Grandson Pete

Grandson Pete

On December 30, 1988 my oldest grandchild, Pete, was born to my daughter on my son’s 25th birthday. He was beautiful both inside and out from that moment until he died tragically on his mother’s 49th birthday on July 5, 2010.  I wrote my first book about Pete’s tragedy and it’s called  WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW. Losing him is the biggest heartbreak I have ever known and, at my age,  I have known quite a few.

His mother and I immediately recognized that Pete was born with an old soul and had wisdom and insight kids his age normally would not.  When he was an infant and cried, she sang “Over the Rainbow” to him and he’d quiet immediately.  It worked beautifully. When his first Christmas rolled around, I felt so lucky when I found a music box he could easily operate and it played that song.  He loved it. When he graduated high school, they each wore a different colored cap and gown and rainbows were their class theme.  Of course, “Over the Rainbow” played at the end of the ceremony.

Pete's Rainbow

Pete’s Rainbow

In the weeks after his death from a 100 foot fall off a Colorado mountain ledge at night, we had rainbows almost every single day or evening and they were simply spectacular.  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.  Almost everyone noticed them and started taking pictures to share with us. That was over six years ago now and it’s never happened since.

However, only recently did the beginning lyrics of that song suddenly ring a bell with me as I actually stopped and thought about what they say.  “Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”  Then it struck me that his mother had done exactly that for Pete when he was so tiny…she sang it as a lullaby to comfort him.  Coincidence?

Pete's Awesome Rainbow

Pete’s Awesome Rainbow

Needless to say, that particular song  is extremely important to our family and it never fails to summon forth tears when I hear it sung.  It has become what I refer to as our family hymn. How prophetic was it to attach itself to Pete as soon as he was born.  He died at the tender age of 21 and was loved by everyone who knew him. Unlike all the hatred and chaos happening in the world today, Pete was blessed with a warm and loving personality and he spread good feelings wherever he went.  Nobody has ever said anything bad about him to my knowledge and he’s still fondly remembered by so many. As I say in my book about him, we take comfort to know he’s still out there…somewhere…over the rainbow.

A Gradnmother's Love is Forever

A Grandmother’s Love is Forever

 (“Over the Rainbow” lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, music byHarold Arlen – written for the movie WIZARD OF OZ in 1939.)

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is available as both a trade paperback and Kindle on  and as a trade paperback or Nook on or It can also be ordered by any Barnes & Noble store. To read more about it, click on the ABOUT link at the top of the page.

Cover 300x444 OTP_logo





Posted in accidents, books, Colorado, grief, music, rainbows | 8 Comments


Fall has arrived in the southwestern Colorado mountains where I live and, as expected, it has been spectacular.  It’s dwindling now and nearly over since we’ve had a couple of snows and some pretty low nighttime  temperatures, some dipping down into the 20’s. For whatever reason, I either become slightly depressed or really restless as this season slowly ebbs into winter.

Very recently, a friend of ours suddenly had to have a pacemaker put in when his pulse rate unexpectedly dropped to 32.  As men usually do, when we first communicated after he was home from the hospital, he treated the whole situation as nothing to get excited about. But he did say something that really caused me to sit down and think. As we were discussing aging bodies, he said, “We should start out old and grow younger. Wouldn’t it be great to live, laugh and love again?”

Last night we watched Hurricane Matthew as it began to roll into Florida and they showed a picture of St. Augustine.  And I remembered  the very first time in my life  I put my feet into an ocean, I was 21 years old and it was at night. On a long road trip to Miami Beach, we decided to stop in St. Augustine to sleep and I was so fascinated that we went down to the beach in the dark in shorts and I excitedly waded into the ocean up to my knees in the quiet warm water lit only by moonlight.  I fell asleep that night listening to waves gently lapping on the beach outside our hotel window. What a wonderful memory that was!  And how odd that it took something so horrendous to provoke that particular memory.

Our middle grandson’s birthday is today and the night he was born is another great memory.  His mother went into the hospital in labor,  so my daughter and I and our first grandson,  nearly two years old, went there in late afternoon.  Our husbands came together when they got off work.  My daughter-in-law’s mother was in the same hospital recovering from surgery, but she was there beside her daughter, along with my son.  My daughter-in-law is from a huge Italian family, so people just kept arriving and pretty soon, we had chairs all up and down the hall of the maternity floor.  It became a huge gathering until my son finally stepped out of the birthing room alone and said, “It’s a boy!”  Fall turned to winter that very night when the first snow of the year 1990 appeared. And that boy is now a fabulous 26-year-old man.

It seems we have lost quite a few people this fall, some old, some young and some in between.  So, it’s nice to sit in the glorious fall sun, look at the beauty around us and think about the fun things we used to do when we were young and plan the things we’ve yet to do as we age.  My grandkids all live out of town now and the one who was almost two on this date 26 years ago, tragically left us when he was 21.  He’ll always be the most wonderful memory of all.





Posted in aging health, Colorado, elderly readers, fall, family, grief | 4 Comments


Whew!  Today, at long last, the office is neat and clean for the first time in a long while.  Each time I get it to this point, I swear up and down to myself and God that I will never, never, never allow this mess to accumulate again.  But it does.

When life is busy and I’m writing, trying to keep appointments, some semblance of an orderly home and a life slightly less than a hermit’s,  I tend to just toss papers into a heap on either the printer, my desk or the top of the files where I keep my book business. Eventually, this becomes comparable to wading through knee high sand.  Then I sort, shred, pitch and file every  paper that I need to deal with, usually with a 12 pound Siamese cat merrily running and jumping through it all.

My husband  has a gunsmith business and I share the office with him with individual desks and computers across the room from each other. Before I became a writer, I used to mutter to myself about how unbelievable it was that he could get his desk so incredibly littered.  Well, I surpassed him long ago because my mess takes up the entire room, which is fairly ample.

Today I almost ended up burning up freshly baked bread in the bread maker because when the signal went off that it was done, I continued focusing on what I was doing in the office until I noticed an unusually strong smell of bread.  I saved it just in time, though it does sort of have a little  bit of extra crunch around the edges of the crust.  But that gave me an excuse to stop, slice a thin piece off the end and enjoy a warm, fresh piece of bread with butter.

Be a writer they said.  It will be fun!  To be honest, for the most part, it really is!

Jackie is the author of award winning fiction novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  Read about them by clicking the “about” button at the top of this page.
Posted in Authors, Jackie Taylor Zortman, writer's office, Writing | 2 Comments

15 Years Later – 9/11

September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016

On the morning of September 11, 2001 my husband was still working as the  Chief of Police and we were up early preparing for him to go on duty.  I recall what a outstandingly beautiful day it was with clear sapphire blue Colorado skies and not a cloud to be seen.  As I was fixing breakfast, the phone rang and it was a friend who lives just a few blocks from us. She seemed very excited and told me to turn on the television, which I immediately did as she hung up.  And there it was, the first plane had just smashed into the tower in New York City.  Of course, I watched the rest of it alone with horrified eyes as my husband had to hit the street for his job.

I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing or what was happening, but I remember the fear, anxiety and pure shock of that dreadful day.  I have never forgotten the sight of people screaming and running as one tragedy after another took place.  And the thing that still stands out most clearly in my mind was that the color of nobody’s skin mattered to anyone else.  People of all races and religions had their arms around each other and were helping or comforting one another as they struggled to find a safe haven. We were all just Americans under siege and nothing else mattered in the least. It was a beautiful display of the real human soul.

The police were not hated that day.  They were welcomed by any and everyone, as were firemen, EMTs and all other first responders who were  rushing toward and into the ravaged sights instead of running away. It takes a special kind of person to even be able to do that, which they all are to this day.  So many gave their lives that day, both as victims of the attacks and others for trying to help.  Tragic as it was, it was a magnificent display of how differences disappear during times of terror and need in this country – land of the free and home of the brave.

My friend and fellow author, John M. Wills, wrote a book called “The Nightstand Collection” and has his personal story in it about this event.  He was an FBI agent at Quantico at the time and worked as peer counselor at the Pentagon after it was hit and then at Shanksville, Pennsylvania the next day where United Airlines 93 was flown into the ground by the brave passengers who chose to die rather than allow more destruction to their beloved country. Personally, I will always remember passenger Todd Beamer’s war cry of “Let’s roll!”   The title of that particular chapter in John’s book is “Nothing Left”. I read it to my husband this morning and he had tears in his eyes when I looked up.

I saved a Life Magazine from that day and it’s interesting that the people on the cover and throughout the pictures are all the same color because they were absolutely covered with that smothering gray soot.  Makes you stop and think what that symbolized, doesn’t it?

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman



Posted in 9/11/01, America, American History, F.B.I., Jackie Taylor Zortman | 8 Comments


Have you ever lost something and looked and looked for it to no avail, then later to find it in the exact place you looked more than once?  My friend, Olivia, blames that sort of thing on “the borrowers” whom she says come into your house at night and move things.

Richard eleven days before his heart attack.

Richard eleven days before his heart attack.

On October 31, 2014 my husband was outside digging a trench in our rocky and hard soil.  He wanted to bury an electric line to the outdoor landscaping lights to attach just one more.  He came inside and up the stairs (our main foor is up a flight), breathing heavily and plunked down in his favorite chair in the great room where I happened to be.  I took one look at him and asked if he was okay to which he replied he wasn’t sure.  He was sweating, but it was hot outside, and he said his back hurt really bad between his shoulders.  I took his blood pressure and could not get a reading, so gave him an aspirin and told him to get in the car.  He argued, but I told him to GET IN THE CAR in a manner he understood meant business.

Our doctor is 10 miles away, so as I drove 15 miles over the speed limit, I had him call and tell them we were coming and I thought he was having a heart attack.  Sure enough, Doc read his EKG and told me he had a myocardial infarction and he’d already called the ambulance.  The nearest hospital is 26 miles from Doc’s office, but he was in and out of cardiac surgery within two hours from the time the pain began and they found and removed one clot and placed a stent in his heart.  Fortunately, other than that, his heart is perfectly healthy.  He was in ICU for two days and two nights and I was given a plastic bag containing his personal items before I left that first evening.  I noticed one of his hearing aids was missing, so I had the doctor’s aide check the office floor and parking lot, to no avail. I also went back to the parking lot and looked for it myself, checked his hospital room, all through the car, the clothes he’d been wearing, etc. Knowing it was useless to continue looking, I called and had it replaced and we picked up the replacement on November 6th.

The hearing aid lost for two years.

The hearing aid lost for two years.

This morning, as I sat at my computer, my husband came up to me and showed me that missing hearing aid!  He found it in the wrought iron grate inside a wooden frame that sits outside the entry door to wipe one’s feet of mud or snow before coming into the hall.  Mind you, I clean that thing out when it gets gross, but the grate is heavy, so I cannot lift it out myself and unless he’s handy, I just do the best I can.  This little aid has been right there outside the door for almost two years through rain/hail/snow/wind and both of us have stepped over it a million times. I’ve even swept leaves out of it over and over.  So near and yet so far.

The grate where the hearing aid was for two years.

The grate where the hearing aid was for two years.

This probably is not as earth shattering as it has struck me, but I am simply blown away. He lost the other one on April 29, 2015 while trimming branches off a tree on our steep bank (our house is 50 feet up from the road) and we’ve never found it, even though we’ve both searched dozens of times and even used a metal detector. Of course, it’s also been replaced.

I don’t know what’s going on today, but I was in our bedroom, which is off the office, he was down in the great room and the cat was across the room asleep in a chair when the shredder started up, sounding like it was shredding papers. (???)  I can look outside and see the changing colors of the leaves, so fall and the spooky month with Halloween (the same day of Richard’s heart attack in 2014 and also the day he retired on in 2003) is looming and bringing with it ghosts and goblins…hopefully nothing more.

Do you have a similar story?  If so, I’d love to hear about it, so share it in the comments section, write it on Facebook or e-mail it to me. Meantime, stay safe as you enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Jackie is the author of award winning fiction novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and her non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  For information on both, click the “About” button at the top of this page.

Posted in accidents, family, heart attack, Jackie Taylor Zortman | 10 Comments


First Snow on Mt. Abram

First Snow on Mt. Abram

Living high in the Colorado mountains, I have a myriad of wild and domestic animals right outside my door, often right up on the deck.  I’ve spent the summer watching birds of all kinds along with ground squirrels, chipmunks, Pine squirrels, Rock squirrels, deer, raccoons, bears, fox and Bighorn Sheep just hangin’ out like it is home.  Our town is totally inside  a National Forest and our land adjoins the actual woods, so we are blessed to see things many people never have or will, especially on their front deck.





Most of the summer, a beautiful long-haired black cat with amber eyes has also been hanging around and I call him Hunter for obvious reasons – he’s here to hunt.  He kills and eats one of the small critters once or twice a day and I hate to see it when I happen to glance outside at the wrong time.  Apparently, he has no real home and we have big decks under which he can get to stay out of the weather or hot/cold temperatures.  He doesn’t panic when he sees us, but he’s also ready to run if we step outside, which he does expertly and often.  This morning I was blessed by sleeping in a little later than usual and was up after the birds and squirrels had been fed, so I asked my husband if the Grim Reaper had been here yet, meaning Hunter, of course.

Gray Fox Turning White for Winter

Gray Fox Turning White for Winter

One day, after I’d gone out with my daughter, my husband was anxious to tell me he’d talked to a starving dog that he’d stumbled upon in our driveway near the house.  As it turns out, this is a gray fox that is black except for a white tip to its beautiful, bushy tail.  Now that we have snow on the mountain tops, the fox is getting a lot of white hair since they turn white to blend with the snow in winter. In this picture, it’s licking water off the deck after a rain.  It also comes here to hunt, which is not something it seems to be very accomplished at.  I suspect this is a female because when it checked out the bird feed pan and didn’t like it, it urinated on it using the stance of a female.

Young Black Bear

Young Black Bear

The deer seem to be rapidly turning to their dark gray winter color instead of their summer reddish coat and the velvet has come off the antlers of the bucks.  All in all, it would appear we are going to have an early winter, though my daughter-in-law, born and raised here, says the early snow on the mountains indicates a beautiful, long Indian Summer.  However, I have been here 36 years and have never seen so many acorns, growing in huge clumps, as are on the scrub oak trees right now.  The birds and squirrels have been very busy cutting them down and also cutting young apples off the trees in our yard.  Some simply sit and eat them and others seem to be storing them for what’s to come as the seasons change.  Does it seem to you like summer lasted about five minutes or is it just me?

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Jackie Taylor Zortman is the author of the award winning fiction novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and her non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  Click on the ABOUT button at the top of this page to see links to where both can be purchased. 

Posted in animals, Colorado, fall, Jackie Taylor Zortman, summer, Wildlife | 10 Comments


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

First thing this morning, I got a nice letter from Caleb Pirtle III , telling me that my book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST is the Featured Book of the Moment  Club selection today on Venture Galleries.  Here’s the link:  Check it out, if you have the chance.

While the subject of Venture Galleries is the topic, I just finished reading Caleb Pirtle III’s book SECRETS OF THE DEAD and I could not put it down.  So, if you are looking for a great fictional history book, let me recommend this one to you.

Here is my review of it:


The very first line of this historical fiction novel grabbed my attention and the rest of the book kept me fascinated. Caleb Pirtle III writes a magnificent story illustrating man’s atrocities to man in Germany and the political unrest it was creating in America just prior to WW II. Ambrose Lincoln’s adventures and his elusive, but often deadly behavior speaks of a tortured soul that no longer has control of his own life, though he functions beautifully in particular areas when necessary. There is humor, horror and heart break in this book, softened often by love. Just a few pages before the end, I was delighted and surprised to find a second, very similar sentence to the opening and captivating one of this book. I am an avid reader and this may very well be the best novel I’ve read in a really long time.

Meantime, I’d like to thank Caleb for featuring my book on his wonderful venue.



Posted in American History, Authors, books, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, Sharing, Uncategorized, Venture Galleries - Caleb Pirtle III | Leave a comment