Sentimental Journey

This is a post from 4 years ago! So relevant today as I work on book 2 of ‘Papa, Where Are You?’ I LOVE the sentiment of my grandmother and the LOVE she shows to my grandfather.

pj,your friend

ImageSometimes it’s nice to quote someone else who quoted someone else!  In my quest to publish the book I’ve written, I continue to stumble onto treasures.

The following is part of a letter dated 1912 written from my grandmother to my grandfather.  She was 28 years old at the time and a newlywed.  My grandfather was a traveling salesman.   Poignantly, because of the content here, my grandmother died giving birth to my mother – ten years later.

Spiritual perspective aside, the tender sentiment between my grandmother and my grandfather is incredible.

Along with my mother, I look forward to our reunion and meeting in Heaven.

“My Darling Husband . . . I am going to copy for you a beautiful passage from “The Master’s Violin” (by Myrtle Reed, 1904)  It contains such a beautiful idea of Heaven.

“I do not think of Heaven as the glittering place with the streets…

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a Different EASTER

pj,your friend

20140721-075309-28389006.jpgIt was Easter Sunday morning a long time ago. No, not that Easter.

My mother, in the wee hours of the morning, went into labor. It was a surprise. It was early. She woke my dad to prepare him. He had to stay home with my two older brothers and my grandmother was two hours away. My mother called the doctor. He came, picked her up and drove her to the hospital. As I said, it was a long time ago.

She barely made it to the hospital and was given anesthesia to put her under, and then I entered the world. When my mother woke up, she was presented with her daughter – me – born at 6am Easter Sunday morning. How excited she was to know she had a little girl after having two boys. It was a special memory of joy for her.

I’ve pondered this of…

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Christmas 1992 – 25 years ago

Three weeks before Christmas I got the call. It wasn’t the first time but this time it seemed different. More urgent. Mother called to let me know Dad was back in the hospital.

It was a critical time in their lives – in more ways than one. They were in the process of selling their house; the one they purchased in 1956; the house I grew up in.oak terrace

Dad couldn’t keep it up any more. He had congestive heart failure – for the past five years. He was diagnosed at age 66 and was given 6 months to two years to live. Obviously, the doctors didn’t know my dad very well. Although he couldn’t walk very far, he could still drive. From their home in the Philadelphia suburbs, they would drive back and forth to Florida where they had become “snowbirds.” They would visit me and my family in St. Louis regularly. He did all the driving.

Because my dad was a planner, my folks had bought into a retirement community outside of Lancaster. The plan was to sell the house in December and head to Florida as their new abode would not be ready until February.

But my dad went back into the hospital.

Somehow my mother’s voice was shakier this time. She’s been a trooper those past five years – carrying additional burdens and responsibilities with no family close by. I asked the question, and not for the first time. “Do you want me to come?” Normally the answer was no, she just wanted to update me. This time, “Yes!” I booked the first plane I could, landed in Philadelphia with friends (my mother’s BFF) waiting to whisk me to the hospital. My first question, “Is he still alive?” Yes, as far as they knew.

The next three weeks were a blur.

The house had been sold and the packers/movers were about to arrive. Dad hadn’t finished packing and mother didn’t know whether to pack his clothes or not. Everything would go in storage for the next several months. I couldn’t bear the obvious, so I insisted his belongings needed to be packed.

This point in time was before cell phones were in every pocket. We were torn – home with packers or at the hospital with dad. We alternated. Then the home phone got disconnected. We were furious. We panicked. The phone company had shut off the service too soon and we could not be connected to the hospital. It took a bit of deliberate determination, but we got it turned back on.

Mother had to go to closing on the house alone.

The doctors were stumped as to why Dad was holding on. Although he was still conscious, he wasn’t always thinking clearly. And as the doctor said, “His blood pressure is 70 over nothing!” But, knowing my dad, he knew all was not in order. So, the realtor came to the hospital. Bless her heart. She showed Dad the check and said closing was done. We hoped he’d be able to let go. Nope.

The doctor pulled me aside. He informed me that Dad had given instructions on his Health POA to be kept alive . . . The doctor wanted my permission to forgo that. My mother just couldn’t make the call. So I had to. Worst decision of my life! Not the wrong decision, just the worst one.

And yet he held on.

The house sold; the possessions were packed. Mother and I moved into a friends’ basement. Extended family showed up at the hospital.

I loved clam chowder. The hospital cafeteria had the best. If I wasn’t sitting in the cafeteria with a bowl of it, I was sipping it from a Styrofoam cup in my dad’s room.

To this day, I have not had any more clam chowder.

I was becoming a bit frantic. Back in St. Louis I had two teenagers and a hubby waiting. Christmas was closing in and of course I’d done no shopping.
Three days before Christmas I told my mother I needed to go home.

My brother flew in from Colorado to take over. I said goodbye to my dad, I knew, for the last time although I just couldn’t grasp that. I cried all the way home.

The day I left, he lost consciousness and three days later – on Christmas – he died.

He was 71 years old.

###

My dad was a good man. He was a hard worker and a strong provider. He was a responsible, accountable guy. He provided for us and took care of us the best he knew how to do. It wasn’t the ideal. But it was his best.

He wasn’t the warm and fuzzy type. Our home lacked affection and I felt I could never live up to his expectations. But he was wise in so many ways. He taught me all about finances, manners, accountability, etc. And, in his own way, the only way he knew how, he loved me.

I’m sad he never saw my kids grow up. He never got to reconnect with his oldest grandchild as we did, the one who had not been in our lives for so many years.
He didn’t meet the grandkids’ spouses or get to know his nine great-grandchildren.

He didn’t get to see how I finally turned out.

I think he’d be proud. 🙂

Christmas is always bittersweet for me.
But I’m blessed – and relieved to know where he is and that I’ll see him again. I’ll bet he’ll have a hug waiting for me.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

 

 

Excerpt #5 ‘Papa, Where Are You?”

The first of many Christmas references in ‘Papa, Where Are You?’

Click on the links above to acquire your own copy.

Would make a great Christmas gift! 🙂

christmas tree2

“After all the other gifts had been placed back under the tree, we prepared for Christmas dinner. Uncle Albert had a roast cooking, surrounded by carrots and potatoes in the big roaster pan. The smell drifted all over the house.

Grandmother and Uncle Albert tended to the kitchen while Aunt Marianne and I set the table. Papa sat by the tree, drumming his fingers on the arm of the chair. Nearby, Julie sat on the floor and entertained the baby with her new doll.

I was inserting red cloth napkins into the family’s set of silver engraved napkin rings when I came across Mama’s. I sighed as I placed it back in the box and looked at Papa. “Can I get you anything?” I asked. “A glass of water maybe?” He shook his head without taking his eyes from Julie and Teddy. I wanted to cry because it made me sadder to see him so sad.

“I need a roast carver,” Uncle Albert bellowed from the kitchen. Papa looked relieved as he escaped to the kitchen.

Aunt Marianne took Grandmother’s prized Christmas cactus from its perch by the window and placed it on the dinner table. With its little pink flowers, it made a lovely centerpiece. She then gathered holly leaves and berries from outside the front door and scattered them around the cactus. Red tapered candles in silver candlesticks completed the setting.

Dinner was delicious. But it was the worst Christmas of my young life. I just wanted my mama back. . .”

Thanksgiving 2017

thanksgiving 5It was asked of us at our Thanksgiving table this year, “Tell something/someone specific you are thankful for.”

It was easy for me. I had a cancerous kidney removed three months ago. I didn’t know for sure it was cancer until it was removed and the pathology report came back. I am thankful to be here and healed.

Before, during and after my hospitalization, I felt the love from far and near. I was taken care of with whatever need I, along with my hubby, might have, even before being asked. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my church – oh my, I still feel the love! It’s overwhelming! My dear hubby stepped up in any and every way he could, way beyond his comfort level.thanksgiving 1

I posted three different times prior explaining my story which began in April – the week before Easter. You can read about it here:

Three Weeks

That Dreaded MRI

Unnecessary Parts?

To see my grown children actually “mother” me was something I’ll never forget. I was so proud – not only of their maturity but of their love and knowhow. Of course, they both have four kids each so have had lots of practice! 😊

To be humbled by my physical self – poorly at the time, and still not at 100% – and to ask for and accept help, is not my normal mindset.

As for my mental self, well, let’s just say that the anesthesia one receives during surgery lasts a long, long time! I’m still not sure I’m thinking straight. 😊

About five days after the surgery, my surgeon called. I began speaking before he did, wanting him to up my pain meds. I was in a bad way! When I finally let him talk, he began with, “I have your pathology report back and it’s very unusual. . .” Thankfully my daughter was listening in because after he agreed to up my pain meds, I pretty much stopped listening.

The “very unusual” part of his message was that I had two cancerous tumors in my kidney – one quite large. But the real clincher was that each tumor contained a different type of cancer!

The essential point and most important was it was all removed. No chemo or radiation necessary.

We already knew of two tumors present. The MRI was clear on that point. And I already knew that was unusual. Why? Because I googled it! Did you know there are forums for just about everything on the internet? Fascinating! I compared pain levels, size of tumors, types of cancer, etc. Never once did I find a comment about one having two tumors, let alone two different types of cancers.

This all began with a trip to the ER in April for a pain on the left side which went away. The CT scan led us to check further on the right side where the kidney lesions in question showed themselves. It was not a fluke. It was God!

A month or so later, I was in communication with my primary doctor. Since my surgery was in a hospital in a different network than my primary, she hadn’t yet received my reports. I mentioned that I had two different types of cancerous tumors. She too commented that it was quite unusual. Later when I had an appointment in her office, she shared that in her entire practice, which began in 1990, she had never heard of this.

As time passed, those comments began to roll around in my mind. So, I asked my surgeon directly using the medical portal (I love those!).

“I met with my general doctor last week for a routine visit. She said she had never heard of a kidney with 2 different cancers in it. I wondered if you had. I know you said it was unusual, so I wondered just how rare it is? Thank you!”

He responded,
“It is quite rare. Having more than one tumor in the kidney occurs in about 3% of people with kidney cancer. Having two different types of cancer in the same kidney is even more rare . . .”

I’m famous! “😊

Seriously, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Nothing except to thank God again for His arms around me and again be amazed at His work!

Someone mentioned that now I was a cancer survivor. I disagree to the point that I do not have to deal with chemo or radiation or other means to kill the disease that so many must be subject to. I didn’t have to think about it and the “what if’s” day in and day out for months or even years. In fact, the word “cancer” was never mentioned until the surgeon called that day – five days after the infected kidney was removed. The terms, “areas of concern” and “suspicious lesions” were used, but never “cancer.” I believe that’s a psychological ploy because we all knew the possibilities.

I don’t feel like a cancer survivor because I didn’t know I had cancer until I didn’t!

But everyday I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness and thankfulness to God, my hubby, my family, my neighbors, and my friends who took care of me. I look forward to opportunities to pass it forward.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:7

thanksgiving 2

Blue-Bellies and Gray-Backs*

pj,your friend

Joseph P. YoungThis is National Military Appreciation Month.

I’d like to take the opportunity to offer my thanks and appreciation to all those serving and who have served.

Pictured here is my grandmother’s great-uncle. He was a Corporal serving in the Civil War, representing the Union, in the 13th Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. The story goes that he lost his arm during the war.

Again, I’m thankful to all who served currently and long, long ago.

God bless America.

*Blue-Bellies: Union soldiers/Gray-Backs: Confederate soldiers

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Her Very Own Halloween Gospel

Written 3 years ago. She’s still quite active and well today at 95 years old! ❤

pj,your friend

IMG_7906Life started badly for Teddy.

Losing her mother during her own childbirth and having her father just a year later abandon her; Teddy was raised by her grandmother, maiden aunt and bachelor uncle (brother and sister).

Teddy’s aunt was of the legalistic Christian variety while her uncle did not darken the door of the church, so obviously there were mixed messages growing up. Teddy always accompanied her aunt to church and basically accepted what was preached.

As a teenager she attended Pinebrook Camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She again heard the gospel and knew she had to respond. Surrounded by campers and counselors at the evening campfire, she went forward to publicly accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. Teddy repented of her sins as best she knew how, and she never looked back. Sorting out what she had been taught and listening to the Holy Spirit within her…

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Trisha

Today is Trisha’s birthday. She would have been 68 years old. I still cannot believe she’s gone. It’s a good day to repost this. I’ll always love and miss you, Trisha! ❤

pj,your friend

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…

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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! 

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