Saturday, 31 July 2021

Summer Slump

The hottest and driest June and July in recorded history in Utah is finally over, and I can't tell you how happy I am. Don't know what August will bring yet, but we had a little rain the night before last and today it only got to 90. I think I've been down in the dumps since the heat wave started. My lawn and flowers started out so beautifully this spring, and the garden came up without being hit with a late frost. But as the temperatures climbed and the worst drought ever hit us, I had to watch all the vegetation in the countryside turn brown and some of the leaves on the trees start to change color in the middle of July. Even some of my pumpkins  have turned orange, and Halloween is still three months away. It's discouraging to say the least, especially when water restrictions came and my lawn started to turn brown, then white and finally bare in spots. I was determined to keep my garden and flowers alive, but that was only because I watered them by hand faithfully every morning.  

The only thing that saved my sanity was doing something for my grandmother who has been gone since I was nineteen. She was my champion, my best friend and the only one I've ever had to turn to. When my little brother was hurt and my entire family displaced, I went to stay with her. I was reeling with pain and grief, believing I was responsible for him being in a coma and ending up with partial paralysis for the rest of his life. For those who haven't read some of my earlier posts, I was five and he was three when he wandered into the field and my father accidentally ran over him with a tandem disk. My mother told me it never would have happened if I had been watching him. That chastisement has been like a cancer festering inside of me my entire life.

My sweet grandmother took me under her wing, played the piano for me, told me countless stories and fixed the most marvelous food. She let me help her do the laundry in her old wringer washing machine, hang clothes on the line, press apple cider in the orchard, learn the art of using rags to curl my hair and offered every diversion possible to keep me from falling apart. But most of all, she taught me to love the printed word. I owe any writing ability I may have acquired to her tutelage. She spent a good portion of every day with the stub of a pencil in her hand, that she would moisten with her spit, and any piece of paper she could find. Her mind was always ablaze with ideas for readings, stories or books, and she knew exactly what each scrap of paper contained. 

She only had one story published in the London Mystery Magazine, but I was blessed to be given two of her manuscripts when my mother died. I've sat on them for nearly twenty years. I suppose having to provide for myself and my children was partially responsible, but I guess I had to be ready to read them and life had to slow down enough for that. I'm glad that time finally came because her book is one of the treasures I have guarded carefully through several moves and many challenging life experiences, only reading the first few pages until I decided it was time to share it with the rest of Great Grandpa and Grandma John Bowker’s posterity. It is impossible to know just how much is factual, and what has been embellished to make it more enjoyable to read. But after I started typing and watched the characters come to life, I knew it was mostly a biography of their family and the people who lived in the small township of Blackfoot, Idaho around the turn of the twentieth century. Without question, some names have been changed to protect the innocent since it is told from my grandmother, Viola Bowker Ririe’s, point of view. But even in my limited memory of the ancestors I knew before their deaths, it was easy to recognize certain family members. 

In it, she calls herself Tamsin. It’s a name she used in some of the stories she told us as children as we sat around her knees in utter amazement at how perfectly she could mesmerize us for hours. Many tears came to my eyes as I put her words on the computer. Perhaps part of that was because my brother, Sandon, who died the day after Thanksgiving, 2020, looked so much like Great Grandpa, and I miss him terribly. But it couldn’t have been easy living without running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones, adequate medical care, or even being able to contact neighbors in a hurry if the need arose, but it attests to their strength of character, endearing flaws and the great love they had for family, God and country. I get emotional just thinking about all the luxuries and ease we have now and how little so many of us appreciate the people who gave us everything we have, including our DNA.  It makes me want to start working on family history again.

Today, I finished that project and even had the courage to try my hand at designing a cover. I hate to admit that I have no artistic ability, but cover design templates available on the Internet give some of us a chance. I can't say that it's good, but I know my grandma would love it, if only because she loves me. I decided to include the synopsis for anyone who may be interested. The book is titled "So Long, Bishop", and it will give any reader something to think about, along with some laughter and a few tears. It will be available on Amazon as soon as it clears the review. 

John Bonner knew what he wanted, and it wasn’t driving a freight wagon across the sage-covered, inhospitable desert of Southeastern Idaho for the rest of his earthly existence where his only companions were coyotes, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits, ground squirrels and an occasional sheepherder who wanted to be left alone. His desire was to become a landowner, but in his zest to claim the life he wanted, he made an uncalculated mistake. He became engaged to his benefactor’s willful daughter without falling in love first. 

 

While he was determined to do the honorable thing and make good on his commitments, he didn’t take into accounting meeting her cousin, the bright-eyed, enchanting, Rosella May Wilton, who had just returned to the valley and immediately captured his heart. With the elaborate, and much anticipated, wedding only a few weeks away, he was at a crossroad where his next decision could literally cost him everything he hoped to have. While he was trying to make up his mind, all the while knowing he had nothing to offer anyone but an old wagon, a team of horses and his two hands, a spark of true genius hit him. But would the parties involved be agreeable? It was time to find out.


I'm concluding this post with a poem I saw on Facebook a week ago. It reminded me that mountains don't always have to be scaled. Sometimes, it's perfectly okay to climb a hill instead--even if that hill is just getting out of bed. 





Sunday, 27 June 2021

What July 4 Means to Me

At the northwest corner of my house stands a tall flagpole that my neighbor erected long before I moved here. I can hear the whipping of the fabric of our national emblem of freedom and peace on a very windy day and see it from the corner of my bedroom window as I start my day. I greets me as I return home and reminds me as I am working in the yard how much the past seems to have become lost in the push for ideologies and many other things that are far different than what the average American believes in or wants. 

I have tried not to think too much about the 4th of July this year because all it does is make me cry. As a baby boomer, so much of the country I was raised in has disappeared that I hardly recognize it anymore. I was too young to appreciate the Vietnam War, not that it was ever recognized as being a good thing by very many people, but it still impacted the lives of millions of Americans who came home tarnished and disillusioned to a point where they were never able to fully recover. The same thing applies to the sexual revolution of the sixties where every moral value of the past was questioned as drugs and the concept of free love overtook the sound reasoning of parents who only wanted what was best for their children. And the courageous actions of people like Rosa Parks who helped usher in the right kind of equality for every American were imprinted on my heart as I watched a revolution take place during my own lifetime.

I remember the morning I sat in a class at school and word came over the intercom that our president, John F. Kennedy had been shot. I couldn't move for the longest time as we listened for further word. The tears, fears and disbelief were so strong in the room that day they really felt like they could be cut with the proverbial knife. That shocking and unparalleled incident--at least in my lifetime--was followed by the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. I thought our entire world had gone crazy back then, but it was nothing when compared to the turmoil, loss of believe, fear, media control of almost everything, unrighteous dominion of members in every branch of government and the unraveling of our constitutional rights that is being unleashed today. 

The days of my youth when we said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at school, were allowed to offer prayers, studied history so we  would value what we had and not repeat the past, cherished our belief in the equality of all Americans, not just the rights of special interest groups or government mandated ideas, are long over and greatly missed. I feel deep sadness when the statues and memorials representing those who have sacrificed for others are torn down and replaced with ones of people who have done nothing to show love, respect and honor to what our founding fathers worked so hard to achieve. They were not perfect men, but they were instruments through which the greatest nation on the face of the earth was built. It was a country founded on a covenant with the specific blessings of liberty, protection and prosperity, if the inhabitants would only obey and serve God. 

I don't like what is happening to our country, nor do I like the impact it is having on our youth. The ideologies that are being rammed down their throats will destroy so much of what I hold dear and sacred. But as the older generation, I believe we cannot give up or give in. We must continue to fight for our rights, our beliefs and our desires for a future that may never materialize. Each day I hear or read things that cause the pain in my heart to increase as so many of my God-given rights are being stripped away. The thing I find most disturbing is that so many Americans can't see what is happening. They are buying into  the garbage they are being fed without any resistance, or the belief that it will ever impact life as they know it. But in my mind, that is far from being true. We will reap as a nation what those in positions of power are pushing for unless we have the moral convictions to take a stand by supporting people who have the same values we do. I will keep doing that because as long as I live I want to see our flag flying brightly outside my front door.

I would like to end this post with the words from Moses' farewell address to his nation under the same covenant we have (found in Deuteronomy 30). It was repeated by John Winthrop in 1630, Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was killed in 1968 and President Ronald Reagan at the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. May we really internalize them is my prayer for the 4th of July this year.

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and adversity. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments. But if you turn away, you shall certainly perish; you shall not long endure on the soil that you are crossing the Jordan to enter. I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life--that you and your offspring might live. That you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.



Sunday, 20 June 2021

Father are Never Forgotten

Father's Day this year has hit me harder than it has for quite some time. Perhaps that's because I lost my brother the day after Thanksgiving and feel a little jealous because he is now with the father we lost as children. I was 13 when he was called home. I remember that afternoon with clarity. He was in bed resting when I returned on the long, yellow school bus. My mother left me to tend the little ones while she and my older sister went to town to get something she hoped would help settle his stomach. My siblings were watching Rawhide on our small black and white television. I loved that show because I had a schoolgirl crush on the character named Roudy Yates. (Clint Eastwood for those who are too young to remember the show.)

But for some reason, I couldn't get into the episode. Our father was never sick, so I kept going his door to ask if there was something he needed. He was a six-foot, four-inch cowboy who loved to ride his horse, tend his cattle and perform in rodeos. He was our champion, and I had been his right-hand man since the day I got out of bed after my first bout with rheumatic fever. I was going into the 4th grade. I got up at 4:30 every morning to drive the tractor while he fed the cattle and worked with him on every project I could around the farm from setting fence posts to stacking hay. I looked more like him that any of my siblings - mostly because I have the same long, straight nose - and that was definitely a plus to me. 

Anyway, back to my story. I heard a thump and went racing towards the back of the house. But my father wasn't where I had left him. He had gone into the bathroom and had a heart attack. His body was blocking the door. I cried out for help and push with all my might, but it wouldn't budge. It was about this time that our mother got home. She sent us next door to the neighbors. That short walk seemed like the longest of my life and after we were left alone in the neighbor's kitchen, I had all of us kneel down to pray that our dad would be okay. Then the long minutes of waiting began.

I had been taught to pray as a child at his knee but never before had I felt the need to do so with such intent. I loved my father completely and trusted that he would always be there to take care of me. But God had other plans. It was nearly dusk when my uncle came to get us. He said our father was gone but we could come home. Walking into the house he had build for us with his own hands was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I wanted to hear his voice more than anything else in the world, or even see his face, but his body had already been taken to the mortuary. I don't remember much about the next few days, except that neighbors filled our freezer with tuna casseroles and chocolate cake. 

Life after that was nothing more than existence. My mother had a complete nervous breakdown three years later, and I ended up running away from home because I couldn't take the abuse any longer. My grandmother drove me to college a few months later. I had been lucky in receiving an academic scholarship, or I never would have been able to leave Idaho. 

The first year being completely on my own was the hardest. If I could find a ride back to Idaho Falls, I would stay with my grandmother. After my mother had left for the night, she and my uncle would take me to see my younger siblings. We would cry as I held them in my arms and promised that we would get to see each other more often. But those promises were empty because I never went home to stay again.

It would be nice to say that my trials gave me strength, and I suppose in many ways they did. The challenge was trying to keep it together without any support after my grandmother died the spring semester of my freshman year. I was left without any of the emotional tools I needed to navigate a very confusing, and often frightening, world. But there were a few times along the way when I knew my father was with me. It's been a long time since I've heard his voice in my head, but I'm sure I will recognize it when I hear it again. I know this life isn't all there is. It is but a small moment in the span of eternity.

Despite many times when I wish I had been smarter, more astute and less emotional so I wouldn't have made my life more difficult than it might have been, I am so grateful that I got to be with my father for as long as I did. I miss him so much and wonder quite often how things would have been if he had been allowed to stay with us. We needed him so much. He was our rock, our champion, our defender, our teacher and our best friend.

I wrote this poem a few years ago and want to share it with you. I know many of you have endured similar experiences, and I would love to hear about them. All you have to do is reply to this. I hope fathers around the world know how important they are to their children for we are all a little lost without them.


 Daddy,

 

Did you know that perfect spring morn so long ago

that you would be leaving your loved ones alone 

to return so abruptly to your heavenly home?

 

Did you know that the unexpected loss and confusion

your children felt would bring sorrow, loneliness,

tears, uncertainty and a lifetime of regrets?

 

Did you know that the wife you loved above all

would lose her way, struggle with fear, grief,

adversity and the harsh responsibility for us all?

 

Did you know your seven little ones would become divided, 

holding pain, sorrow, anger, self-recrimination and anxiety inside,

almost forgetting that you were ever part of our lives?

 

Did you know that the emptiness felt to our very cores 

would fester so completely that the most vulnerable of us 

never knew true intimacy, especially with a spouse?

 

Did you know how many of us would fight with all we had

to stop the abuse in our own homes - ramifications of the nearly

debilitating treatment we had suffered so often after you were gone?

 

Did you know that we would long for your wisdom,

your gentle way of caring, and your heartfelt laugher

as we tried to navigate our often bewildering journeys?

 

Did you know that all of us would want to be with you again,

to see your smile, to hold your hand, to let you know that

we did our best through some very difficult moments?

 

 

 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Many of you have been following my rantings about doctors, hospitals and such the past few months. I'm not saying that I'm doing a whole lot better when it comes to the issues that were plaguing me when my journey began because most of the symptoms are still there, along with an acute nausea that hits me most mornings and last until early afternoon. Not sure what is going on with that, but I'm determined to turn things around with a more positive attitude. That's not to easy to do right now since it was 100 degrees yesterday, it's only the 14th of June, and we haven't had any rain for over six weeks. We're down to 17 percent in the reservoirs and restrictions on water usage are already being put into place. To say that it's going to be a long, hot summer is an understatement. 

To let you know just how bad it is even in town, my son was sitting at his desk in a bank where he's a loan officer last week and the lawn in front of the restaurant next door burst into flames it was so dry. No one knows for sure how it happened, but it is a prelude to what we have to look forward to as the heat continues. I went out to do a little weeding early yesterday and was so sick when I came in that it took a couple of hours until I could even move about without feeling sick. Summer has never been my favorite time of year, but I'm afraid that this year it's going to be even harder to find something exciting about it. Of course it might help if I was going somewhere, but work will keep me here until September when I'm going back to see my sister again. (It's just no fun to travel alone when you're older and basically become a backdrop to what everyone else is doing.)

Nonetheless, I do have one piece of good news. I've finally finished my next book. It's the last of the four I completed the first draft too when I was in my thirties but never had the time to complete with all the responsibilities that come with family, work and home. But waiting until life had given me more experience to draw from made it more believable and real since most of us have dreams we wish we had captured while there was still time. Like the heroine in Kismet Finds a Way, this book is semi-autobiographical since I fell in love wth a special someone I have never forgotten when I was in college too. It gave the song Reunited by Peaches and Herb new meaning because I dreamed for many years what it would be like to see him again. But I'm sure that reality would never equal what I have experienced in my dreams. So I wrote one of the scenarios about a possible meeting where we could rekindle what had been lost. Is there anyone out there who has some of the same fantasies I do? I think it makes us human because love is the most driving force in the world, especially for those of us who have never found it.

I guess that since I've been alone for over 20 years it's not so bad to have a few lost dreams since it means I used to have a life where love was always a possibility, and I could feel things I have never experienced. My marriage did not bring peace, fulfillment or a reason to be myself and explore what most women long for. Fear, putdowns and never being good enough were what marriage meant to me, and I really envy women who have been truly loved by a man because that has never happened for me. Perhaps that's why my first publisher told me I needed to learn how to write love scenes - not steamy, explicit ones because they take all the romance out for me and are not something I am comfortable doing - but tender passion that shows what true joy in a loving relationship should be. It's hard to write about something that has never been experienced, but I still know what I would like to happen before this life is over. However, I am realistic enough to know that men anywhere near my age are looking for women 30 years younger.

Anyway, enough of that. I doubt any of us need a reason to feel down because life gives us enough reasons without  looking for them. But I am proud of Crossfire at Bentley. I think you will enjoy this story. Here's a quick synopsis. Happy reading for those of you who enjoy it, and for those who don't, have a wonderful day anyway. 

Jada Sloan spent four years at the university in love with a professor – seven years her senior - who hopped in and out of her life and made her feel like a queen. But he was never ready to settle down with just one girl. Ten years later, after a rocky road to success and a failed marriage, she found herself back at Bentley as a guest lecturer. But a new friend, a conspiracy and a chance encounter with her old flame threaten to destroy her now well-ordered life. Will she find the inner strength to let go of her past or become part of a puzzle no one seems capable of solving? Only time, and a great deal of understanding and patience will tell. Jada thought her past was complicated, but it was a breeze to what she is facing now. 

Crossfire at Bentley is available starting TODAY on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdvin both print and Ebook formats. It’s been a real labor of love. 



Sunday, 30 May 2021

The Old Army Blanket

I'm not sure why Memorial Day hit me with such force this year. Perhaps it's because I've taken the time to really think about why we have it. Somewhere over the years I've lost that it was meant to honor the men and women who gave their lives so I could enjoy all of the freedoms I mostly take for granted. It wasn't that way when I was a kid. My father was in World War II. He wanted to serve his country more than anything, but he had a bad heart due to Rheumatic Fever and also suffered a football injury to his left eye that impacted his peripheral vision. The war was practically over when the draft board finally accepted his papers. Since he couldn't go directly into battle, he became a military policeman who rode the trains back and forth across the country looking for the draft dodgers and deserters who had failed to do their duty as an American citizen. Then he received specialized training as a medic and spent some time on the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in the Philippine Islands treating soldiers so they could come home. The sad part was that most of them suffered from venereal diseases rather than being wounded.

He always respected the flag and what our country stood for and taught his children to do the same. I'll never forget the flag my mother was given at his funeral or the gun salute that still causes me to shiver with each blast. I was thirteen and old enough to remember how dismal and frightening life had suddenly become. Never again in this life would I hear his melodious deep, base voice or climb onto his lap for a hug or a kiss. Since the cemetery was only a quarter of a mile away from our home, I rode there on my bike, or walked, many times over the years to spend time with him. And Memorial Day was always spent visiting cemeteries and placing fresh cut lilacs, tulips and peonies on the graves of our loved ones. The flowers were mostly put in glass canning jars with rocks at the bottom to keep them from toppling over. We were too poor to go to the story for plastic ones.

Many years have come and gone since then. I've moved a number of times, mostly farther away from where I grew up, and have only been back to the old Milo cemetery a time or two. Time went by so fast, all the older generation passed beyond the veil of mortality and I let what Memorial Day had once meant to me get lost in the more fashionable things the people around me were doing. It became a time for extra yard work, going somewhere for pleasure or, if I happened to live close enough to family, a time for barbecuing, playing and talking. Little to no time was ever spent recalling things from the past that should still matter as much as they once did. 

I suppose that's why this poem I once wrote about the Army blankets I grew up using as a child came back to me this morning. I had forgotten them like so many other things. I'm sharing it with you because the past should never be forgotten. It should live on, through us, in the hearts of the generations who will come after.

Scratchy, wool, army blanket,
What is your story?
Did you shelter soldiers 
fighting for other’s freedom?

 

Did you warm civilian bodies 

against the fear and the cold?

Did you wrap the remains of those who

had given all for the truths they held dear?

 

Did you shield a small, helpless infant 

against the wind and rain?

Or did you lie quietly on a self 

until the war was at an end?

 

I wish I knew your story 

though it might bring grief and pain.

But since I don’t, I’ll tell you 

how you were used in my childhood home. 

 

None of us wanted to touch you

since your surface was so very rough,

but you hung in the doorway on Christmas morn

so we couldn’t see our Santa stuff.

 

You traveled for picnics in the yard, 

the orchard or the mountain heights.

Draped over chairs you made new worlds, and

were ever near when the night became chill.

 

Your holes were ones of careless acts

since mostly children put them there.

You see, we didn't understand where you

came from or your incredible worth. 


It would be nice to thank you 

for all the service you have given, but

you’ve been gone for so many years
I have almost forgotten your existence.

Still, it's hard not to recall the smell of wet wool,
the dusty green color so unlike any other, 
and the stories of people thanking God
for even having you around to bring them warmth. 

Those things, and many others, 
have made me a more compassionate person.
I almost wish I had one now so I could share it
with the generations who have never even seen one.

I conclude this post with something I read yesterday. It touched my heart and gave me even more reason to reflect on what I am willing to sacrifice for freedom.




The Missing Man Table
When you see the table of the ones who have not returned, this is what it means. Please take a moment to respect those it represents.
•The Cloth is White- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
•The Single Red Rose- reminds us of the lives of these Americans, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
•The Yellow Ribbon- symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.
•A Slice of Lemon- reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
•A Pinch of Salt- symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
•The Lighted Candle- reflects our hope for their return- Alive or Dead
•The Bible- represents the strength gained through faith in our country, Founded as One Nation Under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.
The Glass is Inverted- to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
•The Chair is Empty- They Are Missing.
🇺🇸Memorial Day 2021🇺🇸

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Not Always What We Expect

I was really quite shocked when I looked at this site the other day and realized that it had been almost two months since I posted anything. Now it's not that I haven't been busy since I found out my arteries were clear. I think I've been going through a sort of withdrawal because I always figured my heart was in incredibly bad shape. In fact my older sister, who had gotten down to 15 percent heart function for a still undisclosed reason, was telling all of my siblings that I was close to death's door because I hadn't been doing enough to reverse a lifelong condition. She was even visibly upset when I told her my good news because it meant that incessant exercising and watching everything that went into her mouth wasn't necessarily the secret to a long and primarily healthy life. 

I was able to leave for vacation two weeks after my angiogram - with an appointment to see a vein specialist two days after I got back. The doctors still had no clear idea what was causing all the swelling in my legs and feet or the reason for my continued inability to do much without getting winded. They figured my lungs, my inverted varicose veins or my still overly-high blood might be the culprit. So I flew into St Louis feeling no better than I had for years but found great comfort being with the sister I felt closest to.

We had a great time laughing over our inability to get balls in the right pockets during games of pool, watching our favorite music videos and just being together. We spent time with friends during our side trip to Branson and were even able to hug and kiss many of them because all of the mask mandates had been lifted. We spent close to an hour in the basement of the motel where we were staying because the siren when off letting us known a tornado was about to set down. Those were fun and stimulating times. But I also had a horrid flareup with my allergies and spent several days with some kind of bug that caused explosive diarrhea without any warning. Those conditions, along with the allergy medication I was taking to keep my eyes from swelling shut and my nasal passage mostly open, made me unusually sleepy. I had to fight to keep my eyes open when we weren't doing something active or loud.

I came back far less rested than I usually did, only to discover that the veins in my legs weren't bad enough to be causing any of the symptoms I still had. The doctor put me on a diuretic and gave me a prescription to get my some support stocking - which I have yet to do. So after all the months of hoping for an answer, I felt like I was back where I started still feeling overly tired without any diagnosed reason. I was beginning to think that the doctor who blamed all my conditions on getting older might be right. 

Since then, I guess I've been in a state of depression. I mowed my lawn three times, pulled every weed I could find and even got my garden planted. But something seemed to be missing until today. I think it's a sense of true gratitude for what I still have. I've been concentrating on things I may never understand rather than on all the daily blessings I'm receiving. That was brought forcefully back when I read a short story someone posted on Facebook. I can still do everything that needs to be done, even though it may take longer and require bending over rather than squatting. And the things that can't be changed won't really matter that much once I leave mortality behind. I need to be building for eternity with my Savior, my eternal Father in Heaven and the people I love, rather than putting so much energy and effort into things that can never be recovered because I have moved past the years when my body was able to adjust to my demands. 

I share it with you because I would imagine that a lot of people feel as I do. The Golden Years aren't  what we expected them to be, but in many ways they aren't all bad. We have time to do things that have been neglected in the past and feel more secure in who we really are because we are no longer quite so concerned about what others think of us. As I see it, that's a huge relief since we longer have the energy to chase down all the creams, diets and exercises that are supposed to be our answer to the fountain of youth - a real myth that has only made certain people very wealthy.  

That's all for now. I hope you enjoy the story. It brought me out of my doldrums and made me feel a little pretentious because I haven't been participating in my life story the way I could have these past few months. There is a season for everything, and no one is going to make it out of this life without a great many tests. After all, that's part of the reason we're here.

Here's what Scott Mann wrote. I've included the photo he used.



This is Sharon, my mother-in-law.
She taught me it’s important work to see someone for who they are and not what you expect.
When I first met my mother-in-law I had a hard time understanding her thick south Virginia accent.
And she seemed a little bossy in that southern passive aggressive polite way.
But I knew she was important to the love of my life, so I accepted her grudgingly as some of us do when family is forced on us.
After 5 years I still didn’t really know her.
When my wife got leukemia at 30.
When our world was shattered and changed forever, Sharon very quietly and very firmly stepped into the role she was born for.
She moved, with her dependent Vietnam vet husband, into our house and became Michele’s caretaker too.
Over the last two years she bought most of the groceries, cooked almost every meal, did most of the laundry and cleaning, drove both dependents to almost every one of the 300+ doctor appointments, sorted tens of thousands of pills, and made sure they were all taken on time at every hour every day.
And she did this when she herself was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago.
When she was getting a mastectomy.
When she is going through chemo.
She hums when she works.
She talks to herself when there’s no one to listen, and she goes about every day with humility and grace.
I took this photo before I left work this morning.
She didn’t know I was there.
This, friends, is what greatness looks like in a quiet moment. Waiting on oatmeal to cook for her daughter for the 300th time since she got sick.
Not everyone gets to have a real-world superhero in their lives.
And for this I am filled with gratitude every day.


Sunday, 4 April 2021

My Easter Miracle

It's Easter Sunday, and I am more than grateful to be alive so I can express to others just how full my heart is for my Savior, Jesus Christ, for the amazing love and blessings he continues to shower on me and most importantly, the gift of eternal life he has given to all of God's children. We are truly brothers and sisters. It doesn't matter our age, color, nationality, religious beliefs or the condition of our hearts. His love for each of us is pure, complete and freely given. I will never fully understand his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross during this life. The agony he went through is beyond my level of comprehension. Nor will I ever fully appreciate the fact that he suffered for every sin, sorrow, illness or moment of doubt each mortal must go through. And while I know that trying to live as he did is the only thing I can do to show my gratitude, I fall short in that department every day.

I had no idea what this day would mean for me. Those of you who read my last post know that I went into the hospital for an angiogram last Thursday. I had my first bout with rheumatic fever when I was nine years-old and spent six months in bed. I could only get up to go to the doctor's once week so my blood could be drawn. I had two other flare-ups of the illness over the next few years. The experience left me with a hole in my heart and the inability to do anything of a physical nature during my entire school career. So I opted to take drama and write for the school newspaper. They were great experiences, but I always felt like an outcast because I couldn't participate in any of the activities other kids took for granted because my heart was bad. 

It wasn't a fun way to grow up, but neither was losing my aunt, my mother's sister,  from heart disease when I was 11 or my father from a massive heart attack when I was 13. They had both suffered though rheumatic fever like me as kids and had been left with bad hearts. I knew what my prognosis for life would be and never believed I would live that long since I had the same pesky genes coming from both sides of my family. I was quite surprised when I made it into my forties and decided that every year I had after that was a true blessing. But I decided I would live my life the best I could and keep moving for as long as possible. I always worked at one or more jobs away from home, took care of my house, my family, my yard and my garden. I always tried to serve others but knew my limitations since I got tired very easily and worked best when it was at my own pace.

So being diagnosed with myocardial ischemia a little over six years ago didn't come as a great surprise. I'd had high triglycerides and high cholesterol for years and would find out a few months later that I also had Type ll Diabetes. But I moved to another state so I could help my son and his family after my daughter-in-law was diagnosed with Melanoma-Lymphoma not long after finding out there was a blockage in my heart.  Since I didn't feel any worse than I always had, I didn't seek further medical attention. I believed the family doctor I was seeing for my allergies would alert me to any real problems. 

Anyway, when I met the doctor who would be doing the surgery he said there was definitely a problem with blood flow in the lower, left portion of my heart, but he was going to take care of it. Preparing for that procedure was not fun, nor was laying on that table for the longest time while everything was made ready. I was very grateful my son had taken the day off to be with me but wasn't overly scared. I had put my faith and trust in God and was ready to accept the next part in his plan for me. I had even added a codicil to my will so there would be no issues if something went wrong.

Imagine my surprise when the entire procedure took less than five minutes and the doctor stood back and said that all of my arteries were clear. I was a little out of it due to the sedative and thought I had misunderstood, but he left the operating room and I was taken into recovery. It was a couple of hours before he came to see me. By then I had a lot of questions to ask but the only really important one was why. He said there must have been two false positive readings with my tests because the one they had done ten days before confirmed what the one in Missouri said. He believed that most of my issues had to do with high blood pressure, including the swelling in my ankles and feet. He would change my medication, and we would look at other things if I didn't start feeling a whole lot better.

So that's my Easter Miracle. I had gone into the hospital believing the best news I could get was needing a stent or two in my heart so the blood could get through and came away knowing that my arteries were clear. I'm still trying to digest that but know that God has more work for me to do before I leave this life or things would have turned out much differently. None of my symptoms have gone away yet, but my spiritual heart feels so much lighter. I know God hears and answers our prayers, and I know I can turn to him for anything. And I am so grateful for my Savior. He lives! He loves us! He gave us the most precious gift! And I will continue to follow him the best I can so I can live with him, and all the people I love, again some day.