Personal-In Memory of a Foster Kid

Zack

RIP

 

 Not long ago, we began trying to find the many kids we fostered and worked with decades ago. The search is hard, we are in a different state than the one we fostered in most often. Kids have changed their names, married, been incarcerated, had a bankruptcy or been divorced a couple times. Some kids just do not wish to be found and for other unknown reasons they do not want to stay in touch with us or even speak with us. The challenge is to find them and get them to talk.

Recently, we found one of our more bizarre kids. He was a character with a unique personality. He did unexpected things. He said strange things. He dressed in a manner that was not what most would consider normal. He was his own person even then. He would never conform.

When we called, we were uncertain what kind of greeting we would get. We were foster parents and we had not always made decisions about the kid’s life that they liked. But, he seemed anxious to connect with us which made us happy. He wanted to speak with us and he wanted to share things with us, but he was a very ill young man. We found him in the hospital and he explained, the best he could, his condition. He could barely talk so we had trouble understanding him. We called him a few times including on his birthday. The staff made him a cake and came to celebrate with him. He was pretty much alone except for a friend he made of a Vietnam Veteran, seemed like a strange combination of personalities, but maybe we did not know the older man he had become.

It soon became apparent how sick he was when we found out the kidneys and liver were not functioning. He talked about a tremendous amount of weight from the water he held. He let us know they would soon try dialysis. He was not a candidate for a transplant, I assume because of his alcohol usage. It appeared he had abused it for years. When we had him in foster care and lived with us; he had other problems, more of a psychological nature.

Next time we called, he let us know that the dialysis did not work. It was then we saw how truly sick this young man was and knew what to expect. It was a couple weeks later when he passed away at the age of 42.

Even when you expect it, it is still a shock when someone so young passes away. This man had a rough life and his parents never cared about him. His Vietnam Veteran friend notified us. He said we were on the very short list to be notified at his death. His parents were not. His friend did of course notify them eventually.

You expect foster kids to leave and change homes, being out of your life for a long time. I did not see this kid since we fostered him over 25 years ago, but my husband did.

This young man was a lost soul but, he was a warm human being with a good heart. His life was not good any of the years we knew about. We tried to keep him safe in a loving environment. We tried to give him a sense of belonging I hope he felt. Relationships were hard for him, but he gave what he had to others to the best of his ability. We were terribly busy and never had enough time, according to our wishes, to devote solely to each kid.

Yes, we were just foster parents, we had him for a short time in the scheme of things, but for a while he belonged to our family. He was part of it and was treated fairly and as well as our natural kids. It somehow wasn’t enough. Not enough time. Not enough love. Not enough belief in himself to make a difference. But we cared. I will grieve for him for some time to come. I am sorry you had such a tough life. I’m sorry it ended too soon. You touched people and you had friends even when you thought you were alone. We cared.

I am so glad we found him before it was too late!

 

Book Review-Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

 

 Gap Creek

 

 

Gap Creek is an Oprah Pick and reading it you can see why it has been chosen. The book follows the first year of marriage by a young wife in Gap Creek, a place that is challenging and requires all her skills and talents. The domestic situation is difficult at best. Fortunately, Julie learned many things when she helped her father and later took over the farm when he got ill. In a house, full of girls and a son too little to help, Julie became the sister to do the harder, outside, farm work (traditionally men’s work.) One sister helped her on occasion, but reluctantly. The other sister preferred being inside with her mother helping her cook, doing needle work and more practical sewing. So, the brunt of the farm work fell upon Julie.

With no experience with or time for dating men, Julie was easily struck by the physical beauty and the charm of the young man who quickly won her heart. Hank was a smooth talker and face worker. She counted on his strength, but it was not always present. It seemed who she thought she was marrying was not the whole and truthful picture of this man. Julie found out in some cases you really are marrying the family as she dealt with a demanding and intrusive mother-in-law. She turned out to be the stronger of the couple when tragedy hit. After events that changed their lives forever, he finally became the man she thought he was and the end of their unbelievable first year of hardship is more hopeful.

I felt the power of description in this book that I seldom find. It was so complete as to have you mesmerized by the detail in things you never thought would be of interest to you. I felt the character development was superb and the description of what life was like long ago in Gap Creek held your attention.

This would be among the books I highly recommend. This is the first time I read this author and I know I need to look for more books by Robert Morgan.

 

 

Book Review of The Temple of my Familiar by Alice Walker

 

This novel is hard to describe properly, but you should not miss it. You need to experience it, feel it, and taste it. The author, Alice Walker of The Color Purple fame, leads you on a journey. The journey takes you to exotic places from ancient times through the present. Walker presents part of the trip as solely in your shared imagination. You do not dare disbelieve for even then it offers truths.

Alice Walker’s theme is love and marriage, the man – woman, husband- wife relationship. It examines up close the dynamics of the male-female in marriage and without it. It speaks of the struggle that is being a woman. It talks about our needs and wants especially in relationship to the men in our lives. You will follow an interesting study of two marriages, their failures and their successes throughout the book. The black experience is also a recurring theme in this novel

Alice Walker creates fabulous characters, explores their uniqueness, and shows us however, off the wall they are we are like them. Humanity shares many things even with those we could never identify with or feel like we have anything in common.

I recommend this book highly. It is worth your time to read it and it may even enrich your life.

Book Review of Mrs. Jeffries & The Feast of St. Stephen by Emily Brightwell

 Mrs Jeffries

 

 

This is a Victorian mystery reminiscent of the Miss Marple tales of the Agatha Christie fame. However, instead of just one amateur detective, there is a whole house full of them. All the servants of the small household want to help their master Detective Gerald Witherspoon on his more difficult cases.

Their plan as always is to snoop around on their own and meet daily to compile their information and attempt to solve the mystery before he does. They do this unbeknownst to their employer. They need to do it on the sly and between their usual tasks as those who keep the household running. They love their employer who looks upon his household staff as family and treats them very well indeed.

Their methods are sometimes not as above board as they should be, since stretching the truth and downright lying are acceptable and they fully believe the end justifies the means.

It is surprising that their network comes through for them usually. The underground of the servants in the best houses know more than they should about their masters and their upper-crust guests. Much knowledge is available at the cost of a cup of tea or maybe a couple of those renowned tarts of the cook, Mrs. Goodge.

If you enjoy a mystery filled with the cleverest ways of obtaining information and a group that pieces together information like a jigsaw puzzle, you will love this band of conspirators. I highly recommend this book and it is a happy day to discover that she has produced many more Mrs. Jeffries Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review of Waterlilies Over My Grave by Patricia A. Guthrie

waterliliesWaterlilies Over My Grave by Patricia A. Guthrie is another book you must add to your TBR list. I highly recommend it and you won’t be sorry your read it.

Annie O’Brien had a very bad marriage, in fact a violent one. She obtained a divorce but her ex did not recognize it. The scary phone calls and the stalking would not stop, so Annie accepted another position in a different state and finally thought she could breathe easy again.

She first met Mark when he was her patient. He was a detective, who was on leave. Mark Driscoll had recently been involved in an incident where he killed a kid. He was not doing well and he was required to see Annie. Their first meeting did not go, as it should since he hated and did not believe in psychologists.

Annie worked with his mother, Julia Driscoll and soon found their relationship to be warm and friendly. They began to feel very comfortable with each other in spite of her son’s combative relationship with Annie.

When the calls and the symptoms of being harassed returned, Annie grew very frightened. Only she knew what her ex – husband was capable of doing and how evil he truly was, when it came to getting what he wanted at any cost.

Mark Driscoll’s assignment was to protect Annie. Due to his job of protection and their constantly being thrown together, started to change their relationship.

No matter their best efforts, it took forever to track her husband Duncan’s movements. Duncan had been an actor on the stage and a master of disguise, which made the whole investigation much harder.

If you like mysteries with lot of twists and turns than you will love the book, Waterlilies Over My Grave

 

Book Review of Angels of September by Andrew M. Greeley

angels of september

This book is an older one, written in 1986, that I recently read and thought a review was in order since many readers love to haunt old bookstores. Greeley is an author you should check out since he writes about the church authentically and honestly.

What started as a childhood rivalry, really a love-hate relationship, stopped when they shared a heart-felt moment back when they were just children. Anne Reilly and Michael Casey shared the moment. It was the first time they discovered they might like each other and maybe something more. They grew up in the same neighborhood and church. As adults, their paths cross again and awaken some old feelings. Those emotions might develop into full -bodied passion. The only problem is will they admit feelings exist and they will allow it.

Meanwhile, Anne is suffering a torturous inner-life. Her past has been full of failed relationships, a grief she cannot bear and a guilt she cannot assuage. Her religion is both her salvation and her punishment. Her present is riddled with what she believes is preparation and a preview of her punishment for what she has done. A crazy series of events make her doubt reality and think the supernatural has overcome her.

This is a love story and a mystery. It will keep you guessing as to what is going on. As you are unraveling the mystery, you will find yourself doubting the truth.

If you never read an Andrew M Greeley novel, you are in for a treat. As a priest, he writes about the Catholic Church with humor and a little irreverence. You get a peek at a priest who is a human being first and a Catholic second.

His characters are full – fleshed people you would love to have the honor of meeting. They are complex human beings with a special something that sets them apart. They are real with their foibles and extraordinary gifts, But they are people make no doubt about it. The characters who come with secrets and pasts but still are sinners reaching for heaven.

Book Review for My GRL by John Howell

Those of you that really enjoy spy, espionage, terrorist type mysteries should read My GRL by John Howell. The book starts with a murder and ends with a clever plan for the main character to escape. He is drawn into a scary situation, unknowingly and unwillingly. He eventually learns the bad guys expect him to participate in a terrorist mission.

The book has a creative plot with many twists and turns. There are a good many times when you say to yourself “what’s happening now, why and what does that really mean?” In short order, the author reveals those secrets, but the mystery elements are constant.

We loved the plot and felt it is very well thought out. The adventure constantly kept you on the edge of your seat. I found the instincts and cleverness of the characters were real life possibilities for their solutions to problems.

This was an earlier version of this book and I understand a relaunch of this title included many edits so I am sure though this version was great, the newer version may be even better. The version I read started slow, but worked up to a very fast paced, exciting novel toward the end.

My husband and I both read My GRL and would highly recommend this to those who crave adventure and nail biting reads.

John also writes poetry and short stories as well as suspense/thriller novels.