Fallen Heros


A day so gray

Filled with

Gloom

Raindrops

Falling on

My head

As I kneel

To pray

And give thanks

To you who

Served our

Country

Is this what

You felt as

You lay there

In pain blood

Dripping from

Your soul

Tears falling

From your eyes

Was it gloomy

Like today

Is the weather

Reminding us

That our time

Can come

To an end

That today

Will never

Be ever more?

Terry Shepherd

05/27/2013

Raindrops falling on water

Chapter10


Seeing Al today at the facility brought  old memories for him and none for me. When I walked down the long haul I could see him immediately at the dining table. He looked exactly like I never wished him to look. A stare across his face, head bent down and frozen somewhere in time.

When I approached his table he barely looked up at me. Once I got our food settled that is when he began to cry. I asked his nurse how he had been all morning, and of course I already knew she would say, fine, just fine, no problems.

I wanted to run a way but I cemented myself to the chair. I was feeling like I am the one who makes him cry. I am family and this brings back memories for him. He was back in time. While I was living a married life, I do remember Al getting the opportunity to go down to Indianapolis, Indiana to the big Memorial Day races.

I have been told by him several times  in the past about the fun he had going to these. When our Uncle Jim was still alive, he had as much patience with Al as our Granddad did. There was always a bond between these two men and Al.

I believe in my heart that these two men saw clearly that our own Father was not being the best he could with Al. They took many times and fit Al into their fun schedules.

Today, Al cried the two hours I was there. He spoke of the race, but he could remember very little of it. What I remember from earlier years of him telling me about it; is that they chattered all the way down to Indy, a three-hour trip. They left at 4:30am, and Al always says, he didn’t have a problem getting up that early, it was worth it.

They filled up on hot dogs and sodas. They saw wrecks. Al told me of the speeds of the cars and who was driving what cars. Today all he could remember is that he went with Uncle Jim. It broke my heart, it really did.

There was a time when Uncle Jim and his wife moved to Florida. They went there because one of their children had Cystic Fibrosis. The air was to be better for him. Although Al had never gone anywhere alone, after graduation of high school, Uncle Jim arranged through the airlines for Al to come down for a visit.

All arrangements had been made with the stewards and gate crew to keep a good eye out on Al without Al realizing it. He made the trip with flying colors. He always said he had a good time.

For years life seemed to be monotone for our family. I was raising mine and Al remained at home. He helped in the gardens in the summer, shoveled snow in the winters. He worked from job to job and then finally landed a job where he worked for nine years before he had his heart attack.

Al and Dad kept their distance or when they were together it was pure hell. Dad would yell and scream and threaten. Al’s face would turn beet red and his fist doubled up, his body tense and ready to attack.

Nothing ever changed. Different family members and friends tried so many times to help Dad see the damage he was doing to Al but Dad brushed them all off. I am going to add my own personal opinion at this point.

Our non-blood Grandma and Granddad and our Uncle Jim and his wife, were not directly related to us, but they were the best back in those days. They all spent great qualities of time with Al. Helping to nurture him and grow into a man. I used to hear from my Dad’s sister how she used to have to help take care of us when we were brought home from the kidnapping days.

I will call her T.  T said that she used to give me a bath quite often. I don’t know how old she was, but evidently a teen. She told me of the day she scalded me and how bad she felt about it. I am sure it did bother her and I hoped she moved past that. I never remember words of anyone speaking about the care Al got. The only times I can recall any talk about Al is when he had to be taken to the Children’s Hospital for rickets and undernourished.

When I became a teen I was alert enough to realize that there is a word called fake. You can have family members. They can say all sorts of nice things, but when you aren’t in the room, you can eavesdrop in on the truth.

Cousins used to laugh at Al. He was mildly mentally handicapped. He wanted to fit in. He wanted to laugh with others, speak and carry on with everyone.Usually, the only one laughing out of innocence was Al. The others were laughing at him. It always hurt my feelings because I believed that we were all family, and this was a bad behavior. I noticed that Al was left out of a lot of things.

When there were reunions or family dinners, Al was placed at the kids tables. When everyone was playing Badminton, or croquet, Al was not asked. Card games, he was in the room watching television. I always wondered if he realized he was being left out.

I sure wish I could put a photo up of my brother from early days, but I have never seen even one tiny photo of him. The ones I post on here for you to see, look to me like he is maybe five. I wonder why no photos were taken or if they were where are they.

Before our real grandmother passed she handed out all her photos. Anything that had to do with our family I got the pictures, but none of Al. I have my baby picture but I gave it to my daughter. Maybe we didn’t really exist in people’s minds until my Dad and Stepmom got married. Maybe we were the kids who were in the way, or the two that were from a broken home, or maybe the two who were kidnapped. Something happened. Photos show pride and there are no photos of Al or me except the one baby picture of me until after my new Mom came into our lives.

al

A Veteran and Our Clocks


I forced myself to do something or not to do something today. I did not go see Al. You may banjo clockthink why would you force yourself that?

Well, I just needed the break. I had to take some time a way from the one thing that brings me down so quick. Not Al, of course, the facility itself.

Being in a facility can tend to take a way smiles and laughter. You walk in and immediately see elderly people sitting alone in wheelchairs. You may hear a few repeating the same sentence over and over. It seems they are talking to non-speaking walls.

Many sleep in their chairs or sit in their rooms waiting to eagerly go to bed or to a meal. So many sad faces. Lifeless bodies consuming a colorless chair with two big black ugly wheels.

Then I step into Al’s doorway. His roommate is quiet as usual, most likely sleeping with head tilted over in his wheelchair. Al is behind a divided curtain either picking his head, or crying or asleep in his bed.

I just couldn’t do it. I had to step back a way. I am struggling with the continuing of writing my two books. I wrote a new chapter to one of my books today, which by the way I have finally titled. I am on chapter 21, which I published today. It is now called A View Backwards.

It took me a large amount of time to write it. It isn’t that exciting of a chapter but my mind kept drifting elsewhere.When I completed the chapter, I made myself leave my four walls. I just got in my car and drove. I wound up going to some garage sales. I  found one thing in three sales. It was a bed tray or you may call it a food tray that will go over Al’s lap while he is in bed. He can use it to prop his Bible and read or eat snacks or a meal on it if he is not feeling well.

On my fourth and last trip to the sales I found two things for me. I found a Redwood chicken. I like to collect chickens and roosters. I don’t have many, but I don’t like the modern silly looking ones. I like the oldies. Then I also found a clock. This clock took me back to six years ago. I was caring for a man and wife. I took care of them for three years, or maybe it was five in total, I can’t remember.

Anyways, he had this clock that hung above his television. I always admired it and the Mr. and I used to talk about it quite often. I am sure his is much older than mine and I believe his is a little bigger. I assume one of his children have it now as both of these dear people passed a way.

I prayed like a silly school girl that it was in my price range and that it worked. I was like a kid in a candy store, slobbering all over myself. I walked up to it ever so slowly. Afraid that it was out of my reach.

I touched it. It was a nice heavy clock compared to today’s clocks. I picked it  up and ran my hands over the inlay and the mahogany. It felt so nice, like it belonged to me. He and I became friends instantly. I couldn’t put it down.

I asked the lady how much it was, and I thought my legs immediately turned to jelly. I could feel them wobbling as I knew I could afford it. I watched her gently take it in her arms and plug it in. Oh my, it worked also. I told her I would take it. I paid and smiled all the way to my car, like two old buddies had just reunited.

While I was sitting in the car admiring my prize I thought back to the man I had taken care of and how proud he was of this same clock. He had been in the war also. Each Memorial Day I took him to the cemetery to reunite with his friends.

He and I spent hours on those special weekends talking about his war days. I thought ahead to where Al is sitting right now and wondered  how many of those empty faces are also veterans.

The stories that are locked inside their head would give me goose bumps when I think of what they did to save us. Maybe if we just took the time and visited these lonely veterans, we could relive some of what they went through.

There are shelves of books and broken chapters hidden deep inside. Willing to come out if only given the chance. My first husband served in the last few years of the Vietnam War. It seemed to me that it was more like a party for him instead of a war. The bad days were over, and life settled down. He was a policeman over in Stuttgart Germany, where I had the opportunity to live many years ago.

My second husband had no heirs so he didn’t go. My father had us children so he was never called. Al had no heirs so he never received the letter either. But thanks to the elderly I cared for so many years, I had a front row seat and got to see the movie in full living color.

God bless our Veterans. They are our heroes. So why do so many people shove them to the back corners of life and watch while they slowly sit in their wheelchairs waiting to die. Waiting for someone to say hello. Waiting, just waiting.

In A Veteran’s Mind


Lonely, sitting alone in his three-room apartment. Ignoring the request being whispered in his ears to go to the home. Never leaving his familiar friend, his wheelchair, except to get on the pot or get into bed.

A non-speaking foreign lady comes in three…

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