The Gift Of Caring

 It was the kind of evening when the wind found every opening in my heavy winter wrappings. There was no escaping the chill that went through my bones as I sat on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth as it sailed down the Hudson River toward the Atlantic and the beginning of our 109 day world cruise.

With my beret pulled down over my ears and scarf wrapped around my neck as high as possible, I leaned against the railing facing the winds watching he magnificent New York City skyline, swimming by so slowly.

Weeks before my friends Lou and Cathy who live in the Village vowed they would add to our send-off by signaling to us from the end of the Christopher Street Pier as we sailed by. 

It seemed a great idea at the time, until our sailing was delayed into the darkness and severe winter weather was moving in. So much for a sendoff, I disappointedly thought. Lou would be working and Cathy would be alone.

As we moved along, suddenly I saw a flicker…a blinking beam of bright light coming from the Christopher Pier. Once, twice, three times. She had come. She had come in the darkness and waited in the cold to wish us a bon voyage as she had promised. Cathy’s life was all about the gift of caring. I will always miss you my dear friend.

Copyright Sandra Hart©2007. From Read Between My Lines: What Was I Thinking.           All Rights Reserved 

Sweet Dreams Alice

As we spend time on this planet we all have ties. Strings to people that have crossed our paths in various chapters of our lives who are extremely important to us. To our memories. Each one of those important strings to a life, to my life, to yours, that has been knit from birth until now. Unexpected feelings of camaraderie to perfect strangers has always been such a mystery to me. Why some people cross your path and you immediately feel a bond, a sisterhood with them. Deep friendships are a very rare and cherished thing, aren’t they. I probably, in my lifetime, can count on one hand the true deep girlfriend relationships I have had in my life. 

The unfortunate twist and irony of it all is that sometimes we don’t realize how important these threads are in our past until the comfort begins to unravel. Today has been such a day for me.


I met Alice on my first day at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York where we both were staying while we went to school. She lived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and I was from an industrial town on the Ohio River. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Her brother was in Princeton and mine at Cincinnati University. Her father lunched at The Brown Derby and my father took his to work with him. In spite of our different beginnings, Alice and I quickly bonded. How could you not like her. She was pretty, sweet and always had a smile and a good word for everyone. 

After we each graduated from school she went back to the West Coast and wound up in San Francisco and I stayed in New York for a while and eventually when I got married settled in Pittsburgh. But throughout the years we’ve always kept in touch talking about our boyfriends, then husbands, then our children.

Throughout the years on holidays we exchanged cards and wrote from time to time, but our relationship was forged even greater when we both found a renewed closeness on Facebook. It was like having coffee with Alice every morning when I logged onto Facebook and became a part of her life once again.

Well, this morning we lost Alice and I lost one of my forever-for-life friends. Alice always was the cheerful one-always the positive one. She told me a few months ago that she was not afraid of dying. She said she just felt sad for those that she was leaving behind. She would be going on to something better. That was Alice. Cheerful and positive to the end, or maybe as she believed to the beginning.

Alice was one of those last threads to my earlier chapters and I will miss her dearly. But one of the many things about knowing Alice has taught me is don’t be afraid to live every moment of your life while you’re here. Live it with kindness. Live it with compassion. Live it with faith.

We all will miss you dear Alice. Sweet dreams my good friend.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2016


I will not mourn although my heart is torn, Oh love forever lost! I will not mourn. Heinrich Heine

Places Within My Heart: My Journey Along The River Of Life


In spite of the large fans circulating far above our heads on the ceiling, the lobby in our hotel at Luxor was only a few degrees cooler than the desert heat outside. As I looked around I would not have been surprised to see Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar, with the polished mahogany piano and yellow ivories in the corner of the room twanging out soulful tunes. It was something right out of a movie set.


I was brought back to reality by the the sound of a melodic English accent calling “Ma’am, please Ma’am.” I turned to see a tall Nubian porter dressed in a galabiyya. His long sinewy body moved gracefully toward us and his face was long, thin and etched with life.

“Bags, Ma’am. How many?”

Before I could reply, his strong arms scooped up our baggage.

“Follow me, nice room, end of hall, just right for you, Ma’am.”

His head turned back our way and he flashed a leathery grin as he darted away with us double-stepping to keep up with his long-legged strides. He led us down the long dark hallway and stopped just right off the corridor to a massive door marked with the brass number ‘8’.


The unlocked door swung open to reveal a large open space with floor-to-ceiling windows on the far side. Tall green louvers opened on either side letting in the hot morning sun. A double bed and chair on the right, and to the left a doorway that led to a smaller room that was to serve as my son’s space while we were here.

The high ceiling had the familiar fans like those in the lobby and were slowly moving the stale air about the room. I tilted my face upwards to catch the slight swirling of air when my eyes caught something dark on the ceiling. I slid my sunglasses down to the edge of my nose to get a clearer view, “What are…..”

My son craned his neck upward.

“They’re moving up there alright! Wow! What are they?” Emerson said.

“Not to worry Ma’am.They are harmless-they will not bother you,” said the Nubian.

“Just little lizards up there,” he said as he motioned upward toward the ceiling. “They’re not looking to eat you,” he added with a slight chuckle. “Less bugs to eat on you, they have big appetite.”

I wasn’t too sure I believed him but his cool manner was somewhat convincing.

Emerson went to check out his quarters and I walked to the tall window near the bed. The view was rather surreal. Lush grass grew on the ground below and in the center I could see a small pool half filled with dirty water, algae clinging to the edges where the water met the cracked sides of the cement pond. Neglect and the desert heat had obviously taken it’s toll on this tiny oasis in the unkept gardens.


I imagined that in it’s prime the gardens must have been meticulously manicured with every detail taken care of by a host of gardeners, I envisioned lovely ladies with umbrellas and big hats, fluttering fans and flowing white linens floating around the grounds on the arms of their distinguished English gentleman.

I can’t remember how long I had been standing there, but suddenly, a veil of sadness began to envelop me. My body shivered and an invisible hand lightly whisked across my shoulder. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness reached down into the deepest pocket of my soul. The years of un-cried tears welled, spilling past my lashes, streaming down my cheeks. A river coursing uncontrollably from my eyes.


Who would’ve thought my life would be this. As a child I had such innocent and positive dreams for what I thought was my true destiny. Who would’ve guessed it wouldn’t be like in the movies I yearned to be in long ago. And in that room in Luxor, Egypt, a place far away from my home, far away from my roots, my life and memories I had repressed for too many painful years came flooding to the surface.

I had my plan and God had His. My plan for my life had been cast aside. It didn’t matter. For the first time in years, I knew I would be okay. I could heal. Finally, I understood and accepted. Finally, I could forgive God. And I could cry.

Author’s Note: The preceding is an excerpt from my memoir/journal I kept during a trip I made to Cairo, Egypt and then down the Nile. This journey had the unexpected result in my healing from the trauma of my husband’s illness and murder years prior.

Available: Print, Kindle, Nook Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2002-2014



Utopia Turning



My paternal grandfather loved dogs. He used to show English Bull dogs at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The only memento I have of him, other than a few family photos, is the Westminster trophy he won for one of his dogs, Lady Carabantis, in the early 1900’s.

Grandfather died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever before I was born, and although fate kept us from never knowing one another, what he did leave me was his love for all creatures great and small. I have always loved animals and I believe this genetically came directly from him. This trusting affection for animals I have had my whole life and I only have one memory where perhaps this gift got me into trouble. Just once did it come back to bite me, literally.

When we first moved to Ohio, I was just under six, and I decided it would be fun to give the next door neighbor’s big fuzzy St. Bernard a great big hug, well, just because. Before I knew it he had my head in his mouth and his canine lower insisor clamped down catching my left upper lip through to my gum. The other jaw incisor pierced my right temple.

I was shocked, I guess, because I didn’t feel a thing when I pulled away. Just warm blood trickling from my temple and coming into my mouth.

My stunned cries brought my mother running and the fear I saw looking at her when she saw me, scared me more than just what had happened.

I don’t remember much more than that during the long ride to Steubenville. Only Mother holding my lip together for fear that I would wind up with a hair lip or something disfiguring like that.

But in the end even this event did not make me afraid of dogs, nor stop my wanting one of my own.

Reeds Mill, Ohio 1947

His name was Tippy. He was my first dog. A yellow-haired dog with a white tip at the end of his tail. He just wandered out of the woods one day behind our house in Reeds Mill in Ohio, his long tail wagging with glee as he honed in on my peanut butter sandwich on the picnic table on the back porch. We knew he looked mighty hungry and since he had no collar, Daddy assumed he also had no owner and, miracles of all miracles, he allowed me to keep him.

That summer Tippy and I would adventurously roam through the woods, twigs snapping beneath my sandals as I searched for jack-in-the pulpits to put in my playhouse. Tippy would stick his nose way inside the white flower’s hood and always managed to come away with most of the yellow pollen on his nose. He would shake his head wildly from side to side, ears snapping against his tight jowls, trying to rid himself of the foreign invaders inside his nostrils.

Down the hill next to our house was Reeds Mill Creek where in the summer I would use a huge rock as a diving board and cannon ball into the icy water. Tippy would be right behind me with his long tail in canoe paddle position and tongue hanging aside.
Jump after jump he would loyally pretend he was having great fun. But after awhile, he usually gave up his guise and remained atop the rock, sunning and licking himself dry.

“He must have run away,” Mother said while stirring stew over the gas stove, her fine auburn hair frizzing from the steam swirling and rising around her. She didn’t look my way. Tippy had been gone for two days and that had never happened since he came to us.

“Why would he do such a thing?” I scuffed the open toe of my sandal along a crack in the linoleum floor.

“He’s my best friend and wouldn’t do that.”

Fighting hard to keep back my tears I dug harder into the worn floor covering lifting a small corner. My six-year old heart was breaking because I knew Tippy would not leave me. He and I were the best of friends.

I suspected some adult mischief was afoot, but I was too afraid to ask. Too afraid to hear adults and lies about dogs and things like that.

That night Daddy went out into the woods to look for Tippy. He eventually found him lying under an oak tree not too far from the house. He had been bitten by a copperhead snake in the very same woods we had often fearlessly played together. How my poor Tippy must have suffered. The poison from the snake that struck his testicles had done its terrible job. He was trying to come home. He was.

Daddy carried his limp yellow body to the edge of the woods where he buried him just off of the path to the back porch. I can still hear the rhythm and sharp scraping of the metal shovel eating through the dense forest floor opening a space for my Tippy to rest.

In the morning I made a wooden cross with “Tippy” written on it with a black crayon and I easily pushed it down into the soft mound of earth at the top of his grave. My tears splashed onto the small mound of loose forest dirt.

I vowed on that day. That terrible day of loosing my first very best friend that if I ever got another pet I would never have an outside dog again. He would live right inside the house with me, and that no one except me would care for him. Ever.

So, when I was seven I was already exposed to death and the heartache that comes from losing some living thing I loved. How could I know then that life through the coming years would bring to me the loss of many things, but at that moment, in my memory, Tippy’s death was the beginning of my childlike Utopia turning.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.





It is really true when it is said youth is wasted on the young. When I was 17 I was emotionally arrogant with selfish dreams of leaving my hometown and my life there far behind me. I achieved my goal by going far away to college and saying goodbye to everything, including my boyfriend. My shame in this is that I didn’t tell him. I neglected or maybe just didn’t have the heart to tell him, my dreams were beyond a life in Steubenville. He thought I would be back.

But that is not the worst of it. I wrote him a “Dear John” letter from college about six weeks into my first semester. I didn’t know he had already bought a ring to surprise me at Christmas.

Hindsight eventually allowed me the privilege of seeing that I was young and just plain selfish and really, really stupid and above all, extremely insensitive. And that is not the worst of it.

A few weeks after that letter I awoke from a horrible dream that my boyfriend was driving at night down Market Street Hill, the main artery into our downtown, and was hurt in a terrible accident. The dream was so real, it was hard for me to shake off, so when my brother came to visit me from his college the next weekend, I told him about my dream.

“Sandra. It happened. I didn’t want to tell you, but he was drinking and had an accident just like you described.”

And so, my guilt about my letter and breaking this nice boy’s heart with my careless attitude about our relationship began and has never left me to this day – of being responsible for his physical and emotional hurting.

I did see him that Christmas, but only once and never again. I was told that he owned a business and finally married a local girl and had two children. Knowing him, he probably forgave me. I am sure I was the farthest thing from his mind two minutes after he met and fell in love again. But I have never forgiven myself.

This morning I got a message from my cousin that my high school boyfriend died this week. On my birthday.