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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Location: United States

Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Without Hope There Is No Life - Week 5 Idol Entry

Without Hope There Is No Life
by Joanne D. Kiggins

I sit exhausted staring at the full moon smiling down at me through the window of the room that was mine as a child. I feel like that child again; gently tiptoeing around all the old familiar creaks in the floor so Mom won’t hear me. The days are full of nurses, therapy, medicines, inhalers, cooking, cleaning, loud television shows and repeated conversations about my mom’s childhood and mine. It's only in the late night hours after she’s in bed and quiet early morning before she’s awake when I can do what I love most—write.

Writing has never been difficult for me. Until now. Now, it’s difficult to concentrate. I find myself reminiscing; thinking how I tried so hard to get my first manuscript published so my parents could see my name on a book. Getting my book published was never about the money and my parents have seen my name in print numerous times. It was about seeing the glint in my dad’s eye when I’d done something to make him proud. A glint that always beamed, “That’s my daughter.” It was about seeing the smile on my mom’s face and feeling her arms wrap around me with love and pride.

I wrote the dedication first: To my parents, who have always been there for me. Thank you for giving me life.

When my dad passed away, I changed the dedication to: For my dad, who didn’t live to see it published; and for my mom, who did.

Because I knew I was running out of time, I began a final edit on my manuscript in September 2004; pushing myself to get at least five to ten pages edited a day in between trips to Mom’s house to take her meals. I didn’t begin that edit soon enough. I anticipated moving in with Mom one day, but I didn’t expect it would come as quickly as it did.

As I sit here staring at the moon smiling at me, I cry because I miss my home, my companion, my dog, and my life. Then I realized this is my life; a life centered around my parents, as theirs had been centered around me.

My name will not be on a book anytime soon and I’m fine with that. My parents won’t purchase it and I won’t see the glint in my dad’s eye or receive that warm loving hug of pride from my mom. TIME GOES ON will be in print one day, but now, life is more important.

I selfishly cherish this time with Mom, and selfishly continue to grab each spare moment to write, because I trust my parents will help celebrate my accomplishments, even if it is from up above.

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Too many hopes!

With the deadline to the Idol Entry only a day and a half away, I've been racking my brain to figure out what to write. I have far too many hopes right now floating around in my brain. Having moved in with Mom and this being a week from hell, I can't concentrate. Normally I'd be able to write a creative fiction piece on this subject of Hope, but the juices just don't seem to be flowing. So, I'll follow my heart, as I always do and post what is in my heart. I've decided to write about this past week and hope it will touch the hearts of the voters as it pulled at my heart writing it.

To read my Week 5 Idol Entry click here.

Title: Without Hope There Is No Life

I love you, Mom.

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Finally All Moved in With Mom

I've been slowly moving my things to Mom's house so I'm not living out of a suitcase and plastic bags. I've been living with her since mid-February. Much has happened since April 12. Haven't posted here since I've been moving my things into Mom's house and there is no internet there yet and haven't brought my computer to her house. Guess I'll need to get a lap top.

I took Mom to the doctors on Friday, May 13 after one full day of her having a deep congested cough. He thinks she may have bronchitis and ordered a chest x-ray and a script for antibiotics. Turns out she has chronic bronchitis and a touch of pneumonia. Supposed to call him Monday morning if she's not better.

After finishing the antibiotic Sunday, she doesn't sound any better. Monday the 16th I called the doctor and he agreed I should take her to the ER to be checked out. Chest x-ray still showed congestion, so they sent her home with another antibiotic and and inhaler.

Took her to the doctor's Thursday the 19th at 9 am. He gave her another antibiotic and set an appointment for her for Tuesday, May 24. Before we left for the appointment, she nearly passed out in the kitchen. I grabbed her just as she went down and helped her into the kitchen chair. Drove her to the doctor for her 2:30 appointment and by 6:00 pm, they decided to admit her into the Progressive Care Unit for a few days of observation. Her blood pressure was low, her sugar levels were high and she was disoriented.

I've not had much time to do anything but keep and eye on her and run back and forth to the doctor and hospital. I did manage to take an hour or so before going to the hospital to visit and I purchased a lap top to work from Mom's house. Mom was released from the hospital in the afternoon of the 26th. Had internet cable installed on the 27th.

Now we move on, day by day. Other than a cough that will linger for a bit, her bronchitis and pneumonia are gone. If only there were a pill to take to bring back her memory. It's so sad watching her roam around the house not remembering or knowing what she had the thought to do. I'm so glad I'm able to be here for her during this time.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I can't believe I'm still in the running!

Melina at Absolute Write posted the voting results on the 21st. We lost Rhush this week. She is a talented writer; I'm sorry to see her go.
Six contestants left:
Blue Texas
William Haskins

I'm just finding time to check both the winners and the theme. I'm already losing two days that I could have worked on this theme.

Jenna posted this week's theme. OMG! Hope! Another theme in which I have way too many ideas. Worse part is, I don't know if I'll make the deadline with just recently moving in with Mom and taking care of her. Here's hoping!

Congrats to our Stupendous Six for making it to week 5. Your next assignment has arrived.
This week's theme is:


In 1,400 words or fewer, give us a story that will leave us with a feeling of hope.
As usual, it may be fiction or nonfiction, poetry or short story, etc.
Deadline: Sunday, May 29th, 11:59 p.m. ET.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Nature walks and other beautiful things.

I walk back and forth to my mom's house nearly every day. It's a beautiful walk through the woods. Today, I decided to take my camera and capture a few pieces of beauty on the way.

This is the Wisteria bush in my yard. It is the first time it's bloomed since I planted it 15 years ago.

Here's the path to Mom's.

Here's the Tom turkey I ran into.

Here's the box turtle in my yard.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Idol entry posted. I'm ready to roll on something else.

I received an e-mail from my friend with a few comments and rearranged paragraphs; the same paragraphs I’d questioned. I gladly made the few changes knowing it would be a better read.

I posted my story this evening and I’m off to work on my WIP.

Read my Week 4 entry here.

Title: From One Side of the Tracks to the Other.

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From One Side of the Tracks to the Other - Week 4 Idol Entry

From One Side of the Tracks to the Other

By Joanne D. Kiggins

His seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Kennedy, told him, “You are without a doubt the dumbest kid I have ever had in my class. You will never amount to anything.” He got up from his desk and walked out the door ignoring her screams for him to come back.

Going home was no comfort. His mother was mean and domineering and when frustrated about anything she lashed out at him with a bullwhip. When he arrived home she intended to do just that, but didn’t get the chance. He gathered his clothes, cut up the bullwhip--leaving it where his mother would find it, and he left.

With swift determination, in the middle of seventh grade, at age 13, he decided to search the world and fulfill his dream to be a cowboy or, anything really, as long as he could get away from school and his miserable home life.

He went to the railroad tracks in town, climbed into a boxcar, and began his journey to worlds unknown. He stopped in various towns across the western part of the United States only long enough to work for meals and be on his way to the next town, putting miles between him and his troubled life.

Fate would have it that he ran smack into problems during his freight train jumps. He once found himself faced with a tramp who tried to molest him. He jumped from the boxcar, brushed himself off, ran beside the train, grabbed a ladder on another boxcar and climbed to the roof. For a few minutes he felt safe until he climbed inside, the crew came by, closed the hatch, and he found himself in a refrigerated car. Cramped and cold he wondered why me? Why can’t I do things right? How will I get out of this mess? Several hours later the train stopped, he was pulled out of the boxcar by the railroad police and given a beating he never forgot.

For five years he jumped train after train, traveled from town to town, worked at rodeos, farms and ranches, and cut wood to earn meals, never asking for a handout. Sheer determination kept him moving forward.

He worked in canneries, drove trucks, sold cars, and with no education he passed the exam to be an insurance agent, entered into real estate sales and became an entrepreneur in manufacturing products for the amateur (ham) radio and commercial radio market.

When I asked him what was the one thought that motivated him to continue, he answered, “I kept saying to myself why can’t I do things right? I am not stupid, I will show the world one day.”

And he did!

A number of years ago I purchased his book, From a 13 year old Hobo to an Entrepreneur, at a local library book sale. The title and book jacket intrigued me. His story was moving; one of perseverance and courage, and left an impression on my heart.

From 1935 to 1939 he hopped freight trains trying to find a better life. At the age of 17 he joined the CCC camp. He married in 1940, at age 18, and is still married to Dorothy after 64 years. He was in the infantry in Germany during World War II and received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

When Jenna announced that the “7th grade” was this week’s theme, I knew immediately whom my story would be about. But my story had to have a special touch, because he had left such an impression on me. I contacted Mr. Gracey by e-mail asking him if he’d be so kind to answer a few questions for me, then I held my breath waiting for a response. Within a few hours he answered my questions and asked for my address so he could send me an autographed copy of the 3rd edition of his book.

When asked what he’d like to say to his seventh grade teacher, Gracey said, “Mrs. Kennedy, I am sorry that I caused you lots of stress, however I feel that I could have done much better if I had better training when I first started school in the first grade. By the time I reached your class, I was a lost cause. Possibly you could have done better by understanding my problems.”

His book will be one that I retain on my bookshelf for the rest of my life and Everett L. Gracey will be in my heart for that long as well.

Everett L. Gracey’s book is now in its third printing under the title From Freight Trains to Airplanes and has been written into a movie script and picked up by a well known producer. “I am holding my breath while waiting,” he said.

Everett L. Gracey

Gracey has two other books published as well.

My 20 Years of RV Adventuresis a practical guide of what to look for when purchasing a new RV. If you’re planning to sell your home and head for the highway, Gracey’s book is a must read, full of unbelievable but true adventures and advice that will help you avoid costly mistakes.

Buying and Selling Real Estate by Owner is an absolute wonderful tool for anyone who wants to know what to look for when purchasing a home, or how to sell a home with or without a Real Estate agent.

Permission granted by Everett L. Gracey for use of excerpts and photo for this story.
Thank you, Everett.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Idol piece finished.

I spent the day writing my story about Everett L. Gracey. When I realized the slant I was taking with the story, I decided to e-mail him again and request the use of his picture. He graciously gave me permission to use any information from his web site. I completed the story, picture included, and sent it to a writer friend to look over for me. There were a few paragraph placements I wasn’t sure about.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Week 4 of Idol contest. I'm still in! Woo Hoo!

Week 4 Theme:
Okay, finalists, the next challenge has arrived!
This week, your story element is:
The 7th grade.
This can be a first-person story about you in the 7th grade, an article about 7th graders, a short story starring a 7th grader, etc.
Word count: No more than 1000 words.
Deadline: Tuesday, May 17, 11:59 ET.
Good luck!
Jenna Glatzer

As soon as I read Jenna’s post for this week’s theme I immediately thought of Everett L. Gracey’s book From a 13 year old Hobo to an Entrepreneur. I knew I would write about his leaving home in the middle of the seventh grade. But I wanted this story to be special because he’d left such an impression on my heart. I knew he’d been decorated in WW II and survived the Great Depression, but I have no idea if he is still living. So I searched the web and found his web site and an e-mail address. Knowing that this man was an entrepreneur I held my breath waiting to see if he would answer my e-mail of questions. Within a few hours, Mr. Gracey responded, not only with answers to my questions but also requesting my address so he could send me an autographed copy of the 3rd edition of his book. I don’t think I’ve been this elated in years. His story is wonderful and with his answers he made my writing about him even more thrilling. Thank you, Everett Gracey.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Voting ends tomorrow at 10 p.m.

There was a mix up in the deadline for voting, so results won’t be posted until after Sunday.

So-- the votes have been tallied, and this week we are losing...
Sorry, Pepper--your entries were consistently wonderful. I hate to see you go. Congratulations on making it this far, and good luck in all you do!

Congratulations to the rest of the finalists, and see you back here for the next round!
Blue Texas
William Haskins

Read my Week 3 entry here.
Title: Silly Man.

I can't believe I'm still in this competition!

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