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.

Sentimental Journey

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 of gold and the walls of pearl, but more like one quiet wood, where the grass is green and the little brook sings all day.  I have thought of Heaven as the place where those who love shall be together, free from all misunderstanding or thought of parting.

“The great ones say that man’s own need gives him his conception of the dear God; that if he needs the avenging angel, so is God to him; that if he needs but a friend, that will God be.  And so, in mine dream of Heaven, because it was my need, I have thought of it but as one sunny field, where there was clover in the long grass and tall trees at one side, with the clear, shining waters beyond where we might quench our thirst, and thee beside me forever, with thy hand in mine.

“There is nothing perfect here, mine Beloved, there must always be parting.  If it were not so, we should have no need of Heaven.  But to the end of the road thou and I will go together.

“See!  In the beginning, we were upon separate paths, and after so long a time, the ways met.  For a little space we journeyed together and because of it the sun was more bright, the flowers more sweet, the road more easy.  Then comes the hard place and the ways divide.  But though the leagues lie between us and we do not see, we go always at the same pace and so, in a way, together.  We learn the same things, we think the same things, we suffer the same things, because we are of those whom God hath joined.

“Someday, Beloved, when the ways part once more, and thou or I shall be called to follow the Grey Angel into the darkness, I think we shall not fear.  Perhaps we shall be very weary and the one will be glad because the other has come into the great Rest.  But, Beloved, thou knowest that if it is I who must follow the Grey Angel, and still leave thee on the dusty road alone, my grave will be no division.  Life hath not taught me not to love thee with all my soul and Death shall not.  Shall Death then do something that Life cannot?  Oh, my darling, do not fear.”

“My own, I hope that you will get as much comfort and inspiration from this as I have.  With a heart full of love from your own wife. . .”