Daily Prompt; Everything Changes


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Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

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He slept in boxes. He slept under the bridges. He slept where ever his body found comfort once the sun set.

He had once been a prosperous man residing in the hot spots of Florida. He had built shells of houses and sold them to people barely out of the danger zone of bankruptcy. His ideal goal was that he charged enough in payments that in no time at all he had gained not only the up-front cost but the house back.

He would repeat this business to one after another. His pockets heavy his checkbook fat he was living high on the hog. He had a sailing yacht. He owned two homes. One in his home town and one by the edge of the ocean.

Drink and friends could be seen anytime of the day or night. He had made millions and even had made the cover of a national magazine. But when one does things for the wrong reasons, it is almost guaranteed life will stop and come and bite you in the rear.

And this did happen. A police family under disguise portrayed the perfect family for purchasing one of his properties. A couple of weeks after entering the home the legal system had everything they required to bust the sales man.

In no time at all the savoy business man lost it all. His homes became foreclosed. His checkbook became skinny. His pockets folded inside out. Friends deserted him, drinks went dry.

As the companies came to clean out his house he sat at his dining table and wept in to his hands. Soon there was a tap on his shoulder. They needed him to move as they were confiscating this table also.

Soon there was silence. Birds could be heard singing outside the windows. Children could be seen heading to school. He picked up his last luggage and opening the door stepped outside and closed the door gently behind him.

Not knowing where he was going his feet stepped one in front of the other. By nightfall nothing had changed and he had a taste of his first real home in a box. He had earned it. It was fully his, and it was paid for.

Sleep came with difficulty. He laid in his blanket-made bed and watched others standing over canisters of heat. Warming their fingers as fall was beginning to enter. As his eyes closed he was having visions of the people he had frauded. All night, each night haunting dreams of people holding their arms out, begging for mercy. Asking for their doors to be once again opened.

In the mornings he rubbed his eyes as tears had filled the pockets and grief over took him. Each morning he walked and hunted for food like a caveman looking for his family. Walking the streets, the only visitors were his own shadows in store front windows, he was lonely, down and out.

The first snow had fallen and he had rummaged through a dumpster and found a ragged blanket. Pulling the cover closer to his nose, he began to weep. He looked towards the heavens and pleaded for forgiveness. He admitted he was wrong. He needed to have one more chance to prove that he was worthy of living.

The next morning he was walking his routine streets and he saw a folded piece of paper. He looked around to see if someone had just dropped it. Seeing no one reaching for it, he leaned down, weary and tired, bloodshot eyes and picked it up.

Fingers fumbled as he walked over to the metal sidewalk bench and sat down. He opened it up and saw one simple sentence. Very few words but with great meaning. He looked up to the skies and the first genuine smile crossed his face. He looked down once again to read the words, you have been forgiven.poor man

Daily Prompt; Stranger in a Strange Land


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What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

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I imagine there are those who are like me. Vacations are not in my dictionary. Oh, I am not saying I have never been on vacation. I went with my parents each summer to Minnesota. My Dad went for Pike fishing. Mom did more work while we were on vacation than she did at home.pike fish

When I grew up and got married we used to go to the State Fair each year. The kids and I would ride the wagon around the fairgrounds, and get sick on fair food. My husband went so he could watch the Tractor Pulls.tractor pull

One fall my husband and I went to a small fishing lake in Michigan. I had a good time I guess. He fished and I tried to find things to do. I did end up nine months later with this.newborn

Now when I think of vacations, I think of the word alone. I would love to just go to a cabin in the woods and do what I want. Or go to my daughter’s house and stay for a week and catch up on life.

I wouldn’t go to the big malls to shop. I wouldn’t go to the most expensive dining areas. I would try to find a Ryan’s Buffet. http://www.ryans.com

I would visit any antique stores in far off places. Ally Cats I would enjoy the birds singing.female red bird at millers I would enjoy the beauty of flowers.park flowers

Maybe find a nice guy and  fall in love.Couple-in-Tub

Or maybe I would just look at the stars in my rocker on the porch and dream a way.flashing stargrandma_rocking_in_chair_hc

Or sit by the fireplace and roast marshmallows and talk about the good old days.fireplace

I guess my best part of the vacation is not so much it being somewhere I have never visited.

It is about the quietness and the peace. It is about the company I am in. It is about pleasing my inner spirit. It is about looking through the crystal glass and seeing how darn lucky I have been all my life.

The Gift


She was 90 years old. Up until three years ago, she lived an independent life in her one

My gift of LOvE for You...

bedroom apartment. She lived in a small village in Michigan. Every morning she would rise at six and start her coffee. After dressing she would pull open the blinds and wait for the first signs of day break. She would fix one slice of toast, and enjoy it with her freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Her husband had passed on to a better life ten years prior. Kathryn had no desires to seek out another relationship and instead went to the other apartments in her building to knock gently on doors, offering her assistance to whom ever needed it.

Sometimes she found herself walking to the market that was on the block that she lived. She would pick up eggs or maybe a jar of coffee for someone who could not get out. Other times she would help by reading the newspaper or maybe the bible to someone who didn’t feel well that day.

Kathryn was the kindest of souls. Her heart was committed to anything she did. But on one day she didn’t open her door to do her rounds. She instead lie on her kitchen floor, never buttering the toast that had popped up. Her empty coffee cup sat near the now ready coffee. She had fallen, turned to quickly and landed on the floor.

Her ankle was in pain and she knew that she had twisted it badly. Tears formed in her eyes and gently streaked her cheeks, as she prayed to God for someone to find her. She thought she must have been lying there about an hour, when a knock came at her door. She took in a deep breath, and cried out,” The door is open, please come in”. The neighbor next door to her, a gentle old soul by the name of Solomon, walked in and saw her.

He walked over to her and asked, ” What happened Kathryn? Are you alright? Can you stand with my help”?  Kathryn, shaking her head said, “I don’t know Solomon. I tripped over my own two feet, and down I went”. He replied,”Let me try to help you up, but first let me go get some more help. I don’t want to make this any harder on you or us than we need to”.

He told her he would be right back, and he took a throw off of the couch and placed it over her so she wouldn’t get chilled. He left and with minutes he came back with a helper. Together they were able to lift her up, and they helped her get to the recliner. She leaned on them as she could not stand on her one foot. After positioning her, Fred the helper, took a closer look at her ankle. He said, ” It is starting to swell a little.On a scale of one to ten how much pain do you feel Kathryn”? “It is about a five maybe. I feel more pressure than pain. I don’t think it is broken. Let’s try standing me up to see how I do”. The two neighbors said no to that idea.

Solomon suggested, ” I think you have sprained your ankle Kathryn. Do you have an ice pack? We can put it on here and then check it every so often for the swelling. I think it should  heal by itself, if you stay off of it”.

She told them where the ice pack was and Fred went to get it and then filled it with ice. After placing it on her ankle, they asked her if she needed anything and she asked for the morning paper. Upon giving it to her, they gave her the television remote and then promised that one of them would be back to check on her in an hour. She told them how grateful she was for their help and then the two gentlemen let themselves out her door.

Kathryn’s body was not as stable as it used to be, and the fall and the pain she had endured was too much for her heart. She was reading her newspaper, when softly it fell to her lap, and her eyes gently closed. When Fred and Solomon came back to check on her, they found her nodded off and sleeping.

Fred called out to her, and then Solomon shook her gently saying, “Kathryn, Kathryn, can you hear me”? When her head fell forward, Solomon said, ” You better call an ambulance Fred. I think something has happened to poor old Kathryn. Hurry Fred, the phone is over on that table”.

Within fifteen minutes, the sounds of sirens came closer, and soon two gentlemen stood at the open door. Solomon told them to come in and he moved out-of-the-way so the EMT’s could check Kathryn out. With the conversations between the EMT’s and the hospital, her two neighbors suspected she had a stroke.

After placing her on the four-wheeled cart, the professionals got as much information from the two neighbors and then whisked her off to the hospital. Fred and Solomon walked out her door closing the door behind them. They made arrangements on who would take them over to the hospital. The apartment manager, Herbert, told them to get ready and that he would be waiting in the front with his car.

Everyone bustled to get around and some neighbors knocked on doors to find out what had happened. It took a little longer than expected, but Herbert delivered Solomon and Fred safely at the hospital’s ER doors. Herbert told them as they were getting out of the car, “Just call when you are ready to be picked up guys. I will come back and get you”. The two neighbors said thanks and went through the glass doors to find out about their dear neighbor.

At the receptionist desk, they announced who they were, and then poured themselves  each a cup of coffee and sat down to wait  for news. They chatted among themselves and talked to others sitting near by. Fred stood up and walked over to where the pretty lady was sitting behind the desk. He was just getting ready to ask if there was any news when the doctor appeared.

The doctor went to both of them and said. ” Kathryn has suffered a stroke. Now it doesn’t look like a bad one. There doesn’t seem to be any long-term damages. She does have a little weakness on one side. I think with some therapy she can regain a little more strength. She will need help at home once we dismiss her. Does she have anyone at home to help her? We will be keeping her here for a few days”.

Fred and Solomon looked at each other and each wished they could fill the job but shaking their head, they both said, ” No, she lives alone, and she has no family left”. The doctor told them that he would make arrangements for her to be placed in a nursing home. She can not be left alone to care for herself”.

The two gentlemen hung their heads as they so badly wished they could help more. Before the doctor left them, Fred asked,” Can we see her doc? We both want her to know she is not alone, that we are here for her”. The doctor replied, Kathryn is a lucky lady to have such nice family like you. Of course you can see her. I am going to go back and check on her and then I will have the nurse come and get you”.

Solomon said, “We are not her family doc. We are just two neighbors who care about her. We have all been neighbors for a few years”. The doctor came closer to them and winked and said with a smile, ” In my eyes, you are her family. Family is defined as someone who is close, someone who cares. Now go have a seat and someone will let you know when you can come back”. With that, the doctor turned around and went back to Kathryn and the two guys went back and found their seats.

An hour and a half later a nurse came to them and said they could go back and see her now. Following the nurse they walked into Kathryn’s room, and she smiled when she saw them. This brought relief to her friends that she was going to be alright. They spent some time talking with her. Fred said, ” As soon as we know which nursing home you are going to, we will be out their to help you get settled in”.

Kathryn said, ” I would like that my friends. I feel blessed that I was able to stay at home as long as I have. I knew my time would come some day, but I was hoping it would not be this soon”.  Fred and Solomon took her hands in theirs and said, ” You may be living in another room, but you shall never lose our friendship. We will be here as much as we can. We shall let the neighbors know where you are at and soon you will have so many visitors, that you will be telling the nurse to close the door just to get some rest”. They all three laughed and then said their goodbyes.

Kathryn did not have any permanent damages but she did not argue when the nurse came to tell her it was time to transport her to the nursing home. She knew in her heart, that she needed the extra help. She realized it could have been so much worse. Her father in heaven had kept her protected.

The two gentlemen got some neighbors together, and they took several items from Kathryn’s apartment and placed them in a suitcase. Each friend gathered some things from their own apartments. Things they thought would make Kathryn feel more at home.

With the help of the apartment manager and the maintainance man and his truck, they all made their way over to the nursing home. By the time everyone had brought in the goodies, Kathryn’s new room looked more like home. It was the holidays, so when you walked by her door and peeked in you could see a small table with two chairs. On top of the table was a small Christmas tree that stood about two feet. It was decorated with tiny blinking lights.

In the opposite corner sat her recliner. Beside that was a table with a light attached. Newspapers stacked on the other side, waiting for her to come read them. A neighbor always seemed to be there, and the new coffee pot was always providing hot steamy coffee. There were three pictures that ordained the walls. Beside her bed sat a table, and it was filled with cards and flowers.

Christmas time is a beautiful time of the year. Friends and family gathering together to show love and support for each other. Some are not so lucky and spend time alone during the holiday, and for this, I am very sad. For others such as Kathryn, God blesses us with more than we can ever imagine. Love, friendship and support. Kathryn knew that she was truly a blessed woman. She had more now at her age, than she deserved. As she sat in her recliner, sharing coffee with friends, she thanked God for the gift of love.

Terry Shepherd

12/10/2012

Please Don’t Feel Different


Bed

Bed (Photo credit: antifuse)

She sat on the edge of her bed, looking at herself in the mirror on the dresser. Her face looked pale, and there were tears running down her face. She felt too weak yet to lie down on her bed, so she just sat there, with the breeze coming in her bedroom window, and tried deep breathing to calm herself down.

She had a secret. She had carried this for some time now. She could never find the right time to tell anyone, for fear her life would change, and the lives of others who she touched would be changed forever.

Grace lived on a hill in a small town, about twenty miles from the nearest big city of Michigan. Her husband had passed away from cancer ten years ago, but yet she could remember it as if it was yesterday. Her children were grown and had all moved to bigger areas to raise their families. Grace now lived in her big home all alone, except for her two parakeets and her old dog, named Brute.

Brute had become the man of the house since Johnny had died. He followed Grace everywhere she went, and lie at the bottom of the bed as she slept, keeping ears and eyes open for sounds.

Grace had never worked outside of her home. She had done odd jobs at times, taking in ironing for neighbors, and offering her services in spring and fall cleaning. She spent holidays baking cookies and candies, then she would walk  from neighbor to neighbor, so she could hand deliver each gift with a hand written card. You could also find Grace tending to anyone who she heard was ill. Tidying up their house, taking a pot of soup to them. Often you could hear her reading her favorite scriptures from the Bible to her sick friends. Everyone loved Grace.

Now it was her turn to need help, but she refused to let anyone know she was ill. She wanted to have her life continue as it was, and to die in her own home. Grace didn’t want pity and she didn’t want to see sorrow on others faces when they came to visit.

She wanted to continue to bake and when company came, or sometimes when she was surprised by a visit from family, she wanted to greet the grandchildren with cookies and milk.

Grace had not been feeling well for several  months, and noticed every time that she ate, no matter how little or too much, her stomach swelled. When it became more difficult to breathe from her swollen belly, she made herself an appointment with her family doctor. After a thorough check up and many questions asked, there were special testings ordered to eliminate or confirm different thoughts the doctor had.

A week had gone by, and she received the call. The nurse ask her if she could come in to the office in two days in the morning at 9:00am. She replied with a yes, and hung up the phone.

She tried to stay busy. She spent time on her swing out in her yard, watching the birds. Once in a while a car would drive by and honk, and they would each wave at each other. She baked a little, and did a load of white laundry.

In two days she entered the doctor’s office to hear the words colon cancer. Grace started to cry, and the doctor came over to her and put his arm around her and said together they would fight this, but inside her heart, Grace knew her time was short-lived. She had waited too long to seek a doctor’s help. She looked up at the doctor and asked him  how much time she had, and he shook his head back and forth, and neither said a word.

She went from the doctor’s office back to her home. She wasn’t hungry, and found herself very tired, so went and laid down on her bed. She slept well into the night and when her eyes had opened, it was day break.

Over breakfast, she went into her memories, and replayed Johnny’s illness. The medications that were prescribed, the cancer treatments. She remembered how ill he had become from the side effects of all he had been given. She remembered a week before he passed, that Johnny had barely whispered to her, that if he could do it all over again, he would have died normally, with God’s help and no medications.

She remembered the neighbors stopping by frequently, dropping off cakes and casseroles, staying long enough to chat with her, telling her about someone else who had suffered the same thing, and how much they had pained, and how this person or that had taken it upon themselves to become leader, and the bickering and arguing that went on.

All of these memories brought tears to her eyes, as all she had ever wanted was to spend time alone with her Johnny, telling him that she loved him, telling him that she would be alright after he left. She had wanted to give him permission to go ahead and go home to their Lord, that she would be coming along soon, but she never got to do this. There was always someone there, and even when Johnny closed his eyes for the last time, there were many around his bed side.

The doctor had prescribed different medications to ease her pain, to stop the vomiting, and to help her sleep, but she never filled the prescriptions. She was ready to go home to be with her Johnny.

Family came for a visit near the end of her days. They had noticed that she looked thinner and had questioned her about this, even suggesting that she see her doctor. Grace had told them to please worry about something else that was of importance, that she was just watching her diet, and that she had added a few too many pounds. They accepted this, and the grandchildren, and her own children, had a wonderful visit.

Neighbors came and went, stopping for a short spell, a small time of talk, and moved on about their day.

For weeks went by, and she became more somber, as she knew that her time was close. She sat down and wrote her children and grandchildren each letters, telling them how she loved them so, and how they had been such a blessing to her life. She managed to do one last day of baking. She made her famous sugar cookies. After they were all cooled, she put them in small baskets, and the next day, took them to each of her neighbors and sat them on their door step, each with a note, of how much they meant to her, and how safe she had always felt since Johnny had died, knowing they were near by.

That evening, she found herself sick to her stomach, and saw blood in the stool. She went to her bed, and looked at herself in the mirror, and saw her pale face, and tears running down her cheeks. She was too weak to lie down, but she was so sleepy. She sat there for a few moments, feeling the breeze coming through her bedroom window, and then she lie down on her bed, and went home to see Johnny.