Monthly Archives: May 2013

My view of remembering

When I think of Memorial Day it is natural to think of all who do/have fought for the country freedom. Am blessed to know many… In my immediate family it would include my nephew currently serving in the Marines.  My father and father-in-law also both served their country.  So thank you!  (p.s.) My dad will always be my hero far beyond the time he served his country for the time he served my mother.  I will have to do a whole blog for him on his upcoming birthday!

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of the people in my life growing up that fought an everyday battle.

May is a rough month of memory for me… Last week May 21 would have been my Mom’s 16th year since she arrived into heaven and yesterday May 26 would have been my Grandma Frazee’s 14th year since she arrived into heaven.  It so feels like yesterday that they were physically here, but maybe because everyday of my life something reminds me of them.  I have become so emotional lately that I am sure I will sob my way through this entire blog.  But they definitely helped form who I am today… but also sure they would snatch me up sometimes and Grandma may even get out a switch.

They taught me about being strong when the world crashes down around you.  My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was pregnant with me (or close to that time).  I remember her bravery in always trying to make things seem okay even when she had to drag her legs to walk.  I remember how she would go to the bathroom and because she was so weak to get back up she may sit there all day till we got home and never complained.  I remember how she fought to not use a cane even if it meant sometimes crawling to get around.  I remember when I got engaged she fought back tears because she would not be able to go gown shopping and be a “real mom” (I fixed that and went only once by myself and tried on two gowns decided which one I loved and had a family friend make it.)  I remember how long she fought to drive until it was no longer safe and then fought to make me drive. I remember taking care of her and her still trying as hard as she could to keep doing things for herself.  I remember her sitting in her wheelchair barely able to feed herself but give us her love and blessing to go to work.  I remember her having her stroke and insisted that I still went on my trip to Toronto and she would be okay and be there when I got back.  I remembered the day that she passed away at home and she would wait until we all got there – and she did.  I remember all our talks about life, I could and would tell her everything.  I don’t remember her complaining much except some moments of frustration that she couldn’t do more for us.  I don’t remember her loosing her faith despite loosing her ability to care for herself.  I don’t remember her giving up without a knock-out fight.  She stayed strong, put on the smile, kept believing, and fought the good fight!

My Grandma Frazee also taught me that same fighting spirit when my Pap died of prostate cancer in 1979.  But probably a stronger lesson was when she finally got brave enough to stay by herself at night (about 1986 when I went on a date, until then I stayed every night with her once my brothers grew up).  It was probably within the first handful of times that she stayed by herself that an arsonist burnt down the barn.  She stayed strong.  I remember her having a hip replacement and shortly after getting on the floors at my mom and dad’s to scrub the carpets by hand.  But strength was all she knew as a farmer’s wife.  When they had to sell the farm because of Pap’s failing health, she stayed strong.  When she buried her husband and her only child before she passed, she stayed strong.  Even up until her final weeks on this earth, she fought hard with a smile.  She was admitted to the hospital the day I was to come home with Mary.  The xrays showed what we thought was a minor surgery, but I knew she said she would live only long enough to see my child born.  That morning of the discharge for us I spent much time in the ED with Grandma.  They had to take her to surgery… so as soon as Mary was officially discharged I went straight to the operating rooms and handed Mary over to a nurse who carried her into the OR room so Grandma could meet her – Mary, named after my mom (her beloved daughter) – she was what she was living for.  Grandma fought for another week and ½ on the ventilator as the surgery was bigger than expected.  Everyday I took Mary to the hospital with me waiting for her to wake up.  Once she woke up and came off the ventilator, everyday I took Mary to the hospital so Grandma Frazee could hold her.  They were so at peace with each other. Mary spent many hours in Grandma’s arms.  We then went to Rehab and spent every day, and finally she came home to the Personal Care Home.  Grandma told me it would be too hard for take care of her and baby Mary, I assured her I could.  Just a few days after and a few days prior to me returning to work, I got a call that she wasn’t responding.  I went to see her immediately and she woke up and asked for her baby Mary about 9 weeks old.  I laid Mary in bed with her and went out to call family and returned to find Grandma had passed peacefully holding my Mary as she went to heaven to meet her Mary…. She fought and smiled and kept the faith (i.e. Mary’s middle name).

I look at their lives and realize how much like them I can be… or at least hope I am.  Most would say I talk as much as they did (and I am pretty sure Grandma Frazee passed that to Mary in her last breath when I left the room – lol).  I miss the wet (from rootbeer barrels or Brach butterscotch candy) kisses from Grandma Frazee that she always had in her apron pockets.  I miss talking to my mom about everything and even if I didn’t listen to her advice I felt better.   In my heart I know they are proud of me, but there are sometimes I know they would handle things differently.  Sometimes it is that split second after I make a decision or say something to someone or hit send on an email that I think they would have handled it so much better.  I want to think that when times get tough I fight hard for what matters… I fight hard for what / who I believe in… but more importantly that in the midst of life’s battles and the fight is bigger than me, that I keep my faith in the One who can fight it for me.  And my biggest hope is that our children will see them in me, so they have the same strong example.  But, I fear at times they will never understand because I shelter them so they do not have to see my struggles or my weaknesses.

At Grandma Frazee’s funeral, we played  Holes in the Floor of Heaven.  When Mary grew a little older and asked about my mom, I told her she had to go to Heaven to pick her out for us.  So when Samuel was born I heard her tell Sam that Grandma Mary picked him out too!  I am so sure they would love to be here is some ways.  I know they look down and I so wish they could be here to know our children.  I wish they could be here and give some love and comfort on the days that are just hard.  But they are in a much better place in Heaven just watching down the holes.  So the next time it rains I need to remember it is…. For every day needs to be Memorial Day

‘Cause there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and her tears are pourin’ down
that’s how you know she’s watchin’
wishin’ she could be here now
And sometimes if you’re lonely
just remember she can see
there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and she’s watchin’ over you and me.

 

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Unexpected Responses

What I should be doing and what I am doing = two different things… but just need to write… So yesterday, I do believe was an evening of unexpected responses – a couple responses were ones received and one I “sent”.  I had a big discussion with two of my favorite girls last night about the power behind the “sent’ message by text, in their instance.  When I receive a text/email sometimes it is difficult to interpret the feelings behind the text/email.  I can’t see the face, hear the voice, or see body expressions.  It can easily be misinterpreted, and gave them specific examples.  I even gave them an example of a personal response on the phone. Mary had called me and she thought I sounded in a bad mood, but in fact, my rushing was so I could just wrap up and get done for the day.  When I called her back, she said you sound like you are in a better mood.  I said I wasn’t in a bad mood before just juggling about 10 other things.  So even though she heard my voice in a response she could not see what I was doing = misinterpreted response.

Yesterday my first unexpected response was from Jim inviting his family out for a night of family fun – no misinterpretation… only pure joy.  No cooking… heading for wings in Pittsburgh which also meant happiness for Sam (Toys-R-Us) and Mary (Mall) especially since I got her BFF Melissa to come too.

The second response was one she received.  I usually am the devils advocate about text that maybe things were misinterpreted.  She always hates that.  However, by doing that it opens her mind to the other side.  But this time, she was clearly hurt.  I completely understood.  Often times, she has me read her text to be sure that they should cannot be misinterpreted by the receiver.  I read the one sent prior and I believed it to be typed and sent with a pure and honest heart without hidden agenda.  The other problem I have learned with me and text is I want an instant response; however, just as every other communication, sometimes the response needs thought, the receiver maybe pre-occupied and not best time to respond, or sometimes there is nothing to be said.  Perfect example was text she sent was day prior… response received day later… her response back none.  I told her when she did not get a reply the day earlier they may not have received it or may not have been able to respond.  Sometimes it is easier to be silent than to keep the text flowing back and forth to add to the fire.   I am not often speechless, and she hates when I am, but I didn’t know what to say.  Sometimes it hurts when you get an unexpected response, from someone you love, especially when you put your heart out there.   We talked about how her initial text the day prior spoke for the testimony of her life, coming from a family that enforces asking forgiveness.  I told her I was proud of her for that, and wish I knew a way to fix the unexpected response back.  More conversation happened, but that will have to be another blog.

The third response was one I sent.  I had received an email, that I sort of expected to receive, but did not want to get.  I had read it earlier before our family night, but knew if I responded then it would be out of rush and not thought.  I wanted to just say NO to the question… and maybe that would have been wiser.  However, once I came home I sat and typed a response with SEVERAL edits.  I felt I needed to stand up for my personal needs in the situation.  I love to be flexible and help, but have learned over time that can place me in that constant expectation to change.  The change can then become morphed into my role.  I honestly have never said NO in this situation before.  I always go with the flow and adjust and change.  This morning, I gingerly opened the email, and no response back.  The problem with a slow response back is I don’t know if I will even get one, which means I do not know what the other person thought.  I am sure it will “cost” me at some point.  I do not have regrets about my response; however, some guilt for not saying yes.  I even started it by saying not sure how to respond… and ended with I am sure this is not the response you expected.  But, oh the uneasy feeling I have of the silence on the other end.

I think of dear friends – one cousin who received the notice that the lump was positive for cancer who had a double mastectomy… one friend who received the notice the lump was positive but thought treatment would be minimal; however, when the surgery happened it became more extensive and treatment plan changed – unexpected response from doctors… I have another friend who gets her results from her biopsy today… and another friend who gets her results next week…   I think back to Samuel’s diagnosing and though in my gut I knew the response – it still hit me like an unexpected response.

I am in the middle of a book about prayer (a blog later) and how I wish I would have prayed over the response before hitting send – I guess that would be the only piece of regret, so now of course I pray for a good response.  One of the guidance I always give to friends/ family/patients when waiting for a result is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst.  But, in hindsight, that really is hypocritical.  When I pray to God, I should just pray for the best and expect nothing less of him.  Does that mean it will always work exactly like I prayed?  No, but when I prepare for the worst, it may mean that I don’t trust him to give me the best (OUCH!), and I never thought about it that way!  Granted, the answer I wanted may not come when I want it (i.e. years of infertility), and may never come, but as I mentioned in my previous blog – it may be because there is a GREATER STORY He is trying to write!

I think my testimony continues in my response to unexpected responses.  Do I praise Him through the storms or only when life is smooth sailing?  My testimony is seen everyday by my children, and they learn from that.  I need to learn to pray intentionally over the small things – including my responses before I hit send or open my mouth – so I don’t sit now with some regret for not doing that with my email.   I also need to pray intentionally for the best answer, because my God is capable of things beyond my imagination (and Sam’s – which is one of the best imaginations I have ever witnessed – lol).

Isaiah 55: 9 ” “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”

Living a Testimony

Our Bible Study last night was on Hannah and there could very well be several blogs come from just that one study.  But in our conversation, we got talking about testimonies.  I mentioned how I am always fascinated by the strong testimony of the person who has overcome drugs and/or alcohol, living on the streets, etc… to a life walking with Christ.  I mentioned how my life in comparison did not really have a “testimony” in that sense because I was raised in a Christian home, have been in church since probably the first Sunday after I was born.  I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol.  I dated my husband, who is also a Christian, for five years, got my nursing degree, got married….

On the outside, Hannah looked like she also had it all together – married, a husband who loved her more than all the other wives, etc… But, inside she was a mess.  In fact, she cried and prayed so hard it said that some thought she might be drunk.  She was honest with God and poured out her heart for the longing of a child.  I remember those days when everyone else around me had children, and yet we could not.  Despite infertility treatments and every test known to man, we were left childless.  On the outside, I kept working and helping to take care of mom.  We went to church.  I taught Sunday School.  I just couldn’t understand why God didn’t see us or didn’t answer my prayers.

Well, just as with Hannah – God does see me!  The study talked about that God was just waiting for a GREATER STORY.  Sometimes that story is in the waiting.  The story is when we get honest with God and not worry about our outward smile.  It is so funny, in hindsight, although I am often guilty, of putting on that fake smile to God, to my friends, to my family — the smile that everything is okay.  My friends and family may be fooled, and may appreciate the smile.  However, God knows me and my heart.  While talking, one of the amazing women there mentioned that infertility could be part of my testimony.  After I left the Bible Study I really thought about that.  I really do think God allowed our years of infertility for His glory, and of course, looking back it is easy to say that now.  Had He not waited, we would have missed out on the Greater Story – Mary and Samuel.

But then I got to thinking even more… my daily life is my testimony.  When I step out and say I am a Christian, my everyday actions are pieces to my testimony.  Last week we buried our Grandmother and at her graveside a man spoke up about Grandmother’s life.  How when he showed up at her doorstep, she welcomed him in without question.  Her testimony was her daily life.  Her testimony lived until her last breath.

So, what does that say about me?  I am not a “words of affirmation” person, but I do want my reputation to be my testimony.  Today I went through one of my work evaluations and it felt good to hear my strengths (so much for not being a “words of affirmation” person – lol).  My work ethic is part of my testimony.  It means being honest and working 100%.

Being a mom is part of my testimony. So part of my greater story is a beautiful teen daughter, but with that comes mommy/daughter melt-downs. How I handle them are parts of my testimony. The other part of my greater story is an amazing son with Aspergers, but with that come challenges.  How I handle them are parts of my testimony. Do I speak their love languages consistently? Do I praise Him despite the rough times as a mom, or only when things are going well.

Being a wife is part of my testimony.  Do I lift him up or tear him down?  Do I speak his love languages consistently?

Being a friend is part of my testimony.  Do I remember the little things for them?  Do I let them know I am thinking of them?  Do I honor their secrets?  My friendships are a piece of my testimony.

I don’t need a “big story” to be my testimony… I just need to live out the greater story He gave me.  Live it with greatness… Live it with gratefulness… Intentionally make my every day, my every action, my every word be part of my testimony.

Lessons Learned and a Legacy Left from Grandmother

Last Tuesday when I got the frantic call that Grandmother had fallen and broken her neck, my heart sunk to my stomach.  She arrived a few hours later at a closer hospital and when she was getting out of the ambulance and she knew who she was, where she was, her medications…. A little part of me thought everything would be okay.  You see, Grandmother was a fighter.  She lived independently till the day of the fall, and any other life for her would not be acceptable.  Over the week following that fall, and the hours I was blessed to spend with her there are some things I know for sure:

I have no regrets over eating those chocolate covered cherries for the first several years of dating Jim.   Every year for Christmas she bought them for me, and every year I hated them, and every year I didn’t want to tell her because I wanted her approval.  Over the years she would consistently get my name mixed up (Shelly, Terry, etc…) but was always spoken in love.  And over the years, I did gain her approval to marry her Grandson.  And over the last week of her life as she looked at me and told me she loved me, I secretly smiled that every cherry I ate was so worth it.

Staying together is of utmost importance.  She made the three grandchildren here in PA stand around her bed with our spouses and promise to stay together and seal with a kiss.  She made her two daughters also make the promise to stand by each other.  She needed to know that we would be okay and there for each other when she would no longer be here.

Hearing a 92-year-old sing Jesus Loves Me can bring anyone to tears.  The beauty and simplicity of the words still makes me cry thinking of that.  The knowing that she knew she was loved.  When this world feels like it is crashing in, I will play back her voice and know Jesus Loves Me!

The power of prayer by the weakest of voices is immeasurable.  I was blessed to spend several nights with Grandmother and on the two when she was still very aware of the fact she was dying, I listened to her tell the Lord she loved him… asked forgiveness for any sins.. and that the Good Lord would take her home.  She was so weak and soft spoken, but God heard…  And on the last night, as I softly prayed for her, God heard…

Look your best for times that matter most – on the day that the Pastor would come to the bedside to give her communion at home, she was worried about how she would look and wanted her dentures in.  We assured her she looked beautiful without them (had she ever seen the brace on her neck or the bruises on her face, she would have likely been mad). But we got them in and I joked with her that we must be chopped liver if she only wanted them in for him.  But looking back, I think she knew that it would be her last communion and she wasn’t worried about the Pastor, but how she looked for the moment of spending with God. She told the Pastor that day, the next time she saw him it would be with wings, I believe that was her wish, as she only saw the Pastor one more time without them.

Make your words count – Grandmother was VERY hard of hearing.  Instead of trying to do a big explanation, it was best to keep it simple.  Say I LOVE YOU clearly.

Honesty is always the best policy – we had several evening conversations when everyone would go home.  She would ask if she would be okay… I would say when she got to Heaven.  We would talk about all the people that would be waiting for her in Heaven. At first, I knew she was torn between staying on earth and going to Heaven.   And well…. I was torn with letting her go!

Be a fighter and a lover – In the past week I have seen both in Grandmother.  She was always great for an argument.  In the hospital, I rallied that fighting spirit, because if she was to pull through, that would be the only way. It was that very spirit that kept her alive the morning of the fall as ust a short time passed till she was fond.  But as I mentioned earlier, she wanted us all to stay together.  Despite the fights, kiss and make up.  Love always wins the fight.

The power of positive thoughts can bring a calmness. In the hospital she would yell out for help.  So when I spent time with her in the evenings I tried to put positive words in her mind to think of.  A few back-fired – like mentioning her daughter because then she demanded I call her and I had to decline her request.  I can still see her look at me in disbelief that I told her no.  But once I mentioned Mary and Sammy, her tone changed, a calmness came, and she smiled and called out Sammy the rest of the night.

The physical touch love language, when spoken, can change everything.  I have said a million times, and Jim’s family knows, I am NOT a touch person.  You hug, and I cringe.  However, I became Grandmother’s personal massage therapist.  She LOVED her back rub, and I loved hearing the happiness in her voice over them.  A simple touch made those suffering moments more tolerable.

I have not done “hands on nursing” for many years and have not spent my time at the bedside of someone I loved in almost 16 years (my mom).  It is LIFE CHANGING and I so forgot that feeling.  I am so blessed to have that time with her.  The time when the person you loves reviews their “checklist” of their greatest accomplishments is always the people they loved.  May I remember that daily, that at the end of the day, the week, the month, my life… my greatest accomplishments is in the people I love (not the degree I had, the hours I worked, etc…)

Grandmother was an amazing woman who will so be missed on earth, but so celebrating (and square dancing in heaven).  How blessed Jim, and I and our children were to have her in their lives.  I am so thankful that I am a nurse and could * offer words of advice to the family when the system could easily loose you.  * share priceless conversations in the middle of the night * help ease her pain through simple touch and simple words (and a hint of medicine – lol). * show her respect and dignity that she so deserved  * know without a doubt that she went to Heaven.

R.I.P. dear Grandmother – our lives will not be the same without you here, but know that our lives have forever been enriched by the legacy you leave within each of us.