Born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, Bernice Beatrice Ballard Latshaw passed away at her current residence in Punta Gorda, Florida on December 10, 2020, at the age of ninety-five. She was preceded in death by her parents, Guy and Violet Ballard, eleven of her brothers and sisters, her husband, Robert Ross Latshaw, and their daughter, Beth Lynn Latshaw. Bernice leaves behind one sister, Helen Ballard McCoy, and two children, Janis Ellen Latshaw Irvin, and Alan Ross Latshaw (spouse, Shelly Clausman Latshaw), grandchildren Tammi Landry-Gilder (Timothy Gilder), Jan-Elizabeth Irvin, Nicholas Alan Carrithers (Jessica Carrithers), Analisa Michelle Thompson (Matthew Thompson), Jeffrey Ross Latshaw (Carolyn Latshaw), Katherine Marie Latshaw (D’Meco Deanes), and Sarah Michelle Latshaw.
I said goodbye to my grandmother today. I didn’t actually say the word, but I knew, as I was talking with her on the telephone, it would more than likely be the last time we spoke. My Grammy is ninety-five years old, and her body is failing her. As much as she would like to be able to get up and out of bed to walk down to get her mail, or bake a lemon pie, or walk on the treadmill, her body will no longer obey.
I’m fifty-years-old, and I am very aware that I’m so blessed and extremely lucky to still have my grandmother in my life. I know many people my age lost their own grandparents long ago. I do feel lucky. I feel happy that I have been able to spend so much of my life with a woman who loved me, spoiled me, cooked for me, and played with me. I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a better grandmother.
When I spoke with my Grammy, I told her that most of my very favorite and best childhood memories include her. She made me feel special and loved, even when I was being a disagreeable three-year-old, or a pouting, somewhat selfish teen. I told Grammy that she was the best grandmother and that I loved her. And I do. I love her. Which is why it’s so hard to say goodbye.
I understand in my head that she’s old and frail now, and that maybe it is true that she will move onto a better place. Maybe she’ll follow a beautiful light that leads to a place in the clouds where she will get to see my aunt, her daughter, who sadly died before her. Maybe it’s possible she’ll pass through golden gates and my grandfather, Pappy, will greet her with a smile and a hug. He’ll hand her his eyeglasses, ask her to clean them, then request that she cook him a well done hamburger accompanied by a side salad with only mayonnaise as a dressing. Isn’t it possible she could finish cooking that hamburger, then turn around and greet all her brothers and sisters who left this world before she did? I can’t even imagine how happy she would be.
I know she lived a good life. I realize that when she told me she doesn’t think she’ll make it until Christmas, it was her way of telling me it’s time for her to go, she’s ready, and everything will be okay. I believe there is an angel sitting next to Grammy, holding her hand, and who will be there when she finally takes her last breath. When I close my eyes, I can see that angel, her brilliant white wings sparkling in the light, as she guides my sweet, spunky, and exceptionally special Grammy to a place where she can be healthy and lively again. This is my hope. This is what my grandmother deserves.
My grandmother has been a light in my life. She’s been all that is good and kind in the world. She has loved me all the time, even during the times when I wasn’t very lovable. There’s no other love like the love you get from a grandmother. It’s the most unconditional and pure love, and it’s one thing in life you can always count on to be there when you are searching for something you can’t quite find. It grounds you and makes you realize what is really important in life- having family members who love you, and loving them back.
I have no idea how I will react or feel when my grandmother passes away. I want to be happy that she’s no longer in pain, no longer worried about being a burden, and no longer frustrated and upset she can’t do all the things she used to do. But my selfish side wonders how I am going to navigate the rest of my life knowing my beautiful Grammy is gone. I’m going to miss her and miss all of the special things we did together. Most of all I will miss the little things- how she would give you a good pat on the arm when she would greet you, her off-key, operatic singing, her bright, blue eyes, and her loyal and unwavering support.
I don’t know how to say goodbye, I don’t want to, but I know it’s coming. I hope I’m strong enough to do it well and do it the way Grammy deserves. I wish I was there with her, but this isn’t the year to make another trip. 2020 has given us all too much, and taken away even more. I guess it’s only fitting that this will probably be the year that my grandmother goes to Heaven. I hope the rest of my friends and family up there now are all waiting at the gates to guide Grammy through and make her feel at home.
Goodbye, my sweet Grammy. You will be so missed, and you are very loved.
Let’s Talk About It
Sometimes I’m afraid to discuss race. I don’t always know what to say. I don’t know racism the way others do. I’m white. I’m privileged. I’m flawed. I’ve probably said or done racist things. I don’t want to admit that. I don’t want to think I could have ever done something like that, because it makes me feel awful. But none of this is about me. It’s not about me being worried about saying the wrong thing. It’s not about me worrying I might offend others.
I no longer want to hear “All lives matter.” Yes, we all know that. A human life is precious. What is happening now isn’t about all lives, it’s about black lives and how for thousands of years, people of color have been treated as inferior. For years we have looked down on them as “less than” or unequal. This has to end and it must stop now.
I’ve been lucky enough to volunteer for a non-profit organization that supports the homeless in Detroit. Many of the people we work with are black. I’ve spent a lot of time with mothers who live in a shelter with their children, and men and women who have fought for our country and are now homeless. Something I have noticed during all of my interactions with these people has been how much we are alike, rather than how we are different. Those mothers love their children. They wipe their tears when they cry. They make sure their babies eat the vegetables and fruit before they have a slice of pizza. I have witnessed mothers cry because they want the best for their kids and they aren’t able to give them everything they want for them right at that time. I have watched so many of these mothers pull themselves up, working and going to school, so that they can get their own homes and give a better life to their children. I have witnessed strength and grace displayed by these mothers like I have never seen before. I’ve never had it. I’ve never had to do it, because many of the things my children and I have needed and wanted have been given to us. Our white privilege has assured us that we would have what we need. We haven’t had to fight for it.
I have seen a grown man, a Veteran of more than one war, shed tears as my son handed him a Christmas gift. His gratitude was enormous as he accepted the gift while telling my boy that “next year will be different.” And I have seen him that next year, no longer a homeless Veteran, but now a volunteer for the very same organization in which I volunteer, and giving back to the men who once fought with him in war.
But every day all of these people fight a war, and it’s a war they shouldn’t have to battle. This is their home. Our country is their country. Years ago, our ancestors brought their ancestors here in chains. We enslaved them and we took away their children. It took years for us to grant them the rights every human on earth deserves, and yet, still today, we keep taking those rights away. We judge them by what they wear or how they speak, their braids, their wigs, and the color of their skin- the very skin that OUR God (the very God so many of us claim to worship), gave them. Do you think that when God created all of us he meant for the people with the white skin to have more rights than the people with the dark skin? If you do, then you are THE problem.
We call the police on them when we feel “uncomfortable.” We avoid making eye contact, and we cross to the other side of the street when we are walking. We are happy to watch them display their many talents, whether it be athletic or the arts, but we still do not see them as equal, and when the time comes for us to speak up and fight for them, we don’t. We are too scared. We are afraid to talk about race. We don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. We don’t want to offend our white brothers and sisters. Ridiculous.
I’ve decided that I’m done being afraid, because I don’t have nearly the reasons to be frightened that my fellow humans who are people of color have. I’m going to talk about this. I’m going to discuss race, and if I do or say the wrong thing, I have a feeling that my black friends, who have always treated me with love and respect, will correct me and teach me. I only need to be willing to learn. I’m ready. You should be, too.
I'm a Liberal, Not an Idiot
This morning a Facebook “friend” posted a very offensive picture of an ugly, crazed-looking woman, who was supposed to be a liberal, with some stupid quote about how liberals whine and cry and how we “unfriend” anyone who doesn’t agree with us on any issue. First of all, if that were true in my case, I’d have about two Facebook friends, not hundreds.
This person then went on to pontificate about how if liberals think something is wrong, then we need to back it up by doing something rather than complaining, posting things on Facebook (funny, like he was doing?), volunteering in our own neighborhoods, and making a difference.
Well, let me tell you right now, this liberal, and many others I know, ARE doing things to make this world a better place. We are out there in our communities and beyond volunteering, working, and fighting to do what is right for those who are less fortunate. And I’m sure there are many conservatives out there doing the very same thing.
Let me give you some idea about what this lazy, whining, crying, snowflake is doing and has done, and you can decide for yourself if all we do is sit around and cry about how we live in an unfair world, and do nothing to try to change the situation.
Each year, my family and I adopt one or more families for the holidays. We make sure that family (or families) have a full meal, extra groceries, gifts, necessities, bedding, pajamas, and more. We deliver their gifts prior to the holiday, and we make sure they have everything they want to make their special day just a little bit brighter.
Many weekends, my two sons volunteer their time at local homeless shelters serving food, taking care of children, planning parties, and playing games. They don’t ask to be somewhere else. They don’t go to parties instead of volunteering. They volunteer because they genuinely like the children and their mothers who live in these shelters, and/or the homeless veterans who reside in some of the others. They don’t do it every weekend, or even every other, so they are not saints. They are not perfect. But they are good-hearted kids who believe in making a difference. They care.
There are several kids who volunteer with my sons who do more than my kids do- they go above and beyond week after week helping those less fortunate and they love every minute of it. I have no idea whether these kids are from conservative or liberal families, and it doesn’t matter. All I know is they aren’t sitting around doing nothing. They are making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. And I’m damn proud of all of them, especially the kid who started the whole organization in the first place. Caleb White was six years old when he first saw a homeless man sleeping on the street. He was upset and decided then and there to start an organization to help others. You can’t force that. He was BORN to lead and he was raised to care about others. It’s just who he is. He is his mother’s son, because she’s the reason he is who he is.
My family and I donate a considerable amount of money to charities, our sons’ previous public schools, their now private school, and other causes that are important to us and to those who benefit from our giving. We are lucky. We realize it, and we want and choose to give back.
I’m not saying any of this to toot my own horn, because clearly, there is more I could do. I could volunteer more hours, give more money, and I could fight harder. I’m laying all this out there because I am sick and tired of people generalizing groups of people and judging others simply because of which political party he/she chooses to join, or which way that person chooses to vote. It goes both ways.
I don’t post pictures of supposed “conservatives” who only care about rich, white people and who believe that all immigrants are criminals. Because it isn’t true. I might have different opinions and ideas than my conservative friends, but I don’t believe all of them are the same, think the same, do the same, and I certainly do not put them all together in ONE big group and slam them all on social media because I think they aren’t doing, saying, or believing the “right” things.
Not long ago, a woman blasted me on Facebook for choosing to send my son to a private school rather than sending him to our local public high school. To make matters worse, she was an employee of one of the schools in the district, she called my husband “ignorant”, and she posted disparaging comments about the non-profit organization in which my sons volunteer and serve on the Board of Directors. She made a jab about how all of the Board Members are private school educated kids (they are not all privately educated, actually), and that it was a “conflict of interest” (which makes no sense, so I don’t think she actually knew what that term means).
I was offended and shocked, as I don’t think it’s anyone’s business where I choose to send my children for high school. I also think it’s horribly wrong that a grown woman would attack a bunch of kids who donate their time to help people in need. As much as I wanted to at the time, I didn’t tell the woman that the organization had a few previous Board Members who were children attending public schools, and they were the ones who all stopped participating for one reason or another. It didn’t have anything to do with whether or not they were public or private school educated. Many of them simply had full course schedules, some had to work, others were playing sports, playing in the school band- these kids are busy. They can’t do it all.
So her judgements about ALL of us were wrong. I was sad that my son saw her comments and couldn’t believe that this woman who was barely an acquaintance, had felt it necessary to attack his mother, his step-father, his dad, and the organization he cares about publicly simply because he wanted to attend a private school. He is a great kid, I know I’m biased, but he came to us when he was in eighth grade after doing research about schools in our area. He told us that he was 35% more likely to get into the college of his choice if he attended and did well at a certain private school. He told us he wanted smaller classrooms, to meet people from different places, different cultures, and he wanted a change. He asked for a chance to prove himself, and we decided to give it to him. We haven’t been disappointed, and he loves his new school. This fall, his brother will attend the same school, and I do not feel one bit of guilt over it. It’s my choice where to send my kids for school, and it doesn’t make me a better or worse person. I’m still me, and I’m not going to change.
My point is this- STOP judging others. Stop throwing us all into groups and assuming we all act the same, do the same things, feel the same, and do NOTHING to change things for the better. Do not post a picture of some disgusting looking woman and tell the world that this is all liberals- we cry, we whine, we name call and we do nothing to help the world. Just stop. And to my fellow liberals- you STOP, too. Everyone needs to grow up. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Give a positive example for your children and grandchildren to follow. Have a heart. Take care of yourself, your family, and take care of others.
I’m absolutely, completely, and unabashedly sick and tired of the mentality that so many people have that as long as they and theirs are doing well, then everyone else can be forgotten. That’s not okay. It’s not right. It’s NOT AMERICAN. We are made up of a country of people whose ancestors were born elsewhere and worked long and hard to get here to live the American Dream. I get that we need to protect our borders. I understand we can’t let everyone in, but arresting people seeking asylum (not illegal, by the way), and taking away their children is beyond reprehensible. There has to be another way to do it, and it is NOT this. There are children now spread out all over the country in shelters, toddlers, babies, who may never see their biological parent again. What a nightmare and a cluster of crap that SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED. Not here. Not in America.
Call me a socialist (I’m not). Argue that we don’t need to be that concerned about others, that it’s enough to take care of our own. That’s fine if that’s what you believe, but it’s not what I believe and I shouldn’t be called names or made fun of because I want to help take care of others. There’s nothing wrong with that. You go ahead and take care of yours, and I’ll do what I want to do for myself, my family, and anyone else who needs me to offer assistance.
If everyone would just take a few deep breaths and vow to treat each other with just a little bit more kindness, what a different world it could be. Find your heart and use it. We all need a little more love right now.
For more information about The Caleb White Project and how Caleb’s story began, visit www.tlandrygilder.com and check out the book, Everything Big Starts Somewhere Small. To learn more about the Caleb White Project, or to donate to this very worthy cause, visit www.calebwhiteproject.com.
Gone Too Soon
When I’m upset I find that writing helps. My family and I have recently suffered a tremendous loss. My ex-husband’s nephew, a man I had known since he was a very little boy, suddenly passed away just a few nights ago. My heart is broken. My children have lost one of their favorite cousins. We were all very close. I am still very close with my ex-husband’s family, and I make it an effort to be sure my boys spend a good amount of time with their dad and his big, wonderful, loving family.
I’m so lucky. I am lucky that my ex and I are on good terms, and we still raise our boys together despite living apart. I’m lucky my current husband is secure and strong enough to love my boys, to understand my need to remain close with my ex’s family, and to give my boys the space and time they need to have a relationship with their father.
Most of all, I am lucky to have known this boy I once knew as “Shane the Bird”, grow into a loving young man, who, despite his many struggles, has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, acceptance, and what it means to be a family.
This is for you, Shane.
I am walking around my house all morning with a roll of toilet paper in my hand. I can’t find any tissues. I’m pretty sure you would have thought that was funny.
Something happened to you last night. We don’t know yet what occurred, but we now know you are no longer here on earth. Our hearts are broken.
I met you for the first time when you were probably only three or four years old. Cute as can be, with dark brown eyes and hair, and an attitude that matched no other.
You weren’t like any other child I’d ever met. There was a sensitive vulnerability you possessed that wasn’t typical. You cared deeply for so many, for so much, from such a very young age.
You were smart, smarter than a lot of kids your own age. But you could be hurt so easily by words or by actions of others who didn’t seem to understand you.
I remember a day at Uncle Bob’s house. I had just recently begun dating your Uncle Mike, and I was outside with you and your cousins playing. I was pushing you on the swing. I pushed too hard, and you fell and hit your head on a large piece of wood under the swing set. You cried and I felt awful. Somehow you knew I felt horrible and embarrassed that I’d just hurt this little kid I hardly knew, so you made yourself stop crying and you told me repeatedly that you were okay. I know it hurt you, but you didn’t want me to feel bad, so you pretended the big lump on the back of your head was nothing.
You would sometimes spend the night with us, back when Mike and I were first married, before we had Grant and Luc. You were always “Christopher” to Uncle Mike. The two of you shared a special bond. You liked watching cartoons and playing games. As you got a bit older, Pokémon was your game of choice.
You were gentle to animals and babies. When I had Grant, you always had a way of making him laugh. You got down on the floor and played with him. When Grant was a toddler, you babysat for him while I worked from home. You pulled him around the neighborhood in a wagon and you did everything he wanted you to do. You barely flinched when he threw a toy at you when he got angry because you didn’t allow him to do something (dangerous, I’m sure).
When you became a teenager, and your troubles began, I didn’t know. I thought that of course you’d pull away a bit as a teen, as most teens do. When your Uncle Mike and I divorced, you still called me “Aunt Tammi”.
You still visited us. You still loved us. You still watched over Grant and Luc the best you could. The boys loved all your visits.
When times were very bad for you, you still loved us- you loved all your family. We all knew you weren’t perfect. None of us are. Despite your mistakes, we all loved you. Despite our mistakes, you still loved all of us.
When you fought your demons on a daily basis, we were in awe of you. None of us could imagine how hard it must have been for you to have to fight every single day. We were proud of you, Shane. We are STILL proud of you.
I don’t know what happened last night, and whatever it was, it really doesn’t matter. You are gone, and the world is a much sadder place without you in it. We’ll miss your smile, your jokes, your gentle hugs, and your sensitive soul.
I pray you are now never alone, always smiling, and at peace.
I will love you always.
And Once Again, I Lost my Shit
Starting my own publishing company and becoming a writer in my mid-forties has been exciting, empowering, a huge learning experience, but also somewhat frightening. There is so much to learn, and mistakes are made, one after another until you figure out how to do it right. Then when you figure out how to do that one thing right, you inevitably do something else wrong. But you do learn, and you grow, and eventually, you start figuring it all out (well maybe not all, but at least most of it).
At some point, you begin to realize you are not as clueless as you once thought you were. You start writing and even selling books. People begin to ask you when your next book is coming out. Mothers e-mail you to tell you their daughter liked your first book so much, she can’t wait until you write another one. You start feeling great. You even feel a little bit proud of yourself, which is something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. You’ve been proud of your kids, your husband, even your friends, but it’s been awhile since you’ve really and truly been proud of yourself. It feels good.
Then you meet someone you think you can trust- someone who convinces you he wants your business and is more than happy to help you navigate the world of printing and publishing because he knows you’re a novice. You put your trust in him, you hire him, and you think you are in a good place.
Then this happens…
You realize there are snakes out there. You painfully accept that there are people who lie, cheat, and bend over backwards to get your business, but then betray your trust and even make sure you know that you are only a small fish in a sea of much larger ones. And this person only respects his business relationships with the larger fish. His time is more important that yours. He is more important than you, and at some point, his true colors show and he tells you exactly what he really thinks of you and your tiny business.
Our first meeting went well. He was charming and knowledgeable. He bought me coffee. He told me how impressive and brave it was that I decided to start my own publishing company instead of selling my books to a larger publishing house. He said he admired my hard work, and he told me how good my books were. He even told me that I should visit his wife at her school (she’s a teacher), and read one of my books to the children in her class.
I published my first book, and it was a small success. I paid him well for his part in the printing of the book and his time- not a lot, and certainly not as much as his bigger clients, but it was a lot for me. After all, I had just started this new business and my company didn’t have a lot of money to spare.
When it came to my second book, of course I thought I’d use the same printer and I thought the relationship I had with this point of contact was a good one. You see, it’s always been very important for me to publish ALL of my books in the United States. I know it’s usually cheaper to send the printing out to other countries, but for me, I want all my books printed in the USA. In fact, I want all my books printed in Michigan. That’s one of the big reasons I chose this specific printer-- they were a family owned business right here in my home state. That meant a lot to me at the time, and it still does. It is a bit more expensive, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.
The second book was a bigger chapter book, so it took more time to write, more time to edit, and a lot more time for my graphic designer to layout. My point of contact at the printing office wanted me to go with a new product they had- a print on demand option that would be located right on their web site.
At first, the print on demand option sounded great. I spoke with my contact about it, and told him that it sounded like something I would like to do, but that I wanted to talk with my business partner (who also happens to be my husband), before I made any decisions.
After my husband spoke with our printer contact, and after my husband and I did our research and figured in the cost, we decided the print on demand option wasn’t as cost-effective as we once thought it might be. We decided to continue having customers order my books on my web site. We informed our printer contact, and at the time, I didn’t think he seemed very happy, but I let it go. After all, I was the customer, and I needed to do what was right for my company. Certainly he could understand that. I was still going to use his company for the printing of my second book, and the four more I had just waiting to be printed, so there was still quite a bit of business coming his way. Our contact provided us with a quote for printing book number two, so we were just about ready to proceed.
I let my printer contact know that I still had a few edits to make on the book, so it would be a couple months before I would be completely ready to go ahead with printing. He seemed fine with it, but looking back now, I think he was getting tired of me. Waiting for me meant waiting for payment, and waiting for the small amount of commission he would receive.
In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, the printing company I had been using merged with a much larger company. Strangely enough, my contact had sent letters out to other clients he worked with alerting them to this change, but he didn’t tell me. No longer was the company a small, local printer, they were now a very large company. But after doing some research, I found out the new company was actually family-owned and based in Michigan. I was happy with that news and decided to stick with them as my printer.
Once all the edits were finished and my graphic designer was able to get the entire book laid out for me, it was finally ready to go to print. I was excited and a bit nervous. After all, I had spent the last two years of my life writing, editing, finding an agent out of New York, NY, re-writing, and pouring my heart into the 152 pages it took all of my blood, sweat, and tears to write. I’d created characters I loved, and this book was really my “baby”. I couldn’t believe we were finally at the point where I would soon see my very first chapter book in print.
Since it had been a couple of months since the last quote we’d received from the printer, my contact there said he’d provide me with a new one. The new quote was sent (by a new person I’d not worked with before), and the cost had increased by $500.00. Of course that amount isn’t much for a larger company to pay, but for a small, new business, it’s a lot of money. My husband asked why the quote was so much more than the last one for the same book.
The new person who’d sent the quote said she would check with the quote department and get back with us.
The next quote came and it, too, was incorrect. It was still $500.00 more, and it didn’t include measurements of the book, nor did they include the cream-colored paper I had specifically requested for the inside pages, they had quoted them as white-colored paper (which is more costly). So we asked again, why the increase (because that had not yet been explained), and to please include the measurements of the book, as well as change the paper color.
My original contact at the company, the man who assured me he’d work with me, be understanding, hold my hand along the way, sent back a very abrupt, rude, and dismissive e-mail indicating that too much time had passed, too many questions had been asked about this, and that he’d deal with us “tomorrow”.
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. My husband called him, and that’s when all Hell broke loose. My husband informed the printer that the quote wasn’t right, there was information missing, and we still hadn’t been given a reason as to why the quote had increased in price. He told the printer that maybe the new girl sending the quotes wasn’t sure what we had asked for (since she hadn’t been working with us at all until that very day), or maybe the department she was getting the quotes from didn’t understand, because they were “zero out of two” for quotes.
The printer guy went absolutely batshit crazy. He screamed at my husband for “bashing his staff”, told him he wasn’t going to talk with him anymore about this and that my husband should “call me tomorrow and just tell me what you want to do”.
Well, that’s when I lost my shit. And it’s never good when I lose my shit.
But it didn’t stop there.
The printer guy then sent a flurry of text messages to my husband that were completely uncalled for, immature, and extremely disrespectful. This is just some of what he wrote, word for word…
"Good luck with the publishing company you tout. Good luck on finding a vendor with a competitive price. Good luck with the whining in the future with you and everything. I know that the $2000 job that I'm missing out on is going to change my sales numbers for the worse for the rest of my life. The 20 conversations we had on it were not worth the 200,000 job but I'm glad that you know all about me and my company. And since you are researching my company you can see that we do $35 million a year in production but good luck in contacting the President about a 2000 job".
With my shit already being lost, I didn’t think I could get anymore angry, but I did. I sent an e-mail to EVERY single executive at this guy’s new, large, “$35 million a year in production company”, that didn’t have time, nor gave a crap about working with a small, stupid, question-asking company like mine. I also sent an e-mail to the printer guy’s old, smaller, local company’s office manager. The executives at the new company responded immediately and assured me that the behavior of their employee was unacceptable and definitely not in line with their business motto and philosophy. The office manager at the printer guy’s former company also sent me a follow up message assuring me that the matter would be investigated.
The best part of the whole thing was that at 7:30 this very morning, a mere nine hours after I’d sent my e-mails to the executive team, Printer Guy was contacted by his new company’s President, and he was not happy. I guess when Printer Guy said we’d need “good luck in contacting the President about a 2000 job”, he didn’t realize we must have some really good luck, because his boss wasted no time in contacting him about my “$2000 job”.
I learned a lesson in all of this, and it was a painful one. I was won over by this person’s charm, the glossy and fancy printing samples he brought to our first meeting, the fact that his wife is a teacher (I have a soft spot for teachers), and he has young children. I thought for sure a husband and a father would be a good person and someone I could trust. Next time I will be more careful.
I have no idea what’s going to happen to the guy after this, but I suspect that I am not the first, nor will I be the last customer to complain about his rude, bizarre, and disrespectful behavior. I have a feeling that at some point, this arrogant bastard will get what he deserves. I only wish I could be a fly on the wall when that time comes.
Business is tough, and it would be easy for me to say, “This is too much. I can’t trust anyone. It’s not worth it.” But I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to quit, nor will I stay silent. I have had it with people, men in particular, who think they can call me names, intimidate me, or try to make me feel “small” because he thinks he’s some sort of important salesperson who works for a big company, and he looks down on anyone who isn’t up to his standards.
My company may be small now, but it’s mighty, and it’s growing. The future is wide open and there’s no telling what could happen for me. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I lose my shit, but you better believe that when it happens again, I’ll be ready.
I totally lost my shit the other day, and I don’t think I’m sorry about it. It’s a very long story, so I’ll try my best to condense the details.
My son had a sporting event scheduled in the afternoon on a Saturday. We drove at least thirty miles to get there, paid for parking, paid to get into the event, only to find out that none of his fellow team members were there, his coaches were not there, and he wasn’t on the list of registered participants.
We quickly found a person from the hosting team of the event, and she took my son to talk with one of the officials to find out what had happened. She came back a few minutes later and told me that the mistake happened because “your coaches showed up late this morning and didn’t register your son in time, so he was left off the list. He won’t be able to participate today.”
We left the event, and as we were driving home, I composed an email to one of the coaches of my son’s team. I wasn’t happy, so I’m sure the email didn’t come across as necessarily friendly, but I didn’t go overboard or blame anyone at first, I simply asked for the coach to explain how the situation could have happened.
Less than twenty minutes later, I received a reply that contained absolutely no apology, and was told that there had been an e-mail sent out ten days prior that had explained that my son and a few of his teammates had to be bumped from the afternoon session of the event, and moved to the morning session. I was also told that I “must have misunderstood the officials at the event, because they would never say the coaches were late. The coaches were on time, and the officials would never have told you our coaches were late.”
Um, but they did. That’s what she said, whether it was true or not.
I responded by apologizing for missing the e-mail that had been sent letting me know that my son wasn’t going to be participating in the afternoon session, but the morning session. I acknowledged that it was, in fact, my fault, obviously. I pointed out that I was usually pretty on top of things, and that I must have just overlooked the e-mail.
I thought the conversation was finished there, but the coach came back several minutes later with, “You opened the email on…”
So, after I’d already apologized that I didn’t read the e-mail, and acknowledged the situation was my fault, the coach made it a point to go back and investigate that I must have seen the e-mail, opened it, and ignored it.
It was then, at that moment, that I LOST MY SHIT. All of my shit- gone.
I thanked the coach for her diligent investigation and confessed that I probably saw the e-mail, clicked on it, started reading it (I don’t know, maybe), and then got distracted by something, all the while telling myself I’d go back and read the email, then didn’t. My bad.
Maybe it was the day I burned dinner, or crashed my car, or the day my dog barfed all over the carpet because he has pancreatitis (awesome!). I guess I’d have to go back and try to remember to check the date (the coach was so thoughtful to point out to me), I opened the email and forgot about it, to actually try to remember what was going on at the exact moment I chose to NOT read an important e-mail sent to me by my son’s coach.
Furthermore, I made sure I told the coach, I didn’t really appreciate the fact that I was told that I “misunderstood” the conversation I had with the official at the sporting event, because I was actually THERE, whereas the coach was NOT THERE, and both my husband and son heard the exact same thing I did. None of us misunderstood anything.
I thought about how I would have handled the situation had the roles been reversed- if I had been the coach, and a parent e-mailed me because she was upset over a certain situation. If it would have been me as the coach, here’s the email I would have send the parent instead…
Dear Mrs. Landry,
I am so sorry for the confusion about today’s event. I did send out on e-mail on (date), to explain that your son’s events had been moved, and you did open it on (date), but I know things sometimes get hectic.
All of our coaches were at the event early, definitely not late, so I am very sorry that you were told otherwise. We would have never registered everyone else and forgotten about your son. He is a very important part of our team, and I hope to see him on Monday at practice.
See, it’s not that hard to be polite. I have no problem admitting that I dropped the ball and didn’t read an important e-mail. If I had, the whole situation would have never happened. So, yes, it was my fault. But why couldn’t it have ended there? Why did this person, whom I am actually PAYING to teach my kid how to play this sport, feel that it was necessary to point out that I had opened the e-mail, and that I didn’t understand whatever it was the official had told me? Why did the coach automatically assume I was the person in the wrong, and not the person at the sporting event, who told me the coaches were late?
I should also point out here that my son has not been on this team very long. We are new members, so we don’t always know exactly what’s going on. One would think, or at least I would, that the coaches would give me just a bit of understanding when I screw something up. I mean, isn’t there a learning curve or something? Don’t they have a grace period for parents who are distracted, overwhelmed, and NEW??? If they don’t, they should.
I’m pretty sure I overreacted a bit, but I don’t think I’m sorry. I did lose my shit, but again, I really don’t think I’m sorry. And the more I think about it, the less sorry I get.
I’m tired of being talked down to. I’m tired of people out there thinking that it’s easy to be a mother, whether you work outside the home or not, and keep everything together all the time. It’s not easy, in fact, it’s impossible. Emails go unread and are sometimes forgotten. Kids are dropped off late and sometimes picked up too early. Life happens to all of us, and I’m just asking for a little bit of understanding.
I didn’t ask the coach why, when my kid is practicing said sport at least two or three days per week, he wasn’t told that his events were moved from the afternoon to the morning. Had that been done (because some of the time, my kid is actually more on top of things than I am), I might have remembered I overlooked an email, went back and read it, and we would have all been happy.
I’m sure these coaches get blamed for a lot of things they shouldn’t be blamed for. I’m certain crazy parents (like me), e-mail them, yell at them, maybe even curse at them sometimes, and I think that’s awful. But at the same time, what happened to a time when the person you are paying to coach your kid (this is not a volunteer), can’t just be understanding that you screwed up?
Why did I have to be sent a condescending e-mail after I had ALREADY apologized for making a mistake, that further pointed out that I didn’t just miss an e-mail, I opened that Mother F*er and didn’t bother to read it? Why did I need to be told that I misunderstood a conversation I had JUST HAD with the official? I was there. My son’s coach was not. But clearly, in the coach’s eyes, I was already an incompetent parent who doesn’t read important e-mails, so I had to have misunderstood that very recent conversation. It couldn’t have been some official, whom nobody knows, who said the wrong thing. It had to have been me.
I’m quite sure the team now has my name on a folder they keep in the “Horribly Argumentative Parents” filing cabinet, and every coach probably thinks I need therapy or drugs or both. Little do they know, I’m already covered on both those fronts, so my shit losing happens even when I am fully counseled AND on the drugs. Mic drop.
I went to bed that night, thinking that maybe I was too hard on the coach. Maybe I should have let the “misunderstood” comment slide, and perhaps I shouldn’t have lost my shit over the fact that the coach went back into the e-mail history to just MAKE SURE I opened that freaking e-mail of destiny so that it could be further pointed out that it was ME who screwed up and not anyone else.
But I decided that no, I’m not going to apologize anymore. I’m done with that shit. I’ve said “I’m sorry” to so many people over the years who have talked down to me, sent me condescending e-mails, treated me badly, or just plain ignored me, and I’m done. I’m a forty-seven-year-old mother of two teenaged boys and I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to keep the peace when someone treats my kids or me like crap or talks to me like I’m an idiot, ESPECIALLY if I am paying them money. They don’t have to like me, but they better, at the very least, be polite.
I had no problem with the coach pointing out there was an e-mail sent. I also do not care that I was told I opened the email, but it was the delivery of these facts that made me lose my shit. Furthermore, DO NOT tell me about a conversation I JUST HAD ten minutes prior to our e-mail spat if YOU WERE NOT THERE. That is just going to cause me to LOSE MY SHIT!!
So, no. Nobody is getting another “I’m sorry” from me unless they truly deserve it. If I do something wrong, I’ll apologize, but I’m no longer going to let anyone talk to me like I don’t have a clue about how to organize my life. And, yes, there are days when I absolutely DO NOT have a clue about how to organize my life, but dammit, nobody needs to point it out. I ALREADY KNOW IT, BIOTCHES!
PS- I do not hate above mentioned coach. I have no idea what kind of day the coach was having, and if it was anything at all like mine, I suppose Coach just lost some shit. I also do not hold grudges, so as long as my kid is happy on the team, I’m happy. But I cannot promise that my shit will not ever be lost again. In fact, it’s very likely that my shit will be lost again sooner, rather than later, and I probably will not apologize.
Never Say Goodbye
I spent this past weekend in Indiana, at my alma mater, reuniting with several old friends. We sang together at Purdue, back in the day, in a group called the Purduettes. It was the late eighties/early nineties, the time of big hair, puffy shoulder pads, and for me, the first time I spent any time away from home, my parents, and my tiny town nestled in the middle of cornfields and farmhouses.
As a child, just about all I ever wanted was to be able to be a Purduette (or to be famous and rich, but I had to be realistic). I know, to some it might seem silly- the fact that when I was in high school, I picked the college I was to attend because I wanted to be in a singing group. But, in my defense, it wasn’t just any singing group. To me, the girls/women in the group were educated, beautiful, talented, and polished. People would come from miles to see them sing at the Purdue Christmas Show, along with the Purdue Glee Club, the University Choir, the Bell Choir, and the more recently added groups to the Purdue Musical Organizations family.
And it was a family. We met as a group three times per week as a class, receiving no academic credit, rehearsing for concerts on most weekends. Some concerts took place during the week. We wore fancy (looking back now, it’s more like hideous), dresses, copious amounts of makeup, and used hundreds of cans of Aquanet hairspray to keep each strand of hair in place as we danced and sang on stage in front of people I thought were “old” at them time, many of them probably younger than I am now.
My audition for the Purduettes was awful. I know, I know, that’s what everyone says, but really, mine was. I got too nervous, my voice shook as I sang, and perspired so much, I was positive the directors watching me could see me drowning in my own sweat.
I left the audition in tears, walked back to my dorm crying, immediately picked up the telephone in my room, and called my mother. I sobbed in her ear for about ten minutes, then proceeded to contact both my vocal coach and my high school drama teacher, telling them how sorry I was that I blew the audition. I’d worked for years, starting in the fifth grade, taking lessons in order to get my voice to the place that was good enough to make it into the Purduettes. And at the time it mattered the most, I ‘d completely tanked. I was shattered.
The next day, I knew the list of newly inducted Purduettes would be hanging on the door at the Elliott Hall of Music. I debated as to whether or not I should even go look. I knew I wouldn’t make it. But, I thought to myself, “I need to get myself together. If I didn’t make the Purduettes, maybe I made one of the other groups.” I crossed my fingers and walked to the Hall of Music
I checked the list. I looked at every other group and didn’t see my name.
“My God. I didn’t make it into anything,” my head was spinning, and tears formed in my already red, burning eyes.
I glanced at the Purduettes list. I figured I might as well see the names of the girls who would be enjoying the next four years in the group of MY dreams. And there it was, at the top of the list, my name. I blinked. I checked again. It was my name. I’d made it.
I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if my vocal coach secretly knew someone at PMO and called them after my audition and begged them to take me. Maybe my high school drama teacher had gone to college with one of the directors and they made a deal? Or maybe my dad (who was a cop), had called the head director of PMO and told him he’d arrest him if I didn’t get into the group? I’m not kidding, these were the thoughts that went through my mind when I saw my name on that list.
The euphoria I felt that day cannot be explained. I was so ready to get started, to begin to practice and perform, I don’t think I slept in the nights leading up to our first rehearsal. And at that first rehearsal, I met Brian Breed and Jae Kellogg, our directors, and two people who would help to change my life in some of the best ways possible.
And on that day, I met a large group of girls who would forever become my friends and my family.
This past weekend, we were brought together again. The Purduettes have been in existence for seventy-five years. Hundreds of past and present Purduettes gathered together this weekend to reconnect, rehearse together again, perform in a concert, and pay tribute to one of our favorite and best directors, Jae Kellogg. It was truly the best experience I’ve had in a very long time. As Jae put it this weekend, “These were some of my very best days ever, and I’ve had a lot of good days.”
Being a member of PMO helped me adjust to college life, gave me the confidence I needed to succeed, and provided me with friends for life. Our first director, Brian, welcomed me right away, and for some reason I’ll never know, thought I’d be a great person to babysit for his children. At the time, he and his wife, Daren, had four kids (they added two more after I graduated). When Brian asked me to stay after rehearsal one day, I figured he was going to tell me to maybe just “mouth” the words in some of the more difficult songs instead of actually singing them. But no, he asked if I’d be interested in babysitting for his kids. I was delighted and humbled. Of course I said I’d love to do it.
The kids were smart, fun, creative, and adorable. I loved them immediately, just as I loved Brian’s wife, Daren. These people were the real thing. They were happy and healthy. Brian and Daren held hands and still kissed in front of their kids. They sat and told me stories of how them met (singing in the Fred Waring Choir), and how they had to keep their dating a secret from their director because they’d be kicked out of the group if he’d found out.
After a night of babysitting, Daren would sometimes make us tea and we’d sit and talk about life, how I was doing at Purdue, if I was okay and adjusting well. They took me in as a part of their family. They were kind and loving, and I felt so honored that they trusted me with their children. I was lucky. I’m not sure I knew how lucky back then, but I certainly realize it now.
Brian took over as the head director of the entire Purdue Musical Organizations shortly after my freshman year. Jae took over as our director, and I loved her, too. We all did. She was bright, super-talented, vibrant, funny, and had more energy than half of the twenty-year olds I knew. She was a single mom, and sometimes her little children- a boy and a girl, would board the Purduette bus with all of us and go with us to concerts. They were like our little Purduette mascots.
There’s something about sharing a stage with others who love doing the same things you love to do. There’s a certain bond you share when you are part of group practicing together and working toward the same goals. None of us were music majors, as Purdue didn’t, and still does not, have a School of Music. All of this was an extra-added bonus that we chose to do because we loved music, we loved performing, and as time went on, we loved each other.
I’ve shared the stage with girls who have now grown up to be federal prosecutors, homemakers, engineers, professors, pilots, flight attendants, politicians, teachers, doctors, and more. Not only were they talented performers, they were smart, beautiful, creative and loyal. To this day, I truly believe that if I needed something, and I called on one of my former Purduette friends, she would be there to help me without any hesitation.
After college, we all go our separate ways. We start our careers, we get married, we have children. We tend to lose touch because life gets in the way. But this past weekend, we all came together again, and it was as if we’d lost no time. We may have all (well, not all, but definitely me), gained a few more pounds, inherited a few more wrinkles, forgotten most of the words to our old songs, but when we saw each other again, the pounds were ignored, the wrinkles didn’t matter, and the words came back to us as we walked on stage and sang again together once more.
We rehearsed together on Saturday morning for the concert that was to be Saturday night, and as soon as I opened my mouth to sing the first song, tears sprang forth in my eyes. It felt so good to be home. It felt so right to be standing on stage again, doing something I had always loved, and sharing it with the men and women who had helped me become the person I am today.
I’m not good at going back. I have a hard time seeing people who’ve meant so much to me and then having to say “goodbye.” I know I’m weird. I hope they don’t think I don’t care. It’s so much the opposite. Sometimes I just care too much.
But this weekend, this wonderful, happy, joyful weekend was perfect. My friends met my husband for the first time. They embraced him with their giant hugs and handshakes, and they told him stories about me that he’d never heard. The moment the first Purduette hugged him this weekend, I knew he was now also a part of the PMO family. He has no idea yet how lucky he is, but he’s about to find out.
To my friends, my Sisters in Song, to Brian, Daren, Jae, and their children, to all the people at PMO who have touched my life in a way that no one else can understand, thank you for teaching me the meaning of friendship and love, loyalty and grace. Thank you for accepting me into your world on that first day when I walked into the Hall of Music, so nervous and afraid, and showing me that for some reason, you saw something in me that made you think I could add value and belong to this amazing, vibrant, spectacular, exciting, extraordinary, and brilliant place of love, family, song, and sisterhood.
Thank God for that time of my life. Thank God for the people who accepted me, and still accept me, just the way I am. The memories I have are so treasured. This past weekend we all spent together has meant so much to me, and I know now that we never truly ever said goodbye.
Dear Secretary Clinton,
I will be honest here- I have been crying for two days. I wanted you to win. I dreamed of watching you accept the title of Madam President on Inauguration Day. You need to know that you did everything you could have done to achieve that goal; there was nothing more you could have done.
Of course I do not know you personally, but I am so very PROUD of you. You have spent your entire life trying to fight for us- for ALL of us, never mind color, culture, race, creed, or sex. You have fought for us all, and we are so much greater for it.
You allowed my two young sons to see a woman, who is not unlike their own grandmother and mother, work hard, study, learn, grow, and achieve her goals all the while helping others to achieve theirs. I'm sick that our next President does not reflect the values and goals of my family. In fact, Donald Trump is the exact opposite of who I'm raising my sons to be, so this loss hurts.
I am sad. I am angry. Yesterday I wasn't sure if I could get out of my bed and move forward. But then there was you. You got yourself up and out of your bed. You showered, probably ate a little breakfast, did your hair, put on some makeup, and you rose above all of this negativity, hurt feelings and broken hearts and you stood in front of the entire world, after losing the fight of your life, and with the strength of one hundred elephants on stampede, you told us all to not give up.
You accepted defeat with calm and grace. You gave your support to our President-Elect, even after he disrespected you a million times, called you names, and disagrees with almost every value you hold dear.
You told every little girl watching, like my ten-year-old niece who burst into tears when she heard you had lost the election, that they all mattered. You let them know that their time would come, and that just because that glass ceiling may not have yet been broken, it has been severely cracked right down the middle.
You paved the way for us, Secretary Clinton. You allowed me to go to my local polling place on Tuesday, and for the first time in my forty-six years of life, mark that box to vote for our first woman President. Never before have I so lovingly and carefully filled in a tiny oval. I left the middle school gymnasium that day smiling and realizing that I had a small part in making history. You did that for me, and I'm so very grateful.
Yesterday, when my youngest son, who is twelve years old, asked me if he could call Donald Trump a "jerk", instead of telling him that, actually, I'd like to call him something worse, I told him that we could not. I followed your lead and told my son that Trump was now the President-Elect and we would have to find a way to respect him, or at the very least, respect the office of the President of the United States. I let both of my sons know that we needed to make every effort to find the good here and go with that.
I told my sons that this new President will not change us or the way we live our lives. We will still volunteer at the homeless shelter in Detroit. We will still respect and love our friends no matter what race or religion they are. We will still believe there is good in this world, and we will be just some of the people who help spread that goodness everywhere.
My sons, my husband and I will still support a strong, educated, and hard-working woman who strives to push on that crack in the glass ceiling and watch it shatter all around us.
As you mentioned yesterday in your speech, even though I feel sad, even though we are suffering a painful loss, it was all worth it. We made history together, and you made it all possible.
Thank you for doing it. Thank you for getting up
on the stage, over and over, to debate a man who called you a "Nasty Woman", and who clearly did not know even half as much as you did about the job he's now been given. It could not have been easy, but you did it without losing your composure, which, to me, may have been the most impressive thing of all.
As I sit here and listen to the names of the possible people our new President is choosing to put in his cabinet and on his staff, most, if not all of them rich, white men, I will try to remain positive. I will try to remind myself of that wide crack in the ceiling and remember that, in four more years, we have another chance to make things right.
You did this for me. You did this for my sons. You did it for my niece.
When you feel down and you second guess yourself in those brief moments when you are alone, don't forget how many of us out here who have been made stronger and better because you chose to do something no woman has ever done before.
And also remember that over and above all the amazing things you have achieved in your life, probably the single best thing you ever did was raise a strong, confident, smart and loyal daughter who is now a mother of her own. When the going gets tough, take out a picture of your two grandchildren and remind yourself how proud they will be to know that their grandmother changed history in more ways than one.
Thank you. Thank you for your service to our country and for everything you've done for woman all over the world.
You can take a break now, if you so choose. We've got your back. No worries.
Tammi Landry-Gilder, Author, Wife, Mother, Blogger
Before You Lose Hope, Read This
You can find this post here https://themighty.com/2016/09/feeling-suicidal-letter-to-someone-whos-lost-hope/