Announcing the Birth of Bette Lee

A baby girl was born to Irene and Lee Stapp this beautiful fall morning, October 8, 1939. Bette Lee is welcomed by her grandparents, Edward and Francis Curtis and Guy and Josephine Stapp, Aunt Nelda and Uncle Albert Stapp, and Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ken Dale. She will be the first-born in a close-knit extended family. She will come to have two sisters, Janice Irene and Arvada Carol (Dee), and many cousins including Sharon, Sandra and Shirlee Stapp and Keith Dale.

Bette Lee will take her first steps on the hills of Petrolia and later move to the families ranch in Hetten Valley. The ranch house is one that was built by her great grandparents and will stand as a reminder of years gone by, some good and some good and hard.

Bette Lee will attend a one room school-house in Hetten Valley. Her first teacher will be Hazel Willburn. Hazel will greatly impact Bette’s love of learning and will make a way for her to pursue her education even into her adult years. She will introduce her to literature and with a turn of the page, the world will be hers.

Bette Lee will leave home at age thirteen to attend high school in Red Bluff. Her home only offered school through the eighth grade. She will complete her high school education at Fortuna High School and graduate with a full scholarship to Humboldt State University.

She will meet her husband, John L Elgin at a Ruth dance in the summer of…oh I don’t know the year, but they loved to dance. They will build a home together and make many memories with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come. Bette Lee and John L will have four children, Tracy Lee, Maxine Renee, Monica Norene and John Charles. They will share their home with many other children throughout the years. Those children will be “children of the heart” and will love her as a mother and she will tend to them as her own.

Bette Lee will have many talents as she will determine at an early age to be “more than just a pretty face.” She will teach herself to play the piano, she will enjoy drawing and painting. Her early years she will make paper dolls and dress them out of the Sears catalogue. This will lead to her interest in sewing clothes and will later serve as a gift to her children. When times are hard she will dig deep and let her imagination guide her. Shopping at the local thrift store for large clothing made of good cloth, she will make her daughters matching dresses and they will never know they were poor. Her sons will have western shirts made just right to fit and they will become a time-honored tradition.

There will be as many good times as bad time and Bette Lee will instill the love of life to her children. She will take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. One such day will be in Trinidad on a foggy winter afternoon. She will long for her mountain home and the fun of playing in snow.  On such a day, she will let her imagination play and soon she and her children will be crumpling paper and having an all out “snowball fight” laughter and giggling and papers tossed about. Her imagination and mindset will serve her well in raising her flock. There will be giant spider webs taking up the entire living room using a ball of yarn, there will be adventures of camping and swimming and road trips accross country. She will teach them how to live and let live, she will teach them how to go and to let go. But most of all she will teach them that they are valued and a part of something greater in this world.

Bette Lee will struggle and she will find her way. She will seek and she will find her feet on a solid foundation of Christ the redeemer. She will go back to school as an adult and get a doctorates degree in theology.  She will establish Solid Rock Foundation Ministry, Hetten Valley Church, Bethany Garden Home and The Olive Branch Thrift Store. These ministries will fulfill her call to tend the sheep, to make a place in the wilderness for the lost and the abandoned. She will be adored by many and rejected by some. She will love them anyway.

She will live her life by design of The Creator and on November 28, 2017, He will take her home. She will leave, just as she has lived, in her own way and without hesitation.

(My Mom; this is the eulogy I could not write. May I now, once again, find my voice.) 

A Good Attitude and The Right Pair of Shoes

img_8766I have had enough of myself and my room. I have found with a good attitude and the right pair of shoes you can change your surroundings, and I did.

Today I awakened to a foggy morning and a foggy mind. We, my doctor and I, are trying something new in the line of medications. My knee surgery and challenging recovery are complicated. I had a t-shirt made in high school and wore it proudly with rainbow suspenders, declaring “UNIQUE” across my chest. I didn’t know it then, but now I am fully assured, I didn’t need it in writing. Just ask brother.

So, this is a side note:  If you need the t-shirt that says “messy hair, don’t care”  You probably do!

I had surgery on January 6, 2018. The two-part surgery on the meniscus and tendon were unremarkable and a basic walk in the park for my well established doctor. What he found on the Femur, Tibia, Fibula and behind the Patella have him very concerned and frankly, shaking his head.

I injured my knee playing basketball in 1980. Yes, that was a very long time ago. I hyper-extended it in a basketball game. I was posted up under the basket rebounding and a girl came down on my knee and it bent backwards. It was wrapped and I finished out the basketball season and had surgery at the end of my senior year. The meniscus was trimmed, the knee cap shaved and realigned. My doctor for that surgery was tragically killed in an accident and I did not have a follow-up appointment on the knee and furthermore, I was out hiking on crutches and took a fall. All this has been tucked away for over 37 years and while walking along on a side-walk, it just collapsed.

The doctor explained to me what he found. Our bones have a film on them where they come together and are joined with cartridge to form a joint. Mine had formed a protective pocket at each bone as it formed the knee. Those protective pockets were full of ground bone and cartilage and blood. He has no idea how long it had been that way and even greater questions of how I could even walk.  The wear and tear on the bone is critical and the deterioration significant. He cleared it all away and my body has rejected the change. My mind has compensated for so many years suppressing and dissociating with the issue, that it will not give my recovering knee the proper signals.

Now the hard work begins. I have started taking a medication for nerve receptors. I took it for the first time last night and the nervous system currents to my legs were alarming. A few hours later I was completely exhausted and had a hard time waking up at 8:00. I start physical therapy next week to cause reaction. My concern is that I have to convince my mind to pay attention and acknowledge the pain so it will cooperate with sending it healing. Now hear me this…It sounds to me like it has to hurt to heal and I am trying to get my head in this game. I have blocked, put aside, and rightly ignored pain and trauma for over 50 years and I’m not sure I want to teach myself this new trick.

My Grands are on their way tonight. My own young children are a sight to see. They make my world go round and I would like to keep up,  if only to watch them shine. I will be attending a memorial luncheon for a dear one who lived to her 90’s tomorrow.  The examples before me tell me to dig deep and get this done.

I have adjusted my courage, found the right pair of shoes and I have work to do.

I started this blog to honor the unconditional love of my dog. “To live out loud in his honor. Unconditional, Encouraging, Challenging and Exploring Ideas”

I know I am not alone in physical pain or frustrating health issues. I am extending these words to you , not for your sympathy. I think we are more alike than different. cue the music… reach out a hand, ask for help and receive others. When someone asks what they can do, give them a true answer. Living a connected life with giving and taking in balance, brings healing to more than the broken bones of this world. It heals loneliness and hopelessness.

Please share with me your stories of connecting with others. When you were at a hard spot in the road, what did someone do to turn it around. Lets give each other ideas. Sometimes it’s the simplest of gestures. Today a stranger encouraged me by carrying some papers to my car. I could have done it, I started to say, “No, thank you.”  It wasn’t a difficult task and only took a moment of his time. Why would I rob him of that reward? A person standing near noticed and nodded his head. See, connections. We are selfish in our pursuit of independence.

Today I tied on my just right shoes and went out into this small town I call home. I trusted it with my frailty and I was not disappointed.

 

Just Opening a Window is Not Enough

Three weeks ago my knee collapsed. Two days later I was in emergency surgery. The surgery went well, the recovery has not.

I don’t want to write about my grief, my physical pain or my children’s personal struggles, so I have been quiet.

I began sharing my thoughts to go deeper, walk together in an unconditional way that cause people to feel and think and live!

I awakened this morning yearning deeply to be outside. I threw open the window. It’s just not enough.

I have decided to feature some writings of other bloggers or likeminded thinkers.

Please throw open the windows of your heart and mind and let others in.

Today, I will go outside. I will embrace the wind and the weather.

What is it that you will do. Talk to me.

New Morning

I awakened to little feet thrown over me and all the covers tossed off. She is talking in her sleep and she sound so assured. She feels more like me then I feel myself. She reminds me of the little girl in me that has zip and delight in every new morning.

Traditions of Deception

To the receiving hands of the ripped and torn children of the system, foster care and adoption. I have some advice. It is only my opinion so take it or return it. I write this with full knowledge that many won’t agree and I’m fine with that. These are just my thoughts followed by a powerfully written piece from my daughter when she was only five.

Be careful with the traditions of deception. I am not a Scrooge nor am I a religious one who hates costumes and candy. But I have some thoughts on Santa. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too for that matter.

In the past 15 years, children have come to my home with broken foundations of trust. They have been lied to, traumatized and played. Physical and emotionally scared in ways that cause me to evaluate the traditions of deception. Ba-Humbug. I know, It all in fun.

Do you remember the age of discovery, the feeling in your belly when you realized there is no Santa. I do not. My family told the history and story of St Nicolaus and played the role of giving in the tradition of old. We hunted eggs and received gifts for our teeth all in the knowing that someone loved us and was delighted to gift us with surprises.

The Holiday tradition of casting a magical character that knows everything and will judge you naughty or nice and give you gifts based on merit, upsets my humanitarian mind. These children have no self-worth, often do not know that they are deserving of any good thing and furthermore, love people who have wronged them and society. It’s a heavy burden to carry. How many crying babies have to endure the traditional Santa pictures when they know full well this isn’t right. They are coaxed and encouraged and expected to put aside the naturally inherited protective fact, all for the traditional photo. You set them on a strangers lap and ask them to tell him what they want. He is a stranger, in a red costume! Freaky

I have been asked so many time as to when is it the right time to tell children that they were adopted? Let that sink in…it is their story. Tell the truth from day one. Do you question as to when to tell your biological children about their truth?

My girl told me this christmas story when she was five. She was secure in her attachment and belonging.

“On a dark winter night a man named Santa Clause came down our chimney. He snatched up Traven and Lillie when our parents were sleeping. He took them to make them work as elves. But one night we snuck out and borrowed his reign deer. Traven rode Rudolph and I rode the crazy one, I can’t remember his name…nope, can’t remember his name, but he was craaaazy. We got on in the night and flew home. I held on tight and said hyah-hyah. It was a crazy ride but we got home safe. We let the reign deer go back home but then Santa noticed that we were gone. He came back to get us and I wacked him with a stick when he came down the chimney. Then he went back to his home and left us alone.” Lillian Sayad

I love her courage I love her wit.

Give your children a foundation of wonder and imagination with a strong identity of truth.

 

via Daily Prompt: Torn

Misery Loves Company

img_8445-e1513486979935.jpgI went on a walk this morning to get my head on straight. I came home from work last night with a raging desire for destruction. Images played through my mind of swinging a baseball bat through my house and thrashing everything, The sound of windows crashing and treasures falling to the ground while I pummel them with a small pink baseball bat, brings relief to my fractured mind. I take pity on my surroundings and refocus my fantasy to a tree. Yes, that would satisfy my deepest desire, I will beat a tree with a bat. One strike and I would regret it so I curl up in the dark of my room and cover myself with my flannel and down comforter. I am screaming in silence.

I decided to google, “How do I know if I am having a mental breakdown”. Much to my dismay the article made me laugh. I had all of the signs except self-injury and running naked in public. I’m calling sister. If I’m losing it, Im taking her with me.

On Sunday, November 28th, my adult daughter came to my bedside with an urgent phone call from my brother. Mother was having an episode with her heart. She had walked into his room  and asked for prayer. She had awakened knowing something was not right. She directed my brother in a prayer covering any darkness or spiritual strong holds and then took in a breath and said she felt much better. She asked to lay back for just a moment to rest and she left us. She died as she has lived, without hesitation and in here own time. She was 78 years young and had just driven herself three hours over a mountain road to get snow tires on her 4 wheel drive pickup. She has changed lives, made her mark and we had plans.

It is not my first loss and it will not be my last. The resiliency of human kind sustains me. I have dear friends that lost their mother at a tender young age. I am looking at them now and I gather courage in the fact that if they can do it, so can I. As I walked this morning, I tossed around the saying, “Misery Loves Company”. Some people may have a negative image of this concept but for me it simply means, “Misery is easier  to bear when one is not the only one…”

I was walking a back road near my house and there was another person coming my direction. My first thought was that I wanted this time all to myself, and then I heard her weeping. She gathered her self-control long enough to walk past and then continued. I offered a silent prayer and gave her my deepest respect and more importantly the shelter of an uninterrupted moment.

I get up everyday and try to wrap my head around living with out my mom, I do find courage in others who are doing this thing called life after enduring the hardest of times. I have been listening to Bonnie Raitt, “Dimming of The day”  I awakened sing this to mom the first night she left me…It has become my anthem.

Once Had a Mom

My mom passed from this world on November 28th. She lived as she died, with out hesitation and in her own time.

I will reflect on her life later but for today I share something from 2009.

My Dog, Shaw
January 20, 2009
Four days after my pup, Shaw, arrived in California we travel to the high mountain valley that we call home. There was almost 5 feet of snow. We settle into the house where dogs are usually not invited. Shaw, being such a baby has not known this as home, there has been made an acception. I show him his spot on a rug and pray he doesn’t pittle on the floor. My dad is terminal with cancer. He has been a fisherman, a cattle man, and a horse and dog trainer. He wants to know my dog. This is a test for me and mine… There is a young shepard that is well trained and knows the boundaries, she is a good teacher. She shows him the ways and he livens things up for this shepard with an old soul. My dad put out his hand to my dog and to my surprise, he snaps and bites my dads finger. Dads reply, “That little sh*t bit me.” He doesn’t hold it against my dog but I quickly return him to his spot an a rug. Later Shaw returns to my dad, I watch closely while he settles at his feet. As I reflect I am reminded of the cancer, I to wish I could bite at this unknown that is ravishing my dad. Shaw has self corrected and I am pleased. He returns several time to lay at my dads cold and swollen feet. My mom really likes dogs and would like a companion of her own. Shaw shows her no attention and she is trying to make up to him. Later I look around and he is not on his rug nor is he at my dads feet. My mom has had her way. She has been sneaking him meat scraps in the kitchen and now he is laying just out of the way watching her. Not begging, but knowing that this is where the heart of the home is and here he has found the love of his belly. My mom does not look up, she knows I would not approve of my dog in the kitchen, but she also knows I will not correct her ways. She says to me in a soft voice, you have brought us a camp dog… (written 2/08)

Shaw is my walking and hiking companion…he has turned out just fine.

The Edge of Darkness

WARNING; Mature Content and Profanity. I give you permission to look away!

I was awakened this morning with a startling glimpse of this story being told. I was shaking in the knowledge that it is time.

It has been a four-year journey of disclosure and restraint, unraveling and mending of raw rage and for his deeds there is no recompense that satisfies my mind.

They met and married, he had a sordid past. We believe in new beginnings and hope in the restoration of all broken and abandoned. In him there was a high call and a twisted way we would come to see. I know by his own words he fears only God, but that is not enough to alter his evil ways. He beat her, he abused her mind and had his way with all that she held dear. She was welcome to leave but not with his children. Gun to her head, bowie-knife to her throat, it wasn’t difficult to believe he meant what he said. He broke her down in the shadows of darkness where-in she believed her only hope was to protect her family from his hand. He kept her car and her phone, isolating her as he had his way on the streets and with his other women. She looked for a chance to steal away but she believes full well his words, that if she ever took his children, he would take mine. The threats on her siblings and on our life held her silence. He became careless and flagrant in his abuse and while staying with friends he head butted her in the night. There was no hiding her swollen blackened eye from our site.

Confronting the black reality of her pain took great courage and she ran for her life. The swollen eye and concussion was minor compared to the damage he had done. We confronted his threats and our home became the target of his rage. He went on the run and a federal and state man hunt was underway with 24 hour surveillance on our home.

In the midst of courage my baby girl found her voice, she was nine. When she knew her sister and the babies were safe she was ready to tell. He had been molesting her right under our nose for three years. His words were the same, if she told, he would shoot her in the head and kill us all. In shock and rage we took her to the police station to make her report. The officers took her from us under the watchful eye of social workers, while we waited we knew full well it could change the status of our fostering home. Three boys had come to stay and if they found us incompetent we ran the risk of losing it all. Her story was worth all risk, her courage beyond our pain.

Hours of questions and a physical exam that showed no scaring, we were sent home. Cleared of any risk of loosing our fostering status we had no answers and even worse they had no proof. No charges were brought and days turned to weeks , weeks turned to years and finally he was caught. We had held out hope that when they finally brought him in there would be justice. Both girls, battered and broken, had found their voice they took a stand.

He was a two strike felon who battered, beat, raped, molested and threaten lives. He went on the run while still on parole and when they caught him he was loaded with weapons. He was looking at 6 years with a reduced plea he bargained it down to 3-4. He was never charged with sex crimes or child molestation. He has served slightly over a  year and will be out this December.

I wrestled the demons of my mind. In the months and years of disclosure and revelation I walked in a rage that almost took me over the edge of darkness. Early in this fight I baited the dirty mother fucker to our house and sat with my revolver in my hand. By day break my daughter found me and gently loosed it and tucked it safely away. When I came out of the cold black stooper, I was disappointed. I had no blood on my hands.

I am a professional in the field of Early Child Development. I work with children in all aspects of my life. I am an advocate and a champion for safe children and in my care this took place. I still have not recovered. I am thinking I will never be the same.

I attended a domestic violence awareness walk and even spoke about childhood trauma at a workshop. I was right in the middle of this bull shit, so I put on my mask and put one foot in front of the other. The survivor walk touched a cord in me, I came through the arch way of celebration and a young child was holding a sign, “Break The Silence”  My weapon is my word, victory of darkness is my stand. I have not overcome his evil ways, but I have found my way in the wilderness. I forgive him. Not because he is worthy, not because there is any good thing in this man. But because forgiveness breaks off the strong hold of my judgment. It releases his control over me and the darkness that hate instills. I release him to stand before our maker, may judgment be in His hand.

…an after thought: People have told me that if that had happened to theirs they would have kill him. They say many things that I have thought and at one time even said. I am thankful daily that I did not go over that edge. I am thankful that his ways did not rob me of my place in my home, my place at the table called Life. We all have a burden to carry, an evil to overcome. He does not hold the key, I will not surrender to his darkness.

December is right around the corner: “Come What May”

This story was shared with permission.

via Daily Prompt: Black

The Unexpected

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A friend came to visit yesterday evening and I found myself chatting about blogging. I got started less than a month ago and I must say there are surprises along the way. I am new to this and have much to learn.

I hesitate to say that I had no idea about the “stats” or the image of the world map that lights up as you have traveled across continents and connected with others around the world. It is an unexpected thrill. The traffic is a tease at times as I want to know more about those who have crossed my path. I want you to know if you have disclosed yourself to me and I am not aware of your region or town, I educate myself. I go online and read about your surroundings. This grounds me and I become vetted in my fellow readers and writers.

When I was a young girl we had an exchange student at my school. She linked me to another student in India and we became pen-pals. We wrote letters and exchanged artwork. We lost contact over the years but I have never forgotten her drawing of peacock feathers or the life experiences that she shared. Blogging is pen-palling at its finest.

Cheers to connecting from here to there. I look forward to your stories and comments.