The Face of a Barn

Mr. Barn, do you miss your family?

Parkinson’s has too many agonizing challenges to list right here. But when facial muscles refuse to move, a person may appear to express no emotions.

Are they insensitive? Disinterested? Uncaring? No, actually individuals who struggle with Parkinson’s tend to have strong feelings of frustration. As they long for others to see how they feel, unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease disables facial muscles to let them demonstrate emotions.

Nellita, at a time she wanted to scream, happened to drive past a barn. She thought about the time when that barn was built. A family surrounded it. Farm life depended on the loft, the hay, housing for animals, the spacious equipment storage, etc. The kids played countless adventures on all levels of their wooden family member.

But now it stood alone. The family was long gone. Only the foundation remained of the farm house. But there stood the barn.

Nellita longed for the days when she could participate in community events. She never thought she would have to retire so young. Empty, seemingly emotionless, the barn symbolized her current persona.

Then she looked at the north side of the barn. Two upper windows with a shaft running down between them. The semicircular grass covered the ground below the wide open barn doors. “It has a face!”

Her new friend related to her inability to demonstrate feelings. With a fist in the air Nellita proclaimed, “I am a person! I do feel things that Parkinson’s won’t let me show. But no illness will ever take away my dignity!”

As she looked back toward the barn she noticed one of the upper windows was half closed. “He’s winking. He understands.”

Higgins Valley Moments demonstrates family life. Times of shared laughter alternating with the anxiety and remorse daily life delivers. Come along for their journey. In Book I, I Will Stand Up Again, learn details of Nellita’s journey as well as how an entire community unites for her dignity.

The Cook: And Always will be

Nobody thought she would retire. And so she didn’t.

Lydia had been the school cook for over forty years. At the time she started, the older cook said, “I will teach you to cook. You will know everything there is to know.”

Wanda had cooked at the school for many years. She liked pleasing the students. It had become her highest reward when she would hear one of the children say, “Pasta day,” with all the delight an eight year old could declare.

The one thing she did not tell Lydia is that life happens unexpectedly. After only two months as assistant cook, the principal brought Lydia into his office. Her journey took a sudden new direction.

“I’m sorry to tell you this,” his words were gentle and remorseful.” “Wanda died her in sleep last night. Likely it was a heart attack.”

As soon as she heard the word heart attack, her own heart starting beating so loud she thought he could hear it. Ambling back to the kitchen, she cried. Then, she looked around the room. “I will do all I can to make her proud. The children deserve a cook as good as Wanda.”

Her talents did not blossom quickly. But in due time, the students declared their joy for pasta day. Now, many decades later, it was her turn. Not as a surprise event, but a planned retirement. The children were sad to see her go. But she taught her successor many details including the importance of student’s opinions.

However, Lydia still cooks, bakes cakes, and consults with the new cook when asked. But mostly, she will make anything to hear people offer statements of delight in her creations.

Stay tuned for numerous examples of Lydia’s wedding cakes and birthday baking in Higgins Valley Moments.

Retirement: the start of a new journey.

The Character Only the Reader Knows

Higgins Valley only has three thousand four hundred and six people. Well, there will be one more if the pharmacist and her husband bring their wishes into the world. But everyone knows each person who lives there.

That’s what most people think. However, secrets are real. Probably the best kept secret is in the hands of janitor.

Whenever a crisis occurs, money arrives from nowhere. Who is the one who donates so unselfishly, not to mention generously? They look into the eyes of each other and guess where the money comes from. The truth has not stepped forward. Whoever sends it always uses a means that no one can trace.

Apparently, Mr. Anonymous wants to remain unknown. But the truth is, everyone knows him.

Seemingly a content man, living in a small town, Drew came to Higgins Valley to escape the pain he had caused. Working long hours for decades, he woke up one day to find his wife and seven children had left him. Many attempts to regain a relationship with his family fell unsuccessful.

Now he works as a janitor. And he loves every minute. He does not need to work at all. But people like to tell the janitor all their sad stories. He listens. He cares. They just don’t realize how well he is hearing their needs.

Many memories in Higgins Valley moments unveil truth to the readers where the characters live obliviously.

Do not assume. . .

Frozen in Summer

Serene blue sky hovers over the multicolored waves of the lake. The green grass surround the blended beige sand of the beach. The warmth from the sun completes the setting. Summer, a season of reassurance and life.

Then a person tries to rise from their comfortable chair. But standing does not happen. After multiple attempts, the legs are straight. Now it is time to walk.

That first step needs to start. Just the right leg should step forward. It is time to start moving. Neither leg budges forward. Frozen in summer.

Parkinson’s disease has many challenges. It is simply not fair when the weather is warm and the setting is a picture of renewing splendor, one just cannot move. There are so many other symptoms to list when Parkinson’s invades people lives.

Individuals struggle to enjoy life but Parkinson’s imprisons them inside their own bodies. No matter how perfect the setting, fairness is chore. Frustration, embarrassment and anger face people daily. Sometimes, many times each day.

Learning to savor times like the scene by a lake offer a chance to appreciate moments. The warmth, the water and the waves are worth the effort to challenge freezing in summer.

Higgins Valley Moments has a lake, people, and times where learning to appreciate all they have is a way of life. . . stay tuned.

Summer. . . warmth for the tired spirit.

Personally Designed Dresses

Her friend needed her. As much as her mother refused to understand dropping out of college to care for two young children, Nellita did not see any choice. College could wait. A friend who became a sudden widow, with two small children, was a priority over her design degree.

Then as time unfolded over the next few years, Nellita thought she could work part time. But job after job came to an end. Now what?

Walking into the fabric store with less money than patterns cost, she meandered her way between the isles of material. Then the remnants caught her attention. Nellita picked up one item and then another. The prices looked more like invitations than expenses.

Who needs patterns? She had already made wedding gowns for both her close friends. Their final dresses resulted in more personal alterations than the original patterns. So why not take her newly purchased treasures and design her own pattern. Pleased with her accomplishment, she chose to let people around town know she could design and sew a dress for them unlike any item they could find in a store.

Starting out designing Easter dresses, her requests started to expand to brides with a very limited budgets. Seeing the smiles on her customers’ faces motivated her to start advertising. A business was evolving. But what to call it?

Personally Designed Dresses by Nellita quickly grew with encouragement from her friends and neighbors. Then came the day she had long awaited. Designing her own wedding gown. Unfortunately, that dress still hangs in her closet. The dress was never worn. A story for another time.

Higgins Valley Moments, a place launching many memories yet to come.

Kids: When the Baby is the Achiever. . . sort of. . .

Jere and Gretchen thought their family was complete after they adopted their son. However, Gretchen listened to her neighbors speak about wanting a baby or getting pregnant, and Jere conceded. One more adoption.

Since they had already traveled the adoption journey twice, the third time was initiated with expectations they assumed to be realistic. Then life happened.

There seemed to be as much waiting time as the first two. But this time having a family at home full of distractions, the days and weeks slipped by. Realizing they had to renew passports, among other required duties, visas were obtained with a late minute rush, as usual. So much for a simple process this time.

After they arrived in Asia, the parents in progress were informed their paper work was lost. The baby’s passport had not been approved. Of course, since they landed in the middle of a festival, all the hotels were booked full. Other than that . . .

Needless to say, eventually, little Kristin brought her new parents home. At six months old, she was the youngest of all three children at the time adoption. However, even on the flight home it was clear who was in charge.

Her young years demonstrated a zeal for learning that her two siblings could not match even if their skills were combined. She had her future planned by the age of twelve. What a treat for Gretchen and Jere to have a decisive child.

Then she graduated from high school. And her plans changed. Then changed again. Then . . .! Now they are starting to wonder if the child they chose as the final member of their family would ever choose to grow up.

Read more about the self inflicted predicaments only Kristin could find as Higgins Valley Moments continue.

Kristin with the world in hands. . .

Chapter I: The Decision, is Life a Picnic or not

Olyvia had already convinced Nellita that life can be a picnic. Or they should at least try see to if it’s true. However, right away, in chapter one, we find Nellita petrified to even fill the picnic basket.

When Parkinson’s disease stymies her efforts to accomplish simple tasks, even the ketchup bottle casts a daunting shadow on her hopes to picnic. But friends have way to offer not only assistance, but also motivation.

Lifelong friends bring ways to solve solutions for today. Beyond that, they bring back memories which prove their commitment has always been there. When she takes time recall those pictures from her past, Nellita gains incentive.

Life in Higgins Valley demonstrates the power of neighbors who genuinely care. When struggles present challenges, people have always shown they are stronger than any picnic or consequence might bring.

So, on this occasion, what does Nellita ultimately decide? Stay tuned.

Higgins Valley Moments, Book I, continues. . . .

Higgins Valley, where life can be a picnic.

BOOK I: I Will Stand Up Again

A small northern American town settled a hundred and fifty years ago with a population almost the same as it is today. Change never happens. Well, not until Book II.

What is a community of individuals striving to remain or regain independence? Higgins Valley.

Many people want to prove they can take care of themselves. Actually, they only need to demonstrate their personal skills to one individual. Themselves.

A professional seamstress designed wedding gowns for over twenty-five years. Now, Parkinson’s disease has stolen many fine motor skills. The doubt in her head adds to her struggles. She sews, but frequently has to rest. She pins fabric, but her hands shake. Her demonstration of designs she offers to brides does not exude the confidence that once flowed like silk.

The doctor known for compassionate listening, now has to hear to those around him as they offer advice he does not want. Their wishes are his safety. All he wants is the dignity that Multiple Sclerosis stole from him.

Many families have children that brought joy and stress. Some couples await children no matter how much stress comes from family life. One man grieves his family who left him.

Where is Higgins Valley? Wherever you think it is. If you need a community of friends that can reassure you that when falls happen and you can not help yourself, many are longing to assist. Rest assured that no matter what happens, you will stand up again.

Parkinson’s: Daily Challenges

Nellita was first diagnosed at about fifty years old. Eight years later, she could glace back and see symptoms that she thought were explainable.

“Are you nervous, too?” the mother of a bride had inquired. Nellita had designed and assembled bridal gowns for over thirty years. Why would anyone think she was nervous?

“My mom can help you with those pins!” Brides exhibit anxiety in many ways. She could tell stories that would fill a library. But really, does a professional seamstress need help with pins?

Then came the day when she herself noticed that her hand would not stop shaking. “What is going on?”

When her doctor mentioned the typical tremor of her right hand that Parkinson’s causes, her world stood still. Would she be able to keep her business? What about the customers she had already promised? What would happen to her if she could no longer sew?

Being single all her life, she had spent many sleepless nights wishing and dreaming for a husband of her own. Now more than ever she wanted a partner to depend on if she could no longer support herself financially.

Typically, Nellita found it challenging to admit her true feelings. Discouragement encompassed the heartfelt desire to have a partner now. She longed for loving support to face the emotional wall that the world of Parkinson’s had just painted in front of her.

Blossoms can only open one day at a time.

Higgins Valley Moments

Three girls, now almost six decades after they started their journey together, share moments in their home town, Higgins Valley. Each with family issues. Life has happened and continues to provide challenges.

Nellita, Olyvia and Gretchen, although their paths have been very different, are still as connected as lifelong friends can be. Actually, not in spite of their obstacles, but because of life choices, the three are more supportive of each other with every passing day.

Sometimes what sounds like encouragement, feels like intimidation. So it appears in Book I: I Will Stand Up Again. We begin by learning whether or not . . . Life is Like a Picnic?

Journey with me as we learn more details, circumstances, and a variety of unique characters they share “Higgins Valley Moments.”