Archive for February, 2014

Spring Sun (Haiku)

Bright sun warms the ground

A flower raises its head

Spring comes back once more.

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Think Before You Speak

“You can have the whole farm, I don’t care.” He said in anger. It had been their most vicious fight ever.

She returned with a deed for him to sign the next day.That wasn’t what I meant.

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The Desire to Live

 

The warmth of the sun propelled me towards my garden.

All winter, I had agonized over whether to even have one.

 

But the sun got to me, the 60 degree weather and out I went.

The grapevine needed to be moved-NOW. I didn’t know,

 

The roots were 6 feet long on three sides-what had I done?

I dug a hole for what I thought would hold the vine.

 

I dug up half my flower garden trying to save roots.

I replanted daffodils, some with buds, and stomped other plants.

 

They were trying desperately to peek above ground,

after a cold winter with a big snow only a week ago.

 

Spring does crazy things to me, It makes me think I am young.

I am strong-the girl in blue jeans and peasant shirts.

 

Then, a few hours later, I am struggling to make it to the house.

By July, all hope is gone, it seems. September brings a valiant cleanup.

 

Spring and gardens do something to me that I desperately need.

Somehow, we both have an unquenchable desire to live.

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Tomorrow May Never Come

Andre sat on the grass at the edge of the field. The last game was almost over and they were tied for the championship. His mother, Shawna, came over and quietly put her arm around him. “It’s ok, baby.” she whispered, “you are playing great!”

Andre got up, threw his baseball glove on the ground and stomped away. Tears rolled down his dark, refined cheeks as he put his hands to his head ad let out a loud, angry roar. His mom knew when to back off, Andre was like that. When he got too upset, the best thing to do was just to leave him alone.

She walked back to the bleachers, waiting for the long game to end.

Sitting in the grass again, Andre tossed a baseball from hand to hand. “Why?” he said to God, himself, maybe no one. “Why John? He was everyone’s friend, a great sport, a talented player.” Taking a deep breath, Andre slammed the ball down, and shouted, “Dammit, he was 15 years old!” Andre didn’t cuss. He took himself very seriously, he had plans, class, he had been raised right.

John had been his best friend. They had played ball together since they were 5 years old. Three weeks ago, the team was in the next to last inning and John had made a terrific double and stole third. When the next boy struck out, John had walked into the dugout and told Andre that he didn’t feel good.

“Just sit this last inning out, John.” Andre had suggested. Nothing happens in right field anyway and we are way ahead.

“I didn’t come to sit.” John smiled and headed out to practice throwing the ball with Andre before the inning started.

Suddenly, a mom on the bleachers touched Shawna’s shoulder and said, “Is something wrong with John?”

Shawna looked out on the field to see John running towards home, his mom running to him. Suddenly, a cloud of dust rose up as John collapsed and fell.

His mother was screaming . “Call 911! Call 911!”

The ambulance took forever. It must have gone to the wrong field, the Fire Department was right above the field. No one seemed to know what to do.

Now it was the championship, without his best friend.

Andre tried to block out John’s big family sitting at the hospital, rocking back and forth, praying, crying, waiting at the hospital, then the a doctor calling them into a private room.

When John’s family came out, holding hands, they were crying, holding hands. “Hes gone.” John’s mom whispered. “Gone.” She was in shock.

Andre looked at the scoreboard as he walked to to home base. He was the last hitter in the tournament. The championship was in his hands. He swallowed the tears that had choked him, took a deep breath and nodded that he was ready.

“This one’s for you, John.” he whispered as the ball sailed over the fence.

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Overcoming Frustration

Frustrated that the prompt word didn’t inspire her, Alice erased her Trifecta entry once again. The funk had now set in. As she gave up, the suddenly realized that she has achieved her goal.

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Your Obituary

The dark, cold, loneliness of rejection still fills my soul. A part of me will always be dead. Over thirty years later, reading your obituary still brought tears of rejection to my eyes.

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If You Can’t Say Anything nice…

Grandma looked at me sternly, as I stomped into her kitchen, mumbling in a voice I did not think she could 78260103hear. “That stupid Melonie!” I muttered. “She thinks she is so perfect, queen of the world!”

I grabbed a cold Coke from her refrigerator. Its pale green bottle made my mouth water after a tiring day at the high school.

Grandma stood up and walked over to me. “What is the matter with you, young lady? You know what I have always told you. ‘If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

“Well, I certainly couldn’t think of anything nice to say about Melodie!” I exclaimed. She is a bully, she teases kids that don’t have as nice of clothes as she does, or aren’t as pretty, or popular. I hate her!”

Grandma pulled up a chair beside me and sat down as I picked up my drink. The checkered tablecloth held a wet spot where the drink had moisture running down its side. I found myself using my index finger to trace the circle, over and over. I knew Grandma was right and she had told me, over and over not to speak badly of anyone since I was a little child. I as ashamed.

Who was this Melodie treating like that? Grandma said to me, her hand on my shoulder.

Everone.” I said with a hiss in my voice. “It especially bothers me when she picks on kids who already have low self-esteem or can’t buy nice clothes. I wish she could spend just one day not being ‘Miss Rich and Beautiful’ and learn what it feels like.

I though of Grandma’s quote about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice. I couldn’t imagine myself going up to Melodie and saying what Grandma suggested. It just didn’t seems strong enough somehow.

Then I remembered a quote I had read in literature class, just that day. I recalled days of sitting in the warm breeze on the beach and writing things in the sand that were bothering me, and watching the waves crash in and take them away. I decided to do something a little bit more my style. I Tomorrow, I would write a note, fold it, and put it on her desk before she came in. It would say something about her attitude and she would not know who had said it. It had come from our literature book, just a few days ago. I liked it, I had made a point to remember it because it reminded me of Grandma’s saying. It said, simply,

If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”
by Napolean Hill

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Help Save the Life of a Young Athlete

Parent Heart Watch-How to Help Save the Life of a Young Athlete

 

 

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My son, age 15

Knowledge and prompt response are the keys to saving anyone with sudden heart arrest.

Parent Heart Watch is a wonderful organization dedicated to preventing the death of young athletes (and youth in general) from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  I became aware of them after the death of my teenaged son, who died while playing baseball in 2006.  As I searched for a reason why a healthy, active child could die without warning, I found this group and have since supported them.  I ask all of you to do the same. Their website is :
http://www.parentheartwatch.org.  Their phone number is 1-800-717-5828.

I recently became part of a fund raiser “Register to Relax” where supporters simply donate to the organization and encourage others to do so.  It is an on-going fund raiser. Since I get their regular e-mail bulletins, I heard about another campaign to raise awareness of this life or death issue.

 I contacted Parent Heart Watch after they informed me of a campaign to give out magnets with information on how to detect symptoms of possible heart failure and steps that could be taken to prevent it.  They sent me 100 magnets, which I hope to give out at schools, churches, and in my neighborhood, along with a letter about what happened to my son. I hope to help them raise money to further their cause and keep other families from going through what our family has endured.
    
Yesterday, my middle-school student came home and told me that volunteers from a local hospital supported  by Parent Heart Watch had come to his school and given a short (but important) course in CPR/chest compression techniques that anyone could use while waiting on help to arrive.  They told the children how to watch for signs of possible heart issues in their friends. I am proud to support this organization and know that is working across the country to stop these horrific losses.

 I can’t help but think that my son would be alive today if I, (or someone there)
had known the information that Parent Heart Watch seeks to teach. Even the information on the tablet-sized magnet could save a life. Parent Heart Watch encourages early detection of possible heart issues and early defibrillation of apparent heart related emergencies.

This is our story. Our son had hit  a great double and  made a steal to 3rd base in the previous inning, but the next player had made the last out of the 6th inning. Our son
 had gone to his position in  right field  as the other pitcher and catcher practiced for the last inning. I later heard he had told a team mate after the 6th inning that he didn’t feel good. But, my son’s motto was “What don’t kill ya will make ya stronger,”  He went out for the last inning anyway. That statement has haunted me,

 Someone. saw my son grab his head and said, “Is he hurt?”  I looked up and saw him running to me. I began running to meet him.   A few feet from me, he threw up his hands, as if to catch himself, and fell, apparently loosing consciousness. I later found out that his best friend, who was playing second base, had asked him what was wrong, and my son turned to him quickly and said, “I don’t feel good, I’m gonna have to go in”. That was the last thing he said.

It seems that no one on the field knew what to do, even a “nurse” who ran up to us  didn’t immediately recognize that this was a heart issue.  The ambulance, dispatched from a station within sight of the ball field, took a long back road, trying to get the ambulance closer to the field. To my knowledge, the 911 operator didn’t stay on the phone with the parent who made the call. I have seen a lot of kids collapse on ball fields/courts, but have never seen one die, as my son did.  The coaches and parents were most likely in the same category as I was.

I will add that once the ambulance arrived on the scene they worked diligently to save my son. I saw them trying to defibrillate him front the passenger seat of the ambulance.  The emergency room doctors worked on him over an hour.  A chaplain stayed  with us and brought reports from the doctors. The problem was, that time is everything in the case of sudden heart arrest, and it was too late for my son when help arrived.  I had taken CPR many years before, but had no idea that my son  was in arrest.  When he was obviously unresponsive, I am not sure why the “nurse” didn’t think of the possibility of heart issue.       
I must continue stressing the importance of early  response in the case of any heart issue. On Parent Heart Watch’s magnet, it lists things you can do to properly respond to cardiac emergencies.  They stress that we must know how to respond to “SCA” (Sudden Cardiac Arrest), which means that a person has collapsed and is unresponsive. Below is a list of symptoms and responses.

(1) The person may have seizure-like activity or gasping and gurgling. (My son developed a “snore-like gurgling as he struggled to breath). This should be recognized a  cardiac emergency.

(2) Always call 911 immediately.

(2) Begin CPR manually immediately. (I have learned that even cardiac compressions to the tune and rhythm of the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive” will work in many cases.)

(4) Having a portable defibrillator on site is vital-use it immediately if the symptoms of a cardiac emergency are noted.

My son was 15 years old when he was talked into playing baseball on a league based on groups of friends from different communities in our area.  He had played baseball and basketball for years, but had tired of organized and school related ball and hadn’t played in about a year. Though he had been given “sports physicals” in previous years, he had not planned on playing for school and he asked to wait to have a physical. I agreed.  He was very healthy, rarely getting sick enough to stay out of school.  He used to joke with me about wanting to stay home, Smiling at me and saying, “Can I be absent?”

At the time of my sons death, even national organizations such as the Little League and the YMCA did not require physicals.  They simply had a parent sign a paper that said they knew of no health issue that would keep their child from participating. Even the schools, who did require a “sports physical” did not require an Echocardiogram, which is the only certain way to note heart issues. I do not know if these rules have changed.

After his death, the autopsy revealed my son  had a bicuspid valve, which is relatively common and rarely causes problems until middle age, and may never warrant anything but precautions if one is not athletic. His official cause of death was “viral myocarditis”, which, as the medical examiner explained to mean meant that “an unidentified cold virus got into his heart” and caused the infection which lead to heart failure.

  The medical examiner said the bicuspid valve probably didn’t directly cause his death.  People sometimes get virus  and recover within a short time, thinking that perhaps, they had the “flu,“ My cousin had the same condition, but was saved when he had symptoms of bronchitis and an alert emergency room physician noticed his symptoms and was able to get his heart back in rhythm with a defibrillator.  My cousin  also had a bicuspid valve, and though he was in his 50’s at the time, it had never been detected.

The point here is that my son most likely would not have been playing ball if we had known about the bicuspid valve. If he had been allowed to play, we should have been aware of the “Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Condition” as outlined by Parent Heart Watch.

These symptoms are :
(1) Fainting, or seizure during or after physical activity, emotional excitement, distress or startle.
(2) Unusual shortness of breath ,fatigue or tiredness (our son did seem tired, but most teens do not get enough sleep and that, alone, would not alarm us if it wasn’t a lengthy, noticeable tiredness, possibly with the teen saying that they “feel tired all of the time.”)

(3) Chest pain or discomfort or racing heart.

(4) Dizziness during or after physical activity.

Only a year before, a  local 23 year old school teacher that we knew had died in his sleep of “viral myocarditis” after having symptoms of pain in his back and chest the day before. He though he may be getting sick, but had no idea or symptom that caused immediate alarm. To emphasize how common hear issues are in athletic young people, the nephew of my sister-in-law died a day after collapsing on the first during football practice.  He was a 22 year old college senior.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in youth is not the “one in a million” event that people like to believe it is. It is estimated that around two or three teenagers in every mid-sized high  school have some sort of heart issue which at least should be detected and the parents be made aware of.  Even if heart issues were a “one-in-a-million” crisis, if that one is your one, that is the only one that matters.

 
Therein becomes the importance of Parent Heart Watch’s other goal-Early Detection of heart issues.

 Sometimes, as with our son, there were no early symptoms.  Thus, the importance of early detection of possible problems. The most important test for early detection of possible heart issues is for every teen athlete (possibly every teen period) to get an Echocardiogram, which would show heart abnormalities, such as bicuspid valves, “holes” or weaknesses in the heart muscle, mitral valve prolapse (heart murmur) or other issues.

Please, take the time to learn these symptoms and procedures, whether you are a young student or a retiree.  They  may help save a life. Please support Parent Heart Watch in its efforts to educate the public on this critical issues. Loosing a child has devastated my life, and damaged so many more.  Every day, I think of who my son might have become and of how much he is loved and missed.  You can stop another child from dying.  You can keep another family from going through this hell.  Maybe, in your case, “What don’t kill
ya really will make you strong.  Contact Parent Heart Watch today and get involved!
http://www.parentheartwatch.com

 

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Memories of Younger Days…We are Stardust, We are Golden,,,

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Words to Woodstock theme song-1969-and thought on those days

 

WOODSTOCK

 

Well. I came across a child of God,he was walking along the road,

when I asked him where he was going,this he told me,

Well, I’m going down to Vascar’s Farm,going to join a rock-n-roll band,

going to live off on the land,and set my soul free.

We are stardust , we are golden,

and we got to set ourselves back to the garden,

By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong.

Everywhere I went, there were songs and celebrations.

Well, maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s the time of man,

And i don’t know who I am, but life’s for learning,

we are stardust, we are golden,

and we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Ad I dreamed I saw the bombers, riding shotgun in the sky,

turning into butterflies above our nation.

We are stardust,we are golden,and we got to get our selves back to the garden.

Woodstock and then Altamont, the two outdoor concerts thatstill stand as monuments to the decade of love, the innoncense and irony of youth.  The song makes everything sound so wonderful, magical, yet in fsct, it rained during most of the festivsl, there were few sanitary fscilities, little food, people over-dosing on drugs and getting sick everywhere.  Litter and trash left to the farms owners to dispose of, and at Altamont, an African American man killed, right in front of the stage by the Hell’s Ageks motorcycle gang, who had been hired for “security”.  Now, when all of us who were too young to go, and only read, with envy, about going, to those who did, and found that it made a profound impact on their lives, we must remember youth as it really is.  Within a year, two of the stars of Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were dead of herion overdoses.

Decades later, we “baby-boomers” are retiring, grandparents, company executives or in some less fortunate cases, still stuck in a world that cannot be and never really was.  I look at my grandchildren and wonder  what the “Woodstock” will be, their pivotal event, how they ill look back on this yet-to-be-revealed event as they sit and tell their grand-kids about the glorious days of their youth.

Sometimes, I enjoy getting on you-tube and listening to interviews and songs from the stars of those days. I smile and remember that computers and “you tube” and cell phones were not yet even a dream to most of us.   It will be the same with our grand children. What was once our yet-to-be-invented future, will be their past. And we will not be able to imagine  what they tell their grandchildren about the magical days of their youth meant to them.

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The End of the Game

DSCN1351He sat silently on the bench, eyes closed, fist clenched. “How could he let her manipulate him like that?”

Crowds of shoppers hurried by, bracing against the winter wind, hurrying to some warmer place. He didn’t notice the cold or the shoppers, his world had been shattered. He felt nothing.

She was waiting in the check-in line at the airport, visions of the tropics in her eyes. Her Mastercard was filled with the money he had given her, supposedly to pay for reservations and the honeymoon.

She smiled, perhaps sneered would be a better term. The fourth desperate man she had done this too. Men were just so vulnerable and stupid when they thought a beauty such as Allona actually wanted to marry them.

Joseph walked back to his apartment, took his gun from the desk and twirled the barrel. He felt like such a fool. Could he even face his co-workers again?

Allona, as she called herself this time, boarded the plane and took off for Cancun where she would enjoy a week in he sun, perhaps meet her next victim, maybe even change her name again. Once she had perfected the scheme, it seemed so simple. She would “play” them a while, until it got boring and then manipulate them into asking her to marry them. How nice of her to take care of all the details if they would just give her the funds.

Joseph put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Just as Allona emerged from the plane. The policia were waiting when she got to the hotel. She would not ruin another man’s life.

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