Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A bitter/sweet New Year...

One day until New Years Eve. I wonder in my mind what each of you will do that night. I think about everything that goes with New years Eve and how we celebrate it each year. A family of tradition, we gather at my mom and dad's house, as we have every year for as long as I can remember. Not drinkers normally, few us of if any will have a mixed drink or wine cooler. But there will be a smoked Turkey and Pinwheels along with a delicious cheese and hamburger dip. There will be potato chips and crackers and black olives and a huge assortment of sweets to nibble on through out the night. We will play some pinochle and board games. The kids will run and play and make noise to try their best to drown out the laughter and chatter of the adults. They will loose that battle as they do every year.
This year, there will be new faces as marriages have happened and babies were born and new relationships have begun. All of these faces will gather at Mom and Dad's and we will watch the Ball go down on the television. The count down will be called out by those that have not fallen asleep waiting for 2008 to become 2009. We will all hug and smile and wish each other the best of everything in the coming year. And I will have before then, found a few moments, locked in a bathroom or outside smoking a cigarette, thinking and remembering. I will say a silent prayer that God keeps watch over fools and children. I will ask him to set angels in every car that is driven by someone that forgot we don't drink and drive. I will think about those loved ones that are no longer with us. About the kiss I felt on my lips every New Years Eve for 25 years and i will try so hard to remember that touch. I will cry alone so that it doesn't effect anyone elses celebration. I will try as i do every year to remember what her voice sounds like. I will wonder why she had to go to heaven instead of staying here with me. I still needed her and still depended on this beautiful lady. A lady, stronger in her wheelchair and filled with pain then I was standing and without that pain.
I will bring in this new year, 2009, with family and friends and will laugh and smile and wonder, like everyone, what the year will bring. Will i finally see that #1 best seller with my name on it? Will i get a letter from a record publisher saying they want to buy my songs? Will we travel a little and will fishing be better this year. And I will thank God for the blessings of the year past and the blessings that will come. Knowing I have my parents still with me. They celebrate 75 years of life and 57 years of marriage. What a wonderful blessing that is. My family close by and more love than any one man ever deserved, especially this one.
I pray the best of the new year to each and every one of you. God Bless and keep you all safe. Always, Darrel

Sunday, December 28, 2008

nothing to write about....

Have you ever sat down, wanted sooo badly to write, even felt it inside of you but simply could not settle on anything solid enough to write? Welcome to my world this morning. We are not talking about minutes of think time. Not even just an Hour. I drug my butt out of bed at 5 a.m. and it is now nearly 9:30. And guess what... I have not written a single thing.
There is so much that could be written about. I thought about family and where they truly fit into my life. My mother and father, both 76 and still with us. That in itself would be worth writing about. the blessings I have received because they have been so many years in my life. The love that was shown me by them I am sure has saved me from so places I could have gone as I grew up. Even today, things they taught me about being kind and thinking before speaking help me in my every day life.
I thought about the religious background that I was so blessed to have been given. Knowing God and having him an active part of my life has without a doubt Saved my life many times. Times when the world seemed to have won and there was little reason for me to travel any further in this life. Times when he placed before me "walks" that I could choose to try or not try. Thinking about that for just a moment causes me to realize that it was many of those very "Walks" and the choices I made that formed the man that writes here for you today. The people that I chose to reach out to when no one else would. The trust that God had in me, to bring into my life people that would not always be able to stand for themselves and so I was blessed to be able to stand For them. Few blessings are more rewarding to the heart than those.
I thought about the eyes I was blessed to be for my brother. Maybe I could write and tell you how wonderful it felt inside to be able to teach a blind brother to climb a tree or run like he had sight. The wonder of his hand on my shoulder and how it could have been a burden or a blessing. I am glad that I chose the latter. Knowing he played baseball and cops and robbers like anyone else would still touches my heart and soul. And i could write how my heart hurts to know that so many years have passed by us and we have spoken perhaps 3 words to one another in the last 15 years. Only the memories for me are left and a sadness that we drifted so far away from one another. But no, I might save that for another day.
Maybe I would talk a bit more about My Sheila and the things I learned from her. Somethings you have heard and others... well somethings are just for me and my memories. They way she would wake me each day by setting a cup of coffee by the bed and lighting a cig and setting it in the ashtray for when I got up. The fact, the very knowing that she chose to do these things simply because she loved me so. I could tell you how her illness changed our lives together forever. Maybe how our love found ways to show our love an intimacy when her body was too ill to do more than that.
I might even write about the weather and how bitter cold and the ice storm has limited my abilities to do very much outside. how the smells of fireplaces intoxicated my mind this morning as I drove my daughter to work this a.m. The tree's had that heavy frost on them that is so very beautiful. Talk about the tree branches hanging low to the ground, the weight of the snow pulling them down. A little breeze that bites your face when you go outside. The way the snow lays in piles, looking like the little accessories to a model train set. But no, I won't write about that either. I am brain-locked for a subject to write about that is going to open up and explode and cause You to keep coming back to this site. After all, that is why a write, isn't it? To reach out and touch the world with my words? Too find ways to help you and to give myself some therapy. That is what my writing does for me. Perhaps I could have written a little about that. Told you how writing gives my soul a release and helps to keep my mind in check. But once again, no.
So I guess I will just not write about anything right now. Maybe something will come to me and then... I will write. Smilesssssssssss

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Chistmas Heart...

Christmas Eve... the day before everything explodes in blurs of wrapping paper being torn to sheds and gifts held up long enough to show and then on to the next present. Food will be laid out across the long table and smiling faces will adorn the seats around it. Too many conversations to stay in one very long and laughter drowning out the more meek in speech. Kids trying desperately to finish their plates so they can get back to the more important task of trying out every new toy. There is warmth in the house, but not from the furnace. It is a warmth that comes from with in everyone in the house. A glance at Grandma and Grandpa shows them both sitting quietly, holding hands and simply listening to their kids and grand kids chattering away. Their faces are the picture of contentment.
Food disappears and presents are exchanged, the biggest recipients being G-ma and G-pa. Their gifts show the love that their family holds in their hearts for them. They open each gift with care, no tearing or hurrying, just taking time for each gift. The smiles and thank you's give all the children reasons to smile. The house becomes loud again as the gifts are all gathered and clean-up begins. No one afraid to reach out a hand, some giving their time to entertaining g-ma and g-pa. What a beautiful site to behold.
Now, if you will, let me paint your mind and heart with another Christmas portrait. It is Midnight, Christmas Eve. The onslaught of family has not happened yet. The only sounds are those of the wood crackling in the fireplace. The smells of pine and cinnamon fill the air as you sit, snuggled in a warm blanket and watch the flames go from red to orange to blue and back to red again. The wood turns bright red as the flames lick at it. A shadow dances on the wall, looking like a Hula girl, dancing her best dance for you. Only your finger-tips show and they are lovingly wrapped around the handle of a warm cup of hot cocoa. The picture window is like a huge movie screen, the snowflakes big as quarters are the entertainers. They dance and float and some are captured by a tiny breeze and swept across the stage. The pureness of their white covers looks like a sheet that has been bleached and is now blowing in the wind to dry.
A voice, soft as the breeze itself whispers in your ear. Love words, delicate and sweet, are spoken. The warmth of the fire is only matched now by the glow of your cheeks. You sip your cocoa and listen to the soft coo in your ear. You hold open your blanket and are joined by the one you love. Closing it around you, you feel your hand surrounded and intertwined with another. Snuggling closer, you smile with delight at the words now whispered. None more beautiful, few ever spoken to you this way. The fire slowly dies down and you hold one another closer. The cocoa now gone, a new whisper fills your heart with love and splendor.
The blanket is now opened and two figures stand. Outside the picture window, two deer, one a beautiful Doe, the other... her love. His antlers spread out like a chandelier, his head held high as he looks at his Love. they look at you and you at them and then you watch as they slowly are engulfed by the forest that is your backyard. A special touch and eyes that look into yours, saying "let's go hold one another and meld together, Love... Before the morning comes and the house is filled with our loved ones." You smile gently, a tender touch to your cheek. A door is closed and the world is shut out for now. Tomorrow... It is Christmas Day.
I am wishing you ALL the most beautiful Christmas and may all of your dreams and wishes come true for you. Peace be on Earth and a prayer for Goodwill to All. Pray for our soldiers that will be home in our hearts and theirs. Pray for those that have nowhere to spend their Christmas, that a kind soul finds them and offers them a meal. And pray for our world, as it fights to survive, that one day we no longer need to fight. Take a moment to say Thank you to our Father in heaven for giving to us his own Son. We celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus tomorrow. Remember Him, for he came and he died for Us. Love in him to you All. Darrel

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Picture

It's morning again. Nearly Christmas Eve. I sit here and think about all of my Christmas pasts. 48 of them have come and gone for me, number 49 only days away. I don't remember the first few but my memory is sharp from my past. I have been blessed with the ability to remember so much of my childhood. I think of all the changes that have transpired since my first Christmas. So many blessings along the way. So many different ways and places to celebrate the season. Starting life remembering Christmas in 75 degree weather in Miami Florida. People think I am nuts sometimes {well they aren't wrong} when I tell them we had watermelon with our Christmas meal. It was beautiful weather and I did not even know what snow felt like then. I loved fishing even way back then and would get fishing equipment for gifts. While the family whiled the morning away making Christmas dinner, I was busy fishing.
We moved to Arizona for two years and I found out a little about what snow looked like and felt like. Not too much but I wasn't fishing at Christmas time. We moved back to Florida for a while and then... we moved to Canada. Not just Anywhere, Canada. We moved 25 miles back in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia where we had a cattle ranch. Ok, now we have a culture shock happening. We left Florida the end of September. Still beautiful weather and wondering what the heck we were going to do with Sheep lined heavy coats. How cold could it possibly get back in those mountains? COLD!!!!!!!!! That is how cold. We arrived at our new home in the mountains on Oct 3rd. We had a blizzard on Oct. 4th. More snow than I knew could fall and the coat found it's way easily to my body.
Christmas again had changed for us. We now had the most beautiful living Christmas postcard a mind could imagine. The tallest Pines and the most beautiful Poplar trees a man could imagine were covered in the purest white snow. The ground blanketed in the same beauty, not a footprint marring it's untainted scenery. On the hill, just in front of our log cabin stood a Bull Elk, his majestic Antlers touching the tip of his rump as he raised his head to Bugle. Three females running towards him, their heads high as they trotted along the marshes. Blue Jays and Mocking birds, their colors so bright against the just rising Sun, flew across the fields, almost touching the ground before flying off to their nests. The Sun itself was just touching the tops of the mountains, giving way to the thought they might be on fire. A Thomas Kincaid painting? No, not at all. This was Christmas morning in the mountains and the artist was God himself. He painted such a perfect portrait, one had to take a breath in before looking at more of his painting.
Unable to get into town except for once or twice in the winter, gifts were mostly hand-made and something warm. Very welcome and made from the heart gifts that gave a whole new meaning to Christmas for me. The gift of giving from the heart was now planted in my heart forever. Each Christmas a different place, a different way but always, one thing remained. Every Christmas was the celebration of God's most wonderful and precious gift. The birth of his son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Today, I sit and watch the Sun come up over this tiny town I live in.It shines bright on the towns tall court-house tower clock. The ice pictures that Jack frost painted on my windows last night are slowly disappearing and I can see outside clearly. In a few days, we will again celebrate the birth of Jesus. A different place, a different way, even new faces and the memories of those watching from heaven will keep these tears flowing for a moment. The one thing that has always been and that will never change is that Jesus Christ is celebrated on Christmas Day. He is the reason we have Christmas Day. I hope that each of you feel the spirit of Christmas in your hearts. I hope that I have painted for you a picture of beauty for Christmas. May the very best of the season bless each and everyone one of you. from my heart to yours... Darrel

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Walk for Christmas Pt6

The sounds of the rifle echoed through the woods. Just as Jake was about to tell the man what he knew, he too heard the shots. the expression on the mans face changed immediately. The sorrow was replaced by a look of pure anger.
"I guess someone has decided to come looking again!" He reached out and grabbed his rifle. "I am not going to put up with this any longer. people need to leave me alone!"
"Wait, there is something I need to tell you. Something very important. Hell, I am fighting for my life here! You owe me a minute of time, Ian."
Ian turned around and looked at Jake. There was puzzlement in his face. He lowered his rifle slowly. He walked over to the table and looked down at Jake.
"ow do you know my name!?! Are you hiding something from me. I swear to God if you are I Will kill you."
"No, no, I am not hiding anything from you.I remember reading an article about you and your wife.It told about the attack and that authorities wanted to find you. Ian, I don't think the doctor was even going to press charges. You may be a free man if you would just get out of here and talk to the authorities."
"What would I do if I did get out of here? I don't have anything out there to go to."
"You have your children Ian! You could go get them and start living your life with them."
A shot rang out again. This time, the sound was much closer to the cabin. Ian turned and picked his rifle up again. he walked towards the door with the Anger back in his eyes.
"Are you listening to me!?! Did you hear what I said!?!"
Ian turned and pushed Jake to the ground. He held the rifle to Jake's chest. The redness in his eyes looked like a fire was burning inside of them.
"I heard you! Right now, I have issues to tend to. I am going to shoot who-ever it is that has decided to come look me up. And then... I might just decide to Kill you!"
Mark looked down at the wolf he had shot. He felt terrible about shooting such a beautiful creature but it was going to kill Ellie. Arms wrapped around him and he discharged another shell. This one went into the wall of the cabin,
"Damn Ellie, you need to be careful when I have this thing in my hands. If there is someone in that cabin, they are going to think we are shooting at them!"
"I am so sorry, Mark, I didn't mean to make you shoot the rifle. I just wanted to thank you for shooting the wolf. He really was going to kill me!"
"Mark, we need to see if anyone is in the cabin or not. My legs are starting to lock up on me from the cold. I need to find somewhere to warm them."
"I am going to go and see if anyone is inside. If it is empty we will find a way in."
As Mark began to step out of the woods, the doorway of the cabin opened up. Light flooded the front of the door and cascaded out into the darkness. Mark watched in silence as a huge man filled the doorway, blocking nearly the entire light that had flooded the outside. Mark shrunk back into the trees. He could see a rifle in the mans hand. A voice roared out that sent Mark as far back in the trees as his mother and sister were,
"I don't know who you are and I care even less! I am going to come out and kill you! I have had enough of your bothersome soul!"
Mark and his family laid down in the snow. they could hear the sounds of the bullets whizzing over their heads. Mark could hear Ellie crying into the snow.She was saying a prayer to God also, asking him to watch over them. Mark reached back with his free hand and took Ellie's in his.
"We are going to be fine, Sis, I promise." With that said, Mark stood up. He could see the man's face now. Mark decided it was now or never. He stepped out of the trees, his hands held high above his head. "I am coming out! Please don't shoot. We weren't shooting at you, I swear.I was killing a wolf that was attacking my sister. She and my Mom are here with me. We are looking for a man."
Another shot rang out. Mark felt the sting almost before he heard the shot fired. It spun him around and tossed him to the ground. Ian heard the screams of a woman.
"Stop damn you! Didn't you hear him!?! He said we weren't here to hurt you! He didn't do anything to you! Now you shot him! What the hell is wrong with you???"
Ian heard Jake moving behind him. Ian raced to the door and tried to shove Ian out of the way. Ian was too big but Jake tried. Ian shoved back and knocked Jake against the wall.
"Where the hell do you think you are going!? get away from the door!"
"That is my family out there! You just shot my Son!"
Ian stared at Jake for a minute and then stepped to one side. "Go out there and bring them into the cabin. We can fix your boy."
Jake pushed past Ian without saying another word. he ran through the snow as if it were dry dirt. "Mark, Mark... it is dad. Where are you?" He heard the cries of his daughter now. "Ellie, come out of the trees. It is safe. Ian won't hurt you, I promise!"
Ellie pushed her way past Mark. She ran from the trees directly into her fathers arms. He held her tight against him as tears streamed from his eyes. "What are you doing here?
"We came to find you! Mom said there was no way you were dead. She is with us too."
Jake looked up to see the face of his wife, smiling and crying. he walked to her just as her legs gave out again. he picked her up in his arms and held her tight. He kissed her deeply and this time... she kissed him back.
"I knew you were alive love. My heart would have told me if you were not. I love you so much, Jake." She buried her face in his shoulder and cried.
They walked into the cabin and Mark introduced them to Ian. The bullet had only torn a small piece of Mark's shoulder. It would heal without any problems. Ian started a fire to warm the cabin. He tended to Mark's shoulder while Sarah warmed her legs by the fire. The anger had gone from Ian's eyes. It had been replaced by sadness. He watched as Jake held his wife close to his chest.
"We will start walking out of here as soon as your wife is ready. I will take you to the opening so you can get out of here."
"Come with us Ian. You can find your children and live the rest of your life out with them."
"I think they are best where they are, Jake. I need to stay right where I am."
"You are wrong Mister. Those kids need their father. They need to know you are alright. If you think they aren't worried about you, then you are very wrong. I came through hell just now to find my father. I bet your kids would do the same if they knew where you were."
Ian looked at Ellie and then shook his head. "Maybe I will follow you out."
They stayed in the cabin through the night, letting Sarah's legs fully rest. The walk in the morning was long and silent. The drive to Denver was filled with questions and answers and talk of Christmas. Once home and settled, Jake took Ian to the local authorities. It took 3 days to figure everything out, but in the end, Ian was a free man. With only 2 days left before Christmas, Jake drove Ian to his sisters house. Jake watched him as he slowly walked up and knocked on the door. A pretty young girl opened the door. The look on her face was priceless. Without saying a word, she reached out and touched Ian's face. With tears streaming down her face, she embraced him and then yelled to her brother. he came and reached out to shake Ian's hand. Ian motioned for Jake to come to the house and together they told their story.
Christmas Day: The house was noisy and filled with the smells of Christmas dinner. Jake handed Ian the knife. "You are the carver here. Please, won't you carve the turkey?" They all laughed at Jake's remark.
"If you could have seen the look on your face when I was ummm, working with that wolf... It really was a Kodak moment. If I never thanked you and your family properly, Jake, then let me do it now. If not for the beautiful love that your family has for you, I might never have been here having Christmas with my family. Thank you to each and everyone of you. You made this Christmas more special than any I can remember."
"We are glad that it all worked out. We both got our families back," Jake said as he kissed Sarah. And we were back in time to see the Christmas play together. What will you do now, Ian?"
"Well it seems that my boy found a way a year ago to buy my old store back. We will run the business together now."
The turkey was carved and food handed around the table. Christmas... never looked so good.

Merry Christmas to All of you, no matter how you celebrate it. Always, Darrel

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Walk for Christmas Pt.5

Jake drank his coffee as he was told. He wasn't sure whether to drink it fast or slow. The only thing he was certain of was that he needed to remember who he was. He also knew he needed to get away from this man. He watched as the man stripped the hide off of the wolf. Jake knew the man had done this more times than Jake had probably driven a car. Perhaps if Jake could get on his good side, that was assuming the man had one, he could talk his way out of whatever was coming his way.
"I remember, that I am not from around here." Jake fumbled with his words uncertain if they would bring conversation or anger from the man. "I think I am from Denver or some place near there. I keep seeing images that remind me of Denver, though I don't have a clue why?"
The man set his knife down on the table and turned slowly towards Jake. Jake moved back a bit, unsure what was about to happen. The man looked at Jake and then turned to pour a cup of coffee for himself. "I don't know who you are mister. I don't even know how you got here except that you Might have fallen out of an invisible car. What I do know is that you ain't a Ranger. You are too talky for that. You ain't snoopin' around with your eyes to see what I got here. I ain't stupid totally."
"Why are you living back here alone?"
The man reached across the table with a speed so fast Jake never even saw his hand move until it was around the back of Jake's head. The man pulled Jake up near his face. Jake could feel his body tense and the fear ran all through his body and mind. Jake could see the mans eyes, red and harsh as he snarled his teeth at Jake. He wondered if he would have stood a better chance with the wolf.
"I don't like questions asked of me. They make me a little crazy! I might just moosh your head if I take the notion!"
"I didn't mean anything by the question! I was just trying to make conversation! I have not done anyone any harm. All I want to do is get back to where-ever it is I came from. I swear to you, I am no threat to you. Please..."
The man let go of Jake's neck. He leaned back in his chair and stared at Jake for a moment. He drank down his coffee and then motioned to Jake. "If you want more, get it! I ain't gonna serve you!"
Jake stood up and poured himself another cup of coffee. A flash of Sarah's face came to his mind again. This time, he was certain he knew her. Knew her like he would his wife or daughter. He tried hard to think and bring the image back, but it was gone.
"I been back here near fifteen years. I was like you once, all fancy dressed and stuff. Had a wife and some kids too." His words brought quick images of a boy and a girl to Jake. More seemed to come back as the man talked. "We was happy and rich then. I had my own store, what you could buy house stuff."
"A furniture store?"
"No, it was a hardware store, now I recall."
"What happened? Did you lose it or sell it?"
"I gave it all up and came here." The man seemed to mellow as he spoke. Jake decided this was a good time to just sit and listen. "My wife was pretty and my kids loved me. They was young and after she left, I couldn't take care of them. I gave 'em to my sister and left. They cried hard but I had to do it."
"What about your wife? Where was she?"
The man looked towards the wall behind Jake and nodded. Jake turned to see a picture of a beautiful woman. Her auburn hair and green eyes sent Jake's mind reeling. He could see clearly the image of the woman in the chair now. She too had auburn hair and the greenest eyes a man had ever looked in to. His wife, he was certain and this mans wife brought it partially back to him.
"That was her when we were together. She died when she young... too young. She got Cancer and it ate her up in one year. I didn't hardly have time to talk to her about the kids or nothing. Her doctor didn't tell her there was stuff to help keep her with us longer. He just let her die! I went to him and asked him why. He told me that he didn't think she should suffer a lot. "HE" decided that for us. I went nuts and beat him real bad. He wasn't gonna live and I needed my kids to be safe."
Jake looked at this behemoth of a man that stood in front of him. Tears rolled down the mans face and he wiped his nose on his blood covered sleeve.
"Did the police come to get you? Is that why you ran back here?"
"I Didn't Run, Damn you!!!!!" The man grabbed Jake again and tossed him across the cabin. Jake's head hit the wall and he slid down to the floor. The pain was incredible. As he slowly opened his eyes, blood trickling from his head, everything came back to him. Sarah, Mark and Ellie were so vivid. He could see his house and remembered the way he had left Sarah. He stood slowly and looked at the man in front of him.
"I never ran," the man said in a calmer voice. "I did what I had to so my kids would have a life. I didn't want them put in a home with people they didn't know. I just wanted them to be happy." The man sat against the wall and sobbed. "Why did you have to come around and remind me!? Why didn't you just die in that wreck?"
Jake sat back in his chair. He thought for a minute, not sure if he dared speak or not. The story he was going to tell this man might cost Jake his life.

The creatures in the trees were getting braver as the three walked along the trail. They could hear them fighting and growling as they ran to keep up with Mark and his families pace. Suddenly, directly in front of them, on the trail were two wolves. They had planted their paws solidly in the snow and were half crouched. Mark knew that they were preparing to attack. Mark aimed the rifle at the biggest one. As the wolves began to move forward, Mark fired a shot. At the same time, he heard his mother scream. Watching the first wolf fall to the ground, Mark spun around towards his mother. Another wolf had grabbed her by the sleeve on her Jacket. Unsteady on her legs, the wolf pulled her to the ground and began dragging her.
"Stop it, Mark!!! Shoot that thing before it kills Mom! Shoot it!"
"I don't want to hit Mom! Just watch the other one behind me, Sis."
"It is gone Mark, just the dead one is there! God, please help Mom!"
Mark ran forward, the rifle held by it's butt and hit the wolf in the forehead. The wolf pulled away and let go of Sarah. Mark fired off another shot but missed the wolf. It ran off, back into the safety of the trees. Mark helped Sarah off the ground and she collapsed against him. She was sobbing as he felt Ellie's arms go around them. Nothing was spoken. Nothing needed to be said. They walked on as if nothing had happened, determined to find Jake. The cabin appeared out of no-where. They decided to stay in the safety of the trees until they felt safe enough to find who was living in the cabin. They were scared to go forward and even more afraid to stay where they were.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Walk for Christmas Pt 4

The roads had become slippery the closer they got to Aspens. As the 4WD rounded a bend just twelve miles from Aspens, Mark saw something swinging near the edge of the road. He slowed down and turned the spotlight on the edge. There, illuminated by the lights was yellow police tape tied to a large rope.
"This has to be the place where Dad went over, Mom. You two stay inside for a minute while I have a look."
"Please, please be careful Mark. I don't want to have to go looking for you too. Your sister and I will wait here until you get back in."
Mark walked through the deep snow, stepping slowly so he didn't go to near to the edge. Looking over the ledge, Mark could see long scrapings on the side of the cliff where it looked as if something had slid all the way down the wall. He was certain now that this was where his father had gone over. As he looked into the deep ravine, he wondered how anyone could survive such a fall. He would keep those thoughts to himself. He walked back to the truck and got in.
"This is for sure where he went over. It doesn't look too bad but we will need to find a different way down. This way didn't seem to work to good for Dad."
They all looked at each other for a moment, then laughed. A laugh they needed right about then. "Where do you think we can get into the ravine, Mark?"
"I saw a road about 2 miles back. It looked as if it went down the mountain, Sis. I am sure I saw tire tracks. We can go back there and see where it takes us. At least we know we aren't far from where we need to be. "Mark maneuvered the truck around and drove back to the road he had seen. The tire tracks were barely visible but there had been a vehicle or two through there. "Probably the rangers or whatever that went looking for Dad. We will follow the road as far as we can."
"Mom... are you sure you want to go down there with us? We can go to Aspens first and get a motel room. You could wait there for us, if you would feel safer there."
Sarah smiled tenderly at Ellie. She touched her hand to Ellie's face. "No Ellie, I have never felt safer than I do with you and your brother. I want to be right with you where-ever we go here. Besides, all I would do is panic in a motel room until I heard from you again. Let's stay together and find your father."
Mark drove down the road until it leveled off. There was a cliff wall that didn't allow any vehicles past where they stopped. He got out of the truck and walked around a bit. He returned to the truck and explained what he had found.
"There is a trail that leads all the way around this cliff wall. I don't know how far you can walk in this snow Mom."
"I will be fine, Mark. Let's take a few blankets and matches. If we need too, we can stop and warm up for a while. I know your father is here. I can feel him in my soul."
Mark reached into the back of the truck. He pulled out a rifle and two lanterns.
"Mark, where did you get that rifle!? You know how much I hate those things."
"The way I see it Mom, we don't want to be out here in the dark very badly without something to protect us. It is one of Dad's hunting rifles. We may be glad we had it with us if a hungry bear comes along."
"Oh Mark, don't even say that! God, I have already imagined getting eaten by some creature out here. Jeeze!"
"We will be fine, Sis, I promise."
Carrying lanterns, the three made their way along the wall. Sounds of something running through the trees beside them made Mark glad he had brought the rifle along. It gave both the ladies a feeling of safety too though neither would say so. They had walked about a mile into the woods when marks lantern beam shined on something in the snow. He told the girls to stay where they were until he could check it out but they didn't listen to him. As they all got closer to what Mark had found, a gasp echoed as it slipped out of Ellie's mouth.
"Is that what I think it is, Mark? Is that freaking blood!?!"
Moving closer to the huge red spot in the snow, they could see part of a jacket laying in the snow. Mark reached down to pick it up. He could see there had something laying in the snow. A body from the shape in the snow. Mark handed the torn cloth to Sarah. She held it too her face, oblivious to the blood on it. She smelled the cloth and began to cry.
"It is your fathers scent. He was here before we got here."
"But all of the blood, Mom! What does it mean?!?"
"It means your father is alive, Ellie... that is what it means. That is all you need to think about. We are going to keep walking in the same direction as those footprints in front of us."
"It looks like there are two sets of prints here Mom."
"Someone may have found your father and taken him to safety. The are other tracks but I can not make them out. We are just going to keep walking."
As they walked in the direction the footprints led, Mark couldn't help hearing the sounds of running in the trees beside them. He also had looked closer at the tracks his mother could not make out. He had scene Wolf tracks before. He walked on in silence.
The man had picked Jake up and carried him part of the way to where he took him. Jake wasn't sure what he was to think of his rescuer. He was not friendly and he handled Jake roughly. He had dragged the wolf carcass along with them. They had reached a small cabin that appeared out of no-where. Inside, Jake saw it had only a wood stove and planks that made up a bed. There were a couple of chairs sitting around a large tree stump. A make-shift table that seemed to fit perfectly with the rest of the cabin. The man put a pot with coffee grounds in it on the stove. He stoked the stove full of wood and then hung the lantern on a nail on the wall. His voice was low and intimidating.
"Ya say you don't know your own name? How can that be?"
"I must have hit my head or something when I fell."
"Yea, I was about to ask about that. Were you walking or something when you got attacked?"
"I don't remember. I have little minutes of remembrance so I know I was in a car that went over the edge. I don't remember much after that. I do remember a woman but she has no legs."
"That must be from the wreck but I didn't see no car. You sure you ain't a Ranger come looking for me!?"
Jake moved away from the man as he leaned into Jake's face. The man genuinely scared him. "I am not a Ranger and I have no clue who you are."
"How do you know you ain't if you can't remember your own name? The last Ranger what came looking for me has still not been found. I think I might have to give him some company. Don't know if i can keep you alive to tell the authorities where I am. We will have to see after we have a cup of coffee. You might as well enjoy that cup. That might be it for you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Walk for Christmas

The drive to Aspens was filled with excitement and silent prayers. Ten days before Christmas would be upon them. Sarah wondered if she was doing right by dragging her kids out on what could be a wild Goose chase. What happens if they get there and Jake's body has been found? What does she tell her children then? Would they blame her for his death? Would they ever be able to find it in themselves to look at her again, let alone love her? She had to push these thoughts back. Positive thoughts were all she could afford to have right now.
"Mom, do we know where we are going? How do we even know where Dad's car went off?
"I talked to the police before we left, Mark. They told me they were keeping the area roped off until they could get back to it. We should see the roped area before we get into town."
"Are you sure you can do this mom?"
"This is about your Father, Ellie. I Will do it and we Will find him! And then, we will go back home and we will begin living again. I spoke with Dr.Greely too. He was not happy to hear what I was planning. He wanted to see me first. I asked him if my legs were capable of walking without issue and he said they always were."
Sarah omitted the part where he told her that for a time, her legs could simply collapse until the muscles rebuilt. It was something she neither cared to believe nor felt the kids needed to hear. If it happened, then it happened.
"Mom..." Sarah felt a hand on her shoulder. "I am so sorry for the way I have..."
Sarah shushed her daughter in the tenderest tone she had. "There are no sorries in this, Ellie. I have been a fool for too long. IF you can see past that for me, then all is as it should be."
"I love you Mom! I have always loved you. We will find Daddy and bring him home." Sarah felt Ellie sobbing against her shoulder. She wanted nothing more than to hold her daughter and let her feel all her love.
"Alright you two. You need to stop this or I will be crying next. I need clear eyes to see in this stuff."
Sarah looked up and saw the snow covering the road in front of them. The headlights made it clear that they were driving straight into a storm. She closed her eyes and prayed. She prayed for their safe travel and she prayed for the man that had held her heart for as long as she could remember.
Jake had made his way past the icy edges of the rock wall. He could feel the burning in his arm. He was glad he had worn a heavy coat, where ever it was he had been going. Short moments of images flashed through his mind. None long enough to put a name to. She was beautiful, he knew that. He was confused at why he never saw her legs. The image always appeared to be sitting in a chair. The sounds of the trees creaking in the wind bothered him. He was far enough down to not feel it, but he could still hear it's fierceness. Suddenly there was a sound behind him. Branches snapped and snow was being drudged through. The sound came closer with each snap of the branches. Jake searched the ground for a weapon. A branch or pointed stick, anything to protect himself against whatever it was that followed him. He found some rocks sticking out from the snow. Quickly he kicked at them until two broke loose. He reached down and scooped them into his hands.
"Come on, whatever you are, I am not going to be an easy meal. You will be too tired to eat me when you are finished with me!" The small Jack-pine in front of him bent to the sides. He heard the low growls before he saw their eyes. There was no doubt in his mind what they were. One of the wolves had moved to the backside of him. The other now stood in front of him. The pink of it's gums was showing, just above the set of razor sharp teeth that glistened in the moonlight. Growling and shaking it's head from side to side, it made a half circle around Jake. The wolf behind him held it's position as if only trying to make sure Jake did not move. The wolf in front suddenly crouched just as Jake tossed one of the rocks at it's head. Hitting it directly in the head, the wolf cried out once and shook it's head. And then, it leaped directly at Jake, fangs bared and eyes raging with anger and hunger. Jake threw the other rock. He heard a loud Crack! The sound shook the snow beneath his feet. Tree branches, filled with snow shuddered and dropped the snow from their clutches. Surely he had not hit the wolf that hard. He had closed his eyes just as the wolf had lept at him. He felt the weight of the creature on him as he fell to the ground. He waited for the second wolf to join in, but no second attack came. The first wolf laid on Jake's body, it's weight pinning him to the ground. Jake could feel something warm running onto his stomach where his jacket had torn open. He touched it with his fingers. Warm and sticky. The blood ran over his body. He knew somehow that the blood was not his own. But how? Jake slowly opened his eyes. He stared into the blank, opened eyes of the wolf. He heard another sound above him. Jake turned towards the shuffling of snow, expecting to see the face of the second wolf. Instead, he was looking up at a man. A man that looked as if he had not seen civilization in a very long time. The man was holding a rifle in one hand. He kicked the body of the wolf off of Jake.
"Looks like you got yourself into a mess. Much as I don't like them wolves eating folks, I don't really like folks either."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Walk for Christmas

Sarah stood beside the bed she and Jake had share for better than half of her life. She ran her hand over the pillow he layed his head on every night. Tears soaked her cheeks as she heard herself telling Jake time and time again "I can't Jake. I don't want to cause more damage than is already done." She realized now that the true damage being done was to her marriage and to the love of her life. Fear that had gripped her after the accident had turned into something far worse, It had become a crutch to lean against every time she thought about going out or trying to resume the life they had once shared. Her doctors and therapist had warned her about this happening. She had found every reason she could to not restart her life again.
"What is it you were so damn scared of!? What was it that took you so far away from your family that you lost all connection with them... with Life!?" Sarah spoke these words aloud and the sound of her own voice startled her. "Damn lady, you even scared your own self." She shook her head and then continued to pack her clothes. She was still a little wobbly on her feet. Too many years of not walking had made her legs weak. It would take some time for everything to come back.
Sarah had been an over-achiever all of her life. She excelled at everything she did and yet she pushed the limits, never believing she had reached the top of her abilities. To do less than her best was unacceptable. To be better than the rest was a way of life. Having a father that was a college football star and a mother that had skated with names like Hamilton and Flemming left her with little choice. How terribly disappointing when their daughter chose to marry a "commoner." When they "excelled" in their business and became very wealthy, she made certain her parents always knew her "status" socially. Sarah realized, that moment, while touching Jake's pillow, that she had settled into the wheelchair because from there... She could not fail nor disappoint her parents. "Damn them!" she said aloud and continued to pack.
The front door opened and she heard Mark and Ellie come inside. "Mommmmm! Mom, where are you!?" Sarah was certain the site of the empty wheelchair had frightened them both. Mom, are you alright!?"
"I am in my bedroom, kids. Come in here please."
Ellie came in first. The look on her face was sheer fright. She ran to her mom's side as if she were going to reach out and pick her up. She stopped at the bed and stared at Sarah as Mark came into the room, stopping, staring also.
"Mom, what are you doing!? Why are you standing in here!? And what's with the suitcase!?" Ellie's sarcasm had returned in her voice.
"We got called to the principals office. They just said we were needed at home, Mom." Mark was also so good with her and never took a tone with his mother. Sarah turned and fell into him crying. He lowered her slowly to them bed. "What's going on mom?"
Sarah explained what she had been told by the police. The kids both were crying as they listened. "So, why the suitcase? Why are you packing like you are going somewhere?"
"WE are going to find your father. We are going to that ravine and we are bringing him back home with us.I will Not believe for a moment that your father is gone from us. Neither of you will do that either! I have made a lot of mistakes since that damned accident, but I am not going to lose your father because of them! You can go with me or I will go alone. Either way, I am going to bring your father home for Christmas!"
"Is that even a question mom?" Ellie hugged her mother so tight. Tighter than she had felt a hug in too long. She held Ellie against her and whispered to her. Her eyes flowing with tears she whispered "Please baby, forgive me for everything. I love you so much and I will never get back all I let slip away. But I will never let another moment, another concert or play get away from me. I promise you this. Just help me bring your daddy home. God, I need him so badly in our lives."
Tears soaked both their shoulders as Ellie cried out loud. Her sobbing brought Mark into the Hug. They would bring their father home together. They went to their rooms and packed for the trip. Sarah would go by the bank and draw out enough cash to get them to Aspens. Mark would drive the Jeep as Ellie had only just learned to drive.

Back in Aspen, the police had been contacted by rescuers concerning Jake. "We searched the area again. If he is down there, we don't know where. His body should be within a few hundred feet of the where the car was. It makes no sense to me at all. There are no drag marks so no animal found him, so far. We will look again tomorrow."
In the falling darkness, a man dragged himself along the rock wall of the cliff. He had no idea where he was and less of an idea, Who he was. The only thing he knew was that whatever was following him through the trees was not friendly. The low growls he heard from time to time and the snap of jaws told him that. He needed to get out of here before he became someones dinner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Walk for Christmas

Just fifteen more days until Christmas Day. The house was cold and lonely this time of year. Sarah wished that Jake was home now. He said he would make it back to her before Christmas. He had driven to Aspens to finalize some paperwork for their business. She and Jake had started a self-help organization shortly after they were married. It had grown into so much more than either of them had anticipated. All was going well and they had watched their children grow to adults. Their life was good but the long weeks without Jake home were sometimes hard on her.
Oh, she got around alright when he was gone but she felt much more comfortable when it was Jake that helped her. She was only thankful that the accident happened after the kids were old enough to care for themselves. She sat down for a moment, her legs already tired, and thought back to the day it all happened. She had just taken Ellie and Mark to school and was going home. The High School was only six blocks but Denver and January were not a good mix unless you were a polar bear or you skied. She was of course neither and so Sarah preferred the warmth of her house when winter came. Her van had just turned on to the main road when out of no-where came a Semi. She never saw him coming nor does she remember the exact point of impact. Her memory was only as good as the stories that people told her when she woke six weeks later.
The fire department used everything they had at their disposal to "peel" the van from around her. Only the drivers side of the van was not fully crushed by the Semi's frame. Had the kids been in the van, neither of them would be alive today. Sarah felt her body shudder at that thought. Beautiful, energetic, kind to a fault and loved dearly by her husband and kids, in one instant her entire life had changed. Jake had been a darling through it all. He had not left her side for the entire time she was in the coma. He read to her and talked to her as if she were sitting there next to him, wide awake. The kids saw her as often as school allowed and on weekends, they would take Jake out to a nice place to eat. Months and months of therapy brought her only to the point of being able to walk a few feet at a time.
The Doctors were insistent that she had more in her but she was the one that knew her body. They had no right to make her feel guilty when she had done all she could do. She also had the right to be afraid to go out very often. Doctor appointments and absolutely needed trips were enough for her. Jake could handle the business abroad and she could take care of the paperwork and bills. It was perfect and she was still giving to the business. As for the kids, well, they too could understand where she was coming from. Their games could be recorded and she would sit with them as if she were right there and watch it at home. That wasn't such a hard thing to do. Their attitudes would improve after a while, she was sure.
Sarah then remembered her last words with Jake as he was leaving two days ago. The kids had wanted her to attend a Christmas play and sing-a-long at the school. She had tried to explain to them that it was just too much.
"Mom, the school has their lift and Ellie and I can take the wheelchair along so you have somewhere to sit. We worked it out with the school so you didn't have to miss this one."
"Mark, I told you I wasn't up to it! I simply am not alright with any of it with your father going to be gone! IS that so hard for you to understand!?!"
"Come on Mark, let's just go to school and forget about it. I told you she wouldn't go anyways, even if Dad were here!"
"Ellie, you apologize to your mother, right now! That was unkind to say to her!"
"No Dad, you tell her sorry if you want! I am not sorry!"
Ellie had stomped to the front door, opened it and slammed the door shut, without another word said. Mark had simply shook his head, leaned down to kiss his mom and left. When they were both gone, Jake sat down beside her.
"Would it really be so bad if you went, Sarah? The kids don't ask much of you anymore. They went to a lot of trouble to set this up for you. They just love you and want you to share in their lives."
"What, now you too!? Damn Jake, I thought you were on my side! I don't' like going anywhere without you."
Jake's next words stung her deep. Never had he spoken this way to her. The gentleness of his tone she was so used to had been replaced with disappointment and sarcasm. "You never want to go anywhere, with or without me! When was the last time you and I did Anything!? I guess it's like the Doctors say. When you decide it's important enough to walk, you will walk as far as you want."
"Just go Jake and have a safe trip! There is no reason for us to even go there."
Jake kissed her. He kissed her not like he had for the past two years... He Kissed her, deep and full. He held her to him so she could not pull away. He moved his lips to her ear and whispered in to it.
"I love you with all that I am, Ms. Ellie, and I believe in you. I will be home before Christmas and we will pick up where that kiss left off."
"Jake you know it is hard for..." She touched her lips now. She could still feel the warmth of his lips on hers. She remembered how her whole insides had responded and she remembered how she had pushed him away that day. He had touched her lips with her fingers so she could not finish her sentence. He kissed her again and then... he was gone.
Sarah was startled from her thoughts by a knock at the door. She wheeled herself to the door and peeked out. It was two officers standing outside. She opened the door and asked them inside.
"May we sit down for a moment Mrs. Lange?" Sarah looked at the two gentlemen sitting in front of her. She wondered what the kids had done now.
"I assure you officers, whatever the kids have done, it will be taken care of when their father gets home."
Ma'am, this isn't about your children. I am afraid we have some bad news for you."
Sarah adjusted herself in the chair. Jake's face ran through her mind and she began to cry. she sat up and listened.
"We got word from Aspen that your husbands car has been found in a ravine outside of the city. The car was pulled from the ravine but no body was found. The fire department and rescue center do not think he could have survived the crash. They will try looking after weather clears."
The officers left and Sarah sat alone, staring at nothing. She placed her hand on her heart and then her lips. The tears raced down her cheek. She closed her eyes and felt for Jake's presence. Surely she would know if he were dead. She didn't feel that at all. Jake was alive and she was going to make sure somebody knew. She would Not lose the only man she ever loved. She slowly rose from the chair and stood...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Christmas memory...

As I sit here on this early December morning and think about Christmas, I wonder how many truly understand the meaning of this glorious day. There are those of you that know that it is a birthday celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour. Some of you see Christmas as a time when we lay aside our differences and give freely of our hearts. And still, there are those who would believe that Christmas is the day that we get to sit anxiously by the tree, waiting for our name to be called out and our gifts to be handed to us. The spread of food and the sounds of laughter that echo through out our minds brings an instant smile to our faces.
Christmas... A time for sharing and loving and laughing and... Crying? Hmmmm? Why does that word seem out of place here? Listen to my story and perhaps then you will understand that Christmas is also a time for crying. Not perhaps the crying you might think of at first, but crying just the same.
In 1982, while stationed at Ellsworth A.F.B. in South Dakota, I met and married the love of my life, Sheila. As beautiful as a dream and as full of life as anyone could be, we spent day after day in the Black Hills fishing and walking and simply falling in love. We found that we were to be blessed with our first daughter in Feb. of 1983 She was our pride and joy and Samantha went with us everywhere. She sat in her little Pumpkin Seat at the lakes edge as her mother and I fished. I held a stringer of fish up close to her so that she could have her picture taken with daddy and his fish. Our first two Christmases were like any other of a million Christmas days. We laughed and ate and sang and ate and celebrated the day of our Saviours birth.
By July of 1984, life had already begun to shape what Christmas would come to mean to me on this day, twenty-four years later. Sheila had burned herself while frying some eggs. Not a terrible burn at all, in fact just the tip of her finger. By the weeks end, her entire hand had begun to turn dark. We sought doctor after doctor trying to find the problem. Sheila spent weeks and weeks in the hospital. Finally one diagnosis was stated. She had Renaud's Syndrome. Treated and sent home, her problems didn't seem to be diminishing. By November when she and Samantha flew back to Rapid City to spend the full week of Thanksgiving with her parents,{I joined them two days before the holiday} she found herself to weak to make it from store to store. When we returned home, she went back into the hospital. That trip would be the start of a life-long battle for her life. It was discovered that Sheila had Polymyositis, one of the 40 nuero-muscular diseases that form Muscular Dystrophy. The disease would break down her muscles until she could not walk at all. Christmas that year was to be spent waking Samantha to open her gifts from Santa Clause and then taking her with me to the hospital to open gifts with mommy. Sam didn't understand the difference in where we were opening mommy's gifts. She only knew that we were with mommy on that special day.
Wonderfully, miraculously, God sent doctors that were able to send the disease into remission and even give her the ability to walk again back for a time. We found that we were to be blessed again with our second daughter, Shannon. Sheila's disease came out of remission and she returned to the hospital, where she would remain from October until long after Shannon was born in February. That Christmas was spent the same as the year before. We opened Santa's gift without mommy and then Sam and I went to the hospital to spend the day with mommy. This time, Sam seemed to understand a little more that we were not at home with the family, eating and laughing and singing. We were in a hospital where there was no singing or laughing. There were just a lot of nurses and doctors coming in and out of her mommy's room. Christmas had taken on an entire new meaning to me now. I no longer cared what Santa left under the tree for me nor was I concerned with whether or not I had been naughty or nice. I had very little time to be either now.
Shannon was born in February, two months early. She weighed just 2 lbs. 9 ounces when she came out into this world. Doctors warned us she might not be alive but as she does even to this day, she went against the normal and came out kicking and screaming. {First Miracle} The sack that held her was covered in white. All the meds that Sheila was on should have gone into Shannon but they were stopped outside the sack. No white spots from the steroids, no signs of any meds harming her. {Another Miracle.}She remained in the hospital Neo-Natal Unit for six weeks.
I would get up each morning and feed and dress Sam. Then we would go up to the hospital where Sheila was and visit her. We would go to the Neo-Natal Unit and the nurses would teach me how to feed and change this tiny baby that was even to small for preemie diapers. I learned how to roll them twice so they didn't hang on Shannon. The nursing staff was wonderful and when Shannon was almost seven weeks old, I brought her home with me to live with my parents. Sheila remained in the hospital for another 4 months.
Our days now were full. I would get up and feed the girls at seven. We would dress and go to the hospital. Shannon was on an apnea monitor for almost one year until her lungs fully developed. We would spend the day with Sheila, eating our meals at the hospital or fast food and then I would take the girls to my sisters house and go to work at three. I would work until midnight and then swing by the hospital to see Sheila, who had by now spent almost a year in the hospital without coming home. I would get home, {My parents house} and feed Shannon. I would sleep from three a.m. to four a.m. and then wake to feed her again. I would sleep from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m. and then we would start our day again. We lived this life on and off for several years to follow. I was called to the hospital 15 times to hear doctors say that Sheila would not live through the night. God graced us time and time again and Sheila would recover and continue on living. She came home just before Thanksgiving only to return to the hospital the week before Christmas.
My father asked me what I was hoping to get for Christmas that year. I remember turning to him and saying through tears, "I just want my family to be a family again." Christmas had taken on a whole new meaning for me now. It was no longer just about laughing and singing and eating good food. It was not about giving or getting gifts from Santa. The year that Sheila came home to spend Christmas with Sam and Shannon and I, we started a tradition that we still do today. Before we ever touch a gift, before we sing a song or do anything, I read the verses of the bible that tell of the birth of baby Jesus. We talk for a moment of what a miracle he was and how God had blessed the earth with his son. We then reflect on what Christmas is to us. The blessing of life and of living and of never, ever giving up hope. Realizing that if you have your family with you at Christmas time, then you already have your Christmas gift.
Sam is 25 and Shannon is 23.Sheila spent many more weeks and months in so many different hospitals. She spent 60 days in a coma on life support, doctors giving her a 5 to 15 % chance of living. I smiled and shook my head at them. I said, "You have no idea who is lying in that bed in ICU. She won't die." She did not and after 60 days, Sheila woke and and a few weeks later came home again. She remained in wheelchair and spent so long in hospitals. Sheila went to heaven on March 8th of 2006 Christmas once again took on a whole new meaning for me when she went to be with God. Life changed totally, never to be the same for my family.
Life has gone on for me, even when I did not want it too. Sheila is still with me and celebrates Christmas with us every year. I still cry for her and wish each and every day that she were right here, physically standing beside me, whispering to me "Hey good looking, here's your coffee.Shall we wake the girls now?" It was only 5 a.m... We shared a great life filled with love and happiness, no matter what life tossed at us.Our love was beautiful as was Sheila. I shall celebrate all she gave to me every year at Christmas. Pure, unconditional love and the gift of her strength. Without it, I would not have survived. Her memory remains a Christmas gift each year.
If you asked me what I want for Christmas when it arrives this year, I will say to you, "I just want my family to be together again." Jesus came into this world to die for me and to see that we were forgiven of our sins. He caused the first Christmas and gave new life to this world of ours. I will honor him and thank him for that this Christmas, as I have each and every year since Sheila became ill. And then I will go somewhere quiet for a moment and I will cry. Not tears shed because of sadness or hurt. I will cry for the wonderful gift that God places under my tree every year. The gift of life and of sitting in my own home remembering the many years of blessings he gave to me. Thanking him for the new memories he has blessed my family with.
If this year, you look at the tree and there isn't as much under it, if you feel like there could be more... look around the house. Sneak into your children's bedroom and kiss them while they sleep. Cuddle your loved one a little tighter tonight and say a silent prayer. Thank God for the blessings of each and everyone of them. Thank him for the blessing of his Only begotten Son, who came to us on what we call Christmas Day, to die for our sins and give to us ever lasting life. This Christmas, celebrate the Gift Of Life and family! Love and enjoy your family and friends. The Only real, true gifts at Christmas are Jesus and our families being with us.
Merry Christmas Sheila... this ones for you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Survey sites that DO Pay!!!! My Proof...

Yes,yes, I know, you have tried them before and they aren't worth the time. Well today, I want to try and show you that it IS worth the time. I have been doing surveys a very long time. I have seen the Good, the Bad and the Oh believe me when I say... The Uglies! I spent many hours doing surveys, weeks of opening and closing and waiting to reach that "cash out" point only to find that the site was a scam.
"Oops, we are sorry, you "sneezed" wrong and so we are cancelling your account." OUCH!!! Through trial and error and good friends, I found a few that pay out and pay out nicely. Today, in a semi-self serving and reaching out to help moment, I am going to share some proof of a few sites that have helped greatly in my quest to do my Christmas shopping. Now understand that if anyone reading this is a millionaire or even a "thousandaire" if that word exists, and simply doesn't need extra money, pleaseeeee, send it to me. ;)I can always use an extra 20.00 or 50.00.
Yessssss, I know... I could have just planted the proof and gone away but the truth is I love to write and take every opportunity to do so. So please, bare with me as i prove to you that this time next year, you could be blessing a lot of people with gifts that cost YOU nothing. That's a Christmas gift all in itself. As I post these sites, I ask only that you do one thing for me. Use the URL's that I add here to sign up under me. That way, we both get a gift from this. The Pics at the top of this blog show the proof. The Urls are down here. Please don't let this pass you by. What a blessing these sites were for me at this giving time of year.
This next one, the only way to get recognition for you joining under me is to add your e-mail to my referral. I will simply show you the payouts minus the name. If you wish to join, contact me, please.

Opinion Points Redeemed # Request Date Sent Points Redeemed Cash Value
1 12/8/2008 In Process 500 $50.00
2 11/24/2008 12/1/2008 100 $10.00
3 10/10/2008 11/3/2008 300 $30.00
4 09/6/2008 10/15/2008 50 $5.00

SurveySpot... https://www.surveyspot.com/join/Join.faces?VendorID=33&OptInSource=usgen&locale=en_US

There ARE more but for now, just imagine that these are only one month of pay and only for these three. Even at this amount per month, you would be putting nearly 70.00 away per month times 12 equals 840.00 at Christmas time. Can you use some of that? I hope so. Please check these sites out and get ready to have a "out of pocket free" Christmas next year. From me to you, Merry Christmas. Darrel

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life can be this way too

Do you ever wonder what your real purpose here on earth is? Do you ever think about what you have done and what you have not done? Are there things that you sit and look at and say "Damn, I know I need to finish that." Sometimes life can be like a lake in the early winter. Let me tell you about our lake.
Driving past the Lake, I see the ice has taken over the lake. The trees surrounding it's shoreline are bare now. Some of the leaves lay on the ice as if they were Viking ships that had been caught unawares. They sit motionless as if they are waiting for Spring to come back and set them free. Large Canadian geese walk across the ice, some sliding as they try to find a place to bed down. The vehicle scares them and some begin to "Honk" loudly. They seem to be asking me to leave them alone. Unsure about whether I will or won't leave, a small group starts to race across the ice. Their huge blue/black wings flapping in the wind help to give them lift. They honk louder as they fly over top of the vehicle. I am grateful they are outside and I am...inside. There is a place in the center of the lake, far too deep to be frozen so early in the year. The geese keep this place open for them to have a place to wet their feathers. I look to the east and see two deer cautiously sniffing the ice that covers the shoreline. One places a hoove on the ice and it sounds like a high-powered rifle being fired. The ice popping so loudly causes both deer to back into the hidden sanctuary of the forest. I can see them looking out from the trees, waiting... wanting to go back to the lakes edge but still startled by the ice popping.
A crack now forms across the ice and seems to go on for ever. A red fox, unbothered by the sound, slips and slides his way across the ice. I watch him as he moves in the direction of the geese still swimming in the opening. Perhaps breakfast is on his mind. Maybe he just wants a closer look. He stops, well more slides to a stop.he sniffs the ice under his feet. the redness of his winter coat almost glistens in the suns light. His tail is full and looks like a long duster.His once black nose comes out of the snow pure white and he looks as if someone painted it on his face. I see one foot slip as if under the snow that now blankets the ice. He backs away, lifting a wet paw out of what must have been a thin place in the ice. He licks the paw and then makes his way back towards the shoreline, never looking back at where he had been. Life can be this way too.
As I sit and take in the sites that surround me I think about life. I think about the ice that has formed on the lake. A coating, a protection of sorts that will be there until Spring warms it again and opens the way for new life. Sometimes, our purpose in life is hard to see. We wonder what we contribute to those we love and those we pass daily in our lives. We often cover ourselves in a protective manner, shielding everything inside from the harshness of hurt. We are a bit like those deer I watched trying to get a drink of water. We approach life and love with caution, the need drawing us out of the protection of the forest. We step forward but suddenly something echoes out and scares us back to the confines of our "forest." The ice, the very covering over our hearts seems to be thick enough to withstand a burden of our soul. But from a distance, all of it looks safe. The only way we can know for sure is to place a "hoove" on the ice and wait to see if it cracks.
That fox took a chance and walked out on the ice. It all looked good until he found a thin spot. We too take on life sometimes and we go as far as we can. We will walk until we find a thin spot in the covering. And then... we go back to solid ground, waiting for loves warmth to come and open the waters up so that new life can come forth. Or, perhaps we just wait for winter to put a thicker covering of ice over our hearts so we can cross the lake and find new places to go. And just as the geese have done, we often leave a place open, right in the center of our heart, so we can still get out "feathers" wet if we choose to do so. A place to finish what we did not complete before winter began closing in on us.
Nature can be so beautiful with its colors and animals and scenery that dazzles the mind. It can also be scary and dangerous if we are not cautious before we step out onto the ice. But every year, the Spring does come and does thaw the ice away. And every year, new life and new beauty comes out and we can once again see where it is safe to walk. We can see what it is we are here for, even if it is just to Be. Life can be that way too.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Facing life head-on...

It is cold here today. Not just your basic cold, but the cold that comes with winter and wind. It cuts through the coat, the scarf and even the gloves don't hold it all out. You cover yourself with as much protection as you can but still it finds it's way inside your clothing somehow. Sometimes... life is that way.
I was talking to someone very dear to me a day or two ago. We were discussing the many ways we strive to prepare ourselves for things that may happen to us in our lives. Things that we may know could happen and so we look for ways to buffer the impact. We talk to ourselves some, we talk to God about it and we talk sometimes to those nearest to our hearts. There are times when we "zip" the coat up tight, believing that when we step out into the "cold", we will be protected and not feel the bite and sting of the harsh cold. The reality of life hits us and we find that somehow, we were not as prepared for the impact as we swore we would be.
I so often write in ways that compare life and nature and love and the world to one another. They do so parallel each other in so many ways. Songs that are our lives. Scenarios that are a mirror image of reality and fantasy. As the wind hits my upstairs window, it shakes it as if demanding entrance into my warm sanctuary. It whistles and sings a song as if to lure me out to join it. But I have been here before. I know that to open the window will let the winters breath into my home. I know that all the protection the walls and closed window offers will cease to exist should I open the window even a crack.
Back now to the discussion with the loved one. I explained and related to her the experiences of my own life. I know only to well that no amount of preparing, no matter how much you "bundle up", the cold reality will be strong and will do all it can to engulf you in it's grasp. So then, what do we do? The real question is that. Do we simply not protect ourselves and face the cold if it does come? Do we wrap ourselves in expectation and hope that we truly are prepared for anything that might come our way?
She is ill, as was my Sheila. Most that read my blogs know the story that is my life's experiences. I will not re-tell the story here. What I will say is this. I tried both ways to protect myself from what many believed was inevitable. I tried to cover myself and prepare for winters harshness. I was even certain at times that I had succeeded in being ready should the day come that My Sheila was called to heaven. We, as a couple, lived every day as if we both had a million more tomorrows and with the knowledge that there is NO promise given to any of us that tomorrow will come. Which one worked for us??? That answer lies in the final moments we shared together here on earth.
I was not prepared for the doctor to tell me he could not save her. I was not protected and covered when he said in just hours, my life would be forever changed. The moment of her going to heaven was as devastating as if I had never prepared myself. The tears and the sorrow and the loneliness that followed, the desire to have her back, to hold her once more and say all that I should have said was fierce and tore my soul apart. It's impact still, 3 years later, causing me to cry in the night or slip away somewhere alone and beg heaven to let me touch her once more. The learning that the pain and the immeasurable longing for her might never go away becomes that cold, gripping "winter" that leaves you praying for "Spring."
Is there something that consoles me? How do I make it through my days? I make it through because of the second option we had as one. We lived our lives to the fullest and never allowed the illness to dictate our lives. We walked through fires together and we came out still holding hands. We laughed at some of the things the illness brought and held one another when we cried. I console myself by remembering all the life we DID live, in spite of what Might happen. I smile at the thoughts that only she and I now share.
What advice to I give to this young lady that means so much to me? I told her to do Both. Prepare for winter in case it decides to show itself. Wrap yourself in the blankets of loved ones and tell yourself you ARE strong and you ARE prepared. Live life as you would had you never been told you might become ill. Live each day like it is one of a trillion still waiting to happen. Enjoy living and do the things you would do if you had forever but live them in a way that says if tomorrow doesn't come, I lived as if it would.
I say this to everyone who reads this. Whatever way you choose to face life and the things that may or may not come, do it as if they "didn't."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Portrait for you...

So here I sit, once again staring out of my window. Today, I see the snow falling gently on the ground. It blankets everything in white. The snow is clean and has not been tainted by all the things that turn it from white and clean to grey and dirty. Before footprints have crushed it down. Before the plows have tossed the dirt from the road on top of it. The new snow falling like feathers on the already settled snowfall. The trees are draped with the snow and look like huge Eclairs covered in white frosting. Snow shovels are poised next to the front porches of the houses like soldiers, waiting to be called into action. Their handles are layered in snow and fill in as a hat to cover them. They will stand there until someone reaches for them and begins to move the snow from sidewalk to yard.
There is a soft breeze blowing the snow around. Tiny tornadoes of snow dance across the yard and disappear in a blink of an eye. Leaves left behind begin to chase one another across the snow. Some are picked up by the snow twisters and taken into another yard. Others simply rest against the house or find themselves nuzzled in the clutches of small bushes not yet covered by the snow. Still, the snow remains untainted and beautiful.
Why do I paint such a portrait for you today? Things that I see with my mind so often reflect my inward feelings. Painting a portrait this way gives way to the feelings of the holiday that are upon us now. The beauty that is Christmas, the joys and excitement are so like those tiny tornadoes. I swirls in the air and dances in our hearts and minds. It makes us laugh and smile and embraces our souls with everything good. You can almost hear the children screaming their laughter. The snow crunches under their snow-boots and they laugh harder when they slip and slide on the snow. It is as everyday should be, not just the Christmas holiday.
But too often, the snow is dirtied, the trees shaken and the snow that has made them beautiful, allowed to fall to the ground. Commercializing and the knowledge that you will hear "Happy holiday" as it replaces the now unallowed "Merry CHRISTmas" turns the snow to grey. It's beauty now messed by someones false fear that they may not be welcome should they say those "shameful" words. Sadness that all that we are and all that we have fought so hard to keep ours is now Taboo in this land. No longer are the leaves dancing and the "soldiers" that stand and wait are in a far away land. A land that will not cover their heads with snow. Men and women of this great land, fighting for us and our Freedom, wishing they could hear "Merry CHRISTmas" spoken to them face to face by their loved ones. A land of more freedom and more opportunity than any other land, and yet we dirty the purity of our snowfall. We move it and cover it in dirt.
A I watch the still falling snow, I say a silent prayer for those brave me and women that are far from home this Christmas. I embrace them and will build a snowman in their honor. I will smile as I pray for their safe return. An I WILL wish them a very Merry CHRISTmas and pray that he watches over them until they come home. Join me in cleaning the snow a little. Reach out with your heart and tell them "thank you" for all that they do. Build a snowman for them. Find a soldiers name and write to them. Let them know that we are keeping the snow clean for them here. take the time to watch the leaves dance over the snow and watch as the little tornadoes wisp across the yard. I guarantee you, it will put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. Enjoy the portrait I painted for you. YOU are the canvas I painted on... Merry CHRISTMAS to you all... Always, Darrel

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