First time author

When I was 21, I started this portrait of my younger sister, Sally, and never finished it. In 2021, I took it up again with my oil paints, but ran into problems and put it on hold. Then I tried Procreate, a $9.99 app for the Ipad, and Wow! No messy paint cleanup! It’s still a work in progress, but a good start! Now, I’m ready to go back to the oils. After practicing with Procreate, hopefully I’ll get it right this time!

This is a belated post; don’t know how I missed it. My Into the Brighter Light made finalist in the Fusion Arts Six Annual Landscapes Art Exhibition in January 2021. There are some fabulous artists that made first through fifth places and honorable mentions, so it’s worth a look. If you click here and keep scrolling down, you’ll find my contribution way at the bottom! Hey, don’t knock it; I’m proud of whatever recognition I receive!

Into the Brighter Light

I completed Into the Brighter Light on January 1, 2021 as a bluer and brighter version of my previous Into the Light, below, which represents a weary world’s struggle to keep the focus on the light coming through the dark clouds of 2020. The 2021 version above has gentle ripples flowing forward in the lower right hand corner, heralding a better times to come for 2021. That is my hope and prayer.

Framing her and climbing that ladder to hang her was the hardest part. What a joy it was to paint her. She rested on towels in front of the couch for a week until she was dry enough to hang.

For framed prints or canvas prints of your own copy, click here.

Into the Brighter Light earns a place of honor above my couch.

A Hatha Yoga practice that features the seven chakras, in the yoga tradition, the major subtle energy centers of the body. Can be done alone, after, or before the seated-guided meditation portion of the practice.

Enjoy a 43-minute yoga practice to clear and energize your seven chakras. It includes vinyasas (series of yoga poses), guided imagery, affirmations based on the chakras, and a short guided yoga nidra, deep relaxation.

This replaces the first one where some of the music clips were too loud.

If you are a beginner, you can use a chair for balance and modify the poses as needed. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a beginner’s version of the class in November.

An all-levels seated guided meditation. Can be done alone, before, or after Meditation in Motion, the Hatha Asanas (poses) portion of the practice. If you find it is too slow, click on the video to make a little gear button appear at the bottom of the screen. Click on that to adjust the speed from 1.00 to 1.25.

Enjoy a this guided meditation to clear and energize your seven chakras, in the yogic tradition the major subtle energy centers in your body. The practice concludes with Nadi Shodana, alternate nostril breathing to balance the pingala and ida nadis, the positive and negative energy currents, allowing Shushumna, the central nadi to flow freely from Muhladhara, the root chakra at the base of the spine, to Shahashrara, the crown chakra, your link to the Divine.

Yet to be published; on 2d edit

This is a story of growing up on a farm in rural Virginia during the nineteen-fifties and sixties as one of the six children of Marine Corps veterans.

It starts when Second Lieutenant, Elizabeth Anne Delp, Annie, from a wealthy Pittsburgh family, is on a flight with Ace Marine Fighter pilot, Joe Foss, to New Orleans to give a recruitment speech. Major Waldon Pete Snyder, Pete, a mixed blood Native American from a ranch in Oklahoma, is piloting the flight.

Put off at Pete’s pointed scowl at the miniscule cigarette burn on her uniform that not even her superior officer had noticed, Annie vows to have nothing to do with the conceited jerk.

But when D-Day arrives, how can she refuse his request for a lift in her little red convertible to join the jubilant celebrations erupting all over the nation’s capital? As they Texas-two-step across the dance floor to the big band sounds of Count Basie, Annie discovers they’re perfect dance partners. He’s not such a jerk after all.

Her parents, disappointed when they find Annie is engaged to an “Okie” of dubious background, hire a detective who uncovers a secret that almost derails the engagement.

Despite setbacks, they marry and leave the Marines, Pete to fly for Capital Airlines, and Annie to become the first woman to enroll at the prestigious George Mason Law school in Washington, DC.

When her pregnancy puts an end to law school, Annie postpones her dream of following in her father’s footsteps as a corporate lawyer to settle for life as a housewife. She soon finds winning the title of Master Potato Peeler while on KP-Duty in the Marines doesn’t make up for the deficiencies of her privileged upbringing.

For Pete, it’s hard to hide his shock when Annie doesn’t know how to boil water. One eyeball roll after another, the strain deepens between them.

Three children later, with a fourth on the way, Pete gets an unsolicited, surprise offer on the house he’s been building on his time off for the burgeoning family. Annie convinces him to sell and purchase a farm. A month after the fourth child arrives, they move from Metropolitan DC to a hundred and ninety-one acre farm in rural Virginia.

Annie’s visions of a bucolic story-book life in the country meet with reality: too many children, too much to do, and too little time. Although juggling housework, farm chores, and keeping us kids in line is an enormous challenge, both parents’ Marine Corps officer training equip them well for the task. They forge the household into a team of troopers, with rotating chore lists, the sins of the one punishing the all, and threats of severe infractions going up the chain of command for more stern measures.

After the births of the fifth and sixth children, Mom goes into a coma while Dad is away flying for United Airlines. When she comes out of it and visits a doctor, she finds she has diabetes. Her inability to control her blood sugars and the resulting drastic mood swings challenges both her and the family dynamics.

Determined not to let the disease control her life, she takes on the first of a long stream of fights to protect the next door National Manassas Battlefield Park from encroaching development. Her activism later earns her national acclaim as “Stonewall Annie” and the “Angel of Manassas.”

When the youngest two are barely out of toddler-hood, Mom embarks on a summer camping trip with the six of us, Dad flying standby to join us during his two weeks off. We camp our way through state parks on the way to California to visit Dad’s relatives.

On the third camping trip, Dad’s mother, our Grandma Jo, joins us on the way back from California to the farm. While sewing clothes for my freshman year of college, she relays to me the family oral history of our Cherokee/Creek heritage and her Grandfather Watts. After surviving the Trail of Tears, he arrived in Oklahoma Territory an orphan at the age of twelve, to later become a councilman and lawyer for the Cherokee Nation.

Through her wisdom, serenity, and kindness, Jo helps me understand my parents and prepares me for the next chapter in my life.

Although this is based on a true story, I have exercised creative license in embellishing the details and the tales passed down to me. Also, where I deemed appropriate or forgot them, I changed some characters’ names and the dates of some events.

by Eric Cockrell

I do not fear….
Armagadden, not the end,
not soldiers wearing masks,

not the plague, not nuclear disaster….
not prisons, not persecution,
not being labeled or hated.

not losing it all,
not guns, not drugs, nor
one world order…..

but i do fear….
not living all that i can live,
not giving all that i can give,

not matching beliefs with action,
not seeing all people as people,
not doing what i know is right….

not standing when i should stand,
not saying what i should say….
not writing the words i’m given…. 

Click on image to see the book on Amazon

A fabulous tapestry of fictional history interwoven with southern gothic fantasy. On a plantation in middle Georgia, Hooter, a young bondsman with a deformed hand, tries to teach his fellow slaves to read the Bible, a crime punishable by severe flogging. With the larger than life characters of Hooter; his girlfriend Sarah, a servant at the plantation house; his best friend Legs, a dwarf; and his wonderful, wise Granny; it’s a wild ride of torture, hatred, murder, consuming lust, shame, guilt, gut-wrenching fear, romantic love, and finally, spiritual ecstasy and compassion. The author’s uncanny imagination and colorful writing style make the tale a joy to read. 

Lance Levens grew up in Macon, Georgia. He is a member of my writers’ group in Savannah, GA.

 

Sunrise over Thunderbolt

Under a blanket of earth,
an origami enfolding inwards upon myself,
in unconscious bliss, I nestle in winter’s silent shell.

Changes in the earth awaken me, fuzzy,
before I slip back into dreamless sleep.

When the next daylight beckons longer and warmer,
I awake more conscious before darkness lulls me again.

Today’s morning rays shine directly upon me.
As they pierce through my shell, a tiny crack opens.

A ray of brilliant white light beams in,
igniting each cell and every strand of DNA with vibrating promise,
poising me on the brink of potentiality.

Universe breathes its prana, life force, into the crack.
I breathe out, announcing my presence to Universe.
Universe welcomes me, bathes me in her warm, healing glow.

Minuscule movements within my shell sound cracking noises.
The hologram that is me unveils chrysalis layers of its origami folds,
sprouting fingers and toes, arms and legs.
A sturdy stalk shoots upwards, lifting me into a seated position.

Slow first movements, then long, luxurious stretches,
I emerge from my shell and leave it behind.

Stretching, elongating my spine,
I lift my head upward to receive the light,
a flower, smiling into the sun.

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

You can find a four and a half minute podcast of a Yoga Nidra based on this poem by clicking on the Guided Meditations Page on the menu above.

Photo by Naveen Annam on Pexels.com

Mind of mine, where do you go?
Stop your silly meanderings to and fro.
Cease your aimless wanderings,
your crazed contradictions,
and rest for awhile.

Rest in the mandala,
find peace at the core,
the lyrics of a tune,
waves lapping on the shore.

Centering, centering,
spiraling down.
At the center of the hurricane,
truth can be found.

Let go of wasteful fears
that enough is not enough,
delusions that stuff is made of stuff
other than stuff,
and the assumption
that Nothing is Nothing.

In striving to make
Nothing into something more,
in my fruitless haste,
I had opened up the door
to faulty assumptions
that much to my dismay,
led me to reject Nothing.
I threw Nothing away.

But persistence and I were determined to win.
We went back to the mat and we tried it again.
It took awhile, but we centered back down.
Nothing stared back and here’s what we found
in the the words of Nothing:

Forget your contradictions.
Say “Yes” to your soul.
Don’t shred your dreams
before you reach your goal.

Don’t try to make something out of me.
I am you, who you are meant to be.
Your attempts to control me
only come to naught.

Surrender fickle ego
and empty every thought.
Make room for me
to manifest through you.
Claim the glory of your Nothingness
and you will know that this is true.

I stared squarely into the maw of Nothing: I confronted the void.
Suddenly Love surrounded me like I never before knew it could.

Mind tries again to fool me,
jealous little hack.
But to my silly little mind,
I now speak back:

Cease your silly meanderings,
you crazed little mind,
and in silence claim the glory
that in simple being you will find.

© 2020, All rights reserved, Patricia Leone

“When you run out of cheeks to turn,
What then?” I asked,
“What do you do?
Do you rev your motor up
And spin away?
In a huge splash of dirt?”
 
Slough it off, slough it off,
Let the hurt fall away.
You are waterproof.
Forget it ever fell.
 
“How do you know,” I asked.
“How do you know it’s true?”
 
You have pores, my child.
You can close them and open them again at will –
Like a leaf, that’s how it does photosynthesis.
 
Open to the sun and water that which nourishes you:
         Love, Truth, Peace, Harmony, Human Understanding,
         That you may blossom in glory.
Open to pull out the rocks and weeds that hinder you:
         Self-doubt, fear, jealousy, resentment, worry, guilt, and hate,
         That they cannot take root and grow.
Close, shut out daggers that others may sling at you:
          Fear, jealousy, resentment, worry, hate, and shame,  
          That they cannot pierce through your skin.
 
Tiny wasted insect stings, 
They need your prayers, 
Not deflected daggers back.
 
You can never run out of prayers.
Your cheeks can never run out of turns. 

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

Sung on the Trail of Tears, the forced removal from their ancestral lands to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Written phonetically according to our alphabet:

Ga Doh Dah Chiya, Dah Nay Lee, Chee Sa
Oh Gah Chay Lee Sah Gah Way U Hee
Oh Gah Lee Gah Lee, Nah Nah Quoo Yay No
Choh Gee Lah Wee, Stah Nay Dee Wee
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah
Chah Gay Way U Hee
Chah Chay Lee Gah No
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah

http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/disturbing-images-depict-horror-of-trail-of-tears/

My Turtle Drum

(A conversation I remember from the year before I started college; the image is one of my shaman drums)

“Beulah, Annie, and I spent most of our youth at the Eufaula Indian school. We’d go home over the Christmas holidays and in the summers. Government agents took all the grade-school-aged children from their families and put them in the new boarding schools to learn English and a trade. Training the young to take their place in ‘civilized’ society was another part of the plan to end the old ways.”

“We’re you sad to leave your home?”

“A little at first, but we three liked the adventure and getting to be away from home. Mother put your great Aunt Lena, who was the oldest, in charge of us younger children. We hated how strict she was.

“Eufaula was a female seminary, one of the best of the girls’ boarding schools. Nuns and highly educated teachers came from New England to teach there. Our education was better than what little education the children of the white settlers were getting. The nuns told us to forget our native language and customs and to become good Christians.

“Since we girls already knew some English from our fathers, we did well at our studies. The teachers would praise us. But I felt sorry for the students who didn’t do well. The nuns would beat them and make them sit in the corner of the room with dunce hats.”

“Can you still speak Cherokee?” I asked.

“Oh, no, I’ve forgotten most of the words.”

“What words can you remember?”

“I can still remember the words of a Cherokee song. It’s the one they sang on the Trail of Tears. It’s called ‘One Drop of Blood.’ It goes like this:”

Ga Doh Dah China, Dah Nay Lee, Chee Sa
Oh Gah Chay Lee Sah Gah Way U Hee
Oh Gah Lee Gah Lee, Nah Nah Quoo Yay No
Choh Gee Lah Wee, Star Nay Dee Wee

Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah
Chah Gay Way U Hee
Chah Chay Lee Gah No
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah

“Wow! That sounded really strange. What does it mean?”

“It means something like this:

Oh what can we offer you, Jesus, our Lord?
You who help us on our way to a far away land.
We can offer our works, our Lord.

Our works are yours. You are our Lord.
Ours, Yours. You are our Lord.
Ours, Yours. You are our Lord.

“I don’t know why it’s called ‘One Drop of Blood.’ Not one word in it is about blood. That’s typical Cherokee. The shamans, that’s the medicine men, receive wisdom from the Great Spirit. Also from the ancestors and the spirits of nature. When they speak the wisdom to the tribe, it’s like riddles, hard to understand. From studying the Bible, I notice Jesus speaks in riddles, too.”

“Why would the Cherokee be singing a song to Jesus on the Trail of Tears? I thought you became Christians in the seminary schools.”

“Actually, we were already Christian. Most of the Cherokee tribal peoples converted to Christianity at least twenty years before the Trail of Tears. To us, God was just another word for our Great Spirit. The main difference was that he had a son, just like a human father. We loved it that his son Jesus cared so much about us that he died for us. Also that we could have a personal relationship with him and pray directly to him without having to wait for a shaman ceremony.”

“Did you have to give up your Cherokee beliefs?”

“Most of our values were the same as what Christianity teaches, so it was no problem keeping them. We forgot some of our old legends and stories, though. At seminary, we knew not to talk about them. The nuns told us what we knew about the healing properties of herbs and plants was just superstition. We knew that wasn’t so; we’d seen them work. But we kept our mouths shut about it. We didn’t want to end up in the corner with a dunce’s cap or worse.”

© Pending publication in 2021 or 2022 in Pageland by Leona Patrick

“Girls, look what I found!” Peter, ten, a year older than me, called from the stair landing.

Page, six, Pam, five, and I looked up from playing dolls in Page and Pam’s room. Our jaws dropped when we saw what he was carrying.

He lowered the little lamb to the floor.

Dolls forgotten, we scrambled over and surrounded it with our “Ohs” and “Ahs.”

“It’s so soft and cute!” Its wool cottony beneath my hands, its round eyes peered shyly up at us.

“And what sweet eyes!” Page said. “Has Mommy seen it?”

“No, I didn’t see her when I came inside.” Peter lifted the lamb back up. “Let’s go find her.”

We clambered after him down the stairs to the kitchen.

Mom, coming in from the mudroom, stopped short when she saw us.

“Mommy!”

“See what Peter found!”

“Isn’t it cute?”

“I’m naming it Lambchops!” Peter announced.

“It’s darling, but children, you can’t keep it. We’ll have to find out who owns it and return it.”

The next day, we could tell by Mom’s somber look that something was wrong.

“I found out who owns Lambchops,” she said. “It’s Mike’s Diner.”

Mike’s was a Greek restaurant on Lee Highway, the main road that Pageland Lane crossed.

“Are they going to eat him?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid so. Mike bought him special for Easter dinner.”

“Oh no, no, no!” We girls wailed.

Peter joined in with a louder “NO!”

“I’ll go to Mike’s and talk to him,” Mom said. Dad was away piloting a flight.

We piled into the station wagon. With two-year-old Sally beside me, I held one-year-old Laurie up front. In the back, Page and Pam sat beside Peter, Lambchops on his lap.

Mom drove the tearful lot of us to Mike’s Diner.

“You stay here while I go in and talk to Mike.” She parked the car.

“Let’s say a prayer.” My eyes followed her approach the diner.

“Humph!” Peter scoffed.

“Dear Lord, please don’t let Mike kill our little Lambchops for Easter dinner. We promise to be good if only you save him. Amen.”

“Amen,” Page and Pam repeated.

Fifteen minutes passed.

“Why is it taking so long?” Peter had just finished asking when the restaurant door opened and Mom walked out.

“Kids, Lambchops is ours!” She got into the car. “Mike sold him to us.”

“Yay!” Mom was our hero. “Mommy, thank you! Thank you!”

“He can’t stay in the house, though. You’ll need to show him to the dogs. If they don’t get along with him, we’ll have to keep him in a pen.”

Bo and Mandy, Dad’s English pointers, were quick to greet us when we parked and got out of the car. When Peter lowered Lambchops in front of them, they stood still and looked for a moment. Then they turned away as if to say, “What stupid creature did these kids drag in now!” their scorn palpable.

“Baa!” Lambchops butted his head against Mandy.

She chased him away, but, undaunted, he came back with another “Baa” and butted Bo.

“G-r-r-r-r!” Bo’s stern growl didn’t faze him.

“Baa!” Lambchops, innocent eyes on Bo, just stood there.

“Come here, Mandy.” Peter patted Lambchops. “See, a new friend for you.”

As Mandy went behind Lambchops and sniffed under his tail, we held our breath. Then she licked him. When her tail wagged, we let out a group sigh.

“Mandy likes him!” Pam said.

“Come here, Bo.” Petting Lambchops with his right hand, Peter gestured to Bo with his left.

Bo started towards him.

“Baa!” To Bo’s ears, it probably sounded like an alien from another planet. He paused and looked up at Peter, his brows lifted together in a doggy question mark, then turned away.

Through his patience and instinctual understanding of animals, Peter soon brought Bo around. After Bo performed the ritual sniffing, licking, and tail wagging, we knew Lambchops passed the test.

“Look, kids!” A few weeks later, Mom pointed towards the road as a car came over the hill. “Lambchops is with the dogs chasing the car!”

“Ruff!” “Ruff!” “Baa!” Lambchops trotted behind, his plaintive baa’s a counterpoint to the dogs’ barks.

“He thinks he’s a dog!” Peter laughed.

The rest of us joined in, laughing hard and holding our sides.

Dad had tried to break the dogs’ habit of barking at and chasing every car that came up our road, but they refused to give up their favorite sport. From that day on, Lambchops joined them on their chases.

By the next summer, our once adorable, little lamb was a big sheep with a mangled, dirty coat, reeking of sweat in the heat. To get him shorn, Mom drove to a shearer in the mountains an hour and a half away, all of us and Lambchops in tow.

At the shearer’s shed, Lambchops froze beneath the shears while we muttered useless words of encouragement. The worst was how petrified he looked when the shearer turned him on his back to get at his belly.

We watched as the last long sheet of dirty wool fell off. In all, it took barely a minute.

His trial over, Lambchops stood up and let out a happy “Baa!”

“He’ll be much more comfortable now.” Mom was glad she’d made the trip.

“But he looks so skinny!” We petted him.

“And naked!” Page put in.

We laughed.

“It’s time for Lambchops to be with his own kind,” Mom announced the following spring. “I’m taking him to Bob Alvey’s sheep farm.”

Not as attached to him after he got so big, none of us objected.

Mom drove us and Lambchops to a pasture on the Alvey farm where we met Bob with his flock. Peter and I maneuvered a recalcitrant Lambchops out of the back seat of the station wagon.

He looked around as if bewildered at the mass of strange, wooly creatures.

“Nope, not for me!” I could imagine him thinking as he turned in scorn and clomped away.

Then a single “Baa” rang out louder than the rest. Turning toward the sound, Lambchops spied a pretty ewe. Without a backward glance at us, he followed her and disappeared into the flock.

© pending publication in 2021 or 2022 in Pageland by Leona Patrick

“The only way in which one can make endurable man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s destruction of his own environment, is to exemplify in your own lives man’s humanity to man and man’s reverence for the place in which he lives.”

Alan Paton

Note: The brass sculpture I created when I was twenty represents all forms of repression: negative emotions holding an individual back; one person holding another back; and racism, hatred, and indifference holding a group back.

Note: This is a poem I wrote to vent the anger I felt in my twenties; a back at ya, suckers! It’s such FUN to play the VILLAIN! Just remember, IT’S ONLY A PLAY! I was getting my Chinnamasta on. Although my inspiration was the Salomé of the Bible, the narrative is biblically incorrect. The image is from a painting, also done in my twenties. The last part about the older Salomé I wrote recently. The old hurts are long gone!

Salomé is frank
about the nature of Her desires,
and accepts the fact
that they rule Her completely,
and nothing gets in the way.

The only value She recognizes is desire,
and the only things She values
are the objects of Her desire.

So all-consuming is Her voracity,
She overlooks none from the vine.
Few are the helpless fools
who in their silly arrogance
attempt to escape
the devouring vacuum suck;

And many are those
who maul and shove
in their greedy scramble,
that much sooner to reach
the gaping, drooling womb.

And those who cease to serve Her,
She casts aside contemptuously—
emaciated weaklings,
worn out shells,
sucked up into the pit
of Salomé’s desire.

Salomé, at the pinnacle of Her power,
the nemesis of John the Baptist,
triumphant over Her silver platter,
and the severed head that lay thereon.

An older Salomé now, the She-Satan,
revels over Her many conquests.
Her witch’s cackle,
bubbling up high from the back Her throat,
in Her triumphant glory,
She continues to exact Her just revenge.

Her enemy’s own weapons,
She turns greed and lust against them.
Ruthlessly
She eviscerates Her fallen foes.

Gleefully
She surveys the piled up,
massacred corpses.
And with a long, loud, throaty “HA HA HA HA HA!,”
She kicks them over the cliff.

BEGONE!

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

Sunrise in Thunderbolt

From the yawn of morning,
the effortless cry,
the soundless breath,
the needle’s eye.

From the full sun at noon,
the fury and the flame,
the melting of tears,
the echo came.

From the empty dusk,
the spider’s web,
I sit and wait
for the tide to ebb.

And only night
can cast her veil,
enfold my soul
in a velvet seal.

Note: written in my twenties.

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

This is a story of growing up as one of six siblings in the nineteen-fifties and sixties on a farm in rural Virginia.

Had it not been for World War II and Mom’s little red convertible, our parents likely wouldn’t have met. Mom was from a wealthy Pittsburg family of German descent. Dad, an admixture of Cherokee, Creek, and Scottish Highlander, grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma.

PART I. AN UNLIKELY UNION, delves briefly into their backgrounds, how they met as officers at the Quantico Marine Corp base near Washington, DC, and their subsequent marriage. Put off by Dad’s pointed scowl at the minuscule cigarette burn on her uniform that not even her superior officer had noticed, Mom vowed to have nothing to do with “the conceited jerk.” Then D-Day came. The euphoria was so great, she couldn’t turn down his request for a lift to join the jubilant celebrations erupting all over the nation’s capital.

Her parents, not happy with her engagement to an “Okie” of dubious background, hired a detective who uncovered a secret that almost derailed the engagement.

PART I. COMPLETING THE PROMISE, starts with their life in Metropolitan DC after the war and continues with the birth of my brother Peter, my arrival less than a year later, Page’s three years later, and Pam’s a year after Page’s.

Newborn baby Pam barely out the hatch, the family was in the middle of the move to the farm. Then I came down with appendicitis. How did they manage?

Some hilarious episodes ensue as farm life presents a steep learning curve for Mom, especially with Dad frequently away piloting for Capital Airlines. After life on a ranch, for Dad it wasn’t farming that was the challenge; it was Mom’s total ignorance of both farming and all things domestic.

Our sister Sally arrived three years after the move. A year later, sister Laurie was born.

PART III. FULL HOUSE, continues with adventures on the farm and on our cross-country camping trips during the summers, with Dad flying standby to join us during his two weeks off work.

A year after the first camping trip, Mom was diagnosed with diabetes. The effects of the disease, which became increasingly severe, challenged both Mom and the family dynamics.

The story concludes with our Grandma Jo’s visit to the farm after traveling with us from California on our return from the third camping trip. While sewing clothes for me for my first year of college, she told stories passed down from her great-great-grandfather. During his family’s forced removal from their north Georgia plantation, he witnessed a soldier slit his uncle’s throat. After surviving the Trail of Tears, he arrived in Oklahoma Territory an orphan at the age of twelve, to later become a councilman and lawyer for the Cherokee Nation.

Although this is based on a true story, I have exercised creative license in embellishing the details and the tales passed down to me. Also, where I deemed appropriate or forgot them, I changed the names of characters and the dates of events.

© pending publication in 2021 or 2022, Leona Patrick