Excerpt #4 ‘Papa, Where Are You?’

halloween

I find it fitting as Halloween approaches to share an excerpt of the first of many Halloween referrals mentioned in ‘Papa, Where Are You?’

When Papa bounded through the front door, Julie and I ran down the stairs to him with our arms outstretched. He scooped us up and planted kisses on our cheeks.
I was so happy to see Papa take Mama to the hospital to have the baby, I forgot it was Halloween until Uncle Albert ambled down the stairs, ready to take Julie and me out for trick-or-treating.
We kissed Mama and Papa good-bye, put on our costumes, then flew out the door with Uncle Albert.
The harvest moon, as Uncle Albert called it, dispelled the darkness on the unseasonably warm evening. No need for a sweater to cover up our special costumes!  . . .

As the group of us danced down the street, in character, joining a sea of clowns and princesses and pirates, the adults gathered together at every long driveway, keeping a watchful eye on their charges as we ran up to knock on each front door. Julie stayed close to me the whole evening. Having only been in this town for a couple of months, she was still wary around strangers.
But everyone, young and old alike, was in a festive mood. It was like a great big block party.
After a fruitful and fun evening, Uncle Albert walked us up our long circular driveway. Julie and I couldn’t wait to empty our baskets and see what kind of goodies we’d collected.
When we rushed through the door, Grandmother was sitting in the parlor, a solemn expression on her face. The three of us stopped in our tracks. Something was terribly wrong.”

To read more, click on one of the buttons above to order your copy,

paperback or digital.

. . . and Happy Halloween! 

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Unnecessary Parts?

During an interesting discussion recently, someone pointed out that I had pretty much been separated from most of my unnecessary bodily parts, those being tonsils, appendix, wisdom teeth, gallbladder, and uterus (after delivering two of the best kids in the world 😊).

As I recall all those events, I’m reminded of a lot of upheaval surrounding them. None were easy. All were unique experiences.

In third grade, my tonsils came out. I continually had sore throats and swollen glands so tonsilfinally the decision was made to remove those tonsils and, while they were in there, my adenoids. (What the heck is an adenoid anyway?) I remember the operating room – everyone and everything covered in green. This lady is putting something over my nose and mouth and telling me to breath and count backwards from 100. I began – 100, 99 . . . Ether took over. (Is that even legal anymore?) You remember the Bill Cosby sketch about him having his tonsils taken out? He was promised ice cream? Yep. Me too. But the throat hurt so very much, I didn’t even want to look at ice cream. It just didn’t seem fair to an eight-year old.

In ninth grade, it was my appendix. My BFF told a joke and made me laugh – the kind that one keeps laughing so much, causing one’s side to hurt. That hurt didn’t go away. A couple of days later the doctor decided to do exploratory surgery. I’m not sure it was appendixnecessary but, while looking around, they took out my appendix. I do have to admit though; the pain went away. In those days (a long, long time ago) I had stitches, temporarily held together by metal clamps. After six days in the hospital – SIX DAYS – the doctor said I was going home. He proceeded to cut off those metal clamps and told me to get up and get dressed. He and my mother went into the hall to wait. I stood up and immediately fainted. Fortunately, I landed on the bed. My roommate screamed for the doctor. This delayed my release for a few hours.

As a freshman in college, I was scheduled for wisdom teeth extraction during Spring wisdom teethBreak. This seems common at that age. Of course, mine were impacted and – again, in those days – I had an overnight stay in the hospital for the procedure. When I woke up, both corners of my mouth were slightly torn and there was a heaviness in my chest. I’m not sure but I could picture the doctor kneeling on my chest aiming pliers towards my mouth.

In my early thirties, I had a hysterectomy. This truly was the easiest – now using the laparoscopic technique.hysterectomy pic

Twelve years ago, in my mid-fifties, I began experiencing indigestion/ heartburn. This was new for me and began happening frequently, but it always went away. One day, six months after this began, I had a bout that didn’t go away. It became so bad that I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack. Instead of calling 911, I called hubby who was working 2 miles away. He came home and took me to the ER. I remember thinking – and I can visualize exactly where I was enroute – that I was ok with dying because I looked forward to being in Heaven with my Savior. But I silently prayed to God that I would not die while hubby was driving!

If you’ve ever been to an ER, you’ll remember seeing signs all over, “If you are having chest pains, inform the nurse immediately.” I did just that and was ushered in. Unfortunately, it was full so I was on a gurney in the hall of the ER. A mean old nurse, who I assume had much experience with fakers, pretty much didn’t believe me. But she did give me nitroglycerin and left to check my records. Her change of demeanor was amazing when she returned. I believe she checked and noted I had never been to an ER and had never reported chest pain anywhere. So now she believed me. But the nitro didn’t relieve my symptoms. I don’t remember all the tests that were performed but I do remember part of the heart cath. Lying there awake while watching on a screen a doctor insert something into my heart. He told me that my heart was as healthy as a teenager. (The only good news of the day).

After more tests, I was admitted. A surgeon was called and we waited and waited and waited. I was in such pain and not much was helping. At some point, I was given something to eat. When I was told the surgeons name who we were waiting for, it rang a bell. I didn’t know him personally but hubby did (from my church!) So, I told the nurse to page him again and to specifically mention my name. Sometimes it really is “who you know”! The surgeon apologetically showed up soon after. More tests were ordered and it was decided my gall bladder needed to come out. BUT because someone had given me something to eat, we needed to wait till morning. It was a very long night.

The doc determined he could probably go at it with laparoscopy which relieved me as I had experienced that with my previous surgery. I knew I’d be home in a day or two.

As it turned out, yes it was done laparoscopically but I did not go home anytime soon.

I still had major pain and more tests were ordered.kidney 2

The ER we went to was picked because my doctor was connected to that hospital. However, I found out she did not make hospital calls. She had a co-worker do that. One who I had never met. AND my surgeon went on a scheduled vacation the very next day after surgery. His partner was now on duty.

AND they disagreed. One thought I had developed pneumonia. The other said no.
I was in the hospital for SIX days!!!

I went home still in pain and was to see the original surgeon in 10 days. That dang pain finally subsided by then. We never really knew the cause.
That was twelve years ago – still way too vivid in my memory.

At least it’s always a good reason for new pjs and a bathrobe! 😊

Up next? er Out next?

A kidney.

Prayers greatly appreciated.

To be continued . . .

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Funny Story

cloudPlane rides, as you know if you’re a long-term follower of this blog, don’t go over well with me. I’ve learned, however, to take my meds ½ hour before boarding and that seems to do the trick.

Recently, I was on four different planes in a 24-hour period. (I survived! 😊)

As I settled into my seat on a full plane, I pulled out my book ‘Papa, Where Are You?’. I was giving a book talk the following week and always desire to refresh myself with the points I may choose to share.new book cover

Of course, I always hope that a seatmate may show an interest in what I’m reading so I could do a bit of marketing on the spot.

I was sitting on the aisle and the gal in the middle seat seemed to be glancing my way at my book. I was hopeful but not sure how to approach this.

“I have that book!” she says. What???
“I wrote this book.” I responded. What???

I turned it over and showed her my picture.

me for book cover

She told me she hadn’t read it yet but her mother had just given it to her and said she’d really enjoy it.

We were both incredulous.

She went further by saying that her parents had recently moved to St. Louis from Chicago because the closest family was here. They didn’t really know anyone other than family. Then in their retirement community, some nice lady sold them my book. Hmmm. Sounded a bit familiar.

I asked if by any chance they are in a retirement community near me, naming it. Yes, that’s the one. It’s also the one my mother lives in – that nice lady! 😊

Ha!

My new friend shared a bit more about her folks and something else rang a bell.

“Is your father retired military?” I asked.
“Why yes he is.” She exclaimed.

I laughed as I explained that my husband is retired military also and my mother has been wanting us to have dinner with her some night along with your folks.

My new friend asked how sales were going. I explained that as a self-published author, it’s all on me so, I remind myself often, “slow and steady, one book sale at a time.”

I’m looking forward to seeing her again!

*****
Last week, my mother was about to get on the elevator at her place. A young lady was getting on behind her carrying a bunch of flowers. As my mother does with everyone she meets, she struck up a conversation.

“Nice flowers.”
“Thank you. They’re for my mother.”
“Who’s your mother?”

You can guess the rest. My mother just met my seatmate.

BookCoverPreview

That Dreaded MRI

The fact that I was informed that this time I couldn’t have an open MRI just confounded the issue. The open one was a challenge for me and my claustrophobia, but a closed one? Well, I’d never be ready. But there was no other option.

mriThe day of, I had been given a valium and instructed to take it one hour before the procedure. I did as instructed and arrived 45 minutes early (also as directed) to fill out the obligatory paperwork. I then sat down to wait, hoping the valium would be working any minute.

Not 5 minutes later I was called in. Hoping there would be about another 30 minutes of prep, I followed. Oh no, they were running ahead of schedule and were ready for me. That tightness in my chest I’m too familiar with commenced as I explained I needed to wait another 30 minutes for the valium to kick in.

The two attendants were kind as one told me usually valium works within 30 minutes. I was doubtful. The gals gave me a trial run through. As I lay on the table/bed, they slid me in. I lasted 2 seconds. They slid me out and we waited 5 minutes or so. As they hooked up my IV and offered music, I was pleasantly surprised. The other MRI at another facility didn’t have the capability of using music. Immediately I was listening to Laura Story singing ‘Blessings’. Quite appropriate for the occasion. headphones

The techs, thinking surely, I must be ready now, handed me the ‘panic button’(for emergencies only) and slid me in. Within 5 seconds, I panicked and hit that button. They pulled me out. “Please,” I begged sheepishly, “Give me 10 more minutes.” I knew by then the hour would be up and was hoping I had grown a backbone by then. The gals had no choice but to agree and left me to my own thoughts (and prayers.)

Of course, I came up with another delay as they returned. “It’s not critical,” I began. “But would it be too much of a deal for me to go to the bathroom first?” I was serious because there was this thing, part of the MRI, that had been resting on my stomach and I knew I’d have another problem if not taken care of.

I returned from the bathroom with a new attitude, no doubt partly from the valium finely taking effect, but also prayers – my own as well as family and friends who knew what a wuss I was. 😊

“Let’s get this done!” I said with a new feeling of confidence. Having already been told the test would last approximately 35 minutes, I calculated each song would last about 3.5 minutes = 10 songs. As they slid me in once again, I began counting on my fingers each song as it finished.

At nine songs, all was completed.

Piece of cake! 😊
panic verse

For the birds . . .

. . . and apparently the squirrels, the raccoons, the bees, the ants, the deer, and heaven knows who/what else.

It used to be such a joy to watch my birds feed: two hummingbirds and a finch feeder off the deck out back and one “squirrel proof” feeder out front for the big guys.

There is one chair in my living room where I can sit and see all of them. I don’t get much else done when I sit in that chair, but what a delight!

That is until last summer when my hummingbird feeders were empty, broken and spilled on the deck in the morning. I was stumped until one evening I was about to step racoonout on the deck when I saw this LARGE animal out there. Of feeder on deckcourse,

I screamed like a girl 😊 and it disappeared. At first, I thought it was a cat – the largest I’d ever seen. But then I thought about it. My deck is a second-floor deck without steps leading up to it. That means animals must climb straight up a post. So, I googled it. Yep. A raccoon was going after the hummingbird nectar. I was horrified, and not a little impressed, that it could accomplish that feat. After that, I had to bring in the feeders each night. Sigh.

Once I noticed a swarm of bees around one of the hummers feeders. They overtook it. Again, horrified. I read what to do but did the opposite. I didn’t want to poison the hummers but I freaked and felt I needed to act immediately. The hose didn’t work so I purchased one of those sprays that you can stand 20 feet away and zap them. I picked the middle of a very hot day when the hummers aren’t around much and I began to zap. It was scary. It took a while. It worked. When I was pretty sure I had zapped them all, I grabbed the feeder and promptly washed and washed it. I know, I know. I apologize. I shouldn’t be killing bees. Forgive me. I panicked!

The finch feeder is pretty much squirrel proof but it didn’t keep him from trying. It was comical until this year he (the squirrel) realized that if he got up on the railing and squirrel2stretched really really far, he could reach the hummer feeders. And if he tipped them, ever so slightly, the sweet nectar would drip out and not only pour into his mouth but down on the ground. I’m sure the ants were on the ground rounding up all their friends for the nectar party. I determined that particular feeder didn’t have a good seal (duh) so away it went. It doesn’t matter so much since I only ever have one or two hummingbirds, which makes me sad. But it is what it is.

squirrel3When I yell at and chase the squirrel off the deck, he calls my bluff. (kind of like a child. OK exactly like a child) He realizes yelling doesn’t scare him and neither does banging on the window. He’ll skedaddle only if I step out onto the deck. But then this once I got this picture of him hanging over the edge, hoping I’d think he was gone. His tail was the tell. Get it? Tell Tale! 😊

And then there is the front big-bird, squirrel proof feeder. I love having the cardinals, etc. dine there. The squirrel does make the attempt but always fails. I don’t chase him anymore. He’s obviously a slow learner.

But finally, and this is the kicker! I filled the front feeder to the brim one day. The next morning, it was empty! Empty!! I looked down and there were prints all around. The @#%&@ deer found it!

We’ve lived here 18 years and never had a deer problem. So many of my friends are sharing the terrible stories of deer demolishing their gardens, etc. I don’t have any gardens – only ones in pots on the second-story deck. I now apologize to all my friends with their deer woes, for all my silent snickering and eye rolling! 😊

The only flowers I have growing in the ground are large, blooming yellow Stella Dora’s out front and I always enjoy them.

After I noticed the empty bird feeder, I glanced over. Gone! All gone! I ran to the side of the house. Gone.

The deer are closing in.

All this bird feeding used to be fun. Now? Not so much. But I persist.

As for the Stella Dora’s? No solution there.

God says to “consider the lilies. . .” I’d love to, if I could find some!

 

RIP

pj,your friend

ImageMy mother married when she was 19 years old to a young man named Ralph,  three years older.

They knew each other in high school but didn’t begin dating until later.  The day after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Ralph enlisted in the then Army Air Corp.

They married in May the following year, just before he was called to duty.  Mother was with him during part of his training and was there to pin his wings on him when he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in  February 1943.

Mother was pregnant by this time so moved back home with her folks to await the baby’s arrival.  Meanwhile Ralph was sent to California to train on the B-24 Liberator Bombers.

My brother was born in July.  When he was a month old, Ralph was granted a leave and came home to meet his son.

The last time my mother heard from…

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Papa, Where Are You? book talk

Another adventure of this authoring/publishing book business completed this week.

I gave a “book talk” at my mother’s retirement community.book talk 5

To be clear, I wasn’t sure what a book talk exactly was. I knew a lot of folks there had purchased and read my book but I also supposed there would be folks there who had not. So, while I wanted to answer questions, I also wanted to pique the interest of the hopeful buyers without giving away the whole story.

And honestly, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be there! Those retirement communities have much to offer keep their tenants quite occupied with many fun diversified activities.

To top it off, I developed a severe case of laryngitis several days earlier. I took as much medicine as possible and prayed for a voice as I prepared. After having bullet points on what I might cover and some visual aids, I was ready, sans the voice.

Another factor? I am not, nor have I ever been, nor did I ever have the desire to be – a public – stand up in front – speaker.

And Jean, who is always my ‘wingman’ could not go with me.

What could go wrong!?! ☹

The day before the event, I asked Karen, who graciously accepted, to be my stand-in ‘wingman.’ The morning of, I could talk – at about 90% capacity. I knew the place had a microphone to fall back on if necessary, which it was not.

We arrived and set up and people began to trickle in. For whatever reason, I was calm. It helped that my mother lived here although she does not know everyone.

First question to my audience: Who and how many have read the book? Probably 1/3 had. I proceeded with my talk. I was given an hour which freaked me out, but as it turned out, with my talk and their questions and book selling and signing, an hour flew by.

 

Attendance was about 25. That in itself blew me away! Books were purchased, previous purchases had been brought in to be signed and a few who had borrowed the book from another, decided they needed their own copy.book talk 2

 

I was blessed. I was relieved. My mother was proud.

And then, afterward, over lunch in their dining room,

I lost my voice!             

God’s timing! 😊

Trisha

My dearest friend Trisha died today.

She was 67 years old.

While she was gardening (a favorite pastime) she experienced a stroke. The medical staff could not save her. I’m certain she’s in Heaven now but those of us on earth who she left are devastated.

trisha
late 1970’s, home for a visit

If I had a sister, I could not love her more than I love Trisha.

As I entered third grade in a new neighborhood and a new school, Trisha and her family moved in next door. She started second grade. That was 60+ years ago. She went to a different school and a different church than I did. I had two older brothers. She had two older brothers – and 9 (NINE) younger siblings!

Our respective parents lived in those houses way after Trisha and I each married and moved away. It was our home base. Her house was where I learned to eat fish – every Friday. I also learned to eat fast so I’d get a portion. 😊

When I’d come back for a visit, I always went next door to visit Trisha’s mom.

We did get in some occasional trouble together. One instance: As kids, we could walk to the “club” and go swimming every day, all day. An older friend there hooked us up with some cigarettes one day. I think we were about 12/13 and coughed more than smoked but felt mature yet guilty! A day or so later, when I was at her house, her mother told me she knew what we had done and to never, never, never do that again. I could not believe she found out and Trisha had no answer – until ten years or so later when she confessed to me that she herself had squealed! Trisha could not live with herself so had to tell.

There was one phobia she never could overcome. She could not have an overnight at my house. She could last maybe until 10pm and then just had to go across the yard and back home. We tried and we tried. Her mother left the back door unlocked, expecting the inevitable.

Trisha loved to come to my house. To her it was a sanctuary. I had my own room and my own toys and a dollhouse. She had 8 (EIGHT) sisters. Enough said!

In her house, as the oldest daughter, she was the second mother. She was very efficient with those babies that seemed to appear every 1 ½ years or so. She was so efficient that some of my neighborhood babysitting opportunities went to her instead. 😊

A favorite memory happened several years running in the early 1960s. A parent would drive us to the local commuter train station (way before Amtrak)and we’d take the day to ride to downtown Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal. We’d then take a short walk to the infamous Wannamaker’s and commence to do all our Christmas shopping in one day. It was a most delightful day in the large department store with elevator operators and light shows and dancing waters. The amazing outside window displays were a show in themselves. I believe there were 14 floors and we pretty much covered most of them. Every time I see the movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, I’m reminded of our adventures.

DSC_0686
at my mother’s 90th bday party 2012

When I left the state of Pennsylvania and moved halfway across the country to Missouri it was a different time. Communication consisted of letter writing or very expensive land-line phone calls. Trisha’s birthday was in October and mine in March. We’d save up all year and call each other on our birthdays, talking for up to two hours! This went on for years. With the advanced technology, we communicated much more often. In fact, I spoke with her only a week ago (for which I am now more than ever thankful.)

We share with each other our ups and downs, our jobs, our children, and now our grandchildren. We rejoice with each other and pray for each other.
When my mother turned 90 and we had a big party for her in Missouri, I bought Trisha a plane ticket so she could join in.

A year or so ago, hubby and I took a trip to the east coast to see my roots, my homes, my hangouts, and my friends. Trisha and I connected and met up with another neighbor, Lynn, for a reunion lunch. I am now more than ever grateful for that time.

trisha lynn2
1978 back home reunion with Trisha, Lynn and our ‘next generation’
trisha lynn 1
2016 reunion, Hatboro, PA with Lynn and Trisha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trisha did not have an easy life. But she was a trooper. And she was grounded in her faith in her Savior. We spoke a lot about that. Jesus was such a comfort to her.
Her love was unconditional, to her family, her friends, and to me.

My heart hurts with sadness. And shock! I know there’s a part of her that will be with me always, and I’m better for it. But it’s sad to know I cannot pick up the phone, or text, or email her at any given moment. As our friend and neighbor Lynn said, “Unfortunately we will be saying goodbye to one of our oldest friends on earth.”

I cannot imagine how her children Shane and Erin, and grandchildren and extended family miss her.

Even in death Trisha continues to give. The Gift of Life Donor Program has taken over and they are seeking to bless as many families as possible.

My one consolation? I know we’ll be together again. We share the same Savior.

THREE WEEKS

In the last three weeks, I’ve experienced one ER visit, one CT scan, one Ultrasound, one MRI, one EKG, one Echo cardiogram, one primary physician, one OB/GYN, one ER physician, two radiologists, two surgeons, two pee-in-a-cup experiences, two hospitals, a few blood tests, and many, many hours of lost sleep.

Let me explain:   emergency

It all began with a late night visit to the ER with a bad pain in my abdomen. Hence the ER doctor who ordered a CT scan. It showed my problem which corrected itself. However, the CT scan also showed an issue with an ovary and both kidneys. I was referred back to my primary physician who ordered the Ultrasound and MRI. Because of my claustrophobia problem, it took three calls to locate an “open” MRI. I still popped a Xanax. 🙂

When I showed up for my ultrasound (the kind where you are required to drink about a million gallons of water prior), I was told they had no record of my appointment. Suffice it to say, they “fit me in.” I must have had my angry face on. CT Scan

After reviewing the MRI film, my doctor announced I’d be losing a kidney! She sent me to a surgeon. The surgeon disagreed with the MRI report and basically poo-pooed surgery. With strong encouragement from my family, I sought another opinion. The second surgeon at another hospital looked at the film and said, yes, there would be surgery. We set a date.

Meanwhile, after the ultrasound, I visited a OB/GYN who declared we’d recheck the ovary in six months, since I had the kidney thing going on. I was relieved to cross that off the list.

The last item to check off was an Echocardiogram.

As I planned for surgery and told my friends and family, I tried to consider all that needed to be done. My emotions were all over the place.

Yesterday, three weeks to the day from the ER visit, the second surgeon called. He said his radiologist took a look at the MRI film and said to cancel surgery and recheck in 3 months.

So instead of having a second opinion, I had four!

Maybe I should have put them all in the same room and, when they all agreed, announce it together. Sheesh!!!slippers

My brain is exhausted.

At least I didn’t get around to buying a new pair of pajamas!

Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18