Sunday, July 14, 2019


Ruth did not remember how she got to the farm.  She did remember crying in her father’s arms.  When Pop had them join Mom, Ruth began to explain the reason for the blood on her clothes.  She told them about her anger and how she had lost her job.  They talked for hours.  She told them everything.  Mom’s solution for every problem seemed to be food.  She insisted Ruth should have something to eat. 

At first, Ruth told her mother that she was not hungry, but when Mom’s macaroni and cheese was placed in front of her, she began to eat.  After her meal, Mom had her move to the living room sofa and suggested that she try to relax by listening to some soothing music. Ruth was able to relax, but whether it was the music or the roller coaster of emotions, she fell into a sound sleep. 

When Mom looked in to check on Ruth, she was happy to see that Ruth was softly snoring.  Mom went to the linen closet, took out a small blanket and gently covered Ruth.

Ruth awoke the next morning to the smell of her mother’s applesauce muffins and her favorite brand of coffee.  Ruth rubbed the sleep from her eyes and ambled to the kitchen.  On the table were Mom’s homemade grape jelly, a tray of hot muffins, and a cup of coffee already poured and ready for her.  She immersed herself in the old, familiar breakfast routine and indulged in the comfort of old habits.  After breakfast she began to cry.

Ruth knew she owed several months of rent on her new apartment.  She had hoped to pay all that she owed this month, but her anger destroyed that option.  She realized that she probably would be receiving an eviction notice soon. 
Ruth wondered, should I ask my parents if I may move back home?  The thought seemed pleasant.

“I hope you have not eaten all of those muffins.” Pop teased as he reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a cup of coffee.  This coffee had also been his favorite brand.  Pop had been thinking and felt that Ruth needed comfort.  He also wanted his favorite daughter to come home to rest.  So, before Ruth could say a word, Pop told her that he wanted her to move back home.  Ruth again started to cry, but these were tears of joy. 

That afternoon Ruth moved everything from the apartment to the farm.  Her last stop was at the post office to pick up her mail and fill out a change-of-address card.  When the post office clerk said she had a registered letter, Ruth expected it would be a letter from her landlord. 

Instead, it was a notification to appear in court for an assault charge.  Ruth had heard that Toni had suffered a broken nose and a gash on her head.  Ruth worried as she signed for the letter.  She decided just to be grateful for being able to live in her parents’ home. She’d worry about the court situation tomorrow.

 Ruth was expected to help with the farm chores.  She had always enjoyed working on the farm and was delighted to be able once again to help her parents.  Mom’s garden produced a large variety of vegetables.  Mom would pack bushel baskets of tomatoes, peppers, or zucchini, and Pop would deliver these bushels to various grocery stores and even the Mom and Pop stores.  In the past, Ruth had always helped Pop with this process.  It felt like old times when Pop asked her to join him again.  The grocery stops were the same as she remembered.

One day when they arrived back home, Pop and Ruth headed for the kitchen.  As Ruth was getting a glass of water, Pop noticed that Mom seemed to be very quiet.  She was having a problem trying to hide the fact that she was upset.  Pop put his arm around her and gently asked, “What’s wrong?” 

Mom tried to ignore Pop’s concern and said, “My mood is not important.” 

Pop would not accept this answer and said, “Maybe so, but you are important to me!”  

He insisted that he wanted to know what was bothering her.

Mom explained, “I keep thinking that someone is watching me.  I thought I caught a glimpse of a stranger behind a tree.” Mom wanted to convince Pop that she was okay, so she added, “It’s probably nothing.” She kept repeating that she had been tired and probably had been imagining things. 

Ruth got an uneasy feeling about Mom.  Why would a strange man watch her?   She had never known Mom to be scared.  Ruth was not sure if she should be concerned about her mother or just believe that it was all due to being tired.

That night as Ruth was getting ready for bed, she picked up the court notification letter and re-read it for the tenth time.  Tomorrow was the appearance date.  She never did call a lawyer to represent her.  She couldn’t afford a lawyer, so she thought, why bother?

She had not shared this letter’s information with her parents.  She was just too ashamed to admit that her bad behavior resulted in hospitalization for her boss.  Would the judge put me into jail? she wondered as she climbed into bed.  She thought about praying for mercy but knew she did not deserve kindness after what she had done.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Donald had sold his parents’ house and had hired a very good detective.  The detective’s search was successful.  He found the name and location of Donald’s birth mom.  Her name was Valerie and she lived in upper New York State.  Giving him a map of Valerie’s location and a packet with the rest of the information, he wished Donald good luck. 

Donald studied the map and then decided that he was going to upper New York State the next day.

He got up early, and after a quick breakfast he began to travel north.  It was late in the day when he arrived near his destination.  He rented a room at a local motel.  He decided to take a shower and get a good night’s sleep.  He would check out the area in the morning. 

The next morning was sunny but not too warm.  He had seen a diner near the motel the night before, so he decided to walk over and get some breakfast.  When he entered the diner, he took a seat at the first booth.  The waitress saw him and brought a menu.  

“Would you like some coffee while you’re looking at the menu?” she asked. 

“Yes, thank you,” Donald replied.  After giving a quick look at the menu, he asked the waitress, “Do you have any specials?”  The waitress pointed to the board above the register.  Donald smiled and said, “I’ll take your handyman’s special.”    Then he asked the waitress another question.  “I just moved to town and am looking for work.  Do you have any suggestions?” 

“Our local newspaper may have something for you.  I’ll get our copy for you to look at.”  When the waitress handed him the newspaper, she topped off his coffee and then went to greet a couple that had just entered the diner.

Donald looked at the want ads as he ate his breakfast.  He jotted a few job locations and their phone numbers on his napkin.  Paying his bill, he returned to the motel to get his car and drove around the local area.  He found Valerie’s house.  Seeing her in the yard, he decided to park his car farther down the road in a location that could not be seen from Valerie’s home. 

He slowly walked back to take a closer look at his birth mom.  He managed to stay out of sight and watched Valerie plant flowers near the front porch.  He saw that she was pretty and that her hair was long and white.  He heard her singing as she worked in the garden.  There were several cats in the yard, and they seemed to like being near Valerie. 

Donald’s mixed emotions turned to a bitter anger as he felt the pain of not being wanted as a baby.  I was just unwanted garbage! he thought as he quickly returned to his car. 

At the car, he pulled out the notes he had taken when he was looking at the newspaper want ads.  He pulled out the one describing a need for a driver at the Animal Control 

Headquarters and decided to apply for this job. 

When he got to the Animal Control Headquarters, he filled out an application, sat down and waited for his interview.  A short time later, Mike called Donald into his office. 

“Please have a seat.” Mike said.  “I see by your application that you have lived in New York City. What brings you to Upstate New York?”

Donald replied, “My friends had mentioned a lot of good things about the Adirondacks, so I decided to see this area for myself.”

Mike pondered for a moment, and then decided that if this man had driven around in New York City, then he would be a good driver here.  “The job is yours if you want it.”  When Donald nodded his head yes, Mike said, “You can start 9:00 a.m. tomorrow” They shook hands and parted.
Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

GOOD GRIEF, "Eat Something Every Day"

Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.
                 Jean-Pierre Barral, DO. and Author

     The appetite is almost non-existent during this time — hunger is not felt. Food has lost its taste and sometimes it’s hard to get it down.

Your friends and loved ones are telling you that you must eat something to keep up your strength, or they are just bringing food to your door until there is no place left for storage. Food is necessary for the body to function, for you to think, for you to move, for you to walk forward on the road to recovery!

     I know from experience that food was the last thing on my mind at a time like this. When my husband had his stroke, I lost ten pounds in two weeks, as I worked a full-time job and tried to be at the hospital with him as much as possible. Some people might not consider a stroke to be a loss. But those who know about strokes know that a person is never really the same person they were before. You feel that loss. There may occur a small difference in speech, facial droop, memory, coordination or significant differences impacting all areas of the stroke victim’s life.

     When my husband was in the hospital, I got up early every morning and went to the hospital to check on him and assist with morning care, went to work, went home, went back to hospital to check on him, and then went home to TRY to sleep. As you can see, there is no mention of when I stopped to eat. Of course, I ate something, but if you asked what, I could not tell you.

The loss of a loved one, my husband, was even more devastating and could have had a very serious effect on me physiologically if my daughter had not lived with me. She was the one who made sure we both ate something every day!

     I recommend just starting with small portions to eat and do it slowly, as crying can cause you to breathe incorrectly and inhale food making you cough and choke — it happens.

Also, it is helpful to try to eat with another person. It’s hard to eat alone, and you will just let the opportunity pass by. Why? Because you are not interested in eating, food is tasteless, it is hard to swallow, and you just want to curl up and hide until — you don’t know what. This is easy to do when you are alone — because no one is watching. Who will tell on you?

My daughter cooked meals, so we would both eat. And believe me when I say this, she is a great cook, and I love her food! Also, have foods around that you like…they will be more appealing and easier to get down.

     Another thing that helps is to make time to go out to eat together with a friend at a favorite restaurant, providing a change of scenery, getting you out of the house and into an environment that may distract you from your grief for a while and provide companionship. However, there were favorite restaurants that my daughter and I avoided…we were not ready to experience the emotional pain of being there without my husband yet. Slowly, we began to revisit some of the local restaurants that had memories attached to them as we became able to handle the emotions.

There also may be those who deal with stress by indulging in food — eating to ease the emotional pain. This behavior can be just as destructive to the physical body as not eating. Overeating leads to weight gain, yet another stressor to add to your list. If you deal with your loss with overeating, you will one day look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what happened. Your self-esteem takes a hit and you can become depressed.

     Either eating too much or too little has an impact on the mind, body, and spirit. My advice is to make the effort to take care of yourself, often severely neglected during times of stress. Ask a friend or family member for help to plan and support your efforts to follow through.


·       I enjoy being in my body, and I nourish it each day.
·       I honor my body with nutritious foods for my health and wellbeing.
·       Today, I welcome health and happiness.

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

GOOD GRIEF, "To Do List Sample"

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation

This can be started before a loss and helps to get things organized. OR, it can be done after the loss. Whichever you choose, you will find it a big help. Personalize your own list.

Type Expense: Company
Frequency of payment
Whose Name it’s in
Account Number 
Phone number of Company
Verizon: triple play
John Doe

Mortgage Company
Monthly - auto debit from checking acct.
John and Mary Doe              

Water Bill

Homeowners Assn.
Monthly - auto debit checking

Master Card
Each has

Visa Card
Each has

Township Taxes
Yearly (begin of year)

County Taxes
Yearly (begin of year)

School Taxes
Yearly (July)

Head Tax (individual)
Yearly (begin of year)

Car Insurance
Bi-yearly (Apr.;  Oct.)

Health Insurance
Each has own

Quarterly Taxes State
Joint or both


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Book Review, BORN THAT WAY: Genes, Behavior, Personality

Born That Way: Genes, Behavior, Personality

Five decades or so ago, psychology students were being taught that humans were born without instincts, unlike other animals, and that their minds were blank slates, to be written on by their parents and their general environments. This view was as uniformly held as have been other intellectual fads, take your pick.

William Wright, a journalist, has written an analytical history of the period, up to the late 1990s, during which the gospel according to the environmentalists was challenged by biologists and psychologists who found strong evidence for the influence of genes on a person's abilities and attitudes. Animal breeders had known the strength of genetic endowments for centuries, but for this to be accepted as true for humans awaited the research on identical twins reared apart at the University of Minnesota, going well beyond similar studies done decades earlier in Europe.

Professionals with personal and political stakes worked feverishly to suppress the genetic interpretation of variation among individual humans and among groups, especially when it came to intelligence and race and ethnicity.  The personal and political ramifications are major;  the opportunity for encouraging dangerous interventions is scary.

Wright makes the case that important aspects of ability and tastes are roughly equally influenced by our genes and the non-genetic factors called "environment," by nature and nurture.  We should be aware that some of our impulses are not the results of our rational analysis, making personal responsibility hard to gauge. We can celebrate our strengths and can be alert to our shortcomings and should extend a more generous evaluation of others by recognizing the difficulty of overcoming some of our pre-wired, hard-wired inclinations.

Not all our human deficiencies are likely to be susceptible to improvement of the environment in which we are reared and reach maturity.  Wright cites the wisdom of the adage that says that parents with only one child think their child's development was determined by the environment they created, but parents with more than one child attribute the variation among them to the powerful randomness of genetic inheritance.

I'd give the book five stars if it had results of research more recent than the late 1990s. Still well worth reading, it has somewhat changed my view of myself and others.

Beware the competitive genes that evolution has endowed you with!


GOOD GRIEF, "Funeral Choices"

Keep in mind that these are very personal choices, some of which may have been preplanned, while others are determined on an emergent basis. It is important to have a knowledgeable family or friend go with you when you meet with the funeral director. I have listed some of the choices you will be faced with during this time. The funeral parlor I used had a nice check-off list that made it clear what services were available.

Choice of funeral home
Family history of use
Recommended by others
Type of funeral
Traditional with coffin and cemetery burial
Cremation with urn or scatter ashes
Home Funeral; Other
Type of service
Private viewing
Clergy involvement           
Gravesite service
Memorial service
Burial container
Coffin style
and cost
Urn style and cost
Burial site           
Local cemetery: ground or mausoleum
Military cemetery
Urn; body donated to science; other
Flowers (often donated afterward)
Funeral parlor
None; donation to charity in lieu of flowers
What to include
How to disseminate
book
On podium
On table
Who keeps
Prayer cards
Choice of card
Number of cards
Where to display

Speaker tributes
Work associates
Music or singing
Who will sing
Who picks music
What kind of music
Photo tribute or video
Who to create
Who to remove
Communication regarding events 
Who’s in charge
Who needs to know
Method to disseminate information
Post-event gathering
Who coordinates
Where to occur
Catered or closed dishes brought
Other costs
Number of attendants from funeral parlor
Accessories used by funeral parlor
Hidden costs

                                       .Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD