Posts Tagged ‘family’

 

Last Monday around four-thirty in the afternoon, I got a phone call from Ramos. That wasn’t unusual, but what surprised me was the desperation in his voice. If you know Ramos at all, you know how crazy that sounds. He is the King of Cool.

Then he explained the situation, and I couldn’t help blurting out my surprise. “What? You’re babysitting? Are you kidding me?”

That might not have been the best thing to say to someone who’s sounding desperate, especially when that someone is a renowned hit-man for a mob-boss.

“No. I’m not kidding.” His voice sounded a little menacing, so I quickly changed my tone.

“Oh, okay. What do you need?”

He explained that his neighbor had taken his wife to the hospital because she was in labor, and the guy’s mother-in-law couldn’t get there for a while. For some reason, they asked Ramos to watch their five and two-year-old kids until she got there.

“Wow. How did you get roped into that?”

“I was in the yard raking leaves, and I guess they were desperate. What could I say? I mean, she was moaning and crying with pain, and I thought that baby might just be born right there in the driveway.”

As he spoke I heard a child yelling in the background. Then came a high-pitched scream and something clattered to the floor. “Can you come over?” he asked.

“Sure.” He gave me his address, and I jumped in my car. As I drove to the house, it hit me that now I’d finally get to see where he lived. That was something I’d wondered about for a long time.

He spent a lot of time at the apartment at Thrasher Development, but I’d always known he had a house somewhere. Now I’d see it and maybe uncover a little more about the hit-man that I didn’t know.

The neighborhood in which he lived wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. He didn’t live in a ritzy part of town, and the houses were nice, but not huge. Still, they were well-kept and the neighborhood had a feeling of community about it.

I recognized his black car in the driveway of an older, red-brick home. Large maple trees lined the street with golden color, and piles of leaves rested in many of the front yards. The leaves in Ramos’s yard were heaped in a pile, with a rake lying haphazardly across the top of them.

I parked my car in the driveway behind his, and got out. Ramos must have been watching for me, because he opened the door in the house on the right and called my name.

I started toward him and paused in mid-stride with my jaw dropping open. He stood there holding a two-year-old girl on his hip like a regular person. It was a picture of Ramos that I never thought I’d see in a million years. It was so jarring that I really wanted to take out my camera to record the moment, but his frown was enough to dissuade me from doing anything of the sort.

Putting a happy smile on my face, I continued to the house. The five-year-old boy was adorable and talked a mile-a-minute, but he was a little upset that his parents had left him in the care of a virtual stranger.

My presence calmed him down, and once he was settled, his little sister wanted to get down to play. He showed us his favorite toys and explained what they did and how they worked.

Soon, we were all sitting on the floor, playing with a hot wheels play set where the little cars could race down a spiraling track. He got Ramos to pick a car and have a race with him, and it was something he wanted to do over and over again. It reminded me of how Josh was at that age, and I got a little nostalgic.

I tried to coax the little girl over to sit by me, but instead, she walked right over to Ramos and sat down in his lap. Ramos’s eyes widened and I knew it made him uncomfortable, but then he glanced at me and shrugged. He was thinking that all the girls liked sitting in his lap, so he shouldn’t be too surprised.

I laughed, glad that he was relaxed enough to joke about the situation.

Half an hour later, their grandmother showed up. She thanked us profusely and we got up to leave. The little boy told Ramos that he needed to come back and play some more. Ramos’s brows rose, but he smiled and told him that he’d see him around.

Then we left. The outside air cooled my face, and I glanced at Ramos, noting the relief in the deep breaths he took.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Right?”

He shook his head. “I had no idea what to do with those kids. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I just have one request,” he said, catching my gaze.

Of course I picked it up from his mind. He didn’t want me to tell anyone, because it would ruin his reputation. “Not even Uncle Joey?”

His lips thinned, so I relented. “Okay. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Good. Thanks.” He walked back over to the pile of leaves and picked up his rake. “You want to help with this, too?”

I chuckled. “I think you can handle that just fine. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you later.”

He gave me that chin lift thing, and I got in my car, grateful that I could come to his rescue for a change. As I waved, I noticed the little boy watching Ramos from the window of his living room. I backed out of the driveway, and started down the street.

Glancing back at Ramos, I had to chuckle. The boy had escaped his house and stood at Ramos’s side, talking up a storm. Then he jumped into the leaves and scattered them all over the place.

Whether he liked it or not, it looked like Ramos had a new friend. Ramos might not like it much, but it sure warmed my heart. Plus, I knew I’d have fun giving him a hard time about it. What could be better than that?

 

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What is Normal?

Posted: October 3, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
Tags: , ,

Sometimes I’m not sure what “normal” is anymore. Just the other night, I was sitting down to dinner with my family. Eating dinner together is important to me, because it’s a way to connect and keep informed of what’s going on in our busy lives. Dinner together doesn’t always happen, so I looked forward to chatting with my husband and two teenage kids.

Chris, my husband, asked Josh and Savannah how their day went. They weren’t too forthcoming, but with my mind-reading ability, I picked up lots of things that mattered to them. I don’t usually like to invade their privacy, but when they don’t want to talk much, I just can’t seem to help it.

At least what I picked up wasn’t earth-shattering, or out of the ordinary. But at thirteen and fifteen, and with their hormones kicking in, there were times it was just better not to know… mostly because it was hard not to roll my eyes because of all that teen angst. Still, it made me glad I could draw them out with a comment or two, and help them deal with whatever it was that bothered them.

I asked Chris about his day, and he said it went really well. He’d even made a breakthrough in one of his cases that would help his client, so he was pretty happy about that.

Then it was my turn, and everyone glanced my way. Suddenly, things weren’t so clear, and I didn’t know what to say. I mean… do I tell them about my meeting with Uncle Joey, where he had me listen to an investor who was trying to swindle him out of a huge sum of money?

What about the motorcycle ride I went on with Ramos so I could let him know what the person receiving a package was really going to do with it?

Or how about the murder suspect I listened to for Dimples, whom it turned out was hiding behind a wall of grief to mask his joy of poisoning his mother-in-law?

Right then, none of that was anything I wanted to share. But I had to say something, so I glossed over the stuff with Uncle Joey and Ramos by saying that I ran a few errands in the morning, specifically leaving out the motorcycle part. Not that it was bad, but you know… it’s Ramos, and I may have enjoyed that part the most.

That little flush of guilt made me emphasize the part about helping the police catch a killer, so no one would ask me about my errands. That did the trick, and it was fun to tell them a little about the case, and how many poisonous plants people had in their own homes that could kill someone.

I may have gone on too long about the poisonous-plant-part, because everyone went quiet with widened eyes, and stared at me like I was a crazy person.

Then Josh smiled and thought that was pretty cool, even though he didn’t say it. Savannah’s thoughts filled with admiration that I could help the police like I did. But Chris was thinking that I shouldn’t be talking about an ongoing investigation. As a lawyer, he was probably right, so I quickly told them not to tell anyone.

I shouldn’t have worried. My kids had learned not to share much about me because what I did just wasn’t normal. Of course, they didn’t know the truth that I could read minds, but thought I had ‘premonitions,’ which was how I wanted to keep it. At least they thought it was cool, so it didn’t hurt my feelings too much.

It also made me realize that my normal wasn’t really normal at all. Around everyone else, I have to keep most things to myself, which isn’t always easy to do. But most of the time I manage just fine.

Still, it hit me all at once how crazy my life had become. But it also gave me a little thrill to be different. Of course, that thrill didn’t include the times I’d nearly been killed. Looking at my family, I knew that part wasn’t so good.

See what I mean about being normal? Maybe it’s not so bad, but thinking about my normal life before I could read minds, and my abnormal life after I could read minds… for the most part, I’m glad to be abnormal, even if there’s a lot of stuff I have to keep to myself.

 

 

 

Shelby’s Total Eclipse

Posted: August 25, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
Tags: , , ,

Like many of you, I traveled a few hours with my family to see the total eclipse, and WOWZA, was that an experience!

We all had our special eclipse glasses so we could watch the moon overtake the sun. I marveled that without the glasses, I never would have known the moon was even in the sky because the sun was so bright.

As the moon closed in, the sky naturally darkened, and the temperature dropped. Still, even with a sliver of the sun showing, it was too bright to look at without the glasses. Then the moment came and, all at once, the moon completely covered the sun.

Jumping up, we took off our glasses, and stared up at the dark side of the moon. Rays of light shot up all around the orb, but everything went dark, with a three-sixty degree sunset of colors all around the horizon. The temperature dropped, and we could even see stars in the sky.

All of those amazing events happened between one second and the next, sending a shot of pure astonishment through me. I even got a little shaky. Then it happened. All at once, I heard everyone’s thoughts shouting like a chorus of wonder into the sky. Not only that, but there was an edge of harmony, almost like tinkling bells that reverberated through the atmosphere.

The hairs on my arms and on the back of my neck, stood on end, and I could barely catch my breath. Mesmerized by the sounds in my head, I could hardly pull my gaze away from the beautiful phenomenon in the sky.

Then it was over, and I had to hurry and put my glasses back on with everyone else. Even the tiniest ray of sun was too bright to look at. I began to breathe again, and all the sounds and thoughts I’d heard retreated to a memory in my mind.

I hugged my husband and my kids close, grateful to have shared this experience with them. Then my legs gave out, and I sat down in my chair. We watched and marveled at how bright everything started to get, and how the temperature rose so we weren’t so cold.

We stayed outside until the whole thing was over, and I picked up that none of us wanted the experience to end.

“When’s the next eclipse?” Savannah asked.

“Yeah,” Josh chimed in. “I want to do this again.”

“Me too!” I glanced at them and we all laughed.

After that, we decided to go out to lunch for a burger and bottomless fries to celebrate the amazing event. We spoke about the shared experience while the wonder of it still lingered in our memories. Then it was time to go home.

Even though it didn’t last long enough, the experience was something we would share forever, and brought us closer together. It also took me a little longer to recover. I never would have thought that reading minds would make an experience like the eclipse any different, but boy, was I wrong.

Who would have thought I’d hear everyone’s thoughts like a chorus? And what about the tinkling bells? Come to think of it, they were like wind chimes. Then it hit me that maybe what I’d heard had been a neighbor’s wind chimes, only magnified by all the wonder going on.

I guess I’ll never know… unless I go to another eclipse. I heard there’s one in the U.S.A. in twenty-twenty-four. I think I need to be there for it, just so I’ll know for sure about the wind chimes.

Now all I have to do, is find a place to stay. Will any of you be in the path of the next eclipse? Do you take reservations? Let me know!!

Pickleball Anyone?

Posted: July 7, 2017 in Experiences
Tags: , ,

One of the perks of working for a mob-boss is being invited to his country club. This usually entails playing a round of golf. I’m not much of a golfer, and the last time I went, I had a golf cart accident that sent a judge to the emergency room for stitches. Since then, Uncle Joey hadn’t invited me back.

So it came as a surprise when he asked me if my husband and I would like to join him and his wife, Jackie, at the country club for a game of pickleball.

“Uh… pickleball? What’s that?” I asked, hoping it didn’t involve pickles.

He explained that the game was a lot like tennis, only on a smaller-sized court, and using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. He said it combined the elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

Since I’ve played tennis since I was a kid, and I’m a pretty good at ping-pong, I thought it might be fun. Plus, it’s never a good idea to say no to a mob-boss, no matter what he wants. So, all in all, this sounded like an easy request compared to some of the other things he’d asked me to do.

My husband, Chris, had never played the game before, but at least he’d heard of it, so that was a plus. We set up a time, and I looked forward to learning something new, though I did have one concern. Chris and I were a lot younger than Uncle Joey by at least twenty or more years, and I hoped that once we learned the game, we didn’t beat them too badly.

We arrived at the club, wearing the appropriate attire, and met Uncle Joey and Jackie at the tennis courts. Uncle Joey was eager to teach us how to play, and hoped we picked it up pretty fast, since he liked a competitive game. I thought that was kind of presumptive of him to think he’d beat us so handily. It brought out the competitive side of my nature, so I was eager to prove him wrong.

It took longer than I liked to get used to the ball and paddle. I kept hitting the ball way too hard, so it went long. When I wasn’t doing that, I missed the ball entirely because I wasn’t used to a smaller paddle. But after about half an hour, I got the hang of hitting it, and looked forward to playing a game.

I’d like to say that our first game was a success, but that would be a lie. We didn’t even score one point. Uncle Joey played with a lot of aggression… kind of like a shark playing with its food. For an old guy, he was really good.

After the first round, he took pity on us, and sent Chris over to play with Jackie while I partnered with him. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, since playing with Uncle Joey intimidated me… a lot. Needless to say, every time the ball came my way I totally messed up. In fact, every point we lost was because of me.

At least I caught that he didn’t mind too much, mostly since Chris wasn’t doing much better on Jackie’s team. She was really good, too.

Uncle Joey gave me some tips and even encouraged me when I did something right. After a while, I started doing better. After losing the first game, we won the next two, mostly because of Uncle Joey’s mad skills, and I started to enjoy myself.

Then we switched partners again. This time I played with Jackie, which wasn’t quite so intimidating. Even though I did better, we still lost every game to the guys. It bothered me more than I liked, mostly because I picked up that Uncle Joey went easy on us and didn’t play as hard as he could have.

That lit a fire under me, and the next game, I played a lot better. We still lost, but not by so much.

After that, several other players filled the open courts, and asked if we’d like to switch it up and rotate games with them. I picked up that Uncle Joey was all for it, since he’d get to play against some better players.

It would have hurt my feelings, except that he also thought it would be good for us to play against some other teams where we might have a chance to win. So he was actually looking out for us, right?

Most of the other players were about Uncle Joey’s age, and some of them weren’t in the best of shape, so I thought he had a point, and I tried not to be offended. Plus, there were a few people that seemed really old, at least in their late seventies and one or two in their eighties. We could win against them, right?

In the end, it didn’t seem to matter how old anyone was, we still lost every game. At least there were a few that were close, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Still… playing pickleball is fun, but I learned not to underestimate the old guys.

Now, I’m hoping to get my own paddle… and one for Chris. Hey… we could get some for our kids, Josh and Savannah. It could be a lot of fun, and a great way to spend time together as a family.

Then the next time we played against Uncle Joey and Jackie, we could beat them. Hmm… on the other hand, maybe it was okay if we didn’t beat them, but it would be awfully nice to come close once in a while.

 

 

Because of the tricky situations I always seem to get into, I began training in Aikido. Aikido is a martial art that includes techniques from Jujitsu and Kenjutsu and is based in self-defense, where one uses an opponent’s energy to gain control of them, or throw them, or even escape a hold.

I began these classes only a few months ago, and just passed my fifth kyu test, which is cool, but not anywhere close to a black belt or anything. Getting a black belt would probably take me three or four years, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Anyway, my barely teenage daughter and I (yikes is she really a teenager now?) went to the Saturday class. It was a lot of fun, mostly because it’s totally satisfying to throw a few big guys around.

Sensei, our teacher, decided to show us how to do atemi, which is a technique used to disrupt an opponent’s attack of a grab or a strike. It throws them off and helps you gain the upper hand. Atemi is done by kicking, or throwing a punch at just the right time. It can’t be too early, or they’ll see it coming, and if it’s late, it won’t do you any good.

After demonstrating the technique a few times, we partnered up and went through the technique in slow-motion before picking up the pace. By the time we changed partners, I was starting to get pretty good at the timing part which was a good thing since my next partner was a big dude.

That meant my kick would have to be pretty hard, and maybe a little higher than I’d practiced, but I could aim my punch for the stomach, so that would work. We slowed our moves down to start with, and then traded attacks. Sensei told us not to use atemi all the time, so that when we did, it wouldn’t be expected.

Sticking to his advise, I waited until after several attacks to throw in a high kick. The only problem was my attacker was a little slow… and… YUP… you guessed it… I kicked him real good right where it counts. The poor guy fell to the ground on his hands and knees, and groaned, barely able to breathe.

My face turned red and guilt burned a hole in my stomach. This was terrible. Everyone stopped what they were doing and glanced at me thinking I’d gone too far. Poor Daniel, I’d really gotten him good. He’d probably never partner with me again. Why was I kicking so hard?

Savannah gasped and covered her mouth. She glanced at me in wide-eyed horror, embarrassed at what I’d done. But underneath her hands, her mouth twitched with laughter, which she wisely held back.

By now, Daniel was showing signs of recovering, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. After my horrified apologies, he grunted a few times, and waved me off. I glanced at Sensei and he just shook his head, but he was thinking that it wasn’t all my fault. Daniel was a little slow with his reaction time, or I wouldn’t have been able to get him so good. It was also a given in the dojo that if you got hurt, it was most likely your own fault.

That helped me feel a little better, but not until Daniel was able to stand up. Guilt keep me immobile until he finally walked over to the drinking fountain and took a few swallows of water.

Everyone else went back to practice, leaving me the odd person out until Daniel came back. I was hoping that Sensei would make everyone change partners, but he was thinking that Daniel and I needed to work together again, so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

After a few minutes we got back into the routine and took turns between being the attacker and the attacked. When it was his turn to attack, I waited for the right moment to do a ‘fake’ kick again, making sure I didn’t go overboard this time.

As Daniel lunged at me, I timed my kick at the perfect moment to thwart him, hoping he’d see it in time to avoid it. Just in case he didn’t, I didn’t kick quite as hard. Still, somehow I managed to connect… again!

He fell to the floor, hardly believing that it had happened again. At least it wasn’t as bad this time, but still… what the hell? Did I have it in for him or something? Was his timing really that off?

Everyone felt bad for Daniel, but most of us were trying not to laugh out loud. I mean… sometimes when something untoward happens, your first impulse is to laugh, right? I had a hard time keeping the chuckle inside, especially as I asked him if he was okay.

This time Sensei clapped his hands for everyone to stop, deciding that for Daniel’s sake, and maybe mine, it was time to move on to something else. I wasn’t sure who was more relieved, me or Daniel. But still, twice in one day? Sheesh!

After that, Sensei decided to have us practice with the jo so we wouldn’t need partners. The jo is a wooden staff that’s about four feet long. He had us hold it close to the center and practice doing circle eights so we could get a feel for it. Then he told us to try going a little faster.

I concentrated hard and sped things up a bit, thinking it was just like twirling a baton like they do in the marching bands. All at once, a big thwack sounded, and Daniel’s jo fell to the mat. He held his hand to his jaw where he’d hit himself with the jo!

I burst out laughing. I knew it wasn’t nice of me, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to hold it in and turned my face away so Daniel wouldn’t see, but my shoulders shook so bad I could hardly breathe, which just made me laugh even harder.

It was one of those times I had the giggles so bad nothing was going to keep me from laughing. Then I noticed everyone else was laughing a little too. Even Daniel. With a shrug, he said something about it not being his day, and the tension left the room.

Still, it wasn’t until Savannah and I were driving home that we could finally let loose and have a good laugh. We both agreed that Aikido was a blast, and even if embarrassing things happened, we wouldn’t want to stop going.

I thought that would be the end of it, but at dinner Savannah spilled the beans. “Dad… guess what Mom did to a poor guy in Aikido…”

 

I recently attended a bridal shower for my cousin’s daughter. I don’t normally like showers where they play silly games and all that stuff. I prefer the drop-in, open the gift, give a hug, eat the goodies, and get the heck-out-of-dodge-kind. Not very sociable, but there it is. I would have skipped this shower all together if it hadn’t been for my mom. According to her, this was one shower I couldn’t miss, or I would get blacklisted on that side of the family. So, of course, I sucked it up and went.

Interestingly enough, there was some tension between the mother of the bride and mother of the groom. Turns out, they knew each other in high school, and the mother of the groom blamed the bride’s mom, my cousin, for something bad, but I couldn’t pick up what. On the outside they were acting all happy and nice, with big smiles that showed lots of pearly white teeth. But inside neither of them wanted this marriage to take place. Especially considering their thoughts that sharing grandchildren was making them both sick. YIKES!

I checked out the bride and groom and, after listening in on their thoughts, there was no question they were in love, so I just had to hope things would work out. But it really bothered me that these two women held so much animosity toward each other. Maybe I could help? Who knew? Maybe it was just a misunderstanding?

“That’s really something that you two knew each other in high school,” I said. “Weren’t you guys like best friends or something?”

Their surprised gazes turned to me, and the whole room got quiet. Then my cousin narrowed her eyes and took a breath to ask me how the hell I knew that. Oops. Before she could utter a word her daughter gasped with surprise.

“You guys knew each other? You went to high school together?” she asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

My cousin’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. As she took in the curious glances of everyone there, she turned toward the groom’s mother with a tentative smile curling her lips. “We had a falling out,” she admitted. “It involved a boy, as I recall.”

The other woman raised her brows, and was thinking that if my cousin was going to spill the beans, she’d better make sure her side of the story got told first. “He was my boyfriend,” she stated. “You knew how much I liked him, but you got him to go out with you while I was away on a trip. He broke up with me because of you. That was pretty low for someone I considered one of my best friends.”

“Is that what you thought?” my cousin asked. “I didn’t go after him. He asked me out. I admit I shouldn’t have gone, but he was really persistent, and I didn’t think you’d ever find out. It was just supposed to be one date.”

The other woman huffed out a breath. “Yeah, right. As if that makes a difference.”

My cousin dropped her gaze. “I know. I was a bad friend, and I felt horrible about it. I really did. I wanted to explain, but you wouldn’t talk to me after that. If it helps, he dumped me pretty quick and moved on to someone else.”

“But we were friends. You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I know, and I’ve regretted it ever since. Dating him wasn’t worth losing your friendship. But you never gave me a chance to tell you I was sorry. I tried hundreds of times, but you always blew me off.”

The groom’s mother licked her lips, realizing that for the sake of their children, and with everyone looking on, it was time to get over it. “You’re right. It was a long time ago, and really…it doesn’t even matter anymore.”

My cousin smiled, then asked. “Whatever happened to him anyway?”

After that it was hard to pry those two apart. Not only did they have a lot to catch up on, but their children were getting married and now they could finally be excited about it.

I left that shower with a grin on my face, knowing I’d done something good. It was one of the few times my mind-reading skills had really paid off, and was just what I needed. Especially since right after the shower, I had to stop by Uncle Joey’s office. It was after eight-thirty at night and I really didn’t want to go, but he was meeting with someone from his past, and after this experience, I knew it could get tricky. But on the bright side, since I’d helped my cousin resolve a sticky issue, I was sure I could help Uncle Joey. I’d just have to make sure I stood out of the way in case they pulled their guns.