Cancer Awareness Month

In a tribute to those we’ve lost to cancer and those who continue their brave battle, and to promote cancer research and awareness, I want to share how cancer has affected me personally.

No inspirational quotes today to prime the pump.  There is nothing which makes up for the loss of a parent, much less two.

My father died in 1969 as I was just beginning my journey into adulthood.  He died three weeks before his first grandchild was born.  So two people were deprived of the opportunity to know a man of character, honesty and integrity.  I believe my son would have benefited greatly from knowing his maternal grandfather who had a terrific sense of humor, a wonderful gift for storytelling, and an unshakable belief that family comes first and if you take care of the people you love, your family both of blood and friends who are chosen “family”, all other things will fall into their rightful place.

My parents were married after knowing each other only six weeks during World War II.  He abandoned his high school sweetheart, who’d promised to wait for him, and ignored the wishes of his family.  She outright defied the dictates of her strict parents and upbringing, for the man she fell in love with “the first time she laid eyes on him”.

They were married just shy of twenty-five years, when my Father became ill with cancer, and died six weeks after his diagnosis.

My mother survived the loss of her husband, known to be the love of her life, but barely.  The first year was the worst, and she suffered such a devastation of spirit, I thought we might lose her too.

They were madly in love with each other every day of their marriage and everyone around them knew just how it was for both of them.  The had a date every Saturday night and spent time with each other paying attention to their relationship as well as their family.

I learned different things from each parent, just the way it should be, and all the things they taught me were valuable lessons.  From my father I got three unbreakable life rules:  1) try to never lose your sense of humor, 2) value your education, 3) believe in the impossible, it makes things possible.

For several years after my Father’s death I still wanted to pick up the phone to share things he might agree with me were odd, or funny, and so I miss him still today, some forty odd years later.

During times of real stress, I know my Father is still with me, since I’ve seen his spirit in the house where I grew up.  I haven’t lost my mind, and I’m not the only one, my little sister still lives in that house and she’s seen him several times.  My Father, gone but not forgotten, still looking out for his loved ones.

So take a moment, share a thought, reminisce and use the link to donate to the cause.  Support cancer research and let’s working on keeping those loved ones close, as long as we can.

God Bless to all the Dads both here and in the hereafter.

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What’s the difference?

I often wonder what the difference is between pressure and irritation?

Often enough we deal with pressure in our daily lives.  Pressure is said to be the most important factor in the formation of diamonds, but if you only irritate an oyster, you get pearls.

Pressure will also eventually cause an explosion.  People often cast their pearls before swine.  I ask you, what’s the difference?

Perhaps it’s strictly a matter of taste, or time. Do you have the time to invest in any project which will make it the equal of diamonds?  A few things leap to mind, such as building a relationship, or raising a child.

But then are those things in life that are simply irritations not worth the time and energy we put into them?  How about a career?  A life plan?  A retirement?

None of those seems irritating to me, but then maybe that’s just a matter of perspective.  I guess you could say it about everything in your life at any given time depending on where you are in your life right now.  Or maybe not.

Maybe we get too wound up in the examination of life to bother just enjoying it, or living it, or being in the moment.

I’m trying not to do that this year.  Yes, I know it’s a late start on a resolution, but I don’t want to make a lot of changes, just a minor tweak in attitude.  That’s doable, right?

After all, it’s a brand new year.

Using your gifts

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

― Albert Einstein

Just how much of our brain do you think we use every day? Some people would tell you they use it all, while others might say that it’s never enough. The real problem for most writers is the inability to turn off portions of our brains, even selectively.

For many, the ability to “turn on the auto pilot” is the appeal of a thing like National Novel Writing Month.

Can you accomplish more if you just put your head down, tuck your elbows to your sides, and keep typing?  I bet you can, and  Chris Baty believes that too.  In fact, the belief is one of the reasons NaNoWriMo survives today.

So tell me, did you win?

If yes, good for you!

If no, then don’t sweat it.  Lot’s of people drop out.  Every one who takes up the gauntlet discovers something about themselves, and sometimes the thing you discover is . . .are you ready for this?  You don’t really want to write a novel after all.

That’s Okay.  You don’t have to do it.  No one does.  Writing is a choice.  Many choose never to return to the keyboard in an attempt at fiction, but some of us learn different things.

Like, let’s say, you don’t have a plot.  There’s no problem during the first draft, that plot thingy is fixable.  Eventually you will need a plot, hopefully a trim, tight little plot that delivers a great story.

But at the beginning?  Nope, you don’t need it.  Just keep writing.

In fact, in case you missed it, that’s the secret to success at NaNoWriMo.

Just keep writing.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before and I will credit Nora Roberts with the saying, I’ve heard her say it often enough;  you cannot fix a blank page, but you can fix a bad one.

So really people, this is like getting the meaning of life, just keep writing.

Don’t make me resort to the story about the monkeys, the typewriters and the Bible.  Please, don’t.

And keep you minds and your eyes open, for this Holiday Season, my blogmates are threatening our readers with more short stories.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Just member, I write horror stories, so what was Santa doing in the chimney, anyway?

Haunted Lover-Final Chapter

Cissie ran down the entry hall throwing the doors wide open.  As paramedics burst into the hall firing questions at her, she shrank back against the  staircase, shaking and crying.

“How soon did you start CPR?” the tall one pulled equipment from packs they’d carried into the house.

“Did he have a pulse?” The short one pulled the shirt open, exposing Scott’s chest.

“I started right away.  I couldn’t find a pulse, but it was my first time,’ she wrung her hands to still the trembling. “Please, help him.”

The paramedics knelt on either side of Scott’s chest.  The tall one placed pads and switched on the AED monitor.  Cissie watched as the machine went through its motion, assessing, evaluating, calculating.  Finally the tinny command came from the small black box,”Stand clear”.  “No Pulse detected. Stand Clear, delivering shock.”

It won’t do any good.  He’s gone.

“Will this help him?”  Cissie moved restlessly shifting her weight from foot to foot.

“Maam, we’re doing the best we can, just give us a chance.”  The machine whirred again, “Begin CPR”.

He’s gone.  He’ll never bother you again.  

“Cal, please.”  Cissie muttered half to herself.

“Is Cal your husband?” The short one was placing an airway while the tall on worked on Scott’s chest compressions.

He was weak.  He was greedy.  He was not worthy of you, or your concern.

“Cal, it’s just not right.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  No one deserves to die like this, before their time.”

“Switch”, the two paramedics traded positions after the last life saving breath was pushed into Scott’s chest.  The machine  sat, lights blinking at the side of the scene.

Life was wasted on him. He did not appreciate what he had, or all he could have.  Sad. Stupid.

“Cal please, not now.”
The paramedics sent furtive glances in her direction.  They’d been working on Scott for a very long time.  The storm had begun to abate, and the clouds pushed off onto the horizon.   he lights flickered and then the electricity cam back on with a surge.  The lights were strong and they could see the burn marks along the electrical outlet in the wall.  Black streaks smeared Scott’s cheeks and his hair stood out at odd angles all over his head.  The two paramedics sat back on their heels.   “Time to call it. There’s nothing more we can do.”

The short one glanced down at his watch, “7:06 p.m., code ended.”

A fierce wind whipped through Cissie as the doors flew open at the front of the house.  Icy dread slipped down her spine, making her tremble anew.  She pulled herself closer to the wall, wrapping her arms around her waist.  The last gush of air raced past them out the front door and the doors slammed glass rattling while the key turned in the lock.  The two men and Cissie gaped at one another.

Scott’s chest heaved as he drew in a huge gulp of air. A croaking sound came from his mouth as he tried to sit upright.  The paramedics drew away at first, then snapped into action.  Re-attaching the pads to his chest they let the monitor make its assessment. The short one grabbed a flashlight to check Scott’s pupils.  No reaction, the eyes were dark, almost black .  “Normal sinus rhythm, no CPR required,”the machine announced .

“You need to lie still, sir.”  The tall one jumped to his feet, grabbing the equipment  as he he raced for the front door.  “I’ll get the gurney.”

“No, wait.”  Scott’s voice was hoarse.  It didn’t sound like him at all, at least not to Cissies’ ears.

“I don’t need to go to the hospital.”  He lifted a hand to his temple and shook his head. “I’m fine, really.”  He looked over at Cissie and winked.

“Maam?”, the tall paramedic waited for Cissie’s response. The short one slowly rose to his feet, head turning to watch the exchange bouncing around the other three in the hallway.  He stumbled back, away from Scott.  Cissie wanted to do the same.  Put as much distance between herself and the man slowly getting to his feet from the floor.

“I’ll be fine here. This house belongs to me.”  He reached out a hand and slid cold fingers down Cissies’s cheek, “Home at last.”

She looked into his eyes but all she could see was darkness.

Be careful what you ask for.  She could hear Scott’s voice in her head.