My Most Memorable Memorial Day

I wrote this story in 1993, and it got lost in my many floppy disks. At the probing of my daughter, I searched through the disks and found it this morning. Here is my story, in its original format, errors and all. Preserved for all eternity. I hope you enjoy it!

I have two daughters, Amber age 11 and Cassandra age 7.  Since Cassandra’s birth, I had always suspected she had a hearing problem.  Doctors would check her and find nothing then tell me she was too young for a hearing test.  She wouldn’t hear me when I talked to her unless she was facing me and it was impossible to get her to understand danger.  When any door was opened, Cassandra would dart out of it and run right toward the street.  I couldn’t begin to count the near-misses this child has encountered. 

Finally, during her kindergarten physical in the summer of 1991, her pediatrician found that she had a moderate hearing loss in both ears. Now, with hearing aids, she has marvelous hearing. My most memorable Memorial Day was nearly four years ago when Cassandra was three and a half, and more than two years before she obtained her hearing aids.

It was Memorial Day weekend of 1989. My daughters and I were spending the holiday with my parents at their cabin in rural Indiana. The cabin sits at the end of a one-half mile winding gravel driveway off of the main gravel lane and is surrounded by acres of dense woods. There is a serene pond which sits in a cove about one quarter mile down a gravel trail from the cabin. Normally, on warm sunny days we would swim or fish in the pond. On this particular weekend, it had been raining quite often, but we seemed to be having a good time in spite of it.

Late in the afternoon on Sunday, I happened to notice that my car had a flat tire.  Knowing that there would be no garage open on Memorial Day, my mother and I took the tire to town in their van so that it could be fixed.  My girls stayed at the cabin with my father. We must have been in town for about two hours and it was now pitch black outside.  As we were driving back on the gravel lane that leads to the cabin’s driveway, we found ourselves behind a slow moving jeep.  It was my father.  I wondered what he could possibly be doing out so late.  I was looking for my girls in the beam of the van’s headlights through the jeep.  I remember casually saying to my mother, “Well, I see one head.” I only saw Amber.  We followed my dad just through the entrance of the driveway and he stopped.  He got out of his jeep, came back to the van and said, “Cassandra has completely disappeared.”  I could feel my heart falling to my feet as a rush of panic consumed my body like a jolt of electricity.  My father said that one minute she was playing with her Big Wheel tricycle and the next minute she was gone.  Amber told me that Cassandra had said she wanted her mommy and was going to find her.  I guess they didn’t realize that she meant what she said, and knowing Cassandra as I did, I knew she could disappear before my father knew what had happened.  

We then drove the one-half mile driveway to the cabin that couldn’t have seemed any longer if it were a thousand miles.  I felt as though we were traveling in slow motion and I could feel the bump of every piece of gravel under the van’s tires.  After what seemed an endless journey, we arrived at the cabin and we began our search for Cassandra.  As my mother called the police, I grabbed the nearest flashlight and fled to the woods calling Cassandra’s name with my every step.  I had the worst possible images going through my mind.  Was she hopelessly lost in the woods?  Was the brush scratching her delicate little legs?  Is she close enough that she could see me if it were daylight; can she just not hear me calling to her now?  I pictured her lost and crying for her mommy, or the worst, that someone had picked her up and was abusing her.  I tried to maintain control of my emotions and told myself that we would find her.

The creek near the cabin was flowing steadily due to all the rain we had received and I feared that she had been swept away by the water.  I pictured her little body laying somewhere downstream on the creek’s edge, entwined in branches and rocks.  I could feel my heart beating harder with every step I took and I kept repeating to myself “You’ll find her.  You’ll find her.”  As I walked closer to the creek, the sound of the rushing water became louder and louder.  An eery chill rushed through me and it was almost as though the creek was whispering to me.  Perhaps trying to tell me where Cassandra could be found.  I shined the flashlight up and down stream while trying not to fall into the water myself. 

Through the rustling of the water I thought I heard Cassandra crying, but she was nowhere to be found.  My next thought was, “Oh my God.  The pond!”  How could I have forgotten the pond?  I climbed up the creek bank as quickly as I could in the muddy earth below me and after reaching the top, made a bolt for my car.  I drove frantically to the pond hoping to find her and being terrified that I would.  Had she drowned?  If I would have thought about the pond one minute sooner, could I have saved her?  It seemed as though everything was constraining me and I couldn’t move at the speed I so desperately needed.  I kept repeating, “Lord, please just let me find Cassandra safe and sound.”  It was dark and a heavy fog was resting above the pond.  A feeling of dread and despair weighed heavy on my chest.  Even with the flashlight, I couldn’t see a thing.  I felt utterly helpless and as though I might collapse.  I knew I had to find my little girl.  “I just have to find her,” I thought.  With a deep breath and quick prayer, I continued searching near the pond and then worked my way back toward the cabin.  On my way, I met my dad who was on his tractor moving toward the pond.  My heart pounded harder as we neared each other and I imagined him telling me that Cassandra had been found lifeless in the woods; in the creek; on the road.  I was terrified to hear what he might have to say but still I kept walking faster and faster.  As I approached him, anticipation filling every fiber of my being, my father leaned over toward me and said the words I will never forget.  “They have her at the sheriff’s station.”  The relief I felt was so intense it was as though someone had just drained all the blood out of my body.  I was nervously laughing and crying at the same time.  We then drove back to the cabin so that we could call the Sheriff’s station.

Mrs. Curzy, who lives one-half mile from the entrance to the cabin, had heard a continuous string of squealing brakes outside her house that afternoon. Curious as to what the problem could be, she looked out her front door only to see a little girl walking down the lane carrying a Big Wheel tricycle. Of course, this little bundle was Cassandra. Concerned for her safety, Mrs. Curzy brought Cassandra into her home. She tried to get information from Cassandra that would help to locate her parents. Unable to do so, she took Cassandra to the Sheriff’s office. When we called, she and Cassandra were still there. Mrs. Curzy said that she would take Cassandra back to her house and that we could pick her up there instead of having to drive the eight miles to town. I felt another surge of relief and my knees nearly gave out. The drive to Mrs. Curzy’s house is now a blur. I just wanted my little girl.

It seemed as though they had just pulled into the driveway when I arrived.  Cassandra was asleep in the front seat of the car and her Big Wheel resting safely in the back seat.  I was so numbed by the whole ordeal I could only stand there and look at the sweet sleeping child.  I was amazed that she didn’t have a scratch on her anywhere.  I thought how lucky this child was that someone hadn’t run her over in the street.  This beautiful slumbering angel had no idea what she put her mother through.  I then scooped her up in my arms and squeezed her as tight as she could stand it and she only slightly awakened.  She was, understandably, quite exhausted from her mile long hike in search of her mommy.  Feeling so relieved that my baby was now safe, I laid her in the seat beside me, and we started back to the cabin.

During the drive, I battled with the feelings of wanting to either hold her and cry or spank her bottom for running off like that.  When we arrived at the cabin I took her inside and laid her on the bed.  Within seconds she was again sound asleep. All my parents and I could do for hours was talk about the ordeal we had all survived.  I believe my father may have been more shaken up than any of us as I am sure he felt a great deal of responsibility.  If I remember correctly, it was about a fifth of Jim Beam that finally calmed his nerves.

Nearly four years have passed now and we still talk about the day Cassandra ran away and she herself remembers it.  She simply says, “I just wanted to find you, Mommy.”  Looking back, I realize that this experience taught me of the boundless strength which radiates from a mother’s love for her children.  It’s that strength that allowed me to remain relatively calm throughout the crisis.  It may not be until Cassandra has children of her own, however, that she realizes the effect of this most memorable Memorial Day.  For only a mother could truly understand the utter horror that this mother has survived.

Streeetch!! It does the body good.

Last Sunday, my husband Greg and I went golfing with our wonderful couple friends Elaine & John. They live right on a golf course! How cool is that? Now, mind you, I had never swung a club on a golf course in my life. Putt-putt doesn’t count, apparently. My hubby, on the other hand, has played golf many times. Of the four of us, I was the only golf virgin.

First, we went to a driving range so I could be schooled on the basics of golf. I heard, “Stand with your feet apart, point your toes this way, bend your knees, and stick your butt out,” along with, “Put your hands here and here.” They told me it would feel awkward and it sure did. Felt like it was a twisted version of the Macarena dance (or my impression of a horny chicken). Since our friends were kind and generous enough to invite us on this outing, I didn’t want to disappoint them, and brought forth my best effort to send that little ball into the air. I’d say that maybe one out of every five balls that I attempted to hit with the club actually traveled down the range toward the goal, even if only 20 feet. I began to envision pro status in my future. Not!

Next, we had a lovely lunch with great conversation, and before we knew it, it was time to head to the actual course to play our nine holes. Here we go! Tee time!

You know what? Golfing is HARD!! If the hole was a par 3, I got at least a 10…that is, when I was really counting each of my swings. It was probably more than that. Yet, I persevered, though all the while I was thinking, Oh my gosh…are we done yet? By the 6th hole, I was thoroughly and completely exhausted. As I swung that club multiple times at the same damn ball, never hitting it once, never advancing toward the sixth yellow flag, I got so frustrated I picked up that defiant little white ball, yelled, “Mother clucker” [or something like that] and I flung the obstinate sphere a whole 30.3 feet closer to the lil yellow flag. TAKE THAT!!

As luck would have it, during our game, I hit my ball into a sand trap. Fun fun fun! I don’t remember if it was in the first five holes, or after that nasty sixth one. Getting the ball out of the sand trap was, surprisingly, not that hard for me to accomplish. What was hard, I mean really hard, was climbing my ass up out of that pit! I almost fell backwards into it as I frantically grasped at the super short grass in an attempt to pull myself out. I’m pretty sure I heard Elaine say, “Aw,” as she witnessed the fiasco. Talk about a wakeup call. In that instant, I realized that I am not flexible — NOT AT ALL. It’s causing issues in my life and could lead to a fall and/or serious injury one day.

I mulled my inflexibility dilemma over for a few days, then came to this conclusion: If I don’t do something different, I’ll never have anything different. Thus began my quest for a more flexible and mobile body. It was on October 1, 2020, that I searched YouTube for a suitable (easy) video for me, you know, not being a young girl any more, and found a channel called Fabulous50s. That’s me! Well, for another year anyway. I watched this very fabulous woman demonstrate the stretches for a simple 5-minute daily stretching routine. I got down on the floor and followed along. Although it felt incredibly awkward and caused bits of pain here and there (kind of like golf), it actually felt really good. I decided right then to make it a daily, if not twice daily, routine for the rest of my life. We can all dedicate five minutes a day, right? Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to do the splits one day! Can you imagine that? An almost 60-year-old woman doing the splits for the first time in her six decades on earth?! That’s gotta be some kind of record — somewhere. Or, maybe it will be. Haha.

By the way, the last stretch I did after my first 5-minute stretching workout was standing with my legs straight and bending over to touch my toes. This wasn’t on the video, I just wanted to determine the baseline of my flexibility.  At my best, my fingers were a good 1.5 inches from my toes. As I kept my legs straight and stretched as far as I could go without snapping something, I chanted, “C’mon toes! You can do it!”

Today is October 3, 2020: It’s Day #3 of my stretching journey. I can now bend over with my legs straight, touch my toes AND the floor beneath them— without pain! I am completely, 100% amazed!

I keep this up and I’ll be able to tie myself in a knot! At the very least, I’ll be able to pull myself out of a sand pit with graceful ease. Stay tuned!

You want me to…WHAT?!

FYI: Raising chickens is not for the faint of heart!!

During Labor Day weekend, a friend of ours gave us their sole surviving chicken. Sadly, dogs had destroyed their other birds. She’s a very pretty, fat and fluffy, black and white hen. We put her in her own coop area so that our flock could become acquainted with her through the fencing before making any attempts at integration. I would visit her multiple times every day, offer her treats, and talk sweetly to her. Regardless of my sweet talk, she would stay as far away from me as possible. I mean, she would spastically and frantically run circles inside the run — like I was chasing her with an axe and picturing her on our dinner table! This went on for about three weeks, along with a couple attempts to merge her with the group, which resulted in gang pecking and me breaking up the West Side Story street fight with a stick.

Then, surprisingly, one day last week, she was different. With her treat in hand, I entered her run area and she ran towards me! This was new. Strangely, she stopped at my feet and hunkered down to the ground. I wondered if she was hurt or sick. When I bent down to check her, she let me pet her. Wow, I thought, she’s really taming down and getting to like me. I was so excited, I had to run and tell hubby, “The new chicken let me pet her!” The next day, the same thing happened. Too cool! Then, it hit me. No other hen had ever behaved this way around me and I wondered if she could be, umm, you know — amorously motivated. I asked my husband, “Can hens get — horny? Is that possible?” He said he imagined that they could. I mean, why not? If a female praying mantis can devour her mate after sex, why couldn’t a female chicken be horny? Seemed plausible.

Well, my brain couldn’t stop questioning this possibility, so I consulted my friend, Google, for the true answer. My search led me to a discussion on the backyard chickens website titled: Excuse me – horny hen? As it turns out, hens can be horny! Who knew?! The obvious solution is, of course, allowing her access to a rooster so that he may service her, scratch her itch, and otherwise make her happy. It’s only natural, right? I read further and learned of an alternative method to soothe a horny hen — without a rooster. I never would’ve imagined something like this: “If you cannot have a rooster where you live, move, get rid of the chickens, or reach down and put a finger and thumb on each side of her tail feathers and lightly squeeze and wiggle side to side — she will get up and shake it off just like the rooster was there. BUT, she will be back the next time you enter for more of the same. LOL.” WHAT?! I’ve heard of animals receiving artificial insemination, but artificial sexual relations?! I’m not about to be a hen’s surrogate lover! I mean, give a chicken a hand job?! Nuh uh. Not gonna happen.

Yesterday morning, as I was walking toward the coop with my daily treat delivery, and mentally preparing myself to receive another dance-with-the-feathered-pants from our horny hen, I discovered that she was not in her run area. What the…?! Did I leave the door open? No, it was still locked. Where in the heck could she — ahhh, I see. The little fence I’d placed between the two runs had been knocked down and she had escaped her safe haven. She must’ve been extremely motivated! Fearful that I was about to find her lifeless, hen-pecked, blood-soaked body, I ran to the main run to look for/rescue her. But she wasn’t with the other chickens. She wasn’t under the coop either. Curious. As I stood there pondering the possibilities, Frisky, that’s her new name by the way, popped her head out the main coop’s doorway. Well, look at that! I guess she decided it was time to integrate and was determined to make it happen.

Last night, just after sunset, I checked on Frisky and found her perched on top of her mini coop. I went inside, gathered her in my arms and while her claws nearly impaled my arms, I carried her to the main coop and placed her in one of the nesting boxes. I watched through the little window with my iPhone flashlight as she left the box and surveyed her possible sleeping spots. It took her a few minutes, but she finally claimed her place on the roost with the other hens. Yes, it would appear we have successful integration!

As of this morning, Frisky is mostly happily cohabitating with the others. There is definitely a pecking order with those old biddies and they certainly let her know it; however, she seems safe and content. I haven’t witnessed any interaction with the rooster…yet. While I’m not hoping to watch such chicken porn, it might be kind of nice to know that she’s being, umm, satisfactorily serviced by our rooster.

I tell ya, this farmin’ stuff is BRUTAL!

A little perspective

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for having a hearing impairment and having to wear hearing aids to hear people speak; for having feet that swell all the time and not being able to wear the shoes that I’d love to wear; and, having to wear glasses to read.  

Then, I saw a woman leaving the hospital, dragging her life-sustaining oxygen tank behind her on two little wheels.  I watched her through the windows until she was out of my view as she slowly walked toward her vehicle.  That moment certainly gave my self-pitying a jolt into perspective.  I imagined that this woman would gladly take all of my physical problems if that meant she could breathe without having to lug around her constant companion.  

“Seek and ye shall find.”

If you seek something to be pissed about; you shall find it.

If you seek something to scare the shit out of you; you shall find it.

If you seek something to prove that the world is a horrible and scary place; you shall find it.

If you seek to find and expose mistakes made by others; you shall find it.

If you seek something to make you smile; you shall find it.

If you seek something to renew your faith in mankind; you shall find it.

If you seek to find the beauty in this life; you shall find it.

If you seek something to be grateful for in this very moment; you shall find it.

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU ARE SEEKING; FOR YOU WILL FIND IT!

I strived to, and did better!

In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, he refers to life’s difficulties as “situations” instead of “problems.” He explains that if any situation makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from it, change it, or accept it totally.

Remember, in a prior post, I mentioned that I’d been striving to do better with my impatience behind my car’s wheel? Well, without being aware of it, I utilized Eckhart’s method.

First, I realized I can’t remove myself from driving. Well, that is, unless I get a chauffeur (which I’d be more than happy to accept). My life does not exist exclusively in my house, it’s in many different cities. Therefore, driving is a requirement.

Second, the situation cannot be changed. The fact remains, there are many drivers on the road who insist on moving below the speed limit, thereby blocking numerous others who want to get to their destination. Others feel it is their divine duty to control every car lined up behind them.

So, that left me with one option: acceptance. At first, I felt like I would be admitting defeat, that impatience was the victor, and I was a failure. Then I realized it merely is what it is. I have totally and completely accepted the fact that I am an impatient driver. I’ve embraced the realization that if a car on the road is poking along and I can safely pass them, I’m going to continue to do just that.
Surprisingly, with this acceptance, my patience has improved. What?! Yes, it did. It filled me with a feeling of peace, and I’ve discovered that I don’t rush quite as much. Of course, I still pass slow drivers when it’s safe to do so and go my merry way. Overall, driving is now a less stressful task, and I’m on my way to actually enjoy it. Wow.

This Monday, on my way home on the 6-mile country road, I encountered three very slow driving vehicles. Of course, one by one, I passed them all. I drove a couple miles further, and as luck would have it, I spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. By the way, I need a bumper sticker that says, “I stop for turtles.” Anyway, I stopped to save the little guy from imminent destruction. As I was carrying him to the side of the road he was heading toward, all three cars that’d I passed came along, slowed down, and allowed me to finish my life-saving turtle placement. One guy, driving a small white pick-up, stopped and said, “So you were in such a hurry to pass everyone just to stop and get a turtle out of the road?” I could’ve used some choice words, ignored him, or flipped him the bird; however, with my newfound acceptance and inner peace, I responded, “I am what I am. I didn’t hurt anybody,” and he drove away. I smiled.

Communing with ducks

Since mid-winter, there has been a group of ducks that regularly visits our pond. The most we have seen at one time is seven. Would that qualify as “flock” of ducks? Anyway. I think they were a neighbor’s ducks, initially, but they like our pond, so we basically share joint custody now. I love it, too. I often admire them from afar as they paddle across the pond, flop their wings then shake their tail feathers upon leaving the water.

There were four ducks on our pond’s dock today, all preening themselves after their swim. I was pulling a large tree branch to the fire pit in our field and, after I dropped it off, I decided to see just how close I could get to this herd of ducks. In the past, merely walking in their direction motivated them to get back in the water. I casually walked over to check my mother’s memorial tree, which was roughly 30-40 feet from the band of ducks. They didn’t move. I slowly stepped a few feet closer while pretending to look for 4-leaf clovers in the grass. They didn’t move. This was getting exciting! I walked to the water’s edge, still about 20 feet from the dock where the mob of ducks remained quite content, and they again didn’t move. Every few minutes, I’d sidestep a foot or two closer to the dock, glance their way, then pretend I didn’t see them.

After several minutes of this maneuver, I was close enough to the dock that I could touch it, and they weren’t budging, but I waited a little longer. Sidestep once more, look at the troop of ducks who were still calm and happily sunning on the dock. Then, I went for it. I sat down on the dock, my back to the array of ducks, fully expecting that that would send them into the air, or into the pond. But, I didn’t hear flapping wings or the splash of water. I slowly turned my body around toward them and was a mere 6 feet from this gaggle of ducks. They didn’t fly away! I brought my legs up onto the dock, sat Indian style, and we communed with each other for 20-30 minutes, right there at our pond. The two largest ducks actually fell asleep, one perched on a single leg.

I enjoyed this interaction so much, communing with the gang of ducks, but all the while I was thinking, I really wish I had my camera. These would be some excellent photos. Next time, duckies. Next time!

Humility

These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.

~~Mother Teresa

Memorial Day

The day our nation set aside

A time to honor all who’ve died

They gave all for you and me

Home of the brave, land of the free

Countless battles and many wars

Bodies sent home by the scores

Flag-draped coffins brought heroes home

Yet some of them remain unknown

Let us give thanks to each and all

They that answered our nation’s call

For every conflict that was fought in

May they never be forgotten

By: Vonda Newsome 5-24-2020

I woke up at 7:41 a.m.

Then, I spent over an hour, creating a board on Pinterest to help promote my blog. I followed the directions, saved it, and now it supposedly exists in Pinterest land…somewhere. I’ll be danged if I can find it, it doesn’t show up in any search I tried. It probably posted on a secret government website! But, hey — long as they read it!

Keeping an eye out for a cavalcade of shiny black vehicles.

So, how’s your morning?