MOM STRANGLED ME

Mother’s Day 2020 Tribute

MY MOM STRANGLED ME, that much is true.

I can’t count the times Mom tried to make me feel special. Her most impressive story was how she had strangled me at birth. The Doctors at St. Francis Hospital told her that the umbilical cord had silenced her 5th babies’ cry for good. She wouldn’t give up.


She often recounted her prayers to let me live. And how that led to a second chance.


Of course, her unintentional strangulation didn’t work all those years ago but prayers did. So, I prize above all her prayers. Wherever I was in the world, from that first breathe to now I knew she was praying.


I had seen her tears and prayers for my brothers in Vietnam, her other children — when she didn’t know I was watching. That comforted me on more than one occasion, as when running from thugs firing guns into the night and shouting “Death to America” in then socialist Peru on Christmas Eve in the Andes 1972.


There were many other dangerous occasions, almost too numerous, and never recounted; but one I’ll share. Two weeks before I came home on a cliffside dirt road at midnight in the Andes again, peering down 1,000’s of feet to a river below from a rickey bus filled with people, chickens, pigs (right out of movie “Romancing the Stone”) I prayed, thought of my mother, and said, “Now I know I am going to die.”


About a year before she passed away she emailed me a photo of one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It was a typical one-lane winding dirt highway up in the Andes which I had been familiar with. “Jim, were you ever on a road like that during your mission in Peru?” she asked.


I chuckled and simply answered, “Yes Mom. And thanks for your prayers.”
Why is it boys at war or far from home always worry about their Mom’s feelings in those desperate moments they don’t or can’t write home about.


I could write a book about it…


Oh, yeah. I did.

Tributes to Greatest Generation parents and 12 Timeless Principles every boy should learn.

PANIC DEMIC and Light At the End of the Tunnel

“Whover saves one life, saves the world entire…”

Schindler’s List

Life flows along like a song; that is until it doesn’t. Like a favorite brook or stream visited just the day before in a bucolic country setting–but now dried up from some cause out of our control–life can become so routine and expected in its ways that only a jarring from outside forces may awaken us to the beauty we loved and held to all along.

Most of us have experienced being on a train that enters a tunnel. It becomes narrow, dark, and we expect it to end when light appears. We have never been wrong in this expectation.

The heartbreaking film ‘Schindler’s List’ reminds us that life can change for us on the turn of a door nob. One day we are free, the next we open to a world that is suddenly silent but with demons waiting in the wings.

We understandably feel lost, shaken to our core by a new set of rules and reality. Such may be the case with you during this worldwide pandemic originating from Wuhan, China.

While disease knows no ideology, those at the epicenter must have some sense for what the people depicted by the characters in Shindler’s List felt as they were herded to death by brutal ideological captors.

We feel anxiety when life-altering change is thrust upon us. We feel panic at the threat of death, which means an ending to all we have come to know. It appears as a narrow tunnel with no escape.

Seeking peace with sudden changes may not be easy even when “everyone is in this together.”

But there are ways to both cope and mitigate the jarring effects of the sudden pandemic forces thrown at us.

Some with developed faith keep a bended knee to earth and clasped hands to heaven as their voices pray for mercy in the quest for light at the end of the tunnel. Others begin to do so for the first time. Still, others simply dig in their heels and determine what it is they can do as they question how we all got here in the first place. This is where Oscar Schindler comes in.

Few young people understand what one madman’s regime inflicted upon selected religious and other minorities just eight decades ago. One man stood against the cunning of Hitler and his killers of over 6 million Jews. A German factory owner kept buying lives. Now with freedom’s light at the end of a world at war tunnel, he mourns: “I could have saved more….”

When we think something like being shut-in drives us to anxiety and panic, imagine being human denied your home, family, food, health, basic rights, under constant threat of extermination in unimaginable and horrific ways.

Then imagine being a hero like Oscar Schindler — lifting, rescuing others…

Whatever comes of this present pandemic begun in Wuhan, being like Oscar was to the Jewish people meant the world now has tens of thousands more descendants to give thanks to one man for doing something.

The saying, “I may not be able to do everything, but I am able to do something…” has more meaning in moments like these. Perhaps it is simply our family, or maybe one friend, or perhaps even one stranger we can lift from despair. One thing is certain: doing something until the pandemic train reaches the end of the tunnel keeps us in the fight and who knows what it may mean to others?

We honor our first-line of defense responders to this new world of “shelter in place” and shutdowns. They include:

All health care workers, law enforcement, and fire & rescue personnel. Truckers and shippers, grocers, essential military, local and national government agencies tasked to keep necessary services operative, custodial help, and many more. God bless them all.

This movie clip says it all as the people Oscar Schindler saved during a manmade worldwide catastrophe known as World War Two’s holocaust offer him the best gift of gratitude they can; a simple gold ring made from the tooth filling of one prisoner. WATCH:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4LxLHoIag&fbclid=IwAR3303NxOGdUruTEjZps8obZtMoSUOLtGVnEp03DMR_VhN-R5PwW1F0vGz8

Easter & Passover 2020 – A Prayer for Innocence

Easter…

Author & Easter Basket 1956

As it is with most people, images imprinted over a lifetime of celebrating come to my mind. These have become what one would describe as “normal.” Some include:

Ubiquitous Easter candy filling store isles one month before, the Easter Bunny with anticipation for traditional easter egg hunts for children, Easter baskets filled with goodies and presents for loved ones the night before, Easter Sunday church services, Easter pageants during Holy Week, celebrating the Christian heritage of and meaning for the word “Easter.”

Jesus the Christ suffering in Gethsemene, his crucifixion on the cross, and rising from the tomb in resurrected glory set the stage for these latter-day celebrations begun 2,000 years ago. But, in the spirit of celebrating, perhaps we have focused upon the marketing of traditions more than meanings.

This week also marks “Passover,” the religious observance honoring the 12 Tribes of Israel being delivered from Egyptian slavery and the plague of death by sheltering in place in their homes and placing the blood of a lamb over the lintel and doorposts of their homes. The angel of death passed over those protected by the blood of the lamb and so at each Passover Seder today the question is raised: “What makes this night different from all other nights?”

Until a world sickness captured our attention and required each person on the planet to shelter in place, we may have moved into this week more concerned about stocking up on Peeps marshmallow candies, and the perfect family photo we were planning, and what we would have for Sunday’s dinner, and the rare appearance of the family together for one of two regular church services we attended each year.

James Michael Pratt family 1988

I enjoy the normal and colorful traditions of the world surrounding this and all holidays. And as found in Christianity, I enjoy the reasons behind such a celebration as much as anyone. Anything that points to a greater good where child-like innocence, hope, peace, love, and friendship can be celebrated will find me “all in.”

Easter and Passover 2020 presents a wonderful opportunity for those who have left the faith part of the Easter and Passover traditions in the past. It also offers those who feel a need to renew their commitments to an Easter cause greater than the customarily marketed holiday fluff and stuff a chance to do so with greater focus.

This week — between Palm Sunday the 5th of April which signifies Jesus as King meekly entering Jerusalem upon a donkey before his sacrifice for sin, and Easter Sunday, April 12th, which celebrates Jesus the Christ triumphantly overcoming death for all mankind–presents a solemn and reflective time to be alone; something that “sheltering in place” to stem the tide of a deadly pandemic virus may have provided each of us in a way no other opportunity would have.

It provides the observant Christian an opportunity to place the blood of the Lamb of God, as Jesus is known, symbolically over their home through constant prayer seeking a pass-over of the scourge of a pandemic claiming the lives of many.

I am not a professional preacher, but I have been a volunteer minister and once upon a time decades ago a full-time missionary in an impoverished foreign land and have felt things. I participated in much personal, private, and spontaneously serendipitous events that greatly humbled me.

May I recommend to all those who have an appreciation for the Christian traditions of Easter, something I have called in one of my books, “a return to innocence.” We have socially distanced ourselves from one another, but perhaps we should do the opposite now with our God. A return to innocence involves belief and faith coupled with a simple and humble prayer given upon bended knee in a petition style like a child simply talks to a parent.

It may go something like this: “Father in Heaven,” followed by gratitude, and then asking for specific blessings of things you desire in this hour of need, ending with “in the name of Jesus the Christ;” simple and child-like.

This may be something that feels new, or odd, or even uncomfortable to some. To others, it may be the most “normal” thing they do daily. Whatever the reason behind such a private petition to God, “simple” is the most eloquent prayer — for it is also the most heartfelt and innocent.

Just as I wrote in the soon to be free read novel, “The Christ Report” I could cite supporting Bible passages for these words of mine, but that is not my purpose today.

My simple blog this day is to announce to the world in some literary form my witness that the Jewish son of Mary, Jesus of Nazareth from the house of Joseph, became the Messiah, and that his spiritual promises as found in the Holy Scripture called the Bible are real foundations for a unique “shelter in place” Easter — or as one friend Mary Jean Bentley of Texas called it, a “shelter in peace.”

May this and future Easters become a more inspiring hope-filled normal with a return to innocence, gratitude, daily supplications, and feelings of renewal as we seek to join a worldwide spiritual awakening of our souls to realities upon which, in the first place, our celebrating is based.

God bless you and keep you in a return to childlike innocence and humility before the present crisis confronting us all.

Coming Soon: New website with free reading @ www.jamesmichaelpratt.com

“Jim… You There?”

Santa Claus Lane, Carpenteria, CA

THE Worlds We Loved Change

One of the joys found in creating a new novel is to bring to life places that once stood along the side of the road, or a neighborhood as we recalled it, or a gathering place that has stood with little change over decades, and then offer to the reader a chance to be in that place as if they can experience what I the writer did.

But the saying, “You can never really go home,” holds true. Time changes the places even if they stand the test of time. We can go there, linger there, and reminisce of friends past, events gone, and moments that changed us; at that very spot, but places change.

Or is it each of us? As time marches on the facades of buildings can become remodeled just as the human soul too can become. Landmarks testifying of our history with them may stand in the same place but dressed up a bit they have become someone else’s experience since we last walked down the steps, the drive, the sidewalk.

Experience and weathering the years means many things. When change inevitably comes we are aging with it. We make decisions that change the appearance of things around us, and though old friends may recognize us many decades later, we must pull on the doors of time — like portals through mortality — and go back with them to a place where we mutually experienced events that created a bond of friendship, brotherhood, or love.

Santa Claus Lane in Carpenteria, California stood forever it seemed to me, along the 101 Freeway just beyond Carpenteria proper and before Santa Barbara on the coast. It was a wonderful place, making memories for millions of coastal travelers over a lifetime.

The land has been converted to condominiums now. To people who never stopped there, or who are too young to have visited when it was the village of the “Famous Date Shake” and Christmas memorabilia — it means nothing. To the rest of us, it is a memory with laughter, smiles, and the innocence that only Christmas all year-round brings.

Writing is a way to bring things to life, relive them; the loves, emotions, dangers, happiness, innocence, and even calamities that really do happen to us all in life. It is a way to experience with well-developed characters a commonality that is simply this:

Life is filled with uncertainty except one–things, people, and places change. We can want everything to be frozen in time. We want our children to remain under our protective care and go on enjoying the sweetness with their childhood never-ending; the same sentiment that lights and magic of the Christmas holiday invariably invites into our hearts and minds.

But sometimes Santa Claus Lane will become a place that we no longer can drive by, stop for a milkshake, and smile as we recall the girl we once held hands with while on a date there.

And… sometimes the town store we loved remains. We can touch the building as a smile crosses our face. We see with aged eyes where we leaned our Schwinn bicycle with the banana seat up against the wall, and then sit on the stoop where we took breaks at the place Mr. Fransen gave us a chance to prove ourselves on our first job.

I always drive by the old house, the store, the schools, and the church building when I revisit my hometown of Simi Valley, CA — but I can never really go back.

My world has changed. I am not the person you knew at 18, or 25, or 40, or 55… The world of “Jim” has been added to and repaired where needed. Each person I loved — alive and dead — have their own worlds of life and experiences tucked away in photos and a book of life with ten thousand pages that I have not been a part of.

But, then… once in a while — the phone rings, an email arrives, or a text shows up. I smile, and I am once again where I long to be, in a world before the changes, as I see the words:

“Jim, you there?”

WHEN HOPE IS NEEDED

You Never Know What Tomorrow Will Bring…

     Everyone feels lost many times throughout life.  Sometimes, even when in a crowded room, we can feel as alone as if we were castaway on a deserted island.

It can happen because we lost a loved one, or a friend betrayed us, a hard-earned career is lost, financial disaster strikes after years of careful planning, a struggling marriage just got worse, an addiction we thought we beat came roaring back, sickness invades our life stealing from us needed energy like a thief in the night; in short–life just hammered us until we feel we can’t take it anymore.

On such occasions, emptiness may creep into our lives in what feels like a soul-crushing tide. Each wave of trouble crashes upon us tumbling us to the shore before mercilessly pulling us back into its current to smash us against the rocks with the next wave.

When hope is needed and you feel cast away, character Chuck Noland  recounts how hope kept him alive…

“I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow, I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass…

“And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

     Click on image and listen to the theme song of Cast Away starring Tom  Hanks:
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VENTURA HIGHWAY IN THE SUNSHINE

An experience I had along the highway haunts me now, but first…the sunshine.
 
“Ventura Highway in the sunshine… You’re gonna go, I know…” the song from 1970 begins. Even if the colorful lyrics of “alligator lizards in the air” weren’t anything but a drugged stupor the writer must have been in, listening to it seems fitting now.
 
It is called the “101 ” by locals and was unavoidable to all of us back then… After a lifetime goes by, hundreds of millions of other lives and their stories have intersected ours along the 101’s traffic lanes.

Growing up in a California in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s was truly in a Golden State of opportunity. Friends, beach days, school days, lazy summer days. First jobs like the one in LA taking Ventura Highway to the 405 to Wilshire to the Federal Building, and later the adult thing — jobs won and lost all along the 101.

Walking down the driveway and taking Ventura Highway to the airport where I said goodbye to family and friends for 2 years to give service in South America, just as brothers before me did to Southeast Asia during the hot days of Vietnam. Married and living our first years within miles of the famed Pacific coastal road.

Training within eyesight of the 101 under stress to become a COP at the Ventura Police and Sheriff’s Academy. Actually firing our weapons into the bunkers with Ventura Highway behind it a 1/2 mile away. The smells of agriculture wafting in the coastal breeze; oranges, lemons, and in Camarillo the scent of the ever-present celery filled our lungs. Life was golden and good.

And there is one memory now that haunts me. Wish I knew the ending…

Beautiful Carpenteria, Ca. There is a McDonalds which backs on to the 101 — Ventura Highway, and it was the end of a hard day in the building trades. Now a family man, and trying to rescue my business in a declining economy, I was taking any job I could get, and this was 90 miles from home. I just wanted to get back, see my little kids, and fuel my body and truck. I walked past the disheveled young man with pleading eyes sitting under the juniper bushes in the parking lot — trying to tell myself I couldn’t feed or help the world.

But — I had promised myself when a missionary with a breaking heart who could do nothing to feed the starving people by the many 1000’s who I saw in Peru — always with hands stretched towards the Gringos — that when I got home I’d never pass by a stretched out hand again.

I turned around and went to kneel down next to the boy, maybe 20 years old, and said, “Hungry? Come on. Let’s get something to eat.” He got up from his nightmare and followed me inside.

As he hesitantly ordered, my heart started to break, just like it had every day back in the 1970’s Peruvian government socialist experiment where life was cheap, food was scarce, and opportunities for the people more so.

I wondered how his life could come to this when so much opportunity was everywhere to be had compared to what I had witnessed once upon a time in countries to the south of us.

My memory is sketchy. I recall getting him a room for the night and after listening to his story about how he had burned his bridge with family and friends up Ventura Hwy in the Bay area saying, “I’ve hurt too many people. I can’t go home,” I left to go to my home, with a prayer in my heart that he’d find his way back. All the way home I fought my conscience wanting to turn around and do more for someone’s prodigal son.

What haunts me is that I don’t know what happened. I don’t know the end to that story from a 1993 day on Ventura Hwy.

But the time came when my own children would grow up, become confused, and I know this: I thank God for those who reached out when I didn’t know if they were alive and in spite of self-inflicted troubles saw them as valuable, and assured them that they could go home. Now my son lives and works for a brother Rex Pratt just off of Ventura Hwy, and he is a good man with compassion–working at becoming better each day.

This song reminds me 50 years after it was first recorded, how life may revolve around the heartbeat of certain highways that lead away from and towards home — day after day, month after month, and after years of those, an entire life.

I still wonder — did the boy from the juniper bush in Carpenteria, there at the McDonalds, ever take Ventura Hwy north and find himself safe at home again?

Listen to one of the great songs from our youth:

VENTURA HIGHWAY by America

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnV7dTXlXxs&list=RDtRwYQgk05DY&index=25

AS A MAN THINKETH IN HIS HEART…

WE BECOME WHAT WE THINK ABOUT

James Allen’s “As a Man Thinketh” 1904 bestseller was given to me by my mother in my 19th year. The author proposed a simple idea: “Thoughts are things.”

I am far-from-perfect, but the small book changed my outlook forever. The biblical aphorism, “As a man thinketh…so is he” was used by Allen in his short 50-page treatise that has been a mega-bestseller for over 100 years now. BUT… He left something out. I will tell you in the end what that something is.

We all have something to deal with. That includes the issues people bring into our lives uninvited. Some things are not in our control no matter how hard we try to take a cowboy’s rope, lasso them, and reign them in. This includes physical ailments, employment, relationships, maturity, and even spiritual growth.

I have suffered from skull buster headaches since 18. I have pushed through them, been hospitalized by them, and yet they have, no doubt, moderated behavior in a way I don’t like. (Please, no sympathy, just an example being used here) Yet those unkind torments of the brain have pushed me to look for answers elsewhere…that place of peace and soul searching located south of the cranium.

The “A” type personalities preaching personal performance techniques of “win, win, win” have some good to share with their effervescent encouragement to overcome, look at the sunny side of life, and follow formulas for success. I recommend the gems these winners share.

But in the end, there is a powerful ally for our soul often over-looked by skilled trainers of perfecting our achievement and success, as it was over-looked by James Allen. What I am saying is, “We become what we think about–as we take it to heart.”

Super-charged thinking alone, fueled by a jet-fuel-like dose of positive attitude platitudes releasing dopamine chemicals that make us feel good, even resonate with our brains, isn’t enough.
 
The truths we learn through cognitive means must become internalized so that they continue to motivate us days, weeks, years, after the initial impact. Such was the impact of Allen’s little book on my “soul” 47 years ago.
 
“We become what we think about–as we take it to heart.” The teachings Allen imparted to me didn’t simply make me feel good, but went much much deeper than the speeding lane of the brain.
 
The good news is that the path we set through the initial process of thought can set us on the road to perfection, joy, and the nirvana we all crave.  
We really do become what we think about. The deficits we may feel after doing all we can do on a day by day basis and falling short, is made up in the brightness of “the perfect day” taught by the Master who also taught this — the complete phrase from biblical text:  “As a Man Thinketh — in His Heart — so is he.”
The master teacher from Nazareth taught about the soul, the life of the soul, and where the spirit of God dwells. It was a heart-driven focus. Death was not death to him, but it was Eternal Life.  So the “Perfect Day” was a promised future achievement.  And it was a gift, and it was a future glorious life, and it was to be striven and hoped for, but in the end, from the maker of all, a forever “perfect day” which would become a crowning reward from a life well lived through complete thought-power; a heart-minded alliance.

Thought proceeds action. Pure actions, noble actions, honorable actions, proceed from a unique area of the body unassociated with what scientists and practitioners of the mental arts consider “thinking.”

 The “Who” we become is a heart-centered growth personalized by who-we were-are-and-are-to-become, not by a “one size fits all” success paradigm or formula that requires a lot of brain power alone where winner’s win and losers go where losers belong. Don’t get me wrong…

I am not saying that mental processing of ideas, truths, and facts for higher achievement by our magnificent brain is not important. It all begins there.

What I am saying is that until ideas, truths, facts and formulas are internalized by and in the heart, they do not become “things.” If thoughts are things as Allen suggested, then the focus of Jesus’ saying cannot be left out of the processing.

I do not disrespect the mental toughness and attitudes of grit and determination taught by masters of success teachings. We sow in the mind through mental affirmations and proven success formulas the seeds of greatness. From those seeds trees of life grow. I just see those teachings as support for something more… something James Allen avoided–no doubt because the brain was and still is the focus of peak performance teachers. Very little was and still is known about heart-focused thought and power.

The heart is the center of the soul, its seat, and from it the life-giving blood flows in nourishment to every cell of the body. Now imagine the heart transporting our internalized thoughts into every one of 70 trillion human cells. The Brain may be a thinking machine, and it benefits us greatly, but if it fails us, the Heart goes on until God says, “enough.”

Young or old, we pass on to the “Perfect Day” even though we have not yet become perfect. And what our heart becomes, we become; Forever…

Still searching and still working on it — and the daily skull busters do not control me because: “As a Man Thinketh, In His Heart, So is He.”

James Allen’s book is included for free in “As a Man Thinketh…In His Heart” the Novel @ Amazon

MOM, The Woman Who (Still) Made Oatmeal Stick to My Ribs

So many things still affect me from growing up years, and those years as an adult where Mom was always there.  The “Golden Rule” was one of those things. Gently hammered into me whenever I left the nest, and even as an adult I still hear Mom’s voice.

The value of a mother cannot be underestimated. They are the nurturers of the world, the caretakers of the homes, the providers along with fathers of nourishment, clothing, and a safe place to live.

I include the final chapter to a book being revised for republishing, but available from Amazon online in eBook and used copies in hard and soft cover format. I include an audio link here of the nearly complete audiobook for those who wish to listen to an excerpt:  http://www.jamesmichaelpratt.com/.

   Though we age, and though we become the surviving members of a generation of people from slower, less complicated times, we all in our later years give thanks, credit, love from our hearts to our Mom, who gave us life, and in some cases even saved us.

With a smile as I close my eyes, I can see her call out to me as I run out the front door, “Remember Jimmy, do unto others as you would have them to do to you.”

Thanks for the unnumbered prayers for me. Thanks for all the tireless efforts when I didn’t notice. And thanks for the unseen tears. Still trying to behave Mom.  Still trying to live the Golden Rule… But whatever else may be, or however far short I have fallen from your expectations, I announce to the world this: “I love you, Mom.

 

 

LETTERS YELLOWED IN TIME

  

Ink. Paper. Love…

People don’t write “Letters” anymore; the stuff of personal history stored on pages aged through time.  I’m a romantic from slower times with a couple boxes of time colored letters. If you have lived as an adult before the advent of the internet, you will have saved some of those letters.

Do you recall the excitement of receiving a postal-stamped letter from a love, from Mom, Dad, family, or friend? It wasn’t public like this, but a secret, sacred sort of thing; just for you!

They were sent before electronic communications available now to every man, woman, and child on the planet. Phones didn’t have answering machines and long distance was expensive, so we wrote people we loved a letter hoping the postal mail would treat it kindly and get it to them in days, not weeks.

Handwritten letters are history coming alive. It is paper the person you loved touched, or maybe even kissed before sealing it up. Now more precious, though “yellowed” by time, many of those letters have a ghostly quality because, after all, your loved ones, in some cases, have passed on.

But now, here in your hand, is a personal letter written to you; an investment of time by someone who loved you very much, and for a brief moment you can talk to them again…

I’m in the reminiscing mode this week — listening to music that puts me at 19, 20 and 21 in Latin America where a letter from home was like air to breathe. Sometimes I wouldn’t get one for weeks. Sometimes I would get 2 or 3 in one week. And a telephone call with spotty service if at all, or faxing and texting — which didn’t exist –was not an option.

To put it mildly, getting a letter from home, and especially from a girl, was 10 times a feeling you now get when someone hits “LIKE” on FB or Twitter, except you could touch the paper they touched, then re-read it again as you savored every thoughtful ink-spelled word.

All soldiers from those days understand even more than others. Your life is on hold, and suddenly someone from home unlocks the door and you walk through a portal to be with them for a few minutes again. And the bonus? If you are reading it, it means you are still alive!

I recall getting a single letter from my Dad of three pages. I wept. It took him days to write. Now it is a treasure beyond price. Others still with the fragrance of perfume from some nice girls, and those faithful letters from Mom are stored in an ammo box which I need to unload, read once again, and put into plastic pages for someone else to enjoy.

We should hand-write again, especially to Mom or Dad if alive. Can you imagine the shock, pleasure, joy they would receive? Is there a missionary, a soldier, some classmate you could text message, but want to actually touch them but can’t? That’s called a “letter.”

Should natural or manmade disasters cause it, FB and other social networking phenomenons of the past 20 years will all go away one day. And then, that one day you will find your yellowed letters, and a tear will fall, and a smile will crease your face as a sigh comes from deep within. You will also whisper this to the name of the person who sent it: “I love you…”

ENJOY A SONG:

Here’s a link to a beautiful song called “Yellow Letters” by Nino Bravo, a singer from Spain 1973, who died that year in a tragic accident. You may not understand the words, but the emotion is all about the love found in the “Cartas Amarillas”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZvFrWToECk

IN a WONDERLAND CALLED LOVE

August 11, 2018

In a Christmas tale for the present day and set in the vast open ranch country of the high plains in Wyoming, a family story develops that ultimately rescues three lost souls.  Here is the “Prologue” to a story written straight from the heart; now represented for book and film development.

PROLOGUE

Christmas had been unusually good to the ranch this year, he considered. Now past, he welcomed the chance to relax but somehow also know for certain that the Love legacy would be safe and continue.

As he had each morning at sun-up, cattle boss and ranch manager Dan Echohawk walked down the long drive from the main family home and unlocked the ranch-run café managed by Phil Jensen’s wife, Doris. He would have his first cup of a hot wake-up drink, and then return to manage the dying cattle spread.

He sat on the red bar stool and swirled the black liquid in his coffee mug as if an answer waited for him in it. Dan mentally measured how the two-generation old cattle business didn’t need to die as so many other family ranches had. It was financially sound but just needed a good man and woman at the reigns again; someone who loved the ranch as much as he did.

“Rachel,” he sighed hopefully. “I think Jake…” he muttered, and then realized he was talking to himself again. “You have a nice day, Doris,” Dan finally offered with a heavy cough, as he took one more swallow and prepared to leave.

Dan suddenly realized how much harder every movement was becoming. His cloaked illness was becoming less likely to stay hidden each passing day. Hope Rachel and Jake return early today, he posed in silent reverie. Best we finish this story while I can.

Doris waved from the other end of the room as she dialed the heater up and began her preparations for the regulars who would be coming through the doors any minute.

“How do you do?” the younger man said as he took a seat next to Dan at the counter. He seemed to appear without making any sound upon entering.

“Doing well; thank you,” Dan lied. “What brings you to Love so early, stranger?” Dan quizzed.

“Just enjoying being out at this hour” he replied. The visitor offered a few other particulars about himself, but with a pleasant demeanor kept his focus upon Dan.

One thing led to another and soon Dan found himself considering how this day’s early morning walk down to the Love Diner had offered a new twist. Someone returned back up the gentle hill with him.

Dan built a fire from the pile of pine logs stacked in the brass cradle, and now sat in his favorite easy chair positioned near the stone hearth in the Great Room. He and Missy had enjoyed many hours here after the sun went down; right up to her final day on earth last year.

He invited his friendly guest to take the lounger opposite him. A roaring fire soon crackled and took a winter chill off the one hundred-year-old lonely ranch house main floor.

There was something interesting, and even wise about the inquisitive man who had entered the diner at opening hour; a man who simply called himself “William.” He guessed the well-groomed man fitted in typical Wyoming western wear, was in his mid-thirties, though his energy seemed more like a college athlete.

For some unearthly reason William just seemed to open Dan up, like no one had ever before done. With few close friends, he was busting to share some of his secrets about this place folks simply called the Love Ranch but had little confidence in how to go about it. Dan’s visitor urged him on and he decided to trust William. He began to tell his story as honestly as he knew how:

     Few folks take the lonely stretch of road from I-80 north, then another due west past Eden, where a whole lot of nothin’ greets the eye until you reach a sharp bend before a long drive at a sign post marked ‘Love, Wyoming – Population 50.’ Our small diner and gift shop, the last of the one gas pump country cafes that served the occasional passersby and local cattle folks since the 1920’s, marks downtown.

Up the drive leading to the diner and then the ranch house are three more signs welcoming strangers. Each one was placed there by an original member of the Love family who settled this land. In a family tradition, of sorts, every generation was expected to add their own sign upon marriage. The first of three signs welcoming a visitor up the drive was placed by the original ranch owner, ‘Old Man’ Jack Love. It reads:

 If you are going to fall, you might as well fall in Love.