Filling the Gap

Paul spent most days in a routine. He began by waking promptly at five in the morning. He read a chapter in his Bible then got dressed. In the kitchen he started his coffee maker and then stared out the small window while listening to the noise of the coffee perking and inviting memories to help set his day.

After eating a bowl of oatmeal with butter and honey, he tidied up the kitchen, grabbed his jacket and hat, then headed for the garage. He guided his car to the three blocks ahead, turned down the little, gravel path and shut the car off. There, he sat for however long it took to make him feel the comfort he needed.

His wife, Anna, had been buried here seven months ago this day. She had passed a way from a grueling disease. It was a long battle and they both had not won. It was a neurological disease called Multiple System Atrophy.

Prior to this disease, their map of life had been drawn by thick, dark lines. Travels to Arizona and New Mexico had been penciled in. Sights of a large cruise ship sailing along the waters was in the making.

Then, out of the blue, Anna started running into things. Her fingers began to have a tremor in them. It seemed, as Paul remembered back, that each few months, a new symptom arrived. He could remember her first fall, her first choking, the day she got weak while tending to her flowers. Everything was crystal clear now but back then it was a train traveling fast on the rails; a real blur.

“I miss you so much Anna. Life is definitely not the same. I now no longer dream of tomorrow. In fact, I tore up that map.” Paul waited, as if for a response from Anna on what he had done. Feeling nothing, he got out of  his car and stood in front of the flowers he had planted.  When the time felt right, he got back in his car and headed home.

Once home he let the noise of the television and the chimes of his clock keep him company. In the midst of this one afternoon, a knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Opening the door, he saw his friend  Gene standing before him. He let him in and they both sat down in the living room.

” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you Paul. I figured I would just come on by and pay you a visit. How are you doing my friend?”

” Oh, I’m fine you know. No new aches or pains. God let me breathe in a new day. I went down and visited Anna. I told her how much I miss her.”

“That’s exactly one of the reasons I stopped by Paul. There is this woman at church that I think could use your help.”

“Oh”, Paul said as he laughed,”I’m not interested in any sort of relationship. It just hasn’t been long enough. My mind is always on my wife, Anna.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that kind of relationship”, he said as he slapped his hand on his pants with laughter. “I mean, she is hurting. She’s got some sort of sickness. She’s been feeling all alone. She says no one understands how she feels. I figured you are a sensitive man. Maybe you could just be a good listener. This would be a good opportunity to get yourself a new friend; something to add to your day.”

Paul didn’t say anything and Gene didn’t push the topic. Instead, they turned to the weather and what the week hoped to bring. After about an hour, Gene said it was time to go. Paul walked him to the door and they patted each other on the back. “See you in church Sunday.” Paul nodded.

The days went by and Sunday arrived. Paul got his Sunday clothes on, grabbed his Bible and headed to church. He smiled and shook hands with the greeters. He spoke about nothing important to others. He headed down the aisle to his seat he sat in each Sunday. There sat his friend Gene. Beside him was his wife, Gloria and beside her was a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

She looked at him and he at her. He nodded and sat down, thumbing through the church bulletin. The choir began singing and Paul sat and thought about what was being said. He listened to the sermon which was on people helping people.

Afterwards, there was a church dinner. This church had a carry-in every couple of weeks. It was a nice time shared among all. It gave purpose to the day and week ahead. Paul found himself sitting between this lady in the wheelchair, Gloria and Gene sitting on the opposite side of the table.

Talk was light. Smiles were shared. Gene introduced the stranger. Star was her name. Paul found himself watching her as she ate. She dropped food at times. It looked like she was struggling a little with swallowing. He wondered what condition she had that made her do that. It threw him back to his memories of when his dear wife did that too.

After the dinner was done, people either helped clean-up or headed out the church doors. For a brief time, Paul and Star were the only ones left sitting at the table. They exchanged words that would not be remembered later.  Soon the silence could be heard. Everyone had left. Gene and Gloria got their coats on and the two helped Star with her coat on. They helped her to their car and Paul followed, watching them help get Star situated.

Weeks turned into months and it seemed every Sunday a new routine had been formed. Paul sat with Star and the two opened up more and in time they became good friends. Paul would share his memories of his wife and Star would share about her life and medical condition.

One Sunday, Paul had been invited over to Gene and Gloria’s house for dinner. When he arrived and being let in; he noticed immediately that Star had been invited also. Paul didn’t get upset. Instead, he found himself sitting next to her on the couch. The two chatted while dinner was being finished. In face, the two chatted so much, Gene couldn’t help but smile to himself, knowing he had made a good decision on introducing the two.

The following Monday, after Paul returned from his visit to see his wife, the phone was ringing as he walked through the door. He answered it to learn that Star had fallen and was in the hospital.

He felt a tug at his heart that he didn’t expect to feel. He thanked the caller and went about fixing himself his lunch. This consisted of some left-over baked chicken and a half of a baked potato he hadn’t eaten before.

He tidied up and decided to go to the hospital to see Star. He learned she had fallen out of her wheelchair while trying to reach for something and this fall had caused a broken hip. After the completion of the ER, Star was transferred to a room upstairs for a few days of observation and to make sure she was healing properly.

After that time went by, she was transferred to a local nursing home for rehabilitation. Paul learned she would be their approximately six weeks. Now, after his usual routine of daily living, he also added the daily visits to see Star.

He brought her little trinkets that sometimes included her favorite candy, or a new book to read. He stayed most days until the supper hour. He found himself wishing he didn’t have to leave. Star felt the same way. She couldn’t hide the fact  from herself that Paul brought her friendship which included a feeling of peace and a lingering to have the next day’s visit arrive.

There seemed to be a lighter step in Paul’s life. He told himself over and over he didn’t love Star. He could love no other woman except his Anna, but yet, this new friend, stirred something within him.

After a couple of weeks went by, Paul made his usual visit. He entered the empty room. Where was Star, he wondered. He walked out to the nurse’s station to learn that Star had been having a temperature and her lungs seemed congested. They had her transferred to the hospital for further investigation. Paul thanked the nurse for the information.

He took the one rose he had brought with him and laid it gently on the pillow of the made bed of Stars. He left the building and headed for the hospital. When he entered, he asked what room number she was in. The receptionist told him and he took the elevators to the fourth floor.

There was Star. She was laying in a bed. IV’s were hooked up to  her. He saw two of them. A monitor was keeping track of her blood pressure and heart rate. Star wasn’t talking. She was so quiet it scared Paul.

A nurse came in and checked on Star. She smiled at Paul but said nothing. Paul pulled up a chair close to Star. He watched her sleeping. His thoughts turned to prayers to the almighty God. He felt a tear drip on his folded hands. He knew in his heart that he had come to know and love this woman.

He started whispering to Star. He told her how he felt about her. ” I don’t know when it happened dear Star, but some where along the way, I grew feelings for you. I hope you can hear me. I just have to tell you this because I want to know if you feel anything for me other than friendship.”

He held her hand but nothing came out of her mouth. He sat there for hours, waiting for her to open her eyes. Suddenly her eyes twitched and she opened them. She looked at him but said nothing. Instead, she squeezed his hand. He took this as she was answering his question, that yes, she felt something for  him too.

Paul squeezed her hand back and then kissed her hand. He beamed and the two shared an emotion that would never be felt again. Paul finally decided he had to leave. His watch told him it was time for supper. He leaned in and kissed her forehead and whispered that he would be back the next day. Star closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Paul stopped at a small restaurant that served home-cooking. He ordered the special, meatloaf dinner. In this was a thick piece of meatloaf which included mashed potatoes and green beans. It was way too much food and he requested a take-home box for the leftovers.

When he arrived home, he turned the television on. He tuned in to some game show. He listened to it but kept thinking about what would Anna be thinking about Star. He fell asleep and was woken to the sound of the phone.

“Paul, I’m going to stop by in a few minutes. Get your coat and hat and be ready to go. There’s been a change at the hospital with Star. You and I are going to go visit her.” Paul hung up and got ready.

In no time at all they went through the double doors of the hospital and were standing in the doorway of Star’s room. Two nurses were in there. They saw Paul and Gene and hung their heads in silence. They took the white sheet and covered Star’s body then walked up to her friends and patted them on the back. “I’m sorry gentlemen. She just couldn’t fight it anymore. The infection in her lungs just got too big.” The nurses gave them a hug and walked out of the room.

Paul and Gene walked over to the bed. Paul reached down and felt Star’s hand through the sheet. He held it until Gene whispered ,”It’s time to go I think.” Paul let go of her hand and kissed his palm and transferred it to  her forehead. The two turned and left in silence, Gene’s arm around Paul’s shoulder, patting him, like everything is going to be okay.


Will everything be okay? Is death something that we can heal from?

Is it possible to love twice in a life time? 

Life sure doesn’t seem fair at times does it?

God placed us on this earth to learn and feel love towards others. For those of us who have experienced these feelings, we somehow manage to go on with our lives, but the void left behind never fully closes.

This story was written by;

Terry Shepherd


The Familiar Place

Last evening it was quiet. I did some of the things I wanted to get working on and then I went downstairs. The poem I just wrote is about what I thought and saw.



The Christmas lights glowed

Reflected on her tears

I felt the storm

Of thundering memories.


We aren’t really that close

I didn’t know what to say

I looked around for others

Not a shadow of a face.


I felt the tug in my heart

Requesting me to stay

I pulled my walker close

Locked my brakes and sat down.


Words flowed easily

From my mouth

I explained I felt her feelings

As I was living mine.


We shared so easily

Memories of our families

The empty seats at dinner

The place we live in now.


We spent about an hour

Like friends for ever more

We ended with some laughter

We then both went our own ways.


Written by,

Terry Shepherd



Where the Mind Goes, Should the Heart Follow

A story is told about a friend of yours. A friend who has a long-standing relationship with flaws. Good times, bad times and still there is good somewhere to have still retained the friendship power.
The story sounds enticing. The human listens, ponders, thinks back to times when life was on the flip-side. Comparison begins and forms a sticky feeling of questions forming in the brain.
Could this be true. Did I miss something. Was I blind sighted. What have other people said about this person. Look at those questions flying in your head.
You suddenly feel queasy. You wonder if you have played the major role of the fool. A tennis game of back and forth, over the net, under the net.
You finally shake yourself. You tell yourself there is no fact. These are words. Ugly words, yes, but words. Show me the proof.
There is no proof to be shown. You decide to move forward. You have weighed the pros and cons. You know the outside and in.
Words, gossip spreading; isn’t this the best damn way to split up a relationship of any kind?
Think first; react last. Have the proof before you lose something precious.
Written by my feelings,
Terry Shepherd

Daily Prompt/ One Word Prompt


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


A Genie in a bottle. The first thoughts that come into play in my mind are Multiple System Atrophy patients, caregivers, families and myself. I personally felt, like a Genie in a bottle.

One illness, five little words, one doctor’s appointment can change everything from that day on. Watching little changes become bigger changes isn’t fun. Helping with falls, recreating meal preparations, setting appointments with various doctors, rearranging rooms, taking out furniture to make room for new furniture, interviewing caregivers, looking at any programs that may help off set expenses. This is truly a Genie kind of life.

Why do I say that? Simple, very few professionals have ever heard of this disease, which makes it difficult to get the help you need. There are improvements on literature, so your power becomes stronger with reading.

Getting insurance companies to understand this is a disease that needs to be covered is a task within itself.  I felt like the Genie in the bottle. I tried and tried, but the top of my bottle just wouldn’t pop off.

What is the best thing you can do if you need help but can’t find any? Join Facebook groups for Multiple System Atrophy. There are several.

This is one of the newest groups I created. A place to feel comfortable enough to speak your mind in private.


This is one of my older groups where you come to visit, be inspired and meet other families and patients.


This is a group for caregivers. It is an awesome group to find strength and answers in others who are going down the same path as you.


This is a group formed to learn more about Multiple System Atrophy.



This is a group that I love. I found so much support here while my brother was still living. My friends from this group are still my friends today. A wonderful place to congregate.


As you know by now, my birthday is this coming Saturday. I need still two hundred dollars to meet my goal. I am requesting a $1- any amount from you, my friends to help me reach my goal of $500.00. Can you help?


I wish this terrible, nasty, roller coaster ride of a disease on not even my worst enemy. Not only will it change your life forever; there will be times when you feel like that Genie in a Bottle.







The Answer Is?

Where I live, there are 82 apartments. We actually reside on the ground that was once my old Freshman High. In fact, I am going to my 45th class reunion August 19th, which is coming up fairly soon.

When you have a building this size, with 82 different personalities, along with Senior Citizens and Disabled adults, the management can have their hands full. Seniors try as hard as anyone else to clean-up after themselves, remember all appointments, and love to gather around and talk.

We have one room on the main floor that is called the Community room. This is where we are supposed to gather for cards, social gatherings etc. I have resided here for six months now and the room has been opened less times than fingers on my one hand.

There has been bickering, gossiping and complaining to anyone who will hear. We are allowed to have the community room open from 8am to 5pm Mon-Fri. There is a coffee time in the mornings, along with lunch, or maybe a volunteer will come in and we have the opportunity to exercise or play games.

The problem is that when you are older, sleep is less at night, more through the day. There are doctor appointments of all kind. There is always concerns about where to go to get food, so the days are pretty well filled up.

When 5pm comes and goes, all goes quiet. People fix their supper and then there is nothing to do. For the first week I lived here, the Community room was open 24/7. People, including myself want to be able to return to this room, to socialize, play cards. I know I enjoyed playing the piano.

The manager finally responded and said that there were a few times that the room was left a little untidy. There was a time that leftover food had remained in the refrigerator too long.

I can understand their concerns, but I also understand we are talking about a special type of people, seniors and disabled adults. We all try hard, I believe, to keep everything in tact, but the emotional concerns is what is bothering me, including myself.

We spend a lot of time alone as Seniors. It gets old, and we can get depressed and lonely when we have nothing to in the  evenings. I don’t know how to fix the problem. I know it has been a hot conversation for months.

I suggested a team of clean-up people for all activities, but don’t know how that is going to be handled. I just know that we don’t have much  money for driving our cars, for those of us who still drive, and we need the group support of our neighbors within this building, to help us survive each day. We don’t go to  movies, or to bars, or sightseeing because of lack of funds.

I feel sorry for those who are in wheelchairs and can do less than me. My heart breaks at the sad faces. It bothers me because I feel so helpless when I hear words, “I’m so bored. I can’t wait until I die.”

I wish I knew how to fix this. God bless our Senior Citizens, my neighbors here in Warsaw, Indiana. I will try as hard as I can to get our lives back on track for our own sanity and peace of mind.

There is no better medicine than a genuine smile and a good belly laugh.



Our Babies, We Loved You So Much

Hello friends. Do you have a topic that you have interest in, that you would like to see in a poem or short story vision?
I am looking for new ideas to write about. Please take note that what I write will be made public to the world. I also will credit your name for idea creation.
Silver Blatt ;Another proud parent Relationship between a parent and adult child. Love, companionship, friendship. When that Parent looks back and doesn’t realize when that relationship changed, yet as all parents know, they are always our babies.
Growing up in a rural area is a good thing if you want to have a good chance of raising kids who appreciate our earth, but for some kids, this isn’t so cool.
This is what happened to Jill and Jason, a set of twins.
As kids; they were taught how to milk a cow, hoe the weeds, clean their rooms and not sass their elders. Life seemed good all around until the twins reached their teen years.
High school introduced Jill and her brother to different cultures.Their lives seemed so much more fun than what they were used to.
The twins parents noticed the changes immediately. Attitudes changed. The parents heard some words they had not heard before. They tried getting their children involved more with church; but the kids bucked at the idea.
Many a night, if you were a fly on the wall, you could see the tears flowing and hear the words being prayed. This set of parents wanted children so bad. They were never fortunate enough to have their own; so they sought out adoption, and that is how Jason and Jill came to live with the Owens family.
It was the twins 18th birthday. Mr. and Mrs. Owens had planned a small party of intimate friends and close family. Mom made the cake and together, mom and dad, had colorful envelopes filled with cash birthday gifts.
The party was at 3:00. The clock ticked at 2 and the twins has still not arrived home for their own party. 3 o’clock arrived and went. People were beginning to whisper. Some looked at their watches and wondered if they should leave or stay.
It was almost 4 p.m. when the knock came at the front door. Mr. Owens opened it to see a tall, thin man dressed in a navy blue uniform. On his shirt was a shiny, gold badge, which read police.
He let the cop in and everyone became quiet. All were staring at the officer.” Could we talk in the kitchen, Mr. and Mrs. Owens?”
The two showed him to a chair at the table. The officer took Mrs. Owens hands in his. “I’m sorry to have to come here on business; but I need to inform you that there was a terrible accident on Route 33. Your son and daughter were killed instantly.”
You could hear a pin drop. Not a word was said. The officer took back his hand and showed himself to the door after asking if he could be of any help. The two shook their heads.
The funeral was planned. Visitation was open. Flowers were delivered. The cars followed one another to the grave site. Everyone softly chatted at the funeral dinner. The rooms emptied. The silence was astounding.
Two weeks later, the parents went to their children’s grave site. So many flowers still sat, but wilting. Dad put his arm around his wife. The two wept. They looked at the tombstone which had been already placed.
It read; Our Babies, We Loved You So Much.
Written by,
Terry Shepherd
Silver Blatt
Photo taken by,
Terry Shepherd
art 2



Did you know tomorrow isn’t here?
That many of us count on it?
We forget about today
We chat and drink a beer.

We tend to put off important things
We tell ourselves; hey, later!
I swear I learned this lesson too
You don’t know what tomorrow brings.

Have you told someone you love her/him?
Did you say I’m sorry that I yelled
Do you really think you control tomorrow?
Please say I’m sorry and forgive me of my sins.

Don’t leave anything undone
Take care of all you can
Show heart and even kindness
Cuz tomorrow may not come.

Written by,
Terry Shepherd



You once loved me
Held me in highest regard
Had eyes for only me
To look away, was very hard.
You started coming home late
A new reason every week
Your hands, they became so cold
Our love, it seemed so bleak.
You were caught in the act
I saw your form, I knew so well
Kissing her on the mouth
My heart; it broke and fell.
You still looked at me and said
I love you babe, my friend
I slapped you across the face
And said this game will end.
You looked down at the floor
You knew you had been caught
You turned and walked away
Yet you didn’t seem distraught.
You sat in the court room bold
You couldn’t see eye to eye
You tried to get it all
But the judge, he said goodbye.
I walked into our house
With keys and money too
When you cheat on me my darling
You will give all that’s due.
Written by,
Terry Shepherd


He was walking on the beach. He had been walking this route ever since his wife passed away two years ago. He had sunk to an all-time low when he laid her to rest. He found he had to force himself out of bed each morning.

He couldn’t think of Ellen without a pool of tears. His appetite had disappeared and he didn’t want to eat anymore. Life became a burden. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to live.

One morning when he was putting on his shoes and socks a pain so sharp ran down his arm. He grabbed his chest and knew in an instant he was having a heart attack. He managed to reach the cordless phone and push 911. He didn’t remember anything after that.

The heart doctor had saved him but insisted he get some exercise into his routine. He told him he understood about his wife and how he was feeling. He explained that Ellen would not want him to live this way.

It was the next day that he kissed his beloved’s photo on his night stand. He finished breakfast and put on his jacket and headed out the door. He decided he didn’t want Ellen to be seeing him this way, so he would start that walk.

He chose the beach because Ellen loved the water. The two had taken many walks  along his path. He remember placing her hand in his, and the smile she would give him, letting him realize how much the two of them loved each other.

He didn’t take too much notice to what was going on around him during his walks. He was doing it for his wife and doctor. Today, was different though. He stopped about half-way down the beach and gazed out over the water.

Sparkles seemed to bounce off the gentle waves. The sun seemed to be reaching down through the waters and lifting diamonds from the bottom of the floor. He stood there wondering how his wife liked heaven, when he heard the voice.

He looked around him. He stared deep into the water. No one was around, but yet he heard the voice once more. It was Ellen’s voice. Shivers went down his arms as he knew in reality she was not there. This was a game of the imagination.

Soon the voice was no more and he made himself walk back to the house. He made himself a cup of coffee and then went to the wrap-a-round porch and sat in the porch swing. He took a sip and closing his eyes, he relived the times he and his wife had danced a waltz on this porch, or had sat in the swing together, talking the evening away.

A tear and then another began to fall. He missed her so much. Life would never be the same. It sometimes felt like half  of his heart had been ripped out of his chest. He opened his eyes and listened to the sounds of birds. Sometimes a passing car would go by and honk. He would motion a wave. He finished his coffee and went back inside to pass the rest of the day away.

Each day, at the same time, he took his walk. Each day he heard the voice, but saw no one. Each day, he seemed to miss her more. He wondered if he  would ever be able to get on with his life.

It was on a Friday. He hated Fridays because the weekend followed. He would get groceries alone, go to church alone. He was at the beach. It was a little crisp this day. An overnight rain had happened, leaving the beach with less people.

He stopped and waited to hear the voice, when the winds picked up. He looked out over the water and saw what could be thought of as a very small whirlpool. The waters stirred. The winds were picking the water up and forming it into some  familiar shape.

The diamonds scattered throughout and then seemed to follow a funnel pattern. He watched with amazement as the diamond cluster came closer to where he stood. He should leave. He should go to safety; but something held him in his place.

As the cluster came closer, he raised his hands and held them out to the ocean, as if to capture the voice he was expecting to hear. The sun sparked a brightness that caused him to have to shade his eyes with one hand.

He still held the other out to the mysteries resting upon the waves. He felt a tingle in his fingers and it exploded into his palm. He drew his hand back towards him and he fell to the sand. He lowered his hand that had been shielding his eyes and he cuddled the form in his hands as if he was holding a newborn for the very first time.

The brightness left, leaving a glow of red hues in his palm. It seemed like minutes that he rocked back and forth. The glow simmered then exhausted itself; leaving a tiny note lying in his hand.

He ever so carefully unfolded the piece of paper. He stared at the writing and then his lips formed the words, I love you too darling. I can’t wait to see and be with you again.

The note said,

I watch you my darling

I see you each day in my view

I may not walk this path anymore

But know this; I still love you.



me today 3