Handwriting – My Curse of Life

Originally posted on Caroline's Place to Write:

I had an experience in the 4th grade, in Ohio, that I can say changed me and a certain aspect of my life for the rest of my life.  It was pretty devastating to me at the time and really should have never happened.  As most of us grow up, we learned how to handwrite (cursive) in the 3rd and 4th grade.  For me, it was mostly in the 4th grade.  I remember doing hand writing drills in class and learning specifically how to join the letters together so it would all flow so to speak.  I truly was very proud of myself.  To learn how to write in cursive was a major step for any young child I should think.  Well, one day we were having a handwriting test in class, my teacher, Mrs. Bailey directed us as to how the test would work and…

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The Power of an Interlude

Originally posted on Caroline's Place to Write:

It was a VERY busy day at work but I had two young kids at home that were probably starring at an empty refrigerator so there was no question I would have to stop by my trusty HEB store to pick up groceries for the family.  I actually had a lot of groceries to get so I knew I would be going down most of the aisles.  After about the 4th aisle I began to get a strange feeling.  I wasn’t sure what it was at first…I mean it is normal for men to look at women and as a result it was normal for me to realize that a man was looking at me.  Maybe he liked my short skirt or something so at first I didn’t think much of it.  I went on down the 5th and 6th aisle, filling up the grocery cart for…

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Me the Cheat – But Only Once

Me the Cheat – But Only Once.

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Acres of Diamonds


I wrote this several years ago. Enjoy or re-enjoy!

Originally posted on Caroline's Place to Write:

Many years ago, in 1843, a man was born who was to have a profound effect upon many thousands of lives.  His name was Russell Herman Conwell.  He grew up to first be a lawyer, then a newspaper editor and finally a clergyman.  As a clergyman, Dr. Conwell single-handedly raised several million dollars to found Temple University.  He raised this money by speaking to millions across the country, by telling the true story of the “Acres of Diamonds.”  This story touched me greatly when I heard it several years ago and I would like to share it with you now.         

The story was about a young African farmer who had heard several tales about other farmers making millions by discovering diamond mines.  These stories excited the young farmer so much that he couldn’t wait to sell his farm and go prospect for diamonds himself.  He…

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The Day I needed a Squirrel Removal Specialist


To reshare with new friends. Especially Stuart!

Originally posted on Caroline's Place to Write:

Long day at work, couldn’t wait to get home.  Long day means the “busy” and “excitement” did not exist that day.  But then again, usually it’s just the “busy” that exists at work and “excitement” is rarely a part of my vocabulary anymore…especially the particular day this story takes place.  None the less, my drive home was what I would call “Murder on Loop 1” (but I’ll leave that story for another blog) so I guess I could count that for excitement.

My drive home finally ended as I park my car in my driveway – anxious to get inside and relax and watch the news to see what might have transpired during the day.  As I get out of the car I hear my dog, Dante, barking inside the house.  Hmm.  Interesting – he rarely barks let alone while he is in the house alone.  Maybe he heard me get out…

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A Family Reunion surprise

I met Austin exactly one day after Michael Jackson died in 2009.  Yeah, there aren’t very many people I remember the EXACT day I met them!  Umm…. Yeah that Friday in June of 2009 was the day I met Austin because Michael died on Thursday, June 25th.

Let me back up by a few days.  I decided to attend a family reunion that was set to occur in Odessa, Texas in June of 2009.  It wasn’t for my DIRECT family but it was as close as you can get.  My mother’s sister’s kids had been having a family reunion for several years, every year.  Pretty cool.  I was invited that year (as I am often now) because my cousins are awesome and decided…let’s start inviting our other cousins!

I drove from my home base of Austin, Texas on Thursday June 25, 2009.  I didn’t hear about Michael until about the time I was driving into the hotel parking lot I was staying at in Odessa.  Michael Jackson died!  Holy Cow!  I was shocked.  I had to get to my cousin’s house that was hosting the reunion, so I could think about something else.

It was great to see some of my cousins and their kids.  Really great.  Actually my cousin that was hosting the reunion was and still is my favorite cousin (don’t tell anybody).  Her name is Paula and she is the youngest of my Aunt Ernestine and Uncle Tom’s five kids.  Tom and Ernestine have passed away but their kids (of course now adults and all of them have grandkids themselves) do this amazing reunion almost every year….to honor their parents and really to honor each other and everybody in their family.

One of them, my cousin Denise, of course, was at the reunion.  She was sitting in the living room on that Thursday evening of the 25th and said “Austin is going to be here tomorrow. He’s staying in Midland with his Dad.”  I thought to myself, “Who is Austin?” but decided not to say anything.  It didn’t matter really because Denise could read my questioning face. “Austin is my grandson!”  Oh.  Wow.  I thought I knew all the ins and outs of the dynamics of the family, but obviously not.

“Caroline!  You remember Austin!  He was at Dad’s funeral (my Uncle Tom) with Frank!”  Think Think Think.  I still didn’t know who she was talking about it!  “Caroline!  Amy had Austin the year mom died (her Mom being Aunt Ernestine).”  Think Think Think.   I remember Denise’s daughter being pregnant.  She was pretty young when she had Austin, so his grandparents took care of Austin.  Yeah Yeah Yeah…it was coming back.

I just can’t go into detail anymore.  I just have to say that it was a miracle that Austin came into my life.  Austin was only 14 when I met him and he was just a cute shy kid that just sat and listened to everybody at this reunion.  He was a fish out of water but was very blood related to this family.  I was a fish out of water and wasn’t near as blood related to this family as Austin was, but I was able to swim in the water because I knew these people so well.  Austin didn’t know them as well as I did but he tried his best to stay in and above water.  And he did.  He did just fine.  For a 14-year-old he seemed very polished and well-mannered and I was just so very impressed by him.  I could tell that whoever raised him, was doing a great job.

I decided at the reunion that I was going to try to get to know Austin and try to make him feel more comfortable.   I don’t know if I did make him feel more comfortable but we became friends even though there was at least a 30 year difference between us.   I mean…he was my cousin for goodness sake!   I didn’t know at the time but he technically was/is my 1st cousin twice removed.  Yeah, that’s it I think.  Yes, that’s it – I just checked.  My first cousin twice removed.

Austin and Me

Austin and Me – 2013 Downtown Uncorked – Bryan, Texas

Austin and I connected and talked allot and it was great.  I was so happy to get to know him but soon discovered something about him that was very troubling.  We happened to be at one of our reunion events on Saturday, at another home, and Austin suddenly was VERY sick.  I mean VERY sick.  It had come on suddenly.  Long story short…here was a 14-year-old boy suffering from a VERY strong migraine.  It was just horrible.  I felt for him so but I had asked him about it and he said that unfortunately he has them often.  Wow.  I mean no fun.  But Austin handled it okay and it was obvious he was used to dealing with this horrible malady.  He suffered at least one more migraine during that weekend.

Austin and Dawn

Austin and the fantastic woman who who raised him, Dawn

I told myself that I was going to stay in touch with this young man because I felt he was very special and was put on this earth to do good things.  I was proud that he was a part of my extended family and I barely knew him!  Fortunately Austin seemed to like our friendship too and was happy to get know another cousin (even if I was a heck of allot older).  And I couldn’t wait until he could meet my kids too.  They were a bit older than Austin, but I knew it would be another great connection.

Austin and John Ryan

Austin and my son, John Ryan – 2012 – 2nd cousins – I don’t know how many times removed! Mount Bonnell – Austin Texas

I remember when Austin was about 16 or 17 I asked him about college and if he was planning to go. He told me yes and it would most likely be Texas Tech, in Lubbock.  I asked him if he had ever considered Texas A&M in College Station and he said that he hadn’t thought about it much especially after college day at his school and the people representing Texas A&M really didn’t impress him.  I was pretty upset because I knew Austin would be a perfect fit for Texas A&M.  I’d have to work on that later!

Who would ever know that I would become close to one of my first cousins twice removed?!  But I have and it is such a special relationship for me.  Austin is 19 now and you know what?  He is an AGGIE and he LOVES Texas A&M.  (I knew he would, but he just had to figure out that for himself).

Austin had another medical challenge his first year at A&M…his lungs kept on collapsing. Can you imagine?!  He was growing so tall and fast his lungs couldn’t keep up.  This was called Pneumothorax.  He finally had surgery to make sure he’d make it as it was extremely dangerous to have your lungs keep on collapsing!  Fortunately one of the best doctors to do this surgery lived in College Station, Texas!  Oh, and yes, that is where Texas A&M is!

One never knows where a connection will happen.  Don’t ever take for granted someone who you meet.  Get to know them…ask questions…pay attention…listen.  You never know what that person will add to your life, or you to  their lives!  In this case, Austin, my first cousin twice removed, will forever be a favorite person of mine that has added a lot to my life, because I made a point to pay attention and learn about him on that special day after Michael Jackson died in June 2009.

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The Women at the Tea Shoppe

I don’t remember the ladies names. So I will give them names so as not to have to say “the lady in the brown coat” or “her cousin.” I do remember that these two ladies were cousins. I will call my two new friends Sarah and Emily. They were very close not only in age, but also in stature.

As I mentioned in my previous chapter, it became apparent quickly that Sarah and Emily were quite excited to have an American sitting at the table they decided to sit down at to have their tea and scones. I realized quickly these two women had a story to share. Just as we all have a story, these women’s story far outweighed many stories I had heard or could have imagined. I will attempt to recreate their conversation they had with each other, with me sitting at that round table in the tea shoppe in Hungerford, England.

“I remember the train that day more than anything, don’t you Emily?” “Yes,” Emily said, looking down at her tea, as she started to rub her index finger slowly on the side of the tea cup. “Yes, just seeing the train was exciting but knowing that I was going to be taking my first train ride was so frightening at the same time, wasn’t it Emily?” “Yes and you were only 6 and I was 5. But we grew up so much that day, dear Sarah, so much.”

I still hadn’t caught on. I didn’t know if Sarah and Emily were talking to each other, talking to me or what. They just started talking like it was in the middle of a conversation they had been having. I didn’t know why they started talking at all but they obviously wanted me to hear the story they were about to tell me. I put down my newspaper, The Observer, and listened politely, as I didn’t want Sarah and Emily to think I was some impolite American.

“1939 or 40 was the year I believe. Mum and Dad and brother and I lived in London and I remember it was great fun until the war started. Then the war started and things so changed for us! Even though I didn’t know it at the time, many families had been ordered to send their children out of London to escape!” Sarah said. (It was at this point my ears perked up quite a bit. War? Escape? What is going on here?) “It was frightful the day we had to go to the train station. All Mum told me was that we were being evacuated so we wouldn’t get hurt by the bombs!” “I was so young I couldn’t even imagine what that meant but I knew it was scary and I knew I didn’t want to die.” Wow, I thought to myself. Wow.

Emily looked at Sarah and smiled briefly. “It’s okay Sarah, you don’t have to talk about this, why are you talking about this?” Sarah looked at me and then Emily and then back to me and said “I really don’t know why “, as she smiled at me with a sad smile. I stared at Sarah wondering what she was going to say next.

“It was a most difficult day, the day my parents had to put my brother and me on the train. Not even knowing where we were going. There was so many of us children that had to be put on trains. Parents were crying, children were crying, I was crying, my brother was crying.” Emily said, “I was crying too. It was horrible!” Both Sarah and Emily were talking to me, straight at me as if they were begging me to listen. Not to worry, I was, I definitely was listening.

Sarah and Emily proceeded to tell me a little history behind the reasoning of evacuating children from many of the larger cities in England during World War II. The British government knew that it was only a matter of time that Germany was going to try to invade England by bombing the larger cities, especially London. So, in order to save the children the government told families to evacuate at least the children to safer spots in England that the Germans were not likely to bomb, smaller towns to be specific. It was not a required evacuation, but the government highly suggested this and provided the means and organization to get the children out of the larger cities.

My eyes were getting bigger and bigger as I was imagining this. I was starting to remember that I had read a little about this either in school or in some magazine. But it was just a story that was only faintly in my memory. And now here I was listening to these two women, Sarah and Emily, share their memories of this amazing time in history.

Emily said, “I remember thinking about you Sarah. I was so afraid I was never going to see you again. Our families were both on the same platform waiting for the train to come in. We got on the train and you were in the next train car. We had no idea where we were going.” Emily said, “And Mum and Dad were so upset that they had to let us get on that train without them. Of course at the time I had no idea what they were going through. I only was seeing it from my point of view.”

Sarah and Emily proceeded to tell me how they both ended up in a town south of Newbury where the train had dropped them off (which actually was only a few kilometers away from Hungerford, where we were drinking our tea). They had been living of course in the much larger city of London so going to a small town was quite a shock for them apparently. Emily, “I didn’t like it in at all at first. The worst by far was being away from Mum. I missed her so much and was so afraid the bombs would kill Mum and Dad and I would never see them again.”

By this point I was so honored to be in the company of these two women. I didn’t know what to say or do. For both of them to have gone through something like that at such a young age, paled in comparison to anything that I had been through my whole life, let alone by the time I was 6! Sarah and Emily began to talk a bit more about the town they ended up in but in a few short minutes they moved on to another topic. I do not for the life of me remember the rest of what they said as my mind swirled and swirled in awe in what I had just learned about these two fantastic women.

I will never forget my brief time with Sarah and Emily and I am so happy that I stopped by to have a cup of tea at my favorite tea shoppe in Hungerford, England that day.



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