The Box Chapter 5 A sit down with dad

The Box Chapter 5 a sit down with dad

Dad came down the stairs looking dapper, smile on his face and very warm and gracious hug, then he went right to it.

“Well young lady we need to talk about your mom please let me have my say and then tell me what your thoughts are or chew on it for a while and get back to me”

“Here are my thoughts, I do not want to be with her 24 – 7 but I would like access to her, and would like to spend regular time with her if not daily every other day depending how she is feeling. Not quite sure how we could accomplish any of this since you live down here but I have an idea you may want to mull it over; I still live in the same house your mom lived as my wife, I still have the rocking chair she sat in holding you and your brother, I want Paul to bring it down from the attic. Sigh, I also own the house next door, it would be nice if you and she could move in; there is a white picket fence that we could chat over; and a beautiful flower garden, on her good days she and I could putter in the garden, or sit under the shade tree sipping tea. I know you have this place and all but there would be no charge for living there, I just want to spend time with my Sarah.”

I sat stunned for a few beats, what took me off guard was the mention of the rocking chair, I guess I have not completely grasped the whole concept of Stan being my father and Sarah being his wife. I have only known my mom as Judy, this is a lot to absorb.

“Well first off Stan, mmm dad my main concern is how she will accept a move, if she could accept a move. I would not want her to be set back at all, I am so hoping to keep the status quo hoping to hold on to her good days as much as possible. I will tell you this, I will consider it, I need to talk this over with her Doctor and get his thoughts on it. From the information and advice he gives me I will be able to make an educated decision. For us to move from this house financially is no big deal because we are renters, this was mom’s house I sold my condo and moved in with her when she became unable to live alone, so that would not be a problem”

“Well good then you are at least willing to consider my ideas I like that Penny, please let me know what the Doctor says”

“Well dad how about I make an appointment with the Doctor and you can be part of the conversation, would that suit you?”

“Oh Penny that would suit me just fine, yes indeed just fine”

I went up to see if mom needed help as I reached her door she was coming out in a new dress with flowers and ruffles, she looked airy and beautiful.

Slowly descending the stairs Stan came over to look up at us and said

“My two beautiful girls I am one lucky old codger”

“Oh aren’t you a sweet old sort, and what have you got to say for yourself this morning? Leaving me to sleep alone after all that romance music and holding hands”

I took in an involuntary deep breath; if my eyes were as wide as Paul’s I must look ridiculous. Letting out the air and laughing at the same time triggered a coughing Jag which only sent Paul reeling in uncontrollable laughter “

Both our parents looked at us like we had lost our minds which only made it worse.

Once I was calmed down, blew my nose, wiped my eyes I asked if everyone was hungry

Mom said “Stan and I will take our coffee out on the porch, please dear”

“Oh Sarah that is a marvelous idea we can catch up on old times”

“Old times? My word; have you lost your mind we have only met last night, you tell me about yourself and that nice young man you have with you”

So our day started with a mix bag of tricks but hey that is Alzheimer’s for you; never knowing from one moment to the next what the day will bring. It is never boring and rarely the same. One thing I like about it is, if I tell a joke to mom and it makes her laugh hard I write it down and make sure I tell it to her again. It is always heard through her ears for the first time even though I have told it 100 times.

Eaves dropping is a gift I really do not have, I am not good at it; part of that clumsy talent I have. Invariably when I try to be quiet, either I, stub my toe, hit my not so funny bone or knock something over.

After breakfast I went outside with a cup of coffee and sat on a step, I really wanted to know more.

So Paul has a nick name similar to mine Rock a doodle, any time dad played music Paul rocked. Now that brought a smile to my face I have noticed he never really sits still, his foot has to be moving some part of his body has to move he cannot just sit.

Paul’s first words were Skipper. Skipper was the family’s coonhound who would sleep anywhere he flopped.

Instead of singing Paul to sleep dad would whistle, at that Stan started to whistle a beautiful melody that I swear came from heaven itself. I have never heard anyone whistle like that, from the screen door Paul joined in the chorus of Beautiful Savior. I was entranced by this I did not notice till much into the song mom had tears roll down her cheek.

Mom said softly with a little choke to the words “You used to whistle standing in my back yard looking up to my bedroom window, Blue Danube”

Oh that is why it is her favorite song.


The Box CHapter 4 Decisions

The Box Chapter 4 Decisions

Evening is coming quickly, I am concerned about this time of day, Alzheimer sufferers have what they call sun downing. They become more confused and out of sorts. With having guests in the house may make it a little more difficult.

So I will do what I do every night I play the piano; starting with mom’s favorite song Blue Danube. While playing I notice Paul go out to his car then came back with a guitar. He pulled up a dining room chair and joined in. Here I am with my brother serenading my parents.

Looking at my mom and dad on the couch sitting; is as if it were the most natural thing, this is surreal. Dad has this calm sweet look on his face, every so often he nods in my direction I cannot determine if it is the playing or me that he is impressed with. Either way it is ok with me, mom has a sweet contented smile on her face.

After 4 songs I was about to ask if there were any requests, my dad stood up reached his hand toward my mom ; she reached hers to his, they turned and walked for the stairs. Paul and I both sat in suspended animation not believing what we were seeing nor knowing what to do about it.

Being our elders and Parents it is hard to balance as their caregivers, giving them the privacy and respect they deserve.

I broke the silence

“Ok big Brother what do we do now?”

“Don’t big brother me it was only seconds and from what I hear you kicked me out”

We smiled not laughed, of course I sighed.

“Fine I will go up and try to have a discrete talk with dad”

“Thanks Paul, I would not know where to begin”

“Hey Penny what is the worst that could happen, they fall asleep together”

“Well for one mom does not always wake up on the right side of the bed, she may shriek and say “ Who is this man in my bed”

“Now hold on dad may steal a line from the three bears ‘Who’s been sleeping in my bed, aha here she is now and she is not Goldilocks she is the Silver bimbo from the bar what have I done”

Now we laughed as he climbed the stairs. I stayed at the base of the stairs waiting to see how this transpires, plus I am a coward when it comes to confrontation.

Paul was soon back, “He is only tucking her in, and he said he feels it is his duty to care for his wife”

“Whew that is a load off my mind Paul”

“well do not get to comfortable, the way dad said it I am wondering if this was a mistake coming here after all”

“Mistake what do you mean, why would it be a mistake they are doing fabulously”

“I am concerned he may want to stay or take her with him”

“Paul neither of those options are possible, she would not be up to such a drastic change”

“Sorry Penny I am giving you fair warning I know my dad, that tone he used was in no uncertain terms, “It is my responsibility to take care of my wife” when he digs his heels in we can be in for a bit of a challenge”

“Ok we and he can sleep on it, this will be one time I hope his confusion will be a help not a hindrance”

Morning came; I had coffee made when Paul walked into the kitchen. His aftershave reminded me of Jessie; melancholy suddenly weighed on me, I guess I am a bit like my dad; I cannot seem to move forward; using my mom’s illness as an excuse to anchor me in one spot, still morning, still missing Jessie after so many years.

“How is he this morning Paul?”

“He is good, slowly getting ready for the day, and to have a heart to heart with you”

“Oh Paul he really wants to stay and take care of mom?”

“Well he wants to have a say in her care, and legally he has the right to do so even if you are the executor to her estate, and listed as the advocate to make the end of life decisions, he is still legally her husband”

“Paul, you are not suggesting you would push this for him?”

“God, no that would be the last thing I would do, I would counsel him to go slow and keep her illness in mind, also remind him of his on and off confusion , we can find a happy medium somehow”

Sigh, sigh sigh

“Wow Penny is that a record three sighs in a row, one big hee haw”

We both smiled but we knew this was a time to make some decisions. I never in a million years have seen this coming. Let’s see what today brings , they will be here for another 5 days that is plenty of time to sort this out and even hope his mind changes.

The Box Chapter 3 The Visit

The month is flying by I am slowly trying to plant seeds of the coming visit, hoping some of them will take root. Since the shock of finding the box with all her secrets and memories Mom has had better days. It is strange how what happened yesterday is a fleeting thought similar to a sneeze. Yet distant memories are rooted deep into her soul.

Only a week to go I cajoled mom into getting her hair done, nails, pedicure we had an entire couple of days of girl time.  It was a special gift to me, she seemed nearly as her old self again.

Morning of the suspected arrival, mom came down as confused and out of sorts as ever, my heart sank I was so hoping this renewed clarity would last awhile. Not just for myself but for Stan my dad, and Paul my brother. I so wanted Paul to see mom as she was during our girl week; well as they say best laid plans.

Mom resting, I hear a car pull in the driveway, I had to take a peek see what they looked like. Wow if that is Paul, I must be gorgeous because he sure is. Just as that thought came and went this older gentlemen came around the car, actually an older version of Paul. Dad that’s my dad; I can see why mom lost her virginity to him he is still a looker.

I had a simple lunch planed, soup, salad, sandwiches, coffee or tea.  I honestly could use something much stiffer than that but I need to be a good hostess.

Warm greetings especially dad to the point I was a little flushed with embarrassment, he clung to me and sobbed. Telling me how I look so much like my mom, and how beautiful I am, just gushing everything he had wanted to say from the beginning of my life.

Paul gently guided my dad to take a seat on the sofa. The plan was to set my mom right next to my dad and let nature take its course. Paul had told dad about mom’s condition, he seemed to understand.

Mom came down the stairs just ahead of me, she seemed rested. Noticing Paul first, she stopped short, I nearly ran into her. Pausing and staring, Paul smiled reached out to her and said “Hello my name is Paul”

“I know who you are is that the way to greet your mother, come here and give me a hug”

 Instantly tears welled up, in mine and Paul’s eyes. Paul gave my mom a gentle hug quietly saying “ Hi mom you look great.”

Mom smiled then turned her attention to my dad on the couch, her eyes clouded over as she walked over;

 I said “Mom this is Stan.”

She quietly sat down next to my dad, smoothing out her dress.

Paul whispered in my ear “May be we should leave them alone”

I looked at him; he intuitively knew what I was thinking

“They will be fine we will only be a few steps away”

There goes that involuntary sigh of mine.

“Dad does that sigh when he is stressed; I thought I heard that on the phone”

Chuckling I said “I was hoping you didn’t, dad does the same thing?”

“Yes I tease him and call it his He Haw sound, my kids picked up on it, my youngest actually does it”

Standing near enough to touch; we just stared at each other, I was the first to speak:

“I do not know about you but I could use something stronger than coffee.”

“Oh you really are my twin sister”

There is that spontaneous laugh, same as we shared on the phone, ice breaker for sure

“What’s your pleasure, beer, wine or Jack Daniels Paul? Not a well-stocked bar but just enough to get the job done.”

“I am having what you are having Penny”

“Well Jack Daniels it is and if you really are my brother you want it over ice, straight up”

“Oh Penny you are speaking my language” As he said this as he peeked around the corner

“What are they doing Paul?”

“Dad is holding her hand, and just gently kissed it, she is looking straight ahead”

“I made a simple lunch, soup, salad; sandwiches I figured keep it simple not know how this would go”

“I have an idea Penny, do you have TV trays?”

“Yes, mom has a full set; she likes to watch her programs while eating.”

“Perfect so does dad, how about I set out the trays, you get sandwiches, dad takes coffee, he will not eat salad; calls it rabbit food, but a sandwich will do”

After setting everything in front of them and watching them say the meal prayer, as if they had been doing this all their adult lives together. Ok is this an episode of the Twilight zone, mom is so addicted to that program we have to watch at least one episode a night.

Paul’s and my lunch consisted of sandwiches and Jack Daniels










The Box CHapter 2 The Phone call

The Box – Chapter 2

The phone call

After a lengthy albeit convoluted conversation with my mom I deduced there was more to it than just postpartum depression. My mom was dating Stan Duran for only a month. In her day you did not have sex before marriage, one steamy night they succumbed to their hormones. My brother and I were the result, the thing is she had just graduated from high school; Stan was a mechanic at the local small town gas station in Michigan’s UP. She was frightened and wanted more for her life and her daughter so she struck out for a life in the big city.

Stan had 3 sisters 2 brothers so she knew Paul would be well cared for. She did not want to take both of Stan’s children from him, all men want sons, is how she put it, all woman want daughters.

Her first job was at Hudson’s she told me of this fine store with upper class bobbles and clothing. There were hardwood floors, wood stair cases with wooden highly polished banisters and moldings .

It seemed so romantic, especially now everything is generically tiled, or marble.

She was lucky to find a boarding house and had a little nest egg from saved birthday, first communion and confirmation money. Mom has always been very frugal; am glad she taught me that.

I am feeling more confident and relaxed about the phone call I need to make. I am sure Paul has a reason for sending this box at this time.

“Is this Paul Duran?”

“This is Paul Duran, how may I help you?”

“Hi Paul this is your sister Penny”

“Great! I was hoping you would call there is so much I want to know and so much I want to tell you”

I was hoping my deep sigh was not audible; I do that involuntarily when I am stressed or anxious.

“Well I guess I should first ask why send the box at this time, we are both in our 50’s so I am assuming there is a reason for the timing?”

“There is Penny, dad has been agitated lately he has wanted to see Sarah one more time, I really think even to this day he still loves her. As an attorney I counseled him to get a divorce and start a new life, he would always say no”

“You’re an attorney? So am I, that’s incredible”

We both laughed and it is odd our laughs were nearly identical. At that point I realized I was relaxed as if talking to a long lost friend.

By the end of the conversation I really did not learn much more than what my mother shared with me just little gems here and there about my brother and dad.

So many similarities between illnesses and our proclivity to injure ourselves, broken arms, stubbed toes; let’s just say neither of us were athletically inclined.

Dad is in the first stages of Alzheimer’s not nearly as advanced as mom; gee with this being part of my genetic history makes one wonder about my future. No kids to take care of me as I do my mom I will need to put some directives in place.

Paul and I made some tentative plans to get my mom and dad together; a month from today Paul will drive down state with dad for 2 week stay.

Ok after hanging up I am sighing again this is a lot to process. I have 4 nieces 2 nephews. I am actually over whelmed and thrilled at the same time. I have family beyond my mom all this time I was an only child and once mom was gone there would only be me. I have family.

The Box (Short Story)

The Box


“Sherry you have to come over I just received a large Box via UPS from someone named Paul Duran, I do not know a Paul Duran”

“I will be right over Penny”

“So glad you live next door Sherry, I do not know why this has me frazzled”

“Have you opened the box yet?”

“No way; I wanted someone to be with me when I did, like I said this has me unsettled”

“Well come on Penny I am curious what this is”

Opening the box with all its tape without disturbing the return address was a feat in itself, but one accomplished by the precision skill of my friend Sherry, I always marvel at her strength and understanding so glad she is my best friend.

“There looks like layers of things from clothing to books, unopened letters, you have no idea who this Paul is?”

“None what so ever Sherry; may be the contents will explain who he is, I would love to ask my mom if she knows a Paul Duran, some days she does not even know me, it could possibly be someone Jessie would have known, maybe he served with him in Afghanistan.”

“Ok here are two pairs of shoes they are identical except one is for a girl one is for a boy”

“Huh that is odd Penny these unopened letters, if they are all the same they are love letters to a woman named Sarah Duran, this one says”

Sarah, I understand you were frightened by the responsibility of married life and 2 children, I promise our love can withstand it and we can work together. Whatever you need all you have to do is tell me. Please come back Sarah.

“I wonder if this Paul sent this to me by mistake, maybe there is a phone number or something I can use to phone him, I guess I could write him at the address on the box”

“Well I have opened 5 of the 20 letters and they all seem to say similar if not the same things”

“What do you make of this Sherry? “

“Pictures of two babies one boy one girl, they look like twins, lock of hair, all the makings of a keep sake a mother would put together for her children, Penny ask your mom if she knows a Sarah Duran, who knows if it is from her past she may remember something”

“I will as soon as she gets up”

“You call me Penny if you find out anything”

I will Sherry you know I will”

As we hugged she went home to make breakfast for her kids and husband, these are the moments I miss Jessie. Still cannot believe it has been 5 years since they told me he was gone, 5 years; at times I can still smell him and feel his touch.

“Penny! Where are you Penny?”

“Mom I am in the dining room! Do you want some breakfast?”

“No just coffee, you know I only have coffee in the morning you silly doodle”

Oh good a clear day she remembers my name and nick name silly doodle. Coffee first then I will ask her if she knows a Sarah Duran.

“Mom have a seat on the recliner I will bring you a cup of coffee”

“Ok silly doodle make sure it is fresh and hot”

“Always mom always”

At that moment I heard a shriek, every hair on my body stood on end. With her coffee in my hand I ran into the living room found mom clutching letters, photos whatever she could grab, sitting on the floor hugging her knees and crying.

“This is why I am sick sometimes, I was not forgiven for what I did, this is why I cannot always remember it is all my fault”

“Sherry, I need your help”

“Penny is that your mom I hear?”

“Yes, she must have looked into the box while I was getting her some coffee, she is inconsolable, she keeps saying it is all her fault and this is why she is sick,, she has not been forgiven. “

“I cannot come over right away, I am in the middle of breakfast, as soon as we have finished, and maybe you should call the doctor”

“If she does not calm down soon I will do that”

“Mom what is wrong, please calm down, here is a tissue, come on mom sit on the recliner talk to me, do you know a Sarah Duran?”

“I am Sarah”

Stunned is not the word I could completely describe what I was feeling, out of body freaking out experience, same as I had when they told me Jessie died. My life is about to change drastically again. I should always trust that inner voice, which told me this box, will matter somehow in my life.

“Hey Sherry; I ended up calling the Doc he told me to give her an Ativan, she is sleeping in the recliner”

“Did she tell you anything?”

“Yes, she is Sarah Duran, I have a twin brother, all this time I thought my dad died when I was a baby, all this time I thought my last name was Brook, but it is actually Duran, she at least kept my first name. I started to go through more of the contents in the box found my birth certificate, Paul Duran is my twin brother, at the very bottom of the box was a note to me Penny Duran, there is a phone number, I am not up to calling just yet”

“Holy Moly Penny, I hope she is still clear headed when she wakes up, I would love to hear more”

“Well I opened all the letters, seems my mom could not handle the thought of twins, the doctor diagnosed her with post-partum depression, that must have been when she left her husband, my father”

“Penny I have to be honest I could not ever imagine any circumstance me leaving any of my children, that is just awful”

“I know here I always wanted kids especially with Jessie and was never able to have any, it does not seem fair, yet who knows what other things were going on in the marriage and her life, I cannot judge her, I could not judge her she has been a great mom to me, putting me through college, helping me through the loss of Jessie, I do not know what I would have done without her”

“Well Penny, if nothing else you have gained a brother”

“Yes, Sherry there is that, he may know more than mom at this point, wonder why he chose to send this at this time”

“You will call him and find out?”

“Not today, I am not sure I could handle it today, I need time to take all this in and hopefully have another talk with mom”




As I grew (Prose)


As I grew up

Familial traits occurred

Yet as I gain wisdom

Some flawed traits

Gradually fade away

I am a work in progress

Not a destination

A journey to the bitter end

Moments of epiphanies

Bring change to my heart

Healing to my soul

Some familial behavior

Was abusive and strange

While others calm and loving

I chose my hearts behavior

This builds my character

Not what others say I am

What my heart grasps and builds

A character of heart

Seen in my actions

As to be good or evil

I chose good!

Changing what my children’s

Familial heritage

Communication of lovers


Each time I communicate

Baring my heart to you

Linguistics of lovers

All is needed

Not gibberish of control

Words used to benefit both

Silence at times

Converse the need as well

Mute with voice not eyes

 A symbol of your soul

Irreconcilable should never

Be of want an need



Glamor shots


Glamor shots

Show only the surface

Beneath that smile

Would there be guile?

Just below the surface

Is there depth?

Or shallowness of breath?

Other than the gloss

On your lips

Are your words true?

Or just a Hue,

Wanting to be liked?

Willing to believe

Your beauty caught

Is more than Photoshop.

Show me who you are

Apart from the pose and poise

Time will tell

To see if you can carry it well

Politicians all the same

It is part and parcel

Of the game








Scarred Heart (Poem)


A scarred  heart

Each tear has a cause

By indifference

Cruelty, malice

Some scars heal

Over time

Through acceptance

Love and seeking of peace

Yet even after healing

The hearts scarring

Has fibrous tissue pulled

When witnessing others

Going through the same

Reaching out

Holding them

Brings once again peace

Let us reach for those

Who’ve been there

That healing may begin;

Stand against the virus,

Which causes such scarring

So others will be left to

Live without disfigurement






Tandem (Short story)



We always worked tandem, in sync with each other’s body rhythms as in a march to the same drummer.

Being Park Rangers many of our duties take us far away from the main stream of others. Secluded we need to depend on each other’s survival skills. A report of illegal drug activity north of our look out took us 30 miles in thick foliage and rugged terrain.   There are few options as to getting in and out; dirt bikes are our choice, some places you can come in by Jeep. We opted for both; I had an extra dirt bike in the back to use in areas which would not accommodate a Jeep. The Jeep is a needful vehicle in case of injuries or transporting persons under arrest.

Leaving word at our post including a defining route we would take in and out. This insures us help if needed; always letting them know a starting point, it being key to our safety.

We started as the sun came up and was about to give it up till the next day when we heard muffled conversations, figuring at least 4 individuals. We did not want anyone to know about our presents so we carefully positioned ourselves just close enough to see them and hear them and hopefully for them not to see nor hear us.

Small clearing were 4 individuals, loading a Jeep with what looked like small bails of leaves. Our assumption was Marijuana. I backed off about 10 feet to radio in for back up and our exact coordinates. As I clicked off from the conversation I heard the gun shot, people running through vegetation, angry curses, and these sounds were approaching near me. I wanted to see about my partner so I circled around and doubled back hoping they could not trail me.

Taking only a moment to radio again the changing circumstances; I made it to my partner just as a helicopter went overhead. There was no helping him.

A bull horn was used to identify the occupants of the helicopter, noting there were others in the surrounding area. My radio went off asking if I needed assistance, I told them my partner was down. Blinking my flash light upwards a basket was lowered, I carefully placed my partner in it strapped him down. All the while around me there was rapid gun fire. My only concern was I wanted my partner to be able to leave with dignity; I did not care about my wellbeing. A piece of me was being lifted over my head and out of site.

There is no preparing for a situation like this; we all know this job is dangerous at times, from animal, man or merely the environment. Joe and I were partners for 25 years, so today after this interview, gentlemen I am putting in for my retirement. There will never be another partner for me as Joe and I worked in Tandem