Sunday, September 30, 2007
How many of you have been with me through all 233 posts? You deserve some kind of award!
Someone said I must be very discipled and dedicated to stay on top of blogging the way I do. I'm neither. I'm COMPELLED to write; it's a driving passion. Discipline is when you continue to do something you don't want to do reliably -- like exercise or going to a job you dislike, or being a light in the world when sometimes you feel like deepest darkness (during "dark nights of the soul"). That's discipline.
Blogging is usually a great pleasure for me. There are times I don't feel there's much to say, but strangely enough, during those days when I do blog "anyway," I seem to get the most response! Maybe it's because I just decide to let God's Spirit take me on an excursion -- as I did recently while remembering "dentistry then and now." I'm not driving -- just letting go and seeing where the spirit takes me.
Often it surprises me where we end up -- and that's usually great fun! Then sometimes I will "force" a blog. In most cases it ends up in "drafts" where it will sit for all eternity because it's either a whole lot of nothing or it's not written in the right spirit. Sometimes pride or judgment or bossiness gets hold of me and those "essays" always come off badly... They are "just" me and as such aren't worth the "virtual" paper they are written on!
I have almost 300 bound journals, from 1968 through this year. I was going through a few of them a few months back and realizing how far I've grown in almost 40 years.
It's refreshing -- and embarrassing! -- to look in on the "me" I was forty years ago and see the transformation that has taken place. I was so mortified by some of the entries that I wanted to edit them and make them reflect a "better" me than I was -- but I didn't (that would be dishonest) but did realize during the reading of the old entries that the better me truly was there all along, but in the wings, driving the less-good me to strive to live up to what I knew I could be if I would elect to live by the inner light and stop "reacting" negatively to hurts and instead "respond" positively to them -- in a sane, love-based manner.
I was very critical of my alcoholic father, judgmental of my mother (who I thought should "do something" about the way he was treating all of us), and cranky more times than I remembered with my sisters, who seemed just too different from me -- Laurel the Spock Brain (high Intelligence Quotient, low Emotional Intelligence Quotient), Jackie the Double-Minded, who loved, played with, protected and defended me when we were alone or in crisis, but who seemed to loathe me and treated me with disdain and harsh words whenever her friends came around. I later learned she was afraid that her friends would gravitate to me if they ever got to know me better, so keeping me from them became her goal...
Insecurity drove all three of us kids, but in different directions: Laurel to achievement at any cost; Jackie to full-time gregarious pursuits among others; me, to an introspective, bookish, self-help type of re-parenting that, over time, has resurrected the undamaged child I was before I came to feel that my family viewed me as someone very unlike themselves, perhaps as an unsightly scar to the family tree, a throwback of some sort ... while others (teachers, writers and actors) viewed me as a Renaissance kid, able to do many things well, with a particular gift for escorting people via the written word to (in Robert Kennedy's phraseology) "a newer world," one dedicated to healing others who also feel trapped in a cold-hearted dimension of reality that seems to have the skin and the life-hardened musculature of a rhinoceros... a damaged world threatening, "Don't mess with me. I can hurt you -- and I will, if it will achieve my purpose."
As a kid and teenager I was so borderline "autistic" (self-directed, my-ideal-world-possessed, and so easily upset by the unsettling emotions and outbursts endemic within the dynamics of my nuclear family) that I had zero interest in stealing anyone's affection from Jackie or from anyone else. My sense of alien-ness was so intense and hammered into me that I never felt "worthy" of another person's time or attention. It was laughable to think that I could ever "steal" one of Jackie's friends. Jackie is gregarious, fun, a happening person -- to this day, she is the one makes things happen: events, parties, trips, vacations, memories. I'm the type who shows up and soaks it all in but unless someone stops by, sits down, and strikes up a conversation, no one in the room will ever know me... or even feel they might gain something valuable from knowing me. I can't tell you the number of people who have been surprised, even shocked, to learn I have written four books and that I talk to large crowds about a man I knew named DeForest Kelley. That's partly because I don't want to be "known" that way exclusively, and if anyone else mentions it, that's ALL people seem to remember of me... as if that's all the "me" worth remembering.
This could have happened again at the women's retreat this weekend, but God's spirit stepped in and saved the day. I gave my testimony about coming to Christ without mentioning the Kelleys by name even once; the omission was deliberate on my part, even though De was the first adult to fully reflect Christ into my adult life on a sustained, many-decades basis.
The reaction of the ladies hearing my testimony for the first time was intense; the water was not muddied in any way. It was a holy occasion.
The next day a lady came by to re-introduce herself to me, saying, "Carol B introduced you to me a few months ago, referencing your association with DeForest Kelley. Until last night, that's all I've thought about when seeing you in church. I can tell there's a lot more to you after hearing your testimony last night. I would like to get to know you better."
Her last sentence was a relief -- the rest a distressing reminder! Far too often even the pastors at CFAN will introduce me to someone new this way: "Kris is a writer and was DeForest Kelley's personal assistant at the end of his life" or something similar -- sometimes simply as "our resident Trekkie" (even worse, because I'm not a disciple of Trek but of Jesus -- I only watched the first series, and that was because of the Spock/McCoy synergy).
I don't like being introduced in this way unless I'm at a STAR TREK convention, where the reference is of appropriate value. In any other venue, especially church, it throws a spotlight away from a mutual devotion to God and focuses it on someone that some church-goers might consider an "idol" (De) -- or it might incite someone to think of me as a "mini-celebrity" -- again a mis-directing of a spotlight onto an inappropriate person. In church -- as in my daily life -- the only idol I want to see spotlighted and worshipped is the only One worthy of worship: Father/Son/Holy Spirit!
In TREK circles I take pains to point out to De's fans that what we all loved most about De was that he truly reflected the God he served. The mercy, grace and love that De showered on his fans was pure, unadulterated, agape love. (Of course I reveal this in a more secular fashion than I would in a church setting, but it's there and it's obvious.) For me, there is no other reason to go to a TREK convention. Trying to describe De to people who never met him or saw him live without using the terms grace and love would be a travesty. Love and grace inhabited De the way beauty inhabits a rose -- they're inseparable.
How did I get on this subject? I would have to look back up the page to find out. I'm sure it was arrived at my logical means...
So I will let it stand as written and sign off for the rest of the day!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
My sisters in Christ are devoted, and they are also demented in a wonderful way! I smile just thinking of all the nuttiness we shared...
I bet some of you thought a church retreat was something akin to joining a monastery or nunnery for a weekend. HAH! More like a nut-house with wonderful women who get to get real and laugh and cry and express fears and doubts and faith in abundance.
It's unexplainable. Don't miss an opportunity to attend a women's retreat!
My Realtor has found a duplex on the market for Jackie and me in exactly the right location that looks so much like De's and Carolyn old home in Sherman Oaks (x 2) from the outside that it took my breath away. Jackie drove by it and LOVES it, too, so we're going inside on Monday evening to have a look-see at what the renters have done to it on the inside. If it's as great-looking on the inside as it is on the outside, I truly believe we have found our next home -- one of us on each side of the duplex!
Please pray that this is the one and that the price can be negotiated into the upper stratosphere of our price range. (Right now it's about $10K too much for us.) If God is in this new find -- and I truly believe He is based on the way recent events have pointed to this event! -- it will all work out in some miraculous God-crafted way... It cannot happen any other way without being outside the will of God regarding wise stewardship of financial resources...!
I won't give you the link until we're sure it's ours. Then I will so you can smile and be happy for us!
Have a great evening. I'm going to sleep! Possibly I will write another short blog tomorrow.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
If there's anything objectionable, let me know and I will remove the link from my blog...
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.
If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.
For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.
We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.
We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.
It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take! Amen
I’m getting excited about the upcoming women’s retreat. I’ve only been on an overnight mini-retreat once, at someone’s home, very local. This one is 180 miles away and in a Christian Conference Center next to a beautiful beach along the Oregon coast. This beach has been voted the most beautiful beach on the Pacific coast (or on the Pacific NW coast – not sure which), so I’m expecting to be IMpressed! There are so many breath-taking beaches in the Pacific Northwest (and farther south) that I wonder how ANY of them could be called "best" – but will tell you if I agree when I get back!
Since it’s a retreat, I won’t be taking my laptop and blogging during the time away… so this is a heads up . Don’t think I’ve died on the highway because I’m not blogging Thursday through Sunday. (I won’t be gone all that time but may not be ready to blog when I get back Saturday during the day.) But if I don’t start blogging again along about Monday or Tuesday, then you MAY assume I’m dead or badly wounded… but not until then, okay? Got that?
It’s going to be fun, informative, and restful. I’m taking my favorite pillow (that’s one of the prerequisites) and my jammies (I reckon that is, too!) and a few changes of comfortable, casual clothes and a note pad and at least one Bible. (Decisions, decisions – which version?) OK and a few other necessities – toothbrush and other toiletries. MUST not forget my hairbrush. I always forget a hairbrush – but up until now have been "retreating" with biological sisters who don’t mind if I use their hair care tools. I did it in Vegas, too –thank God Billie Rae Walker had an extra comb she was willing to bequeath to me so I wouldn’t look a fright all weekend. I just dunno why I can’t remember the flippin’ hairbrush and dryer. It’s like I have a brain malfunction in this area… I remember to comb my hair every morning, so why would I forget to take a hairbrush when I travel? T’is a mystery…
A mystery that need not be solved. I will call it my primary idiosyncracy and let it go at that. (Can anyone else name my secondary ideosyncracy? I will see how close I think you come if you’ll try! But keep it fun and upbeat – ‘cause I have total control over what kind of communication sees the light of day in this blog! HA HA HA!)
I had a dental appointment this morning for a semi-annual teeth cleaning. My dental hygienist, Kim, is a total joy as it the dentist. I’m probably one of very few people on the planet who looks forward to going to the dentist! I haven’t had a bad experience in a dentist’s chair in so many years that all residual "dread" of dentistry has long since been extinguished.
One of my earliest dental experiences was just awful. My adult teeth were growing in behind my baby teeth and the dentist insisted that he didn’t need to numb me to pull the baby teeth out "because they don’t have any root." Excuse me?! What’s holding them in then – staples? WHATEVER was holding them in hurt like thunder when he started prying them out of there, so he had a screaming, crying five year old attached to his forearm and coming up out of the chair every time he trying to pry one out…
My Mom heard the racket and came in to witness this vision and told him in no uncertain terms, "That’s quite enough of that…" at which time I guess he concurred and gave me a shot of novacaine. Something like that stays with a child a long, long time.
And back in the day when I was a kid even the needles they used for novacaine were big and thick and re-sharpened – they weren’t tiny, one-use needles – so they were a trial, too. But these days dentistry – at least any I have experienced, including oral surgery – is much less traumatic, so I just don’t worry beforehand. At all. Same with getting shots. Thinking about that stuff ahead of time just extends the amount of time and energy one invests in presupposing how it will be, so I don’t do it. Sufficient unto the moment is the discomfort thereof! Why invite dread into an equation?
Not this kid! I’m freed from all that. Last year I didn’t even dread the major abdominal surgery I had. I had everybody laughing as I headed into the operation!
Pray and go – the rest is God’s domain, and I trust Him implicitly!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Archie, one of my cats, darted out the door last night despite my best efforts to keep him. He stayed out (‘cause no way was I chasing after a cat that bent on FREEDOM in a nightie) until 3:30 when he launched himself upward onto my bedroom screen. Darn cat! It really ticked me off. A simple "Meow" would have sufficed, with less damage to the screen and my subsequent dreams of breaking and entering. Grrr…
I’m working ahead at work so there won’t be any clients for the other copywriters to deal with on Friday when I’m out. And tomorrow morning early I have a dental appointment, so I worked ahead for tomorrow, too. This way I can catch up quickly if I’m a little late getting to work. (Doubt it.)
Wrote copy for five new clients in the past two days. Yippee skippy! That’s my favorite part of this job! I’m blessed because 99 out of a hundred times the client absolutely loves what I write, so there’s not much re-writing that needs to happen – which is great because the client gets their on-hold program quick as a bunny that way! Lisa is always wondering how I turn clients around (get them going) as fast as I do. Giving it the best I’ve got the first time is a good start, I reckon! Usually only a few words here and there need changing, if at all, so it all comes together pretty quickly…
Tomorrow I’m in charge of the production sheet in the afternoon. I’m really getting the hang of it these days and kinda enjoy it now. It was a fearful thing to contemplate doing it at first, like most new skills, but now that I understand its dynamics, I don’t fret at all. And I have a new skill, to boot!
I don’t know that it’s a transferable skill, but I don’t plan to transfer, anyway, so I’m good with it! I have a less-eager attitude about learning new skills that are non-transferable to another job or to life. If the new thing doesn’t seem it has long-term value, I prefer not to have to learn it. It’s all I can do now to keep what I do know in shape and growing! J I’m getting wise as I age: If it doesn’t have considerable value to help or to revolutionize a particular aspect of one’s work or life, why the heck invest time and trouble learning it? I’m an inveterate learner, but some stuff just doesn’t hit mt passion button.
I’m in touch now with a Messianic Jew, who just sent me an AMAZING dissertation he wrote titled TORAH (God’s Law) VS. GRACE ??? In it, he details why God’s Law (The Ten Commandments and many of the Jewish holy days) ought to be a continuing part of all believers’ worship activities. Many Christian denominations teach that not only did Jesus come to fufill the law (as a sacrifice) but that he came to abolish it altogether; that the law was placed there by God simply to show us what sin was and what we could do to avoid being ensnared by it – and to show us that there was no way we could uphold the Law perfectly (the tenth commandment makes it utterly impossible), which is why a Messiah was needed who could (and did) uphold it perfectly and who could die as a perfect (without blemish) sacrifical lamb to open the way for us to have fellowship with the Father again.
My new friend, Tod Sherard, argues that throughout the Old and New Testaments there are many, many references to the commandment to keep the Torah (God’s Law) – to keep the holy days ennumerated by God to the Jews sacred. Then he goes on to show that although Jesus either completely (regarding animal sacrifices) or partially fulfilled the law (regarding other rituals), in no way did He intend for the days that God set apart as "holy" (Sabbath – Saturday, the Feasts, Festival of Lights, etc.) to be forgotten or "overwritten" by Christian holy days. In fact, Tod shows that the meanings of the feasts and the holy days ALL were either wholly or partially fulfilled by Jesus when He was on earth the first time, and that the rest will be fulfilled when He comes again! I was reading it and thinking, "WOW!"
I hadn’t realized that! Messianic Jews now celebrate all the Jewish holidays but they do it with the knowledge that these days were all symbolic of what God planned -- since the foundation of the earth -- the Messiah would do/arrange/complete when He came in the flesh, while more traditional Jews still don’t know why, for example, they celebrate using some of the tools or articles they do. Every article used in the feasts and holy days relate in some way to Christ! The Tabernacle itself is a study that bears this out! It’s undeniable that the Old and New Testaments fit together and complete each other the way skin "completes" our bodies!
I need to re-read Tod’s essay a few more times to really understand the intricacies of his argument, but already I intuitively "know" it’s sounds very, very right. He invited me to attend some Jewish holidays at his Messianic Jewish temple/church. I will study a little more about the different feasts and holidays so that when I go, I will be aware of the meaning of each of them – both as traditional Jews experience "the meaning" and as Messianic Jews experience them. It has to be different.
Traditionalists are still waiting for their Messiah – while "completed" Jews are anticipating His return! So the holidays are anticipatory in both cases, but one’s a longing that seems long-denied while the other is a longing to reacquiant oneself with a Messiah they didn’t get to meet the first time but "know" well already. The former must feel like a fantasy; the latter feels much less theoretical and much more imminent!
My realtor will be by tonight to re-list my condo for another month.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I slept at Jackie’s home last night so I’d be closer to the duplex we decided to look at this morning. It was a good choice, because we got through the walk through in both sides in under fifteen minutes and I was at work 32 minutes later, just 45 minutes or so after I was scheduled to be there. (Yes, I called ahead to let them know of my excursion so they wouldn’t fret I was dead on the road; but our only opportunity to see the duplex soon was this morning at 8 a.m. so we agreed to it).
My impression? The duplex was built in 1989 and from the outside looks fine. It’s being rented right now. In one side the renters seem respectful of the building; the other side houses a family with two adult, untrained, rambunctious pit bulls. The back yard in that half looks like you would expect it to look with two energetic, unsupervised, bored dogs running rampant: the lawn is gone except in a few still-tufted handfuls, and the dogs have attempted numerous expeditions to China with their front paws. I can smell "wet dog" inside that side of the duplex, but no urine or fecal smells, so that’s fixable if we elect to move forward. We’d just insist that the seller replace the carpet and perhaps have the dog yard roto-tilled and laid flat so we can lay sod down .
I haven’t spoken to Jackie since the look-see, so don’t know what her impression is of the place. Of course we’d have it inspected and the disclosure statement would disclose any known defects in the structure.
It’s a good area on a nice quiet cul de sac near Puyallup, and my route to work is 30 minutes, give or take a few. (I’m sure I didn’t drive the most direct route to work from there.) I will Mapquest it tonight if Jackie wants to move forward and see what the most direct route is between there and work. A half hour is not a bad commute these days, so that’s good. I didn’t take the available freeways on purpose, to see what the longest commute would take me through city streets. On an open freeway, I reckon the commute time would be about five to eight minutes less… hardly a big deal, either way one drove in or out morning and evening. We don’t get much really lousy, impassable weather where we are, so even winter trips should be possible in under an hour on the few days when ice or snow coat the roadways.
The thought of investing significant time resurrecting the doggy side does not thrill me, and I will probably get the doggy side because I have kitties and if there’s a residual pet smell, why should Jackie have to deal with it? I’m habituated to eau de critter as long as it isn’t overpowering – and I really think what I smelled in that side of the duplex was maily because the dogs were in the room with us, very nearby, in a metal crate. Big dogs have a distinctive wet-dog odor that’s not "bad," per se… it’s just there!
The weekend went by too fast again, but I feel more rested than I have in weeks. That’s a step in the right direction! The church women’s retreat at Cannon Beach is coming in a few days, and I should get some sleep and relaxation then too… as long as I put myself to bed at a decent hour. But of course it’s hard to do that when you’re having fun, discussing God, and fellowshipping with other believers. I’ll be showing them card-making techniques (providing I can get my stuff wrested from the jam-packed garage I have for the moment). It won’t be easy to sidle in there and lift a tall plastic, three-drawer card-making chest out of there filled with stamps and stamping supplies, but I WILL give it the old college try!
What else? Hmmm… Nothing much, I guess.. so reckon I’ll shut up and let you get on with your busy day… or night… whatever time it is when you reach this final sentence!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Jackie believes she has found "THE" duplex for us. I will drive by it tomorrow after church and look at the outside and then we will be allowed in Monday at 6 to see the insides. From what I see in the photos of the place, it does indeed look like "just what the doctor ordered," so I hope this is it.
Spent the afternoon with Jackie at her place, helping her prepare for the upcoming holidays by digging her Halloween and Christmas stuff out of the shed and bringing it to her back porch -- this, to save her what she thought would be two hours of solitary work. (It took 30 minutes, max, between the two of us.) After that we went to Orting to ride bikes for 12 miles, so I'm weary, but happily so, and my legs will be sore tomorrow.
I'm planning to go see the new Jesse James movie during a matinee tomorrow. I hear it's really good and I want to do something fun like that. I'm not usually a movei goer, but this is something I will go see. I think it'll be terrific! In case it isn't, I'm paying matinee prices -- skipping church to do it -- oh, my, the sky may fall! Do you think?!
Other than that... my condo is clean from stem to stern... I had a closet put into the den area so I can use the room as a den or as a bedroom if it doesn't sell before spring... and we'll go from there!
That's all folks! Ciao for now!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Busy, busy couple of days at work and when I got home I was too tired to blog. But the weekend is coming ‘round again and perhaps I will be able to think of something outstanding - or at least ostentatious -- to say by then…
I’ve had three nights of really great sleep. It’s the hot chocolate, I tell ya, along with the cooling of the night air brought on by the change of seasons. I always sleep better in the winter. Nights are a lot longer up here in fall and winter, making it easier to go to sleep sooner but harder to get out of bed in the morning! That’s a small trade-off for living in God’s Country, though, isn’t it?
I watched KID NATION last night, episode one. Don’t know that I’ll stay with it, because I am SO not a TV watcher. Also watched an hour long Pacific NW special on global warming and what it’s doing to the Pacific Northwest. We’re losing glaciers at almost breakneck speed along with snowfall, the sources of cold water for essential salmon runs and for agricultural and forestry interests, not to mention drinking water). Some experts see the Pacific Northwest getting 10 degrees warmer before the year 2100 – just 93 years away. Ten degrees is HUGE when you are talking about eco-systems designed by God to retain and recycle watershed minerals and sustenance to them…
I’m kinda glad I won’t be here in 50 years (in probably 30 years!) but that doesn’t make me feel much better. My grand nieces will be and their kids will be, should the Lord tarry (which I don’t think He will, much longer).
People and industries who think only short term extinguish themselves and their progeny left and right. It’s criminal that we have looked the other way while pavement has been laid over vast expenses of cities, towns, highways and byways without much regard to what it would do to the environment the moment the vehicles, appliances and other industrial-age wonders began to encroach…
We’re digging our own graves and the graves of our progeny and it’s all but too late to turn it around. And NOW President Bush concedes there might be something to this global warming thing… the same week he conceded that Hitler wasn’t a very nice man…
Gawd Awmighty. It’s enough to drive me to despair.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
My poor cats. I had barely enough time to put food in their dishes this morning in the mad scramble to get out the door on time. They probably thought I had gone mad overnight. The strange thing is that they didn’t dig under my door to wake me at the usual hour – or, if they did, I was dead to the world and didn’t hear them (a distinct possibility). I will have to spend some extra-special time with them this evening to make up for being a frantic Mom-Cat this morning…
My mood and attitude is back to par… the sadness and regret that things didn’t go as planned for Aunt Tod (getting her into assisted living, etc.) is passing as I realize that it was time for God to take her home and that she was enormously happy at Maple Creek and nearby the past five months and happy with what everyone was doing for her, even during the last few weeks as she began to be shuttled between hospitals, rehab centers, dialysis centers and finally to Hospice. If she were still here in the condition she was in, it would do her absolutely no good and we’d all be worn to an even-larger frazzle than we are now. God really does take care of His children… I’m glad we’re not where we were last week at this time anymore. And so is Aunt Tod!
A Blast from the Recent Past
Was it just six weeks ago that I was having the time of my life at the Las Vegas STAR TREK convention? So much has happened since then that the memories had to be put aside while I dealt with other things – some great fun, some not fun at all. But since I haven’t given a convention report yet in depth, is it too late to start now and see how much of it I can remember?
Friday afternoon, August 10th, Betty Mosher picked me up at McCarran Airport and whisked me over to the Hilton to drop me off. The moment I walked in through the revolving door into the Hilton, I spotted a very attractive, very anticipatory young lady fairly bouncing on her heels with her gaze locked on me. I quickly discerned, "Alison?" and we embraced.
Alison Winter is much better-looking in person than she is in photos. In photos she’s great-looking, but most people look better in person than they do in photos because seeing someone in 3D is better by far than seeing them lying flat on a piece of paper – DUH!
Anyway, I felt almost as though I was being greeted by an eager puppy and wondered how long I’d be able to live up to THAT degree of anticipation! For a moment there, I knew what it felt like to be a "celebrity." Eegads!
Don’t get me wrong. Alison was lady-like and professional from the get-go – I could just see that she had been looking forward to this particular moment for days already (since she had flown into Vegas on Wednesday, two days before) and this was the official "kickoff" to the three-day STAR TREK weekend we looked forward to sharing. She told me later that she was shell-shocked the first evening we were together and didn’t really "settle" until sometime the next morning – the morning when I spoke to the Vegas audience about De.
Later Friday evening, we connected with Billie Rae Walker, the interviewer responsible for the two great interviews at STARTREK.COM (Sept-October Special, still available at the website under STAR TREK/SPECIALS) and STAR TREK MAGAZINE (July-August 2007 issue). It was another moment of great anticipation for all concerned. Suddenly, I had two FRIENDS IN FACT AND IN THE FLESH who had been, up to this moment, virtual friends (via email and a few phone calls) for several months.
It wasn’t long after this that Angela Solomon from Texas spotted us and we all went to dinner. We were going to eat in Quark’s Bar but it was roped off for a special event, so we went to a Mexican restaurant inside the Hilton. Surprising the starch out of us, Angie insisted on picking up the tab for the dinner! Thanks again, Angie! I won’t forget that and will do the honors next time!
Billie Rae, Alison and I talked late into the evening – much about De, much about each other as we got to know each other better.
Alison was given some (wise?) counsel from the two of us that probably went about as far as it would have gone with us at age 27: Try not to be in such a rush to get to the next life event/adventure -- enjoy what you have right now because this day is one that will never be repeated, just as are the many you’re always anticipating.
We both said that whatever "control" she has of her life is tentative at best – but that with God, all things are possible, and that He knows her heart and her desires in all areas, and that He will get her where she’s going as long as she trusts Him explicitly (and no one else to the same degree, including herself).
In a nutshell: "Hand Him your life and then pray for discernment – he’ll direct your path and will take you places you cannot even imagine, just to delight you and to show you it has always been His will to bless His kids with the best life has to offer."
We affirmed to her that she’s a blessing (when you meet her, you will know this, too!), all praise to God, and that her career will bless others as long as she doesn’t relinquish her dreams and goals to modify the nay-sayers’ apprehension about the path God gave her to walk. God doesn’t give us a safe journey – He just promises to be there the whole way with us! If she’ll risk for what she wants, she will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who just wish, and stop short of taking leap of faith to the next level.
I wish someone had told me this early on. I was so convinced by the fearful around me that I wouldn’t make it, I let the words fulfill their prophecy! Not any more I don’t, but I did for complete DECADES!!! What a waste of a unique, individual life!
Or was it a waste? It gave me ammunition to help Alison and others, to encourage them, to tell them that there’s always room for the blessed, for the determined, for the folks who know to the marrow of their bones, "I cannot live any other way but this way. I must be who I am in order to be have the outcome God wants me to achieve."
This is a miracle –- thank You, God! -- but because I was well-occupied visiting with Alison and Billie Rae Saturday morning, or talking to De’s fans who recognized me prior to my appearance that morning, I wasn’t even remotely nervous when it came time to step onto the stage and "do my thing." The appearance went well, based on the response as I finished: loud and boisterous. Billie Rae and Alison assured me I’d done very well…
I’m sorry to say I was given only 25 minutes instead of the 35 I had expected to speak, so had to amputate the last half of the presentation and was unable to tie it up with a nice bow or to mention that the new deadline for my new De (THE ENDURING LEGACY OF DeFOREST KELLEY: ACTOR, HEALER, FRIEND) book is March 5, 2008.
The rest of the weekend was non-stop chatting and visiting. For several hours Billie Rae, Alison and I sat at the book-signing booth in the dealer’s room so I could meet De’s fans who came by and sign their books if they had them or wanted to buy them from me. That was a lot of fun for me, but Billie was sitting on boxes and I think doing that for so long put her into some serious back pain that night… poor gal!
Saturday night I took six or seven people to Quark’s Bar and picked up the tab for dinner and a drink two gals bought that looked to be the size of a volleyball! It was a Quark’s Special of some stripe. I don’t even want to know what it was. All I know is one of the gals who drank it got sick afterward and we didn’t see her again, except briefly, for the rest of the night.
Quark’s Bar was a hoot. Servers and others were dressed as aliens and the costumes and banter were outstanding.
The next morning we went to have our photos taken on the bridge of the Enterprise, and there was quite a wait to do that – but that was okay, because it forced us all to sit in one place and actually connect for the first time with Margot Worthington and her friend from Colorado! I had seen Margot perhaps five minutes all weekend up until this enforced waiting period, so it was a good thing that we had to wait a while.
When the photo op was over, Alison hugged us all and rushed to be in line for a photo op with Shatner and Nimoy, so that was the last we saw of her that weekend. Billie Rae and I parted company with Margot and … ?? … did we go eat after that? No, we called Betty and had her come get us, THEN we ate at a Cheesecake Factory with Betty not far from the airport…
An update on Betty – she didn’t have cancer near her bile duct and the other cancer was removed. Last I heard, she was recovering well – but slowly – ay her brother’s place in California. She should be home by now. I will call her this weekend for a further update unless I get an email from her before then.
It occurs to me that I may have written a convention report after it happened, but it seems a lifetime ago so I have just done it again!
Two days after the convention, Bobbie Bobstein came out and spent two weeks with me – and a few hours with Aunt Tod, as well. That adventure was pretty-well covered in blogs, I remember…
I basically just did a recap to get myself back on track and to try to re-capture the WONDERFUL aspects of the past month. And I have done that and am smiling as a result!
Monday, September 17, 2007
"Grandma's Hands" (author unknown)
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK. Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear strong voice.
'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her.
'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?'
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.
Grandma smiled and related this story:'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.
'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.
'They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand.
'They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ."
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home.
When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.
I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.
Saturday I visited the fair for three and a half hours and then spent three hours with my sisters Jackie and Laurel and niece Wendy getting things out of Aunt Tod’s Maple Creek facility. I’m relieved this sad task is over, but it took a lot out of us physically and out of me emotionally. Rumaging through items that only days ago were personal and private and none of our business has never set well with me.
I’m glad I elected to be there, though, because Aunt Tod had left notes stating what she wanted us to have, if we wanted them. Laurel was to get any of her furniture. Laurel passed on a magnificent old bureau dresser, so I asked if we could swap out the particle board dresser at my condo (a mile away) and bring Aunt Tod’s to me. Also, Tod had a nice dinner table and four chairs that Jackie passed on keeping, so we traded my glass-top set and six chairs for it. What that required was an extra trip or two to my place, but no one balked for even an instant.
I was so freakin’ sore when I got home that night I soaked in a tub for a half hour just to get my lower legs to stop torturing me. Most of the foot pain was probably fair-related, but helping carry several large items of furniture down a flight of stairs at Maple Creek certainly didn’t help.
Anyway, the weekend activity makes the torment "almost over" – what we left at Maple Creek is for the owner to go through and decide what can be used by other residents or by the facility. Jackie and I will take one more trip this coming weekend to take out anything they decide they don’t want.
In three weeks or so, we’ll go through the ten boxes in my garage that belonged to Aunt Tod and through Tim’s storage area to go through what belonged to her there, to see what anyone wants to keep and what needs to be donated or thrown out. So the task won’t be completed for some time yet, but at least Maple Creek can have its room back and they can proceed with life as usual – minus my aunt, who was so much loved by everyone there. I am giving her black hat to one of the nurses, who took the bold step of asking for it. It represented Tod to her – it was her signature piece of clothing every time she left for dialysis…
Sunday I went to Bible Study and to worship service, then came home and tried to sleep some. It didn’t work very well, so in the afternoon I went to Jackie’s (my ritual every Sunday afternoon) to spend time with the McNiven family (nephew Phil, niece Wendy, grandniece Casey, Jamie), part of the Foxley family (grandnieces Lizzie and Isabella) and Jackie (awesome sister – I have two of those!). Being with family right now is comforting… even more so than usual.
Bobbie called Jackie and me Sunday to check up on us and let us know she’s sending some photos of Aunt Tod and me that she took at St Joe’s Hospital a few weeks ago – among the last photos taken of our aunt. Naturally she didn’t look her best, but they’ll still be precious to all of us…
The bit I put in earlier today about Grandma’s Hands hit me particularly hard because during the last days of Tod’s life many people who love her held her hand. I spent a lot of time looking at her small, emaciated hand and thinking, "Still, it’s so beautiful…" It was delicate… Today’s "Hands" sololiquy had a huge impact because of my recent experience. I did look at Tod’s hands and nails and think, "These hands have served her so well for 94 years and still are beautiful…" God doesn’t make junk!
The weather has turned wet but it’s not yet cold, and any day between now and October 5th we can probably have another 80 plus degree day or two. I don’t see any possibility of that in the forecast, but it’s possible. I love the four seasons: Just about the time I get tired of the season we’re in, it changes and I get another one for three months. I just love the Pacific Northwest!
Cleve called me from Hollywood sometime Saturday asking me to call him back – and I didn’t. I just didn’t have the energy. When the two of us get on the line, it’s a minimum of a one hour call, and there was no way I was going to be able to get through a marathon calling session. Cleve, forgive me! I’ll make it up to you on another weekend day when I have re-energized and can think straight again. Right now it’s all I can do to stay caught up with emails and blogging – and people are being very kind and understanding about it… THANK YOU, ALL!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I am planning to have a VERY LONG long two-day weekend. To accomplish this, I am going to do very little. I will not do anything I don’t absolutely have to do unless I absolutely WANT to do it. One of the things I want to do is go to the Puyallup Fair (the Western Washington State Fair – look it up on the Internet if you don’t have a clue what it is, so you can be envious that you’re not a resident of the Pacific Northwest). That may be the ONLY thing I do this weekend other than attending Bible study on Sunday morning.
I will answer the phone if I feel like talking to someone. I may even pick up the phone and dial someone if I feel like talking. But right now I just feel like being very quiet and walking around the fairgrounds looking for things that make me smile, like lambs and calves and lop-eared bunnies and kids in pigtails and long-married couples holding hands.
I might do some holiday shopping there and come home with small goodies for loved ones. I might. This is the weekend when I indulge in whatever the heck it is I want to do, and nothing else.
What a concept. A weekend just for me… OK, and you… my virtual family… because I love doing this for/with you, too!
Now let’s see if God laughs at this plan, or if He lets me actually have it this way this weekend. You just never know! I’m open to suggestions, God. I’ll be very quiet this weekend and see if I hear anything more from You!
Thank You for the life I’ve had – every moment of it. It’s all good – even the hard parts that don’t seem to make much sense at the time…
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I took half a day off work yesterday afternoon to rest. It made a lot of difference, although now that it’s Thursday afternoon, I seem to be fading again. Perhaps I ate too large a lunch… a steak salad… plenty spicy… with the thought it would wake me up… but all it did was clear my sinuses (and I didn’t know they needed it)…
Luckily, I’ll be doing the production sheet this afternoon, so there will be something to do to keep me awake and alert. Without that, I’d be prone to fading out of my chair and falling underneath my desk… The weekend should turn me around and give me back some of the spunk I’m noted for…. Yeah…
Two of my wonderful co-workers brought me flowers today – a bouquet and a magnificent mum plant. One is bright and multi-colored; the other is creamy white. Both are precious (as are the folks who thought of me in such a sweet way) and do my heart good.
Laurel and Jackie will be going to Maple Creek on Saturday afternoon to go through Aunt Tod’s personal effects; they’ll decide whether Maple Creek would be able to use some of it for their residents who are less well off – people who don’t have the benefit of Medicare or another program to get them a wheelchair or walker, for example. It’s a way to give back to the community that took such great, loving care of Tod for five months. Yeah, it feels right…
I’m not going because I can’t bear it right now. I hope I won’t have to go back at all… but probably will. I’m taking this weekend to rest and recover. I’ve been at warp seven for over six weeks, with the convention, a lovely visitor, and Aunt Tod’s decline and death, so I’m going to the Puyallup Fair on Saturday for a few hours (to do something FUN for the first time in two weeks) and to church on Sunday. After that, all bets are off as to what else I might be doing.
I’d like to do a whole lot of nothing, but found that pretty hard to do yesterday afternoon when I had the chance. My hairdresser cut my hair at 3:30 and I watched a movie Bobbie sent me that evening – MONA LISA SMILE. Then I went to sleep for a few hours, but the sleep didn’t last. My mind is still in "red alert" mode and probably will be for a few more days. It’s not easy to come down to "all is well" after something like this… it takes the adrenaline a while to leach out, I guess!
I’m looking forward to feeling "normal" again…
In a couple weeks I’ll be going on a two days women’s retreat with my church to Cannon Beach, Oregon. If I’m not fully rested by then, I may just sit on the beach and veg most of the time… That sounds like heaven to me right now…
Please keep Alison in your prayers as she goes through the process of dealing with her father’s unexpected passing from an auto accident. She is having to deal with international laws, foreign accident investigations, wills, people coming out of the woodwork she doesn’t know who knew her dad… It’s all been very trying for her. She’ll be here in Washington in late October and by then things should be less stressful for her, and I should have recovered from the bone-weariness I feel. We’ll probably do a lot of hugging and crying because we both lost loved ones on the same day (her dad to an auto accident, my aunt to a massive stroke that left her unable to communicate until she passed away yesterday morning)… but that’s okay. That’s what friends and families are for. I’m so glad Bobbie was here when she was to meet Aunt Tod and bless her in the way she did. She lifted Tod’s spirits every time we visited her because she had so many bird stories and other comments that blessed Tod… plus that million-dollar grin and gleam that lifts spirits just because she’s in the same room with you. Bobbie helped me love on Aunt Tod and that’s HUGE to me…
All for now…
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
We could feel your prayers and sense your hearts in every e-card, phoned message and email.
She's free now. Thank God, praise God!
Following is a sweet email I received middle of last week. I reprint it here, with Laurie's kind permission, because it gives you a little more insight into the lady who was my aunt... while she was still feisty! I've heard some wonderful stories from Tod's friend, Linda Benson of Sequim. This email is from her daughter, Laurie. I met both of them briefly on the last Sunday before Ant Tod's stroke... and will re-connect with them again when we take her ashes to Sequim to rest with her husband of 63 years, John Fremault...
I am so sorry to hear the news about Evelyn, though at 94ish we shouldn't be surprised. My mom is very glad to have had such a quality visit with her last Sunday. She seemed so perky and alert it is hard to imagine her in the state she is now.
She can be a pistol, we know, stubborn, determined and headstrong to say the least, but I suppose that is how she got to the ripe old age of 94. Who else would do all that moving from place to place at such an age? [Tod and John moved at least 27 times during their long marriage and Tod moved three times after John passed away] No one I know of! Her tenacity was part of what drew her into our lives. But she was as gentle as she was stubborn. Her many facets are what made her such a wonderful friend. It is a shame you knew her for such a short time. Isn't it funny how someone can make such an impact in our lives in such a short time? But that was just what she was, a 94 year old impact.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know how much we appreciate all you have done for her. She would tell you how much she appreciates your tender loving care, if she could. Even before you really got to know her she always talked about you. “Krissy this”, and “Krissy did that.” I bet you didn’t even know you, your sister and the rest of the family were that special to her. Well, don’t doubt it for a minute. Her relatives, close or not, held a very large spot in that gigantic heart of hers. We heard about you all regularly. You made her proud. Don’t ever doubt it.
Please keep us informed on how she is doing and what the plan is afterwards. We will keep your family in our prayers and I pray that she will see God's light very soon, as we know this is not how she would want to remain in this life.
Take care of yourselves!! These emotions can be hard on our lives and our spirits.
In His name,
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In memory of the thousands who lost their lives in the terror attacks on the United States in 2001 and in honor of all the heroes who stepped up to the plate that day and continue to do so all the days since to do your best to keep something like this from happening again…
I hope this also becomes the day Aunt Tod goes to heaven… She needs to be free now. She doesn’t even seem to know she’s here, except for when a noise startles her, so she may as well be there…
I just worry every day she’s still here that’s she might start to suffer in some way. There’s no way to find out how she feels now, but she doesn’t seem in any kind of distress except that her breathing has changed to infrequent, seemingly labored in-takes of air… and if she were wide awake at this point, I think that would be distressing to her. It is to me, to watch her and wonder if it hurts in any way, and which one will be her last…
I see why some people can’t bear to be at the bedside of a dying loved one. It isn’t for the faint-hearted or for those without a strong faith, that’s for sure. If not for my faith, I don’t think I could bear it…
I figure birth is this traumatic, too, for the one coming down the birth canal (not to mention for the mother). Birth and death aren’t easy to watch or to go through. Both require a lot of faith! They are both birthing processes, but the one at the end of one’s life is an out-going, not an in-coming… so it seems sadder… except for the one who finally gets to the other side and is greeted by a welcoming committee of angels and other loved ones who have gone before! That must be utterly GLORIOUS!
I just keep singing softly and praying her through and talking to her from time to time, letting her know it’s okay to go when she’s ready…
At noon I sat and spoke with her and patted her, and prayed for her (Numbers 6:24 ff). Her eyes are open sometimes, but unseeing… or, at least not seeing what’s in the room (or are we the ones blind to seeing what’s in the room: angels!) What she "sees" is not at all disturbing, and that’s wonderful.
I will be at her bedside tonight too until close to 8 p.m. Bobbie has called and left a few messages, hoping to find me at home, but I haven’t been -- and when I do get home, I go straight to bed because I don’t sleep well at night right now, all too aware that the phone can ring at any moment telling me to drive back to Hospice for Tod’s final moments…
There will be time to connect again, but not tonight, for sure… and maybe not tomorrow night, either.
Aunt Tod is one tough cookie. I guess it’s how she got to 94 years of age!!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Aunt Tod is in her last couple days of life, we’re pretty sure. Today at lunch time I took over from Jackie for an hour. She had been there since 10:30. The nurses says they think she’ll still be here when I get off work this afternoon, so I will grab a dinner at Subway and go sit with her again. If the nurses see any changes that indicate a sliding downhill toward death, she will call Jackie and me and we’ll check out for the day and go sit with her and hold her hand.
She’s very red-faced and sometimes she doesn’t breathe for almost a minute at a time. The nurses say that can slow to a breath every two minutes… so it doesn’t indicate an imminent demise.
It’s upsetting to have to be away from her during working hours. Life and work have to go on, but trying to gauge "when" to be there is tricky. The nurses say she can surprise them and go out like a light bulb, without further signs. I suppose that’s okay, but our hope is that we’ll be there when she passes.
She's not that into holding our hands anymore, so that’s good. I think it indicates she’s ready. She seems to "see" others when her eyes are open, and she will reach out to them with her good hand and arm. A couple times she even looked almost happy, although the stroke has left her less able to show emotion than she otherwise would be able to reveal.
I’m singing all kinds of spiritual songs to her and praying the 23rd Psalm for her. Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Kumbaya and Numbers 6:24 ff are all getting a good workout… These songs all relax me and remind me that this is not the end of living – it’s just the end of "life as we know it" in our present vehicle. She’ll be "upgrading" soon to an imperishable body! The one she’s in is tired and worn out. It gave her 94 great years – she was blessed, despite several battles with cancer of various types… like the Energizer bunny, she just kept on going… and going… and going…
And I will miss her. She was a great encouragement to me all these years… from afar, and after she moved closer.
I was in Hospice with Aunt Tod nearly all weekend. She is comfortable. Jackie stopped by for quite a while both days and Wendy and Phil came by together once, then Wendy came back with Jackie Sunday. And Aunt Tod knows we have been there... but she's getting to a place now where, when she opens her eyes, she no longer sees us. She looks heavenward; the nurses say that's very normal and that she might be seeing other realms now. If so, what she's seeing is peaceful.
She loves having her hand held. If we stop, she gets more restless -- but even so, just barely restless... nothing at all major. I think she just wants to know we're there.
I am just a block away from Hospice where I work, so I will be with her at noon and after work and the nurses will call me, and then Jackie (who is farther away) if they begin to notice signs that her time to pass is nearing, so I can get there in a heartbeat and we can hold her hand...
The doctor doesn't expect her to be here past Tuesday. That's good because last night she started to itch a little (because of the toxins building up in her body, six days after her last dialysis treatment and because her body is slowly shutting down). A nurse immediately increased her morphine drip and then washed her chest and face, the areas where she was trying to scratch. They are on top of it and will be sure she is comfortable.
If you ever have to experience someone dying over a course of days, I highly recommend the Hospice experience, whether in your own home or in a Hospice facility. Well-trained and compassionate Hospice staff makes the experience truly survivable, even wonderful in many ways. And if you're not spiritual, they won't force it on you. If you are, they will send by appropriate clergy to minister to both your dying loved one and you and your family.
They are all God's earth angels helping to walk a loved one through the Valley of the Shadow of Death... and they do a beautiful job of it. Jackie said it must be one of the hardest jobs on the planet. I don't think so, as long as the dying person's family is on board and understanding and accepting of what is happening. A Hospice nurse told me once, "If it weren't for the families of the dying, this would be a terrific job, but so many of them fight death, and are in need of care themselves emotionally and spiritually that they are just wrecks."
I get that. I've seen it myself, with Dad and others. The sooner loved ones can relax into the realization that we all die, and that it is the loved one's time to go, the better it actually is for the one who's dying! They want their loved ones to be okay with their going -- at peace with it. Not easy to do, but do-able.
It would be tougher with a child or with a younger adult, I'm sure. Agreed, Hospice is not an easy job, or a job just anyone can do well -- but loving and caring for the dying person is the easiest, best part of it...
I know. I've been there.
Just love them.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
This is, most likely, the last weekend we’ll have Aunt Tod in our lives (except in memory), so I'm devoting most of my waking hours to being at her bedside. It’s peaceful there, and there’s love in every room and hallway, so it isn't overly somber… but it is draining.
I just hope I’m there when she passes, because I think she would want that. She doesn’t seem to be the type to be able to “go gently into that goodnight” unless she has someone with her, holding her hand...
I want mine to be that hand....
I was with her 7 1/2 hours today. She probably only knew it about five minutes -- she's sleeping mostly, with an IV drip of morphine keeping her comfortable so she can rest. A nurse and I turned her four times while I was there. The nurses are just terrific.
She's in good hands.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Before he arrived in the room this morning, Aunt Tod was awake; her eyes were open and she was "getting" everything we said, although she can’t talk following the stroke she had Tuesday night. We were able to tell her the series of events that led us to where we are now, and she did not seem at all upset by the decisions that have been made. That’s a huge relief. Knowing what a fighter she is and has been, it was taking a leap of faith to believe she would understand that we are acting in what we believe are her best interests based on the doctor’s recommendations. Further dialysis would be futile and her heart is so weak that further "insults" to her body (and dialysis is an "insult" – although often necessary to keep people alive) might kill her outright or give her a heart attack. Our prayer is that she will pass peacefully, not via cardiac arrest.
At lunch time I drove to Maple Creek, where she was a resident for five months, and retrieved her favorite music CD (Cristy Lane’s Greatest Hits). The moment I turned it on for her at Hospice, her eyes came open and she lifted her head off the bed. She knows I was there and that I brought it. I promised her I’ll be back immediately after work.
I also brought her a soft, small, colorful blanket someone bought for her, and removed her purse and files from her room at Maple Creek, as well as the mail that has been accumulating in the mailbox at the facility, for safe keeping and handling. Tomorrow Jackie and I will go there briefly to take out some additional items and locate her will. I need to retrieve several fans I let her use and lots of music CDs as well that I don’t think she ever even tried out because she loves the Cristy Lane CD so much. (I sent it to her for Christmas two years ago and she told me she played it almost non-stop.)
The rest of her belongings will sit there until her passing and we find out what she wants done with everything…
She’s less "well" hour to hour. I notice a difference in her between ten and now. Not a major difference, but a difference. She’s less responsive to words. The music gave her a boost, though! It was quite startling to see how quickly she came from a light slumber to wide awake. I know she was tickled and that tickled me!
"One day at a time, sweet Jesus…" That was the first song that played. She loves it.
So do I.
This would have been De’s and Carolyn’s 62nd wedding anniversary, had they both lived to see it.
Aunt Tod and John Fremault were married 63 years. That’s more than a lifetime from where I sit at age 56! WOW!
Some marriages are just meant to last "til death us do part." That was certainly the case with these two couples!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Aunt Tod is in Hospice and resting comfortably. Her right leg is moving again but her right arm is still useless and she can’t speak. She opened her eyes and acknowledged my arrival at lunch time, but quickly tuckered out and was asleep by the time I had been there three minutes, so I read the Bible to her a little (23rd Psalm and other passages) and then sang her a few songs. I only stayed 40 minutes, as I have a 60 minute lunch and still needed to eat and rest a wee bit before getting back in my chair at work. And today work feels like a slow-motion grind, which is unusual. I love my job. I’m just very, very weary. I need to get some serious sleep tonight. I’m glad tomorrow is Friday and that we have decided not to move Aunt Tod’s things out of Maple Creek this weekend. I need the time to recover – and prepare.
My Realtor wants to do an open house on Sunday afternoon. I may call that off – or not. I can go to Jackie’s when they have the open house, so it’s no big deal. I just don’t want to have to think about sprucing the place up again – although there isn’t much to spruce up. I just don’t want to deal with it this week. There’s enough to deal with.
Heard some devastating news from Alison Winter (Senorita Invierno). Her father was killed in a car accident in Paris on Tuesday afternoon, so she is dealing with getting his body returned to the UK and with the utter shock and desolation such an event brings into a daughter’s world. She just lost her mother to cancer two years ago. Please keep her in your prayers. I can’t even imagine what a shock it must be. I have lost all my loved ones over a span of time in which I knew they were going (even Dad, although he died suddenly: I knew in my heart I would never see him again when I kissed him goodbye at the airport that Thanksgiving vacation in Seattle in 99). In my opinion, losing someone slowly over a course of months or years is "easier" to deal with because there’s time to come to grips and say what needs to be said and to do what needs to be done. Losing someone in a heartbeat, unexpectedly, just has to be worse. I’m not sure how – there are disadvantages to both -- but I do think it must be worse.
None of it is any fun, that’s for sure…
Alison’s tragedy does serve in some way to put my Aunt’s imminent passing into better perspective. She’s 94 and lived a good life with a good man for 63 years. Alison’s father was 68 and had a lot of life ahead of him yet to live. Alison should have had him in her life a lot longer. My heart breaks for her.
Keep your loved ones – all of them – in your prayers. You never know what day they will leave here. That’s just a fact of life. We’re all going to die someday!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Aunt Tod suffered a severe stroke last night in the hospital and is paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak anymore. I have been in tears half the day. (This is good. Tears have never come easily to me and they are this time… I need to cry!)
Jackie and I went to see her this morning as soon as her doctor called Jackie to tell her about the event. Tod was barely conscious, agitated and in pain because they had taken her off the pain medications to see if they could get a better response out of her other than one half-opened eye. When Jackie and I got there, Tod opened both eyes, but is completely unable to move her right side and can’t talk. We could tell she was in pain and asked for them to provide pain medication to her in whatever amounts she requires to remain comfortable.
The doctor told Jackie that Tod’s dialysis isn’t doing her much good anymore and is more trouble to her than it’s worth, that she’s definitely approaching the end of her life. So Jackie asked him the hard question I asked her to ask: "If she was your mother, what would you do?" He said he would make her comfortable, discontinue dialysis and consign her to Hospice where she will receive compassionate palliative care and be closer to family for the rest of her time with us. So we agreed to that, and contacted all her loved ones to let them know what’s happening now…
I am happy we had a wonderful weekend together and distraught that our plans to get her into assisted living are at an end. I know the Hospice facility they will be taking her to is terrific -- I have visited terminally ill people there before. It’s just blocks from where I work so I can visit her at lunch time and after work every day while she’s here. Jackie is making arrangements for her cremation and Tim will be sure her ashes get to Sequim where they can be reunited with Johnny’s, her husband of 63 years who preceded her in death eight years ago.
I hardly knew Aunt Tod up until she moved up here. I knew her perhaps fifteen days out of my entire life before her move in April, except that I wrote to her from afar all these years – and she always acknowledged my birthday and other occasions with cards – and was always, without exception, supportive of all my quixotic dreams (which have come true now that I’m a professional writer).
I’m caught between good bye and I love you. I have fallen in love with Aunt Tod since I’ve been caring for her one-on-one on weekends and some evenings for five months. I’m so glad she came up here to be with us for the last months of her life. It has been such a blessing to me to have her here and to get to know her better – and to truly love her and know who it is I’m loving and will soon be losing.
I pray that what the doctor has prescribed for her is something she would want for herself. She didn’t make any advanced directives for her life so we’re only doing what we feel we would want done if we were in her situation… and how can anyone truly know that, unless they have been specifically told by the person in the hospital bed?
This is so hard. It’s good I can cry. Something like this can only be dealt with by the heart and spirit.
She’ll be with Johnny again soon. He’s waiting with open arms. I hope it happens soon, and peacefully, and I hope I’m there when it happens…
I want to see the angels carry her spirit off…
She was agitated right up until I told her what I knew she wanted to tell us. She always told me the same thing as I left: "Thank you for taking such good care of me." As soon as I said that, she relaxed and leaned back on her pillow and seemed calmer.
That’s all she wanted to say. And I could say it for her because I have heard it so many times before.
Oh, God, this is so hard – even though I know I will see her again in heaven someday.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I want St Joe’s to be aware that she is not to go back to the nursing home she was in under any circumstances and that both University Place Care Center and Kings Manor are ready to evaulate her for their facilities when the time comes that she can leave St Joes’s again.
It has been a very busy day. At noon I moved Tod’s things out of the nursing home so they won’t continue to charge her for a room there.
I asked to speak with a social worker so I can be sure they all know about our druthers when she gets placed outside the hospital again. I’m not always sure the right hand knows what the left is doing in medical facilities because everyone is so unbelievably busy…
3:30 Aunt Tod is in dialysis now. She won’t be out until about 6:30 or 7 and will be pretty wiped out by then so I will wait to visit her until tomorrow. I don’t know her room number yet. The social worker will call and let me know what it is as soon as they know where she’ll be placed…
Monday, September 3, 2007
It's almost 11 a.m. I'm sitting by the phone waiting to hear back from Kings Manor about whether they will be able to get someone to stop by the facility where Aunt Tod is staying to do an evaluation on her today. Tonya (Tanya?) says she will call me back when she hears anything. She has a call in to someone's cell phone.
I've been waiting almost two hours. If I don't hear back pretty soon (I called again after one hour) I will call again and let her know I'm heading out to the facility to visit with Tod for the afternoon and to call there and leave us a message if anyone intends to come by today. If not, I think I'll take Tod for a drive again today.
Yesterday one of Tod's friends from Sequim, Linda Benson, came by to see Tod. Linda's daughter drove her. They are wonderful people and were teary as they left, asking me to take good care of their friend. That's the plan, for sure!
After Linda and her daughter left, I drove Tod to Jackie's for dinner. She felt awfully sick going there (had taken a pain pill on an empty stomach), but after a while she got to feeling much better.
Jackie, Wendy and I positioned Aunt Tod by the kitchen sink and washed her hair -- something she has been missing since the ordeal of hospitalization and rehab began over ten days ago -- and then Jackie blew-dry it with a diffuser. That small kindness, alone, seemed to do a great deal for her spirit and well-being.
She ate more than she has in weeks while at Jackie's, and by the time I got her back to the facility she said she felt hungry, still -- an alien sensation to her over the past few weeks -- so I fetched her a renal drink and she ate a few crackers. I left a much-revived, smiling lady last night and enjoyed a good night's sleep as a result!
I'm eager to get back to her today and spend some time with her again. I may take her on a drive to Point Defiance or something -- anything to get her out of that facility -- if Kings Manor can't come by and evaluate her today to let me know if she can move there... (If she can't, another rehab facility with a sterling reputation will evaluate her tomorrow and will take her.)
The facility shes' in now is very bad for one's emotional state, not to mention their physical state. The people who work there are hard-working and lovely -- the place is just severely understaffed and nearly every bed is full. Some patients have serious conditions and need more attention, so those who are better off get less attention unless they have a family or a friend who can advocate for them. I so want to "rescue" all of them and get them somewhere else so their sense of self-respect can be nourished...
I wonder how bad it will get before things gets better. The baby boomers (me included) are going to be entering hospitals and rehab places in record numbers in the not-too-distant future, and if it's this bad NOW, I shudder to think what kind of help or nurture we'll receive unless we have someone (a family member or good friend) young enough to go to bat for us. It's a crisis already!!! What will it be later? It scares me more than a little to think about it... I think I'd be suicidal if someone placed me in a facility like the one Aunt Tod is in right now. I want to kick the hospital's butt to the curb for placing her there. What were they thinking -- or were they thinking at all? A person with a port in her chest should not be in a facility where the bathrooms smell like open sewers... I'm going to write a letter to the hospital and complain.
The facility also lost her upper denture, so she will have to spend at least $500 to have it replaced. I'm just totally frustrated and disgusted by the entire situation -- and because it's a three-day weekend, all I can do it keep taking her outside the facility and promising her I'll fix it as soon as I can. Thank God she totally understands and knows I will do what I say as soon as it's possible -- even TODAY if, by some miracle, that's possible!
I reiterate: If you have a loved one in a hospital or rehab facility, be there as much as you can to encourage and assist and advocate for them. Become an extra pair of arms and legs. The nurses will thank God you're there -- as will your loved one. Anything you can do to lift the heavy load from the staff and be a blessing is HUGE.
The patients in these places are scared. They've lost control of their bodies and of their destinies in so many instances. Anything you can do to let them know that someone is there and that you care about them on an individual basis will be miraculous in nature.
Just being there is the chief ticket. Just be there. It's huge! And stay positive and encouraging. Not falsely so; don't make promises you can't keep, but let them know you're praying for them and that you will do whatever is do-able to improve their lot while they're there.
Your presence will be the best part of their day and the memory of your visit and eventual return will fill their nights with better thoughts.
Update: Kings Manor will evaluate Aunt Tod tomorrow morning at 10 to see if she's well enough to move in. Please pray for that! Thanks!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Kris, Billie Rae Walker and Tim Gaskill
Alison Winter, Marge Duff and Kris