Helping your Parents through the Golden Years

August 4, 2013
When you’re little, your parents are the ones who take care of you. They feed you, clothe you, kiss your boo-boos, and try to protect you from any harm. As you get older, it is not uncommon for these roles to reverse in their golden years. Sometimes it is heartbreaking to watch as the years take a toll on their bodies, leaving you with a sad, helpless feeling.
The first time I truly experienced this reversal of roles was two years ago, when my mother underwent a triple bypass open heart surgery and suffered serious complications. She lost two weeks of her life when her blood oxygen level bottomed out and had to be put back on a vent. Even when she was able to be taken off, her recovery was a long, slow process, with many setbacks and bumps in the road along the way. I watched this woman of strength who once enjoyed her independence change during the difficult period of time to someone who was unsure of herself and her physical capabilities. For a long time, she was scared to be alone, and although she did make a full recovery, she never quite got back to that person she once was.
Her poor body underwent so much during this time, and there were many nights I would cry myself to sleep because I couldn’t help her. All I could do was be there for her as much as possible. Even now after all this time, her health continues to decline, and it is hard on both of us. For her, because she is the one who has to hurt so much and gets frustrated because her body won’t cooperate with her and me because I know how much she hates to ask for help in any way.
My father has always been a very healthy man, with the exception of some eye problems in the past few years. The only regular medication he takes on a daily basis is vitamins. That’s quite an accomplishment for a man who is 66 years old.
 Last Friday, he had surgery of his right eye to remove scar tissue from a previous laser surgery six years ago. It was a textbook procedure and everything went beautifully. I took him home Saturday and he was delighted and seemed so relieved that everything had went so well. He was looking forward to being able to see properly again in that eye. He even drove himself home from my house.
When he called me later that evening, I had a hunch something was wrong. He said he could no longer see in that eye at all and was experiencing what he thought was a sinus headache. We were told to return to the Birmingham ER at UAB, so we got there as quickly as possible. Daddy was in so much pain by the time we got there that it scared me. He rarely complains with anything at all, so I knew it was very serious. His condition just seemed to be deteriorating, and it was hard for me to remain calm for him.
His Dr. told us his eye was terribly infected and he would have to undergo surgery to remove the infection. He seemed baffled as to how this could have happened so quickly, because it has never happened to any of his patients before. Just another reason not to panic, right?
After the surgery, when he came to talk to me, the good Dr told me the infection was moving so rapidly, that if we had waited until the next morning to come, he would have been permanently blind. The source of the infection turned out to be strep, most likely coming from an underlying sinus problem he was not even aware of that had gotten into his tear duct and then in his eye.
Daddy was admitted into UAB hospital where he treated very aggressively, with the strongest antibiotics you can find. The Dr. is not quite confident that he will regain his vision in that eye. It is still a work in progress. The infection is under control now and his pain is at a minimal but it will be weeks before we know the outcome. He has begun to see just a little light, but mostly still experiencing darkness.
I’ve seen some kids get agitated at the thought of having to tend to their parents as their age grows in numbers and their health begins to decline, and it makes me angry. These are people that have loved you since birth and have been there for you every step of the way. Had they not cared for your well-being, your existence would not even be a factor.
Put yourself in their shoes and think about it from their perspective. When one’s health takes a downward spiral, they lose a great deal of their independence and dignity. Just the smallest things they have always been able to do for themselves is no longer possible and they become frustrated, having to rely on others to help them. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my mother and father say to me “ I’m sorry you’re having to do this for me” when it doesn’t bother me in the least. I am just glad to be able to do it for them.
Remember, your parents aren’t going to be here forever, so love them while you still can and do everything in your power to let them know you are there for them. Because, when they pass, you will miss even the smallest of times with them. These precious beings were a gift from God, chosen as your special caretakers for life. Be kind, respectful, and courteous of their needs. They are still human beings who have feelings, not just someone who requires your time. One day, if God is willing, you will be in that same position and you wouldn’t want harsh treatment from anyone, especially not your children.
And one last bit of advice, remember to teach your kids respect, but be nice to them because they will be the ones choosing your nursing home one day. Have a good week!

Teaching our Youth…

July 29, 2013
I would like to give props to a local organization that some don’t even know exists around in these parts: The SIFAT Organization(Servants in Faith & Technology). This organization is located in a very rural area that spans over 167 acres just a few miles past the Randolph County line and I can’t say enough about all of the good they do. We are so fortunate to have an amazing place like this so close to home that is filled with such caring people.
Earlier in the summer, my 16 year old stepson, Michael was given the opportunity to attend The Learn& Serve (L&S) summer training experience at SIFAT. This 5-day, 6- night program in a Christian-based atmosphere helps educate your child on the hardships of poverty-stricken third world countries through simulations and demonstrations on an interactive level. Every day of this program brought about new adventures for this youth group, and they rose to the challenge of each one of them.
The education they received may not sound like something they will ever use, but it taught them much invaluable information on to use every natural resource they could find if needed. They learned what plants were high in nutritional value in the event they were ever faced with a situation where nourishment was an issue. They learned to build sack gardens, a method used in countries when they don’t have enough land to plant a big garden and they learned how to build a small fire stove with rocks and/or bricks. These are just a few of the things they learned.
They endured a real life “48 hour slum experience” in global villages and urban slum. Some of these countries they “traveled” to were Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. The sobering experience began with their basic necessities and all means of communication being taken by “smugglers”, leaving them no way to rely on the modern technology they have become so accustomed to. They were taught how to work for their food and to pay rent. The guys would dig ditches or make mud bricks and the girls would sew to pay their way. They learned about food rations during their time at the refugee camp, having to share a bowl of rice with nine people at one point. Michael still talks about this, because that boy loves to eat!
On their “Community Day”, the two youth groups did their part to help their communities in need. Michael’s group was taken to Clay County Christian Academy to pick blueberries to be sold at the Blueberry Festival the next day. The other group was taken to a local trailer park to assist with whatever was needed and play with the children that lived there. They enjoyed a cookout afterwards and a game of soccer with the children from the trailer park.
Throughout their stay, there was not one conflict between anyone this youth group at all. It was a peaceful trip that every child who attended fully enjoyed to the fullest extent. It’s very rare that a child is fortunate enough to be in the company of such a positive environment. Each morning started out with a worship service and each night ended with one.
When I went to pick up Michael on Friday, I was greeted by these very enthusiastic children along with their counselors. Everyone was just so nice… It was very refreshing!
To say that I was impressed with this program would be putting it mildly I would recommend it to anyone. I was worried that Michael would be bored and want to come home, but he had a wonderful time. He made several new friends from different states that he still keeps in contact with them.
When I asked him what he learned from this experience, he said he learned to appreciate everything more, his food, freedom, etc. He said he also learned that some people have it a lot worse than we do.
I applaud Tom Corson and everyone is the SIFAT family for the wonderful job they do with this program and I encourage you to learn more about this establishment. It is simply amazing! This program is just a fraction of what they have to offer at this facility.
For those of you who are not familiar with SIFAT, visit their website: www.sifat.org or their facebook page: :https://www.facebook.com/sifatbook
Hope everyone has a great week! I will be working in refreshments at this Thursday night’s Summer Sizzle. Be sure to stop by and see me. You can’t miss this one! It’s your very last chance to check out some great local talent. Clay County’s favorite boys will be there rocking the stage: Kevin Moon & The Outlaw Justice Band. They never disappoint!
Also, for all you Elvis lovers out there. World Famous Elvis Impersonator David Lee will be performing at The Historical Ashland Theatre August 3rd and it’s almost sold out! Get them before they are gone! Seats are limited and it’s going to be a great show!
Shout out to Robin Steele Thornhill and the cast of FAME Jr. for their outstanding performances last weekend also at The Ashland Theatre. It is so wonderful to see such great young talent within our county and Robin does such an amazing job helping them develop it. I wish we had more programs like this out there for our youth.
Until next time…

And in the news this week…

July 23, 2013
Good day to all! I hope you all are having a great week. I don’t really have one particular subject to talk to you about today. I usually pick a topic that is on my mind and go with that. But this week, I have several. So, I guess this will be considered more of a rant. It would probably be easier on everyone if I just sought out a therapist.
Well, the first subject that just pops up, and I do mean literally is McAfee Anti-Virus software. No, I am not interested in extending my time with you. In fact, I grow very tired of seeing your little box pop up every time I log on begging me to renew my subscription. Your presence exists only because of the free trial that came with my purchase of this computer. Please go away.
Last week, Obama shared his personal feelings in a very informal press conference about the death of Trayvon Martin that infuriated me. This anger had nothing to do with the senseless death of this young man, but had everything to do with our sad excuse of a leader. I say this because he is the one who inflamed this nation in the very beginning with the  proposed racial tendencies of this case, which has resulted in a mountain of controversy that threatens our unity. How dare he single out one particular murder when there are countless murders of innocent children every day all over the country of ALL races, some that far worse than this one. If you are going to speak for one, you need to speak for them all.
This is not how a true leader is supposed to operate. A true leader is supposed to stand before us and calm our fears in times of strife and speak in a positive fashion in order to avoid any future conflict, NOT to stir the pot. And then he is going to end his little speech by telling us to do some soul searching. Really?! Can search for a new President too?
My dislike of this man has nothing to do with race, but has everything to do with his leadership skills. He may not have created our nation’s problems, but he has certainly done nothing to even remotely begin to fix them. He seems to spend more time in other countries than he does here. Let me just clarify here that I do not dislike African-Americans, or any other race for that matter, unless they give me a reason. I don’t judge a person by their skin color, I base my feelings for them on their character. The only people I really dislike are hypocrites and liars.
 I am sorry this young man lost his life, but you can’t keep him alive. I think I speak for most people of all races when I say this just needs to go away. It has been hashed and re-hashed and the outcome is still the same. There will be no new developments in this case. It just needs to be laid to rest. Anytime there is loss of life, it is unfortunate, especially with our children. But you take the circumstances that surrounded that loss and you grow from it. There is a lesson to be learned in every case. And if you find yourself focusing more on the negative aspects from it, then you will find grass growing around your feet because you are going nowhere.
The only people here who seem to be holding onto this so hard, are not in it for the right reasons. It seems to have become more about press that anything and everybody wants to cash in on it. Celebrities are releasing statements and attending protests in order to be seen and because it just seems to be the thing to do . Politicians are putting their two cents in to gain popularity and the civil right leaders are eating it up. Does anybody really care about Trayvon or is his name simply being used as a pawn here?
On a more positive note, it seems that George Zimmerman may not be the cold-blooded killer he is portrayed to be by some. Just last week, he rescued a family of four who were trapped in their overturned vehicle after a single-car accident. I give credit where credit is due …
And while the media was so busy focusing on Trayvon Martin, they overlooked a very touching display to a fallen hero. Recently, the  pregnant wife of Arizona firefighter, Sean Misner, was transporting her husband’s ashes back to their hometown. Her journey was recognized by emergency personnel of various communities at almost every overpass for over 500 miles, as rescue personnel stood on their fire trucks/ambulances, etc. to salute this fallen hero for invaluable service to our country. Misner was among the 19 elite firefighters who perished in a tremendous wildfire last week. It very sad to me the media never took the time to acknowledge these remarkable young men.
 In case you missed it, “Glee” actor Corey Monteith passed away from a drug overdose last week. His autopsy reports revealed a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol in his system. I have seen more disrespectful comments on this than I care to mention. I wasn’t a follower of the show, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this man’s life was snuffed out by an addiction that has become too common in the Hollywood scene. He was more than just a popular TV character, he was someone’s child, friend, and idol. He leaves behind family who will miss him terribly. Remember, this type of addiction could affect your life at any given time. Please show some respect…
Oh yeah, and the “royal” baby was born. Does anyone care? Not me…moving right along….
Last, on a more local note, the city of Ashland and surrounding communities seem to be dealing with a rash of burglaries. One suspect has been caught, but the police are still looking for another, and possibly even more. I understand it is your God-given right to exercise the second amendment to protect your property and I support it fully, but please make sure you do it wisely. I would also like to take this opportunity to plead with these burglars to stop what you are doing now. Most of the residents in these communities are armed. They do not provide warning shots. They will shoot and ask questions later. So, if you value your life, you will stop this nonsense and go out and get a real job.

Let Trayvon rest in peace

July 16, 2013
So, the hot topic of the week seems to be the George Zimmerman verdict that came back as Not Guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin. What is my opinion of this ruling? Relief that it is over. Simply put. I never cared enough about the case to form an opinion to either side. People are murdered everyday all over the world in a much worse fashion, but the media picked this particular case to showboat. I have a tendency to try to stay away from media-sensationalized subjects because quite frankly, it requires too much of my time. This goes back to how I think the media hype is killing us.
Here is my bottom line on it though: not just one, but two lives were lost here, although in very different ways. One was a  very young male who had his entire life ahead of him. He will never have the chance to go to college, get married, and have children. Trayvon Martin was struck down in the prime of his youth. His mother and father will never hear his voice or see their beloved son again. If indeed he was straying down the wrong path, he will never get the chance to correct this. To me, it’s a tragic situation that no parent should ever be faced with. My heart breaks for these people.
And even though George Zimmerman was found innocent, he too, also lost his life for the most part. He will never be able to be in public again without looking over his shoulder to make sure he’s not a target. He is a marked man. He will also never be able to pay the mountain of legal fees for his defense. He will spend the rest of his days knowing that he took another human being’s life. So, even though he is a free man by verdict, his mind will be held prisoner for the remainder of his days if he has a conscience. I think I would rather be in jail. I’m sure if they had it all to do over again, both Martin and Zimmerman would have done things different.
George Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of his peers that were hand-picked for their ability to use unbiased judgement. These individuals based their verdict strictly on facts presented in this case. He may be guilty as sin, who knows? ‘Not guilty’ does not necessarily mean he’s innocent. It just means that the prosecution didn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s out of our hands now. If he is indeed guilty, he will have to answer to much higher authority.
The really sad thing about Trayvon’s murder is that is has been used as a tool to increase racial tensions among us. The biggest motive that brought this case into light is the same as the Sandy Hook massacre, to disarm the public. One little push from our  nation’s “leader”,  and you have people at each other’s throats because a white man killed a black boy,  all for his political gain. The ironic thing is the man isn’t even white, he’s Hispanic. The only thing that should matter here is a boy lost his life…it shouldn’t matter what color he was. In God’s eyes, we are all the same.
So now, we have pickets, petitions, and protests. How is this going to help anything? And I won’t even get into the whole hoodie thing. I think it’s ridiculous. No amount of protesting is going to bring this young man  back. Somehow along the way, justice for Trayvon got lost in translation. Now, it just seems to be about dividing our nation as a whole. As if we didn’t have enough problems already…
 How are we ever going to remain the strongest country in the world if we can’t stand together and fight? “United we stand, divided we fall”. Right?  The best thing that we could do to avenge Trayvon’s death is to ignore the parasites that threaten to weaken our unity and seek out ways that tragedies like this one can be avoided. A very wise man, Martin Luther King Jr. once said “ We must all live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”
  We as a nation should move forward together in a spirit of togetherness and equality. It is our duty as parents to see that future generations have the best opportunity at thriving in an equal world.
 In order to let Trayvon rest in peace, we must first be peaceful.

A Good Snake is a Dead Snake

July 8, 2013

Well, I hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday, even though it was a wet one. I know we’re supposed to be grateful for all the rain we can get, but even the ducks have begun to complain. Just kidding…it was the frogs.

Lately, I’ve been seeing several pictures posted on Facebook of snakes that people have taken from around their homes. I even saw a video of one crawling down someone’s front door after hanging on a wreath from right here in Clay County. I also heard a story at church the other day about a lady finding three of them in her house. It’s very scary to me.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that snakes are my worst fear. Yes, I know there are good snakes that are supposed to kill the bad ones, but I don’t care. I hate them all. It’s just not natural for a creature to have no legs and still be able to hurt you. They make my skin crawl…even the good ones. The definition of a good snake to me would be a dead one.

My fear of snakes goes way back to my younger days. Many children are scared of snakes, but mine went beyond that. I was flat out terrified. I used to have recurring nightmares about being bitten by one. They were always so vivid that it would take days to get over them too. They say that dreams can come true, and for me,  it did, and not in a good way.

The year was 1992. It was about 8:30 one Sunday night in early June and I had just finished clearing the table when I realized I had movies that needed to be returned by 9:00 pm to the local video store. So, I quickly grabbed the movies and left with my youngest daughter, Angela, who was only four at the time. I left in such a hurry that I didn’t even put on any shoes. BIG mistake…

When we returned home, Angela and I were climbing up the outside steps to our house when I felt something on the inside of my right foot that felt like a sharp prick. I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark, but I remember feeling a sense of alarm immediately that this was going to be bad. With that thought in mind, I quickly picked up Angela and started running. To this day, I thank God it was me that was bitten and not her. It would have probably killed her.

My husband was on the phone when I burst in the door and told him that something had bitten me. He didn’t seem very concerned when he looked at the area. He thought maybe I had stepped on a stick the wrong way and it had jabbed into my foot. By now, the affected area had two little splotches of blood and had started to burn. I told him there was no way it was a stick, or briar, or anything like that because it was burning too bad.

Because I was so adamant, he went outside and shined a flashlight down the steps. It was only a few seconds when I heard him say “Uh Oh”. I knew instantly what that meant. I said “Please don’t tell me that it’s a snake”. He said that it was. A small copperhead still lay there at the bottom of the steps. He told me to call the hospital and let them know we were coming while he went to find something to kill it with. I learned later that when a snake bites you, It requires a lot of their energy, and you will find it within 10 feet of where it bit you.

I was in a state of complete panic. I did as he said, and then sat down to gather my wits. My heart was racing and the slow burn that had started in my foot was now traveling up my leg that felt like a liquid fire. My mind struggled to remember everything I had heard about treating a snake bite. I recalled  reading somewhere that in the event you were bitten, you should try to remain calm because the more panicked you were, the quicker the venom would spread through your body. Upon recalling this, I remember saying aloud “Yeah, right”. But somehow I did. I began to pray for God to help me calm down. After a few minutes, I felt a calm wash over me like nothing I had ever felt before. My neighbor told me she couldn’t believe how relaxed I was because she was freaking out.

After he had killed the snake, my husband came back in the house to get me. I remember thinking “This is it, this is how I’m going to die, I’m never going to get to see my kids again.” I hugged them and kissed them both and told them how much I loved them, trying not to cry. I remember looking back at them trying to form a mental picture of them in my mind.

The ride to the hospital from our home was usually about 8 minutes, but I think we made it there in five. I remember telling my husband I didn’t want to die in a car accident in the same vehicle with the dead snake. When we arrived at the ER, they quickly began working on me. I was given two skin tests in each arm, a tetanus shot, and had an IV ran. I remember telling the nurses the actual snakebite itself didn’t hurt as bad as having all those needles stuck in me. My leg turned a bright shade of blue and had begun to jump, as if the central nervous system had been affected. The liquid fire I felt was now all the way up into my hip.

People were coming in and out of the open room because in a small town, bad news travels like a brush fire. Everyone wanted to see what a snake bite looked like. At one point, the housekeeper stepped in the door timidly and said “Are you the one who got snake bit?” I replied “ Yes” and she moved closer cautiously,  pointed to my foot and said “Is that where it bit you?”. I said “ Yes”. She then backed up a little and said “Where’s the snake?”. I said “ Behind you, in that sink”. She quickly turned around and let out a little scream when she saw the bag with the snake in it and ran out of the room. Guess there is someone out there who hates snakes more than me. It was hilarious.

Now, we have always heard to get to a hospital immediately when you are snake bitten, that minutes count. But I arrived at the ER a little after 9:00 pm, and I was not given anti-venin until the next morning. The reason explained to me was that over 90% of the people who are given the anti-venin experience such a strong allergic reaction, that is sometimes worse than the actual snake bite itself. Some even die.

I was admitted into Intensive Care and was not given anything for pain until after midnight. They lay a small measuring tape under my calf and would come in every 15 minutes to measure the swelling. They would mark it with an ink pen and I would scream every time they did this. It was a long restless night and the pain was excruciating.

Finally around 5:00 that morning, Dr. Rush came in and said they were going to have to give me the anti-venin because my leg was still swelling. He stayed by my bedside the entire time the anti-venin was being distributed through my IV. The only allergic reaction I had was my leg breaking out into bed red splotches. Dr. Rush was thrilled that it had went that well and told them to give me some Benadryl to take care of it.

I spent the next four days in the hospital. I had lots of visitors because everyone wanted to see what a snake bite looked like. I heard many horror stories about how my foot was going to rot off. But it wasn’t that bad. My leg did bruise, turning from blue, to purple and then yellow. It was a long time before I could put any pressure on that foot again. I walked with crutches for about three weeks. For about a year after that, I could predict the weather from that leg. I barely have a scar there now. So, don’t believe everything you hear.

Bottom line is, you can live through a poisonous snake bite. I remember someone telling me “Well, you were lucky it was a small snake that bit you.” Another myth. The younger the snake, the more pure the venom. It’s actually worse on you. Does it hurt worse than childbirth? In my opinion, yes it does. But the pain you feel during childbirth has a purpose with a beautiful end result. The pain I felt from the bite served no purpose, other than to remind me to watch where I was walking and always wear shoes.

On the plus side, I stopped having nightmares about snakes…Go figure…

Just Let the Woman Cook…

July 1, 2013

Paul Deen seems to be taking a serious hit by the media and I’m sure I am bound to offend somebody when I offer my opinion on this matter, but I have never been one to hold my tongue, so here goes…

Recently, Paula Deen’s empire began to crumble after her deposition in a discrimination lawsuit was leaked to the news media. I guess someone in the media decided they wanted to be famous by ruining someone’s career. I hope it was worth it to them. Let me just add I have zero respect for these people trying to make something of themselves in the media field. There’s plenty of real news out there to report without making a mountain out of a molehill.

The way this woman is being shunned in the business world is appalling to me. This woman is taking the beating of her life, shoved in the public eye to be eaten alive by a media frenzy. This poor woman has apologized more than once and every time she speaks, her words get taken out of context. It seems she can do no right.

Since the leaked deposition, Deen has lost major endorsements, been fired from Food Network, a channel that she practically made with her cooking shows, and twelve companies have severed ties with her. To say this is a bit drastic would be putting it mildly. It’s a monkey see, monkey do act on these companies. Can’t anyone think for themselves anymore?

Is no one brave enough to stand up and say “Give this woman a break”?  It’s a shame this woman’s entire career is being seriously threatened in this manner. It’s is the most senseless act of exploitation I have ever witnessed.  And all for something she said 27 years ago?? I can’t even see the reasoning in this.

I’m not saying that calling someone the “N” word is acceptable, but c’mon, this was 27 years ago. Society has changed a thousandfold since then. Racial slurs are no longer acceptable or tolerated for that matter. But this was a different day and time. The world was evolving every day concerning discrimination. Evolution is not just for society either, as people we also evolve. If someone told you that you had something offensive 27 years ago, could you even remember it? I’m sure you can’t because that was almost three decades ago. Most people don’t even have the same views they held that long ago.  Besides, isn’t an apology the only thing you can do to make something right?

What really kills me about Deen’s situation is that while she is apologizing for such a trivial act, you have much, much worse acts of social behavior out there that is being pushed under the rug. Recently while filming his music video “God Bless Amerika”,  Rapper Lil’ Wayne appears to be trampling on the American Flag. Some lyrics in this song include “My country ‘his of thee,  Sweet land of kill ’em all and let ’em die,  God bless Amerika,  This ole’ godless Amerika.” Offensive, right?  Of course, Lil’ Wayne defends his actions, but you don’t see him under fire the way Deen is.

Just last week, Actor Alec Baldwin unleashed a profanic rant aimed at a Journalist who accused his wife of tweeting at a funeral. Not much said there either. It just seems to be kind of accepted where both these guys are concerned.

Last but not least, you have rappers who seem to spit racial slurs full of offensive words, where the “N” word is used quite frequently. Sometimes you can hear these same offensive tunes blaring from some moron’s radio in several public places. I think the most ironic part about this is to watch these “artists” receive some sort of music award, the first one they dedicate the award to is God. Really?? You think he didn’t hear your blasphemy? Why not also remove all the these same CD’s with racial slurs from all music stores if it’s so socially unacceptable? Should we also boycott these stores?  This is a serious double standard that goes way beyond making Paula Deen the flavor of the week. It is doing irrepairable damage to her career.

As for the off color jokes, we’ve all told them or laughed at them at some point in our lives. Don’t even try to kid yourself by saying you haven’t. Rev. Jesse Jackson himself came to Deen’s defense, saying there was no need to make her a “sacrificial lamb.”

I am happy to say that the support Deen has received from the public has been overwhelming. Not that it seems to be helping her get out of the limelight. But it is refreshing to see.

Bottom line here is, we have much bigger fish to fry in this world than to worry about something someone said 27 years ago. I say we put the Paula Deen controversy to rest and tackle some real issues out there. Just let the woman cook….

Good Friends for Life…

June 25, 2013
How many people in their mid 40’s can say they have true friends that have been there for them the largest majority of their life? This number is staggeringly low. Oh, I mean we all have friends, but I’m talking about the ones who have been there for them through every crisis in their life. If you are lucky, you might be able to name three. I am fortunate to have great friends, but the one that has been with me the longest is Mary Heath.
I met Mary at the age of 16 when I went to work at Higgin’s Manufacturing. We hit it off immediately and became great friends. She eventually quit working at Higgin’s, and babysat my children. My kids loved going to her house and I knew they were in good hands with her.  Mary and her husband Jimmy had this way of “adopting” people. I guess you can say they adopted me too. Anyone was always welcome at their house, unless you were looking for trouble. They would both give you the shirt off their back if they thought you needed it. Jimmy and I were bad to play pranks on each other and sling playful insults at each other. It’s just what we do…
Mary and I eventually would stray apart because of job changes and such, but every now and then we would meet up with each other, or call the other one just to see how things were going. We would usually end up talking for hours trying to catch up. A phone call from her always made me smile. She was always a much better friend than me, because I seem to stay so busy with work that I don’t have time to visit anyone. Although I didn’t get to see her much, she was on my mind every day. This woman has seen me through some of the hardest times in my life and I thank God for sending me a friend who is as compassionate and caring as she is. She is truly an angel among us, not just to me, but to many others as well.  Family is everything to her and she would walk through fire for her kids and grandkids. She has devoted her life to taking care of them. Her youngest son, Mikey, was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident and she has spent the past 10 years taking care of him better than any nurse could ever think about doing. She supported her daughter, Shannon, who overcame a terrible drug habit and has now been clean and sober for over three years. These are just a few great things I can say about her among many… I won’t even get into what a great cook she is.
  On Saturday, June 22, I responded to a one-vehicle accident on Hwy 77 with one fatality. I did what I always did, took my pictures for the newspaper and went home. One hour later, I was shocked to learn the victim was Mary’s stepson, Jeffery Heath, better known as simply “Waldo”. In the Heath family, if you don’t have some kind of nickname, you weren’t truly accepted. Upon hearing this news, I quickly called Mary’s home in hopes that this was not true. But I knew as soon as she answered the phone that it was so from her sobs. I went to her home immediately, already filled with family and friends, which served as a testament to the kind of people her and Jimmy are. My heart broke for her as I held her when she cried hysterically in my arms. I I hadn’t seen Waldo in years, but I can remember him as being a fun-loving kid. I know he held a special place in Mary’s heart. She never showed any favoritism between any of her children, she treated them all the same.
  Today, my friend will lay her beloved son to rest and I know it is going to take a piece of her with him. Burying a child, regardless of the age, is not something a parent is supposed to have to do.  So, I would just like to say to Mary that “I Love You” and I will always be there for you. You can lean on me whenever you feel the need. I hope I can be half the friend to you that you have been to me. Thank you for being my best friend in the world…I hope you know how much you mean to me.
Sometimes in life having a good friend doesn’t mean you have to be around them on a daily basis. As the years pass, people tend to grow apart for various reasons. Perhaps you will move to different places and only see each other every once in awhile. Sometimes years may elapse without much contact. If you never stop caring about your friend, don’t lose them. Pick up the phone, send them a letter or email. He or she will be happy to hear from you. You were friends for a reason in the past, and you may find the same bond still ties you together. We live in a society where people are always on the go. The days of visiting someone doesn’t exist much anymore and I feel this is due to technology. It just seems easier to send a text, or send a personal message via social media which lacks that personal feel.
Reach out to an old friend today. What do you have to lose?

Let’s Fix this Country…

June 17, 2013

As I sit scrolling through the daily news, I am amazed at the mess this country is in. And it appears to be getting worse with each passing day. Most people want to blame it on the end of time coming, as the Bible begins to fulfill its prophecy and maybe they’re right. Or maybe as a society we have lost our way and just need to put a few things in perspective. So, I’ve prepared a top ten list of things we could do to get our country back into shape:

10.   An Eye for an Eye punishing a person who has committed a crime in a similar fashion. Example: caught stealing, your hands are cut off, you break someone’s leg, then yours gets broken as well. You murder someone, then your death will come in the same manner. Sound inhumane? Maybe…but it works. There’s no sense in anyone who has committed a violent crime and sentenced to death to remain on Death Row for 10 years. That cost the taxpayers millions. Our jails and prisons are overrun with repeat offenders. And why not? Free rent, free food, etc. Many repeat offenders will get out of prison, only to break the law again to get put right back in because its just easier. Third world countries have been practicing this method of punishment for years, and it seems to be working quite nicely for them. Quite frankly, I think being a “civilized” country has made us soft.

9.   Limit Politician’s terms to one– There’s a saying out there “If you’re not a crook when you go into office, you’re a crook when you come out”, and its mostly true. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but it seems these days that taxpayers are losing their voice as a whole. We sit by and watch helplessly while the people we voted into office pass laws that we don’t agree with, but no one seems to listen, so who else are we going to gripe to? And these same politicians seem to forget that they work for us, that we are the ones who put them where they are now and our tax dollar that pay their salaries. Limit this to one term and you won’t have to worry about any of this.

8.  Limit Political Leaders vacations – How many times have we watched as our President has taken very lavish vacation after vacation? Not just him though, this is a common practice with past Presidents. During Bush’s eight year term, he was said to have taken 879 total days vacation. Clinton and Jimmy Carter are said to have spent the least amount of days on vacation. Since Obama took office November 2012, he has already racked up 48 vacation days. The most recent will be a trip to Africa, which comes with a pricetag of 60-100 million to the American taxpayers.  The average American family gets 10 vacation days a year, and not all of them are spent away from home. If it’s good enough for them….then it should be good enough for our political leaders.

7.  Lower the cost of diesel fuel– I remember a day and time when diesel fuel cost about 20-40 cents lower a gallon than regular and now it as average of 20-40 cents higher. And why exactly did this happen? Oh sure, we get all kinds of speeches about it, reductions in sulfur content, environmental regulations, blah, blah. But in reality there is no excuse for this kind of increase. The truth is they are taxing it to death. In all honesty, the United States has enough crude oil to be self-sufficient, even though the government would never admit it. And every time there is a natural disaster anywhere near the vicinity of an oil refinery, we pay the price at the pumps. Lowering the cost of diesel fuel will reduce freight charges, therefore slashing your prices at the register, wherever you go. This will begin to heal our disastrous economy. It may not be much, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

6.  Religion– The nation was built on Christian beliefs. “In God We Trust” was our motto and now we have to walk on eggshells when even discussing religion. Why? Why should Christians have to bite their tongue every time to keep from offending anyone? If you ask me, it should be the other way around. If you belong to a different religion, that’s fine. To each his own. A person’s choice of religion is to be respected, not used as a source of ridicule. But like it or not, you cannot deny the fact that when God was in the picture, and the Bible was used as a handbook for life, this country ran a lot smoother.

5.  Media hype– Our media is killing us…literally. How many times have you watched as the media sensationalized a mass serial killer? And what was the end result? Giving them exactly what they wanted. The fame they never had. Most gunmen that have stormed schools and malls ended up taking their own life at the end. Why? Because they are cowards. They were nobodys in life, so they want to be remembered for something. Now, being remembered as a killer isn’t much, but to some people, something is better than nothing. And in the aftermath of the tragedy, the media spends weeks and months trying to dissect and analyze these killers to figure out exactly what made them tick. Who cares? They were crazy, let it go. If the laws were changed to never reveal a gunman’s name, then you would see a sharp decline in mass killings.

4.  Child behavior– How many of you spank your children? This number is staggeringly low. Oh, I’m not saying beat them, I’m just talking about a good old fashioned whupping. A hand to the backside, a belt, or even a fresh cut switch will cure many things. You can shake your head “No” all you want, but it’s true. This method of punishment is not inhumane or abusive, it is necessary. Kids will push as far as they can on a daily basis, just because they can. Its encoded into their DNA. For those of you in disagreement, yes, this means your child too. And all the amount of “talking”, reasoning,  groundings, and timeouts are going to get your nowhere. A child will never respect you until you make them and respect comes from fear. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”. Simply put.

3.  Put Prayer Back in School- This goes along with religion and child behavior. Over the past two decades, the number of school shootings have grown tremendously and many innocent children have lost their lives. Think this is a coincidence? Not even a little bit. Schools used to be the safest place for a child to be, and now it’s the scariest. Shootings, killings, rapes, kidnappings, bullying, gangs, drugs, etc. I could go on for days. Back in the day, no one would have ever considered hurting a child. Now it seems to be way of life. Who’s going to protect our children when we can’t? That’s right…God will. All you gotta do is let him back in.

2.  Speak English– Press 1 for English. That’s crap. This is America, Jack. You wanna be a U.S. Citizen, that’s fine, but talk the talk. When you visit any other foreign country, you have to learn their language, and that’s the way it should be here. End of story.

1.  Welfare Assistance– This is my biggest pet peeve and I could go on for days about it. The people who are living off of government assistance these days who do not really need it is unbelievable. Roughly, 49% of Americans receive some type of government aid and pay no income taxes. You do the math on this one. So, here’s the bottom line on how I think things should go.

  • The screening process for any government aid should be more extensive and thorough. Even the cost of hiring additional employees to perform these screenings would still save this country billions.
  • Mandatory sterilizations for those who remain on government assistance, while still on government aid. Many women plan to have more children just so they can draw a larger check. There is no excuse for this. Don’t believe me, walk into a Wal-mart on the first or 15th of the month. These people are eating better than we do.
  • If help is needed, then have a plan. Put these people in need on a 2-year plan. Give them everything they need to exist and improve their lives on a long-term basis for two years. A place to live, food to eat, a secondhand car to drive, and teach them a trade or provide them with an education that will allow them to be financially independent. But after the two years is up, then they are on their own. Two years is more than adequate period of time to change your life.

 

America, it’s time for a change…a GOOD one!

 

 

Precious Memories

June 10, 2013
It’s a beautiful Summer morning in early June as I sit on my front porch listening to the birds and watching the squirrels dash from tree to tree. The sweet heady scent of mimosa stirs a hint of nostalgia in me of summer days past. My mind drifts back to my carefree childhood days as I close my eyes and let the memories overtake me. Back to a day when my needs were simple and the days seemed endless with possibilities. We didn’t have much…but we didn’t need much either.
I was raised in a community called Ophelia, just off of Hwy 48 over the Randolph County line. A place that sit in the middle of nowhere, which many people never even knew existed, but to me it was everything. My whole was there and it was all I needed. Our community consisted of a small church ( Mt. Prospect) and loads of family. A place where the blacktop ended and the dirt road began.  I can remember walking that dirt road barefoot countless times.
Mt. Prospect Church
Mt. Prospect Church
Our summer mornings began early. My grandfather always had a very large garden of just about every vegetable you could possibly imagine. I can still picture him now coming in from the heat with sweat dripping. He never wore a shirt, just work khakis and a straw hat with a visor. Papa rarely wore shorts unless he was going to the creek to bathe with his bar of Dial soap in hand. My cousins and I would tease him about his white legs in contrast of his deeply tanned torso. For those of you who are not familiar, Dial soap is the only bar soap that floats.
I was Pawpaw’s sidekick on many occasions. Back then, I thought it was because I was his favorite, but I think he made us all feel this way. Oh, how I loved riding on the tractor with him or just being beside him as he picked vegetables. I called myself helping him, but I’m sure I did a lot of hindering, although he never complained. He loved to lounge under a huge shade tree that sat right beside his house, where he would enjoy a freshly rolled cigarette from Prince Albert in a can or a chew of tobacco. If he was sitting enjoying the shade, everyone just kind of seemed to migrate to him. Sometimes there would be many sitting around just chewing the fat while us children would play a game of freeze tag or hide and seek.
Pawpaw was always humming or singing a gospel hymn as he walked along. The one I remember most was “Singing His Praises all the day long, I’m going that way”. I can still hear his beautiful baritone voice now. Papa loved to sing. He was the song leader at church and also part of a gospel quartet called “ The Yates Family, that consisted of my two aunts, two uncles, and Pawpaw.
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80's
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80’s
Pawpaw would ride us to the nearby little country store called “ Malva’s” in his old pickup truck  where he would always buy us a piece of “blow gum”, costing just one penny at the time. We would all pile in the back of his truck as the wind would whip in our face.  I can also remember him letting us walk on his back to “crack it”.
Back then, there was no internet or video games, we made our own fun with nothing but our imagination. We would set out early morning and sometimes stay gone until we were called in at dusk. Even then we were still reluctant to go home. Our days would consist of roaming the roads and woods with nothing particular in mind, sometimes on a bicycle and sometimes on foot. Back in these days, you didn’t have to worry about being kidnapped or many other dangers that befall children in this day and age. I look back now and think I would never let my children roam so freely. But, then again, things were different back then.  
My cousin and I, Richard, were the same age so we would play together almost every day. We would entertain ourselves in various ways. Whether it was by go cart riding or going to the cemetery in search of lizards to shoot with our BB guns. It was a contest, whoever filled their mason jar up first with dead lizards was the winner. At night, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in a jar as well.
Going to “the creek” was always a treat. We would beg endlessly until Daddy would take us. I can remember him getting mad about us pestering him so much about going, but in truth he loved it as much as we did. Our swimming hole consisted of bend in Fox Creek with a huge tree that had a rope swing on it. Not sure what age my daddy taught me to swim, but I know it was preschool age. I loved to swim and was fearless in my endeavors. I was jumping off the rope swing not too long after I learned to swim. If we had enough people present, we would have a mud battle. There was always a large mudhole nearby that never seemed to dry up. Sometimes we would be so covered with mud, you could only see the white of our eyes. Some of my best memories are of this place. Our swimming hole no longer exists, covered by water when they backed it up with the construction of Harris Dam.
I was blessed with many cousins to play within our small community made up of strictly family. Large Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings would fill my grandparents’ house to a point where it would literally burst at the seams. After our meal, with weather permitting, there was usually some type of extracurricular outdoor activity to participate in. Softball, Kickball, football, or some type of ball. Sometimes we would even make up games to play. Red Rover was also a favorite pastime. Time seemed to stand still on these days. I look back on these days fondly…
lots of family
lots of family
As I grow older, these memories are even more precious to me. As much as I loved my parents, it was my grandparents that made this time so special to me. There’s just something about grandparents…
So, to all the grandparents out there, I will finish with this advice. No matter how small the time you have with your grandchildren, make it count, because I promise you it will stick with them for many years to come. Their memories will last a lifetime and beyond, because one day they will share their memories with their grandchildren. These special times can shape and mold their lives and with any luck, will instill family values in them they will pass down to future generations. Legacies have to start somewhere…

When Drinking and Driving Comes Into Your World

June 4, 2013
You hear about drunk drivers all the time, yet you never really think something like this can ever hit close to home….and then without warning, it does. And just like that, your world is changed forever.
In late March, my seven year-old granddaughter was the sole passenger in a one-vehicle automobile accident with a drunk driver…her father. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured, but if you could have seen the condition of the vehicle, you would have thought someone was killed. They say it was a miracle…I say it was God watching over this sweet child.
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
Her father suffered a head injury and had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital, but later recovered from his injuries. His blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. You may not think there is much of a story here because my granddaughter was not injured, and while she may not have suffered any physical injuries, her innocence was shattered forever. It was a cruel awakening for such a loving child as this.
The wreck scene
The wreck scene
Much like many young girls, her father was her hero and the unconditional love she felt for him made no room for imperfections. With one adult’s terrible error in judgement, a child’s life would never be the same again. She was introduced to terms such as DHR and supervised visits. She was confused as to why she could not see her father or talk to him. Strange people came to visit her and ask her personal questions about home life. It was such a confusing time for her and my heart broke for her as I watched her grasp for understanding in the aftermath. She became withdrawn and would not even talk about her father, I guess for fear she would get into trouble.
Her father was charged with a DUI and no child endangerment charge was ever filed. I even went to the State Trooper who worked the accident and asked him why child endangerment charges were never filed. He told me he could not charge him with anything else but DUI, and that he had done everything he could in the manner by getting DHR involved.
The really sad thing about it is that my daughter’s parenting skills were put to the test by getting DHR involved. It was her home that was disrupted by inspections at random times. Questions were asked and eyebrows were raised about my daughter as to how she could not have known he was inebriated when he came to pick his child up for weekend visitation. It’s a question that tortured my daughter’s mind as well, as she would beat herself up about it regularly in the next few weeks. She swore he acted no different than any other time, which finally led her to believe she had never actually seen him sober. She continues to have nightmares to this day over what could have been…
the following morning when Rylee's Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
the following morning when Rylee’s Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
Just last week, only two months after the accident, we were informed that the father was moving to another state and that the state of Alabama (DHR) was dropping the case. He was free to go and would retain all normal visitations. When my daughter asked how this could happen, she was informed that it was out of their hands and that he had complied with all regulations. Our minds were stunned with this turn of events.
I’m not placing all the blame on DHR, I’m sure they followed the guidelines following this case. I’m not even sure who I can blame, but something in our system needs to change somewhere along the way so we can keep our children safe from the evils of the world. How are we supposed to protect our children to the best of our ability if our hands are tied with legalities?  We wake up in the morning, not knowing how the day’s event will unfold, but the one thing we do not is that we will do everything on our power to keep our dear children safe. It is our job as a parent and something we are supposed to be allowed to control to an extent. And when that control is taken from you, it leaves you with a feeling of helplessness you can never explain.
sweet Rylee
sweet Rylee
I give thanks to God for watching over my sweet granddaughter on this fateful day, because in the end, it is He who is in control. It is Him that I turn to now in my daily prayers to continue to keep her safe when we cannot. After all, our faith is what we cling to everyday in our daily struggles.

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