When Rascal, our handsome, Australian Shepard mix of eight years died, he took part of us with him. The grief was so unbearable that I never wanted another dog to wrap my heart around only to have it ripped apart.
But hubby couldn’t stop grieving and I couldn’t stand seeing him suffer. So, for his birthday, we paid a visit to the animal shelter, and there she was, curled up in a big cage on a skimpy blanket on that cold cement floor frightened and all alone.
Hubby fell in love.
I didn’t. She wasn’t Rascal.
So we kept looking.
No Rascal anywhere.
But hubby wasn’t looking for Rascal and kept dragging me back to that pitiful, scrawny, long-legged Greyhound mix curled up in that dreary cage. I guess I’m a sucker for pitiful, so we adopted her.
That was three years ago. Yep! Three years of wanting to wring her neck for chewing up her bed, and my pillows, and my couch; things Rascal NEVER did. Three years of her hyperactive personality, her jumping and jerking around when we tried petting her. Three years of trying to stop comparing her to Rascal.
Then a year ago Pepper came into our lives. Sweet, dainty, loving little Pepper. She was more dead than alive after being abandoned along with fifteen other dogs. She was so skinny I could barely feel her when she jumped on my lap. Then she licked my face, pierced my soul with those big brown eyes, and that did it. We bundled her up and took her home, hoping and praying Bella would approve.
It was love at first sight. Kindred spirits.
Having two dogs at one time in the house is more than challenging. It’s insane! Pepper loves jumping on the table, and countertops. Heck, she just loves jumping! The higher the better. Now Bella thinks she can jump that high, too. And Pepper is a chewer. Bella stopped until Pepper came along. And she was potty trained till Pepper came along. She was getting more settled till Pepper came along. We had to potty train her all over again. And Bella poops and pees like a cow. So yeah. I was tempted to haul them both off to the animal shelter. But, you already know what a sucker I am for pitiful.
In spite of all their frustrating antics, they are beautiful, loving dogs. They love each other and can hardly stand to be apart. And they love us and children and whoever comes to visit. Most of all, they bring us joy and happiness and a ton of laughter. And when I think where they might be today had we not rescued them, I want to cry
Sitting in my rocking chair in my tiny apartment, my sweet baby boy on my lap, I said to myself: well, girl, you’re on your own. You can’t depend on anyone but yourself to raise this little one. He’s your responsibility, his life is completely in your hands.
At the ripe old age of nineteen, I got married. A year later I had a baby. A whole fourteen months later, I became a single mom. Even if I’d had a crystal ball revealing the abusive marriage and interfering mother-in-law that practiced witchcraft and was as evil as the devil himself, I would have done it anyway. For God, in His infinite wisdom, took the mess I made and turned it into a wonderful blessing, although it would take many years, heartaches and tears before I saw it.
I was living on my own, in and out of the hospital, working laborious, dead-end jobs and being so broke I couldn’t afford an ice cream comb. Then there was the cooking and cleaning and washing dirty diapers on the scrubboard and draping them across the radiators to dry. And if that weren’t enough to grind Superman to a pulp, Robbie was like raising six kids instead of one. Every night he cried; no he screamed himself to sleep. And from the crack of dawn until bedtime, he was wide-open-non-stop. By the time he was a year old, no crib or playpen could contain him. Like a little Houdini, he always found a way out.
When he was four, I’d take him to a little country house made into a church that he thought was his playground. No door was safe. Like a monkey, he’d hang on to the doorknobs and swing back and forth, or do a jig in the middle of the floor while I was playing the piano knowing I couldn’t get up and bust his butt. Other times he’d be outside throwing rocks and hitting older kids in the head, or kicking people in the shins with his pointy-toed cowboy boots or catching rainwater in his hat and pouring it over his head till he looked like a drowned rat. At another church we attended for a brief time, the preacher actually laid hands on his bouncing head praying a demon out of him.
One day, Robbie and I and another couple were going to meet with some friends and follow them to the church we were visiting that evening. I pulled into the couple’s driveway and as I was getting out of the car to see if they were ready, I told Robbie to stay there that I’d be right back. He pitched such a conniption fit I wanted to put him in a straight jacket. Like a wild bronco, he kicked and screamed and rolled all over the couple in the back seat. I turned around to smack his butt but got him in the nose instead. Blood gushed like a fountain all over his face his white shirt and bow tie and jacket and pants . . . everywhere. It was beginning to look like a crime scene. I ran to the couple’s house to get a washcloth when here he comes barging through the door, blood pouring from his nose crying and screaming, “Look what my mommy did! Look what my mommy did!”
But in spite of his devilish capers, he was kind and compassionate. At the age of five, Robbie had to have a tonsilectomy requiring blood work the day before surgery. He was so brave as the nurse stuck the needle in his arm; didn’t even whimper. But across the room sat a thirteen-year-old crying; scared to death of needles. Suddenly, like a little soldier, Robbie slid out of his chair, marched over to her and gently patting her on the shoulder he said, “Don’t cry, little girl. It don’t hurt.”
Those were the moments that erased all the tears and frustration of being a single mom. The moments where nothing else mattered but this little, rambunctious human being God entrusted me to raise. I didn’t know the plans He had for his life, I just knew I was going to continue raising him the best I knew how in spite of the many roadblocks ahead.
Yet, I was lonely and too young to spend the rest of my life being single. But I was also afraid to try again. I just didn’t believe anyone out there would even want to take on a ready-made family and love my son as his own.
But there was one man left at least, and God sent him to us. Robbie was five when we got married and a few years later, my husband adopted him.
It wasn’t a fairytale beginning; we all had a lot to learn. There were times when I thought I made the biggest mistake marrying again. There was no doubt Robbie needed a firm hand, but my heart wasn’t ready for it and neither was Robbie’s tender butt. I admit I was like a barracuda when it came to Robbie’s tears. So we argued a lot during the first two years of marriage before I finally laid down my sword, but it was never out of sight.
There’s always been something special about my son; his love and compassion for people; especially hurting people. And after getting through his rambunctious years alive he never gave us a moment’s trouble. When he began driving, we never walked the floors wringing our hands wondering where he was or if he’d come home drunk or high on drugs or if he’d come home at all. Whatever I asked him to do he did it without a fuss except when I made a mess in the yard trimming bushes and cutting tree limbs. But he cleaned it up for me in spite of wanting to trade me in for a much nicer mom.
Today, Robbie is fifty-one with four kids, five grandkids, and one on the way. He works out every day, runs several times a week and travels every two months to Cambodia where he teaches self-defence and law enforcement and physically rescues children from sex traffickers. He speaks at High Schools, making students aware of sex traffickers and how they cunningly lure girls and boys into their web of lies and deceit. He is a loving, caring man, faithful and committed in everything he does. He never complains, not because he doesn’t have a reason to, he just doesn’t waste his time and energy.
So all you moms out there on the brink of a nervous breakdown, don’t give up! You may not see it now or even ten years from now, but God has a plan for your children’s lives. And He has a plan for your life as well, to be the best mom you know how to be, praying for wisdom and guidance throughout every single day. It’s tougher now more than ever before raising children and keeping them focused and headed in the right direction. but with God’s help, you can do it. Keep loving your kids, praising your kids, getting involved in their interests and helping them make the right choices. And when they become young adults, let them go, trust them to make the right choices you taught them and just be there when they need you.
And grandparents and great-grandparents out there, we should help, not interfere with our young moms and their children. We have wisdom and knowledge that only come from a lifetime of experience. A lifetime of knowing what works and what doesn’t and can even see the humour in some of the things kids do. I sit back and laugh at things my great-grandkids do that were about as funny as tripping over a log when Robbie did them.
If there is nothing else we can carry out in life, we can be the best parents, grandparents and great-grandparents we can be. With God’s help, all things are possible!
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
So it’s been a week since Pepper’s surgery, a week of keeping her calm and away from Bella. And it’s been a happy week for me and the dogs; a week of learning, a week of getting to better know my four-legged creatures and them learning that I am the one and only queen of the castle.
Pepper and Bella used to sleep with hubby. Now, Pepper sleeps in my room, in her crate, lights out, TV off, crate door locked. And when morning comes, I let her out, feed her after making her sit like a well-behaved princess, let her outside to do her business, then back in her crate.
Now it’s Bella’s turn who is either sleeping with hubby or in her crate for misbehaving. And I am so proud of her. She runs to the edge of the kitchen and waits patiently while I fill her food bowl and bring it to her. And before I open the patio door to let her out, I make her get back and sit like a lady which is difficult for her because she can barely sit still for a second. But she does it . . . for a few seconds at least before charging like a bull through the door. We’re still working on that one.
Bella and Pepper love each other so much that I thought I could handle them both at one time; letting them out together, feeding them together, training them together. So much for my senile thinking. Bella forgot all her training and began mimicking Pepper who in turn was mimicking Bella and I began mimicking the Incredible Hulk. All three of us were confused, anxious, and frustrated to the point that one of us was going to have to leave the castle and it wasn’t going to be me!
This past week has given me a better love and understanding for my royal babies. Plus, spending time one on one has opened my eyes to their individual personalities and special needs. Now, they make me laugh and appreciate their antics instead of making me cry and wanting to bury them six feet under.
It’s still a work in progress, and it’s probably not the way the Dog whisperer would do it, but it’s working for us. Our castle is more peaceful now. The Queen is back on her throne. Life is good!
Been thinking a lot about you lately. And because I’m much older now, I have a better understanding of the sacrifices you made for me; the hours you poured into making my pretty dresses, cooking my favourite meals, and buying my first accordion. When you bought me a brand new one several years later, I never realized the real price you paid. How you hated that job. But for three long years, you worked scrubbing and cleaning that dreary hotel to pay for my brand new Pearl White, 120 Base accordion. And by often reminding me of that, you must have thought I was a selfish, ungrateful brat.
The truth is I appreciated everything you did for me; I just didn’t know how to say it. It seems I was dumb-struck when it came to communicating my feelings. And when I tried, you judged and criticized me and we’d end up fighting and I’d run to my room bawling and slamming the door shut. So to keep from being hurt, I stuffed my feelings deep inside. And you have to admit, that you didn’t know how to communicate either. But I don’t blame you considering the horrible, abusive childhood you had. It’s a wonder you even survived let alone become a nurturing mother when all you ever received was abuse.
Though my communication skills seemed to be paralyzed, my intuitive brain told me, even at a very young age, that you couldn’t help your sudden outbursts of anger and rage. That you couldn’t stop the tears; the screaming and yelling at me. Something was broken inside you and I was determined to fix it.
You and I both know how that turned out. I ended up more broken than you were; hating myself for being such a failure; punishing myself for fighting against you so hard, feeling guilty that I was not everything you wanted me to be. I just got so tangled up in your pain and sadness that I got lost and angry and bitter and confused. And yes, I blamed you. I blamed you for not getting help. I blamed you for using me as your scapegoat. I blamed you for turning me against daddy. I was so blinded by your suffering and my determination to protect you that I blamed him for everything that was wrong at home. Between the two of us, he didn’t stand a chance, so he became distant and no help to anyone.
Still, you taught me many good things. Every time I hung clothes on the line I remembered to hang the towels together and the underwear, and sheets and pillowcases because you said it looked neater. I remember you teaching me to clean the windows with vinegar and newspaper to keep the windows from streaking, and taking down the blinds and soaking them in the bathtub for easier cleaning. And remember suggesting that, when I can’t iron them right away, to sprinkle the clothes, roll them up in a towel and put them in the refrigerator? Well, one time I left them in there so long they got mildewed and I had to wash them again!
And you encouraged me to draw and paint by supplying me with paper and charcoal pencils and number paints. You encouraged me to learn to play the accordion, organ and piano, which I did. And since you couldn’t afford lessons for me, I taught myself. But you taught me how to sing. You had the most beautiful voice in the world! My favourite part of the day was sitting beside you at the sewing machine and hearing you sing. I believe the angels listened in awe too.
And you taught me about Jesus and living a truthful, honest life and staying out of trouble. You taught me to pray and read my Bible. You taught me to respect my elders. But when it came to boys and dating, you forgot to teach me to relax. I was so bashful about eating in front of a guy that I’d rather starve than let him know I was hungry. But they knew to keep their wandering hands to themselves!
Oh, and before I forget, when you saw how much I loved to roller-skate you made sure I had a pair of skates. I didn’t care that they weren’t brand new. They fit and they rolled and that’s all that mattered to me. I have to confess something, though. I snuck my little skating skirt in my skate case and changed into it in the dressing room at the roller rink. Sorry. But you were so strict about some things!
So, mom, even though our relationship was never what we both longed for, I’ve always loved you, it just wasn’t the way you wanted me to love you. But I couldn’t fill the holes in your soul. I couldn’t be the loving mom and dad you deserved as a child. I couldn’t be the supportive husband, the perfect child; everything you needed to make you whole. I just wish you could have understood that and not leaned on me so hard and expected me to make up for everyone else’s failures.
Though it took a long time for my recovery from such a hurtful and confusing relationship, I forgive you and I forgive myself. Many times I wished God had given me a different family, one that wasn’t so messed up. More than anything I wish you and me were more loving and understanding toward one another. I especially wish I hadn’t lashed out so angrily at you and I can’t think of one good excuse why I did. I can only say, with tears streaming down my face, I am so very sorry.
I miss you so much, mom. I wish I could hear your laughter, your silly jokes, and your happy whistle. I wish we could go out for breakfast and then do a little shopping like we used to do each week. I wish I could eat one more of your delicious meals and your homemade bread and sticky buns. I wish I could see your face, your busy hands, your peppy walk just one more time.
It doesn’t seem fair, does it mom that we were both victims of your abusive childhood. That we both became painfully and emotionally handicapped. But I got my strength and determination from you. Though our wings were broken, we flew as high as we could and never gave up.
So, I’ll close by saying, thank you, mom, for doing your best to raise me right in spite of the many boulders across the path. Thank you for being faithful, honest and true. Thank you for the only love you knew how to give. I guess, without my realizing it, God thought it was enough because He’s been supplying the rest.
We’re sitting on the back porch, Bella pressing her regal nose against the screen watching the squirrels and Pepper curled contentedly on my lap sniffing the air.
Bella’s eyes are like those of an Egyptian Princess; only hers are naturally and perfectly lined in black, melting my heart with her wide-eyed expressions of love every time she looks at me.
Pepper is jet black, except for the white on her chest and dainty paws. Looking up at me, rolling her big brown eyes, it’s as if she’s looking straight into my soul. I press her head against my chest and whisper how beautiful and precious she is to me.
That’s when I got to thinking.
My girls don’t need to take thousands of selfies to prove to the world how beautiful they are. They don’t have to wear the latest fashions, walk with a strut, talk like the Queen, or become members of a Country Club to prove their self-worth. They don’t need hundreds of fans on Facebook or thousands of likes and comments on WordPress to boost and encourage their ego.
My girls don’t need to be painted up, jewelled up or prettied up in any fashion to be dazzling to the eyes and pleasing to the soul.
My girls are lovely and gracious, loving and forgiving, fun and playful. My girls take life as it comes and remain beautiful in spite of the bad things that have happened to them. My girls are strong and loyal and truly excited to see me when I get up in the mornings or come in from being outside for a few minutes. My girls treat me like I’m the most important thing in their lives.
And that’s why I love them. They don’t try to be anything. They don’t try to prove anything. They just are.
I love detail. Lots and lots of detail. Sometimes I get lost in detail. So it was difficult for me to showcase these beauties without adding my usual dose. This little guy doesn’t need any. But I did give him a wee little bit, just for my satisfaction. Colin, atrampinthewoods.wordpress.com, is the photographer of these Red Admirals and has so kindly shared them for anyone to use. I hope I did them justice!
Fizz may get a little jealous if she finds out that I like butterflies too. Colin posted these photos on his blog yesterday and I couldn’t resist downloading them. He got several great shots of this beautiful Red Admiral, but these two are my favorites. I decide to place them together in this design. Thanks Colin, for sharing your interesting world with us!
Although I’m not big on birthday celebrations, I find it interesting how many of my family members were born in the month of August. Nicci, Gideon’s mom’s birthday was August 24, mine was August 26, Gideon’s was August 28, my husband’s was August 31, and today, just two days into September, Brandon, Gideon’s dad, is celebrating his birthday. What better gift to receive than a beautiful, healthy, newborn baby? For our family, August is a month of blessings!