Feature stories

Friday, July 29, 2005

A ‘Buddy’ in Need Became a Friend Indeed
- Lisa Schleiss (DFW Lab Rescue)
Buddy was dumped on the farm of a sheriff's deputy in Wills Point, TX last Fall. The family took pity on him and gave him food, as he was completely emaciated. They took him to a local vet for a visual once-over, but x-rays and additional treatment were going to be an enormous expense. So, without hesitation, DFW Lab Rescue came to the aid of this ailing boy.
It is believed that Buddy may have been run over (not just hit) by a car. He was wasted away in the back, his ribs were distended and his backbone stuck way up. This young boy had a large tear in his diaphragm and his intestines were protruding part way through the tear! He had 4 liters of fluid around (not in) his lungs and stomach due to the injuries. Lying down or exerting caused Buddy to have very labored breathing. He was almost lost on the operating table but the quick response of the Metroplex surgical team along with Buddy’s determination to live saved him. This boy is SUCH a fighter!!! He made it through the critical 24 hours after surgery, began walking around and his breathing improved tremendously.
During recovery in his foster home Buddy proved to be a handsome, loving boy who didn’t seem to know the terrible tragedy and pain that had consumed him just weeks before. Shortly after his recuperation period, Buddy found his forever home with Jon and Sami Alford and their 2 year-old basset hound, Landry.
Today Buddy is a playful, energetic, loving Lab. His new family tells us that he loves to give kisses, loves attention and his favorite thing is to roll onto his back and have his belly rubbed. He and his sister Landry play until their chests are heaving and their tongues are hanging out of their mouths! You would never know that he had such a hard life in the past.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Pet Pampering Parties

Andrew N. Shure
Founder
SHURE PETS®


Andrew N. Shure, is founder of Shure Pets®, the leading direct sale supplier in the estimated $36 billion pet product industry. He founded the company in 2002 and officially launched in September of 2003 with the vision of offering specialty pet items and accessories through a close-knit family of passionate and knowledgeable Pet Consultants. Since its conception, Shure Pets has grown exponentially to a network of more than 500 independent consultants throughout the nation and in Puerto Rico.

As a Chicago native, Shure has founded numerous business ventures. His dynamic experience in sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution, combined now with his passion for pets, position Shure Pets to continue to grow under his leadership tapping two rapidly growing industries – pet products and direct sales.

In 1996, Shure’s marketing capabilities were demonstrated when he co-founded the integrated marketing services firm ShureBerger, Inc

In 1991, he co-founded Shure Products, Inc., a manufacturer of educational toys and publisher of children’s books. This venture now maintains offices in the U.S. and China with national and international distribution.

Previously, Shure served as the director of the toy division for Tokyo-based Combi International Corp., the largest manufacturer of juvenile products in Japan. Responsible for sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution, Shure outlined new distribution channels that helped the company double its account base.

Shure is a 1985 graduate of American University, where he earned his B.S. from the Kogod School of Business. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

Shure lives in Chicago with his children Karen and Richard, and dog Caillou (pronounced kī•y ), who is put to work daily as the vice president of pet relations at Shure Pets’ headquarters.

Shure Pets® is headquartered in Chicago, IL, at 1556 North LaSalle Street. For more information on the company or to learn how to become a Shure Pets® Pet Consultant™, contact the corporate office via telephone, 312.944.3600; facsimile, 312.944.3750; or email, info@shurepets.com; or visit www.shurepets.com.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Contact Info

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas
wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas
wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas

wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas
wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas

wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas
wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas

wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas
wordtrix@hotmail.com

Terri Rimmer

Freelance Writer

817.923.3293
Fort Worth, Texas

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Boot Scootin' For A Good Cause

4th Annual Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN
October 15, 2005
University of N. Texas Health Science Center in the Atrium
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Sponsor Sign Up Form

Company Information

Company:

Address:

City: State: Zip:

Phone: Fax: E-mail:

Name of Individual Authorized to make Donation (print):

Signature of Authorized Individual:


 We will sponsor Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN as a:




Platinum Spur Sponsor
$1,000 or more • PanCAN Newsletter & Website
• Pre-event advertising & media
• Signage
• Program Book
• 20 complementary event registrations


Gold Spur Sponsor
$500 to $999 • Pre-event advertising & media
• Signage
• Program Book
• 10 complementary event registrations
Silver Spur Sponsor

$250-$499 • Signage
• Program Book
• 5 complementary event registrations

Bronze Spur Sponsor
$100 - $249 • Program Book
• 2 complementary event registrations
We will sponsor Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN by providing the following in-kind donation:
____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This in-kind donation has a value of $___________which was determined by: ___________________________________________
(Please indicate the basis used for valuation, i.e. retail value, invoice price, etc)

Please return this letter of intent and your monetary contribution (if applicable) by August 31, 2005. All companies making in-kind donations will be contacted to arrange for pick-up/drop-off of their products (if applicable) prior to the event. All sponsorship forms and monetary contributions should be sent to:

Virginia Griffin Thank you for your support of this fundraising event for PanCAN!
PanCAN Team Hope Texas – Fort Worth
2509 Wills Way Dr. Nat'l Headquarters 2221 Rosecrans Ave. Suite 131
Granbury, TX 76049 Phone # 817-573-8896 El Segundo, CA 90246

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On-going Fort Worth Business Event

DFW Chapter of National Association of Women Business Owners, Second Monday of the month 11:30-1. For location and other info call 214-428-7475 or go to nawbotx.org

Fort Worth Women's Business Center Breakfast, Tuesdays, 7 a.m., Holiday Inn, N. I-35 and Meacham Blvd, 871-6025 or fwbac.com/bac/bac/calendar.htm

Women's Roundtable Networking, Tuesdays 8-9 a.m., 1150 S. Freeway, #2, 871-6025. No reservations needed.

Business Referral Group, Wednesdays, 11:30, Ramada Plaza, 1701 Commerce Street, downtown Fort Worth. Call Diana Dugan, 336-2491 #258

Women's Coaching, sponsored by the Fort Worth Women's Business Center, 2nd and 4th Wed. of each month only, 11 a.m., Business Assistance Center. Contact 871-6025 or go to fwbac.com

The Woodrose Mastermind Group, Thursdays, business related focus group, 4-5:30 p.m., Woodrose Company, Inc., 3531 Alta Mere Drive, $5.00, 377-4477.

Monday, July 18, 2005

October Event For a Cure

4th Annual Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN
October 15, 2005
University of N. Texas Health Science Center in the Atrium
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Sponsor Sign Up Form

Company Information

Company:

Address:

City: State: Zip:

Phone: Fax: E-mail:

Name of Individual Authorized to make Donation (print):

Signature of Authorized Individual:


 We will sponsor Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN as a:




Platinum Spur Sponsor
$1,000 or more • PanCAN Newsletter & Website
• Pre-event advertising & media
• Signage
• Program Book
• 20 complementary event registrations


Gold Spur Sponsor
$500 to $999 • Pre-event advertising & media
• Signage
• Program Book
• 10 complementary event registrations
Silver Spur Sponsor

$250-$499 • Signage
• Program Book
• 5 complementary event registrations

Bronze Spur Sponsor
$100 - $249 • Program Book
• 2 complementary event registrations
We will sponsor Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for PanCAN by providing the following in-kind donation:
____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This in-kind donation has a value of $___________which was determined by: ___________________________________________
(Please indicate the basis used for valuation, i.e. retail value, invoice price, etc)

Please return this letter of intent and your monetary contribution (if applicable) by August 31, 2005. All companies making in-kind donations will be contacted to arrange for pick-up/drop-off of their products (if applicable) prior to the event. All sponsorship forms and monetary contributions should be sent to:

Virginia Griffin Thank you for your support of this fundraising event for PanCAN!
PanCAN Team Hope Texas – Fort Worth
2509 Wills Way Dr. Nat'l Headquarters 2221 Rosecrans Ave. Suite 131
Granbury, TX 76049 Phone # 817-573-8896 El Segundo, CA 90246 877-2PAN

Friday, July 15, 2005

October Fundraiser

Save the date!


4th annual
ol’ country’s boot scootin’ for pancan
in memory of cecil e. davis
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Pancreatic cancer benefit

Join us for a fun evening!

Bbq dinner – dance – silent auction – raffles!
At the
University of north texas health science center
In the atrium
3500 camp bowie blvd.
Fort worth, tx

Come for a great evening of fun
While we are
Working together for a cure!

Please reserve ______ places for dinner @ $15 ea $________ Call for more information
I cannot attend, but wish to make a fully tax deductible donation $_______ or mail reservation to:
Enclosed is my check or money order for $ __________ Virginia Griffin
Payment can be made by credit card Visa ____ Master Card____ PanCAN Team Hope
American Express___ or by check made payable to PanCAN Texas – Fort Worth
Name: ______________________________________________________ Coordinator
Address:_____________________________________________________ 2509 Wills Way Dr.
City:___________________________ State:__________ Zip___________ Granbury, TX 76049
Phone: (_____)________________ E-mail:__________________________
Card # ____________________________________ Exp. Date: _________ Call: 817-573-8896 or
Signature: ____________________________________________________ 817-578-1791
Email: vgriffin@pancan.org
Early response encouraged!
Nat’l Headquarters 2221 Rosecrans Ave. Suite 131 El Segundo, CA 90246 877-2PANCAN
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. (PanCAN) is a 501©(3) non-profit corporation Federal Tax ID 33-0841281

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Before I Die

Before I die:

Make amends
See McKenna get married and have a child
Take better care of my pets
Get books published
Skydive
Meet Robin Williams
Take flying lessons and get my license
Go to Europe, Italy, Australia, Greece, Holland, Mexico
See the world
Take belly dancing
Take horseback riding lessons
Get a horse
Lose weight and keep it off
Remodel house
Hang glide
Get divorced
Go to San Fran
Finish school
Remarry
Have another child?
Give to more charities
Start my own business
Start my own magazine
Take photography lessons
Take salsa lessons
Get rid of clutter
Get digital camera, camcorder
Transfer videos to DVDs
See Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, The Stones, Sarah McLachlan in concert
See Sheryl Crowe in concert
Learn to speak Italian
Get my asthma under control
Learn to play the piano
Overcome my fears
Be able to live and pay my bills without having to be on disability
Have money in the bank
Get a boat
Overcome my abuse
Overcome the past
Learn to meditate and do it daily
Go to 90 in 90
Be cured of my allergies
Not have to take anti-depressants

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

From PANCAN

2005 Pancreatic Cancer Facts


In America, one in three women, and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

Approximately 32,180 people will be diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer this year in the United States and 31,800 people will die.

Pancreatic Cancer has the #1 fatality rate of all cancers.

Pancreatic Cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The 99% mortality rate for pancreatic cancer is the highest of any cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer does not discriminate by age, gender or race and only 4% of patients will survive beyond 5 years.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just 3-6 months.

No effective early detection methods have been developed, there are minimal treatment options available and very little research is under way due to limited research funding.

An estimated 36.5 million dollars was spent on pancreatic cancer research in 2003 of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) cancer research budget. This is just a mere 0.8 of 1% of the NCI’s 4.592 billion dollar cancer research budget for 2003.

Despite the especially lethal nature of pancreatic cancer, the research spending per pancreatic cancer patient is only $1145, the lowest of any leading cancer.

It is time to take action against a disease that has been ignored for too long.

We have the power to do something about this disease.
You have the power to help us.
Working Together for a Cure!
www.pancan.org
877-272-6226

Monday, July 11, 2005

Synopsis of E Book

>title: MacKenzie\'s Hope
> author: Terri Rimmer
> email address: wordtrix@hotmail.com
> ebook price: $10.00
> paperback price: $
> hardback price: $
> format: ebook
> pages: 238
> category: Family
>
> sample chapters: Chapter One
>
> KEYWORDS:
>Birth moms, adoption
>
> SHORT DESCRIPTION:
>A true story of a birth mom\'s experience placing her child in an open
adoption.
>
> LONG DESCRIPTION:
>MacKenzie’s hope is the true story of one birth mom’s experience placing
her child in a semi-open adoption while living in a maternity home in Fort
Worth, TX. The story takes place in the year 2000 and includes a childhood
background of the author/birth mom detailing her many obstacles throughout
life such as alcoholism, depression, sexual and physical abuse, sex
addiction, and bipolar disorder. While the story is at times tragic it is
also the portrait of a woman who will not and does not give up despite
what others tell her throughout her life.
>
>The story begins when Tara, the birth mom finds out she is pregnant for
the first time at the age of 34. For 14 years she did not think she was
physically capable of having children so this pregnancy news was a huge
shock and not happy news given the birth mom’s mental and physical
conditions. The birth mom is in constant conflict, which she later
resolves, between society’s expectations of her as a mother preparing to
have a child and her own resolve to give her child the home she deserves.
Tara deals continuously with guilt, shame, remorse, and regret before,
during, and after her decision to place her only child for adoption,
however she does come to terms with her commitment eventually after a
series of painful and intense self-discoveries on her path to peace and
happiness.
>
>The book gives the reader a rare look at what it is like to make an
adoption decision from the birth mom’s standpoint and also includes the
experiences of the adoptive parents, the birth mom’s siblings, adoptive
parents’ families, and other adoptive children, the birth father,
biological grandparents, relatives, and house parents who work in the
maternity home. The story is one of rich detail and imagery captured from
the eyes of the birth mom and her emotions, experiences, and memories
coupled with the communications from her significant others which include
a close relationship with the adoptive parents she later chooses for her
child.
>
>

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bio

Terri Rimmer has 21 years of journalism experience, having worked for ten newspapers and some magazines. In 2003 her life story was published online at Adoption Week E-Magazine's website and in 2002 she received a grant from the PEN American Writer's Fund in New York City. In 2001 her adoption journal was published online at adoption.about.com and in 1991 she won a Florida Press Association Award for a series of articles she wrote regarding prayer and Bible reading in the schools. She also has experience in public relations and in 1987 earned a journalism scholarship while attending West Georgia College as a Mass Communications major. As a student there she worked her way up from beat reporter/typesetter to staff writer to assistant news editor to editor within a four-year period. A native of Georgia, she resides in Fort Worth, TX.

Friday, July 08, 2005

AGAPE

By Terri Rimmer

In August 1981 having spent the summer being subjected to more of my dad's sexual abuse and having kept my sister Cindy updated the whole time as to the progression of his behavior, she and I went to a church agency in hopes of getting some help.

It was called AGAPE and it was a foster child placement agency where Church of Christ members take in abused and/or neglected children temporarily, sometimes leading to a permanent placement later. Although my sister and I had attended this particular church a few years earlier, we were not currently members but had no other resources at our disposal.

Having made the call to Cindy that summer day telling her that things with my dad had escalated to the point where I was in fear for my life and terrified that he was going to cross the line to intercourse with me, she and I now sat in the small lobby of AGAPE and waited to talk to a counselor. Numerous pictures lined the halls and walls in the building of happy families with their children and foster children.

Nervously we explained the situation and I was told I would be placed for three weeks with a couple who had two daughters until a permanent foster home could be found for me within the church.

It's all fuzzy as to how I managed to get away from my dad the day I left to move in with this family. I only know Cindy rescued me once again to take me to the agency, whose counselor would then drive me to my new temporary home close by the church.

The Letchworths were in their 40s and their little girls, Jill, 1, and another daughter, age 7, were avid churchgoers with their parents. Carol, the mom, was a homemaker and her husband Tom was a gentle, loving provider who reminded me of Mr. Cunningham from the show "Happy Days". Their older daughter was a feisty one with lots of energy and often lots of tantrums. Jill was adorable and had long blondish-brown hair and chipmunk cheeks, usually with a smile on her face. I still have a picture of her somewhere.

From the beginning it was peaceful, the most calm I'd ever felt in a home. There were no fights, no throwing of dishes, craziness, and no parties. I was given a few chores, though not many and basically all I had to do was go to school, do my homework, and be the fifteen-year-old I was.

Although my time there was brief, I have fond memories of my stay. Carol cooked every night, the family ate together, dealt with their older daughter's outbursts, doted on the kids, watched t.v., and did the typical domestic things a "normal" family would do.

On Labor Day we went to one of my favorite beaches, a man-made beach where Cindy and I had gone to day camp. I remember just sitting on my beach towel, calmly, watching this foster couple I lived with tend to their children. We later picnicked with no drama or trauma, just as a family.

During this entire time I was in touch with Cindy through letters, visits, and phone calls and we were both grateful I had a good home even though we knew it was temporary. I figured if the permanent one was going to be anything like this temporary one, I was home free.

As part of wanting to please this couple, I got baptized in their church. I had no religious leanings nor beliefs except for maybe being mad at God for my childhood though I didn't know that at the time. But I saw how important being baptized was to them so I volunteered one Sunday night much to their extreme excitement.

They got on the phone immediately afterwards and told my soon to be permanent foster parents who I hadn't met yet, also church members and the four of them were now so excited for me, so proud. I couldn't let them down.

So I didn't have any behavioral problems while living with my temporary family because I felt accepted, loved, and I didn't want to mess up my permanent placement. I didn't know at the time I was angry for the past or present because I wanted so much to have a permanent, good, safe home. So I just stuffed my feelings and put all my energy into pleasing everyone.

It touched me that Mrs. Letchworth trusted me with her kids, even if it meant just for a minute as she ran in the store for a second. She made special meals for us, asked me about school, and hugged me good night. I didn't feel unsafe with her husband and sometimes in the late afternoon as I lay in bed I could hear the high school band practicing and I would fantasize about being a majorette, twirling my baton high in the air and being admired.

I had taken up baton twirling at the age of ten and was good at it but never good enough to make it on the squad though it was something I'd always dreamed of. I was too shy, too awkward, and it was all I could do just to survive and get through a day. It took all my emotional energy to tend to what I had to do every day.

When I hear stories about foster kids being abused in their new foster homes I am always so grateful that that didn't happen to me and very sad for them because they were being re-abused.

Not long before I left The Letchworths they told me they were going to be moving out of state, back toward one of their hometowns. I was sad about this but I hadn't gotten too attached since I was only there for a short time.

Soon the time came for me to meet my new foster parents, the permanent ones where I was supposed to stay until I graduated from high school. They were excited to meet me and lived close to their church, also.

I said a sad goodbye to The Letchworths but knew where I was going was going to be just as nice if not even better.

Or at least that's what I hoped for and expected with all of my heart.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Merged Life

By Terri Rimmer

Born into an alcoholic family as the youngest of four girls I had no idea of the abuse that would come to torment my life for 14 years.

Both my mother and father were harsh abusers, my father sexually, my mom physically. How can a young girl possibly grow into a health adolescent when what she knows about life is taught by the hands of a sick man and mother intent to poison? I may not ever understand, but perhaps that is my journey.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer when in the third grade I got an A plus on a short story I wrote. I loved it and wrote every chance I got at my dadÂ’s encouragement and the feeling and dream reverberated in my soul, refusing to leave me ever. When I was 8 I was devastated to learn of my parents divorcing and to add insult to injury my mom left my sisters and me with our dad.

My older sister, Cindy became my hero. She fluffed my pajamas in the dryer before bed, sewed my Girl Scout badges on my uniform, comforted me when the kids made fun of my glasses, skinniness, and shyness, and read me bedtime stories. She also became the surrogate mom in our newly formed mini-family. When I was 11 to my surprise and fear Cindy could take no more of the sexual abuse and told our mom about what had been going on for years, something my mom claimed to know nothing about at the time. To escape fear and uncertainty from the time I was 11 I concocted a rich fantasy world to counteract the hellishness that was my childhood and later my adulthood. I felt so alone as I went to live with my mom and Cindy requested to be sent to a foster home of her teachers. My other sister, Debbie had already left home by this time and my half-sister, Joy, ran away to live with her biological dad.

To my confusion our dad was fighting for custody when I was 12. At this time I was living with my mom but the physical abuse was continuing and by this time I had a step dad to contend with who was verbally abusive although he loved me and was also good to me. Due to increasing problems getting along with my step dad, much to my horror my mom put me in a childrenÂ’s home when I was 14 where I became anorexic to get her attention, which did not work.

After several other placements and through no choice of my own I went to live with my dad because my mom and step dad didn't want to deal with me. I was numb to the fact that while living with my dad, the abuse escalated as it did with my sisters. To my disgust my dad used to critique my stories while fondling me. As a result I thought everything I wrote was “bad” and I shut down my feelings for years. Despite my utter fear of him, I turned my dad in for sexual abuse for the first time at the age of 15. Holding my hand my sister, Cindy, drove me to the AGAPE Church of Christ Agency which placed abused and/or neglected children with church members. I was scared but determined when I was put into a temporary three-week foster home that I liked but knew I’d have to leave. Despite my stubbornness I got baptized just to please them because I wanted them to like me and maybe change their minds. But because of my tremendous defensiveness, fear, walls I built around me like Fort Knox, that placement didn't work out and my mom took me back just until after the holidays.

To my shock at the first of the year I was placed into a girlsÂ’ juvenile group home of six troubled teenagers. While there I was determined to be normal so I worked at Six Flags, my first real job, and took acting lessons. After a year and a half, disgusted with the fact that I would never get to leave no matter how good I was and watching so many other girls leave when they were disobedient, I sabotaged myself and got kicked out. After three weeks with my dad he was ready to buy me birth control pills so we could finally have sex and I was beyond terrified. Once again, Cindy came to the rescue and after trying to move back to my momÂ’s and being turned down by my step dad, we went to the Department of Family & ChildrenÂ’s Services (DEFACS) and as the realization set in finally that my own parents didn't want me, I was placed in an emergency shelter where I was to live for a year in between one other foster home. I spent my senior year of high school in a foster home and barely graduated from high school but I had already been accepted to two colleges and still wanted to be a writer refusing to let anyone stomp on my dream no matter what IÂ’d been through. My successes were winning a Creative Writing award and passing my SATs - so I was not my past.

When I was in college, I found out my dad was molested by his brother. My college years were spent working and writing for the school paper and school magazine. I worked my way up from beat reporter to staff writer to assistant news editor to editor of the campus paper and, became co-editor of the school magazine, and received a journalism scholarship. The newspaper staff and drama people partied together constantly and bonds were formed, relationships were made, and break-ups were common. Determined to not let my dad ruin my future I applied for my first fantasy freelance job, writing for a magazine. I sold my first article at the age of 24 for $200 and I still have the copy of the check in a frame. In 1991 I was so excited to win a Florida Press Association Award, an affirmation from a large entity.

In 1994, driven by my fortitude in my past and a passion for making a difference I became a Guardian Ad Litem (child advocate) and felt like my life had come full circle. Two years later, after moving to Texas, I became a child advocate there, testifying in my second court case. I felt like I had a new lease on life. It made me feel like after being a GAL I still had what it took to be a good advocate. I remembered how exuberant I was when an attorney told me that the judge loved me after I testified in a termination of parental rights trial. I had testified in two court cases resulting in victories. A year after I moved to Texas, I still had a passion to help kids so I decided to become a PAL (Preparation for Adult Living) Mentor through Volunteers of America at my friendÂ’s urging. I was good at it and garnered two awards before quitting after missing my writing, something I never stopped doing on the side.

When I was 34, after thinking I couldn't get pregnant for 14 years, I got a positive pregnancy test. Though extremely tormented I knew I couldn't keep the baby because of living in abject poverty. Underneath it all I was a survivor who wanted more than anything to be a successful writer and wanted no part of my dad's life. I had spent my whole life trying to be someone I wasn't, namely someone that knew how to live but I finally broke free of my dad's clutches by looking at my daughter and seeing me. It was then that I smiled inside as I made the connection from my head to my heart for the first time - there was never anything wrong with me but my dad inflicted his sickness upon me.

"I have given you awesome parents and you're going to have a great life," I told my newborn daughter on Placement Day as I shielded her eyes from the sun. I who had always thought of me as selfish was performing the most selfless act I have ever performed and I don't know how. With all the strength I could muster with God's grace there was no choice but to do the right thing.

One day I got a letter from Mom:

"I hope that things are going okay for you," she wrote. "You know I told you earlier that I was going to write a long letter to each of you. You see when Mother died and even before, I did a lot of reflecting and thinking about my relationships with each of you. As she lay there not able to speak, I thought of so many things I wish I'd said. I didn't because she couldn't respond, and there were many things I wanted to ask her and now I'll never get the chance.

First I wanted tell you about my childhood and I believe that reflects the parent role. I was raised, as you know on a farm - nine children. We were very poor. We raised our own food. I can't remember when I didn't have to work or assume responsibilities; babysitting, my brothers and sisters when I wasn't much older than them. I handled tobacco when I was only seven, standing on a box to reach the table. That was expected of people back then. I don't blame my parents as they were brought up that way. My parents were always fighting over money, as there was never enough to provide even the barest essentials. I don't remember being a normal teenager. There was no prom or dances, as my parents couldn't afford them. The up side to all that is we talked with each other around the table. I dropped out of school in the 11th grade. I could see that my dad couldn't afford a gown rental, ring, or the necessary graduation costs.

I didn't date much as my dad was very strict so when I met my first husband he was older than me and a farmer, which impressed my dad. He pressured me to marry and after I promised I wouldn't go back on that. My parents had to sign for me as I was under age. I kept thinking why they never asked if that was what I wanted. If they had, I probably wouldn't have married. Anyway, the marriage was short-lived - no job and no child support. Anyway, I struggled with Grandma Hooker's help. She babysat for me to work long hours in a restaurant, which was all I knew how to do. There were constant legal battles over my son from my first husband. The judge allowed visitation and every time he took him and left the state where I couldn't find them. It was a black period for me for years.

I met your dad about this time. Up until then I had nothing in my life but work. He was very upbeat, loving, and fun loving, all the things I'd never known. He was a good dad to Joy, which was unusual. Most men didn't want a woman with children. He took me to New York to meet his family and asked me to marry him. We had to struggle very hard, as he was only an airman 1st in the Air Force, and right away I got pregnant with Debbie. We really couldn't afford another child but we managed.
You and Cindy came along when things were much better. Your dad got a good paying job and we bought our first home. We could buy about anything we wanted. Isn't it strange that underneath all this prosperity that there was decay worse than any termites ever! All the years I lived a lie! My sister lived with us in Jacksonville and babysat for us. She told my other sister that your dad made advances to her and that's why she went home so suddenly. My sister also told me that she was a victim. When I asked why no one told me, she stated they were afraid of hurting me and she knew he would convince me they were lying. He was very manipulative but I think I would have known. Anyway, it would have put up a signal for me to observe more.

There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not aware of what this has done to all of you. Joy has shared with me so many things that I never knew. I also made some mistakes in my decision about each of you and your lives. I never should have let you go in that children's) home.

I am so amazed at what a survivor you are in spite of all you've been through! I know, too that many people don't understand your giving up MacKenzie. You put her needs before yours. That takes so much courage and so many mothers don't have it. I know what you went through and still am going through. I finally realized that I was pulling my son apart like legal hamburger.

You are a very talented young woman. And then there's the writing talent you have. That's a special gift.

I love you very much and I'm so proud of you and all you've accomplished! I'm so proud to call you my daughter.

Love,
Mom"

I've written my story before but always devoid of emotion because I learned to shut off my feelings at such an early age so in a sense I guess this exercise in practicing emotion was healing as I began to thaw out my feelings. Last week I got word that my adoption novel I wrote based on a journal I kept while living in the maternity home was published as an e book by Booklocker.com and a foster care article I wrote is on poewar.com.

A writer needs material and I had it before the age of ten.

The material of life continues to inspire me to write - though now I am a bit wiser to its meaning.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

New Book

I have a new e book out on booklocker.com called "MacKenzie's Hope" under the family section. It's also listed on adopting.com. I also have written a foster care article on poewar.com called "The Teachers" under the "Off Topics" heading (top right hand corner of screen once you pull poewar.com site up).