The Blue Ridge Parkway

Although we missed the peak, the leaves shimmered like jewels along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a sunny, 72 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky. Peaceful. Absolutely breathtaking! And what made the adventure more spectacular was sharing it with my husband and his sister, and our youngest grandchild.

Between my ancient camera and the blinding glare, I came up with a few good shots to use in my digital designs. I hope you enjoy our little adventure.

The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Family Gathering

             None of us like having our pictures taken, especially our grandson. But he humored me for a few seconds at least!

The Blue Ridge Parkway
Fall

We are only a few miles from surrounding mountains in our area, but a hundred miles from Fancy Gap. The sites along the way, however, are just as breathtaking as standing and looking across the mountain itself.

Serene
Serene

I’d love having a little log cabin with a big porch overlooking this view. Put a swing on it and I’d stay here all day!

 

Enough!

I am happy to announce that Chicken Soup for the Soul has accepted this article that I submitted to them. The on-sale date is scheduled for May 5, 2015. The book title is Time to Thrive.

I was sitting at my dresser brushing my long red hair when suddenly Mom stormed through the door and started slapping me around, screaming and yelling, “I told you to stay away from those kids! They’re nothing but trouble! Then you have the nerve to bring them to the house!”

I liked the brother and sister. I had spent the entire day with them wondering what was so bad about them. They didn’t curse. They didn’t smoke. They didn’t pick-pocket the stores we went in; none of the things that I thought mom considered bad. I even invited them to go to Bible Study with me that night and they agreed.

So I brought them home with me.

Mom’s face said it all. It was like standing in front of a Judge, my mother scowling down at the three of us standing before her.

“They’re going with me to Bible Study,” I said hurriedly, hoping that would smooth her feathers and make her happy.

I thought a lot of things I did would make her happy. Going to church. Reading my Bible. Never hanging out with the wrong crowd. Obeying all her strict, religious rules. Living the squeaky-clean life of a Puritan. But in the end, I failed. She always raised the bar just a little higher, and like a fool, knowing I couldn’t jump over it, I’d try. And fail. And try again.

Of course I understood. She had a terrible, abusive childhood. Her mother, an immigrant from Germany, couldn’t raise her twelve children alone, so she surrendered the youngest two, my mother and her sister, to an orphanage.

From the time I can remember, I lived and relived her childhood horrors. Not only in the stories she told, but in the guilt and shame I felt for her sadness and pain. For her anger and rage. For not being enough to make her happy.

Trying to pay the debt I thought I owed cost me my life. I lost my identity, my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, my choices. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see my youthful, freckled face; I saw her wrinkled, angry scowl.

By the time I married and had a child, I believed that everything that went wrong was my fault. A slap in the face till my ears rung was my fault. Slamming me against the wall and being choked was my fault. Running out and leaving me all night was my fault. Ending the marriage in divorce was my fault.

When my son was five, I met and married a man who changed my life. He saw all the ugly inside me; all the hurt, anger and rage, and kept loving me. But it wasn’t enough to save me from myself.

Just five minutes with my mother set off a time bomb inside me. When I went home, I would blow up at my family. That’s when I sought counseling. That’s when all the bitterness and self-loathing, false guilt and shame began pouring out. That’s when, with God’s help, I began sorting through the rubble and found the little rag doll that was tossed and forgotten there. That’s when I picked her up, tattered and worthless as she was, and embraced her in my arms. That’s when my eyes began to see.

It was the hardest thing I had ever done; worse than going through my divorce. I walked out of my mother’s life. I said enough of her power and control! Enough of her self-pity! Enough of her dumping the weight of the world on my shoulders! Enough! Enough!

After two years of counseling, my therapist suggested I try talking to my mother. Immediately, my heart pounded in my chest, fearing that one moment spent with her would destroy every ounce of progress I had made. I told him I would consider it.

Several months later, I opened my eyes to a beautiful Saturday morning and knew this was the day. I jumped out of bed, and before changing my mind, I asked my husband if he would take me to see my mother. I needed every drop of his love and support.

We pulled up to the curb as mom and her new husband were walking to their apartment.

Rolling down the car window, I said, “Mom, can we talk?”

Like walking the Green Mile, I shuffled down the long, narrow corridor to her apartment. We sat down at the small kitchen table, and taking a deep breath, I poured out my battered heart.

And without a tear in her eye she said, “Sandi, if I have done anything wrong, I’m sorry. I just don’t know why we can’t let bygones be bygones and start over.”

The same old story. Let’s not get to the cause of our constant battles. No sense in delving into the truth. Let’s just cover it up and pretend it never happened.

“Mom, why can’t you see that you’re not the only one hurting? You’ve been so consumed in your own pain that you can’t see how you’ve hurt me. Right now, I don’t know if I love you or hate you. That’s why I have to stay away; to try and figure it out. I’m sorry mom. All I’ve ever wanted to do is make you happy. But I can’t. Nobody can.”

It would be six long years before I came close to trying again. Six long years of sorting through the guilt and shame of abandoning my mother. Six long years of facing it without the support and understanding of my siblings. Six long years of facing mom’s friends, seeing the shame-on-you glare in their eyes.

And during those six long years I learned that I am not responsible for my mother’s abusive childhood and the physical and emotional pain she suffered. I learned that I’m not God and that He never expected me to take on the tremendous task of fixing my mother. He told me so. Loud and clear. And the heavy burden lifted.

Finally, feeling emotionally strong enough to allow her back into my life, we gradually built a relationship. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn’t. And although my mother never changed, I did. I grew stronger than I ever thought possible.

I still wish I had known a mother’s unconditional love. I still wish I had seen just a glimmer of approval in her eyes before she died. But I’ve learned that I can live without it.

The relationship I had with my mother taught me that no matter how hard we try we cannot fix people’s broken lives. We cannot try saving them without losing ourselves in the process.

It was tough. It was painful. It was fearful and confusing. But I’m glad I did it. I’ve reintroduced myself to myself. Like a flower in the dessert, I’ve come back.

Sandi Staton

Hope in the Darkness

Hope in the Darkness

It was the early sixties, long before computers and cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. We relied on party lines and CB radios to keep in touch with the outside world. Many of our circles of friends had CB’s in their homes and vehicles. That’s how I met Rich.

As he usually did on Friday nights, Rich picked me up at the door, the overwhelming smell of Old Spice reeking from every pore of his body. After three months of dating, he never learned the rule, “less is better.”

We went to McDonald’s for a bite to eat, and while Rich went in to order our food, I sat listening to the CB radio mounted on the dashboard. No sooner did he get in the car with our food when his dad’s frantic voice blared over the CB, “Kenny’s been hit by a car and rushed to the Wilmington, Delaware hospital!”

Suddenly, our pleasant evening turned into a night of horrors.

As Rich raced me home, my thoughts raced back to Kenny before he went out the door that night.

He was six-teen going on thirty. No driver’s license. No car. So he walked everywhere he went. And, from head to toe, black was always his chosen attire. I have to admit that it did flatter his tall, slender frame, and his blonde hair and blue eyes. All he needed to complete the look was a bandito mask and cape.

“I don’t think it’s safe for you to go out looking like Zorro tonight, Kenny,” I pleaded. “It’s foggy and misting rain. No one will see you walking in this mess! You might get hit by a car!”

“I’ll be fine,” he grinned, his baby-blues dancing with confidence. And into the darkness, he fled.

Rich sped into the driveway and before coming to a complete stop, I jumped out and ran up the steps crying hysterically.

Mom and daddy had just gotten back from the hospital and I pleaded with them to take me there. I wanted to see for myself that he was okay.

“No one can see him tonight,” mom said tearfully. “We can see him in the morning.”

“What happened?” I cried. But I already knew the answer.

Her face paler than usual she tearfully explained, “He tried to avoid stepping in the mud along the construction site, so he walked on the road and got hit. The driver didn’t see him.”

She went on to tell me that Kenny had suffered a concussion, and a deep gash in the back of his leg that required several stitches. But the doctor’s main concern was for Kenny’s enlarged heart.

“He may not make it,” she sobbed.

Those fatal words sliced my heart in two.

I went to his bedroom where his bloody clothes lay in a heap on the floor. Burning tears streamed as I sobbed uncontrollably.

Kenny was sickly all his life. Because of a severe case of Rheumatic Fever, his heart was so enlarged that he wasn’t given a life span much beyond his mid twenties. He missed so much school that he was held back and couldn’t seem to get caught up. Playing sports was out of the question. A minor cold was followed by high fevers and excruciating earaches. And a trip to the dentist always meant a shot of penicillin. Eventually, it was notched up to bicillin, which Kenny jokingly accused the dentist of injecting with a square needle.

If his sickness and limitations ever bothered him, he kept it hidden behind his dry wit and devil-may-care attitude.

So many memories flashed before me as I sobbed. Like the times Kenny chased the hens until one finally squatted down, allowing him to pick her up. He was so happy with his prize, hugging and petting her as if she were a cuddly puppy. Victory was short-lived, though, when suddenly, the old rooster jumped on his back, clawing and pecking his head and shoulders. I didn’t know which was funnier, mom storming out the door with a broom, or Kenny crawling on all fours squealing like a pig.

Then, there was the time he stuck his finger in a hole in the ground and a mole bit it. And the times he followed our older sister everywhere she went, even to the outhouse, and waited patiently till she came back out. And the hours we spent together exploring the woods, searching for turtles and lizards, walking along the creek, and picking wildflowers to take home to mom.

We were always together; playing, arguing, competing against who was the sickest when we both got sick. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

Hysterically, I paced the floor. Mom tried consoling me, but a river of consoling could not have soothed my shattered heart that dark, lonesome night.

The only thing left for me to do was go to my place of refuge. The moment I stepped into my tiny bedroom, I felt more at peace. On the dresser lay my Bible, my source of strength in times like these. Clutching it to my breast, I collapsed on the edge of the bed, pleading, hoping and praying that God would give me the slightest sign that Kenny will be okay.

With all the faith I could muster, I opened my Bible, allowing the pages to fall where they may. Glancing down, like a pilot guiding a ship, my eyes were navigated to Psalms 91. Each verse was filled with promise and hope, a healing balm for my shattered heart. But the sixteenth passage was the rainbow, the peace that passes all understanding, the assurance that my brother will not die for a very long time: “With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Immediately, I stopped crying. The darkness lifted. My heart was filled with hope. I knew God had answered my prayer. Whispering a prayer of thanks, I calmly went to mom and said, “Kenny’s going to be alright.

Before his release from the hospital, Kenny went through a battery of tests. To the their amazement, other than a slight heart murmur, the doctor’s found no heart enlargement, not even a trace of scar tissue. He was released with a huge knot on his head, a bandage on his leg, and a brand new heart.

Since that day, Kenny joined the Air Force, married, has a son and grand-daughter. He gave up his bandito attire, drives instead of walks, and is still going strong at the ripe old age of sixty-five.

I asked for hope in the darkness. God gave me a miracle.

Digital Photo Painting

Using Paint Shop Pro 2019, I turn ordinary photos into works of art. I also create picture tubes, bookmarks, Facebook Covers, cards, tags, and more. I don't sell my art, therefore, all my creations are free for your own personal use.

No Facilities

Random thoughts, life lessons, hopes and dreams

THE POETIC SAGE

This site is dedicated to my amazing writing skills.

Straight from the Heart

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3

hometogo232

A place of Love and Security

%d bloggers like this: