Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Reason To Behave!

I was reading about people who had near-death experiences. There were several things that they all had in common, but there was one thing that really made me sit up and take notice. They said that they first saw themselves "hovering" above their bodies, then they went through a sort of tunnel. Upon arrival at the end of that tunnel, they saw what was like a movie of their lives. During that movie as they watched themselves interact with others, they felt the feelings that the other person with whom they were interacting felt. One woman said she had stolen her sister's Easter basket when they were small; a fact she didn't even remember as an adult, but in her "movie", she saw this and felt the sadness and anger that her sister felt during that. A man who admitted he had been particularly ruthless in his dealings with people said that he saw all of these things and felt just awful feelings; the feelings of the people he had cheated and betrayed. By contrast, though, the times when the people did good things for other people were also seen, and then they felt the good feelings that they gave other people by being kind and generous. Definitely something to think about as we wander through our days in this society that has become almost completely selfish with an "everything for me" attitude.

We are celebrating Tom's birthday this evening. I will post pictures (if he lets me use his camera - again). I really have to get one of my own one of these days! More blogging later if I get a moment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's amazing what a little sleep can do. I'm slowly getting back on some sort of a schedule around here. It has been a tremendously long and hard week and we have all been kind of out of sorts. Being such creatures of routine, I did find it helpful to try to get back into one again. I feel like I've been in a fog and it's just now clearing!

Yesterday was Tom's birthday, but we won't be celebrating it until this weekend.

Sherri called me from Cooperstown Dream Park in New York where Zack is playing baseball this week and I was able to watch him play from my computer! Technology is truly amazing.

Well, time to wrap this up - a nasty storm is quickly approaching and I'm a nervous ninny when it comes to storms and unplugging stuff - especially after lightning hit us once already and fried everything! The wind just knocked over my bamboo plant on the deck. Definitely time to go!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!", there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying.

- Henry Van Dyke

This was included in the program for Maggie's funeral.
Maggie's funeral was yesterday. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, either, especially when Dad got up to speak. Quite a few people told him that he could have a second career as a preacher! Even Rev. Ticknor told me that later. Dad told everyone that every day you should thank God for having someone you love in your life. If you have silly arguments, or say things you really don't mean, if something happened and you never saw that loved one again, would that be the last thing you wanted them to have heard? He said when you go to bed at night to pray and thank God that he gave you that day with people you love. In the morning if you wake up and that person is still with you, he said to thank God again for giving you another day with them. He said that even though he was in Delaware during the week, he and Maggie called each other at night to talk about their day and to say goodnight. Dad said he is comforted by the fact that the last thing he said to her was "I love you", and "Goodnight". While he was saying this, the lights in the church flickered. They flickered again when Maggie's best friend Julie stood up to speak. After the service Dad had wanted some private time with Rev. Ticknor to talk and he told me that during that time he asked about the lights, and Rev. Ticknor told him that he noticed it, also, and that it had never happened before. Something to think about!

On a table in the reception hall there was a display of pictures of Maggie and three photo albums of pictures. There was also a basket of shells that Maggie had collected over the years and everyone was told that they could take a shell if they wanted to. At the front of the church during the funeral Dad had put a picture of Maggie in which she was standing on a beach all by herself, with the wind blowing her hair, her arms thrown wide open, and a huge smile on her face. Dad said that this was a favorite picture and that it showed just how Maggie embraced life. People talked about how she would randomly send them cartoons, articles, books, or something that she came across that she thought they might like. One day as I was sitting here working, the phone rang and I saw on caller ID that it was Dad's and Maggie's number. All I had time to do was say "Hello?" and Maggie said, "TurnonDr.Philrightnowhe'stalkingaboutfearofdrivingbye!", and hung up. I was laughing, but managed to get the television turned on to the right channel!

Rev. Ticknor said at the funeral that many years ago his wife had left him, and he was left with two children ages 2 and 4 to raise. He said that he and Maggie had even dated a few times after his wife left him! I talked with him after the service and told him how I had attended St. John's Church. It turns out that he knew that church very well, and as a matter of fact had just seen Father Wingert, who was there while we attended and who did our marriage ceremony, a month ago! He said that St. John's closed a number of years ago and that several items from the church were stored in his church now. He said that after standing empty for many years, the Diocese sold St. John's and now it is an African-American church and he said he was glad to see it, too, because now that church had more spirit than it ever had! He said that the priest who took over after Father Wingert retired died just a few years after that at the age of 42. He was Father Robey. He had taken over St. John's by the time of our wedding but we had asked Father Wingert to perform our marriage ceremony since he was the one who had been in the church while I was growing up, which he was kind enough to do. It was certainly a sad day, but Maggie had a lot of friends and Dad told everyone that Maggie would want everyone to laugh again and he said that rather than mourn what seems like an untimely death, that we should celebrate having her in our lives for 22 years, as he did. I do believe that Dad could be a preacher!

It was nice seeing my cousin Lisa again. She came with her husband, Uncle Jim and Aunt Nancy. We caught up on things and exchanged email addresses. Every year Uncle Jim and Aunt Nancy (isn't it funny that at my age I still call them that? Just calling them Jim and Nancy somehow seems disrespectful!) have a bluegrass festival at their house in West Virginia. Dad has told me in previous years how great it is but we never went. I think we'll be going this year, not only because it will be good to get together with everyone, but because Aunt Nancy said this is the last year they are having it!

Well, I am truly tired and need to get some work done before I can even think about taking a nap. I am still fighting back tears now and again, and I guess I will be for a while. I keep choking up thinking about watching Dad carry the box with Maggie's ashes out to his van to leave the church yesterday. He suddenly looked so tired and old. He didn't want her ashes put in just anything; he chose a box that she had particularly loved and that had been in his library/study at the house. Oh, now I'm going to cry AGAIN. I need to go switch gears and work or clean house, or do something! I asked Rev. Ticknor to please keep Dad in his prayers and he assured me that not only would he, but that he would make a prayer request at the church as well. Dad had said not to pray for him, but to pray for Maggie, but I told him that Maggie was already Home, and now Dad needed prayers for strength and peace for each day to come. Okay - enough now! Back to work! Or cleaning. Or napping.

Friday, July 22, 2005

This really is going to be a short post. I am really tired and feeling sort of at loose ends today. Maggie passed away at 9:10 last night. Dad wanted to be at home alone last night which we were worried about, but he kept insisting that this is what he wanted. I called him this morning and he sounded tired, as expected, but he said he was okay. He said he was walking through the house looking at everything. Maggie has always put little touches here and there and the total effect was beautiful and looked like something from a magazine. Once when I was there I noticed some lemons and limes placed on a cutting board on the counter. After being there for a while and the fruit not getting used, I asked about them and Maggie said that she just thought when she saw them that they were beautiful pieces of fruit and that they happened to match the cutting board and so were just a little arrangement there in the kitchen. There were things like that everywhere. She found beauty and humor in everyday things. Once when I was there I noticed something hanging on the door in the kitchen and went to see what it was. It was an old actual photograph of a train wreck where the train had derailed and was quite crumpled with pieces scattered around. Underneath the picture in the margin Maggie had written "6000 Parker Drive" which is their address! She had been recovering from her lung infection and said that this was basically what her house had become since she hadn't been able to get up to do anything - a train wreck! Only Maggie would have thought of just putting something up like that. This morning while talking with Dad about these little things that she did, I told him that Maggie put Martha Stewart to shame. He agreed and said that Maggie even had one up on Martha Stewart - Maggie wasn't a roaring witch! Oh, dear. I've done it again with the short post. Maybe I'll start with the intention of writing a long post and see what happens.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Just a short update on things. Uh oh - I said short. We'll see. Anyway, Dad called to tell me that Maggie is still hanging on. Everyone had been so sure that yesterday would be the day she went Home. He said that she always did have the last say in everything! He said she didn't go when he was ready; she would go when she was ready, and that was that! Dad is getting better day by day. I know there will be ups and downs and some days will be better than others over the next days, weeks and months, but he is doing better. I believe that God is allowing Maggie to be around this long because it has helped provide healing for Dad and anyone who may have been questioning removing her from life support, which, even though that was her wish that she had made known before all of this, was still a terribly hard decision to make. Instead of passing suddenly, everyone has been able to say goodbye to her. Yes, I know what the doctors say - that she can't hear, or think, or know that we're there, but I'm not convinced. And besides - how exactly can they know this? As far as I know, no one has ever returned from the other side to tell them.

Maggie's memorial service is scheduled tentatively for Sunday. It is going to be at the church where Dad and Maggie were married. I'm sure that it will be a packed place. I don't think there's anybody in the county who didn't know Maggie. Dad has been camping at the hospital for a week now. He has only recently started running home long enough to shower and change and then goes right back.

It's odd how things can seem so upside-down in situations like this. For instance, two days ago Dad said that the insurance company said that Maggie needed to be taken out of intensive care and put into a regular room because she no longer required intensive care. For anybody else who was recuperating from something, that would be very good news, indeed. But in Maggie's case, it was because there was nothing left to do anymore and because she hadn't passed away, the insurance company wouldn't pay for an ICU bed any longer. Then Dad asked the nurse about leaving for a short while to run home and shower and change, and the nurse told him to go ahead, that Maggie had "stabilized". Again, ordinarily a patient stabilizing would be a good thing, but in Maggie's case it meant that nothing had changed.

So many issues being brought to mind, challenged, and definitely lots of food for thought these days.

Monday, July 18, 2005

This is going to be a short post. I am exhausted and am only writing because I have some things to get off my mind. Thursday night Dad found Maggie unconscious and she was brought to the hospital unresponsive. They determined that she was brain dead. She and Dad had already talked about this before, so Dad knew her wishes, which were not to be on life support. Dad prayed for a miracle as did everyone else, but I guess God's will was for this situation to be just as it was. Yesterday at noon Dad had her support taken off. It is now 4:30 PM the next day and Maggie is still with us. It is so difficult and I am really struggling with some things. I have been at the hospital the last couple of days and when Sherri and I went in to see her yesterday evening, when we would talk to her we noticed that her respiratory rate and blood pressure would rise. We decided not to say anything about it, as Dad has been on enough of a rollercoaster ride as it is. But when we were back out in the waiting room, two of Maggie's friends who had been back to see her for a long time said how they noticed that when they talked to her that her blood pressure and respiratory rate rose! They had asked the doctor about it and were told that there was some response probably because the voices were familiar but nothing that could be cognitively processed and that the brain wasn't actually comprehending anything. I am having a hard time with this. Well, I talked to her as if she could hear me anyway, because who can know for sure? It is very difficult because for someone who had asthma and who had a very serious lung infection a year ago, she sure is holding her own. Dad had such hope at first and his hopes were bolstered by some encouraging information the first day, but then the doctors dashed that and said that there was no chance of recovery. I think this was worse than if it had been that way from the start when she was brought in. Anyway, now that Dad has accepted this as best as he can right now, it is heartbreaking to see him holding her hands and telling her that it's okay to let go now. I am getting teary AGAIN writing this. I didn't think I had any more tears left after the past couple of days, but I was wrong. This morning Jerry's brother called to let him know that a neighbor of Jerry's mom died in his sleep last night. These are folks that Jerry grew up with and they have been a big part of Jerry's life. I didn't think Jerry had any more tears left, either, but I was wrong about that too. So now there will be a funeral for Mr. Crandell on Thursday, and Maggie's possibly Friday. It's been a long week already, and it's only Monday. I will keep on praying for peace for everyone, because I do have faith, and I know that what He is allowing to happen is all for a reason, even though we don't understand that right now, but He promises us that "All things work together for good for those who believe in Me". Amen to that. Did I say this was going to be a short post?!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Taking The Bus!

Tom and his friends are chartering a bus - the same one I showed a picture of in a previous post which took Andy's class to the boat trip. A few weeks ago Tom and his drummer friend were talking about going to Ozzfest again this year, which is a huge, outdoor, all-day rock concert (think Woodstock - minus the LSD). Last year Billy had his Explorer but it has since been wrecked - again a previous post! - and now he has a small pickup truck. Several friends of theirs are going but this year transportation would be a little difficult and would require several cars. The concert is at Nissan Pavilion in Virginia and it's kind of far from here, so the logistics of getting a bunch of people there by 9 a.m. and everyone staying together and coming back together at sometime after midnight were a little daunting, to say the least. I suggested to find out how much it would be to charter the bus that had been used for Andy's trip because I had heard from the people at school who chartered it for the fifth grade class how nice the service was and I had seen first-hand how nice the buses were. I called them and they gave me a price - plus a discount since I said that I had been on one of their buses before and was really impressed. Broken down among several people, it was actually quite reasonable, and it made a bunch of people very happy to know that they could all ride together and not have to juggle parking and finding everybody once they got there. I have been put in charge of collecting the money and reserving the bus (which I did yesterday). I am so glad that this worked out for them as I always worry about Tom and his friends driving long distances anyway, but I knew after a day of concerts that everyone would be very tired which made the drive home very worrisome for this mom! Tom and Billy asked if I wanted to go since I was arranging the bus. I know they were only asking out of courtesy - it was amusing to watch them cringe at the thought that I might actually go! I politely passed on that one. Ozzie Osbourne isn't quite my style! More blogging later if I get a chance. Right now I gotta go flip a funnel cake that Andy and I are making. Yum!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Still Kickin'

Whew! I have been very busy working the last few days to try to make extra in order to buy the books and things we will need to homeschool Andy. It shocked me when I saw the calendar and realized I only had two more pay periods before I needed the supplies, so I figured I'd better put it into high gear. Here in our county we are required to register with the board of education no later than 15 days before the first day of public school in order to homeschool. That puts us roughly in the beginning of August. With Tom, I had gone through the church that we were attending at the time and they served as my "approval" for what I was teaching, which was then approved by the school board. Now I'm on my own and I'm not sure if they are going to want to see what materials I intend to use or not. Probably not. I truly do not think this county cares much about this. I have very little faith in our local board of education, and have been very disillusioned that they are acting in the best interests of our children. It's surprising how much my thinking has changed in that regard. With Tom I was very scared and thinking that THE BOARD KNEW ALL, and wondering if I would do it right. Now I realize that THE BOARD knows very little, and I am confident in my ability to teach my child, and furthermore believe that he will get a much better education this way.

I have spent about three years looking at and comparing curriculum for Andy. I think I have made good choices, but we'll have to see when we begin. Nothing is written in stone, and I'm obviously not going to continue with something that just isn't working for us, but right now I feel good about what I have chosen for him. With Tom, because I really felt like I didn't know what I was doing, I bought a pre-packaged curriculum for the entire year that was basically all workbooks for each subject. BORING!!!!! I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in store for Andy. Tom's curriculum package was what was used in Christian schools. Andy's isn't overtly Christian like Tom's was and is quite a mix. I did, however, choose a science curriculum that assumes that you are teaching that God created the earth, and not some random cosmic explosion! At least he will get both viewpoints this way, which is more than the public school science teaches.

I figured I should probably update my blog just to let anyone who may read it know that I'm still kickin'! Busy, but still kickin'!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Here is the big crayfish, sans legs.

Here's the little crayfish. To give an idea of his size, the white gravel is the kind used for the bottom of a fish tank and is very tiny.

Bug Bites and Crayfish

Lazy summer days! At least not too lazy, though. I am managing to keep up with everything these days, anyway. I am tired right at the moment, though, because of being up most of last night watching Andy's hand. He has severe reactions to bug bites. We KNOW that he always needs bug repellent on when he goes outside, but I guess this time it's my fault that he got bitten. On Monday, the Fourth of July, I heard and saw fireworks above the trees on the next street over. I called for Andy to come quickly so he could see them too, and - you guessed it - we didn't bother with the bug spray. We were back inside within 15 minutes, but it was too late. He had two mosquito bites on the top of his left hand. Yesterday morning when he woke up his hand was a little swollen but by last night it was really puffed and now his fingers were, too. We're doing what we always do; Benadryl, cortisone cream, ibuprofen and ice, and watching it closely to make sure it stays clean and doesn't get infected. When he was younger I took him to the pediatrician the first few times this happened and we were told each time that it was the same thing - just a severe reaction to bug bites. Now we know what to do, but I still don't sleep well and find myself checking on him throughout the night. We were given an EpiPen to inject in his thigh if he should ever get stung by a bee, but thankfully, we have never had to use it. The pediatrician had told us that since he had this severe reaction to regular bug bites, that he will probably have a very bad reaction to a bee sting and his throat would probably swell shut. Scary stuff.

We discovered we have crayfish in the spring/ravine/ditch in our back yard! Jerry was fixing it and installing a pipe to make drainage better back there and had to do some digging in the bottom of the ravine. He found a small crayfish which we put in a small aquarium and watched. When Jerry found the critter we looked it up in a Nature Study Handbook that I had gotten to use next year with Andy, and it told us a lot about crayfish and how interesting they are to watch. They are, too! We watched this little guy move tiny pieces of gravel to make a place for himself just so! The next day Jerry found a very large crayfish but this one had no legs. There were also some sort of animal tracks down in the mud too, so evidently something battled with the crayfish and he lost his legs in the process. Our book said that the legs would grow back, so we put him back where we found him (along with the little one, too), and he is still alive.

I have been making an effort to spend less time on the computer. It can be an addiction just like any other bad habit. I have found that I am accomplishing a lot more when I surf less. I have been making slow but steady progress in de-junking my house. There's just SO MUCH STUFF!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Here's the birthday boy!

Happy Birthday, Andy!

We had a wonderful day today. We had a lot of fun bowling, and then came back home for cake and ice cream. None of us are ready for the pro circuit, but we had a great time. Jerry and I, Tom and Andy, Sam, Andy's friend Charlie, Jerry's mom, and our neighbor Hilda, went with us. No, she's not the one who was out in the bikini! Hilda is a lovely lady whose spunk I greatly admire. She is 86 years young and has energy I only dream about. She and Andy have a wonderful friendship, and when I asked Andy who he wanted to invite bowling, I was not very surprised that she was on his list. Hilda is almost never home - she is a member of the ladies auxiliary at the local firehouse, plays bingo three times a week, babysits her great-great-grandson on occasion, and takes bus trips to wherever, whenever possible! She just recently completed a first-aid training course and got a certificate of completion for it! This was a pretty rigorous course, too. There were people of all ages taking it. She said she decided to take the course because she thought it would be "fun"!

Andy had a great birthday, and we all enjoyed his day with him. He is growing up way too fast for his mama's liking!

Jerry did the writing on Andy's cake. He should consider a career change!

The bowling crowd!


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