The Club Nobody Wants To Be In (Part 2)–They are Still Fathers…

This is a link to an older article which does a “Where Are they Now?” type of thing on David Smith–Susan Smith’s ex…

http://www.hlntv.com/slideshow/2013/10/09/david-smith-susan-smith-killed-sons-where-are-they-now

Having lost a child, this is a common thing to happen–where he talks about having more good days than bad,  but still having those days that bring a person to the knees…I still have them, but my son’s twin wasn’t murdered…The baby died early in the pregnancy and they insisted at the doctor’s office that I was no longer pregnant…When I went back  later with the ever-present morning, noon and night sickness that went on for weeks after losing the baby, they discovered there was another baby in the other sac.

I simply do not understand why society expects men to be what I can only describe as “unattached” to their own grief.  This is something we as a society need to move away from. Those who push this mentality need to be strongly addressed.  Men are every bit as emotional as women are, and they may not always show it in the way society has demanded, but society and it’s expectations should not rule how an individual would handle this issue–ever…Quite frankly, I am surprised at how many experts on grief, as a general rule, think that they are qualified to address the issue of  how to handle losing a child. This is especially true of those who never experienced such a loss.

Losing a child in any way is hell, but losing two in the way that Smith’s were lost would break even the strongest of men. However this man, despite those bad days, still drives on.  For that I admire him.  Nobody likes this little club that anyone who has lost a child is in, but I would like to see society lay off of the men…They can hurt like everyone else. Let them grieve because they also lost a child or (as in this case) more…

And for those who lost a child like I did, the men are still fathers just as assuredly as women who lost a child are still mothers.  People need to understand this, so please think before commenting and be just as considerate of the fathers as you should be of the mothers. That lost child (or those lost children) will remain a part of them forever.

 

Remembering the Monster

Part of Kit was terrified, and another part told herself that nothing would come of it.  Karen had knocked the crap out of her again after getting into a fight with her dad yelling, “This was your fault! If you weren’t here–” and she stopped as she reached into her purse next to her in the car and pulled out that damned pistol again.  She put it up against Kit’s head but Kit stared straight ahead. This was a child who had been down this road, in the darkness of the night with that gun at her head so many times, she simply didn’t give a shit anymore. In her mind, at least it would end if Karen actually did pull the trigger. As she felt the barrel against her left temple she stared up at the moon.

The air was cold since it was January and the stars seemed to be very bright. Kit loved looking at them. She often wondered what it would like to fly up into where they were.

“Are you listening to me!?,” Karen screamed, “You had better be listening!”

Kit then looked at her and said, “Nothing scares me anymore. Not even that gun. Not even you. Either do it or let me go live with Mom.”

The gun was now pressed against her forehead.  The barrel was cold and Karen’s hand was shaking as Kit stared into her eyes.

“Stop looking at me damn you! If you go to school one more time and tell them–”

“You’ll what?! Blow my head off? Do it. I told you I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t care!” Kit yelled as she kept staring straight into her eyes.

The now 13-year-old was quite resolute in her statement. She saw no way out of the house of horrors so she began to stand up to the monster.  That monster was Karen.

Karen threw the silver pistol back into her purse, started the car and sped off with Kit still inside. She took her across town to Jack’s house.  She then reached across the seat and opened Kit’s door.

“Get the hell out of here and go inside! If you say one word to Jack I swear I’ll–”

“Whatever…Same old crap!” Kit said to her as she shut the door and began to take a step back.

With that Karen peeled out with such force that Kit was knocked down.  The child got up, dusted off her jeans and went to the door. It took a long while for  her to go to sleep, and her sister-in-law was asking what had happened but Kit only responded, “With Karen what doesn’t happen?”

The entire family felt powerless to help the child.  The only way Karen stopped hitting her was when her mother got wind of it.  Her mother delivered a personal message via her aunt down the street.

“If you touch Kit or my son one more time, Bitch, I’ll kill you myself.” was the message.

Kit would not find out about this until she was in her 20’s but often wondered why during the last six months of Karen’s life she tended to just storm off when things got tense between her and her dad.  She didn’t even bully Kit during that time other than to scream at her once in a while. Kit got to where she would tune her out.

When Kit entered her cell she would look at the green shades and cringe once in a while. She would then look at the wall she decorated.  She put up a red tartan bedspread on her wall for an accent wall and then covered it with Beatles and Bay City Rollers posters.  She also had a huge poster of Paul McCartney and Wings on the other side of her room.

On the other side was her doll collection.  She had Native American dolls, Japanese dolls, the first Revlon doll ever made and a lot of other antique ones–which got sold out from under her little by little  after Karen’s death–along with her TV because her dad said, “You don’t need this stuff anymore.  He then replaced it with stuff Karen had–which she didn’t want.  She worked for her things and now they were taken from her one day while she was at school.  He gave the stereo she did babysitting  for to her brother and then gave her Karen’s which pissed her off totally.

While Karen did have a better one, she wanted no reminders. She liked her white one. She paid for it with her money. Now her brother had it. She had a 19” black and white TV she liked watching. He put Karen’s 9″ portable color TV in there.  That also pissed her off–especially since it had to be sent for repairs every time she turned around.  However one night she was watching and a video from the  year prior came on.  It was “Mull of Kintyre” by Paul McCartney and Wings.

It would be that video that would spawn her desire to see other places.  She loved how the kids in that video were having fun down by the fire on the beach–something she never got to do.  As thoughts of the monster began to fade a bit at night, those thoughts were replaced with new ones–and when the green shades came down, it marked a new freedom for Kit.  It was at this point she picked up a pen and began creating new worlds, new people and dreaming of a new life.  She had never seen mist  rolling in from the Ocean and longed for it…One day she would, but for now, the video had to do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5626WzsfMw

This was the video that started that journey for her so many years ago.  The open land and the beach…The smiles on people’s faces…These were the things that she loved to see on TV.  And later in that year–1978, she would find out what a “normal” family was…She would realize then how abnormal her life had been and it would also make new thoughts churn in her head as she pulled out her pen and paper.

 

A Sad Turn in a Long Story…

As many know by now, the remains of missing teenager 13-year-old Hailey Dunn were found in Scurry County, TX on 3/16/13.  This was confirmed after weeks of testing on the remains.  I am at a loss for words here.  As a mother, I am torn because I know how I would feel had my child gone missing, and at the same time, I also hope that justice has her way quickly in this case.  This girl deserves that.  More than that, I only pray she didn’t suffer too much at the hand(s) of the person(s) who killed her.

Please continue to keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.  Please keep this community of West Texas in your thought also. This entire community is heartbroken, to say the least.  This case resulted in a nationwide search. Thank God for all of those volunteers and those in law enforcement who never gave up on her also.

In their time of loss, let us  remember the family of Hailey Dunn in our thoughts.  Thank you.

In their time of loss, let us remember the family of Hailey Dunn in our thoughts. Thank you.

Nana’s Favorite Pages and Blogs…

ON some o f these, there will be an actual link to a post that moved me so much at the time, it needs to be shared!  Here I go:

http://www.flaurena.com    Because Lauren’s jewelry appeals to my individualist nature.

http://www.fizgiggery.com/2011/other-mischief/nanny   I read this blog post every time the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing comes around, and it is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on any blog–anywhere!  In fact, a few years back, her blog post on “karma” got me to turn a few thoughts around in my head and get out of the correctional field.  She posts on many subjects, too! Check it out!

http://momsicle.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/caramel-apples-chocolate/  From food, to parenthood and everything in-between, including travel tips for parents of tots, this is a helluva blog…Check it out!

http://www.terribleminds.com/  Very blunt, honest and to the point–in short, when he posts about writing, he doesn’t post bullshit.

http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/the-end-is-near-and-we-deserve-it-kindergartener-deemed-terrorist-threat-and-suspended/   Whether weird stories like this interest you, or historical fact, OR the impending Zombie Apocalypse–this is one cool blog!

This will be updated again I’m sure but for right now, these are my top 5. Have a great day!

A Day in the Hood–the Nanahood…And Some Deep Thinking…

As a grandparent I get a huge kick out of my grandson, Little Kevin…Here’s a new pic:

Is the guy rockin’ or what?!

That being said something crossed my mind the other day…Aging…That’s right…Aging…NO I’m not depressed about turning 50 later this year or anything, but I am concerned as to what would become of me should Alzheimer’s ever touch my life directly.  I had an aunt that suffered from it and it was horrible.

Aside from that, I am an avid movie lover and music lover and I truly hope to instill that in this little man! After all, children are the future are they not?

That being said there is a movie coming out that is on my mind heavily…It is going to be a wonderful film called “Posey”.

Here is the link to the FB page for this movie and please go click “like” and share it…I feel this will be an important picture this year: https://www.facebook.com/Poseythemovie While there, check out those pics! They are outstanding!

This movie stars Sally Kirkland and Christopher Pennock, who is another cool actor that some of you may know from the original Dark Shadows series, where he played Jeb Hawkes! He is  currently working on “The Dresser” at the Actor’s Studio, which will open in LA in early October.   Also, “The Four Horsemen” will start shooting again too! He also says that he’s recording the new Dark Shadows Audiodrama with Kathryn Leigh Scott…”Sebastian Shaw re-emerges in the Funny Farm!” is how he describes this.

However, this movie is probably going to be an important stepping stone in the careers of both Ms. Kirkland and Mr. Pennock.  Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease.  It literally robs us of our loved ones while living–bit by bit.  My grandson’s paternal great-grandmother has a brain disorder that affects her much the same way, and it is truly  a shame. One day she may know my ex-husband  and the next day she may not.  Sometimes she remembers my sons. As to whether or not she will comprehend being a great-grandmother remains to be seen.

I also had an aunt who suffered from Alzheimer’s that didn’t even recognize her husband who could be standing less than 4 feet away from her…I’ll never forget that either. She would put on lipstick, and then 5 minutes later put on more thinking she hadn’t done it yet…She also cursed like a sailor at times, which was sad because she never cursed prior to the onset of the disease.  Slowly it took her from us all.  And then one day I got word that her husband had passed away. She never realized it. Then one day, she was also gone.  Sad…People who have this, die alone even when loved ones are there and they are aware of someone’s presence. They seem to be trapped in their own world, in their own mind.

That is why this movie is important…It is important because one day my family may be faced with putting me into an assisted living facility or a nursing home.  This is the issue faced in the film…The disease is frightening enough for the family members faced with having to care for the victim of this disease, but for the family member who suffers from it–it can be twice as devastating…Here is why the film is important–straight from the Facebook page:

“…The film seeks to examine the seeming hopelessness of the disease and the fear from both the victim and their families, while at the same time finding hope and humor. The film is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association http://www.alz.org/  and a portion of the profits from the film will be donated to help fund research for this devastating illness…”

The film is not yet listed on IMDB but it should be…This could be one of the most important films to début this year.  I also feel that this role could get Ms. Kirkland a much deserved statue for a job well done without even seeing a trailer yet.  Seeing Christopher Pennock play opposite her is going to be a treat for this viewer as well. Now here is the synopsis–again from the Facebook page:

“…POSEY is the story of Linda Flemming, played by Erica Rhodes (A Prairie Home Companion, Killer Eye, Plague Town) who must make the heartbreaking decision to take her grandmother, Posey (Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Winner Sally Kirkland), to a retirement home. Posey suffers from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and in a desperate move to avoid the inevitable, she escapes. While her loved ones desperately search for her, Posey finds herself in the middle of a unique situation…one that will change her outlook on her future profoundly…”

I know that the very fact that someone cares enough to make the movie has changed mine.  I will support this film with all I’ve got and I hope that others will follow suit. Thank you so much for your time.  As I said, this could be one of the most important films to come out this year.

A Big Day in the Nanahood!

 

Meet my grandson, Kevin D. Thomas! He finally decided to make his début onto the world stage at 1:20 p.m. on 7/18/2012! He weighed 7 lb. 14 oz and is 20″ long. Believe me when I say this kid has a set of lungs on him too!

Well everyone, without further adieu,  Nana is getting some sleep! I had a big day and came home to a ton of laundry to do! LOL!  I got it finished-finally!  I got called at 1:20 yesterday morning and 12 hours later, the little guy arrived!

 

The Mistress

Once upon a time, a wise grandmother got onto her son for telling her grand-daughter to go get him a beer. The grand-daughter was only six. “You are teaching her that it is alright for her to drink when you do that.” Her son told her to mind her business. “I am. I never let you get your father’s drinks either. What you put into her is what you will get from her and by letting her put that in her hand, you are teaching her to follow your path.”
“I did not teach you to follow your father’s path. You defied me. You wake up and get a beer and you go to bed with one. It has become your mistress. I do not think it takes much to figure out why I am the only relative who comes here to help you. You loved that bottle more than her mother before she passed away, and now you love it more than your only child.”
He told her to go home and take his daughter with her so he could sleep late. He didn’t want to hear her preach at him any longer. She complied. That evening both were killed by a drunk driver as they left the market. IT was then he decided that she had been right all along. He had to lose the two people he loved the most to finally part with his mistress.

The Great White Alligator of Baines Parish Louisiana (Part 2)

It was quiet for the rest of the afternoon around the house.  Felicia went into the front yard and sat on a bench outside by the front sidewalk.  The sun was peeking out from behind a few clouds that were beginning to disperse.  She then  pulled out  a book and began to read it when a young man was walking by. He was a sandy-haired young man in his late 20’s.  To Felicia he was gigantic, however he did stand at around 6’2″.

” ‘Ello!,” he said smiling, “And how is that little girl named Felicia who teased my father?”

“Daddy isn’t coming home.” she told him.

“Oh love…I’m sorry.  I’ve come at a bad time and I was going to invite your family to our housewarming–”

“I don’t know what a housewarming is.  It can’t be cold in there.” she said.

“Well,” he said as he smiled slightly at her response, ” it is actually a get together neighbors have when a new person moves into the area–it’s like a party.”

“I don’t know if a party is a good idea now.” she told him.

“But why Felicia?” he asked.

A  tear escaped her eyes.

“Everyone is really sad right now. Daddy died in the war and I don’t remember him.  He went away when I was a baby.” she told him.

“Oh my.  I am so sorry.  I’ll come back at another time, alright.,” he said to her as he came inside the gate and knelt to be at eye level with her, “But my father did say to give you this book. If your family needs anything, please let me know.”

“Thank you. I forgot your name, I’m sorry–”

“It is Stephan. I’ll see you later, okay?” he said.

“Okay.  Thank you for the book. I’ll read it.” she said.

Stephan stood back up and Ida appeared at the door.  “Is there something I can help you with, young man?” she asked.

He went to the door and introduced himself.  When Ida realized that he was their new neighbor–along with this father, whom Felicia had already met, she invited him in.

They talked for a few minutes and he did take her up on her offer of muffins and coffee.  Annie did not come downstairs.  Ida then explained that although Michael had been missing since Felicia was a baby, she was concerned at the impact that knowing he was never going to return would have on the child.

“I’ve worked with a lot of children, and I think she will surprise you.  She is very bright and resilient.” he told her.

“Why thank you,” Ida said, “You’ll also find that she has a very large imagination when things get back to normal.”

“Oh yes! She already told me of the white alligator! It is actually a fascinating folk tale.  There is an old Indian in town that told me of it two days ago. I tend to think that he actually believes it!” he grinned.

“Big Bear.  He’s a full-blooded Lakota Sioux Indian and he always looks out for Felicia when we go into town.  He tells her all kinds of stories and tales, but she loves the one about that alligator! Big Bear can see things sometimes. He told me when Felicia turned one that her father would not be found alive. I didn’t want to believe him either–for my daughter’s sake.” Ida told him.

“Well, I thank you for your hospitality but I must really be running along now.  I am truly sorry for your loss. If you need anything let us know. I’d like to know when the service is if that is alright. My father and I will be there for your family.” he said.

“Why thank you. I’ll let you know Mr.–”

“Just call me Stephan.” he said as they went to the door.   Felicia thanked him again for the book and went quickly upstairs.  She laid the book on her bed and looked at Michael’s picture.

Grandma was right. You really aren’t coming back. I’m sorry, Daddy.  I’ll see if I can find the alligator another day so Mommy will be happy again. I’ll still talk to you though. I promise.” she said as yet a few more tears welled up in her eyes. It was becoming real to her now.  She took his picture to the bed and set it next to her pillow. She then fell asleep.

Meanwhile, Stephan went back to his house.  The painters were painting the outside a very pale bluish-grey color.  It was at that point his father, Jack, stepped outside.  He then went to the mailbox as Stephen approached.

“Well where have you been off to? I got three phone calls from different schools already.” Jack said.

“Then I’ll call them back, Dad. It’s not a big deal.” Stephan smiled.

“Was that little girl home today? She hasn’t been by and she usually comes by just to see what your old man is tearing apart!” he grinned.

“Dad, Felicia may not be around for a bit.” Stephan told him solemnly.

“What on Earth do you mean? She didn’t get into some kind of trouble or anything–”

“No, Dad…Her father was killed in the war. Her grandmother told me that he had been missing since she was a baby but this has to be devastating for her.” he said.

“I am sure that it is. Just let me know when the services are.  Does Felicia have a mother? Jack asked.

“Yes but I have not met her. I only know because her grandmother, Ida, explained that she hasn’t left her room.” Stephan said.

“Damned dreadful.” Jack said as he went back to the house.   Stephan could see Felicia’s house from the curb.

“Poor kid.” he said to himself.  He then got into his own car and headed into town.  He remembered how distant he felt from Jack after his own mother died when he was 8.  He thought it was totally heartless to not shed tears, but then one night a month later, he got up to go to the bathroom and saw Jack talking to her picture as rain was pounding the roof.

“God I miss you, Kate.,” he began as a tear did escape his eyes, “I cannot let him see me like this. He’ll think I am weak.  The truth is, I don’t know how to do anything the way that you did.  I was always a man’s man, but you had a way with kids that I just do not have.  Your mother suggested that I read him stories and such and I will try that, but I can never be you. I love that boy with my life and I’m so afraid to let him see what I feel. I want him to be strong–and I am not.”

“Dad, you’re a lot stronger than you think.  I found that out when I broke my leg that summer playing football.” Stephan thought to himself as he pulled into the store.  Big Bear, who stood at 6′ 4″ was sitting on a stump beside the door.  Stephan got out of his car, a brand new Chevy Volt and was about to enter when Big Bear uttered:

“Felicia will unite this place.  You are good with her. That will bring you great reward.” he said.

“Okay.  Thank you–”

“No need. You do it, not me. You see things that she sees. You understand her. Other grown ups do not, but they will.  Through her eyes, this town will be strong again.”  he said.

“I’ll be right back, Big Bear.” Stephan said, still unsure of what to think of this.

“I know.  You will by eggs, milk, bread, meat and more candy for Felicia.” he said.

“How did you–”

“Dropped your list. Felicia likes those home-made lemon drops.  She’s allergic to nutmeg though so steer clear of Emma’s grab bag. Makes the girl break out in hives.”  Big Bear said as he picked it up off of the ground and handed it to him.

“Thank you.” Stephan grinned.

“You are welcome. You and your father will both learn much from her.” he said.

Stephan really wasn’t sure how to handle what Big Bear told him, but several of his neighbors told him that they always go to him when they need advice.

Meanwhile, his father, Jack sat at the kitchen table scratching his head.  He was grateful that he and Stephan were close, but was even more grateful that he learned that tears were not a weakness before it was too late.  He opened up his brown leather wallet and looked at a picture inside.  It was one of himself, his wife Kate,  and of Stephan when he was a baby.   His eyes got misty as he talked to it…

“You would be proud of him Kate.  He has grown into a strong man with a big heart–just as you had hoped.  He still has to put up with the old man being himself though.  We  still have that piano and the drum set.  I still have the jewelry. I couldn’t part with it.  Maybe one day our son will have a daughter but who knows? I often wonder how things might have been had you been here today. No one could ever begin to understand me as you did…”   he mused as the phone rang. His brother from Surrey was calling…

Jack talked to his brother Ike for a long time.  45 minutes had passed when he looked up at the clock…”Just like his mother…Shops until he’s broke or talks until his tongue falls out!” he laughed.

Stephan picked up the items on his list and then walked back over to Big Bear.

“You think I’m crazy but I’m not. I see things. Felicia needs a real hero. You’re it.” he said.

“I hardly know her–”

“The spirits say you will save her. They don’t lie.  They say your father will learn to dream again too.” he said.

“Well I appreciate your thoughts.” Stephan said as he went for the car.

“And she’ll love the book.” he replied.   This really threw Stephan off. Only he and his father knew of it.

Stephan’s thoughts were on Felicia all the way back to his house.  He felt her emptiness. He felt her pain.  He was determined to speak with Jack about it as well.

As he pulled into the drive, the sun was still shining down on the neighborhood since it had cleared up.  Since Jack insisted on having the painters out, he was grateful that it didn’t mist or rain.   When he walked in, he noticed Jack had fallen asleep while in his recliner so he quietly carried in the groceries and put them away.  He then went outside and called the numbers to the three schools Jack had written for him. He then looked over at the stove and noticed that his mother’s favorite tea kettle was on the counter beside it.  He then looked over to the left and saw her favorite biscuit jar too–one she picked up when they went to Japan one year for a visit…She loved cranes and it had pictures of cranes on it.

He smiled and looked back at his father. “Dad you always strive to keep her alive around here.  I suppose that’s good, but I’m grown now so should you decide to put out those beer steins out she didn’t like, I’ll think you want her to come back to haunt you!” he said softly as he remembered how mad his mother got at Jack for gambling to win them.  She found out that they were worth a lot of money later and decided maybe she should leave him be over it.  These spats always gave Stephan a laugh or two as a child.

 

The Great White Alligator of Baines Parrish, Louisiana… (Part 1)

You’re right…There is no such place in your world, but in the world of a little girl named Felicia Mitchell, it is very real.  And to her, it is where she lives with her mother, Annie and her Grandmother Ida.   As the smell of freshly baked blueberry muffins permeates through the walls at 6 a.m. one morning, six-year-old Felicia goes across her room to her dresser where she looks at a picture of the father she never knew, right after tossing aside the Winnie the Pooh comforter.

“Daddy, I know you can’t come back, so I wished for a new daddy for Christmas. If it makes you cry I’m sorry, but Mama is lonely and I want to know what it is like to have a daddy of my own.  Grandma says you will never come back and that you’re in Heaven and Mama gets all upset over that, but I think she’s right. Maybe someday I’ll get to meet you, but I think for now, I’m going to go look for the white gator…Big Bear says if I see the white gator, my wish will come true, so I’m gonna go by the pond to see if I just catch a glimpse of him.  Big Bear says sometimes I might see him in a dream and he’s not a bad gator either.  He doesn’t eat people and he has no teeth! He just shows up to let people know things are going to be okay. I hope you are okay where you are. Later, Daddy! Oh and by the way, Mama got me Winnie the Pooh stuff for my room and my walls are now white instead of that dark blue you liked. I hope you don’t mind but it was just too dark in here for me!”

Her father, Michael has been missing in action since Felicia was six months old.  Although Ida felt that Annie should divorce, she refused.  Annie felt that somehow, someway, he was alive somewhere.  However today, she was about to have all hopes shattered.

With that being said, Felicia hastily put on her clean jeans and a sweater and went into the kitchen where her grandmother was sitting in the breakfast nook, enjoying a cup of coffee and her cigarette.  Her salt and pepper hair was tied back and no one would guess that she is already almost 60.  She looks as though she’s 40.  Like her daughter, Annie, men fawn over her too.  She spilled a little coffee on her brand new pink robe and looked up to see Felicia’s blonde curls headed right past her–so she refrained from uttering her usual vernacular.

“Child, where are you going at this hour?” she asked Felicia.

“Just to the edge of the pond to see if the white alligator is there.” she said as she looked into her grandmother’s green eyes.

“Alright but stay on this side of the yard where I can see ‘ya.” she said.

“Yes ma’am.” Felicia said as she went out the back door and walked to the edge of the pond.  When she looked at the ground, Ida could tell how disappointed she was.

“Are you going to tell her that there is no alligator?” Annie asked as she entered the kitchen in a mini robe and a pink teddy.

“No. I won’t hurt that child by shattering any hope she has.  She never tells what she wishes for, either.  Just let it be Anna. And don’t tell her Santa don’t exist either or I’ll go postal on your ass!” Ida said.

“I wouldn’t do that to her, Mother.” Annie assured her as she tied back her blonde hair and sat across from her in the booth.

Felicia slowly re-entered the kitchen and went to the booth and sat down quietly.

“No gator?” Ida asked.

Felicia shook her head, “I won’t give up though!”

“Good! That’s the spirit! Now what are we gonna do today?” Ida asked.

“Mama said we are all going to the park for a picnic!” Felicia beamed.

“That’s right!” Ida said.

“And we are having a special picnic! Remember why?” Annie asked.

“Today would be Daddy’s birthday?” Felicia said.

“That’s right and we are going to tell some stories about him so you’ll know more about him!” Ida told her.

“Mama,” Felicia began, “Who is that guy that moved into Billie’s old house?”

“I didn’t know anyone moved in there Felicia!” Annie told her.

“He did! He’s an older guy and he talks funny! I asked him where he’s from and he said Birmingham but he don’t talk like no one I ever saw before. I told him he talks funny and he laughed at me! That’s when he said he’s from England.” she said.

“You shouldn’t say things about how people talk. It’s not polite.” Ida said firmly.

“But he does talk funny!,” Felicia protested, “And he doesn’t know anything about cars like Grandpa did either!”

“What on Earth do you mean?” Annie asked.

“HE keeps calling a hood a “bonnet”! I may be only six but a bonnet is what some girls wear on their heads at Easter! I let him know it too and he laughed at me again!” Felicia said.

Both women laughed then Ida told Felicia, “Well just be nice. They just use different words for different things, that’s all.  You have a cousin who is going to school there.  Go wash your hands and get ready for breakfast.”

“Yes Ma’am.”  she said as she left the table.

“Looks like we have a new neighbor you should go meet, Mama!” Annie said as she raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even think about it Annie!,” Ida warned, “I KNOW that look!”

The rest of the day was going normally until about 10 a.m.   Then there was a knock at the door.  Felicia answered it.  There were two men at the door. One was a priest and one was in an Army uniform.  “Hello, little girl.  Is your mommy home?” the man in the uniform asked.

“Yeah…Somewhere…MAMA!” she yelled.

“What is your name Little Girl?” the priest asked.

“Felicia Mitchell.” she said.  The two men then looked at each other but said nothing.

Annie entered wearing jeans and a sweater.  The minute she saw them she put her arms around Felicia and then knelt to eye level. “Felicia, go get Mama, now. Please.” she said.

“What’s wrong, Mama?”  Felicia asked.

“Just go get Mama. Go now.” she directed calmly.

“Yes Ma’am.”  Felicia said as she went upstairs to Ida’s room.  Ida’s door was open and she was brushing her hair.  She too  was already in a sweater and jeans.

“Grandma. Mama needs you downstairs.  There are two guys down there who–”

Then Annie screamed “Noooooooo! It’s not true! It’s not true!”

As Ida entered Annie collapsed from the Chaplain’s arms into her arms.  As Felicia watched–not fully understanding what was going on, she knew that it was something really, really bad for her mother to break down like that.

The men stayed for a while and Felicia went to her room.  She didn’t want to be down there at that point.  A bit later Annie entered her room and directed her to sit next to her on the bed.

“Felicia,” she began tearfully, “I have some news to share and it isn’t good.”

“What mama?” Felicia asked.

“Your daddy is not coming home.  He was killed in Iraq.  They didn’t find this out until a few weeks ago and he is being brought back here so that we can say goodbye to him.  I will be making funeral arrangements tomorrow.”  she told her.

“Grandma told me a long time ago that she thought he was in Heaven.  I’m sorry Mama. I wish I could remember him.” Felicia told her.

“You don’t remember him but when we look at you–we know he is still around.  He lives right there.” she said as she pointed to Felicia’s chest.  She then took the child into her arms and softly wept as she held her.  Felicia didn’t really understand death, but she wanted her mother to feel better so she simply hugged her back and sat in her lap quietly as Annie rocked her back and forth.

Later, after the two men left with some paperwork Annie signed, the three sat in the kitchen and ate quietly.

“Felicia,” Ida asked, “How are you feeling? You do understand what happened don’t you?”

“I think so Grandma.  Daddy’s never coming home.  It’s sad, but I don’t remember him, Grandma.” she said.

“It’s alright, Felicia. We know.,” her mother began, “Over the next few days a lot of family members will be here.  Your grandparents from Hawaii will be here too, and they’ll be so glad to see you.  They came last year, remember?”

“Yes Mama. I remember.  They gave me that picture of Daddy and his trinket box.” she said.

“That’s right–the one with your daddy’s baseball card collection is in the attic too.  He loved baseball just like you do.” Annie said.

“And that little necklace you have that he sent you from Iraq is in the trinket box.  You should  wear that to the service, okay?” Ida said.

“I’ll wear it but it won’t break will it?” Felicia asked worried that the chain would break.

“No. I had it fixed a month ago. It will be fine.” Ida said.

End of Part One