What not to do…

Writing 101, Day Sixteen: 

Today, imagine you work in a place where you manage lost or forgotten items. What might you find in the pile? For those participating in our serial challenge, reflect on the theme of “lost and found,” too. Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

Oh boy, this one I can do …..LOL – not exactly as above but it’s about finding things that have been forgotten or old.

Several years and a lifetime ago (not really) I worked for an agency that was being sued. The owners did something that wasn’t agreeable with the powers that be, but without going into much detail it resulted in a lawsuit. We had to dig through mountains of information to provide the attorneys want they asked for (on both sides) going back even before the time in question.

I have been called a “pack rat” and this time it was in my favor because I knew where a lot of what was asked for was kept and why it was there. I went through months of this crap with answering questions and looking for information and answering more questions, even as to why I knew what I knew and why “things” were kept. Yes, “things” was a term used by the attorneys in the legal documents. Depositions, legal questions answered, information searched through, papers found, people contacted and on and on and on. This mess went on for more than three years.

Now when I have to look for something it really makes me beyond irritated. My patience is gone and I hate dealing with idiots more than ever. Some people will not listen to what you tell them no matter what and they think what they do is beyond reproach and nothing is going to happen.

I feel like there’s a book somewhere in all that on what NOT to do when you decide to make a change.


The Wanderer …

Top five places I’d like to visit are:

1. Ireland – search/see where ancestors came from

2. Australia – meet some relatives I don’t know

3. Alaska – would love to live there for a while

4. Virginia – go back to Historic Jamestown and Yorktown

5. Wyoming/Montana – something keeps drawing me towards the west

What’s your top five places you’d like to visit or visit again?


Do you have truisms that guide you?

Three years or so ago I read college Professor Randy Pausch’s book (actually started as a speech), Last Lecture, chronicling his battle with pancreatic cancer. When he was diagnosed he was only given six months to live. He died in 2008 at the age of 47. Pausch talked about remembering his childhood dreams vividly. Do any of you remember your childhood dreams that clearly? What would you do in his shoes? How would you live your life?

Pausch developed what he called truisms that guided him in his life. One was “Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Do you have truisms that guide you?

I have plenty of those brick walls. Up until the last few months I thought I’d climbed some of them, suffered a setback, but I am not giving up.
Never give up.If someone tells me I can’t do something or I won’t be able to finish something – that just gives me more motivation to prove them wrong.

Let go and let God – at some point you just have to let go. I can’t do it on my own, I have to remember that and sometimes it is hard.

I remember a lot of things from my childhood, I don’t know that you would call them dreams – maybe wishes: I always thought my family wasn’t as “normal” as other families. My father was ill most of my life, I became a caretaker early and unfortunately it carried though into my adult life. I have been trying to break out of that mold for years. Looking back, in some ways my family was more “normal” than I realized.

The final chapter of the book is called “The Dreams Will Come to you.” Randy said that he didn’t give the lecture because he wanted to. He gave it because he “had to.” As I grow older I find myself reflecting on my family history more and more. I have always said that to know where you are going, you must know where you came from. I started on that journey in 1997 after being in a pretty awful accident, didn’t look bad; just did a lot of physical damage to me. Over the years I have spent hours at the computer and in courthouses in Kentucky, researching and making copies. When you stand there holding a piece of paper than your ancestor held and signed in the early 1800’s it really makes you stop and think, gives you cold chills too. I want my children and grandchildren to know these things and feel like they know these people without having to go through what I have to understand where they came from.

I understand why Randy said he “had to” give the lecture, sometimes you just HAVE to pass something on, not necessarily leave something behind, but give that gift of knowledge and/or understanding to others. One of my dreams/wishes was to go to college. That was important to me because of my family background. My father was born in 1892 and never finished school, as the oldest of 7 (17 at the time) he had to take on responsibilities when his father died. My mother was born in 1912 and never finished school. It became more and more important to me to further my education after my children were born but life got in the way and I waited until they were grown and I had grandchildren – which added an extra push to finish what I started.

I was (and still am) an avid reader as well, spent many nights reading by a flashlight under the cover to keep my dad from yelling at me to go to sleep. Listened to the radio and dreamed of going places. I made it to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio and a few other states, still hope to go to Ireland and Scotland someday. I think it is very important to hold onto to those dreams/wishes if you haven’t been able to accomplish them yet. I believe you have to have dreams and strive to make your life better constantly, not just become complacent with what you have and what you are. They might change over time if you have accomplished what you wanted to do or if what you wanted to do as a child is no longer important to you.

What wisdom would you choose to impart to the world if it was your last chance?

Deganawidah, founder of the Iroquois Confederacy said, “Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of the continuing generations of our families, think of grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.”

From Tecumseh, Shawnee: “When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

I think this is what Randy did – he sung his death song and died like a hero going home.

If you haven’t read this book, it would be worth the time and effort to read it.

You have to remember where you came from to know where you’re going….

I first wrote this in a journal almost 3 years ago. Had been going through some rough patches with work and life in general. I still believe you have to understand where you came from and what your parents went through to understand the things they did or didn’t do. I once had someone tell me that yes, they knew they had more than me materially growing up but I had both my parents that loved me and were there for me and they were sometimes jealous of that…. wow.. I would have never thought that at the time. Now I understand why they said that after raising my children and seeing what they went through having an absentee father.

It has always been my belief that you have to remember where you came from to understand and/or know where you are going. I know some don’t agree with that statement.

While I didn’t have a lot of material things growing up, I did have the love of my parents. No, they weren’t perfect, far from being perfect. My Daddy was extremely stern and not in good health as far back as I can remember.
That’s Daddy in the dress… about 1894 or 1895 I’d guess.

Daddy was born in another time, literally. He was born May 19, 1892 less than 30 years after the end of the Civil War. I can’t remotely begin to imagine what it was like growing up at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. I have listened to his stories and wished a million times that I had taped them or wrote them down. Since he’s been gone I’ve tried to remember many of them and record them somehow. By understanding where he came from and the life he had I have understood more about why he acted the way he did with me.

In comparison to others in my family we hit the short end of the stick when it came to money and worldly possessions. Many years ago I realized it is not all about what you have or even what others think you might have. I remember my home being a happy place with no drinking (after a brief few years) and a father that didn’t cheat on my mother in comparison to others I knew. I remember a couple of winters when I was in grade/middle school that Daddy was really sick and Momma was not well either. We had a neighbor that used to come over to the house and bring our wood and coal in and Daddy would give him some for helping us. This was a black family and one of the best neighbors I can remember having.

Daddy had a friend that he used to go to the distillery with to buy liquor. If Daddy didn’t partake then all was right in the world. The last time I remember him doing that I was in the first grade. There was some snow on the ground and when John King brought him home, he pulled up, let him out and took off like a bat of out hell. Daddy was beyond comprehending that he needed to come in the house and proceeded to lay down in the snow in the front yard. It took all the strength Momma and I could muster to get him in the house. I was scared to death that something was going to happen to him. The next morning Daddy and Momma had come to Jesus meeting, when he realized what had happened and how scared I was, not counting how mad Momma was, he “swore off” drinking. The only time I saw him drink anything stronger than tea or coffee again was a little wine and make a “hot totty” when we had a bad cold or the flu.

We made wine and grape jelly for the local cabbie.  He would raise the grapes and furnish the sugar and we’d get half of everything for doing the work. I remember the smells and tastes and yeah, I remember what the homemade wine tasted like.

No, my parents weren’t perfect, Daddy had a temper and I felt the brunt of it more than one time in my life. He had a brown leather razor strap that he used to keep his straight razors that he shaved with sharp. Not only did it keep them sharp it found my backside more than I like to admit. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing he used, whatever was handy – a switch, his belt – and whichever end that hit. Man oh man, it hurts to get hit on your back and legs with the buckle end of the belt. I have tried my best to forget those things; I forgave him a long time ago. I know I did things and said things I shouldn’t have said and while he shouldn’t have reacted the way he did – again none of us are perfect.  I was not the perfect parent either and wished many times I had the razor strap when my kids were unruly and wouldn’t listen to me or back talked me, especially after they became teenagers.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of hours going through photos I’ve collected over the years and trying to scan, upload to Facebook, and share with others in my family. This brought back a lot of good and bad memories and I finally stopped, either because I was tired or I just didn’t want to remember anymore right now.

More to come ……………..