. i don't know how everyone else hears God...i suppose its different for each of us. but i know that He comes to me through whispers. through the words of a song, through a verse from the Bible, through ordinary, everyday things. sometimes i will ask God something and He is silent. i don't hear anything, i don't feel anything. and then something will happen and it's then that i know...without a doubt, that it's God speaking.

i've written about some of these things in previous blog posts, but i will share 4 that have happened to me recently.

when i was at Ft. Myers Beach last summer, i was waiting on the trial to be set in my divorce. i was very stressed out and not looking forward to testifying. having your entire marriage, with all it's problems, come out in open court can be very embarrasing and humiliating. God had given me my "word" to live by earlier that year, which was actually two words, BABY STEPS. He had assured me that He would be with me, every step of the way. that i just needed to chill out and let Him take over. He would expose the truth if i just trusted in Him, and Micajah and i would be fine. A few days after giving me my "word" the date was set for trial and i learned that my ex was going to try and call my parents to testify. and that was not something that any of us wanted. they were not well and didn't think they could make the trip back home, and more importantly, they didn't want to have to testify for or against my ex. they had loved him like a son and it tore them apart when our marriage ended up like it did. i knew that he was just threatening me, out of spite, but still, it upset me. i grabbed my camera, like i did every day and went for a walk down the beach. it was early in the morning and there weren't many people out yet. but, ahead of me was a family of four, with the youngest being about 2 yrs. old. she was holding on to her daddys hand and walking right at the waters edge and when the waves went back into the ocean, their footprints were exposed. i just snapped a picture of them, because i love that poem about when you didn't see the footprints, it was then that God was carrying you. Later that day, when i was uploading the pics to my computer...THIS popped up.

one little baby step. i had taken the picture of the daddys and the baby's prints, but only this one little footprint came up. one little BABY STEP. and i knew that was God speaking to me, reminding me that i had turned it over to Him and He was going to take care of things. and He did. the judge decided that my parents didn't need to go back to GA and testify.

When it came time for the trial, i left the beach and went home. my sister, Paula went with me to court. it was only going to be a one day trial, but still, i was so nervous about getting up on the stand. he had served me with a bogus counter-claim and i was going to have to prove that he was lying. a friend of mine had suggested i take something physical in with me to hold on to, that would remind me that God was in control. So, i grabbed a yellow legal pad and in big letters, i wrote my favorite verse, "Be still, and know that I am God." my attorney had warned me not to show anger or hostility towards my ex, and not to let his attorney try and provoke me into getting into an argument. well, he did try and provoke me and each time he tried to twist my words around or make it look like i wasn't telling the truth, i just held my breath and looked down at that verse i was holding in my hand. and it calmed me instantly and i was able to answer him, with no hint of anger, even though i wanted to scream out LIAR, LIAR. God calmed me with just those words and the judge saw through all the lies and i came out of the divorce very well. He took care of us, just like He said He would.

this year God gave me another "word." FLY. i thought ok, this one is a little strange and i wasn't really sure what it meant when He gave it to me. but He let me know that this year He was going to take me to new places. not necessarily that i was going to be traveling, but that He was taking me to a whole new level of faith in Him. that He was going to show me just how much He loves me. and a few days later my family and i went to eat at Cracker Barrel. they all knew my word beforehand, and thought i was a little bit nuts. i was walking around the gift shop when i spotted a little basket sitting up on a shelf with these little tiles that were like dominoes, but they had words written on them. HOPE, FAITH, BELIEVE. very common words that you see everyday. i stuck my hand in the basket and pulled one out and it said this:

and i was thinking, well that's pretty close but it's not the "word." i went to put it back into the basket and i turned it over and saw this:

now, how often do you see the word FLY on something like this? mixed in with hope, faith, believe? and it was the only one in the basket. i bought it and took it to the table and showed my family and they couldn't believe it! THIS was God speaking to me.

in the post previous to this one, the one that actually sparked this one...it was a friday night, a little over a week ago, when i did the nosedive. i had been flying high and suddenly came crashing back to earth. i was so full of hurt and questions and i was repeatedly asking God, WHY? i had asked Him to slam the door if this was not His will, because i knew i was getting in deep and instead He kept opening doors. and as i wrote, i didn't hear anything. God was not speaking to me. He was there...but, He was silent. for days. and then He decided to speak to me. it was this past friday. Micajah got up at 6:30 to go to school. i had fallen back asleep after waking him up and just as he was getting ready to leave, he came and opened my bedroom door and very nonchalantly, as if this was something he said to me everyday, he said, "mom, i just wanted to let you know that the dining room window was left open last night and there is a bird in the house." and he closed my door and left. WHAT? i thought it was part of my dream. i got up a few minutes later and walked into the dining room, and sure enough, there was a little bird flying from one end of the room to the other. i went through the kitchen and opened the door to the screened in porch, hoping i could shoo him out that way. he flew into the living room and down the hallway and back to the dining room. it was as if he was saying, "here i am, now i'm over here, everywhere you go, i go." i thought it was a little weird and i went back to my room to get my camera, because i take pictures of things like birds flying around in my house. and he was gone. i suppose he found his way to the open door and took flight. no picture. but, i went back to my room and turned on my computer and hit my itunes playlist. it was set to shuffle the songs so i didn't hear them in any particular order. and of all the songs on there, THIS song began playing:


did you catch the part where she sings "He'll do and He'll use, whatever He wants to...to show you I LOVE YOU." God had spoken to me. through a bird. He was telling me that no matter where i go, or what i face, HE is always there, always waiting on me to turn to Him and to trust Him.

THAT, my friends, is how God talks to me. it may seem silly to some of you, but, i KNOW that i KNOW...and that's what is important to me.

Oh, and right after i posted the story of being in His will, satan came right in and started telling me that i shouldn't have put on that on my blog for who knows who to see...and i was a little bit worried about it...until i scrolled down my newsfeed and saw these two quotes that a friend had posted: (thank you, Lisa Sinclair)

* Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open * Pauline Kael

Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts * Rick Warren

it was for me. it was affirmation that i had done exactly what God told me to do. and i feel good about that!

I am in His will...God's will

Dear Lord, you spoke to me, and i heard. this past week has been difficult for me and i come to you now, asking for forgiveness...for allowing even a moment of doubt to creep inside of me and cause me to look away from you. i know that you only want the very best for me, and when things don't go the way i think they should, the flesh in me starts the questioning, which leads to an open door for satan to come in and start telling me lies. filling my head with things that are only meant to destroy me. and while some may think i am strong, i'm not. you know Lord, that i am weak and that i struggle every day of my life with low self esteem. for so many years i tried to do things my way. i allowed myself to think that my happiness depended on other people accepting me and loving me and i was so wrong. i have allowed other people to dictate who i am and what i should be. and i have made so many mistakes. years ago, when my boys and i were in that horrible accident, i wondered how you could possibly make anything good come out of that, but that was the very day that i knew how much you loved me. you saved our lives and i drew closer to you than i had ever been. i saw where the life i was living was taking me...and i didn't want to walk that path anymore. you became the rock i stand on and my faith over the years has continued to get stronger and stronger. still, i tried to do things my way, on the pretense of doing what you wanted me to do. and i failed. miserably. staying in a marriage for so many years that was wrong from the beginning. unequally yoked. and you allowed me a way out. and over the last couple of years i have sunk to a low that i never knew existed. i was in a very dark place and wondering why you would let me stay there. but Lord, you brought me through it, understanding that we must go through the fire to be refined. that you allow things to happen so that we will be drawn closer to you, putting all of our trust and faith in you. it's hard to see that sometimes, through the tears and the pain, but you always put me back on the right path and ask only that i follow you. Lord, i seek your will for my life. you have blessed me with so much more than i deserve. i have godly parents that love me despite my many flaws. i have children that will spend eternity with me in Heaven, and grandchildren to love. you have brought people into my life that encourage me and pray for me and with me, who i can confide in and laugh with. you have brought me to a church where i can hear your word preached and where i can find comfort when i feel lonely. and Lord, you brought someone so very special to me, back into my life, for reasons that i can't fully understand yet. i asked for you to open the doors, only if this was of you, and you did. and i know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was of you. i come to you now asking for wisdom. satan has crept in and seeks to destroy me once again. he is filling my head with lies, trying to turn me away from you, help me to be strong, to flee from him and to run to you. Lord, you know the desires of my heart, yet, you may desire more for me. if that's the case, help me to let it go, without anger or bitterness. fill me with your love, with laughter, with joy. with understanding. help me to love the person you are shaping me into. fill my head and my heart with thoughts that are pleasing to you. empty me of me. i love you, Lord, with my whole heart and i thank you for loving me enough to die for my sins. giving you all the glory for the work you are doing in me.

Ok, God is still talking...and i'm just going to go with it here.
when i was very young i accepted Christ into my heart. but, from the time i was a teenager i put God on the back burner of life, knowing He would always be there, but i chose to live my life the way I wanted to live it. i was pretty, i had the kind of body that boys liked and i loved the attention that it got me. i never had a shortage of boyfriends. my parents prayed me for every night, but there were many times, i'm sure, that they questioned God as to WHY i was always making such bad choices. i made A LOT of mistakes. when i went on to college, it was the same. there was no shortage of guys and i looked and felt better than i had in high school. i lived for ME. i didn't care what my parents thought of me, or anyone else for that matter. certainly i didn't care what God thought about me. He wasn't even on the burner then. it was then, i can look back and see now, that i began to put my happiness in the hands of others. i let men tell me who i was and who i should be. i let men take control of my life. they determined if i felt good about myself. and i made A LOT more mistakes. i got married, had two kids, seperated and lived life in the fast lane. i fell into a horribly abusive relationship and i began wondering why God was letting all these bad things happen to me. but God wasn't hearing me. He was still there, but He was waiting on me to let Him have the controls. and i jumped into another marriage, thinking that because this man was so unlike any other guy i had ever dated, that he was going to fill my life with all the things i had ever dreamed of. i didn't ask God if he was the one He had chosen for me. i just did what i thought was right at the time. he was going to protect me from the evil that had come into my life. he was going to give me back all the love i was going to give him. he was going to be my savior. and i found out right quick that i had just landed myself in an even worse kind of evil. i tried to fix things. we went to church, he (supposedly) got saved. we had a lot of friends and we had a new baby. things should have been ok. but God wasn't in our marriage. and it was doomed to fail. i stayed because i had made a commitment to God, for better or worse, and i was determined to make things work. i had been in the accident the year before we got married and i had rededicated my life to the Lord, but i still wasn't seeking HIS will. i was still trying to do what i thought would make me happy. when i think of all the years i wasted being so unhappy...it makes me so sad. with the divorce came the dark time, when i felt like i was drowning in hopelessness. i knew God loved me, but i had allowed the world to tell me all the bad things about myself, and those voices are so hard to turn off. i did more praying in that time of darkness than i ever have in my life. i asked God to bring me good christian friends that i could surround myself with. many of them He led me to on facebook. still others were in my church. God began working on me and i began to let loose of the controls and let Him have it all. He has brought such a change in my life from the girl i used to be. i would not wish that girl on anyone. He has strengthened my faith, He has taught me to listen for His voice. He has shown me how to ask Him for help when i just don't think i can make it another day on my own. there are still times that i find myself asking Why? but those times come less often now. a short time ago i made a commitment to let God have complete control of my life. whatever the costs. to use me and to shape me into the person He had always wanted me to be. and when things come into my life that i'm just not sure of, i am quick to turn to Him and ask Him...is this of YOU, Lord? is that what you want for me? Open doors. or slam them shut. give me a peace about it. and a few weeks ago He brought something into my life that i was totally unprepared for. He brought me the desire of my heart. not MY desire, but His. and i prayed, Lord how i prayed. and i felt total peace. it was right. and i allowed myself to feel things i had not felt before. i had never been as happy as i was then. others could see it. others felt good about it. others prayed and felt total peace. and then, one minute i was flying and the next i was taking a nosedive. it was like a force that came out of nowhere and things just started spiralling from there. and you can bet that the first person i went to for answers was God. but, i couldn't hear Him. not a sound. and i begged and pleaded for answers. and He was faithful. He spoke. and He hasn't quit speaking. and He showed me that at times we pray for His will to be done, but only if it fits our list of criteria for what WE think will make us happy. do we think for a minute that WE know better than the one who created us, what will make us happy? WE look toward the outside first, that's just the flesh in us. we judge people on whether or not they meet OUR expectations. and when they don't, we back away and say to ourselves that maybe we were wrong. maybe that wasn't Gods will. and we flounder around, asking ourselves what went so wrong. God will lead us to the well, but He won't make us drink the water. He gives us the ultimate freedom to choose which path we will take. and sometimes, we take the wrong one. sometimes we are so caught up in our "feelings" and what WE want and we don't see the whole picture. we don't stop ask God, is this of you? because it's so much easier to give in to the flesh. and that just may be what we end up with. flesh, with no substance. flesh, with no heart. flesh, without God. we've all been guilty of judging people based on their race or whether or not they look good, or if they weigh too much or if they're too short or too tall. but we are told in Gods word, not to judge by the outward appearance. but to look at and examine the heart. is God truly there in the everyday living? is God the center of your life? for some reason we find it so easy to believe what satan tells us we are. instead of believing we are what God says we are. i AM awesome. i AM beautiful. i AM smart. and i choose to believe that because God thought i was all these things and more. He sent His son to die for me! He called me to be one of His own! and sometimes, sometimes...you just know. am i in Gods will? yes, i am. do i BELIEVE God and not just believe IN God? i do. do i believe that He is going to fullfill his promise to give me the desires of my heart? absolutely. do i trust Him enough to have complete faith that He is going to bring me through this? more than enough. and i know, with certainty, that God has brought people into my life who are supposed to be there. if they choose to walk out, it doesn't mean that it wasn't Gods will...it simply means that God brought them to the well and they made the choice not to drink. He will still love me and He will take me down another path. but, i am praying and asking my friends to pray...that He will open our hearts, examine them to see if we are being true to God or true to our own desires and helps us to be still and listen for His voice. thank you friends. <3<3<3

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HEY "NAKEY" LADY...bathing suit bottoms are NOT optional.

i want to begin this story by saying thank you, God, for not allowing us to see into the future! because it we could, then yesterday would have never happened. if i had even had an inkling of what was in store for me yesterday afternoon, i can assure you i would have never gotten out of bed.

the morning started out okay. i got up, dressed and swung by to pick up mama and daddy for our weekly Bible study that we go to on Wednesdays. just before we got there my sister, paula, called and asked me if i wanted to go shopping with her after lunch. now, if you know me personally, then you know that i am NOT a big fan of malls! i am claustrophobic and can not stand to be in crowds of people. especially when we are in an enclosed space. so usually, if i have to go to one, i will park outside of the store i want to go in, grab what i need/want and then hightail it back to my car. and then, if i need/want something else, i drive to the next store and do the same thing. it's a pain, i know, which is why i rarely do malls. but anyway, i said yes. i needed a few things. for summer. for the beach. so, after a nice lunch at Fiddlers with mama and daddy, i picked paula up and we headed to the mall. when we got to the store i asked her what she wanted to look at first...and my stomach started turning at that moment when the dreaded words spilled out of her mouth. (thank you again, God, for giving me the sense to have just a few small bites of a chef salad for lunch.) she wanted to go to the AAAIIIIIEEEEEEE...bathing suit department! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! my good day was going to take a nosedive into depression. i absolutely DETEST shopping for a bathing suit. why, you ask? well, if you are a woman reading this, no explanation is needed. if, however, you are a man....well, i will try and explain.

i was practically raised at Ft. Myers Beach, FL. my parents have owned a condo there for many, many years. and before that, we stayed in a cottage on the beach, usually for several weeks in the summer. now, my parents go there for several months in the summer and the last two years i went with them. because they need someone with them. and that someone would be me. and my sister, terri. i remember a couple of years ago, when i was there with the middle aged man who would later leave me for greener pastures, and my two grandkids. we were taking a walk down to the point and letting them look for shells. we passed this couple, probably in their late 30's, laying out in their chairs, just 15-20 feet from the edge of the water.. she was was a rather large woman. i would say about 350 lbs. of large. and she had on a two piece bathing suit. and i was thinking to myself, "oooookkkkkk....she is very confident in her skin. she is telling the world that it's ok to be big and still put on a bathing suit. and walk down the beach. she wasn't concerned about what other people thought of her. good for her. and we continued to walk. on our way back the kids were walking just a little ahead of us. suddenly they turned around and started running back to us really excited about something. we thought they had found a "treasure" in the sand. but as they got closer they said, "grandmama, that lady up there is "nakey!" she don't have no bottoms on! WHAT???!!!!" we kept walking and we came up on the same rather large woman as she was coming out of the water and walking back to her chair. and she really didn't have on a bottom! because when she was out there swimming, the bottom of that two piece bathing suit had crept up and disappeared into her nether regions...and she had not bothered to try and find it. she just walked back to her chair and layed back down...ON HER STOMACH! naked as a jaybird on her backside. and this was a public beach. now, don't get me wrong. i applaud her for being brave. or confident. or whatever she was being. but exposing herself to other people who were just there for a nice stroll down the beach was just wrong folks! i didn't want my grandkids seeing her in all her glory! I didn't want to see her in all her glory! so, women need to be very selective when picking out a bathing suit.

first of all you must make the really big decision...which department do i head to? do i want to fantasize that i am still a 16 yr. old and head over to the JUNIORS section and pick out a really, really cute two piece that was designed for stick people and convince yourself that well, you still FEEL 16, and make stupid remarks to the salesgirl like "my daughter is about this small (making a circle with your hands) so what size do you think she would be? knowing all the while that SHE KNOWS you probably don't even have a daughter and that you are a 50 yr. old woman who wants to dress like she's still a teenager. and that she's looking at your 50 yr. old body and thinking to herself..."lady, there is no way on God's green earth that you are going to fit THAT into THIS! PUH-LEEEEEEEZ.

or, do you totally avoid THAT particular humiliation and head over to the MISSES section. where you fantasize that you are still a 21-35 yr. old and pick out a really, really cute "tankini." that was designed for stick people and ask stupid questions like "my daughter-in-law wears a size 6 in jeans...do these suits run small?" knowing all the while that she is wanting to say, "get real lady...you are 50 yrs. old. you probably have grandkids. your daughter-in-law would NOT be having her MOTHER-IN-LAW in here picking out HER bathing suit! who are you trying to kid? go on over to the WOMENS section, where you belong. grow up. you had your heyday...a loooooong time ago. face reality. your prime passed you about 15 - 20 years ago."

or, do you just accept the fact that you ARE, indeed, a woman. with curves. in all the wrong places. and head on over to the WOMENS section. where you can now browse the limited number of "bathing skirts" or "bathing dresses" or, as my sisters and i like to call them, "parachutes." where every suit you see was designed for a stick people person, who is pregnant. or very, very small breasted and requires 3 inches of padding in the cups to make you look like the WOMAN that society thinks you are supposed to be. i am totally bewildered in this section. i don't wear dresses to church! why on earth would i want to wear a dress in a SWIMMING POOL? where when you get in the water the bottom of the "dress" floats up around your neck...and all the little kids in the pool jump in with their googles on so they can go underwater and see the "humpback whale...with a dress on!"

so, yesterday i considered my options. (and it was a rude awakening.) i finally admitted to myself that i will never ever again, in this lifetime, be a JUNIOR size. i decided to avoid the JUNIORS department altogether. the MISSES and the WOMENS sections were combined in this particular store, so i was able to look at both, while still feeling slightly incognito. i grabbed a few suits and made a bee line for the dressing rooms. and it was there, behind door #3 that i sunk into the deep, dark abyss of mortification.


first of all, the few times i have gone with my boys into a mens dressing room, i found them to be nothing at all like the womens. they have one mirror in a closet sized space. and one hook to hang your clothes on. because men usually take in one thing, try it on, take it off and buy it. they don't really care how big those jeans make their butt look. they don't seem to mind if their pants are dragging on the ground when they walk, or worse, have the crotch hanging down to their knees. they put on a shirt, button it and voila' it fits! to the cash register they go. their shopping is finished. they go home and watch the ball game and eat ice cream and popcorn. and double quarter pounders with cheese. super-sized. and spend the rest of the day flipping the remote back and forth and back and forth and...you understand what i'm saying.
 behind door #3 was a good size room. with a chair. to put your purse on i was guessing. and 3 hooks. and THREE mirrors. so you can see yourself from every angle at the same time. now THAT alone is pretty alarming.) the lighting is bright. harsh white light. i don't like to try clothes on in a store. because i have always heard on these undercover stories they do on dateline and 20/20 that some stores have security officers watching you, behind two way mirrors. or  they video you trying on clothes, to make sure you don't steal anything. (right...i think somebody is either a) a pervert. b) likes to watch women make fools of themselves or c) have been forced to watch by their employer, who is twisted.but, in this case, i decided to try the clothes on because i did not want to have to come back to the mall. to return them. i wanted this horror to be over in one day.

so i loaded one hook with shirts, one with bathing suits and one with pants and shorts. i tried the pants on first. mmmmm...ok, they fit. but i really didn't want to wear long pants all summer. because i get really, really hot. not just outside in the sun, but inside in the air conditioning. so, i grabbed a pair of shorts. they were looooong. somewhere in the middle of shorts and capris. nope. not for me. i tried on a shorter pair. cute, but i was pretty sure you would be able to see part of my cheeks when i walked. not pretty on a 50 yr. old woman. another pair, too big (wow on that,) another pair, too tight. i had one pair left. a really cute pair of jean shorts. they were just the kind that i like. but when i picked up the ones in my size i thought, good grief, these things must run really big! they looked ginormous. so i grabbed the next size down, thinking they would be a better fit. WRONG. i managed to get them up, and over my badonkadonk...but as far as the two sides meeting in the middle where the zipper was....ummm...NO! it wasn't going to happen. no matter how much i sucked in. or tugged...they were not going to cooperate. and now, you are probably thinking the exact same thing that popped into my head. OH MY GOODNESS...that means my butt must be even more ginormous than i thought. that means that ginormous pair i had picked up earlier in my size, WAS MY SIZE!!! the depression crept in. forget the shorts. i'll just get some cute shirts and wear them with what i already have.
i put on the first one. a really, really cute tank top that i just loved. bright, cheery colors. GASP! it fit so tight that it looked like it was painted on. you could see the freckles on my stomach if you looked close enough. and everything else...if you catch my drift. off it went. it was getting warm behind door #3. i was beginning to perspire a little bit. i tried on the next one. a gauzy white, button down the front, which would look good either buttoned, or open, with a tank underneath. you know, the layering kind of look that's so popular nowadays. it fit. i could wear a tank under it. but if i wanted to wear it buttoned, with a pair of pants or capris, WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. because while it DID button, there were gaps in between each button. large gaps. because these kind of shirts were obviously designed for those same stick people. who have no "girls" to speak of. the ones that need the bathing suits with the three inches of padding. not for women who have more than their fair share of "girls." not for women like me...who have more than enough natural padding of their own. back on the hanger it went.

i had a few left. the next three fit and i decided they were keepers. YAY.

then i was down to the last one. and it was the one i liked the best. it was a really unusual, funky type of shirt, but it looked so summery and light and i was really hoping it was going home with me. it had all these little cut out thingys on the shoulder and the back. you could dress it up or dress it down with jeans. it went on over my head and i had just the teeniest bit of trouble getting it down over my "girls." but i managed and once in place it actually looked really cute. i was a happy camper. i was feeling the depression lift just a little. i was going to go home with at least four new shirts! and then...everything went downhill. quickly. as i began to take the shirt off i began to realize that i had put one of the shoulder straps on wrong. i tried pulling the shirt up, back over the "girls," but it wasn't going back up. what is that saying...what goes up, must come down?. well, there is no saying, that i know of, that says once it is down, it must go back up. and this shirt knew that too. I couldn't get it off. and i started sweating. not just a little perspiration. BIG, HUGE drops of sweat. i started breathing hard. and i could feel the panic crawling up towards my throat. which i knew, being claustrophobic, would turn into a full fledged scream when it got there. i began tugging and pulling on that shirt and i started hearing little sounds come bubbling up out of my mouth. and at that point i didn't care if i ripped that fabric in two pieces...i was getting that thing off of me come hell or high water! i gave it a final tug and it gave up. i now understood what the chair was in there for. not to lay your purse on. it was there for people who were hyperventilating because they couldn't get free of their clothes! i collapsed on that chair and tried to breathe. and i found some kleenex in my purse and dried the sweat off of me. and i rested. all that was left was the bathing suits. and there was not a chance that i was trying those on in that room behind door #3. i could just envision the person who was stuck on security duty...watching the show that i had just put on. i feel the need to apologize to them for having to watch such...such... a freak show. and i also need to apologize to the lady who was behind door #2. i can't even begin to imagine what she must have thought was going on in the room next door. all the heavy breathing and the little noises that erupted from somewhere deep inside me. i was just mortified. and the depression had not only crept in. it decided it was going to stay awhile.

i paid for the things that i wanted to keep. and i told paula i was ready to go home. i was worn out.

after a long, cold shower and an hour of bed rest, i decided to try on those two bathing suits i had brought home. looks like i have to go back to the mall. to return them. and i came to a conclusion that i'm not happy about at all.

 it is going to be a very hot summer for me this year. because i'm going to the beach ...IN JEANS.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

once you've seen a BIG HEADED WOMAN...well...

when i was growing up in clewiston, fl,

one of those small, three traffic light towns, we lived in one of the only two houses out on the sugar refinery property about 4-5 miles outside of town. across the road was a piece of property that looked to someone passing by, like a big clump of woods. there were little dirt roads on either side, so the woods kind of sat in the open part of a V. on one side was sugar cane fields and on the other was a railroad track. we called it "ghost town." when it was daytime and it wasn't so scary to walk back there, you would find the remnants of an old community that had been destroyed by a hurricane in 1926.

there were maybe 8-10 tiny wood houses back there, all leaning and falling apart. there were even some old headstones in a small cemetery that were broken and scattered.

when we were in our teens and our friends would come over to the house (which in my case, wasn't all that often, because i spent the majority of my teen years...grounded. for life. my parents thought i was "wild.") we always liked to walk over there and scope things out and find "treasures." sometimes there were huge piles of trash and furniture, like someone had just emptied all the contents of their houses out on the side of the road. occassionly me, or my older brother or sister would have a party at night, in our garage, (always with my parents there, just in case you were thinking this was done when they were away from home. wild girl that they thought i was) and we would gather up our nerve and act all brave when one of the boys would suggest walking over to ghost town. but, we never got that far. somebody would inevitably scare a girl and we would all scream and go running back to the house. i think the boys did that because secretly, they were too scared to go back there themselves at night time. they eventually tore it all down after we moved to ga.

we moved to savannah in 1996. and soon after arriving, we began hearing all the stories that savannah is so famous for. they have alot of haunted tours in the downtown area, and ghost walks that take you down to the old historic cemeteries at night. by candlelight.

one of the tours is even done in an old, decked out hearse.

if you're downtown at night on riverstreet, there is sometimes this guy, all dressed in black, from head to toe that jumps out at you and scares the heebie jeebies out of unsuspecting tourists. all in an effort to get you to sign up for the hearse ride. it's really, really popular at halloween, as you can imagine. and downtown savannah, while beautiful in the daytime, can be downright eerie at night, with all the moss hanging off of every tree and all the old houses that look like they are centuries old. the cobblestone streets and all the town squares add to the spookiness. and the historic cemeteries...i can't even tell you. they have some of the most elaborate headstones known to man, and i cannot even imagine how scary it would be to walk through one of them at night time, especially by candlelight.

once, when my brother, ray and his wife, pat, came up to visit, we all gathered our nerve and decided we would go on one of those walking ghost tours. we all had our tickets and we met at the designated place..our guide had on this black, gauzy outfit and was holding a candle, and we were psyched. we were ready to see some ghosts. and wouldn't you know it, it began raining. hard. so instead they let us go on a tour of one of the famous "haunted mansions."

we were touring the downstairs parlor, when we decided we would sit down and wait for the rest of the group to come in. mama and someone else sat down on this antique couch and one of the legs broke completely off. and the front corner of the couch was now sitting on the floor. my brother was trying to prop it back up on the leg, discreetly, so the guide wouldn't see that we had broken it and make us pay for it. no telling how much money they could have charged us for an antique couch. we were dying laughing and to this day, we think it was a set-up. we walked up this huge staircase as the guide began telling us that sometimes, late in the night, you could hear marbles rolling down each of the steps, as a child played at the top of the landing. they said that lights would inexplicably go on and off, all by themselves and one thing after another, which of course, none of us witnessed. we began going through each of the bedrooms, looking at old clothes that were supposedly the original owners, (yeah, still laid out right where they left them over a century ago) and suddenly we noticed that all of the menfolk in our group had disappeared. we didn't see them leave. we didn't hear them talking. had a "ghost" gotten them? was this another set-up? we went down the hall to another bedroom, which faced a street that was lined with "row houses" and there we found all the men standing at the two windows, jostling each other to get a better view at something across the street. pat and i managed to squeeze in until we could see what had them so interested, and there, across the street, in the upstairs bedroom of one of those row houses, was a woman. an almost naked woman. who was soon going to be very naked! she lay down on the bed and she stretched and then got up and began bending over and removing every stitch of clothing she had on. and pretending that she didn't know that people were watching her. she got completely naked, like it was just the most natural thing to do, in front of an open window, at night, in downtown savannah, and then she walked over and closed her curtains and turned out the lights. we had just paid $15 a piece to see a stripper ...strip. and i have a hunch it was all planned that way. and us girls...we were ticked off. and our menfolk? they were scared... because they knew they were in trouble when they got home!

we heard about another story that had been brewing around savannah for many, many years. the legend of TIGER RIDGE. the stories had it that this was a community, about an hours drive from savannah, out in the boonies of effingham county. a community of big-headed people. two-headed people. people with twelve fingers and as many toes. people that would as soon shoot you, as look at you. a community of inbreds. you know. people that cohabitate with other family members. incesteous relationships and deformed dwarfs. people with extra eyes and other body parts. scary, scary people. people always said to stay away from TIGER RIDGE, if you knew what was good for you. the stories made it sound like there was a community of some kind of other worldly freaks living just outside the city limits. characters you would see in the freak show part of a county fair. where you pay $1.00 to see the "half man, half-woman." or "the head of a man on the body of a pig." don't go out there alone," they would say. or "make sure you have a gun with you, cuz those people don't like strangers coming into their community."

there was an article that came out in the savannah news about TIGER RIDGE.


it told about all the rumors and it debunked alot of them. and confirmed some too. it told about how the people that lived out there had decided to allow people into the community for the first time, i think to dispel alot of the rumors, by putting on a fantastic light display for Christmas. they were taking donations of old christmas lights and they would repair them and string them up and they just went nuts with all the decorations they started collecting. they claimed to have 10,000 or so lights up and were inviting people to come out and take a look and leave a small donation, or better yet, any old Christmas decorations or broken light strings. for the next year. this went on for several years and the display got larger and larger. people started coming from all over the country to see it. (or so the paper reported.) the paper made it sound like a spectacular light display that you shouldn't miss seeing at least once in your lifetime.

so, a few years ago, we started getting the itch to go. and see the big headed people. to see if it was really true what people said about them.

instead of waiting until Christmas and going in the dark, my mother and i decided one day, that since we were close to that area for other reasons, we would ride down there and check out the community. in the bright light of day. we vaguely knew the directions and we ended up on this really long road. in the middle of the woods. we kept going further and further, thinking that this was all just a hoax or that we were on the wrong road, when all of a sudden we came upon this old, ramshackle house. there were a bunch of old cars, all rusted and broken down, with car parts scattered from one end of the yard to the other. and there was a large group of men standing around one of them. the front door was propped open and there, sitting in a chair, right in the front doorway, was a BIG HEADED WOMAN!!!. we looked at the men. and they looked at us. and they started walking. towards us. and i accelerated. we were scared half to death. and praying that there was a road we could turn off on and get the heck out of dodge! as we got further down the road we both noticed at the same time that there seemed to be a "pall," a misty fog, like a curtain hanging right over the road and we were driving right into the middle of it. now i know you're thinking that it was just our imagination. but you would be wrong. it was like being in the twilight zone. and as we came out of the fog, we realized that we had come to a dead end. it struck us, then and there, that we were going to have to turn that car around and go back past those men and that BIG HEADED WOMAN!! there was no other way out. and we remembered the stories about them shooting people who ventured into their community to gawk. and we had definately come to gawk. and they knew it. as we got closer to that old house i told mama to "hang on" i might have to take that car sideways, but we were going to get out of there alive. we were not going to meet our Maker at the hands of these TIGER RIDGE big headed, multi-toed people. i floored that accelerator and flew right past them. and they were gawking. at us. at the two idiot women with terror written all over their faces, who were flying by them about to pee in their pants! I'm pretty sure that to them, WE were the freak show. it was totally ridiculous, but when you get caught up in "legends"...well, you start to take them as truth.

that same year, at Christmas time, my two older boys had come home for the holidays, and we decided that we would take the ride out there and look at the lights display. if the paper was reporting that it was ok to go out there, then surely we would come to no harm, right? i mean, people from all over the world were coming. it was me, the middle-aged man who left me for greener pastures, micajah and christian. i wasn't quite as scared this time since i had men with me, so we loaded up into the truck, this time with a "glock" underneath the drivers seat and our cell phones fully charged. we didn't tell anyone where we were going. we drove over and just before we got there, it began storming. i mean, like cats and dogs coming down. this time there wasn't a "pall." you just couldn't see two feet in front of you. we drove down that long, dark road and we finally came to a hand made sign that said turn here for the lights display. so we turned there. and we drove some more. and finally we came to the TIGER RIDGE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS DISPLAY. it was several old trailers on a cul de sac. out in the middle of the boonies. and there were more lights and gawdy displays than one human could fathom. it was pretty pitiful.

none of the big headed people were out taking donations that night. in fact, there was no one else out there in those parts at all. just us. so i got a notion to call mama and tell her where we were. when she answered the phone i said, "you won't believe where we are right now...TIGER RIDGE!" and right at that moment lightening struck and we all started screaming and my cell phone went dead. and back at mama's house i was pretty sure that mama was probably dying at that moment. not knowing what in the world had happened to us that would cause us all to start screaming out in the middle of TIGER RIDGE. a few minutes later when we got back on the main road i got service again and called her and she was still alive. breathing harder. but alive. she thought that maybe one of the big headed people had gotten us. but no, it was just lightening. we made it out alive and the glock never left its hiding place underneath the seat.

i started seriously wondering what all the hype was about. i mean, the Bible says, "judge not, lest you be judged." and we, like everyone else, were judging these people. without having ever even met one of them. is it possible that these were actually good people, just like you and i, and just misunderstood? i googled TIGER RIDGE to see what i could find out about the community. and it turns out that some of the rumors are true. just as many are not. the community actually started out many years ago, with one man intermarrying with a woman from his own family. they had children and some had deformities. over the years, they began staying within their own little community, to avoid people, who gawked, like we did. there certainly was alot of inbreeding and is to this day. but most people who have actually met some of them say that for the most part, they just like to be left alone. that they are really nice people, just a little different from most of us. and they wanted to put on a light display to show that to the rest of the world. they would spend hours and hours replacing burnt out light bulbs in thousands of strings of lights. they would paint large pieces of plywood with the words Happy Birthday Jesus on them. and it would take them several months to prepare for their spectacular light display. on nights when the weather was good, unlike the night we went, they all sit outside in lawn chairs and talk to the people that venture out to their little neck of the woods. they even have a guestbook for you to sign, saying where you came from.

it's a shame that we live in a world where anyone who is not like "us" is a freak, or is someone to avoid at all costs. that we get caught up in stories like the legend of TIGER RIDGE. Jesus loves those people, just as much as He loves us. if it sounds like i'm pointing fingers, i am. at myself. i'm guilty. but thank God he forgives my stupidity, when i ask Him to.

i've been to TIGER RIDGE. twice. i never did see multi-toed people or deformed dwarfs or anyone with extra body parts...just some lights, strung from one end of the community to the next. but...it was scary. that part of the stories is true. and well, once you've seen one BIG HEADED WOMAN...truthfully, twice was enough for me.