Posts tagged: death


beach photo




You had no more need 

of  sandals for your feet.

Nor of a body infested with demons

                 Your love and courage could not defeat.

         Why? Why?

  Unknowing…why they fed

           Upon your love with hate

                Consuming all but your soul.

                                I do not know.

Triumphantly you left them here

Left them all behind

Shook free of death’s final grasp

To be free, free at last,

free at last!

Sandles 1

Together you and I deny…

Deny separation.

Your spark lives on…

You are not gone.

You and I still wander here

         In earthly sandal shoes.

With our toes in silky sand

Planting flowers in earth’s rich land.

We protest,  you and I…

                       Together we take a stand

              Against injustice, against the wars

                                    That infest this suffering land.

Always one, we celebrate

               The birth of family souls.

Baby stork

 Sometimes the ache

          Of my unknowing

      Stops my breath–takes its toll.

          Yet, in the quiet of the night

  I feel you close, tho out of sight

I know you’re near…you sooth my fear

With perfect love that flows

 Across the abyss of my unknowing.

Each day I slide my feet

                     Into your earth- scuffed shoes.

                             It seems I’ve yet to understand…

                    I must pay my earthly dues.

Together  we travel in memory

                                   Until the day I too will  leave

          Your shoes all scuffed and worn,

                                  When into a new life I will be born.

          There is no death,  you and I

                    Together always…will forever share

                                                       The peace of perfect love.

faith hope and




By Pat Engebrecht

In the early morning hours

When the sun’s rays are low

 Slanting through the bower

  Reflecting dawn’s golden glow.

I think of you.

In the quiet awakening of the day

I sit  on the garden bench

Alone with you in my special way

Of remembering.  I feel your presence

In my heart. 

 The spider’s weaving of the night

Catches dew in gossamer threads

Reflecting in those early rays

The sight of you.  Our love spreads

Warming  me through and through.

Life’s promises we shared

The Laughter and the tears.

These memories

Grow sweeter with the passing years

    As you live in the garden of my heart. 



LJ baby Sedona


The Coming of Age


LauraJo Engebrecht


Where is the child

Who by the Sea

Was swept away

With beauty,

Immeasurably captured

In tiny hands

Held only as time

Holds the wind swept sands.

Like clockwork the ebbing tide

Shrinks the eyes open wide,

Causing countless treasures to fall

By the wayside.

Grey as the dawn on a misty morn,

Alone and naked the truth is born.



When Love Is Not Enough  Chronicles of LauraJo ( tells her story in her own words of her journey battling BPD for ten years which  finally culminated in her suicide death in 1987.






My Annual Physical


I used to refer to this as my “Annual” checkup but since Obama Care…well things are a changing. My appointment is usually the first one: 7:30 AM.  After I have filled out the new form for change of insurance I am greeted by this very smiley nurse waving energetically, “Hi, Pat, how are you?”

“Not bad, Bonnie…”  I’ve been going to the same doctor for almost two decades.  He takes care of me and my husband, my oldest son and his family, and now my grandson and his new wife. I was a little nervous when I first started going to him.  He looked like my youngest son.   He still looks like him but we have all grown old together–my youngest son is now in his fifties.

Bonnie is my “vitals” taker: height, weight, blood pressure, etc.  I always wear my lightest outfit, take off my shoes before climbing on the scale.  OOOPS…three additional pounds which has just thrown me into the “obesity” column since the height measurement shows I’ve shrunk an inch.

doctor with stethoscopeMy doctor  sits on his stool in the corner with my ever–thickening file.  I can tell he hasn’t reviewed it since last year as he thumbs through the pages like a Rolodex file.  Over the years I’ve managed to elicit a few personal facts from him.  He’s married, has two sons, quite different from each other.  He’s trying to teach the oldest one how to drive,  shakes his head.  “Nothing like his younger brother who loves speed.  Not Jerry.  He may well be cited for going too slow–miles under the speed limit,  and I try not to flinch as he crowds the side of the road with the mail boxes.”

I’m surprised with this sharing, usually it’s a one liner:  “Sick of green beans.”  His wife is a gardener.

“Hole in one yet?”  I’ve picked up his style of speech.  He’s a golfer.

“No.  Bad back.”  And that’s it for this visit.

“Hmmm.”  It’s like a soft familiar tune.  “Any complaints?”  He doesn’t look up.

“I think I’m turning into a toad.”  He stops, looking up briefly  to see if I’m serious.

“Why’s that?”  He goes back to my file.

“Well, look at all these warts and brown spots.” I proffer a thick scaly elbow on an arm dotted with ‘liver‘ spots on skin that hangs loosely like stretched–out crepe. “And one nostril is smaller than the other from Mohs surgery.  It’s harder to breath if I have a cold.  Is it very noticeable?”

He pauses,  studies my face.  “Hardly.”  Back to the files.


“And what?”  He’s actually looking at me again.

“Well, the early warning bell for my waste management program isn’t working.” His face is blank and then I see it, a tiny smirk, and he’s back into my file.


And I continue, “my gas emission system is out of control.  Another thing, I think I have ADHD.”

He sighs, lowers the pen.  “Explain.”

“Well, let me give you an example.  I’m having company for dinner.  I’m peeling potatoes when I see the vacuum sitting in the middle of the floor.  I put down the half-peeled potato, and go over to finish vacuuming under the dining room table which is half set.  I stop vacuuming and go get the wine glasses out of the breakfront, then I remember the napkins are in the dryer and…”

The doctor holds up his hand to stop me.  “Do you get it all done?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Then you don’t have ADHD”

“Well, that’s a relief, but really it’s my memory that’s  worrying me.  What are the symptoms of Alzheimer?  I’m losing my vocabulary.  I get up every morning and read the Thesaurus hoping I’ll be able to remember a synonym or two so that I don’t have to play charades with my friends.  Doesn’t work on the phone.  Good grief, maybe I’m going to be like my sister who is five years older and can hardly carry on a conversation.”

He is resigned.  Puts down his pen and gives me his full attention. “Would you like to take some tests?”

“You think I’m that bad?”

He sighs, returns to my file,  ‘It’s up to you.”

“Well if you think I should.”  He seems to be getting a bit tense so I thought I’d change the subject.  “I’d like to talk about death.”

His head comes up with a jerk. “I’d rather not.”

Well, when you’re getting along in years like I am (79), anything can happen. “Will you be with me in the hospital when I pass over?”

He’s back inside the file and talks to it rather than me.  “Not unless I’m a patient.  We don’t do rounds anymore.  The insurance company finds it can cut down expenses if a doctor on duty handles that sort of thing.”

I can’t believe that ‘Death’ has come down to “that sort of thing?”  Wow. The nurse comes in and hands him a paper.

He  glances down then up at me.  “We don’t take your new insurance.”  And that was that.



So there you have it, Mr. President. You assured me that I could  keep my doctor, but you didn’t mention that he didn’t have to “keep” me.  No, I haven’t read Obama Care (how many pages? )  but you promised I could keep my doctor, and  you didn’t mention that my co-pay would increase.  And what is this “Wellness” Checkup?  I know its  free  but somebody is paying for this person (with credentials, of course) to get all my personal health information, do my vitals and…I thought this information was private, just between me and my doctor.   I don’t know this person from Joe Schmuck.   Who has access to this “free–checkup” information?   Pardon me if I’m getting a bit suspicious, but I’ve learned over this long life journey that there are no “free lunches.”

While I’m asking, not exactly a health-care issue, Sir, but what’s all this rumblings about expanding the military involvement in all these little countries that can’t get along with each other?  I thought we were broke.  Do they have “Weapons of Mass Destruction” too?    Now I know that you know that printing  up a bunch more money doesn’t solve the problem,  and I don’t think cutting food stamps, social security, laying off teachers, closing post offices…is going to cut the mustard.  Another thing, how can the cost of all these wars not be included in the budget?   No wonder we’re broke.  It would be like me not including my health-care expenses, my mortgage, my car–in my budget, only worse.  From what I hear war costs billions or is it trillions of dollars that we don’t have? Now that’s a lot of printing, Mr. President.  Just how many 0’s in a trillion?  Let’s see: 0,000,000,000,000   (and how many trillion are we in debt?)

While I’m writing, Mr. President, I may as well get a few other things off my chest.  Drones!  All those children who grew up playing war games on their I Pod, or was it I Pads?  Can’t keep them straight. Well now you’ve got them in the war rooms killing real people–they may not have nightmares or post-war syndrome, because it is still a game to them–its the boots on the ground that see children blown to bits, women and old people, vacant eyed looking for family in the debris–and how about Guantanamo?  You were going to close that.  Yes, I’m well aware that you have tried but that’s what we hired you to do…find a way.   Unemployment is down below 6% but the rest of the story, Mr. President, that you don’t mention is that their wages are minimum wage  and do you count them as three individuals working when they have to work at three jobs to make ends meet?  Of course, there is no inflation…my bread has gone from a pound to 3/4 and the price increased by $1.00.  Butter is up over $5 a pound, bacon over $7.  Do you go shopping with Michelle to see what $150 buys?  You have only two children, my son has five.

I don’t want to mention what a dumb campaign the democrats (oh by the way I’m a registered Republican) waged.  Dollars  couldn’t have been the issue since they raised more $’s than the other guys, or so I read.    You hardly inspired people to get out to vote–only 37% voted–lowest number of voters for decades.  Why didn’t you beat the drum as to how much you’ve accomplished in spite of the opposition’s, campaign to stop you at every turn.   You must be proud keeping us from going over the fiscal cliff,  health care coverage for my grandchildren on their parents’ policy until age 26,  ridding us of “preexisting” exclusions by the insurance companies, cutting the deficit.  Brag, Mr. President. “Executive Privilege?”  Why aren’t you mentioning (or am I not reading the right publications–) how many presidents have used it in the past and what party they belonged to?  That should be headlines, big print for us old folks to see. I can’t believe you say little to nothing when someone attacks you on the “popularity” issue.  Being President is not a popularity contest.  You hold the most powerful position in the land.  With it comes the detractors.  Although I may be critical, I honor you, respect you, applaud you. You are doing just fine, Mr. President, and I don’t want the job.  More than 40% of the populace count up to be a lot of supporters–a much higher approval rating than Congress which is Republican in case folks have forgotten. By the way, I find sleeping pills help.

Signed:   Minny…



Pat Engebrecht

Becoming a “Mother” born of pain
A life becomes… promises of immortality?
Some dedicate their life
To the breath of a love beyond the self.
Their role to love, nurture and protect.

I reflect.

Is the child a being of its own,
Or is it of its mother’s molding?
Is the man or woman they become
Being chiseled from life by their own hand?

The Mother forever changed by the pain of birth
Where does she find her worth?
Does the measure of  failure or success
Forever rest
In the child’s becoming?

Is a Mother born, the death of a
Woman of her own or has she become

A Goddess in Creation?




Over the years most of us have gone to reunions, high school/college.  Those early ones to impress classmates with successful jobs, handsome spouses, beautiful, intelligent children…all trying to out do our classmates like final scores on SAT’s (which we didn’t have to take way back then because most of us didn’t go to college which was for the rich (no student loans) or “very” smart.)  As the years passed, we finally outgrew the one upsmanship (most of us any way) and began to celebrate survival.  I enjoy the light–hearted  tone of  the following rhyme:

 Class Reunion

bday_balloons_bus_card.338122604It was my class reunion, and all through the house
I checked in each mirror and begged my poor spouse
To say I looked great, that my chin wasn’t double,
And he lied through false teeth, just to stay out of trouble.
Said that neath my thick glasses, my eyes hadn’t changed,
And I had the same figure just a mite rearranged.
Said my skin was still silky, though looser in drape,
Not like smooth satin, but more like silk crepe.
I swallowed his words hook, sinker, and line,
And entered the banquet feeling just fine.bday_balloons_bus_card.338122604
Somehow I’d expected my classmates to stay
As young as they were on that long–ago day.
We’d hugged farewell hugs, but like me, through the years,
They’d  added gray to their hair, and pounds to their rears.
But as we shared a few memories and retold our class jokes
We were eighteen in spirit though we looked like our folks.
We turned up our hearing aids, dimmed down the lights.
Rolled back the years and were young for the night
Donna Presnell/ Elizabeth Lucas

 The notice came in the mail the other day…60 Year Reunion!  Come celebrate It can’t be.  I go to the basement (it needs cleaning, of course, but I remind my husband that it was in the fine print on the marriage certificate: “I don’t do basements.  I know it’s here somewhere.  I move the old ice cream maker.  Haven’t used that since the kids left home–the oldest just celebrated his 58th birthday, but we might sometime (use it that is)  Then I move  the five jugs of water (you never know when that predicted catastrophe is going to happen) that sit in front of the boxes that hold  “who knows what. ” It might be there, my 1954 high school year book.

After opening a number of boxes of outdated treasures, gotta throw these away someday, I note mentally, I find it.   My old “Maroon”.   I pull up the old rocking chair– Granny’s.  The canes are broken across the back but I can have it re-caned and who knows, maybe one of the grand kids would like it. I settle back,  brush off the cover.  The years roll back with the dust.  Mustang logo

FLASHBACK”  A kaleidoscope of images: white bucks and saddle shoes, boys wearing jeans so low that “pantsing” had to be outlawed by the authorities (kids would sneak up behind an unsuspecting buddy, grab his pants on both sides and jerk…exposed! Ankle- length peg skirts so tight our walk became a hobble and we had to hike them up to bend our knees to go up the stairs…no running down the hall…cashmere sweaters if you were rich enough to own one with scarves tied neatly about our neck. Dress Code? No slacks for girls, skirts and dresses only.

There was the usual “class distinctions.  The jocks, the students, you know, the ones that belonged to the Math or Chess club, ran for student body offices, worked on the year book. There were the hot rodders who drove around in their  supped–up cars at noon, wore their hair in exaggerated duck tails slicked back with grease, had their pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of their tee shirts, and yes, even a few tattoos.  These boys our mothers warned us about…I remember Midge married one…divorced (physical abuse?), a single parent raising two girls.

There were the clandestine beer parties in the park…I pause focusing inward on Hazel’s 16th birthday party, Roger grabbing my hand dragging me out the back door as the police, who the neighbors called when someone fell through the plate glass window, came in the front. Never told my children about that episode of my “well-behaved” teen–age years.

Our senior year. I rock in the chair, close my eyes remembering our “coming-of-age” dramas  where we learned of sex (yes, Gerry was pregnant at graduation– they just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. ) We fell in and out of love, wore men’s over sized white shirts, and our boyfriend’s letterman sweaters and then we, Milwaukie High School, like the Hoosiers, won the state basketball championship and became the Class that made Milwaukie  famous.  Images of the welcoming-home parade come into focus and I can feel again the thrill of it all when we (cheer leaders) rode on the flat bed truck with the team waving our maroon/gold pom poms.POMSMBG

 The faces and times swim before me in a haze.  I was going steady with Bill, the class super hero, tall, handsome    all-around jock: basketball, track. The camera winds forward.  He marries Bunny, two children, divorces, dies in  1995. Clairene, his twin sister, the first Longshore woman in Portland, Oregon, the only person I  know who  doesn’t have a “social” face, stays in touch after all these years.

  LIFE:  I thumb through the pictures:  Roger marries Kay/ divorces,  daughter murdered by fiance, son killed on a motorcycle.  Stan marries/divorces/remarries Marge who died of breast cancer several years ago.  Don, who became a big wig in banking, flew Roger in a helicopter to his private club to play golf…later barely survived the Savings and Loan debacle.  Sherrill Houser, class president, becomes our most famous member.  World renowned sculpture (Big! sculpture, not him) over 4  stories high! Bronze, Conquistador on a stallion,  El Paso, Texas.don-juan-de-onate-statue-el-paso-airport  I guess it was natural for him to think big, his father was second in command in the creation of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.

I turn the pages.  Stories of far away places, success, failure, grief, joy reflect the years of our lives.  Reunions?  They are like time warps and for a few moments we return to the years of our becoming.  We squint at faces trying to connect them to the name tag. We girls will have our hair “professionally” done for the occasion, buy a new dress to wrap around a body that no longer resembles our youthful mystique.

I hear Ron upstairs moving about the kitchen.  Time for dinner. I replace the yearbook,  push the rocking chair back into its corner.  The reunion is in Oregon, I am in New York.  The time and distance echoes.  I sigh.  Too far, too long ago–I won’t be going to the reunion.



The following information was gleaned from the internet and who knows, there may be a kernel of truth in it.  At any rate I found the possibilities suggested here to be entertaining, if not factual.

Cliche: A phrase or opinion that is overused and lacks “original” thought.“You don’t miss the water ‘till the well runs dry.”

Interesting.  Maybe it’s because I’m’ OLD that I pause when I hear some of these sayings. I’ve begun to wonder just where they originated.  Recently I received an e mail that educated me on some of the more interesting origins.  It was taken from a webpage:  I share this information.

My older sister is always saying that she has “never had a pot to piss in.”  Of course I know that she is discussing her “worldly wealth” not the ownership of a POT.

What I have learned, (never too old): The beginning of this saying was “piss poor.”  Where did this saying come from?  In the old days urine was used to tan animal skins, so poor families used to all pee in a pot and sell it to the tannery, thus, “piss poor.”

$pot to pissNow you might think they were the poorest of the poor…WRONG!  The really poor folk couldn’t afford to buy the pot!  They didn’t have a “pot to piss in” and were the “bottom of the totem pole.”

Most poor folks had dirt floors…”Dirt poor” but the rich folks had slate floors, “slippery when wet.” Solved by spreading straw on the floor.  Adding straw throughout the winter was necessary, but it would slip outside when the door was opened.  Solution?  A piece of wood was placed in the doorway, hence a “Thresh hold.

Why is June the most popular month to get married?  In the 1500’s May was the month most people took their YEARLY bath and they still smelled pretty good by June…not great mind you, thus the custom of carrying a bouquet when getting married to hide the bride’s body odor.Roses

And that bath?  Baths were taken in a large tub filled with water heated on the stove…and…well, the man of the house got first bath, then the sons, then the wife, then the children in order of age. (At least my sisters and I drew straws so that I, the youngest, wasn’t always last. I’m old but I wasn’t born in the 1500’s.) The very last to get their bath was the babies, hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” old-wash-tub-galvanized-metal-washtub-original-vintage-Wheeling-label-Laurel-Leaf-Farm-item-no-k72971-2

In those early days some area houses had “thatched roofs,” thick straw piled high with only strips of wood as a framework to hold the straw.  The roof was the only place for animals to sleep warm, thus the cats, even dogs, (not sure how the dogs got on the roof?) and other small animals like mice (bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained, the straw would become slippery and sometimes the animals would fall off the cats and dogsroof, hence…“its raining cats and dogs.

And, that’s not all…the small animals and bugs often fell through the roof which really messed up your bed.  So–the “four–poster bed with a canopy” was born.

Food: Ah, we’ve all seen movies of the big pot hanging in the fire.  Since meat was scarce, the stew usually consisted of mostly vegetables.  The leftovers were kept in the pot and new items were added as available which meant some of the food had been there for sometime.  Hence the rhyme: “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”  Sometimes they could obtain pork which made the meal special.  When visitors came over, they hung up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could Man baconbring home the bacon.”  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

The wealthy often had plates and mugs of pewter.  High acid food leached lead into the food causing lead poisoning, death.  For over 400 years tomatoes were thought to be tomatopoisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family the middle, the guest got the top.  Hence, “Upper Crust.”

DEATH: In the taverns whiskey and ale were served in Pewter/lead mugs. Imbibers were often knocked out for a couple of days.  Passerbys would find them along the road, mistake them for dead and prepare them for burial.  The family would lay them out on the table for a couple of days, gather around drinking and eating waiting to see if they would wake up.  Hence, “Holding a wake.body wake

Burial ground in England became scarce.  Coffins were dug up,   the bones went to a “bone house” and the grave reused.  In one out of twenty-five graves the coffins were found to have scratch marks, evidence that people were being buried alive.  A cautionary routine was initiated.  A string was tied to the wrist of the corpse, fed through the coffin up through the soil and tied to a bell.  A person was assigned to sit in the graveyard for wake upthe night “The graveyard shift” to listen for the bell.  Someone “saved by the bell” was considered a, “Dead ringer.”

And now you know (a little bit more anyway.) Country of origin for these sayings? England.











October 2013

We rescued you ten years ago when you were five.
Rejected twice, your doubt lay open as you ran away
Not listening to our call.

Hair unkempt, no house manners, humping all legs.
Chasing birds into the bay, we caught you by boat
Swimming in water over your head.

Champagne hair matted beyond the comb, so you
Were shorn down to the skin which embarrassed
You, of course.

With time your running paused, you stopped to see
If we were there.  You would not sit upon our lap,
Haughtily, you sat on the floor and stared.

A small lion, Lhasa Apso,  the vet said, ancestor of
Regal lineage.  More cat than dog, eyes round and black,
Lower jaw thrust forward, teeth ragged in attack.

Day by day we learned to live, you with us and us with you.
You learned to come when we called.  We received your
Scolding loud and clear when left alone too long.

You rode in my bicycle basket surveying lowly dogs
Who ran beside yapping––you ignored, ears flapping.
You slept on our bed, of course.

You never begged, just made yourself “available” at
The table which was rewarded, of course.  Steak was
Your food of choice, and “Beggen Strips” if you were good.

The years slipped by, you by our side––by car or  plane.
Your ears were scratched, you pawed for more, we
Spoiled you with our love and affection.

The years dulled your play, you slept on the floor no
Longer able to jump on the bed.  We watched you fade,
A sadness played, aching in our hearts.

We scratched, more gently now, your whimper echoed as
You moved.  Now fifteen, with ripe old age our laps became
Your bed of choice, a softness whispered in our voice.

A love affair to be remembered always in our hearts.  You’ve
Gone to rest.  I put away chewed toys, give away cans of
Food left on the shelf and whimper to myself.

You will always be our love, Ziggy.







My Favorite Movie Gone With the Wind



Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Leslie Howard


                                                                                             Rhett Butler

Scarlett O”Hara…Just the name brings images to mind. I see her silhouetted against the stormy sky holding a garden root in her hand swearing, “As God is My witness, I will never be hungry again!”Gone

But then I get ahead of myself.  Why do I watch a movie made in the 30’s every chance I get?  What is it about the characters that draws my fascination?

“But Ashly, you can’t marry Melany.  You love me…I know you love me!”

“Ah, my sweet Scarlett.  Of course I love you.  I love your energy, your life…your…”  Ah, that mealy mouthed “southern gentleman” is not worth Scarlett’s adoration.  What does she possibly see in him?”Leslie Howard

And then I see Rhett sticking his head up over the couch mimicking… “Oh Ashley…you do love me…”  and the vase flying through the air, Rhett ducking just in time.

“And you, Mr. Butler, are certainly no gentleman, not showing yourself, letting a lady…”

“I may be no gentleman, but you,  Scarlett O”Hara, are certainly no lady!”



Just what was a “lady” in Scarlett’s world.  Melany?  Soft spoken, forgiving, encouraging, not a jealous imagesbone in her body.  Now that character is not real, not then and not today!  I think Margaret Mitchell went a bit overboard in creating a contrasting character to play off Scarlett.




Can you imagine Melany holding the horse in the river while the Yankees crossed the bridge over her head?



Would Ashley do everything…killing, stealing, lying to save his plantation?

When Rhett saves her from the Yankees, through fire and attack and then leaves her at the bridge with horse,  a sick Melany and baby…Yankees overhead, you will see her strength and never wonder about just how far Scarlett will go to save Tara.  Her father has told her it is the “land”.  Tara, Tara, Tara  echoes.

green dress

I love Scarlett’s  grit, her fancy green velvet dress made from the draperies from her once palatial home ravished by the war.  Her goal: to impress Rhett, (who’s in jail)  to give her the tax money to save Tara. When that failed, believe the glint in her eyes when she’s sees the lumber mill Sue Ellen’s beau has developed.  How could she???  Nice?  Never! Calculating, crafty, gorgeous.


Scarlett spends no time worrying about her soul.  When her world threatens to collapse around her,  how does she handle it?    “Oh Fiddly dee I’ll think about that tomorrow!”    Will she get Rhett back?  As his figure fades into the fog, through

her tear stained face she sighs, Scarlett  Tears     “Well, tomorrow is another day.”   Is there any doubt? Perhaps.




Black and white. Life is much more complicated.  It was suggested to me by a loved one that Melany was the stronger character.  My first impulse was to deny her conclusion–too good, too perfect.  Scarlett?  Too selfish, calculating, manipulative, so who was the most realistic character?  Rhett.  A handsome,  reprobate realistic to life’s sins and satisfactions.  Without ethics?  Perhaps, but a rogue with a heart.



Margaret Mitchell 2Was Margaret Mitchell Scarlett?  A beautiful rebel born in 1900.   She was a “writer” her entire life, worked as a journalist when  women of class just didn’t work.  Her stories were published under “Peggy” Mitchell.  When she injured her ankle and became more sedentary she began to write her  novel.  She always had trouble with “beginnings” so started her stories with the ending and worked backward.

Margaret Mitchell wrote for nine years on her book.  The manuscript was scattered throughout the house, hand written pages, some typed, some scribbled on scrap paper.  When a representative from MacMillan came in search of stories from local people, a friend casually mentioned that “Peggy” was a writer.  That comment resulted in the agent leaving town with a suitcase of Margaret’s manuscript totaling over 1000 pages.  Several days later she called and said she had changed her mind about publishing her book.  The agent refused to send it back.

Gone With the Wind, one of the first movies to be made in technicolor, was born.  The book, then the movie took over Margaret’s life.  The instant success (she’d hoped to sell 5,000 copies that first year and sold over 50,000 in one day) changed her life.   Success was a demanding task master.  Exasperated, Margaret Mitchell vowed never to write another word.   Her life was no longer her own.  She made well over $1,000,000 from the book/movie. David O. Selznick paid her $50,000 for the movie rights, highest amount he’d ever paid to an unknown author.  After the phenomenal success of the movie, Mr. Selznick felt he had underpaid her and sent her a check for another $50,000.

Margaret MitchellMs. Mitchell refused to have anything to do with the making of the movie.  Once in exasperation of the continual questioning, she retorted that she thought Groucho Marks would make a great Rhett Butler.   Margaret was philanthropic with her wealth aiding black scholars with their studies and contributing to the construction of the first black hospital in Atlanta.  Because of the political atmosphere, her donations remained anonymous.

After almost seventy-five years, Gone With the Wind remains  a technical masterpiece in music, technicolor, editing,  and, with the help of current technology, it rivals today’s newest creations. The vagaries of life.  On August 11, 1949, while crossing the street with her husband on the way to a movie,  Margaret Mitchell was hit by a car driven by a drunk taxi cab driver.  She never regained consciousness.  Five days later she died at the age of 49.

Was Margarete’s  world the real world?  Ladies and Gentlemen were not the builders of empires.  It was the Rhetts and Scarletts who picked up the pieces and rebuilt their lives.  It is the  survivors who change the world.  According to the author of perhaps the most famous, successful novel ever written, her characters had “gumption.”  Gone With the Wind is said to be the second most published book next to the Bible.

Margaret Mitchell 3     Gumption:  Initiative, get-up-and-go, moxie,  shrewdness, imagination, courage, horse sense, determination, spirit, pluck.




















Do You Believe? Life after Death

image001Do You Believe?

Death.  The final exit?  A gateway to a different existence?   Heaven/hell?  Choices.  How do we come to our beliefs?


A tragic accident.  A couple in their prime of life caught in a traffic jam, waiting.  A large truck slams into their car driving them into a truck ahead which rebounds backwards. Their car crushed from front and rear.  Instant death.  A young son recently married, future grandchildren unborn.  Fate?  We mourn.

Our relationship was not perfect.  Disagreements, times of avoidance yet there was this energy between us.  She was young enough to be my daughter, was a dynamo of energy raising funds for needy children, veterans, planning parties, cooking dinners, learning Bridge.  A world traveler from the jungles of Guatemala, France on a bike, cross country skiing in the Alps.  Made friends around the world.

He was a man of the world, An advertising giant.  A sportsman in golf, tennis…you name it.  Handsome, of course, joined her in matrimony and helped her raise a young boy from a previous union.  He retired early, became a child’s advocate and joined her on the Board of the Children’s’ Academy.  Dead?  Can’t be.

Here, and then gone.  Their friends gather.  We all look around expecting to see them in their varied activities.

“I need a sign!”  Her close friend cries, “To know you are OK.  Feathers!” We both collected feathers she explained. “It’s gotta be big for me to believe!”  The days went by.  A trip on their boat away from the happening.

“You won’t believe.”  Her awe still a whisper in disbelief.   “We docked, climbed down from the deck walking through a park area.  I stopped, caught my breath, disbelieving.  There in a large circle were feathers…lots and lots of feathers all stuck into the ground.  My husband couldn’t believe it either.”

Pink SpoonbillAnother friend.  “I’ve been looking for a pink feather from our native Spoonbills.  After two years, no luck.  Today, I found two beautiful pink feathers.”

My particular sharing with this friend was heart-shaped stones.  I would find them along the river bed or digging in the garden and would put them aside awaiting my return to our southern community to give them to her.


It was the day of her community memorial service.  A busy day, no time to take my usual stroll along the boardwalk into the community salt flats.  I hurried along the boulevard and the next thing I knew I had turned onto the boardwalk.  It was early morning, the sun filtering through the pines.  My heart slowed taking in the leaves glistening with due, the mangrove roots poking their way through the mud and then I stopped, breath paused in disbelief.  There, caught in a spider web were several long needles from the pines above…their design? A perfect heart lit by a slanting sun ray, the web heart swaying gently in the breeze.  I believe.














Life Interrupted

Were they laughing and talking?
Planning or arguing
When death snatched them from this world?

Denial echoes within me.
No! No! It cannot be.  A mistake.  We
Can not accept this deed of fate.                                                                                                                                                                This young couple gone?  Wrong!  Wrong?

Too young.  Too young, so much to do.
Children from the Academy, her shadow fading.
His brother breathing deep.  Disbelief…Life?

Don’t go!  Don’t go! I cry.
We have fences to mend, words to deny,
Hugs to be given, but…why?  Why?

Pickled beets on my shelf
Cards  unshuffled on the table.
I’ve heard Death is our shadow
The moment we’re born.

Fate is a hunter, we pause, we mourn
But give thanks for our very brief
Moment in time
When our love entwined.



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