Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Quiet Time, Reflection

While visiting my father in the critical care unit of the hospital recently,  I stood by his side when the doctor said the words that every family fears: We are unsure of the outcome if you decide to have surgery. But if you don't, it could prove devastating also.

My dad reached for my hand and held it, carefully digesting the doctor's diagnosis. When she left the room he said, "I don't even feel sick." That's been my father. A man who had a heart attack and didn't even know it. A man who claimed that he never felt much pain. A man who would put others needs before his own, and not really let you know what was going on behind those amazing green eyes.

I excused myself for a few moments, and quietly fell to pieces in a restroom down the hallway. Then I gathered my courage, called my brother, and kept a stiff upper lip while I spent the rest of the day with Dad. A little later I left the room again, headed for the small hospital chapel. A room to reflect in. A room for prayer and God's presence.

Two candles were lit on a small altar. A huge, old Bible sat opened. Several rows of wooden pews stood closely together and the lights were low. The smell of candle wax permeated the air; a kind-of nostalgic, comforting scent, bringing me back to the many Sunday's I attended church with my father.

I closed my eyes and spoke quietly in my heart to my Heavenly Father. I don't know if the words made sense, but the Holy Spirit knew. For a calm descended over me, and loving arms wrapped about me. Though I had thought I couldn't go on earlier that day, I stood and walked from the room to face whatever outcome my father's surgery would bring that evening.


A women's care facility. Cold and sterile. An oversized, cotton dressing gown that hung on my frame making me and the other ladies who were waiting for results of their own tests look like clones of one another. My name is called. The tickle of fear in my belly deepens. After all, I've been called back for more tests on a mammogram. I entered the room feeling more like a computer generated number than a human at this point. And nobody smiles here. I make a mental note that in the future I will find a better facility. I miss the girls I had known back home, hating that insurance companies force you to find places that accept your carrier.

I am called in for a sonogram next. By this time I want to scream. I want to run far away. Don't they know my father is in critical care in another town? Don't they know he still has a ventilator in and we are hoping, praying for good results? Can't they at least look at me and tell me that everything will be alright, or even if not, can they give me a ray of hope?

I lay back upon the table in the low-lit room. I close my eyes and my breathing slows. Once again, I'm drawn into the presence of the Almighty. I don't need to be in a chapel or church. For He is with me wherever I go, and I feel Him now. 

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The words are a promise and a truth. Whether the outcome of my tests or my father's surgery this past week had been good or bad, I knew God was real. He is a miracle worker and He adores us. Had we lost Dad, I knew where he was headed. And I had a true peace with that knowledge.
My tests turned out negative, though I had a small cyst. I am to have more frequent mammograms now. And my father: well, he made it through touchy surgery against all odds. At eighty-five years of age and being a heart patient, a quadruple bypass and defibrillator and pacemaker patient, this brave man chose the road of recovery. He didn't throw in the towel or give up. 

I think back to those quiet moments this week. The times I closed my eyes and called upon the peace that passes understanding. The lonely moments where all I had was my God and that was enough.
Yes, my friends, He is more than enough. Let His peace rule in your hearts. Give yourself quiet time and moments of reflection in the midst of your own uphill battles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love with the passing of time

Recently I met a wonderful community of writers. Those who write about their true experiences with their aging parents, and dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia. A wonderful support group, and people who know how difficult it is as my family is going through it right now.

What follows is the post written for the community about the inspiration behind my fictional novel of love in the golden years.

Love in the senior years: A true inspiration to me. My parents are married over sixty years as of this writing. Sixty years of ups and downs, good health and bad, happiness and sadness. But one thing remains: a steadfast love. It is this love that inspired me to write; theirs, and another couple: my husband’s elderly aunt and uncle.

You see, when I was a little girl, my mother suffered from mental illness. There were times in her delusion when she barely knew who she was, much like Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t easy and she was hospitalized many times. That is why her recent diagnosis of dementia has been very difficult to take. But as I saw when I was a child, my father puts all of my mother’s needs first. At complete disregard for his own comfort, he would do anything for Mom. He’s remained by her side, loyal, loving, respectful, treating her as if she’s the young beauty he first married so long ago.

I saw another great love. Louise, my husband’s aunt, had a stroke several years back and was hospitalized and eventually moved into a nursing home. Her husband, Hubert, took the time every single day driving to see her, helping her to eat, talking with her even though she couldn’t speak well, and making sure every need of hers was met. There came a time he couldn’t drive any longer, and he would wait as the senior bus picked him up, not missing one day with his wife. When he suffered his own health crisis, he ended up in the same care facility. Though they weren’t in the same room, Uncle Hubert would wheel himself down the hall to spend time with his beloved each and every day.
Hubert and Louise didn’t have many family members, so I became a regular visitor of theirs. I watched as love appeared to grow even stronger as Hubert sat by his wife’s side, gazing upon her as if she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, and talking to her as if she was the only person in the world who mattered.

It was then that a story began forming in my mind. What if an older couple actually met for the first time in an assisted living center? What if a warm friendship was forged, and eventually led to love? My book Love Woven in Time was born.

It chronicles the lives of Harry and Rose, two people who meet in the golden years, both with their own sets of challenges, but the main one being Harry’s onset of dementia. It was carefully written with the help of a dementia coach and author, Carol Howell, and with thoughts of my parents and my husband’s uncle and aunt, giving a story that is tender, believable, and written from the heart.

Though Hubert and Louise have passed, I am blessed to still have my parents. I continue to watch, grow, and learn from them about true love. A bond that cannot be broken. Even with the ravages of time, age, and memory loss.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


I've known several types of people in my lifetime. Those who never talk much about themselves, preferring to be private individuals. I think that is their right. Then there are others who share the good, bad, happy and sad, and you feel very close to this type because you realize you have many of the same feelings too.

We learned a little about transparency in church last weekend. I loved the message. I am an extremely transparent person. You can tell by my facial expressions what I'm thinking or feeling. I am not a good fibber. I stutter if I am trying to cover something up. So I am an honest person, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.

The pastor talked about investing in others with transparency, especially if we were wrong about something. Recently, I did a bit of soul searching. I found that several people push my buttons, and I always am ready for a quick fight with them, or I treat them a little differently because I think they feel a certain way, or act a certain way. Then it hit me. This isn't fair. This is not who you are created to be. You are to be a light in this dark world. Treat this person or persons the way you want to be treated, even if they aren't very nice to you.

Of course I went to God first with this knowledge. I asked His forgiveness immediately, and I asked Him to open my heart to love these people. To act toward them in a loving fashion. It's funny, but sometimes God grants our request immediately, especially in regard to this type of prayer. I didn't even have time to debate about it at all with Him.

I remembered when I was a young mother. I must have had postpartum depression. I was nervous and edgy, and my baby had colic and a stomach issue. I was on edge a lot of the time, becoming angry and bitter. I sometimes took out my feelings of stress on those around me with a wicked, quick tongue. I couldn't even warm up to my little step-son at that time. I was not abusive, but my actions and the way I talked made me feel like the typical, wicked step mom. I'm able to admit it now, to be transparent and ask for forgiveness. I was wrong, and I acted badly. Grateful that the Lord gave me a second chance, I became close to my step-son soon after, and to this day, I love him with all my heart. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful son, but I'm able to come clean and ask for forgiveness now.

If we invest in others with transparency, as our pastor mentioned, we are able to say:
I was wrong.
I am sorry.
I have a long way to go.
Sometimes these things aren't easy to admit, but they show the other person that we haven't "arrived," that we, too, are individuals with issues and we are struggling just as much as they might be.

Transparency builds trust. We are all flawed. I'm on the journey with you...These are some of the things to admit that are very very freeing.

We don't have to have our act perfectly together to reach out to others. Maybe we're still struggling with anger issues, past hurt, feelings of inadequacy or pain. But if we come clean with why we act out the way we do, then it builds trust for the other person. It shows them that there's a reason we're acting this way, and it's not them. I'm sorry I acted that way toward you, won't you please understand what is going on in my life to have made me snap at you that way?

Transparency may not be for you. If you are a private person as some of the people I know are, you may have a difficult time opening up, baring your soul and telling your story, so to speak. But I think it's very valuable and extremely powerful to show others, especially someone we may have wronged, that we are as human as they are.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grant me the Serenity

Feeling a little overwhelmed tonight. Got off the phone with my mother, and as I was asking her about some food I'd made yesterday for her, she said, "I can't eat that for breakfast." I mentioned that it isn't breakfast time but eight p.m. She fought me a little and then asked my father who confirmed what time it really is.

Now that scared me. It's so easy for me, who has most of my wits, (well, that's questionable at times), to know the date, day and time. As a matter of fact, and you can ask anyone, I'm like a human time clock. As long as I check the time before my husband and I go somewhere, I usually have a pretty good idea, if asked, of the correct hour, etc. It's something I've always been able to do.

But forgive me, I've gotten off the subject. My stomach is clenched, and I have a tickle of fear in my spine. I wonder if Mom's getting worse. Certainly she is forgetting more and more. And her cooking skills have really faltered. She is repetitive and only speaks of the past. I want to run away, I want to scream, I want....something!

I want my mother, the way she was. I miss calling her and having her ask about my day. I miss the advice given, better than any therapist. I miss her quick wit and humor, and how you couldn't pull the wool over her at all. There was a time a few years back, that I heard a still, small voice inside me as I sat on my back porch on a lovely spring day. It said: Enjoy your mother.  I had a terrible feeling at that time, that what it meant that was Mom would be passing. I had no idea it was her mind that would pass, and with it, all that is dear about her.

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled to still have her. We can laugh and talk about times past. And though it takes very long to explain anything that is going on in my life right now, I try to find the patience and will to go on each and every day.

God grant me the serenity to accept my mother the way she is. Give me the peace of mind and heart, give me understanding and love. God, watch over your beloved daughter, my mother, and help our family to bond together through this time and give us the knowledge we need to do right by her, and continue to give her dignity as she falters more and more. Thank you Father for the time we've had with her, and keep her safely in your care.