Animal Friendships

Two very special animals helped my sister and I through one of the most difficult periods of our lives. One was a black miniature poodle called Candy, the other a tortoiseshell cat called Tiger.

We were raw from the death of our mother, me at 13, my sister at 8 so my cousin gave us one of her dogs – she bred poodles. Candy had the sweetest temperament and put up with any amount of mauling when we kept picking her up and fussing her but in the first few weeks my heart went out to her as she flew to the window with the sound of every car, looking to see if they’d come back for her.

Some years passed and the edge left the rawness of our grief but the void left by our mother was still there and we all missed her dreadfully. Dad lost all interest in everything. Our bungalow and its once beautiful garden looked as bereft as we felt, the lawns and borders were overgrown, an ideal place for a little stray cat, not much more than a kitten herself, to make a nest to have her babies. Two large dogs lived across the road and those kittens wouldn’t stand a chance if they got hold of them.

“Can we take her in Dad? Pleeeease?”

“No! I can’t abide cats, they go after the birds.”

“Just until she’s had her kittens?”

He sighed. He was beaten. He didn’t care about anything anymore. “Just until it’s had its kittens, then it’s going.”

We called her Tiger because of her colouring. She and Candy although not getting off to the best of starts became best friends. To read the full story of their friendship, how Candy mothered the kittens and also our family story my memoir Shadow Across the Sun is available from Amazon as an ebook and also paperback with the old cover. For the new cover in paperback go to feedaread.com. The price is about the same when you take P&P into account.

The two beautiful souls wrapped up in that little cat and dog, not forgetting those of the kittens saw my sister and I through very dark days. Here are a few pictures of them. I apologize for the quality, they date from the 1970s.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Across-Sun-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B007V42ON4/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1500369383&sr=1-8&keywords=sherrie+lowe

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Shadow-Across-the-Sun-9781781760499.aspx

 

 

 

 

Awards Ceremony, Trentham

When I entered my short story Arms of Angels in our local newspaper The Sentinel’s Too Write competition in May I never expected to hear anymore. I was delighted therefore when Jenny Amphlett, their Senior Journalist emailed me to say it had been shortlisted and invited me to the awards ceremony at Trentham Gardens Awards Village where Staffordshire University hold their graduation ceremonies. I asked my friend Connie (Carmel for anyone who’s read my memoir Better or Dead) if she’d be my guest and I was very pleased when she agreed.

Martin Tideswell, the Editor in Chief of The Sentinel announced the winners and said that no-one would leave empty handed. I thought, ‘Oh, we must all get a certificate or something then. How nice.’ He said that there had been 900 entries for the 3 categories: poetry for children, a short story for 11-18 year olds and a short story for adults. There was a winner and two runners up in each category. I was absolutely thrilled to be a runner up and be presented with a most beautiful award of a framed extract of my story.

Afterwards there were photographs and I’d also taken my own camera and asked Connie if she’d take one of me with my award.

“Oh yes,” said she, “but I usually cut heads off.”

“I’ll take one for you duck,” said a voice beside me, “if you tell me what to do,” and I looked to see Martin, the editor of The Sentinel, so I was honoured indeed!

Connie and I had a fabulous afternoon and we met some lovely people. The rain lashed it down outside but it didn’t matter, we were undercover, and ponchos were provided to get to our transport, as Connie models so beautifully! Below is my runner up entry if anyone would like to read it. It and some other stories and poems can be found in my collection Just A Moment available in ebook from Amazon and paperback from feedaread.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Moment-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B0163BTKXW/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499939814&sr=1-13&keywords=sherrie+lowe

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Just-A-Moment.aspx

Into the Arms of Angels

 

There are bright, white lights all around me and a strong, sterile smell. I don’t want to be here, in this alien environment. I was warm, secure, cradled in a crimson world. The sounds of my mother’s heartbeat, the gurgling of her stomach, the functioning of her body all soothing me, comforting me. I could move, stretch my tiny, newly developed limbs in my translucent bubble; I was happy, safe but then everything changed. The stability of my world began to shift. I felt myself pulled, torn away from my anchor, sucked out into a passage, ripped out and thrust into this white light. My tiny body is now discarded, dropped into a stainless steel tray. I am forgotten, like the bright, pretty paper concealing a gift. All attention is on my mother. She is the gift.
A woman is bending over her as she lies on the bed.
“That’s it Becky, all over.”
She means me when she says ‘all over.’ I’m something to be got rid of. I want to cry from the trauma but my lungs aren’t functioning. Inside me my soul is screaming. I have been brutally wrenched from my pulsing cocoon and out into this cold, cold light. I am not welcomed by anyone and as my mother is cared for, the life slips out of my twenty week old earthly form.
My spirit rises from what is left in that tray. Up, up so that I am looking down upon the woman who was responsible for my creation, and now ultimately my destruction. She is pale, her dark hair falling onto the pillow. Her face looks drawn, shows signs of pain. It is not an unkind face but she has done this terrible thing to me. Why? Why has she chosen to terminate my life before I had a chance to live it? In four more weeks I’d have been termed as viable, too old to be aborted. I know this because although my body was too young to be born, my mind too young to think, my soul is old, it has existed for millennia.
I don’t know the circumstances of my conception, how I came to be. I couldn’t have been planned or I wouldn’t be here now, floating, free of the lifeless form in the tray starved of the nourishment it needed to sustain it.
What do I do? Where do I go?
I watch as my mother is helped from the bed and shown into another room.
“Take all the time you need,” the woman is saying to her.
I drift through the wall and see other women. They are all here for the same reason as my mother, to terminate the life of their unborn child. I feel a flare of anger aimed at my mother. For a moment I hate her for depriving me of an earthly life. What would it have been like? What might I have done?
I have never known love. Did she ever love me? What was her reaction to learning of my being, and what of my father? Is he around? Are they a couple? If they are why has he allowed her to do this? Maybe he has left her – or maybe he hasn’t and I just came along at the wrong time. Perhaps I got in the way of her career, or perhaps she was just too young. My soul has all of these questions and no-one can give it the answers it desires.
I suddenly want to be away from her. For whatever reason, she didn’t want me and I have no wish to linger where I am not wanted. I drift through the building and out through its exterior wall. I am not alone; there is a boy. He is like me. Although we do not have a body – that is now lifeless in the stainless steel tray – we take on its shape in our diaphanous form. It is a grey, overcast day with a light drizzle falling but we do not feel the rain. Our souls gravitate towards each other and he takes my hand.
We do not speak, we communicate by thought. He feels angry too, just like me. He is two weeks older than me, only two weeks away from that day of safety, the twenty four week milestone when he would have been allowed to continue his earthly life. He knows how he came to be. His mother was raped by an older man, a friend of her father’s. The boy had felt his soul being drawn towards the cluster of cells which were to become his earthly body. From that point he’d known he’d never be loved or wanted. He hadn’t wanted his soul to be trapped in that unloved body only to be rejected. His anger has never been directed towards his mother but to the higher force that assigned him that conception.
I don’t know how he knows about his conception when I don’t know about mine. I wonder whether I really want to know. Would it benefit my soul’s ease to know? The end result would be the same but maybe if I knew I wouldn’t feel this anger towards my mother.
The boy gently pulls my hand. I don’t know where we are going but I become aware that we are not alone. The atmosphere is filled with souls: the souls of old people, young people, male and female, all unseen by the mortals walking the earth below. We are borne upwards by an invisible force. I sense we are being guided somewhere; somewhere permanent, somewhere from where we won’t be able to return to this atmosphere. I’m not ready to go there yet. I want to explore this realm that I am never to be a part of before I leave it completely but I want the boy to come with me; I feel a connection to him.
I pull on his hand and we thread our way, wispy as mist, through the souls rising upwards. We are still being guided to that higher place but I feel I must make this deviation, just one look around the earth that I must leave behind before I’ve ever come to know it.
We float westward, away from the buildings in the city. There is a park on the outskirts. The rain has eased and the sun has come out, bestowing its warmth on every living creature, every growing plant. We see mothers pushing buggies, mothers who love their babies and for a moment we feel bereft. I feel his pain and he feels mine. If our souls had been drawn towards one of those small bodies whose hands and feet waved around from within their carriages we’d have known earthly love, but we know it won’t do to dwell on such notions. Someone far greater than us has decided our fate.
We leave the park and travel on, all the time rising higher in the atmosphere, the world below us getting smaller and farther away. We move over hills and fields dotted with cows and sheep; we see birds fly and we rise ever upward.
We leave the earth’s atmosphere and drift up through the cosmos, up through the stars in their constellations. All the time we feel lighter, happier. Now we are glad we are where we are. There is a sudden urgency to reach our destination, our new realm. A voice is calling to us but we cannot see a face.
“Serafina, Gabriel.”
We know that the disembodied sound means us. I am Serafina, the boy is Gabriel. Had we had earthly lives other names would have been chosen for us but these are the names of our souls.
We are drawn towards the voice on a current of air. We see light and we are pulled ever closer to it as if by an invisible thread. As we draw nearer there is the outline of an ethereal being clad all in white and we hear a single beat of strong, white wings. Comfort and serenity fill our souls and we feel ourselves enveloped by a benevolent force. We’ve reached our journey’s end and are welcomed into the arms of angels.

 

 

A Bit of Doggy History

I often think of my two rough collies, Sheba and Jodi, my girlies as I used to call them, my beautiful Lassie dogs. They both feature throughout their lives in my memoir Better or Dead although it is many years now since they went over rainbow bridge but I think of them often and have never had another dog since.

Their stories begin on page 45 of the paperback, not sure of the page number in the ebook, when Sheba came to us. I was so excited to go and pick her up but I hadn’t realized what a traumatic experience it would be for her. With a cavalier attitude I’d ignored my husband’s suggestion to take a towel to put on my knee in the car. What a mistake that turned out to be!

Sheba 9 weeks old

My dream had always been to breed and show rough collies but it went wrong in spectacular fashion. When Sheba was 2 years old I was told by another breeder that she should have her first litter before she got any older. After much research we duly booked a suitable stud dog for our little princess and traveled to York from Stoke-on-Trent to have her mated. That didn’t quite go to plan but she seemed to enjoy the experience and her pregnancy progressed well. The birth of the puppies was more or less straightforward once it got going but afterwards….! What a disaster!

Sheba didn’t take well to motherhood and most of the puppies didn’t survive. We were advised by a couple of young and inexperienced vets to just keep two. It was absolutely heartbreaking and not an experience I wanted to repeat, either for myself or for the dog.

The full story begins on page 102 of the paperback, again not sure of the page in the ebook but it follows on from February 1979. As it is a memoir the book covers all aspects of my family life including my struggle with M.E/C.F.S, my sons’ pet rabbits Jazz and Ziggy, also now over rainbow bridge, as well as Sheba and Jodi’s life stories. Our pets play such a big part in our lives and I hope that when it’s my turn to leave this mortal coil that they will all be there to welcome me.

Better or Dead ebook plus paperback old cover available from amazon, paperback updated version from feedaread.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Dead-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B00JNS6TRS/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499512423&sr=1-3&keywords=sherrie+lowe

Funny How Things Turn Out

They say life mirrors art, or is it art mirrors life? I’m never sure, but aspects of my stories have a way of happening, which is why I’m very wary about killing characters off or giving them illnesses or making terrible things happen to them; I don’t want to tempt Fate and bring it on anyone I know or love.

Since writing The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does two things have come to pass: I now have a gardener and a cleaner myself. Two wonderful people who both do a fabulous job, much better than I could do even before M.E took its toll on my old body.

They’re nothing like the characters in my book. Both are happily married to other people. Both come to me on different days. I don’t feed them as Tess does in my story other than a drink and maybe a cake that Mr Kipling has made, my energy levels don’t run to cooking. My gardener doesn’t use an electric mower and strimmer but petrol ones, something I’d have known if the gardener had come before the idea for the story.

I found them both by chance. I’d been needing them for a while as I was finding it increasingly difficult to manage both the garden and the housework due to my health condition. My gardener pushed a flyer through my door and my cleaner came from a chat to my cousin who I knew was very particular who she had in her house and I feel very comfortable with both, which I think is so important. In the past I’ve had people do jobs for me who I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. If I don’t feel comfortable with people they don’t set foot in my house again once I’ve got them out. As it is I’ve got a great electrician, plumber, decorator, mechanic, etc, a good network, all found over time.

As for dogs, I gave Tess in the book two rough collies after the two I’d had when I was younger. Mine were Sheba and Jodi, mother and daughter; hers were Bella and Donna, sisters. I’ve always been a rough collie person since reading Enid Blyton’s Shadow the Sheepdog when I was ten but I wouldn’t want another dog, not got the energy to look after one. I’m a dog hotel to my fur grandsons Ralphy and Rooney, my sons’ two labradoodles when they go on holiday. I don’t have them together, tried it once for an afternoon, never again, they go wild, but we usually let them have a visit and a rampage round the garden when I’ve got one of them. Their visits satisfy any yen I may have for a dog, they are nice to have and nice to give back.

Like Tess in the story I’ve published several books. Unlike her they haven’t made me millions. For that I am still waiting! As for the romance – too old, too ill, too worn out. By and large I’m content on my own. I don’t want to be washing someone’s boxers and socks or cooking their meals when I haven’t got enough energy to get through the day. The crime part of the story? I’ll pass on that too thanks!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Gardener-Woman-What-Does-ebook/dp/B008C7NBYU/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499334315&sr=1-11&keywords=sherrie+lowe