Tuesday, February 16, 2010


There is a shimmering glaze of dew on the freshly cut outfield grass. The chalk lines are drawn perfectly straight from home plate.

Ten ponytailed girls in hot pink and green uniforms form two straight lines. Skylar is in that line, third girl from the left. She is throwing and warming up with her friend and teammate, Kayleigh. Coach Jack and Bob are standing to the right of the line, deep in discussion.

Thwap! Thwap! Neon yellow balls sail through the air, landing in the pocket of our gloves. The girls are throwing and catching in unison; knowing that a missed ball will mean a lap around the field for everyone.

Parents, family, friends and fans begin to fill the bleachers and surrounding areas. The mingling scents of pungent coffee, sausage biscuits and tropical sunscreen waft across the fields. Little brothers and sisters spread blankets and empty toy filled bags underneath the bleachers, out of harm’s way.

Two burly umpires dressed in blue call the coaches to home plate. A shiny silver coin is tossed into the air and lands in the sandy dirt beside home plate. Home field advantage is awarded. After a minute or two, the home plate umpires calls out, “Play ball!” And the battle begins.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saturdays with Pedro

One cool Saturday afternoon, I observed my son, Alex, playing with his friend, Pedro, a miniature donkey. It is winter and the sun is not out. The tall field grass is swaying in the chilly wind.

Alex lopes across the yard to the edge of our neighbor's pasture. A lone miniature donkey, Pedro, lives in the pasture with 10 goats. Pedro spies Alex approaching the fence and quickly trots to meet him.

Alex reaches through the fence and rubs Pedro's fuzzy nose. Alex then reaches into his black coat pocket and pulls out a plastic baggie filled with baby carrots. Pedro reaches across the fence to get closer to Alex and the carrots. Alex's small hand reaches into the bag and extracts a single carrot. He offers the carrot to Pedro. The donkey gently takes the carrot that is offered in Alex's palm. This exchange is repeated many times, until two goats join Alex and Pedro.

The two goats begin to vie for carrots from Alex. One goat butts at Alex through the fence. Pedro nudges the goats out of the way, and continues to munch on the carrots.

A carrot drops from Alex's hand to the ground. Two goats, Pedro and Alex all search the ground for the lost carrot. Alex carefully moves blades of dried grass until he finds the rogue carrot. He then brushes the dirt and grass from the carrot before offering it to Pedro.

When the last carrot has been eaten, the two goats wander back to their herd. Alex and Pedro remain separated by the fence. Alex climbs through the fence and rubs Pedro on the head and nose. Pedro nuzzles Alex's hand as he caresses him.

As the sun sinks low in the sky, Alex climbs back through the fence and begins his trek through the open field to his own yard. Pedro watches him cross the field and then turns to meander through the pasture to his little shelter.

As Alex enters his yard, he brays to Pedro. Pedro stops his journey home long enough to return Alex's call with a bray of his own.

With this ritual completed, Alex goes inside and refills his baggie with carrots. Alex places the baggie in the refrigerator door, ready for the next encounter with Pedro.

Monday, February 8, 2010


It was very hard to be the child of my father. It still is. There are way too many responsibilities that go along with being his only child.

My dad is a bi-polar manic depressive who happens to be blind. He has dyslexia and never learned to read or write beyond a 1st grade level. He has never held a driver's license. He is now plagued with early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He is a convicted sex offender. He is my dad.

I knew growing up that my dad was not like any of my friends' dads. He didn't work once I was old enough to get a part time job. He didn't drive.. He didn't care what I was doing or with who. He never once hugged me, kissed me, told me that he was proud of me or that he loved me.

He would not go to church with my mom and me. He would not go to work. He made rude comments to me and my mom. He would go grocery shopping with us. He would try to take my mom's checkbook and go shopping at Radio Shack. He was successful a couple of times. I thought that my mom was going to have a heart attack every time he pulled one of his stunts.

My mom tried to get him help. She took him to all sorts of doctors. They would prescribe medications for him and he would take it for a few weeks. Inevitably, he would flush it all down the toilet.

In 1994, he was convicted as a sex offender. He spent 13 years in prison. He was released in March of 2007.

My mom let him come back home. This has proven to be a colossal mistake. He has not changed at all. In fact, he is worse.

He doesn't like the car that my mom drives, so he tries to tinker with the engine. He does not like his cell phone, so he put it in the dish water. He calls his sisters day and night and gives them my telephone number.

I don't know what I'll do with him if anything happens to my mom. I feel guilty about that, but I honestly don't know. Right now, I am advocating that we find him a nursing home so that he will have someone to watch out for him and some activities to keep him busy. My mom's dialysis could start at any time.

I don't even know that I love him. That's bad, isn't it? You are supposed to love your parents. But he just makes it almost impossible to do.

No Place Like Home

Nestled on the edge of the forest, tucked in amongst the tall pine trees, lies one of my favorite places.

The forest borders the property on three sides, with the fourth revealing a breathtaking view of the Appalachian Mountains. There are several well tended flower beds in the yard that showcase hydrangeas, tulips, roses, mint and irises. On a warm spring day, the air is perfumed with their lovely fragrances. There are also dogwood trees that bloom in pink and white blossoms; crepe myrtle trees, and a big, black cherry tree.

Out back, you can see the old red barn and the tidy vegetable garden. The lawn is a lush carpet of soft grass. An old well sits near the barn, with it's bucket and rope ready to draw up a cool bucket of water on a hot summer day. Wild birds and squirrels dine from the multiple bird feeders.

A single story log cabin sits as the crown jewel of the property. It boasts a large covered front porch, complete with rocking chairs. The long, curving gravel driveway ends in a large parking area for extended family.

This is my special place. I go there and close my eyes, reliving the glorious days of my childhood summers. I go there and breathe in the memories of my grandparents. I go there and know that I am home.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Granny Hughes

My Dear Granny,

Oh how I miss you! I have really needed your guidance for my life! I believe that I've really made a mess of some things, but I think that I am finally getting most of them straightened out. I really hope that I am, anyway.

Skylar is 16 years old now. She has turned out to be a beautiful young lady. She is already taller than I am. She really loves to play sports and be competitive. Why, I bet that she could climb to the very top of that old black cherry tree in your front yard! I keep the picture of you holding her by my bed.

My little Alex is 7 years old now. He is such a handful! I really wish that you could be here to watch him grow up. He loves all animals and every bug that comes upon. He would really have love to grow up on your farm. I named him after Uncle John. I know that you would like that.

Tommy and I finally got married about 10 years ago. We have made many mistakes along the way, but I think we may be on the right path. He has finally started to go to church with me sometimes. I've wandered away from the flock, but am slowly making my way back. I'm ashamed of that and know that you would not be proud of that either. Tommy is a good dad to Skylar and Alex. He is a way better dad than mine ever was. He is working on his temper and the extent of his patience.

I miss your Godly wisdom and guidance so much! I find myself sitting by your final resting place on many occasions. Oh, what I would give to have even one more day with you!!!

I love you. I miss you. I can't wait to see you waiting for me at those Pearly Gates. I long to stroll down those streets of gold with you and Papa.

Granny, keep your arm around me and your hand over my mouth.

Until we are together again, I'll keep on keeping on.....

Friday, February 5, 2010

High School Rings

Wow. How is that it is time for my little girl to be ordering her High School Class ring?? Didn't she just start kindergarten in Mrs. Condrey's class last year? Geez, I am getting old! Worse, my little girl has morphed into a 16 year old girl who has more boys calling/texting than I have ever met in my life!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Clyde Howard Henderson 1932 - 2010

Clyde Howard Henderson, 77, of 219 N. Howard Ave., Landrum died January 11, 2010 at Smith Phayer Hospice House.

A native of Chesnee, SC, he was the son of the late Clyde and Ollie Henderson. He is survived by his son, Thomas Henderson (Wendy) of Landrum, daughter Lori Stelma of Lake Mary, FL, sister, Bernice H. Price (Charles) of Landrum, grandchildren Megan and Elizabeth Stelma, Skylar and Alex Henderson and Katherine Downey as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Muriel H. Underwood.

He retired from the United States Navy as a Chief Petty Officer after 20 years of service, having served in Korea as a member of the Underwater Demolition Team and in Vietnam aboard the USS Forrestal. After his military service, he worked as a civil engineer for Soil and Material Engineers in Spartanburg until his retirement.

He was a loving father, doting grandfather and true friend who will be missed by all who knew him.

He would not permit his son or daughter to discipline their children in his presence. Grandpa was Megan, Liz, Skylar, and Alex's refuge. His embrace could keep them safe. He was always there for them.

We miss him sooo much!

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today is the final day of the first month of 2010. I have not been swallowed up by aliens. We have just had an entirely difficult month.

My Uncle Calbert passed away on Skylar's birthday, Dec 28. That gave us a week of family and mourning for the passing of my beloved Uncle Calbert. I am so going to miss him! It will not ever be the same. I'll never be able to tell the kids to load up into the car because we are going to Uncle Calbert and Aunt Hazel's farmhouse. It will only be Aunt Hazel's. I love my aunt, too. It just won't be the same.

For most of the month of December, my father in law, Howard, was ill. We were taking him to the doctor's office on a weekly basis, but none of the medication seemed to help. He was admitted to the hospital on December 30, the day before my Uncle Calbert's funeral.

On January 4, Howard was diagnosed with lung cancer. A PET scan was ordered for January 5. The PET scan did not reveal any good news. In fact, it revealed the worst news possible. The cancer had spread to virtually every bone in his body and his liver.

He came home with Hospice on January 7. We had to transport him to the local Hospice House on January 10. He entered Heaven's Gates on January 11, at 5 am. Tommy, his sister Lori, and myself were with him when he passed.

Tommy has had a very hard time dealing with the loss of his dad. My children are coping as best they can. Skylar is mad at the world and Alex is having behaviour problems at school. I am trying to keep everyone focused on getting through each and every day.

Friday, January 29. One of Skylar's childhood friends earned his angel wings. Ty had battled brain cancer for 7 years. He was brave, strong and a fighter until the very end. He was 16 years old; only 2 months older than Skylar. They were the 4 Musketeers: Audrey, Ashley, Skylar and Ty. You couldn't see one with out the others.