Pressure

I get about one day a week off from my nearly 24/7 duties at Children’s Hospital. (If you’re just joining us, you can read about all that here.) This day is Friday, when my mom comes to stay with Robot Boy so I can go home, have a real dinner with my husband, decompress, and sleep. My mom works most Fridays, and she is wonderful enough to come after work and sleep at the hospital. Well, I shouldn’t really say “sleep at the hospital” because anyone whose ever been in a hospital or stayed with a loved one in a hospital knows you don’t sleep. Not more than an hour or so at a time, anyway.

It’s suffice to say these evenings I get away from the hospital are sacrosanct. I do my best to get home in enough time to go out to dinner with my husband and at least spend some time with him before he has to go to bed, as he works Saturdays usually. My home is approximately an hour and a half from the hospital, depending on traffic. The drive is hardly bothersome under normal conditions. For the last five years, I’ve had an hour commute to and from work-sometimes before and after working 12+ hours. I don’t mind driving, as long as the traffic is moving and there aren’t very many fucking assholes inconsiderate drivers on the road. I turn up the radio and exercise my vocal chords.

I sound nothing like Gonzo while singing this medley.

As I’ve said, under normal circumstances, I don’t mind the drive. However today, today my decisions led to me into very unusual driving conditions for my Friday night of freedom. My mom didn’t work this Friday, and she was at the hospital earlier than usual. Instead of leaving the hospital shortly after she arrived, I chose to stay and visit a while. I also have a terrible time tearing myself away from RB. Especially on nights like tonight, when he was watching me pack my bag, knowing that I was leaving. Not that he doesn’t love his grandma. He is very excited when she visits, but Mom is the safety net. Mom is there to make sure nothing goes awry. And also Mom knows-or thinks she knows-exactly what he wants most of the time.

I don’t regret my decision to stay, but I was less than pleased to be stuck in the horrendous traffic which accumulated at the precise moment I left the hospital’s parking lot. I made the unwise decision to leave at exactly 5p.m. on a Friday night. Oh and also on the night of a Hornets game. I sat on the same street for no less than 30 minutes. Someone in a black Yukon that’s license number I did not memorize for use in future voodoo ceremonies nearly caused an accident by purposely skirting around me while I was clearing changing lanes to avoid an 18-wheeler. I hardly berated the driver before he/she sped away.

Photo c/o Microsoft Office Free Clipart

I finally made it to the interstate, only to discover the traffic was almost as bad. With my bladder’s fluid gauge on full, I approached the High Rise, which any native knows is another traffic nightmare. At any rate, I finally got through the city and crossed Lake Pontchartrain en route to my home.

I exited as soon as possible and hit a gas station to fill up and utilize their surprisingly clean restrooms. I bought an enormous coffee (and a six-pack) and returned to the road. Instead of heading back to the interstate, I remained on the highway, which proved to be an unfortunate decision since everyone else in the state also decided to do the same thing on the same road. I was stuck in more traffic. But, with an empty bladder, a serious caffeine high, and good music, my two and a half hours in snarling traffic already seemed much less unpleasant, and at the exact moment I was contemplating driving through servitudes and on private property, the Muses graced me with a rather fitting song on the radio. . .

This song describes my entire life right now.”Pressure pushing down on me/Pressing down on you/No man asked for/Under pressure /That burns a building down/Splits a family in two/Puts people on streets.”

I, of course, recognized the fortuity. As I began to sing (both David Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s parts in perfect pitch, I might add), my foul mood was interrupted by tolerance and stoicism. What importance really, in the grande scheme of things (if there is one) holds traffic? I felt most uplifted: “Pray tomorrow gets me higher, high, high!”

Perhaps it was the music, or my utter madness, or the realization that there is no use being upset when you can grin and enjoy a major caffeine rush, or perhaps it was all these things, but I was wearing a smile and feeling so much better. “Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word/And love dares you to care for/The people on the edge of the Night/And love dares you to change our way of/Caring about ourselves.”

When the song ended, I felt like I needed a decent follow-up. You can’t just come down off a high like that. With my iPod on shuffle, I skipped the next two songs until I found a great song to accompany the first.

This is the cutest video ever.

“That time will come/One day you’ll see/When we can all be  friends.”

This interestingly unrelated piece of free clipart c/o none other than Microsoft Office

Under Pressure was written and performed by Queen & David Bowie and appeared on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space.

The Miracle was written and performed by Queen and appeared on their 1989 album of the same name. The four boys from the video are Paul Howard as Brian May, James Currie as John Deacon, Adam Gladdish as Roger Taylor, and Ross McCall as Freddie Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody was written by Freddie Mercury and performed by Queen. It appeared on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera (titled after the Marx Brothers’ movie of the same name).

The Muppets were created by Jim Henson and currently belong to The Walt Disney Company.

Camp F

Photo c/o Microsoft Office Free Clipart

Been waiting on my appeal for thirteen years. Thirteen years of cold steel toilets, lumpy thin mattresses, and eating slop from metal trays probably made from recycled toilets. I been sitting here waiting to know if I’m going to die. It’ll probably happen before they ever give me the chair, me dying I mean. But they don’t give you the chair no more. Supposed to be more humane, but they can hang me for all I care. I’m dying either way, so who gives a shit.

They got a guy just came in last week, Clyde Burser. He’s probably twenty-five, about five-eight, curly blonde hair and bright green eyes. He’s the whitest person I ever seen. You can see blue veins at his temples and on his hands and by his eyes. He cries so much his eyes remind me of when Mallory got the conjunctivitis once. Her eyes were green like Clyde’s.

Clyde’s cell is next to mine. He prays real loud all night asking God for forgiveness. It makes me laugh. “God’s forgiveness ain’t going to help you,” I say to him. Because God don’t forgive you ‘til you die anyway, right? He better pray his appeal goes in front a sympathetic jury, I tell him. One that believes he killed his own momma in self-defense. His own momma. I ain’t even that sick.

Frank Aucoin’s cell is on the other side. He’s been waiting on his appeal for twenty years. He’s sixty-two, got prostate cancer. One night he woke us all up hollering and screaming his cum was bloody. Doctors gave him six months. That was two years ago. He’s six-two, weighs about a buck ten, can’t barely hold himself up some days, and he shits himself. He’s got a sister who comes once a week after Sunday services. She says it’s a miracle he’s still alive. I say it’s karma.

I was twenty-one when I came to The Farm. Since then I only known one man been sent to Camp F, and that was Howard Saucier-The Crescent City Cutter. Murdered twenty-two prostitutes by slicing them down the middle. He carved each one starting right at her diseased hatchet slash and ending at her chin. He used the same serrated knife for all of them.

Howard wasn’t scared to die, or he pretended not to be. But he sure never let on if he was because he was one jovial motherfucker, that’s the truth. I used to think if Howard wasn’t so deranged he’d be a cool guy to hang with. But he was lofty as a loon, and that’s the truth, too. He had clear blue eyes, the kind you think belong to the Devil. There wasn’t no repentance in them eyes. Not like the petunia next door with his crying and begging for God’s mercy all the time.

Howard wasn’t no dumb ass, either. When he got his book allowance he always picked the real long ones. I used to think of Mallory telling me I should read more. “If you read more you’d broaden your vocabulary,” she said. I didn’t need to broaden my vocabulary. I did just fine with the one I got, I said. Mallory was always making like I was a dipshit. Well maybe I am a dipshit. But her reading didn’t do nothing to save her, so fuck her and her vocabulary.

Howard’s people had money, and they sent him to some rich kid private boys’ school until he was sixteen, he said, and then he was kicked out for assaulting the school nurse. “She had tits this big,” Howard said holding his arms out from his chest. “I just wanted a taste.”

He went to juvenile but they had to let him go when he was twenty-one. While he was locked up he got his G.E.D., and he went to college when he got out. Then he went to medical school, because he liked to dissect things, he said. He told me a story once about the first time his class cut open a cadaver. “I came in my pants,” he said.

I’m not too sure about Howard’s religion, but he read the Bible a lot. He always liked the stories where God smote mankind because He got pissed off for one reason or another. Some of them I remembered from Bible study, sitting in the rectory with twelve other kids and my thighs sticking to the plastic chairs in the summer. It was hot as hell because they only had one of them window air condition units. In the winter we would fight over who was going to sit closest to the space heater.  “I can get behind a God who tortures His own creations,” Howard said. “Divine retribution.” He smiled.

Howard liked to screw with the guards. They ignored him most of the time. Sometimes he went too far, and they had to handle up on him. They don’t like to do that too much because it riles everybody up. Like this once when he was let out for gate time, Howard attacked the guard and bit him on the neck just like Dracula. Five guards jumped him, and they threw him in isolation. We was all on lock down afterwards.

Howard was in there a while, and he was a little calmer when he came out. That wasn’t too long before he moved to Camp F. We didn’t know because they don’t tell us that kind of stuff. Only the warden knows, but one day Howard was taken out for his shower time and never came back. They could’ve plugged him and threw him out in the cotton field to the crows for all I know. But I figure he went to the chamber. We all got a little quieter after that. I guess it sounds weird to say somebody would miss a guy like Howard, but I did a little. He never done me nothing.

Every Sunday the chaplain comes to give Communion and for confession.  I don’t trust him. Looks like he probably jerks off to kiddy porn. I don’t got nothing to confess, anyway. I already gave my confession to the cops. And when the judge asked me how I plead, I said guilty. So I don’t got nothing to say to no stupid chaplain. I tell him to go see Clyde.

After the chaplain leaves we’re let out in the yard for an hour. I don’t keep a calendar, but sometimes I can tell what time of year it is by the weather. Sometimes. But down here it can be eighty in the winter, so I don’t never know. I don’t want to know. I just know three times a week I get to go outside, and sometimes it’s hot and sometimes it ain’t. If it’s raining we got to wait for the next day. And if the sky is clear and the sun is beating us down, we sit there holding our hands over our eyes until the guards say it’s time to go back in. Some guys exercise or jog around the yard, but I rather just sit by Frank and breathe the fresh air. What I got to be in shape for?

My lawyer, Art, usually comes once every couple weeks. It depends on how much he’s got court. He said he can’t get me off but he can get me out of the death penalty. He thinks. But I been here thirteen years, and I don’t want to be put in population. I don’t share my cell with nobody, and I get to shower by myself, except for the guards watching me.

I ain’t going to lie. I was real scared at first when I got here. Especially because they was giving me death, and I didn’t want to die. But I figure ain’t nothing to live for anyway. What I got to look forward to? Prostate cancer and bloody cum? I might as well die here. Got to die some place.

“Vince, I’m working hard on your appeal,” Art always says. “I’m not giving up on you. I think I can get your charges reduced to manslaughter. With time served you might only be looking at ten or twelve more years.”

Ten or twelve more years, like it’s a consolation. Not that I wouldn’t want to be free to walk right out of here and go home. If I had a home. But I ain’t. And I don’t think Art’s going to get me out, but my momma keeps paying him with my daddy’s social security, and he keeps taking her money. I don’t have the heart to tell my momma I’m going to die here. So I don’t say nothing.

I went to court about six months ago. It was the middle of summer, and so hot that most times we asked to stay inside when it was time to go out. One day the needle on the outdoor thermometer the guards hung by the door was wobbling between one-ten and one-twenty. We went out for about fifteen minutes, but Frank fell out and we came back in. Nobody complained though. My balls was wet and hot as cotton panties on a virgin at a Bourbon Street sex show, and sticking to my thighs.

My momma bought me a new suit because my old one didn’t fit no more seeing as all the weight I lost. It was a tan color and the tag said it was seersucker. It probably cost more than my momma could afford. I got cleaned up and dressed and brushed my hair and shaved and waited for Art.

The courtroom was real cold compared to outside. My fingers felt like frozen fish sticks. Art was talking to the jury, and my momma was sitting behind me. I could hear her sniffling the whole time. I wanted to turn around, but I wasn’t supposed to. Art gave me a yellow legal pad and a rubbery, bendy pen. They make them like that for safety reasons, to make sure you ain’t going to jab it in somebody’s neck or nothing. I didn’t have nothing to write so I scribbled some drawings like you do when you’re bored in school and the teacher won’t shut up. Plus I wanted to look busy and not like I was just sitting there doing nothing like a psychopath. Because I ain’t one.

I thought of Mallory. I drew her face, the way it was when we met. I colored in her dark hair. She kept it long back then. I bet that asshole Nate is the one told her to cut it. “He stimulates my mind,” she said. It wasn’t the only thing he was stimulating. He might’ve had a broad vocabulary too, but it shrunk up real good when I put my Beretta between his teeth.

“Your honor, members of the jury,” said Art, “I think we can all agree that what my client Mr. LeRoche-a man with no prior criminal record-experienced on the date of June seventeenth nineteen-ninety-eight was an unconscious rage, a type of temporary madness if you will, brought on by blind fury and passion.”

I scratched out Mallory’s face. I didn’t want to see it no more. I was still mad at her for running around on me, and for being such a bitch about it, and on our anniversary. “What do you expect, Vincent?” She always called me Vincent even though most everybody else calls me Vince. “Nate makes me feel . . . sexy.”

“And what I don’t?”

“No. You make me feel like I’m being pawed by an inexperienced prepubescent.”

I didn’t know what she meant exactly, but I knew it wasn’t no compliment. Something thumped against the closet door. “No,” Mallory gasped when I swung the door open. Some dude was kneeling right between my Dickies and my Levis. I figured he was Nate. The shoebox where I kept my pistol was open on the floor. I looked at Nate again. Maybe he was hoping it was in there. Maybe he was going to shoot me. But it wasn’t in there. It was in my hand, and then his brains was all over my Levis and my Dickies. I felt calm in a strange way.

Mallory screamed and tried to run out the room, but I caught her by the hair and threw her in the closet right next to her boyfriend. Her mouth was stuck open like it froze that way. It reminded me of when my grandma died and we didn’t find her for five days after. Her mouth was opened like that. Mallory lifted her left hand to cover her face, and I seen she wasn’t wearing her wedding ring. “You dirty slut,” I said. Mallory’s eyes was wide and tears was flowing out of them like a busted spigot.

I reached down and grabbed a fistful of her hair and pulled her out the closet. I threw her on the bed and held one hand over her mouth. The other hand held my Beretta. I crushed her body against the mattress with my body.

“Psychopath!” She was crying, curled up in a ball in the middle of the bed. She was staring at her boyfriend in the closet. I grinned and raised my gun again. Mallory tried to run but I was quicker. Maroon slime and something that looked like oatmeal splattered against the wall. Long streams ran down to the sand colored carpet. I thought of Mallory always complaining how she hated them white walls. “These walls are so bland. You need to paint them.”

I heard sirens and guessed the neighbors called the cops. They pulled up while I was sitting on the porch smoking my Camels. They had their guns on me while I finished my cigarette and threw it in the grass. Two of them snuck me and tackled me out my chair. One of them crushed my face into the cement with his boot while another one cuffed me. Cops were crawling all over the house. There was about twenty cop cars in the street it seemed like. I just sat there until they put me in the car. I didn’t say nothing. Wasn’t nothing to say.

Mallory and Nate’s family members got to talk to the jury after Art was finished his speech. Nate’s momma showed them pictures from when he was a baby and pictures of him when he was in school. I thought about how much she loved him, and my momma sitting behind me in the courtroom crying, and of Clyde killing his own momma.

Nate’s sister wrote a poem she read to the jury. His dad stood up and told me I deserved to be murdered, and he wished he could be the one to do it. My momma started crying real hard then, and Art went to calm her down.

Mallory’s parents stood up together and asked me why I did it. Her best friend that I always hated told the jury I condemned Mallory and Nate to death for their adulterous misdeeds, and asked them if they didn’t feel I deserved to be condemned to death, too. She had pictures and articles with headlines from the papers blown up to poster-size. She showed them to the jury. “Vidalia Love Triangle Ends in Murder,” read one of them. It had a picture of Mallory and me on our wedding day with a separate picture of Nate. “Concordia Sheriff Describes Scene as the Most Disturbing He’s Seen in Years,” read another. That one had a picture of our house taped off by the cops. “Small Town La. Man Charged with Rape, Murder,” read the last one, and it had my mug shot under it. Art objected but it was too late because they already seen it.

The jury came back after about an hour. Art kept handing Kleenex to my momma while the judge read the verdict. I was afraid Momma was going to choke to death because she wasn’t breathing right. Mallory and Nate’s families was clapping and hugging each other.

I turned around and said sorry to my momma. She grabbed me by my suit jacket and pressed her face into my chest. A dark, imperfect circle expanded outward from where her tears wet my shirt.

“I’m real sorry, Momma,” I whispered.

“We’ll get you another appeal, Vince. They can’t do anything as long as we keep appealing,” said Art.

My momma looked up at me. Make-up ran down her cheeks. I placed a hand on either side of her face, holding her small head in my hands. I used my thumbs to wipe the black streaks off her face. I thought about how much she probably paid for my suit, and I hoped the stain would come out. Because I don’t want her buying another one just to bury me.

 

Copyright Donnell Jeansonne. All rights reserved. Reproduction or duplication whole or in part not permitted without permission and credit to the author.

I Didn’t Even Prepare an Acceptance Speech

Winning. Not something that’s been a big part of my life. Much like the unfortunate likes of Charlie Brown or the Amazing Luckless Peter Parker, I’ve been one acquainted with catastrophe. Literally, and I’m not misusing literally.

I’ll never be the person who wins the Powerball twice in ten years (bastards) or finds a briefcase full of a million dollars (okay, seriously, that’s mob money). You won’t see me winning any competition. I’ve often joked that if there were a contest which required its winner to be named Donnell Jeansonne and have my social security number, some identity thief would win it.

But when you are a luckless schlub, you learn to really appreciate the things in life that some people might find trivial. To be completely cliché I’ll maintain I’ll never be wealthy, but my life is enriched by the people in it. Some of those people are close friends and family. Some are new friends. Some are acquaintances. Still, some are folks I’ve never met in real life, and may never meet.

One of those wonderful people is a lovely lady and author of the blog Pinwheels and Poppies. We met as WordPress bloggers when I first read her blog The Coming Adventures of a Soon-to-be Baldie in which she writes of an upcoming trip to Chicago to participate in a St. Baldrick’s event. The blog was posted on March 19, 2012-just thirteen days after I learned my own son, then twenty-eight months old, had a malignant brain tumor.

We’ve corresponded via the Internet since then, and today she shared something with me. Although I’ve been behind in blogging (I promise all of my free time is spent working on my novel.), she’s awarded my humble blog with the Liebster Award.

Coincidentally, I studied German for three years in high school and two in college. I can’t say I’m fluent anymore as parts of my brain have gone on permanent vacation. But I do know that among the word’s meanings, one of them is beloved. And with this knowledge, I want to thank my friend at Pinwheels and Poppies for awarding my blog, and as always for dedicating herself to helping raise money for pediatric cancer research.

My son Robot Boy and his dad

Now there are rules that go along with this award. Just like Spidey says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” These rules don’t appear to be carved in stone or anything, but basically they are intended for bloggers to pay it forward by acknowledging the blogger who awarded them and to pass it along to other, also lesser known, blogs. According to seemingly official Liebster Award criteria posted by P&P, an awarded blogger should recognize three to five other bloggers with less than 300 subscribers.

Past bloggers have also passed down rules that an awarded blogger should state eleven things about herself/himself, and should answer eleven questions set by the person giving the award. And that we should write eleven questions for our own awarded bloggers.

Since the lovely lady who has seen fit to give me this award has followed the eleven question rule, I will follow suit.

11 Questions for Me:

1. What is your earliest memory?
A tight squeeze and a bright light. Just kidding. My earliest memory is from last week. Who am I again?

2. What are your personal religious/spiritual beliefs?
Spiritual yes. Religious hardly.

3. Favorite comfort food?
I really can’t answer this question. I’m from NOLA. Everything is comfort food.

4. Are you crafty? If so, what’s your crafting niche?
Is sticking yourself repeatedly with sewing needles and burning yourself with hot glue guns a craft? Because if so, that.

5. Who do you think is hotter- Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr?
Johnny

6. What’s your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrology?
I was born on the Virgo/Libra cusp. I’m a little of both and a little of neither. I lean more toward the Libra in me. For entertainment purposes only.

7. How many countries have you been to? Which ones?
Four not including the USA. Mexico, St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Grand Caymen. Also the US Virgin Islands which I didn’t count because it’s the US.

8. Have you read 50 Shades of Grey? Opinion?
Nope.

9. Which decade do you feel like you belong in? Why?
The Seventies. I could see all the cool bands, man.

10. Do you garden? If yes, what kind of gardening do you do?
Does watching my husband mow the lawn count as gardening? Then yes.

11. What blows your mind more- outer space or life as we know it?
Outer space, man! Seriously. The universe is fucking awesome.

Now that that’s finished, here are eleven things to know about moi:

1. When you’re on fire you don’t remember to stop, drop, and roll. I know this from experience.

2. I say fuck a lot. But not as much as motherfucker.

3. I think if I had a British accent I’d be much funnier.

4. I once tap danced in front of the Cabildo and made $11-true story. Also, I can’t tap dance.

5. I’m pretty sure I’d make a successful psychic. I can’t see the future, but I’m pretty good at bullshitting people.

6. I like the Regular Show.

7. Me and my bestie once played Spider-Man for Playstation 2 for twelve straight hours until we finished because we didn’t have a memory card.

8. I’m fairly jolly for a person whose life’s in the shitter.

9. I am a book hoarder. I buy books I never read, some I do read, some I read multiple times. I am addicted to buying books.

10. Anyone who’s ever heard my name knows how much I love Queen and Freddie Mercury.

11. My fantasy destination in Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket

And here are the next award winners of the prestigious, glamorous, delicious Liebster Award. Drumroll please……..

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………..

1. Crazy Dumbsaint of the Mind
2. Transitioning Mom
3. hollyanne gets poetic
4. kimberliah
5. Mullings of Mind Tramp

Now to notify the winners…

Thank you again to Pinwheels and Poppies for considering my blog for this award!

It is with honor that I reblog the following. Deb at The Monster in Your Closet  has allowed me to be a part of her FTIAT (For This I Am Thankful) guest blogger series. She’s allowing me to share my poem October Son as part of this project, and for this and many other things, I am thankful.

 

 

Copyright Donnell Jeansonne. All rights reserved. Reproduction or duplication whole or in part not permitted without permission and credit to the author.

Mother’s Day

Photo credit: Africa via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m late on my post, but it’s something I wanted to share. Yesterday was a bad day for me, what with the baby in the hospital and all. I longed to be spending my time with my family-at the park and having dinner like we did last Mother’s Day.

I wanted to write this as a dedication to some very special women in my life.  Later is better than never, I guess.

I want to start with my maternal grandmother. She was born in 1926, but don’t tell anyone I told you. Her parents came to the good ol’ USA from Italy in the early 1900’s (or late 1800’s, I’m fuzzy on the details). My great-grandmother passed away when I was a toddler, but I vaguely remember that she spoke broken English and had a bird. She was a determined, strong woman who raised four kids and divorced her abusive husband-a very big deal to an Italian Catholic at that time. But she did what she had to, and they never had much, but they had what was important-lots of family. And pasta. I’m assuming the last part, but I know when I was growing up we always had a lot of that at my grandma’s.

I don’t know a whole lot about her youth, and I can’t begin to imagine what life was like for my grandma, the eldest of her siblings, helping raise the others. I figure things got pretty harsh at times, especially during the Depression. But they made it through, by the grace of God and by doing what was neccesary.

In her twenties, my grandma met and married my grandpa. They had three kids, one of which is my mother. The other two are my uncles. In his infancy, my grandmother’s middle son suffered an illness that left him disabled. I don’t even think my grandparents were given a clear answer at the time, but all I know is that my uncle suffered a high fever that damaged his young brain.

My grandmother spent days, weeks, months, years in and out of the hospital with my uncle-the very same hospital I am at now with Doodles. My uncle required many surgeries that spanned into his late teens or early twenties. She was told he wouldn’t walk or speak, but he does both-albeit with difficulty-and although age is taking the inevitable toll, he is able to participate in daily activities. He’s nearing sixty, and my grandmother-nearing eighty-six-is still caring for him.

I’ve learned that my grandmother has been inconsolable since she learned of Doodles’s illness, and I understand why. She is a mother, and she has been where I am, struggling, hoping, praying, begging for her son’s life. I am nearly her carbon copy, experiencing the same heartache, uncertainties, and longing that she did so many years ago. She is the only person near to me now that understands what it is to be me now, understands how it is to be the mother of a child with a life threatening and debilitating condition. She is one of an innumerable amount of reasons that I refuse to walk with my head down during this difficult time.

My grandmother’s youngest child is none other than my own mom. I don’t know how to begin to describe this woman. She is vibrant, exuberant, hard-working, no-holds-barred, badass, outspoken, lively, extroverted, loving, level-headed, funny, optimistic, and just a little quirky. She is the reason I love reading and writing. She is the reason I am everything I am today. I am proud to be her daughter. She is the reason I am proud to be a woman.

In this chapter of my life, my mother is my best-friend. Not always the case. There were those teenage years when I was becoming my own independent person, and we butted heads-a lot. But as an adult, and especially as a mother, I know she was kicking my ass down the right path. Figuratively, of course.

She is the woman who first introduced me to Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe and Hitchcock and old time movie monsters and scary movies and all the frightfully delightful things I adore. She is the woman who nurtured my imagination and creativity. She’s the woman with whom I sat on so many Saturday mornings or evenings watching pitifully horrible B movies and laughing our asses off (still do). She is the woman I would be if I were a better woman.

Lastly, I want to write about my late paternal grandmother. Like my maternal grandmother, I know little of her childhood, but I do know she was born and raised in rural Louisiana on a farm. At some point, they moved to the city, then the suburbs. She married my grandfather and they had three sons, one of which is, of course, my father.

I understand that in her youth she suffered an ailment in her legs that required the wearing of braces, and she continued to have some problems into adulthood. She worked hard to raise her kids while my grandfather worked shift work at a local refinery.

After the floods of Hurricane Katrina claimed their home, my grandparents moved back to the country to live out their twilight years. My grandmother became ill and didn’t recover, passing away just over a month before Doodles was born. She was so excited to have a great-grandchild, and if there is an afterlife, maybe she’s there watching us now and sending positive energy our way.

I love these women. They have shaped who I am. They deserve recognition everyday. And I thank them.