Article Written By Donna Anna Pace

My alarm goes off at 9am, it’s Sunday, so I don’t bother getting up.  I decide to stay in bed, it’s my weekend off without my kids, it’s raining outside and my joints are stiff….so I’m going nowhere fast!  I always like to phone my kids when they’re not with me, so I lean over my bed, with much discomfort and ooohhhing and aaarrrggging, and pick up my mobile off my bedroom floor, with a newly acquired crack on the screen!!  My fingers are like sausages from water retention…’s not pretty being in your 40’s!  I click Contacts on my mobile and phone my dentist instead of my son!  With another click on my phone, I get it right, and I’m welcomed with a “hello Mum, how are you”?  This makes my day, and I continue to chat to my son Tommy before I realise he is more hungover than Martin Sheen!!  Tommy’s words are slurred, he’s giggling more than a 2 month old baby who’s parents are playing ‘peekaboo’, yet there is a sense of embarrassment in his voice.  ‘Why the embarrassment I thought’?  ‘What’s wrong with Tommy….what happened to him last night whilst he was ‘out on the lash’?

Whilst I am thinking and dwelling on Tommy’s demeanour, I can hear Tommy on the other end of the phone rambling away about something, but I couldn’t make out what?  ‘What was this news or gossip that my son wanted to share with me’?  “Hey Tommy”, I said, “you still sound hungover son, and I’ve never heard you laugh so much”!  “Share the gossip with me son, I could do with a laugh”!

“Ok mum, heehee, sorry, I can’t contain myself”!  “This will make you laugh, but maybe also hate me…..I got absolutely battered last night…”!

“Yeah I can hear it in your voice son, you sound very relaxed, you sound like you’re struggling to put two words together “!  “Why would I hate you son”?  “What an earth did you do last night”?  “Oh god, don’t tell me you got into a fight”?  “You didn’t get into a fight last night did you son”?!

Tommy laughs at the end of the phone and tries to compose himself before he answers my questions.  “Oh no mum, definitely not, I’m a lover not a fighter heehee”!  “What I’ve done is far worse than that!”

I shriek in despair….”WHAT”?!!  “Oh no son, what have you done”?!   My heart started racing, my mind became a minefield of emotions….so I walked over to my sofa, sitting gently in anticipation of what I was about to hear.  I can remember the last time I felt like this….it was 20th January…..the day Trump was elected !!!

“OK Tommy, you know I love you no matter what…I’m your Mum, here to protect and serve!”

Tommy’s voice becomes a bit subdued and the giggling seems to be easing off….Tommy hesitates before he discloses the much awaited gossip that I am desperate to hear!!

“Please don’t judge me Mum, like I said, I got absolutely battered last night, and don’t remember a thing!  “Erm…..when I got home last night, I obviously panicked….have no idea why….and I ermm ..took a crap in the bloody washing machine”!.  “I am so disappointed with myself, I am such a twat”!!  “I feel horrible… how do I even apologise for that”?!

“Are you kidding son?? You took a crap in the machine?!”…..

Tommy replied with a combination of laughter and humiliation in his voice.  “I don’t remember doing so, but it would appear so!!  I know, I’m an idiot”!!

“You’re not an idiot son…far from it”!  “You’re a beautiful human being and I’m proud to say that you’re my son”!  “Washing machines live longer with crap-on!” – I sung this to Tommy in the style of the TV advert for Calgon!

“You know what makes it worse”, Tommy said.  “I didn’t do it for the banter, at least then it would’ve been a practical joke”!  “I literally was just in the mindset that I am in the bathroom!”

“Yeah right son”, I said,  “that old chestnut”!   “Hey Tommy, you fancy coming round for dinner this week”?  “I’d love to see how you managed to squat down and contort your body to fit your bottom in the machine”?!  I couldn’t get my breath for laughing too much in disbelief at what Tommy had told me!

“Yeah sure mum, I’d love to pop round for dinner…what day”?  “By the way…what are the dimensions of your washing machine”!?

“Erm….what son?!!  What are the dimensions”??  “Why?…you’re not thinking of taking a crap in my machine are you!  Most people generally do that on my doorstep”!!

“Aaahh no mum,  I won’t be defecating in your machine, that’s quite a unique art form…more of a spur of the moment thing”!!

I didn’t realise Tommy had such a great sense of humour and sense of fun!  Not in the 20 years since giving birth to Tommy had I ever realised what an honest, funny, down-to-earth young man he has evolved into.  Forgetting the fact that he took a dump in his dad’s washing machine, and not even had the decency to fill the machine draw with a dash of bleach and put it on a 90 degree quick wash ……perhaps Tommy will never become a Washing Machine Engineer, but one thing is for sure….being a qualified Gym Instructor/Swimming Teacher has definitely paid dividends when it came to improvisation!!

Thank you for reading,

Donna Anna Pace xx

Online Life Coach, Supporting Artist, Writer, Volunteer, Human.

Coonect with me at:

Find a Penny, Pick it Up- Written By Desirée Toldo

Written By Desirée Toldo


I believe in a lot of things. I believe that Disney Princess Band-Aids work better than regular Band-Aids; I believe that people are inherently kind, even if at times they forget it; I believe that most things taste better with ketchup; I believe that everything that is lost has a way of finding its way back. This is the story of the moment I found what I had lost 12 years ago.

In 2015, I was a senior in college living with my cousin and our best friend in our small dorm. It was rare to have the room to myself for a night, but when I did I would sometimes wake up from dreams of my grandfather who we had lost ten years earlier. I would wake up and be so sure I could smell his familiar scent, as though the door had just closed behind him—they were the most vivid dreams I had ever had. I struggled to put a meaning to these dreams. My grandmother and mother had told me of spiritual encounters that they had had in their lives, but I never believed that was the kind of thing I could experience. I wasn’t sure if I even believed it was possible. Yet I wanted so badly to believe that there was meaning in the dreams that I was having, that I was being visited by the person I missed more than I could understand.

One Sunday in March I found myself alone for the night once again, and I suppose my grandfather, who we called Papi, decided it was time to make a believer out of me. I fell asleep with a tingle of disappointment that always came with the end of the weekend. Before I knew it, I was walking up the street toward my parents’ house when I heard the engine of my brother’s truck start. I looked up to see Papi smiling at me from the driver’s seat. He didn’t say a word but I got in the truck and we drove away and went to a movie theater. I don’t remember the drive. I don’t remember any conversation. I don’t even remember what movie we went to see. But I remembering walking up to the concession stand and ordering my favorite movie theater snacks (pretzel nuggets, nacho cheese, and a small popcorn). I remember Papi paying. I remember the cashier placing loose change on the counter. And I remember one bright, shiny penny.

Even through a dream, where there are no limits to what you can imagine and what can be done, I knew Papi would not be staying with me in the world, but that he had come back for a day to take me to the movies, perhaps to reassure me that though he had left the world, he was not gone. He did not say a single word but when I asked him if I could keep that one perfect penny to remember the day he smiled. After that it all dissolved. Maybe new dreams came into focus or maybe it was all just black. I woke up alone in my room with a breath that felt like I had just been resuscitated. The weight of what I had dreamt and the emptiness I felt crashed over me. He was gone. I rolled over and made my body as small as I could in my tiny twin bed.

Against my crisp, black bed sheet I saw the perfectly polished profile of Abe Lincoln, shining up at me. A penny lay next to my pillow, as though it had been placed so purposely near me.

In life, Papi had never denied me anything—ice cream before bed (make no mistake, this was just as much a treat for him as it was for me—chocolate ice cream for him, vanilla for me), the little plastic table from the center of a pizza pie to use as a dining table for my Barbies, nothing. 12 years had passed since he died and yet he still didn’t deny me. This time he gave me something to believe in—his proximity, his presence, his attunement to me even after so many years. I had never felt so connected to someone in my life—he had chosen to give me this gift and in doing so he solidified everything I wanted to believe in but didn’t have enough proof of. I wear the proof around my neck at all times. The penny hangs close to my heart always—a reminder of what that dream meant and everything that changed as a result of it.

In the two years since Papi came to visit me in my dorm, I have had other similar encounters—dreams that seemed just slightly more than dreams. I sometimes wish I could summon both of my grandparents like characters in a science fiction movie, just to get their reassurance that they’re watching everything. But it doesn’t work like that. I don’t know how it works, but I believe in it. I believe that when I need them most, they appear. I believe that the cardinal that sits on my windowsill despite my cat’s numerous attempts to pounce on him through the closed window is Papi saying, “hello, I’m with you.” I believe that the dragonfly fluttering around my car as I eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my lunch break is Gram telling me that peanut butter and jelly is not a filling lunch and I should eat more. I believe that though they were lost, they are always hiding somewhere waiting to be found. It doesn’t make me miss them any less, but it makes the spaces between visits less difficult. Most of all, it gives me hope that there will always be another sign, another visit, another reminder of just how strongly they are imprinted in my soul.

Thank you for reading, with love

Desirée Toldo xx