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





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.

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.

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.


I’m not sure God uses irony to make a point but maybe . . .
For example:

I was born in Abington Hospital on Easter.
43 years later . . .
My dad died in Abington Hospital on Christmas.

These two days – the most important, in fact the basis for, days in Christianity.

Obviously the day of my birth is not one I remember, but my mother does. As the story goes, I was not due for several days but Mother went into labor and called the doctor. It was her third and she knew time was of the essence. Back in the day doctors were more personally involved. He came and picked her up and took her to the hospital.

To be clear, this was not necessarily the norm but my dad had to stay home with my two older brothers and it was early, early Easter Sunday morning.

Because this delivery was long, long ago, my mother was sedated and not until she awoke later, did she realize she had a daughter. 😊 She was overjoyed after having two sons. And, of course, after seeing me, what’s not to love! 😊 😊 😊
It was 6am Easter Sunday morning. The church people showed up later in the day bringing her the most beautiful Easter flowers from church that day.

Fast forward 43 years.

My dad had been sick for a while and I got the call to come be with my mother as this was probably the time to “say goodbye” to him.
They were in Philadelphia and I was in St. Louis.

It turned into a three-week vigil.

Finally I told my mother I had to go home to my hubby and two teenaged kids. It was three days before Christmas. My brother flew in and we passed the baton. It turned out that it was the last day Dad was conscious. I remember getting on the plane and calling him – one last time – to tell him I loved him. I then flew home, brokenhearted. He was 71 years old.

(That year was probably my first on-line shopping experience. Having not yet shopped for the kid’s Christmas gifts (and no matter what the age, kids expect to see gifts on Christmas morning 😊 ) I ordered on-line and paid extra to expedite shipping. No Amazon prime then. ☹)

On Christmas Day, back in Philadelphia, my dad had been unconscious for three days and my brother and mother decided to leave the hospital to get fresh air and have a nice Christmas dinner somewhere. However, on Christmas Day, not many choices so it was Chinese for them.

Having no cell phones, they didn’t get the news until they returned to the hospital. My dad had passed away.

We all flew back for the funeral, and afterwards, settled back into life as we knew it.

For the longest time I was dismayed that for all the Christmases to come, I’d associate it with my dad’s death.

Then I got older.

It wasn’t until probably 2 decades later that I realized the irony of the hospital and special holidays my dad and I shared.

And I thank God I can focus, not on my birth and my dad’s death, but on His birth Christmas and His resurrection Easter which means I’ll not only be with God when I die, but with my dad! PTL

Ironic. Huh?!