Mixed Emotions

Photo by Nancy Reynolds

This short piece was written by my youngest daughter and posted to our family website.  Her daughter, sixteen year old Erin, was leaving for a week of summer “Boot Camp” at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Let me explain how this came about.  Erin is an exceptional student and athlete. She was the valedictorian of her eighth grade graduating class and continues to be a 4.0 student ready to begin her junior year of high school at Tampa Catholic. This past season she was named the  softball defensive “player of the year” for the state of Florida and was named to the state’s first team as the catcher. Quite an accomplishment for only a sophomore. Consequently, she is being highly recruited around the USA for college entrance.  The academies always want only the finest of the best young people so she was selected to attend their boot camp to check out her capabilities and let her see first hand what academy life would be like when she finally makes a choice. Since she returned last week, she said it was hard, but definitely gave it a “thumbs up”.  We are so proud of her.  These candidates are selected to attend after completing their junior year of high school but they invited her to attend after only her sophomore year.  If I sound like an extremely proud grandmother, I am.  Proud of her and proud of my daughter who has been doing such an exceptional job of raising and guiding this young woman.

Valedictorian - Eighth Grade Graduation

Written by Nancy Reynolds

Can’t wait to see my girl tomorrow. Flight gets into Orlando at 1:45 p.m. I’ve
never been a whole week without so much as
a call or a text, so I guess this
was my own form of “boot camp” for when she really does leave for college,
wherever that
ends up being.

When she left for the Coast Guard
Academy last Sunday, I learned something very interesting about the reversal of
between kids and parents over time. I talked the airline into giving
me a gate pass so I could wait with her in the final
moments before she
boarded her plane. As usual, we were cutting up and enjoying our time together.
I was determined not
to be that clingy, weepy mom. Then it was time for her
to get in line to board. I stood off a ways and watched her get
closer and
closer to the woman who would scan her ticket and waive her onboard. With that
smile still plastered on my
face, all I could think is, “Will she turn and
look back at me one more time?” And then I had a vision of her four years old

when she would ride the carousel at the mall and every time she came around
for another revolution, she was looking for
ME to make sure I was watching
HER. Now all I wanted was for HER to look at ME … one more time. Just then,
she looked
back and smiled and waved … not once, but twice. Nothing but a
thing to her, but everything to me. I told her to go up
there and knock
their socks off and something tells me that’s exactly what she’s doing. Can’t
wait to hear all about it.

Best Friends-Mother and Daughter


Tragedy Island


Photo by Shirley Dilley


This short story was written by my grandson Austin Nelson.  The story was written recently. He is now a junior in high school and showing great talent as you can tell by the following creation.  I am so very proud of him.

By Austin Nelson

John is looking forward to going to the Bahamas. His family planned the trip to celebrate his siblings’ athletic accomplishments.  John is one of three kids. Susan is the best girls’ basketball player in the country, and James is the best football player in the nation. Then, there is John. With no athletic abilities, he is the oddball child in the family. His self-confidence is low because he is constantly compared unfavorably to his brother and sister. The family will leave on Saturday by plane and return the following Saturday.

The trip didn’t go as planned, as evidenced by John’s diary found at the crash site. The journal contained the following information:

Day 1: Mysterious Island

Hello. I’m John. Seven of us survived the plane crash. The survivors were riding in first class. Fortunately, my entire family survived. Our plane crashed in the middle of nowhere. We hoped someone would find us quickly, but no one has arrived yet. Luckily, the other survivors include a doctor and a professional athlete.

We searched the island for shelter, but didn’t find much. We did find a fresh source of water in the jungle, but decided we should all stay on the beach in case a plane comes searching for us. A few bodies washed up on the shore. They were pale like someone about to throw up.  The doctor felt we should bury the bodies out of respect. He has become the leader of our group.

My family is pretty beaten up. Dad is upset because my brother James has a broken leg from the crash. Dad’s afraid he’ll lose his scholarship. My sister Susan couldn’t stop crying and Mom was trying to comfort her all day long. Dad was helping my brother; acting as his crutches to help him go to the bathroom. It’s a nice night on the island, but we’re all afraid for our lives. I’ll write again tomorrow.

Day 2: Meeting New People

When I woke up today, everyone else was already awake searching through the supplies that had washed ashore overnight. People clawed through passengers’ luggage like scavenger animals trying to find the best part of the meat. I looked to my left and saw the professional athlete working out on the beach. He was doing suicides in the sand. I thought he was going to kill himself running on the hot sand without fresh water. Very few bottles of water had washed ashore. I tried to introduce myself to him but he didn’t give me the time of day. He thought I wanted his autograph or something. I guess athletes get that a lot.

After the tide ebbed, everyone began to relax and tried to make a tent with the clothes they found in the luggage. My family thought it would be a good idea to walk over and meet the doctor and the athlete. James stayed back because of his broken leg.

Tonight seemed really dark and dreary. Gray clouds fought to cover the moon tonight. I’m going to bed before the storm hits.

Day 4: Turmoil

Sorry I skipped a day. Yesterday was a horrible day. Two survivors were murdered. The doctor’s throat was slit and the athlete’s hand was cut off and he bled to death.

Now only our family is left on the island; at least we think so. We are still sleeping on the sand tonight. Dad decided to stay outside our tent tonight and look out for predators. My family is distraught. I’m tired. It’s been an exhausting four days and I have a headache, so I’m going to try to sleep before the others.

Day 5: Tragic Death

The unexpected has happened. My brother James was murdered last night. I couldn’t believe my brother died. I loved my brother. I still can’t believe he died last night. Sorry, I’m repeating. Just losing my mind here.  I love my brother. We buried him this afternoon. Afterwards, Dad quickly began searching for something or someone to fill the empty spot created when his pride and joy died.

Later in the day, Dad couldn’t put the bottle down. He found the liquor cabinet in the plane’s wreckage. My family is very Christian-oriented and they began to question God. In their prayers tonight, they said, “Oh God, why are you punishing us so severely?” Today seemed a million years long.

My family was beginning to feel insecure around each other. One of us might be the killer. We decided that tomorrow we would search the island for the mysterious killer.

Day 6: Dad Killed Himself?

Today, mom, my sister and I awoke to see Dad stabbed in his neck with a liquor bottle. We were grief-stricken over the loss of our father. Dad was on the lookout last night and had drunk at least fifteen liquor bottles. There was no way he could have been sober. Mother took charge and asked us to help carry Dad’s body and bury him next to our brother. Mom was a wreck today.

I’ve never seen our family in such turmoil. We searched the island all day for any sign of life. We found nothing. The island isn’t very big. The killer must be someone from our family. Tonight, Mom decided we should sleep apart from each other. My sister and I agreed, because we knew what she was implying.

Right now, I am writing this entry in a tree. I felt climbing up in a tree would be a safe place for me to stay for the night. It would be a good lookout position.

Day 1: New Journal, New Location

I’m writing this entry in prison, surrounded by people who completely understand my anger at the world. I killed everyone that survived the plane crash.

I will brief you on how I got to this point. When the plane crashed, I saw my parents once again put my brother and sister first. It caused me to snap. I didn’t like the doctor assuming he was in control; or how the athlete ignored me. So, I decided to get rid of everyone, one by one. With each death, I felt more in control.  I had no desire to be stuck on an island with my awful family, a power hungry doctor, and an egotistical professional athlete. Cutting off the athlete’s hand so he could no longer sign autographs was empowering.

Bottom line, my family never loved me. They cared more for my brother and sister. Dad loved my brother James the best and Mom loved her daughter Susan. I was an intruder in my own family. It stinks that I can’t live on my own island, but an eight by ten cell could be considered a private island.

Photo by Gina Nelson

Austin Nelson


Photo by Gina Nelson

This personification poem was written by my grandson Austin when he was in the 7th grade.  He is now a junior at Virginia Tech.  The thoughts he expressed were so profound for a thirteen year old that I was astounded when I read it.  I have carried it in my writing portfolio for the past four years and just recently asked his permission to post it on this website.  I know you will be as impressed with his poetry as I was while reading it.


I live in between the clouds and the sun.

I cool off scorching summer days.

I can hear people’s conversations.

My deepest fear is that one day the trees will die leaving me with no way to express myself.

I dream of less people, with less housing, so there are more trees to be my friends.

I make the hottest New York streets sigh with relief.

I dream of making flags swivel in the air.

I can’t control my anger during the November season.

My name is Wind.