Monday, February 27, 2012

My Reaction, Not the News

I ambulated out to the kitchen after getting ready for work, when I heard on the radio about a school shooting outside of Cleveland. I immediately thought of my daughter at school two hours already. I know mothers prayed for their kids safety in Chardon, but I quietly thanked God that I pray every day for His hand of protection on Hickory High School as I pull into that driveway in the dark, my hand on Mary Ellen's arm. Protect it from all harm, physical, spiritual and emotional, I pray. The incident happened at 730AM and details were speculation.
My second reaction may be typical or hardened, I'm not sure. Again? I thought. It happens too frequently that it fails to move us like Columbine. Even then, the sting removed some, as my husband pointed out there have been shootings in inner city schools for years and no one seemed to notice or care about those.
Why can't we notice or care? Has life been cheapened? The gangsters have mothers. The troubled youths from privileged homes have mothers. Maybe they don't match up to our middle class standards, but I believe they love their children as much as we do. I'm not saying this right. Any mother who's child is killed loses a chasm in her heart that day that can never be filled. Her child's life is not cheap, I can't believe.
All day as I listened to snippets of news between visits, my prayers lifted up this whole community, especially the mothers. I pray for the gunman and the family. Then the announcement one teen died. We don't know the whole story, but we can feel the hole story.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

End of an Era

I drove the first bug, Volks Wagen, for my home health company in spring of 2003. A lime green beetle, a diesel, sporting daisies and bubbles. I called my husband, asking him if he could hear the engine. Those cell phones just don't transmit sound well, because he couldn't and he didn't share in my excitement. Those days I had to drive into the office in Youngstown, pick up the bug every day and drive it home. One evening in the summer, my boss suggested I drive it home to show my girls.
Family  issues came up in the fall of 2004 and I left Senior Independence for a little over a year. I needed to work closer to home for my girls and my mother. This is another story for another time.
Spring time came around again in 2006. My thoughts wandered to the little green beetle. I thought of getting my birthday paid holiday and a few other perks at SI, that I didn't have at the present job. But gas prices were climbing and my daughter needed a car. Easter time, I stopped in at Fifth Ave. to see how the old gang was doing. They were doing well. I left with, "Call me, if you need a nurse."
Two weeks later, Denise called me as I was in a house on Maple Road, just south of business 62. I was so excited. I could go back. They had a need for a nurse.
The best news of this all, the administrator told me I could drive the VW from home. So for almost six years now I have been driving a green car with daisies and bubbles. They switched to regular gas, instead of diesel. They went to a more metallic green. But the car never stopped people from noticing it, provoking smiles from young and old. Some nurses called it the clown car. But the children waved. I felt I was spreading cheer.
The patients loved seeing that car pull in their driveway. We even had a commercial with the bug in in. If I ever figure all this computer stuff out, I could link the VHS of it. I was even in it.
We pulled in this evening after returning it. The driveway empty and lonely waited for us. Two cars left, one returned.
Like all good things, this had to end some day. I won't go into reasons the company is not leasing VW's any more. The Nissans are shiny and blue. No daisies. Our logo is on the side door. They seem sturdy to drive through the snow. I'm sadder than I thought I would be, as this past week I basked in smiles from other cars for the last time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Martha Heart in a Mary Body

I finally went to the doctor this week for tachycardia, rapid heart rate, that was also giving me symptoms. Initial findings, not a heart attack or gall bladder- my concerns. If anyone knows me, I do not like to go to the doctor's because I feel it is most likely stress and I can handle that myself. I don't want to be on medications and don't want to draw attention to myself with tests that make me have to call off. I'm waiting this weekend for the results of blood work I had done.  With the rate being so fast, I feel it may be my thyroid and since my mother had cancer of this gland in her fifties, I like to have it checked often, like every day, if I could.
I read Luke 10:38-42 this morning about Martha and Mary. I can imagine the scene, Jesus shows up, unannounced, with twelve of His closest friends and with a few of those tag alongs, as well. In the version I read this morning, Contemporary English Version, it sounded like Martha hadn't started anything, yet. She had immersed herself in the planning stages. Mary, her sister, plops herself down and looks at Jesus while He is teaching.
How often am I in the Lord's presence, yet my mind is racing ahead to what I can do? I can be in a Mary body, you know, sitting right with Jesus, yet I'm not looking at Him. I wake up from sound sleep, should be relaxed and my heart is racing and pounding in my chest as I plan my day, as I, like Martha, think of the multitude of tasks to do for anything. And reminded of the many things I didn't do yesterday.
Growing up, I always heard Jesus say, "Oh, Martha, Martha, quit your worrying. Mary chose the better thing." It was an either or in my ears. I wanted to be like Mary. I want to put Jesus first.
Years later, as I read the story of Martha in John 11, I had a new insight into her relationship with Jesus. She ran to Jesus about her brother's death. Mary sat back with the mourners. Jesus loved Martha-Martha, whom He loved. She sought Him in her hour of need and showed her knowledge as well as faith in the Messiah.
Jesus loves us all. He cares and does not want us to be anxious. Be anxious in nothing, but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving, bring your requests to the Lord. Philippians 4:6.
So, I try with my body in the Mary position of waiting on the Lord. My heart, too, can calm down, as I like Martha run to Jesus, yet wait for His answer. I need to be both Martha and Mary.

The Cross

Growing up the lesson I learned the cross of Christ was empty. That is why we wore plain little gold crosses. It was said by some, our symbol should really be the empty tomb. No one came up for that as a necklace. Our cross in front of the sanctuary hung barren.
I never argued with my Catholic friends who had the crucifix. I knew we had a difference and of course, being a child, felt my way was better. Sometimes seeing that big statue made me uncomfortable in some churches.
We focused on the risen Lord, with only a slight reference to the crucifixion with the spiritual Were You There? I never heard Sacred Head Now Wounded, until I got Amy Grant's album in 1979. Beautifully recorded with a thunderstorm in the background.
As I got older, in my young adult Bible study, the leader taught right before Easter on what actually happened on the cross. The suffering, the agony, the humanness of Jesus' pain came to light.  We couldn't gloss over it on the way to Easter morning that year. The description made it real. As a nurse, I had seen some of that manifestation that I hadn't seen as a child.
I started to understand that though we may not need to dwell on the cross, we need to meditate on the sacrifice to realize the cost of our freedom. The Gospel of Matthew DVD first graphically depicted Calvary. A few years later, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ pushed me into my seat in the dark theater. I couldn't move after the curtain closed.  A book by Ray Pritchard In the Shadow of the Cross gave more detail as I read it during Lent one year.
I think of a story Tony Campolo tells in his imitation of an African American Baptist preacher, Sunday's coming. We have to go through Friday's suffering and Saturday's mourning, but Sunday's coming, Sunday's coming. As I age, I have had a few Fridays in my life. But I have the hope of the Resurrection. To get to the Resurrection, I have to go through the cross. Sometimes, there are lessons that expand as we grow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Does Lent Mean to You?

Coming from a protestant faith, we didn't do too much for Lent, when I was young. The reflection was saved for Holy Week with a service on Palm Sunday evening with community churches. Maundy Thursday depicted the last supper with Jesus and His disciples in our own church when we welcomed the communicant members. Good Friday could have a service, but I remember just playing outside on that day when I was younger elementary age. It did seem to rain in the afternoon most years.
Easter Sunday morning, the first sunrise service I went to I believe in eighth grade with the Hatches. Easter was in March that year and snowy. We drove out to Lebanon Church on St. Route 318 toward Mercer. The ministrium supported a sunrise service at various churches with a different preacher.
My Roman Catholic friends almost always gave up candy for Lent. I didn't see the point and not being critical, I don't think they did either. They never elaborated on the reason for their denial of chocolate.
In ninth grade, I decided to fast a meal during Lent, on Wednesdays. I felt closer to God, but I wondered what I was to do with my lunch ticket. It seemed I couldn't give back the sacrifice due to no one seemed hungry enough to need an extra lunch.
One year, I heard, it's not what you give up, but what you take up. This encouraged protestant Christians to do acts of kindness, pray more, read your Bible more. I thought this made more sense than not eating chocolate.
A church I attended in Connecticut, a United Methodist, observed more ancient practices. They actually put ashes on a forehead at the Ash Wednesday Service, if you chose. I didn't. At the time, that didn't feel right to me. They had a noon service on Good Friday, starkly solemn. Saturday evening service lead to an Easter Vigil. New members joined the church, then volunteers signed up to pray in the chapel all night on one hour shifts. I did mine around midnight, I believe. A devotional book sat there with prayer requests to help with the hour. I liked the knowledge that people prayed through the night.
Two years ago, Katie and I went on a liquid fast for the forty days of Lent. But the old secret is Sunday is a day off. Sundays are mini resurrection days allowing a celebration. I think of the verse that says the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, lives in you, and maybe we should never fast on the day set apart to celebrate that.
I think Protestants have a rich, though loosely organized, following of Lent. I also have noticed that awareness of this season is growing in this circle. I see nothing wrong in employing a practice to spend more time with Jesus. We reflect on His sacrifice, suffering and death. Our old selves are to die, so yes, we can be raised with Christ. That is something on which to spend time thinking.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Year Anniversary

Sitting here wondering what to write about and then, "Oh, yeah!" I wanted to celebrate that I have been blogging for a year. Only a year.  I wish I could look at more stats. I really want to celebrate when I get fifty readers in one day. I got forty once, impressing me.
My all time most popular post was on April 20-"Just the Facts, Ma'am" about the lies taught my generation about doing it all. We can't do it all at once. A woman's heart breaks the first time she has to leave that baby in day care. Funny, now, my girls are listening to Parks and Recs, Leslie talking about women breaking the glass ceiling. I think "Facts" really touched a nerve.The initial post to get the ball rolling was "Goodnight Gracie" the day before.
I feel, no matter how old my children are, the desire to be home and involved in their lives never leaves me. I am blessed with wonderful girls. Katie is my helper, with running Mary Ellen after school, shopping, cooking and some clean-up. The doctor explained to the resident that I am like a single mom. It is not what it is cracked up to be. Although, I have it better than others, I know.
I'm excited that I have been blogging a year and have grown steady with it. I want to thank my readers.
I'd write more but the world's largest kitten is laying on my lap oblivious to my attempts to type.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lowellville, OH

Lowellville tucked between a US highway and hills. I had to go there today. The winter sun did little to brighten the old run down buildings along the river. I did see a restaurant with a bright green awning with a at least fifteen cars parked head in. I wondered about this little town. I have been there a few times for different agencies over the years.
A feeling of going back forty years pervades me. The houses' interiors are paneled walls or that pale blue, green or pink from that yesteryear. Today, I felt Appalachian, as I was across the river. I'm sure it was like the other side of the tracks.
So what did Lowellville do? What made it famous? Why did people settle in this town? How old is it? Who settled it?
Well I did a quick search about Lowellville and since it is a village, not much to read about. Settled along the banks of the Mahoning River in 1800,the dwellings didn't become incorporated until 1890. Sharon Steel was the main industry. The people came from the eastern part of the United States, mostly Italian Americans. Most of my home visits were with that ethnic group.
Lowellville, hidden on the border in the Mahoning Valley, was one of those places growing up that I heard about, but no reason to go there. Only with home health visits do I get to places that otherwise I would not travel. This village truly feels like going back in time to some extent. The schools are new and fresh. Some of the homes are newer or remodeled, as well, but overall, a bygone era still lives in this nook.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little League

Oh, yes, yesterday, I thought of spring 1973 and boys. Who says I can run out of inspiration? I'm sure some days I do, but some thought always leads to another.
Part of the whole boyfriend finding ritual involved showing up at public events they participated, like Little League games. Watching the boys in those white uniforms that got dusty with the fly away dirt took up many after school hours. Occasionally, I'd get a smile from the boy of the week. They probably appreciated the fan base.
I didn't ignore the food, either. Bottle caps, twizzlers, chocolate candy bars provided the healthy fare. The sun blazing hot in late spring, cracking those bottle caps between the teeth, I hoped to catch a glimpse of the boy in the dug out. The real reason to go to the concession stand.
Sweesey field sat next to the pool, an easy walk. The VFW field out of town a bit on State Route 18 South meant getting a ride. Sometimes a mother took me or my dad may have drove me. If I sat with the mother, I didn't munch so much on all the candy. I tried to ingratiate myself to her. That boy played catcher, all in his armor of the game. Still, I could see the smile behind the mask.
In junior high, boys basketball games filled the winter after school activity. We sat in the half bleachers, cheering the boys and I day dreamed of being with the boy sharing congratulations. I day dreamed too much.
I never liked a football player. Only briefly did I consider a relationship with someone I didn't even know, just his very much older brother, who was friends with my brother-in-law. I romanticized that totally non-existent knowledge of each other.
Sounds like I was boy crazy. To some extent I was probably, but like most people, I was looking for that special person I could love. I would stay with one, if that had occurred.  In my mind, I was preparing for my one and only. I was surrounded by young couples at this age, my sisters, my brother coming home every weekend to be with Jody, my brother-in-law, Herman's sister in a fresh relationship. And my parents had such a loving partnership. I wanted this more than anything at that time.
At this time, there were young girls in committed relationships. One is still married to her older man with two young men, now.  Jody knew when she was thirteen, she would marry my brother. I believe in love. It seemed to happen for these girls.
I'm friends today with one of the Little Leaguers, the other I lost track. My husband being five years older than I, it would not have been good if I knew him in 1973 or '74 when he graduated. Amazing how a few years make all the difference.
I think of Song of Solomon's admonition to the daughters of Jerusalem- "Do not awaken love until it's time." Problem is girls sometimes think it's time and make decisions they regret. Pray for any young girls you know who may have the stirrings of love that need to go back to sleep. Pray for the purity of our young women.


Friday, February 17, 2012


I haven't been going back to my sixth grade year too much lately because I have a hard time remembering that winter. The school year was book marked by my dad's car accident and my growing from childhood to preteen.  I wanted to wear the huge elephant bell bottom pants, but for Christmas Mom picked out flairs. They were very nice, I prefer flair or boot cut now, but when you're eleven going on twelve, not being in the latest fad could be heart breaking. I really didn't feel empowered to complain.
Body suits were wildly popular then, too. I learned from my future sister-in-law that a shirt could stay tucked in like a body suit, if you tuck it into your underpants. So form fitting shirts, hip huggers with wildly wide and long bells created the uniform of that winter. As spring approached, belly shirts- tight fitting shirt that showed some of a girl's belly transformed the uniform with the season. By spring, I did get one outfit that molded to the Oakview Elementary unofficial dress code for cool girls. I wanted to wear it every day, but didn't.
Another popular act of sixth grade girls, at least in Mrs. J.'s class, was baby talk. The cuter the better. This, as in all mating rituals, was to lure sixth grade boys into going steady. Only a few boys seemed old enough to fall for this bait. I bet the other boys were scared spitless.
Spring also brought the hope of cheerleader try outs. My friend Sherry and I stayed after school all week in the gym/cafeteria, practicing all the gymnastics and cheers, then continued in my yard until supper. We worked hard on making cheers. I finally did my first split and cartwheel this week. But alas, my path to wild popularity stalled with not being picked for this exclusive club. I blamed my sisters, because it seemed if your sister had been a cheerleader, you were included. I couldn't admit my ability held me back, but I knew Sherry had the talent and she, too, remained out of cheerleader world.
I know I was liked and had friends, but the drive to some degree was being admired. Bringing my niece the last day of school increased my notoriety, I felt. We all signed the back of our report card manila holders. Debbie had the most requests, deciding after a few, she just couldn't sign anymore. Her little hand held up, "No more. I'm tired." We convinced her to write just her initials- DR. That pleased everyone and they called her doctor.
I learned in the spring what sex really was- a schoolyard comment brought the understanding to light. Oh, that is what is all about. Of course, I pretended I knew all along. These other girls were kind of rough. These farm girls seemed that way. This group encouraged me to smoke, teaching me to chew gum while you smoked, and then add a fresh piece after, so my breath wouldn't pick up the smell. Yeah, right.
I changed from that fall, playing with baby dolls and Barbies, to the spring,  trying so hard to get a boyfriend, any boy will do. I'm so glad I grew up in a more innocent age. The boys still immature, shy, without the expectations of today, didn't try too much. Holding hands or putting our arms around each other was the extent of going steady. Considering all the yearnings, but without the feed of explicit media, I feel blessed nothing bad happened.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Drowning in Love, Really?

Whether we realize it or not, words mean something, they have power. I had a dream last night about a young man, probably 20's, I didn't recognize him. It was like watching a video screen with him placed in many scenarios of water torture. Truly it was a hard thing to watch as he was dunked under water or forced to drink water relentlessly by a force stronger than he. The torturer could not be seen. He was being bullied. Then, as film does, it suddenly flashed to his reality. He was in an Olympic size pool on a cartoon like shape shark raft,  a friendly dolphin with painted on teeth. He says, "I can't describe love that way. I can't do that to my girlfriend."
I woke then leaving the cropped light brown hair guy with round glasses wearing a gray T-shirt in the pool figuring out how to describe love. I was confused at first. I pondered what does this mean.
I had been explaining imagery to the young writer. I thought yesterday how doing that has to make sense. Whether you're a Rush Limbaugh fan or not, most are not, that is one thing he says that sticks with me. Words mean something. We have to protect our language.
I realized after I thought awhile that the young man was thinking of ways we describe love. And if you think of the literal meaning, it is not pretty. Do you really want the subject of your affection to be drowning? have unquenchable thirst? immersed? The images of those words show a helpless state. The unseen force- is it our desires? Our use of analogy must be clear. I love the song, A Whiter Shade of Pale, but as I listened to it the other day, I thought, "Really, what does that mean?" And I remembered so many other sayings that in a way just sound good, but don't communicate a true meaning. OK in this song, I have seen people grow paler and it works, but at first I had to think about it.
I know that was a mistake I made often when I was younger. I just liked the way the words sounded together. As I work on writing as a craft, I must guard against employing words that don't mean what I'm saying.
Thank you, young man on a "sharkie" raft floating in the pool of imagination for pointing this out, so I can share it.
Or maybe I need to get away and swim.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Desperate

I read an interesting e-mail about not being too desperate with an agent. I thought, boy, I know those feelings. I don't have an agent, I haven't been to a full writer's conference, yet. The writing has to flow, be polished, done more.
There are days, I could just feel success of writing. It burns within me. My muscles are aching to do this full time. I'm desperate for it. I do want to leave my job, tell my boss off, and at least make money to research and write more. I guess I could deal with being famous, but that isn't my goal. I just want to tell the story of David and Mary Thompson some day.
Today is not one of those days. Fighting insurance companies, defending my actions to state inspectors, feeling like the system doesn't work as well as it should, somehow energized me. Maybe it was the late afternoon sunshine. I'm answering phone calls from doctor's offices, making referrals for help, checking the authorizations on visits, flying down the highway. I feel a rush from helping people.
Even with the families that have abandoned their ill, elderly relatives, I'm mad, but wonder what is the underlying problem. It seems this week, it has been a fight, a blow-up with not just one family, but a few, leaving the patients alone with  no help. And help is not immediate, even if the social worker at the hospital makes it sound that way or the patients and families hear it that way.
As much as I love writing, want to take care of my home, walk my dog sometime during a sunny afternoon, I feel what I'm doing this week is making a difference. I relaxed about making a second career with my writing, as I lean into what I'm to do today, I think the doors will open for writing in the right time.
Maybe again, it is the lengthening of sunlight that is giving me optimism this week. It could be I'm working a shorter week. Some 'atta girl's at work didn't hurt either.
Still if a patron out there would want to send me to Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in California over Palm Sunday, I couldn't turn it down. I'm still dreaming, but I'm not desperate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pouring Growth

Flashing cursor leave me alone. I'll think of something!
Last night I got to pour a little into a blooming writer and if she reads this, I hope she gets the joke. She wrote about people being the flowers in the garden of life. Sometimes I feel I could run with that theme. Then, I also thought of the Alice in Wonderland, song about learning a lot of things from the flowers. I love analogies.
Mary Ellen is taking her dramatic flair and pouring into the younger girls for Fine Arts. This Saturday, she will give up a free morning to  travel in the cold, usually, to Erie First for a day of talent. She wrote the script and is coaching the girls. I'm looking forward to seeing the preview tomorrow at Youth.
Pouring in is the best way to learn and grow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter Fun Day

That's me in the green hat looking at the map of events
As much as I hate winter and freezing, I must admit it can have some fun. Yesterday was one of those days. Buhl Park had Winter Fun Days, a community gathering that warmed my heart. Katie felt like she was in an episode of The Gilmore Girls. She entered the chili cook-off with 9 other entries. I savored all of them and must confessed I liked hers the best, although Chicarrino's placed a very close second in my book. That wasn't the book read, though.
We stood by the fire toasting marshmallows over the wild fire, especially when the wind blew up, fanning those hot flames. I saw more black marshmallows than at a Girl Scout camp out. Katie roasted me a darkly browned one that was perfect. I know I didn't want the fire to burn down to coals.
We opted out of the Clydesdale horse drawn wagon ride. I took pleasure in seeing the huge horses, but the thought of just sitting on a wagon, well, I'll try that in the fall with a blanket. People seemed to be enjoying the ride.
I loved the huskies and their enthusiasm to work. In the howling and whining of the loud dogs, I could almost hear, "Pick me! Pick me!" They were chained from youngest to the oldest. The pups started at seven months old, tan and white, to the older dogs colored black and white. Hauntingly blue eyes appeared to look into my soul. Some dogs were friendly, others shy, skittish, but no mean ones. They also created quite a stir when any dog strolled by. We laughed that they voiced concerned over a fat dachshund, black and tan. Once four were hitched to the sled, they took off like a bullet, as the saying goes. Before you knew it, they were back from their round.
Lori and the kids joined us. The kids were dressed colorfully. Gracie in pink, Jacob in lime green pulling each other on his blue sled. Then they pleaded with Katie to be their sled dog. She also took a few spins down the ever popular sledding hill, even with the new trees edging out the down hill. Cars park along Hazen all along the hill, so the passengers could just jump in the sledding fun.
We spent three hours in the cold with wind whipping through us. Today, the sun shone so brightly, but yesterday, we had brightness of community and I imagine this new holiday will grow and grow, like Buhl Day on Labor Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Church Attire

As I listened to the scraping of the plows last night, I thought of how we dressed in years past for church. Rarely, did you see pants on women or girls. I wore snow pants under my dress or skirt. We donned our boots, while carrying our shoes in a paper bag. Sometimes the ladies had a clear heavy plastic boot they wore over their high heels. The men wore galoshes over their dress shoes.
The coat room had four folding chairs back to back by two. Everyone took their turn to sit on these chairs to change their foot wear. Gloves and scarves were stuffed in sleeves of coats as they hung on hangers. Hats settled on the shelf above the rack. The coat room became a place to visit and catch up, because it took us so long to change outer wear to church wear.
If the snow was wet or we had rain, rain bonnets dried on separate hangers. Women had their hair styled the day before or Friday for the weekend. My mother-in-law still has hers done on Thursday. If a woman didn't go to a hair dresser, she did her own, by setting it either all day on Saturday or slept in the curlers all night. She used Dip-pity-Doo, sometimes sitting under a bonnet hair dryer for an hour. And lots and lots of hair spray.That work and style had to last a week. My neighbor used blue spray on her gray hair. I remember seeing the can, especially for hair.
As we barely make it to church on time now a days, I'm glad to wear my silk long underwear, sweater and pants with boots that I don't exchange for high heels. David will probably never be asked to be a pall bearer again. At his grandmother's funeral in the early 70's, he said all those dress shoes on a snowy hill made carrying that casket rather dicey, as he and his cousins slipped and slid gripping grandma.
Sometimes, I wrestle with how styles have evolved to almost too casual. Still, I'm thinking in the winter, it's warm to stay dressed. Maybe safer for pall bearers, too.

A Quick Aside

I didn't get a call from the social editor of the Youngstown Vindicator- you can link to and look under Valentine's contest for the winners and runners-up. This was my entry:

Subject: The Accidental Encounter

Oh no, it's Megan, Beth's kid sister, Tim gasped. Her long silken hair draped the steering wheel.
“Hurry, get the jaws out,” Tim shouted as he neared the car.
“Megan, it's Tim. Are you with me, girl?”
“Uh,” the eighteen girl moaned, “Tim, I stole Beth's car. I was so mad at her for sulking about you working.”
“Sh, honey, it's OK. Don't get excited,” he calmly checked her hands, “Hurry up will ya?”
Soon, they were getting her out of the compact car, stabilizing her on the gurney. Tim automatically carried out the motions for this emergency. His mind mulled over what Megan said. Beth sulking?
In the ambulance, Megan stared at Tim, “Beth wouldn't go to the party. She said it wouldn't be right without you. She was steamed that you have this job and had to work on New Year's Eve. I screamed at her to not let some dumb guy mess up her evening. I was mad that she wouldn't go with me, so I stomped out and stole her car, Tim. Now, you're here taking care of me.”
“It's OK, are you having any pain?”
“No, Tim. Should I?”
Tim felt the sweat pour down his back, despite the cool air around them. He quickly grabbed a drug to put in the IV he had started in her thin thready vein.
“Tim, what's that? Are you going to make me sleep?”
“No, it's not a sedative. It will help reduce any swelling.”
Quickly the ambulance entered the bay at the ER. The report had been called in. The staff geared up at the door ready for action. Tim shouted the newest vitals, the drugs he had given, and Megan's level of consciousness. He nodded grimly when questioned about the feeling in her legs. Megan screamed at Tim, “What are you saying? Oh, Tim”
“Be calm, Megan. It could be temporary. Try not to be upset,” he stroked her shoulder while they wheeled her into a room.
Tim walked out to the hall. Beth stood a distance away with her parents. She didn't see him. He brushed his hand through his hair. Oh, boy, what am I going to say. Hold on, Timmy Boy. Let the doctor do the talking.
The ER doctor, in a few minutes, emerged from the room, patted Tim on the shoulder, “You made the right calls. I think the swelling is going down. I think your calm decisions may keep this young lady from paralysis.”
Beth stood there, tears running down her face. The doctor walked over to her parents, leaving her alone with Tim.
“I didn't realize how important this career is. The doctor had high praise for you, didn't he? Tim, you were there for my sister. How can I say I'm sorry and thank you at the same time?”
Tim embraced his fiancĂ©e, “Honey, I'm just glad Megan's going to be all right. You should see your car wrapped around the tree. I thought it was you, my stomach flipped flopped. I felt so bad we fought. I wanted you to understand. Oh, how I wanted you to understand.”
Sobs flowed out of Beth, the messy, snotty kind, but Tim thought she never was more beautiful. He squeezed her tighter than he had, as a deep emotion surfaced, a mixture of relief, gratitude and love.
Twelve months later, on New Year's Eve, Megan strolled down the aisle as maid of honor for her sister. Beth elegantly entered the sanctuary on her father's arm, tears of joy trickling quietly over her cheeks as she embraced life with the hero of the family, Tim Hunter.
No one ever complained about Tim missing a holiday again, especially Beth. They learned that accidents don't take holidays, so neither can paramedics.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mental Health Awareness

The post yesterday written under distress of no time to devote to this topic. I wanted to bring attention to Mental Health. Maybe that spoke more than volumes of words. Katie thought it read like the world's shortest sad story.
Depression has long roots in my family. Is it the Scot, Irish or German? The Irish are noted for depression. Great Grandpa Seth Thompson suffered from melancholia. His daughter possessed a sad streak at times with bitterness about life sneaking out. My mom could spend days in bed. I believe they all were untreated most of the time. In later life, Mom took antidepressants that lifted her mood, giving a contentment in her later years that she struggled to have in earlier years.
We visited my cousin at the mental hospital while I was in high school. She underwent shock treatments. What always amazed me, how when major events happened, she rallied with no signs of depression. As the Bible says, it's the little foxes that ruin the vine.
I have raged against the reputation of depression and other mental illnesses. It is truly a physical ailment, but doesn't have the badge of respectability of say, kidney failure or cancer. If you mention that someone has a sickness that just comes on one without a cause, it is acceptable. But stigma accompanies mental illness. A  response often is that person is not strong, or just needs to "get over it."
Family of ill ones sense the pointing fingers of guilt at times. Relatives suffer with the affected one. A shroud of shame tries to suffocate all involved. It has improved, but a full acceptance remains lagging.
More and more open up about this disease. I wonder, though, how many hold back from treatment, thinking somehow this is something to get over. It is hard to mention this at the organ recital at prayer meetings, maybe because to see improvement is uneasily measured. No MRI or CT-scan show a healing. Treatments vary as with most maladies. As each person is an individual, so may treatment and his response have different paths.
We need more awareness and I gladly embrace this. Mental health issues are as life threatening as cancer at times. The worst thing, you may not look ill. Yet, I have seen the hollowness of depression in eyes of the afflicted.  I can't look away, even if that is my first reaction. I hope you, too, can delve into encouragement to those who need it. Being a listening ear, suggesting treatment and loving a person are methods to respond. Be aware of those around you, withhold judgment and pray.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I really want to write something, but I don't know what to write. The end of a hard week, but the snow held off till this evening. I sat here thinking and thinking, with no flashes of inspiration. So this will be just a lousy entry about nothing. The girls will be hungry. Mary Ellen has been at musical practice. I'm pondering whether to wake my husband to go out. I hear car doors slamming. The girls are home.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hanky Alert

Sometimes this seems too private to write about, although my whole blog is a tribute to my father in a way. He truly was the influence of our lives. The granddaughters who remember him, all wrote something in school about their grandfather. Michelle achieved an A with hers. I'm sure the others did, too.
So twenty two years ago today, we buried my dad at age sixty eight. I knew he was dying. We had left the private hospital room after being there all day, my brother, mom, sister, Diane, baby Katie and I.  We had said our good-byes as he slipped into non-responsiveness. The nurses on two shifts told us all how wonderful a man he was. They enjoyed coming into his room. He lifted them up.
Two songs ran through my head that day- American Pie and Fire and Rain. My music died some that day. Our hope had been that we would see Dad again before it was obvious that a yeast infection in his blood from the chemo would be his demise. I sat in a secluded corner to nurse Katie while I softly sang those lyrics.
That night at home I journaled about what my dad meant to me. Around two in the morning, Diane called me to let me he was gone.  A dark morning, one of the girls from ICU called to say they were bringing me a sandwich platter. How did they know Dad was gone? They didn't, they were just thinking of me traveling to Cleveland every day.
I tore out that page of my journal to give to Reverend Hicks to use for the funeral. I didn't think to make a copy of it or ask for it back. At the funeral, which we held in the sanctuary, the family sat in the front row. All of us trying so hard not to bawl our eyes out. Mom remarkably held her emotions well. I thought I'd comfort her, but she proved strong. Reverend Hicks read my journal page and then opened the floor for people to comment on how my dad affected their lives. Diane stood first, breaking into tears. Fred Livingston recounted how my dad took him and his brothers under his wing after their father died so early in life. Many others also gave their stories.
Years later my brother-in-law, Ray, the preacher, commends that funeral. He never saw so many people say how much a person affected their life. He has experienced many funerals.
I know so many have lost a loved one, and many loved ones. Each one is special. I read the new style obituaries, the person comes out in the story. At first that was a little unsettling, yet now I find the stories comforting and enjoyable. We are more than what is between the dash. You know, the dash between our birth year and our death year. Celebrate while you're living, those you love and celebrate after they have gone, too. Be thankful for every day you have together and that God blessed you with someone wonderful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Help Someone

What a day! I should blame it on hormones. As I was catching up on all the computer work for my job this morning, as I was thinking back on the stories of people who need help making me feel so limited, the tears gathered in my eyes. Two phone calls from my husband, then a co-worker and the tears let loose.
A bright part of the day is the commemoration of  famous authors' birthdays. Charles Dickens is two hundred years old. Sinclair Lewis also entered the world on this day, 1885. And my favorite, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in 1867. At least, I have read more of her books and reread them. I have mentioned before, I love her simple style, yet so descriptive, drawing a person into the story. I entered her embarrassment at being scolded for not being as good as Mary, and joined in the anger at her teacher's injustice, who later would be her sister-in-law. I cried when Jack, the good, faithful brindle dog died. I think I can understand why she never wrote about the baby brother who died, probably too painful for her.
Children's stories written well speak volumes. We learn so much from them. I always marvel at the old Disney movies written on two levels. The lines were not innuendo or in poor taste. They seemed to engage the adults that watched, a reward for bringing the children to the theater.
Another bright spot today, among many, was Mary DeMuth's newsletter about her twenty year struggle to get her first novel about her grandmother published. She had published others before the twenty years, but it is a great accomplishment. Her best part of the day when she finished this novel, was following God's leading by praying for the pizza delivery man.
So no matter the downfalls or the accomplishments of the day, helping someone is the most important element. Help someone.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Maple Sugaring Time

For a while I have noticed the hoses from one tree to the other. I wonder if it is just easier to leave them up or if with this warm, unusual winter, syrup can come with any warming of the weather. But today, the tin buckets hung from a hundred trees.
As a kid, riding in the back seat around northeastern Ohio in March, my mom pointed out the buckets. She explained their purpose. Another time, they bought me maple sugar formed into shapes, like the obvious maple leaf, but also old fashioned dressed people and I think a cat, too.
My favorite explanation about sugaring time lives in Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They all gather at the grandma's bigger cabin for a grand time, with dancing. Laura describes it all, even fighting with her cousin, the other Laura. As I was checking her spelling, I see tomorrow is her birthday. 
I just loved seeing those tin, a little bit rusty, buckets in the bright sunshine on my way home. It is a sure sign of late winter. I can't complain about this winter. Though it does remind me of paraphrasing C.S. Lewis- always spring, never summer. As my grandma would say, "Good pneumonia weather." It is easy to run around without a coat, then evening comes with a deeper cold. I do miss the snow. Brown is brown even in the yellow sun. Soon, though, the spring will be here with summer close behind.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Giving Is Best

I didn't make it to church today as I have some kind of stomach virus. The rumblings started last night and these illnesses wipe me out. I had a low grade fever this morning- yes, I took my temperature. My family went. I knew it would be a good service as Pastor gives us a bit of a preview on Wednesday nights.
The sermon title, "The Key to Everything" was our hint on Wednesday. I assumed the answer would be Jesus. Pastor's theme was giving. I think that is interesting as that has been my thoughts about my writing if you remember a few posts back. Writing has to give back. After I wrote that post I received a message from an old high school friend. My writing gave him some quality time with his daughter. It opened some doors for me to pour into a young person's life.
I also had a discussion on Facebook with a seminary student. I have been thinking even before today about this topic with the Bible verses Malachi 3:10 that gives a promise from God, if we tithe, He will open the Heavens. My God owns the cattle on a thousand hills-Psalm 50:10 He will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory-Philippians 4:19. It is better to give than receive-Acts 20:35 and the one we should all live by- God loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:7.
From the sermon notes today, Pastor did not limit giving to just money. We need to be forgiving. Giving of our time, our love, our selves. Jesus gave the ultimate, His life. Are we not to follow His example?
If the Church universal lived up to the giving factor, many social ills could be better managed. That was the argument that the Church does not live this way I had with the seminary student. He felt the Church fell short. I have heard statistics that any church uses their dollars more for the purpose than the government or United Way. Dollar for dollar, in a church, less is spent on administrative costs than on the cause. In a free will offering without forewarning, my church gave $6,000 for Katrina. We support over 60 missionaries abroad with a wide range of services and 26 local missions, giving over $112,000 a year. I'm not bragging, I hope to be encouraging. A church can give, even in this economy.
Pastor Ken says, "You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead, so reach deep into your pockets for that moldy money."
I don't often have moldy money, but the principles of giving ten percent, saving ten percent and living on eighty hold more than their weight. Giving is the best.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pay Day

Thursdays were paydays for my dad at Sharon Steel. We shopped on those evenings. Most of the time it was the Sharon Store. Dad, either cashed his check there or most likely paid off a credit card.
Yesterday, I was telling a new patient that I was a "border girl" living on the state line. She remarked, "One foot in PA and the other in Ohio."
"Yes," I replied, "Did you ever go to the Penn-Ohio Drug? It had a red line through the store. As a kid, I did that, put one foot in Ohio and the other in Pennsylvania. Now, you can buy both states lottery tickets there. They gave up the drug store."
She thought that was a great thing. Then she mentioned Valley View.
What a great store that was to go to on pay day. As a kid, I loved  hanging in the toy department. The store was huge, the toy department also very large, a kid's dream. I wandered over the isles and isles of toys, admiring them all. At Christmas time, I gazed at the rows and rows of decorations. Valley View had it all, a magical store, at least to a child.
Then in sixth grade, I loved the record department. I scrutinized the 45's, as I was only allowed one per visit. I had a collection of the greatest hits of 1973. Little Willy, Daniel, Good-bye Yellow Brick Road, Go All the Way, I remember vividly because the jacket had a contest to win a VW, with a trumped up front like a Rolls Royce. Oh, if I could only win that car. I got my first album there as well, John Denver's Rocky Mountain High. Yeah, my musical tastes are still all over the place.
In the middle of the winter season, one evening we went to the Sharon Store. We shopped all over the store, although we never bought anything not from the bargain basement. This night we were about to give up, but they had added a section that was "Mod."  Mom suggested we look in there, which we did. This white long coat- Maxi was an excellent sale price, the best we had seen that evening.
I loved this coat. I felt romantic in it. It was a Dr. Zhivago coat. I can't remember where the blue suede boats were obtained, I think Penney's. I notice in the picture I have different color gloves. I was a real woman before my oldest daughter and her friends made that declaration-"Real women don't have to match their socks." and I may add gloves.
Pay day was fun, an adventure. We usually ate out, too, on these days. Even when money was tight after Dad's accident, he treated us. It may not have been as often, but I believe he budgeted his money for evenings when his little girl growing into a young lady needed a coat.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Challenge Met

It still amazes me how quickly I can write words. Writing the novel in November and watching the word count go up thrilled me. Tonight I wrote the ending for Vindy's Valentine Writing Contest, eying the count, to not go over. It used to seem daunting to write a limited number of words.
Just last year, I entered the first contest in a long time. The word limit was 500 and I felt limited, nervous about finishing a story. My practice began. Then the blog's genesis the next month kept me writing.
This year, the count was larger. I thought and thought about the story's ending and then writing came fairly easily. My hardest part of the process is understanding the technical aspect of getting my story from where I wrote it to my e-mail. At one point, I thought I lost it, but I recovered the story.
So it is in cyber mail to Barb Shaffer at the Vindicator's Society room well before the deadline. Now, I wait. Will it be like last year when I read who the winners were on the Sunday before Valentine's Day or will I get a call from Barb?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Found the Ending

I came up for the ending of the story for the Vindicator's Valentine's Day contest. Excitement filled me this morning as I could just see the story. The little green bug in the driveway, though, called me to patients' homes.
This will be a short post as I need to write the conclusion, count my words, as well as make them count. The deadline is forty six and a half hours from now. So, only seven hundred fifty words is the limit. I'll let you know how it goes.