I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my husband, Steve, our busy day. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I asked Steve what time his meeting started. He said, nine. I turned to look at the clock behind me. It was 8:45. American Airlines flight 11 was thundering toward New York City. We were 60 seconds away from unimaginable turmoil and devastation.
My son, DJ, was an infant. He started fussing. Intending to calm him with a video, I flipped the TV on. The image of the North Tower on fire filled the screen. First reports indicated a small commuter plane accidently crashed into the tower. It made little sense, but how else could we explain it? This is America. Terror doesn’t come to our soil. Everything we thought we knew was wrong. And what we could never imagine was bearing down on us.
As a former EMT, my brain assessed the scene on TV, while I stood flipping through options of to save the most lives. I saw a plane on the right side of the TV screen. I actually gave a sigh of relief. A rescue. They could get people off the roof. Then it happened.
United Airlines Flight 175 plowed into the South Tower. An enormous fireball erupted. That plane hit the building. That plane just flew into that building. On purpose! I couldn’t form any other thought. I don’t know how long I stood there. When the process of thought returned, I realized DJ stopped fussing the minute the TV came on. As if his only reason for fussing was to alert me to the attack.
I left the room briefly. When I returned, I saw a split TV screen, on one side the towers burned, on the other the Pentagon. I gasped. What is happening? I felt God impress upon my heart to pray. Despondency cascaded over me. God, I don’t even know what to pray for. I felt God’s response. “Pray for my people I’m bringing out.” I dropped to my knees. I intended to pray aloud. I choked on words and just wept.
When Steve returned from his meeting, I went to our older sons’s school. Steve and I decided taking them out of school may scare them too much. The only target for terrorists in Kentucky is Fort Knox. We’re far from there. But I wanted to be the one to explain the attack to them. I wanted to reassure them. Pray with them.
In the school office, the secretary called for the boys. I did my best to explain things to them. We prayed and when I raised my head, I realized prayer re-entered public school. A small group of people gathered around us and bowed their heads, joining us in prayer.
Back at home, details of United Flight 93 came in. Those passengers took back their liberty. They voted on a plan to storm the cockpit. Even in the face of certain death, they upheld democracy. Americans to the end.
The reaming hours of 9/11 unfolded with shock, horror, and heroism. It was the worst day for America, but never was she more beautiful. Flags unfurled across the country. Our government sang “God Bless America” on the steps of Capitol. People flocked to churches, gave blood, and made plans to enlist in the military. I’ve never been more proud to be American as I was on 9/11. From the ashes we rose as one. May God forever bless the U.S.A.
Several years ago, my son Colton wanted to walk alone from his grandparents house to the annual Pioneer Festival. I was a bit nervous about it. I knew it hurt him to see his brothers have independence he dreamed about. I agreed. I called him to check on him and the following conversation took place.
Me: Have you found the alley to cut through?
Colton: No. But some people I’m walking with are going to show me.
Me: Colton, you’re not walking with people you don’t know are you?
Colton: Uhh. No.
Me: What are their names?
Colton: Excuse me, people I’m walking with. What are your names?
Me: OH MY GOSH! Colton, you’re walking with strangers!
Colton: No, I’m not. They said they know my grandparents.
Me: That’s like rule 1 in the child abductor’s handbook, tell the kid you know their grandparents.
Colton: Well, I’m not walking RIGHT beside them. There’s a little space.
Me: (After figuring out they did know his grandparents) Now, Colt. You’re not going to the festival and walk with people you don’t know are you?
Colton: Mom, I’m 20. I got this.
Me:(Thinking of all the things he couldn’t do & how much he wants this bit of independence) Okay. But call me to check in, in an hour? What time is it now?
Colton: Excuse me, people I’m walking with, what time is it?
When I was a little girl, my sister Brenda took care of me in the summer while our parents worked. We got in trouble – A LOT! If we weren’t fighting each other; we were scheming together. But I tended to drive her a little batty sometimes. One such instant played out with our pets.
Brenda had a parrot named BB, and I had a cat named Tiger Wayne. Yes, I picked that name myself. Cause no one should be without a middle name, right? That thought process tells you a lot about my shenanigans.
To say the cat wasn’t fond of the bird is a gross understatement. You know the scene in the movie Madagascar when Alex the Lion looks at Marty the zebra with steaks in his eyes? That was Tiger Wayne to BB. Well, of course I knew how to fix it. Don’t I always have the answer?
I snatched up Tiger Wayne and put him in the bathroom. Then I retrieved BB from his cage and had him join Tiger Wayne in the bathroom. I admonished them to be friends, then locked the door, shut it and stepped into the hall. Immediate chaos.
With partially clipped wings BB lacked the ability to fly to higher safety. He could airborne for a second then crash to the ground. He was squawking and banging into the walls as Tiger Wayne pursued him with screeching of his own. Realizing I’m a stupid little kid complicit in pet homicide, I started screaming. Brenda, who up to this point was enjoying her day lounging in the sun, came racing in.
“What’s wrong?!” Her voice full of fear she scanned me. Judging by my level of screaming, she was certain she’d find my arm cut off or something equally terrifying.
“Tiger Wayne is going to eat BB.”
That’s the precise moment the noise from the bathroom penetrated her fear of me being hurt. She rattled the doorknob in panic. “The door won’t open.”
“I locked it.”
If her bird’s life wasn’t in danger, I swear she would have throttled me right there. Instead, she wrapped up all my stupidity into a single sentence dripping with disbelief. “Why would you do that?”
Just when she thought I couldn’t shock her more, I answered through quaking sobs and large gulps of air,. “I wanted them to be friends.”
“You locked them in the bathroom to be friends?”
I nodded. She practically growled. A solution arriving in my sister’s brain spared my life. She tore off into the other room and returned with a hammer. Before I asked her intent she began whaling away on the wooden door. Once she made a hole, she reached through and unlocked the door. Because BB was still intact Brenda allowed me to remain that way. Not to mention, beating a hole in a door went a long way in relieving her fear and anger.
With Tiger Wayne and BB safely separated, Brenda determined we were in big trouble with Mom. So, what do we do? Lie of course. I wasn’t in full agreement. However, I thought locking our pets in the bathroom together would make them friends. So, maybe I’d go with Brenda on this one.
Brenda told Mom I got locked in the bathroom and couldn’t get out. Ronnie, a neighbor up the street, came down and knocked the hole in the door to save me. It offended me Mom bought the story. How dumb did she think I was? Sure, locking a barely able to fly parrot in the bathroom with his greatest predator wasn’t my best idea, but good grief! I could work a doorknob!
Everything was fine until Mom thanked Ronnie for saving me from a door I mastered. Ronnie was clueless. Brenda, operating on same genius level as I, didn’t consider the possibility of Mom mentioning it to Ronnie. Even though Ronnie lived only three houses away. And she and Mom talked. Every day.
Mom picked our story apart. Brenda and I may not have been the brightest crayons in the box, but we knew when Mom was baiting us. We confessed.
Mom believed in creative punishment. She made us paint the side of the house. And that’s where Mom’s crayon lost a bit of brightness. A hot summer day, frustrated sisters, and house paint? Mom was asking for it. That’s a tale for another Tuesday.
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As an adult, my son Dalton and I swapped stories we’d kept from each other. When Dalton was about seven, he wanted a guinea pig. At the pet store, his older brother, Colton decided he wanted one. Dalton named his Lilly, and Colton named his Diamond. As a child I raised hamsters and wrongly assumed guinea pigs were the same, just a bigger model. So, I skipped researching them. Bad move.
While we were on vacation, my mom took care of them at her house. By the time we returned, she was as attached to them as the boys. A few days later Dalton announced one morning that something was wrong with Lilly. I sent Dalton to school and took Lilly to the vet where I got the grim prognosis.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive airways and tend to hide when they’re sick. By the time you realize your pig is sick it’s usually too late. Their respiratory system can’t tolerate smoke. My heart sank. My Mom smoked like a freight train. Lilly didn’t have a chance.
Dalton was crushed. The first thing my Mom said was, “Do you think I did something to it?” I could hear the anguish in her voice. I didn’t see the need to worsen the situation with the truth, so I lied.
Dalton wrapped Lilly in a towel and walked around holding and talking to her, begging her not to die. It was awful. He lashed out at Colton, saying it wasn’t fair. Colton only got Diamond because he wanted Lilly, so it should be Diamond dying. Now, Colton cried. When DJ, my youngest son, saw all the tears he joined in. It broke my heart seeing Dalton so upset and I couldn’t do anything. Or could I?
The most humane thing for everyone was ending the suffering. Alone with Lilly, I wrapped the towel around her head to suffocate her. But the second she squirmed, I let her go. I took a deep breath and reminded myself the purpose was to end Lilly and Dalton’s suffering. I tried again. Nope! She wiggled I let go. By the third attempt I accepted the fact I couldn’t do it.
Now I was crying. When my husband appears I told him I was a horrible mother because I couldn’t kill a rodent to end my son’s pain. He looks at me like I just dropped out of a UFO and said, “There has got to be a better way.” He says that to me a lot.
Dejected and feeling like the worst mother in the world, I went to comfort Dalton as best I could. Sometime during the night Lilly died, and we buried her the next morning. A few days later, Diamond got sick, and we started the entire process over. Well, not the entire process. I didn’t bother trying to take Diamond out. And my Mom died years later, never knowing the truth.
“Mom!” Dalton yells. “You tried to kill my guinea pig?”
“Yes, for you honey.”
“You were so upset I wanted to help you.”
Days after we had that conversation Dalton called me “Mom, I’m calling to tell you that I’ve told several of my friends about Lilly and we all think you’re crazy.”
“It’s not like I was trying to kill you. And what about the part where I couldn’t do it.”
“That’s the part where you’re a good mother.”
“You’re the one that wanted to share stories.”
“Yeah. Share not scare!”
I think it’s important to always keep a sense of humor. Laughter decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins which make us feel good. I’m starting a new blog group titled Tuesday Tales. I’ll share some of my crazy antics, past and present. If you have a funny story you want me to share email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your story needs names changed to protect the guilty I can do that. Since my tales tend to be quite colorful I’ll break ya’ll in easy.
My father-in-law and I tend to get into mischief. We don’t do anything really bad but we think we’re hilarious and that’s usually where the trouble begins.
Years ago when Steve and I first got married we lived in Nicholasville and didn’t see my in-laws as frequently as we do now. Steve set up email accounts for his Dad and me and we emailed on a regular basis.
Anyone who knows me knows I am anything but tech-savvy. At work, the IT department spent the vast majority of their time at my desk muttering things like, “how did you get it to do that?” They called for backup. Sometimes the backup called for backup. Other times they made me leave. But how hard is emailing, right?
My father-in-law and I emailed each other jokes we found online. I don’t recall what joke I sent to set this in motion. But I got a response along the lines of, “why are you sending me this?” I thought it was odd it needed explaining but he’s all old and stuff. So, there’s that.
The next day I got a follow-up email on my explanation reading, “Who are you?” Oh, I get it now. He’s playing a little game of pretending he doesn’t know who I am. I’ll play along. Meanwhile, on a daily basis, I said to Steve, “You’re Dad is so funny.” But I never fully explained the statement. He didn’t question me because as I said, his Dad and I are always up to something.
Around day four of the back and forth I received an email stating, “Who are you and why do you think I’m interested in this?” I respond with, “It’s your favorite daughter-in-law.”
He responds, “I don’t have a daughter-in-law.” Now, normal thinking humans would pause and consider the situation. However, I’ve never claimed normalcy. And that’s why the conversation unraveled.
“I don’t have a daughter-in-law.”
“Well, you better call the police because I’ve been sleeping with your son for the last six months.”
“Lady, my son is six years old and you better stop emailing me.”
No need to tell me the last part. I not only wouldn’t email him again but contemplated tossing the computer out the window. Not understanding technology I imagined the man sending police to my house, me registering as a sex offender, and my “most wanted” picture at the post office when I refused.
“I’ve done something bad.” My exact words when Steve walked in. When he finished laughing he assured me I wasn’t going to jail for cyber molestation and showed me the single different letter between my father-in-law’s email and the random stranger.
The moral of the story? Make certain you’re inappropriate jokes go to the person as crazy as you are.
When you’re a freelance writer or indie author you’re a business. You’re out hustling every day. Social media makes it simultaneously better and worse. Access to agents, publishers, and other writers is fantastic. But now before publishing a book or getting an agent you must create your brand and build your author platform. (insert eye roll)
I don’t want to do any of that. I want to play with the people in my head. The ones I created out of thin air but feel so real. The world they live in is more fun than mine. None-the-less, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And this girl created a YouTube channel to help with that platform everyone in the industry harps on.
The problem is I despise being in front of the camera. I stuttered as a child. It took six years of speech therapy to overcome it but it’s still a raw nerve. When I’m in front of the camera speaking I worry the stuttering child in me will appear and trip me up.
Coronavirus drives people to the internet. When our entertainment options are eradicated we go online. I knew I had to make a video. It took me all day to work up my nerve. But alas, I finally did. Reward my strength in facing my horrid fear by watching my videos, subscribing and ringing the bell to get notifications. This is the ultimate social distancing. Until next time, take care of yourself, be kind to others and wash those hands! Click here for video