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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This Is My Life

I had a lot to think about. And thank God Brent was locked away at the hospital, or I probably would have killed him. This poor, sweet little baby boy (Evan) was my focus, more so then myself. It wasn’t much longer that I received a call from the doctor at the hospital. He told me that Brent was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I and that he has started the medication. He explained the importance of starting a routine, frequent doctor visit and always be consistent with the medication – even if he’s better, and basically what to look for and what to expect. I expressed my concern of drug usage and he kind of just blew it off by saying that bipolar patients usually have similar symptoms as drug users.
It wasn’t much longer till I had to meet with members of the court at the hospital and Brent was released. We went to the first Psychiatrist visit and it was basically a waste of time. Between Brent and the doctor, they were both graduates of the University of Michigan. And that’s what the whole conversation was about. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Wolverines … but I love my husband more and wanted to take this whole thing seriously! After we left that office, Brent and I discussed the pro’s and con’s and decided to start a new search for a Psychiatrist, in which we did and made the switch.
After things got settled down, I decided it was time to bring up the DNA results. I figured since he was going through so much mentally that it could have a lot to do with it and was willing to approach it without all the anger. So, I went to him in our basement, where he spent most of his time, and said, “Look, I know you’ve been through a lot and I don’t want to add to the stress, but I know the truth about Evan. And I’m not sure what your reasoning was with what you did, but it’s time you be a man and step up to the plate. You need to be a dad to that child and give him the same love and attention that you do to your other children. Maybe we can talk with the doctor and see what she suggests. Or even to an attorney.” He put down the hockey stick he was holding and smiled and said, “Sweet gesture, but the child is not mine. Since the child was born while I was still legally married, I agreed to cover the child on our family insurance. I just thought it was the right thing to do. You saw the DNA test baby!”
I guess I had my blinders on or something, because I accepted it. In the days to follow, Brent’s medication turned him into a zombie and he literally slept 22 hours out of the day. One day, I just couldn’t take it and went to spend the day at my parents’ house. That night my parents had to rush me to the hospital – something was going on with the pregnancy and it just didn’t seem right. At that point, I was about 28 weeks along. They ended up admitting me and my parents kept Casie. I begged them not to even call Brent because I felt a lot of anger towards him and thought it would relieve some stress – I wouldn’t be putting our baby in danger by dealing and caring for his every freakin’ need. But, he ended up showing up during my stay turned that into his personal lounge. Deep inside I started to resent him. He took advantage of me and all of his children and I couldn’t understand why I still loved him and felt sorry for him! I guess my mind frame continued to blame it on his sickness.
My sister Elizabeth and I fell out before the birth of my son due to something Brent did and we no longer talked. It was weird. We would be in the same place, at the same time, and walk by each other like the other didn’t exist. It was strange because for two grown adults to act like, especially since we used to be so close, is insane. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding and Casie’s God-Mother. But, that’s how things had to be and I went with it.
Due to my medical condition and history of preterm labor, I was restricted to bed rest only. It was in the best interest of Casie and me if all of us moved to my parents’ house for the remainder of the pregnancy. Brent wouldn’t be able to care for any of us with the medication he was on. Luckily, Tommy, my little man, entered this world on April 19th, 2008 healthy and we were able to move home and try again. This time we took the approach of, let’s wipe the slate clean and start over.
My father-in-law fell very sick a short time after Tommy’s birth and we made a lot of trips back and forth from Michigan to Kentucky. It was that November when he lost his battle with cancer. I was devastated. I became very close to this man and thought of him as a friend, more so then a father-in-law. I loved the guy and he would forever remain in my heart and live on in our children. I will never forget the last thing he said to Brent, his voice was weak and he struggled so hard to get it out with every breath, “Straighten up boy! You don’t want to live a lonely life – it’s miserable!”
The relationship with his mother and I started to fade. I felt that as a mother, she should have been here for her son, but chose to go on her gambling trips. That’s where her nickname the “gamblin’ granny” came into play.
Now that I look back, I can honestly tell you that after Brent’s father died – our marriage deteriorated more every day. But, like they say love is blind and I was convinced our love could outshine anything.
I believe some time during this period is when Brent started to smoke crack. Personally, I didn’t know anything about it besides what I saw on movies. One in particular was Ice Cube’s movie Friday, remember Ezell and Felisha? Brent spent so much time in our basement and I rarely went down there – I was too busy taking care of our children that were 13 months apart. I would smell a distinct smell from time to time, comparable to a burnt plastic. When I would ask Brent what it was, he always said he was using the blow torch to adjust his hockey stick. I never considered for one minute it was the drug usage! And honestly, I was too busy caring for the children – I never put more thought into it.
Brent never helped with anything, he was very lazy! I did the cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking care of the children, paying bills, and it seemed like he always had an excuse on why he couldn’t lift a finger. When his children came to town from his previous marriage (minus Evan) – I would be the one to make sure we were at the airport on time, make sure they were fed and entertained; when Brent would focus his energy on how to piss off the ex wife. I was always very close to Maci. She helped me with so much and loved taking care of Casie and Tommy. As time passed, their visits started becoming less frequent and eventually came to a screeching halt.
One night, I remember looking at him and thinking to myself “I have to get away from this mess!” I started to reconnect with old friends and tried keeping myself busy. On this one particular day, I remember my friend Jazmine calling me up to see if the kids and I could go to lunch. I was so excited to go!
Jazmine is a great girl; I’ve known her for years. She’s married to Robby, whom I adore and they have three beautiful little girls – who I love as my own. She’s kind of ghetto fabulous, very intelligent, and she’s one of those people you can talk to about anything and she will never judge. And even if she doesn’t agree with you, she’ll tell you … but, either way she’s going to have your back.
Anyway, we went to lunch that day and I remember ordering a fried bologna sandwich. Lol! Don’t forget, I do live in Kentucky! However, my parents used to make them all the time when I was a kid and I remember wanting one so bad I could taste it. When I took the first bite, I could have vomited. Is that even a word?!? Oh well, you catch my drift. I looked at Jazmine and said “OH my gosh, I’m pregnant!” She laughed and was like “Whatever dude, you are just paranoid. That shit is probably nasty – order something else.” I was hoping she was right, but I recognized this feeling.
When I got home, I didn’t say a word to Brent. I ran in the bathroom and took a pregnancy test …. Not one, not two, but we are talking about eight – they were positive. I was having another baby. I told Brent and he seemed excited. Of course I was too. Babies are always a blessing. But, I was scared and unsure of what was to come. We weren’t planning to have another one that quickly and our relationship wasn’t rock solid. But, here I was and instead of stressing – I embraced it and tried once again to hold my family together.


The police took Brent to a holding sub-station and he was later transported to the University Hospital. MIW’s require a minimum, yet mandatory 72-hour involuntary hold. Those first 24 hours were very critical. At that point, I wasn’t going on much sleep, so I was looking forward to knowing that my husband was in good hands and that my father-in-law and one brother-in-law were going to arrive in a couple of days.
I received a call around midnight from a nurse asking me if there were any medical conditions they should be aware of. The situation itself was a condition, but I also stated that he had a history of extremely high blood pressure. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes and I was able to go back to sleep after that. At about 3am, the phone rang again, I really don’t remember at this point if it was a doctor or a nurse that I was talking to but told me that my husband had a stroke and that since he was there under a warrant, the procedures did not allow any of us to be there. Shocked, scared, those words don’t begin to explain how I felt. I was so afraid of losing the one I loved and started to second guess ever filing. The phone calls continued and obviously, I was unable to go back to sleep. Eventually, the next morning, a nurse from the Psych floor called and said that he was stable and resting comfortably at that point. I asked them what was up with the stroke, and she said nothing was listed in his charts and that he didn’t seem to be a stroke victim.
My brother-in-law who worked with us was very helpful. He was able to call the Human Resource department and Brent’s boss to let them know he was hospitalized and wouldn’t be able to make it work, and at that point not sure of a return date. I was relieved because I didn’t want to answer any questions. The whole situation was embarrassing and when you work at a large organization like that news spreads like wild fires.
Visitation hours were very short and on specific days, but luckily it was the following day. My mom and I headed down there. I was scared to see him because I wasn’t sure how he was going to react to the fact that I filed this warrant against him. I assured the medical staff that I spoke with that I just wanted my husband to get the help he needed and that I was not going to file for a divorce. Deep down I knew when I took the vows of marriage, specifically through sickness and health, that I meant it and I would do what I could to keep my family together. People were screaming, staring out the window, and one lady kept walking up to me and rubbing my pregnant belly. I’m not going to lie, I was freaked out! When Brent walked in the room, he looked exhausted, but he got this huge smile on his face and gave me a big hug. He was so sweet and totally understood why I did what I did. Then, he turned to my mom and told her he loved her. We were only there for about 10 minutes and Brent said, “These people are f---ed, get out of here! I don’t want you around this! Plus, I’m really tired.” From the long walk to the car and all the way home, my mom and I cried like a couple of babies, I’m talking sobbing!
Upon the arrivals of my in-laws, I called my husband’s nurse and explained that Brent’s father and brother were in town for a short period and wanted to stop in for a visit even though it wasn’t the designated visitation day. A couple of hours later, she was able to get the clearance and off to the hospital we headed. I packed Brent some clothes and toiletries in a bag and buried inside I wrote a little note: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you – please don’t take my sunshine away. Get well, baby! –Pookie”
“Pookie” was the name Brent always called me and the song we always sang to our baby girl, so I felt it was appropriate. When we arrived at the hospital, someone came out and started going through the bag I brought. They were taking shoe strings out of shoes, threw away razors, took the drawstring out of sweat pants, and a lot of other crazy things. The lady looked up above her glasses and said “Since this is the Psych floor, these items are not allowed.” I said, “I understand the razor thing, but what’s up with the strings?” She had a very serious look on her and said, “You would be surprised how creative people can get!”
We were then placed in a large conference room behind locked doors where the doctor met with us. He was very nice, but didn’t really say much. He more or less was listening to our take on the whole situation. I remember his brother stating that Brent has been a habitual liar for as long as he could remember. The father explained that a history of mental illness was in their family and that he noted Brent’s behavior getting worse as time went on, dating back as a young child. It was nice to have the help and finally getting to connect with my brother-in-law. It wasn’t much longer until the big door creaked open and in walked Brent. He looked horrible, not to mention very angry. I took about as much as I could – his anger was directed towards me and it was very obvious! So, I left.
Still extremely exhausted, I decided to do some research on the internet. I logged into our insurance company’s website to find my husband a Psychiatrist and schedule an appointment to comply with the court order. To my surprise, I found some very important information. Do you remember the child that was discussed earlier, in regards to the DNA test? Well, it turns out that Brent IS the father. Why and how could he do that to an innocent child? Why would he have put his ex wife through so much hell while she was pregnant? Why did he tell Alex and Maci that it was their half brother? How do I tell my children that Daddy has another child out there that he’s never even met? This child was created while we were dating! What in the hell?!?!?!?
To top that day off, I was notified that my position was eliminated and I was unemployed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Operation: Making Babies

Like I said, we wanted to start having children right away and on March 5th, 2007 we welcomed our baby girl into this world. We named her after my mother, and called her Casie for short. She was my light – everything about her was more perfect then I ever imagined. It wasn’t long after (seriously, about four months later) we found out baby number two would soon be joining our happy little family. But, our path started to get a little rocky.
Brent started acting very strange, almost comparable to someone on some strong drugs. My father-in-law was awesome. I could literally call him and say “your son is acting crazy” and within a day or two, he would make the familiar path down Interstate 75 from Detroit to Louisville. He was the only person on this Earth that could straighten Brent up. However, on one occasion there was no time to wait for Brent’s father to arrive. The police were involved and I had no other choice then to file what’s called a Mental Inquest Warrant (MIW) on my husband. My sister picked me up in the middle of the night, took me downtown to the court house, and I spent the remainder of the night with her. The next day, I went to pick up breakfast and was told that my debit card was reported as stolen. Immediately, I went to the bank to see what was going on and apparently Brent was the one to report it. And since the card was already cancelled, I would have to wait 7-10 business days before my new card would arrive.
While I was at the bank, Brent called my cell phone and started screaming at me that he was on his way to pick up our daughter from my parents house and there was nothing I could do about it. I rushed home and called 911. The police officer arrived before Brent and I was able to explain to him the whole situation. He left and told me that he would be in the area to call if Brent showed up. Moments later, I heard my sister scream out from the front room that the police had Brent outside. I walked out and Brent was still in this crazy, insane act. Warning him that I filed an MIW wouldn’t even shut him up and all I could do was start to cry uncontrollably. The police officer turned to me and asked if I had the papers from filing the MIW and if so, to go get them. When I came outside with the requested information – the police made a call and it wasn’t long till Brent was cuffed and escorted away. I remember him still cussing me the whole time. We used to do this silly sign language thing pointing at our eye, then heart, and then point at the other one to say “I love you” …. When the police car was driving away, I made that statement to him ….. His response was very clear. Lip reading was not always my specialty, but let’s just says if he could have given me sign language back – it would have consisted of only his middle finger. I couldn’t believe this was the same man! It wasn’t …. It wasn’t the guy that I knew! And at that point in my life, that was the absolute hardest thing I had ever experienced. I felt like I should hate him, but my love seemed a little stronger. It was weird – I was weird, but I was also very much pregnant and a ball of hormones.

My Fairytale Wedding

On January 20, 2006, it was official – I WAS ENGAGED!! We set a date of May 27th that year. What can I say, at that point we had been together for three years, had bought a beautiful home, and we both felt we were ready for the next step.
However, a couple of months before the wedding – the whole family issue started to pick at my brain – especially, since he had no plans of inviting them. So, I approached Brent with contacting his family and at least telling them what was going on. I mean, they lived in Michigan; it wasn’t like you see them every day. His response was “You can … I don’t want anything to do with those people.” And so I did …. I started my usual “Google” search. To my surprise, I found out that his mother was very much alive. He finally came clean with that and said that he hasn’t talked to her and considers her dead because some really bad things happened. I felt sorry for him once again, and overlooked yet another lie. But, I still felt it was my place to introduce myself and wrote a letter to both of his parents. I told them how we met and what a gentleman he was and that our plans were to marry and start a family right away. And I would make sure if they wanted to attend the wedding that each of them would have different places to stay; yet still be very apart of all the details. Then, when the invitations were sent out – I made sure to add both brothers and their families, as well as the parents and their significant others.
I received the RSVP card from both of the brothers stating they would not be attending. The father sent one back and said he would be there. And the mother sent me a really nice letter and left her number for me to call. Of course, I was a little nervous to do so – so I waited a couple of days before I made the call. She was very nice, but said due to her ailing health she would not be able to attend the wedding. It was nice to start this relationship with her – she was so sweet and called me all the time, sent cards, and would knit things for me. Eventually, she and Brent started talking at least once a week. And when Alex and Maci were at our house – she would talk to them. It was kind of refreshing! However, I felt it was odd that the father never replied to my long ass letter. But, I was happy that I would finally get to meet him!
Gregory Lyons Sr., the father, arrived at our house the night before the wedding. He was very nice and I was embarrassed by Brent’s reaction towards him in telling him that he couldn’t stay at our house – he had to go find a hotel. The house was full of the wedding party after the rehearsal and I had to literally introduce Maci to her grandfather. I invited him to stay at my parents’ house, since that’s where I would be staying that night. He accepted.
Our wedding was a pretty big thing. In fact, the local cable station aired it for years to follow. A LOT of people attended and the bridal party itself was big. Speaking of that, the wedding was actually almost called off because of that. I admit, I was so excited and wanted the special people in my life to be a part of my special day – and Brent was mad because he felt I had “a starting NFL line up” … or maybe it was “NHL” – you know how those northerns’ are (no offense) with their hockey. Either way, he didn’t want people in it that he didn’t know – so I had to make some changes and he had to accept some things as well. I wonder now, if that was my sign to get away while I still could. The one thing that really bothered me though was we had a mutual male friend who I loved as family. He was great and we went through so much with him, yet Brent refused to have him as a groomsmen. But, since I stirred up so much drama with the wedding party – I had to let him pick the guys and I picked the girls. But, thankfully … the guy I’m talking about, let’s call him Bob, at least was an usher.
You know whether girls admit it or not, they already have their weddings planned as little girls. And mine was just as I imagined. The ceremony was outside on lake scenery with a waterfall in the background. The guy who married us was a mutual friend from work, who we both highly respected. A horse and carriage, like Cinda-freakin-rella had, delivered my parents and I to that long walk. I chose to have both my parents give me away, since they are both so important in my life vs. the traditional father doing it alone. I picked out every song and had players from the Louisville orchestra playing instruments. During the ceremony, we released a pair of doves to symbolize our love for each other. I remember walking down the aisle and the scared feeling of “all eyes on me” disappeared and all I could focus on was Brent. His reaction was priceless. The look on his face was adorable and his eyes started to tear up. I loved this guy and couldn’t wait to spend every minute with him.
After we became man and wife, the reception hall was at the same property. I remember making such a big deal to the limo company that since we worked at Ford – the limo HAD to be a Ford product. And that since my parents were paying the bar tab, I wanted the limo to stay outside and give any one that had too much to drink a ride home. My family is awesome! I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And one of our traditions is for all of us to karaoke “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams, Jr. We did so and the freakin’ DJ’s were bad ass! So, that party was rockin!
The honeymoon was beautiful – we went to Turks and Caicos. It was so amazing – everything about it. The water was so blue it was unimaginable! Weather was warm, yet a cool breeze continued to blow. It was an Adults Only Resort, so at night it would turn into a big club. They had Las Vegas like shows … and, oh, did I forget to mention it was all inclusive.
Upon our return for this Caribbean paradise, we had a lay over in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first person I called was my mom … after I told her of my amazing experience, she followed it up with a warning. “Your father-in-law stayed for several days after your wedding. And has sent me a detailed email about what needs to be done.” I logged into her account and was shocked and disgusted to what he had to say. It was bottom line telling us who and what to allow around us and our home, every move we need to make, and so on. Of course, I couldn’t sit quietly so when I returned to Louisville I called him and set him straight. Of course, in a nice manner, but basically said – we make the decisions, his opinion will be considered, and that basically it was our life and as long as he wanted to be part of it – he would have to allow us to figure life out on our own.

Results Are In

As time passed, some of my questions were answered. Brent explained how his childhood was very dysfunctional. He told me that his parents divorced when he got out of high school. His dad and he haven’t spoken in over 15 years and that his mother is deceased. As far as siblings, he has two brothers. The oldest one was not to be trusted because, apparently, his wife is BFF with Brent’s ex-wife. And the other one, worked at the same automotive company that we did. He said he always kept some sort of civil relationship with that one because they owned a cottage together in Northern Michigan and their professional careers would intertwine from time to time.
When my friends kept pushing the marriage issue, I really started to question him. Finally, he came clean - ONLY, because I demanded to see a divorce decree. Although, his wife originally was the one who filed (which was different then what I was told) – the divorce was not yet final. There was a lot of fighting back and forth and the whole case was very complex. He claims that he told me the divorce was final because he was afraid I wouldn’t continue the relationship. And he’s right! I didn’t like it, but since the proceedings were already in play – I decided to stay in the relationship.
It wasn’t much time after, the soon to be ex claimed she was pregnant. I was told by Alex and Maci while Brent was at work. So, when he came home I asked him about it. He sat the kids down and explained to them that this new sibling, if true, would be considered a half brother or sister since they didn’t share the same father, but, for them to love him or her just as they would each other. It wasn’t long until this story hit the divorce court – only this time, the claim was that Brent was the father. A DNA test was ordered after the child’s arrival.
It seemed like 4-ever until the results came in. As I was sitting at my desk at work, the phone rang and the caller id showed up as Brent’s office. He said “I’m going to call this DNA office in Texas and I want you to be on the phone, so that you know I’m not pulling anything crazy.” I felt I had the right to know, so I agreed. I remember a lady answering the phone with a very strong Texas-like accent. She explained that due to HIPPA laws, she was unable to disclose the results over the phone but if he had a personal fax machine, she would fax the information. He agreed and proceeded to give her my fax number. So, when the results came through – we were both standing there anxiously to see what it said.
Clear as day, it showed a bunch of figures between Brent, the child, and the ex. I didn’t know what the heck I was reading, so I focused on the bottom line. It said something like Brent was 99.9% NOT the father of this child. At that moment, I had mixed emotions. I was happy that it wasn’t him, so I was able to continue my journey with this man. Yet, I was sad for this poor innocent child and quiet frankly, I was sad for the ex. I couldn’t imagine what all of these children would be facing in the future since the youngest didn’t even share the same last name. The whole situation was very “Jerry Springer” – something you only see on TV and never in real life. At least, in my life I never experienced something like that!
Our lease on our apartment was up and we decided to start house hunting. Now that this DNA test was behind us, it wasn’t much longer until the judge granted the divorce and we could continue our life together. We had hopes and dreams of getting married some day and immediately starting a family. Brent was such an amazing father and when Alex and Maci where at their mother’s house – he missed them terribly! Not to mention, I love children and I always wanted at least ten … but, Brent would only commit to five. Lol!

To My Surprise ....

My cousin, Janie, called me the morning of June 27th, 2003. She was always up for a good time and ready to party. She suggested that since my birthday was the next day and I would be leaving on vacation, to meet up at Captain’s Quarters after work. This was a restaurant / bar situated in a high end part of town on the river. I always enjoyed spending time with her, so I agreed. However, I didn’t realize that Brent and Janie planned a Surprise Birthday Party for me. A lot of my really good friends were there and so were my parents to celebrate. It was so much fun!

That night, Brent took me home since … well, lets face it, I was too intoxicated to do so myself. When we pulled into my driveway, it was 11:58 … he asked me to sit in his car until midnight, so that he could be the first person to wish me a happy birthday. That was the night, we had our first kiss. A beautiful relationship started. It felt too good, to be true. Almost like magic or something.
Months went on and our relationship became stronger. Everything was great. He took me to my first Michigan football game, introduced me to his friends, took me on lavish vacations, bought me beautiful gifts – he literally became my everything, the love of my life and my best friend.
That following December, actually Christmas Eve, he felt it was time for me to meet his children. They were so sweet. We took them to go ice skating, the little girl was adorable! She stuck her hand out for me to hold it when we entered the ice. And from that second, I just fell in love with her. I never dated a guy who had children before, and Brent really wasn’t my normal type of guy. But, I was really starting to dig this ready made family.
The following February, we decided to move in with each other. Yes, I admit it …. I was a shacker, but I loved him and never lived outside my parents’ home, so I gave it a try. It was a 2-bedroom apartment. I really had a blast decorating it and buying all new stuff. But, questions started to arise in my head. Family has always been my number one priority, why haven’t I met his family? Or why hasn’t he even talked about them? Why was his ex-wife causing so much grief? And why were mutual friends telling me he was still married? We literally spent every waking minute together - from work, to home, to entertainment. I was so wrapped up in this relationship; I didn’t know what else to do. Other then, believe in him, the one I was head over hills in love with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mixing Business With Pleasure

It was time to quit living the dream and step back into reality. I started my job at automotive plant, which happens to be the largest manufacturing truck plant in North America. It employed roughly 6,000 employees. In the beginning, I was hired on as a Launch Coordinator – basically, a fancy name for a Secretary. The Launch Team was a group of people from all over, mostly Michigan, who would engineer and design future model vehicles. There was never really a dull moment. My friend, Dee, whom I worked with at the manufacturing company, had been there for some time and was able to show me the ins and outs. My boss was this little, short man who packed a powerful punch. Everyone respected him and we got along great and he kind of took me under his wing. The economy started its downfall and he realized in order to keep my position, he would need to add a little security. Therefore, he spoke with the Executives and was able to land me the position of the Management Lease Program. In Laymen terms that meant my work load doubled and my salary was split between the Launch Team and the Plant. The lady that trained me was so sweet. The last thing she gave me was a pile of paperwork. Managers were able to lease a new company vehicle every year as a perk to their position. She explained to me that it was the information for one of the Engineers transferring from one of the Michigan Plants. His name was Brent Lyons and I needed to put his vehicle into service that following Monday. Getting used to this new workload was a bit challenging, but I managed to prioritize and get everything accomplished in a timely manner. About four months later, I realized I let something slip through the crack. Thinking I could get away with it, I logged into the system and back dated Mr. Lyons vehicle. It wasn’t long after, he approached my desk and introduced himself and explained his paycheck arrived minus the four payments. He wasn’t angry more so concerned than anything, and just seemed overly friendly. I didn’t want to let him down, so I told him that I would investigate it with the Vehicle Program department in Detroit and get back with him. I know it wasn’t the right thing to do, but there was something about him that kind of sparked my interest.

Quitting time came around that day and my Launch friend, Nick, invited me to join him and some others for a drink after work. Well, guess who happened to be part of this crowd at the local watering hole?!? You got it, Mr. Brent Lyons. Quickly getting my ducks in a row, I told him there was a system error and assured him the monthly payments would be deducted accordingly from now on. He bought it and ended up buying me a beer. Bottoms up!

My mom always preached to us two things. (1) When you tell one lie, you’ll have to tell another and another to keep the original one straight. So, you’re better off to tell the truth from the get go. And (2) tell me who you hang with and I’ll tell you who you are. Liars, cheaters, and thieves always walk hand and hand. To clear my conscience, I ended up telling Mr. Lyons the truth – sure, it was a couple years down the road. But, the important thing was that I told him. Right!!!

Our meetings started to become more frequent and a friendship started to blossom. We could talk for hours about anything and everything. I would tell him all about “Soldier Boy” and at times he would tease me about it, but it was all in good humor. The strange thing is he didn’t start talking about his relationships until later on down the road.

I’ll never forget it he showed up at work and seemed very distressed. He told me this horrible story that one of his friends in Michigan committed suicide and he had to be up there over the weekend and would drive back to Kentucky on Sunday, which happened to be his birthday. I felt so bad for him, but didn’t think there was anything I could do or say that would change the mood.

Upon his arrival, we made plans to meet up and try to celebrate his birthday. But, that was the moment he had another bomb to drop – his home life situation. He told me that he got married at a young age. His wife was a stay-at-home mother of their two children, Alex and Maci. Alex was diagnosed Autistic and had many other issues. Their relationship started to fail about the same time he was transferred to Kentucky. He feared if he filed for divorce that it would put a major wedge between him and his children, so he did what he thought was best for his family and moved them all with him and hoped for a fresh start. It still didn’t seem to be in the cards for the unhappy couple and they decided to proceed with a divorce. He explained how difficult it was and it was starting to turn into a bitter process.

It wasn’t long after that he started to date – one time it was the waitress at the bar, another one was an Engineer from work, and then there was this one from the Launch Team. I felt it was my obligation as his friend to tell him what I knew about the latest fling and asked if the two of us could meet up after work. He agreed and I explained to him that the whole Launch team knew details of said relationship. The lady, if that’s what you want to call her, had just returned to work from her honeymoon (yes, I said honeymoon) and not even two weeks into the marriage she was already hopping into bed with someone else. His reaction was less then surprised and he proceeded to tell me that he and this classy broad had a past. In fact, they used to live together before he married his current wife. I’m not one to judge, but he felt it was important to explain he knew it was the wrong thing to do, but since the Family Court Judge finalized his divorce that day – he turned to her and she took advantage. Likely excuse, right!

That whole story weighed heavy on my mind and I ended up having some weird dream that Brent and I hooked up and started to look at him in a whole new light. I guess you could say I realized maybe I felt more then friendship for this guy.

Soldier Boy

Cory, aka Soldier Boy, ended up sending me an email. That continued for a few days and then turned into phone calls. We made plans to get together before he left for Iraq. There were several failed attempts because he’s from Florida, yet stationed in Virginia. But, somehow some way we were able to see each other. Since my brother lived in Florida, my parents made frequent trips back and forth.

My mom and dad took me to Downtown Disney to meet my soldier boy. It was the half way mark from where his mom lived and where my brother was. My parents were able to get a room on Disney property, so they did their thing and we did ours. We had dinner at the Rainforest CafĂ©, walked around Downtown Disney, and then went to a club. Of course, when I get nervous I tend to drink a little more then I should – guess that’s why they call it “liquid courage”. We had an amazing night and he still remained a gentleman. As he walked me in the resort, he stopped off to see if they had any availability. Unfortunately, they didn’t and since I was staying in my parent’s room, it wasn’t like I could offer that up. He kissed me and proceeded to tell me that he was actually in town to get all of his affairs in order, execute a will and spend time with his parents because in two days he would be in Germany. I hated to see him leave, but he told me to get inside – it was late and he didn’t want my parents to think he was a jerk.

My mom should be my diary – there isn’t much that I don’t tell her. So, it was perfect that she was there to talk to. I was so excited because the night was so perfect. But, I was scared and didn’t want him going off to a war. He ended up sleeping in his Jeep Wrangler in the parking lot until he was sober to drive back to his mom’s house. For the next six months, I would send him letters, care packages, and emails. And when ever he could, he would call from Iraq. It was hard to talk because of the delay; it seemed we would talk at the same time. But, regardless I was just happy to hear his voice.

Scary Fun

Traveling is very important to me. Most of my favorite childhood memories are from adventures I took with my family. That’s why I jumped at the chance to take a cruise with my sister, Elizabeth, and two of her childhood friends. Nicole is one of those girls that everyone loves – she’s very kind hearted and fun to be around. Erica is always up for a good time – she had a wild streak to her and is absolutely hilarious. This particular trip holds an important significance in my life. We spent most of the day at the pool – soaking up rays and enjoying a cold beverage or two. At night, we would go to the various clubs the ship had, gamble at the casino, people watched, or attended most of the photo shoots spread out on each floor. Then, we would run to the photo room to see if we approved of their work. The ship made three port stops – Freeport, Nassau, and the Bahamas. It was beautiful and a total blast. When we were on land, we went to the market where you would find things like knock off designer purses for hardly nothing of cost, children would approach you asking for money – which was heart breaking, women wanted to braid our hair, the street was a little hard core, yet the next street would be filled with very upscale stores. It was a lot to take in and wasn’t anything like I pictured island life to be. On one excursion, we took this “booze cruise” to a secluded island – every palm tree had a hammock, the water was crystal clear, and the weather was perfect. I think that very moment I experienced paradise – now that’s what I pictured everyday island living was about. A tall and very handsome man walked into my life. He was such a gentleman and enjoyed teasing us about our frequent photo opportunities. We had the best conversations. He was in the Army Intelligence and was about to be shipped off to Iraq following the September 11th attacks. The last night we were at sea, we entered a tropical storm. It was the scariest thing ever! Elizabeth and Nicole got sea sick and ended up going to the room. Erica and I wanted to see what the hell was going on. The elevators were shut down, barf bags were literally every two feet and people were in pure panic, the sound of glass falling from the bar crashed as the boat rocked away. We tried asking some of the cruise ship officials what the deal was, but conveniently no one spoke English. As we passed the door that led to the sun deck, there was a hand written note that read “Enter at your own risk”. We couldn’t stand it and had to see for ourselves. The darkness was blinding. At a very far distance we saw another ship light appearing and then disappearing. All of a sudden, lightening struck and we saw the waves we were up against. It felt like some real “Perfect Storm” shit. We screamed and ran back inside. Life flashed before us and we figured if we got drunk – death wouldn’t be that bad. So, off to the bar we headed. I’m not sure if you are familiar with cruise lines, but the actual cruise itself is very reasonably priced and includes your food. It does not include your alcohol. Basically, as you bored the ship they swipe your debit card and as for anything you purchase you swipe your key card. At the end of the trip, they take your grand total and deduct it from your bank account. Apparently, we felt we were near death and drank until we passed out – leaving our bank accounts nearing the negative side. The next day, I exchanged information with Cory, whom we nick named “Soldier Boy”, dropped Nicole off at the Orlando airport, and the remainder of the group started the drive back to Louisville. Thank goodness the gas prices were 89 cents a gallon because after we sobered up we realized there was barely enough to make it. Eventually, we made it. Starving, but we made it. Elizabeth must have kept Josh informed of our whereabouts because when we pulled up, Eric was parked out front. I was excited to see him. The details of the trip were boiling over and I was dying to tell someone. However, the tension was strange and it was not feeling like my buddy who I became so close to. It was weird and we both knew it. Although, it was never discussed, that was the last time we hung out – just the two of us.

Kissing the Frogs, to Find the Prince

Now I guess the spot light shines to me. I always had trouble with friends. Maybe I should rephrase that – I wasn’t a very good friend when it came to girls. A lot of great people came into my life, but I was such a shithead and needed a lot of growing up to do. I never felt like I was smart enough or pretty enough to ever really fit in. My siblings always made fun of me, so I felt it was appropriate to pick on other’s insecurities to cover my own. Which, thank God, I’m not like that anymore. However, I would fit in with the boys perfectly. One of my best friends of all time was Daniel. I was so comfortable with him and could talk to him about anything.

When it came to dating, well … that was a whole other story. My first love was Justin Noe. We met sophomore year of High School. He was so funny and seemed head over hills for me. And I won’t lie; I fell hard for him as well. Eventually, we came to our “bump” in the road. At first, my friends felt he was controlling and that I was ditching them for him. Then, my heart was truly shattered when I found out he cheated on me. I spent most of my energy terrorizing this girl and eventually found myself alone without my boyfriend and no friends. I dusted myself off, started hanging with a new crowd of people. Before I knew it, Oscar Smith came into my life. He wasn’t my normal type, but we clicked. I learned my lesson on “ditching the friends for the dude” and was able to balance that out more appropriately. Since we went to the same High School, we had a lot of mutual friends. However, in that relationship I think I created my own “bump”. I asked him how many people he had been with. Two years down the road, I asked the same question and the number had changed. I guess it was an ego thing, because now that I look back I don’t believe he cheated. He was genuinely a good guy. Since I didn’t want to feel the same hurt Justin inflicted on me – my shields went up. I started nick-picking on stupid things like “he’s a mama’s boy” and went into “get even” mode. At the time, I was working at a manufacturing company and was surrounded by available, good looking guys and started to stray from the relationship. I was about to turn 21 and was ready to go crazy. We broke up on good terms and still remain friends to this day.

The bar scene entered my life full time at that point. I would get up, go to work. After work, went out for drinks and then ended up at the clubs. And sometimes I was lucky to get a couple of hours of sleep before I would wake up and do it all over again. I was wild as hell and would do anything to make my friends laugh. I had learned to become a better person and enjoyed the true meaning of friendship.

Now, here’s where the story takes a strange twist. I was in Florida on a family vacation. My brother-in-law, Michael, received a call from his son.

Michael was married before he married my sister Janelle. Out of that marriage, he had two sons. Oddly enough, Keith, the oldest was around the same age as Janelle. And the younger one, Eric, was about the same age as me. Just in case you are trying to figure that out – Michael is roughly 20 years Janelle’s elder.

Now, back to the phone call … Eric was having marital problems and decided to take the next flight out and join us in Florida. I was excited because now I had someone to party with. The first night, the two of us started drinking A LOT. The details are kind of blurred, but we took on Orlando by going through some maze, riding go-carts, did bumper boats – in which, I was so drunk I fell in the water. In between that time we talked about our relationships and how badly we failed. We ended up getting lost, but eventually found our way home in one piece. The next day, we left for St. Pete Beach, where at the time my brother was living. Of course, we hit up the party scene with him. The funniest thing happened that night. Michael let us use the rental car. When we left Kevin, we didn’t realize we had to go thru the toll booths. Neither of us had and money … and yes, the tow was only fifty cents. We had to stop off in the hood to use the ATM. To our surprise, both of our cards were declined, so we had to end up going back to the bar we were at earlier that night and borrow the money from a total stranger. After all that, we became really good friends and hung out a lot on our return to Louisville. His best friend was Josh Stevens – they were always together. My sister, Elizabeth and I were always together, so there you have the Josh and Elizabeth story. Now as for Eric and I … we were really good friends, but everyone else seemed to think there was more to it. But, I was starting to feel comfortable in my own skin and wasn’t too concerned of what other’s thought. Life was going my way and I wasn’t going to let anything or anybody stand in my way. I had just received word that I got the job at an automotive industry that I had really wanted. And even got more then expected on salary negotiations. But, due to prior commitments, a cruise, I wasn’t able to start until my return.

And So It Begins ....

Relationships always seemed so routine from the beginning of time, or at least in my case. High School really started the madness; you meet the guy – he’s perfect, you fall in love, everything is great for a certain period of time, usually within a time range of a month, to a maximum of three years. The path you pave is great, until you hit that BIG bump in the road and you and your “love’s” path gets divided and you go your separate routes.

Now, the question is “what exactly is that bump”? And “how in the world did I end up here”? I suppose taking the psychological approach of who, actually, am I would be the best route.

I’m really just your average person – nothing very special or out of the ordinary. My parents were married eight years before they took the “children plunge”. My father was from a large family – he was in the United States Navy and when I hear stories of his past, I get the feeling he loved to party, drink, and get into fights. My mother on the other hand was from a small family with very strict parents. She was a hard worker, enjoyed having a good time, yet was the worrier and never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings – even if it was to sacrifice her own.

Anyway, after my parents had three children, two miscarriages, and a crazy road a long the way …. I finally arrived to the mix.

Janelle is my oldest sibling. She was the perfect child – polite, pretty, and never did anything she wasn’t supposed to. She fell in love at an early age, got married and thought it would last 4-ever, had three beautiful children – Preston, Katie, and Jackson, followed that up with a divorce. Met someone else, fell in love, got married, had another beautiful child, Ella. Decided to further her education and is currently working on her Master’s at University of Louisville. Besides the fact, she met her first husband there, which might I add was well known for being on the football team years ago, she hated that school and was embarrassed to think her diploma would have “bird shit” on it. Get it?!? UofL’s mascot is a Cardinal.

Next down the line is my brother, Kevin. He’s all about having a good time – he loves to drink, play cards, sing karaoke, and hang with his buddies. He’s more or less a big kid who loves his toys (Four Wheelers, Cars, Boats, Motorcycles, etc.). Growing up, we hated each other. We were always arguing! In fact, when I was 16, my car was in the garage and he was parked behind me. After several failed attempts of asking him to move his vehicle, I decided to take matters in my own hands. You got it – keys in ignition, gear in reverse, and BOOM! Not once, not twice, but yep! The third time was the charm - the hell with his swooped up street racer. That day was the moment when I realized there was a God! Kevin came running out the door and started punching my driver’s side window. It looked like flexi-glass or something. I have no other idea of what kept that glass from breaking because, if it would have – I would be dead. As far as his character, I always considered him a player. The dude changed girlfriends like people change underwear. In fact, I always thought he moved from Louisville to Florida because he needed a new flock of women. It was always the same – he would love them and leave them. However, with his residence in Florida and mine in Kentucky – we actually got along for once and ended up becoming good friends. After his time in Florida expired, he moved back home to Kentucky. Believe it or not, he settled down, fell in love and got married – to no other then to one of my best friends, Suzie. So, he for sure gets the two thumbs up for that one.

Next bundle of joy is Elizabeth. Since we were only three years apart, we spent a lot of time hanging out. Her story goes like this – she met Josh and what can I say – opposites attracted in that situation. They fell in love, had a beautiful child, Gretta, and eventually divorced.

Even though we are family, as you read you’ll see how our lives intertwined along the path. There were always ups and downs, but at the end of the day – we always had each other’s back, just as my parents always taught us.

Crack Addiction Poem, Author Unknown

Just say no to crack!

*The poem below was emailed to us. We do not know the author but thank you to who ever wrote it because it is so true!


My Name is Crack

I destroy homes....... I tear families apart. I take your children......and that's just the start.

I'm more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold. The sorrow I bring, is a sight to behold.

If you need me, remember, I'm easily found... I live all around schools and in town.
I live with the rich...I live with the poor... I live down the street...maybe even next door!

I am made in such can shoot me or smoke... I used to be called "cocaine...or coke"
The sound that I make, when you're inhaling my stench... Is how my name "Crack" came to be...(perfect sense)
My power is awesome; try me, you'll see... But if you do, you may never break free.

Just try me once, and I may let you go... But try me twice, and I'll own your soul.

When "I" possess you, you'll steal and you'll lie. You'll do what you have to, just to get "high".

The crimes you'll commit, for my narcotic charms... Will be worth the pleasure you'll feel in your lungs, nose and arms.

You'll lie to your mother; you'll steal from your dad..... When you see their tears, should feel sad.

But you will forget your morals...and how you were raised..... I'll be your "conscience"...I'll teach you "my ways".
I'll take kids from parents, and parents from kids. I turn people from "GOD".....and separate friends.

I'll take everything from you, ...your looks and your pride. I'll be with you ALWAYS.......right by your side.

You'll give up everything...your family, your home.... your friends,.... your money....then you'll be all alone.

I'll take & take, till you have nothing more to give... When I'm finished with'll be lucky to live.

If you try me, be warned........this is no "game"... If given the chance....I'll drive you insane!

I'll ravish your body...I'll control your mind.. I'll own you "completely"....your "soul" will be mine!
The nightmares I'll give you, while lying in bed... The voices you'll hear.....from inside your head...

The sweats, the shakes...the "visions" you'll see... I want you to know...these are ALL "gifts from me".
But then it's too late, and you'll know in your heart.. That you are MINE.....and we shall not part....

You'll regret that you tried me...they always do... But YOU came to ME...Not "I" to you......

You knew this would happen,...many times you were told... But you challenged my "power"...and chose to be "bold".
You could have said "no".....and just walked away... If you could live that day what would you say?

I'll be your "Master".....and you'll be my slave... I'll even go with you...when you go to your grave.

Now that you have met me...what will you do? Will you try me or not? It's all up to you....

I can bring you more misery than words can tell... Come take my hand....let me lead you to HELL!