Tag Archives: death

Turning Fifty


It’s the eve of my 50th birthday. Fifty years ago back in 1967, my mom was nine months pregnant, ready to burst. Tonight she is in as assisted living facility, wishing to feel better. Her parents, my grandparents, have been gone for years. Her sister, her ex-husband and boyfriends, all gone. Fifty years ago, I was an innocent baby, waiting to begin my life in the crazy era of the Vietnam War. Now, I’m a middle aged, not so innocent, twice divorced, single mom of two, sitting at home alone, wondering how much longer I get to be here. Will I get another five, ten, or fifty years? What is my number? I’d like another fifty. That would be so great. I could see my sons grow older like I am now. God, I hope so.  I could help more teens graduate, write more books, go on more trips, experience more joy, maybe fall in love for real and have it last for the years I have left, learn and read more. There’s so much to do still. Will I get to do it?

Can I slow down the clock please?

The first fifty seemed to fly by.  Seems like yesterday I was pretending to be Wonder Woman in the front yard, spinning around then catching bad guys.  Now there’s an wwactual movie about her. Damn! (That sure took a long time.) Wasn’t it just a few years ago I was in love with my high school boyfriend, hoping we’d get married one day. No, it wasn’t. More like over thirty years ago, but who’s counting? I know it’s been years, but it doesn’t feel like it.  All those memories are alive in me. I can see myself in those moments, being me, living, doing my life. I see the same thing in my mom. She talks about the memories of her youth while she pushes her walker. Her body is old, but her being is not.

Getting older is good, considering the alternative, but it’s also weird and terrifying.

50All these moments of who you are bring you to this big day, your birthday, and take you farther from your youth and closer to the end, but it’s amazing to have another birthday. I’m so lucky. I know it. So many people aren’t having birthdays anymore. My best friend’s last birthday was her thirty-first. I miss her so. She and I would have done something special to celebrate the milestones, but she’s not here. I guess that’s the sad part of birthdays – missing those who aren’t here to celebrate with us. Not only missing those who passed, but those living who have left our lives.  People who we love but aren’t with anymore. Birthdays make me think a lot about those who are not in my world anymore. We are supposed to celebrate and be surrounded by people who love us, but the truth is that doesn’t happen for lots of us. Maybe that is the lingering sadness that haunts me. Or maybe it’s just exhaustion from all the stress that fifty years brings.  Or maybe it’s not being where I think I should be in life. I don’t know.

50pI remember when I was a kid, looking at my aunts and uncles and thinking they were old. They were in their twenties and thirties. To me they seemed old. Now I’m older than they were when I thought they were old. That’s weird. I’m in a new place. I’m the one who should know stuff. Old people should know stuff – have it figured out, right? That’s a lot of pressure. When you reach the other half of your life (you hope you still have half to go), there’s the pressure of reflection on what you’ve accomplished. Is this where the young version of me thought she’d be? I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t remember thinking this far ahead. Regardless, I am where I’m at. I can’t change how my life is when I wake up on my fiftieth. I’ve done my best. I wish somethings were different, but I think we all do.  Being dissatisfied helps motivate us, but it can also be damn depressing.501

I’m turning fifty tomorrow and well, I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t have all that I wanted to have by the time I was fifty.  That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s my truth. I could list all the things that are not the way I think they should be, but that would be ridiculous because everything is as it should be.  I live and work where I’m supposed to. I weigh and look like I’m supposed to. The relationships that I wanted to last didn’t, like they were supposed to and it’s okay. It all just has to be okay.  I’m turning fifty. Yay, I made it! Oh crap, I hope I still can do all I want to do. Time is ticking.


The Power of Projects

Sondra portrait
Sondra Patton

This summer began with sadness as my family mourned the loss of my Aunt Sondra. My mom came to visit after the memorial service. The regular sound of her crying over the loss of her one and only sister broke my heart. Most days, I had to leave for work or appointments so she had many hours alone on her hands. She read, cooked, watched T.V. and helped around my house to stay busy. We were both just getting through the hard time.

Then there was “The Project.” A project, as defined by Dictionary.com is “a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel, and equipment.” It’s that and much more. Since I divorced and turned off my cable television, I’ve been obsessed with one project after another.

Truth is, I didn’t really feel like doing any projects this summer. The combination of a family death, injured knee and back, over a hundred degree weather, and a bunch of health issues drained me. I was told to rest, take it easy. I reluctantly did that, but one day while I was laying on the couch icing my knee and back, I mentioned one of my project ideas to my mom. I had a goal to make my backyard into a nicer place to hang out and to eliminate some of the dead grass. The resulting project would be a brick patio. I was frustrated that I couldn’t do it, but also a little relieved. We talked about it how much work it would be and I knew I wasn’t up for it. Apparently, she was.

project 11
The beginning… ugh.

Yep, my 72 year old mom started my project! I came home one day to her shoveling up the dead grass in the backyard. This is no easy task. The ground is an old river bed and it’s as hard as cement and full of rocks, rocks, and more rocks. She dug down four inches too. She is such a studette. Although I was very grateful for her help, I wasn’t quite ready to take on this project. I didn’t want to do it, but there was no turning back. Her desire to accomplish something and help inspired me to do what I could. At first I hired some extra help because I couldn’t stand the physical pain, but over time I started shoveling and the pain subsided. I guessed that moving was the key to healing, not resting anymore.

one project
Not quite half way there. I thought we’d never finish.

My mom would get up at 6am and be out in the backyard with a pickaxe breaking up the ground. One morning she started shoveling part of the two yards of sand into a wheel barrow with the determination to move it all into the backyard BY HERSELF. I couldn’t believe it and wouldn’t let her. I actually told her to stop, but she wouldn’t. So we did it together, all two yards!

Dakota, Mom (Lavonne Rice) and Dominic. The Team

With my mom’s, son’s and a few hired hands’ help, I’ve reached the other side of the project.  As reluctant as I was to do this, I’m happy I did. It brought my mom and I closer together and helped us not wallow in the sadness. It gave my sons memories of working together that they will never forget.

I know that I NEED projects. These endeavors have helped me get through the hard times. They helped me move to the next day with something on my mind other than the suffering. Keeping busy, working on something, forces us to advance, at least on some level. It gives the brain a chance to rest and recover from the negative, and move forward.

If I don’t have a plan to accomplish something new then I feel stagnant and anxious. Although during the overwhelming moments of the projects I may have little meltdowns and say to myself, “What was I thinking?!” I know that when I arrive to the other side, I will be on another level mentally, physically, and spiritually. In the end it will all have been worth it.  It may not be perfect, but it’s mine and it’s good enough. I did the best I could do and doing the project took us all to another place where hard work paid off and made us feel proud. We still miss my aunt, but we continue our lives and honor the time that we still have by being productive.

I wonder what projects other people are up to these days??

project done
The Brick Patios! Wahoo!

A Message from the Beast

the beastA Message from the Beast

Oh look! I did it again. I took down another famous one. Regardless of power, wealth, success, or resources, I win. Nothing can stop me. I can get anyone. Even you. Even some of the people who mourned his death and cursed me for my existence went home after the funeral and gave themselves to me. They couldn’t help it. They used his death and their sadness as reasons to continue with me.

Some may think that his death will help fight me, but it won’t. Do you think I’ve weakened since Michael? Hah! I have people in the palm of my hands because they think they need my collaborators (alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, pills, etc.) to cope with life. They believe they need something more than what life offers. They feel they’re not good enough or life’s not good enough so they try to intensify or nullify their experiences.

I especially love all the party people. The “let’s get together and put stuff in our bodies to see how it feels” group. It’s so easy to do my job when you have people who want to escape reality so they can relax, fit in, let loose, or “have fun?” Following my directive to trap as many people as possible and never let them go is so easy.

I am so happy that people are afraid to live their lives without substances that temporarily make them feel better or different. I mean, who would have thought that a living being would give up all their possessions and loved ones for a moment, for a high? It’s an amazing gig. I offer a few moments of pleasure or release and these moments become more important than anything else. Oh, the power!

I’m sneaky too. I come to you when you’re young. I come through music, media, your family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends…anyone, but usually through someone you know. Yep, I use the ones you love the most to get to you. Even when I’ve caused incredible pain and suffering to children by destroying their parents, I can still get the children to follow me. I have genetic powers. People like to forget that and they play with my collaborators, denying that there’s any chance they’ll come my way.

Then there are all my helpers. So many people who live with me show others how to do the same. They don’t want to be alone with me so they practically recruit my new victims. With them, I can take down humans from all walks of life. My best allies are those people who like to lower their inhibitions, to be a little out of control. They forget where it might lead. Better yet, they think that it will never happen to them.

Of course there are those who know it could happen to them. They respect my power and they fear my ability to control. They aren’t willing to open my door.  They’ve learned from others who’ve followed me and they live a life without my collaborators. I don’t like those people.  There don’t seem to be too many of them. Even those who only play with my collaborators once in a while help me expose young ones to me, so I like them, but those who don’t partake at all, they piss me off.

It’s okay though, I am still winning. The government tries to stop me. Churches and counselors try to stop me. Police try too, but I laugh in all of their faces. I take some of them with me during the fight. I am giddy with joy. My success surpasses all! I’m a gold medalist all over the world.

I know there are many people who hate me and want me to stop taking lives, but they can’t do anything about me. Well, they can offer counseling and worsen punishments, but until every human being understands that anyone, I mean anyone, can be my victim, people will continue to act arrogantly and walk through my doors with the intentions of leaving, but not be able to.

To those who won’t let me in, I will get them too. I will get them by taking someone they love, maybe an uncle, son, or daughter. There are no limits to where I go. No one is safe. Humans will never learn. There will always be those who think I will never own them. Oh, the arrogance. I’m stronger than Mother Nature. I can make a mother sell her children for more of me or a father drive drunk with his kids in the car…or worse. Doubt me? Come give me a try. So many people are doing it, why not you?

Yours Truly,