Posted in Random Writers

My Mom’s Second Chance

Random Writers Week 6 Topic: Who would you give a second chance to?

When we selected our random topics and this one was chosen, it was quite serendipitous that it fell on this week. Once I saw the week and the anniversary that also falls during on this week, I asked Gil if he would swap days with me. I knew I would want to write and post my blog on Monday, the six year anniversary of my mom’s second chance. I also knew that I was going to deviate from the topic slightly by talking about a second chance that has already taken place, and not a hypothetical future second chance.

On October 24, 2005, my mom’s house was raided by the police. I was more than 350 miles away when I got the call from my sister that police were at my mom’s, an ambulance had just rolled up and they wouldn’t let my sister near the place. She told me that some deputy told her that my mom had a seizure shortly after the surprise invasion and that she was fine, but the rescue squad had been called as a precaution. My body’s physical reaction to all of this was almost more than I could stand. And I can’t begin to describe the sense of helplessness I felt in those first few hours.

It was no surprise to my sister or me as to why the police chose her house for this late night raid. After my father’s death, my mom had become involved with some less than upstanding characters and drugs became a big part of her life. So big in fact that many times over the years I felt that my mom often chose drugs over me, my sister and my nephew.

Throughout that night there were several more calls with my sister as she learned bits and pieces of what was happening. The hardest part for me to deal with was the mental image of my handcuffed mother being put in the backseat of a police car. I spent the rest of the night planning my early morning trip back to Alabama. That six hour drive was filled with question after question to God about how this could happen to her and to us and what I was supposed to do next.

I drove straight to the county jail and requested to see my mom. They brought her in and sat her on the other side of that thick plate of glass where we were only able to communicate via a telephone handset hanging on the wall. At first she was happy to see me, but that mood didn’t linger for very long. She started making demands that I refused to honor. I asked questions she refused to answer or at least provided answers that were completely opposite of what I needed to hear at the time. The conversation turned really nasty and hateful, and I can assure you there was no love or compassion flowing through that pretend telephone line by the time I hung up that handset. I left her there and went to talk to the sheriff and an attorney. And that’s how the next couple of days went; sheriff, attorney, family, banker, attorney, sheriff, back and forth while we negotiated the release of my mom. She was brought into one of the meetings, complete with an orange jumpsuit and wrist and ankle cuffs. I can assure you this is not a vision I had ever in my wildest imagination expected to see. I’m even more sure it’s not one that my mom expected to find herself in either.

After a few days, an agreement was reached. I went to the jail with some documents that my mom would need to sign. Basically, land she owned would be sold in order to make bail. She would have to sign a power of attorney to me so that I could take care of everything for her. When this was presented to her, she at first refused. To say she was defiant is a massive understatement. More nasty words were spoken but in the end, she signed the documents. I returned with the bail money and she was released to me. Part of the terms of her release was that I would get her out of state. This was not a safety issue but one of concern. Everyone in her life knew that if she stayed in Alabama she may not make the right choices and revert to her illegal and destructive lifestyle. The sheriff, my family, and I all agreed that we had to get her as far away as possible and that’s exactly what I did. During the night, we packed anything that she might need in the coming weeks and left first thing the next morning. My plan was to get her back to Tampa and find a treatment facility so she could get the help she needed. I was so very fortunate to not only find a decent place, but it was also one that accepted her insurance so there was no financial burden on either of us. This place was not only going to treat any addictions she may struggle with, but they had a staff of psychologists who would be working with her on the root causes of the addictions. THIS was the most important thing to me.

Over the next few months, mom worked on herself while I worked on the legal issues we had. My mom had never been the target of that raid and the charges against her were mostly because drugs were found in her home. I spent hours and hours communicating with her attorney and the sheriff’s office, and in the end, one felony charge was dismissed while she was able to complete a pre-trial diversion to have the remaining charges removed from her record. Her criminal record only reflects an arrest but no convictions. We were able to use the remaining money from the land sale to pay her fines and fees and after two years, it was over and completely behind us.

There were so many times I wanted to walk away from her, just like I felt she had done to me for several years. For so long I prayed for her to come back to us and to leave that life behind. There were screaming matches and long periods of silence. People say that someone has to hit rock bottom before they can see what’s happening to them. Well, I can tell you that my mom did just that. She was left homeless and penniless and could have easily found herself in a different set of circumstances.

My mom was blessed with a second chance from the legal system by being allowed to complete a series of steps to have the charges wiped out. The mental health system gave her a second chance by helping her to work through some childhood issues and events that were an underlying source of years of pain. Our family came together to help support my mom with love and prayer or financially when it was desperately needed. We could have easily shut her out and turned our backs on her, and Lord knows she certainly gave us plenty of reasons in the years following my father’s death.

During those years that my mom was spiritually far away from us, I often played out the scenario of walking away from her and never looking back. I thought about all of the hateful and loveless things I would say as I kicked her out of my life. I was so angry and filled with resentment. However, when push came to shove, the easiest choice I have ever made was to give my mom a second chance.  Looking back at the past six years, I haven’t  regretted it for a minute.

Posted in My life in pictures

045/365 Cat’s Whiskers (It’s Not What You Think)

When I was pulling into our driveway today, I was really struck by the beauty of our plants on the front walkway. So, of course I snapped a photo to share.

A couple of weekends ago I went to the Fall Plant Festival with my mom. We go each time they have a show but we were on a mission this time.  We had picked up these pretty plants, Cat’s Whiskers, at last year’s fall show but a couple of them had died over the winter. We knew they would be hard to find because we actually bought all they had at the show last fall. I couldn’t go to the show on Saturday due to a prior obligation, so we planned to be there when the gates opened Sunday morning. This is my mom.

Yes, it was raining cats and dogs and yes, were were the ONLY customers the entire time we were there. And, yes, we are insane. But, we were on a mission to replace my poor dead Cat’s Whiskers.  Sadly, no Cat’s Whiskers were to be found. We had missed the few a single vendor had for sale on Saturday. Oh well, we decided to improvise.  I mean, we were there anyway and certainly couldn’t go home empty handed. This is what we got instead. Now we have this lovely crimson and white walkway to our front door.

Roll Tide!

PS: Thanks to mom for planting and taking care of all of these plants. We all know what would happen if I was responsible for them.

PSS: While searching The Google for a link to Cat’s Whiskers Plant, I found this.  I think I want more of these and less of those green things growing in my front yard. Sorry, it was too good not to share. 🙂

Posted in My life in pictures

007/365 So So Succulent

I love succulents. LOVE them. When my mom mentioned there was a special succulent plant show at the USF Botanical Gardens, I knew I needed to be there. Thank goodness we got there when the gates opened. There weren’t a lot of vendors and I would dare say each of them probably sold out before closing time. Mom and I were able to pick the cream of the crop of itty bitty alien looking plants. This made me very happy.

Here’s our haul.

Here’s a silly artsy shot of the beautiful rock garden mama created.


I took several shots tonight, but because I waited until after dark AND the flash on my camera phone is pretty brutal, this is probably the best shot of the whole garden, not artsified. Okay, maybe it’s not the best shot but it’s the one Monkey photo bombed. Obviously, it’s the one I chose to post.


Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Mothers and Daughters

(30 Days of Truth – Day 30: Someone in your family that means so much to you)

Today is my mom’s birthday. Guess who I’m going to write about?

If you are a mother or daughter I’m sure you can appreciate what I’m about to say. I love my mom but, damn, it’s hard sometimes. I think since the beginning of time, mothers and daughters have had tumultuous relationships. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search for “mothers and daughters.” The first page of results is filled with links to websites that provide help to improve these relations. There is obviously a demand for this advice.

I suppose I’m fairly lucky in that my mom has never been one of those meddling, “What are you doing” kind of moms. During my teenage years, my mom rarely questioned my wardrobe, makeup or hair choice. She would laugh at me (often deservedly so), but she never questioned or outright criticized me. Now, friends and boyfriends was a different story but she always let me discover the truth on my own, even when she knew it was going to end badly. She was pretty good about letting me do what I was going to do anyway. As I grew up and got older, she might make comments like “You don’t want to do that” but she was never one to be judgmental. I hear stories of girls and their moms and when it comes to meddling, I think I’m pretty lucky to have had my mom.

People have always said that I was the spitting image of my mother. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by strangers and asked, “You’re Patsy’s daughter, aren’t you?” I grew up in the same small town she did so we actually had some of the same teachers for high school. It made it very hard for me to get away with being bad because someone was sure to see me, recognize me and know right away which parents needed to be called.

When I was a teenager, my mom was considered pretty cool by most of my friends. If I was going to skip school, I always told my mom. If I was going to be someplace I shouldn’t have been, I always told my mom. She constantly stressed that I was less likely to get in trouble for things if I just told her what I was doing. There were even a couple of times I had teenage friends move in with us for months at the time because they themselves had difficult relationships with their own moms. My mom was always willing to take care of them and rarely complained or questioned what was going on. I think it’s safe to say that my mom and I were pretty close back then.

The 15 years after I moved out of my parents’ house saw my mother and I drift farther and farther apart. This is not the time or place to detail what exactly happened in our relationship but suffice it to say that we both made decisions and choices that greatly affected each of our lives, both as mother and daughter and as individuals.

In 2005, my mom came to Florida to live with me. A few months later, I moved in with Gil but still stayed with my mom at least one night a week. This got old, and expensive, really fast so Gil and I made the decision to move from our two-bedroom apartment into a larger house and we moved her in with us. At first, I couldn’t believe how willing Gil was to do this, but he was, and we agreed that no matter how difficult it may become, we would make it work. And you know what? It has. It has actually been a much easier situation than any of us ever expected.

Since my mom moved in with us, she and I have been able to reconnect. It’s not always peaches and cream but it’s really nice having her around. She never ever gets in our business or pries into our affairs. She’s always willing to help out by running errands or feeding the cats when we go one our many out of town excursions. She will sometimes prepare dinner or even watch the kids for us. In additional to rebuilding our relationship and getting to know each other again, she’s kind of handy to have around. But seriously, there have been times she’s been extremely helpful and ready to lend a hand to us on a moment’s notice.

Over the past few months I’ve watched as some of my friends have lost their moms. I realize I’m reaching that age when I’ll see and hear more and more of these stories. It’s times like this that I have to sit back and truly appreciate the fact that I have my mom here with me every day. It’s nice to be able to spend a day at the botanical gardens or browsing the local craft stores. We may not have long meaningful conversations on a daily basis but it’s a huge blessing that I have her so near, both physically and emotionally.

Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you and I’m happy that you’re here.

Posted in Crafts, Post A Day Challenge

Patsy’s Pet Beds

(30 Days of Truth – Day 17 – )

I couldn’t find any inspiration whatsoever to write about today’s task to describe someone with whom you shared a friendship/relationship that simply drifted out of your life. The thing is I’ve been in a good mood all day and the idea of the people who have drifted away from me kind of brings me down. Instead, I want to share with you a project my mom has been working on for some time now.
Earth Tone early prototype 1She’s crocheting pet beds and they are really awesome. She started out with a very basic design and has steadily improved on that to get to where she is now with them. They are very well made and machine washable. I’ve even put a couple of the one’s I have through the wash several times and they are holding up very nicely. She’s even putting catnip into the lining for the cat beds as a special treat.

Georgia Bulldog Pad 3She had a special request before Christmas to make a Georgia Bulldog themed bed so we found an online source to order fleece and this bed was born. She can order pretty much any team color fabric and we even went ahead and got some Alabama and Florida fleece to have on hand.

All of the beds she’s made so far have been about 18 inches wide but she has an order now for a larger bed with an inside diameter of about 30 inches. It should be fun to see that one come together. Here are a few more examples.

Pastel and Purple 9
Pittsburgh Steelers 3
Varigated Reds 4

If anyone is interested in ordering one of these, just let me know. She is charging $45 for the small size bed. She’s willing to work with you to determine what colors or themes you want and the possibilities are really endless. As you can see, she’s got some pretty satisfied customers.

Pastel and Purple 5
Varigated Reds 1
Pastel and Purple 4

I’ve added another page titled Pet Beds. You can click here for more information and more photos.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Painting with a Purpose

(30 Days of Truth – Day 14 – )

Today’s task was to write about a band/artist whose music impacted your life. If you know me even a little bit, then you know that band is Sister Hazel. However, I’m not going to write about this topic today. I’m going to save it and combine it with Day 23’s topic of describe a truly spiritual moment in your life. When that day rolls around, it will be very clear why I needed to combine these two into one. Now there is another reason I don’t want to write about today’s topic and that’s because I’m dying to share something else with you.

I saw an advertisement recently for a new business opening up in Tampa called Painting with a Twist. The concept is way fun and super cool. I immediately wanted to sign up for a class but never quite had the time between Rock Boating and recovering from Rock Boating. Well, a couple of days ago I saw that they were hosting a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and they were calling it Painting with a Purpose. And then I saw what we would be painting.
Ok people, it doesn’t get more perfect for me so I signed up and invited my mom to join me.

We arrived to a room full of people ready to go. We picked up our aprons and canvases and found our seats just in time to hear all about what our ‘purpose’ was. The proceeds from today’s class would go to the Humane Society’s February event to helps spay and neuter cats in the Tampa Bay area. PURRFECT! I was motivated and ready to paint. Oh and did I mention how terrified I was at the same time?

A few years ago I decided my mom, the painter/artist, needed to be painting. She had not done so in years and I thought she could use the creative outlet. I signed us up for a painting class at Michaels. I had never held a paint brush in my hand before and was pretty darn sure this was going to be a complete and utter embarrassment on my part but I wanted to be there for her. We took the class and lo and behold, my painting turned out OK. And then we took another class and that painting is now hanging in my sister’s house (or it was before they moved, not sure if it still is). I’m just saying, it wasn’t horrendous. Who knew?!? I certainly never in a million years imaged I was slightly capable of putting paint on a canvas and producing something pretty to look at.

Today was the first time since that second class years ago that I put paint to canvas. I was actually very nervous about today’s class. I cannot draw. I know this to be a fact. I have tried and it’s just bad. I knew this class was going to require some minute ability to draw and I was sure this was going to be my downfall. Little did I know but our instructor today is also an illustrator. An animal illustrator at that. She was able to guide us along using shapes, very simple circles, ovals, triangles and slightly bent rectangles. I know it’s hard to see in this picture but this is the outline of what will become my cat. It is nothing more than a series of shapes draw ever so lightly in pencil.

After I jumped right over that drawing hurdle, it was smooth sailing all the way til the end. Here are a couple of shots of us in action.

It still completely blows me away that I’m capable of this. I know this is not gallery worthy and that I’m a long way from being an artist but I’m very happy with what I did today. I was reluctant to do it because of one tiny bit that intimidated me but I didn’t let it stop me. I dove right in, head first. (If you are interested in seeing more photos of our experience, visit my album on Facebook)

I’m reminded of several conversations Gil and I have had recently about this blog-off we have going on. I have wanted to put my thoughts into words for a long time but I was scared. He encouraged me to just do it and I have been having so much fun ever since. Just like with the class today. I’m starting to learn some things about myself, which is great when you consider I started this blog as a tool to help me discover my authentic self. What I’m finding is that there is a lot more to me than I thought there was. I think I’m going to make 2011 the year of “Finding leelee”. This is going to be the year I tear down the walls of fear and uncertainty to discover exactly what lies beneath?