#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 10, Maura Beth Brennan @maurabeth2014 #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

Today, I welcome a new RWISA member, Maura Beth Brennan to my blog.

MEMORIES OF MOM

By Maura Beth Brennan

I miss my Mom’s quirks. Her superstitions, for instance.

“Don’t you dare put your shoes on that table,” she would say. She wasn’t talking about putting shoe-clad feet on the coffee table. She didn’t want anyone putting a shoebox containing new shoes on a table—any table. Such an action could have dire consequences. That box must be placed on the floor. Period.

No one in our house would have dared leave a wet umbrella open to dry inside the house. That would have, according to Mom, invited disaster. And if you left the house by the front door, you had better return that way. If not, who knew what tragedy might befall you?

Now, when I walk my dog through the woods and take a shortcut home, I double around the house to reenter through the same door. I can still hear her voice, warning me. I leave that dripping umbrella on the porch. I place that shoebox on the floor. Because my mother—she’s a deep, tenacious part of me.

I miss so many things about her—her funny remarks, her kindnesses, her soft voice. I say things to my daughter and think, there is my mother talking. She blurted the funniest things sometimes, and Dad, my brothers, and I sometimes teased her about it. One source of our amusement was her habit of mixing up common clichés. “Sit down, let’s chew the breeze,” my mom would say. Or, “It’s six of one, a dozen of the other.” When we’d laugh, she’d look confused until she realized what she had said. Then, she’d laugh along. She was the inspiration for the mother in two of my short stories, where the mother’s sayings always came out wrong.

I miss having Mom to lean on. One difficult year, I had to take a leave of absence from work. A new house, a demanding job, a young daughter, night school to earn a degree—it was suddenly all too much for me, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying. One morning, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a knock at my door. There was Mom, smiling, bearing homemade muffins for us to share. She settled me at the kitchen table. “Now, don’t you cry anymore,” she said. “It will all work out.” She made me a cup of tea and brought it to me. “This is nice,” she said. “Isn’t it? Just us girls.”

What I would give to have a cup of tea with her now. To let her know how much that meant to me.

Mom was a shy and quiet woman, but she had courage and a steely spine when it came to her family. Her courage showed when, during World War II, she packed a suitcase and took her baby daughter (me) three-thousand miles across the country, by train and bus, to be with my father while he was stationed on the west coast. She stayed there, making a home for us until the war was over.

She showed that courage when she won her first battle with cancer. She never told either of my recently married brothers how ill she was, not wanting to worry them. She told them she had “a little procedure.” When her health returned, it was as if it never happened. She never spoke of it.

But cancer struck again, a different one this time, more deadly.

And this is the memory that breaks my heart. She was in the hospital after exploratory surgery and a terrible prognosis. I went to visit, pulling my chair close to her bed to hear her quiet voice. Her eyes stretched wide and she grasped my hand in hers. 

“I’m so scared,” she said.

She died nine months later. That January, the doctors had “given” her three months to live. But she was determined to live until her fortieth wedding anniversary on September 20th.

The afternoon she died, my father, my brothers and I were gathered around her bedside. She asked my father, “Bud, is today our anniversary?” She was suffering and my father couldn’t bear to watch it go on. It was September 19th, a day too early.

He pulled her close and embraced her for the last time. He knew what he had to do.

“Yes, sweetheart,” he said. “It is.”

Please take a moment to visit Maura Beth’s RWISA Author Page and take a look at her work!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 9, Heather Kindt @HMKINDT #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

RWISA Author, Heather Kindt joins me here today to share her post for the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! I hope you enjoy!

LOSING MOM

By: Heather Kindt

Have you ever lost someone? The pain is unimaginable, ripping through you like an express train. But what if you lost that person again and again? The agony of the loss knocks you off your feet until you’re numb. That’s what it’s like when you lose someone to dementia.

My mom was my best friend.

She was my shoulder to cry on, and I told her everything. On summer mornings, she’d lie in bed thinking, so I’d hop in next to her and we’d talk about everything or nothing at all. She was there to hold me when I lost my first love and to celebrate with me when I found my last. We spent an entire summer planning my wedding and finding ways to keep the costs within my measly teacher salary. Rummaging through bargain bins at the Christmas Tree Shop, we found the perfect, gold-trimmed ribbon to don the pews at the church.

After I was married, I moved to Colorado and being two thousand miles apart put a dent in both of our souls. But, she was there when my babies were born, helping me figure out the tasks of new mother for the few weeks she was able to be away from home. She was always there, even if it had to be over the telephone wires.

Until she wasn’t.

It started off slowly—spoiled milk in the refrigerator, aluminum foil in the microwave, and accusing my uncle of leaving tiny, recording devices under her couch. She’s getting forgetful with age…paranoid. That’s what I told myself.

But then things weren’t so small. When my mom and dad finally moved to Colorado, she and my brother took separate cars to church one night. Matt followed my mom back to their house but instead of turning down their road, my mom went straight. I received the phone call from Matt frantic, explaining the situation.

“Why didn’t you follow her?” I thought it was a reasonable question.

“I don’t know?”

I lived an hour and a half away, and it was eight o’clock at night. Pulling on my coat, I waited by the phone. There was no way I’d be able to find my mom in a city at night, though I’d search all night if I had to. Before leaving out the door, I called Matt one last time. Why wasn’t he searching?

A pair of headlights turned up our driveway. Impossible. We lived in a housing development in the country littered with dirt roads and deer. I rushed down the stairs to greet my mother. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her whole body shook as she melted into my arms.

“He left me,” she sobbed. “I found a road that I recognized that went to your house, and I kept going.”

I wrapped her in a blanket and lay next to her on the bed in the spare room, her body heaving as she fell asleep.

As time went on, the incidents became more frequent. My parents moved back to New Hampshire because Dad couldn’t handle the altitude. My sister insisted they live in a retirement community. My mom didn’t like the price tag, so six months later she found an apartment in the town I grew up in. I was their telephone caregiver, calling every day on my way to work.

That summer when we visited, it was becoming more and more apparent that Mom couldn’t care for Dad, who was eighteen years her senior. He fell a couple of times, and she called the ambulance because she couldn’t lift him. Being there, I learned it was because he was malnourished and dehydrated. A local independent living facility provided them with at least two meals a day, and they could make friends. It worked for a while. Mom accused the maids of stealing her things, but it was her paranoia setting in again.

But then Dad got sick.

My mom insisted on coming to live with us. It was always how I imagined things would be. When Dad passed away, Mom would come live with us and help me with my children. But Dad wasn’t gone yet.

She insisted.

We moved her out to Colorado, and she lived with us. Frequent plane trips to New Hampshire drained my bank account. She missed him and in less than a year she wanted to move back. Things were different now. We hid her car keys, we arranged for her to go to a local senior center while we were at work, and she became severely combative.

For three years, my mother lived with us as I lost her day after day. At times, it felt like she ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I lashed out at her in my own frustration one day when she helped me clean out a closet. I missed our conversations, our comradeship and the love we’d always shared. It was as if someone reached down to Earth, snatched my mother and replaced her with a stranger. After three years, my husband and I made the decision to place her in a nursing home on a memory care unit.

I lost her again.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I had to do it for her safety. Mom would get angry with me for no reason at all and storm out of the house. My husband followed her in the car until he could coax her inside. Her leaving also saved our marriage. The strain and stress it put on us those three years isn’t something I would want anyone to go through.

Have you ever lost someone? I lose my mom everyday, but it’s not as painful now. When you lose someone to dementia, at least for me, it’s like you’re going through the pain of losing someone suddenly again and again over many years. At some point, the pain numbs because it has to, or the stress will eat you alive. I love my mother, but the disease has stolen precious years of her life. It’s in the small glimmers of her spirit—a smile, an mischievous eye aimed at my husband, a hug from recognition—that I find hope that someday we can be together fully again.

Please take a moment to visit Heather Kindt’s RWISA Author Page!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 7, Wendy Scott @WendyJayneScott #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

It’s Wendy Scott’s turn to share her amazing writing with us, and I relinquish my blog site to her with great pleasure!

FOLLOW THE LEADER by Wendy Scott

Darkness swallowed dormitory B49. The lights had been extinguished an hour before at 8 pm. Stevie listened for the rhythmic breathing from the cots, aligned with military precision, one metre apart. Twenty beds, divided into two rows, sat on opposite sides of a red painted aisle. Identical grey bedding topped each hard mattress. The sheets were starched so stiff they were difficult to tuck under the corners, and the pillow was as unyielding as set concrete, but its worst feature was the coarseness of the blanket’s weave that threatened splinters.

Controlling his breathing into an even flow, he opened his thoughts to the ones forbidden by the masters. Silently, he recited his litany of self, as he had every night for the past five years.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Tears gathered, but he was careful not to snuffle aloud. The cameras and microphones embedded in the walls monitored any transgressions every minute of every day.

Further, up the row, bed springs creaked as B49-3 tossed in his sleep, deep in the throes of another recurring nightmare. The silence shattered. His roommate screeched into the blackness, “Mama!”

Heart palpitating, Stevie squeezed his eyes closed, stilled his body, and faked sleep. Moments later, boots thundered into the dormitory, followed by scuffling sounds as the offending boy was dragged out his bed and marched away. The doors crashed shut, muffling the boy’s protests. Stevie had witnessed numerous night raids, so he knew to remain frozen.

A torch button snapped on, then measured boot steps resonated on the wooden floor boards. Three paces. A pause. Stevie imagined the torchlight scanning over the statue-like faces. A few paces at a time the master inspected the dormitory until he halted by Stevie’s cot. The smell of leather polish ripened the air. Stevie focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. No twitches. Feigning sleep. Early into his captivity he’d learned the harsh consequences of non-conformity.

Finally, the boots trod away. Before he exited the master intoned, “The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Clad in identical uniforms, the boys from B49 trooped into the instruction room, their orderly line pausing as each boy bowed before saluting the oversized portrait of the Leader. A shadow of crew cut hair, a creased forehead, lips thinned into a disapproving line, and demon eyes bored out of the frame as if tracking each boy’s movements. The identical image dominated the boys’ access zones: the dormitory, the canteen, the corridors, and the ablution’s block. The Leader’s face had become more familiar than Stevie’s own. It had been five years since he’d seen his reflection in a mirror.

Without a murmur the boys filed to their designated desk and stood beside their seat. Stevie glanced at the empty space allotted to B49-3. A sickly sensation puckered in his stomach but it wasn’t due to the beige mash the servers had dished up for breakfast. Years ago, his taste buds had withered away as he learned to chew the gluey texture for its sustenance value. Refusal to eat resulted in ejection, and reassignment to the intensive reprogramming wing. For boys who cried out in the night, the punishment was the same. None ever returned, and within days a different boy would be slotted into their place, and assigned their numerical identification. The Leader’s message clearly delivered. They were expendable cogs in the Leader’s war machine, merely insignificant numbers. Individuals didn’t exist.

Head straight, eyes forward, Stevie snapped to attention as the master strode into the room. “Be seated.”

Chairs scraped across the floor boards in synchronised motion. The master’s laser gaze scanned above the boys’ heads. “It seems a reminder is necessary. Our lesson will focus on our basic principles until the Leader is satisfied that B49 understands their function.”

Lies. Propaganda. Brain-washing. A turmoil of thoughts swirled through Stevie’s brain, but he kept his expression bland and his body language submissive.

Do. Not. Attract. Attention.

The master picked up a cane and whacked it against a board, directing the group’s focus to the three sentences printed in regulation white chalk.

“Recite together.” He traced the written words with the tip of his cane.

Obedience—Leader knows best.

Conformity—Leader made everyone equal.

Conception—Leader created each of us for his divine purpose.

The taps acted as a metronome commanding repetition until their voices sounded like they’d gargled gravel.

“Halt.” The master consulted the clock on the back wall. “Proceed outside for drill instruction. Convene back here in one hour. The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Under the direction of another master, the boys marched around the quadrangle in orderly lines under an overcast sky. Beneath his cap, Stevie swept his gaze around his surroundings. Windowless concrete high-risers towered around the compound, each one housing identical dormitories. Electrified barbed wire fences and fortified watchtowers incarcerated the thousands of boys within the indoctrination camp. Overhead, a drone buzzed, surveying the sea of uniforms for any sign of non-conformity.

A mine field separated a squat building from the rest of the compound. It accommodated the reprogramming centre. The only entrance was via a rusty metal door. Stevie’s nostrils twitched, the air tainted by the black smoke belching out of the stack of soot-stained chimneys on its roof. The air stunk like burnt barbecued ribs. The boys’ route included parading past the centre’s outside gallows platform. Relief flooded Stevie when he spied the empty nooses. A brief respite as today, they wouldn’t be forced to stop and stand to attention, witnessing the distorted faces of those who broke the Leader’s rules.

For years, he’d shared a room with B49-3. They’d eaten, washed, and marched to the same regimented routine day-in and day-out. He shuddered to think of what the other boy was suffering inside the bowels of the centre. Trained sadists, the masters displayed no capacity for compassion.

Behind him, a voice whispered, “His name is Tom.”

Heart thumping, Stevie’s foot fumbled the next step. He didn’t dare turn his head and acknowledge B49-18’s forbidden comment.

From the front of the line the master roared. “Keep in time.” The cane whacked on the concrete. “Left, right, left.”

The path turned sharply by the outer fence. A flash of purple and yellow caught Stevie’s attention. A lone pansy grew between the cracks in the pavement. He risked peeking at the master before stooping down and plucking up the flower. Careful not to crush its petals he tucked his stolen prize up his jacket sleeve. A tidal wave of adrenaline coursed through his veins; he hardly believed he had dared to jeopardize his life for a pansy.

No outcry ensued and he concentrated on keeping the rhythm. Sometimes the authorities planted informants among the dormitories. Boys who traded secrets for extra rations. He could not afford to slacken his guard.

***

The clock hand ticked over to 8 pm, and the dormitory plunged into darkness. Stevie waited ages before rolling onto his stomach. He extracted the flower from his pillow case and brushed the petals across his nose. The floral bouquet reminded him of the tubs of pansies his mom had grown on their porch. After gardening, the pansy fragrance lingered on her skin.

Memories cascaded like a broken dam. Blowing candles out on a chocolate frosted banana cake. Giggling with his younger sister as their dad spun them around in circles on the back lawn. Wet kisses from his puppy, Sparky. Rainbow lights flashing on the Christmas tree. His mom reading him a bedtime story before pressing a goodnight kiss on his forehead. “Sweat dreams, son.”

He smothered a sigh with the pillow. Silently, he recited the words that kept him sane.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Stevie swallowed the flower, destroying the incriminating evidence. He added to his mantra. “The Leader watches us, but I’m watching back. In my heart, I will never follow the Leader.”

Please take a moment to visit Wendy’s RWISA Author Page!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 6, Joy Nwuso Lo-Bamijoko @jinlobify #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

Today, I welcome Joy Nsuwo Lo-Bamijoko to my blog to share her RWISA RISE-UP Contribution!

WATCH AND PRAY

Indeed, these are difficult times. A time for soul-searching. A time to take notice of just how fragile we humans are, and, a time to look to God for solutions.

There is a plague ravaging the whole world, and what are we doing? We are running helter-skelter, trying one remedy after another by trial and error. Each day we are thrown deeper into a pile of confusion with all the false and misleading information we are being given. And still, there is no solution in sight.

We are a people who have built huge cities, shuttled to the Moon, and created structures mightier than our imaginations.  We have accomplished so much greatness, that now we have begun to believe that we are gods – that we have all the answers and solutions to everything. The human looks around and sees the great things God has given him … the knowledge and skills to achieve, and now, he believes he can challenge God. Because of these reckless beliefs, man goes into laboratories to play God – looking for ways to surpass God’s greatness.

The result is what we are experiencing today. God created order; man creates dis-order. God sits and watches us, like He did with us during the time of the Tower of Babel, with man trying to prove that we are gods. With His little finger, He muddled the waters to show us that only He is God, and He is the only one in control. Now, we have gone ahead and messed up the order of things again, and He continues to watch us. What amusement it must be for Him to see us wreaking havoc in the world, and then trying to clean it up without much success. 

I don’t believe that God will allow the whole human race to perish because of this. Those who believe in Him are praying, and those who do not, are still clueless. Eventually, God will relent, and again, with His little finger, redirect things in His own good time. He will inspire a human to come up with a solution to end the pandemic; a human who will probably take the credit for doing so. It will not matter at all. God knows His creatures more than we know ourselves. He will understand. Those who know the ways of God will thank Him for the end of the pandemic because they will be able to see the hand of God at work in it.

Will the end of this pandemic stop the non-believers from trying to one-up God?  Never! That is not the nature of the evil one. He never stops trying to prove to his followers that he is more powerful than God – that whatever God can do, he can do better.

All I know and pray for is that whoever inflicted this pandemic on the world is going to be in great trouble at the end of it all. They will pay! This will come back to haunt them, person per person, death per death, economy per economy, for all they have done. So, help me God!

Please take a moment to visit Joy’s RWISA Author Page!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 2, D.L. Finn @dlfinnauthor #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

Welcome to our 2nd RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR!

It is my pleasure today to share my blog space with an author who always goes above and beyond to support others, D.L. Finn.

D. L. Finn’s Poetry

MISTY MOUNTAIN MOMENT

It flows quietly on a breeze

Covering the landscape in its presence.

The world simplifies at that moment

While the mountain mist intensifies.

Its threatening chill keeps us indoors

Watching…

Waiting…

Worrying…

How long will it eliminate color from our world?

Yet, we’re securely tucked away inside.

We have a full stomach.

A place to sleep… others don’t.

Some live outside in this mountain mist

Trying to survive.

We offer what we can… from a safe distance.

As we head back to our protected lives

Suddenly, we get a glimpse past the monochrome.

Then we remember that a dreary gray mountain moment

Does not subdue the light that shines within all of us.

GONE

Gone is my freedom as I shelter at home.

Gone is abundant supplies; I must get in line to shop.

Gone are family gatherings, events, and appointments.

Gone is the income from those deemed non-essential.

Gone is the guarantee they will be helped.

This is all replaced by a new world.

Where procuring toilet paper is a reason to celebrate.

Where putting my wants over someone’s safety is a priority.

Where people risk their lives to save others.

Where people do without, perhaps for the first time.

Where learning how to make what used to be available.

Yes, so much has changed and is gone—for now.

My hope is this new insight and caring…

Stays long after everything that is gone, returns

And things go back to a new compassionate normal.

STORM

A storm tore through our world unseen

But we felt its presence as hospitals filled.

We tried to wash it off and hide from it

Yet, it kept coming.

Finally, we headed into the storm shelter

Only venturing out for food…

Unless we were needed to fight this storm.

So many heroes raced into the chaos

Sadly, some did not make it back home.

While the rest of us waited in our safety

Grateful for what we had

Worried for what we did not.

Here we wait for that sunny day

When the storm fades away,

And we return to normal again

Armed with a new understanding…

Of how fragile our existence is.

Something the wise won’t ever forget.

For more about this RWISA author, visit her Author Page here: https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meetthe-authors/author-d-l-finn/

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA“RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!