So here it is:

© 2001 by Tonya Ruanto. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

ISBN: 0-75964-476-4

1stBooks – rev. 07/9/01

I would like to dedicate this book to the people who make it ok to be me every day, my husband Bryan and my children Lance and Skyler. I am glad that you are with me on my journey. Thanks for loving who I am even when I can’t.

I would also like to dedicate this book to my original family: my parents, stepparents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Never in all my life did you ever require that I be any different than I am. I think that this one gift that you gave me was the greatest reason that I have been able to complete such a book.

The world is coming alive. We are waking up. We are about to find ourselves involved in a mass awakening, a broadening of the mind. There are several examples of past awakenings:

• At one time we thought it was acceptable to enslave another human being.

• Once we thought that women were of less value than men.

• There was a time that we all believed that to be a parent meant that we were all powerful and our children’s opinions did not matter. We believed it was acceptable to hit them to teach them to do better.

• We believed that the color of a person made the man. We could spit on the soul of humanity if they had been infected at birth with the wrong skin color. It was your place in life to be oppressed if you dared to be here and be the wrong color.

• Most everyone at one time or other believed that it was ok to judge someone who is sexually attracted to the same sex. I do not fool myself. I know that there are people who have never stopped thinking the way I just described but imagine the ground we gain every time one person wakes up to unconditional love.

We are making great strides in humanity. Let us not stop in this evolution. I believe that soon people will begin to learn what it would take to make us all truly happy and that is to love without ego. I believe if you want to be truly happy you should, know yourself, love yourself, learn not to judge, have real compassion for others and understand you create all negativity in your head. These are the secrets. If you can follow these everything else is Kool-Aid.

This is the life story of a young woman coming to terms with the world outside of her upbringing. Don’t look for precision in the words. I’m just a simple girl. I could no more make myself say whom (it’s all who to me) than set myself on fire. This is the way I talk, so don’t expect it to be grammatically correct. This book remains now and forever largely unedited and unproofed. So, if you encounter an error get by the best way you can. Consider this your advance warning. If you are an English teacher you may find that at times you will feel a strong urge to pull out that red pen but in doing so you will miss the point of this book. In the end, if you can resist correction, you might learn that perfection as you know it is not all that important. Hopefully, with a new understanding of perfection you will also understand my purpose in refusing to change the way that I speak.

The names of most of the people in this book are not real but the people are.

The Making of a God

Part I

He, who knows what he is told, must know a lot of things that are not so.

- Arthur Guiterman

Chapter 1

My name is Janet. We came together years ago when she was still young. I don’t rightly remember just how we began but it seems to me that she was at a low point in her life and just needed a friend. It is hard to say if I noticed her first or if it was the other way around but I feel safe to say that I knew her long before she ever noticed me. It really doesn’t matter because we will never be apart again. We have become a part of one another in a way that almost no separation exists. I am the other half of her whole and that is why I can tell you all there is to know about her.

October 7th was the day she was born. The year was 1966, less than two years before Martin Luther King Jr. died standing on the balcony of the Loraine Motel in Memphis. It was a time of hate and destruction. Riots were everywhere. People were dying just so we could all live. She stood to be a benefactor of those many deaths. Those deaths brought us all closer to freedom. If any person (no matter the color) is being oppressed then so are the people who choose to love them. If you wanted to have lunch with a black person in a restaurant and you were white you would have witnessed the same prejudice that they were subjected to. White could not stand with black if blacks were not able to stand without being shoved back down. A great man died trying to give us all the freedom to love whoever we chose. This story is not about civil rights. Don’t get me wrong but it is about loving each other with full acceptance of who and what we are. The Civil Rights movement went on then but she wasn’t aware of it until years later.

She didn’t decide to be born on the day that she came into this world. Frankly, I don’t think she even cared to see what awaited her after nine long months of preparation. I think that the fighting that went on between her parents discouraged her from wanting to be outside of her mother where the walls of warmth and gentleness could no longer protect her. The doctor induced labor on her mother and then the decision was out of her hands. She had no choice but to come out. The pains came and she was pushed out faster than she could imagine. She was not ready but neither was the doctor. The doctor was trying to make an incision to prepare her mother for crowning and he made a cut on the top of the head next to her soft spot. Just as she had begun to stretch her arms and legs out into the capital city of South Carolina they snapped her up and rushed her to get her first stitches. Her first view of the world was obviously not a peaceful one.

Her mother liked to tell how she almost did not make it. “If that cut had been just a little farther over, it might have killed you.” She was alive just the same, with all her fingers and toes and now with a couple of stitches.

Hannah was not her given name. She always thought the name they gave her at birth was lifeless and had no romance. She thought it was plain. She was talking with her mother Gloria once about baby names. Gloria told her that when she was pregnant with her, her Great-Granny Stella begged her to name her Hannah if she was a girl. Hannah was Stella’s favorite name. Gloria said that she had always regretted not giving into the request from Great-Granny but there was nothing that could be done about it now.

Hannah always wondered why she had been stuck with such a boring name when there had been an opportunity to have one that was beautiful. She sometimes amused herself by thinking how things might have been easier if she had gotten the name, she knew should have been hers. So, for the sake of all that she is and all she would aspire to be it’s not too late for us to call her Hannah. So, for the purpose of writing this book we will refer to her as Hannah.

Chapter 2

William was Hannah’s father. William wasn’t sure that he wanted another child. It had just been fourteen months since he had his first child, Will, named after him, who was named after an uncle, who was named after, who knows but he was named after someone because that was how it was done in the South.

William felt deceived about Gloria’s pregnancy with Hannah because he was never consulted in the decision about having another child. Things were not good in the marriage and like many women, Gloria made the mistake of thinking another child might make it better. It didn’t, it just made William resentful of Hannah. Nonetheless Gloria and William had a new baby girl. Little did they know then that she had been born with the stubbornness of ten mules.

Now William, he grew up in a family that never said I love you. For him to say I love you, well, it had to be mumbled quickly. It kind of sounded like “Iuyew.” You couldn’t blink for a second or you’d miss it.

In his time of growing up the man ruled supreme. They stood as giants with all the power, expected to trample anyone who got in the way. Men at that time were taught never to cry or show emotion. Even if they had been allowed to cry, they would have never been able to find a lap large enough to rest their head on since they had become to embody something larger than the human form. Women were lucky in this area. When they had no words to express their feelings, they could turn their lost words into tears that they could let fall freely down their cheeks for the entire world to see. Men had to stand tall and capture the respect of all, while women could cower in the corner and become as small as they liked. It must have been overwhelming to never have the option to run because you were expected to be all powerful to keep a firm grip on your only reward, the devotion of a society built to elevate the male species. To have had the opportunity to stand down and feel emotions would have been invaluable but it was prohibited. It must be a lot simpler now that a man can share his burdens with others and let go of his power if he should feel the need.

This was William’s era and did he ever stand the model of a man of these times.

His family was very strict and of Methodist persuasion. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world but this is some serious business here in the South, this church stuff. You don’t want to mess up or you could be on your knees a lifetime appealing to The Great God Almighty to be lenient in making you pay for your sins while living in your earthly form, not to mention after death. Let us please not mention after death.

He wasn’t much as a father but you just do what you know and love was not one of his stronger suits. Love wasn’t even a suit that got out of the closet at his house when he was growing up, so if he wore it occasionally that was good.

Hannah’s mother was beautiful. Gloria was a very talented individual. She could pick up a pencil and draw most anything she saw. Her artistic ability landed her a chance to go to art school but she never went. She was also athletic and she loved to play softball in her youth. Gloria grew up and became a woman who soon forgot how to play in favor of being a wife and there was no fun after that.

She dreamed of being a nurse but she let go of this dream to become everything to everyone but herself. There was no self anymore. From this point on her life would be given to serve others but not because this made her happy. It was because at the time she grew up women weren’t allowed to have a self. Most women her age would not even know what I mean by this. The world appointed her to a post and she was duty bound. She forgot every interest she ever had and she just raised her children and played wife. There is no point in dreaming if you will never get what you dream of and there was no evidence, she could see that said her dreams would come true.

I am so glad that I live in a time where women can have it all. There was a time when it was different. When Gloria had her children, things were different. Having a family meant never being you again. First, they lost their name and then they lost their soul. Their life was never going to be theirs again. It must have been very painful to see the very people who should be filling you up just sucking the life right out of you. But, how was a woman to know that she had value when the world said that her station in life was to be the sole caretaker of the family. These women must have hated their families deep down when they were pushed to feel used up by them. If anyone had told these women that they could have been a mother and had it all too, then maybe we would have all had mothers who did not feel contempt just at the sight of us.

I think that we all owe these women an apology not to mention the debt owed to them for the lifeblood that we bled from them.

It must have seemed like such a small world to know that the only choice a woman had was that she would be born with the burden of responsibility to care for every human creature on earth. They had to be wife and mother to all but no one was going to be that to them. The people who once mothered them were now philosophically dead because once the children were gone, their primary source of life, then there was nothing left of them since who they were had long disappeared the moment, they became mother. The men who married these women had left them emotionally years ago because they had grown tired of being with someone who no longer had life left in them.

Where did it begin that women had to stop being to have a family? I think it is probably the same around the world but I know here in the South it started the minute our religion told us to submit to our husbands and learn in silence. The men who wrote this must have felt such power, holding their dick in one hand and the soul of a woman in the other. I wonder if they had any idea that they were about to tilt the world to their side for thousands of years. I cannot believe that they had any idea of the impact that their written words would have on the rest of the world and how far into the future that these words would be carried. I also wonder if they knew that tilt was going to be the reason that they grew up in homes with an emotionally distant mother who would make them grow up to question their own worth for eternity. Men say they don’t understand women and they are the very persons that made a woman unable to understand her own self. How it must have felt to dare to want more.

It is hard to imagine how much better off we would have been if someone had put down the plume before stepping over the line in writing such destructive words. This has hurt us all. It is time for this rein of destruction to end. Its time has long passed. Now it is time to move on where we all heal. It is not “male bashing day” men were wounded by this as much as women but now the sun is up after thousands of years of darkness. There is beauty all around us because we have finally returned home. That home is a place where we are all equal and free to all shine together.

Gloria had seen the evidence of this all around her as she grew up. How was she to know that it could be different for her? The only models she had were women who were wife and mother and nothing else.

Gloria was from a middle-class family that wasn’t always middle class. Holton was her father and he grew up in a moon shining family. He returned from the service when she was a baby and went back to his job of running moonshine. Everyone called him “Mista’ Slim”. Revenuers chased him many times but they never caught him because of his long slender legs and that’s where he got his name.

Holton had a beautiful wife. Her name was Ruth Ann and with her he had two children, Gloria and Nate. Raising a family became increasingly difficult with moon shining money. You know as well as I do that if the money you make is ill-gotten it runs out of your hands faster than it goes in. So, “Mista’ Slim” decided that he had to go back to being plain old “Holton”. He got a real job in a factory. On the first day they showed him how to spread cloth. The manager told him to finish the spread at a certain number of yards and then to let him know when he got finished. He also made it very plain that the spread had to be edged perfectly. This meant if a ruler was placed along the side of the spread each ply of cloth had to touch the ruler. This is hard even for a veteran cloth spreader. He explained that if Holton screwed it up, he would have to take up the spread and do it over. The plant manager did not expect him to finish that day and he was surprised when Holton sought him out to inspect his finished work on the same day. He could not believe his eyes. It was perfect. Well, the next day he gave Holton another task and he outdid himself again. He had an art of excelling in every task given to him and this was the early making of a man that would later be one of the most sought-after apparel manufacturing managers in the states.

Hannah thought that Holton looked like one of those gorgeous men picked to play vampires in the movies. He never aged. He still looked like the man she had called Granddaddy all her life.

Ruth Ann was born to a severely impoverished family and because of this she wasn’t allowed to attend but a few years of school. As a result of her limited schooling she could barely make out a few words when she attempted to read. Hannah grew up knowing that Ruth Ann couldn’t read but the thought of this fell away when she listened to her Grandmother’s words of wisdom. Hannah grew up and she often heard herself speaking words that she knew to be her Grandmothers. Hannah soon understood that even though Ruth Ann couldn’t read, she was still one of the most intelligent individuals she had ever met. No matter where Ruth Ann was Hannah could always hear her words whispering in the back of her mind. If Holton was not the most perfect person ever to grace this earth then Ruth Ann surely was.

Hannah spent a lot of time with Holton and Ruth Ann growing up. Being with them was the only time that Hannah knew for sure that she was loved. These were two people who could hug and say I love you with just the expression on their face. She stayed at their house every weekend.

Every weekend was the same. On Friday and Saturday night they would watch either Hee-Haw or play records on the stereo while they got ready to go out dancing. Hannah still knows the words to every Johnny Rodriguez and Buck Owens hit. Hannah would sing out loud to all the songs that they listened to and Holton would look at her with the most loving eyes and tell her she had the voice of angel and she believed it. She would have believed anything that came out of that man’s mouth. His love for her singing was a case of blind (deaf) love on his part. She could not carry a tune then. She still can’t now.

Holton took them out dancing at the American Legion on both Friday and Saturday. Hannah learned to dance perched on Holton’s toes. He would glide her around the room and she just knew that their dancing was so beautiful that all eyes were on them especially when they played his favorite Buck Owens song.

Chapter 3

What is the first recorded memory that you have as a child? Hannah knows her first memory but it may not be real. It’s possible that it was only a dream. She remembers standing in the back of a house where the yard slopped down to a wood shed. Firewood was stacked almost to the ceiling of the shed and on top of it was a toy baby carriage. She wanted that baby carriage so much. She went in and persuaded Gloria to come out to the shed to get it down. When Gloria saw where it was, she refused. Now what kind of thing is this to remember especially if it was just a dream? They say that the first thing you can remember will be a reoccurring theme throughout the rest of your life. The first memory she has is of not getting something she wanted, not a good way to start out. Remember this and watch it play out in her life.

She has no memories of her father until after the divorce when she was about three. She could remember going to the lake with him when he was trying to woo Gloria back after her second marriage ended. She also remembered that he bought her and Will matching green bikes with training wheels for Christmas after they moved to Georgia with her Grandparents. That was the Christmas after Silas, her younger brother, was born. So, the first memories that she has of her father are when her mother was already married to someone else.

The year she got the bike all she wanted for Christmas was a Raggedy Ann doll. She got more gifts that Christmas than any other but she pouted all day because she did not get the Raggedy Ann.

Later that afternoon Daniel, her new stepfather, left for a while. When Daniel returned, he had a box that seemed as big to Hannah as she was. He said, “Look Santa brought you another gift and you forgot to open it.” It was a Raggedy Ann, probably the biggest they made. This was one of her happiest childhood memories there’s not many.

The house that they lived in with Daniel had a barn out back and a shed that had all sorts of old worn out household items (an iron, skillets, and a waffle iron). This shed is where Hannah practiced being a mother and a wife. She could remember arguing with her husband/brother/Will because from all she had seen that was what husbands and wives do. Will always won because back then the women she knew always did what their husbands told them to do. It was very important not to cross that line where we stop playing the submissive wife. Hannah learned this early.

Once at the first house they lived in with Daniel, Will dared the four-year-old Hannah to jump from the top step of the stoop out back that was about one story off the ground. She sprained her ankle when she landed and she never forgot it. There is nothing like pain to help preserve a memory.

It seemed like there was never anyone to play with but boys. Will was always allowed to play with neighbors because he was older and a boy (very important) so he always brought the playmates over that they played with. This meant always playing with boys.

She never got to play as much house as she wanted and she ended up doing a lot of things that she didn’t want to do simply because she was the only girl. This is where the barn comes in. One side of the barn was against the bank so that it was easy to just step right onto the roof. Will and his friends where climbing on to the low side of the barn and jumping off the high side. Hannah tried to jump but it was just too high for her. She still hadn’t forgot the sprained ankle.

Hannah and Will were with their mother at her friend Glenda’s house and Will challenged her with another dare but she didn’t accept. She just watched him. There was a field with cows fenced inside next to the house. Will would leap the fence, get a cow to chase him and just as it was about to get him, he would jump back over the fence. A couple of times he almost did not make it.
Hannah went in and told Gloria what he was doing and she made him stop just like when he jumped off the barn roof. Hannah was not a tattletale she just always felt responsible for him. She never wanted him to get hurt.

Chapter 4

Gloria’s marriage to Daniel came so fast it was inevitable that its demise would come with the same breakneck speed. His drinking was more than she could stand. He was the sweetest and most gentleman you ever met but once he had a few drinks in him he would turn into someone we didn’t know. He still loved Silas. That was one thing that never changed even when he drank but he could not control his need to drink.

One day Daniel only had two dollars in his pocket and Silas was out of formula. He took his last two dollars and bought beer with it. Gloria had all she could take and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The day she told him she was leaving he took Silas and ran. For almost a full day no one knew where he was. Finally, Gloria and her brother Nate were able to track him down and bring Silas back home but not to stay. She just went back to get their things so that she could leave again. Within the next year Gloria and Daniel got a divorce and what was left of the family moved in with Holton and Ruth Ann.

A few years later Daniel died in jail for writing bad checks. They labeled his death as heart failure along with other multiple drinking related causes. Silas was only five when he died. Silas had not been around him then for a couple of years. At the funeral they say that when the coffin was lowered for Silas to see in for the last time, he laid his small hand flat on Daniel’s cold cheek and moved his head from side to side saying, “Wake up Daddy, wake up Daddy and hold me.”

Daniel was such a beautiful person, with such a beautiful son to love and he died because he was controlled by something stronger than he, a desire to escape who he was because he could not see his beauty.

Never in Hannah’s life did she hear anyone speak an ill word about Daniel. Everyone knew if he had been in control you could not have found a more beautiful soul. When Hannah was grown, she often wondered if anyone ever told Daniel just how beautiful he was or was it just a case of blindness on his part. Was he unable to see because no one taught him or did they teach while he was unable to learn? Just the same, Daniel is gone now but his life here did not go without leaving its mark. There still lives on that same spirit of beauty that he had and it is in his son Silas.

Chapter 5

It is strange the things that you remember from childhood versus the things that you don’t. Hannah could remember all the childhood shenanigans but hardly anything about her parents.

She could remember learning to ride a bike when she was five. Will, being the macho male six-year-old he was, took the training wheels off her bike all by himself so that he could teach her to ride. He began by pushing her around the house until someone called him to go in. Then he just walked away and left Hannah riding alone. Hannah didn’t realize that he had left her until she began to talk to him without him talking back. She finally looked back to see that he was gone and she began to wobble but then she thought to herself “I am riding by myself.” At this point she began to try to gain some control and she was able to keep the bike going. This was a big event so I guess that is why she remembered it but there weren’t a lot of other memories. The rest of her memories before she moved to Tennessee could fill only a small time slot, maybe enough for a commercial and a very unpleasant one at that.

She remembered the time at the lake with William and Gloria. She remembered the carriage in the woodpile. She could remember Daniel taking Silas. One time she remembered that Gloria cut her nails till they almost bled because she scratched Will.

Hannah was talking to William on the phone when she was five and Gloria told her that Daniel wanted to know who she was talking to. She said, “Tell Daddy Daniel it’s Daddy William.” William became so angry and he told her to never call him Daddy William again because he was the only Daddy she had. He took an innocent child thing and turned it into something about him. He was so good at that. It was hard for Hannah to understand the whole having two father’s thing so to make it easier she just said Daddy William and Daddy Daniel. After the scolding she always called Daniel by his name in front of William and William was just plain Daddy. Just another not so pleasant memory.

Once someone put water in an ashtray in the bathroom and Gloria blamed Hannah and Will. She tried to spank them into a confession but Hannah wouldn’t budge. Will finally confessed and he got another spanking. Neither of them put the water in the ashtray. I know that Hannah didn’t and I am sure that Will didn’t either because still in his teens he would get angry with Hannah every time it was brought up. It is funny that a grudge Will held against Hannah for years was over something that neither of them did and it was directed at the wrong person. One more bad memory.

I think the memories Hannah had as a child shaped her whole life. You’ll see it too. She knew that her parents loved her but she didn’t have any evidence to prove it. She didn’t remember one hug; kiss or I love you. It seemed like growing up it was just her, Will and her Grandmother Ruth Ann who babysat them during the day. I think that all the good stuff got covered over by all the bad.

Hannah would think back about her past and wonder if her children would only remember the bad and even if it wasn’t bad, would that be the way they would remember it? They won’t remember every boo-boo she kissed and every tear she wiped and cried with them. If she knew that all they would remember were the times that she quieted them down while she watched television, she would kiss them, hug them, and tell them she loved them every time she felt an urge to make them be quiet. She would take on all their pain herself if there were a way just to never see them cry or want for anything. Gloria and William probably felt the same for her. You just don’t ever know what will help and what will hurt.

Why is it that we only remember the bad and not the good? Pain must be more memorable than pleasure. I guess it’s like when a beautiful butterfly lands on your nose and you swipe it away without stopping to think how beautiful it is. In a few minutes you have forgotten all about it and all its wonder but let a wasp sting you on the end of the nose and you will not soon forget that.

Chapter 6

Not long after the divorce from Daniel, Holton’s company transferred him and they all moved to Livingston, Tennessee. Hannah could remember the ride to Tennessee. At first, she went to sleep and when she woke, they were surrounded by mountains. Hannah could not understand how they had gotten as far as they had without running into one of them. She didn’t go back to sleep the rest of the trip because apparently, she was the only one who even noticed that they were going to hit a mountain and she had to be awake to sound the alert at any time.

Hannah had turned five just before the Tennessee move and now Gloria was about to marry for the third time. His name was Fred. He scared Hannah from the beginning. It did not matter to her that he seemed scary, Hannah had a spirit that Satan himself could not break, let alone a mere mortal called Fred.

The first time Hannah saw Fred she was riding in the car with her mom. They drove passed him. He was parked at the dam in Celina talking to someone so Gloria backed up and pulled over to talk to him too. He came to the car. Hannah was in the back seat. She wanted him to see her so she held out her small hand and said, “My finger hurts”. Her finger was bruised from being caught in a slamming door.

Fred stuck out his hand and said, “Well, if you think that hurts look at mine.” The end of his middle finger from the last knuckle had been snapped off. Hannah was aghast and she sat back speechless and afraid because she had never seen anything like it before.

Hannah and Fred butted heads all her life and Hannah would jokingly tell him, “The reason that we can’t get along is that you think you know everything and I know that I do.”

After Gloria and Fred were married a couple of years, they had Peyton. Hannah was seven. Hannah thought often how her mother had courageously went against all other’s judgment to name her sister such a superb name, so unique. She wondered why she didn’t stand up to her father who had insisted on naming her after a girl he had a crush on in grammar school.

Chapter 7

William has about a five second slot in Hannah’s memory bank until she turned nine which was the summer William kept Hannah and Will for a month.

The next summer Hannah was ten and like the summer before they planned to stay a month at his house again. Everything was set and the day finally arrived. Hannah and Will packed their clothes. They waited in the living room. Then they waited outside on the back steps. They paced around the yard and still they waited. They went in and brought their suitcases back out with them and waited on the steps some more. Let me tell you those suitcases never forgot the day that
William did not show up to get them. They were so hurt when they had to be unpacked without going anywhere.

Gloria called William to tell him about the suitcases but he did not come to the phone until Hannah was seventeen and about to graduate from high school.

She sent him an invitation to her graduation and this finally prompted a call. He said he had made plans to come to her graduation but something came up and he would not be attending. He spoke as if no time had passed. After all those years she waited for him to come to the phone and in anger he said to her, “It is a good thing I can’t come because you want to be with your friends. I was coming all that way to see you and you weren’t even going to be with me.”

She wanted to say, “I waited for you all these years. The least you can do is wait one night for me.” She couldn’t say it so from that moment until they were about to march out to start graduation she just cried.

If you ever see her picture they made before the graduation you can see those tears in her eyes she was trying to hold back. She hated that picture because it reminded her of how hurt looks.

Her friend Olivia was the one who stopped her crying. Hannah told her the story and Olivia said, “That son of a bitch.” All those years of crying and wondering what she did wrong were cured if only for a brief instant when someone else thought he was the bad guy. It’s funny until Olivia she had always just assumed that she was the bad guy.

William wasn’t bad. He just did not know how to give. He could only take. Everything he saw was about him. He would say, “We (he and his wife) talk about what we want and then we do what I decide.” He had to be all-powerful. Let me give you a few examples.

When Hannah was grown and had a family, they went out to eat with him. He wanted seafood so they went somewhere that had a giant seafood buffet. When he got there a few steaks crossed his path that were taken to another table. He was seduced into ordering a steak even though he came for seafood. After his order had been taken, they later came out to inform him that there were no baked potatoes because the potato shipment they received was bad. He would not eat.

He said he doesn’t eat steak without a baked potato. They suggested that he order something else. Let me remind you again, he originally came for seafood but he still would not eat. When the waiter went back to the kitchen without his order he said, “I have walked out of many places because they were out of baked potatoes.” This was his way of saying “I showed them” but he was the one watching everyone eat while he remained hungry. Can you see how Hannah might have gotten her tendency to be stubborn from him?

Hannah lived with him for about seven months when she was twenty-one. She had to be in the house at a certain time or she would be locked out even though she had already been married and had a child. He had to have complete control.

He told Hannah once; “If you ever marry a black man (he actually never used the term black man but I can’t go into that dark o’ territory, you get it) I will never have anything to do with you again.”

She said, “Well, if I find someone I love and choose to marry and their skin is black then that is who I will marry.”

He said, “You will choose him over me.”

“That choice would not have anything to do with you. I would simply be choosing to marry the person I love. My getting married has nothing to do with you. You as a father should love me as your daughter regardless of the choices I make. Loving someone does not come from a person being what you want them to be. It comes from loving that person for what they already are. If you need me to change even one aspect of who I am you are only trying to make me into someone you can love and that is not fair. The world is not always about you.”

None of this makes William a bad person. You cannot be a bad person. You only operate on the knowledge that you have and going on limited knowledge makes your world limited. Boy, you don’t know the meaning of the word limited until you have lived in “William World”.

Once Hannah was going through pictures with Ruth Ann and she found a picture of herself at about two years old, with her parents and Will. In the picture she is sitting on William’s lap. She took the picture home with her and framed it the same night. For a week she never walked past that picture without stopping to stare at it for at least a minute. She could not believe her father had ever held her but there it was staring her straight in the face. It made her so happy to see. In the picture she was smiling this huge smile so she knew she must have felt loved because she was not the least bit intimated by being in his lap. It looked like a natural occurrence. She bought book after book to learn to deal with his abandonment and all it took was this picture.

Hannah was talking with her brother Will one day about their father William who he genuinely hates. He told Hannah he didn’t want to see William when he came for a visit. Hannah said, “I know how you feel”. The other day I was watching that wedding show on Lifetime and this father was about to walk his daughter down the aisle and he looked over at her and tears ran down his face. I thought how wonderful it would be to have a father look at me that way and it hit me how tragic it must be to be a father who can’t look at his daughter that way. It made me wonder what had happened to him to make him so uncaring.”

There are all sorts of William stories throughout Hannah’s life but let’s forget those stories and look what emerged in the wake of his absence.

To help Hannah get over her father’s abandonment and to make her accept Fred as her father, Gloria would say, “I don’t know why you don’t love Fred, your daddy doesn’t love you.” This would send Hannah to the woods behind her house to walk and think about what she had done to make William not love her. What Gloria was trying to say was since William had abandoned her it would be okay if she loved Fred as her father but all Hannah heard was YOUR

She never knew William, so she had created in her mind this perfect father. The father that Hannah had dreamed up was not the type of father that would abandon his daughter nor was he the kind of person that would not love her more than anyone in the world. In Hannah’s mind there had to be something about her unlovable because the perfect William would love her unless there was something wrong with her.

In the seventies Hannah heard a song called “Sweet Life” that said, “She’s got your eyes, she’s got my nose, oh, and I get high just watching her grow.” That’s the way she wanted William to feel about her. She loved this song. The words, “I get high just watching her grow” meant everything to her. She sat by the radio for nights just waiting for the song to come on so she could tape it on her cassette recorder. She didn’t know who sung the song but she thought it was the most beautiful song she had ever heard and she believed the person who wrote it had to be beautiful too. She only listened to the part of the song on her tape about the little girl. When that part was over, she would rewind it back to the same part and listen to it and then wind it back and listen to it again, over and over. No one ever knew she did this. She tried never to let others see her pain.
She had to always be tough.

She would picture in her head this man watching his little girl and singing those beautiful words, “She’s got your eyes, she’s got my nose, oh, and I get high just watching her grow.” While she listened, she would cry and wonder, “Why can’t Daddy love me like that? That’s how daddies are supposed to love their little girls.”

She lay awake night after night and cried for William’s love. She had hurt a lot over this but it would be one of the many things that would shape who she was.

Hannah went through many men trying to please them. She thought that if she did the right thing one of them would stay, unlike William. It did not take long for Hannah to lose count of these men. The first was Robert.

Chapter 8

The first time Hannah saw Robert she was fifteen and at the A-frame, the place where all the local kids hung out. He had been drinking and he was dancing with a pool stick as if it were a guitar. He had this freeness about him that intrigued her from that first moment and she knew then she would be with him one day. They dated a couple of times while Hannah was in school but it led nowhere.

Robert had a reputation as a lady’s man. Hannah thought that Robert was intimidated by her innocence and did not want to take it from her. He probably just knew he would get nowhere if he tried so he wasn’t interested. Hannah decided that she would have sex with someone she knew would tell Robert and then he wouldn’t feel a need to still protect her.

On Hannah’s eighteenth birthday she lost her virginity to Upton who, just as Hannah had expected went straight to Robert to tell him. Well, Robert was beside himself. He finally cornered Hannah and said, “I can’t believe Upton, why Upton? If this is what you have decided to do with yourself, you could try to find someone with a smaller mouth.”

“Well, it could have been you but you never noticed me until now and now your acting like you are my guardian angel. You act like you really care but you don’t.”

She knew she had gotten to him. About six months later Hannah found Robert in town and they drove to an open field and made love in her car. Hannah never forgot what it felt like to feel his heart lay next to hers. When she tried, she could still remember how his heart would beat fast at first and then it would gradually slow until it resumed a normal beat. She laid there under him as he slept and whispered to herself how much she loved him, while tears of joy streamed down her face. Every time she was with him, she felt that same joy. He had this way of holding her even after he had fallen asleep that made her feel wanted. He would wrap his arm around her 0and his hand would grip her waist so tight that it felt like he would never let go and that was what she needed most, someone who would never let go.

They were together a couple of times a year. Usually when he was too tired to run from her. She knew that she just wore him down but she needed him. She grew up not knowing what it was like to be wanted and he grew up in a family that stayed together. He could not understand why she could not let him go and she could not understand why it was so easy for him to just let things be without worrying where it would all lead. It took her years to realize that the love she felt for him was mostly her need to hold on and not let people leave. It was the fear of being left that made her long to obtain something that seemed out of her reach
(carriage in the woodpile). After this realization it was easier to just be friends with him and love him less dependently.

Hannah discovered a friendship that could always remain perfect; nothing damaging had ever happened. No promises made to be broken or battles waged to be won, just a night of passion, two or three times a year. No one wanted more or less, a perfect silent understanding. This was also a way to protect herself from having to commit. She could just love him occasionally from afar for the rest of her life. She always had something to fall back on when she could not make a commitment and she never could commit.

Chapter 9

Not only was Hannah confused by her romantic relationships; she found it hard to sustain any kind of meaningful relationship with females too.

Hannah went to a school in Livingston for eight years starting in first grade. At this school she just tried to get by.

Remember there were only boys around when she learned to play and Will brought them to her. So, first she did not know how to make friends and second, she did not know how to play with girls.

She was able to make a few female friends but those females weren’t as crazy about her as she was them.

She went on to high school at Rickman where her parents had moved two years prior. For the first two years Gloria allowed the children to still attend Livingston because Hannah had made the cheerleading squad. Speaking of the cheerleading squad, guess who always wanted to be on the bottom of all the stunts and guess why (sprained ankle, back stoop, four years old).

When Hannah started to school at Rickman, she had a hard time making friends. Two girls in the class below her were her best friends, Valerie and Laura. For the first half of the year at Rickman she was barked at and called names by most of the girls in her class.

One day after history class she was cornered by about five girls who surrounded her and started barking. She finally tore herself free and she went to her next class that was not scheduled to start for another fifteen minutes because it was her break. Hannah cried the whole time and in the meantime Valerie and Laura found out what had happened and they came to check on her. She did not want to talk she just wanted to be left alone.

One of the few teachers she had that really understood her was her English teacher Mrs. Lewis who was in the room too. Mrs. Lewis said, “Girls you need to leave. When she is ready to talk to you, she’ll find you.”

Mrs. Lewis never asked Hannah questions about that day she just let her sit there and cry. Hannah loved Mrs. Lewis and it was all because of this one day when she knew just what Hannah needed.

On another day two girls in the class who had begun to befriend her said, “People will be friendlier to you if you stop running around with Valerie and Laura because everyone here thinks they’re trash.” This was the first time ever in Hannah’s life she ever chose her friends by their status but she had had enough. She started to get agitated every time that Valerie or Laura came around her and one day, she told them she could not be friends with them anymore because the people in her class did not like them. That was the end of her friendship with them but the girls were still nice to Hannah and she was to them. I guess they believed what others thought of them too.

Things started to get better and those people who once barked at her became her friends. Years later at Hannah’s class reunion the girls apologized about how they had barked at her and she was able to joke saying, “Forget it, it was nothing, I have been through a few years of therapy and now I’m fine.”

Throughout high school she never drank, cursed, had sex or smoked cigarettes. Hannah told on people who did these things. She was still not a tattletale she just tried to take responsibility for people she thought were not responsible. She was always the mother hen. I really don’t know how she kept the friends she had. The teachers liked her though and she did whatever she could to please them. She had good grades, was a cheerleader and was in every social organization that the school had.

For some reason Hannah had always felt guilty. She could not remember what the initial incident was that started this feeling she just knew she was guilty. Way back in her mind she always thought that someone would find her out. What she thought they’d find I don’t know. I think it was because she knew that she was a fraud, doing all she did only for approval.

Chapter 10

When Hannah was in her thirties Sweeney, a friend of hers from work came into the office one day to talk to her about a girl that he had just begun to date. This girl’s former boyfriend was physically abusive to her. Hannah told him to get away from the girl because as much as he would like to help her, he couldn’t. She had to help herself. She told him, “Don’t be surprised if she goes back to him and you end up with a broken heart.”

He said she had one encounter with him since he started dating her but it was not her fault. This encounter had left her with bruises on her arms. Hannah said, “If she has a mark on her body from him right now it is not over.”

He tried to explain that away by telling Hannah that the guy was at her apartment when she got home and she could not get away from him. Hannah said, “He drives a car, doesn’t he? She had to see the car and know he was there. Why did she go in alone? If she knew how he might react and she didn’t spare herself from that then she is not finished.”

He said that during this incident someone called the police.

Hannah said, “Did anyone go to jail?”


“In a case where domestic abuse is involved someone will go to jail if the police show up unless the two parties agree that nothing is going on. So, she had to defend him if he did not go to jail,” said Hannah.


Hannah said, “There are no “buts” Sweeney. I know that you want to defend her and tell me she really wants out but the truth is that he is in control and until she takes back control there is nothing you can do. When she decides he can no longer get away with hitting her then he will lose his power to control the situation. He can see in her face that she is not in control and when she gets control back, he will see that too and the spell will end. He will not be able to hit her again. If it is over, he will know it’s over and he does not seem to know that. He can’t get away with any of this without her help, it takes them both to make this work.”

He went to the girl and discussed with her what Hannah had said and she half-heartedly agreed. The next report Hannah got back was that she had a conversation with the former boyfriend and she told him that she was seeing someone else and it was over. No violence resulted from this.

Hannah knew that this probably was not the end but she figured it was a good starting point for the girl but just as she had thought this relationship did later end with the girl going back to the abusive boyfriend.

Hannah thought about this conversation with Sweeney for days. When she started to talk to Sweeney it seemed like the words just flowed freely from her mouth without effort. She had to marvel at how all this knowledge poured so freely from her mouth. How did she know so much about how this girl’s mind was working?

Chapter 11

I must tell this part of the story. Hannah and I have debated the issue of whether I should tell you this or not. She says no but I believe that telling this is a crucial part in your understanding just how deep her feelings of low self-worth ran. My name is Janet and I made the decision to tell this part of the story.

I remember the first time she saw him. She was nineteen and he was riding in a Dodge convertible with his arm laid across the back of the seat. He turned all the way around just to watch her walk down the street. She was thinking, “Fat chance of a guy like you getting a girl like me.” She thought he was someone who believed he could get anyone he wanted and she didn’t think she would ever fall victim to someone like that.

The next time she saw him she was with a date at a party he was having at his house and she still thought the same thing.

She finally met him face to face at the Branding Iron (a local nightclub) and they danced all night. In seven months, they were married. His name was Marco. He was the middle son of a doctor. He was beautiful, with black hair and eyes and from the Philippines. Hannah was impressed by the way that Marco could take her to do anything she wanted. Hannah grew up thinking that most of what you want you just never get and you learn to live with that fact (the carriage in the woodpile). This was not the case with Marco; he was used to having his way all the time.

Hannah being naïve and very insecure settled for Marco because he was the only person who ever proposed to her and she was afraid he would be the last. Her world was, you go to school, graduate, and then you marry and have children. Have you heard this before? These being her only goals she did not want to risk having to wait too long to get started.

One month to the day after the marriage Hannah became pregnant with Race.

Marco found many ways to amuse himself. He had several girlfriends on the side. He even received a phone call asking him to a prom by someone, like everyone else, who had not realized that he was married. Hannah could hardly believe it when he declined the invitation.

Marco and Hannah lived with his parents. He had so many things that he wanted to still do without Hannah but he always left her with a babysitter, his parents or hers. He went anywhere he wanted and while he was gone Hannah was not permitted to leave the place, he had left her.

Once Hannah was at her mom’s when Marco decided to go hunting with her brothers. Maria, one of Hannah’s best friends from high school and maid of honor at her wedding, called to ask Hannah over but Hannah declined even though Marco would be hunting.

She told Maria, “You don’t understand what will happen if I come over.” Maria insisted that she come over to get her assistance in picking out a boy’s name for the baby. Marco overheard the conversation and forced Hannah to go, promising not to get mad later.

They planned for Marco to pick up Hannah at Maria’s after he was finished. Hannah spent the evening at Maria’s and Marco never showed up. At about 1:00 AM Hannah had Maria drive her home.

When Marco finally arrived home, he had made no attempt to go pick her up and he was angry that she had left Maria’s because he said she had been out looking for men. Without going into much detail this night eventually, as did always, ended in violence.

Maria could not believe it when Hannah told her the story after the way Marco took the phone and told Maria that he would see to it that Hannah came over and that everything would be fine.

Another night Hannah was with Garth, Marco’s nine-year-old brother, playing a game in the floor when Marco came in. Marco told Hannah to stand up and when she did, he knocked her back to the floor with his fist.

Garth ran from the room and their father raced down the steps and chased Marco away. That night Hannah was forced to stay upstairs and was told by Marco’s mother not to let him in if he climbed up the balcony to her room. He eventually did do just that and he promised that everything was fine and he convinced Hannah to come back downstairs with him. It only took about five
minutes for her to have to break away from another violent confrontation with him and run back upstairs.

Event after event of violence took place and after each one Marco would assure her that it would never happen again. After the violence would end, he would cry and vow never to hit her again. At first Hannah would resist him and turn a cold shoulder until he had cried enough to reassure her that he meant it this time. Hannah would finally give in and tell him everything was fine, then he would look up at her laughing with his face still wet from tears and say something like, “You stupid bitch.”

Chapter 12

A Methodist preacher had married Hannah and Marco and this was not suitable for his catholic family. They wanted the two to have a catholic wedding before the birth of their child.

When Hannah was seven and a half months pregnant the two had another wedding. This was a gala event. Former acquaintances from five different states came to stay at the family’s house.

One of the families from Michigan had a daughter the age of Hannah that Marco disappeared with one night for hours. When he returned Hannah was angry and she muttered something about where had he and that bitch been for so long, he slapped her and said, “Don’t you ever call her that again? “

Another night during this whole fiasco Marco made Hannah go to bed and he sat up with the guest. Hannah got up when the noise was too great for her to sleep and said; “Since I can’t sleep, I guess I will join the crowd.”

Marco leaned over smiling to the whole room as if he could love no one greater than Hannah and said, “I hate you, you bitch, I wish you’d die. You need to get your ass back in that room now.” Hannah’s eyes whaled with tears and he again leaned over and this time he said, “If you let one tear fall from your eyes you know what will happen.” During this whole time, he never stopped smiling, as if he were speaking the sweetest words to her.

She excused herself from the room with Marco behind her and when they got to the room, he shoved her to the floor. He went over to the window, opened it, and pulled Hannah to the window, stepped out, pulled Hannah through and started running backwards down their steep driveway, to drag her to the ground. Eventually after a lot of pleading from Hannah he turned her loose and let her go back in the house.

Hannah was not allowed to wear make-up, nail polish (unless it was light pink or white), and he always wanted her hair in a ponytail. She had to wear her shirt button to the top button, even if it was an oxford style dress shirt. If she unbuttoned her top button for comfort while at work and she forgot to button it back before she returned home, she was in trouble.

Chapter 13

Hannah was married to Marco for one year and five months and even now to look back on it, it seemed like an eternity. Every day with Marco was like storming the beach at Normandy. She would wake and wonder what was going to happen this day. Would she make it through the day or would just discussing what to make for dinner be enough to set him off? Would going to bed be a quiet event or would it turn into one of those nights that Marco hurt her and then tried to smother out her crying with a pillow? If I told you every incident that happened between these two there would have to be a sequel just to put the rest of her life in. I think you get the point.

After this year and five months she was determined that she would never let anyone own her again.

This episode of her life was so hard to overcome. Hannah had grown used to using this abuse as a tool to get love and attention even though her history till now had always been to hide her pain. At the time she did not even realize what she was thinking but the first (subconscious) thought in her head after Marco would hit her was, “Who can I tell?”

It never failed to work. Everyone she told would say, “You are too good a person to be treated this way, you deserve better, and the ever popular, one of these days someone is going to sweep you off your feet and your life will never be the same again.” Were these people for real? I know no one that this has ever happened to. Every couple must work on their relationship constantly even the people who say this but they still pretend this phenomenon exists.

All this special attention permitted Hannah to wallow in her self-pity. She was not sure she could get all this love without the abuse to fall back on. The last thing anyone needs who is being abused is an enabler but that is the one thing you can always count on if you find yourself in this situation. Not to blame these people, Hannah was the only one who could stop this from happening and when she determined this, he could no longer lay a hand on her.

He would say if you would just shut up or if you had not done that. Hannah had honestly believed that she pushed him into hitting her. I gave every clue in the world to help her figure out what she was doing to herself but she ignored every one of them.

She finally determined for herself that it should not matter what she said to anyone. If they felt as if they had to hit someone to get their point across, then there was something wrong with them. I was so relieved when she finally reached this point.

Another thing about this relationship that gripped her was that she believed that he must really love her to put up such a fierce fight for her love. She had to break all these chains and she did. When it was over it was over.

This was a life-altering situation that she was able to gain a great strength and knowledge from. She learned that she had no value for herself. She needed others to love her because she did not love herself. She let things get this extreme just so she could feel a false sense of love. Hannah also learned that the responsibility for your life is yours, it is never the other persons. She really had to look at herself honestly for the first time and evaluate what in her would allow this to happen.

At the time things happened with Marco, Hannah did not have any philosophy on learning anything and she did not realize the value of learning a lesson but she later (after she was able to forgive Marco) grew to cherish the lessons she found at this time of bottoming out.

It was her intent to learn everything in life she could about the human condition. At the time this all took place it seemed almost unbearable. Now, looking back, a few bruises and scratches did not seem like a heavy price to pay for the knowledge that she gained from this. You cannot get out of a situation like this without taking a good hard honest look at yourself.

About Marco, he was not a bad person. Allow the way he treated Hannah to serve as a perfect example of what one person can do to another out of their own low self-esteem. Marco did not believe that he was a good enough person for someone to love without physically forcing them to. Knowing how much he hurt Hannah you can imagine how much he too must have been hurting on the inside.

Chapter 14

The next big love Hannah had was Grayson and she was twenty-one. When Hannah lived with William for that seven months in Georgia a friend of the family, Sherry, invited her over. While she was at Sherry’s, she told her that her cousin Grayson had seen her around town and would like to go out with her. Sherry said he was extremely shy and that Hannah would have to call him.
Hannah told Sherry that if he wanted to go out with her, he would have to do the calling. Sherry said it would never happen but she would pass along the message.

When Hannah got home that evening Grayson called. Hannah agreed to a date with him reluctantly because she knew who Grayson was and she did not remember him being very attractive.

Date night came and she just kept telling herself, that it would be just one date. She would not like him but she would not have to kiss him or go out with him again. They went out to eat and to play miniature golf. He made no advances; he was a perfect southern gentleman. Hannah was not used to anyone not trying to have his way with her right away, so it felt relaxed not to have to fight someone off. Throughout the night she kept seeing his looks change. Every time he said the right thing, he looked just a little more beautiful. At the end of the night she initiated the kiss she thought she’d never give, without any reluctance. Grayson and Hannah dated for seven months.

Grayson would take her beaver hunting. She would be all dressed up and they would go to the river in the dark to spot beavers. She would slip off her high-heel shoes and roll her clothes to her knees and follow along behind him.

Grayson collected Indian artifacts and he would take her with him to look in freshly plowed fields. She would step right over something and Grayson would walk right behind her and find it, she never found one thing.

The first time they made love was after the 4th of July fireworks, on the high school football field in his truck. They were always making love outside under the stars. Grayson always said he had never had mosquito bites on his ass until he met Hannah.

She found herself doing things she had never thought she would do and she loved it. Grayson was just a country boy; unlike Hannah’s usual boyfriends she called the “tie guys”.

While she lived in Georgia, Hannah was at work one day and she went to the restroom. On the way back to her machine, a black man stopped her and asked if she would participate in a fashion show his church was about to have to try to bring together blacks and whites in the community. Hannah said she probably would and asked him to let her know about the final plans. When she returned to her machine the lady next to her said, “You don’t need to do that.”

“Do what?”

“Talk to colored men in front of everyone,” the lady replied.

Hannah was pissed off. How could she stay in this town where people hated each other because of skin color? Hannah loved Grayson but she knew she could never live in Georgia and Grayson would never move to Tennessee. Tennessee was calling Hannah home and she answered.

Chapter 15

When she got back to Tennessee, she started going out on Saturday nights to a place called the Corral. One Saturday night she was standing at the back of the room just looking over the crowd when Red Brewster, an old friend from high school, came over to her. He said that he had been talking to a friend that thought she was a doll and he wanted to meet her. Red said, “Well I can introduce her to you she is a friend of mine, watch me go over to talk to her.”

He later called Michael over to meet Hannah. That night and many others Michael conned his friends into leaving him there so Hannah would have to take him home. Hannah resisted him for a couple of months, thinking she would get sick if she kissed anyone but Grayson, a fact that she had shared with Michael.

One night she was at the Corral and she was doing her usual, table-hopping to talk to all her friends. She started out sitting with Michael. She was getting up to skip to the next table and Michael said, “If you leave me tonight don’t come back to this table. I come here to see you every Saturday night and you leave me to go talk to everyone else, so if you are going to dump me tonight just forget this whole thing.” Hannah just swooned, unable to believe that the only reason that he had been coming here was to see her. Michael gave her a kiss on the dance floor and said, “Now, did that make you sick?”

This incident worked wonders for Michael because this night he succeeded in getting Hannah to go to bed with him. This was when Hannah and Michael made Duran.

She went to meet him another night and he showed up with her next-door neighbor, Lisa. When he saw Hannah there, he left Lisa to come and sit with her. He said his friend was with Lisa’s friend and he got pushed into the situation. Hannah tried to make him leave her alone but he stayed with her all night and his date finally took the hint and left. A few more events happened where Michael lied and Hannah remembered one of the reasons, she had resisted him to begin with was because he was full of shit.

He would lie about anything. He told Hannah that he had a dog growing up named Rowl Chow. He said his parents loved the dog and took it everywhere. When they came to visit him at college, they would bring the dog. They had food in the refrigerator (steak) with his name on it and no one could touch it.
Later, Hannah found out his mother, Lucinda, never had liked dogs and that they never had a dog like the one he told her about. He was just your typical college frat guy that would say anything he thought was cute if it would help him to get in someone’s pants. When Hannah found out she was pregnant she did not tell him for six months. She thought he was full of shit and she did not want him in her life. She eventually realized that her child would want to know who his father was so she called Michael to tell him about the pregnancy.
About two months after Hannah got pregnant Grayson called and wanted to discuss moving to Tennessee. Hannah went to Georgia to see him one last time. She never told him while she was there that she was pregnant. She just wanted everything to be perfect one more time. When she returned to Tennessee, she phoned him to tell him the whole story. Hannah did not want to be pregnant and she thought about getting rid of the baby.

Chapter 16

The day Duran was born was a defining event in Hannah’s life. From the first time she saw him she knew that one of her greatest missions in life was to give birth to him and she loved him dearly. Duran made her forget Grayson, who was no comparison for this new man in her life.

Once when Hannah visited Georgia, she saw Grayson and showed him Duran. He said, “He is beautiful just like his mother.” That was the last time she saw Grayson and though she knew this was the end she still had no regrets.

Getting pregnant with Duran was a big moment she could not get through without looking at herself honestly. She had made it this far pretending to be perfect but she could only hide her pregnancy for about five months and everyone would finally find out that she wasn’t perfect.

She would see the glares people gave her. Now, she realized these glares were the same as she had given to someone else who had been caught in whatever crime they had burdened society with. Now she knew these glares had no substance but ignorance, an ignorance that she once participated in. You learn when it happens to you. This was either a chance to improve intellectually or go on in denial. By accepting her own imperfection she could love and accept other’s shortcomings more easily. She had been in a situation where her shortcomings were so obvious that she wore them almost as a crimson gown, with sequin shoes and a diamond tiara when everyone else in the room was wearing jeans.

When you are growing up the adults in your life don’t want you to make the same mistakes that they made so they hide those mistakes. They figure if you never know about these things you might make it through life without going down these same paths that they went down. They finally tell you when they think you are old enough to understand. We don’t know until we are adults that our mother had sex out of wedlock, or grandfathers ran moonshine, our great grandmothers got pregnant before marriage, and that our great grandfathers abused their children.

You live in this mystical world where everyone is spotless and completely untarnished. It is all the lost information that is withheld from us in childhood that could have been most useful or maybe not. Then when your tarnish shows up you will not be caught off guard and think that you are the only one.

Hannah needed desperately to know that she was not alone in her tarnished world. When she went out of control, she thought she was forever lost and that she would never be clean enough again to deserve what she wanted. She thought she had to accept whatever she got. I saw Hannah go through so many men. She stopped being herself to be whatever they wanted her to be. Most of the stuff that she did with them she could have cared less about but she felt it made her have a great value in their eyes if she went along so she did, thinking at the time she loved it (beaver hunting, arrowhead hunting).

My name is Janet and if she only loved herself half as much as I love her, she would pull the stars down from the sky to add to the sparkle of that tiara she wears with the symbolic crimson gown and sequin shoes.

Hannah could only value herself by the value that the men in her life placed on her. If they stopped valuing her then she lost all value. She let Marco abuse her for this reason and she continued to let others abuse her in different ways because of the same reason, the same stuff on a different day. She would learn from each situation but she would continue down the same path still not completely aware of the pattern she was caught in.

Chapter 17

Louis dreamed outside his head. Nothing he dreamed in his head ever just stayed in there. He had this power to transport his dreams from his head to reality. I remember when he wanted to start a little league football team. Hannah thought, “Other people do that kind of thing not normal people like us.” She did not realize he was one of the other people. In fact, she had never met one of the other people until him.

When he had a new idea, she felt the world knew it and rallied with him to get it done. He knew the mechanics of making something he wanted happen. He was this big ball of energy with so much going on in his head with so little time to sort it all out. He only slept about three hours a night and to him that was still too much. The world expected more of him and he was always willing to give it.

He coached the little league football team (he started), little league baseball, wrote the sports page (during football and baseball season) for the local newspaper, wrote country music, clerked for his dad at the car auction on Thursday night and was an environmentalist for the health department. She had never known anyone who could be so much and she was mesmerized. Louis was the most intelligent person she had ever known. He knew everything.

Hannah told Louis the story about the song “Sweet Life” from when she was a child and about how much the song had meant to her even though she had no idea who sung it. Louis said, “Paul Davis.” He knew the song and he knew that Paul Davis was the person who wrote and sung it. The first opportunity that he found he took Hannah to see Paul Davis perform in person. It was one of the grandest nights of her life. That was how magical Louis was to her. He could do a thing like that without any thought at all. It was just natural to live out whatever he dreamed and this time he was able to help Hannah fulfill one of her dreams.

When Hannah was in high school Louis was a teacher there for one year. She would go on her lunch break to see him; she had such a crush on him.

Time went by and on one of her visits to his class he casually asked her for a date. She was fifteen and he was twenty-three but she thought he was an old man. So, she was disgusted. It was fine that she had a crush on him but how could he be interested in her. She was just a little girl and he was an old pervert. At least that was the conclusion that Hannah finally reached. You could have a crush on a teacher but they weren’t supposed to return the feelings.

She never went back to his classroom and she looked away when she passed him in the hall. The next year he was gone.

Time passed and now Hannah was twenty-three she had already had the two children. Duran was seven months old, when Carrie, a friend she worked with, told her she had found the perfect guy for her. He was a single father, went to church, was fun to be around and was a perfect parent to his only son. Being a parent of two children she valued men such as the one Carrie had described and was all set to meet him when she realized that she had not even asked his name.

Maybe she already knew him; they did live in the same small town. Carrie said his name was Louis Webb. Hannah lost all interest after she heard the name, recognizing it to be the old pervert but she thought how funny it would be to meet him after all these years. So, she told Carrie she would meet him after he got out of church on Wednesday night, if only Carrie agreed not to tell him who she was and if she promised not to leave them alone. Carrie agreed to both. Hannah thought he would either be mad at the trick being played on him or delighted that she had finally forgotten the incident.

Wednesday came and off she went to Louis’s with Carrie, Race, and Duran. When he opened the door, she could see the look of excitement on his face as he asked them in. They talked until she decided that she needed to take the children home to bed. As they were leaving Carrie suggested that Louis follow them to Hannah’s so that they could continue their conversation.

Louis said, “Carrie you really shouldn’t give out invitations to someone else’s home.”

Hannah smiled and said reluctantly, “That’s okay, I don’t mind.”

After she had reassured him, they agreed that he would go but instead of following her he asked her to ride along with him. Once she got outside, she went to Carrie’s car to get her purse and while leaning in, she said, “You had better follow us to my house or I will be mad. You promised not to leave me alone with him.”

They all got to Hannah’s. Carrie probably stayed another thirty minutes and excused herself, saying she had to get up early. Louis, out of kindness also excused himself for the evening. Hannah walked both Carrie and Louis out to the porch. Carrie left immediately, while Louis stayed on the porch to finish his talk with Hannah. Hannah just kept trying to listen to all he had to say but found it hard because in the back of her mind she just kept thinking how she had misjudged him years earlier.

Louis and Hannah started dating. She fell in love with him right from the beginning. She felt that it was good that she dismissed him in the early years. He already had a son then and she would never have understood him like she did now that she had her own two children. It would not have lasted then but now it was perfect.

They went to all sorts of musical events, since Louis was a songwriter. They went to the awards shows, the Blue Bird Café to see other artist perform and an occasional party. She loved the life that she had with Louis.

A couple of years had passed since she started dating Louis and since she first met Louis’ family. They had been kind to her in the beginning, she guessed because they had thought she would be a passing thing. Now that it seemed Louis had no intention of letting her go, even though they stayed broke up as much as they stayed together, his family changed. They cut almost all ties with Louis except for the annual exchange of Christmas gifts and the help they had always given with raising his son, Malcom.

Chapter 18

Hannah started to church. She went to church every time church was in session. When she started to go to church it seemed everything changed at once.

A few months after Louis and Hannah started dating Hannah became pregnant and had an abortion. She often thought of the abortion now that she was in church and she wondered if God would ever forgive her for it. She felt Louis forced her to get the abortion, saying that he did not want this baby but if she had it, he would take it away from her just as he had taken his son Malcom away from his mother. He knew how she felt about her children and that she could never live through having to hand over a child that she would love and did love already. He would say you’ve already had one child out of wedlock, what will people say about another.

She remembered how hard it was to imagine spreading her legs apart to allow someone to kill the baby inside of her but somehow when the time came, she managed. She recalled walking out of the clinic that day, how all the men who were there with their wives and girlfriends walked them to the car with their arms around them, so slowly as if they were so fragile, they would break. She could not understand how they could allow these men to touch them, thinking, like Louis, they were at the root of this deed.

Louis tried to hold her too but she said, “Don’t touch me. You think since you got your way it can go back to the way it was after all the terrible things you said to me.” Louis still tried to console her and tell her how he loved her and how they would get through this together. He always told her afterwards that he was desperate and that it was a mistake that he took full responsibility for. After a few years she was able to forgive him because she knew it could not have happened if she had refused but at the time, she was very angry and resentful.

Going to church would not let her conscience rest. She could now see and was haunted by all the wrong she had ever done and still did every day. Every Sunday she sat in Church and thought how everything could be different if she just took that next step and was baptized. And it happened.

One Sunday she could no longer hold back. Her body seemed to make steps that she was not in charge of, until there she sat on the front pew of the church waiting for her repentance.

After the hymn had ended that led her to the place where she now stood, the preacher Larry Jagers, asked for her repenting words, she said, “I have sinned and I have never been baptized, I want to be baptized.” With that he whisked her to the front of the church and announced the wish that she had just conveyed to him. She was baptized that day and the church rallied around her as if she were a saint. She had never felt so good. She felt this was what she had been missing all along.

Let me take a minute to explain everything that was happening in Hannah’s mind at this point. Hannah believed that all the bad that she was faced with was of her own making. Louis did not love her enough to marry her, his family would not accept her, she got collection notice after collection notice every day in the mail, Race stayed sick, and she had an abortion. This could all have been avoided if she had just been baptized earlier. Every day in church that she sat on those pews she would think to herself, “If I don’t do it today then I will be faced with another week of nothing but misfortune.” So, on the baptism day she told herself, “Every day I go without doing this is another day I live in turmoil, I have to do this today.”

Now all that was left was to go about making things right with everyone.

After the baptism she called Louis’s mom, Bertha. She began by saying; “I know that you have never liked me,” which right away put Bertha on the defensive.

Bertha said, “Well I have never heard one good thing about you since I met you.”

“But I love Louis and Malcom, I am good to them and Louis loves me, I would think that would be the most important thing to you.”

Then she remarked with cold words that pierced the soul, “The most important thing to me is Louis’s soul and I don’t think that his soul could enter into the kingdom of heaven if he married you.”

“Because I’ve been married before? Well, so has he,” Hannah said.

“The break-up was under different circumstances. His wife had an affair.”

“You have never asked me to explain the circumstances of my divorce, so you don’t know why I did it.”

“I know that your husband beat you but you can’t just divorce for any reason and besides that, a lot of people go to church every time the door opens and they think their circumstances are different too. I have gone to church a lot of days and looked at the people in front of me and felt pity for those souls I know will never see heaven.”

Hannah knew that a woman who could make a judgment like that and not see the error of her way could be told nothing to make her change her mind. So, she did the only thing she could then. She apologized for making her mad and ended the conversation.

After Hannah’s conversation with Bertha, Louis became determined to hide his relationship with her. Hannah understood completely, after all it was his family, she knew she could never lose her family. She also knew her family would never offer her an ultimatum because they had always allowed her to make her own decisions. She knew what she would do if the situation were reversed but she dismissed Louis’ way of handling it as weakness imposed on him by his overbearing mother. She felt sorry for him, in that he did not feel the same freedom that she could feel.

Louis and Hannah would be on their way somewhere and they would pass Bertha on the way and he would say, “God I hope she didn’t see you.”

Hannah would reply, “I hope you don’t expect me to hide.”

Louis would answer, “It would be nice if you would.”

She never once hid and she hated that he could ask her to.

At church they sat on different pews and pretended not to know each other. After church Louis raced straight to her house, where he spent the day and sometimes the night.

Chapter 19

Hannah and Louis had discussed going to the Blue Bird one night after church with Louis’s co-writer Aaron. Hannah was not sure at the time the discussion took place if she could get a babysitter so she told Louis she would signal to him at church if she could go. If she did go, he would pick her up at her house after church.

At church Hannah caught Louis looking and gave a nod yes to signal that she would be going. She got home changed her clothes and waited. Thirty minutes passed and she was sure he must have missed her signal, so she thought that if she hurried, she could still catch him when he picked up Aaron. She couldn’t call. Aaron never had a phone longer than it took him to get his first bill. She rushed out to find Louis.

When she got to Aaron’s there was Louis’s car. She went in and everyone was still sitting around talking because Aaron had unexpected company that he was trying to get rid of. Hannah sat down and discussed with Louis how they had missed each other, when it finally occurred to her that everyone seemed uncomfortable.

She looked around the room and noticed in the room full of people there was someone who did not belong there, Susie, someone she knew from grammar school. It took a second but she figured it out, Susie was with Louis. Hannah started to make a scene, when Louis asked her to step outside.

Louis told her that his best friend Sally had called and asked if she and a friend could go to Nashville with him and since he did not think Hannah would be able to go, he said yes. When he went to meet them, Susie, Sally’s friend, was the only one who showed. He finally convinced Hannah that he was innocent. Susie suggested that she be taken home because she never meant to cause trouble. They took Susie home and went on to Nashville without her and this somehow satisfied Hannah.

Louis never could seem to commit fully to Hannah. Looking back after the relationship ended Hannah could see that Louis could not commit because not only did, he not know who she was, neither did she. The more she tried to win his love the less respect he had for her and the less she had for herself.

Eventually Hannah decided she would not continue to drag herself down because Louis could not stand up to his family, so they ended the relationship.

Chapter 20

Occasionally Louis and Hannah would talk and catch up on what had been going on without each other.

Louis had bought a house when he and Hannah were together, that took him a year to move into. Hannah had received word that he had finally moved so she called him to congratulate. It was on New Year’s Day. Louis asked her right away to come by to see the new house but he said she needed to come now because his family would be joining him later to watch football. She rushed over.

He showed her around the house and then they talked about what they had been doing lately. He also said he had missed her and would like to start to see her again. Hannah was pleased to hear this because she would not admit it but the only reason, she had called to start with was she missed him too.

He finally noticed the time and asked her to leave before his parents got there. Then he turned and started to vacuum as if he did not need to say anything else. She was furious that he could say this to her so casually. She said, “I think I will stay. If we are getting back together, they need to know eventually and now is as good a time as any.”

He said, “You’re not staying.” Then he began to vacuum again.

She was so angry. She could never remember being madder. She sat on the bottom step that led upstairs and thought, she would wait till he turned around and then she would show him how mad she was and make him feel some of the pain that she felt at that instant. She saw her moment and she slapped his face as hard as she could leaving a bruise and said, “Did you really think you could talk to me that way and get away with it”.

Louis was enraged, a sight she had never seen before. He grabbed her by her neck and tried to force her through the door. She would not go willingly.

She said, “I will gladly go but I will walk out the door the same way I came in. You are not going to throw me out.”

Louis finally saw there was no way to win so he released his grip and she walked freely out the door. She smiled as she drove all the way down the long driveway, feeling like she had won a victory.

Hannah could not believe that she slapped Louis. She never even hit Marco and she eventually felt bad for turning to violence to solve her problem. She had seen it in the movies a thousand times where the woman slaps the man who insults her and it just seemed like the right thing to do. When she finally realized what she had done she decided she would never do this again. It is never right to hit another person under any circumstances, forget what you see in the movies.

During the long relationship with Louis she had always given up her power. She gave him years of nothing but what amounted to worship and she did everything he needed done before he could even ask. But for some reason she was beginning to look at her life and question, “If all my life is about him, doing things only to please him, then what kind of life do I have for myself? Do I even have a self?” Seem familiar?

She remembered Louis’s best friend from high school asking her what she liked to do once on one of his visits. She answered reciting all the things that she did with Louis. He said, “Hey, it’s me, Jamie, I know Louis, you just told me what he likes to do, but what do you like to do?”

She felt ashamed when she had to say, “I don’t know,” because she truly did not know. This was obviously something she needed to start to work on.

Isn’t it funny how life brings a person in front of you to ask just the right question at just the right moment?

Chapter 21

She was a huge fan of Russell Smith, a songwriter and the lead singer for the group The Amazing Rhythm Aces. She saw in the Sunday paper where he was playing at the Blue Bird, so she decided to find someone to go with her. She just knew she would find someone and she tried up to the last minute and finally gave up.

It did not seem like she was going anywhere so she went to rent movies and pickup something to eat. Her mom had Race and Duran was at his father’s. She got home and settled into her movies, when her former husband (she hated to say ex, to her that sounded like all people who complain about their former spouses which she also hated) Marco, knocked at the door. He asked. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Well, I was going to the Blue Bird in Nashville but I could not find anyone to go with me.”

Marco said, “I’ll go, if you still want to go.”

So, they went together. On the trip to Nashville he kept commenting on, who would have thought they would be on a date again and other such things like that, until she couldn’t stand it anymore. “We need to get something straight,” she said, “First of all this is not a date and second if you think that it is, you need to turn this car around and take me home now.”

He said that he understood and so they continued.

Once at the Blue Bird the two were unable to get a seat and had to stand for the first forty-five minutes. During the standing part of the night, Hannah, looking across the small room and saw Buck Cartwright. She could not believe her eyes. She thought of all the times she had watched his videos on CMT and there he stood in front of her.

She said to Marco, “Do you see that man with the long hair over by the kitchen? That’s Buck Cartwright, one of my favorite singers. Man, would I like to talk to him.”

Marco said, “Well why don’t you go over.”

“I couldn’t just walk up to him. How would I start a conversation without looking like some nut?” She just continued to watch him and plotted and schemed in her mind how she would approach him but at the same time knowing any plan she conceived to talk to him, she would never follow through with.

Eventually he returned to his seat to watch the show and she knew she had lost her chance. It was almost at that exact moment when the hostess came to tell her that she had found seats for them. They followed the hostess towards Buck Cartwright, where Hannah could see two vacant seats right by him. He was resting his right arm on one of the seats. As luck would have it, these two chairs were the chairs that Hannah and Marco were led to.

Hannah started to take the seat and in doing so leaned over to Buck and said in a flirting manner, “I’m sorry I’m gonna have to take your arm rest.”

Buck said, “That’s fine, better you have a place to sit than me an arm rest.”

“Well thanks but on second thought lean back on my chair, then I will tell everyone Monday at work that Buck Cartwright leaned on my chair all night at the Blue Bird Saturday night.”

He laughed, “Don’t mind if I do,” he said as he leaned back up again.

Hannah introduced Marco and explained how they had ended up coming together and that though they were divorced she wanted to remain friends.

He shook Marco’s hand and said, “Sounds like you lost a pretty great woman.” Marco just laughed it off.

“Where you from?”

“A small town called Livingston it’s about an hour and a half from here,” Hannah said.

“And you came all this way just to see Russell?”

“Yep, I think he is so cool. I try to come when I know he’s playing mostly cause he’s funny but I like his voice too.”

“That’s Russell alright, a small man with a big mind.”

Hannah agreed just as if she knew Russell personally. She was sure Buck did.

“I suppose since you know who I am and you are here a lot, you have probably heard about my bad reputation with women. I hope you won’t let that scare you off,” Buck said.

“You don’t scare me.”

He said, “Well, it’s all true, whatever you’ve heard. I do like having relationships with women, all sorts of relationships. I love to sleep with different women but then when I find someone that is not interested in sex, I love the challenge of that too.”

Buck asked, “Do you ever stay in Nashville when you come to the Blue Bird?”

“No way, I have two small children to go home to and church in the morning.”

“I’ve never been into the church scene. Personally, I believe that God made everything and that if he made it and you partake of it, you can’t possibly be doing anything wrong.”

Hannah did not say a word out loud but boy, was her mind reeling. She thought, “You wish. Where in the world did you get such an idea, have you never read the Bible?”

She finally spoke and she said, “Well I do believe that most of the wrong that people do is because they don’t look to themselves for the answers. They always want to project their own insecurities onto someone else but other than that I pretty much believe what the Bible says.”

He said, “I know what you are saying about looking to yourself for answers. If that’s what you think you will love one of the songs on my new CD it’s about that kind of stuff.”

And with that she turned back to see what Russell was doing now when she felt Buck’s hand run down the side of her chair, the side she had put her purse on and she thought “What is he doing?”

Buck must have guessed what she thought by the look on her face and he said, “I’m in your purse, you don’t mind do ya? Just kiddin’, I was getting a piece of gum out of my pocket. Do you want a piece?”


He pulled out an extra piece. He unwrapped one piece and put it into his mouth and the other piece he unwrapped and put it into Hannah’s mouth. She thought it was one of the most sensual things she had ever witnessed but at the same time she thought he knew she would think that. She also knew he would expect the same general response he always got when he did this sort of thing. So, she would not allow herself to give any other response but a simple, “Thanks.”

The night wore on and Buck told her how he and his friends had joined together to form their own record label, Dead Reckoning Records. They wanted to make the music they wanted to make, forget commercialism. He also told her he was about to release a new CD with this label. They were having a party to celebrate the release but he did not know when. He said, “You could come if you want to.”

Hannah said, “I would love to but how will I know when it is?”

“Just watch the papers you’ll see it.”

“Do you ever play here?”

“Yea, as a matter of fact, I am playing next Saturday.”

“I’ll be here. Maybe we could go for coffee and continue this talk,” Hannah said but without really looking for an answer.

The night soon ended and they bid farewell. On the way home, she asked Marco to stop off at her mother’s to pick up Race. She ran straight to Peyton’s room. Peyton was still in high school then and living at home. She said, taking the gum out of her mouth, “Touch my gum first and then ask me why.”

“No way,” Peyton said.

“Come on just do it.”

Peyton did as she asked and said, “This better be good.”

“Buck Cartwright personally put that gum in my mouth with his own hand,” Hannah exclaimed.

“You met Buck Cartwright?”

“I sure did. I sat beside him all night at the Blue Bird.”

Peyton seemed so excited, Hannah thought this was one of the coolest things that ever happened to her and she loved that someone else thought so too. She let Peyton go back to sleep and got Race and went home.

That night when she got in bed she could not sleep. It all seemed like a dream. The thought kept crossing her mind, “Where did he get all his ideas from? She had never heard of such. But deep down she liked what she had heard and envied anyone that could think such a thing even though it was wrong.

Hannah could not wait to tell Louis. She knew he would be envious because he was also a big fan of Buck. She called him and as usual the conversation led to talks of getting back together, which they did in the same phone call. It just seemed they loved the misery that they imposed on each other.

Chapter 22

The next week she went back to the Blue Bird but this time alone. She felt a little self-conscience but she went in anyway. This night started the same as the previous weekend, having to stand because there were no seats. While she stood at the door, she and another Buck fan started to have a conversation. Her name was Summer and she worked for someone that knew Buck well. She even had access to his home phone number which she had taken advantage of many times.

Summer said, “Look, there are couple of seats at that table in the back, let’s ask if anyone is sitting there.”

“I am not going to that table, that’s Emmylou Harris.”

“No, it’s not. I’ll go by myself and ask.” She returned and said the seats were taken.

During the show Buck said, “I would like to bring up a good friend of mine and if you applaud loudly, I am sure we can convince her to sing us a song. Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Emmylou Harris.”

She walked right straight from the table she had warned Summer not to go to. Summer said, “I can’t believe it, that’s really her.”

They continued to watch the show and she could tell by the look in Summer’s eyes when she looked at Buck that she was expecting something of him later. Hannah knew not to expect much in the way of conversation or coffee with him when he finished. Looking around the room she saw the same look of expectation in the faces of several young women. Determined not to be another face in the crowd, she settled on just giving him a smile when she left instead of trying to approach him about the coffee or anything else.

After the show was over, she exchanged phone numbers with Summer. They decided that they should get together when Hannah was in Nashville because she liked the music thing too and she also had trouble finding people to go with her.

Though, Hannah, would never say it aloud the real attraction she had in getting Summer’s phone number was that she knew if she ever wanted to contact Buck, she could call Summer for his number.

On the way home Hannah notice she was low on gas but she thought it was too cold to pump it. She thought she could make it home and if not, she could buy gas in Cookeville. She was about ten miles from Cookeville when she felt the first sign of the gas giving out. Maybe she could still make it. She saw a sign that said. “Cookeville 8 miles.” She drove about two-tenths of a mile when the car stopped running. She let it roll to the side of the road and there she was, stranded.

Hannah remembered how her family warned her not to go alone. She thought, they were right, if only she ever listened. Another thought crossed her mind, she wasn’t dead, nothing bad had happened. She could walk. She bundled up tightly and started on the near eight miles that lay before her.

She had not even lost sight of the car when a semi-truck stopped. She walked fast to get up to it and the door swung open. It was an older man with snow-white hair. Hannah felt from the first moment she laid eyes on him that she could trust him. He drove her to an all-night convenience store and asked, “Do you need gas money?’

Hannah laughed and said, “No thanks, I didn’t run out of gas because I didn’t have money, I ran out because I didn’t have sense enough to get gas when I needed it, but thanks anyway and thanks for the ride.”

When she got inside the store Hannah called Fred to come pick her up. While she waited, she thought about how the truck driver might be one of the angels that shows up just at the right time and then when you go to look for him to say thanks, you find his family. They say, “Why, he’s been dead for ten years, he couldn’t possibly be the person that helped you but yes he was a truck driver and he did have white hair. How did you know?”

The young man behind the counter, who she had explained her situation to when she asked for the pay phone, finally made his way over to where she sat in one of the booths. Hannah knew he would. He sat down and started to talk about their small collection of movies for rent. Did she like this one, had she seen that one?

Fred finally arrived. They got the gas they needed and picked up the car. On the way to the car Fred kept saying she should not have gone alone, she should have gotten gas, and she could have been killed. All she could think of was she did it. So, what if she ran out of gas. Someone came to her rescue (the angel) and she had fun talking to the store guy. She never would have met either if she had made it home.

At home she went straight to bed and felt the hug of all the warmth that her bed had. She remembered the time she lived with her dad in Georgia for seven months. Race was two. She missed Tennessee and though William had said he would bring her home anytime if she moved to Georgia, she had found out that wasn’t true.

One day she felt like if she did not go to Tennessee for a visit she would die and she did it. She just packed up and took off in a car that would barely run. She was almost home. She saw a sign that said, “Chattanooga 12 miles” when her car died. It was one o’clock in the morning, cold, and she had a two-year-old with her. She stood outside for what seemed like an eternity waving a flashlight to signal her distress. No one would stop. She could not believe it.

Finally, a little truck pulled to the side, way up the road and started to back down the shoulder towards her. She was saved, was all she could think.

A man got out and started to approach her. Hannah yelled, “I don’t know who you are but I love you!”

He said, “I don’t know if I can help but I’ll try. I have a phone in the truck if you need it.”

“I could call my sons godfather, Dr. Quito, he lives here. Then maybe I could stay the rest of the night there till my Granddaddy can pick me up tomorrow.”

“Dr. Quito? I know him. I did some landscape work for him. If you can reach them, I’ll take you there, I know exactly where he lives.”

Hannah called the Quito’s and got permission to be dropped there. On the way the man started to laugh. Hannah laughed with him not really knowing why and then she asked, “What are you laughing about?”

“I don’t know who you are but I love you,” he repeated. “I believe you would have gotten in with anyone.”

“You got that right, I was desperate. I waited a long time for someone to stop. I was worried about Race in the cold.”

“Well I’m glad you got me instead of a nut.”

Remembering the Chattanooga 12 miles (she never forgot that sign) incident and what happened tonight, she was in awe of herself. “So, what,” was all she could think. She could go anywhere, anytime and with whoever she chose, even alone. She knew that anytime she needed anything the world would provide it for her and she was not afraid any longer about making the wrong decision.

Chapter 23

Summer eventually called Hannah to see how she was. While they talked Summer told Hannah she had a plan for the two of them to go see Buck. She asked Hannah to call Buck and ask him if they could come over. Hannah said, “Are you nuts? If I call him and ask if we can come over you know he’ll think, “Two at once.” You know how he is.”

Summer finally agreed that Hannah was right. Hannah thought to herself that Summer must have already called so many times that she felt like a fool and that must be why Summer had included her in her plans or maybe she was thinking two at once.

Summer said, “Do you want his number anyway?”

“Sure, that way I can check in once in a while and see if it is time for his party.” She took the number down but swore to herself that if she ever used it, she would not make a fool of herself like she was sure so many other women had.

Months went by and finally it was time for the party. Louis could not go because it was on a Thursday night when he worked at the auction but he still thought Hannah should go. Hannah ended up inviting two of her female friends. The three were totally miss-matched.

Marsha a mother of two with a husband she had been married to for ages, who’s biggest outing was probably her senior prom. Hannah loved Marsha, she probably was one of her all-time favorite people, the way she could always speak her mind.

Sandra, a grandmother that still looked to be twenty-five, was into astrology and numerology and believed that everything was a sign of something. Sandra was a beauty with a warm and charming personality.

Hannah who was no social giant either but she thought she was. There had been times that she got to hang out with the somewhat elite of Nashville with Louis and she thought this made her the expert of the group.

On the trip down she warned the two about acting as if Buck were a superstar, she said, “Just treat him like you would any person on the street.”

When they reached 2nd Avenue, Hannah had no idea where she would find the Ace of Clubs, so; on the first drive down, they passed up all the closest parking. They had to swing back around to get a close park, which probably added another ten minutes on to their arrival time.

As soon as they walked in Hannah saw Buck making his way over so she turned away as if she did not see him. When he finally approached, he said, “So I see you made it. Do I get a hug?”

“Yea,” she said, giving him a hug and then turning to introduce him to her entourage. “I would like for you to meet my friends, this is Marsha and this is Sandra.”

He said, “Hi, I’m Buck” and reached to shake their hands. Marsha looked up just long enough to shake his hand and went back to putting her new pack of cigarettes into her case.

Hannah said, “I love how you say I’m Buck as if no one would know,”

He said, “It’s the introductory thing, you have to say it. Well, I had better get going I still have several people to speak to before I go on.”

He left leaving the three alone. Marsha said, “Who was that?”

Hannah said, “That was Buck, the whole reason we are here.”

“Well, I’ll be damn I missed it all playing with my cigarettes. Well, you said to act like he was anyone on the street; I guess I did a good job. I didn’t act like I knew who he was.”

“Did it not clue you in when he said I’m Buck?”

“I didn’t hear that, I just looked up and saw you hugging some long-haired guy and thought that must be someone she met coming here all the time, then I didn’t pay attention when he spoke to me.”

“Well you were right, he is someone I met coming here, Buck!” Hannah replied.

The three walked till they were able to squeeze into a spot where they had a good view of the stage and stopped. Sandra said, “It was fate that we missed the parking lot the first time because that extra time we spent swinging back around caused us to be at the door at the time he was walking by. If that had not happened, we would not have gotten the chance to meet him.”

The show started. Buck played the old stuff off his last CD, and then he started playing the new songs. He said, “I would like to play a song for a friend of mine, she knows who she is” and then he begun to play his song. This song must have been the one that he told Hannah she would like because it was about some of the same notions that she had spoken to him about. She figured that he could not remember her name so he didn’t say it. She thought that many women in the room believed that the song was being played for them and not being any different she was sure it was for her. Really didn’t matter if she was wrong, her belief was all that she needed to make it so.

The show was great. They took pictures and Marsha remarked how she could have gotten a shot of Buck’s hug if she had been paying attention. Hannah secretly wished she had. That hug meant everything to Hannah that evening because to her it gave her great value to have been recognized by Buck and to be asked for a hug. She always needed someone else to define her worth.

They made it back home safely. The trip to Nashville was all they talked about at the factory for the next week. All three of them worked for Hannah’s granddaddy.

Chapter 24

Hannah’s life went on and she continued to go to church. She missed horseback riding with her male friends on Sunday because they changed the time they left and it conflicted with church. She felt it was inappropriate to miss church for something like that.

She held Louis off when he wanted sex because it was a sin.

She would go home on her lunch breaks to pray to God for forgiveness for her sins. After praying to God, she would beg the devil to release her from bondage. She felt like it had to be his bondage that allowed her to have impure thoughts about others, though she tried so hard not to, she was still unsuccessful. She had to find a way to be perfect.

She stumbled onto Ben Franklin’s plan that he devised to perfect himself. She tried it and it didn’t work.

Louis eventually broke things off with her again. She liked the idea of not having him around. It would make things easier for her if she did not have that temptation. They stayed away from each other a couple of months and then they got together again.

Hannah through her own interpretations of the Bible thought she had found the answer to the great misdeeds one man does to another. She read in the Bible where Jesus saved the prostitute Mary Magdalene from stoning and said that if any of her persecutors had not sinned then they should throw the first stone. She knew Jesus was without sin and he did not throw a stone. Hannah started to think that if the word Christian meant to be like Christ then to be like Christ would be to not pass judgment. This is what he exercised in this incident and he was speaking against their judgment and not of Mary Magdalene’s promiscuity. She wondered why if to condemn or judge others was something, we should do then why didn’t Christ throw that stone. All he did was show love for Mary Magdalene and she followed him the rest of his life. Hannah knew if you could love everyone instead of judging them, there would be no problems in the world.

One day in Sunday school class, Hannah told the class about how love could save the world and about Mary Magdalene and the whole class except the preacher, Larry Jagers, laughed. Hannah did not understand how saying we should love everyone no matter what they do could cause everyone to laugh.

After church was over and everyone was in the parking lot talking, a few of the people who did not laugh at Hannah’s idea, though she thought they all did, came up to her. They said they loved what she said in class but they did not want to speak up after everyone laughed at her. Tears spilled down Hannah’s face and she said, “If some of us don’t speak then there is no hope.” She also said, “If heaven is filled with people who think that loving each other is funny and it is a place where people go who make judgments like feeling pity for the souls that won’t see heaven, then I don’t want to go”.

Hannah thought the whole Mary Magdalene story told so beautifully what the man Jesus was really like. He loved us all and wanted us to love everyone too no matter what.

Hannah started thinking even harder about the things that Buck said and she hoped God could somehow understand her search for the right answers. She wished that what Buck said was true but it went against all that she knew, even though she had never totally agreed with all she had been taught. She decided to slow down her churchgoing and try to examine the facts. She had never explored anything other than what she had been taught as a child.

Louis encouraged Hannah not to give up church but she resisted. Louis said, “I know you don’t think that anyone cares for you at church but a lot of people do.”

“I’m not concerned with whether they accept me. It’s that they don’t accept anyone, they think bad of everyone who attends, even their own friends and their own family,” said Hannah.

Eventually Hannah gave in and went to church for what would be her last time. That day when church was over Hannah and Louis were leaving and one of the elderly ladies at church pulled Louis to the side to talk to him. When he returned to her Hannah said, “What did she say about me? It was obviously about me or she could have said it in front of me.”

“I’ll tell you later,” Louis said.

“No, you’ll tell me now.”

“Ok, she said if I married you, I’d go to hell.”

Hannah thought, “If she is in heaven, then I’ll be glad to go to hell.”

Hannah had so much to think about. This could not be right. There was something wrong with this whole picture. She remembered how she had tried to bring everyone to church to save their souls after she had gotten baptized and in doing that, she was passing judgment on them. Who was she to think she knew they needed to be saved? She felt at the time she was saved and had to save those who were not at the top of the mountain with her and now someone thought she was going to hell even though she did everything she thought she was supposed to do.

She thought, “What makes us this way? We go to church and are baptized and now we think we have something on everyone and that we will save those who we are above.” Hannah could not see a way you could go through those steps and follow that path you are taught to follow, bringing others to God, and not put yourself above them. It was impossible. The most love and acceptance she had ever felt was by people she knew never went to church. She wondered where Buck and countless others got their ideas. Could it be that she had only been following what she had been taught instead of seeking for herself what was true?

Chapter 25

How could Hannah ever go back to her old beliefs but how could she go on believing in something that made no sense? She began to read. After dozens of different books, she sat down to read yet another. This was different. She could understand it. It was as if someone had written down her thoughts. This book told how everything was an extension of you. You were born with all the answers; you must only look inside yourself. Reading this book gave her a sense that she was home.

Hannah adopted a new philosophy; “If I have a problem with something or someone, I just have a problem.” Sometimes it was hard but Hannah tried to always understand why she had a problem with someone instead of judging them. Why did she feel this way? Was she condemning in them something she saw in herself but did not want to admit or see? It did not take long to realize how far off track she had been.

That day in Church, the baptism, it had not changed anything, she only believed it would and it had seemed that way in the beginning. There is nothing that you can do to avoid all negativity from entering your life. It is completely how you choose to look at that negativity that makes the difference. She started to look at negativity as a learning tool given to her by the world and that was okay, not brought on by her misdeeds. Nothing really changed, just her outlook. She could have done this without being baptized.

Her world was only what she made it. She thought she was a sinner and it seemed she was. She thought she was saved and she was. She thought her prayers would be answered and they were. Now she knew that it was all in her head.

She believed in sin and believed that nothing good would come to her and bad was all she got. She thought after being baptized God would hear her and answer her prayers but now, she realized that if she had never prayed a single prayer, she would have still gotten what she needed if she went after it. If she looked for good that was what she saw. If she looked for bad that was what she would get. She felt charged at her new discovery. Once again, she had realized that she controlled her world and she could not wait to share it with everyone else.

Do you think anyone wanted to hear that it was that easy? No. They called her new age, said it sounded like an occult. Hannah would explain that what she believed was rooted in Buddhism and that people practiced it long before Christianity existed. This explanation did not help.

Her family began to worry about her. They told her she had just not found the right church. She felt like laughing when she heard this sort of thing but she also wanted to cry. “How could it scare anyone to say that what they thought was God was in everyone, we were all God,” Hannah thought. Finally, she learned that she had to pick her audiences, not everyone was ready to hear her.

Hannah had been chosen Quality Control Supervisor where she worked now and one day, she had to meet with a contractor about bad quality garments that they had received from him. His name was Randolf and he was from the Dominican Republic. Randolf took her to lunch and during lunch they somehow got on the subject of religion. Randolf said a few things that made Hannah feel like she could discuss her beliefs without judgment but she still held back. Finally, Randolf noticed that she was holding back and said, “You obviously have something to say, so just say it.”

“I’ve been judged so much I don’t share my thoughts easily but you asked for it. I believe that the little bit of goodness that is in each of us is God.”

“You are exactly right,” Randolf said. “Picture, God is the sea and, in that sea, there are billions of drops of water. We are those drops of water.”

Hannah could not believe what she heard; someone expressed her thoughts for her in the most beautiful comparison that she had ever heard.

Hannah eventually had to call Buck and tell him how great a revelation his words had been to her. Hannah said, “I have to laugh at myself now when I remember sitting there with you that first night thinking he just doesn’t get it and now I see that I was the one who indeed didn’t get it.”

He just said, “I am older and I’ve just been around a lot longer than you.”

Chapter 26

Well, Hannah was finally getting it. Many times, on her road to discovery I wanted to tell her the way and I did drop a few hints. I watched her grow into a beautiful young woman and most of the time she did not think that I was watching. So many things happened in her life that caused her pain but she held her head high and she would think to herself, worse things had happened and she had survived them, she could survive anything.

She liked to joke that she could be a guest on any Ricky Lake show because she had survived it all, abandoned by a parent, marriage and divorce, domestic abuse, abortion, child out of wedlock, and single parenting. She would still sometimes get sidetracked but she knew how to find her way back when she did.

When Hannah was in high school, she was at a friend’s house she called Vickie. Just across the woods from Vickie’s house was her boyfriend Scott. Vickie wanted to walk over to see him and Hannah went along. They got through the woods fine but on the other side of the woods there was a cow pasture. Remember the first cow experience I told you about, Will and what Hannah now knows was a bull. Well, this was all Hannah knew about cows so she was scared. She and Vickie walked hand in hand across the pasture. They finally made it to Scott’s and after the visit Hannah refused to walk back across the pasture which meant they would have to walk on the highway about three miles to get back. While they were walking on the highway Gloria and Fred came through and when Hannah got home, she was in so much trouble.

I tell you this story only because you can probably guess what got Hannah over her fear of cows. A man of course. Wasn’t that what usually led her everywhere? She was still trying to please a man after all these years.

It was during one of the break ups with Louis. There was this guy that Hannah worked with that she was attracted to. He was about to quit work to start a dairy barn. Hannah wanted to prove to him that she was the girl for him so she got her friend Albert who worked at another dairy barn to show her the ropes. At first, she was afraid but then gradually she found herself washing udders, hooking up milkers and wading in shit for two hours. She loved it. Just being with Albert was part of the fun. Albert had been her friend for years and she did not have to prove anything to him. He was one of the few men she could be around without having to give herself away.

The guy never knew she learned to milk cows. She never told him. He turned out to be one of those guys who thought a woman’s place in the world was to please him. Hannah knew all too well what being with him meant and she was opting to steer clear (pun intended). At least she’s not afraid of cows anymore.

Chapter 27

Once Hannah went with Louis to Gatlinburg for a week. He was there working for the health department. He was busy all day so Hannah had to entertain herself. The first day Louis gave Hannah money to buy a dress for that night. She went into several stores.

One store she went to had several young college students working in it. They asked Hannah if they could help her and she told them her boyfriend gave her money for a dress. They said that they would help her pick one out. She spent two hours trying on dresses and modeling them for the guys working in the store. They finally settled on a little white dress.

While she was there, one of the guys had a friend who came to town for a visit. He was going to have to wait for his friend to get off work and they suggested that he and Hannah hang out that evening. The two went through spook houses and museums the rest of the afternoon. That night at dinner Hannah told Louis about her day and he was pissed.

The next day Hannah told Louis she would meet him when he was finished at a store called Campbell’s. They make those pictures with your head in someone else’s body. She thought that if he showed up late, she could watch the picture taking while she waited.

That evening she made it to the store before Louis. She hung around the photographer waiting for him to make pictures but he had no customers. Hannah said, “Don’t think I am weird. I am meeting someone here and I thought I could watch you if he was late, which he is.”

He said, “Well let’s do something. We will make a bunch of pictures of you and I will flash them on the TV screen outside and we will see if he notices when he walks by.”

He made several pictures of Hannah. Louis passed the TV outside without noticing. When he came in Hannah introduced him to the photographer and they all talked for a few minutes. He kept flashing Hannah’s pictures on the screen in front of Louis until he finally noticed. He said, “What have you been doing?”

The guy said, “I have had a ball with your girlfriend this evening. I wasn’t very busy so we just played for a while.”

Louis acted amused but later scolded her for being so friendly to the guy in the store.

The next day Hannah thought it was best if she just stayed at the hotel to be safe but while at the pool, she met a man and his two kids. She played with them in the pool all day, laughing and talking. When she told Louis about that day, again with the same, “I just can’t leave you alone.”

She had more fun that week without him than she had with him because he always disciplined her like a child when they were together.

One-week Louis went to a Coaches camp in Alabama. Hannah decided that she needed time by herself. So, she went to Pigeon Forge for the weekend without telling anyone where she was. She got a room at a motel with an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. She figured that if she did not have the courage to go out alone, she could lie in the sun by the pool all day and read then play in the indoor pool that night.

While she sat in the hot tub by the indoor pool that evening, she met a woman the age of her mother named Karen, from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. They made friends quickly and decided to go out that night together. They went to eat and to see a live show at a music barn. Then they found a little country nightclub and stayed there for a while. The two ladies were enjoying each other’s company and did not want to be bothered by men trying to pick them up so they went back to Hannah’s room to talk till way into the night. The next day they exchanged addresses and Hannah went home.

Louis never believed the story. He always thought she secretly went off to meet a man.

Hannah had always wanted to snow ski. She asked everyone to go with her to take a lesson and go down the hill in Gatlinburg but no one would ever commit. One day Hannah got up and it was snowing a little, she phoned work to say she was taking a vacation day, she arranged for her mother to take care of the boys after school and she went skiing.

It only cost her forty-five dollars for a full day of fun. She first took a class. She tried everything she could to learn to stop but she could not master it but she was not going to leave there that day without going down the hill. The instructor, seeing she was having difficulty suggested that she keep practicing on the side till she could stop well.

She did what he said till he left and she jumped on the next chair available on the lift. When she got off at the top, she first rounded a curve, which wasn’t bad, but then she could see it soon curved steeply again. She knew she could not stop and she remembered the instructor saying there are two ways to stop and one of them is to fall and that’s what she did. That’s how she stopped when she got too fast. When she got midway down the slope, she decided that she would not fall again no matter what, she had to really ski at least part of it. She made it the rest of the way down full speed and when it came time to stop, she pulled out a miracle. She stopped on a dime though she never knew how. She accomplished what she came for and went home. Louis was upset that she had not invited him and was suspicious of why she didn’t. At one time she thought that she had lost the ability to have fun. Now she was noticing that she had fun most of the time but just never with Louis. Even though Louis was the person that she planned on spending the rest of her life with she was not happy in his presence. She felt it was time to begin to step back and take a second look.

Chapter 28

While Hannah worked at Wilson Sporting Goods, she was the supervisor of the quality auditors. One of the contractors that they had in Wilmington, North Carolina was having screen-printing problems so she had to fly there for a visit. The Purchasing Manager went with her because he was the person who always had direct contact with these people. His name was Matt. Hannah had never had to work close with Matt before and she was a little afraid at having to spend so much time with him alone. She always thought he was boring so she just could not imagine what the two of them would have to talk about.

They never had a dull moment. They were so incredibly opposite that it took the two days that they were together just to get to know one another.

Hannah told him all about reincarnation on the trip to North Carolina. You know how the premise is that when you come back you are always with the same people even if they don’t play the same role. If you like someone you probably got along well with them in your past life and if you could not stand them you probably had problems with them before.

When they got there, they rushed off to dinner with the owner of the factory that they were visiting, Arthur Lux. Arthur was a short funny looking little man that made Hannah think of John Lovitz. He was the most entertaining person she had ever met. He told stories of visiting the Middle East and being inside a restaurant during a bombing and about all the different food he had tried in different places. He had been everywhere. The way he ate his food under normal circumstances would have nauseated her but at this moment it didn’t. She found joy in watching the delight that he showed in the food as he ate it, she found it charming. He had food all around his mouth and sometimes he would try to wrestle it back in with the back of his hand. Hannah found it so beautiful that a man with his money, intellect, and experience did not feel any need to put on.

They arrived late to their rooms but Hannah did not want to sleep. She had to almost force Matt to go for a walk with her around town. Just before they were about to leave Matt called his wife, Elaina and told her that he was tired and going to bed. Hannah teased him unmercifully because he felt he could not tell her that they were going walking together. When they returned, she took a book out to the porch-swing to read.

This was one of the most gorgeous towns she had ever been in. Because of the recent hurricane the only rooms they could get were at a bed and breakfast, Rose Hill Inn. She had the most beautiful room she had ever slept in. She still could not sleep when she went back in from reading because she was having such a wonderful time. She did not want to waste one minute. She did some yoga and listened to a baseball game on the radio because there was no TV. When she finally ran out of things to do, she decided to go to bed but she left the light on beside the bed because she did not want to miss being able to see her beautiful room if she woke up during the night.

The next morning Matt turned into the Matt she knew at work, all work and no play. He would not wait for the breakfast at the bed and breakfast. They had to stop at McDonalds. When they got to the factory, they toured the facilities and met everyone. After they had a meeting to discuss the problems Arthur and his contractor coordinator, Eddie Aldridge, took them to lunch at a small-town meat and three.

When they were leaving Eddie asked Hannah to ride with him to lunch. She really liked him. He lived on Wrightsville Beach and he looked like someone who would live at the beach. She guessed he was in his early fifties. He had long blond hair covered by a khaki baseball cap, with a great tan. He was wearing a khaki shirt, jeans, and leather boat shoes with no socks. He was a very sexy man. They had a great lunch and everyone got dessert but Hannah. She did not want to eat too much. The men at the table did not want to see her go without dessert so they made sure that she tried theirs. She felt like a little princess when each of them took turns taking her fork and giving her a bite of their dessert starting with Eddie. It was another wonderful day. Eddie invited her back to consult with them on their quality and he said she could stay with him at the beach with whoever she brought back with her.

The trip back home was great too. They had a small wait at the airport, which agitated Matt greatly, and Hannah said, “Just enjoy, there is nothing we can do to fix the problem so let’s just enjoy it.”

Matt said to Hannah, “You’ve not had one drink with me since we left. Let’s find a bar and get a beer.”

“Just one,” she said.

They got a beer, talked a little more about their differences in spiritual ideas and soon it was time to board the plane.

On the plane a man and women sat behind them who told each other about their whole lives. These two perfect strangers knew more about each other after this one flight than Hannah and Matt did after working with each other for more than a year. Hannah and Matt grew tired of setting straight up in their seats so they reclined them. The man sitting behind them said to the lady, “What is this, a Lazyboy convention?” Matt quickly brought his seat to the upright position. Hannah leaned over and whispered, “You wuss, if he does not like us laying on his face let him recline his seat.” Matt slowly lowered his seat back down but not as far as before. They began to whisper. Hannah said, “In our past life we really liked each other and we hated them.”

Matt laughed. And joined in, “Yea, but they liked each other.”

“But they did not know each other that well, they only met briefly. She was probably a prostitute and he was one of her Johns,” Hannah replied.

Matt said, “She probably spanked his ass.”

Hannah said, “That was not what I had in mind but ok.”

Hannah did not want the trip to end. She enjoyed so much being with a man so in love with his wife because it reassured her that he wanted nothing from her except to be her friend. On this trip they really connected. They both had a wonderful time. This is what Hannah wanted from her relationship with Louis, to be able to laugh and just chill. She wanted each of them to be able to be their own person without having to give up any part of themselves to please the other.

When she looked over her life it seemed that the most fun, she had was when she was single without having a steady man in her life. This was the only time when she did not have to give herself away to please another person. Why couldn’t Louis let her have this? If he couldn’t give her this one thing then she would find someone who could or she’d continue to live alone.

Chapter 29

Hannah had spent much of her time waiting on a man to come and be a father to her boys and do with them what boys do. Finally, Hannah knew she had to be mom and dad. Hannah had left the children countless times with a babysitter to chase after whatever dream Louis was on at the time. Now, she was determined that whatever time she could spend with them on weekends when they were not at their other family’s house, she would spend with them. Louis would never again be a determining factor in whether she had time for them or not.

She thought to herself, “What could I do with them that they would like and that I would be good enough at to teach.” She remembered when she was eight; her Girl Scout troop had gone on a five-mile hike. She loved it and never forgot it. That was it. They would all take up hiking. The boys loved hiking except for on occasion Duran would complain with a broken leg when he would get tired, then he expected to be carried.

Hannah thought she was pretty good at riding a skateboard when she was younger. So, on one of William’s trips to see them from Georgia, they went shopping for toys and she talked Race into getting a skateboard. She would take the kids to the park and they would skateboard on the tennis courts. She could still do it.

Hannah took Race and Duran to ride the paddleboats and she would always let them accidentally fall in for a swim since the park prohibited swimming.

They would go to the playground and Hannah would climb up and walk the horizontal bars like a tight rope, she would slide, and she would swing. The one thing she never did was just sit and watch though she could see the other mothers watching, thinking she was a show off. She didn’t care. She was showing off but she was also connecting with Race and Duran in a way they would not soon forget. Also, she remembered when she was a child, always being too grown up to enjoy the same things she was enjoying now with her children. It felt like the whole world was new.

Why did it take her so long to give herself away to Race and Duran? She remembered all the times she had left them with a babysitter. In all this time she had waited on a man to come and save them and they didn’t need saving at all. Now Hannah would go out to eat with the boys and have a better time with them than with anyone. They really knew how to make her laugh. Race and Duran both had a good sense of humor.

Hannah used to go to Shoney’s to take the boys to eat and she would look around at all the couples and think to herself that everyone had someone but her. She did not need anyone, she just didn’t know it then, but at that time all she could do was feel sorry for herself.
Seems like Shoney’s played several roles in Hannah’s life. When she was at Shoney’s she would see all the retired couples and wonder what they knew that made them so content. Why did petty things not bother them? Hannah did not know what they knew but she wanted to figure it out before she got their age and had so little time to enjoy it.

Martin, a friend of Hannah’s said that once he was at Shoney’s when he and his wife were having problems. He looked around and saw an elderly couple and he thought to himself, “I wonder what he did to her thirty years ago or what she might have done to him? What problems had they worked out that allowed them to stay together? Now they had each other for the rest their lives.”

Shoney’s, what a place!

The closer that Hannah got to Race and Duran the more she enjoyed the peace that they had when it was just the three of them. She was beginning to feel that she needed to end things with Louis. He no longer understood her and it did not seem that he wanted to.

When she tried to end the relationship, he would say she was a whore or a slut and tell her that she would let anyone climb between her legs. He would follow her, call anyone she went out with and ask them not to see her again. He would go through her dirty laundry to see if he could find evidence that she had been with someone else. He would call everyone in her family to try and get them to talk some sense into her, which they refused to do.

They would stay apart for weeks and sometimes months but they would inevitably end up together again. Hannah would wear down, figuring that at least if she took him back things could return to normal. It just seemed like less work to date him, although she was miserable.

Chapter 30

Once on a long break up, Hannah called her old lover Robert. After talking with him, the two decided to meet at the old country store he was managing. So, Hannah went to Robert. They stayed the night in the upstairs apartment above the store. Hannah never drank, so Robert bought her wine coolers. They put on soft music and covered the lamp with an old rag. Just when things seemed to be getting serious the pair sprang into laughter listening to the music they had chosen (The Righteous Brothers). It was far too serious for a couple of friends that had been there for each other for ten years, anytime one of them needed to just get away from everything or after a break-up. Finally, they chose a more upbeat CD (Jimmy Buffett) and returned to what they started. It felt so good to be with a friend. Hannah couldn’t remember when she had wanted to have sex but now, she didn’t even have to try. The situation just took her over.

Afterwards, the two talked and laughed. Hannah told Robert how she never had a desire to have sex with Louis and that she thought she had lost all desire until now. They seemed to have a perfect relationship. Throughout the entire time they had known each other they had never been more than friends who had sex on occasion. The couple never fought, there was no need to, and they knew what their relationship was all about. Why couldn’t Hannah find a man like Robert that she wanted to get serious with?

When Hannah would talk about her past Robert would say, “Nobody is perfect.” It was such a good feeling not to be judged. Robert taught Hannah that she was the best she could be just the way she was.

That night Hannah said to Robert, “We have been doing this off and on for ten years, do you think if neither of us gets married to someone we will still be doing this ten years from now?” He did not know but entertaining the thought of it seemed to amuse him.

Hannah thought that there should have been a book written “The Tao of Robert”. If you knew a person like him you were better for it, though most people don’t see the beauty in someone like him.

His sister told her this story, “I was with Robert in one of Dad’s old cars and it caught on fire. I said, “Robert, don’t you think we should pull over? Robert pulled over and just sat there. I said, “Don’t you think we should get out?” He said, “Yea, I guess we should.” He got out and stood watching the smoke roll from out of the hood and I said, “Shouldn’t we try to put out the fire?” He said, “Guess we could.” He went to the trunk and got out some old rags and after slowly raising the hood he stepped up and laid the rags on the fire without any urgency at all, then he stepped back and continued to watch it burn.”

Hannah could see this story playing out in her mind. She thought, “Yep, that’s Robert.” Some people might think he wasn’t too bright but that wasn’t it at all. He just took things as they came, whatever happens, happens. “The Tao of Robert”, just be. She had known him since high school and she still couldn’t understand what his parents could have done to make him turn out so beautiful.

Don’t be misled. Hannah did love Robert but only as a friend. They were as different as night and day. Robert was wild but Hannah never had any urge to live her life by the seat of her pants like he did and if she needed a temporary fix, she could go see him. So, if you are thinking they should try to be a couple, think again. The relationship was that, sometimes he needed her stability and sometimes she needed his carelessness. They lived in different worlds and neither could see stepping permanently into the others’ lives. The beauty in it was that they always had each other to fall back on and never having a real relationship they had no tension between them, it was just a soft place to fall.

Chapter 31

As anyone who is keeping up would know by now, Louis reentered the picture again and the Robert thing did not stop right away. Hannah saw him once more and Louis never forgave her for it. This was the reason that he had lost all trust in her. Louis even called Robert and asked him not to see Hannah again. Robert said, “I can tell you that I won’t be with her again, I tell myself that after every time I’m with her but the truth is if she calls, I will probably go and I don’t know why.”

Hannah was not sorry for this indiscretion with Robert because she needed someone to pick her up and wipe away all the bad things that Louis said about her. Robert made her feel good about herself. She was sorry that it led Louis to mistrust her and that it turned an otherwise sweet and gentle man into a monster.

Hannah would look back and remember this cute, funny, and talented man. He had such self-confidence. Now she had taken all that away and the man before her, she no longer knew.

One day after a brief display of anger, where Louis pushed and slapped Hannah, Race sneaked into another room and called Fred. Gloria called back and asked Hannah if things were okay. She said Fred was on his way. Hannah got off the phone and announced that Fred would soon be there and Louis nearly ran out the door.

About the time Fred arrived, Louis phoned. Fred knew it would be him, so he answered. He said, “Hannah does not want to see you and I think she has tried to make that clear for two years. Now, if you ever call her or come to her house again and I find out about it I will beat the hell out of you and burn your house to the ground. Is that clear?”

That was the end of Louis. Hannah could not believe that it was all so easy. Everyone had told her to get her brothers to threaten him with bodily harm and he would leave her alone but she would not listen. She did not believe in using violence. The whole idea seemed a little redneck.

Hannah once made him feel loved the way she could give up herself to be whatever made him happy. If she took one ounce of the attention and focused it on herself, he missed it immediately and demanded that it be returned. She knew she had not been born to make herself slave to his happiness. She wanted him to be as happy as she made him without having to sacrifice herself but he could not be. She saw him change from being magical and beautiful to being small and needy. She wished so hard that they could shine together but with him it was either or. It was the textbook case of co-dependency.

She stayed on three extra years waiting him out, hoping he could finally see the whole picture but she could see the only way she could make him big and shine again was for her to become small and dull again and she could not. Sometimes love just ain’t enough.

She ached for him. Hannah thought that Louis was a good person. She felt that she brought out the worst in him, to the point that he did not even know who he was anymore. He used to do this thing Hannah thought she hated because it was so loud. He would get on the floor with the kids and act as if he had just gone nuts, yelling loudly some undetermined phrase. I will try to attempt to recreate this sound though it cannot be imagined by reading it on paper. It went something like this, “Oogie, oogie - oogie, oogie boogie,” If she had only known that he would have stopped doing it when she could no longer make him happy with all her personal changes, she would have treasured every loud second of every time he did it. She hated that her changing had to make him not feel good about himself. Whatever he was before disappeared when she became the person she wanted to be.

She could look back at his life and look at all the opportunities he missed for growth. He rejected these opportunities because he did not recognize them as opportunities. He thought that it was just life. His main concern was what people thought of him. She knew so many others who allowed their parents or societies impressions of them to run their life. Hannah was free. She did not care what people thought anymore.

One of the hardest things to turn loose of was Malcom. To Hannah he was her son though he never felt as close to her as she did to him. Losing him was like giving up Race or Duran. Hannah would have almost stayed with Louis forever just to not have to lose Malcom.

To sum up what Louis’s presence in Hannah’s life meant is hard even for her to understand. But I can tell you without fear of contradiction the way he tried to make her into what he wanted was so stifling that she had to decide what she wanted. Sounds bad I know but it is one of the greatest gifts that she ever got.

Now, Louis is married to a beautiful woman who is very nice and brings out the best in him. They have a baby girl and they are very happy. Sometimes we find that one person that can make us nuts because they are here to teach us something great. Hannah was Louis’s and at one time he was hers but we are all better to have had that person in our lives than we would have been without them.

Chapter 32

After the Louis situation abruptly came to an end Robert called and announced that he had a child on the way. Robert had dated another girl, Michelle, at the same time he saw Hannah but she lived in another state and only came in every few months. The two had an agreement that they would see other people.

Now she was pregnant and he did not know what he was going to do. Hannah said, “Nonsense, you are the kind of person that is going to do the right thing. You love Michelle and you are going to see her through this.” He agreed that he loved Michelle and that he had no intention of leaving her he just did not know if he could handle being a dad.

Hannah said, “Damn it Robert, because you do what most people can’t, live life on your own terms, people say so many bad things about you and now even you are beginning to believe them. You are going to be the best dad anyone has ever known. You just hang in there. When the baby gets here you will wonder how you ever lived without it.”

Finally, Michelle had the baby and one day Hannah saw Robert in Celina and he was leaving the business that he now owned and he said, “Have you seen my boy?”

“No, not yet.”

“Well he’s inside, you have to see him. Man, I can’t believe how much I love having a kid but I do,” he said.

Hannah went in and saw his mom holding his beautiful little boy and thought how fitting it was that it had ended this way. She knew that Robert still thought
of her from time to time, she could tell by how he looked at her. They both knew that if either of them ever needed each other again, they would be there just like in the past but she also knew that they would never call on each other again in the way that they had. They never needed to be together again because they always had the memories and each one was still as beautiful as it was at the time it was being made.

Chapter 33

When things were over with Louis Hannah made a list of the qualities, she wanted in a man just as a precaution:

1) Loves children

2) Will allow her to instill the values she wants in her children

3) Will allow her to have friends both male and female

4) Open minded

5) Allows her to have her own beliefs

6) Mild mannered

7) Reads books

8) Likes the outdoors

9) Loves her no matter what crazy things she believes

10) Never tells her just what she wants to hear, has his own opinions

11) Does not need her to change to make him happy

She really did not care if she found anyone. She was enjoying her time with Race and Duran but she did not want to fall for another guy like Louis. Maybe now that she knew what she wanted she would be able to recognize it when it came.

Before Hannah had let people, she dated say things like they were unsure about the children. A lot of people have a fear of commitment and they look for something to blame it on and children are always at the top of the list. Now Hannah would say, “You act as though you have a choice whether you will stay in my life or not based on the fact that I have children, when in reality it will be the children who will decide if you stay.”

Hannah met a guy at a nightclub named Gus. He was an accountant. From here on out he will be referred to as the Dumb Gus. She went out with him about three times and she knew it wasn’t going anywhere but she did not quite know why but Race knew. After dinner one night at Peyton’s house he took her and the kids back home and left. Race said, “Mom how can you stand him?”

Hannah said, “What do you mean?”

“After every sentence he says, he ends it with real something.” Like he will say, this food is good, real good. Or I like your house, I really like your house.”

Then Hannah saw it. He was a suck up. She wanted someone real not just someone who knew how to say the word.

Hannah took a job at a factory in Livingston as the secretary for the quality control manager. When she interviewed it was with a man named Gus, who shall be referred to as the Good Gus from here forward.

The Good Gus was just the coolest. He never wore a wedding band but Hannah knew a guy like this had to be married.

She talked to Peyton about what a great guy he was and Peyton always thought she meant the Dumb Gus. They came into Hannah’s life one after the other and it was confusing so that is why the two came to be known as the Good Gus and the Dumb Gus.

One day the Good Gus was in the office where she worked alone and they talked about relationships. Hannah said, “I guess I am what you call chronically single.”

To which he replied, “I don’t know about chronically single but I am happily single.”

Hannah could not believe her ears. She had worked there for a month and it never occurred to her that he was single. She came to work each day and could not wait for him to walk up the hall. They talked about beliefs and when they did, they hardly had to say two words and they each knew what the other was thinking. They could talk without talking. Hannah always had to explain in detail about her beliefs and with him even an incomplete sentence or thought would do.

Hannah gradually made her move because she knew how intimidating she was to most men. They were discussing a movie they both wanted to see and she suggested that they see it together. He said it was probably only playing in Nashville and Hannah took that as a hint that he did not want to see it with her. To let him off the hook she said, “Well that’s a little far to travel for just a movie.”

A few nights later during the middle of the week the Good Gus called. He said that he was wrong. The movie they wanted to see was playing in Cookeville but it was changing after Thursday night. Hannah said because it was a school night, she would not be able to make it because she did not want to leave the kids with a sitter.

Thursday night came around and Hannah kept thinking about the invitation. She remembered that she had told the boys she would take them to the movies for an Easter present. There was a re-release of an old movie playing and she knew how much they wanted to see it. She decided to go. When she got to the movies she called and left the Good Gus a message, “I’m at the movies. Duran and Race want to see their own movie and I am going to see ours. Come if you like, I’m here.”

She hung up the phone, she was nervous and she tried to just forget about calling. Chances of him getting the message before movie time seemed impossible.

She had gotten there early for the boys to make their movie so she just went on in for a thirty-minute wait on hers. After about ten minutes she heard the door open and it was the Good Gus. She was relieved because for some reason the lady next to her had found it easy to talk to her. She was unloading her whole life history on her and Hannah felt the need to act interested, though she wasn’t. She was growing impatient when the Good Gus finally made his way over. That night, after the movie, he walked her and the boys to the car. The two had agreeing silent thoughts in their heads, “This is not a good place to have a first kiss,” so they skipped that part and said good-bye.

The two were looking for freedom to express themselves and their crazy ideas about the world in a relationship where it was safe to do just that. Now, they had found it. They never really believed that a relationship like that could exist.

Now, it was safe she could really learn who she was and what she believed.

Remember that list Hannah made about the traits that she wanted her mate to have. Knowing what she wanted really did make it easy to recognize the right person when she saw him. The Good Gus was what she had been looking for.

From here on out the Good Gus will be referred to only as Gus.

Chapter 34

Where had the time gone? Hannah remembered back to the time that she had met Buck. That one single event had changed her whole life. When she looked back now, she knew that everything in her life had been leading her to that change.

She remembered a dream she had around the age of ten. In the dream she was an adult. She did not look like the child she was at that time but she knew it was her. She was riding on a bus across a desert and the bus stopped to get gas. Because of the long distance they still had to go the driver suggested that everyone get off the bus and walk around. Hannah was stretching her legs when a man came up to her and said, “You need to follow me.” He probably read Hannah’s expression because he said, “I know this seems weird and a little scary but you have to trust me. I have something very important to tell you.”

Hannah was reluctant but followed anyway. He led her to the top of a hill that was nothing but dried red clay. When they got to the other side of the hill Hannah could see a door in the bank of red clay. He opened the door and they proceeded to go in. They walked down a few steps and they were completely underground. He asked Hannah to have a seat on a chair, the only seat in the tiny room. He leaned his hip on the table next to her. He began, “You were born to do great things with your life.”

Hannah thought that he must be crazy; he did not even know her.

He said, “I know this doesn’t make sense but it is true. Time will go by and you won’t even see it coming but then one day you will know just what I am talking about. You will know your purpose and you will instinctively know what to do. When you begin you will think you don’t know what to do next but when it is time to take the next step you’ll know.”

Hannah laughed, as the adult she was in her dream; it all seemed like a joke.

Then he said, “Just so you know how important this is, remember Moses in the Bible.” Hannah with the mind of a child that dreamed this dream listened on with wonder. She knew about Moses all right. Well, he said, “You will kind of be like Moses in that people will listen to and follow what you have to say.”

“That’s impossible, no human could be like Moses,” Hannah said returning to her adult state in the dream.

He said, “It does sound impossible but like I said you will know what to do when the time comes, you won’t even have to try.” With that Hannah returned to the bus, it left the store and that was the end of the dream.

Some time passed and Hannah was on a trip with her family going to Burgess Falls. They stopped at an old country store. Fred went in to buy drinks and ask for directions. Hannah looked up on the porch and saw a bald man she believed was the man in her Moses dream. He was sitting there talking to some other men but seeming looking directly at her with a smile. When Fred came out of the store, he paused by the men to listen to what they were saying. A couple of minutes later he returned to the car.

Gloria said, “Did you ask those men for directions.”

He said, “No, I got the directions from the lady at the counter in the store.”

“What were those men talking about?”

“The bald one was telling a story about how he had died once and they brought him back to life.”

When Hannah was grown, she would think back to that day at the store and wonder if it was possible that that man had died at the exact time, she had her dream. She thought it would have been the answer to how he found his way to her.

She often thought of the dream. She felt like the dream might be a prophecy of things to come. Although she would never be comfortable being compared to Moses, she knew she had been born to complete some great task. Her purpose might not be as extraordinary as the task Moses undertook but she was a woman with a mission.

She felt like telling people who were with her in bad weather or other dangerous situations, “You are safe with me because I am invincible, I have a destiny to fulfill before I die and I’ve not fulfilled it yet.” Most people never know when they will die and Hannah did not know the exact hour either but she knew it wasn’t time yet. Most days she got up and told herself, “I will not die today because I still have something great to do.” For some, their life’s purpose is to die early so that we can learn from their death. That was not Hannah’s mission and she knew that.

Chapter 35

Most important to Hannah were her children. Whatever purpose she was born to fulfill would be put aside if it interfered with Race and Duran. She did not want them to waste the opportunity they had been given in their present earthly form to evolve to a higher level of consciousness. She had to learn not to weight them down with her own ego stuff. She had to make the world light so as not to burden them with worry or fear. She wanted them to see the world for its real beauty and not the veil that dropped over it to block the truth.

Race had problems about his skin color when he was younger and Hannah had brought him through it by teaching him about skin color. He had seemed sad for days and finally Hannah was able to get to the root of the problem. Race said that the kids at school were calling him black. This first made Hannah angry at Race. It made her angry to think that he took this as an insult but then she understood that he was young and still naïve and she knew if she had done her job correctly this would not be happening.

She said, “You are taking this as an insult because they mean it that way but being black is not a bad thing. They only believe that being black is bad because no one has taken the time to teach them better. If you were black you would be in good company. There have been many blacks in history that shaped this world to be what it is now. You just need to realize that what they say has nothing to do with you, it’s just ignorance.”

Hannah bought children’s books on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Race read these books and he soon started to realize it was no insult at all to be called black. He soon learned to let ignorance roll off him like water off a duck’s back. Once another child asked him at the teen center, during the breaking of a piñata if he had piñatas in his country. He just smiled and said, “I think we do have them in the United States.” It was at the telling of this story that Hannah knew that Race had really gotten it because he felt no need to explain further to the other boy.

At one time she taught Race about how to handle prejudice and now he teaches her.

Race taught her that a person is not what they believe. Your beliefs are exterior; they stem from what life has taught you so far. Who you are is interior and is the product that you get when you scrape off your exterior beliefs and just be. So, your belief is your surface and who you are is your depths. When you are true to the depths and not to the surface you are all you were ever meant to be. Without Race Hannah would have had a harder time understanding this.

Chapter 36

She taught the boys that words were just words. She no longer believed in the existence of curse words. She thought that at some time people labeled certain words as bad because they were suggestive of something that they thought inappropriate to be said in public. She felt if someone had told you all your life that it was bad to say Mickey Mouse then you would have a negative response to it too. She wanted to see the list of words you should not use if there was one.
They are probably in the same ark that holds the rule of no white after Labor Day.

She allowed them to use whatever words they needed to express themselves. Duran being young often got in trouble because of this. Hannah did not expect society to understand her views but she was certainly not going to have them thrust theirs on her and her children. She wanted the children to have freedom to express themselves and freedom to become their own person. She could have stopped them from saying these words but only in front of her. She knew that all kids talk this way when the adults are not around and if they were going to say it at all she wanted to know it. Surprisingly, they seldom ever said any of those type words except for repeating what someone else had said. Duran still got in trouble though. He said something “sucks” at school and got in trouble. He called another boy a “whore” on the bus that was doing the “yo mama” routine and he got detention off the bus for three days.

Hannah knew they had to have order at school but she hated how that order had to lead the kids all to be the same. Children are not allowed to express who they really are. Why can’t we blow bubbles in our milk if we want to? Why can’t we play with our food if we want to? Why can’t we sing at the table? Why can’t we say what we feel? Why can’t we wear clothes that don’t match? Why can’t we splash in puddles if that’s what we want? Why can’t adults still have their own toys? Why can’t adults still ride skateboards? Why do you never see the Chairman of the Board blow a big bubble with his gum in the middle of a staff meeting?

She and Gus disagreed on whether Duran’s actions were serious or not. Hannah did not want to take it seriously. Gus thought that Duran needed to learn how to act. Hannah finally said, “You grew up the same way I did. It took me a long time to learn to express my feelings and I let a lot of people run over me. You still cannot express your feelings. I could sit here and chew your ass up and you would choke to death on whatever you really wanted to say. Wouldn’t you love to be able to express yourself? I am doing everything in my power to stop my children from going through what we both have. Would you not have loved it if someone had stood up for you and your right to express yourself like I am doing for them now?”

It seemed that Gus understood after this conversation.

Duran was upset for days. He could not understand why everyone thought he was bad. He thought that he just must not be smart enough to do what he was supposed to do. Duran told Hannah that the principal said, “When you start acting like everyone else, you will be treated like everyone else.”

This infuriated Hannah. She told Duran, “If I could have my pick of all the children at your school that never get in trouble, I’d still pick you. I have never seen anyone as smart as you. Sometimes you see things that I don’t even understand. You have this gleam in your eye that most people have taken out of their eyes very early and I don’t ever want to look at you and try to remember what that gleam looks like. I want it to always be there. So, if it means you will always be in trouble at school then we will live with that. But don’t you ever stop being yourself. I love you just the way you are. You are different and people who are different are the people whose lives make a difference in this world not those who all look and act the same.”

Duran was the type of child who came home worried because his best friend had to wear clothes with holes in them. He was one who would call his great-grandparents just to see how they were. He sat in the yard in a lawn chair just to watch the sunset while he waited for Hannah to come home from work. He wrote his first poem when he was in first grade. He wrote movies, comic books and stories and he was still only eight. His world was without limits.

Chapter 37

Hannah wished that Duran had teachers like she had when she was in school. Hannah had always been one to look for something to protest and someone to protect and that often lead to trouble but even when she messed up big, she had people watching and helping her along the way. The main one that came to mind was Mrs. Arney, her PE teacher and cheerleading sponsor.

Once when Hannah was in seventh grade, she had a friend, Kimmie, who Mrs. Arney treated horribly. Hannah got this idea to have her kicked out of the school because she always made Kimmie cry, so she got up a petition. It was to petition the school board for dismissal of the incompetent Mrs. Arney on the grounds that she was too brutal to teach grammar school children.

The petition went around for about three days and Mrs. Arney got her hands on it. The next thing Hannah knew her parents were being summoned to school. She knew she was in trouble now. The day finally came and Fred and Gloria went to school to meet with Mrs. Arney and the principal, Mr. Garrett. That evening when Hannah’s parents got home, she could not believe what happened. Instead of the big lecture she thought she would get, all she got was praise. Gloria was so proud of what she heard that day and realized that all the teachings that she had given Hannah on not making a difference in people had paid off. Gloria told Hannah Mrs. Arney said, “Hannah is the kind of person that will fight for the rights of people that she thinks are being mistreated. She gave no thought to the consequences of her action, she only thought of Kimmie’s wellbeing. She did not worry that she might be expelled or kicked off the cheerleading squad. It is people like Hannah that make a difference. She just did not understand that I am not here to win a popularity contest and if I can get more out of a child by making them mad at me then that is what I do. If you could please explain that to her.” When Gloria explained everything to Hannah, she understood Mrs. Arney even respected and loved her. She did not understand the big deal Mrs. Arney made of her. She was just normal like everyone else. Mrs. Arney was right about one thing though. She did not give thought to the consequences but anyone watching their best friend cry would have done the same thing.

After Hannah was married and had Race Mrs. Arney dropped in on her for a visit. Hannah was so surprised when she opened the door and Mrs. Arney jokingly said, “Girl Scout Cookies”. Hannah never forgot that visit she just wished that she could have had something to show Mrs. Arney that would prove to her that Hannah was the outstanding person she thought she’d be.

Just a few short years later Mrs. Arney died of Cancer. Hannah heard that she requested of her husband and best friend that they marry each other so that they would not be lonely. She knew she was dying for a long time but she kept that fact between herself and her family so that she could live out the rest of her time without pity. This sounded just like the strong woman that Hannah had grown to idolize. The world still misses her.

Chapter 38

Hannah knew people like Mrs. Arney were one in a million and that it was all up to her. Hannah had two goals as a parent:

• To make her children realize that they had choices. Only they could decide what their future would hold.

• They always had to take responsibility for their actions good or bad. No blaming others.

If she could succeed in teaching these two things, she would feel she had succeeded as a parent. Hannah thought she was a good parent but she knew she wasn’t perfect. Despite all she could do they would still have problems. She just wished she had realized earlier what kind of parent she needed to be. She knew that when the boys grew up, they might blame her for not being perfect but that was all right, she knew she wasn’t. It would not be a sign of failure; no parent can be perfect. You can try as hard as you can and you will still make mistakes. She also looked back at her own parents and remembered that it was their shortcomings as parents that made her the person she was now. If they had been perfect, she would not have had all the opportunities for growth that she had.

She could see in Race’s face that though they both knew that she had not always been the best parent he felt no need to empower himself by reminding her of this phenomenon. She thought he was more beautiful than she could incorporate into words but the thoughts it etched into her mind brought tears to her eyes.

And Duran. He was the youngest in the household only by present life years. She sensed that no one could know how hard it is to parent a child whose soul is more evolved than your own unless you are in the same situation. From the beginning Duran demanded Hannah’s respect with just a look. When she failed to do the compassionate thing, he gave her the look and the look said, “I expected so much more of you.” He taught Hannah to get respect from your children you must give respect.

She had a dream that she and Louis got back together and his mother Bertha came by to see her. She said, “Why can’t you just leave him alone? “She went through Hannah’s house finding things wrong. “You don’t even have milk or juice in the refrigerator for the children and what kind of food are you feeding them? Duran’s always in trouble at school. You are not much of a parent.”

Hannah finally said in the dream, “Look, Bertha, I do not have to explain myself to you and if I did you are not at a place in your life where you can understand it, so you just need to leave.” That was it, Hannah knew what she was doing was right as a parent and people did not have to understand it, nor did she have to explain it. She was happy to have had this dream, for insight alone. One last thing about Bertha. Almost a year after this dream Hannah saw Bertha in town getting in her car. Hannah passed an accepting smile her way and Bertha waved and smiled back. This brought Hannah to the brink of tears. Hannah understood that Bertha just wanted the best for Louis. She was not angry at Bertha. She did not agree with how Bertha felt about her but she could understand her harsh judgment because just as she felt about Louis, Hannah’s children were also very important to her.

Chapter 39

Hannah had created a whole new world in her mind. In this world people could be themselves without judgment. Love was unconditional. You could wear what you like even if it was from another decade if you liked it. You could blow bubbles in your milk or play with your food at a business luncheon.

Hannah had been reading a little about Zen and she wanted to put it to use by testing the teachings of the world. How bad would it feel to experience the things that we all assume are crazy and uncomfortable? People tell us something is bad and we assume that they are right.

Hannah had a friend, Halla whose brother owned land where he was starting a new sub-division. It was just a big field at the time. Hannah got this idea that she would wait till dark and go to the field, pull off all her clothes and run through the field completely naked. She wanted to know what it felt like to be completely free. When night fell Hannah went to the field and parked her car.
She put in her Billy Holiday cassette, turned it up, removed all her clothes, she set the light in her car overhead so that it would not come on when she opened the door and she did it. She went running wildly through the field. It felt wonderful; she had never felt freedom like this. She wondered what people would think if they saw the sight of her naked body running through the field. They would think she was crazy.

This one thing taught Hannah so much. This taught her to try things for herself. It’s like that daughter who bakes her ham in a pan that is twice the size she needs and then when someone ask why she uses such a big pan she says because her mother does. She finally asks her mother what significance the large pan holds and the mother says, “Because my mother used a large pan.” She then goes to her Grandmother and ask her about why she always used a large pan and she says, “It’s the only one I have.”

Hannah loved to hike. Once on a hike she decided to express her freedom again. It was the middle of January and around 40 degrees. She was with Peyton and Sarah, one of her best friends. They were right above the river. They climbed down to the river and Hannah walked up on a big rock, took off all her clothes and stepped into the freezing water. When she got back out, she had never felt so warm. She had always believed that if she got in water that cold, she would be freezing when she got out. She felt like she could stand there forever and never get cold. The other girls said that they would get in too but they wouldn’t because they were afraid that someone would see them naked. Hannah thought that if anyone saw them, they would watch with excitement thinking back to their daring youth before they lost the magic.

Now, you’re thinking she must have had a thing for nudity but she was trying to discover for herself what was good and bad. It is like when someone says don’t sit on wet grass and for your whole life you never do but you don’t even know why.

Hannah loved bubbles so she bought herself four bubble necklaces. Once she took Race and Duran to the park and she took her bubbles with her. She was sitting on a rock by the creek blowing bubbles, watching them float across the top of the water. Two little girls came over and asked if they could play with her. Hannah kept blowing bubbles while the two little girls raced to catch them. They finally asked if they could blow bubbles too and Hannah, with reluctance, handed them over. She was amazed at how such a small thing could be so completely appreciated by those who had not lost the magic.

Hannah was now thirty-one but she felt like a small child again. She had discovered her happiness was in those things that she had neglected as a child in her hurry to mature. As a child she hardly played with dolls, she never watched cartoons, and she never played outside. Now she had returned to her youth and life was much happier.

Chapter 40

It seemed that now that she had found her true self, she was amazed at how people responded to her. She had never demanded respect before; she never felt she deserved it. She wanted to tell everyone to just be themselves and say what they really felt. People really were attracted to authenticity in others. Most people including herself at one time or another had fashioned themselves to the form that they felt someone else wanted them to be. How attractive could that be? When you are yourself you can never be more attractive.

Men would tell her how their wife did not have any hobbies or interests. That they never did anything without them and they expected them to do the same. The wives that they refer to need to be the center of their husband’s world for reassurance that they were loved. She knew because she had done this herself. If you hold onto someone in this way it is not that person who makes you feel needy it is your own insecurity. It is always your problem and not theirs. How attractive is it to have a leach on your arm? Go out and get your own stuff. When you get back home, home will still be there but someone will be much happier to see you when you return.

JUST BE YOU! Then if someone does not like you it should not be your concern. You can be the same person every day and some people will like you and others won’t. Why would you not be yourself, at least you would be sure to please one person? How could you not be attractive if you were telling the truth? How could you not be attractive if you do whatever you want, not caring about others impression of you? And if you like yourself well enough you won’t need the approval of anyone or all of anyone’s time.

The only reason anyone feels that they need all of someone’s attention is because it is a sort of reassurance that they are okay. They don’t like themselves and they need to think that one person is only thinking of them to be sure that they are lovable. If you like yourself you would not be that needy. It’s when you don’t like yourself or you don’t know who you are that you are unattractive. When your boyfriend’s best friend asks you what you like to do and you respond,
“I don’t know,” now that’s ugly, not to mention pathetic.

Hannah bought a CD that had a song on it that said, “And I don’t regret the rain or the nights I felt the pain or the tears I had to cry some of those times along the way. Every road I had to take, every time my heart would break, it was just something that I had to get through, to get me to you.” Every time Hannah heard these lines she would cry with joy and wonder why. Then she figured it out. That someone she was trying to get to, was her true self and now she was there. She was the “you” in the song.

For a while Hannah had a job as a program manager for an after-school program for underprivileged children. One of the girls in the program, Amber, wrote poetry. One of her poems talked of how her whole world was some boy she liked and how she dreamed of being with him. It was as if her whole life was about this one person.

Hannah read the poem and said, “Amber that poem is beautiful but I wish you loved yourself as much as this boy. When you write a poem about love and it makes you think of yourself that’s when you are on the right track. When you love yourself others can love you and you can love them back.”

Amber said, “I know you don’t think I know what you are talking about but I do.”

Hannah wished this were true but she was sure it would be several more years down the road before Amber truly knew but at least the seed had been planted.

Chapter 41

When it seemed that Hannah had gotten it altogether, things began to fall apart.

Gus was at her house every day because of the distance he had to travel to work and he had also begun to move his things in slowly.

On Valentine’s Day Gus asked Hannah to discuss marriage. It was not a proposal but it was close enough that it sent Hannah into a whirlwind.

She kept thinking she could do whatever she wanted now and that if she married, she would have to give up that freedom that she had enjoyed for the past few years. Hannah could not let someone tie her down where she had no choices. She needed to be free but she did not know why.

She wondered, “what if Gus wasn’t ‘the one’?” What if they married and “the one” came along and she could not have him because she was with Gus till death do, we part?

Every day she would go home to Gus, who would be laying on the loveseat with a paper in one hand and a remote in the other, watching TV and reading at the same time, with a beer beside him on the floor. Hannah would ask, “Did you have a good day?”

His answer would be, after along sigh, “No.”

It seemed to be the movie Ground Hog Day all over again. She had done everything to get some excitement back in her life, including painting the living room a bright color. Funny thing, none of this had bothered her before the marriage discussion.

Hannah found it hard to go home to Gus. She had to decide. After days of deliberation she asked Gus to move back to his house. It was hard for her to do but for some reason Gus seemed to mean less and less to her.

After Gus moved out Hannah had a hard time trying to get things back together. One day at work she fell apart not knowing how to get back to that girl that she loved. That night Hannah cried harder than she could ever remember, consoled by Gus, who stopped after she paged him. She wanted to back up and fix her relationship with Gus but the moment he got there she could not see anything in him that she had ever seen before. She kept crying wondering how she could let this happen to her. She was always so strong and together and now she was broken. She decided to go visit William, in Georgia. She thought he could fix her.

Hannah packed up the kids and Peyton and they went to Georgia. Hannah had a plan to get William off in private and tell him of all the hurt she had encountered at his abandonment and the consoling that he would offer would mend her broken heart. She thought the fact that she felt he did not want her, lead her to seek out people that she knew would not want her because that was her familiar. If he could only tell her how wonderful she was she could fix her problem.

When Hannah got to Georgia her plan changed. Now it did not seem like he was the problem. She could see how loved she was every time that William looked at her. She could remember the love he had for her as a child hearing his voice when He called her T.K., which he had always done her whole life. She did not see how making him grovel could make a difference. She knew, even though it wasn’t perfect, he gave her all he had and there was no need to shame him for it.

William asked Hannah, “T.K. do you still walk?’

“No,” she said. Then understanding that he probably meant hiking she said,
“You mean hike, yea I still do that.”

“Do you think you can do five miles?”

“Like a breeze.”

“Get your shoes on,” William said.

So, Hannah, William, and Peyton went for a five-mile walk. The road was of sand and red clay, mostly sand. There were stretches where only bent and dead trees lay in marshes. Then out of nowhere there was a farm with peacocks, cows, and goats, with a cute farmhouse and lots of green acreage. William said that the couple that lived there were an elderly couple who had no children of their own but had raised ten foster children, two at a time over the years. Hannah looked around and thought how wonderful it would feel to not have anywhere to go and no one to want you and then to be brought to this place, it would be like heaven.

Other than this beautiful farm everything seemed so desolate. Hannah realized growing up in a place with such death must be one of the things that sends everyone into some form of rehab that lives here long. Though it did seem so dreadful, there was still a sort of beauty that came with it, almost like an understanding of why this town hated everyone and everything.

Instead of calling the town by its rightful name “Wrightsville”, Denise, Hannah’s other sister, raised by William, called it “Riotsville”. This town was filled with anger.

When William would talk about the black people here Hannah would think that black people where she lived were not the same but she also knew that white people weren’t either, at least not the people that Hannah chose to have circled around her. So, the walk down this road sort of symbolized for her the death and destruction that was “Riotsville”.

Looking beyond all this the walk was something else for Hannah too. It meant looking into William as she had never and seeing in him the things, she admired about herself. The way he loved walking, the woods, the outdoors period, and the way he paced himself was like her “get it done” pace.

After the walk William was in the kitchen making his famous spaghetti when Hannah noticed something about him, she had never noticed before. The broad shoulders that she had carried all her life he was carrying too. She always wondered where they came from. And she noticed that the shoulder muscles up by his neck were raised just as hers were and she wondered if his muscles were stiff like hers had always been. She had to see, so she walked over and squeezed the big lump and William said, “What are you doing?”

“I have that too, people always think my shoulders are tense because that muscle is hard but I tell them if it is tension it’s always been there.” William just kind of smiled.

Even though every deeply held conviction that both Hannah and William had were conflicting, she loved the passion with which he stood by them, just as she did, not caring what anyone thought.

On this trip Hannah was able to eat and sleep, two things she had not done well since she lost herself. She felt she just wanted to stay and be protected by her daddy. As much as she wanted to never have to face her problems she still had to go back to Tennessee.

Chapter 42

When Hannah returned to Tennessee, she dated different men (if you could call them that, they were all eight to ten years younger than she was) every weekend. She seemed to need the attention. Every day she came in from work she would have messages from five different men hoping to be her pick for the weekend. On the rare occasion that there weren’t any messages she felt let down even though she did not have feelings for not even one of the men calling her. It was all a big game to her.

Hannah was hurting over her lack of feelings but decided to use this experience as a tool to get over what made her not be able to love the men who could love her. She thought back to all the times she had done this before and wondered how she could have ever let this happen to her again. She thought she was over her feelings of low self-worth. She knew that things had been coming too smooth for her for a long time. If she had come to a point where she could learn nothing else, she would die or something bad would happen and this was it.

Needing to get away again, she went to Gatlinburg with Peyton. They had a wonderful time. They did all there was to do.

Peyton wanted one of the old west pictures made but Hannah could not bear the thought of wearing that old saloon girl stuff, so she suggested that they do the cowboys instead. The picture turned out awesome and Hannah took hers back and hung it in her office to remind her of one of the things she loved most, her sister.

After their day ended Hannah insisted on junk food so they walked to the nearest mini market. They settled down to go to bed and Hannah read a book about women and ate her junk food.

It seemed that things were beginning to become clearer. Hannah had the twisted picture of what marriage was and she knew it was twisted but she could not help herself. She decided to embark on building a new picture. In her mind she saw it as an ending of all that was good. She envisioned herself as a single Granny with white hair twisted in a bun, wearing denim pants and a white tee shirt with a denim shirt over it. She could see herself out tending flowers in a beautiful yard, outside of a little cabin in the woods. She would have lots of grandchildren who would come to visit her and never want to leave because she would spoil them terribly.

She saw Gus as someone who endangered this picture, as someone she would have to share it with and she was selfish about her picture. Now she had to find a way to let him in the picture. Maybe it would not be so terrible to have him there. Maybe he would not swallow up her picture so that she had nothing left.
The real problem was not Gus at all. The problem was that Hannah was still looking for outside sources like Gus and her Dad to blame her problems on. And she also still needed a man’s validation to prove her worth even if she thought she had gotten past this.

She had given lots of advice to her friend Martin about his shaky relationship with his wife Lindsey. He always would talk about how easy it would be to move on and start new with someone else. Hannah would always tell him that everyone always comes to a point where it becomes work to stay with someone and that you can move on to someone else but you will always come back to the same place. She would say, “You can run now but eventually you will come back to the same point where you have to work hard to stay and you can do it now or move on to the next person and do it with them.” She knew this advice applied to her as well. She even told Martin, “I know what to do, I just don’t want to do it when it comes to me.”

Martin knew Hannah as a self-assured and well-adjusted person but she felt she was not that person anymore. She had to find out what made her that person before.

Even though Hannah was not sure about Gus she decided to take a risk and take him back. She knew it would be hard to make things right but she knew she could.

Chapter 43

She knew that all the negative things that she saw in Gus were just defense mechanisms (projection) to protect her from looking honestly at herself. This whole thing was not about him but about her. It did not take long to realize that all the stability that Gus afforded her in her search to find herself was so foreign to her that she found life with him boring. It was not that way at all. It was just new. Before her validation came from men and Gus did value her. The difference was that he did not possess her and try to take her over he just let her be herself. What that meant was that now she would have to learn to value herself, where she had thrived on men for her value in the past.

When Hannah and Gus broke up, she finally saw herself. She had always been able to manipulate men into making her feel special. She would tell them what other men said to her and make them jealous and right away she would control them. She knew just how to wrap someone around her finger. She could be big while they were small. It was the thing she could see in Louis but not in herself.

With Gus she could go in and say, “John said if he wasn’t married, I’d be the one.” Gus would say, “You are an attractive woman I can see why he would say that.” He would not play into her trap. He would not be small so she could be big and she was not getting the reassurance she needed so she had to look elsewhere. Finally, she saw what it was. It wasn’t Gus she was running from. She was running away from having to be honest with herself.

Though the breakup was tough it was a good thing because Hannah learned that she had to be the one to make herself feel good about who she was not Gus.

She spent a long time giving all of herself to men and when that did not pay off, she spent more time only taking from men. Now she refused to play if she was not on an even course where everyone gets and gives.

She finally knew there was no “the one.” She had to make herself whole to learn to love someone else. Anyone can be “the one” if they were whole too.

To try to imagine what she would have lost if Gus had not stayed is almost inconceivable. It did seem that to get to where she was at would not have been possible without this latest downfall. She would like to have avoided another downward spiral but she knew she was not mentally where she needs to be and without this whole drama she still would not be there now. So, it was a good thing because now she could see herself marrying Gus and before she thought she would never marry again.

Hannah married Gus January 9th, 2001.

Chapter 44

At the same time, she had problems with Gus she was also having problems at work.

Hannah took a job, as Office Manager of a nightclub called Cotton Eyed Joe, “The Joe”. She loved working for the after-school program but she was unable to pay her bills on the money she was making there.

Hannah hated the change at first. She had just begun to get passed all the thoughts that made her so limited and closed minded and now she would be with people every day who were still back at that place she had just left. She had accepted a new way of thinking and was closing off to her old ways so she no longer wanted anything to do with people who harbored those old ways. When she found herself in conversation with someone who’s thoughts resembled her old way, she would quickly dismiss them as having nothing to contribute to her growth.

Sometimes when you elevate out of one pit you fall into another. She left behind feeling small and found a false sense of bigness. Going to work at “The Joe” was just the lesson she needed to remedy her feeling of superiority.

At first, she thought she was too good to work there but she consoled herself by being able to say she only worked there during the day and in the office at that. She did not want anyone to believe she would lower herself to work as a waitress or bartender in a bar.

She talked to co-workers but her conversations were one sided because she thought, “These people have nothing to teach me.” So, she never listened.

Time passed and little by little she began to make friends and the walls she had built in her head began to fall. She started to learn that these people weren’t any different from her. They all wanted basically the same thing and believed basically the same thing. She wanted happiness, so did they. She wanted love, so did they. She had problems, so did they. She believed happiness was achievable, so did they. Their ideas of how to obtain happiness were different but they still believed it to be obtainable.

Hannah began to wonder what made her feel this false sense of superiority to her co-workers in the beginning. She realized it was the “make them small so you can be big” syndrome. To conquer this notion, when she found herself thinking negatively about someone, she would use the exercise of asking herself, “Why do I need this person to be small?” This always brought responsibility back to her and pulled her out of ego-land and back to herself.

Hannah had a similar problem with female relationships. She saw women as small, submissive, and phony creatures. She did not believe that interacting with another female had anything to offer her towards growth.

She was invited to a bridal shower by the fiancé of one of Gus’ best friends, Lloyd. She did not want to attend though she loved Laura, the fiancée and it was not Laura that she was unsure about it was the other women. She went because she felt obligated. She decided before her arrival that she would scarcely participate in the conversations. She would just listen because she knew they would not talk about anything she cared to talk about. When she arrived, she began to listen and found the conversation to be interesting and very engaging. So, she began to turn loose and share. She left this event in a sense of awe. She began to question what happened in this evening that left her so filled up.

This bridal shower brought out truths she had not entertained before. By being quiet and just listening she was able to see her fault. Once again, she had not been listening to the people she was with because of her preconceived false notions. By never listening she had been shutting herself off from a lot of things that could have been valuable to her if she sought to entertain them. This incident is like that line that says, “Sometimes when you win you lose” and “Sometimes when you lose you win.”

Now she realized her job and the bridal shower were just two more examples of how we like to blame others for having a problem when there is no problem but our own. All the times she thought women were just jealous and now she saw that it was not the women that did not want her, it was she who had not wanted them.

Working at Cotton Eyed Joe and going to the bridal shower both lifted her out of ignorance and brought her back to the world, and the world was good.

I know that this seems like quite an abrupt ending but well, this is as far as she has gotten. She is Thirty-four now and hopefully there is more to come but this is it for now.

She is sure these will not be the last trials that she will encounter but she’s waiting patiently back in Tennessee hoping that the next ones would bring her new insights, as did the past trials she had endured so far.

I hope that this story has shed some light on how confused Hannah has been at times in her life. The upside is she knows a great deal more than she did when she was that small, abandoned, hurting child. Life taught her a lot and what life taught her is what the rest of this book is about.

Part II

In knowing ourselves to be unique, we possess the capacity for becoming conscious of the infinite. But only then. - Carl Jung

Why a Part II?

Hannah wanted to tell the world what life had taught her but she wondered if she should interfere or let others find their way as she had done. She also wondered if you could end a story by dropping off from telling a life story into telling the lessons one learns from living life. Hannah and I debated this issue.

She said, “If you don’t end the story after telling about my life it will seem as if you fell out of one book into another.”

I said, “There is no purpose in telling your life story if we don’t tell people what it taught you. This book is about learning lessons from life experience. So far we have shown how you learned the lessons but we have not talked enough about the lessons that you have learned.”

It was after this talk that we decided to write Part II.

Each day of Hannah’s life brought her closer to the realization that she was always the person she was born to be. All the pain, guilt, and hurt came to her as a gift to open her mind. Every trial brought her to a new place with new insights. Her new ideas and philosophies were so far from where she first began.

While it is true that you learn your own lessons in your own time you can
speed up the process by studying someone else’s personal revelations.

None of this may be true for you but this is what Hannah knew was true of her world.
What Hannah Knows

Looking back, I have a sense of accomplishment. I know the lack of perfection that one might see in me but to me putting it out there is truly a mark that I have evolved. No longer am I to stand lonely in sadness because I fear that someone might find me out. What was found out was a finding by me. I now know that every obstacle that I overcame by doing the “right thing” or the “wrong thing” was accomplished in the way it was supposed to be accomplished. I am now capable of understanding what it is to be human and like what I see. Before life seemed scary, limited and very insecure.

* * *

I used to worry about everyone. I worried about my parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and children. One day I read somewhere that you only must worry about yourself because that is the only thing in the world that you can control. I had never considered this before. I had to ask myself, “You mean I can just worry about myself?” I had never understood that I was not responsible for anyone but myself and this blew me away. I cannot tell you what a release this was for me. It was one of the first major improvements I made in my life.

The second was when I realized that there was never any need to worry not even for myself. Whether I worried about something or not the result would be the same. I don’t worry anymore. If there is a problem with a solution, I fix it. If there is no solution, I just let it go, whatever happens, happens.

* * *

We grew up in an age where parents had all the power, not much different than the day when men ruled over women in the home. Parents were like gods to us. In our time of growing up we were taught to be seen and not heard, let me give you something to cry about, don’t talk back to me and don’t raise your voice to me. This all means one thing; children are not human. That’s crazy isn’t? It’s crazy to think this but we do. We think it is not all right if they show us anger, hurt, defensiveness, individuality or sadness. All of this is human and to deny a person the right to feel any of this is to say that they are not human.

Why is it so hard for an adult to understand that children have a voice too? A child’s voice should be heard as poetry to soothe our souls. It should be ok if children express their emotions. It should be fine that they get upset or hurt and it should be fine that they let us know about it. It is when we try to stifle a child’s voice that they must talk back, they must scream, or they must cry. If you let your child have his voice back nothing damaging will happen. You will just learn to communicate for the first time in your life with your child.

Picture yourself being forced not to speak your feelings, to never get angry and never make your own decisions. Picture someone reigning over you like a master and then maybe you will be able to understand why a lot of children come to a place where they can no longer get along with their parents.

Parents remember - the best gods are the ones who have all the power and have no desire to use it.

* * *

Do this if your eyes are too far apart.

Do this if your eyes are too close together.

If you have small eyes do this.

If your lips are too thin do this or too thick, this.

Don’t wear white after Labor Day.

Don’t sing at the table.

Your skin is too dark and yours, too light.

He is too short.

She is too tall.

Which fork do I use?

Don’t put your feet in the seat.

Don’t put your elbows on the table.

Making this list seemed like an unending task. Where did we come up with all of this? Where is it written, perhaps The Great Ark? Why is nothing acceptable? Is there a person whose eyes are just right? Couldn’t she be perfect the way she is? Must we always need to change?

We spend so much of our lives trying to be what we “think” we should be that we have no idea who we really are.

* * *

All our lives we are taught rules, rules to follow regardless to whether they gain us comfort or not.

I was at group meditation one night and they were explaining to my friend Bryan the correct way to sit during meditation. He was given rules like cross your legs, hold your shoulders back, hold your head in line with your spine as if it were being pulled up by an invisible string, cup the back of one hand with the other or put them on your knees, and hold your arms away from your body. I thought it rather odd to expect that even though this instructor felt comfortable (or not) sitting in this position that it was wrong to assume that this was the only way to sit and that everyone should sit in this way. For the next few days I kept rolling this scene over and over in my mind and I noticed that we often apply the same undisputed obedience to the mystically created societal rules we follow daily. This way of sitting in meditation has been passed down generation to generation and I little doubt many people ever know why they use this posture in meditation.

We get so caught up in trying to do things the way society would allow that we forget to look at what is right for us. If we put the same measures on more obvious things that we encounter in daily life we would see how absurd it is to follow so blindly whatever we are told. For instance, what if we said everyone had to: like the taste of liver, live in a condo in the city, drive a truck, play piano, or know how to hit a bull’s eye with a crossbow. Doesn’t this all sound totally unreasonable? Still we listen when someone says you should: be a lawyer, drive a Mercedes, no elbows on the table, no white after Labor Day, and sit with your legs crossed when you meditate.

We are all different. We need to accommodate our differences but even more, love our differences. On a more important note, we need to do this for our children because if accepting diversity had been taught to us as children we would now simply refuse to sit cross-legged in meditation if it was uncomfortable to us. We would refuse to accept putting our 8”x10” picture into a 5”x7” frame. Ouch!

* * *

You grow up waiting for that day you will know what people know when they say if I could go back and know what I know now and when you finally know it you find that it is simple. What you know now is that though you’ve spent your life trying to have and be the best but your best was when you:

• Still climbed trees
• Ran as fast as you could and still thought you could run faster
• Got excited by a cloud that resembled your great-grandmother
• Made mud pies

And later:

• Drove your first car and it stalled at every stop light
• You could not afford a lot of groceries so you bought macaroni and cheese, three boxes for a dollar and you ate it three days in a row and it tasted wonderful
• You got your paycheck just in time to get it to the bank before getting an overdraft and you appreciated that measly two hundred dollars and thought it was just enough. The last time you laughed was during these times because you have been too busy ever since trying to be something you already are. You are all you were ever meant to be, you were then, you still are now.

* * *

You look every day for someone to fill you up. You want someone who makes you feel whole. You have found many people over the years that in the beginning had a magical power to make you feel whole but somewhere near the end their magic disappeared. That is because they were never magic. You just wanted magic and not really knowing this person you were able to believe that they possessed it. When you don’t know someone, they can be anything you want them to be.

Do you really believe that there is someone out there who can complete your life to the point your troubles will be over and your life will be made perfect by having them around?

The answer to this question is yes, you do and that is the real problem.

You call them “the one.” Let me say to you “the one” does not exist.

You do something and in the back of your mind you tell yourself this will impress them or this will make them go “ah”. If you would just stop and be everything you are trying to make people think you are you would have no need to verbally illustrate your greatness repeatedly by saying those things that make them go “ah” or “that’s impressive”. You are already that worthy person that you are still trying to convince others you are. The person you really seek, the person you call “The One”, is closer to you than the air that you breathe.

If you could set aside/wipeout your need/desire to please the various people in your life (spouse, girl/boyfriend parents, children, friends, co-workers, boss, the world) what you would be left with would be you at perfection. You are everything that you were intended to be the day that you were born. All that you are without trying to please anyone is all you were ever meant to be. This not only applies in couplehood but to every relationship you have in life. It is the thought that we need to be more than we are that makes us feel that we are less than we were meant to be. If you have a need to be filled up by others validation you are assuming that what you already are is not good enough.

If you could believe that you are perfect the way you are you could love all those around you for who they are and not for what you want them to be. You want people to have the ability to make you whole. That is not their responsibility, it is yours. If you believe others can make you whole then you believe that “the one” exist. When you find wholeness, you will not need someone to be a certain way for you because you will no longer need filling up. You will finally be able to love and that love will be without ego. You will be able to love everyone just because they are different and you will see what makes them different as beautiful.

Anyone can be “the one” in a different sense, let’s refer to them as “the authentic” instead of “the one”, because “the authentic” is just a person who needs nothing from you, who is complete in themselves and can allow you to just be. And, “the authentic” is someone you can do the same for. “The authentic” has no special magic and they will never make you whole. You are already whole and they know that and you will find “the authentic” when you know that.

* * *

Loving another person should not require that they give up any aspect of themselves. If you expect a person to change for you then you need to look within yourself.

* * *

What happens in this world has really nothing to do with you; you just make it seem that way because you are the center of your universe. You can’t see the whole world in your field of vision nor can you feel someone else’s feelings in your own body so you believe everything exist in a world created just for you.

Lookout right now at the world and imagine that the mind of every individual living is as consumed by what is going on in their life and head as you are. They are thinking about their stuff and they are oblivious to the fact that you even have stuff. Your stuff does not have a life in their world. Picture the one thing you could not live without and know it does not even matter to them.

Shut yourself in a small room and bring with you the thoughts you are always consumed by. Pretend that no one can ever enter this room. Wait a couple of minutes and then remember the world is still outside this room and that everyone is in their own tiny little room that no one can enter with the thoughts that consume them. Now before you start to feel too insignificant remember that you have complete control of the room that you live in because no one can come in. You are the only one there. This room is the only thing that you have control over so what are you going to do there?

The chance to have a great life is not really a chance but an opportunity that you either take or you will be taken. To have this opportunity to live life on your own terms and to let someone else decide what those terms will be is a violation of what we are here for. We are here to find the optimum positive energy force that is possible for the present life, to be the greatest person that we are capable of, to love without ego and to rid ourselves of the fear that grips and holds us back.

* * *

The way that you treat others is a direct result of how you truly feel about yourself. When we see people harm others out of hate it is because they hate themselves. Societal misconduct is an outward projection of what people feel on the inside. When someone hates it is because they don’t feel lovable. It is our duty, as sentient beings to love our neighbor as he is and not as we would have him to be. If one more person dies at the hands of another, we can thank ourselves as a society who did not care enough for these hurting angry souls to teach them that they are perfect the way they are.

* * *

Someone who still does not accept another person’s differences is not evil. They’re not. It does not make you a bad person to believe something negative it just means you have only been given a limited amount of knowledge about a certain subject. If you were taught all your life that people of a different color were a certain way then that is what you believe because that is what your experience in life taught you. It may be true in your world but it does not make it true overall. If a person has gone to church every Sunday since 1926, he/she may believe that it is wrong to be attracted to the same sex. This is what they have been taught all their life. It is hard to differentiate between what is real and what is learned. If you are black and are robbed by a white male you may believe that every white male would rob you. That is what your experience taught you. The fact a person believes any of this does not make them evil. You can be a good person and still hold a few misconceptions.

What I say here is not to excuse intolerance it is to help us all understand that we should never write anyone off as bad just because they have limited knowledge. You should just hurt for them because they may never change and that is sad. To write them off because of their poor judgment is just another form of intolerance and you who have been the benefactor of intolerance should know better. What you believe on the outside is an ego thing and who you are on the inside is a product of authenticity.

* * *

These are the thoughts of a person who strives way too hard to defeat all the negative stuff that is floating around in her head. Hannah wanted to have the ability to pour out everything that had been poured into her head to let others see it but all that had gone in had now became a big mass that no longer had the ability to be poured back out. It went in as pieces of a puzzle and once all the pieces were put together, they would never come apart again. It was the equivalent of a baby chick coming out of a small shell. Once the chick only knew a world that was the shell, no room to move or to continue to grow. Now he is out, can see so much more, and never wants to go back to the shell again. Hannah only wanted to know more. She never wanted to go back to her limited thinking.

What matters - You got to know that the world is only going to be as good as you can imagine in your head that it could be. You’re driving. Or you can fly. You might even want to float. Do what you want, believe what you want, or don’t believe anything. You never have to live in a shell. You always have a choice to leave.

These thoughts/philosophies don’t have to be yours. You have a choice to believe whatever you want just as I do and that choice will build your world.

Janet’s Message

There was never what you could call an exact moment when it all came together for Hannah. She just evolved to her knowledge. It all seemed to come together to make her see that the life she was so certain of before did not exist at all. It all had seemed so cut and dry before but now she started to realize that her exterior life was not the important thing. It was the interior life that meant everything. Hannah’s philosophies discussed in the last chapter were still a little confused and maybe a little egotistical but they were a start in the right direction because where they led was right on.

There will be none of Hannah’s personal philosophy in what I will tell you next though I will often use her to illustrate. What I will say is true for everyone. There is one thing for everyone that they know for sure. My name is Janet and this is what I know for sure:

• You are already the person you were meant to be.

• You are perfect the way you are.

These two points will be illustrated over and over in various ways throughout what is left of this book and hopefully you will grab hold of one of them. Boldly imprint the rest of this story on your soul because it will be true for you now and always.

This next statement is monumental. If you do not understand it now don’t forget a word of it until you do. This is it:

The reason you cannot find the answer is that you continue to look way out there into the future at what you could or should be instead of looking at right here and now where you already “are”. You don’t need to read another word of this book if you understand this because this will be the only thing you need to know the rest of this lifetime.

Your world is what you believe it is. When Hannah was a child, she saw a small world where only she and her family and friends existed. There were days when all of them were happy and other days when all they could do was cry. She did not understand why when these people began to give her direction. They told her what it was that she was to do and with very little resistance she did what she was told.

She didn’t really think much about what was happening or what would happen in the future (future -I guess she didn’t even know what the word meant.)

When she was hungry, she would let someone know and someone would feed her. If she cried someone would appear from nowhere to wipe her tears. Sometimes she got stuff wrong and she was punished and other times she got it right and she was rewarded. It did not take long for her to discover that she was controlling the world because everything she did had an outcome. Others just thought they were in control and she let them think it. It just seemed as if the world revolved around her and her belief in this made it so.

Everyone seemed like a puppet on a string. She would walk outside and hear birds singing and she knew it was for her. When things went wrong, she was in charge of that too. She might not want the punishment that would result but she had ordered it just the same when she chose to do the wrong thing.

Days and years passed and one day she thought she knew all the answers so she loosened the strings of family and friends. Sometimes she messed up and every time she did, she thought the world was ending. How could she make it to the next day?

When things were bad, she heard about this “Being” that could make everything perfect if only she believed in Him and turned away from all evil. She tried but evil was all around her, no matter which way she turned. Under a veil of darkness, she heard a voice call to her and then there was light.

This voice was not audible. It was not like someone speaking but more like words being poured into her head. One minute she didn’t know anything and next there was this thought that she didn’t recognize. It is not like all her other thoughts. This thought didn’t even sound like her. It was not at all a thought that she would have had. There it was anyway. She would have liked to take credit for it but she knew that her mind did not come up with it and she didn’t own this thought.

I can make a long list of these thoughts and some I have told you about already. You might not understand if they were not meant for you but they go kind of like this:

• Why would God judge you as harshly as you judge yourself and others when he is a God and being a God is a terrible thing to waste?

• If you only think you have something to teach you will never be able to learn.

• What lies behind the face? Who truly lives there? What are you deep down where no insecurity lies? Your physical form is your darkness when you remove this form you only have light.

• It does not matter how you will be remembered because you do not exist.

• It is only your soul which matters the rest is just a container and any container could function the same.
• Believing makes it so.

• Everything exists in your head the same way that you make characters in a book exist every time you read a book.

• The only reality that exists is that there are other people and things (physical) and you have no control over them. The rest you make up in your head.

• Nothing is everything and everything is nothing.

• Emotions (fear, jealousy, greed, pride, happiness, sorrow, and anger) cannot exist without you. Emotions have no physical characteristics that you can touch and they do not exist unless you invent them.

• We fight to keep our ego but losing the ego is the only way we can find true happiness. Does any of this make sense? It did to her. These are answers she got when she wasn’t listening for things outside of her head and started to listen to what was going on inside.

Inside of your head, deep inside your head there is a thundering voice talking so loudly that nothing else exists. It does not matter how loud it is; you still do not hear it. The voice has been with you so long you no longer notice. You have grown accustomed to it and so you have learned to work around it. This voice screams out every time you even think of making a mistake. Your voice is just like Hannah’s.

At first Hannah did not listen to this voice. She would hear it and she would do nothing. It would let her know when she had messed up for the thousandth time, making the same old mistake, that she was about to do it again and she would not listen. She would do it again; the result would be the same even though she just knew this time would be different.

Your voice knows why you continue to make the same mistake and it will allow you to make the mistake because it knows the mistake might bring you closer to the truth. Your voice knows but you do not that you have the capacity to already know what it is you are trying to learn through your mistake but the voice speaks from the inside and you only listen from the outside. So, the voice, it’s always there just waiting for you to notice but you don’t because you are looking in the wrong place. You will never find answers because you look outside and outside is just an illusion.

What is true is that you control how you receive information. You make things good or bad. Everyone is the same on the inside. Everyone is the same. So, we all have the same ability to create our own realities. Anything you feel about everything is a delusion of your own making.

If you were perfectly happy it would be because you lack negative delusions. You would not know hate, envy, jealousy, distrust, pride, ego or low self-esteem. Everything that you see without these traits is beautiful, happy, and loving. How did you get here to this place? You stopped listening to the voices outside yourself that said that you had to be the best, be tough, be beautiful, have the perfect body, get the best education, drive the best car, and have the biggest house. You finally remembered the voice and it said there is nothing you can be that is better than what you already are. There is nothing that you can have that would make you better than you are now. You thought what you were not good enough. So, you always strive for better but now you know that you are perfect the way you are.

You know that man sitting with his family and neighbors at a fire in the middle of the jungle that does not even know that you exist. There are drums beating in the background and people howling in song. He lives off the land. He hunts for food. He might know the cure for every sickness there is. He knows how to track all kinds of animals and he probably knows when it will rain days in advance. Maybe he worships a group of Gods. Maybe he worships just one. He might even worship the sun or moon, maybe both, maybe nothing at all. He thinks that it is beautiful to mark his face with knife gashes or to put a ten-inch plate in his lip. Maybe some of this is true of him maybe none but whatever he believes it is just as true for him as your beliefs are to you.

Who is right? You both are. You are the ruler of your world. Whatever you believe takes on a life of its own. If you believe in something you can always find some evidence to support your theory.

Look at the case of the last presidential election. Half of the United States pulled for Bush and the other half pulled for Gore. I know in my quest to elect Al Gore I really could not see why anyone would vote for George Bush and I could not see any validity in any point brought that would try to sway my vote to Bush. Half the U. S. was with me and the other half was dead against me. I know that I had many solid truth-based points that to me proved that Gore would be the better man but many of you had solid truth-based points that proved to you that Bush was the better man. Who is right? As bad as I hate to say it, we both are. There are two sides to every coin, a heads and a tails but a coin is not a coin without both. I give you an argument, you counter. Though we might not agree we can both be right. There is good and bad in everything and black and white in everything but what you believe is your world.

If you believe in God you have your reasons and you may never be convinced otherwise. If someone does not believe in God there is nothing you can do or say that will bring God to them unless they decide for themselves to accept that a God exist. The world will never be different from what you think that it is.

Why would anyone choose to live in a jungle instead of the civilized world? What is civilized? If the jungle is where you grew up that is civilized to you. Just because someone does not live by the laws of your land does not mean they have no standards of their own. Maybe we are the uncivilized world. Who decided?

A friend of mine came by to see me the other day and the conversation became a little philosophical. He began to talk about how people need to get off their butts and take care of themselves and stop turning to theft or living off the government to earn their living.

I took my turn and ranted on and on about how these people have not had the luxury of a model to teach them to live differently. He informed me that he grew up supported by the government and living in public housing and he got out. I tried to get him to see that there are exceptions where people are not as strong as he is. I told him that these people do not know that there is anything else for them and that is the problem and that if they were taught to love themselves then they might not be in the situation they are in.

Now, here was the thing that shocked me. He said he got his ideas from a book he was reading by the Dalai Lama. I almost fell from my chair. I could not believe that anyone could read anything that the Dalai Lama (one of the most compassionate people living) said and get such a compassionless idea. I have often referred books by the Dalai Lama to friends and in doing so I felt I was offering the suggestion as a gift to help them learn compassion but after this I don’t know. Well, this got me thinking about how you would interpret my words.

While writing this book you can bet, I have designs on what I want you to take from the reading of this material. Will you take exactly what I want you to take from this book when you have finished? No, damn it, you won’t. You will take what I have written into your own world, where along with all that you are and all that you have been taught, you will shuffle it and it will become for you what you are capable of digesting. It is almost as if all books are written especially for the individual that reads them because each of us will take something different from what we read based on what we know. If I wrote nothing in this book but the same statement, “You are perfect the way you are,” twenty thousand times, on all two hundred or so pages, someone would still misinterpret what I am saying.

My purpose in writing this book is that I want you to know how special you are, when you are, exactly who you are. This book is about you. You take these words and apply them to you. If you feel an urge to prove something to someone with this book you are missing the point. You should read these words and take them in to see how they apply to you. I am not opposed to your referring this book to others (please do) but do not use it as a tool to break someone else. You may do that but that is not what this book was written for. I can put this out there but after that it is out of my hands.

If you hate this book you could almost blame that on yourself because you are writing along with me as you read these words using what you know to interpret what I say. On the same token, if you like it you can thank yourself for that too. We are co-authors in the writing of this book. So, write compassionately with me please.

If every person I have written about had the opportunity to tell their version of the stories in this book they would be entirely different than what Hannah experienced. No two people see things the same. They each take from a situation what is applicable to them.

I cannot tell you to what degree nothing you think exists. Everything is just an illusion when it comes to your thoughts. Illusion and delusion are interchangeable; to me it is all the same. Everything that you see in your head is an illusion brought to reality by your perception brought to life by what you have experienced in life thus far.

If you are a racist your experience has given you this delusion. There are others who do not understand your delusion because of their own experience. What is true of another individual is only as true as you believe it to be.

Hannah was behind a car one day that she thought had no back window. She tried every way in the world to see the window but after miles of not being able to, she decided there wasn’t one. Finally, she and the other car turned off the road where they went into an area completely enclosed by trees. In the back of that car Hannah could see the reflection of trees where the window should be. Suddenly there was a window where no window had been before. If she had not followed that car into the trees, she would have always believed that there was no back window. Not that this was a monumental event to be remembered forever but she realized that this car would never have had a window in her mind when she recollected later if she had not turned off the road with the car. I hope you understand what I am saying. Yes, the car did have a window but if Hannah had never realized this fact nothing could have made a window in the back of this car in her mind if she really believed there was not one. If she had never realized that the car had a rear window, she would have told the story years later about the car without the window and not even the fact that it did have a window would have disputed what she had become to believe. Believing makes it so, maybe not in the physical world but in the psychological one. This is a perfect example of how our minds can deceive us.

When you begin to understand that you have a choice as to whether you see the back window or not, you can begin to look more honestly at what surrounds you. You will learn that there are always at least two ways to see a situation, positively or negatively.

You must realize when a situation comes up whatever this situation becomes in your life is entirely up to you. Reading this will not help you. You must search yourself to know what I am talking about.

What you are thinking right now is based on what your life has taught you thus far. Don’t live in this illusion. Forget what you know about every person, place, and thing. Now realize that everything you are trying to forget is something that you created. Every thought you have about another person, someone else has believed the opposite or a variation of your view and the opposing view.

When your soul finds life, your world is like a clear straight path before you. As you grow (regress is a better word) the path begins to curve and becomes covered by debris. The curves and debris represent the influence of people, life events, ideas and beliefs that are learned. Once the curves and the debris cover over your straight path you will never be able to see it as clean and straight again because what you see will always be influenced by what you know. What you know is your own vision of the world and is only relevant to you. Every time you begin to clear your path new influences or old will continue to muddle up your way. Your path will always require upkeep and at best you will just step over the debris or create detours just to keep moving forward but don’t stop moving forward. Don’t ever expect that moving forward will get easy but if you stop moving forward not only will your path be lost but you will begin to be covered over by the curves and debris as well and you will be lost for the rest of this lifetime.

You believe that Hitler was evil. He believed that he was a genius. There are still white supremacists that worship him. There are people still alive whose family will be forever affected by him, who hate him. He had friends and he had enemies.

Because of what Hitler believed (which does not exist) he did what he did. Because of what others believed about him (which does not exist) they followed him. Because of all these delusions (which do not exist) we all know about the Holocaust and have our own opinions. None of it could have happened without Hitler’s belief in his (non-existent) superiority.

Had Hitler realized his delusion we might now celebrate him as a genius because he might have gone on to do something great for humanity instead. The Holocaust did not happen because of any physical reality that existed but because of a thought that did not exist.

Everything that Hitler believed was true to him because all the truth in life there is, is just what you believe. As remarkable as it is to believe that what he thought was true, that is how remarkable it is that any of us think that what we believe is true.

It does not matter if you were beaten as a child, if you were abandoned as child, or if you had parents who cared for you deeply because nothing you believe about another person is true. It all boils down to a thought. Don’t hate your abuser because you are only acting on a thought about that person that you believe to be true, the same as they were when they abused you.

Everything I say means nothing if you don’t believe. You hear the words but you do not know their meaning. Don’t believe what I say it does not matter because you will be fine in the world you have created. If there were not some appeal left for you there you would leave. Hannah had lived in so many worlds in her life and in each of them she had been able to find some happiness. At times she would have to journey back to some of these worlds just to remind herself that this was not where she belonged. When she finally saw that she had detoured again she couldn’t wait to get back to perfect love where she knew she was all she was ever meant to be.

When you begin to believe that you are perfect the way you are you will no longer need the negativity that has served you so well in the past. You won’t need someone to be small just so you can be big. You won’t need to dislike someone else. You won’t need the best of everything or have the best life story. You will no longer have a need to compete if you are perfect the way you are because what else is needed.

If you still don’t believe your great worth the world will stay exactly as it is, the one you strive so hard to grasp but it is always just out of your reach. That’s the way it works until you face yourself and like what you see. You will keep reaching for something you can never grasp. What you are reaching for doesn’t exist it is only the great illusion.

If you wake tomorrow after learning your value and you have already forgot don’t get upset. This world does not cater to self-love. The outside world will never let you be enough. You will have to continue to remind yourself how great you are by looking inside. Old habits die hard. Also, it seems as if everyone is against your self-love but everyone else is working just like you and they are at different places in that journey. So maybe everyone won’t understand where you are but it won’t matter if you are in the right place mentally.

Sometimes you will think you understand but it is only the sound of the words that are familiar. You still do not understand their meaning.

When I say you are perfect the way you are all sorts of things come up in your head. There is nothing wrong with all the second-guessing but if you still harbor ill will against anyone you still do not believe you are perfect. This feeling of self-love must go to the depth of all your being farther than you know exist.

You know everything on the surface. Isn’t it high time that you knew something all the way to your depth? Your depth is where there are no attachments. By no attachments I mean you don’t need anything or anyone special to make you happy. You love because your soul sees the soul essence in others equal to your own. You are simply who you are. You do not attach your happiness to belongings, perfect conditions or expectations. You must shed your coat of attachment in order to lay down your heavy burdens and feel the sun again.

There will be days you will have it down and then other days when it totally eludes you. Therefore, you continue to read, meditate and listen.

Your voice inside is there too. You can find it best sometimes by writing. Just write down what comes into your head. That is where all of this is coming from. Straight out of Hannah’s head and totally out of control.

She was taught all of this by pushing a pen. She picked up the pen and voice/thoughts told her what to write. So, you listen and you will hear it too.

At first you might have disruptions of your own thoughts coming through. Then you will notice a change in your thought pattern foreign to what you are accustomed to. That is the voice and the voice is always right.

She wrote all that I am telling you on a stenographer’s notebook. When she started to write she had no idea what she would say but here it is everything that I am saying to you now comes from the voice. She has not even mastered most of what I am saying but still her pen seems to know all about it.

The voice/thoughts had guided her a long time and sometimes she listened and sometimes she didn’t. When she finally started to listen, she wrote it down.

She noticed that not all the answers she needed came from her head but the voice still showed her where to get the guidance she needed. When the guidance would come, she would get this strong urge for something and there an answer would be. She would get an urge to romp naked in a field and that is where she would find an answer. Sometimes she would have a relationship with someone that was not a good one and that’s where she’d find an answer. She would be drawn to read a certain book and there it would be.

One time she woke up and the title of a book that she had never read and never wanted to read was dancing in her head it would not leave her alone until she wrote down the name and promised herself, she would read it. This book explained to her that what she was beginning to understand about thoughts had been studied by the science world for the better part of the last century. This science is called Quantum Physics. This knocked her out.

Sometimes she would talk to others about their problems and the advice she gave would be advice she needed to take. It seemed that the words she used to help others heal their wounds ended up healing her own and this was an answer. It helped her realize that answers to other people’s problems come to light easier when you have no attachment to the hurt but the reason you know the answer is because your suffering is the same.

She didn’t even like to see those signs in people’s yards that say, “Repent or perish.” She would have to ask herself what shall I repent from? Even the bible says that we are all sinners and any man who says he is not is a liar and the truth is not in him. To say this is to say that we will always do wrong because it is impossible not to do wrong given the human state that we are in. If it is known that we will always mess up then what are we repenting from, being human?

If she could be God, she could not imagine ever withdrawing support from people she loved no matter what they did. She also couldn’t imagine that a god would either.

We tend to run from pain and suffering and when we continue to run away from pain and suffering, a happy life will continue to elude us. Pain or suffering would not be there if there weren’t something to be gained. We need to stop dead in our tracks and ask ourselves “what is the inner calling of my soul trying to say?” Hurt is a sign to pay attention because if it hurts there is a lesson in it.

Hannah’s Purpose

Looking back at the direction Hannah’s life had taken, the dream made sense even though the dream was a bit loftier than its reality. When the man said, “Time will go by and you won’t even see it coming and one day you will know just what I am talking about. You will know your purpose and you will instinctively know what to do. When you begin you will think you don’t know what to do next but when it is time to take the next step you’ll know.”

Some unseen force pushed her to improve herself. Every day that she woke she could not stop looking for answers to life’s deepest questions. She would see people who never gave any of these questions a second thought but to her it was her life, it was her breath. She envied anyone who could make it through a minute of the day without pondering “What are we here for?” “What is life all about?” There were days that she woke up and almost wished that someone else could be plagued by this deep desire to know the truth but it never left her.

She never had a choice. If she had a choice, she would at times have preferred to know nothing and just let life happen. She stayed awake a lot of nights. She lost the ability to have normal conversation. She lost the ability to be understood by others but SHE HAD NO CHOICE. She had to know. She had to listen. She had to write it down.

Hannah’s purpose was to deliver the message that we are all perfect just the way we are and that you are just what you were intended to be the day you were born. It was not by accident that I was able to write this book and you did not pick it up by mistake. If you are reading this book in here somewhere you will find an answer that you have been searching for. You could be searching for various answers it does not matter. You found this book for a reason.

Just as Hannah found her purpose you can find yours too.

• What consumes you?

• What thought keeps you up at night and wakes you in the morning?

Answer these questions and you will know your purpose.

Hannah went to see Andrea Bocelli at the Gaylord in Nashville. She sat amidst the suits and beautiful dresses with glasses of wine and champagne. An orchestra was playing music you felt could not be improved upon.

Without any introduction Andrea Bocelli appeared on stage on the arm of the conductor. He stepped up to a mark on the stage that was invisible to all but him when he wiped his foot across it on the floor.

He started to sing and his voice surrounded them. There was no place in that room that was not touched by his voice. He began to hit these notes that reached through your ears down to your heart and gently raised tears to your eyes. There in that room was no comprehension of time or the existence of others. Each person was alone in the room with Andrea. When he stopped singing, they were brought back to where they were and when they looked around, they each knew that everyone, if only for a moment, had stood alone in the room of thousands of people with Andrea Bocelli. Walking away from the night Hannah realized she had just had a love affair with Andrea but not only her. Every man and women there had a similar experience. They had all fallen in love with him because he could take them to a sacred place that they could not enter without him. He made love to each person there and it was beautiful.

That is how it will be when you find your life’s purpose. Your life is one big love story with the world. You make others feel you and you feel them. We may (will) never sing like Andrea but we have something in us as equally great as his voice.

What is that one thing that has been whispered to you a thousand times? It’s always tapping you on the shoulder saying do it and you reply, I can’t, I’m not that good, I don’t know where to start, what if? When you follow your calling it only takes one step towards it. That one step will be as if you gave a small pushed to a boulder. It starts rolling and you can’t stop it. So, make one tiny move towards it and the rest will follow.

What About God?

How could a God that loves you not want you to do anything you can to be a better person even if that means you mess up? Sometimes the only way to learn is to mess up, we know that, I am sure a god would too.

Hannah kept getting more messages via the thoughts in her head and she never read the Bible anymore, to her it was a fairytale without the fairies, just the villains. She did not want to believe in the bible at all but there was that AD/BC thing. She could not figure out why we would start to measure our time by the life and death of a person that never existed. So, Hannah was sure that Jesus had lived but she thought that he was like Buddha a person who lived without ego like we all should, an example for us to follow.

She felt she would have fewer problems with the Bible if it were interpreted as the parable in which it was written and not taken literal. The interpretation that most people get from the Bible leaves them to believe that God hates the sinner and Hannah could not go for this. She envisioned god as one that did not need capitalization of its name, would love without fail, not pass judgment on anyone, never need to put on a show, and would not need worship. We are expected not to have an ego but we don’t ask that of god.

Hannah believed that there was a force in us that could teach us how to love without ego and that force connected each of us. This force would speak to us and give us all sorts of messages and if we did not listen it would throw all sorts of trials and tribulations at us until we learned all of life’s lessons.

Hannah did not believe that it was necessary to believe in god. Hannah never again wanted to be a part of anything that did not include every person in the world regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or shortcomings. Hannah’s greatest wish was that her words were all encompassing but she understood they weren’t. She felt that those who might stand to benefit most from her love and acceptance would feel convicted by her words instead of loved and for that she was sorry. She wanted no man to accept any teachings in a religion that would cause a separation in humankind. No religion should ever be used to separate and if separation is its intention it is time, we parted ways. Let no man tell you what to believe. So, if what you believe was passed down to you in a lineage it is time to go on a journey of self-discovery where you think for yourself. During this time of self-discovery, you will be terrified of second-guessing but you must.

Once Hannah had a conversation with her friend Martin, in which she admitted her beliefs and she told him that she believed that we are all god. Each of us is born with the capacity to know everything that there is to know. It is already installed in our mind if we know how to find it. Our lives consist of short intervals of tapping into that part which stores what we need to know at the exact time that we need to learn it. If we are alert and responsive to these times, we can find answers to life’s greatest questions or you can let it pass, sit, feel sorry for yourself and never learn a thing. She believed that we would continue to come back again and again until we have conquered our fears and until we have lost our egos. She was not sure if she believed that there was a god and she didn’t think it was necessary to be sure. When she talked about our interconnectedness, she wanted people to understand she was not regarding it as the god that most people refer to. Most of the time she wouldn’t even think about it being there or care that it was there but when she did it was not the gray bearded man in the sky.

Once she pondered this thought and she decided that she would put together all the characteristics that she believed a god would possess and give it a name. She could not believe in a god that would leave out anyone or make one person smaller than another. Her god would never pass judgment on anyone, this god would be accepting of everyone and everything. It would not be a man in the sky looking for someone to commit an act of wrongdoing so that he could strike them with a lightning bolt. It would be just that part of us that has the potential to love perfectly (love without jealousy and need) and that part that knows before us that we may be about to make a mistake (intuition). You know the voice. It is that higher self that she always wanted to maintain.

When you die your body will lay cold and without anything left to fill it up, an empty box. Before, it was warm, able to smile, and able to love. Now, that thing that made you capable of all this is gone, left you an empty vessel. Call it what you will or don’t call it anything. It is not necessary for it to have a name that’s irrelevant. What is important is that you know that you are not your body. No one is. Not the man who incinerated millions of people for the color of their skin or the persons who killed twelve-year-old Emmett Louis Till because he spoke to a white woman in a store. You are the essence of a soul capable of so much more, your portion of what makes up god. The inherit goodness (perfect love) in you that connects all of humankind.

Hannah didn’t believe it was necessary to acknowledge a god or to have a name for one but she stopped everything she was doing and she asked the voice in her head, what is your name? She thought with only love. She listened with only love. She sat quietly waiting for the voice to speak and the voice replied with only love but louder than thunder…

What took you so long to ask? I am the same voice you’ve always heard playing in your head like background music for every episode of your life. I am with you and will never leave you. I am the voice who wants you to know that you are everything you were born to be and you are perfect the way you are. I love you always and my name is...


I am you and you are me.


By now you all understand that Hannah and Janet are one and the same. Hannah is that part of a person that runs purely on ego and Janet is that part that seeks to be authentic.

Looking back at this book after its completion, months later, I am almost tempted to scrap the whole thing. It seems even when I think I am letting the Janet part of me lead I can look back at things like this book and see where my ego got away from me again. I don’t have to tell you where in this book I presumed that I was superior to others, you know. You can see my flaws better than I. I have really put myself out there to be analyzed so that if you still think that others are to blame for your misfortune then maybe you can see from looking at my life that we are solely responsible for that which we create. Maybe you can see that we are all just human. If we were supposed to be perfect, we would not have been born into this earthly form. I like to look at our souls in their physical form as a suit necessary to play on the earth team where we are trying to earn the loss of our ego and our fears.

The one point I hope this book makes clearest is no matter where you are at in your life, head, or soul, though you may have a little help along the way, you are ultimately responsible for what is going on in your life, NO ONE ELSE!

I am sorry that so much of your time with this book was taken by reading about relationships gone bad but believe me when I say it took me even longer to learn that my life was not about finding a man. To my defense, though, much of my learning and evolving was at the hands of those I had bad relationships with.

After the completion of this book I saw a man named Paul (didn’t get the last name) on PBS from The Zen Center in California. Paul was asked to describe what Zen was and he simply said, “Exactly who you are is the answer.” That is what I tried to say in this book. If I had heard this sooner, I wouldn’t have even had to put forth the effort of trying to make this point by writing a book. You would not have had to read this either, that’s why I waited to the Afterward to say it.

Like I said before I have been tempted to scrap this book but Janet won’t let me. Go Janet!

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