The banquet hall dazzled with gold lanterns and flickering tealight candles.  Before me stood  everyone who ever mattered.  Some gave small  waves of greetings, while others smirked with pride and sympathy.

As I walked down the aisle, I nod.  My lips curled in an unsure smile. Each step marked my way to new territory.  A sense  of freedom like Moses and the Red Sea.

It felt funny.  Kind of like someone on the ascend  of laughing gas – part euphoric, part desensitized.  I knew this day would come. Never knew who  would be on the journey. Fortunately, I’m the lucky one.

Just like 1968, I appeared at the end of the aisle.  Him on the right.  Me on the left.  Only difference today,  his image loomed from a wooden frame.  The mahogany urn, containing his remains, sat on a pedestal nearby surrounded by more candles. Oh  the symbolism.

A tear slid down my cheek which I wiped away  quickly. No sense in getting everyone in a tizzy,  worrying about my welfare or giving pity.

I took my place behind a clear, plastic podium. I  felt naked.  Speaking in front of people was never my thing.  That belonged to Harold.  He’s dead now.

I closed my eyes wishing for a thick wooden lectern of yesteryear. I’m sure most think I’m stopping to  pray.  Why am I not praying? Could it be because my prayer was finally answered?

Air left my nostrils, emptying my chest and releasing the remainder of my heavy load. I open my mouth, but none of the words planned escape.

“Today I celebrate my pardon. My release from a  prisoner’s hell.”

Eyes widened as loud gasps departed the open mouths  of friends and family.  My son and his self-entitled wife rush to my sides like two prison guards ready to take me away.

He covered the mic before speaking through gritted teeth, “Mom! What are you doing? This is Dad’s memorial!”

“And this is the memory I have of him.”

I slapped his hand away from the mic, dismissing  him and his bobble-headed companion to their seats.

“Let me explain. Or as the younger generation says,  speak my truth.”

I inhaled.  Not for need of air, but to build courage to continue.

“Harold and I were married for fifty years.  Fifty!  That’s an achievement in the eyes of most.  But fifty years of what?  There was no love. There was no commitment.  No respect!”

I grabbed the podium sides for balance.

“That man belittled me at every turn under the  guise of a joke.  He handled the finances, made all the decisions, while treating me like hired help.  In the eyes of everyone he seemed like a great husband, devoted father, and a pillar of the community.  It was ALL lies. Not only did he verbally abuse me, but  he’d hit me too if I said or did anything that  seemed to oppose him. Or just because. I wasn’t  away at ‘retreats’.  I was locked away in the attic.  Told to stay there until I ‘behaved’.  No food. No water.  For days on end.”

I looked over at my son’s tear-stained face.  I wanted to stop.  In my heart.  For his sake at least.  But my lips and resolve wouldn’t let me.

“I was so hungry. I’d eat the accumulation of dust and dead bugs. One time, I lucked up and found a rat. Never in a million years would I have touched or eaten such a filthy creature. But I wanted to survive.  I had to survive.”

I refocused on the crowd.

“Why do you think I lost all that weight?  Why do you think I have this limp?  The cuts on my arms?  Oh, and this one above my lip.  There was no ‘hiking accident’ or ‘fat camp’.   The real accident…I met this man and married him.”

A whimper left my mouth. I pointed to the urn.

“I can barely see out of my right eye because of him.”

I paused and lowered my head. Shame conflicted with my courage.

“Why did I stay?  Why didn’t I tell anyone? I did… to both. Each time he found me and the beatings worsened.  I told Mama who said, ‘I needed to do better and it would stop’.  My  sister was no Macy’s Day Parade. ‘Wives are  supposed to obey their husbands and serve them’.  What was I!  A dog?  What about husbands loving their wives?  Ain’t that what the good Book says?”

A few guests nodded in agreement.

“What about the many affairs Harold had? And children he aborted to save his image. The hush money stolen from the company till, excused away as an employee with sticky fingers. Bob Myer was fired behind that. And all the while, the  money went to help Harold sin and then cover it up.”

I raised my hands in pretend surrender.

“You didn’t come to hear all of this. I know.”

I returned my hands to the podium.

“But I’m truly done. I’m free! Fifty freakin’ years. Fifty!”

My shoulders lowered. Calm and relief filled my soul.  But one inkling of rage just wouldn’t leave.

My legs see-sawed towards Harold’s portrait and urn.  I swatted at both, knocking them to the floor.

“Now get up and clean yourself off!”

I stood there shaking. Actually believing his  ashes would reform to a human-like being.

My son somberly walked over and escorted  me from the banquet hall. I held my head high, knowing that on this next side of life, I’d live in freedom.


Build Your #Brand and Grow Your Audience: Our Best #Advice

We all have dreams we’d love to see become a reality.  And the plan for the new year may be to  break out big.  But how can we be successful if no one knows us or what we’re offering?

These tips by Krista Stevens may be the kickstart to building a brand that the masses will recognize and want.

Discover WordPress

Whether you want personal or financial freedom or you started your labor of love to scratch a creative itch, you did it: you started your own business. Now it’s time to build your brand and grow your audience (and customer base!) with your business website.

Here’s a roundup of our best advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want their site to stand out from the crowd.

Branding ABCs: Simple But Striking Typographical Logos

You don’t need to hire a designer or spend a lot of money to make a positive first impression with your logo. This post offers excellent examples of memorable logos that use initials in creative ways and tips on how to make your mark.

Look for fonts with strong shapes, or try your hand at a drawing of your own. Every font has a broad personality like “simple” or “fun” or “sophisticated,” and more unusual…

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#Christmas Nostalgia: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Wow! Can’t believed 2 years have past since originally writing this post. It brought back so many great memories that I wanted to share them again. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays! See you in 2019.

Melanie V. Logan

Christmas is one of those holidays that brings love and good cheer.  It’s also one that triggers memories from childhood or moments with loved ones.  So I’m sharing a couple that crossed my mind this season. Enjoy!

Nativity in a One Light Town
In a small Virginia town, where the only traffic light’s hailed as a major fascination, one family dared to be different at Christmas. That family, led by a pastor and his wife, chose to share the true meaning of the holiday with everyone who passed their home.

Helping with this endeavor, the couple’s four-year-old placed straw in and around the manger for the plastic baby Jesus to rest while the ten-year-old wiggled Jesus’ synthetic parents into their hovering poses. The pastor secured the makeshift barn as his wife painted final touches on the wooden cutout animals.  He’d string a row of colorful lights along the porch awning…

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Great #Books to Curl Up and #Read

What better way to enjoy the downtime of the holiday season than to curl up with a book or sink under the covers with a movie.  These are 7 books and movies recommended by Writer’s Relief.

Have you read any of these?  What are your favorite books to read in the wintertime?