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Margaret, loving called Donnie by friends and family began telling stories at the age of 5. By the time she was 8, her mom complained that she found it difficult to tell the difference between Donnie's truth and her fabrications. Her mom encouraged Donnie to start putting her imagination on paper, including poetry since she seemed to have a talent for it.
Donnie, finally had her first story published. The title is Max and Donnie wrote under the Donnie Harucki. She's had many poems published in various anthologies.
Now being in the senior category of her life, she want to write more and see how far it takes her. That's why she became a member of Biopage. She's hoping you'll read her stories and leave a message.
Thanks for reading about her. She appreciates your attention. Have a great day.
Thomas Brennan's family grew and as teens became young adults, they accepted many jobs to help support the family. Yet, Thomas gave his sons one requirement, “Serve your country.” James served in the Civil War, Harold, WWI. There were many other sons in the Brennan Family who served but this is about Harold, my father-in-law. As I said previously, Harold served in World War 1 as a Private in the 308th Infantry. Yes, like his siblings and relatives before him, enlisted. He was proud to serve. His nightmare was about to begin. He and his battalion fought bravely following the orders given to their leader, Major Charles Whittlesey. They carried two forms of communication: radio and pigeons. They were headed to the Argonne Forest to push the German army back and regain control for France. They were flanked by the French soldiers on one side and the English on the other – or so they thought. The Argonne battle ensued on October 2, 1918. The Germans thought the Americans would never fight for something that didn't belong to them and pushed on. They fought hard; our American troops fought harder. The Germans sent their best snipers. They weren't good enough. Then they were gassed. While hundreds of American troops died, others forged on. The Germans sent in their “storm troopers” with flame throwers to either discourage or kill the American soldiers. The Americans persisted. The American troops suffered horrific confrontation with the enemy. They were also hungry, thirsty, and were running out of ammunition. They radioed their command post but received no answer. They tried again. Same result. A scout went send out only to find the radioman KIA, the lines cut, and the radio box destroyed. They soon realized – they were alone – alone in a foreign land with the enemy surrounding them. They had one hope left. Cher Ami! A baby pigeon with truly little experience in “home travel,” but they had to try. After attaching a brief message to her leg, they kissed her beak and let her fly. They watched as the bullets from the German rifles soared in the air strategically aiming at the little bird. Finally, they lost sight of her. Some of the solders prayed while other began to lose hope. Major Whittlesey took a headcount. About 194 soldiers were still standing. The others were either killed, captured, or missing. He took inventory of the remaining weapons. Approximately fourteen rifles were in working order, but they only had about six bullets left. As Major Whittlesey was about the sit down with his men and report his findings, he realized everything was quiet. Too quiet. Suddenly, the major heard what sounded like vehicles. Vehicles? The Germans wouldn't approach with trucks and or tanks, would they? Then he heard his name. “Major! Major Whittlesey!” The voice was American. Then Major stood and saw his commanding officer, General Alexander heading towards them with other men, jeeps, and a transport truck. The battle for the forest was over. The Germans, underestimating the Americans, retreated. Harold married his fiancé in 1819 and soon welcomed their first child, Harold Jr. Not long after, his health began to wane. He coughed, wheezed, and often struggled for breath. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was sent to a facility for six months to treat him. Home again, he was ordered not to dine or interact with his wife and son. Close contact was forbidden for another six months. Once the doctors felt he was regaining his health, his normal activities resume but so did the nightmares. For six days, he had no idea if he would live or die in the heavily vegetated forest in France. He sat, slept, ate, and breathed in the damp cold atmosphere with dead bodies strewn around him. And yet, he still insisted that his sons serve the country that he loved. While I never met Harold, he passed away due to a massive heart attack before I met my husband, I will always admire the bravery he and his fellow soldiers demonstrated in France. Truly, they are all heroes.
Using our trolling motor, we motor through the shallows of Charlotte Harbor, FL looking for the perfect spot to fish. Saddened by what I see, or rather do not see, I say to my husband, “What shame. That was such a gorgeous view to see; a great place to take a photo of the sunset. I really miss it.” He smiles and asks, “Do you finally after all this time remember it's official name?” I laugh and say, “Yeah but I still don't understand the reasoning behind it.” He explains again and I just shrug my shoulders and say, “I like Pelican Island better than Two Tits. Makes more sense to me.” My husband laughs and shakes his head. The original name was given to the small patch of land many years ago by anglers who fished the water of Charlotte Harbor and decided it resembled exactly what they called it. You'd be surprised at the weird names several of these little islands have. We start fishing. Pelican Island made sense to me since there were approximately over one hundred pelicans who used that island as home or just a place to stop and rest. More often than not, when we were out fishing, we'd be on the east side of island making picture taking phenomenal. The sunset behind the island was truly awesome and extremely photogenic. As I said, it was a cute island, too small for anything but birds to land on but it was there and everyone who fished the harbor knew what you were talking about when you mentioned its original name. At one time, it was a very popular area that drew in several varieties of fish. The only problem was that with so many pelicans using it as their resting place, their defecation made the odor horrendous for any angler to hang around it too long– and yet, we like so many other anglers fished its perimeter! Yes, Pelican Island had many anglers casting their lures hoping to catch a fish that swam nearby, but no one ventured too close because of the stench. We always considered ourselves lucky that casting artificial lures was easy enough at a long distance. Then the unthinkable happened. On Friday, August 13, 2004, hurricane Charley blew through Charlotte Harbor. It was a horrendous category 4 storm with winds gusting approximately 175 mph. Just about everything in the harbor was decimated. I have often wondered where the birds flew to hunker down to avoid the approaching storm, but, of course, I never found out. All I know is that they were gone. Pelican Island was now a barren piece of dirt and sand that sat in the harbor. The magnificent mangroves were now stripped of their leaves. Many branches broken. The lonely little tree that lived there had many branches torn off and tree was split nearly in two. The bark was gone completely. The smell was gone but so were the birds. Each year as we fished the harbor that once held a plentiful abundance of fish seemed now almost as empty as Pelican Island was of birds. Fishing, like the scenic beauty had changed. I thought back to the days of the early 1900s, when fishing for your dinner was mandatory. What would those people do now? The waterway had changed. Many fish were dead. The marine population had been drastically reduced. Southwest Florida had changed. The mangroves that protected us as much as they did, were no longer as grand and thick as they once were. There was a community and Federal effort to restore the mangroves by reseeding. As hard as we tried, it didn't work. The only thing we could do was wait for mother nature to restore itself. We knew it would take years, but we had no idea how many. In several areas through the years, the mangroves started to grow. Yes, there was still much evidence that Charley had visited but at least we started to see a small difference. Unfortunately, we also noticed that the Pelican Island appeared to be smaller than it had been. As the years passed, it became obvious to everyone who fished Charlotte Harbor that it kept shrinking in size. The island was slowly sinking into the harbor. It didn't happen overnight. It was a very slow progression of nature taking what it wanted. In this case, it wanted Pelican Island. Here we are, now, eighteen years later and the harbor has staked its claim and Pelican Island is no more. Normally, when something sinks in water, there is some evidence that something was at one time there. Often a reef is formed leaving some trace behind. In this case, the Island just vanished! Poof! Gone without a trace – except for the photos I'd taken before Charley destroyed its beauty making it possible for Charlotte Harbor to slowly swallow it. Charley left much destruction in its wake but for the most part, we were able to rebuild. Even, many of the birds are now back and their populations are growing – and that's a good thing. Those birds have taken residence in other islands or the surrounding trees and mangroves of Charlotte Harbor. Unfortunately, the one thing we lost that we'll never get back is Pelican Island.
Through the years, my sons teased me about my good posture and how, while they were growing, I wouldn't tolerate slouching. “Mom's fault,” I'd say with a smile. Although no genius, as my sons often point out, they are also just as quick to comment on how much I do know. They call me a walking encyclopedia of nonsensical trivia. Once again, I shrug and say, Mom's fault.” While my mom was never what was considered a strict disciplinarian, when it came to schoolwork, she was tough. I remember as soon as I could talk, she'd drill me every me every Saturday morning. Using two pages at a time of the dictionary, she would read each word, emphasizing on its pronunciation, encouraging me to try and spell it correctly. Back then, luckily, the dictionaries were small. Mom kept track of the words I misspelled in order for me to study them for the following Saturday. By the time I reached Kindergarten, I found it easy to read whole sentences. Soon, my “home education” expanded adding Math to my list of things to learn. After my spelling and reading lessons, Mom gave me wo sheets of paper with arithmetic problems to solve. Mom never confined her idea of teaching to just schoolwork. She believed in a healthy mind and healthy body. While I'd be pouring over homework, if Mom saw me slouching, she'd quietly walk behind me and gently t ouch my back. With one finger. Without one word spoken, I would immediately straighten to a more proper position. For about five minutes a day, three times each week, I would have to stand with my back against the wall. “Touch your heels to the wall. Now, your butt! Head up and back; shoulders back! Stomach in!” I know, I know. She sounded like a drill sergeant, but it kept my posture intact and my spine straight. Most of my friends learned to cook while their moms stood at their sides verbally instructing their every move. Mom's method differed completely. Handing me a recipe, she'd back away. Her reason was simple. Anyone can mimic; anyone can follow step-by-step instructions as each is given. It's more important to read and comprehend. As she often said, “Following a receipt teaches you to learn to follow any instructions.” However, she remained in the kitchen with me – just in case. Mom believed in teaching by example, not by using a bunch of words. Too often, my friends heard their moms say. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Never once did I hear that phrase from my mom. I also never heard the more familiar, “Because I said so.” Mom would often take me for long walks in the park, weather permitting. At times, we'd go for a train ride to the local zoo or museum. Once a month from June to September, mom and dad would pack a lunch and we would head to the nearby lake for a picnic. In addition to schoolwork, mom taught me to appreciate the beauty of a flower, the wonder of a rainbow, and the compassion needed for those less fortunate (like the WWII Veteran who sat legless on the street corner begging for a few cents to help him get by. Even tough money was tight, we never passed him by without Mom dropping a few cents in his little tin cup. She also taught me that although life is not perfect, we must strive for that goal and not be disappointed if we fail. Mom taught me the appreciation of demanding work. “After all,” she said, “the harder you work the more you appreciate the end result. If things came too easily, we would take those things for granted.” Yes, mom taught me many things: reading, spelling, love, and life. Now, here I am in my seventies. Mom passed away a number of years ago but even at my age, I am in good health. I still sit properly, and my back is straight. While I never went to college (as I said money was tight), my knowledge and education about what matters is exemplary. I am not afraid to tackle new projects and while I strive to succeed, I don't sulk if I fail. I just change my attitude and try again. My sons now, are grown with families of their own and emulate Mom's parenting as much as possible. I insisted on rearing my children the way Mom reared me, with compassion, understanding right from wrong, a thirst of knowledge, and fun in doing everything. I have been a good mother and teacher to my sons (they told me to say that), and I can see what wonderful husbands and fathers they are in every way (their wives tole me to say that!). Mom would be so proud of them. The reason for our successes in maintaining such happy homes, I feel is simple. It's Mom's Fault.
I grew up listening to tales about the television stars my dad met through his job as a carpenter and stagehand. I eagerly waited for my dad to come home from work each night to fill me in on happenings behind the camera. How I longed to meet some of those famous people. Just meeting one would make me happy, I thought as I'd drift off to sleep each night. Visions of Steve Allen and his crew, Milton Berle, and Mitch Miller danced their way through every dream. Arlene Francis became my role model. After hearing the wonderful stories of how Ms. Francis did so much for the stagehands in a tough but lady-like manner, I decided I'd grow up being just like that wonderful lady. One afternoon, my brother, Frankie, raced home from school with some incredibly interesting and exciting news. A local company comprised of young adults formed a small organization for children between the ages of 10 and 16. The purpose of this organization was to teach music and march in the neighborhood parades. It was as much to keep the kids out of trouble as it was to advertise the company. Frankie wanted to be the first to join. Now I'd have the chance to play something. The first band practice interested more than one hundred children. The elimination process lasted two weeks and among those accepted were Frankie and me. Frankie, for whatever reason, chose to learn the bugle instead of the drums and while I tried my hardest to get one note out of the bugle, it was all in vain., I found myself learning to play the bells. Soon, we were not just marching in parades but playing in movie houses when celebrities came to town to promote their latest films. Then it happened. That summer, in 1961, Troy Donahue along with his co-star, Connie Stevens, came to town. While adults ran the operation of the band, they felt as a children's band, a child should represent it. Frankie, being the oldest child in the group at age 15, seemed only natural to represent the band by shaking hands with the stars which never fazed him in the slightest. Since their arrival in town coincided with my 14th birthday, the band's owner arranged a surprise for me. As Frankie made his way to the stage, his friends hooted and hollered from the audience. To my horror and excitement, I heard that same manager call out, “And now, I'd like Donnie to come on stage. Today is Donnie's birthday and I can think of no better gift than to have her meet our guests.” I'd get to shake hands with Troy Donahue – my latest heartthrob! Connie Stevens gave me a hug while wishing me a happy birthday. Troy Donahue, then took both my hands and the crowd in the theater came to a dead quiet wanting to hear what he said to me. What seemed to be an hour, was probably no more than two minutes Mr. Donahue stared deeply into my eyes. He slowly leaned towards me and pulling me toward him, placed a huge kiss on my cheek and then whispered in my ear, “I hope your birthday is as beautiful as you are.” Late that afternoon, as I walked home with my brother, I felt as though my world crashed around me. My mother noticed a downfall in my spirits. “Donnie, what's wrong,” she asked. “I thought meeting Troy Donahue would be the highlight of your entire week.” “Oh Mom! I always dreamed of being like Daddy. Meeting famous people and having them greet you when you go to work. But this afternoon changed everything. Connie Stevens hugged me, and Troy Donahue kissed me. I waited for the star's to shine, their faces to glow or something special happen. But nothing did. Nothing! Her hug and his kiss were no different than a hug from you or a kiss from Daddy. Yours at least mean something. They're just like daddy said, they're as human as we are.” My mom smiled as she realized how much her daughter grew up in the short span of two hours. Calling her husband from another room, together, they handed me a small box. “We thought of giving this to you earlier but decided to wait until after dinner. However, now, while dinner is cooking, this seems like the perfect time. Happy Birthday, honey.” I opened the small box and found the prettiest little ring with a dark green emerald – my birthstone. I immediately put it on my finger, jumped from my chair and with both arms, grabbed my parents and hugged them tightly. “Oh, Mom, Dad! I could meet all the stars in the world and none of them could ever make me as happy as you just did.” All it took was one kiss from an adored celebrity to take the stars from my eyes and put my feet back on the ground. To this day, I will always remember that day as I laughingly call it, the day the stars fell.
When my son reached his 17th birthday, he was diagnosed with ulcerated colitis. By the time he was 19, he was rushed to the hospital with severe anemia. His colitis began to cause bleeding ulcers. His hemoglobin count was down to five when it should have been 13. Two pints of blood later and a seven day stay in the hospital, l he was released with a hemoglobin count of 11. At the beginning of 2011, the colitis took control, and the decision was made. My son would have a colostomy. He wasn't happy. After all, he was only 45 years old. A colostomy bag was the last thing he wanted. Yet, on June 1st of that year, that's what happened. He had a full ileostomy. However, that wasn't the end of the problems - only the beginning. For the next three years he was in and out of the hospital with one procedure, or surgery, or infection after another. Finally, his health began to stabilize, and he seemed to be getting better but still hated that colostomy bag. In December of 2011, my mom had an accident which forced her to reassess her living conditions. She realized that she could no longer live alone, and in January of 2012, she packed her things and moved in with me. After we cleared out her house, we put it on the market. Mom was recovering nicely from her accident but still needed the use of a walker to get around. My son's house is about 3 hours away from mine which enabled us to visit often It didn't matter that I am his mother and my mother his grandmother. He was mortified every time the colostomy bag began to fill. He would leave the room and hide in his bedroom until the sound and odor dissipated - which often was about 30 minutes While we were busy socializing with his wife and children, we were unaware of the colostomy bag. Unfortunately, he was, and it made him extremely uncomfortable. Early in 2013 a friend began doing research on colostomy bags and found a doctor who specialized in a different kind of procedure. it's called the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir Koch Pouch – or B.C.I.R. At that time there was only one doctor in Florida who could do this surgery. My son made the appointment, and it was determined that surgery would be scheduled for August of 2013. The procedure is a reconstruction of the small intestine using about two feet at the end to create a small internal pouch. The stoma is no wider than a #2 pencil which enables the pouch to get emptied a few times a day using a catheter. No noise, no smell, no mess! My son was thrilled. His stay in the hospital was about seven days but he insisted during that time we bring his grandmother for a visit. “Mom, I want grandma to see that I'm OK. After all I've been through and all her prayers, she deserved to spend some time with me, and I really want to see her.” I loaded mom's walker in the car and help her climb in the front seat. The hospital was only two hours from my house, and mom and I passed that time easily since she had many questions about his surgery. Once in the hospital, we pulled a chair closer to his bed and while holding his hand, grandmother and grandson spent the next hour gloriously talking about health and family. The nurse came in a few minutes later and reminded my son he needed to get out of bed and walk. Lying in bed wasn't good for anyone so I encouraged him to follow the nurse's orders. He was still hooked up to an IV, the urinal bag, and a heart monitor. Anytime he left the bed, the pole with all the bags went with him. Looking at the pole my son spoke up. “Hey Grandma, since I have to walk for exercise why don't you come with me? I have my pole; you have your walker. we could race up and down the hallway.” My mom laughed. “I don't know about racing, but I'll take a walk with you.” For the next 15 minutes grandma and grandson walked the halls of the hospital, chatting and enjoying each other's company. Once back in his room, he lay in bed, my mom sat in the chair, and they talked and laughed about how they must have looked with him pushing his pole and mom pushing her walker. Our visit lasted another 30 minutes and my son looked as though he was about to fall asleep. I suggested we leave since mom also looked tired and I had to make sure she had the strength to withstand the ride down the elevator and the walk to the car. We still had a two-hour drive home. We left the hospital and walked slowly, stopping periodically for mom to regain her strength and her breath. After all, mom was 92 years old, and her stamina wasn't what it used to be. As soon as we got in the car, she perked up and said, “Can we stop at McDonald's? I'd love a cheeseburger!” That's mom! My son was released a few days later and the first thing mom wanted to do is visit him at his home. Mom may be gone now, and my son is healed, but I'll never forget that day in the hospital when grandson and grandmother had their Walker Derby. It definitely was a sight to behold and one I'll cherish forever.
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