Empty Nesting Children & Grandchildren

Cutting those apron strings can be difficult and lead to mixed emotions. Many of them.

It’s a struggle to say the least.

It’s also a time for parents to reconnect.

I don’t know how you feel, but an empty nest applies to Grandchildren as well as our Children.

Oh sure, your daily chores will lighten, but I’d rather have dirty dishes in the sink, loads of laundry and everything else that goes along with teenagers being themselves.

On the other hand, sending our children out into the world to learn, to grow, to be self-reliant are some pretty awesome, proud and healthy moments.

Our Grandson is headed to college in July, immediately after graduation in June.

I don’t know if he simply wants to get some college time behind him, or if he’s ready to assert his independence! It’s likely he also has a mixture of eagerness and maybe a few anxious thoughts.

Whatever he feels, we’re proud of our Grandson and stand behind him in any and everyway we possibly can.

The Christmas Stocking

The Christmas Stocking (Book Two of Christmas at Apple Lake series) is included in Authors of Main Street’s – Christmas Babies on Main Street – this year.

The story is close to my heart, as it centers around two children who have lost their mom, and Ellie Newsome who has lost her two unborn babies. Can families come together to ease each other’s pain of loss, if they search their hearts?

I’ve included Chapter 1 below. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1
Three weeks before Thanksgiving

Ellie hadn’t slept all night. She finally gave up and slipped out of bed at three, careful not to wake Sophie, her toy poodle.

Who gets up this time of morning? As a rule, she certainly didn’t.

She stumbled around the roomy country kitchen and set a pot of strong coffee to brew. Because Sophie was a light sleeper and had trailed behind her into the kitchen, she filled both Sophie’s food and water bowls. Sophie continued to bounce back and forth from the door to dancing around Ellie’s feet, while yelping her little head off.

Ellie slipped the leash onto Sophie’s collar and let her wander around the back yard until she’d finished her business. Even though Ryan had balked about fencing in the back yard, she’d finally gotten him to when she’d suggested it would be safer for children. Ellie wouldn’t leave Sophie outside alone, since sightings of Coyote had increased the past few months. Several of the neighbors had lost cats and small dogs of late, and she wasn’t about to take a chance on Sophie being hurt, or worse. The Christmas Stocking Final (small)

While she waited on the coffee to finish, she attempted to reach some sense of Ryan’s recent action. What had led Ryan to forsake their marriage? She’d prided herself on being a good wife, always loving, kind, honest, and she didn’t push him in ways she’d seen other wives behave toward their husbands. Oh sure, they’d had problems as other couples did, but who didn’t? They’d never even argued over anything serious.

That should have been her first clue. You have to care enough, most of the time anyway, to argue. Now she let that thought sink in, maybe he just hadn’t cared enough. One more thing she’d pushed to the back of her mind.

It appeared her friends had better judgement than she. They’d made an earnest effort to discourage their hasty marriage. But love had won out, along with Ryan’s persistence to marry as soon as possible.

He’d been so different, so loving, when they’d first met. He’d blindsided her into believing he couldn’t live without her and had insisted on setting a wedding date three weeks after they’d met. Theirs was a love at first sight, he’d told her. And so…two months after they’d met, they became man and wife.

Ryan had been ecstatic and wanted to start a family right away. He’d found the newly renovated old farmhouse located on seven acres outside the town of Apple Lake. He’d purchased and completely furnished the home during the three weeks before they’d married. For their children, he’d said. She would liked to have shared the decision in where and the type home they’d settle down in, but he’d assured her he’d made the perfect choice. She would love the house he’d chosen.

That should have been another clue. But Ellie had loved him so much she only wanted to be wherever he was, and if that house made him happy…so be it. She’d live anywhere as long as he was by her side.

Nothing made sense anymore, but then their marriage had begun to crumble within the first year of marriage…after she’d lost the first baby. She’d pushed aside Ryan’s thoughtlessness of the last year to some degree, which was awkward, because they’d barely carried on a decent conversation.

He’d been passionate about the upcoming birth of their first baby. After the loss, he’d blamed her, and when she’d made an effort to explain why the baby hadn’t survived, he’d also blamed her for his frustration and actions.

Ryan always required a scapegoat, and Ellie was always available. She’d struggled to change that weakness in him, and herself for allowing it to happen, but to no avail. She’d detested that he’d become so controlling.

Then out of nowhere Ryan had changed and become the man she’d first met: loving, attentive and caring. What reason could he possibly come up with for his behavior? Of course, he’d wanted to try again for another baby. He’d begged her forgiveness and insisted she become pregnant again as soon as possible…and she had. Once again, she’d forgiven him and had gone along with his wishes.

Ellie had made an honest attempt at coming to terms with Ryan’s arrogant transformation and other deceitful and guarded decisions that had occurred between them in the last year of their marriage.

So…here she was. Alone, when the man who’d vowed to love her forever had brushed aside his vows. Without a child, slowly losing both her parents, with nothing to look forward to, even Christmas, which was six weeks away, brought no joy to her heart.

The coffee’s aroma filled the room a few minutes before the pot beeped. Ellie poured a cup of steaming brew, then dribbled in some half-and-half. She massaged her lower-back muscles, which had begun to ache from sitting in the straight-back chair for so long. She grabbed a pillow from the den to soften the seating and settled down in the kitchen once again, Sophie at her feet.

She’d lost the second baby only a week ago. Unable to prevent the ache in her heart, bitterness threatened to invade, and appeared to be winning. Time to heal physically and mentally was what she needed.

After her first miscarriage, due to Chromosomal Abnormalities, Ryan had almost become a stranger. He’d blamed her. Ellie had protested another pregnancy so soon, but he’d insisted since the doctor informed them sometimes the second pregnancy could be completely normal, they might try again in a few months if they so desired.

Ryan wanted a son. Determined the second pregnancy would give him a healthy son…a son to carry on his name and law practice, he’d pressured her until she had consented to the second pregnancy.

At week eleven, in her first trimester, Ellie had miscarried for the second time in two years. Results were again determined to be Chromosomal Abnormalities.

Ryan, assumed no responsibility for their mismatched chromosomes, and fully blamed her, again, for being unable to carry his child. He’d become unapproachable and their marriage had gone sour. More than sour…damaged beyond repair. Ryan had become resentful, and to her disappointment, had tensed when she’d attempted even a simple hug of reconciliation.

She’d never wanted to settle for less…but she had. Had she known Ryan had only married her to give him babies, she’d not have said yes. But she had.

Now, her hopes and dreams were gone, gone as simply and quickly as her husband who had chosen the coward’s way out. Without warning or explanation, simply a cold, hard backward glance, a week after the second miscarriage and two weeks before Thanksgiving, he’d packed his bags and walked out the door.

Never would she have believed she’d be alone again after two years of marriage.
How had she been so oblivious to the gradual challenges that had ripped them apart? Deep down she’d known they were in trouble, but refused to acknowledge how serious things had become. Sometimes I simply refuse to see what’s right in front of me.

Minutes had ticked away as daybreak broke and streaks of glorious, golden rays scattered across the North Georgia Mountains like a massive umbrella that enveloped the area. The dazzling light found its way into the room where Ellie had lingered at the kitchen table longer than she’d realized. The coffee cup, which was still full, had grown cold, the cream had settled in a light brown circle around the inside rim. She stared down at the bowl of soggy cereal floating in warmed milk, then pushed it aside. She had no appetite. Ellie pulled the warmth of the mint green robe back around her shoulders where it had fallen to her waist, Lord only knew when.

She rubbed at her chilled arms, then gingerly pushed up from the chair and pressed a hand to the middle of her stiffened lower back muscles. Although the house was warm and toasty, she wasn’t. With a sting and a sense of dread in her heart, she feared she’d never be warm again. She couldn’t seem to pull herself together and wasn’t sure if she even wanted to.

She’d lost two babies in as many years, and her dad lived at home with twenty-four hour care because of Parkinson’s. Her mom was ill with Alzheimer’s and was at a nearby memory care facility. With so much loss, what was left for her? What did she have to look forward to?

Ellie had fought against committing her mom to the memory care facility last month, but in the end, she’d had no other choice but to entrust her mom into the hands of strangers. Placing her mom there was the one issue where she and Ryan had vehemently disagreed. Ryan had insisted her care was too much for Ellie, but she had found the time spent caring for her mom gratifying. And who knew how much more time they’d have together before her mom would no longer remember her?

Her dad followed close behind in her mom’s footsteps, except her dad’s illness was due to Parkinson’s. Having both her parents in failing health had broken her heart all over again. She couldn’t bear the thought of losing them.

She wasn’t over Ryan, even though he’d left her high-and-dry. Not long after they’d married she’d examined her affections for him, and found them lacking, but in her heart she hoped he’d change. Now, after two years in a childless and loveless marriage, she questioned what in the world she’d ever seen in him.

While Ryan had destroyed the love she’d once given so freely, there was still that connection between them. Deep down, she recognized her need for closure. She had to stop making excuses and see him for what he was, a cold hearted man who cared nothing about her.

Ellie scowled. The choice was hers, hers, alone. Ryan may be a rogue, but giving him permission to control her forever was not going to happen.

She wasn’t going to sit back and let Ryan’s lack of consideration bring her down. There was only one thing left to do. She’d wallowed in self-pity and Ryan’s rejection long enough. She wasn’t going to play by his rules any longer.

She’d apply for a job to keep herself busy and not waste away at home day after day. Maybe her friend, Gage Landon, could be of help, since she had a solid network with many of the people in the town of Apple Lake.

Ready or not, she’d made a decision. It was time to brush the bad taste of two years spent with a man who hadn’t loved her, aside. Her troubles were in the past. It was time to move forward.

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

I wish you Butterflies, Music and Love…

 

Found Novel

While going through my files today, I found several novels that are all but completed. Here is one that I particularly like because it involves a child. Stories of children are close to my heart.

I hope you enjoy reading a couple of chapters.

NOT MY OWN

Megan Phillips is an only child, or so she thinks. Estranged from her father for nine years, yet she’s too stubborn to ask why he’d never contacted her.

After her father passed away, she is shocked when she learns she has a half-brother, Adam. A brother she hadn’t known existed, who is now motherless and fatherless. Adam’s future depends on Megan.

But Megan has no intention of accepting the inheritance from her father’s estate, nor the responsibility of his child.

Though Megan has a soft place in her heart for children, will she welcome Adam with open arms, or give up Adam and all rights to her inheritance?

Chapter One


In a couple of hours, life as Megan Phillips knew it, would be forever changed.

She tossed and turned, and at five am, rolled over, popped off the alarm, then burrowed back under the covers. What she wouldn’t give to sleep the morning away, to erase the dreadful memories that floated inside her head. Instead, she kicked back the covers and crawled from the bed’s warmth, tied her hair back, tugged on sweats, then headed out the door for her usual morning run.

The relocation to Helen next week had its drawbacks, but she could do with a fresh start, one without immediate reminders of Brian and Seth that haunted her every thought. At least that’s what several friends had advised. She had yet to believe it herself. How does one simply forget?

No amount of distance could wipe out the memories. She was well aware of that. The house was full of memories. Haunted memories. Everything she touched set off new waves of nausea, or each time she passed by their photos, they reduced her heart to ashes. Still, she wanted those reminders around. Reminders of a kind, loving husband. A priceless gift from God…Her son.

Their deaths had driven her to the edge of collapse, of insanity. She’d lost her reason for living. Nothing or anyone could ever fill the void. Somewhere, and at some time, she’d have to find peace. She couldn’t live this way forever, but finding that peace didn’t seem close enough yet.

Moving forward was her only option, no matter that her mother always said, ‘You can’t run from your problems, sweetheart.’ She wasn’t running, only relocating. She prayed her decision was as it should be, not based on self-seeking needs and one she wouldn’t regret. Megan jogged at a cool down pace, then followed the trail back to the entrance of her apartment a little before six.

At seven sharp she’d applied make-up and paid special attention around the now barely visible scar on the left side of her upper lip. The scar, a reminder of being thrown from the horse her father had bought for her when she was twelve. The phone’s shrill ring whisked her back into reality.

Megan gripped the phone while her pulse soared like a hot-wired sports car.

“Excuse me? Would you repeat that?”

The voice on the other end popped across the lines, stiff and professional. “Bret Evans, Mrs. Phillips. I represent your father.”

Megan’s first reaction was to hang up, instead she fought down the demons, pushing dread deep inside her belly. Instead, curiosity won out. To ignore the call, now that he’d found her, was a waste of time. Mental images of deceit assaulted what contentment she’d found in nine years. Thomas Hall, her father, was about to slip into her life again.

“Mr. Evans, I’m on my way out the door. What can I do for you?” Regardless that the masculine voice on the other end intrigued her, now Megan wished she’d censored the call.

“I’m sorry. I’m not at liberty to discuss this information over the phone. What I can tell you is, it’s urgent that you come to Vail. At once.”

“That’s out of the question.”

“Mr. Hall asked if you’d be kind enough to honor this one request. A number of legalities require your presence.”

After a long pause, she thought they’d been disconnected.

“When can we expect you?”

Megan took offense that a stranger would exude so much control. Still, she reserved the irritation in her voice. “Mr. Evans. Please extend regrets to my father. It’s impossible to get away at this time.”

Or any other time for that matter. Megan despised the day she and her father, Thomas Hall, argued about her future. Their estrangement hadn’t centered on one disagreement though. It seemed they’d always been at odds with each other, especially when it came to his ambitions versus her own goals.

“It’s crucial you be here, Mrs. Phillips.”

Outside, lightning bolted across the sky and rain came quick and hard, giving birth to a vapor rising from the pavement on a cool October morning. Her finger automatically reached to touch the scar on her lip as waves of nausea battered her stomach. She’d felt safe enough, until now.

“I’m sure it is. It always was. You have my answer,” Megan said, then punched the end button on the phone.

Megan leaned against the wall and pressed her fingers into her temples, closeting a moment of despair. She was still dealing with the loss of her husband and son, that was more than enough for any human to endure.

The last person on earth she ever wanted to see again was Thomas Hall.

 

Chapter Two

Two days later, she stepped off a plane in Vail, Colorado.

Despite the sunlight’s warmth spider-webbing across the gray marble floor, Megan felt a chill cut to her bones. Death hung in the air. She smelled it. Felt it. Her senses alive with familiarity.

Each click of her heels inched her closer to the hissing respirator of room 407.

Megan pressed three fingers against her temples, hoping to rid herself of the blinding headache.

Accommodating the Vail attorney’s request, providing closure to a chain of unhappy incidents in her past was not what she’d had in mind. Still she’d come. Facing the man in the bed would be the hardest thing she’d done since her husband and son’s death.

Uncertain of his feelings, Megan moved into the room and stopped beside his bed. She knew his illness was terminal, but was unprepared for what she saw. It was all she could do to keep from crying.

She was stubborn, and couldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her tears. With a smile pasted on her face, she walked forward and braved seeing her father again.
Her breath caught at the blue eyes that once tormented her, staring back glazed in impending death. Anger and resentment passed like a storm in the night over their nine years of separation.

He’d been a virile, yet vain man. The salt and peppered hair that he’d cherished had turned to alabaster.

Thin, yellowed skin folded into crevices of his skeletal form and stilled bony fingers, did little to satisfy her need for revenge. What did it matter that he’d not know she’d become successful in spite of him. Looking at her father now, nothing would matter. He was beyond knowing or caring.

Megan recalled her mother’s words. ‘Time waits for no man. Savor every moment.’ There would be no more moments for them. No more time to ease the pain of separation and the precious time they’d spent apart.

A lump rose in her. She felt cheated of the time they’d lost. Had her stubbornness been worth what she knew now to be the last days, maybe the last hours of her father’s life?

***

Bret sauntered through the hospital suite’s adjoining room, while Megan sat and stared out the hospital’s window. Snow piled high on the window’s ledge and swirled from the winds that had the temperature dropping at an alarming rate.
Unable to get the husky feminine voice out of his head since their phone conversation, he stared at the petite vision before him.

“Ms. Phillips?”

“Yes.” Megan turned. “Mr. Evans?” A shock of sandy hair falling forward on bronzed skin met her scrutiny.

“Bret. Bret Evans.” He smiled, immersed in the scent of her perfume. When he reached to shake hands, he closed his right hand over hers. From photos of her, he’d known she was beautiful but in person, was even more so.

“Please…call me Bret.”

“Thank you. It’s impossible to speak with my father now. He’s beyond speech.” Bret gazed into her eyes and saw a deep hurt inside.

“I’m sorry. If only you could have gotten here sooner.” Bret didn’t know how she felt, but from the look on her face, she was clearly stunned at her father’s condition. “He asked for you.”

Thomas and Bret had discussed that he and his daughter weren’t particularly close, but he’d omitted the details. That had led Bret to wonder about their estrangement. Something was definitely amiss in their relationship.

Bret reached for his briefcase. “Can we talk?”

Megan glanced toward her father and nodded.

Bret rang for the nurse, then led Megan toward the coffee shop. The mirrored elevator gave Bret a perfect view of Megan’s face. She was definitely a beautiful woman.

“To sum it up, Ms. Phillips, your father retained me as your attorney, at least until his estate is settled. Which is quite large, I’m at liberty to say. I’ll act as your attorney until such time you deem no longer necessary.”

Bret waited and watched Megan, while a hint of pain etched her face. “Your father has a request that will no doubt come as a complete surprise. There is a matter of great importance that must be taken care of before we can get on with executing the will. My apologies.”

***

For all practical purposes, Megan assumed the brief time they spent together would be on a professional level. She stared into his eyes. They reminded her of a stormy blue sea. And, probably just as dangerous, she thought. Suddenly she was angry that he must see her as someone who would only think of money at a time like this.

“Mr. Evans. For the record, I’ve no intention of accepting anything from my father. I have no need for an attorney. I came here to appease my father and you, since you were both so insistent.”

“But…”

“Mr. Evans. Whatever monies there are, please distribute between charities of your choice. How my father’s estate is executed is of no concern to me.”

“Perhaps you’ll experience a change of heart after hearing provisions of the will. However there is probate court to consider.”

Bret looked as though he tried to read her mind, but she’d thrown a wall around her.

“You’re the only person he trusts.”

Megan had no reason to believe that line, but if she were to get this over with, she would play along. “Tell me. What is this grand honor?”

“I’m not sure if you were aware your father had remarried. From the marriage there is a child…a boy. His name is Adam. Adam Phillips.”

Megan’s eyes flickered but made no move to comment. A brother, her father hadn’t even bothered to tell her he existed.

When Megan made no move to comment, Bret continued.

“Adam is a well mannered, bright child for his age. He loves his father deeply and hasn’t a clue of how to deal with his grief. His mother abandoned him when he was a year old. So, you see the child has no one else to turn to.”

“I’m terribly sorry. I had no way of knowing.” Suddenly the sound of Bret’s voice, his demeanor, made Megan nervous. Why was he talking of this child when all she wanted was to get out of here?

“Look, Ms. Phillips.” Bret stuffed his hands in his pockets, stared out over the coffee shop and continued. “Please, may I call you Megan?”

The conversation wasn’t going in the direction she’d hoped. This was not good. She couldn’t shake the uneasiness.

“If you wish.”

“There’s no way to tell you except to simply ask you outright. Adam needs a mother, or in your case, a sister. It’s pertinent we go before the judge before Thomas passes. Not that it’s impossible afterward, but the procedure is more simple beforehand.”

Megan gasped. “Go before a judge? A mother for Adam? What on earth are you talking about? What does Adam have to do with me? Surely his mother can be found or there is another family option?”

“Well, you are his sister. And according to your father’s wishes, he’s chosen you to take care of Adam.”

“Quite astounding for a man who hasn’t bothered to call, write or acknowledge the fact that I’m alive—in over nine years. I’m sure you’re aware he disowned me when my mother died.”

“We talked, yes. However circumstances, as has the will, have changed since then.”

“I was young and full of ideas for my own future. Not one he’d built for himself. He was never there for me, and now in death he wants to rule my life? I’m sorry. I can’t do it. I won’t. It’s impossible to mother a child I don’t even know. Besides, I know nothing of raising children. Are you certain there are no other family members?”

“None your father wanted to pursue. Adam’s grandparents could assume responsibility for the boy, but…”

“Well, then. You have your answer, don’t you? The boy has grandparents. I’m sure they’ll be ecstatic to have him live with them.”

“Not quite. You see, they haven’t seen Adam since he was a year old. There were objections from her parents. Thomas was twenty years older than Adam’s mother and her parents grew bitter when she’d married him without their approval. Your father has no desire for his only son to be reared by the grandparents. Who, by the way, had no contact with Adam even when his mother left.”

“Is locating the mother out of the question? How do you know the grandparents wouldn’t jump at the chance to raise their grandson?”

“They don’t care about him. If they did, they’d have made provisions to visit him before now. No. The grandparents are not an option. Your father was adamant that they remain nonexistent in Adam’s life.”

“As I said. The child isn’t my problem…or my responsibility. At least they were aware of his birth. Now if there isn’t anything else I can do for you, I’d like to get back home as soon as possible.”

“I wish you’d reconsider.” Bret spread his hands on the table. “Perhaps you’d meet with me at Thomas’ home this afternoon?”

“And why would I do that? We have nothing else to discuss.”
Megan knew how her father worked and saw that Bret suffered at her father’s hand in not making the custody case easy. Why hadn’t Bret suggested he talk to Megan himself? Explain it all to her. Before, it was too late. Maybe he had, but now—it was too late.

“Adam is looking forward to meeting you, Megan. He’ll be home from school at 3:30.”

“So Adam knows about me? This is heartless. Why wasn’t I told about Adam when you called?” But, she knew. She wouldn’t have come. Would’ve refused to come.
Megan’s temple’s throbbed while her insides shook violently from learning she had family this way. She wasn’t so sure she wouldn’t crumble under pressure, but stood firm in her belief that family always came first. She was strong and would remain so.

Adam was her brother, whether she wanted one or not.  

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and Apple. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

I wish you Butterflies, Music and Love…

 

Sneak-a-Peek

Let’s take a look at my upcoming book for Authors of Main Street’s 2017 Christmas boxed set.

I’m having a great time writing this book.  Children make Christmas, and this story is no different.

Ellie Newsome’s marriage is crumbling, and she’s gone through a few rough weeks. She desperately needs to talk to her mother. But her mother has Alzheimer’s, and is in a nursing facility.

The excerpt takes place in the nursing facility and Ellie has yet one more let-down.

The Christmas Stocking

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All twenty-four-year-old Ellie Newsome ever wanted was a happy home, a trustworthy husband and the sound of pitter-patter dancing across her floors.

She’d never wanted to settle for less…but she had. Had she known Ryan had only married her to give him babies, she’d not have said yes. But she had. Now, her hopes and dreams were gone. Gone as quickly as her husband had taken the coward’s way out, and deserted her a week after the second miscarriage and two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Alone, an ailing father, her mother in a nursing home, and with no way to support herself, Ellie had only her faith for comfort.

Little did Ellie know, God was about to intervene.

One week before Thanksgiving.

Twenty-six-year-old Luke Conway has lost his wife in a car accident. Luke is still hospitalized and in critical condition. His two children have nowhere to go but the Children’s Home in Apple Lake, Georgia. Except the Children’s Home is full. And no one else in town has room, or is too old to care for the children.

A social worker knocks on Ellie Newsome’s door late at night with Luke’s daughter, nine-year-old Danni Conway and six-month-old Brett Conway, by her side.

At first Ellie refuses to care for someone else’s children, but finally gives in when the social worker promises to find the children another home within a week.

It’s now two weeks before Christmas, and the children are still with Ellie. She’s determined the children won’t go without Christmas, even if the worker places them before Christmas. She discovers shopping for them and teaching Danni to bake cookies, gives her more joy than she thought possible.

She’s had no contact with the children’s father, neither has the case worker informed her of his condition.

One week before Christmas

Luke Conway is about to be released from the hospital, but he can’t go home. He needs care. The case worker hinted at Ellie to take him in until he is better. Ellie refuses.

After Luke is allowed to visit with his children at the hospital, Danni misses her father so badly after they go back to Ellie’s, she cries for an entire day and through the night.

Ellie calls her friend Gage Landon, who knows Luke. Gage assures Ellie that Luke is one of the most honest and above board men in town.

Ellie relents and allows Luke to move into her home until he has recovered from his injuries from the accident, with one condition. The police must visit at least once a day to check on them, unannounced.

Excerpt: Ellie visits her mom in the nursing home.

Ellie turned corners down each hallway toward her mom’s room, avoiding walkers, wheel chairs and patients in search of their rooms or fighting to take up residence in someone else’s room.

Orange cones lined one section of the hall and the entrance to a room two doors from her mom’s room. A weary housekeeper pushed a wide heavy mop across the floor, then plopped it into the lavender scented water to rinse and begin again. She looked up as Ellie approached.

“Watch your step, ma’am, the floor is wet.” She shoved a strand of hair from her face and blew upward with her bottom lip. “Wouldn’t want you to fall.”

“Thank you, I’ll be okay.” The scent was pleasant and reminded Ellie of the cut flowers her mom always arranged in a beautiful bouquet in the hallway of her home. Viola Rand had the same green thumb all the Rand women had inherited. Ellie had also inherited the Rand’s green thumb. Her mom had taught her the pleasure of growing flowers and vegetables. Memories of her mom in the garden were vivid and bittersweet.

How easy it would be to turn and run out the door, never to return. But then her mom would be in the same situation as many of the other patients were. There were plenty of lonely and forgotten souls, and she refused to allow her mom to become another statistic.

As she approached her destination, the thought she was fortunate to still have her mom, racked her saddened state of mind, and the more anxious she became. The visits always filled her with dread too. That dread included what condition her mom would be in today.

She wanted her mom back, but realized she couldn’t change the past or see into the future.

The tiny figure she called mom, sat enveloped by a lavender blanket in a recliner, her legs crossed in front of her and next to her heart, she embraced a baby doll wrapped in the same color blanket.

The devastating separation hit Ellie all over again as she reminded herself her mom no longer recognized her as a daughter. The blank stare on her mom’s face and the empty eyes…her once beautiful, sparkling hazel eyes, was more than she could endure. For once, she was glad her dad wasn’t here to witness his beloved wife’s condition.

Ellie squeezed back tears, walked to her mom, wrapped her arms around the thin shoulders, then hugged her tight, unable to let her go. Her mom shrugged her aside. In sorrow, but yet still hopeful, Ellie gazed into those dull, vacant hazel eyes, searched for recognition, but found none. Nothing. It was as though Ellie no longer existed in her mom’s memory. No. It wasn’t as though her mom recognized her. She didn’t.

Sadly, once her mom’s Alzheimer’s advanced to a certain stage, Ellie’s existence and her mom’s memory had deteriorated. Again, Ellie bit back a sob and covered her mom’s hands with hers, then slowly turned them over and memorized each vein and crease.

Those hands, that had with love, accomplished so many tasks for her family…those hands that had protected her from harm. One day they would be no more.

Her mom focused on the door with a longing and spoke in a monotone expression without acknowledging Ellie. “I’m waiting for my daughter.” She tilted her head and stared up at Ellie. “Do you know my daughter?”

Ellie wrapped her arms around her mom’s shoulders again. “Mom, it’s me. It’s Ellie…your daughter. I miss you,” she whispered into her soft silver hair.

Oh, Mom. Where are you? Where have you gone? I need to talk to you.

Grief stricken tears trickled down Ellie’s face and onto her crisp white blouse for the mom she’d already lost. For the mom who would never recover from her horrendous disease. Yet deep inside her mom’s brain, Ellie knew she somehow recalled she had a daughter.

She simply couldn’t position reason enough together to pull up the memory.

 

Please check out my other books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and Apple. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

I wish you Butterflies, Music and Love…

 

“Real” Moms and Their Kids

me and my babies09182014

Me and my babies too many years ago

“I don’t think she misses those kids at all. They weren’t her real kids, you know. They were adopted. You can tell she never loved them–not the way she loves the kids she had naturally with her new husband.”

This statement was uttered by a coworker yesterday regarding the long-ago breakup of a celebrity couple and the subsequent fallout to their children’s relationship with Mom due to Dad’s involvement in a religious cult.  

There are a lot of times I have to zip my lip or run to the ladies room to bang my head against a hard surface during the day job. My brow is still throbbing after this one.

I’m fortunate that I know all kinds of mothers, and let me assure you the giving birth aspect of motherhood has nothing to do with the love any of them have for their children. Every one of them is a real mother who considers all of her children her “real” children. It doesn’t matter if these are natural children of the parents, adopted children, foster children, grandchildren they’re caring for, or…yes…furbabies. Take it from me. No one spends years cleaning up poop and puke, dabbing bloody knees, gushing over dandelion bouquets, worrying about missed curfews, and comforting broken hearts because there’s nothing decent on television. You do it out of love: deep, unconditional, abiding love. 

A real mother is emotionally invested in every one of her children. She does not have less love for one than another. She loves all her children equally, but uniquely. What do I mean by uniquely? Just as each child is an individual, a real mom’s love reflects that same level of individuality. She’ll know, and be able to recite in the blink of an eye, her children’s flaws and gifts. She can tell you which one is gullible, which one is the leader, which one feels too deeply, and/or which one is the creative dreamer. She knows their likes and dislikes, can name her children’s best friends, favorite activities, the meals they dislike, their best and worst school subjects. When one of her children hurts, there’s no difference in the measurement of her empathy based on the circumstances of their birth. When one of her children makes her happy, she couldn’t care less if she carried that one inside her for nine months. The real mother is proud of all her children’s triumphs, commiserates with their disappointments. Real moms are human. Sometimes, they make mistakes. But the depth of their love is never one of them. 

This Sunday, here in the States, we’ll honor those real moms for all they’ve done for us. To celebrate, I’ve placed my Calendar Girls novella, CHARMING FOR MOTHER’S DAY, on sale for 99 cents for ten days, beginning today. This holiday story introduces readers to the town of Snug Harbor, where all my Calendar Girls stories take place. Colin Murriere has returned to Snug Harbor, the winning chef from a reality cooking show, ready to win back the girl he left behind. Lucie Soto’s life took a downward spiral when Colin broke up with her after a summer fling years ago. Now a single mom struggling to maintain a normal life, Lucie wants nothing to do with him or his dreams of a shining future. But her daughter, Ariana, an expert on fairy tales, knows Prince Charming when she sees him and will stop at nothing to bring these two their Happily-Ever-After.

Charming Promo

Happy Mother’s Day to all the real moms. It may not always seem like it, but we know we’re the luckiest kids in the world because you’re ours!

Raising happy children

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.”~ Everett Koop

How do we help our children become happy and healthy adults while promoting well being, positivity, and connection as they are growing up and facing the joys and challenges of life.

1– Spend Time with Deep Connection: Take the time to play, listen, and engage in sharing feelings and communication to let them know that you value them, their opinions, and their importance in your life.

2–Discipline/ Catch Them Being Good: It is crucial to discipline the bad behavior, explaining that the behavior is not acceptable, not the child as an individual. Take notice when they are doing something good, and give positive praise without them looking for the recognition.

3– Give Specific Praise: Praise specific actions and don’t give general praise. Children will feel a sense of accomplishment when they know what they are being praised for specifically.

4– Positive Role Modeling: Children watch every move we make as adults and learn to follow the same patterns, whether positive or negative. Live and love the way you wish your child to be.

5– Support and celebrate Uniqueness: Everyone is unique in God’s eyes. Celebrate what your child brings to the family and let them know you appreciate their special qualities.

6–Negative labels: Be careful of labels you give in passing, such as shy or rebellious. Children will live up to or down to our expectations of them, and quickly assume those identities.

7– Success in the Face of Failure: Give credit for success in every instance. Teach them to accept failure as a learning tool and help them look for opportunities on how to improve.

8– Appropriate Sense of Power: Allow them to fulfill certain duties . make decisions and try to solve problems on their own, giving them praise for attempting and accomplishing tasks.

The role of a parent is to promote the well being and help the child learn, grow, assimilate and live a happy and fulfilling life.

NYT M-WeddingSurprise - CopyWEDDING SURPRISE by Mona Risk
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
www.monarisk.com

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Did you make some New Year resolutions?

party-hatsInstead of making New Year’s resolutions, make a forget-about-it list! It’s much more productive. Let’s face it, most of us all want to lose 15 pounds, but do you really want to join that gym and knock yourself out for an hour three days or more a week? And you’ll do that for how long? Three weeks or three months? Forget about it! Don’t set yourself up for failure.

I’d be thrilled about losing fifteen pounds, but I promise going to the gym is not the way I’m going to lose it. So toss that one on my forget-about-it list. Okay, what else is on the list?

Personally, I think it’s better to concentrate on doing what I do best and dog with ballswhat I enjoy doing. Things that are unpleasant that we think we should be doing only serves to drag us down and prevent us from doing what we love. Spending fifteen minutes three times a day with the dog is probably much more fun than going to the gym. And if you are tossing the ball in the backyard, running in the neighborhood, or playing Frisbee with your four-legged friend, you’ll get a workout.

Accept the fact that we must eat and have dishes to clean. If dish washing is that terrible, buy disposable. I’ve never figured out why people buy plastic dinnerware and then wash it. It’s disposable – toss it! No one loves to clean the bathroom, just keep the cleaners handy and do something to clean it as needed, don’t wait until it’s a “clean the bathroom” sort of day. Keep chores as painless as possible.

When my children were little, I wiped the sink daily. They didn’t have the daily spray stuff for the bathtub. (I love that stuff and should own stock in that company!) So I bought a brush just for the tub. I used regular cleaner, swirled the tub with that brush, turned on the shower, and washed away the dirt and soap film. Little quickies are better than having TO CLEAN THE BATHROOM. (And you know that children leave bathtub rings. Yuck!)

Skip the everyone-is-doing-it! Who cares! My youngest daughter went on a cruise because it’s what everyone is doing these days. Fun in the sun and all those beautiful port towns, we’ve seen those brochures. Even her sister was saying, “Come on, we’ll have fun!” By day three, youngest daughter was bored out of her mind and claustrophobic. The towns looked alike and she was stuck on a ship. She was thinking how much fun in the sun can my fair skin take even with maximum SPF sun screen? It was an expensive mistake, but everyone is doing it. She would have rather spent the money and vacation time in the Grand Canyon or someplace out west.

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something. Maybe shooting hoops with your daughter or son, watching a movie with the children, or b-ballreading to the little ones is by far more fun. Use your time with them wisely – they grow up way too quickly. And if you’d rather do dishes while listening to your music than you would to watch that movie for the thirteenth time this month, then do it.

Resolving to be a kinder person? Try being kind to yourself instead. When you are happy, it spills through your life. You’ll find that you are by far much more tolerant when you aren’t stressed to the max. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t like to read books. Go read! Put that Kindle in a watertight plastic zip bag and head for the tub! (I run the text size up a little higher when I do that.) Escaping into a book is a great way to de-stress and refresh your spirits.

AA031If you love yoga, do it! If you hate yoga, don’t do it. You don’t have to run the IRONMAN triathlon or feel as though are training for it. Maybe you’d rather learn some self-defense skills or go to the firing range. Maybe walks in the park or ballet lessons are your thing. Is it quilting or would you prefer to take a class on pottery?

Do you hate your job? Then why are you doing it? If you can’t afford to quit, then look for another job or one with fewer hours. Put that job on the forget-about-it list! Jobs can be tricky so don’t do anything totally stupid or rash, but you don’t have to keep a job that you hate and makes you crazy. That will ruin your happiness and foul up your relationship with your partner, children, and friends.

About those friends (or family!), do you have someone that needs to be placed on the forget-about-it list? The hardest thing I ever did was place my sister on that list. It was right after my husband died that I discovered that I could no longer handle her problems and my own. I know that sounds cruel, she was my sister. She was also a psychopath and an alcoholic. I didn’t have the strength to handle her and keep her on an even keel when I’d lost my own bearings. I stepped away and I watched her. Then I quit watching. She really wasn’t my problem. But for the first time since I was a teen, I had a freedom that had never been there. I became a happier and more productive person because I quit worrying about her. (She wasn’t alone; she had a husband and grown children to look after her.) Maybe someday I’ll write that book and call it Steering a Foundering Ship!

And this might sound like the craziest of all the things, but give yourself time to forget about everything and everyone at least once a day! I don’t care if you must lock yourself in the bathroom and turn out the light. Go. Do. Nothing! No sound, no noise, no TV, no singing, just you, and your heartbeat. Get a pair of those noise-killing earphones if necessary. Learn to be your own best friend. It’s amazing how you’ll feel after you’ve done it a few times. And if you really hate doing it, put it on the forget-about-it list.

Beware: sometimes things hit that forget-about-it list on their own. Doughnuts hit my list! I met friends for coffee, and next-door was the doughnutdoughnut shop. I’d been very good considering the holidays usually have me eating things I normally would not eat. So in I go with the intention of eating one doughnut. Well, they had a 3-for sale. I bought three because it was almost the same price as buying one. I ate one doughnut and decided it was super sweet and not something I’d want all the time. About an hour later, my stomach was asking why I sent dough and sugar down there. I promised myself I’d toss the other two doughnuts. I didn’t. Instead, I put them in the refrigerator for later. Well, later was the next day, and one of those doughnuts called my name. About half way through it, I tossed that doughnut. Why waste the calories on something that sweet and tasteless. The following day that remaining doughnut begged me to eat it. I figured I’d like that one best because the flavor, peppermint and white chocolate. I thought it sounded delicious so I had saved it for last. One bite and I was thinking what is wrong? Bite two, I spit out and tossed the doughnut. Doughnuts have officially hit my forget-about-it list and will probably stay there for a very long time!

Take a look at your New Year’s resolutions. Do most of them need to go to PressureCapacitythe forget-about-it list? Don’t start this year stressed over a handful of resolutions that you know you won’t keep. Be kind to yourself and add as many things as you can to the forget-about-it list.

If you are that determined to lose 15 pounds by working out, you’ll lose it! You are going to love going to the gym. But if you really don’t like the whole exercise routine, and you’ve failed for the last three years, why are you doing it again? Forget about it!

Go do a few things that you like!file0001179129151