Old Friends / New Love

I graduated high school in a class of forty-four students from Yates Center High School. Each year during Memorial Day weekend, Yates Center hosts their version of Old Settlers. One of the things I enjoy most about Yates Center Days is meeting someone I haven’t seen in thirty years. Honestly, it happens every year.

It happened several times this year. Two of the people I saw, Tim and Suzy, have a fascinating story.

They were both in my graduating class of 1985. Suzy and I sat next to each other in French class our sophomore year. Tim and I played football together and both ran track in junior high.

Suzy moved to the Kansas City area after our sophomore year. Tim moved to California after our junior year. Neither graduated from Yates Center High School.

I hadn’t seen either one since they left high school. That is, until Yates Center Days, 2018.

They each got married, had children, and then subsequently divorced. Three years ago they reconnected on Facebook. Tim had been around the world, but lived in California. Suzy was still in Kansas City.

After some time of correspondence, Suzy had to make a trip for work to Texas. Tim traveled a lot with his job and happened to be in Oklahoma at the time, so they met in person for the first time in nearly thirty years. Afterwards, they decided to meet again, at Yates Center Days, 2015, for our thirty-year reunion.

They met, didn’t recognize anyone else in the class, so they skipped the float in the parade and the reunion that afternoon.

Tim and Suzy started dating, Tim moved to Kansas City to work for his brother, and a year ago they got married.

As I visited with them over Memorial Day weekend, they joked that they were slow, that it took them thirty years to get it right. Those two are as smitten with each other as any two lovebirds I’ve known.

It would have been fun to see either one of them, but to see them together and happy was a real treat.

They almost, almost, gave me hope that true love can be found at any stage in life.

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The Teacher Who Impacted Me Most

This morning as I sat on the track, stretching after a rough session of sprints, thoughts of yesterday’s graduation ceremony came to mind. Specifically, I thought about the verbal tribute paid to the teachers by both the administration and the students.

Many teachers touched my life, and most of them in ways I’ll never realized. I grew up in a town where teachers weren’t only teachers, but also neighbors, fellow worshipers, and friends. And my mom taught English and Special Ed. I knew teachers.

But as I sat on the track and wondered which teacher changed my life the most, the choice became obvious. It had to be the one responsible for my being at the track early on a Sunday morning.

Mr. Herndon taught Government and coached football in Yates Center for one year, my senior year of high school. I think that year, 1984-85, was his first as a teacher. I don’t believe he remained in teaching for long. He didn’t win teacher of the year and I didn’t like him. In fact, I don’t know any student that did. At the end of the year the Board elected not to renew his contract.

I can look back thirty years later and understand what he tried to do, even though it didn’t work. He and I butted heads many, many times.

So how does such a candidate rank at the top of my list?

I was a fast runner as a kid, and did well in track through junior high. I didn’t enjoy running, so after one year of track in high school I decided golf sounded more appealing.

As part of our conditioning, Mr. Herndon made our football team run laps around the practice field until we could complete a mile without stopping. It was unorthodox training for a football team, and one few of us appreciated. But I recognized the benefits.

I attended Neosho County Community College on a baseball scholarship, and as part of my training I decided to run daily before classes. I only ran a mile or two at a time, but something strange occurred. I began to like it.

After two years at NCCC I transferred to Tabor College. My runs increased to three to five miles. And, when it was too cold outside I would run stairs in the administration building. For fun.

There are few things I enjoy doing more than running. I’ve prayed, brainstormed dozens of story ideas, and written poetry, all while running. I never listen to music. I like to think or let my mind wander.

Running is the greatest therapy I know. It has helped me survive some dark periods. During one of the darkest of my life, I trained and ran my first half marathon. At the end of the race I returned to my car and wept.

Completing a half marathon gave me the confidence and focus to pass the CPA exam. A few years later, both accomplishments gave me the ability to write my first novel. I now have five books published. These accumulated successes have given me the drive (and I hope, strength) to turn writing into a career.

My son is also a runner, and a good one. In fact, he’s much better than I’ve ever been, and he’s just getting started. Would he be a runner if I wasn’t? I don’t know.

It may be a stretch, or it may not, but I trace it all back to Mr. Herndon. I’ve tried to find him on Facebook. I would love the opportunity to tell him my story, but I don’t know his first name, so this will probably be the closest I get to thanking him.

Oh behalf of Mr. Herndon, thank you to every teacher reading this. You may never know how you’ve changed a student’s life.

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April Storytime Blog Hop

Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

 

The Ghost Fight

Harold arrived at his new home—a small fixer-upper on ten acres. After a disastrous marriage he yearned for the peace and quiet this abandoned house promised.

It had sat empty for several years so he spent the first day removing dead animals, sweeping broken glass, and tearing out moldy sheetrock. He showered then collapsed on his bed. The open windows allowed a light breeze to cool the house after a day of baking in the early summer heat.

Harold smiled, satisfied from a hard day’s work. He was content and happy.

Until he heard a voice.

“Look,” the ghost started, “I knew it was too good to be true when I had this place all to myself. But if I’m going to share it, the least you could do is keep it down during the day.”

Harold bolted upright. “Who’s there?”

“My name’s Hew. You may be able to see a faint glow in the doorway.”

Harold squinted. He saw what looked like a round blob floating in the air.

“Who are you?”

“I just told you, my name’s Hew. I’ve lived here for seventy-two years. Now that you know me, how about that request to be quiet during the day?”

“Why?” Harold asked, confused.

“That’s when I sleep.” Hew answered.

Harold was shocked. “I didn’t know ghosts slept.”

“Many don’t. I don’t need sleep, but there isn’t much for a ghost to do during the day. It’s too painful to be in the light so I have to hide in the walls. I’ve become fond of my naps, so if we are going to get along you need to stay quiet during the days.”

“I don’t care what you want,” Harold retorted. “I have a lot of work to do so you’re going to have to adjust.”

The next few days they established a routine. Harold worked on the house all day and disturbed Hew and Hew kept Harold awake all night by singing horribly out of key.

Harold was soon exhausted. “Okay, I’ll wait until tonight to work if you’ll let me get some sleep today.”

“Deal!” Hew agreed excitedly then disappeared through the wall.

After several hours of undisturbed, blissful sleep, Harold woke and ate. It was well after dark so he went to work.

Harold had only been working a few minutes when Hew appeared. “It’s too bright in here. I can’t roam around the house.”

“Why not?” Harold asked without looking up.

“It’s the light. It burns.” Hew explained. “I need darkness, that’s why I stay in the walls during the day.”

“Well, I can’t work in the dark so you’re going to have to deal with it.”

“It’s obvious this isn’t working out,” Hew said. “Why don’t you just leave?”

“Now you sound like my ex-wife,” Harold quipped. “I’m not gong to be the one to leave this time. I own this house now. You leave.”

“I can’t,” Hew said.

“Why not?”

“I cannot go outside of the walls.” Hew explained.

“I thought ghosts could go through anything?” Harold asked.

“We can go through anything, but we can’t go outside.”

“Why not?” Harold asked.

“I don’t know!” Hew shouted. “Believe me, I’ve tried—every day since you’ve been here. I can’t leave the house. Besides, I’ve been here longer.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

The fight was on. The first night Hew hid under the bed and sung to Harold. The next day Harold hauled the bed away. The next day he hauled off all the furniture.

Harold worked during the day and left all the lights on at night. Hew made constant racket at night and Harold quickly became sleep deprived. When Hew sang all night from inside the walls, Harold ripped out the sheet rock and insulation.

The more sleep deprived Harold became the more drastic he got. He ripped out all of the walls, then he removed the ceiling. Soon the house was an empty shell. Harold tore holes on walls that didn’t have a window so every corner of the house was reached by sunlight.

One day Harold showed up with a truck load of panels. He replaced the roof with the panels and began attaching them to the inside walls.

“What are those?” Hew asked.

“These are solar sheets,” Harold said with a grin. “They will absorb the sunlight during the day and give off light when it’s dark. I want to make sure you have twenty-four hours of light after I’m gone.”

“You can’t do this!” Hew spat.

Harold ignored him and kept working.

A few days later he had solar sheets installed that helped keep the house lit up all day and all night.

As Harold packed his tools Hew said, “You no good rotten jerk! I hope for this you burn in…”

“I think the only one who will be burning will be you.” Harold couldn’t help but beam. He was heading to the nearest hotel to catch up on the sleep he’d missed the last two weeks.

Suddenly he felt a tightness in his chest and he collapsed. When he rose from the floor he couldn’t tell how much time had passed. His chest felt fine. In fact, he felt great, except for the heat. He had done a good job with the panels. It felt liked the house was on fire.

“Well, well, well,” Hew smirked. “I guess Karma can be a bitch, can’t it?”

“What are you talking about?” Harold asked. “I’m out of here.”

“I don’t think so,” Hew mocked.

Harold ignored him and reached down to pick up his tool chest, but when he grabbed the handle the chest didn’t move. That’s when he noticed the body lying on the floor. His body.

Harold had suffered a heart attack. He was now a ghost, trapped with Hew in a hell of his own making.

 

Hare, by Elizabeth McCleary
The Widow, by Vanessa Wells
A Snow White Morning, by Katharina Gerlach
The Letter, by Juneta Key
Trick or Treacle, by Angela Wooldridge
Sugar in the Raw, by Karen Lynn
Inferno, by Fanni Soto
Tae, by Barbara Lund
Interstellar Student Exchange, by Raven O’Fiernan

Posted in Blog Hop, Stories | 10 Comments

Maybe I Should Have Hit the Delete Key

On April 18, 2013, the Harvey County Independent ran a column that Bill Bush wrote about his daughter and son’s toy poodle, Anna. Maybe I Should Have Hit the Delete Key contains Bill’s first one hundred columns published in the Independent. Covering a variety of topics, Bill:

  • Shares his passion for running, small towns, his children, daylight savings time, and peanut butter
  • Documents the excitement and obstacles of trying to start a writing career
  • Addresses the NFL controversies of Ray Rice and players kneeling for the National Anthem
  • Tackles tough issues like terrorism, target’s bathroom policy, minimum wage, Westboro Baptist Church, Donald Trump, and freedom and socialism
  • Provides solutions for the societal problems of gay marriage and the IRS
  • Opens up about his fears of publishing a novel, dating, not being happy, and watching his aunt die
  • Writes flash fiction stories about skunks, aliens, friendship, and parenthood, and shares excerpts from longer fi ctional work

Some humorous, some serious, all thought provoking.

Bill’s column, So Many Thoughts So Little Time, can be read regularly in the Harvey County Independent, located in Halstead, Kansas.

 

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January Blog Hop

Storytime Blog Hop January 31, 2018

Welcome to the January edition of Storytime Blog Hop. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

 

Note about my story below:  As I finished Growth Spurt something felt off. I think maybe it’s because the story needs to be longer, much longer. Don’t be surprised if Growth Spurt returns one day, after its own Growth Spurt. :).  See what I did there?

Growth Spurt

“Wait! Wait!” Adam stretched out his arm in front of Cheryl. He took the duffle bag from her and set it behind, then gently handed her Tommy.

Tommy – Seven pounds, nine ounces, eighteen inches tall, baby blue eyes, tiny feet and hands, lungs of an opera singer, and in perfect health.

“I want to record Tommy entering the house for the first time.”

Cheryl patiently smiled at her husband. “But I must look like a mess.”

Adam gave her a kiss. “You’ve never looked more radiant.”

It was true. Giving birth to her firstborn was the happiest day for Cheryl. Her wedding was a close second, though she would never admit it.

Adam opened the door of their second story apartment, traded the key for his phone in his front jeans pocket, and positioned himself inside for the best possible angle. “Okay, I’m recording.

Cheryl felt her cheeks burn so she ignored Adam and focused on Tommy as she entered the apartment.

“Isn’t he just perfect?” she commented as Adam retrieved the duffle bag and closed the door.

“Yes. And he has his mother’s eyes.”

That night, Cheryl rocked Tommy while Adam sat at the computer on the other side of their bedroom.

As Tommy suckled, she asked, “What are you doing, honey?”

“I’m downloading the video footage from my phone so I can delete it and start over tomorrow.”

“I hope you have enough memory on your hard drive for all the recordings,” Cheryl joked.

Adam smiled. “It’s in the cloud. We have unlimited storage.”

After feeding and burping Tommy, Cheryl reluctantly laid her beautiful boy in the bassinet next to her bed, then fell into bed and went immediately to sleep.

***

The next morning Cheryl opened her eyes to a wonderful sight – Adam swaying at the end of the bed with Tommy, who was starting to fuss. She smiled, then yawned and stretched.

“I tried to keep Tommy entertained as long as I could so you could sleep, but he’s hungry.”

She scooted into a sitting position and took Tommy, who began to eat. Adam brought Cheryl her favorite breakfast drink accompanied by a straw, and served her sips whenever she wanted.

And so began a most perfect day – just her and Adam and Tommy. Adam spoiled her, changed all the dirty diapers, cooked her favorite meal, and allowed her to sleep as much as she wanted (and after the recent twenty hours of labor, she wanted). In fact, the only thing she had to do all day was feed Tommy.

But the highlight was rocking her newborn to sleep with her husband fifteen feet away, downloading the day’s recordings of Tommy onto the computer, then snuggling with her husband as Tommy slept in his basinet next to the bed.

***

“Tommy!”

Cheryl bolted out of bed. The clock said seven-nineteen, the sun peeked through the curtains, and Tommy stirred in the basinet. She let out a sigh of relief.

Adam had jumped out of bed and hurried to her side when Cheryl yelled. “What’s wrong?”

She was almost in tears. “I’m sorry. I thought something was wrong with Tommy. He slept all night.”

“That’s not possible.” Adam gasped.

She settled into the rocker and began to feed her baby. She didn’t relax until Tommy had eaten well, burped, and dirtied his diaper.

Adam was a dream all day, helping her shower during one of Tommy’s naps, preparing meals for the two of them, and cleaning up after the meals.

When Cheryl laid Tommy in the basinet that night, Adam stood from the computer and put his arms around her.

“I’m so thankful you were able to stay home today,” she whispered.

Adam kissed her softly on the lips. “Me too.”

***

“Adam. Adam.” Cheryl insistently called.

Adam rolled groggily over and attempted to open his eyes.

“Adam.” She said more forcefully. The eyes popped wide open.

“Look!” She pointed down to Tommy.

Adam rolled out of bed to peer at his son. He shrugged. “What about him?”

Cheryl stretched the soft measuring tape the length of her son.

Adam whistled. “They sure do grow up quickly.”

“Almost three inches in one night?”

Cheryl was so concerned that Adam called the doctor, who agreed to see her and Tommy early for their follow-up exam.

Dr. Hall smiled down at Tommy before handing him back to Cheryl. “Well, you aren’t going crazy. Tommy has indeed grown two and a half inches since his birth.”

Cheryl’s eyes watered up. What was wrong with her boy?

The doctor continued. “While it’s extremely unusual, it’s not unprecedented for a person to grow significantly overnight.” She patted Cheryl on the shoulder. “You can relax. All the tests we ran show Tommy is in great health.”

As Cheryl rocked Tommy to sleep that night she said an extra prayer of thanks for his health.

“Did you watch the video after you downloaded it?” Cheryl asked as she crawled into bed with Adam.

“No, I was too tired. We can watch it tomorrow.”

“It’s a date,” she managed before she drifted off to sleep.

***

“Adam!”

Cheryl’s blood-curling scream certainly reached the neighbors, but she didn’t care. Tommy was missing. Where the basinet stood the night before lay a note in its place. Her legs gave out and she collapsed back onto the bed. Adam picked up the note and began reading to himself.

“What does it say?” She demanded.

He rushed to the computer and turned it on.

“It says we have to watch a video on the computer.”

“Does it say who it’s from?”

“Yeah, me.”

“You? What?” Cheryl crawled across the bed and sat on the opposite side. Adam turned the monitor and sat beside her.

Over the next several minutes Cheryl and Adam sat in stunned silence as they watched snippets of video of their Tommy, ranging from the day they brought him home from the hospital to his fourth birthday. Cheryl didn’t recognize any of it. The last thing she remembered was putting Tommy to bed on his first night at home from the hospital.

The video turned from Cheryl tucking into bed a four-year-old Tommy, to Adam. “This is Tommy’s first night in his own bed.”

The video panned to Tommy once more, then back to Adam, who spoke as he walked to his bedroom. “Every day Tommy wakes up a day older, but for us, his parents, every day is still January 31, 2018, the day after we brought him home from the hospital. It’s also January 31, 2018 for the rest of the world. I don’t know what has happened to cause this, but it’s true, as you can see by the video.

Cheryl tried to swallow the lump in her throat, to no avail. Her baby was four? Tears ran down her face. She had no memory of her son as a child.

“Mommy?” Cheryl stood and spun around. Tommy stood in the doorway.

“Oh, Tommy!” She held out her arms he ran into them.

“Mommy, are you okay?”

She wiped her tears the best she could. “I am now, honey.”

Adam hugged them both. “What do we do now?”

Cheryl thought of the horror of waking and finding Tommy gone. “We find a better way to tell ourselves tomorrow morning that our son is four years old.”

 

Please visit my friends and enjoy their stories!

Mystical Manatee Park by J. Q. Rose
Phased Out by Kami Bataya
Snow White (17) MURDERED by K. M. Flint
A Character Profile by Juneta Key
Monstrous Monday by Fanni Soto
Grandma’s Legacy by Elizabeth McCleary
Dragonslayer by Barbara Lund
Megan’s Virus by Karen Lynn
Studenting by Chris Makowski
I – The Magician by Raven O’Fiernan

 


							
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Earth

The battle for Vetrix is over. The battle for Earth begins.
Who can Flipper count on if not even his parents believe him?

After having returned safely from his adventures on the Gude home planet, Flipper is dismayed to find only ridicule and skepticism back home. Of course aliens aren’t real; of course these are just the flights of fancy of a sixth-grader and his friends. Nobody believes his story. Nobody cares.

But when the Snaders put into motion a nefarious plot to conquer Earth and eliminate the human threat in one fell swoop, Flipper finds his story verified in a most spectacular—and horrifying—fashion. Not only have they sent a deadly fleet to attack Earth, but they have infiltrated the halls of power, insinuated themselves into the heart of human civilization … and now the trap is closing.

With the help of Josh and Allison, along with allies both old and new, Flipper will need to dig deep and find the courage to stand up against the Snaders once more, and prevent them from destroying everything he holds dear—friends, family, and the world itself.

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October Storytime Bloghop

Storytime Blog Hop October 25th, 2017

Welcome to the October edition of Storytime Bloghop. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

 

Unwelcome Visitors

I crept slowly, up the stairway, careful not to make a sound. At the top I saw the bedroom door, closed. That meant the others had returned; their brief hiatus too good to be true.

I tensed in frustration, contemplating my options. I wanted to confront the horrifying creatures – if that were possible – and demand they leave. I approached the door, determined, yet fear overwhelmed me and I raced to the basement.

I stayed below all night, pacing mostly, hoping, hoping, hoping they didn’t find me. What was I going to do?

The next day I had two visitors – Arden and Hudd. I don’t know how, but they knew about my visitors. And they confirmed the intruders were of another dimension. Another “world”, they called it. I didn’t understand, but whatever.

Hudd, full of energy, drew me in. I liked him immediately, but then who wouldn’t. “We’re so glad to meet you before you contacted them.”

I hated to admit that it was simply my lack of courage that kept me from confronting the pair.

Arden was clearly the leader – focused, serious. He had an intensity that frightened me. Maybe that was intentional. “We can’t emphasize enough how dangerous your situation is.”

“D-Dangerous?”

Hudd noticed my fear. “We don’t mean to frighten you, but we’ve seen thousands of situations similar to yours. We can help.”

They shared stories of others in circumstances similar to mine and how they helped. Then they told me of some who refused their help.

I believed I could trust them. “Will you help me?”

“The only thing we can do is find you a safe place to live.”

I looked at them, disappointed.

“How long have they been here?” Arden asked.

“They were here for a week or so then left. They’ve only been back for two days, I think.”

As I toured them around the house they told me more stories – painting a picture of an extensive ghost world that spanned the globe. As intriguing as their tales were, and as believable as they made them sound, I refused to heed their warning. Looking back, there was nothing they could have said to persuade me. I was determined to stay, in spite of the dangers and my cowardice.

****

The haunting began that night. It was the most frightening evening of my life. In spite of my fear I determined to fight for my home. They seemed determined; this was all out war.

First came swaying drapes and small objects being moved – countered by leaving the lights on all night. Next was an audible attack with creaking floors, the television turning on in the middle of the night, and unexplained door bell ringing. This was followed by an unsuccessful séance.

When the hauntings continued unhindered, a medium was brought in, just as Arden and Hudd had explained.

Long, woven hair and a flawless complexion, the young medium took immediate control. I watched with intrigue and curiosity.

“The incense is a special blend, and combined with the specially made candles, will draw the ghost in. My work is unique yet almost always successful.”

Almost always? Although bossy and with an air of superiority, her voice was smooth and I could have listened to her speak all day.

“Don’t bother me, no matter what happens this evening. Things may get bizarre, but I will be in total control. Don’t trust your eyes. This is a job that will take place across dimensions.”

Haven’t we already been crossing dimensions in this little squabble?

“Now, I must have complete silence from here on out.”

She ordered the lights off, which seemed counter productive to me. But what did I know; this was my first experience with a ghost “expert”.

She lit candles, sat with her legs crossed, eyes closed, and head tiled back so her face was parallel to the ceiling. She gaped her mouth wide every few seconds and hummed strange sounds. I wanted to ask if she wasn’t afraid the ghost might fly right into her open mouth.

She carried on for quite a while. The lack of results only caused her to intensify her efforts. Her chanting became louder. Her swaying more exaggerated. Her breathing heavier. I started to worry about her health. How could someone keep this up and not pass out?

Fascinated by the proceedings I edged closer, careful not to draw attention to myself.

I should have realized at that moment I was in trouble. Or the next when the sweet smell from her incense pierce my senses. I mean, I didn’t have a nose. How could I smell anything? Yet at the time that never occurred to me. I thought I was in control, oblivious to the fact I was in the process of being taken captive.

“I can feel your presence!”

I startled back at her scream, but no more than a foot. I paid her no attention. Instead, I watched the couple, huddled tightly together on the floor. They both cried and trembled and refused to open their eyes.

I felt…how do I explain it? Tired. Somewhere, deep within me I knew this was the end. The draw to death was much too strong for me to resist. I relaxed and submitted my will to that of the medium. She could do with me what she wanted.

The awesome smell grew and I felt a warmth I had never experienced. I felt wonderful, like all of my anxiety had burned away by candlelight. I loved this couple and was certain they would take good care of my house.

Everything faded. The medium, the couple, and the candles all blurred. All I could see now was Arden and Hudd, hovering over me. My imagination must have taken over. Or did they come to say good-bye? They had warned me that trying to scare the couple out of the house risked my life.

I felt a rush of wind. I floated upward, through the ceiling, the roof – flew over houses and streets and traffic. At first the ride was thrilling, but as my senses strengthened I panicked.

Arden and Hudd lead the way. I had several other ghosts surrounding me, carrying me. I was helpless. We dove through a bus, through the ground, and into a dark cave before we came to a rest.

As I looked at my rescuers, reality sunk in. Arden and Hudd and their friends had saved my life.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

If you enjoyed Unwelome Visitors, please sign up for my mailing list. My next book, Earth, is coming out in November.

Read more stories by selecting the links below. These are fellow writers and friends of mine from all over the world!

 

A Writer’s Morning, by Katharina Gerlach
Unverified, by Erica Damon
Tito’s to the Max, by Chris Makowski
The Boon, by Juneta Key
Recommended Reading, by Raven O’Fiernan
Sanctuary, by Elizabeth McCleary
Till Death Us, by Fanni Sütő
The Cloud, by Karen Lynn
Data Corruption, by Barbara Lund
Wish Granted, by Kami Bataya
The Witch of Wall Street, by J. Q. Rose
Grim Reapers on a Field Trip, by J Lenni Dorner

Posted in Blog Hop, Stories | 18 Comments

Hodgepodge of Poetry

This book is a collection of all the poems I have written. At least those I still have copies of.

I haven’t written much poetry. Most of what you’ll find was done in waves – I wrote for a few months or year or two then didn’t write any more for years or decades more. I think it’s because I have a hard time connecting with my emotions, and poetry is all about expressing your emotions.

Some of my poems were written from the logical side of my brain. I enjoy expressing thoughts and trying to come up with rhymes. Many of my poems were written at times in my life where my emotions were so strong they seeped out in spite of myself. I wish I could connect with my emotions on that level more often, but that ability has mostly eluded me. I keep thinking that some day I will get there. Years creep by without success.

At the beginning of each poem I documented the date and reason I wrote the poem the best I could remember.

I have put these together for one reason – I wanted to make them available for my children – Sydney and Blake. I think the poems will provide insight into who am I. Oh, I don’t expect them to read the poems for many years. Probably not until long after I’m gone. That’s okay – the poems are accessible when they are ready for them.

For anyone else who chooses to read them:  I have a little of everything. Serious, funny, insightful, goofy. I’ve never claimed to be a poet. Never will. I do enjoy rhyming words on occasion to express a thought or feeling. Well, mostly a thought.

I don’t expect anyone to enjoy all of these. Honestly, I don’t enjoy them all. But I wrote them all and they each tell a little bit about me. So don’t expect to find more than a handful you like and want to read a second time.

Now that I have you hooked 🙂 – enjoy!

 

Hodgepodge of Poetry may be purchased here:

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I Wish I Was Happy

I wish I was happy.

In truth I don’t have a good reason to be unhappy.

I have two wonderful children who have done nothing but make me proud. I have a job that provides me financial security. I am in good health, have a hobby I am passionate about, and live in a wonderful community.

And yet, I am genuinely unhappy.

I wouldn’t define it simply as sadness. It’s more of a sense of anxiety.

I feel like I’m going through life surrounded by a large wall.

Admittedly, today is a day that ranks on the bottom of the happy scale. I have waves of emotion like this on occasion, sometimes lasting a day or a few weeks. The only time I have felt worse is when experiencing tragedy like my mom’s death or my divorce.

But even on good days I wouldn’t say that I feel happy.

I trudge through each day accomplishing what I’ve determined to get done, pushing myself through the burdensome emotions to chase my dreams – dreams which even in their fantastical images in my mind don’t make me happy, but drive me forward toward a sense of accomplishment and success, but never to satisfaction or pleasure.

I have good moments. Not ever day, but I occasionally have moments of laughter. A funny show will tickle me. My goofy son with his incredible sense of humor often says something to make me laugh. Going for a run helps remove the dark cloud and provides hope. Watching my son and daughter interact fills me with joy. Attending church or watching a sermon online inspires me.

But these wonderful feelings are temporary, scurrying away the first chance they get.

Maybe that’s the way life is supposed to be. I kind of think so.

Don’t worry – I’m not suicidal. Never have been.

I live life in my head and not my heart. Maybe that’s why I’ve never given serious thought to suicide. Maybe it’s also my happiness problem.

I have large, specific, long-term goals for my life. My goals drive me, focus me, and guide me. I don’t know if the urgency to accomplish my goals stems from a longing to be happy or a deep-seeded sense of purpose I hope to capture through success. Either way, chasing my goals means sacrificing personal time and pleasure. I gladly do it in pursuit of a perceived larger prize at the end.

I know, I’m daily sabotaging opportunities to be happy to chase after the allusive happiness I’ll never catch up to. Catch twenty-two. Fair point.

I’ll tell you, though, I’ve lived long enough to know chasing happiness is a futile, and at best temporary, pursuit. I’d rather invest my life than chase happiness for happiness’ sake.

I may have life all backwards.

Or I may understand what few are willing to accept – happiness is not the end goal.

 

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Aunt Kathy

My aunt is dying of cancer.

The doctors gave her one to two weeks. She’s losing strength and will die any day.

I saw her a month ago, in the hospital. Her spirit and fight remained strong.

At the time it was just another ICU stint for her, like all the other times she had spent a few days in the hospital.

Four years ago Kathy was diagnosed with stage four cancer. She was fifty-five years old. She fought it into remission enough to resume her teaching position. Unfortunately, the cancer continued to persist and her weakened body forced her to retire from a job she loved; from her life’s calling.

She’s been in and out of the hospital for various ailments, all cancer or cancer treatment related. Each time we feared it was the end, but each time Kathy rose to conquer her enemy. She did one final time a month ago.

That was her last, short-lived victory. She returned to the hospital a week ago, where the doctors pronounced the nearing end. She was moved to her son’s house yesterday, to live out what few days remained with her family.

She has accepted her fate and is ready for the end of this life. Her hope isn’t in a miraculous recovery but in meeting her Savior. And her sister. My mom passed away eight years ago. They will be reunited soon.

Kathy is only nine years older than me. We took family vacations together and I’ve spent thousands of miles in a car with her.

She lived with my mom, sister, and I for three years when I was a teenager and she was at her first teaching job. I helped her grade papers, watched her and her husband court before she got married and moved out.

The only high school activity of mine Mom ever missed was to be with Kathy when she gave birth to her firstborn. That was also the only birthday of mine she ever missed.

One of my fondest memories is of Kathy, my mom, and their sister Rhonda (there are eight siblings in all). They would sit on the living room floor, eat popcorn, peanut M&Ms, and drink Pepsi while writing stories together. They called themselves the Roth Writers (Roth was their maiden name) and mailed their stories to publishers and television scripts to the Osmonds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen three people have as much fun as they did.

This may be morbid, but her impending death makes me feel close to Mom. Any day now Kathy will be with her, which Makes Mom seem like she’s almost within reach. I suppose I am even a little jealous of Kathy. I long for the connection to my mom broken eight years ago. With Kathy, I’m so, so close.

I fought the urge today to drive to Kansas City to ask my aunt to tell Mom I said ‘hi’. I chose to let her children have these last days with her in peace without me barging in to demand Kathy be my personal messenger. I don’t know that it’s possible to send messages in that manner, but it might be. What I do know is that Kathy will give Mom a full report on her grandkids. That will make Mom smile. And that’s enough for me.

Although she’s dying much too young, my Aunt Kathy got a rare gift. She realized a year ago her time was short and she lived her final her year to it’s fullest and without regret. Seeing her fight against cancer and her approaching death I have recognized my Aunt Kathy is the strongest person I’ve ever known.

I hope one day my death touches someone’s life the way Kathy’s has touched mine.

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