If You’re Right About Trump, I can say ‘Thank You’, but if you’re wrong…

Are you prepared to adjust your lifestyle for another downfall?   I recently viewed the movie “The Big Short”.  It’s based on true events, recounting the housing market crisis in 2007-2008 where a few highly intelligent investors bet against the housing market and made a huge profit in spite of the mass economic devastation caused around the country.  I had to watch the movie twice in one sitting because I could not believe what I had just watched, wondering where was the public outrage at the practices of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and big banks.  I assume people couldn’t become too enraged because they were too occupied trying to keep their assets and lifestyles from unraveling too fast, or it simply went over a lot of heads.  For me personally, I witnessed part of the housing market fraudulent activities when I worked for a bank in the mid to late 90’s.  The Clinton administration enacted The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for banks to lend to lower income residents and businesses.  It’s intent is to ensure that banks use fair lending practices to those who have little to no assets.  I saw for myself people defrauding this regulation.  It usually happened one of three ways:  1) customers who usually did not qualify for the standard bank loans were granted loans through CRA with inflated rates, causing the debt to increase over time, creating a higher debt to income ratio for the life of the loan, which ends in default (unpaid); 2)  customers using their parents’ assets to secure loans, also known as ‘projected income’, monies that are likely to be earned in the future (an inheritance for example); 3)  customers who actually had large assets forge or omit their actual earnings to obtain a low rate loan (ex. a business using the financial records of a smaller subsidiary to benefit its growth).  I’ve seen the rich defraud IRS through loan applications.  I remember one in particular that astounded me the most.  It was a customer who was a certified public accountant (CPA) that would come to the bank weekly in a different Mercedes Benz to make his deposits.  They were always a few thousand a week.  He applied for a commercial building loan and listed his prior year income around $25K, and provided prior tax returns proving it.  However, his business had assets “worth hundreds of thousands” (according to my manager at the time), so the bank decided to overlook his reported income and grant the multi-million dollar loan in spite of the low income reporting.  I remember the bank manager being perplexed about the situation.  I was a Head Teller at the time, so I was a part of the management team, consisting of me and two branch managers.  We had a conversation, and the branch management found granting the loan completely unfair.  However, they had to do it because the executives in headquarters approved.  The branch manager was particularly upset because another loan applicant who reported $100K income was denied a similar loan.  What further discouraged me in the banking industry is how they impose fees on customers who cannot afford them, yet give “free banking” to those who could afford to pay.  I remember my assistant manager explaining it as a “courtesy to keep the customers’ money with the bank”.  These practices industry wide had a snowball effect over the next few decades, causing the calamity of the housing crisis of 2007-08.

So what does any of this have to do with President-elect Donald Trump?  Directly, not much.  He didn’t bank where I worked (as far as I know).  Indirectly, history has proven that the wealthy protects their assets first, and try to make your wealth a part of theirs as well.  Trump has given Americans many reasons not to trust him, and I believe we are all waiting with bated breath to see what’s about to happen next.  But, what he’s proposing doesn’t look good for the middle class or lower income portion of the population.  I am especially concerned about his plan to revamp that tax system to include cutting out head of household filings, no taxes for incomes less than $50K, and the wealthy only paying 15%.  It’s very simplistic and easy to understand, but has horrendous consequences and creates a slippery slope that erodes democracy.

The Repercussions of Cutting Head of Household (HoH) Filing

Ending higher refunds to single parents will cripple the consumer economy.  Most single parents use the refunds for shopping, down payments for cars and homes, purchase vacations, and the smarter ones catch up or pay off debts, invest or add to their savings.  The consumer economy is dependent on the tax refund season.  Don’t think so?  Then why all of the “bring in your refund and you’re approved” advertisements for consumer, home, auto loans?  Tax preparation companies constantly advertise their “rapid refund” high rate loan options against tax returns.  They make millions from the products.  For millions of single parents in this country, tax season is the paid holiday to catch up on Christmas debt, and pay for Easter.  Taking it away will not only take income from the household itself, but millions of other households within the aforementioned industries will have to operate with a declination of funds.   I’ve read reports of the HoH elimination proposal.  What I haven’t read is how doing this will benefit the tax base or consumer economy.  Most recently, I’ve read news articles stating IRS will delay the process of HoH filing this year because of fraudulent returns in the most recent years totaling over $10B.  If that’s the case, scrapping HoH seems like a perfect solution; however, another solution is to hold IRS more accountable for its processing and audit procedures.  At face value, the multi-billion dollar tax fraud problem and the slow rise of the working class seem to correlate, meaning as more people went back to work, they found ways to increase their refunds.  I believe if the IRS were to investigate instances of fraud on an individual basis, the greater number of offenders will be in the higher income working class rather than the working poor.  However, it’s the working poor families that will be punished by the termination of HoH filing.  Moreover, the highest number of single family households are parented by working class white women.  So for all of you women Trump supporters, you voted in favor of taking food out of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins’ mouths.  You voted for your sister to continue to have to struggle making ends meet, and taking away probably the largest chunk of money they’ll receive at one time within the year.  Should Trump have his way and it passes, which is highly likely with a Republican dominated Congress, I can say ‘thank you’ if it proves to be a success.  I’m a humble person.  It’s not difficult for me to say it.  But if it’s a failure, are you prepared to make room in your household to help out the sister and her family whom you voted to bankruptcy without being able to claim the head of household status the next coming years?

No Taxes for Annual Incomes Less than $50,000

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  The potential to make up to $50,000 a year federal tax free sounds like a dream come true.  People can easily become homeowners, build their nest eggs, lay a financial foundation for future generations…Right?  I’m not certain of that.  According to Social Security Administration:

about 67.4 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the $46,119.78 raw average wage. By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $29,930.13 for 2015.  (2016 Wage Statistics available mid October 2017)  https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2015  

That means more than half of America’s population will be excluded from paying federal taxes. I’m no expert, and expertise isn’t required to conclude that any nation or government entity will have trouble operating if more than half of its population is not paying taxes.  Vital programs that benefit the sick, elderly and poor will have to be terminated.  Monies for federal grants and projects will not be supplied.  That affects education, businesses, healthcare, everything that relies on federal funding.  It is historically proven when government decides to “trim the fat” or “cut the pork”, they always cut into a major artery and cause a metaphorical bleed out that leads to a slow and agonizing death of the poor.  The perfect analogy to describe this phenomena is demonstrated in the movie “The Big Short”.  They use the game Jenga to describe the housing securities collapse.  The same principle applies to the tax base.  Take away from the less fortunate of the population, which is the base to our economy, and the whole thing collapses.  Would you like to sacrifice what you’ve already financial structured to commit to a complete rebuild of the system?

Payment of taxes ensures our participation as citizens within the government as well as maintaining infrastructures like roads, buildings, and programs.  Residential neighborhoods and commercial sites are based on the level of taxes that its occupants can pay.  It’s how the dilapidated conditions of inner cities were created.  People who cannot afford to pay higher taxes do not receive the same level of service from the government.  Those that dwell in the suburbs pay higher taxes and as a result, live in better conditions.  This disparity reaches over into the practices and mindset of government officials.  State senators represent causes that provide more funding and lobbying, and pay little to no attention to those who cannot afford it.  In other words, more than half of America will not get the same level of service if they were to stop paying taxes.  Are you ready for your tree-lined neighborhood to get an inner city make under?

Not paying federal taxes also leaves citizens prone to increased taxes at the state level, resulting in higher costs of living.  One thing I know for certain, is when the federal government changes its policy regarding finances, the state government and private sectors are ravenous vultures, plucking on the fading carcass of household incomes.  Case in point is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp program.  I can recall around 2005-07 or so, grocery and food prices increased significantly.  It was around the same time that food stamp participation was at historically high levels.  With more of the population receiving federal aid, grocery and other major store chains increased their prices.  I was not on the program at the time.  I was dutifully employed by Montgomery County Police Department; however, I was a single mother, and one hundred dollars could no longer fill my cart and feed my family for a month.  It increased to well over three hundred dollars a month.  I’ll admit, I was unhappy about the unemployed person in the check-out line who could easily swipe their EBT card to pay for their food, then go home and rest, while I had to use the money from working sixteen hour night shifts to pay for mine.  But as God’s will would have it, I became unemployed in 2011 due to health issues, and ended up feeding my family using the SNAP program from 2011 to 2013.  I’ve also participated in the WIC program over the years when my children were under the age of five.  Those programs are vital and necessary for the working poor.  In 2012 or 2013, the Republican Congress decided to cut funding to the program.  It wasn’t until after the cuts were made that it was discovered that 55% of the program’s participants were military families.  Is this how government and private sector should treat their constituents and consumers?  And even though funding was cut, the grocery store prices remained and increased in most instances.  If federal taxes are eliminated for lower incomes, I would assuredly believe the states will increase property and business taxes, banks will go back to unfair lending practices,  and consumer prices will increase because they will assume that households will have more to spend with less federal taxes to pay.  All of those increases could accumulate to actually be more than paying federal and state taxes at their current rate.  So, the plan to eliminate taxes for lower incomes certainly has a nice ring to it, but it can lead to devastating results.

The Wealthy Paying Only 15% Taxes

I’ve never been financially wealthy, but I can assume that a flat tax rate of 15% rather than different rates for different types of taxes is more convenient.   However, those different types of taxes go to funding programs.  If the taxes are eliminated, so are the programs.  This includes business taxes and regulations that provides funds for fair and safe labor standards, small business grants and loans, infrastructure development and healthcare.  More jobs may be created, but monies for small business start-ups will be jeopardized. Cutting the taxes of the wealthy is another simplistic plan with complicated results.

Taxation is our representation within this democracy.  It is proven that people with more money have more power.  Paying the fair share for what can be individually afforded is our voice.  However small and feeble, it exists.  If we don’t pay taxes, our voices no longer exist and other civil liberties can fade away just as well, without us having the power to stop it.  This is the very definition of oppression, when those who are in power attempt to gain more power by sifting the least of the population.  I wish President-elect Trump was more descriptive about how his plans will benefit all Americans because I do not trust ‘just wait and see’.  I’d rather be prepared the best that I can.  Or as an adage goes, “pray for the best, prepare for the worst.”   My coffers are empty.  I have nothing to lose (I think).  My piggy bank has been slaughtered and fried for bacon a long time ago.  However, for those that live high on the hog, and think you’ve been called to supper to get fatter by the upcoming administration, are you certain that you’re not being called to the slaughterhouse?

There are only two things I heard out of Trump’s mouth that captured my attention, and make me feel hopeful.  The first one is controversial, when he stated to the African-American community: “What do you have to lose?”   In my personal aspect, that questionable statement is correct.  My answer is a resounding:  Nothing that you’d want or can legally obtain.   I don’t have anything financially to hoard and keep safe.  If his plan works, then I’ll gain a new piggy bank, with the hopes to upgrade it to a hog.  For that, I can say thank you for his leadership in spite of my disagreement with his overall personality.  I’m not going to act out of my character because of his character or anyone else.  I’m prepared and hoping to thank President-elect Trump for financial success of this country.  But if it fails, I’m already at the bottom and know how to survive with millions of others.  President-elect Trump mentioned that he wanted to provide tax alleviation and support to families with stay-at-home mothers.  Well, that is me.  I am a stay-at-home mother by my choice.  It is the best support to provide for our autistic son, who has several delays and disorders. I would love for my companion to get a tax break for agreeing to be the only wage earner in our household, but not at the expense of millions of single parent households by passing HoH filing elimination.

My optimism is for my own personal growth the next four years.  It doesn’t matter if the president was Trump or Clinton.  To quote a gospel song:  “What God has for me, it is for me.”  I do not believe the occupant of the White House has a direct affect into my personal daily decisions.  I’m going to be me and take care of mine regardless.   This blog is mostly a reminder to those that pray, don’t forget to watch.  The Holy Bible (NIV) in Luke 21:36 says:  “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Tamika Trammel is a Christian-Urban fiction author.  She has written two novels:  18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1 and The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher.  Both available in soft cover and eBook with any online retailer including Amazon, B&N, and Facebook Store https://www.facebook.com/18yearsgraceandmercy/shop/?rid=504785346257613&rt=9&ref=page_internal.  Connect with Tamika on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @18graceandmercy, IG mikameekauthor and WordPress

PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!  I’D LIKE TO ENGAGE A COMMENTARY.  THANK YOU.  

Starting My Goals Before the Clock Strikes Midnight

My first goal for 2017:  Complete a blog entry on WordPress by 12:01 a.m. Arizona time.  I started around 7:45 p.m. to get a head start.  Not because it takes me more than four hours to complete my thoughts, and then write/type them in, but because I am a mother, whose time gets interrupted intermittently.  It’s also proof that achieving a goal takes a thought process of planning as well as action.   More importantly, the goal is set because I want to enter the new year doing what it is I hope to do for the remainder of 2017 and the years following:  write.  For the past several years of my life, an old saying that I used to hear my late grandfather Bishop John Trammel, Sr. say repeatedly during New Year’s Watch Night church services has come true:  “Whatever you’re doing at the start of the year, is what you’ll be doing most of the year.”  I used to dismiss this remark as a scare tactic to stay in church, and for many it was.  But for my grandfather, it was a truism to his legacy; therefore, it’s a blueprint for my life.  It’s the kind of ideal that has to be reflected on looking back, in order to follow steps going forward.  So, I am taking this moment to look back in order to see where I want to go forward.

I couldn’t imagine where in my life I would be without faith, other than lost.  When I was working for 9-1-1 in Montgomery County, Maryland from 2001 to 2011, I was almost always on duty bringing in the New Year.  The occupation is extremely stressful and can take a toll on physical and mental health.  The pay is great and overtime aplenty.  Office policies such as; last minute mandatory overtime due to scheduling shortage, off duty call-ins, and denied vacation leave were the pitfalls of the job (which happens too frequently).  My grandfather’s statement proved true:  I started out the New Year working a stressful job, and I worked it throughout the year.  However, it didn’t stop me from whispering a word of prayer and exultation.  I was very humbled and gracious for having that job which empowered me to raise two beautiful young women. There were so many other ways that I could have failed myself and my children (especially for being in my 20’s) that the stress inducing workplace was the best place for me to take care of us, for a little while.  In October 2010, my father’s battle with diabetes became serious with the first amputation taking place, and me leaving the job behind in 2011 to be with him at the scariest moments of his life.  Little did I know, that all of our lives were about to change dramatically.

For New Year’s 2012, my family celebrated with friends of my mother in their beautiful home in Arizona.  I wish I had known then what I know now, which is the art of networking, not just chatting.  Not that I heard anyone there was an aspiring author, but you never know who or what is needed in the future.  It’s a lesson learned, and I do not believe that party will be the last New Year’s Eve party I’ll ever attend.  Did I party all of 2012?  Not hardly, but I did begin to adjust to being a stay-at-home care provider, the desert life in Phoenix, and published my second novel:  “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher”.

I was back in church for New Year’s 2013 through 2015, and in those years, I did work within the church I was attending.  I used to present the announcements before the congregation, participate in intercessory prayer and other activities to keep my faith strong while caring for my family.

Last year, I entered 2016 on the road, driving a minivan with my mother, my three children (two are non-driving adults), and a dear family friend to Pearland, Texas from Phoenix, Arizona.  The trip was to attend a funeral.  In the first week of 2016, I was at a funeral.  The day before Valentine’s Day, my own father passed away.  And as the months of 2016 toiled on, other family members and iconic celebrities of pop culture were all making their heavenly march.  For many, 2016 was very grievous from beginning to end.  Many are glad that it is over, and more importantly, they survived.  People who were once a part of our daily activities are now a part of our daily memories.  It’s tough to move on from that, but very necessary.

It’s after midnight in my home state.  Happy New Year East Coast!

I hope I have proven the means to the end that I want to approach in a clear and concise manner.  I am beginning this incoming year sitting at my laptop, typing thoughts into internet space, praying the correct eyes, heart and mind read them eventually and be inspired.  (And now, I can keep going until the clock strikes twelve because my five year old son is asleep.)  This entry seems to be built upon a principle that is circumstantial at best, and that is true, if you do not know or trust God for yourself.   My grandfather’s admonishing statement is the same as saying, “humans are creatures of habit”, a statement I’ve heard and read repeatedly when describing human behaviors.  Moreover, Albert Einstein is credited for stating: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  I’ve concluded in my forty years of living life, that both my grandfather (a righteous man and full believer in Jesus Christ as our savior) and Albert Einstein (a great scientific genius) are both correct.  (Side note:  this does not make me a Christian scientist.  I do not practice nor study Christian scientology.)  I cannot expect to achieve my goal of becoming a best selling author by spending more time in places other than this laptop.  I must change my habits to make them work in my favor.  Since I am beginning 2017 writing a blog, I hope to end 2017 writing a blog, telling the strides I’ve made to complete the ultimate goal of becoming a successful selling writer.

It was important for me to start this blog ahead of time because I actually received holy confirmation through a word shared with me by a new client/friend that I met as recent as three months ago.  She shared with me last week Deuteronomy 15, the chapter that cancels all debts going back seven years.  The daily devotion said that God is bringing us into our seventh year, clearing the debts behind us, making us ready for the blessings before us.  As my friend was reading, it became clear to me that I was entering the seventh year because it all started for me truly walking in faith and not by sight in October 2010 with my father’s first amputation.  Anytime I hear a word, it always come from a place where I least expect it and it proves to be true.  Deuteronomy is not one of my favorite books in the Bible, so I hadn’t read it in a very long time (since childhood).  I was not expecting to hear my divine promise fulfillment is beginning from my least favorite part of the Bible.  (Side note:  My friend was slightly offended when I said Deuteronomy is my least favorite part of the Bible.  I do not intend to offend any readers with this statement.   My intention is to demonstrate how God’s communication is personally effective.)  And right now, as I am typing this post at 11:29 p.m. Arizona time, the ground is wet, the sky is cloudy, and heavy rain is in the forecast.  My boyfriend was just commenting negatively about it.  I told him it’s a good sign.  Rain is a blessing in the desert.  Not only that, it has not rained a single New Year’s night since we moved here.  So, to me, it’s already at a good start.  Now to keep it going…

I have been haunted on the internet by the advertisement for James Patterson’s MasterClass online teaching program.  It’s in every part of my internet interaction, including my boyfriend’s NFL searches.  I had bypassed it a few times on Facebook, but finally decided to look into it, and the comments about it.  I was very eager to take the classes, and started thinking of which bill I had to rob in order to pay the $90 entry fee, until I read the states where prohibited:  ARIZONA and Louisiana.  I live in Phoenix, AZ.  I am sorely disappointed.  I will not be able to participate in the contest to have the chance to co-author a book with Mr. Patterson all because of my state residency, a place that has been designated as #1 in the country for children with autism; therefore, ideal for raising my son.  Yet another form of self neglect or sacrifice that I have to make for the sake of my children and most importantly, obedience to God.  I had to give myself a pep talk.  I am truly, utterly dismayed that I cannot participate in the contest, but I can still take the classes.  I will do so for the learning experience.  I thought to myself how civil rights pioneers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks did not allow the law to get in the way of their achievements.  Besides, this is civil law, not criminal, so there is no risk of me going to jail or jeopardizing my freedom.  And even though it prohibits me from winning award money and career advancement opportunities, it cannot stop me from learning to recognize and act upon them within the law in the future.  I’m not yet enrolled, and I hope to be.  I contacted their online support team to confirm that I can take the classes without participating in the contest.

Even though this blog post is about me, I truly hope you as the reader can take moments to reflect upon within your own life, to have conscious thought and a plan of action to get to where it is you want to go.  If you’ve reached your destination, God bless you, and I hope you’re using your experience to mentor to others that are trying to do the same.  Getting from New Year to New Year is not the easiest of tasks.  The days are mixed of good and bad, take it or leave it, love it or hate it.  It’s been my personal experience that Jesus Christ gets me through it all with resounding peace and conflict resolution.  I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  I make daily resolutions.  Each day, I resolve to asking Him for serenity:  “accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can,  and the wisdom to know the difference.”  (The Serenity Prayer Reinhold Neihbur, 1892-1971).

Now that I have a few minutes left, I have to do some editing.  And then, the publish button, first goal accomplished.  Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

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Speed through “The Stop Sign”: When Viral Videos Become Malicious Marketing for Violence Against Children

Beware.  It’s dangerous out there.  In the cyber world.  Millions of videos with catchy tunes, visual effects, and very moving soapbox speeches by attractive talking heads saturate the information super highway.  The issue of fake news has recently raised its head as the latest nemesis to be attacked by social media because of the large influx of falsehoods it pitches as truth to be knocked out of the park as gospel by readers.  Such lies and false pretenses create miscommunication that result in prejudicial actions, thoughts, and down right hatred among the population around the world.  But, what about videos created on the smaller scale–the owner and operator of a smartphone or device sufficiently supplied with apps that can get their face out there for millions of views?  Can these videos lead to a swell of prejudice and hatred?  Absolutely.  How is that?  Quite simply.  Take an issue that is an annoyance to most and harp on it with emotional, uneducated, and disillusioned solutions that appeal to indifference.  Annoyances such as child misbehavior in public.  We’ve all come across the scenario:  the child acting up in the grocery store putting an unwanted spotlight on their parents, making it difficult for other shoppers to “enjoy” their trip at the store.  “Spoiled brat” and “get your kid under control” are thoughts that I once had in such cases as recent as five years ago before I had my son, who has autism, PDD-NOS, sensory and feeding disorders, and hard of hearing.  Now that I have my son, I am way more compassionate and empathetic for the parent.

As a mother to an autistic child and a reformed thinker, it is my responsibility to counteract archaic child rearing methods to ensure a safer future for my son and all people on the spectrum.  Therefore, I am calling out videos like those posted by “The Stop Sign” on Facebook.  I’ve seen two videos that begin with recordings of small children giving their parents difficulties in public.  Neither contain the commentator in action.  It’s followed by ignoramus commentary on how the parents are being played by their kids on a daily basis.  Recommendations of violence and domination are given as solutions.  He recommends using a belt and public spanking.  He says kids know that they can call CPS to defend themselves, and when he was a kid, CPS couldn’t get there fast enough to save him from getting a beating.  The commentator further states children are disrespectful because they are permitted and encouraged to be that way due to lack  of ass beatings. The disrespect is not limited to parents, but extends to law enforcement officers as well.  He makes a stance that all law enforcement officers should be respected in all situations.  What you never see him do is actually carry out any of his recommendations.  It’s unclear if he has children of his own without making an assumption.

Well, I’m not going to write against “The Stop Sign” about his unclear qualifications without stating my own, and my platform to refute.   First of all, I am a parent.  I’ve been a mother for almost twenty-five years.  I have three children; two daughters that are adults, and a five-year old son.  (Yes, I get loved very well thank you.)  My daughters do not have behavior disorders that have to be cared for like my son. Stern warnings, groundings and spankings (not in public) worked for my daughters.  My son received his first and last spanking at the age of three.  I popped him once on his diapered behind for repeatedly going near the hot stove.  He responded by purposely running head first into a wall, putting a knot on his forehead.  That let me know right away there was no force within me that I can inflict on him that he’s not willing to do to himself.  Secondly, I saw with my own eyes what his developmental pediatrician had told me about sensory disorder:  a child with the disorder will do anything to stop the force that is bothering them, even if it means harming themselves.  Anxiety in the disorder creates social misbehavior that cannot be controlled with old spanking methods because it’s a response to stimuli, not an act of disobedience.  In order for disobedience to occur, the child must understand what the rule is and then make a conscious decision not to follow it.  The kids on the videos that “The Stop Sign” present appear to be disobedient and display bratty behavior to a passerby who is unfamiliar with the disorder.  But a parent who has a child with the disorder knows the reactions all too well.

Let’s talk about the word “stimuli” for a moment (plural for the singular word stimulus).  When you encounter lights that are too bright, you close your eyes or cover them with your hands or sunglasses.  If it’s way too bright, you may let out a vocal response and seek refuge in a darker place (like an area shaded by trees or buildings). The bright light is the stimulus, covering eyes to handle the brightness is the response.  The sensitivity of sensory disorder can make common halogen lights (like those used in grocery stores) too bright for sufferers.  Even though normal people can handle it, sensory disorder sufferers can be bothered by it like direct sunlight into their retinas.  And what about sunlight?  Can that be too bright?  Yes.  My son very commonly comes to me for comfort from over stimulation.  I pick him up, and he buries his face into my chest or shoulders seeking cover from the brightness of the sun, or the blowing force of a light breeze that feels like a gale to him.  Noises that are commonplace to us are amplified concert sounds to kids with sensory disorder.  Stores that we normally shop at are unfamiliar surroundings or places of discomfort to these kids.  I use this as an analogy to promote deep thought:  If a paraplegic is pushed into a swimming pool, do they deserve to drown because they’re not physically capable of swimming?  The answer is a resounding hell no.  They should be rescued and accomodated for their handicap. The same principle applies for children and people who suffer with autism and spectrum related disorders.  Autism cannot be spanked out of a person.

However, it is too simplistic to take the stance which “The Stop Sign” presents.  It’s easy to blame the parents for the way their kids act and to assume they’re not being “raised right”.  It is also a slippery slope that can lead the listener to incarceration, homicide and suicide.  “The Stop Sign” is telling people to use physical force to solve problems with dominance and brutality.  He doesn’t actually use those words, but he does get you started on that path.  How so?  Because he’s saying to hit the kid until you get the results that you want.  That is the right way to child abuse and assault charges, your kids being taken, and you possibly going to jail.  Even worse, obsession with control can be so overwhelming that the listener can go overboard with the beatings resulting in the death of the child, and/or suicide of the parent because they cannot achieve the level of control that they want.  Either way, it’s a set up to break the law that he highly recommends kids should be taught to respect, and its enforcers, which leads to my final point.

I do not recall seeing any law enforcement qualification noted, listed, or mentioned by “The Stop Sign”.  My law enforcement qualification is ten years and six months as a 9-1-1 police calltaker and radio dispatcher for Montgomery County, Maryland.  I was a dispatcher during 9/11 and D.C. Sniper.  I’ve handled hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of calls on the phones and police radio.  I worked directly with sworn and civilian police staff, as well as fire and rescue.  I’ve talked people out of suicide, have listened to scenes of domestic violence, and spoke directly with victims and their families of homicide, rape, and robberies.   I handled countless traffic stops, vehicle and subject foot pursuits, active commericial burglaries, and home invasions.   On a smaller criminal scale, loud music complaints, neighbor disputes, shoplifting calls, and general county information are in my framework of expertise as well.   As a former member of the law enforcement community, who has years of training in handling the public, never has there ever been any mention for law enforcement officers to have an expectancy of respect from any member of society.  Law enforcement is not limited to those citizens who show respect only.  Public safety is a civil right for everyone, no matter the level of respect they display.  Disrespect is not illegal.  Assaulting an officer is.  Well trained officers know the difference, and are expected to behave at a higher level of thinking and performance of their duties than civilians because they are trained and equipped to do so.  They supplement the lack of respect from the general public by fortifying their support for one another.  It’s why they band together in all instances, even those that can be considered immoral.  They let it play out in court and let employment termination occur before disbandment. I bet “The Stop Sign” does not even know where it is the most disrespect for law enforcement comes from.  It’s not the inner cities where unarmed citizens are being killed by cowards in uniform.  It’s the suburbs, where a White man in a domestic violence situation is statistically more likely to kill an officer than an unarmed Black man “in the ‘hood”.   The very audience he is pumping and priming to “get control of your kids” are the same people who will shoot and kill a police officer.  Ask any police officer, “Where does most of your DUI stops occur?” or “What people show you the most disrespect?”  The answer may surprise you. “The Stop Sign” is feeding a monster that has an incessant appetite to devour, not just take a few bites and have leftovers.  Violent rage is something that starts out small like spanking a small child and grows to killing a police officer because it’s all domestic violence.

I’m not the type of person to present problems without solutions.  Do I expect “The Stop Sign” to stop his videos?  A resounding hell no.  He’s the hype that almost everyone wants to believe, the hype that foreshadows the truth.   A source of the truth and better options to grow in knowledge is “Special Books by Special Kids” on Facebook.   Christopher Ulmer is a special needs educator that takes the camera along with him to film his interactions with children and people with special needs around the world.  He actively demonstrates how to open lines of communication with children who behave differently because of disorders or brain trauma.  Mr. Ulmer utilizes simple techniques of adaptation to achieve goals.  It’s very fascinating, non-violent, and makes use of the basic human function:  adaptation.  I hope to reference him and the page in future postings.

In my conclusion, and the message I want to get across, especially to the Black community, is do not beat your kids.  Discipline them.  In order to teach them better, you yourself as the parent or guardian have to know better.  Do not be fearful or resistant to learning non-violent methods to discipline your child.  If you must spank, do so in love not dominance nor humiliation.  Black community please pay attention.  Before the belts, extension cords and switches from trees to spank our kids were cat-o-nine-tails whips used by slave masters, chains of bondage used by slave traders, and those trees where the switches come from may have hung a body of an ancestor from lynching of grown men.  Do not send our kids into the future with damaging scars of the past.  The digital age and internet revolution is the first time in Black American history that we are not cast out by prejudicial legislation (Jim Crow segregation for example).  It’s the hope that our enslaved ancestors prayed and labored for.  Let’s not squander it by taking on viral videos of ignorance as our course of action.  Speed through “The Stop Sign”.  Do not stop for videos that market violence against children or anyone.

Autism cannot be cured by spanking, but ignorance can be cured by knowledge.

Tamika Trammel is a fictional author.  Her books “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher” are available in soft cover and eBook for purchase with any online retailer including: Amazon, B&N, and Good Reads.   Get a personalized autograph softcover copy at www.tamikatrammel.mybigcommerce.com

 

 

A Letter to My Ultimate Guardian Angel

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(Blue pot) My father Larry loved plants.  I got this aloe for him about a month before he passed away.  It has enough stems to represent his closest loved ones:  me and my boyfriend, my brother and his wife, my three children and my mother.  (Green pot) This is “Tamika 2”, the plant I decided to challenge myself to care for because I’m a stone cold murderer of plants and fish. 

Dear Dad,

Where has the time gone to?  It’s been almost two weeks, and I feel like I’m still on Saturday February 13th, the morning you earned your wings.  Progress has been made.  Your cremation process begins today, and it’s all paid for thanks to you.  But, somewhere in the last few days, I got stuck on disbelief.  It wasn’t difficult to do.  Your presence is still very active.  It seems like you went on vacation instead of dying.  First, a package of medical supplies were delivered two days after you’d gone.  They were ordered by Hospice, proving even they didn’t know when your last breath would take place.  Next, your grandson has been crankier than cranky.  Remember how many times you told me to get him a tablet, and I refused because he’d broken two tablets in less than three months?  Your response:  “That’s your fault.  Get a protective case for it (numbskull)”.  My reply:  I didn’t want to spoil him because he had two deactivated smart phones that he can download the apps on.  You said with finality: “Get Diesel what he needs”.  I took advantage of your immobility and didn’t get it.  Up until last week, he had nothing computerized to play with.  I broke down and got the tablet (with a protective case).  He is less cranky now, but fighting a bad cold.  He has the same snotty nose that his Uncle Chris did at the same age.  I know you’d agree. 
I’m trying my best to take care of our plants.  Tamika 2 lost a leaf.  Mold started to grow on her top layer of soil.  I sadly threw away the leaf and turned the soil.  She’s doing better, and growing above the top of the pot.  I gave it some thought, and it seems logical that if I claim the plant as an extension of myself, I suffered loss, the plant would too.  The inspiration is her growth after acknowledging the loss and adjusting (tossed leaf, turned soil).  A few days later, your aloe lost two stems.  Again, I sadly threw them away and turned the soil.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that you had lost two limbs on Earth, and gained two wings in Heaven with full restoration.  If I think of that aloe as an extension of you, it’s logical that it loses two stems, but the remaining stems span apart as wings.  I suppose one day I’ll think of these as two ordinary plants, but I certainly hope not.  (See photos above).
Your cremation plans went smoothly.  I know you’d like what we’ve picked out for your urns: Black and gold; your high school colors, and a treble clef for your God gifted voice.  I truly appreciate your preparation for this time.  It’s made everything very peaceful.  My phone hasn’t rang a lot, and the calls I’ve received were genuine.  I’d been told the phones are off the hook for our family back in Maryland.  I think you’re behind that too somehow because you’ve always said I needed to get more rest.  Other thoughts are on my mind.  Such as, the timing of your death: relatively the same time as other world class musicians deemed legendary by people, but God decided to take you up the same time as them, giving you the victory and me giving Him the glory.  Maurice White passed days before you (a favorite of yours) and Vanity passed away days after you (another one of your favorites).  Yeah, the mind can connect unrelated dots, the heart creates coincidences, but only the Holy Spirit can provide confirmation, which He has several times. 
Now I am approaching the end of the month, and I have to clean out your apartment.  I have help, but going through a deceased loved one’s property is like them dying all over again.  What once felt peaceful and light is hardening to sorrow and absolution (I won’t see you again physically).  I wish it were the other way around because I feel like I’m digressing instead of progressing.  I realize grief is a process of several stages.  It must be mourned in order to be comforted.  I am okay with that. 
With you, your son Tyran (my brother 9-21-78 to 3-8-1992), your father (Bishop John Trammel, SR. 2-14-24 to 7-5-2000), and all of my grandmothers watching over me from above, I truly expect the miraculous and unexpected to take place here on Earth.  The Holy Spirit has blessed me with a strong band of angels.  There are plenty of other family members crossed over as well.  I confidently believe that the heavenly scales of favor have tipped– well, in my favor.   ….I had stopped working on this post for my tablet to recharge.  During that time, the Lord called on another angel linked to my household.  RIP Ronnie Dixon, brotherly cousin of my boyfriend.  The heavenly watch is fortified to include my household in entirety.  “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 KJV). Bless the Lord. 
Dad, I truly cannot thank you enough for preparing us for what’s taken place.  It’s one of the greatest lessons a parent can teach their child, who is a parent themselves.  Having final wishes in writing and discussions with family made all the difference.  I realize the importance of the matter and will handle accordingly, ensuring the future of your grandchildren.  Although I can’t thank you in person, I know you feel it.  Other family members have told me that you’re utilizing the newly acquired skills of ambiguity, meaning that you’re making your spirit present to
them too and we’re thousands of miles apart.  It’s the reward of a believer, everlasting life.  It’s the duty of an ultimate guardian angel.  You.

Tamika Trammel is an author of two published novels: “18 Years of Grace and Mercy, A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher”. Both available for purchase online http://www.TamikaTrammel.com or any book retailer. In eBook and soft cover. Purchase in lieu of bereavement donations will be most helpful.

The Transcendence of Reverend Larry Trammel

My father, Rev. Larry Trammel passed away on Saturday February 13, 2016 after a long battle of diabetes, kidney and lung cancer.  His battle was a physical confrontation between his flesh and disease, yet a spiritual transformation from fear to faith.  The following is a brief reflection of the whole ordeal that spanned almost five years.

Now that I can look back, it’s relatively easy to see where it all began:  October, 2010 in Baltimore, MD when my father underwent his first amputation.  Dad had acquired an injury on his right thumb that became seriously infected, which was extremely dangerous because of diabetes.  He was in danger of losing his entire hand and his life.  The awesome surgeons at the Baltimore Shock Trauma hospital saved his hand, only amputating a little more than half of his thumb.  It was a traumatizing experience.  There were several surgeries in the successful outcome.  For days, he had to lay in the hospital bed with his right hand surgically sliced open from the right thumb down his wrist, ending halfway at the forearm.  His wounds had to remain open and packed with gauze.  Dad did not like hospitals, and large building structures, mainly the inner city like Baltimore.  He was raised in rural areas with nothing but trees and fields.  The bustle of inner city life made him nervous and anxious.  I knew this, and decided to take time off from work to stay with him in the hospital for several weeks.  At this time, I was working for Montgomery County Police Public Safety Communications Center in Maryland (9-1-1 Police Call Taker/Radio Dispatcher).  My job had what was needed at the time of recession:  economic security.  And I was good at it.  I loved it, and still do even though I’m not there anymore.  The Holy Spirit made His first appearance to us in the midst of the storm in the form of a nurse.  One of the nurses serving my father was a mature Black woman that had the sweetest and easy going spirit needed for healing.  She was definitely utilizing her spiritual gifts.  Her demeanor reminded my father of his favorite aunt who had passed away a year or two before the events; therefore, he called the nurse “Aunt Elizabeth”, which she was totally okay with.  Baltimore is about forty-five minutes away from where we lived.  At the time, there wasn’t the family turn out that I had expected.   We have a big, close knit family and I thought they would have the room packed each day.  They didn’t.  I later overheard my father telling his mother over the phone that he didn’t want anyone to come see him, and learned that’s what he had been telling people who called.  I didn’t like it, but accepted the fact that he felt comfortable enough with just me or my brother with him.

Dad returned home after almost two months at Baltimore Shock Trauma.  His health was continuing to decline with recurring infections.  His mother, my grandmother late Reverend Mary Lucille Trammel (Grannie), tried caring for him the best she could.  So much so, she became sick herself and began struggling with kidney disease.  I used to work the midnight shift; therefore, on my days off and oftentimes after getting off work, I’d take them both to doctors appointments and run errands.  I learned so much from Grannie during that time:  her family history and the love of motherhood never faded.  She told me that my father was her toughest child to raise because of the fear and depression that raged within him for his entire life.  She even blamed herself for him being fearful and dreadful rather than taking control to get better.  I didn’t know it then, but she was providing me with the blueprint to care for my father in the time to come.

On January 11, 2011, I received a troubling diagnosis during an emergency room hospital visit.  I thought I was going to have a breathing treatment for the respiratory problems that I had every winter.  Instead, I was told that I had a blood clot in my lung…and a baby in my belly (9 weeks pregnant).  Six different doctors told me that my chances of surviving such a high risk pregnancy were extremely rare.  They were right.  I tried googling “pulmonary embolism during early pregnancy” and couldn’t find any related hits.  There were plenty of stories for postpartum, but none for pregnancy.  They all recommended that I terminate the pregnancy.  My boyfriend, my mother and my best friend were the only individuals I told for several weeks.  Naturally, they agreed with the doctors.  They didn’t want my life endangered and I already have two daughters age 18 and 14 at the time.  I needed to be around for them.  I prayed heavily over the situation.  The Holy Spirit (who is always there) appeared to me again, this time in a dream, telling me to keep the baby because he’s a boy and promised we will be fine.  I relayed the message to my loved ones.  It was much to their chagrin, but agreed to support me fully.  I visited my OB-GYN that I had a 19 year working relationship with because she delivered both of my daughters.  I had my daughters when I was 16 and 20 years old respectively.  For years, I begged her for a tubal ligation.  She’d always refused, telling me I’m a good and responsible woman.  She didn’t want me to be in a situation where I’d want it reversed like so many other young women eventually do.  This pregnancy was very different, and she remained committed to me making it through by referring me to a renown maternal-fetal specialist to see.  So, I began going to appointments, but still had kept my pregnancy a secret from my family until around Easter time when Grannie had to be rushed to the hospital.  I was on duty the morning when the 9-1-1 ambulance call went out to my grandmother’s house (where my father lived).  I advised my supervisors of the call, and told myself I’d go straight to the hospital when I got off at noon.  However, I soon received a personal call on my cell from my aunt (my father’s sister) stating that my father’s right foot had been constantly bleeding for days, and he wasn’t doing well.  I had to leave immediately to go see about him.  It was at this time that I revealed to him that he needed to fight for his life because he’s going to be a grandfather again, this time to a grandson as the Holy Spirit told me. This was very special because my son is the first boy born to our immediate family since my brother died of Burkitt’s Lymphoma cancer at the age of 13 in 1992. After a lot of fussing and refusal on his behalf, he agreed to go to the hospital.  Him and Grannie both remained in the hospital for weeks.  Grannie’s kidney woes were progressing into stages of failure.  Dad’s recurring infections were causing complications. I myself was taking five injections a day while pregnant:  two blood thinners for the blood clot, and three insulin for gestational diabetes.  My job placed me on light duty after I acknowledged to them that I had a panic attack on the radio during a good commercial burglary.  I handled the call just fine on the air, but my body felt like I could have dropped where I stood when I got up.  It’s not easy being placed on light duty when working for 9-1-1.  I had heard stories of struggle from other employees when going through hard medical times.  The supervisors did their job, which means they referred me to the Public Safety physician to be seen (after I had already seen the County government physician) to get a second opinion.  They told the appointed physician my condition, and he told them that he didn’t need to see me and to place me on light duty immediately because my condition was life threatening.  And it was done.  I was off the floor and transferred to Headquarters to work in the Warrants Section.  It’s now May-June 2011.  Dad and Grannie had hospital visits again (including contracting MRSA and ICU stays when their lives hung in the balance), and so did I.  For more than a week, all three of us were at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, MD.  My grandmother was on the 4th floor in the IMCU receiving treatment and recovery, I was on the 3rd floor in labor & delivery receiving treatment for pneumonia and the high risk pregnancy, my father on the 2nd floor recovering from his second amputation:  right leg below the knee.  At this time, family and friends visited in full force offering their support and prayers of comfort.  On July 21, 2011, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy after a harrowing and frenzied labor when I had to be placed under general anesthesia because an epidural would counteract with the blood thinners I was taking.  By now, Dad had been released from rehabilitation and Grannie moved to her eldest son’s home because the house they lived in was undergoing renovations.  This resulted in my father having to stay at the men’s homeless shelter for several weeks while I struggled postpartum.  The blood thinners caused three large hematomas to form in my stomach, which re-opened the Cesarean incision.  I had to receive home health care for almost two months in my maternal grandmother’s home (late Merle Mullen), which was a one bedroom apartment.  It was me, my boyfriend, our newborn, and my 15 year old daughter cramped in that space.  The whole time was really tough and to make it more memorable, an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude had hit the area, just as the nurse was literally treating me.  My boyfriend took great care of me in spite of his squeamish demeanor, he treated my incision so that it healed fully without further complications.  Once we moved out, my mission was to get my father out of the homeless shelter because it was extremely hard for him.  We obtained an apartment and stayed there for a few months until the Holy Spirit gave me instructions again.

I had to return to the hospital a couple weeks after giving birth because the incision re-opened and I had lost a lot of blood.  I can’t remember how many units of blood I had to receive for transfusion, but it was more than one.  I do remember the feeling of euphoria and slipping away from life.  It was the most wonderful and restful feeling I’ve ever had until I noticed my boyfriend sitting at my bedside tearfully begging God to spare me.  So, I got off the ride and came back (so to speak).  The Holy Spirit instructed me to leave my secure, good paying job in the middle of the country’s financial crisis (with a newborn and two teenagers to feed) and made these following promises:  1) a successful writing career (I had finished writing my first novel “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” shortly before Dad had to go to Baltimore hospital.  It got put off for obvious reasons); 2) my daughters will attend and finish college (my oldest was living in Phoenix and hadn’t started college or working yet and it bothered her), my youngest daughter will run in the 2016 Olympics (she was Montgomery County Track & Field 400M champion in the 9th grade at the time); 3) Manny (my son) will be taken care of for the rest of his life.  To confirm the instructions in the hospital, the first sermon I heard on WHUR’s Sunday Morning program at my grandmother’s apartment was a minister who said:  “the Lord will tell you to leave your good government job to show your faith, but the rewards are far greater than what any employer can pay.”  I reluctantly resigned from MCPD, gathered my family and my father to begin making plans.  The initial plans I had to move to Phoenix were just for me and my household.  My father hadn’t been included at first because of the health issues that he and Grannie was suffering, and he didn’t like to travel.  He had the opportunity to move to Phoenix with my mother in 2006 when they were still married.  However, he decided to let her go and they got divorced.  So when the spirit led me to ask him, I was kind of surprised at his reply:  “Thank you, Jesus!” he sincerely exclaimed when I asked.  He had fallen head over heels in love with his baby grandson, and wanted to spend every day with him that he could.  So around Christmas 2011, we made the arduous move to Phoenix, Arizona.

My father suffered from paranoia schizophrenia, and compared to others I’ve seen, his case was relatively mild.  Over the years, I’d watch my father’s personality switch on and off in the matter of milliseconds.  On one end, he owned the most God gifted, soul stirring, burden releasing, heavenly melodic voice that mortal man can have.  He was always at his best in front of a congregation with a microphone in his hand, singing the praises of the Lord until “the shout breaks out”.  I’ve witnessed repeatedly his gift making grown men cry like babies before God.  He is the best singer there is, famous or not.  There won’t be another like him.  On the opposite end, the same mouth that had a voice so heavenly also had a bitter, poisonous and hurtful tongue.  In times of stress (which is a lot), he’d said some of the most painful things to me (and others in our family) that were truly easy to form and hold grudges for, and very hard to get over.  The cussing, raging insults, and threats of bodily harm require God’s grace to deal with, otherwise, we would’ve been estranged many moons ago.  He became especially stressed when he had to stay at the men’s shelter, surrounded by strangers with their issues.  If he’d seen someone he knew, he’d avoid them because he didn’t want to be seen in the situation.  At first, he complained about the drug addicts, gay men, and absence of his extended family.  According to him, all of them had a special corner in hell–together.  By the end of his stay, he realized most of whom he met there at the shelter were just like him–men with some goodness in their hearts, but terribly messed up minds caught up in extremely bad situations.  The same folks in the shelter he complained about showed him kindness and protection because he was wheelchair bound.  Other residents were getting into brawls, had items stolen, and the like misfortunes.  But, not Reverend Larry.  He finally admitted that people whom he had misjudged actually treated him better than his own kin.  They humbled his heart into realizing that God is good in all things, not just what we are familiar with and used to.  When what’s familiar doesn’t happen, it’s God’s grace and mercy shown through the kindness of others that gets us through.  His family had been made incapable of rescuing him by God’s design, yet he survived.  He also survived the road trip across country from Maryland to Arizona (with my boyfriend and nephew who assisted on the trip) but it wasn’t easy at all.  Dad suffered a mental breakdown throughout the entire road trip.  My boyfriend has all the gritty details, so I can’t accurately recount them.  I flew to Phoenix with my kids for the move.  The guys got there about three days later.  Their arrival was like a hurricane making landfall.  My father was incensed with rage. He started cussing and fussing, and I couldn’t bridle my tongue any longer.  I fussed and cussed right back at him as if he and I weren’t of the same flesh.  He hurled threats and insults.  I yelled them right back. It had everyone that witnessed it in stunned silence (my mother, boyfriend, daughter and nephew).  Our argument even went as far back to my brother’s death.  But once it was over, it was over.  He and I didn’t bring it up again with each other.  I became grateful that we all made it here to Phoenix safe and sound.

Our new life was beginning in a new city and a new year, 2012.  I was feeling really good and strongly encouraged in the spirit because of all that He brought me and my father through in 2011.  My mother was overjoyed to have us in Phoenix because not one time could she nor my oldest daughter get back to Maryland during my pregnancy, which bothered them a lot.   My oldest (19 at the time) thought her little brother would grow up without knowing her.  I obtained two apartments:  a two bedroom for my family, and a single bedroom for my father.  We all live in the same building.  Mom and Dad were next door to one another, they a few doors down from me.  Prior to moving from Maryland, my first novel “18 Years…” was accepted by PublishAmerica (now called America Star Books, LLC).  I was going into the new year with the prospect of my first novel publication, an exciting time.  We settled in rather quickly, especially because the winters out here are too beautiful to be true (we pay the price during the summer though).  I got my daughters enrolled in college and high school.  My boyfriend got a job, and I remained at home raising our son.  I followed the instructions of the Holy Spirit and found a church home with Brighter Day Worldwide Deliverance Ministries in Tempe.  My father kept in close telephone contact with his family in Maryland because Grannie wasn’t getting any better.  Fortunately, in late June, I was able to return home with my son for a brief visit.  Grannie had become bedridden by then, but she recognized me.  I promised her that I would take good care of Larry and she didn’t have to worry about him.  He’s happy seeing his grandchildren everyday, which she knew because of their phone conversations.  The Lord called Grannie to heavenly home a few weeks later in July 2012.  We were unable to attend the funeral, partially for financial reasons (even though one family member did call and offer to pay for our travel), but mostly because of Dad’s delicate mental state.  He told his family that he truly wanted to be there, but telling me something entirely different.  I believe he was telling the truth in both instances because that’s schizophrenia.  That was one of his gifts too…telling people just what they needed or wanted to hear whether in spoken words or in song.  We were able to make it through yet another heartbreaking season.  My brother and his wife moved out to Phoenix at some point during 2012.  They moved in with our father and eventually got another apartment at a different location at the end of his lease.  I was able to complete my second novel The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher and get it published.  2013 was going to be better than ever!!

Well, not so much.  As time was passing on, my son was not reaching his growth and development milestones.  By now, he’s 18 months old and not doing much more than a six month old.  He’s not walking, talking, eating, potty training or anything.  Moreover, I had informed his pediatrician of my concerns at all the check-ups and sick visits in between.  In February 2013, my son was accepted into the Arizona Early Intervention Program and United Cerebral Palsy program to receive intervention services for autism related disorders.  Home visits by specialists, therapists, and support coordinators still happen to this very moment and will continue as long as necessary and feasible.  Dad had moved down the street with my brother and that didn’t last the whole year.  It wasn’t supposed to.  The Holy Spirit came to me again in a dream and chastised me this time.  He stated that He instructed me to take care of Dad, not my brother.  And, he warned me about building obstacles that’ll block the blessings that are coming my way.  The Lord made a way for Dad to return to the same apartment he had before.  The timing was definitely divine and ordained because a new tenant moved in soon after Dad first left, and wondrously found another house to rent just before my Dad had to come back.  (The tenants never met my father by the way, so no coincidence involved). 2013 was filled with appointments, track meets, college scouting and a trip or two to a casino.  It went by pretty fast and less dramatic.  There was still drama, but I wasn’t directly involved so I won’t tell it.  By the end of the year, another divine promise came into fruition for my daughters.  My oldest was attending community college and working full time, and the youngest got accepted to Arizona State University on a 75% scholarship.  My father couldn’t have been more boastfully proud.  I couldn’t have been more spiritually relieved and believed!

Actually, I omitted some events.  Dad had been in and out of the hospital for some of 2012 and most of 2013 due to heart and kidney related complications stemming from diabetes.  I can’t recall those exact dates because they were pretty frequent.  Eventually, into 2014, he spent a lot of time between hospitals and rehabilitation centers for repeated infections of MRSA, gangrene, and sepsis.  There were a few times when clinically he should’ve passed away, but didn’t.  (In fact, it happened in Maryland too.  He had coded and clinically died for five minutes after his right leg amputation; however, he was resuscitated and fully recovered at the surprise of the entire medical team.  Most people don’t survive without having a stroke or some type of permanent brain damage.)  I started to hear rumors from Maryland that my uncles were going to come to Phoenix and take him back.  I became his medical power of attorney to prevent that from happening. Dad promised me that he wasn’t returning to Maryland and if he had stayed there, he would’ve been dead already.  It may have been the first of many times that my father thanked me for prolonging his life and giving him happiness.  However, I know that paranoia schizophrenia will cause him to say whatever to whomever and deny it later.  Maybe my uncles were reacting to what they heard from my father, or other people.  I can’t say for sure.  I do know they were missing his presence.  They’d gone a good while not hearing his singing voice stir up the spirit within the church services.  So, that had to be painful for everyone.  Either way, I shut those demonic forces down and kept taking care of my father the way Jesus told me to.  The next major blow came the day after my birthday (and Father’s Day for 2014) when I had to call 9-1-1 for him because his left leg was turning black and his blood pressure dropped dangerously low.  Before the paramedics arrived, he drank a bottle of cold water which increased his pressure to normal.  The medics did their evaluation and refused to transport him to the hospital because of the normal pressure, and from their assessment he seemed with it enough.  They convinced him that calling his primary care doctor the next day would be good enough.  I was pissed.  I argued with them about his medical history, showed them his blood pressure monitor readings, and said he is behaving confused, and even pointed out the little Hyundai Accent I had at the time and the difficulty it would be for me to transport him myself.  I even told them that I worked for 9-1-1 for 10.5 years and this instance is the very first time I can understand the public’s negative point of view on the industry.  After saying that, one asked if I wanted help getting him into the car.  I told him, “No thank you.  You’re more help getting the engines out of the way.  Be safe and have a good night.  Thanks for being no help at all.”  It truly hurt me to my heart that I was treated this way and I can’t rely on them.  (So, if you’re ever in Phoenix and need emergency services first call God, then call me, but do not call 9-1-1 unless you want to waste time or have personal connections).  I never called them again to date.  We arrived at the hospital, the ER doctor listens to me and said, “Yes. He definitely should’ve been transported.  He would’ve been dead had you followed their advice.”  He then took my father’s sock off his left foot and revealed the badly mangled, putrid smelling, infected limb.  Had the medics done the same thing, the story would be different. (Then again, they probably knew that already, but I can’t prove it.)  Within twelve hours, Larry  had his third and final amputation:  left leg below the knee.  He had been in and out of the hospital so frequently, he no longer required me to be with him overnight in the same manner as Baltimore.  But, as 2015 approached, he did say all the visits and appointments were wearing him down and would all come to an end sooner than later.

In January 2015, my maternal grandmother became seriously ill.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away April 1st.  My mother flew back to Maryland to care for her those last several months.  Two weeks after Grandma’s diagnosis, my father received news that a mass had been located in the right kidney.  No biopsy needed.  The location of the mass indicated malignancy and the best treatment option would be to remove the whole kidney.  Afterwards, he’d have to receive dialysis for the rest of his life and any chemotherapy for metastases.  If he had no treatment, his life expectancy was about two years maximum.  His response:  “I guess I better make this the best two years that I can.”  I instantly burst into tears.  I pleaded with him to give it time, and think about it, his grand kids.  Doesn’t he want to be there when they walk the stage at college graduation?  And his grandson’s first day of kindergarten?  He didn’t answer me then, and we never returned to that doctor’s office.  His mind was made up.  No more surgeries.  Besides, his cardiac condition may have been too weak to survive.  At least that’s what the doctor had said, but we’ve proved them wrong before.  None of it mattered.  He left it in the Lord’s hands.  His insurance plan quickly referred him to Palliative Care.  They sent us a born again, saved sister in Christ who visited him several times a week for the next six months.  (And just to be fair because I mentioned the race of the nurse from Baltimore, this nurse is White.)  Dad had done so well that they discharged him from the program by late June.  However, things took a bad turn in July, somewhere around the 4th.  He had been down to my apartment earlier and visited.  Everything seemed fine.  Later in the day, I felt like having a cookout.  Something we cannot do out here is cookout on the grill (mostly because it’s our apartment owner’s policy).  I decided that we would go to my oldest daughter’s apartment and cookout there because they have a grilling area.  Dad declined to go.  He said he was tired.  I didn’t think much of it because he was up rather early.  I checked on him after returning home from the cookout.  He was unresponsive with his eyes wide open.  I began to frantically shake him and yelling his name.  After what seemed like forever but was probably no longer than two minutes, he came back and answered my questions (what day is it, what’s my name, what’s his name, etc).  He couldn’t answer them as easily as he should.  My mother and I gathered him into the car, back to the ER we go…for what we didn’t know then was the last time.  The news wasn’t good and very confusing.  According to the hospital, the mass found on the kidney wasn’t cancer, but tissue damage from diabetes; however, there was a suspicious mass on the lung.  They suggested doing a biopsy and some other invasive testing that my father flat out declined.  Hospice care was activated through Hospice of the Valley (HoV).  Again, the Lord sent us women (and a man) that are saved as well as compassionate.  HoV provided care and support with home visits a couple times a week with the same nurse and medical assistant just the way Palliative Care had done.  Their caring and compassion are truly genuine.  I’ll admit my ignorance.  My opinion of hospice was that they come around and watch the patient pass on.  I know that sounds harsh, but I formulated the opinion about them when I was 15 years old and my 13 year old brother was dying.  I recall a hospice nurse being there, and I was nice to her, but honestly, my thought was “why are you even here?”  That’s something the Lord wanted to change about me, and He did.  On August 28, 2015, Larry hit the milestone that he didn’t think he would reach:  turning 60 years old.  Two of his brothers and two of his closest cousins (raised like brothers) came to Phoenix to help him celebrate.  It was a surprise that he truly enjoyed.  They got him out of the house, drove around the city and got him to sing!!  It was beautiful, right here in my living room.  Dad led us in old church songs.  I can’t even remember what they were because I was in the highest spiritual zone I could be in at the time.  By Christmas, Larry was telling me that he knew he was celebrating his last.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2016, the whole situation went downhill very quickly.  I went to pick up Dad and wheel him back to my apartment to watch the game.  He had been suffering with excessive fluid and swelling over his entire body, making it difficult for him to maneuver.  I parked him on the sidewalk and go to close his front door.  In a matter of seconds (and I’m not much further than two feet away from him), he slowly rolls off the curb onto the ground face first, wheelchair on top of him.  It looked like he did it on purpose, but what I know now is that he was confused and maybe slightly unconscious because he didn’t yell, put up his hands, or nothing to brace himself during the fall.  Blessedly, my boyfriend was also outside at the time, so we got Dad up rather quickly with scrapes on his knuckles and knees, and a gash on his forehead.  I contacted Hospice who sent out an emergency nurse.  The nurse arrived during the second half of the game.  She is also saved (and White), and told us that she was from Poolesville, MD and graduated from Gaithersburg High School. She’d moved to Phoenix in 2012.  Our mouths literally gaped open because that’s our hometown, Montgomery County, MD.  We told her that Dad went to Poolesville High School, I attended their elementary and high school (when it was junior-senior high of course), and he worked at Gaithersburg High for over ten years.  We chatted about landmarks back home and here in Phoenix.  We were her last patient visit after a long day of emergency visits expanding all over the valley.  It was so awesome that we had to thank God for the encounter.  The next morning, Dad’s assigned nurse arrived much earlier than usual because she read the weekend report that recorded his fall.  He was awake, in his wheelchair and coherent.  She still noted that he wasn’t looking like he was feeling well, even though he said he felt fine other than excessively sweating.  Before noon, Dad told me he “wasn’t feeling right”, and asked to be placed in the hospice bed. Prior to that, he almost always slept on the couch, in his wheelchair or his own bed.  Larry couldn’t speak a full sentence.  What he said sounded like gibberish.  He’d fallen asleep and breathed very heavily.  I tried calling his name and he wouldn’t respond; however, my son (who is non-verbal from autism) was sitting ten feet away intermittently yelling.  My father would turn towards him and faintly call out his nickname.  Once Dad could put a sentence together coherently, he told me to take my son home.  I replied that my son had been given a chocolate milk and should quiet down soon.  Dad said it wasn’t the noise that bothered him, but my son was yelling because he didn’t want to be there.  I told him that my boyfriend would be home soon to get him.  Dad’s medical assistant arrived to give him his bath.  He was so unresponsive that he couldn’t be moved.  The poor lady bawled her eyes out and placed a call to his nurse to return.  She even told me that she was sorry, but didn’t know how much longer he had.  The nurse returned to see my father lying unresponsive in the bed.  She gently roused him awake to answer standard diagnostic questions.  His blood pressure was slightly elevated but good, respiratory rate was good too.  The nurse told me that something wasn’t right.  What he had going on was not due to cancer.  She asked him if he checked his blood sugar.  He said yes. I told her no he didn’t.  This is important because Larry was admitted for cancer, not diabetes.  Hospice was not required to check his sugar levels.  In fact, he had been told prior to the cancer diagnosis that he was no longer diabetic because his A1C measured below a 5.0.  He was permitted to eat anything he wanted because the matter was about enjoyment rather than prevention.  I had discarded all of his diabetic medications quite a while ago, or so I thought.  The nurse measured his sugar and unveiled the culprit.  The meter said 525.  She quickly obtained the sliding scale to measure the dose of insulin he should receive and gave it to him.  Within minutes, Dad was coherent again, asking where his grandson is and to check if he’s okay.  He also asked if the tearful medical assistant had came.  He measured the time of day by looking at the shadow of the Venetian blinds against the wall.  “Where has the day gone?  It’s evening time now…” he said.  The nurse had reiterated to me that he’s to be on twenty-four watch.  Someone had to be with him at all times.  That was difficult because of my son’s schedule with school and therapists.  Larry made it harder by telling me to go home and take care of my family, just to leave him in the hands of the Lord.  I tried to reason with him, stating that I could go to jail if I left him.  He didn’t argue, just repeated himself.  He also told me it wouldn’t be too much longer, and he hopes it’s Tyran (my brother, his first born son) that came for him.  He was ready to not be fearful of anything anymore.  My daughters and mother provided supervision support.  They stayed with him in the evening and overnight when I had to be away.   My mother said that he asked where I was to make sure I was getting some rest.  The medical assistant returned on Thursday and gave him a thorough bath in the bed.  He was very appreciative and said so; however, he didn’t have the energy to get a shave and haircut too.  X-rays done that week had shown congestive heart failure.  He was filled with fluid and had to be placed on 32 oz. restriction.  (Looking back on it, it’s the only time I can recall him being so thirsty yet so filled with liquid.)  I received a phone call from my son’s school nurse on Friday, the day before my father passed.  They told me my son could not return to school without a doctor’s note.  He’s been suffering low grade fevers and ear pain since having tubes placed in mid-January.  I had already scheduled my son to be seen by the doctor on Presidents’ Day anyhow, so it wasn’t a problem.  My father overheard my conversation and said, “I’m off the 24 hour restriction.  You don’t have to watch me.”  I asked him who was it that gave him permission to be off the restriction.  He said his grandson and for me to take care of him.  I laughed it off, told him I was leaving, but coming back.  My mother was there and spent several hours with him that evening.  Even though they are divorced, neither one of them started new relationships.  They’ve always loved each other.  That never ended.  Their patience for one another is what ran out.  I did come back later, got him ready for bed and the very last dose of medication I’ve ever given:  .25 morphine.  I’d given him the first dose at 5 pm, another at 10 pm.  After the 5 pm dose, he had a message for the nurse. He said:  “Tell (the nurse) that they know Hospice can afford to buy their patients a fifth of vodka, because that’s exactly what that stuff tastes like.”  My oldest daughter stayed with him overnight.  He kept asking for water during his slumber which my daughter didn’t oblige because of the water restriction.  I had told him he couldn’t have anything else to drink for the night, but there would be a nice cold diet orange soda waiting for him.  He just had to make it to the morning.  When I called in the morning, she said he hadn’t said anything for a while.  She called out to him. “Mommy, he isn’t responding…” I heard her say as I rushed into some clothes, and ran out the door.  I got there and could tell immediately he entered eternal sleep.  He looked so peaceful.  It was quiet just the way he wanted it.  Moments later, his oldest brother called and asked how was Dad doing.  I told him he’s gone.  Later, I called my uncle again.  He told me that he had a dream that my father was talking to my brother in Heaven, so he immediately called me.  That eased my spirit tremendously.  My father got what he wanted, to greet his first born at Heaven’s gate.  I am truly at ease.

In retrospect and hindsight, Reverend Larry Trammel was selfless in his journey.  #1.  He did not want others weeping over his suffering.  All of his life he felt bound by fear, anxiety, depression and grief.  Those are feelings he did not want to pass along to others.  #2. He did not want to be caught up in the rumor mill and the general he say/she say banter.  As he used to say, “don’t give people the opportunity to lie to you.”  However, I’ve always thought he underestimated how much people loved him.  The number of hearts he’s filled with joy, smiles he’s placed on faces, and most importantly the number of souls that came to Jesus Christ because of his spiritual gifts is immeasurable.

This blog entry is intended for those of us here on Earth mourning Reverend Larry Trammel to heal and go on with our lives. I realize it’s difficult for people to let go of someone so special, especially because a great majority of those who loved him didn’t know how much he suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It’s not so hard for me to let him go because I witnessed everything first hand.  I love him dearly, and very heavenly happy for him that he’s not suffering.   Yet, in his suffering, he rarely complained of pain (other than phantom pain after the amputations).  I choose to grasp hold of the lessons he’s taught through his sermons, his lifestyle, his spiritual gifts.  I pray that all readers will do the same.

So please, live life to the fullest with the spirit of the Lord not only in our hearts, but in our actions, in our speech, in every aspect of life.  What I’ve learned about this journey is to remain obedient to the Holy Spirit and never fail at showing your love.  Let our sweat and tears of pain be the water upon our sowed seeds of faith that reaps a bountiful harvest.  Truly get an understanding of the Holy Spirit for yourself.  It’s truly an amazing thing.  As my grandfather late Bishop John Trammel, Sr. and my father Reverend Larry Trammel said in their sermon closings:  May God bless you, and Heaven smile upon you.

 

Tamika Trammel is a published fictional novelist.  Check out her books:  “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher” available for purchase online:  www.TamikaTrammel.com, Amazon, B&N, or any retail bookstore.  Just ask an associate for ordering assistance.    5 Star rated!!  Help me sell enough, they’ll make it to the store bookshelves.  If you’re waiting for that, you’ll miss your chance of being a blessing.  By then, you’re following a trend.  Do it now, you’re following the Holy Spirit. 

Don’t Shortchange the Suffering When Counting Blessings

I recently found out that my son will have to undergo surgery on his ears for a fourth time in three years due to recurring ear infections.  He’s four years old and has autism, but that’s not the focus of this entry.  I was somewhat taken aback by the pediatrician’s remarks when he broke the news to me.  He seemed very disappointed that the previous surgeries didn’t remedy the problem and apologized with sincerity and a sympathetic tone.  My response was:  “It’s ok.  There are children in the world that have to go through much worse.”  He shrugged and said, “Yeah, but don’t shortchange your suffering.”  Those words have been ringing in my ears for the past few days as I evaluate myself and ask:  “Am I guilty of shortchanging my suffering?”  The answer is yes.  I rarely fully acknowledge the challenges of raising an autistic child, caring for a terminally ill parent (my father has cancer), supporting two children in college, and the everyday routines of a functioning household (I am not single).

I don’t complain about my son not reaching his developmental milestones.  Even though he is four, his behavior is more of a one year old not interested in potty training nor eating properly.  When other parents compliment or complain about their own children, I politely smile, nod, or whatever body language is appropriate for the conversation, but I omit details about rearing my son simply because most people don’t understand the difficulties of autism without experiencing it for themselves.  I remain quiet because I do not want to hear suggestions of what I should be doing when I’ve tried it a million times over.  Not only that, I have two daughters that are healthy, thriving young adults; therefore, I can say with confidence that I know how to raise children.  Autism is much more than parenting skills.  It’s about conforming to the uniqueness of the child, which goes against all of the unwritten  (and written) old school child rearing rules.  I’d rather get advice from autism parents and individuals who have experience in the field.  Child rearing is always a powder keg issue, and I prefer not to light the fuse because I have too many other important fires to fight, metaphorically speaking.   Therefore, yes.  I shortchange my suffering.  I also shortchange my suffering because I am a mother that will go to the end of the Earth for her children’s needs.  It’s never too much of a hassle for me to make accommodations for my son if it helps him.  So, I don’t complain about therapists in our home four days a week because it could be four different other places I’d have to take him instead of them coming to us.  I don’t complain about his crying outbursts and meltdowns because I understand it’s his only way to communicate for right now.  It’s the only way I know something is wrong with him, otherwise I hardly hear a peep out of him.  Screaming and crying usually trigger a reaction of commotion and yelling, but I’ve accepted that I have to be the calm during that storm.  I cannot out yell my son to get results (thankfully, because I’m too tired for that anyway).  And it’s really difficult at times, especially if I’m not feeling well or during a frustrating situation that he has nothing to do with.  I count my blessings, and keep on going.

I am the primary caretaker for my ailing father who suffers from kidney cancer and diabetes complications.  He is wheelchair bound and has other limitations that he doesn’t work his way through. I prepare his meals, clean his apartment, laundry, and used to accompany him to doctors appointments (until recent months).  He calls me when he needs anything.  It’s tough being the go-to-person for another.  With limited mobility and failing eye sight, my father is totally dependent.  Are there other family members that can help?  Yes.  Do they pitch in?  Hell no, but I am okay with that.  I’m a firm believer in the old adage “too many cooks spoil the soup”.  So, it’s best they stay out of the way and I care for him because I’m not above bowing out gracefully if a family member thinks they can take over.  I’m the eldest child, next of kin, emergency contact and medical power of attorney for him.  I handle his personal business matters.  Realistically, I didn’t leave any room for anyone else to step in; therefore, I shortchange my suffering by not asking nor expecting any help.  A majority of our closest kin live across the country from us.  I do not want to add to their burdens, so I bear mine in silence instead of complaining out loud.  I count my blessings, and keep on going.

My biggest inspiration to never give in comes from my two daughters who are both in college, living on their respective college campuses.  They both are employed and full time students.  Their lives are what I am most proud of.  Honestly, I am living vicariously through them because they are behaving maturely and making responsible decisions.  They are having experiences that I used to dream of, dreams that became deferred by reality and my poor choices when I was their age.  I provide peripheral support to them when it comes to transportation needs, advice and hours of complicated hairstyling (which I need to catch up on).  I’ve always told them the best help they can be to me is to take excellent care of themselves.  It’ll be less for me to worry about.  They are doing just that, and I love them immensely for it.  I count my blessings, and keep on going.

I thought working for 9-1-1 would be the toughest and least appreciated job I would ever have.  Boy, I was very wrong.  Stay at home parents truly do not get the respect and recognition they deserve.  There have been plenty of days when I thought to myself,  “What was I thinking?  I was getting cussed out several times a day by absolute strangers over the phone, but at least I made good money for it.”  I don’t get cussed out at home; however, someone bringing dirty dishes to the sink after I just finished cleaning the kitchen gets me just as pissed off.  The first seventeen adult years of my life was raising two girls.  Now, I live with two guys:  my son and his daddy.  I don’t have enough OCD in me to constantly clean behind them.  I wish I could attach laundry baskets to their chests and Swiffer mops on their feet, but the house would still be dirty some kind of way.  I am a terrible housekeeper.  I’ve tried getting myself fired by my significant other to no avail.  So, I shortchange my suffering by looking around at the mess and talk myself into being grateful for not having as much as others, but still more than many.  To have dirty clothes overflowing in the basket onto the floors, yet still have clean clothing hanging in the closets and folded in the dressers is a blessing.  Dirty dishes mean we’ve been eating.  But, there’s no excuse for scattered papers and shoes, etc.  That’s just lazy.  I count my blessings and keep on going.

I’m counting my blessings, yet shortchanging my suffering.  I don’t think of it as cheating myself though because I have a Savior that’s looking upon me, and keeping account of all that I do and don’t do.  I have trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  He always rewards by providing my needs through the kindness and consideration of others.  He keeps His promises.  In spite of the duties I listed, the Lord has sent people to my path to enrich my writing career, which I thought would be endangered due to the home workload.  I’m receiving more and more compliments for my books and poetry.  Aspiring authors request my input for their writing projects and I edit business letters and papers.   I am excited for the future because these experiences are giving me great writing material.  I shortchange my suffering, but not without counting my blessings so I can keep on going.

If you like my blog, you’ll love my fictional novels “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher” available for purchase online in soft cover and eBook.  http://www.TamikaTrammel.com, Amazon, B&N.com, Google Books, http://www.AmericaStarBooks.com or place an order at any retail bookstore.  5 Star rated books.  To potential publishers, please know that I am a committed author with the passion to tell fictional stories created to inspire and uplift readers.  Check me out!

Honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month “Brickhouse Boulders” by Tamika Trammel

Brickhouse Boulders

I’m a brickhouse
not because I measure 36-24-36.
Because my shoulders are made of boulders
that I use to uplift.
Boulders are heavy
not easy to wane.
They endure the hardship
of excessive sunshine, heavy winds, torrential rain.
My shoulders are heavy
not easy to tear.
They endure the burden
of unconditional love, repeated heartache, cumbersome care.
But I chose not to let these burdens
turn into despair.
No matter how much suffering
when life is unfair.
Because just like boulders
strong is the will of my shoulders.
I am a brickhouse
not because I measure 36-24-36.
Because my shoulders are made of boulders
that I use to uplift.

Tamika Trammel
Oct. 1, 2015 Breast Cancer Awareness Month
http://www.TamikaTrammel.com