May 10, 2020

A Medium with a Side of Bacon?

It was a few months after Daddy passed away. I had stopped into the local grocery store to grab something to cook for dinner and ran into a former neighbor and friend I hadn’t seen since before he passed. We shared hugs and tears near the deli- she mentioned reading my blog post on our first dream date and how special it was. 

As we were talking, I was distracted by a package of bacon that fell off of the shelf. We continued talking and she mentioned a medium she recommended. Another package of bacon fell from the shelf.

“I’m not sure if you believe in signs- but there is no reason for that bacon to have thrown itself off the shelf...twice,” she said.

Another package fell.

I took down the medium’s information but didn’t call. While I completely believe in spiritual contact, I was satisfied with our dream dates. My heart was still healing (and still is today) and I wasn’t quite sure what talking to a medium would do to that process. Would it make me hurt worse? Would the healing process start all over? Would I have to move the medium into my house so I could contact my loved ones whenever I wanted? I just wasn’t sure.

Several years went by and numerous friends on separate occasions mentioned the same medium to me. I was fascinated by their experiences. It was getting to the point that I felt like the sign I needed was the fact that this Edward Zula wasn’t going away. 

So I texted him.

He instructed me to send him a photo of whoever I hoped to contact, nothing more. I quickly complied. 

Edward suggested our reading for the evening of April 23. I smiled, knowing Mom and I already had plans to be together that evening. Don’t stand us up, Daddy!

While Mom was onboard, Little Miss and my hubs were not so sure- both imagining me having a tarot card read in some backwoods trailer park somewhere. 

Shortly after lunch on our reading date, my phone dinged. It was Edward. 

“Ok does Kaddish mean something to you. It’s a Jewish prayer,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied, explaining that Little Miss was named for her great-grandmother.

“I’ve been visited by a woman in a black headscarf,” he said. (Little Miss’s namesake)

Knowing it is traditional for religious Jewish women to cover their heads, I frantically began texting Bobbie. (Former mother-in-law, forever our Bobbie) 

“The Kaddish prayer is said for loved ones who have passed, in rememberance...what did she say with the prayer,” she asked me.

“She was listing names…” I said, calling off the names she mentioned.

“Eden...these are relatives who passed...maybe no one is lighting a memorial candle or saying Kaddish for them four times a year,” she said. 

My mind was blown. But why did she contact me? Perhaps she felt I may be her only shot to get through to her relatives, considering the bond remaining with Bobbie and I? Now I was really counting down the seconds until we were able to potentially talk with Daddy.

7:00pm on the dot, Mom and I called Edward.

“Hi Edward! I have my mom on the line with us- her name is Kathy,” I said.

“Oh, Kathy!! That makes sense…”

Mom and I immediately began to sob.

“There are some different names...Trixie?” he asked. My father’s grandmother- who he absolutely adored. She taught him to smoke when he was 7. #differenttimes

“Also...a woman named Clair? I see financial institutes, mortgages? She handled money. She is...stoic, routine,” he said. Indeed. She worked at East Carolina Bank long before it was ECB- retiring as the executive VP. She was the first female comptroller in NC.

“Don is surrounded by family and they are so happy he finally gets to speak with you all,” he said, “In fact...he is getting quite impatient with me because I am not letting him speak.”

We laughed, while the tears continued to flow. I get my lack of patience from my daddy. 

“ were the love of his life. He wants you to know that. He wants you to know that he sees things differently now and he understands that at times- he made life harder than it had to be. He is sorry for being so hardheaded. His body hurt and didn't share the pain with you all- it caused him to be grumpy sometimes. I’m seeing the number 35?” he said. My parents were together for 35 years. 

“He wants you girls to stop grieving on the anniversary of his death. That is just a day- it isn’t a day to memorialize. Instead, celebrate his birthday or your wedding anniversary, Kathy...or near it- he was forgetful at times of the date. He says to be happy………..why do I see a deer? Is it an antelope? He thinks this is funny...he’s laughing. Is there significance in the deer?” he asked.

Don Deere. Daddy’s nickname.

“He is so proud of his girls...and he is showing me the number 2. That number is important. He has TWO granddaughters- and he wants to confirm that they both have a Y in their names? Sometimes spirits do this so you’ll know it is them…” he said.

I heard a whisper- Little Miss was listening. Her eyes were huge.

“I believe it’s him now. He said that for me. I believe him!” she said. 

Daddy never believed in step-granddaughters- he just simply had two that he loved with his whole heart. He was exceptionally proud to tell anyone who would listen about his two granddaughters. 

The conversation carried on through laughter and tears. Edward confirmed that Daddy’s body is restored- mentioning that he is athletic and active now. 

“He has a brother? You are now in contact with him...he’s so thankful for that. He wants you to know that family and love is all that matters,” he said.

We then shared a story about my cousin and an accident she’d been in about 6 months after Daddy’s passing. The accident was horrible, but she walked away without much of a scratch.

“He wants you to share this with his brother...he was with her that day- he helped her from the car. He is with you all, watching over you. Spirits often cannot stop bad things from happening- but they sometimes can protect their loved ones from harm by creating obstacles or encouraging assistance,” he said.

The man who helped my cousin from the wreckage...his name was Don.

Many people who I have shared our experience with ask me the same question- do you feel like you got closure now? Well, no...because I don’t think you ever truly get closure when you lose someone you love. I feel reassured. I feel like I’ve had a visit from my daddy that was more than a dream date. I feel confirmation that his presence surrounding me is not just a fluke. I feel like the bacon falling off the shelves that day? That was my daddy saying “Hey Jackass...your Ole Daddy is trying to get your attention!”

This year on the anniversary date...Mom and I spent the day together- just being together. We didn’t mourn- we didn’t reminisce of the date of his passing. Instead, we talked about some of our happiest memories. (And as fate would have it, my husband ended up on his John Deere mowing the property where my daddy sold John Deeres for a good portion of the day.)

**If you have lost someone close to you- I highly recommend contacting Edward. felt at ease immediately with him. Essentially, I felt as if he was merely translating key points and puzzle pieces my daddy was sharing with us. The worries or concerns I had four years ago when I first learned of Edward have all faded into the distance. Except for one...Edward- we can’t wait to talk with you again. #imhooked

To contact Edward, visit his FaceBook! Or contact me for his telephone info.

April 10, 2020

Chick Adventures

Pandemic. Quarantine. Words we never thought our kids would use in everyday life. I try really, ridiculously hard to find the humor and light in every situation. I text my husband and kiddos really silly jokes throughout the day- to which they mostly respond with eyerolls and shaking heads.

But that is how we get through. keeping with being here for the laughs- here we go:

The two words mentioned above have us all spending more time in our homes than normal. Wayfair is no dummy- as they have sent me no less than 300 emails to let me know the sofa I’ve had my eye on for eons is on sale….and there are only a few need to order now. We can finance it!

I made a plan to plead my case to the judge (i.e.: husband) all the while knowing it was probably the worst time to make a large purchase.

“Babe...I would rather you go buy more baby chicks than buy a sofa right now…” he continued on, but all I heard was immediately, you must go buy baby chicks.

He should know me better than this. He should know that all he did there- was give me permission for more baby things to raise. (Remember when he OJ’d the goat decision and I brought home Mocha and Leche? Yea, he should have known.)

The next day, Little Miss and I were off to the chick-store. Now, the chicken store is an interesting place, as one might gather. They typically have pigs, puppies, kittens, really anything you can sell, they have there for sale in baby form. (As most farm-stores do!) I always leave there with a story to tell and this time was absolutely no different. 

“Okay, bud- we are going in here, not touching anything...getting the chicks, getting out- and sanitizing the shi- germs off our hands as soon as we get back to the truck,” I instruct.

“Got it,” Little Miss agrees. 

We walk in and are greeted by an amish looking fellow who was thrilled to discuss all things chick with us. We grab the only three chicks left- which happened to be frizzles (!), a bag of feed and head out the door. Another fella, presumably the owner of the fine establishment, insists on carrying the chicken feed out to the truck. Little Miss gives me a look like I’m not following my own rules because I’m letting a stranger carry my feed for me.

I make small talk on the way to the truck about how odd the world is right now- not at all knowing that I was opening a door to a much more enlightening conversation than one could have ever imagined.

“They’re trying to pin this on Trump, ya know. This whole mess- they are trying to say this is his fault,” the fella tells me, while I smile and nod. 

“The whole world is? Trying to pin it on the President?” I reply, if to say, seriously?!

“You know the Clintons and the Bushes and them Obamas...they’re all crooked,” he continues.

My smile turns to nervous laughter because at this point, I’m lost. He leans towards me, as if to tell me a secret.

“Trump has them in Cuba....all of them. That’s what this is all we won’t know what is really going on. It’s going to come out in a week or so,” he says.

“The Clintons, the Bushes, and the Obamas? In Cuba?” I ask.

“’s gone know soon,” he said, as I continued backing towards my driver’s side door.

“Huh, well...thanks for the heads up. Have a great day!”

I locked my doors immediately. What the hell just happened. Thank God we saved these chicks!

“Mom...that was so weird,” Little Miss said.

“Not as weird as last time...last time I ended up in one of those trailers back there- I thought I was a goner!” I exclaimed.

“MOM! Why would you go in there!? ….did they have chicks in there? Oh.My.God. How have you never been kidnapped?” she scolded.

Valid question. I’ve put myself in some sticky situations for the sake of baby-animals.

Meet Regina, Gretchen, and Karen. (not pictured, because...Karen) #meangirls #youcantsitwithus

March 27, 2020

Uncharted Waters

Roughly twelve and a half years ago, I placed myself under my very own ‘stay at home’ order. I was a new mom of the most precious little in the city that never sleeps. A city that never seemed scarier to me than it did the day the hospital released us to go home. 

Home!? In a new house, in a new neighborhood where I literally knew not one.single.person. I trusted no one. Not only was I new to the mom-gig...but I was new to the germaphob-gig. Not that I was a t-totaller...but I definitely preferred every surface, every bottle, every everything to be completely Being the daughter of the daycare-lady...the state guidelines for health and human services regarding birth to three years olds was ingrained in my brain. #mustfollowguidelines

Grocery stores? Carts? The absolute horror. I walked through the stores holding my tiny bundle of fragility, picking up one item at a time...that is, if she joined me. (Shopping took hours.) 
I was given the responsibility to keep this amazing little person safe, healthy, and germ-free…#holyshit 

Sidenote: Not many people in NYC make eye contact...ever. So when anyone did lock eyes with me- I was pretty sure they were a child predator- wanting to steal my baby. #totallynormalmomthought

Eventually, my germ-fears faded- somewhere around her first cold...but my preference of spending time with her versus literally any other activity did not. She was (and let's be clear, still is) my favorite human in the universe. Meet a friend for coffee or sit on the floor and watch Baby Einstein for the ten-thousandth time? Which episode? Because the one on the whales is really catchy. #babybaluga

Now here we are, truly under a real-life ‘stay at home’ order due to COVID-19...and I can’t help but feel a bit like I did the day I left the hospital 12.5 years ago. It is a scary world we live in today, folks. We are back to living in a world where we can trust no one and it is heartbreaking. Our little county is filled with locals and some non-residents all ordered to ‘stay at home’...and some are doing as such, but many are not. Many locals are ranting on social media about out of town license plates and families on vacation during a pandemic. I can’t say I haven’t thought similar thoughts- but I have chosen to keep those thoughts to myself because...let's be real with each other- posting on social media solves no one's problems.

In our household, things are different. Little Miss is learning how to maneuver an online-schooling platform. The hubs and I are learning how to juggle everyone home for lunch. And the dogs? They’re thrilled to have their little person with them all day. (Cats on the other hand- they’re pissed. Too much human interaction. They’ve filed formal complaints about nap/sunning interruptions.)

Aside from the stress of the unknown and obsessively watching the news, I have to admit- we’ve made some incredible family memories so far. When life gets tough- the simple things become the big things that keep us strong. The dog walks together- the giggles over silly things- mucking stalls- the hour of TV before we all fall asleep...those are the things that we will look back on and say “that...that got us through it.” #ihope

In a world of uncertainties- one thing has never been clearer to me. Our family bond is strong...and nothing tests that and makes us stronger like uncharted waters. There is a saying said often on our little island- A calm sea doesn’t make a skilled sailor. In this unknown sea that we are crossing together, I am so thankful for those on the boat with me. 

Hug your know, the ones you live with. And wash your hands. Stay healthy, friends.

January 11, 2020

That Time We Took a Bus to a bunch of theater gypsies.

A few months ago, two theater moms and a Bub devised a plan to surprise their theater girls with a fun-filled, action-packed trip to NYC...on a budget.

Being fortunate enough to have family in NYC willing to take in 5 (!) gals for the weekend, definitely helped our plan along. Before we knew it, our bus tickets were purchased...Broadway shows were booked and it was the day before our arrival in the Big Apple. 

As I began to make our itinerary of places to visit and things to see, I got a bit nostalgic. Thirteen years ago, several of the items on our list were on a bucket-list to accomplish before a baby arrived...the baby who is now accompanying us on this trip. I remember telling Mom how much fun it would be to go into the city for an afternoon- eat in a little cafe and see a Broadway show with her...but Little Miss had other plans. She arrived less than 24 hours after Mom and Daddy arrived in NYC. 

Our car ride from NC to VA to catch our bus north included mostly caffeine with a side of Chick Fil A and showtunes. Adults all agreed we were thankful our travels north were soon to be via bus, where said theater-kiddos would have no choice but to settle down.

Then we arrived at the ‘bus station’ those local to the Outer Banks, was the size of the Little Ceasar’s at West 3rd St...and equally as dicey. 

An eclectic group of folks turned as the stereotypical group of moms approached check-in with our extra bag of Chick Fil A for the road, and Starbucks Peppermint Mochas in tow. We were given a number, literally, and told to sit still until the bus arrived. I obliged- sitting perfectly still with all the luggage I could hold on my lap. We shared nervous looks back and forth, mouthing ‘maybe we should just drive?’ up until a booming voice came over the speakers.
“Attention...when the bus arrives, do not get in line...and do not board the bus. I have to inspect my unit before any and all boarding.”

I bit my lip and glanced over at my fellow stereotypical-counterparts. They give me the ‘yes, he said that...and no, apparently it's not okay to laugh’ look. I held it together. I.did.not.even.grin.

Then he said it again. #comeonman

I giggled like a 12 year old boy watching the change of life video at school. #couldnothelpmyself

In between the announcement  and boarding I notably said “It’ll be fine...this is going to be great!” at least ten times in a row. I evaluated every person and their luggage as they passed me one seemed to have packed snacks- in what world is that normal?! I did note a pungent aroma of what I can only describe as the type of ‘cologne’ Snoop Dogg wears, and said a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe the contact-cologne would calm my nerves? 

“ will be a short, straight, nonstop trip to NYC this evening. Bathrooms are in the back...LIQUIDS ONLY. Absolutely NO shitting on the bus. Ain’t nobody want to smell that for 6 hours. Thank you.”

No shit. Got it. For some reason, this made me feel more comfortable...or was that the cologne?

We all drifted in between slumber and reality on the bus ride. Before we knew it, the announcement boomed over the loudspeaker that we would be arriving in the city in just a few minutes. 

Almost an hour early...homeboy was booking it. #nostoptilbrooklyn

We were all so excited. I had the same feeling I did on my first visit to NYC...the excitement of the lights- the fast pace- the city that never sleeps. Ah New York- you’re and I have an abusive relationship...and this morning, we are in the honeymoon phase of entrigue. 

We got off the bus...and realized it was 5am and we had nowhere to be until 7am. I decided it may be a decent time to give everyone (namely the two tiny folks with no filters) a brief peptalk.

“Okay...we will see things in the city that we don’t see at home. Homeless people...different looking people...and we don’t ever want to point- or say what we might think. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Thirty seconds later.

“Do you think we will get mugged!?!?!”

Apparently I wasn’t quite specific enough. #theaterkidshavenofilter #theyalsocantwhisper

We walk up the block as I try to get my New York bearings. We all had to use the facilities and desperately needed to brush our teeth. Starbucks? Closed until 6. 7-11? Open, no bathroom...and a rude clerk. (Oh NYC, I took that first slap like a champ.) Port Authority? Port Authority! 

“Perfect, it’s open...they have big bathrooms and lots of police!” I said, to a small audience of deer, appearing to look directly into headlights.

We freshened up with New York’s finest (and several homeless folks) and hiked off to the Today Show! The girls were excited to see just about everything that everyone else who was standing outside 30 Rockefellar Plaza couldn’t give two hoots about. Production, stage hands, management, all the workers that put in time to make the show guys, when asked if they wanted to be on TV, they shrugged. They soaked up every bit of information they could, like they were studying for finals. 
Little Miss is well-versed in city life...or perhaps moreso, tech-life. I suppose most young-folks are more tech-savvy than the fossils they call parents. Following our visit at The Today Show, we planned to head to Brooklyn to visit Bobbie and drop off our luggage. (Bobbie - AKA: Little Miss’s grandmother; our host for the weekend; my Jewish Mama; Bub’s counterpart)

“Mom...we can just get an Uber,” Little Miss says, with such duh in her voice that my nostrils flared and ears pinned like the stubborn mare I am.

I handed her my phone and asked her to speak Uber to it because I was certainly not understanding this gibberish she was speaking. A few seconds later, the phone dinged that our Uber had arrived! Before we knew it...we were off to Brooklyn and our driver was telling me/us his life story- and I shared bits of ours. He took us on the Brooklyn bridge so the girls could see the skyline behind us, pointed out the Lady Liberty across the Hudson, and graciously joined us for a photo upon delivery to Brooklyn. 

{Walking into Bobbie’s building sent me into time-travel- it was November 1, 2006 and I was walking into those doors carrying a carseat with a two-day-old Little Miss...the buzzer rang and I was immediately embraced and brought back into reality.}

The amount of food set out for us would’ve easily fed an army. We ate, visited, and then were back off to the city to meet with friends/family from The Lost Colony. Something I’ve learned while being a bit of a theater-hanger-on is once you’ve performed with someone for several months- in the middle of the hottest part of the summer, dodging everything from mosquitos to lightening are family and I’m so thankful for that. Once again, laughs and memories were shared while we toured Madame Tussaud’s, Bryant Park, and again...every Starbuck’s in between right up until the big moment…

Mean Girls

Little Miss has talked about seeing this show for years...and it was finally showtime. Watching the look on the girls’ faces was absolutely priceless. The show was have no words to describe how freaking amazing this show was- that kind of incredible. We were able to meet most of the cast after the show- which again, was priceless.

On our second (and last) day in the city, we hit Chinatown, Little Italy, the Friends apartment...and most memorable, the 9/11 memorial. 

When I lived in NYC, the WTC area was still rubble...and was only described as Ground Zero. It was a very emotional hour spent walking around the memorial, reading the names of those who lost their lives that September morning, and observing others doing the same. I watched as a small child clutched an American flag, while standing in front of the ‘Survivor Tree’ as tears ran down my face. The entire area was almost completely silent in a city of sirens and horns. 

Waitress was next up on our Broadway list...and it did not disappoint. Once again, a fellow Colony member had ties to Waitress, as Andy Griffith portrayed the diner’s owner in the movie. Post-show, we stood outside in the sideways rain to meet the cast...and again, it was priceless.

The next day we were up early to catch our southbound bus home. We reflected on our trip the entire way back- along with a sprinkle of gossip here and there. We met those seated around us and shared laughs when they heard of our red-eye trip north. It was truly one of the most memorable trips...with the most special people. (Seriously, it takes a special bond to be able to travel together, ladies. We freaking rocked it.)

I would do it again...the exact same a New York minute.

August 24, 2019

The Lost Colony - One More Time

There is a bit of sacred ground on the north end of Roanoke Island…where, each summer for the last five years, we gather to share the story of The Lost Colony. 

Our first summer, Little Miss portrayed the roll of a child in the audience, chosen by the narrator to hear the story of the New World, and all that entailed. She walked with him each evening, looking on intently as he talked of Indian battles and the birth of the first English child. That year, Daddy took her to the theater often. On the evenings he would drop her off, I could count on my phone ringing shortly before showtime.

“Hey Bud…I’m gonna stay. I’ve just got to watch it one more time,” he would say.

I hear those words ring over and over today- one more time- when I think of all the things I should be doing at home- the ever-growing pile of laundry, the stalls that need to be cleaned, dinner that has been frozen or fast-food for too many nights in a row. But no…one more time, I remind myself- and I stay at Waterside Theater.

Rehearsal season #2 began just a few days after Daddy’s passing. We were all still numb. The words of sympathy and hugs were appreciated but I don’t know if they were truly absorbed. Little Miss was given the role of a young colonist, with lines. Mom and I shared a silent look- Daddy told every nurse in the hospital that his granddaughter was going to be returning for her second season, and would have lines- something we had no way of knowing at the time. (The scene was later cut and I never forgave that year’s production manager, who is likely being haunted by an angry farmer.)

Throughout that season and every season since, I have felt Daddy's presence so strong on the sound side, leaning against an old Oak tree, watching…one more time.

An interesting fact about, well, any theater production really- however it seems to ring truer in this particular show- is that you will never see the same show twice. The family of actors changes- some new, some returning…some returning in different roles. New Old Tom says this line quirkier than the last, this Eleanor Dare shoots a gun, this Queen is local, blond, and rides horses in her spare time…wait, what? (One can only wish.)

I’m a firm believer that God places people in our paths for specific reasons- to teach us, nurture us, learn from us, etc. In five seasons, I have watched Little Miss make some of her best friends in the sand at Waterside Theater. Unconventional, fly-across-the-country, strong, amazing friendships. From these actors, she has learned as many life-lessons as stage-lessons. She’s learned that life throws curves at us- you may start out in one role, and end up in another! She’s learned the importance of showing up. (And surprise-visits!) The talent and confidence she’s absorbed from her peers is invaluable. 

This season, she was cast (among other roles) as a dead body. She was delighted to add something new to her resume- a stage fall. Each night, she was painted green during intermission and placed behind a curtain where- when she hears her cue- she throws herself out onto the wooden stage. Once there, she has to lay perfectly still…because you know, she’s dead. (Mosquitos feasting…rain falling…perfectly still.)

“Mama, I think it makes sense for me to be in prologue…since I’m a dead body,” she told me, a few rehearsals in. (During prologue, spirits of the lost colonist appear behind the narrator.)

“That’s a great idea! Why don’t you mention it?” I encouraged.

Before I knew it, Little Miss’s twelve-year-old-self had shared her vision with her director- Ira David Wood, III. (Who is extremely-talented, and thankfully, humble.) He approved her request to be the first child-addition in the prologue.

A blink of an eye and some 70+ shows later, the cast of the 82nd season walked its final march. (The actual final show was cancelled due to a lightning storm that seemed to hover directly over the theater.) All the sweat and exhaustion of the summer faded in the moments we heard the announcement…one more time.

Little Miss hugged her cast-mates and shared tears. I watched as the adults were equally as sad as she, to say goodbye. 

As we walked in the rain to the parking lot, we were joined by our favorite narrator. He is one of those friends who is now family- one of those friends who just shows up, sharing encouragement, advice, and sarcasm. (And on Little Miss’s first ever audition, joined her onstage because she had an unexpected moment of stage-fright.) As the path ended, we said our good-byes, which since we all live here, was not as dreary as the weather.

“Love you!!” Little Miss said to him.

I started to cry. Little Miss only says those words if she feels it in her heart and equally, feels it from the other party.

We got in the truck and I tried my best to get my shit together. Little Miss was oblivious to the rain shower flying out of my eyeballs.

“He doesn’t look like Grandad…or sound like him. But…he is always proud of me…and it makes me want to make him proud, like grandad,” she said, looking out the window, almost talking to herself.

As we drove away from our 5th season…I thanked God for the paths he crossed with ours, for popcorn dinners that allowed me to watch one more time and for an unconventional closing night that gave us a few extra moments with our people

Thank you, The Lost Colony…you will be remembered.