“That Story Lady”

Angela Scott, Author – Storyteller – Ventriloquist

Archive for the ‘Relationships:Communication’ Category

How a Family Visit Taught Me the Value of Miller’s Gravy and Fellowship

December 10, 2014

“Let’s drive to a restaurant and eat breakfast before you and your family drive home.” Our group was rather large; however, a quaint restaurant was found with seating capacity to accommodate all of us.

Orders for breakfast items were recorded by our kind waitress with a genuine smile. Each time she completed a page of breakfast orders, it was apparent this waitress was the server our group needed. Thankful to receive good service with good food, my appreciation increased while observing her servant attitude.

With confidence she asked, “Do you need anything else?” In an adjacent seat, I heard a request for Miller’s gravy. It seemed plausible that I’d missed the listing for Miller’s gravy on the breakfast menu.

“Who wants the ketchup?” The casual question of four words from our waitress captured my attention. A cousin pointed toward the opposite side of the table. “Over there.” After a pause and an extended glance, I saw Miller’s gravy; it was ketchup. The visual image of ketchup covering an entire plate of hash brown potatoes and scrambled eggs is etched in my memory.

“Why?” The one word question slipped through my lips. Gentle laughter surrounded me. In unison the group proclaimed, “Heinz ketchup. It’s a family tradition at breakfast, over everything.”

That gravy conversation reminded me of the gravy Mom had oftentimes prepared for our family. Her version was a delight to smell and to eat. Even though a bottle of ketchup was a staple item in our refrigerator, we had never eaten Miller’s gravy at breakfast.

An African proverb reads, “If you close your eyes, you can see far.” When closing my eyes now, it is easy to remember the morning our extended family ate breakfast together. A substantial amount of ketchup consumption at breakfast precipitated a vivid memory from several years ago with a lot of new giggles.

Years have elapsed since we enjoyed that visit with family. The memory was and is a picture for a post card. It was the last time I enjoyed a 4th of July vacation with mom. Conversations, video cameras capturing laughter, a volleyball game or two, and the gift of time enjoyed in the picturesque mountains of West Virginia are now cherished memories.

Reflecting on that visit, I understand now the value of listening and observation. It is essential to embrace the myriad gifts of life with gratitude.

Although I may not eat Miller’s gravy at breakfast, I appreciate its value as well as how to order it. The distance between our family members is merely a noun rather than an obstacle.



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Letters To A Soldier

March 15, 2009

Recently I had the opportunity to mail thirteen letters written by students in a second grade class to a soldier. As I read the letters, I felt the kids had asked questions I would also like answered. I believe you will be touched by the depth and sincerity of their interest and appreciation for serving our country.

1st letter
Thank you for saving our country. I wonder what it is like there. Who is your boss? Why do you have to wear the uniform? I hope you write back soon.
Dear Marie, Thank you so much for your letter. It is very hot and dry over here. My boss is another military person with higher rank. I work for that person, but we all work for the army. The President is the boss over all the military. We wear the same uniform because that way we know who is on our side. Kind of like a sports team wearing their uniforms. Thank you for writing. Scott

2nd letter
Why do you wear the armor? What do your vehicles look like? Thank you for protecting us!
Dear Mason, Thank you for writing a letter to us. We wear armor to help protect us against bullets and flying metal. It helps us stay safe, so we can come back home. Our vehicles are strong and have armor on them. We use them to help us get where we need to go safely. Thank you Mason, Scott

3rd letter
Thank you for saving our country. What do your clothes feel like? What does your boss look like? Is he nice? I hope you write back.
Your friend,
Dear Amer, Thanks for writing me and my unit. The clothes we wear feel just fine. It is a uniform and it made to keep us safe from fires and from getting scratches on us. I have a boss who is a good boss. She is an officer that is in charge of our unit. Thank you for writing, Scott

4th letter
Thank you for protecting us from danger. I hope you have friends in the army. I do in school. Is your job hard? Is your suit hot? Are you the boss in the army? Let me know when you get a chance. Please write me back.
Your friend,
Dear Kaiya, Thank you very much for writing. Yes, I have many friends in the army and we all help each other. The job is hard sometimes, but not all the time. We like what we do and that makes the job a lot easier. I am a boss of some people, but not all of them in the unit. Thank you Kaiya, Scott

5th letter
Thank you for saving us. I am proud of you. Who is your boss? Good job! Do you play? You are nice.
Your friend,
Dear Arturo, Thanks for the letter and thank you for being proud of us. Our boss is a Captain and she is in charge of the whole unit. Yes, I like to play sports. We like watching it on TV too. I think that you are very nice for writing us a letter. Thanks, Scott

6th letter
Thank you for risking your life for us. What kind of suits do you wear? Do you have friends? Do you have to sleep in a tent?
Your friend,
Dear Ronnie, Thank you for writing a letter to us. We wear a uniform that protects us from getting scratched up. Yes, I have lots of friends here in the Army. We do sleep in tents, but they are really big and have beds in them. Thank You, Scott

7th letter
Do you have friends in the army? What is it like there? Does it rain a lot? Who is your boss? What kind of clothes do you wear in the Army? Do you even get sick? What kind of training do you have to do?
Your friend,
Dear Yancy, Thanks for writing. Yes, I have lots friends in the army. It is dry and hot here, but we drink a lot of water. That helps us make it through the day. It doesn’t rain a lot where we are, but in other places in Iraq it may. We wear a uniform that helps protect us from scratches and fires. Some people get sick, but not all the time. We really have to wash our hands a lot to keep us from getting sick. We train for a lot of things to help us stay safe, and to help the Iraqi Police protect the people in their city. Thank you, Scott

8th letter
Thank you for protecting us. What is it like there? What kind of uniform do you wear? You are a very nice man. Do you have friends there? Do you have a boss?
Thank you,
Dear Patience, Thank you for writing to us. It is hot and dry and not much grass or trees around. We wear a uniform that helps protect us from scratches and fires. Yes, I have a lot of friends. It is good to have friends; so that we can help each other do things. Yes, I have a boss and she is a Captain. Thanks, Scott

9th letter
Thank you for fighting for our country. What is it like fighting for our country? So do you eat food as a soldier? I hope you are okay from the war.
Your friend,
Dear Makenzie, Thank you for writing us. I really like fighting for my country. It makes me proud to do it. I like protecting people like you and your friends and family from those who don’t like us. Yes, we eat food over here. Sometimes we like to eat the good food like chicken and steak. We will be just fine over here and thank you for caring. Thanks, Scott

10th letter
Thank you for saving people’s lives. You are a hero! What is it like over there? Is it cold, sunny, or rainy? I love your job!
Your friend,
Dear Kamilya, Thank you for writing. I love my job too. I have been doing it for a long time. The weather is hot and it is dry over here like the desert. It doesn’t get that cold over here. It is mostly sunny and very hot during the summer time. Thanks Scott

11th letter
Is the job you’re doing hard? Thank you for saving our country. Are there bad people over there? Do you feel safe? I hope so!
Your friend,

Dear Hussein, Thank you for writing. The job over here is hard sometimes, but we are really good at it. There are bad people over here, but we are trying to help the Iraqi Policemen to get them. I feel very safe, because we are really good at our job and we have lots of friends that care. Thank you, Scott

12th letter
What kind of training do you do there? Do you have friends in the army? Is it dangerous there? What is it like there in Iraq? Thank you for protecting our country.
Your friend,
Dear Ghufran, Thank you for writing. We do a lot of training to help the Iraqi Policemen keep their city safe. I have lots of friends in the Army. It is important to have friends, so we can protect and help each other. Iraq is really hot and dry, and there are not many trees. Thank you, Scott

13th letter
When you wear your suit, is it hot? What kind of clothes do you wear? I hope you have fun in Iraq!

Dear Kaylie, We wear a uniform and it gets hot sometimes. I want to thank you for writing us a letter and supporting us over here. Thanks, Scott

My hope is that as you reflect on these letters, you will be encouraged to think about another whether they are far away or perhaps your next door neighbor. The kindness you share may be the turning point for another that they can only hear in your voice and truly understand.

Angela Scott
© March 15, 2009

2nd Shift Wife and 3rd Shift Nurse – The Real Story of How Their Friendship Saved My Life

October 7, 2007

I remember the hot summer night well even though it happened over forty-two years ago. My mom said I was talking out of my head due to a high fever. Mom called Aunt Kathleen, a private duty nurse who worked third shift and lived across the road from us. Their dialogue was not recorded, however, I clearly remember Mom describe the events of that night.

“What could be wrong,” Mom asked Aunt Kathleen. She curtly said, “Take her to the hospital, now!” Aunt Kathleen knew a surgeon who would be able to help me, Dr. Deaton. She would call the doctor and give a list of my symptoms to him so he would be prepared to administer the proper medical procedure in this emergency situation. “Go now! He will meet you at the hospital,” her voice echoed in my mom’s ears.

Dad worked second shift and arrived at the hospital after work, about 11:30 p.m. He saw the surgeon carrying me in his arms to my hospital room after the appendectomy. Dr. Deaton told mom and dad, “Her appendix was red hot; ready to rupture. If you hadn’t gotten her to the hospital when you did, well…”

A neighbor, Aunt Kathleen, and my mom had been friends for several years. Although she was not really my aunt, she asked mom for the privilege of my sisters and I calling her our aunt since she had never had children.

Aunt Kathleen’s normal work schedule was third shift as a private duty nurse. Mom called her just an hour or two before she would have left for work that summer night.

Mom watched me swim in the pool that day in July. I had been swimming all day with friends. We had eaten, however, my right side quickly became uncomfortable with other severe warning signs developing rapidly.

The year was 1965. I was ten years of age. Since Mom knew Aunt Kathleen as a friend and as a nurse, she called her for help. I am thankful they were good friends and I am certain one of the reasons I survived the severity of an appendicitis attack that night is because a nurse, as well as a friend, possessed vital medical information my mom needed to know at just the right time.

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.

How to Raise a Good Parent – 7 Lessons My Daughter Taught Me

August 19, 2007

Twenty-one years is a milestone in life, especially for me. I struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder for years before I learned it actually existed and had a name.

The privilege of being her mother for 21 years is one of life’s many blessings. Tears turned into joy and heartache transformed into love. Fear and admiration are among the numerous experiences we have shared.

As the mom, I thought I was teaching her. However, I realize now she taught me seven valuable lessons. These are lessons only my child could teach me. My hope is to share these lessons with you to inspire you to watch carefully and learn from your children, as children can only learn from you.

Listening is the first lesson I encountered. Often painful and tiring, I learned. As I see her young maturity strengthen daily, admiration and love fill my heart.

Time is the second lesson I often mismanaged. Too much to do and little extra time after working five days a week drained me of energy. For more times than I care to recall, I understand now the impact of time-out, time away, vacation time, and the reality of time, which I often took for granted.

Smiling is the third lesson for which I am thankful. A smile melts and diffuses anger. Misunderstanding is easy; smiling through anger and tears is challenging under the best of circumstances.

Integrity is the fourth lesson I experienced. Instead of facing challenges, I often excused myself from life’s experiences rather than making plans with my daughter. When I failed to follow through on promises I made to her, her disappointment reminded me of disappointment I felt internally, although then I was not able to accurately verbalize what I felt.

Memories, the fifth lesson I learned, and forgot numerous times, are fleeting until I began recording her accomplishments on calendars and journals. Photographs documenting those once in a lifetime moments from infancy to childhood refresh my memories.

Precious to me now is the picture of her first steps at the age of nine months. Thrill filled her eyes and body. Her facial expression seemed to announce, “World, just watch me now!”

Of course, the sixth lesson is family. Parents, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, and next-door neighbors gave intrinsic support which sustains me.

The seventh lesson, love, is the deepest lesson of all. Willa Cather’s quotation, “Where there’s love there are always miracles” concisely describes the miracles I have seen in my daughter.

All these years I thought I was her teacher. Little did I know the lessons my daughter would teach me.

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.

How I Recognized the Addiction of Text Messaging Syndrome

June 10, 2007

Text messaging syndrome is time consuming and encourages preoccupied conversations which, of course, affects everyone. Emily and David are great friends. As a matter of fact, I’m certain they love each other. However, I have noticed they both experience a common addiction with cell phones.

Numerous teenagers and adults apparently anticipate internal questions such as, “Who has written to me now?” and “How many messages have I received?” Great questions, of course, although I believe it is also beneficial to anticipate everyday moments we often miss. Think about the real beauty of a sunrise, a shower of rain, the fragrance of a flower, a family story passed down to us over time, or perhaps an uninterrupted conversation with your mom.

After an hour’s drive to the airport for my daughter’s return from her spring break to college, I realized the severity of this addiction which I was able to recognize as text messaging syndrome.

She rarely glanced away from her cell phone as she rapidly wrote one message after another. I could not hold my curiosity any longer when I asked, “Do you text message when you’re driving?” Her response, “Yes, but I just use one hand.”

My next question bolted out of my mouth, “Are you able to study, without sending text messages?” “Oh, mom…”

In the event you encounter a teenager or adult with this addiction, I believe it is only fair to share with you the progression of this addiction especially under the best of circumstances.

Evidence of the mild stage of text messaging syndrome is, “It’s only 10 cents a message.” Although addicting, it sounds harmless with a minimal expense.

Although 300 text messages per month sounds like a lot, her expense was an extra $5.00 per month. Thus, an increasing expense develops into the moderate addiction stage.

Unlimited text messages for $20.00 per month. This option removes the fear of exceeding any limit of text messages, however, this is the severe stage when you realize how much teenagers and adults depend on text messaging.

G. K. Chesterton said, “There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner.” Hope for the future is important, however, I am not certain Chesterton was referring to anticipation of the next incoming text message which would, of course, need a response.

I’m older so I don’t text message. Perhaps I felt like an outsider. However, I realized the deterioration of verbal communication skills. Her voice startled me, “Mom, I’m listening” she announced as she began the next text message.

Finally, I had to ask her this question, “Will you regret in one month, six months, or a year from now an ordinary moment when you realize you decided to spend time focusing on the next incoming or outgoing text message rather than spend time with your family and loved ones?” Our conversation began again, although we had arrived at the airport.

Everyday moments are often taken for granted. These seemingly insignificant messages distract our attention from the present; moments that only occur once.

All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.