Friday, July 24, 2009

Giving up a friend

Her hands stroked my head and back as they had done so many times in the past 21 years since we had been together. Then she gently picked me up and said "Old friend, I am only doing this because I love you so much". I knew then what was to be my fate and I gratefully snuggled into her arms. She started the car and was crying the whole time.

I thought about the first time that I saw her. One of her friends had picked me up from the kennel. I was the last to be sold from this litter as I was the runt and also had a very bad underbite. This was a disadvantage as most people who bought Schnauzers wanted them for breeding and this might show up in any litter I fathered. The man who took me only took me because he could not find another dog and wanted one of my breed. When he took me home and showed me to her, she picked me up and said, "You are the cutest little dog I have ever seen". From then on it was total love between the two of us.

In a couple of weeks the man gave me to her as he found he was really too ill to take care of a puppy. So I went home with her. She played with me and petted me and spoiled me. All I had to give in return was my love and she accepted this and gave me her love. She renamed me "Happy" because she said that suited me better because I always looked like I was smiling.

I remember chasing a red ball down a long hallway and bringing it back to her. She would try to take it from me and I would tease her and not give it to her. We played like this every day. I learned to sing "Yankee Doodle" with her and we disturbed the neighborhood with our singing, as my voice was quite loud for a small dog.

After a few years, she and her husband moved and couldn't keep me any longer so she found a good home for me with an elderly man. After two years with him he died. She again came to my rescue. The people in charge of the estate wanted to have me put to sleep, as I had become an old dog of 14 by then. But she said she wanted me back and they made arrangements to take me.

Getting back to her was the happiest day of my life. I could no longer run and play like I did when I was young, but she loved me anyway. She would take me in the car with her a lot of the time and I loved that.

Then I started to weaken and hurt all the time. The doctor told her there was nothing he could do for me. She couldn't seem to bear to part with me for several weeks. Then this morning she came to a decision.

We reached our destination and when they took me from her arms I wanted to tell her how much I loved her and how much I knew she loved me to make the decision to put an end to my suffering. As she turned to go, she reached back one more time and stroked my head and with my eyes I said "Thank you".

Thursday, July 23, 2009


When I was a child growing up in the country in mid-Mississippi it was customary for a lot of the white people to have someone come and do the washing and ironing and other hard chores around a house. This is the story of one, who became my closest friend as a child.

Her name was Matt. She was poor beyond belief. When she was a child, often the only food she had was field rats that her father managed to kill in the woods. She lived in a shack with no lights, water, and only a fireplace in one room for heat. She worked for my family, along with other families in the neighborhood washing, ironing and cleaning the houses to survive. But she walked with pride and really didn't seem to mind having to walk several miles each way to get to work.

She came to us on Monday to wash in an old washtub with a scrub board, and boiled the clothes in an open kettle in the back yard. They were hung on clothes lines to dry. At the end of the day she gathered them to take in so she could iron them on Wednesday when she came back. I still remember how fresh and good they smelled. To iron, she used the old flat irons that had to be heated on a stove or at the fireplace.

She was already working for my family when I was born and she was the only person my mother would ever leave me with when she had to be gone for a day. And while she was babysitting me, she would play with me. We used to go fishing in a little pond nearby with bent pins for hooks and worms we had dug. The fish we caught were very small but she kept them and fried them whole for her supper.

She always ate with us and given a choice of food, she would want fried pork and cornbread with the grease from the pork poured over it. She would eat this with her fingers all mashed up together. And it really looked so good the way she did eat it.

Matt had 6 children and on the meager money that was paid to her for all this work, she managed to feed and clothe the children. She lived in the house with her sister and brother-in-law, who had 2 children of their own living there. The house was only 3 rooms but somehow they all managed to have a place to sleep. Once when she was sick, we went to see her and the bed was made with sheets so clean they were pure white and ironed neatly. She never married.

When my mother would ask her what she planned to do when she got old to care for herself she would reply "Sugar say she will take care of me". She never called me anything but Sugar.

I left home and got a job and she wrote me weekly. I would send her clothing and other needs periodically. When she had a doctor bill, I had it sent to me and I bought her glasses and medicine so I suppose Sugar did fulfill the promise made as a child to take care of her. When I was in my early 20's and living in New Orleans, I received a phone call that she had a stroke and was in the hospital unconscious. I sent flowers. Three days later another phone call told me that she had died. I thought my heart would break upon hearing those words. I asked did she ever know I had sent the flowers and her sister hesitated before she told me she didn't. I asked her to please take them to the funeral.

This all happened a very long time ago but I still miss her.

She was my friend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Plight of the elderly

Yesterday on Facebook we were discussing nursing homes and the plight of the elderly in this nation. Here is a photo documentary of the treatment my own mother received at a nursing home. It is very painful for me to write this and see these pictures again but I feel it is important for people to understand what is happening to our elderly.

The doctors keep them alive for the money and experimentation on longevity and then they are sent to nursing homes to be abused. I had kept her in her own home over 3 years with help around the clock and then the money ran out and she decided to go to the nursing home and I thank God every day I did not have to make this decision for her.

My mother was a gentle caring person and on the day before she broke her hip and then had a stroke which paralyzed her right side she had driven her own car at the age of 90, and a few days before that she had gone to a dance we were playing. The stroke did not affect her mind.

This is the document that was presented to the state Medicaid board trying to get help in stopping this sort of treatment of patients in nursing homes. And also before several boards for this same reason. No one cared. Not a one. It was taken as a matter of course. Before the inspectors come to these places, they notify the facility so they can pass the inspection. How fair is this to the elderly and handicapped.

This is the caption under the pictures.
Kathleen K. Lewis, Room 238A, Pinecrest Guest Home, Hazlehurst, MS
Condition when admitted to Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital, Sunday Dec. 10, 2000, with suspected broken elbow. Found dehydration, kidney infection, coumadin level too high in blood and anemia. First photo of left back area around shoulder blade, second picture shows injured paralyzed elbow. Next picture shows condition of foot with nails not trimmed and last picture is full view of her.

Aubrey did a lot of volunteer work for the United Way and we saw these same conditions in other facilities around the state.

And it scares heck out of me to think that someday I may be subjected to this treatment. No one deserves this.

This is hurting too bad to continue writing at this time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Love Story

My aunt died at the age of 87 several years ago. Among her memorabilia I found an exchange of notes between her and her husband of over 30 years. I used it in a writing class and am posting it here.

Gussie met Louis at the beginning of the school year in 1919.

She was 16 and he was a young teacher who was beginning his first year of teaching.

He boarded at her parent's home so she was thrown in constant contact with him.

It was easy for a sensitive young woman to fall in love with this handsome teacher.

In a few months they married. He quit teaching and became a carpenter and

then a contractor. They were always moving as he built houses they lived in for

a while, then sell them and move on to another one he built.

Finally, after about 20 years of this he built a house neither of them could bear to leave.

Although they both loved children, they never had any of their own.

They grew closer and closer as the years went by and they lived alone

just the two of them. When he would go out in the morning to work she always had a hot breakfast for him.

He always managed to get home in time for lunch with her.

In the evenings they would sit and talk.

Sunday's they went to church and both sang in the choir.

Sunday afternoon they would pack a picnic lunch and take a long ride into the country. He always kept several bags of peanuts in the car to eat as they rode along and feed

the squirrels when they stopped. He was a gentle, kind man.

When she would start talking too much he would just look at her and say "Now, Miss Gus" and

she knew to stop.

When Gussie was 48, Louis developed a brain tumor and had to have surgery.

She took him home and diligently nursed him, but he never recovered.

About 5 months later he died leaving her almost totally without funds from

paying doctor and hospital bills but she never complained. She took a job in a kindergarten and stayed there for several years.

Then she started sitting in a nursing home and helping the people there.

At age 80 she had to retire from this due to a health problem.

She died when she was 88 years old.

One of the last things she said to anyone was that she missed Louis so much.

She still mourned his death, even after over 40 years.

Her niece, who was her only kin, was going through some of her belongings and

came across a letter written on an envelope after they were married for 30 years.

It read "Baby, I am sorry I was not here to fix your lunch today,

but I had to go to the meeting. Your lunch is in the oven.

You will never know how much I love you."

And on the back in his handwriting "I missed you today, come by the job if you have time this afternoon.

I love you too."

When her niece read these words she knew, possibly for the first time,

how deep the love between her aunt and uncle.

She knew the meaning of "A Love Story".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer when I was 15

Seeing a post by a friend on Facebook this morning about her 12 year old granddaughter visiting her for a couple of weeks made me remember my 15th summer.

My grandmother ran a little hotel in a small town. She got down and spent the summer in bed and needed help. I was supposed to visit her for a couple of weeks, but I asked to be allowed to spend the summer with her and my folks agreed.

We found a lady to do the real running of the hotel but I helped in many ways. I shared a room with this lady and we became good friends. They were were building a new highway through the small town and the road crews and their families were staying at the hotel. The men had to be at work at 6 am and that was before the cooks arrived. So I got up each morning and their wives also got up to join them for breakfast so one of my jobs was to cook the meal. I got to know these people quite well and we became friends..some were not much older than I was and we would sit in the lobby and play games or go to the movie theatre up the street together. After I left at the end of the summer, I never heard from any of them again and often wondered what had become of them.

There was one young man who was only a year older than I was and we became close. So close until he thought we should marry but I had other ideas about that. On Sunday afternoons we were allowed to have some young people from town in to make fudge or whatever we wanted in the huge kitchen provided we cleaned up afterward and didn't leave a mess for the supper crew to clean up. At this time, there was no other place in town to eat except for an ice cream parlor so her dining room was always full of people from town for Sunday meals and during the week most of the working people in town came there. And was that food ever good. She had a staff of 6 to work the kitchen and about the same amount of people to do the cleaning and laundry. She raised her own chickens in the back of the hotel for slaughtering also. I managed to avoid that job.

There was a boy there with his folks who was 3 years younger than I was and he fell for me also. You haven't lived until you have a boy just beginning puberty following you around. But I was nice to him and the other young man and I let him tag along with us to the movies. We had no transportation so we walked every evening all over town for a couple of hours talking. Usually the 3 of us.

One Sunday afternoon we got into my grandmother's homemade wine and that is the sickest I have ever been in my life and the drunkest. The boys walked me for hours to wear it off. The next morning I had a rash from head to foot and could barely stand. I am sure my grandmother wondered why she didn't see me that day but I couldn't face her.

Sometimes, on weekends, my mother and father would drive the 90 plus miles to visit with my grandmother and to see me.

As the summer progressed, I could see my grandmother weakening. At night, I would go into the kitchen and fix salads and things I thought she might enjoy as she had no appetite by then and she ate some of it just to please me.

When I left for home to start the new school session, I knew I would never get another chance to spend any time with her. During the Christmas season she passed away. How it hurt and how I loved her.

Of all the summers of my life, this is the one that I cherish the most--the time I spent with her and learning responsibility which has stayed with me for a lifetime.

Sometimes still I can catch a scent that reminds me of her perfume and I think of the summer when I was 15 and the world was mine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It seems as though every time lately I walk into a place of business the employees have an "attitude".

I go in Wal Mart to buy a few groceries and at the check out the checker has an "attitude". And most places I frequent are the same way. Case in point-- I was entitled to a free upgrade to my cell phone and no one seemed able to supply one. I had to go to three different AT&T authorized stores and not a one had what I was looking for nor were they willing to try to find me one. They seemed to think it was my fault. I ended up going on the Internet to their site and ordering one. I entered my shipping address and two days later I had an email to call them. I did and they said the shipping address was wrong. Now I may be a little on the slow side these days, but I do know where I live. So I ended up having to give them another address so I may or may not get the phone. I admit I do live in a strange situation. My landline is a Crystal Springs number, my snail mail goes to a post office box in Gallman and my physical address is a 911 address out of Hazlehurst. But it is hard to convince people that my mailing address is different from what my physical address is. It took the better part of a morning to do what should have been a simple procedure, and that is get a new phone.

Another annoyance was last week when I got a bill from my doctor and it was for the full amount. I called several times and no one would return my call. I finally wrote a letter to the office manager. The next day someone called and asked what the problem was. I told him they did not bill my insurance. He replied that I didn't have any insurance on file. I then told him that was strange as it had been on file with them over 20 years. So now they will go back to the first of the year and submit insurance on my bills from then. And I now see my doctor on the one day he is in Crystal Springs as the office force at the main office are impossible for me to deal with. I told the doctor last visit that getting through there was worse than trying to break in the White House. I had tried for 2 days to get in to see him there and finally went to the office he only visits once a week and got in immediately. Good thing I wasn't having a heart attack.

Now I am developing an attitude of my own against all these other people who are making life hard for me with their "attitude"

End of rant

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Beautiful Hibiscus

My beautiful grandchildren, Jesse and his bride-to-be Rebekah, brought me this gorgeous hibiscus Sunday afternoon.

Almost every Sunday they come to see me and play and sing for me. He plays really good guitar and they both sing. He is the bandleader of what is left of Aubrey's band "Good Ole Boys". They are both in nursing school. He is registered for RN for this fall semester but she says she is going to skip this semester and get in the next one. I asked did she plan to use his notes and let him go ahead of her one semester. He finished LPN2 at the top of his class. There are not many young people who would spend their Sunday afternoons with their grandmother and it is much appreciated. I love them both dearly, and look forward to their weekly visits out of their busy schedule. Each night I pray that I will live to hold their firstborn in my arms. I feel they will wait a few years before having it though and get their education behind them. At least, I hope they will.

I have been repotting plants the past few days. We finally got some rain and it made it easier to work outside as the temperature went down a few degrees and in heat like we have been having, even a few degrees is important. I have a fern that has been passed down from generation to generation by my mother's family and it is next to be repotted. It is a very large lace fern and if you are familiar with this type you know it "bites".

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Yella's story

Sweet Dreams

About two years ago I was going to my car to run some errands when a large yellow cat literally fell at my feet from hunger. I got in the car and started out, then thought better of it and stopped and came back to him. He had a bad injury and was bleeding. There was an abscess on his rear. I fed him what he would eat and took him to the vet. He stayed there 3 days and healed and I had him neutered and brought him back and put him on my screened back porch. I could tell he was an old cat and had been scarred many times in battles.

I already had Tommy Tucker, who I had adopted from the animal shelter several months before. It took them a long time to become friends. Finally, Tommy stopped growling so I brought Yella in the house to live as a family member along with Tommy. At first, he ate more than any cat I have ever seen--I think it was the first time in his life he had an unlimited amount of food and clean water. With a lot of care and brushing he became a beautiful 15 pound bundle of love.

Although he was larger than Tommy, he always was the submissive one and would never fight back. The two would play together but if a fight started, Yella wouldn't fight back. And although Yella was an old cat, he played like a kitten with Tommy and with me.

He would stretch out on the carpet and get on his back totally relaxed and sleep. I used to get a laugh out of the position he would get in. I called him my big clown. He didn't just sit down like most cats, he would plop down. And he was hard headed. No matter how many times he was told not to do something he would do it anyway. And he was smart. I could tell him to go find Tommy and he would search the house for him. I was the only person he would ever sit on. If anyone else picked him up he would immediately get down with an indignant look at them.

Yesterday, on July 4, 2009, I left the house for a short time and he was fine and playing. When I returned about an hour later, he was vomiting and had gotten a large hair ball up. I went to another part of the house and was coming back to give him some hair ball medicine..he was stretched out in the floor screaming and dying. We got him in the carrier to take him to the vet and he died enroute.

I feel he received and gave more love in these two short years I had him than at any other part of his life.

My big yellow clown is gone and will be sadly missed. May he RIP

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4

July 4 has always had a bad taste to me. It was the day of the surrender of Vicksburg in the Civil War -- the bloodiest war in the history of this country. The casualties were many and I have read the most of any war we have ever been engaged in. Aubrey and I made a lifetime research of the facts of this war. He was a history buff and I went along with him for the ride. Here is an excerpt from an old newspaper article during some of our research at the National Park in Vicksburg.

July 4, 1863, was the turning point in the Civil War. In the battles from Port Gibson to Vicksburg Grant lost 9,855 men, of whom 1,223 were killed. In these engagements he had made 37,000 prisoners; and the Confederates had lost, besides, 10,000 killed and wounded, with a vast number of stragglers. Two days before the surrender a Vicksburg newspaper, printed on wallpaper, ridiculed a reported assurance of Grant that he should dine in that city on July 4, saying, "Ulysses must first get into the city before he dines in it."
The same paper eulogized the "luxury of mule-meat and fricasseed kitten".

And a few days ago I thought about the date I was born and the date the Civil War ended and there is only about a 70 year spread there. My great grandfather was an officer in the Confederate army and was away at war when the Union army came through our little village in Yazoo County, Mississippi and set up camp in his back pasture, where the soldiers proceeded to vandalize the house. From the old family tales from my grandmother who was a young girl they did not try to harm his family. They did take a lot of the valuables and kill enough cattle to eat. They stayed a few days and then moved on, probably to Vicksburg. Several years ago I donated my great-grandfather's old uniform and sword, along with some personal letters to the archives in the state capital.

About 25 years ago, I wrote a poem which I cannot find now which was published in a statewide newspaper about war and lack of freedom worldwide and ended saying I would be free only when the world was free. And from the looks of things there doesn't seem to be much chance of that happening.

Happy 4th of July to everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An old raccoon

As I sit here typing this, I can see out the window that my old raccoon is having his lunch. Went out to lunch today and brought leftovers to him.

He is very old from the looks of him and very skinny and half his tail at the end has no hair left on it. I feed him daily at about 1 to 3 pm and he has come to expect it and when I am late he looks toward the window and then comes back a little later to see if I have put anything out for him.

I have always liked raccoons and like to watch them. There are a lot of them around here and sometimes the babies come out to play. The two stray cats that I feed are not afraid of them nor are they afraid of the cats. Several years ago, one got so tame with me feeding him he would approach me but I never was able to touch him. As they are carriers of rabies (or so I am told) I don't push it to pet them.

I hope by the end of summer he will be in better shape than he is now.

All of us senior citizens should stick together, you know.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wasted years, Wasted Tears

I plan to include some of my writing class work over the years in this blog. All are true stories and I am Nancy (the name my father wanted to name me when I was born) and Aubrey is Bern (his middle name was Bernard) The other names are names I made up to avoid using the people's real names. Here is one I wrote about 10 years ago.

Wasted Years, Wasted Tears
By Ann Roberts

The ringing of the telephone jarred Nancy from her daydream. When she answered, it was an older friend and the first words she said were "I got my old sweetheart back".

"What are you talking about?" Nancy replied. She knew Edith's husband had been dead for several years. What Edith told her gave her a total shock. It seems that fifty years before she had been married, for a short time, to another man and he had called her wanting to see her again. They had separated because he had a problem with alcohol and Edith didn't feel she could stay with him. Both had gone on with their lives and married again. No one in the town knew of this first marriage. And now she was planning to remarry her first love. She invited Nancy to the wedding.

Several weeks later Edith and Jim were married in the church chapel. They moved into Edith's house. Both of them had a son by their other marriages and both young men seemed to be happy with the renewed relationship. Neither of them had any prior knowledge of their parent's first marriage.

About two years into the marriage, Edith became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. She had surgery and then chemotherapy but still the cancer progressed. Jim cared for her as if she were a baby and even to the end they seemed totally happy just to be together. They admitted they had never really loved their second spouses as they had loved each other when they were young. They talked of the time they should have stayed together but didn't. He had stopped drinking right after their divorce, and Nancy wondered why he didn't do it before he lost Edith. Why did they remarry without trying to find each other again?

Soon Edith died and Jim was heartbroken. He also seemed ill and his son took him to see a doctor. It was then they discovered he, too, had cancer. He had not let Edith know he was sick, as he didn't want to worry her. Two weeks after her death, Jim also died.

Nancy went to the funeral and she was thinking, "All those wasted years, all those wasted tears. Why?"