Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my website. I hope you will enjoy the eclectic collection of short stories and essays. They are all very close to my heart, in whichever genre. I always welcome comments and feedback. Once again, I hope you enjoy my site. Thank you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Gift I Gave

The best Christmas gift that I ever got was one that I gave.  I was in high school, living with my mother, my sister, and my young nephew, Michael.  It was the first Christmas for my nephew.  He was nearly 1 year old, being born at the end of December the year before.  I can recall the memory very clearly.   It was very special occasion for me as it was for my family.  We did not have a lot of money, but we hoped that his first Christmas would be very special for him.  We all woke up early that Christmas eager to share the first Christmas with Michael.  We opened his first gift first.  We unwrapped a couple of our presents and then we opened a small, push tricycle for Michael.  He sat on it as if it was the chariot of a 1 year old child.  We quickly opened another of his  gifts.  It was a green choo-choo train. 

Michael did not want to get off of his chariot, but we were eager to share with him his next gift.  He gazed upon his green choo-choo without much interest, yet we wanted him to enjoy that gift as much as he did his last.  We lifted him off the push-tricycle and he immediately began crying.  We placed him on his green choo-choo and, within an instant, he stopped crying. The small child’s face smiled with delight.  It was this gift that I gave which was greater than any gift that I ever received.

The green choo-choo had two pieces.  It had a green engine with a red horn and his had a red caboose perfect for a small child to ride around in.  I can recall my young nephew enjoying his favorite Christmas gift for the next year.  He did not grow out of it in a hurry.  He enjoyed the gift all year long.

We were all living in a small house in a nice part of the suburbs.  The dining area of the kitchen was large.  Sometimes me and my sister would sit down in the front of the train and put Michael in the back of it.  We would ride him in it around the kitchen while the small child smiled and laughed with glee. 

I can recall gifts that I received as a child.  When I was very young I collected Star Wars toys.  I had an extensive collection of small wax figures in hopes of collecting every one that could be found in the original trilogy.  After the novelty of Star Wars wore off I collected Transformer robots.  Once again I wished for an extensive collection.  When I was a little older I collected Nintendo video games.  I enjoyed these childhood gifts and toys that I received, however none of these gifts were as special to me as the choo-choo train that I gave to my nephew on his first Christmas.
My nephew is now an adult with a son of his own.  We are not as close as we were when he was young.  Yet, the special memories that I shared with my nephew when he was a child and especially at Christmas are often reflected upon.  I can remember the gifts that I received as a child, but they seem to be trivial in retrospect.  There were other gifts that I gave to family members and friends but they seem to be insignificant compared to the joy that I was able to give to my young nephew all those years ago.   Looking back at all my Christmas’s it is clear that the best gift that I ever received was one that I gave.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Smile of a Bright Morning

  • Inspired by the song "Look Heart, no Hands" by Randy Travis
Sitting at the coffee shop along the beach, they watched the waves break against the shore.  The tide crashed upon the rocks to welcoming the early morning.  They sat enjoying their coffee as they did most every morning.  Later that day, as they walked along the beach, the cliffs rather than being ominous created a picturesque morning for them to relish.  And, the sun, although risen for hours, portrayed beautifully as it reflected in their view.

Hand on hand, they smiled upon the world as it smiled back at them.  He walked along the beach, slowly, while she playfully smiled and flirted jumping around him side to side.  Her smile invoked a feeling of deep, heart-felt love in his soul.  He could not help but smile back although the trivial nature of their relationship was still in its youth.

Their love had already grown strong. 

He would often let himself know that it was better to let the relationship lead where it would than to worry.    “Don’t take it seriously, just sit back and enjoy what you have,“ he would say to himself as he awoke each morning with a smile.

Although they both were young, engaging in their first true relationship, they both had such maturity to be aware of the sentiments.  She felt the same as he did, and though neither of them spoke of it aloud, they had a silent agreement on the mood which edged into a meaning.

The next morning, as such was their routine, they met once again at the same coffee shop.  He enjoyed an amaretto cappuccino, as she enjoyed a caramel-vanilla cappuccino.  Their conversation created the quiet, soft emotions of tranquility and wonder.  She would smile at him, as he would return the smile, mutually appreciating the feeling that warmed their hearts.  As they sat at the coffee shop this morning overlooking the ocean, the elation they felt touched every part of their life. 

Waking up this morning in her own apartment, she looked forward to her meeting with him.  She let herself wake up and get ready for the new day slowly and quietly. 

She glanced at the rising sun, and as she captured the morning breeze with a deep welcoming breath, she could see that all was right with the world.  As she stood alone outside her apartment, the wonder she felt with anticipation for their next meeting was still new and refreshing.  She readied herself for the day and walked a distance which was less than a mile away to the coffee shop where they were to meet once again. 

They sat there together at the coffee shop after a short walk upon the beach.  As he walked closely with her, her coy manner refreshed his senses and stirred feelings of a carefree youth.  Light-hearted in their liaison, they both silently entertained thoughts of something more lasting.

Alone he awoke in his apartment enjoying such liberty that living alone allowed.  His mind did not wander far away from her and his feelings for her did not diminish when she was away.

He did not work, and neither did she.  They were both full time students at this university which kept their lives very busy.  As sophomore in their second year at this prestigious college they were both far from home and the limitations of home life.  His day did not revolve around her, and neither did his, her.  But, when they would meet with each other, they both considered it to be a highlight which kept them both wanting more. 

They shared the same friends.  They spent much time together alone, but also spent much time in a crowd.  They would go to karaoke bars with a group of friends and walk upon the beach alone.  They would go to extravagant dinners at the nicer restaurants in town with their entourage and they would see the latest movies at the theaters with nothing but each other’s company.  However, the feelings which were captured and kept for many years after were their moments together at the coffee shop overlooking the ocean.  The simple sentiments which they were lucky enough to partake in with effortless conversation would last for many years to come. Although unknowingly the relationship would not last forever, the reminiscences would.

Her smile which brightened his world every day was lasting, and his appreciation of that smile would always be remembered.  The relationship ended, as most do.  However, at solitary moments they would both remember the times fondly with undying warmth in their hearts and a deep sigh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Promise of a New Day

·         Inspired by the song "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" by the Eagles

The cool, breezy morning air chafed against his skin.

On his balcony in his bathrobe, he enjoyed a morning cigarette and cup of coffee.

“It looks like an early winter,” he thought to himself.  He took a deep breath of air as to accentuate the point.

As a stiff gust of wind blew upon him, he took another sip of coffee and a drag off his cigarette.

Looking onto the park which served as a backdrop to his apartment he thought of her long blond hair and soft skin.  He would not have to be to work this morning for another couple of hours, but he always chose to enjoy each morning with a long awakening. 

He took another drag off his cigarette and another sip of his steaming coffee.  The morning radio played in the background and served to lift his spirits for a new day. The newspaper lay on the bottom stair below the balcony, but he chose not to pick it up.

Welcoming the new day, he was in no hurry.  Basking in the early winter, he let the crisp air invigorate his skin. 

Three years out of college and already working his way up the corporate ladder he thought how fortunate he was.  He had chosen to take college very seriously although his friends from high school had taken a different path.  This didn’t serve as angst, rather the strict regimen of studies and work which enabled him to finish college also allowed for other social opportunities.  While others who he knew were taking advantage of the many more frivolous social activities which were available at his college, he became a part of school activities and he found friends at the school coffee shops where he would enjoy the company of his friends in sobriety.

The DJ on the radio played an old, soft Beatles’ song that once again made him think of her.  He continued to enjoy his coffee and lit another cigarette.  The weatherman on TV said that rain was expected late this week.  He didn't want to worry about it too much.  The rain that accompanied early winter served as inspiration for a new year to come.

He gazed upon the park across the street from his apartment.  He planned to eat breakfast as to be charged for the day to come.  He would make himself an egg sandwich with potatoes and a tall glass of orange juice.

A strong gust of wind blew and the trees across the street raged in a furry.  The leaves that had collected upon the ground flew into the air and dust from the collection of foliage spit against his face.  He leaned upon the balcony rail and took another sip of his coffee which warmed his body and his bones.  He took another drag off his cigarette which inspired him to think of the position his life had taken which he personally believed to be enviable.

Her blond hair and her shining, blue eyes inundated his mind as he enjoyed the new morning.  

The steaming, warm coffee that he enjoyed each day allowed for much serenity.  The new day had much promise and the trivialities of life and the bothers of work didn’t cause sorrow.

He thought of her long, blond hair and his thoughts began to wonder back to high school about a girl he was not as fortunate to know. 

He lit another cigarette and took another sip of coffee.  It was almost time for breakfast which would take a couple minutes to cook and a few more to eat.

Her hair had been dark and her eyes green.  He had been shy and he had never had the confidence to talk to her.  She had been only one of many that he had come across in high school, but he thought her soft demeanor and how it had somehow had made her seem more special than most. 

“Just another reason to kick myself in the shin,” he thought to himself.  He looked out into the distance with the sun barely making its way over the horizon. 

He thought of one of many girls in college.  He knew at this point in his life it really was not important.  He had grown through his struggles and those had those mistakes had only served as learning experiences. 

He now stood on his balcony finishing his second cup of coffee and third cigarette on this cool, autumn morning.  He smiled at the morning sun which was halfway covered by the clouds and he went back into his apartment to eat his breakfast and go to work this Thursday morning.

As he began his day the tranquility he knew energized him with high expectations.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Good Life

  • inspired by the song "Already Gone" by The Eagles
Working for Wells Fargo Bank as a customer service technician, the days were full of doldrums and the monotony was strikingly apparent.  As a college graduate who was also a recovering alcoholic, job opportunities were rare.  After being hired and then fired from at least a few jobs since college, the lethargy's of a customer technician job paid the bills, but lacked excitement. 

Every morning he awoke early; he had to be at work thirty minutes away home at 9:00 a.m.  He had been free from the constraints of his illness for the past year, but it was still very difficult to gather the strength and ambition to get out of bed.  The complications of life left him with little recourse but to get by with the bare necessities.  He had not had a drink in over a year; however every morning still necessitated a warm pot of coffee and a morning full of chain smoking.

In the later years of the dire times of alcoholism, life held with it no hope.  Instead, all it held with it was the longing for his next drink.  While he was able to work, the thought that consumed him all day was the five o’clock hour and hitting the bar for another night of heavy drinking. 

He tried Alcoholics Anonymous to cure him of his disease, but willpower was not his constraint; it was the lack of desire to quit.  The misery that coexisted with his alcoholism had almost become comforting after many years.  The thought of a life without alcohol did not appeal to him.  He had no desire for friendship with a host of sober friends that would have been available.  He had no desire for a relationship which would have been possible with a life without alcohol.  Much less, he had no desire for a family and for children that were the standards of most of his long lost friends from college.

He had been sober now for over a year.  He was amazed by his clarity of thought, emotions, and intentions.  Last night he found the will to leave his small, one-room apartment to take part in a social opportunity outside the working world.  There was an AA sponsored karaoke coffee shop on the other side of town.  He had heard about it, he could not remember from where.  It was frequented by many recovering alcoholics and recovering drug addicts.  The patrons shared in coffee, cigarettes, and in the freedom from their habits and constraints of their past.  The social gathering had the niceties of a coffee shop including board games and billiards tables as well as coffee. 

The song played in the background, So many times it happens, we live our lives in chains and never even realize we hold the key.  It was a break from the singing of the patrons.  The set-up of the venue especially welcomed the host of customers who were searching to come to terms with their mistakes of the past.  In addition to a host of coffee drinks, they served pastries and desserts.

He sat at the bar and ordered a warm cup of coffee.  He enjoyed the music in the background and he enjoyed the cigarette that he had just lit.  He surveyed the room.  The patrons seemed to be mostly in their thirties.  He felt a bit young in the crowd; as he was in his late twenties.  He marveled at how in-tuned to reality and to the atmosphere he was becoming.

He made eye contact from across the room with one of the female patrons.  She seemed to be a little bit rundown from her own years of drinking and drug use.  Yet, she was still very attractive in a hard, yet sophisticated manner.  The DJ still played in the background.  He had come here tonight not looking for any sort of relationship; long-term or short.  However, her gaze was forthright and honest so he decided it might be appropriate to approach her in a casual manner and ask her to dance.

Upon walking across the room she almost demurely accepted the dance. 

As they danced she discussed her many years of alcoholism which were parallel to his.  Neither was very comfortable on the dance floor, but they were enjoying each other’s company so they made their way back to the bar where he lit a her cigarette.

It was a life which could be much more fully appreciated than that of an alcoholic.  After a year of sobriety he was able to get out of his apartment and enjoy a sober venue which was far more enjoyable than the morbid alcoholism he had experienced for most of his adult life.

After two years, the craving for alcohol had almost disappeared.  After some time after that he was finally able to enjoy life again. 

It had now been over ten years since his last drink.  He had made his way up the corporate ladder at Wells Fargo and he now prized a more than respectable income among the higher echelons.  He loved and cherished his wife and his two children.  The excitement and enjoyment he got out of every day of a life of sobriety far surpassed the alcoholic prison of his own making of the past.

With love and companionship after the many years of an alcoholic haze he came to realize that life is what we make it to be.  It can be cherished if we so choose and it can be dreaded if we so choose.    

Holidays came and past that were spent in the conviviality of his family as did birthdays and other familiar events.  Every morning was a tribute that all that is decent and good.  The splendor of a life well-lived was now enjoyed completely.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A New Life

  • inspired by the song "Life's a Dance" by John Michael Montgomery
Arriving at college it was a new world.  In high school, Adam had enjoyed parties with his friends, but this was a completely different experience.  The freedom that leaving home offered was somewhat intimidating.  Yet, he approached it with a very positive perspective. 

He was more than seven hundred miles from home and he was placed in the position of living with young college students who he had never met. 

The first night at the dorms, after his parents had dropped him off, Adam sat in his apartment silently for a moment as he cast his eyes on people who he had just met.  He had always been quick to make friends; however, this was far different.  He was now placed in the precarious position of living with people he had never known.

A week came and passed.  His acclimation into the new environment evolved very well.   Classes were not to begin for a few more days and during the past week he, his roommates, and his neighbors had shared in the trivial festivities that define college life.

The first night at the dorms he and his roommates went to the dining commons together to enjoy a hamburger and fries.  There was also a soda fountain there and the food was excellent.  They sat together and engaged in frivolous conversation that served as a brief introduction.

A month into college life he was quick to acclimate himself to college life.  Adam took to his class schedule and studying diligently.  The weekend parties were enjoyed by all.  Although he had not found a girlfriend, he had met many girls that he was beginning to know very well.  

The music would play as a soundtrack that highlighted the freedom  that college life allowed.   Beer flowed freely.  Some of his friends, who he had only met a month ago, enjoyed the festivities in to extreme level; partaking in drinking in an attempt to experience the highest level of inebriation that they could reach.  Although he had only known them a month, he already considered many of them to be good friends.  He enjoyed his friendships, yet chose to take it slow and not drink to the point of losing his senses.

From the perspective of an eighteen-year old kid barely out of high school, this experience could have been frightening.  However, his outlook on life enabled him to look upon the situation with perspective.   The girls were plentiful and the beer flowed freely.  Every morning he would wake up early and prepare himself for a new day.  Each morning he enjoyed coffee.  Sometimes he would eat breakfast with one or more of his roommates, sometimes alone, and sometimes with  one of the girls at the school he had recently met.  The two of them were slowly becoming close.

Even the academics at the prestigious college, which could have been very daunting, were approached confidently allowing him to succeed at this very high level of schooling.  In high school the populace of the school was somewhere around sixteen hundred.  Here in college the student body numbered closer to fifteen thousand.  In addition, the schedule of classes was different every day; usually three times a week for each class instead of the standard five as it was in high school.  The structure was also more gauged to quality instruction than a heavy workload which would burden the student’s time.

Three months into college life and he read his posted grades on the University website.  He had taken 4 classes.  He had received a top grade of an A minus in his history class.  In addition, he had received a B plus, a B minus, and a B.  He was pleased in his academic adjustment into college life.

To celebrate the end of finals, the dorms threw a cluster of parties in unison.  He and his roommates cleared their apartment of furniture, got a keg of Samuel Adams Beer, and invited a few dozen of their closest friends to join in on the celebrations.  The music that they played was a collection of classic rock including Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. 

The party was enjoyed by all.  Instead of drinking heavily, Adam took the opportunity for mild celebration and to socialize with a large number of friends that he had made in his three months at the dorms. 

It was not a dance party, although everybody enjoyed the music.  Mostly it could be described by undefinable drunkenness and revelry.  He and Alison took the opportunity to share in conversation.  Much of Adam’s time at the party was spent on the balcony slowly consuming his beer.  Alison had approached him earlier in the night and they had stuck close to one another throughout most of the party. 

The hours passed and the mild drunkenness of many of the college patrons transformed into heavy intoxication.  The party was enjoyed by all; even those he chose to be very conservative in their party-goings.   It was about midnight now and Alison asked Adam to walk her back to her apartment.  There was a large collection of college students living at this particular dorm and the dorm encompassed a large area.  However, it was about midnight now and many of the parties had ended.  There was still some music in the background, but most in the crowd had already gone to bed from a night of heavy drinking.

The two of them walked leisurely to her apartment.  It was a cool night in the late fall.  The music that they overheard served as a backdrop to what had otherwise been an inconsequential night.  They arrived at her apartment after a brief walk.  They had been spending quite a lot of time together and they were beginning to know each other very well. 

Alison turned to face him before retiring after the party.  She looked at Adam wishing him a good night.  After a moment’s hesitation, they shared in a kiss to which neither one of them knew would lead.  They promised to meet each other for breakfast in the morning.  Adam walked back to his apartment pleasantly surprised on how the night had ended.  While he walked away the music in the background played and he looked positively ahead towards tomorrow. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunday Dinner at Aunt Abigail's House

  • inspired by the song "That's what I love about Sundays" by Craig Morgan
After church on Sundays the family and all the cousins gathered at their Old Aunt Abigail’s house for a Sunday dinner.  They congregated in the enormous backyard of what used to be a southern plantation.  Aunt Abigail laboriously barbequed chicken for the entire extended family, which numbered around three dozen.  She made coleslaw and macaroni salad to add to the meal.  To complete the dinner she served corn on the cob.

The early days of Summer were the most suited for the celebrations.  The children played in the yard while the adults gathered for familiar conversation.  The vastness of the plantation comprised more than ten acres.  Giant cottonwood trees marked most of the landscape.  On the largest tree hung a swing on which the children took turns in the adventure.   They swung up and around, immensely enjoying the light-hearted activity.

As the children played, the adults engaged in their own trivial happenings.   The newly married talked about their children and the older members of the group talked about the days when they were young.

Aunt Abigail was ready to serve the dinner.  It was almost five o’clock and the children were famished from a long day of church and play.  The adults also eagerly awaited the meal, prepared as if by a chef.  The adults sat together at a table where they would continue the niceties of the day of which they always enjoyed.  Some of the older children brought the plates to the adults and to the other children filled with barbequed chicken, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and corn on the cob.   With a long day’s hunger they all began their meals, savoring every bite.

Today, as with every other Sunday, the adults sat with the adults as the children sat with the children.  The sun was lowering in the sky.  It was not near sunset, but the fiery image in the sky was highlighted with prolific colors.

Still in their Sunday best the adults continued their conversation.  The children had put on their play-clothes after church as to not stain and tear them.

Baseball season underlined the conversation among the men.  “What do you think the Brave’s chances are this year?” one asked.

Another ventured on the same subject.  “I hate to say it, but I think the Met’s are going to take it all.”

The women shared their own conversation.  They talked mostly about their kids.  There had been two new babies born into the family who their mothers adored.  They talked about when their cousin Marian was finally going to get married.  However, it wasn’t the conversation that was important; it was the weekly tradition of the family gathering that they cherished.

The men continued their conversation.  The school football team had made it to the county playoffs this year and they wondered how they would do this year.  There was a young promising quarterback on the team for which they all had high expectations.  He had been a junior last year and they all waited to see how he would perform as a senior.

“I’d like to see them win county and make it to state,” Abigail’s husband said.

In a small town like this football served as the main pastime and topic for conversation among the men.  The entire town would travel around the outlying areas and would root for their team every game.

The children talked and played while they ate.  There were children of all ages, from those barely past the years of being toddlers to those ready to graduate high school.  As they ate, the older children would look over the younger children and assist in the job of child care. 

Every Sunday, it was not a spectacular event, but it was a precious tradition.  The family, which had lived in this town for more than a hundred years, had always celebrated the occasion which brought joy.  In recent years they would meet at church and then gather at Old Aunt Abigail’s house.

As the year’s past there was much laughter and many tears.  The old passed away making room for a new generation and children were born.  But, the Sunday gatherings in which they shared time with each other and all the family were treasured memories for them all.  It was a time for them to rejoice in what it means to be a family and to inundate in the familiar love that they felt for one another.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Not a tear to shed

  • inspired by the song "Paint me a Birmingham" by Tracy Lawrence 
He sat and watched the waves break against the shore.  He was not a heavy drinker; however, he took this opportunity to reflect on his life that he felt had hit a standstill since his break-up.  Lighting up a cigarette, he contemplated a relationship gone amiss.   The music played in the background highlighting the somber mood in which he was engulfed.

It began five months ago and ended abruptly after three short weeks.  Her beauty was undeniable.   But, that was not that which had drawn him to her.  It was the traits of a confident and demure woman that had begun the attraction.  When he was with her he felt at ease and as if nothing could possibly waver the bliss and tranquility he felt.

A large wave crashed against the shore.  He took another sip of his beer and lit another cigarette.  It was near dusk and the sun was beginning to set into the ocean.  The cool summer breeze refreshed his senses. 

Alone, he sat at a mostly empty bar staring at the direction of the ocean and contemplating recent events.  Not one to overly indulge in alcohol, he slowly finished his first beer.  He sat alone and watched the beach-goers pass by. 

The waitress returned to his table.  A young man sitting in solitude at this bar was rare, but she did not think much of it.  He gazed out into the ocean with a guise of indifference.  There were a few other patrons at the bar, but he chose to sit alone.  The waitress briefly glanced at him as she approached his table.  Her only thought was to wonder what caused a man to sit alone in such seclusion.  Usually the regulars at the bar would come with their friends and enjoy light-hearted camaraderie.

She asked him if he would like her to bring him another beer.  Without a sound, he motioned towards his glass asking for another.  Walking away she glanced at him, not considering a man alone in a location usually reserved for merriment.

Remembering their first meeting, he was sitting at a coffee shop reading a book and enjoying a warm espresso.  It was a small place across town reserved for those interested in light conversation and a mellow atmosphere.  As he read his book, he noticed her looking in his direction.  She smiled at him in a most modest manner.  It was not usually a venue for meeting people; however he walked up to her and asked if he could join her.

He felt an immediate connection with her, conversing with ease and feeling complete assurance. 

They had dated for only a few weeks, but during those three weeks he felt carefree with confidence that what he felt for her was true.

The waitress returned to his table with his beer.  He thanked her as he set another dollar beer on the table. 

The sun had nearly sunk entirely into the ocean.  The cool summer breeze chaffed against his skin.  As he took a few more sips out of his beer he lit another cigarette. 

Without recourse for solace, he began to regress in remembrance of what for a short time had been perfection.  Upon contemplation all he could feel was regret.

He finished his beer and placed another dollar on the table.  He looked at the stars in the sky and walked home on the brisk summer night.  Tomorrow he would work, while attempting to bury the painful memories of what he knew meant to him more than it should.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Family's Hope

  • inspired by the song "The Impossible" by Joe Nichols

“Watch out!” Steve yelled.  “It’s about to fall.”

Monty looked up, but it was too late.  The rafter that had been suspended by the crane fell from twenty feet up and trapped Monty.  Hanging precariously fifty feet above, was a steel beam in danger of plummeting to the ground.

Pinned underneath the rafter, Monty was unable to move.  He was not seriously injured, just trapped.

The steel beam was suspended above in danger of plunging to the ground and hitting Monty.  Monty could not carry himself from harm’s way.  The much larger beam would surely crush the life out of him.

From across the yard, Steve leaped into a Bobcat.  He would be able to lift Monty, who was pinned between a wedge of wood and the rafter, and bring him to safety.  He elevated Monty, along with his entrenchment, from the site of the accident as the steel beam suspended above was falling.  The beam fell on top of the Bobcat, breaking through the roof and landing on Steve’s legs.  Monty walked away with little more than a scare, but both of Steve’s legs were badly broken.   One had a clean break just below the hip.  Blood gushed from the wound and the broken bone protruded from his flesh. 

The other workers ran to Steve’s aid.

“I can’t feel my legs!” Steve cried out in anguish.  They immediately brought him to a hospital, but it was believed that it might be too late to return function to his legs.  It was thought that he may even loose them entirely.

Over a month had passed since the horrible incident.  With his youngest daughter’s wedding five months away, he would not be able to lead her down the aisle.  Bound by a wheelchair at this time, he would be forced to watch from those among the church.

“Therapy will get you nowhere” the doctor assured him.  “It is possible that you may be able to walk with crutches.”

Steve and his wife, Lara, were both very religious.  Their faith in God was unwavering.  They believed that, with fortitude and persistence, that Steve would walk again.  The precious dream of walking his daughter down the aisle was unshakable. 

The doctor recommended therapy that, but he pledged to Steve and Lara that it was hopeless.  Yet, they believed that God helps those who help themselves and with unflinching determination he engaged in the therapy.

Daily, he underwent his regiment of therapy.  Steadfastly, although painfully, he forced the tortuous exercise that would liberate him from his crippled condition.  He visited the therapeutic wing of the hospital and held himself up by his shoulders as he slowly staggered down the short passageway.  Three months into the therapy and he was able to place some of the burden of his weight on his legs, but he carried the vastness of it with his arms.        

“You don’t have to try so hard,” his wife pleaded as she wept from the suffering the rehabilitation was causing.  “Your daughter knows that you love her.  Being at the wedding will be enough for her.  You don’t have to put yourself through all of this.”

His determination was steadfast.  With each day he grew stronger.  One day, waking up in the morning, rising to sit in his wheelchair and make his way to breakfast; a pivotal advancement in his recovery occurred.  He felt a strange sensation in his legs where, for months, he had felt nothing.  Tingling, as if oxygen was being infused into his muscles, alerted him that a recovery might be possible.  He immediately informed his wife of the news.

After months of rehabilitation tears filled her eyes as she shared the same realization that their persistence and prayers might finally be answered.  

The wedding was upon them, only a couple of weeks away.  By this time, Steve was mostly carrying himself around on crutches.  The bulk of his weight was carried by his arms and the crutches, but complete feeling had now returned to his legs.

His daughter, Jessica, about to marry her longtime fiancĂ©, Alex, had shared her mother’s sentiment during her father’s entire recovery.  The pain the injury had inflicted also struck her emotions brutally.  “You don’t have to do it,” she pleaded to her father.  “All that matters to me is that you are there.”

On the day of her wedding, his father assured her he would not only be there, but he would provide his daughter with the right of passage owed to her.  “I will give you the wedding you deserve,” he said.  “I don’t know if you know this, but this day is as important to me as it is to you.”

Her wedding day arrived and their family and friends gathered.  She was dressed in a white gown and her groom in his tuxedo waited at the front of the church for her.  Her father who had been walking with only a cane, at times, for the past week insisted that would not be enough.  The wedding procession began.  However painful, he put aside his cane and walked his daughter down the aisle to meet her groom and begin her new life.

The emotions overtook his wife and she cried not only for her daughter, but also for herself and for her husband.  With steadfast determination, Steve was able to give his daughter the wedding of which they all dreamed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Day in the Bahamas

He awoke to a crisp spring morning.  The clean ocean air invigorated his senses.  He rose early from his slumbers.  As he enjoyed his morning cigarette the aroma of his fresh, brewing coffee welcomed a new day. 

After showering, he went back to the balcony to enjoy another cigarette.  With The Beatles Abbey Road album playing in unison to the tranquil atmosphere of the spring morning, he drank a cup of coffee, relishing it with another cigarette.

For breakfast he made himself an egg sandwich on an English muffin.  On the side he had homemade hash browns with four slices of avocado.  A glass of orange juice and another cup of coffee completed his meal.

Accompanied by a mass of young college students, he walked towards the home room of his philosophy class.  The friendly aura of the day seemed to be shared by all.  He walked towards his class, immersed in the beauty of the college co-eds that surrounded him.  Halfway through the walk, he noticed an attractive, young blonde college girl.  She, as was most of the campus, was probably in her early twenties.  He gazed upon her briefly, appreciating her soft, long blonde hair and her perfectly toned body accented by a halter top and a tight pair of cut-off jeans.  A girl of such beauty coming into view was not rare in this college setting, but he savored each occasion.

He continued through campus to his classroom.  He sat down about five minutes before class was to begin.  The conversation which was led by the professor was always fascinating.   That is why he chose to study the subject of philosophy.

The professor started the class discussion.  The topic of the class was the philosophers of The Renaissance.   The argument by Descartes on “I think, therefore I am” was the topic for today’s class. 

The professor began his lecture, but he always welcomed participation from his students.  After beginning the lecture, briefly restating Descartes’ thoughts, a large collection of the students joined in. 

One student, not highly enamored by what he considered to be the trite nature of Descartes’ argument volunteered.  In a polished and scholarly manor he stated, “The problem with the philosophy of Descartes is that the nature of his synopsis doesn’t amount to anything substantial.   Through the course of his argument he does little to enlighten his readers about anything intriguing or even interesting at all.  It is simply an exercise in rhetorical discourse.”

The professor, not distressed with the disinterest of his student’s protest, said, “Your argument is completely valid.  However, this is characteristic of the philosophers of The Renaissance.  They do not intend to provoke thought on pressing moral or political issues; rather, they attempt to exercise the intellect wherever it may lead.”

A young college co-ed, in her fourth year of education and a major in philosophy contributed to the conversation.  “Descartes, as espoused in his similar discussion of ‘what makes a ball of wax a ball of wax,’ participated in the same intellectual exercise.   Through challenging the intellect, liberation of the mind can be achieved.”

The class was fascinating and it stimulated Jonathan much more than most of his other classes did.  The classroom discussion ended an hour and a half after it began and the students dispersed to whichever was their next destination.   As he walked away he marveled at the intelligence of those attending college with him.

He did not have any more classes today, so he went about to the chores of the rest of his day.  Once again, he enjoyed the beauty of the college co-eds and felt exhilarated when one caught his eye and smiled in his direction.

As typical on a Monday, he stopped by the library on his way home from class to take in a couple hours of studying.  Although he enjoyed the trivialities of college life, he managed to maintain the focus on his education.  The day was uneventful.  It was spent by time in the library studying and by the forty-five minutes he spent at the coffee shop catching up on reading in his medieval history class.

The day was now over and another night in the college town which transformed itself into a resort every evening was ready to begin. 

He went back to his apartment after a mostly solitary day.  He showered and put on clean clothes to meet up with his friends.  Although he lived alone, his friends were plentiful.  He was friends with his neighbors as well as with a large gathering of other college students.  On many afternoons he shared a couple of beers with his neighbors in light-hearted camaraderie.  Tonight he would meet with a collection of his friends and they would test their fortunes on picking up college girls at a local bar.

Two of Jonathan’s good friends, Brian and Justin, met up with him at his apartment for a pre-party before a night of revelry which was about to begin.  From the wide selection of Jonathan’s CD’s, he chose a Credence Clearwater Revival CD.  They all stood on the balcony enjoying cigarettes and premium Budweiser lager.  After shot-gunning their third beer, they made their way half a mile through the small college town to their favorite bar.

The exercise in which they engaged brought excitement simply in light of the beauty of the college girls by which they were surrounded.  They picked out a table and began sharing a pitcher of beer as they submerged themselves in the atmosphere of the billiards club.

Instead of making a rash attempt to pick up a particular girl, the friends knew it best to let the evening evolve into what it would.  After a few more beers, Jonathan, Brian, and Justin went to the back patio to light up a cigarette.

Upon entering the patio, Jonathan saw a girl that he had seen a week before and immediately walked up to her as she gazed in his direction.  She was the one to initiate the conversation, “Can I have a cigarette?”  She asked him with a semi-sarcastic smirk on her face.

He happily obliged.  After a few minutes of conversation, Jonathan invited her and her friends to meet them at the pool table.  Brian and Justin were perfectly happy with this turn of events because it brought them into the cusp with the girl’s three friends.

The night went along as all nights did.  They all drank, but began to slow down after their fourth or fifth beer.  The night of frivolity was not lost upon them and Jonathan and Brian each went home with a girl’s phone number promising to meet up with them later in the week.

College life in this town was like a day in The Bahamas.  A day in The Bahamas is always a nice distraction from college living.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Mother's Love Never Dies

  • inspired by the song "All that love from here" by Wynonna Judd 

Robert’s mother, Sarah, had died five years ago.  They, as well as the rest of the family had always been very close.

“As long as I have a place to live, you have a place to live,” his mother once said to him when he was falling on hard times.

He had graduated from college, but could not find work.  He majored in finance in college; however, because of the sputtering economy and the woes of the housing market, he could not find work.  He settled for a job as manager at a local McDonald’s.  The meager income that he received in a job not measuring up to his skill level barely kept him afloat.  Thus, he lived at home until he could find work matching his abilities.

He awoke every morning at a home that seemed to be much too constrictive for his needs.  He had to be to work 6 days a week.  Usually he opened the store himself while his employees sifted in over the next hour or two.

It was problematic working with such a young group of employees.  Although he was no more than seven years older than most of them, the complexities of having such a staff interfered with the social opportunities of work.  He had other co-workers who were his superiors in the company hierarchy; however, more often than not he worked closely with a group of high school students and those in their late teens.

When his mom had died a few years back, it was a very emotional time for his family.  His brother, George, and his sister, Emily, both flew in from halfway across the country to attend the funeral and the wake.

“Mom always had it hard,” his sister Emily said to her brother Robert before the funeral was to begin. 

Throughout the wake, they enjoyed coffee and each other’s company to celebrate a life.  Emily and George’s kids flew in with their parents across the country, but they were unable to understand the event which centered on a grandmother they never got the opportunity to know.  Robert was still living close to his mother when she passed away and had been in charge of the painful funeral arrangements.

At the funeral, all of Sarah’s children had cried.  However, there were no loud outbursts; instead, they cried in a silent and dignified manner attempting to max their emotions which were very strong.

After her divorce, their mother had moved back to Washington State where her brother and sister lived.  Seattle was close enough to most of them and she used it has an opportunity for personal reflection.  However difficult the divorce was, her family members offered the emotional support she needed to recover.

Today, five years after the funeral, Robert visited his mother’s grave to place flowers.  Every year he took the time as an opportunity to commemorate his mother’s life.  The tears no longer flowed, but his eyes would still get misty. 

Standing there next to her grave, Robert could finally sense the completion of his mother’s life.  He knew that she was in heaven praying for him as he prayed for her.  Death is transitory and it does no good to weep in sorrow for those who are now gone.  It was not only the love for her that remained strong, but also the sense that her love for him remained strong.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

He sat in his room, alone drinking whiskey.  He didn’t have any friends outside of the school setting.  He was sure to get home from school as fast as he could to open up another hard bottle of whiskey.

The first thing in the morning, Thomas poured a cup of coffee and lit up a cigarette.  The thought of facing a day without the solace he found in alcohol was assuming, thus, he poured himself two or three glasses before class.

This routine typified his high school experience.  Despite his drinking, Thomas was able to get into college.  His adequate grades in high school allowed him to make the trek to Chico State in northern California.  He had heard that it was a party school which is what attracted him to the location.  Although he drank heavily, which was characteristic of the other students, his endeavor into the matter guised a different purpose.  His friends in college drank with all the best of intentions, while Thomas drank to the point of belligerence, attempting to mask the all-encompassing sorrow that had become to define his life.

The first night at the dorms was memorable, in that instead of drinking to a stupor within the confines of his home, he did so in the midst of a college party in which he had been immersed.  At the beginning of the night, before his drunken haze kicked in, his mask of depression was hidden well, like it had been during the morning hours in high school.

“Make a move,” one of his recently acquainted roommates said to him.  “She likes you,” he said in reference to the girl who had made her way through the party to sit next to Thomas.

In response to the suggestion, Thomas took another swig of whiskey and chased it with gulp of beer.  He did not know how to talk to her or how to make a forward move.

The party went on.  As the hours past Thomas sank deeper and deeper into the grips of his accustomed inebriation. 

At about 11:00 p.m. at night, it was time to exit the party and retreat to his room.  He stumbled there to relish a few more drinks without the distraction of the party in which he could pursue his own misery.

He brought along the half-empty bottle of whiskey and turned on his stereo to a collection of his particularly depressing CD’s.  It was his endeavor to despair to which he actively pursued.  He put on a Willie Nelson CD.  It had a fine selection of drinking songs which highlighted his mood and helped him wallow even deeper into his personal desolation.

“Whiskey River, take my mind.  Don’t let her memory torture me.  Whiskey River don’t run dry.  You’re all I got to carry me.”(Willie Nelson)

He fought back the tears in a way he didn’t have to while he was in high school.

Over his first two years in college this was the manner in which he led his life.  He was not as transparent in his misery as he believed himself to be.  Although, none of his friends ever mentioned it to him, at times, they discussed it among themselves.

“What we gotta do it to find him a girlfriend,” one of his friends said to another.

Once a girl, one of his friend’s girlfriends finally confided in him.  “Why do you drink so much?”

“I don’t know,” he responded.  Not ready to open up to anybody, not even his close friends. He poised his answer as if he was drinking just to be part of the crowd.

She did not want to be intrusive, so she didn’t mention the oblique depression which he seemed to strive for.  “You’re a smart guy.”  She guided him. 

She didn’t know how to tell him, she couldn’t believe he didn’t know.  But she thought it would be better to tell him.  “Everybody already likes you.  You don’t have to drink so much.”

It didn’t quite hit him then.  He continued to live his life in a bog of self-pity.

After years of depression, one day he woke up and noticed a bright, cool, spring day. 

It was not through his own willpower that he made the discovery.  It was only after complete resignation that he was able to discover that there were actually things to live for.

He woke up the next morning and, once again, the sky was blue and the air was crisp. 

Although he did not have a girlfriend of his own, he and his friend, Peter, and Peter’s girlfriend strolled to one of the neighborhood coffee shops.  It was a magnificent day that he could not ignore.  They sat down and enjoyed a couple of iced coffee’s where there was no more needed to enjoying the day than good conversation.

The next day, Thomas woke up early.  Instead of a hangover, he enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee and a cigarette on his balcony welcoming a new day.  He walked to class with his eyes wide open and as he ventured through campus he could not count all the reasons to live for.  It was another sunny day.  For no reason that he could name he had a smile on his face. 

He got home from class and he put on one of his roommates CD’s.  It was The Beatles Abbey RoadHe stood on his balcony and enjoyed a cigarette and a cool glass of iced tea.  He noticed one of his neighbors.  Her name was Alicia.  Although they had been neighbors for over five months, they did not know each other well.  He gazed upon her auburn hair.

As Thomas basked in the early afternoon spring air, the music played in the background. 

“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.  Little darling, it feels like years since its been here. Here comes the sun and I say.  It’s all right.”(The Beatles)

Alicia looked up at Thomas and flashed him a smile.  He took another sip of ice tea and lit himself another cigarette savoring the invigorating spring day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Father's Love

  • inspired by the song "I'm so happy, I can't stop crying" by Toby Keith

“May I now pronounce you, Man and Wife,” the preacher said without hesitation.  “You may kiss the bride.”

The church, packed with people from front to back, viewed the ceremony after years of anticipation.  Jacob and Shelly had been planning on the wedding for more than a year.  Before that, they had been dating for more than three years.  Much talk around town centered on the topic of when these two would be married.  This conversation was even more prevalent among their closest friends.

The audience all had attended the wedding shower the night before.  The group had gathered at a Hilton in a nearby town and they had shared in a magnificent dinner to celebrate the occasion.  The young and old, from small towns all over the state, shared in the merriments of the wedding.  After the dinner, music played and people danced.  Although neither family was extremely wealthy, they had managed to put together a lavish wedding.

The preacher announced, “You may kiss the bride.”  Shelly’s father let loose the tears that he had been welling up all through the ceremony.  The women, young and old, also passed around handkerchiefs.  The adults in both of the families considered such events to be more just an excuse for festivity, but also events of almost religious magnitude.

The ceremony continued.  The bride and groom walked out the church.  Row by row, the audience followed them out the back door of the church.  After the photos were taken, the bride threw the bouquet and the groom threw the garter belt.

Later that night they were to meet back at the nearby Hilton to share the revelry which is typical after wedding vows.  They hired a DJ and they all danced and listened along with their favorite songs which were specifically chosen for the ceremony.  Along with dinner, much beer, wine, and champagne was served. 

The older guests of the wedding always enjoyed these events that happened every year or two.  It was the first opportunity to experience an occasion such as this for many of the younger people in the audience.  Shelly’s father’s eyes stayed misty through the rest of the event.  The celebrations that incurred at the wedding reception did little to disguise his emotions.

He could remember clearly the day that his daughter had been born.  They had to drive all the way into Atlanta when his wife was ready to give birth.  He stood in the waiting room, patiently anticipating the news from her doctor.  It was to be his first child and the nervousness and anxiety that he felt was palpable.

The doctor entered the room.  “Congratulations, you are now the proud father of a baby girl.”

His eyes remained misty, however, a half-hour later when he was allowed to see his wife and his baby daughter he could not hold back the tears. 

His wife asked, “Would you like to hold your little girl?”  She was wrapped in a pink blanket and, as he cradled her in his arms, tears fell from his eyes.  He knew that the love that he felt for his baby daughter would always be there.  

It was but the beginning of the life of the newborn as it was near the beginning of married life for the young couple.  Their love was strong and as the years past it only grew stronger.  The sentiments of the years created memories and the memories invoked tears.  The family's love matured and evolved into a truly blessed life.  Although it was a simple life, it was that of the most robust emotions of familiar love which endeared them all.