I Have a Story (3)

(Another real life story from my sister’s life)

“On Goodbyes”

When I lived in the cold country of Colorado, I used to watch a squirrel family of five gather nuts in my front yard every morning.  One time, when I was leaving for work, I looked up and saw them crossing over to the other side of the street single file, using the branches of the trees that grew on both sides of the street with the branches intertwined over the street.

Another day, when I walked out of my duplex to get in my car, I saw a girl out in the street looking down at something lying there.  She looked up at me and said it was an injured animal.  I had an old gray sweatshirt in the car, so I gave it to her and she scooped up the animal and brought it back over to me.  Next thing I knew, she placed the bundle in my arms, and I looked down into the trusting brown, shiny eyes of a squirrel. It had been hit by a car, she said, then the girl left abruptly.

I took the injured animal into my living room and set it carefully on the floor.  I couldn’t see any blood, maybe he was just in shock.  He laid quietly on my sweatshirt, while I lightly petted him, and stared at me.  I made a quick call to the animal shelter to see what I could feed the squirrel.  As I hung up the phone, I went back over to him.  He looked at me with the most loving gaze, let out a tiny little sneeze, then died.  Blood trickled from its mouth.  It had been bleeding internally.  I very sadly placed him in a bag, set him gently in the trash bin outside, and went on to work.

I returned home from work late that night.  I shined my flash light so I could see to unlock the door.  To my surprise, I saw in the fresh snow several sets of tiny paw prints below my window and on the window sill.  My window was really low to the ground.  The squirrels must have seen me take the injured squirrel inside and they had been peering into my window trying to get a glimpse of their family member!

I never realized squirrels were that smart or family oriented.  There was no way I could tell them know their little buddy had died.  They would just have to always wonder what happened.

After that, I watched only four squirrels foraging and playing in my front yard.  I’ll never forget that I held and petted a wild squirrel as we gazed into each other’s eyes, saying silent goodbyes.

The end

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I Have a Story (2)

(My sister has a lot of interesting things that happened to her.  Here’s one of them she texted to me)

I have a story.

Slinging my cameras over my shoulder one beautiful afternoon, I headed out in anticipation of spending some time outdoors in a nearby park.  I drove along a dirt road into a canyon floor, with a horseshoe ridge above, and parked in a dirt cul-de-sac.  I noted that I had the place all to myself, no other vehicles or people in sight.  I had been to this wilderness park before, but had never explored this section.  I had high hopes of capturing spectacular photos of the lavender butterflies that roosted on the shrubs everywhere.

After climbing halfway up the hill of one end of the horseshoe ridge, I immediately found the butterflies.  Quickly engrossed in getting close-ups of the creatures, I became oblivious to anything else around me.  You can imagine my surprise when, as I focused on a butterfly, a scruffy-bearded man came into focus about 15-yards below me and behind my subject.  I continued to pretend I was photographing the butterfly, while studying the man.  He was twice my weight, muscular, same height as me, 30-ish in years, and dressed in traditional motorcycle-gang garb—lots of black leather, chains, and denim pants.

I calmly continued the charade of taking photographs, while I figured out what I was going to do.  We were alone out in the middle of nowhere.  He did not appear to be doing any normal thing a hiker would do; he just stood there staring off into space.  My hackles rose as it occurred to me I was the prey, and he was the predator.

“Nonsense,” I told myself. “I’m making something out of nothing.”

I started moving up the hill.  When I moved up the hill, he moved up the hill.  When I stopped, he stopped.  It became clear in my mind that I was being stalked.

My mind raced.  How could I escape?  He was below me, so I had to go up.  If I climbed the last 10-yards to the top, I would be temporarily out of his sight.  I knew the other side of the ridge was a cliff, so I couldn’t go down the opposite side to get help.  I climbed the rest of the hill still pretending to look for butterflies, angling to the left.  As soon as I got to the top, I ducked, went in the opposite direction to the right, and squatted behind a large clump of shrubs.  I peeked around the shrub close to the ground, and there he was, standing where I came to the top of the hill, looking around in all directions for me.

(Me) Oh my!

(My sister) My only option was to travel in a crouched position, lower than the shrubs, up the leg of the “horseshoe”, increasing the distance between us before he discovered me.  I headed away from him as fast as I could go in a squat position, the sandy ground letting me travel quietly.  Soon my leg muscles ached, but I ignored the pain and pressed on to save my life.

When I reached the middle of the “horseshoe”, I spotted a place where I could possibly slide down the hill into the canyon.  Without thought of spiders and snakes, I slid downhill on loose leaves through the trees and brush.  I reached the bottom and hid to hear if he was following me downhill.  My legs were in agony.  I heard nothing.  Could he be waiting for me at my car?

I snuck in the direction of my car, expecting him to pop out at any minute.  Finally, I came to the clearing where…

I’ll be back.  Going on break

(Me) Oh, great.

(My sister) I’m back.

My car was parked.  He wasn’t by my car.  Was he hiding near the clearing, waiting for me to return?  There were still no other people or vehicles there.  I quietly, carefully made my way closer to the car.  Terrified, I decided to make a run for it.  What else could I do?  With the key in the ready position, I ran like a gazelle to the car, unlocked it in record time, dived in, and took off as fast as I could.

I shook as I drove home.  My legs were in excruciating pain, and my adrenalin rush had run out of gas.  I was young, terrified, and surprised that I had survived the situation.

It took over a week for my legs to recuperate from covering that much ground in a squatting position.  It also took a couple of days for my energy to return.  The incident had completely drained me.  I never did return to that park.  Now, thirty years later, I invested in a treadmill so I would not have to walk in unsafe places by myself again.

The end

(Me) Wow, too bad you didn’t take photos of the guy and show the police!!

(My sister) Never thought of it.

(Me) Ha! Well, it was exciting to read about. And you ducked out of writing at just the right time, leaving me hanging on a cliff with only one finger!

I Have a Story

(I don’t have much to say lately, but my little sister has been telling some of the interesting things that happened in her life.  Here’s the first one she gave me, about our parents before they died.  I lived through this via video chat from across the states.)

The year finally came.  I began sharing my home with my aged parents and a close elderly family friend, whom I called “grandma”, so I could look out for their well-being on a daily basis.

One November, my father proclaimed his idea for the four of us to draw names out of a hat and buy that person a Christmas present.  That way, we’d all receive something nice for Christmas and still stay within our budget.  Grandma and I liked the idea, but my mother made it very clear to us that she wasn’t going to do anything for Christmas, and we shouldn’t, either.  My mother had Alzheimer’s.  In spite of her unreasonable bullying, Dad, Grandma, and I decided the three of us would do it and Mom just wouldn’t participate.

Christmas morning, the three of us gathered around the Christmas tree to open our gifts.  Mom stayed in the other room watching television.  Grandma opened her gift first.  Being in her 90’s, she was slow and my father had to explain what her gift was.  While they were engrossed in this, talking loudly because they were both hard of hearing, my mother suddenly entered the room, walked directly over to the tree, grabbed the present meant for me, and went back to her room.

Dad and Grandma completed their discussion, and Dad announced he wanted me to open my gift next. I told him that Mom had come and taken my gift and I handed him his gift to open.  After my father had opened his gift, he told me to open mine, having forgotten what I’d said.  Again, I told him that Mom had taken my present for herself.

“Well what did you let her go and do that for?” He exclaimed indignantly. “Go get it back!”

I went to my mother’s room, and she had just unwrapped my present and was admiring it, like a happy child.  It was something my father had picked out with my approval to be sure I would enjoy my present.

I said, “Mom, that’s my present. You chose not to participate, remember?”

She said, “Well everyone should get a gift at Christmas time, and this is my gift!”

I returned to Dad empty-handed and angry. At that time, I didn’t understand Alzheimer’s or dementia and just felt that my 88-year old mother was a bully and a mean-spirited prankster.

“Well? Where is your gift?” Dad demanded.

“Mom won’t give me the present. She is determined to keep it,” I replied angrily.

At that moment my mother appeared again in the room and she and my dad began arguing over my present.  By that time, Grandma was alarmed and loudly talked across them, asking me what was happening.  I had to raise my voice so she could hear me over Dad and Mom.  It appeared that all four of us were in a shouting match on Christmas morning in front of the Christmas tree.  This was not what Christmas should be like!  And none of us were giving in.

Finally, Dad took the present away from Mom’s hands and shoved it angrily at me.  I was angry, because my mother stole a Christmas gift that was meant for me.  Dad was angry because I had let her take it in the first place.  Mom was angry because she didn’t get to keep my present.  Grandma was angry because she was hard of hearing and nobody could explain what was going on loud enough.

We all separated silently to our individual rooms and shut the doors behind us.  My mother had made sure that if she didn’t want Christmas, then we weren’t going to have Christmas, either.

All the joy and happiness that should accompany this holiday was successfully snuffed out.  Over the years, Mom continued to fight me over putting Christmas decorations up, but I still did.  We never exchanged gifts again for Christmas as long as Mom lived. Mom and Grandma passed away a few weeks apart a few short years later.

Looking back on it, it was funny.  But at the time, Mom, in her dementia, believed I was an enemy and she had the need to control everyone, even in illogical ways.  It was very sad.

Farewell

I looked out the window just now.
Water drops drip off the roof edge.
Blue-gray sky, sound of rain on the roof.
Wet brown field, wet green lawn.
The old year leaving us sadly.
Giving way to a new, young year.
I’ll hold your hand, 2018, as you go.
You did good.

The Biggest Battle

(Finally finished this thought from our trip to Gettysburg last April 2, 2018)

Walking through the grounds of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on a cold day in April, I read inscriptions on monuments about blood-puddled ground, rocks slippery with blood, and bodies of men and horses everywhere, dead or wounded.  Like at Little Round Top, where about 330 men were told “to hold at all hazards”–and they did, even after they ran out of bullets; and the 1st Minnesota, 262 men, fighting until only 47 remained when help arrived; and of course, Pickett’s regiment was wiped out.  I cried often, walking among all the graves.

Beyond this very real history, though, I kept thinking that this horrible battle was nothing compared to Satan’s forces against me and you, right now.  He uses all the canons (government, wars, invaders); snipers from the hills and trees (luxuries, hobbies, laziness), and the screaming hordes with all their rifles and bayonets (TV, News, work, school, tragedies, health).  I sometimes see the fallen around me among spiritual blood and gore, splattered everywhere, and think…do I run?  General Jesus says, “No, stand firm and defend your soul and your right to go to Heaven at all hazards!”  I sigh.  This is where real bravery, commitment, and trust come into play.

Drama East of Cleveland

(This happened last August 7, 2018)

Run heavily up old wooden stairs as fast as you can then

Roll back down them full body banging against walls and stairs then

Flip the lights on and off several times and

Throw a glass punch bowl across the hall into the wall and

Flinch at the loud crashing crushing tinkling sounds of breaking

glass after the loud thud on the wall

Run back up the stairs and jump down while skipping every other stair

Slam a metal bat into the picture window and

scream when the shattering glass sklatters around you

Flip the lights on and off again and run for dear life when the

747 airplane crashes through the roof crushing blasting shrieking roaring….

Over and over and over

The sounds of an impressive triplet set of thunderstorms passing through last night east of Cleveland

Brenda & Tam’s Great Adventure

(This happened on September 5, 2018)

This morning I went to visit Brenda

Brenda and her husband Fred and I chatted over the after-breakfast table (I snagged a couple of bacon slices…sigh)

Fred left to work around the farm, while Brenda and I went for a wild ride in her 4-wheel farm utility vehicle, her two dogs ran around us, baying at the fun

Brenda confidently took the vehicle off the road, onto field edges, through woods on vague paths with tree branches whipping, trying to pull us out

She showed me what oak trees look like, ash trees, maple trees, and her personal big-rock-patches (piles of rocks), and she found an old hickory nut for me

She stopped so I could run a fox-tail weed head through my hands, so soft

We saw butterflies, white, yellow, and then a monarch… and

Brenda took off to hunt for milkweed, the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on

She drove back over the field edges, but no milkweeds, drove slowly down to her mail box, looking intently at all the weeds at the side of the road.

I learned what Stinging Nettle looks like ( I have the dried leaves in tea bags!), still no milkweeds.

She turned around and drove back past the chicken coop, then abruptly stopped

Milkweed on my side!

She got out while I hung out the side of the vehicle to investigate the milkweed (now I know what it looks like)

Found one with a gorgeous monarch caterpillar, about 1 1/2 inches long, stocky, with a variety of colored bands wrapped around its body

We wondered, if we stretched out the caterpillar, if those bands would look more like monarch colors, but we only wondered

We soaked up the beautiful creature into our memories (didn’t have the camera)

Then Brenda drove further looking for possible chrysalises of the teenagers incubating into butterflies but

I was very hungry, lunch time, feeling like the caterpillar–gotta eat

Brenda drove back around to her house, the dogs looking exhausted but satisfied, and we said goodbye as I got into my car, with a smile on my face

I saw a monarch caterpillar.  Me.