Not me. Not this time.

HappyBirthdayMy Love

I have never been the one to mess with. I have either always knew the rule or researched it enough to know whether my stance on the matter was right or wrong. Health/ dental insurance don’t mess with me.  I know my contract in and out. I know what I am “entitled to”.

“But Dacia, you’re a millennial, you’re not entitled to anything!

I am a ten year Army veteran. I have earned my health and dental plans. (But really they are my husband’s work’s so shut up. Yes I have ‘earned’ them)

So let me tell you women something. You do not have to agree with what they tell you.

You don’t have to go along because you don’t know any better

You can learn negative and detrimental things of you own past that bring to light something you held at high regard.

You can learn that ‘”protection” might not have actually saved you from the danger of your own family.

You can learn that after 32 years of existence, what you thought you had built your own foundation  on was a lie or was kept a secret from you, in hopes that it would go away.

I feel ashamed and defensive. I feel like I am owed the truth on the matter before I go chiseling at the details.

I feel that being so comfortably removed from the situation has, yes, saved me from the physical hurt that others have experienced but also left the remaining victims silent in their recovery, personal remorse, and unable to anonymously share their side of the story.

Ladies- You are not alone. Many have felt this pain. It is not my story to tell, but if you can help others by stepping up, then maybe it’s worth it.

It is time that you have felt this validation. That YOU know that you are loved despite the things that happened to you.

I grew up so far removed. My memories are locked in the photos I own. I try to apply principles to my own little family that has very different dynamics.

If you can please help me to understand why women lay so vulnerable to men;   not allowing their own voices to be heard. Why do you place your husband above the love of your children? Then I may be able to sleep tonight.

The Generation That Built Us

Having a daughter has completely derailed me. Things that I have kept high on a shelf, have come down to tiny hands that don’t understand the frailty of the memories they hold.

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This bunny has a good 25 years on her new owner.

My father being in the military, we rarely lived close to family. When we did go “home” to visit, we stayed with my grandmother; my father’s mother. I only just recently found out my own mother hated it. But my brother, sister and I loved everything about it. The cookie jar that held snack cakes instead of just plain ole cookies, the “haunted barn” we’d explore only supervised by my aunt, who would later in life become my roommate, the smell of coffee and cigarettes at all hours of the day, and Grandma. Her cooking, her gifts, her love, and her pride in us: the grandkids.

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Always so proud of us (I’m the bottom left of the main photo.. My cousin is the innocent by-standard. Her blog can be found HERE).

My Grandmother was the face of everything that the subsequent generations wanted to be to their family: the Matriarch. There was not a get together that she was not in the center of. Her cooking alone is enough for its own post.  It was never ever about what she bought us. What she gave us, she made with her own two hands. I am happy that even at a young age, I recognized the prize that was handed to me that Christmas.

Hand sewn bunnies, like the one gifted to me in the first photo, were given to all the granddaughters she had at the time. Many MANY more came later, but as her eye sight went, and her arthritis worsened, fewer things were sewn and less gifts were made.

And now as a mother, I treasure more the things my mother makes for me and my children. I want her to be proud of my children like my grandmother was proud of us. I want my daughter to know the line of strong women that she comes from. I also want her to know the value and worth behind taking a few abstract materials, a little bit of finesse and a lot of love and transforming it into an heirloom; a token of love and life that will transcend her own if treated delicately.

Grandma, thank you for sharing your gifts with us. I hope I do well to teach my kiddos of your diligence, your love and your pride in them. Even my littlest little who did not get to meet you. We love and miss you dearly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not As I Do

This is a Mother’s Day post, but not in the sense that you may think. The last 17 years, our relationship has been complicated to put it simply. There were many lessons that she tried to teach me as I was growing, but in true child form, I opted to make mistakes versus listening and obeying the warnings she tried so desperately to penetrate into my adolescent psyche.

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I hated everything when I was a teenager.

She became a mother at a very young age. They were married soon after conception and my father, owning the responsibility of his new small family, joined the military. Then I came along. I have written about what I remember (or don’t) of my father in those  early years of life, but the constant was my mother. She was always there.  She raised us with very little help from anyone else, as we constantly moved from one place to another and away from family most of the time.

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My dad was stationed in Korea for a year and Mom was left to raise three kids alone.

I really wish I had appreciated her more then. I wish I had followed some of her instructions. I wish I had even liked her more. No doubt that I love her. She is my mother. But with my stubbornness and her life long search to find herself, we were never friends.

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In the fourth grade (I know this is a trivial time in one’s life that should not hold much weight into adulthood), I started to suck at school. I discovered at an early age that I was really smart. I also discovered that I learned so fast, I could pretty much wing-it most of the time. So I stopped doing homework. To this day I will go out of my way to avoid bringing work of any fashion home with me. This habit also was the driving force that convinced me it was time to leave the military. All this to say, my teachers informed my parents, who were unsuspecting that anything was wrong.

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But we managed a little fun in the midst of frustration.

In 1995, my mother wrote me a letter. It has remained preserved in a clear pencil pocket all these years. I took it with me after I went to juvy (another story for another time), was court ordered to live with my aunt, through college, to war and back twice, owning two houses, having two children of my own. This 3/4 piece of paper in my mother’s handwriting has remained with me.

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The coffee stain at the bottom happened today. This is the first time I have taken it out of that pencil pouch. Dammit.

Dear Dacia,

You are a very intelligent young lady. Your father and I are very proud of you and your accomplishments. We only ask that you try a little harder at keeping your mind on your studies while at school. You only get to go through school one time, please make the best of it. Life is too short as it is. Loosen up, enjoy yourself but remember without knowledge and education, we are poor people. And I don’t mean just the lack of money. I mean, in the lack of mind and knowledge. Try to view school as a play. You have the lead. Your even allowed to make up things as you go along. But you have to learn your lines. Spelling, Math, Reading, Social Studies, etc. You know what I mean. You know you can do better. I’ve seen you do better.

I love you,

Mom

When I became a teenager, my mother and I started down the same path. I can recall a day sitting in the passenger seat of the family car and mom driving. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told her that I just wanted to party. All the time. At 15, I decided that I disagreed with 98% of what the world viewed as the responsibilities of being an adult. She tried to explain these concepts of paying bills and taxes, needing to get a job and what it truly took to support myself and be successful.

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I cannot imagine the desperation of my mother, to see me headed down a road that would lead me to just barely scraping by. I am truly amazed that at 32, I do not have an 18 year old child of my own.

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Recently, I had a chance to spend sometime with my mother. More time than I have spent with her since the day she drove me to the police station and handed me over.

It suddenly occurred to me that we both walked down a path together. And as I left her that day many years ago, I was able to jump back on the right track and make something of myself. She stayed. She made a series of choices that led her to a place that me and my siblings felt needed some intervention.

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As I picked her up and drove her to my home, I could not help but feel like the tables had turned. If I had not finally accepted the advice my mother had tried so hard to give me, I would still be in that passenger seat refusing to accept responsibility or acknowledge consequences of my life choices.

There is so much I want for my mother, but really, I just want a mother. I did not grow up how she expected, but I found my round about way to a successful life. I was not around for us to build that relationship that other daughters have with their mother. My kids might not get to visit Meemaw at the same house she had lived in for decades, like I got to growing up. But that’s alright.

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On Mother’s Day, I always struggle to find a good card at the store. Vague ones that simply say “I love you, Mom.” and don’t talk about “You were always there for me. You’re my best friend. I couldnt have done it without you.” I wish I could say those things, but for whatever reason, my fault, hers, or simply victims of circumstance, we don’t have a relationship like most women.

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Yes we are hoola-hooping in a bar…

I love my mother so deeply. I would tear down a mountain for her. And heaven help anyone that disrespects her or hurts her in anyway. That said, I cannot force her to make choices that would help her fit into this idea of “Mom” that I knew before. If she is happy, healthy, and taken care of I cannot ask much more than that.

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I needed my mama to help me. My PPD had gotten so bad. This visit really was a huge turning point in my own recovery. I still need my mama.

Even though her time with me was under stressful circumstances and her departure was quite abrupt, I did learn one thing. I need my mother. No matter who she was before or who she is now. I just needed her because I know she’d love me even if I wasn’t successful. Even if I was still in that passenger seat. Even if she had an 18 year old grandchild. She will always love me in the ways she can.

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So, happy Mother’s Day, Woman. I love you.

Little Mary Magdalene

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I know it is a little early, but in the month of April I will be interviewing family members to compile stories of my late grandmother and posting them here.

My paternal grandmother, Mary Magdalene Gilliam, was the gem of the family. Every family event revolved around her. I grew up states away from my extended family, but holidays often found us back in the same house surrounded by an ever growing crowd of loved ones. Her passing a couple of years ago was difficult for many.

I recently took a trip with my two kids back home to visit this part of my family and for some personal healing. One of my aunts has spent a good amount of time on tracking our genealogy. She had a picture and a story about an ancestor from around the mid to late 1800s. We compared his photo to my daughter and could see a great resemblance even generations down the line. It was incredible. When I returned home, I wondered if anyone had ever written stories about my grandmother, and if not, someone should or else she will be lost to our future generations forever.

This journey is a tracing of not only my grandmother’s roots, but also a journey to discover the woman that was revered by her children and adored by her grandchildren. Her great-grandchildren and great-greats continue to be born. It is my hope these stories will make it from the mouths of those that knew and loved her, to the hearts of the generations to come.

Baby Grandma-

So far the earliest story I have been able to dig up was more about my Great-Grandmother, Regina Philomena Werner (Schmidt). This story was told by my grandmother to her daughter, Jacqueline, who shared it with me for the purpose of this documentation.

Grandma never really spanked. But if you got in trouble she would sit you down and lecture you for so long, you’d wish she’d have spanked you just to be done with it.

When Mary was four or five years old, she wanted to help on the farm like her older siblings. They all had responsibilities to help the family make their livelihood and she wanted to be big and help, too. So Grandma told Mary, “There’s a storm coming. Go out and collect all the baby chicks and shut them in the coop before the storm hits.”

Little Mary, bless her heart, could not tell the difference between baby chicks and baby ducks. So to air on the side of caution, she collected all the baby chicks and all the baby ducks and stuffed them all inside of the coop. When she was done, she came back and announced her success and pride at completing the task.

It wasn’t until the next day that Grandma discovered Mary’s mistake. You see, the baby ducks were much larger than the baby chicks and those ducks crushed many of the little chicks.

Grandma sat Mary down in the kitchen on a wooden stool for hours, lecturing her on the difference between chickens and ducks and the importance of the chickens to the farm and their way of life. Chickens needed to grow, so their eggs could be gathered and they could be eaten. If all the chicks died, there would be no chickens to sell or eggs to eat. Poor little Mary learned a hard lesson that stuck with her for nearly seven decades.

This is by far the cutest story I have ever heard. This would have been around the time World War II had begun but before America had joined the war. The great depression and the dust bowl of the Midwest were slowing being resolved.  I can just imagine Little Mary Warner with her brown curls chasing after baby chicks and baby ducks, with arms full of feathery fluffs cheeping and quacking maybe even unaware of the fragility of her family’s farm or the harshness of the times. I wish I could have asked her everything about this time. I am sure she would tell me that though they did without, they did what they had to do and just kept on.

 

The imaged used was found on Google Maps and can be retrieved HERE. It is an image of Claflin, Ks which I believe was where my grandmother was born.

 

TBT Fun!

Apparently (I use this word because, like I have mentioned before, my memory is shot) my cousin and I used to be pen pals. Of the many MANY cousins, there were three of us girls around the same age. One that I just found out has had a blog for a year and never told me until yesterday… The other is a very successful dance teacher and Silk instructor (not her in the video obviously but an example of what she does).

Anywho- Dancer cousin and I used to be pen pals. (Blog cousin and I used to live together which will probably fill many many future posts).

I am a year older and I think around the time we were 11 and 12 or 12 and 13, we wrote back and forth a few times. WELL… I uncovered this treasure in my pile of junk.

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A few things stand out to me about this.

  1. She wanted to know about my life. I wanted everything she had. Her house that never changed. Her friends that she could keep as long as she wanted. Her room that was HUGE. Even the easy bake oven that Grandma got her for Christmas, instead of my Barbie Car. But here it is. SHE wanted to know about ME.
  2. My handwriting is not much different 20ish years later.
  3. Our dreams and wants were the same at that age. I wanted to be a Biochemist and work for NASA growing crops on Mars. And who doesn’t want to look thin. I didn’t get either of those things. Boo.

My cousin and I lost touch for a long time. I remember one year at Thanksgiving, she brought her then fiance. I was so jealous that she was getting married before me. A couple years later I reached out to her on my way to desert training for the military. It was a long bus ride so I had plenty of time. She told me about her horrifying emergency delivery. I listened and burned the story into my mind. Even through the birth of my son and daughter being unplanned C-sections, I remember her story and would never wish it on anyone.

My cousin was a key player in the healing of my miscarriages before Little Miss came along. Well placed inappropriate jokes helped me get through the utter loss that consumed me. She made me more comfortable to discuss them, and to write about them. I hoped to one day be that support for someone else.

When our grandmother passed away, my sister and I stayed with my cousin. I feel like there was not nearly enough time spent together, I realized how these women in my life (Dancer and Blogger) are my sisters. I feel so much warmth and love for these two along with my own sister that I truly cannot articulate.

Though I moved around so many times as a kid, and only have exactly one friend that I am in constant contact with, I know that these women will always be my best friends and be there for me without question or judgement.

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There is still time to enter into the Give-Away!

How do I enter??? 

First- Follow my blog by clicking the “+Follow” button at the bottom right side of your screen.

  1. Reblog your favorite Britestfyrefly post on your own page and link it back to me so I know who you are.
  2. Share the link to one of your favorite posts on Facebook and tag me.
  3. Email the link to your favorite post to a few people and CC me.

 

You may share as much as you want. Each link shared will get you an entry into the drawing which will happen Live on Facebook on February 28th and be posted and shared later that day.

Thank you all for all of your support through the last couple of years. A writer is nothing without readers 😀

 

It Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

I never believed it for a second. I cannot help but feel a huge disconnect when I look back on my childhood. To say I was brought up by fairly hands off parents would seem accurate. I was not taught much about emotional processing. I was taught to do what I was told and to shut my emotions down. My mom was not my friend and dad was terrifying. Yet, here I am. I am a happy, healthy adult with a solid job, a beautiful home and two littles of my own.

As a parent, I have NO idea what I am doing. My ultimate goal is to not mess up my kids. But I have found that because I was never able to fully process my own childhood emotions, that I identify far too much with the struggles of my 3 y/o. When he is frustrated and finding it difficult to communicate, it hurts my heart so much.

My sister bought my son a plush Pokeball for Christmas. He has NEVER been into stuffed animals but this damn Pokeball MUST go to bed with him. One morning he wakes up and refuses to leave it in bed, so he must bring it to get ready for school. Having an infant on my hip, I did not argue. Whatever. Bring your Pokeball.. Now I know the dangers of a preschooler holding anything when sitting on the potty. But in the middle of baby diaper change, a screaming hysterical cries are coming from the bathroom. I KNOW what happened. But I am stressed, getting two kids ready for the day and myself ready for work alone. I get mad and yell “WHAT?!?!?! WHAT IS IT?! WHY ARE YOU CRY?!” Sure Enough, plush Pokeball is floating in a bowl of pee pee. So I fish it out, and receive even more hysterical cries as I refuse to give it to him. “No you can’t have it. You peepee-ed on it. So here comes 7am load of laundry to ensure PokeBall is fresh for bedtime that night.

Still distraught, I was magically able to get him to dress himself. And, at the time, I thought the whole thing was pretty funny, so I snapped this picture.

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Later in the day, I would come back to the picture and see his heartbreak. And it broke my heart. Like when you get a scoop of ice cream from the icream truck and after he drives away the ice cream falls off your cone. My poor little boy. I wanted to leave work immediate and give him a hug, hand him his precious PokeBall and let him know that I will always be there for him and I remember that feeling when I was little, but no one was there to hold me. Because when I was little, that was the most dumb reason to cry and no one thought it necessary to console me. I would soon get over it and move on. And I did.

So I stop myself. If I grow up to be an emotionally aware, healthy, happy adult MAYBE my parent’s hands off approach to parenting is better than my goal in life to make sure my kids never cry. Mommy never protected me from bullies, or gave me immunity to confess when I had messed up. I was left alone to figure it out and find a way to make it through each day, and I am now extremely resilient because of it. Everything I have is because I effing figured it out myself. I made mistakes… SOOOO many mistakes, but they did not destroy me.

So now what? Do I refuse to acknowledge my son’s struggles to listen and understand as he grows into a young man? When he was little, I did not understand that one must be taught how to play with toys. I never knew that I had to teach my son how to play with action figures and cars and even sports balls. I always thought he should instantly be able to mimic and duplicate what he has seen on TV or what mommy and daddy do. HUGE mommy fail. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and sad for my son. I felt I have a duty as a mother to teach him EVERYTHING, and in the rush of routine and habit began to just do things for him, rather than giving him the encouragement to try himself. Failed again.

What the heck am I doing?!!?

Am I really raising another generation of entitled brats that feel that the world owes them something? Will he think that woman but always take care of men and provide their every need? Will he resent me as an adult for not giving him the opportunity to fail? Or will he hate me because I let him, and every other parent held their kid’s hand on the balance beam of life so they would not lose their balance, while he lays on the floor helplessly watching them succeed?!?! AHHHH!!!

I want my children to have every opportunity that I did not. Maybe not monetarily, but emotionally have the strength to do and be what they need and want. My tactics change everyday because they do.

In closing I will leave you with a gem I was given recently but a 6th grade Science teacher who told me to keep this in my heart when I feel like the worst mom in the world.

“When your kid does something ridiculous, harmful, angry, or otherwise undesirable, just remember this one thing before you lose your cool… Their brains aren’t fully formed yet.”

I Should Not

Yay! Another creative writing class to challenge me. This is a short story I wrote for week one. The assignment was to find a work of art or photograph and use it to create a story. These can be found and referenced that the end of the story as to not spoil anything. I promise this one is not nearly as sad but may pull on the heartstrings of some. Enjoy.

 

I am lost. I am hurt. I can see the blood drying down my leg. I have been hurt worse before on hikes, but for some reason my entire body seemed slow and pained. I need to find help. At the end of the road I can see a house; a white farm house. Surely someone there can help me. I have no idea how this happened. I have never been lost before. I am an expert navigator; ask anyone on my team.

I am a member of a hiking group. I have led some of the most dangerous excursions in the country. In 1956, I led a team of five to the summit of Yosemite’s Half Dome. This was day one of our twenty-six day journey through the Yosemite Valley to Lyell Canyon. Everyone that started, I saw to the end. How is it that I can navigate a wilderness on the sole knowledge of maps, but fail to find my way back home from my own backyard? I have lived here my entire life. I have walked these woods hundreds of times. I have named the trees and the rocks. These woods were my second home; I’d escape here when life was too much.

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise; a mix of pale blue, white, and yellow in the east. The weather was cool and perfect for a hike. I chose the east entrance. Being the mid spring, the trees and underbrush were lush and vibrant green. Had I been anymore unfamiliar, I would not have found it. It took ten feet to find the beaten age old path that I had stomped bare season after season. Smaller than I remember, but it was my path nonetheless. Every year brought new life and a familiar welcome of nature and its beauty. Birds chirped unseen in the canopy of ancient elm and maple trees easily seventy feet above me. The ground was still moist from the morning dew and the smell of raw earth and organic decay filled me with nostalgia; like meeting an old friend for coffee.

I spent what felt like an hour just walking my path; greeting it like an old friend. I began to notice that it was becoming warmer quite quickly. I looked to the canopy to get a bearing of the time. The sun had passed its peak and clouds were threatening to hide it further than the cover of trees. When I brought my gaze down, the forest seemed strange. I felt strange. I turned once, twice, and again. That is all it took. I did not know the direction I had come, nor how long I had walked. Soon the sun would disappear and I would simply have to guess.

My heart began to pound and my breath quickened: panic. I found a space to sit. My hands were shaking; they did not seem like my hands. Had I eaten? Drank? What a rookie mistake to take out your door unprepared for a journey. I knew better. I also knew that no one would come looking for me. No one knew I was out here; another rookie mistake.

I stood up, but too fast. My head became heavy, and my vision narrowed. My legs felt as if they were heavy with mud as I attempted to continue my journey. I must have fell hard.

I awoke to the drizzle of rain and the wet of the earth under me. It was dark by that time and my entire body screamed in painful protest as I pulled myself up. Joints, muscles, even my skin seemed unhappy with my napping place. I sat myself up right to a seated position. Dirt and sticks embedded in my skin from the pressure of lying. Many times I have been scared. This time, it completely consumed me to the point of hysterics. I struggled to wipe away the dirt. I must have hit my left on a rock on the way down; it was still bleeding. I pulled some mud over my wound in hopes to advance the clotting. My skin looked paper thin. I needed to keep moving and find my way out.

Hours more I continued on; slow and painful with each step. The sun was rising again when I reached the clearing. In the morning light, I could make out a dirt road on the horizon. I looked around to see if it was familiar. It was not. I was in a cow pasture. We did not own cows. The Henderson’s owned cows but this could not have been their field.

I reached the road and wanted nothing more than to run, but I could not bring my ragged body to cooperate. It was another mile before I saw the house. Thank goodness.

“MRS. CUNNINGHAM!!” a man shouted bursting from the front porch door. Cunningham was my husband’s name. Had John come here looking for me?

“Mrs. Cunningham, oh my word. Here, let me carry you.” The young man bent down to pull my legs from under me. My body gave way easily but I protested.

“Pardon, me! Where is John? Where is my husband?” I demanded.

“Don’t worry, ma’am. We are going to get you some help. Thank goodness you are alive. Let me get you inside and we will call Trudy. She will be so relieved.” Trudy was my daughter. Why would this man not call my husband? Trudy was still in diapers. Maybe I had bumped my head a little too hard.

The man sat me on a chair inside the house and pulled a phone from his pocket.

“Yes, my address is 31 Henderson Way…” The man walked into the other room and lowered his voice. He must have been a Henderson. But this was not a Henderson house that I knew.

“She is asking for her husband so I think she is having an episode.” He kept talking about me like I was not present. Maybe physically but not mentally.

“Mrs. Cunningham, do you know where you are?”

“I’m on Henderson Property in Jefferson County Missouri.”

“Yes.” He spoke into the phone.

“Ma’am, do you know what today is? Or the year?” he directed these ridiculous questions at me.

“I started my walk yesterday morning, Sunday. So today is Monday, March 5th, 1960. Where is John, my husband?” I became frustrated. The man continued to talk into the phone and at that point I was done listening. Soon he returned and handed it to me.

“Hello?”

“Mama! It’s Trudy are you okay?”

“Trudy? Who is this?” It was a grown woman on the phone. I did not know this Trudy. She was not MY Trudy.

“Mama, the ambulance is coming to get you, I will meet them where you are and we will go to the hospital together, okay? I love you, Mom.” The woman was crying. My Trudy. She was grown. My husband, John, had passed away last year. I had forgotten my husband was gone. My daughter had to live with me and take care of me.

“Thank you, Honey. I love you, too. I will see you soon.” Ashamed I handed the young man the phone.

“John died last year from lung cancer.” I told the young man. “The doctor had given him a month; he was gone in a week. Today is May 16th, 2015. You are Nathan, my best friend’s grandson, rest her soul.” I wiped a tear with my cleanest hand and looked down at it. I knew this hand. Old and wrinkled, liver spotted and paper thin. It seemed like in an hour I had lived an entire life and not even known it. My mind was melting away and my body withered along with it.

I started to wish I had not woken up from that spot in the woods where things seemed as they should; changing with the seasons but remaining faithfully familiar. Surely now they will confine me to four walls with eyes always watching.

I should not have woken up.

dementia

Hussey, Tom. (2013, March 30). Reflections, Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2301557/Tom-Hussey-Haunting-photos-Alzheimer-s-patients-younger-selves-mirror.html

 

country

Rogriquez, Martin (2015, July 10) Country, Retrieved from http://10-themes.com/406167.html.