The Promise of 2013!

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on January 7, 2013

I want to wish each and every one of you the happiest of New Years and also share an update about the Five More Minutes With website.

Since starting on March 26, 2010, we have published 593 Featured Stories, Poems, Short Stories, Editor’s Notes, and guest columnists’ columns, as well as countless Inspiring Moment photos for your enjoyment.

Now, we are taking a few months off to clean out our office, as well as to refresh, reflect, and reinvent at the start of the New Year.

We’ll continue to post submitted stories and photos, in addition to our guest columnists’ work every so often, but not  with the same frequency (Mondays and Thursdays) as in the past.

Thanks to all of you who have submitted stories, photos, and comments. We appreciate your support over the years.

Cheers to the promise of 2013!

More stories from: Featured Story

Writing for Five More Minutes With

Written by Braiden on December 10, 2012

Managing a large Web site, and one with such a provocative zeitgeist as Five More Minutes With, has been a truly unique and rewarding experience for me.

Every now and then, I get an e-mail or comment that lifts my spirits. Such is this one from a fellow cookbook author and food writer (part of my other life), Marie Simmons. She says:

“I wanted to write and let you know that I finally had a moment to spend with your Web site. It is lovely and fabulous and so heartfelt. I have forwarded it to a bunch of friends.

“We have all struggled with loss over the last few years and this is a perfect place to stop, pause, think, and take a moment to really use our words to express all those feelings spilling, and sometimes spewing, from our hearts, if not our gut.

“I will write something as I digest. I loved what you wrote about your Mom. Tight writing, but so pure and sincere.

“I did want to say it is difficult to plunge into these thoughts in such a public forum. I need to process and sort and decide how to do it.

“You might want to address this in content. Maybe begin with poems or other ways to communicate.

“Grief sometimes clouds our thoughts. And in a moment of anguish we may later feel embarrassment at being perceived as “gushing”.

“What I admired about your essay is your ability to “filter” but yet convey your feelings. This is not easy to do.”

Thanks, Marie! You bring up a lot of good concerns. I hope FMMW fans will muster through and submit their stories. . .

More stories from: Editor's Notes,Featured Story

Darling Bo-Bo the Cat

Written by Braiden on August 10, 2012

Bo-Bo Photo

Bo-Bo plays with the Christmas ornaments

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran on August 10, 2010, exactly six years after the death of our beloved feline of almost 16 years, Bo-Bo. I’m reposting it today in his honor. . .we still toast to him with every glass of wine. . .and his ashes still sit on our granite buffet in plain sight in our living/dining room. We love you, boy! R.I.P always. 

I can still remember as if it were only yesterday the day I took Bo-Bo to the vet the final time. He hadn’t been eating well, his stomach was especially distended (he had always been a good eater, and more than a tad overweight as a result!), and he had stopped grooming himself (very uncharacteristic as he was part Siamese and a fastidious groomer).

After a brief exam, the vet came in, crouched down on her knees (I think to get more eye level with me) and told me he most likely had stomach cancer and to take him home and feed him Friskies or whatever he would eat until he died naturally or we thought we should put him down.

I was totally in shock, called Spencer (who offered to come pick me up in a cab, as he was worried about me driving home), yet I somehow made it home through the tears.

Once home, Bo took up residence in a white fluffy chair. I think, in their wisdom, that animals know long before we do that it is their “time.” I can tell you the “real” Bo-Bo, the one who came running to the door the minute he heard the elevator coming up the shaft, the one who butted you awake every morning at 6 a.m. so you’d grudgingly feed him, the one who stole butter off our butter plates every night at dinner, thinking we didn’t see him “sneaking” up on it. . .that animal left his physical body long before we did the inevitable.

It was a long (several-week) death march, and because I was here all day with him, I witnessed most every single moment of it. It was interesting that by the time I had determined that we had to let Bo go, Spencer still wanted to get tests, put him through chemo, etc. Some dear friends of ours had done that for their cat and they flat-out advised us NOT to undergo that. They reasoned that the extra days/week of life simply were not worth all the vet visits, and that toward the end they were afraid their cat hated them for putting him through it.

So when the inevitable day came, August 10 (my brother’s birthday, BTW–we reasoned that his good life would counter Bo’s sad death), we called a “mobile vet,” a very compassionate woman who goes around in her “vet mobile” making house calls. Bo hated going to the vet, and we couldn’t imagine him dying in that place of antiseptic smells and unfamiliar animals. We wanted him to die at home, in our arms.

The night before the day of Bo’s date with death, we both slept on the floor while he dozed above us on “his” chair. Of course, neither of us really slept. It was really a weird experience to know that this would be Bo’s last night on earth.

Just before 4 p.m., the vet showed up. The door was ajar; candles were burning; soft music was playing. Bo jumped down one last time for a bite of food, but could hardly make it to his bowl. I will always think it was an homage to me that his last moments on earth were spent eating. 🙂

Anyway, I held Bo on “his” chair through the whole process, from the initial sedation in the paw, to the actual injection of the fluid that stops the heart. And the whole way I talked him into his death, telling him it was all right, he was our boy, and he’d always be in our hearts. It was almost as if I were channeling another person, and Spencer said he’d never seen anything like it.

Bo-Bo died at 4:35 p.m.

To this day, I have no idea how I “knew” how to do that, or where that other “person” came from.

After he was gone, the vet left us alone and we arranged his body in his little cat carrier so she could take him away and have him cremated. Before she took the body, she made a plaster of paris molding of his little paw, and one of his hairs got stuck in it, and we will treasure that always.

A few days later, I had a vivid dream that Bo was at his food bowl. He turned to look at me as he walked away, and was gone. I KNOW it was his little spirit passing over, him letting me know he was okay, and that I/we’d be okay.

Our shrine to Bo-Bo

We put Bo’s ashes, the mold of his paw, and some other mementoes on our granite buffet along with a plant from my in-laws house (they are also gone) and Bo’s food bowl (a cute carved wooden cat that I planted with palms and a rubber plant) so we can “visit” him whenever we want. And every time we have a glass of wine, we toast to Bo by clinking twice instead of once. We both still think of him, and miss him, every day.

We haven’t gotten another animal and I doubt we ever will. When you’ve had the best, why mess around with cheap imitations? Once you’ve had that experience, why tempt fate?

Today marks the sixth anniversary of Bo’s death. And I am still missing him and loving him and writing this through the tears.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Cat

“My” Glacier

Written by Braiden on January 26, 2012

Alaska Glacier

In 2009, Spencer and I took our very first-ever trip to Alaska on a seven-day Holland America Line cruise. Spencer and I always joked that we were about the only people we knew (particularly since we live in the Northwest and enjoy such proximity to the 49th state) who hadn’t ever made the mythic journey.

Alaska more than lived up to its reputation for gorgeous vistas, quirky people, and outstanding seafood.

But it was cruising in and out of Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, that really made the trip for both Spencer and me, and in particular our visit to the Marjorie Glacier, the park’s “star” glacier, pictured above.

Marjorie was in full calving mode (meaning huge blocks of ice were cracking and falling off into the water beneath) the week of our cruise, mainly due to the unseasonably hot weather we encountered. . .close to 90 degrees! During our port calls, we almost melted since (understandably) most shops and restaurants in Alaska have no air-conditioning.

Anyway, standing at the bow of the big cruise ship, while several thousand of our fellow passengers watched in awe and total silence, we were lucky enough to witness Marjorie calve several times during our two hours of viewing pleasure.

Alaska Glacier

As much as we loved watching this true phenomenon of nature, it was a bittersweet experience because while she was calving, it meant the glacier was dying.

Do you realize that each of us dies a little bit each day as we move toward the inevitable end of our lives?

Knowing that, do you pack as much pleasure and happiness into each day as you possibly can?

More stories from: Featured Story

I Would Just Sit With You

Written by Keith O'Brien on January 19, 2012

Mary Lou O'Brien

I think I would just sit with you, Mom, not needing to do anything or be anywhere.

I think I would, at least for one of my five minutes, just hold your hands and stare into your eyes.

So I would make absolutely certain that I would remember that look only you could give me…forever.

If I had just five more minutes…

I would take the next one to thank you for everything,

For all the times you made my lunch, my dinner, my bed, and my day.

For encouraging me when I needed it, for scolding me when I deserved it.

If I had just five more minutes…

I would take the next one to say I am sorry.

For putting you through hell when I was a teenager.

For all the nights I kept you worrying, praying, and hoping that I was safe.

If I had just five more minutes…

I would take the next one to tell you all about your grandchildren.

These are three young souls that you would have really loved.

And even though you never met, they will forever know you because they know us.

If I had just five more minutes…

I would take my last one to let you know that Dad is okay.

It wasn’t easy for him but he has come through as you knew he would.

With a smile on his face, a glass of wine in his hand, and love in his heart.

My time is up but I know I can find you whenever I choose.

You are right there when I need you.

I can feel you always.

There is rarely a day that I don’t think of you, miss you, or want to tell you something.

When something cool happens, I still pick up the phone to call you.

What I wouldn’t give for just five more minutes.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I love you.

Note: I found this beautifully written tribute on Keith O’Brien’s Web site, and he most graciously allowed me to repost it on Five More Minutes With.

Here are other ways to contact Keith. . .who told me in subsequent e-mail correspondence that, “I’ve been buying and writing out Mother’s Day cards every year since she died, and this year I just decided to make it more public.”

Lucky for us!

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

The House on Sylvan Drive

Written by Laurie Halladay on November 14, 2011

 One of our frequent contributors, Laurie Halladay, writes a moving story about her childhood home, and what has happened to it through the years. 

Laurie’s childhood home as it looked in better times

On a recent visit to my hometown, I was told not to go by my old house, for fear I would be upset by what had become of it.

I knew they were right, but somehow my rental car felt like it was being pulled by an invisible magnet as it made an involuntary left turn onto Sylvan Drive.

In front of me was the two-story brick house my parents built in 1940 when they got married. Situated on a wooded lot surrounded by giant oaks, it was the first house built on the street. My Dad’s uncles constructed it, and the house was lovingly finished by my parents who lived there until 2001 when my Mom died and it was sold.

As I looked at the torn-up lawn, bedraggled drapes hanging at the windows, and the ugly cream-colored paint covering the beautiful varnished wood trim, I tried to remember the shell of a building when it was my home. And, I wished I could have five more minutes in the house with my Mom and Dad as it had been for all of those 60 years.


I could imagine turning into the driveway, getting out of the car, and walking through the unlocked screened door leading into the kitchen. It would bang with a familiar clang. Dad would be sitting at the table working a crossword puzzle. Mom would be standing over the sink getting lunch ready.

We would carry trays through the dining room’s French doors to the screened back porch. The yard would have been manicured for my visit, and I would look with fond memories at my play house which now stored Dad’s yard equipment. The picnic table still sat in front of the brick fireplace, reminding me of the many cookouts and croquet games we used to play on summer Sunday afternoons.

After lunch, I would take the three steps down into the family room, which was added in 1952. The brick wall with the big fireplace reminded me of the many Christmas celebrations we shared there. Dad and I would pick out the perfect tree which sat in front of the window where a card table now stood ready ready for my parents’ dinner in front of the TV.

I would find my Mom sitting in her favorite chair in the living room with the late afternoon light streaming in through the window. She would be reading one of her favorite murder mysteries while she watched for the arrival of the paper boy. The living room housed the collection of scrapbooks which my Mom religiously kept up to date. No visit home would be complete without a browse through one of the 13 books.

My dad had disappeared upstairs to catch the ninth inning of a Tiger baseball game on the TV in his room. I would head to my room at the end of the hall, but first I would peek into the storage room which once was my nursery. My mom was an artist and had hand-painted koala bears climbing the walls. They were still there.

My room was a time warp. It was easy to feel I was back in high school since very little had changed. I looked in the drawers of the table between the twin beds. An old diary was there, just as I had left it. Some prom favors were stuffed in the back. I could picture my felt skirts and saddle shoes sitting in the closet.

Well, my five minutes were up as I walked out the front door for the last time and gazed at the garden where the tulips had once blossomed and all of our Easter pictures had been taken.


Yes, you can go home again, if only in your memories. It was a wonderful visit.

Dogwoods in brilliant bloom at the house on Sylvan Drive

Henry-san the Lifesaving Cat

Written by Grace Young on October 3, 2011

This story was first published in June of 2010 and is so moving, I thought it worth reposting. Thanks to my good friend, Grace Young for this contribution and photo of her beloved feline.

Hendi-san the Cat Photo

In Memory of Henry-san: July 22, 2003

Since June 6th when I found out that Henry-san had lost nearly two pounds within two weeks my little universe has changed. Watching him decline in health and knowing that our time together would soon end has been unbearably painful at times. For the last three weeks he had a remarkable rally, gaining a half pound and returning to some of his old habits. Michael called him the “miracle cat” last week saying that he thought Henry-san was aiming to reach his twentieth birthday. It was a nice illusion to live with–half believing I could postpone our parting.

This weekend he continued to have a good appetite and was very alert, but on Monday the appetite disappeared and he seemed to have trouble swallowing. His walk suddenly showed stiffness and by the middle of the night when I got up to feed him I realized we had entered the last stage. I lay beside him for two hours on the living room floor. There was no denying he was ready to go.

Yesterday in New York City we had horrific thunder and rain all day. The kind of piercing, jarring sounds that would’ve sent Henry-san scurrying under the bed when he was younger. But he chose to be in the living room and I stayed with him. It seemed to me nature was literally calling him back. In the early afternoon Michael came home and a short while later the thunder and rain stopped.

When it was time, Henry-san died in a room bathed in sunshine. He was helped by Dr. Berg who came with her assistant Marcos. She was loving and kind and I will always be grateful that she made it possible for Henry-san to die so peacefully. We placed Henry-san on Michael’s sleeping shirt because he loved napping on Michael’s clothes. I placed a white silk scarf that His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed for me many years ago on Henry-san’s body as a covering to give him spiritual warmth and protection. Henry-san has a photograph of the two of us together so he will always remember we are soul mates. A favorite toy was added and a few petunia and geranium flowers from our window boxes–surrounding him with the scent of his home. Dr. Berg wrapped him in Michael’s shirt like a baby. And that is how he left home yesterday.

The moment Dr. Berg stepped into the cab the rains began again and shortly after, the thunder came. It rained for many hours. We took a walk in the early evening when it was drizzling—my tears flowing together with the rain. Towards the end of our walk I suddenly realized we were one block from the animal hospital and it was still opened. I stepped in for a few minutes just to tell Henry-san silently I was there. On the way home we passed a beautiful chocolate shop two blocks from our apartment. I told Michael that we should each have a chocolate. After Chinese funerals it is customary to eat some sweets to take away the bitterness. I didn’t have my candy until we arrived home and it was only then that I noticed I had chosen a heart-shaped chocolate.

Last night we woke up at 2:30 in the morning. We got up, returned to bed, but by 3:30 we still couldn’t sleep. So we went into the living room where Henry-san’s resting area is all in plain sight. It was almost twelve hours later and I think Henry-san’s spirit pulled us in. From that point on we slept quite soundly.

I have often said over the years that I believe Henry-san saved me in a previous life. It was a way that helped me to understand or explain the deep devotion I had for him. In the last few weeks I came to realize it was in this lifetime that he rescued me.

More stories from: With My Cat

Memories of Mom and Dad

Written by Theresa Nielsen on June 9, 2011

Having just lost my Mom, I would tell her how much we all loved her.

And that we will keep her memories alive and take care of one another.

“Mom, now it’s time to go and catch Dad up on the last 20 years!

“And please tell him how much we’ve missed him, and enjoy some card games in heaven.”

Missing My Grandmother, Gaga

Written by Sharon on May 30, 2011

I would love to spend five more minutes with my grandmother, Gaga.

She had an inner joy that emanated when she talked and in everything she did.

She taught senior Bible class, sewed beautiful dresses for her granddaughter, cooked the best meals in the whole world, and always rooted for the underdog.

She had the greatest stories to share about her childhood that kept me in awe.

She’s been gone 15 years and I miss her each and every day.



Goodbye to Camille and Chloe

Written by Melissa Spiller on May 23, 2011


I must be honest, my last five minutes would be a desperate attempt to tell my two sweet little girls–Chloe, age 11, and Camille, age 6, how desperate I am to keep them.

I would say, “Oh my precious babies, you are all I have. Do not leave me! Why must you go? I need you. I don’t want to stay here and do this thing without you.

“Who will I make french toast for? Who will I get my special hugs from after having a long day at work?

“Who will stay up late when I work too long just to see me? Who will I make piggy tails for?

“Who is gonna put on too much perfume for school and choke me? I need you! I love being a mommy.

“Tell God not to do this to me. I don’t wanna be tough. I don’t wanna learn to live in the moment.

“I want to watch our family videos someday when you have children and use them against you like I said I was going to do.

“I wanna take the trip that we have planned next month to Disney. Please don’t go. We have such a nice life. All I need is you.

“I will never be a Momma. How can I bear this heartache. When you leave you will take Christmas and Halloween, Mardi Gras and St. Paddy’s too.

“We always have so much fun on Nascar Sunday. Can’t you please stay?

“I want you to out-live me. I want you to bury me. I don’t want to see you in that coffin. I don’t wanna be spiritual!!

“I want to be your girls Momma, like its supposed to be.

“Dang, Camille. You just lost your first tooth yesterday.

“Chloe, we both know you pulled your last baby tooth yesterday so that the dentist would refer you to that orthodontist. I want to spend six grand on your teeth!

“I want to run back home after dropping you off for school to retrieve your forgotten lunch or backpack. I want to keep finding clothes for little skinny girls who have no booty to hold them up. I will so miss you. I don’t wanna say goodbye.

“But since you have to go, please come to me in my dreams and let me feel your presence.

“Please help me find God because I’m gonna need somthing to get me through.

“Please let me know you girls are with Mamaw again. She will watch out for you. Chloe, you know she loved you the best because you were the first!

“I will make you proud. I will keep helping disenfranchised kids, and I will think of you every time I hear our songs we sang.

“There are so many of them. so you will come to mind often. I will think of you every day.

“Your being born has changed my life forever. I wouldn’t change being your Momma, even though it hurts so bad to let you go.

“I know the timer is going off so I have no choice but to say that I look forward to another lifetime in which we can be together and I won’t have to say goodbye this way.

“I love you to the ends of the earth! No one has ever been so loved……


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