Driving and Biking in the Big City

Posts Tagged ‘Denise Bray Hensley

Thanks for the Facebook love

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FB as Barbie diaryDear Facebook friends: Thanks for all my birthday wishes, and, more importantly, thanks for coming back into my life. As a writer and diarist, Facebook is one of my favorite activities. Reminds me of these blue, green, purple books with hearts and keys that I have in my writing chest and I have kept since sixth grade, writing on every single page in most years. I have shelves and shelves of diaries/journals/
notebooks/whatever you call them until I got onto Facebook.

I make time for FB – morning and night — just like I journaled all those years before Facebook. I’m not too busy. I’m not embarrassed. Yes, I have a life, but I’m a writer, formerly a reporter, and I continue to report. Every day, I do this.

The other best thing about Facebook besides reconnecting with friends is: No editors. Ha!! Take that you Texas magazine editor who wanted me to change and change my Rayburn Dam story about growing up on the Angelina River until I couldn’t recognize it and – even I who love to get paid for what I write – refused to let it be published.

Even better, I can take photos of what I see and post. Yes, I was that kind of reporter, meaning I was the kind of reporter who worked at many small-town dailies and biweeklies so that I can get as good of a tornado shot as anyone. My eye sees the action in the crowd, just like my mind knows who the story-maker is in the room.

Because of FB, I don’t have to try to get my husband or kids or friends to come see the . . . sunrise, sunset, moon, Orion, Venus, Blood Blue Moon, four-leaf clover, turtles in the gully, deer, trashy graffiti, misspelled graffiti, bad punctuation on signs, snakes, Madonnas in the back of the pickup, terrible traffic on Texas 59. Or especially Ben doing something incredibly cute; Lucy doing something incredibly cute; their over-the-top cuteness when they do something together that just makes my day.

What I wanted to say today, on my birthday, as my friends write on my timeline is how proud I am of my life because of my friends and the people along my way. They are different and they are the same – these days we certainly know their differences but we don’t often talk about their sameness.

Most of my friends have pets, adore their pets and seem to love them more and more as they age. All the grandparents understand my doting adoration of Ben and forgive me for the over-sharing of his photos.

You wouldn’t believe the number of writers on my friends list including, naturally, folks from my reporter days but also from my girlhood. Port Neches, Groves and nearby were ripe for gritty stories. Heck, I even have two Pulitzer Prize winners among my friends, one of whom has won two Pulitzers.

FB keeps me in touch with my longest ago friend, Pattie, who I met the first day of first grade. And my bestie from teen-age years, Cyndy, who helped me meet my husband when she was being so charming at freshmen orientation at Lamar University. And my lifelong friend Lynn who has been in every part of my life from girlhood carpool, to living behind me at Lamar University, to now, now. We even spoke on the phone this week.

My friends include my babysitting co-op from 30 years ago when I was first in Kingwood, had only Laura and was freelancing without many friends. I’m even friends with many of my kids’ friends from their teen-age days. I really like them all better as adults.

My very favorite friends from our life in Michigan are on my list including Lynne who was the angel sent to be by my side when Trav was being diagnosed with his childhood heart problem – now cured because we moved back here to go to Texas Children’s. Without that huge glitch, we might still be wearing snow shoes and digging out our driveway.

Then, I’ve managed to reconnect with far-flung family members and watch my niece’s adventures in Alaska and my nephew who is living a nomad life as a photographer and driver in North Carolina. And, even if they don’t post every day, I get a glimpse into their lives, find out they are OK and the most important events happening with them.

Via Facebook, I’ve found out about the deaths of three good friends and my beloved niece who was named for me. I know that sounds cold and isolated from society as it used to be, but I’m so glad I found out so soon after their unexpected deaths. I wonder and worry about my wild family pretty routinely and start reaching out when I don’t hear from someone or something new is happening with them.

I have excellent cooks in my repertoire who share great and easy recipes. I have crafty folks including several quilters. Friends are building homes, raising chickens, running marathons, lifting weights, sitting by pools and beaches and drinking wine with me many evenings.

My tennis friends, my work friends, my new friends, my old friends. Wait!! I’m starting to sound like Dr Seuss.  So, I’ll stop now. Thanks for the birthday wishes but thanks more for being on Facebook and keeping in touch. I love every one of your posts and read you daily. You make my life fuller and my journaling easier. Thumbs up, heart and emotional face.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

February 6, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Proof of Life Sundays

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John in Oman Laura on a cold Sunday Marcus and Laura Trav and Laura Leigh Trav in Gold's Gym Trav on another sundayWithout even realizing it, my family has embarked on a new tradition that is catching on, quick enough to accomplish even in our busy lives and making it easier for everyone to live with me. The way to play is simple. My kids and husband are to send me a photo of themselves on Sundays, perhaps in action. No canned or previous photos. The players snap a photo, message it to me, I tell them how adorable they are and I leave them somewhat alone to be adults for the next few days. In fact, my husband doesn’t always have to play if he’s at home with me and I know, in fact, that he’s alive.

The title for this event, of course, comes from the many kidnapping movies we’ve seen when the kidnapper is required to show “proof of life” before the family of the poor victim coughs up the millions and millions of dollars. As an avid movie-lover, mystery reader and former longtime police reporter, it made surprising sense for this new tradition to evolve.

It couldn’t have come earlier in our lives together as a family because we didn’t have the technology we have today. But with smart phones and easy photo apps, we are now good to go for Proof of Life Sundays.

My kids will tell you it wasn’t much of a peaceful childhood when you are being raised by a mom who is/now was a police reporter.  I can track down anyone, anywhere, anytime. I know how to talk to cops, hospital personnel, ambulance drivers, teachers, friends, moms of friends, even funeral homes to get me one step closer to where you are at all times. And, if I don’t know how to do it, I know someone who can. It’s like the Kevin Bacon game. How many calls do I have to make to get the information I need. I’ve cultivated the art of persistence.

We need to call Oprah? I have a friend who went to school with her. Kevin Costner? The same. A government official; they are so easy. College officials, I know someone who went there and may even have a building or two named for a big gift. And, in fact, I still have a few powerful newspaper friends. Haven’t asked them for a favor in a long time, but I’m keeping the potential in my pocket.

My husband of 40 years probably knows my persistence better than anyone. I remember the time when I convinced the police at Houston Intercontinental Airport to search the inter-terminal trains. This is when we lived in Michigan, the kids were really young and my husband traveled relentlessly. He was pretty predictable about calling home to tell me he’d arrived safely and even stayed routinely at the same places, especially in Houston.

Well, on this particular night, he did not call home, he was not at the expected hotel and his loving and faithful wife worried that he’d croaked somewhere in transit. The cops searched, didn’t find him. Eventually, I called his assistant who made his travel arrangements (yes, we’re talking midnight) and she had put him at a new hotel because of a conference he was attending. Whew!! All was well and some even learned.

My beautiful sister-niece Pam and her Pepper who are fans of Proof of Life Sundays

Proof of Life of my beautiful sister-niece Pam and her Pepper. So adorable.

The rule of thumb for my kids was to call home at least before mom called the cops. They knew when I’d start getting edgy. They also knew that back in my daily newspaper days, I covered all the possible worst case scenarios.

  • The baby who choked on her coat when her mom didn’t take off her jacket because the infant was sleeping so peacefully.
  • The 4-year-old tossed from the back of a moving pickup truck.
  • The twins who were killed in the bathtub when their dad dropped the hairdryer in the water.
  • The elementary child killed crossing the street after his caregiver let go of his hand and turned away to go home.
  • The teen-ager who died in the dentist’s chair having his wisdom teeth removed.
  • The diamond salesman who was conked on the head and buried the very night he went missing.

I will stop there because I’m making us all depressed about the fragility of life. I’m a sure case of journalism “post traumatic syndrome.” All horrible and many more.

But my cop reporting is now in my DNA and will be passed on to my kids and probably their kids. The motto is worthy if the crazy is not:

I will be smart enough, strong enough and never too lazy to help.

Bring on Proof of Life Sunday or I’m there whether you needed me or not.