17 Minutes to Launch

I begged my Mama to tell me my birth story over and over as I grew up.  She always told me the exact same story. 

On a wonderful, summer Thursday morning back in the 60’s, Mama and Daddy sat down to eat breakfast.  Well, Daddy sat and Mama worked; cooking the eggs, sausage, toast, and whatever else Daddy wanted.  Big brothers sat at the table to eat, too.  Daddy worked at the chemical company. He had to be there at 8:00 am.  The boys were nine and eleven. They were excited about Primary Pioneer Day Parade at 10:00 a.m. that day.  Mama had helped organize it this year.  She volunteered teaching the children at church.

I snuggled warmly in Mama’s belly.  You see, I wasn’t born, yet.

Mama had made Daddy his Postum.  He had joined the Mormon church a year and a half ago, so he quit coffee.  She started to pour him a cup and a sudden pain sharply crept around both sides of her belly. She froze as the Postum poured into the cup, overflowed, and onto Daddy’s lap!

“What ae you doing?” he cried.

“I’m having this baby!” she exclaimed.

The rushing and running began!  It was a wild trip to the Amarillo Osteopathic Hospital.  Mama and Daddy had not gone to visit the place, nor did they know where the emergency entrance was.  Daddy swerved up to the front, left the car running in the street, and ran around to help Mama out.  She waddled to the big steps going in and cried out with another pain as she tried to climb them.

The hospital in the 1960’s located at 1000 S. Jefferson St.

Nurses ran out and down the steps to help her.  Mama couldn’t move because my head was being born.  I was in a hurry to see everything.  Daddy scooped her up in his arms, and carried her to the gurney inside.  Mama was screaming in pain, while the Dr. Maurice Mann was playing golf.

The nurses had called him to get there fast when Daddy let them know they were coming.  Seventeen minutes from the time Mama started up those steps, the Dr. Mann ran into the room in pain clothes with no gloves and caught me! I was launched into this world!

The doctor joked, “Well, Della, were you hoping for a three stick Kite, or a two stick Kite?” Our last name was Kite, and he tried to make Mama guess my gender. “It’s a girl!” he shouted happily.

I weighed 6lbs. 12oz, and I was bald.  I was the smallest baby Mama ever had, and the one who gave her the most stitches; over one hundred! She had a long recovery process.

Before she knew she was pregnant, she felt very sick.  She had never been so thin, and she vomiting all day for a week.  Then, she started menstruating and it was much heavier than normal with clots in it.  She went to the doctor to discover what was wrong.  He told her that she was pregnant, but that she would almost certainly miscarry.  Mama pleaded for him to do something.  He said there was nothing to do except stay off her feet for a while.  He explained the risks, and explained that older woman do not fair well with pregnancy after nine years of not having a child.

He said, “It’s probably just some Monstrosity nature is trying to sluff off.” That has been my joke title ever since.

The Rooftop Blanket of Darkness



This is the first of a series of short stories explaining the difficulty I face in admitting the brokenness with which I was raised. I speak to the shame that has plagued society for generations, that of domestic violence. It is a human condition issue; no one is immune, and I believe each of us have been touched by domestic violence somehow. Yet, I still avoid the admission:
I witnessed, endured, and enabled physical and psychological abuse in my lifetime.


The Rooftop Blanket of Darkness

I cannot remember the weekends and holidays when there wasn’t a skirmish in my home.  I disengaged when it started and dissociated long after it ended.  I learned to dread weekends and holidays due to the bickering battles in my family.  When my dad was at home more than a day or two, there was war.  My mother was an addict, and he was an enabler.  Sundays were the most disastrous with constant yelling and screaming.

Mom and Dad sat reading in the living room after dinner, while my two older brothers washed and dried dishes in the kitchen at the back of the house.  I played with my toys on the floor hoping no one would notice that it was past my bedtime.  Suddenly, yelling erupted from the kitchen.  Mom angrily demanded Dad put a stop to their fighting.  More yelling and a bit of scuffling began.  My heart beat faster, and my chest squeezed.  Dishes broke.  Dad jumped up and headed in there with Mom behind him screaming at him telling him to calm down and let her handle it.  I was not confused by that because I knew this was the beginning of something terrible.  I quickly made a run for my bedroom at the front of the house.  I didn’t have a closet, but my clothes hung on two rods, one high and one low on the west end of the room.  Squashing my little self to the wall behind the clothes, I felt more safe.  I was 5-years-old.

I listened as the screams, yells, crashes, and thuds developed into a monster so frightening that I had to make a run for it.  It was late, and so dark; I feared the dark. There were so many terrible things out there, but it was more frightening in here!  Dad yelled at the boys, the boys accused one another, Mom screamed at Dad to calm down, and Dad ordered Mom to be quiet.  He said, “You wanted me to put a stop to this, and that is what I intend to do!”  Run is what I needed to do.

The front door was right next to my bedroom curtain.  (I didn’t have a door on my room). I shot out of my hiding spot behind the clothes and bolted toward the safety of the storehouse.  It was in the backyard under the tree.  I climbed the woodpile, and pulled myself up to the top of the old refrigerator full of tools.  There were so many bugs, and they taunted me with their threats to get me.  Once up there, I could easily pull myself onto the roof. I made it!  Safe at last.  No bugs or scary things from the dark could find me here.

I could still hear the fighting, and I could see the back door to the kitchen if I looked.  The back door slammed.  I flattened myself against the roof and peered over the ridge.  It was Dad and brother 2 tumbled out the backdoor into the back yard.  Mom stumbled out behind them hollering at Dad to stop him.  Brother 2 broke away and bitterly stormed out in the dark.  I did not know what to call it then, but despair was my feeling.  I did not think this ritual would ever end.  My heart broke because I feared that one day he would not come back.  Mom and Dad went back into the house yelling at one another.  She wanted Dad to go after my brother.  He wanted to let brother 2 calm down.

I scrambled down because I knew the family would erupt all over again if they discovered I was missing.  I snuck back into the house to perform my part in the ordinary family, and act as if nothing had happened.

Everyone went to bed as if nothing terrible had happened.  Mom tucked me in, and I lay in bed with Confusion, my imaginary companion. Sleep might have come that night, but I cried for a long while, silently of course.  My anxiety for my brother overtook me, as it did each time this happened.  I loved him, but I feared for his safety–for his life.  I didn’t know why my parents could sound so mean to each other.  How could people be so mad and then quickly act like they were normal?

The next morning, brother 2 was home at breakfast, and the temperature of our home was cool as if nothing had happened.  I sat in the car on the way to school in silence as I pondered telling someone what had transpired, but I knew I wouldn’t tell anyone. That was my role, to watch silently.  As I walked toward the school building, I steeled myself to complete the day as a normal child from a happy family.




Mindfulness by Wendy from Flickr


I tried my  first experience with mindfulness this morning!

I bought this book:  – How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day, A Guided Meditation by Andy Puddicombe

For the first time I feel like I really accomplished something.  It was such a pleasant experience when I followed the steps.  I felt so much at peace when I finished.  No super thing happened, I just became aware of the moment that I was in.  I was supposed to set a timer for 10 minutes, but I didn’t want to wake my husband, so I just let go.  I was “in the moment” for 14 minutes.

I did feel an excessive love and actual arms around me when I began to become aware of my body.  Then my mind peacefully wandered to the fear I feel inside.  This feeling kind of stuck with me.  I didn’t try to control anything.  I just felt.  Many fears.

I am definitely covering by “acting” fearless all the time.  Maybe I will just try to feel what I’m feeling and acknowledge it.  Allow the fear to be inside me, but not to control me.  During meditation, I knew I was safe and comfortable.  It was okay to feel anything because nothing would happen.

Isn’t it true with all the happenings in my life that I have passed through horrible things and I am still here, still living, breathing, even happy.  I thoroughly enjoyed this moment of mindfulness.  I am going to continue this practice and see how it affects me in the future.

Too Scared to Leave

Sad young woman by the mutator

“Why do abused women stay?” one might ask. 

Walk into my past with me and try to understand one of the reasons I stayed with a violent husband for fifteen years. I became brainwashed that I was too stupid to support four children on my own.

He warned me that he would get me fired from my job by telling them the “truth” about me. When he was not yelling at me, I tried to think of anything about me that would get me fired. I couldn’t think of anything, but I was afraid he could make something up that they might believe.

He told me daily I was stupid. He shamed me because at 19-years-old, I didn’t locate the correct city building to pay utilities. He ridiculed me because I couldn’t use a potato peeler as quickly as his sister. He humiliated me in front of friends for wasting college and becoming a teacher. He believed I should have chosen a career that would provide us more money. I resented all of this, but as time passed, I began to believe him, and I lost confidence in myself.

I worked very hard to get through college with a baby. Our son was born after 18 months of marriage, and I had just turned 20. My parents gladly watched him while I went to class, but my husband soon found a reason to move us away from my support. Pregnant again in my third year of school, I miscarried a girl at four months. His abuse did not cause the miscarriage, but afterward, he blamed me for my inability to carry his child correctly. Tears rained as I blamed myself for the loss, and with his scoffing, I felt worse. I wanted children, so the pregnancies were my choice; however, each pregnancy and birth gave him more power and control over me.

My student teaching semester of college arrived, and I was pregnant again. I completed housework and mommy work before I started schoolwork each evening because his offensive language in front of our son was intolerable if the house was not clean. His insults turned to jabs and pushes, and soon he had his hands at my throat. I graduated eight months pregnant, and I was proud to have accomplished getting my degree. He threw a large party for me and bragged that his college graduate wife was awesome. Somehow, I thought it was real and believed for a while that life would now get better. I wasn’t able to secure a job in our small military town, though. There were too many military wives with certification and lots of experience. Also, our baby girl arrived a month after I received my B.S.E.D. Each interview I had showcased a bulging pregnant belly or a post-partum nursing mom. No principal wanted an inexperienced, new mom when they could have a veteran, middle-aged teacher who would not need sick days. My husband degraded me daily for my inability to make money.

After two years of subbing for ridiculously low pay in our small town, I gave birth to our third child, a boy. I presented the idea of moving back to my home city and working there until I could secure a full-time job. I would stay at my parents’ home and substitute for two-and-a-half times the pay I received here. Secretly, I planned my exit from our eight-year marriage. He was full of meanness, but he agreed. Our baby was 7-months-old when the kids and I moved.

I worked hard at substitute teaching and saved money so I could try to rent a little place, but if I didn’t get hired full time, I wouldn’t get summer income, nor insurance. As my days subbing got longer and no job was offered, I spiraled into depression. It reinforced my already low self-worth and validated his prophecy that I was too stupid to take care of myself, let alone three children.

The one thing I had that I had earned with hard work and skill was teaching, and I truly enjoyed it. My kids wore second-hand clothes and ate reduced-price lunch at school, but I was going to stay with it until I was hired full-time. Although I believed I was pathetic, I loved teaching and felt a passion for it. I made up my mind to try to leave him. I would save money and stand on my own two feet.

As he noticed my resolve, he quit his job and moved into my parents’ home with me. Unemployed, and sponging off my parents, he verbally beat me down again. Once again, I was sure I would not succeed on my own. When I did land a job, we moved into a house, and his harsh insults resumed. He sold insurance and cursed my job, the lowest paying job and hardly a profession, for anyone could babysit kids all day. The violence started again, and I gave up trying to leave. I knew my abuser best. He had total control over me. My fear of failure reaffirmed that there was no way out.


Mother’s Day fifteen years into our marriage, my husband assaulted me, and I called 911. A male and female partnership came, and my husband assaulted the female police officer while she questioned him in front of the house. They arrested him and put him in the police car screaming that he would kill me when he got out. The male officer told me to get my children and head to the women’s shelter.

A rusted bathtub with a permanent ring around it stood on four claws while a single mirrored door threatened to fall off the dirty medicine cabinet. There were no locks on any of the rooms where we would sleep.

The awkwardness of sharing a small bathroom with another family of six never bothered my thoughts. I had no idea how I would watch my four children while I completed assigned chores in the kitchen, but I didn’t stress about it. Participation in mandatory adult group meetings was required. The children stayed at the shelter with strangers, but I was not upset about that either. I felt safe here. The children seemed calm and they played happily, too. For a couple of days, we absorbed the peace and it was enough.

My mind was a black hole sucking in everything the director showed me but refusing to allow any emotion out. Numbness enveloped me as I succumbed to the new feeling of safety.

Those who haven’t suffered at the hands of the one they love ask “Why didn’t you leave the first time? Why did you stay so long?”

It is extremely difficult for a person to leave a domestic violence situation. In the beginning, violent partners seduce their victims. They put forth their best behavior and convince you that they will give you the world because they love you. Slowly they begin to control you a bit here and before long, they hurt you. It is emotional at first. They act hurt themselves and convince you that it is your fault and that you hurt them deeply. You begin to doubt yourself. The first time they physically hurt you, you are so confused that you believe you deserve it.

My reason for staying with my abuser was because of fear that he would indeed do all the horrible things he threatened to do if I left.

Once before our fourth child was born, I decided to leave in the middle of the night during a violent argument. He fell asleep finally and I decided to sneak out.  I had a stash of packed things for my children and me.  He heard me waking the children, and he jumped up and fired questions at me.  I couldn’t believe he was awake because he had been snoring soundly, and I thought I was safe.  He woke up the kids and forced them into our 5-year-old daughter’s room with himself and his guns.  He had threatened to kill us all if I ever tried to leave. I couldn’t leave without my kids. Talking to him through the door only incited more angry threats. After promising not to leave and begging to see the children, I sat outside the door trying to keep him from hearing me cry. I finally fell asleep on the floor in front of the locked bedroom door.

The next day he assured me that I was indeed a bad mother. Accusations and threats flew from his mouth. He told me he was leaving the house to get a lawyer, and he would get custody of the children. He would prove I was an abusive, neglectful mother and I would not have visitation with the kids. He claimed that if I tried to leave him or divorce him, he would take the children deep into Mexico and I would never see them again.  That day was a win for him.  It wasn’t until four years later that I finally left.

It isn’t a picnic after a victim leaves, either. One night, six months after I divorced him, a child exchange in a parking lot turned serious. I had moved out-of-state. I left my home to run away from his stalking.  After yet another hearing, he had convinced the judge that he had reformed, and he was granted his visitation back.  I was ordered to meet him halfway, a four-hour drive for each of us once a month, to switch the kids. I couldn’t leave until after work on Fridays. By the time I arrived at the meeting spot, a Burger King in a big city, it was usually dark and I was terrified. 

My parents had come to visit and they volunteered to meet him on their way home to exchange the children. He had supposedly been getting counseling and seemed to act better. My mother was 69-years-old, and she suffered from lupus. She could barely walk. She and my dad had said their good-byes to the children in the parking lot at BK, and they were walking back to their car. Dad had hurried ahead so he could open the door for her when my ex gunned his car and attempted to run her down. My dad ran back and pushed her out-of-the-way just in time. The kids’ dad sped off in his car as if nothing had happened. The children were severely traumatized and didn’t want to go with him again.

I couldn’t believe it when my father called me. I worried all weekend. I still did not comprehend the type of person he was. Only a cold-blooded killer would do that. Although I was deathly afraid of him, I was still in denial that my former spouse acted criminally.

A Snow Day with Peanut

WIN_20170801_07_04_15_ProSnow Day!

Most kids love to play in the first good snow, but with temperatures below 10 degrees, this Grammy said, “Nooooooooooooo!”

Peanut got here about 8:00 a.m.  We started with a breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs with orange juice.  Yum!  Of course, this Grammy just ate a boiled egg with coffee. We decided to stay in our pajamas after cleaning up the kitchen mess, and read a book, Little House in the Big Woods.  Peanut is so smart that even though she’s in first grade, she can read 4th grade books.  I read a page and she read a page.

WIN_20170801_07_04_36_ProWhen that got tiresome, we decided to work on a school project she had started.  In her innovated learning class, she had learned to choose a topic, research it, write a plan of action, and carry out the plan.  She had wanted to learn to sew. On her own at school, she had done technology based research, and had written her plan.  She had watched me perform surgery on her favorite stuffed animals in the past.  So, her plan included asking me for help with the sewing project, but she is the one who chose to make the purse.  I showed her how to cut out a pattern, fold it, and carefully connect the remaining 3 sides together with thread.  I had purchased some embroidery thread.  We used it and a large needle to make it easier for her.  I chose felt for the project because I knew the bulky fabric would also help. 

She wanted a flower with her initial on it, so I taught her to sew all this together first, and then attach it to the purse material before sewing the sides.  My sweet grandchild worked and worked.  I was surprised to see how dedicated she seemed.  When her fingers were on the verge of getting sore, I helped out. 

We didn’t finish it that day, but she continued to work on it each time she came to my house.  She is so proud of her little handmade project!  I am proud of her, and we both feel a sense of accomplishment.  I have helped pass down a beneficial, declining skill, and she has gained a self-reliance in obtaining knowledge.  Plus, we had a super fun Snow Day! 


Me for Her

Such dark songs on the radio; Words of hurt; it’s insane.

And yet I step into the light- Satisfaction mine to gain

Sweet baby screams in pain, and I am wordless to explain

How it all goes on and on and on.


No answers to be found; Though I’ve surely looked around

I love her more than myself, My mind is certain now.

Freedom is NOT to know. I never wonder where I’ll go.

After this life is there more and more and more?


My solution is so near, but some think I will go below.

Am I ready? Do I fear? Dogma swims in my ear…

Many people say they know, but I just feel it’s time to go

Day after day, we hope and hope and hope.


Baby’s life hangs in the balance, so I’ve got to persevere

I’m afraid she won’t live, so I talk loud so He will hear…

Trade me for her. I’ve lived. I’m close to done and so…

Take me for her. Take me! TAKE ME!


I’m not afraid. Just let her live! These are not just mere words.

God, if you need to take someone, I’ve lived. Take me for her.

Sweet baby gains weight and begins to improve, and I infer

That my days are numbered, numbered, numbered.


Two years pass by; cancer eats my blood, but each day I enjoy

Sweet baby girl runs and plays with all the girls and boys

The lump, malignant, not curable, a perfect slow death foe.

Keeps me wondering when I shall go, shall go, shall go.


Such beautiful songs on the radio; words of comfort…It is peace!

When I step into the light– The pain and darkness cease.

Sweet baby screams with delight, and I am empowered by love

I know there is a God above, above, above.



Most of her waking existence, the word “alonely” has been her reality.  Yes you read that correctly, it’s not a typo.  A-L-O-N-E-L-Y.  It is a state of being she has inadvertently chosen, yet not completely felt comfortable wearing. Often encircled by wonderful friends, yet she is somehow absolutely by her…SELF.

Alonely sings to her in throughout sleep and wakefulness.  It hums the monotone song that she is missing something.  Strange because usually she is filled with laughter, and she incites fun in all those around her.  In fact, some would say she is the “life of the party” to be cliché.  But inwardly she feels the tug of longing and waiting for…WHAT?

She sees herself as a fun loving social butterfly, and friends and family would certainly agree.  She is rarely alone as friends and strangers everywhere are blessed by laughter created by her.  Strangers are magnetized by her presence.  However, at home…later…in a dark room she feels ALONELY.

Promises from the past held all the beauty of love and companionship.  However, the hum from Alonely grew loud as she experienced physical abuse, divorce,  spiritual abuse, cancer, death of family, and loss of friendships due to religious differences.  She doesn’t really know the moment in time when a complete lack of trust made Alonely her new best friend.

She was abandoned by those who judgefully waited for her to discover the hole inside her created by misplaced trust. Each time she lost someone or something the wound grew deeper as the realization that trusting the wrong people to love her thrust pain into her heart.  And then…Apathy began stabbing at what was left of gaping chasm in her chest.

She wonders, should she crawl toward those who have wronged her with the emptiness waiting to be filled with what they call love, friendship?  The pain all the while sucks up the emptiness of what used to be a perfectly good person…but now labeled

DAMAGED GOODS                                                                                                                         Return to provider

HELL NO!  Taking much time and care to recreate her image while embracing Alonely, she rips off all the labels, and flees the sickness of those relationships!  She becomes enlightened by Alonely and learns to enjoy herself whether in public swarmed within a crowd, or at home in her warmth and silence.  She begins to love her…SELF!

Unspoken I Love You’s

Curled around him with her head on his chest,

Feeling a heartbeat;  a rhythmic message

Too obvious to utter aloud.

Never having felt so peaceful and loved.


His message is crystal clear; yet, inaudible ken refelction

To the untrained ear.

But her ears have been battle tested.

She hears without question the message.


Laughing together spontaneously,

Amazing how easily they agree.

Half a century, such a long wait,

But well worth it, friends.

…Well worth it indeed.

Hope: I Want to Feel Normal Again

A Chapter from my life that explains my attitude toward my cancer.  For me, life changing events are part of living and to successfully navigate our existence, I must always find the glass half full.  I have always searched for normalcy, and I have finally discovered the path to joy.  Love yourself and others.  Notice the beautiful things along the journey.  Be selfish and feel the way you want to feel.  Own it.  Talk about it.  Change it if it is causing you to lose focus!  Be happy, and during times of grief, tell yourself it okay to feel sad, but there is a light in the future where the pain will fade, and a memory will replace it.

They both sat quietly in the sleek, steel-gray fastback waiting on the light at S.E. 27th and Osage.  Silence enveloped the space between them like a heavy quilt blocking the sunlight as it hangs over a window.  There hadn’t been any hint of light in their thoughts for months.  Rachel looked over at Mama and noticed the wisps of gray hair stringing down her face as it danced in the breeze.  The hair showed how Mama had aged.  She felt sorry for Mama, but at the same time, she was so mad!  Life was not fair, and the way Mama smothered her and yet, ignored her was just wrong!

Indifferently, she began to tell Mama about her day at school when she heard the roaring rev of the car next to them.  Her eyes moved from Mama’s face to the car next to them. Two taunting high school boys laughed as they playfully revved the engine once again as they sat in a little blue Pontiac.

Anger swelled within Rachel from some deep place she didn’t know.  Eyes flashing she nodded her head at the boys as if waving off their childish dares.  She figured they were laughing at her because her Mama was driving her home from school in a car that was faster than any “old lady” should drive.  Rachel was jealous of them.  They were young, carefree, and driving.  She thought she was the only 15-year-old at High School who wasn’t learning to drive!

Seeing Rachel’s storming reaction, Mama turned toward the boys as well.  She thought Rachel wanted to drive, but her heart just couldn’t risk the loss of another child.  She wanted to protect her last child from everything, and it was her opinion that when a child has wheels, it is freedom…too much freedom.  She also feared that if she kept too tight of a grip on Rachel, she would bolt; straight out of the safety zone Mama had built for her.

Mama saw the blazing eyes and felt that something had to change. Had Rachel been behind the wheel, she would have burned the rubber off the tires to show those boys something!  Mama wouldn’t be driving this car if she had but one wish…to have her son back. Was the safety zone the best decision for Rachel?  Mama’s pain overshadowed logic.  She would not risk losing Rachel, but she would drive that car the way it should be driven!

Mama checked the light.  Still glowed red.  She winked at those laughing boys.  She revved the 351 Cleveland with her foot on the brake.  They squawked laughter and rolled their eyes.  Revving their engine and laughing hysterically put them at a huge disadvantage.

Green light.  The smell of burning rubber.  Vvvrrrooommm!

In the next moment, Rachel realized they were a mile down the road in front of Llano Cemetery.  Mama burst out laughing and Rachel joined in with genuine emotion.  They drove into the cemetery around the east circular road to the huge tree with limbs draping almost to the street.  Heavy steps led them to the headstone proclaiming the final resting place of their loved one.  Rachel gazed over the green grass wondering if the “thing” inside her would ever go away.

“It won’t, you know,” Mama said aloud as if she read Rachel’s mind.

Trying to sound stoic and 15, Rachel stiffly replied, “What are you talking about?”

“The pain, child.  It will never go away.” Mama hung on to her pain like a newborn child.  “We will always miss him.  There will always be an empty space where your brother should be.”

“But Mama.” Rachel thought, “You don’t understand.  I don’t miss him like you do.  I miss YOU.  I need YOU right now, and you cannot think of anyone or anything else but him!”

Rachel was jealous of her brother because after he had died, Mama didn’t really see or hear Rachel anymore.  Also because Rachel loved her brother, the jealousy made her feel ugly.  She didn’t understand these feelings, and each day pain gripped her heart harder.  She just wanted her Mama back.  Too embarrassed by guilt, she chose not to explain her thoughts. Instead, she replied, “I know Mama. I loved him too.

Mama and Rachel hugged as their misunderstood pain of loss made them more distant.  They knelt beside the flowers Mama had lovingly put there last Friday, and replaced them with new ones from the back seat of the Fastback.  They had come every week for eight months; although, Rachel wished they could make it just once a month now that some time had passed.  She felt so selfish, but she just wanted to be normal again.