Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Disney World, Smokey Mountains or D.C.?


I think it's the winter doldrums, but I've got a hankering for some R&R and the word "vacation" is sounding mighty nice.

Being cooped up in this house, working almost 24/7 at my "real" job, and putting way too much on my plate leaves me yearning for some R&R.

So, where is it going to be this time?

I have no idea.

Where money will be an issue somewhat, it can't be across the world like I'd loooove to go, so I'm narrowing it down to three possibilities. Disney World, Smokey Mountains and D.C.

Now, I'd love to go to all three, but looks like I'll probably have to settle for just two.

D.C. will be a spring trip. I have never been except briefly to my ex-brother-in-law's wedding, and barely remember it. Ohhh, I want to see the Smithsonian...definitely. And the White House, although I don't know how close we'd be able to get to that with security and all, but the Smithsonian is top on the list.

Smokey Mountains. I need to go back. About two or three years ago, we made an impromptu and quite unexpected stop there on our way back from a signing in Arkansas. It was on the way home and I saw the signs for Smokey Mountains and I said why the heck not.

Omg...that place was fantastic. We went through Pigeon Forge (I could live there), then to Gatlinburg which was the entrance to the Smokey Mountains. I was in love. This is a big possibility.

Disney World. I used to live in Florida and can you believe I never went? It's only - gulp - 18 hours from here, but the kids would love it.

So, there you have it. Decisions, decisions.

Where are you going on your summer vacation this year?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cowboy Cupid of Love

In my researching soul mates, I come upon such cute and quirky stories that really make me indulge in a little free reading to see what it's all about. This one was one of the funniest I have read so far.

There's a man down in New Mexico called Cowboy Cupid of Love (Ivan Thompson) that specializes in setting up "good ol' boys" with wives. Sort of like a Match.com sort of thing, but he's a one man show. Pay him $3,000 up-front and you're good to go.

His "business" caught the eye of a filmmaker who has turned his booming business into an award-winning documentary titled "Cowboy Del Amor" that's currently playing in select theaters across the country and will be released via Netfliz on April 4. The documentary focuses on Thompson's quest to help the average guy-one is a truck driver, another a car salesman—find love.

If you want to read more about it, click here.

As a relationship advice expert (ahem) focusing on the soul mate experience, I find it quite amusing that there would be anyone even remotely interested in taking him up on his offer, but he claims he's had 400 clients. So if you're in the market for a wife, Cowboy Cupid of Love is your ticket. Of course, if you're in the market for a soul mate, better to pocket your $3,000 and let nature take its course.

Happy trails!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nine-to-Five is For the Birds

This working daytime crap is for the birds. I don't even think the birds would do it if it meant putting what you love to do on hold until you get through doing what you have to do to make ends meet.

But, I hate, hate, hate working day shift.

Because one of my co-workers took vacation to go to Walt Disney World, and because I am the only one there who can work either shift (made the mistake of letting them know that), I got stuck working the day shift as opposed to the night shift which I love and which I can write, too.

I just cannot do day shift. After I do the time, my brain cells have had it. When I work at night, I've already used my fresh brain cells to get my writing done and all that's required at work is the physical part of my body which is well rested because I've been on the computer all day. It's all good.

So, tonight, after work, I decided I was going to start revising my latest soul mate relationship book and for some ungodly reason the sentences just aren't making sense. And this is not like me. Usually, the words flow out of me so fast, I don't even know where they are coming from.

But, anyway, I sent off a query to an agent tonight so at least I feel like I've accomplished something.

By the way, and I do feel bad about this, but my co-worker called another co-worker today and told her that the vehicle (her son's truck) that they had traveled to Florida in was stolen while they were at Disney World. I mean THE WHOLE TRUCK...including about $1500 in cash which she had stowed away in the glove compartment, not to mention gifts she had bought for the family. And, not to mention the cash her daughter left in the truck which probably doubled hers.

So, I'm afraid my co-worker might have to come back earlier than planned.

I swear, I had nothing to do with it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Boomer Chick Valentine's Day Contest Winners

Well, I hope you guys know that this was really hard. Everyone's response hit it in on the nail.

The two winners are:

Lance

Pat (4evergapeach)

Congratulations Lance and Pat! Send me your mailing address and I'll put two copies of "Romancing the Soul" in the mail for you!

But, wait, there's more...

In my contest, everyone's a winner!

For taking the time to tell me what a soul mate means to them, I'm sending everyone who commented a free copy of my latest e-book, "101 Facts You Never Knew About Soul Mates."

This e-book is only available with the purchase of my other e-book, "How to Find and Keep
Your Soul Mate." All of your answers touched me and it really helped me to focus on what I should be doing in my quest to prove that soul mates exist.

To claim your free e-book, email me at thewriterslife@yahoo.com and put "101 Facts E-book" in the comment line. The e-book will be sent to you on February 23.

Wait, there's more!

See that cute little graphic up there? Since everyone is a winner, you can grab it and put it on your blog or website.

So, congratulations everyone and may all your soul mate dreams come true!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Announcing..."A Funny Thing Happened...On the Way to Getting Published"

In honor of "Read An E-book Week" (March 8 - 11), my writing group, The Writersville Gang, and I, are proud to announce a new e-book titled "A Funny Thing Happened...On the Way to Getting Published."

This 60-page e-book (available in pdf format) will be available absolutely FREE!

No strings, no bribes, nothing...believe it or not. It's our gift to you!

The book won't be officially released until March 1, 2006, but if you click here, you can sign up early and be first on the list of e-books going out.

So, why not try an e-book for free and discover the wonderful advantages of being able to read a book in electronic format?

Discover the world of e-books.

Believe me, reading will never be the same!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Believe me, I'm Not Venting...I'm Really Not

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I refrained from posting for the sole reason to give everyone a chance to find out about my contest and enter a "what a soul mate means to me" comment. I have had oh-so-wonderful comments and I want to thank all of you that have commented so far.
The deadline is Friday, Feb. 17, so if you haven't commented yet, click here and do so because two copies of "Romancing the Soul" will be given away when the winners are announced on Monday, Feb. 20!

Now my non-vent...

I call it my non-vent because it's not really a vent, just a heated opinion...well...not really heated...because I'm not mad. Really.

Two days before Valentine's Day, BF and I agreed we wouldn't cave in to commercialism and materialism (such non-conformists, aren't we?) and spend any money on each other just because it was Valentine's Day.

They get us on Christmas when we HAVE to spend every last dollar we own, plus run our credit cards to the max, plus pawn our dog and take a second mortgage out on our house, but we figured we had some control over Valentine's Day. Hallmark wasn't going to sucker us in and neither were those florist commercials.

I was happy with this and BF was, too. After all, not only could we spend what money we would have spent on these commercialized symbols of Valentine's Day, but we could use our money to do something after the fact like take in a movie or a dinner on an ordinary day and not just because it was a holiday.

Everything was hunky dory.

So BF comes in with a slushie maker (for him) and a dog grooming comb (for the dogs) and throws a bag of jelly beans down on the table beside me.

Uh.

Okay, I know we agreed not to buy each other anything, but jelly beans?

After BF made some sort of snow creme looking slushie and tested the dog comb out on the dogs (which didn't work), he grabbed the bag of jelly beans and headed into the bedroom to watch T.V.

Now, it may be me, but, does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Like I said, I'm not mad. That's what non-vents are for. I'm not mad...really...I'm not...seriously...I'm not...I didn't like jelly beans anyway...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm Having a Contest!

In honor of Valentine's Day coming up this Tuesday, I'm having a contest! From now until Friday, February 17, whoever comments on my blog, on this exact blog post will be eligible to win a FREE copy of ROMANCING THE SOUL, my anthology of true soul mate stories from people all over the world who have found their soul mates.

Not only that, but I will be giving away TWO copies, so that's twice the odds of winning a fantastic book that you won't be able to put down. Okay, I'm biased...but that's what I've heard anyway.

Ah...yes...the catch. What I would like you to do when you comment is tell me what having a soul mate means to you. Do you have one? Tell me about it (btw, contrary to what some people believe, you have many soul mates). That's all there is to it!

Ohhhh...but there's more!

Also in celebration of Valentine's Day, anyone who buys my e-book HOW TO FIND AND KEEP YOUR SOUL MATE, you will receive the newly released e-book, 101 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT SOUL MATES absolutely FREE.

Just $4.99 (payable through paypal) for two e-books!

The two winners of ROMANCING THE SOUL will be announced on Monday, February 20. I will then ask you to send me your mailing address at that time.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Why I Love My Job

This is a story that bears telling, yet I'm almost ashamed to tell anyone about, but here goes.

As some of you know, I wait tables at night to support my writing habit and to keep a roof over my head. A writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do.

It was Friday night and not too busy as it's not peak season in my parts, but I was restless to get back home and start on the proposal for the soul mate book, rewrite the Sisterhood book, finish the free e-book I'll be offering in a couple of days (stay tuned for that), work on the free e-book that my writer's group and I are compiling (again, stay tuned) and redo my writing group's webpage.

Lots of stuff to do and I was stuck at work.

I was wiping down the salad bar when SHE came through the door.

SHE is kind of hard to explain. Think of Mama from "Throw Mama from the Train"...annoying older lady that you wished there was a train close enough to really throw her from and still that wouldn't be enough torture to behold on her.

The reason why SHE is so hated is because everytime she comes into the restaurant, she's all loud and complaining - real redneck-like - but more than that, more than anything she can be loud and complaining about, she really irks me because everytime she comes in with her loud self and waits for her order, she picks at MY salad bar.

Now, my salad bar is open to anyone who pays. Pay for a salad and I'm a happy camper, but DO NOT under any circumstances, walk in and pick at it like it's free for the taking.

She had done this every single time she has come in.

I was ready for her this time. I wanted to go home and had to stay and I was in just the right mood to let her have it.

As soon as she walked in, I manned myself right in front of the salad bar, pretending to be cleaning it. She walked past me, paid for her take-out, and sat at the table directly in front of the salad bar. I knew what she was doing. She wanted another freebie meal.

Well, I got tired of standing there and walked over to tell the other waitress to keep an eye on her and no sooner than I walked away to do this, SHE was at the salad bar, munching away as if this was a perfectly normal sane thing to do!

I ran in the back and asked the manager if she had paid for her take-out yet because I was going to get her good and charge her for the salad, but he said she had already paid.

Drats.

I walked back out in the dining room, defeated.

She got me again.

I was talking to one of my tables and I heard this woman yelling again. I figured SHE was complaining about something again, but instead, she was frantically looking for her car keys that she must have dropped.

I ran in the back and they were all laughing and I wanted to know why.

They had hid her car keys.

Now, don't take pity on this woman. Some people need to learn a lesson or two the hard way; such as, maybe not to come back?

Actually, they were still up on the counter, only there was a menu on top of them.

I watched her scream at her grandson who was sitting at the table munching down on potato sticks and throwing crayons all over the place and running all over the place, out the door to her car and running back in like a chicken with her head cut off.

It was so hard to walk past her without dying in hysterics. Everyone was in the back just cracking up and, believe me, this was a moment of triumph.

Everyone hated her...dreaded to see her come in... and poor thing, she lost her keys...

She caught me looking (laughing) at her and said, "Can I use your phone? I can't find my car keys!"

I said, "Is it local?"

"Yes!!!!" she screamed. "I've got to call my husband!"

I dialed the number for her and walked over to the drink machine and I could hear her say, "Walter! Walter! Answer the damn phone, Walter!"

I could imagine what Walter looked like if I judged him by her appearance. We were dying to see what this Walter looked like.

But, the manager felt sorry for her eventually and gave her back her keys before we had a chance to find out.

And, you know what she did when she walked out????

WALKED BY THE SALAD BAR, GRABBED MORE FOOD AND PRANCED OUT!

Arrrgggghhhhhh.....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is Your Book a Golden Retriever or a Chihuahua?

Really neat blog post from Tess Gerritsen I read this morning which really makes you think.

We write what spirs us to write, but are we writing books that are golden retrievers or chihuahuas?

Here's the link if you want to check it out but come right back because there's going to be a pop quiz. ;o)

http://www.tessgerritsen.com/blogs.cfm

Take your book(s) either published or not and classify them...this could really tell you why your books are a success or not and the ones you haven't published, whether they will be or not.

Here's mine:

No More Gooseberry Pie - chihuahua (no one buys children's ebooks)
Romancing the Soul - golden retriever (widespread appeal of soul mates and relationships)
Sisterhood book - this is tricky. Is there a middle ground? It would appeal to boomers, older women...so I guess it's a cocker...but how to turn it into a golden retriever?
Sisterhood prequel - again same
Sisterhood sequel - again same
Are You My Soul Mate - Demystifying and Identifying the Soul Mate Relationship - golden retriever (again, widespread appeal to both men and women)

I've got more but they're the ones I wanted to show you how one could be a chihuahua and another a golden retriever. When you write your books, make sure you have a widespread audience; that is, if you want to become a bestseller.

Of course, opinions vary. Some of the books that made the bestseller lists I couldn't give a toot about, but there was a huge audience that did give a toot enough to buy them. And even if they weren't bought for their substance and other factors came into play like word of mouth for instance...subject matter...then think about this when writing your books.

So, is your book a golden retriever or chihuahua and why do you think so?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Finding My Father - Part VII - Opening Old Wounds

Lynette (http://nettiesramblings.blogspot.com/) made an interesting comment on my blog today. She said:


"Oh, Dorothy, I am so sorry to hear that it doesn't sound as if your father
wants to meet you. Although, it may be a bit of a bolt out of the blue for him
right now and might be forcing him to face up to things that he thought were in
the past. It does sound though as if some of the family are looking forward to
meeting you. So for time being, I would cling to that. Who knows, if he gets to
hear about you via them, in time he might want to meet you for himself.

I feel your pain as I have had something similar happen to me with my
father. My parents divorced when I was in my late teens and things were
difficult between myself and my father. A few years ago, I bumped into him with
my two young children in a cafe in town. He promised to come to visit me over
Christmas. I got all excited and went out and bought him a Christmas present
[btw, he never buys me or my children any presents at all], I wrapped it and put
it under the tree with the rest of the Christmas presents. Christmas came and
went and he never showed up. It was still under the tree in January, a sad
reminder of how he let me down again.

After shedding some tears, I unwrapped it and put it away.

Following that incident, I decided that over the years I have given him the
opportunity to be a part of my life, but he's never taken me up on it. Not long
afterwards, I heard a well-known radio agony aunt, Anna Raeburn, talk to someone
whose mother didn't really want to know them. Anna's reply was: "You can't make
someone want to be a part of your life. You have your own close family, give
your love to them."

That was the turning point for me. I have seen my father since, if I bump
into him town, I'm polite and might chat, but I have accepted that he's not
going to be part of my life, but that was his own choice, not mine.

If things don't work out for you as you wish, I hope you will find some way
to come to terms with all of this as it will surely have opened old wounds for
you. Perhaps this is something you need to go through to heal inside.

Hugs,

Lynette"


I responded with:

"Wow, your words moved me, Lynette...thank you so much. Opening old
wounds...hmm...when you open old wounds, it hurts, but then forces us to heal,
doesn't it? When we have healed, everything is back to normal and good just as
it should be. Interesting."

Interesting thing, old wounds.

It’s those old wounds that have lain dormant in my body for fifty-two years. Now that the wound has been opened, can I force it to go back to its hibernation stage?

Or, should I take care of it, nurture it, heal it?

There are some things we cannot take care of. However, mind control is powerful. If I ignore it, it’s not there.

But, I don’t think I can do that. I do think I can control my emotions as long as I know not to get my hopes all bent out of shape and concentrate on what else is going on in my life.

My books. My family. Two things that have been neglected since all this happened.

The pictures of my father still sit beside me. I have not put them in frames and I do not want to just yet. I do not want a constant reminder that it takes time for someone to meet the child they had abandoned.

And, I do not want to fantasize a person into someone he's not. Not yet.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Finding My Father - Part VI - The Euphoria Takes a Nosedive

My new aunt has made contact. My father knows.

I received an email this morning from Aunt Carmen. My father knows that I have surfaced and have been asking to meet him. I know it's silly and premature, but I already feel jilted. Abandoned again. Shot down before I even had a chance to aim.

Aunt Carmen wrote,

"We did talk to Ernest about you and he does know
of you but with him not being well we did not push the
first time. Charlotte is very nice but also very
protective for herself and her own family. I make a
promise to talk to your other siblings this week and tell them about
you. they will be easier to reach and get to know."

Is Charlotte going to let me even get close enough to see him for the first time? This isn't freaking fair.

She goes on to write,

"I did not understand some people that do not seem to automatically reach
out to family, but God did not make me for this world to understand
that. I only need to be the instrument in the meeting. In either case we
are your family and we love you and Preston wants to meet you and is
excited about your coming to casa sporrans, the House of Hope in Spanish.
"

The House of Hope is the mission where Aunt Carmen helps migrant workers in the area. The Eastern Shore is mainly low-income and migrants make up a certain percentage of the population. More and more, they are not just migrating here, but living here permanently. However, they are finding that even with the generosity of people like Aunt Carmen, the wintertime can be dreadfully barren.

I do agree with something she said. She said that she couldn't understand why some people do not automatically reach out to family. This is the way of the world, isn't it? Or, at least in my background. People will reach out to you only if there's something in it for them. I say let's bring back the Waltons.

Preston is my uncle, btw. I've not met him yet, but I believe her in that he wants to meet me. In time...in time.

She goes on to write,

"..the brother, Tommy, did say that your grandparents never
wanted anything to do with this family and that out the
ax on the whole thing at the very beginning.
he does not know why. we will
try to get that out of Ernest one day. I would like to be able to
talk to him alone but that is near impossible."

Okay, this part is coming back. My grandparents never had anything nice to say about my father, but I'm not quite sure why there was this hostility. He did leave, I have found out that much by studying the divorce papers the other night. But, I'm thinking my father's mother had something to do with it, also. But why did they separate my father and I? Why didn't they allow me to at least see him? Did he not want to?

She ends her email with:

"I know you are wanting to meet him and we will try to make it
happen. Ernest has not told us no and that is good."

At first, I read that to say he doesn't want to make it happen and I sat there, tears forming and falling onto the keyboard, which is a big no-no but I didn't care at that point. I reread her email and cleared it up. I'm thinking that he's thinking everything over. This must be a shock to him. At least he did let her know that he knows who she is talking about so maybe he at least didn't forget. But, why didn't he try to contact me? What is it with men who father babies and just forget them?

Makes me ever-loving mad.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Finding My Father - Part V - The Alyson Jolly House of Hope

Remembering back a few days ago when I visited with Aunt Carmen for the first time, I remembered a newspaper clipping that she had put in a frame and hung on the wall.

"Yeah, we were in the paper," she proudly pointed. "The Pilot."

The Virginian-Pilot is a huge daily based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Getting into the paper was big deal, only I never knew just what a big deal it was until now.

The Alyson Jolly House of Hope, where Aunt Carmen runs a mission to help Mexican immigrants, came about after a woman by the name of Alyson Jolly was killed by a drunk Mexican immigrant. Don Jolly, the owner of the building, was compelled by faith to forgive the driver convicted in his dauther's death and donated the building to Aunt Carmen so that she could continue to help the underpriviliged migrants.

The building used to be a garage where Don Jolly's daughter used to write her science fiction stories. After she died, Don knew that she would have wanted to put the building to good use, and that's when the run-down building became The Alyson Jolly House of Hope.

However, with the mention in the paper, it got wide-spread publicity and some of the publicity wasn't so good.

Last year, the county building inspection department ordered a halt to renovations, saying that the garage, which lacks running water, was substandard and that they had to close.

Aunt Carmen was stubborn. She didn't close, but she stopped renovations.

While David A. Fluhart, director of the department, warned that publicity about Aunt Carmen's operation may force the county to demand that the garage comply with regulations or shut down, Aunt Carmen's United Methodist supervisor has proposed selling the garage and moving the ministry to a newer building.

Mr. Jolly disputes this saying that the garage is unsound and needs the counties funds to renovate and has pledged to take his case to Accomack County's Board of Supervisors. He vows he will keep The Alyson Jolly House of Hope alive.

Knowing Aunt Carmen in the little time I have known her, she will stand behind her mission and make sure The Alyson Jolly House of Hope does indeed remain alive.

If you would like to see the full write-up in the Virginian-Pilot, click here.

An amazing woman with a heart of hope and strength. It is a pleasure to call her "Aunt."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Finding My Father - Part IV - In My Daddy's Eyes

These are the first pictures that Missy has sent me of my father. Wow.

My breath is on hold. I'll resume normal breathing patterns soon, I hope, but for now, I'm revelling in this beautiful father/daughter experience.

Wow.

He's perfect. If ever I envisioned what my Daddy would look like, this would be it. Amazing. Simply amazing.

I can see where I have his eyes. Blue like mine. My daughter said that we have the same facial structure, too.

Same widow's peak that bugs the crap out of me and, yeah, "Aunt" Carmen was right - I have his mouth.

He’s a pretty good-looking fellow actually. My mom had good taste. So, what was it that made her leave him or he leave her?

That's one of the secrets that I will find out.

For 73 years old, he's looking remarkable. Not sure when these pictures were taken, but he's really a handsome person.

I am trying not to stare at his picture, but I just can't help myself. I have never seen him nor had any pictures to remember him by. And why does he remind me of Mark Twain, lol?

Silly me.

But, I'm trying not to stare too long at his picture because I don't want to get any romanticized misconceptions, then get blown out of the water. As in, maybe he doesn't want to relive his past and maybe he doesn't want to see me.

It happens. You just don't know people. Some skeletons in the closet are meant to stay right there.

I'm more concerned with his wife, Charlotte, not wanting to see me than I am him. You have to put yourself in her shoes. Here comes a daughter maybe she didn't even know he had, from some other woman who was an ex-wife, albeit it was over fifty years ago, and she doesn't know me from Adam. What are her thoughts and feelings going to be when it is time for us to meet? Will she accept me or will she tell me to never call again like my "grandmother" did when I called more than twenty years ago? Did he ever get my message anyway? Doubt it.

Like I said, you just don't know people.

And this is tricky. Lots of emotions involved. And it has to be perfect timing. Like a stage play. All the scenery must be perfect and the characters well rehearsed.

Speaking of rehearsed, I wonder what I'll even say. I don't want a rehearsed speech. I am going to wing it. Whatever comes out of my mouth, I'm sure will be what is meant to come out. It's nerve-wracking enough to think of what I'm going to say at that moment.

Anyway, this is Daddy. Wow.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Finding My Father - Part III - Remembering Mother

Every morning, I get up and I wonder what new tidbit of information is going to show itself. What new person is going to be a part of my life? Are we getting closer to the end?

I feel myself changing. It’s exciting, but I feel like there is this new person coming out of me. It could be just the fact that everything that is going on is new, but it’s a weird feeling.

This daddy thing is something I've never experienced.

I opened up my e-mail this morning and my first cousin, Missy, has sent me pictures. I am putting off looking at them. I don’t know why. I’m shaking. I feel like I don’t want to open the present yet. I want to save it because these kinds of presents don’t come along but once in a lifetime.

I haven’t seen them yet but I know they are of my father.

Perhaps I am putting it off because of the impact. It’s been bad enough around here lately. I know that seeing my father’s picture for the first time is going to immobilize me.

I can’t do it. Not yet.

Eyes are the windows of the soul and once I look into his eyes, I will see things. Memory things. He is not just someone who they tell me is my father; he is my father - in the flesh.

I don’t think I’m prepared.

Last night, a couple by the name of Cloyd and Sue Jester from Sanford, Virginia, came into the restaurant. I told them I had found my father.

They are deeply religious. I’ve attended church with them before. They are praising God all over the place. I knew they’d get a kick out of what I was about to tell them.

I told them, then watched their reaction. Through the smiles, they knew that this was important to me and knew that I needed to know the rest of the story. I needed an ending.

I also told them about my mother. How she died. How I found her in a kneeling position, completely dead, and how I couldn’t figure out how when you die, you don’t fall down. Gravity is gravity whether you’re dead or alive.

It was 1973. My mother and her “supposed” husband (later I found out that they weren’t even married) lived in Exmore, Virginia, and ran a taxi service there. I believe this was the very first and only taxi service they ever had in Exmore.

I was 19, newly married, and when they asked me if I wanted to answer the phone and run the taxi occasionally, I took them up on the offer.

The pay royally sucked, but it was something anyway. My new husband, Rick, worked for his father at Thompson & Savage, a building contractor based in Exmore. His pay royally sucked, too. Funny how family takes advantage of you, but pay is pay and, as newlyweds, we found out that life involved paying for food and shelter - a rude awakening.

On the morning of August 13, 1973, I didn’t feel well so I went to my mother’s house to tell her that I wasn’t coming in that morning. I’m not sure why I didn’t call. Perhaps I did and there was no answer.

I opened the door (it was unlocked) and Peedle (her name was really Pistol but because she delighted in peeing on the carpet all the time, the name stuck) was sitting on the chair in the living room. I thought, this is odd. Peedle is always by my mother’s side 24/7.

Already, something was wrong.

I slowly walked into the hall and at the end of the hall, my mother’s bedroom door was open.

What I was about to see has haunted me for thirty-four years.

(As I write this, I am numb. But, I must go on. I must do this. I must clear up the ghosts of the past. I must heal.)

My mother was fully naked, on her knees, her arms outstretched about six inches from the top of the bed, and she was dead.

I screamed.

I ran next door and banged on my grandmother’s door. “Something’s wrong with Mother!” was all I could say through the hysteria. I was screaming and crying. I knew that it wasn’t just something that was wrong; she was dead.

I knew better than to excite my grandmother like that because she had been through heart surgery but you don’t think of those things when this happens. Especially to your mother.

This is very hard to write. Tears from long ago reappear. This is hard.

My aunt called 911 and through all the hysteria, I glanced in my mother’s front yard and they were taking her away, with a white sheet covering her face.

Telling Cloyd and Sue this story, I remembered that I had screamed, “Whoever did this, I’m going to kill them!”

My immediate thoughts was my supposed step-father.

I screamed and ran in my mother’s back yard. My cousin told me later that she could hear me from all the way over to her house which was at the end of the street.

Someone comforted me. I think it was my cousin. It was blurry after that.

My supposed step-father had been out of town that night, which was unusual because he was most times home. His alibi was that he had closed down the taxi place late and had picked up a hitch-hiker. That was the reason he was not home at the time of her death.

The coroner said that she died of heart complications. I was going through a tremendous amount of grief and didn’t have the strength to challenge it.

The funeral came and went and my mother’s sister, my aunt, had questions. I had questions. It just didn’t seem normal to die in an upright position.

My aunt went to the funeral parlor and talked to the mortician. She had more strength than I had. I could barely exist at that time.

What the mortician told her was like the worse thing anyone could have said at this point.

She had carbon monoxide in her body.

Still under a tremendous amount of grief, nor the financial means to pursue this further, I let it go.

But, the ghosts still haunt.

Someone told me that the local radio station had reported a woman in the Exmore area, Jeri Jarman Gustafson (wasn't her real last name as they were not married) had been shot. I'm hoping that one of the members of the family set them straight. I was in too much pain to do a thing.

My supposed step-father disappeared. He was not well-liked in the area because he was a come-here anyway. He originally was from Oklahoma. I don’t know whether he went back there and went into hiding.

That’s just my speculation.

My mother-in-law was having Thanksgiving dinner at her house and invited him, being as he didn’t have anyone now – not that I cared, but at this point, I still wasn’t sure if he had anything to do with it.

He was fidgety, but he never turned down a free meal.

I remember sitting in my trailer with my new husband with a shotgun on my lap whenever he left me alone.

I was going through a neurosis which took years before I released it.

Cloyd and Sue sat there in shock. Sue, being a religious woman, said that she was going to ask God for the answers. I thanked her. I have a funny feeling she will find the answers I am looking for. Whether it’s something I want to hear, I don’t know, but at least I have God pulling for me on this one.

Now, it's time to look at the pictures of my Dad. My Dad. I am still not prepared, but I must do this. I must stay strong.