Wednesday, December 24, 2014

There's never enough time.........

Almost 4 years ago, when I was told that my honey had cancer, I thought it was one of the hardest days of my life. Little did I know, many other hard days would follow. Calling Hospice, a few days ago, was another. 

In June, when he almost died.....I begged God for more time. I should have been specific and asked for years. God has given us days, for which I was thankful, but I realize it would never have been enough.  I still think of things I wish I'd said or asked.....but one thing for which I'm thankful.....he knows how much he means to me and how much I love him. In one of his lucid moments during the first days, he looked at me and said "I love you"........

I sit on the foot of our bed and watch him as he begins to the hospital bed across the room. For a number of years now, he has called me "mama" - the same affectionate term my dad used for our mother. He calls out;  I get up and go to him but he just mumbles "mama, mama".  Over and over he says "I want to go home." He no longer understands that he's in our bedroom - in his own home. I soon begin to wonder if I'm really the "mama" he's calling out for.....or is it his own mama......calling him home?

We are surrounded by the love of family and friends during these hard days that seem to have enveloped this house. How fortunate we are to have chosen the Gentiva Hospice organization. What a caring, compassionate group of people. 

I have finally realized, during these years, I have existed in one or more of The Five Stages of Grief (Elisabeth Kubler Ross). I seem to float between anger (not at God), bargaining (with God) and depression (no explanation needed).

 I called him "my energizer bunny" - he could outwork and then outplay men half his age. I was angry with him - he was no longer able to do what he once could. Later, when he became unable to walk and had to be told to straighten his legs to stand, needed help getting out of and back into a chair, had to be dressed;  I was so angry. How could this have happened to my husband - to us? I was angry with him.....he had cancer!!! I was angry with myself because I wasn't better able to deal with it. I was (and still am) just angry.

This time, my bargaining with God isn't to allow us more time. My prayer is that God allows him to slip away, peacefully. I pray that he will soon be free of the pain and discomfort that has racked his body. The cancer has robbed him of his dignity and of his smile. I pray that one day both will be restored. Many years ago when my father had a massive stroke, an aunt told me "honey, don't pray for the wrong thing, there are many things worse than death." How often that memory has flooded my mind as my honey has sat, with no quality of life.

Before the hospital bed, when he slept in our bed.....I tried to "soak up" those moments.....because I day.....this would come......and I wanted to be able to remember every detail of how it had once been. The grieving process begins before the end actually comes.  The lump fills my throat and the tears fill my eyes as I do menial tasks while he sleeps......knowing that one day......I'll be doing them in an empty house.

We've had 54 years of marriage and 4 years to prepare for the day that will come.....but there's just never enough time to say goodbye. 

#goodbye #multiplemyeloma #Gentiva 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Finding My Spirit Guide

Nestled among the tall pine trees, deep in the woods not too many miles north of the thrills of Disney World, your destiny may await you. The town of Cassadaga, FL was formed by George Colby, a member of the Spiritualist religion in the late 1800’s.  He was searching for a place where his fellow Spiritualist could go to escape the brutal winters of the north.  Legend has it that his Indian spirit guide, Seneca, led him to this area because of the synergy, in the area. The name Cassadaga was adopted from a similar area in New York.  The camp, as it is called, sits on 57 acres owned by the Spiritualist church. In 1991, it was named a Historic District.

Going into the little community is like driving back in time. Most of the streets are sandy lanes and the houses, though well kept, are all wooden, white frame structures.  The houses are owned by the residents who are given a lifetime lease by the church. Most live in the camp during the winter and return to their homes, mainly in New York, in the summer to escape the southern heat.

Always interested in exploring the unusual, my cousin Teresa and I decided a trip to Cassadaga would be an adventure. On a beautiful fall afternoon, we sat outside the Purple Rose awaiting our time slot. It was one of the shops that sold books, stones, and tarot cards, and booked readings for several mediums. (We had chosen it because of the name!)  When our time came, we were led into a darkened room lit only by burning candles.  The medium that we had chosen spoke in soft, low tones.

I was told that I was creative, something at which my older daughter later chuckled. The medium asked if there was anything that I’d like to do.  When I replied that I’d like to write a book, I was told that I should start immediately and that I had a spirit guide who would help me with the book. (I surely wish he would appear when I’m attempting to write one of these articles!)  I was also informed that I would travel abroad, to the country where I had lived in my past life, and I would see the place where I had lived. We did travel abroad, but if I was ever where I had once lived – I didn’t recognize the place!!

I was also told that we would be invited to a family wedding in the Upper Midwest somewhere near, or in the direction of, Chicago during the next year.  My husband had an aunt and cousins in that area, but we’d never been close either physically or otherwise, so the idea of them inviting us to a wedding was nonsense – as far as I was concerned.  The following summer, I had a consulting assignment in Kentucky around the 4th of July holiday, I suggested to my husband that we make the trip in our motor home and turn it into a sort of working vacation. 

Our trek up through southern Illinois, took us near my husband’s aunt. He suggested that we stop and visit, since we were so close.  Upon arriving at her house, we found that four of her five children were there – to attend the wedding of one of her grandchildren.  Of course, we were invited to attend and we did.   I didn’t remember the Medium, and the “reading” from the prior year, until my daughter reminded me that I was fulfilling prophecies.

The final prediction also came true a few years later.  At the time, we were living in our retirement dream home, in Florida, on the banks of the beautiful St. John’s River.  The Medium had stated that we would leave Florida, and we would build a home west of Florida but toward Tennessee.  We owned property in Mississippi, the old home place of my family, but at that time we never had intentions of moving “back home.”  As was foretold, we sold the FL home, and I now enjoy my Mississippi Front Porch.

Many people use psychics and mediums to guide them through life. Ours was just a fun-filled afternoon of adventure even though some of the predictions, at which I had scoffed, later became reality.
I think I’m going to look for that Spirit Guide and get that book started………..

#Cassadaga, FL  #Mediums

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life Goes On.....

We all have hard days of one kind or another, in our lives. A young son-in-law was killed, in a one car accident, years ago.....that was a hard day. My dad had a massive stroke and passed away.....that was a hard day. My mom died, suddenly........that was a hard day. My honey was diagnosed with MM on October 7, 2010....not quite 4 years ago (the doctor predicted that he would live 5 years).....that was a terrible day. He has been in and out of remission during this time, but remission was "just a word" (as one caregiver reminded me). He very seldom felt good and was in pain most of the time. On Thursday, August 28, 2014 I called hospice......and that was a bad day. But the worst day, of my entire life, came on Friday, September 5, 2014 when my honey took his last breath. 

He had begun to have many, mini strokes. He could no longer swallow without being reminded to do so. He was incontinent and was unable to stand and straighten his legs. Our youngest daughter and I were his constant caregivers. Near the end, I put a baby monitor in his room so I could hear him call me. 

God truly blessed us. During those last days, there were about 3 where he could still speak and knew what we were saying to him. He had begun to call me "mama" over the past year and he often called out to me. We were able to express our love, for each other, one last time. 

He left us a legacy....a beautiful house that he designed and built. A front porch that is my place of solace....a place where we can go to cry because he's no longer here....but remember the good times, good memories, good man.

He always commented that, if we died, we'd have to call "Rent-A-Friend". I hope he was able to see all the folks who came to honor him. 

His Urn of Ashes now sits in the Library he built, in our house. I feel comfortable knowing that he's "back home" with me. It will sit there....until I go....then mine will, once again, be joined with my honey. goes on.

#MultipleMyeloma #cremation #death

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A sad ending......

Yesterday was an anniversary, of sorts. Just one month ago, my honey lay in a hospital bed in a semi-coma.....we weren't sure if he would ever wake up. Without a doubt, it was one of the worst days, of my life. Thankfully, God had other plans.....

Today, an elderly man is being laid to rest in a cemetery in Simpson County, MS.  His story didn't end as well as my honey's did.

The little old couple sat, together, in the sunroom of the Nursing Home/Swing Bed facility. He sat in his wheelchair, and she sat beside him. She often reached over and touched his hand. I pushed Bob's wheelchair into the sunroom, on that Sunday afternoon (the only Sunday we were there), and I sat in the chair next to his wheelchair and beside the elderly man. The old man seldom spoke and when he did I wasn't able to understand what he was trying to say - but his wife did. She seemed to carry on a conversation, of sorts, with him. He stared at the television but didn't appear to be paying attention, nor did she.

"Is that your husband?" she asked me.
"Yes," I replied.
"How long you been married?" she asked.
"It will be 54 years, in August," I told her.
"We been married 52 years," she said as she gently touched his arm - and smiled.

I saw them a couple of times after that, and she was always by his side. My heart literally broke and I cried this week when I realized that he was the victim of the tragedy, at the Nursing Home. She had also become a victim for he would no longer be by her longer there for her sweet smile and her gentle touch. I wondered how well she understood what had happened. I had chatted for only a few minutes, and I had no idea of her level of understanding.

I know that  things happen for a reason. I've not yet figured out the reason or the plan, and maybe it isn't for me to know. God never gives us more than we can stand......although there are times it seems to come close. Their image still invades my mind........she sits by him with her hand on his arm and a smile on her face. May God keep her close.

RIP - Mr. Park......
#NursingHome #tragedy #couple

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Safe Place

Everyone should have a "Safe Place".....a place where they can go and let the frustration, anger, fear, sadness, whatever, just fade away.  

I actually have two safe places - one is my front porch where I rock and listen to the wind as it causes the tall pines, just to the east of our house, to sway in the soft breeze. Sometimes, there's enough breeze that I feel it softly brushing my face......and I can smell the fragrance of the hedge bushes, now blooming. In the distance, I hear the low mooing of cows. I watch the hawks, as they circle the stand of pines across the road. Wispy white clouds float gently across the clear blue sky. 

Sitting in my yard is the old house where my grandparents, and then my parents, lived - or am I sitting it the yard of the old house? It was here, first......for many years. Our house sits on the land where my grandparents
old garage sat. The old building made of unpainted boards with a dirt floor and no door. The dirt was covered with spills of old oil and gasoline. I don't remember when the old building was torn down, but I remember it vividly, as if it still stood.....ready to be seen and entered.

My grandfather drove a school bus, and in those days it was owned by the driver. The yellow bus "cover" could be removed and the truck used as the driver's vehicle. As I sit on my porch, I thought back to many years before. I must have been 4 or 5 years of age. I remember grandpa and granny taking me, in the old bus, to the creek - Cohay Creek - to play in the sand.

I sit, in the rocker, in my safe place and remember old days, old times, family no longer here, and I miss them. I almost feel, if I wished long and hard enough, my granny would come out the back door and down the steps - wiping her hands on the apron she always wore.

My safe place takes me away from the stress of today. I can remember yesterday and forget today and the pain and tears that are behind the doors of my house.

But today, I will go to my other safe place. I will unlock
the doors of my small church. As I walk through the sanctuary, down among the pews I imagine they are filled with people no longer here. This was the church, not this building but this church, where my mother's parents were married - in 1910. In the soft afternoon sunlight, I will turn on the organ and I will lose myself in the hymns that I have loved, for so many years.

I turn on the organ and began to play "Precious Lord, take my hand....lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn".......As I change the stops, the organ swells in the empty church and my heart swells with it. I pray, as I play. I pray for understanding and I pray for healing. 

The daylight begins to's time to leave this safe place. I can go home, to my other safe place.

Everyone needs a safe place. How lucky I am to have two.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Every morning, I look for the thoughts on Facebook by Keith Tonkel. Keith is the Senior Pastor at Wells United Methodist Church, in Jackson, MS, and has been there almost forever.

Keith was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 19, while in college, and has continued to wage war against this intruder in his body for years. Keith has been in and out of treatment, over the years, and is about to undergo more radiation and chemo as he again fights the battle.

On April 7, my honey will have been waging war against Multiple Myeloma for 3 1/2 years so I understand the ups and downs, the concerns, the depression, the fatigue, the weakness.  But we're lucky, my honey is in a period of CR (Complete Response or Remission) and is having a respite from treatment.

It's hard not to question "Why?"  Why my honey? Then, I look at someone like Keith Tonkel, a true man of God, and I realize if he can have cancer - anyone can. Surely, in his darkest private moments, he must question God. "Why me, God? I have served you all these years. I'm faithful, I pray, I believe. Why me?"

When I was in high school, I played the organ and/or the piano for my little Methodist Church in the Mississippi delta. This was back in the day when Revivals lasted a week. I remember, one summer, Keith Tonkel came to hold our revival. I was entranced. He was a wonderful speaker back then, even as a student. I wonder if he knew that all the teenage girls had a crush on him? I'm sure that happened, at every church, during every Revival. Somewhere, along the way, he met his wife Pat.  Keith's faith has really been tested, because his wife passed away a couple of years ago. How can one not ask "Why?" 

Maybe the question should be "Why not me?" Why all these Godly people, and not me? Why my honey, and not me? Why? Why? Why?

From his Facebook page, we know that he is blessed to have children and good friends who take care of him. I am amazed that he continues to preach, when he can, at Wells. I am amazed, and thankful, that he continues to share his faith and his thoughts, with us, on Facebook.

Most of all, I'm thankful that Keith Tonkel led a revival, in my little delta church. I'm thankful that God continues to allow him to share his faith with those of us lucky enough to read his page. And I'm thankful that God continues to allow my honey to have another day.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Come Along With Me.........

Our eldest daughter, a RN, joined Rodan + Fields in June, 2013. Honestly, I only half-listened when she tried to tell me about it. I had other things "on my plate" - I wasn't interested, knew nothing about it, had no time for it, you know the drill.

Gale is very outgoing, and she isn't pushy, so she didn't try to flood me with information about her new venture. Ever so often, she would say, "Whitney (her upline and another RN) thinks you would be great at this."  Still, I resisted or really just smiled and ignored!
One night, she left to go to a presentation, but didn't invite me to go with her. Later, she dropped by our house and was actually bubbling (more so than usual) over her new business opportunity. This time, it was her dad that she talked to. After listening to what she had to say, he turned to me and said "I think you'd better get on board with this while you can!" I was amazed. This, coming from a man that usually thinks something like this is "pie in the sky." I still didn't jump on board.
Finally, on October 21, after a little over 4 months I agreed to go to a presentation with her. That night, I listened to a young woman (age 21) tell her story. She told how she had "come home" (retired) and had retired her hubby after not too many months in R + F. That night, I enrolled.
I came home to a very supportive husband. We had been married over 50 years and shortly after our 50th Anniversary - just a little over 3 years ago - he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer. He is pretty-much home bound and most of the time he feels bad and is in pain, but he's still interested in what's going on in this new business opportunity. I use the Rodan + Fields Soothe Regimen on his Chemo damaged skin. He asks questions, and he's interested when I have a prospect.
He's sure this is going to be a success for me, and he hopes he can be here to celebrate with me when it happens. (And so do I!!) There are so many success stories, so many people who have been able to give up full-time jobs and stay home. So many people making more money than they've ever made, in their lives. Do I want to be in that league? You bet I do. Am I going to? Of course, I am!!
 ..... the best is yet to be!!