Hey, I got your message!

Saying goodbye is not easy.

 

Walking through the valley of shadows, one might find that many of those shadows are no longer shades or reflections, but echoes.

Unless you live on a remote island with a volleyball as your companion, those around you, in your circle are part of you, and you, them.  Touching that green square on the phone that seems so familiar to me are the communications from loved ones that are no longer here.

Living on some nebulous cloud are the actual voices of some of those same people who no longer can speak.

I think the term audiophile might be archaic to many of you who read my blog.  Years ago, a wall of my house was dedicated to devices that played vinyl, reel to reel tape, and of course, cassette and even 8 track.  If you have never had the pleasure of slapping a cartridge in an-dash 8 track machine, you have missed something.

Digging through the closet of mysteries, I found several old reels of tapes that have gathered dust for decades.  Spending an inordinate amount of time getting one of the early machines to whirl the reels back and forth, I found the reverberations of my family’s voices who are long gone.  A similar thing happened when transferring old VHS tapes to DVD.

Viewing the large flat screen through prisms of tears, those loved ones spring to life once again.  Your heart aches as their memories burst through the waves of emotions that you thought you finally put to bed.  An emotional dam breaks as a tsunami of feelings you shared, knock you over. The pain you felt at their passing is now very real again.

You hear them talk and begin to count how many of them are no longer there.  How many of them have returned from whence they came.

As you listen, watch, or yes, read the text messages; somewhere in the back of your mind, a virtual calendar pops up, and the years re-wind.

‘When was it? Five, ten, twenty years, no longer than that, I was standing there, giving the eulogy.  I agonized for days writing that thing.  I practiced it, so I would not look the fool in front of hundreds of well-wishers.’

So many rainy days spent standing under a green awning as the cadaver like funeral home employee stands in the shadows while family and friends weep, or prattle on about how kind, good, etc. that the person was.

The smell of death lingers amongst the overpowering perfume of the flowers sent by loved ones; to adorn the pile of dirt that will one day in the not too distant future settle back into the recesses of the earth.

Children most probably experience this with their grandparents first, unlike me, who first went through this when a classmate in third grade, died from cancer.  My friend that shared so many secrets, so much laughter, was gone.  I now wept while holding the hand of a parent.  It rained then too.

Her blond curly hair was replaced by a knitted cap, and the pink ribbon that she used to wear was no place to be found.

I often wondered if God sent the rain to cry along with you, to let you know that he had not forgotten you, or your loved one.

After the last line of Amazing Grace is sung, the crowd disperses.  You stand there and look at the coffin with the small white flowers on top of it.  Cars start; some people chat while making plans for lunch or heading to someplace for a reception. Some return to work or some other place as they are busy.

You’re not there, you’re with that person in the box.  You want that one last hug, a smile of reassurance, or to feel the warmth of them.  That sense of humor that kept you laughing so hard that you thought you might pee yourself.

‘Wait, we can’t do this without them!’

Employees of the cemetery wait patiently for the last one to leave, so they can work in the shadows.

‘This is it, this is really it.’

Reality sets in as you force yourself to turn, to face away from that box, those flowers, and the empty chairs under the makeshift pavilion.

You’re torn, you don’t want to face the reality that it is over.  The rest of the family is waiting for you at the large sedan that will take you to the function.   Their figures are blurred and smeared as you slowly put one foot in front of the other like you have done your whole life, ever since that person in the box taught you to walk or tie your shoes.  You know, the one that told you to wear clean underwear just in case. Once there, in some fellowship hall, there will be more crying and hugging and whispers by those who start the sentence with ‘I heard.’

Those in charge of the sponsored event will paste on a face that they wear on Sunday as they direct you to a line and give you instructions.  Casseroles that were prepared for this event came out of the freezer and now adorn a long table with different crock pots and other warming devices. People you don’t even know or maybe met years ago will act like your best friend to be seen with you.  Then they will tell you about how it was when their great aunt Martha passed after a long bout with something or other.  You try and act as if you care, but the pain of your loss is genuine and it is hard to appreciate their loss.

The silence keeps me up at night.  Even now, I can hear them all calling to me.

‘Stop grieving, it is all ok.  I am no longer in pain. I sent you those flowers in your garden, I can do that now.  Those clouds you saw turning into animals, that was me telling you those stories you used to love.  Those waves crashing on the rocks…yeah, I sent them to you too.  I know how much you love that sound.  When you are ready, I will tell you another story, just lay down on a blanket in the grass and watch, I have been working on some great stories for you.’

Do you delete the text messages, erase the tapes, and put the photos away in a box?  What about those voice mails telling you to call them when you get this.

“Hey, I got your message!”

Much Love -TW

Texas Roads, Drivers, and Climate Change

 

As we age, funerals are more commonplace.  Saying so long to a friend or family member is tough.  Traveling the last two weeks to funerals well over 200 miles from home only to turn around and return, makes for a long day.

Driving down 30 to 20 going out west I was amazed at several things.

Speed limit 60.  What does that mean?

When I was in Drivers-Ed that meant that you did 60mph or under it but not too much under as you don’t want to impede traffic flow.

I stayed right around 60, and I was impeding traffic.  Most drivers were well over 70 and many over that.

Part of the problem I think is that there are too few speed limit signs posted on 30.  This makes it easy to forget yourself, and before you know it, you are going much faster than 60.

I have lived here for many years, and I am not stupid enough to keep up with traffic.  Just about always there is a cop outside of the city of Ft. Worth who sits there running radar. Today there was one about a tenth of a mile before the speed turned up to 65 waiting for someone to go faster.

We need more signs alerting us of the speed and a little more law enforcement visibility.

I wanted to know what person designed the roads and decided what speeds that they should be in the country?  There are really good roads with slow speed limits, and then there are these “shithole” two-lane roads that are 70.  FFS really!

If you look at the roads carefully, you will see tire marks on the turns where some driver took them too fast and didn’t make it.  Are you working with the grim reaper to get the soul count up, or are you just that stupid?

My favorite is this, you are on this two-lane pothole-laden road doing 70 as to not get run over, in the blink of an eye, the speed goes from 70 to 30.  Yes Barney Fife or the 80-year-old version of him is sitting there waiting with his number 2 pencil and big chief tablet waiting for you.

“What does it cost to go 70 in a 30?” 

You got to be kidding me Cross Plains!  Is that how you generate revenue? Some attorney needs to file a class action lawsuit against the town of Cross Plains for this practice.   I am damned serious because they are not the only cities or towns that do this.  Tickets should not be revenue generators.

Now we have the good folks in Arlington Texas.  On a Saturday mind you with the temperature of 113 degrees on Hwy30, traffic comes to a standstill.  “Why?”

Piss poor planning on the engineers or contractors part leaving road construction idle in an area that is congested anyway.  Arlington should be pissed as they host the Cowboys, the Rangers and then there are Six Flags and a water park all right there.

It took 45 minutes to go less than one mile. Never mind that it is 113 in the shade and never mind that peoples tempers were even hotter but, if you really are pushing climate change wouldn’t thinking things through like idle construction be a good place to start?

Are you only serious about climate change when you can sell carbon credits?

How much Carbon monoxide do you think tens of thousands of cars idling for 45 minutes each puts into the atmosphere?  Now factor in the large trucks billowing out black diesel fumes. Arlington, you can do better. The Rangers and Cowboys should be pissed.

“How can you do better?”

“How about a flashing sign at the 820 split warning of the 45-minute wait and you might consider taking 820 to 183 or stay on I 20 or take some other alternate routes? ”  With all the tax revenue you collect how about doing something constructive with it. Save a tree or the planet or the climate! How about saving me from my head exploding! What the hell happened with common sense?”

One fellow who also sat through that mess passed the traffic doing over 100 mph in a poorly maintained car.  Zipping in and out of vehicles the back of his vehicle swayed violently many times as he drove very erratically.  I see those guys on crotch rockets doing that but, that car is not built for that nonsense and he will not only kill himself but probably someone else.

Hello officer Smith, it might be a good idea to have officers around the areas past the congestion like that, as people will be pissed and late and might be tempted to do stupid stuff, like this clown.

KRLD where were you with traffic on the 8 ’s? 

To round out the fun of today in the 113-degree heat I want to speak to you truckers out there.  Now maybe this will never get to you but just in case…Put the damned phones up!

It is bad enough when cars are all over the road because unlike the rest of humanity they are more capable of texting and driving at the same time, FFS!.  Cars are not driverless yet.  Trucks, on the other hand, I genuinely do not understand.  You cannot get on the highway and not see it.  18 wheelers all over the damned road.  When you pass them, you can see them with the phone in hand.  FFS, you are going to kill someone with that thing and while you may be ok with it, the person or persons you kill I assure you will not be ok.

Why don’t trucking companies have cameras in their vehicles so they can spot idiots like this and take them off the road?

I don’t know the answer to the problem but, I have an idea…

I would encourage people to get a dash cam and when you capture something like this, post it to youtube and tag the company that the truck represents. Now if you have a passenger, then they can use their camera and get it.  If you are driving and you do not have a dashcam or passenger, do not become part of the problem, just steer clear of the maniac and hope he or she doesn’t kill someone.

In summary: if you are upset with climate change, do something about having tens of thousands of car sitting in one place idling for hours on end.  Plan your construction projects better.  If you are the engineer who has anything to do with traffic lights, synchronize them when possible, so cars do not have to sit and idle on busy motorways.

You who figure out what the speed should be on the road, my god, put some common sense thought into the process! The inconsistencies boggle the mind.  It is almost as if you tossed a dart at a bunch of numbers when you were planning it.

You need more speed limit signs on 30 and 20.  You also need more police presence driving the posted speed limit setting the example.  When a car doing the speed limit is impeding traffic, that is a bad thing and indicative of piss poor planning on someone’s part.  More signs!

Finally my last bitch for the day…. Road construction zones.  I have traveled this great nation to all states but one. I must tell you that when I see these bogus road construction signs, fines double and there is nobody around or in many cases, not one spade of dirt overturned it just smells of extortion. Yes, Extortion.  To take miles of a perfectly good highway and have everyone do 55 instead of 75 only because some orange signs are posted needs to stop.  Tickets should not be a source of revenue.

I would call on the state legislature to introduce a bill making this practice illegal.  I would also ask to have the lower speeds in constructions zones not enforced on days when the workers are not present, again, a flashing sign.

If two-lane roads in BFE can be 70, I think a stretch of highway with no workers present can be 70 too.

Folks it is just common sense, and we seem to be short on supply…

For those of you who follow me, as I am a writer, I wanted to tell you that my latest thriller is finished.  I love it!

The name of the work is called “Presidential Assassins.”  The manuscript will now go to editing, and the cover art still has to be created.

The story is so good, you’re going to love it!

Follow me on Twitter for more updates @authortwscott

Follow me here on WordPress to keep up with my thought of the day.  Sorry if you don’t like my terse tone but my god, it is time someone uses that gray matter between their ears for something other than to hold up their hat.

 

Much Love -TW

Would have, Should have, Could have!

How badly do you want it?

Does that sound like you?

Many of you know that my closest friend was sick. My friend passed, and last week was the funeral. I was tasked with providing the Eulogy.

As a writer, I am blessed as I can turn a colorful phrase, provide an anecdote that people will resonate with, and make sure that I keep it light.

As a friend, this was one of the hardest things that I have ever written. I knew this person intimately. As a matter of fact, I knew them better than anyone else alive. It was only fitting that I was tasked with the Eulogy.

There are many stages of grief, and I am still at the guilt stage. I wanted them to hang around longer, fight harder and don’t let the bastards win. My friend was tired of the battle and the doctors and ready to go be with the lord.

The guilt is from I was thinking about me, and not them.

I am sure I will be turning the corner and running into lonely soon enough, as the hard cold facts settle in.

My friend is no more.

The phone number will cease to work and my caller id will no longer pop up with that name.

The difference between myself and even my parents was that when I breathe my last breath, I am hoping not to have too many of those “I should have or could have done this or that’s, undone.”

You are in control of your destiny. It is easy to blame someone else, but when it comes down to it, you are in control.

How badly do you want it?

To distract myself while my friend was in the process of dying I accepted a challenge to write a novel that is somewhat racy. A complete work of fiction of the 50 shades variety has garnered more attention than any of my other published works, and I just released it.

An email from a naturist wanted to read a book about that subject. They had just red Cyber Subs and liked it, so I blended naturism and 50 shades type material together.

It was not a matter of should have or could have, it was a matter of just doing it.
It is one of those fun reads that you read late at night on your Kindle when the kids are asleep.

If you are like me when I read before I go to sleep, often times I find elements of what I read in my dreams. Kind of fun if you have a vision like that and don’t wake up with red stripes on your backside.  🙂

My friend that passed knew me well too. My friend was a constant companion for many years and in fact my personal cheerleader. If I wrote a Sci-Fi great. If I wrote a young adult story, Great. If I write something like Nudist of Shangri-La, great! If I write about witches super. Whatever I write about is just that, a creative story that will resonate with some, and not with others. That is ok.

The question is, what do you want to read? What will sell?

I was editing the story last night before I went to bed. You can make notes on your Kindle, did you know that?

Anyway, I was reading the 11000-word sex scene that will entice you to not put the book down. Reading it from the frame of mind of an editor, I didn’t recognize my handiwork. If you did not know me one would wonder what kind of person I was?

I am a writer that can put myself in any mindset I choose to. I could be a nun or religious nut in one story, or a mass murderer in another. I can pilot a spaceship from one galaxy to the next, and stand toe to toe with NASA’s brightest in the next.
I am a writer. I am only limited by my imagination and time.

“You can be that too.”
Many of you who read my blog are bloggers and authors. I follow you, and as time permits I look at what you have written. Most of you are quite talented.

Turn all of your “should haves” into “I did that!”

When the bell tolls make sure that there is nothing left on the table. Live your life!
Thanks for all the well wishes during this somewhat rough patch of road. Who knows, tomorrow I may meet a new person who will need a friend like me.

Much Love -TW

Are You Blind?

Time is our stock in trade, use it wisely.

This topic has never been lost on me.  As we age and we bury more and more of our friends and family life takes on a new meaning.

I watch social media accounts and am consistently amazed at people.  “Damn, tomorrow is Monday!”  “Yipee, Tomorrow is Friday!”

I used to think like that.  I had a job that I liked most of the time, but it had its moments.  Carrying a product sample kit into a large medical facility in the Texas Medical Center during the summer is a task all to itself.  Add a tropical “disturbance” into the mix along with the August heat, and it is like being in a steam room only with hot water hitting you as well.

Walking into a clinic for cancer patients puddles off rainwater were around me as I closed the umbrella trying to make myself look as if I had not just been in the torrential rain when an older black man caught my attention.  There he was in a suit, tie, and hat looking as if he were headed to meet with some group of investors.

No, that man was a patient, and he just wanted to look his best.  He was jovial, and I was trying my best to understand him as we got on the overloaded elevator. We were in fact headed to the same place so as we walked together down the hall I asked him, “How about this Houston weather?”

I was expecting him to complain like most New Yorkers do, or to grumble as most would who just walked several blocks in the rain from the parking lot but no, he amazed me.

He said, “It is a beautiful day!” Ok, maybe the guy was blind.  “Beautiful?”

“Any day the good lord lets me suck in air in the morning, it is a beautiful day.”

It was me that was blind.  I never forgot that.  I look at life differently as I make my way through each and every day.  Did I use my time here in a productive way?  Did I assist someone else on this journey we call life?

Yesterday I was at another funeral of a family member.  The drive was long, and the traffic was brutal.  The church was out in the middle of nowhere, but I got there early.  As family members came through the doors, it was a mixture of tears and laughter.

The funeral is not for the deceased it is for you, and the rest of us “still sucking air.”

Indeed this was a celebration of this man’s life.

After a lengthy service, we ate a meal together provided by the church.  We visited with family that I had not seen in years and made a promise to keep in touch.  One last thing to do before the sunset was to drive another fifty miles to this small cemetery out in the country and say our final farewells to this man who brought so much happiness to so many.

The wind was out of the north blowing, howling actually, bringing the windshield down to the teens.  For Texans that is cold!

I was dressed for it, but many were not.  As the final words were said, the first spade of soil was tossed into the hole by his last remaining brother.  There was not a dry eye there as turns were taken to throw some dirt in the grave.

We departed the cemetery as the last rays of sunlight were casting auburn fingers across the sky as if to reach in and grab the soul of our family member, and take him home.

Driving the several hours back to Dallas the day played through my mind.  Each and every conversation with family members, each hug, handshake and the warmth of the members of that small country church played through my thoughts.

Late last night as I checked my e-mail I read of yet another friend who passed away and soon I will making my way to East Texas.

As I write this tonight, I wonder if I made the best use of my day today. I was tired and did not do too much of anything.  I played with the cats, wrote on my latest book, tried to teach myself another song on the guitar and admired Mary Chapin Carpenter for her talents.  I am ending this day thinking of you who take the time to read my blogs and novels and of course tweets.

Don’t let today slip away my friends, it will never repeat itself! Did you make good use of your time here sucking in air?

Much love!  -TW